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Why I Quit My Job To Travel

Smiling faces

Last week, I took a wee trip to Rishikesh – the land of sadhus and of many people’s spiritual rebirth. I have a personal affection, some attachment to this place. This is where I once spent two months, practicing meditation and taking spiritual lessons.

But this time, my arrival was accompanied by a sense of unexpected realization. I wondered, as I grabbed myself walking along its frenzied, confused walkways, that how lucky I am to experience places like Rishikesh again and again. And yet, it is never the climax of my trip. It is always the beginning.

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls” Anais Nin

It has been more than two years now, since I quit my job and started travelling, yet I never shared here why and how it all happened. It would be nice to say that I wanted to understand myself, and find my inner consciousness, but frankly speaking, it’s not true. The only part which is true is that I’ve had enough living the same boring 9 to 5 corporate life every day. I wanted to do more than that. I wanted to see the world. Meet new people. Learn better ideas. Find out what’s wrong with this system of corporate culture, that it never made anyone happy – no matter what they achieved in their life. Simply put, I wanted to educate myself in a way that no school, no job ever did before.

traveller

But one thing is saying that I want to do this and the other thing is realizing I am actually doing it.

Traveling is no less than a pursuit of happiness for me. Yet, throughout this time, I’ve often stumbled upon questions like “Why I quit my job to travel” or “How did I manage to make such a decision” or “What’s next” – with all this, what others actually wanted to ask me was why did I not go for a two-week calculated holiday (or a couple of month’s sabbatical, if I am being pretentiously brazen about it) to quench my thirst of travel, as an averagely sane person would otherwise do.

The truth is, there is no fun in that. I have taken enough of these recreational holidays – as people often term them – in my life. When I was working I found myself claiming the boundaries of my city almost every weekend, with a couple of friends, drinking a bunch of beers and coming back, but that was no solution. The minute you enter the premises of your office, the next day, it feels as if that sweet, sally trip, that in fact, went past in the blink of an eye, actually never happened. I wanted something more than that. Something bigger. Something permanent.

Discontentment Is Good

Discontentment is the very first step to a new beginning. My discontentment towards my job brought me into this. I’d always loved India, but I never loved my life in India. I loved my profession (of writing), but I never loved my job. It seemed I was just accepting things as they came, and as everyone says “this is life and you got to learn to deal with it.”

But I think I never managed to master that art. Though I tried to suppress my unsatisfied soul the traditional way, by changing jobs and running after money. But it was just not enough. My audacious, fertile mind – discontented and grumbling – kept pushing me until I shifted focus.

writing

The Journey That Changed It All

I took my first solo trip back in 2014 (you can read about it all here), while I was still working, to trek for a few days under the colossal Himalayas. It was a life changing experience. Though there was nothing extraordinarily great about the journey, the freedom in travelling solo was, in fact, quite addictive. And that was it. I spent the next few months, saving as much money possible from the job I was doing, having a very clear focus in my mind – to leave this lifestyle behind and travel the world.

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world” Mary Anne Radmacher

As they say that life experiences aren’t something to be denied, but to be celebrated. I think I just happened to celebrate my first solo trip so strenuously that it eventually became a way of life. I know it sounds pretty cool and easy how I managed to quit my job and get ahead with my operation Mission-See-The-World. But trust me, it wasn’t.

 

Further Reading: How To Deal With The Dilemma Of Leaving Everything Behind & Travel

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How To See Penang In Three Days: An Ideal Travel Guide

Penang Island is one of those rare-places in the world that I would like to revisit, at least twice. There are beaches, laid-back towns, delicious street food, all with a beautiful mix of Malay, Indian and Chinese culture, and speaking of the tourist attractions in number, don’t even ask. I stayed in Georgetown, one of the many small towns in Penang and also a UNESCO heritage city, which, in itself, had over 80 street art murals, temples, a Clan Jetty area and everything else you can think of! One can stay in Penang for more than a month, and still not need to repeat the same spot they explored yesterday.

But if you’ve only 3 days to uncover Penang, and want to make the most of your visit follow this Penang travel guide.

I expect you to be an urban backpacker with a good taste in travel. But first thing first…

Where To Stay

If you only have about three days in Penang, I’d suggest you make Georgetown your base. Though tucked to a side, this is the center of attraction in the entire island. Other areas of interest like Monkey beach and Penang Hill can easily be visited on a full or half day trip from Georgetown.

Another reason why I recommend Georgetown, is because of its ease of availability. From food to transport, great experiences to a rich accommodation scene, Georgetown has enough of everything.

I stayed in a boutique hotel, built on an ancient Chinese property and there couldn’t be a better place. Two steps on the right was a daily fresh market. The ferry & bus station was a 7-minute walk away. Evening street food stalls were right across the street. And if I wanted to get to location point in Penang, I could travel in a bus or ride a motorcycle and be there in under 90 minutes.

Staying in Georgetown moreover made it easier to explore the town from inside out, as Georgetown is the highlight, in Penang unless you’re only interested in exploring beaches. I can personally recommend Heritage 16, but you can find at least a few dozen other places to stay in Penang.

How To See Penang In 3 Days. Your Ideal Penang Travel Guide…

DAY 1: DEDICATED TO GEORGETOWN

Street Art In Georgetown & Other Prominent Sites

Street art in Georgetown is one of the tourist highlights in Penang and the very reason why I would call Georgetown a modern heritage town. The way how the city has infused new art forms into its decade old architecture is definitely worth appreciating. Every 20 metres you can find a beautiful graffiti art or a metal sculpture retelling the story of Penang in the form of its many local characters. To date, the town has 52 steel-rod-sculptures and over 40 graffiti sites, out of which some were created by a popular international artist Ernest Zacharevic.

While most of the murals are located at Labuh Armenian and Gat Lebuh Armenia, a few popular ones may require you to go a little offbeat. But since you’re short on time, just stick only to Labuh Armenian and Gat Lebuh Armenia, and you will uncover most of the prominent street art that the town has to offer. Visit the local information center, located at Lebuh Pentai to find a walking tour map, if you want to explore street art beyond the two streets.

Tip: If you’re staying in Georgetown, and are only covering a few popular streets, you can finish your hunt for the Street Art in under half a day.

Other Prominent Sites In Georgetown

Georgetown gained its title of World Heritage town back in 2008, and since then attracted an overwhelming flow of foreign tourists. There are more than 1,700 historic buildings within its core zone, aligned on four main streets namely Pengkalan Weld, Lebuh Pantai, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling and Harmony Street.

Some of the top attractions, I will recommend you will be Kapitan Keling Mosque on Jalan Kapitan Keling, The Goddess of Mercy Temple (Kuan Yin Teng) on Harmony Street. The Arulmigu Sri Mahamariamman Temple, with its back facing Harmony Street, St George’s Church on Harmony Street, and colonial buildings of the Penang Town Hall and the Penang City Hall located right in the waterfront area of Esplanade Padang. Please note that all the attractions mentioned above have free admission.

Tip: To find some intense backpacking action, and find coolest cafes & guest houses, head to Love Lane.

Spend Your Evening Exploring Little India & Dining There

Though you can find Little India practically in every town in Malaysia, the one in Penang is a little intense, and moreover takes you to some 7,000 kilometres away, and in another part of the continent. A colorful and vibrant mix of the Indian community, filled with multi-coloured shop houses selling fabrics, sarees, jewelry and even Tamil magazines, the Little India of Penang is congested and crisp and is made up of 3 main streets, which includes Lebuh Chulia, Lebuh Queen, and Jalan Pasar.

And if you are looking for some good Indian food, you’ve come to the right place. There are a number of places serving dishes including Briyani rice, Nasi Kandar, Tandoori, Roti Canai, you name it. You will also find numerous stalls selling Indian sweets and biri (a version of Indian cigarette).

Day 2: A BIT OF GEORGETOWN & OUTSIDE OF IT

Early Morning Visit To The Clan Jetties

The Clan Jetties in Penang, Malaysia, are unique Chinese settlements that have been around since the 19th century. Immigrants initially came here to find new job opportunities, with most of them ended up working as porters and fishermen. But with changing time and need, most of them today are making money by catering to tourists. Out of the many clan jetties that initially resided back, six clan jetties remained, where you can visit and see stilt houses built along the jetties over the water. The homes were originally built over the water and in the seas, in order to avoid paying tax, and the interesting thing is, all the families living in Clan Jetties are, even today, are not required to pay any taxes. Each jetty is named after a specific Chinese clan, who settled in houses built along the jetties. The Chew Jetty is the most popular one to visit, but it is worth taking the time to see the other jetties as well.

Tip: Early morning is the best time to explore the area, when locals are busy with their day today work and tourists are rare to find.

Out of the many clan jetties that initially resided back, six clan jetties remained, where you can visit and see stilt houses built along the jetties over the water. The homes were originally built over the water an in the seas, in order to avoid paying tax, and the interesting thing is, all the families living in Clan Jetties are, even today, are not required to pay any taxes. Each jetty is named after a specific Chinese clan, who settled in houses built along the jetties. The Chew Jetty is the most popular one to visit, but it is worth taking the time to see the other jetties as well.

Half Day Tour To Kek Lok Si And Penang Hill

Take bus number 203 from Komtar to Kek Lok Si, the biggest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia. The huge temple is stunning, peaceful, and impressive, with some great spot to take some photos. It was said that there are 10,000 Buddha here, and from the numerous Buddha around, that is probably true. The bus takes nearly half an hour from Komtar to Kek Lok Si.

Not too far from Kek Lok Si (2.5 Km), is located the Penang hill. You can either hike the 5.1 km or take the bus number 204. But for those, short in time, perhaps hiking isn’t an option. It’s moreover rare to find people walking when you can cover the journey in a 2Rm bus.

Standing at 833 meters high, Penang Hill is the oldest British hill station in Southeast Asia that dates back to the 1700s. The main highlight there is the funicular train ride that transports visitors to the Skyway, which has a stunning 360° view of the surrounding area. The train to go up the hill costs RM30/person for foreigners, RM8/person for Malaysian, opens 6:30 – 9:00 pm daily.

Tip: Try to team up with another person for Penang Hill train ride if you’re travelling solo. One person should go get the tickets while another person gets in line for the train line. This will save you a lot of time.

Day 3: DAY TREK TO MONKEY BEACH, AND BACK

Located on the other side of Penang National park, the Monkey beach in Penang is a tourist highlight and one of the top beaches in Malaysia, where you’re allowed to swim and even camp in the night. Getting to the entry of the Penang National Park, from Georgetown, is easy as pie. Just take the 101 bus (from Komtar bus station) to the end of the line and you’re there. In nearly 45 minutes you get to the starting point of Penang National Park, from where your trek to Monkey beach starts.

Now, there are three ways to get to Monkey Beach: One by hiring a personal boat, which can cost around 100-150Rm for a return ticket. Option two is, you hike one way and return by boat (something that I ended up doing). And three, you hike both ways. Depending upon your fitness level, you can reach Monkey beach in 1.5 to 3 hours. So if you hike one way and return by boat, you still invest nearly 5 hours for the monkey beach, plus 1.5 hours of bus journey from the town.

Admissions to the national park are free, you only pay for any boat services you opt for.

Be warned that hiking through the national park is going to be much more involved than you may initially anticipate. Before long you may be clambering over rocks, ducking under tree trunks, scrambling down steep ledges and circumnavigating a maze of branches and roots. In short, you will be walking through a dense forest, so dress appropriately. And then, there will be heat. So don’t forget to carry enough water and food with you. There is absolutely nothing to buy anything while you’ll be traversing through the jungle. However, once you reach Monkey Beach you may find some shot, but with everyone charging at least 25% extra of the retail price.

Hike to monkey beach is going to take a good share of your day to visiting monkey beach and return. But if you still find some time and much energy left in you, I’d recommend exploring Gurney drive and perhaps even dining there at Gurney Drive evening street food market.

Have you been to Penang? What places would you recommend?

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Things To Do In Selangor: An Ideal Travel Guide

Looking for a peaceful holiday & away from the crowds of Kuala Lumpur? Consider Selangor!

After staying in downtown Kuala Lumpur for a few nights, and comparing it with my time in the neighboring state of Selangor, I realized that Kuala Lumpur was, after all, never meant for me. And if given a chance to revisit the Peninsular Malaysia, I’d like to uncover a bit more or Selangor, or perhaps the southwestern coast and the comparatively offbeat northeast. But for those who happen to be in Malaysia for just a few days and are bound to stay close to the Kuala Lumpur Airport, the state of Selangor provides many great and offbeat locations.

Away from the urban centers, while still not very far, Selangor offers convenient travel options and a far refreshing scene of rural villages. Its serene coastline towards the west moreover quickly unfolds for a pleasant and relaxing holiday.

Fondly known as the “Gateway of Malaysia” Selangor moreover offers many adventure experiences like rock climbing, paragliding, river rafting and bungy jumping, among others. The fun and excitement of glorious theme parks, abundant food choices and the idea of unfolding the royal towns like Klang will, moreover, always reamain a plus. 

A dinner table for eight, in AVANI Goldcoast Resort, Selangor

Exploring The Town Of Kuala Kubu Bharu   

Also known as ‘KKB’ by locals, Kuala Kubu Bharu is a charming little town located at the foothills of Bukit Fraser in Hulu Selangor. On its east, and some 30kms away, lies the highlighted Frazer Hill, popular for its colonial style architecture and wealthy mansions, but if you look at the town of KKB, the case appears to be rather the contrary.

In KKB the streets still remain empty most of the time of the day

What may seem like a small nondescript town today, KKB was once a mining colony, but a massive flood in 1883 wiped out the entire town infrastructure. Today, it is a tiny, laid-back town perfect to unwind yourself and taking a feel of a small-town Malaysia, while not going too far from Kuala Lumpur. At only an hour’s drive from downtown Kuala Lumpur, KKB offers a backdrop of rainforest and hills, alongside clusters of traditional houses. Life in KKB is unhurried, pleasant and peaceful, unfettered by the constraints of modern living and conveniences.

Visit the two community temples of Sri Sithi Vinayagar and Guan Yin Gu See to get a hang of the multicultural-Malaysia, or simply walk down the many intermingled laneways and spot some world-class graffiti.

On Left: Sri Sithi Vinayagar temple | In The Center: A man drinking tea | On the right: A woman selling fishes in a fresh market

At only a few minutes drive from the main town lies the Paragliding site of Millenium Park at Batu Pohat Hill. The cost of paragliding is approx 250Rm per person, depending on the group size.

The paragliding site in Hulu Selangor, with sweeping views over the Selangor region

Relaxing And Unwinding In Surrounding Tropical Rainforest

As you escape the town of KKB and drive only a few kilometers further East, you enter inside the rich tropical rainforest of Kalumpang. Surrounded by nothing but lush greenery and fresh air, the rainforest offers urban millennials and nature lovers a heap of different activities to partake in. We spent a day here trekking, tubing and simply relaxing and breathing fresh air while staying in a Zen retreat called The Sticks.

Read More: Two Zen Retreats Near Kuala Lumpur

The rich rainforests of Kuala Kubu Bharu

Watching Motorsport At Sepang Circuit

For adrenaline junkies & racing fanatics, the international F1 track of Sepang offers a quick getaway from Kuala Lumpur. And if you’re going to or coming from KL international airport, it’s even better because the circuit is located at only 5kms away. Here, you can enjoy the MotoGP bikes or F1 cars screaming their way down the long straight, from an Air con indoor room or an open deck. If the machines are too fast for you to spot, you can still use the venue to get yourself clicked with the riders and/or for some Instagram show-off.

At: Avani Sepang International Circuit

Finding The Kid In You At Sunway Lagoon

Perhaps one of the highlights in Selangor for a memorable holiday is the water park and the theme park at Sunway Lagoon. As soon as you hit the place, the lively atmosphere inside revitalizes your mind inside out and take you back to your younger days. From kids to adults to middle age couples, Sunway Lagoon is meant for all — even those who stay away from extreme rides, and are quite faint-hearted, like me.

Rejuvenated and revitalized: With other travel-bloggers from India 

Comprising of an Amusement Park, Water Park, Wildlife Park, Extreme Park, Scream Park, and Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon, Sunway Lagoon offers a flat admission fee for visitors, and costs RM153 (S$50) per adult and RM126 (S$42) per child (cheaper for Malaysian citizens) which is pretty value for money considering the number of attractions on offer. For a few activities like Bungee Jumping or GoKarting, however, you’ll pay extra.

We tried Bungee jumping (yes, I did too) and it was an experience of a lifetime. Located in the extreme park section, over the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world, walking onto which is an Instagram-achievement in itself. The Bunjee jumping site offers an elevation of 22 m/72 ft high, perfect for the first timers.

Bungy Jumping at Sunway Lagoon. Duration of jump: 6 seconds

Tantalizing Your Tastebuds With World-class Food

What do you get when you combine Malay, Chinese and Indian influences on a plate? An addiction to Malaysian food. If you’re visiting Malaysia, and it doesn’t matter which part, be ready to put on a few inches of the waistline, because here, people take food a bit too seriously. Here, they do not believe in the customary 3 meals a day, but rather count on at least 5-meals a day. And when you’re surrounded by all the great food in the world, pretty much all the time, how can you actually even not.

Food is one of the highlights in Malaysia. And eating at least 6-times a day is a custom

Visit one of the local Nasi Kandar food joints for a cultural experience, or someplace fancier to tantalize your taste-buds even furthermore, and capturing memories of a fine-dining experience in Malaysia. Out of the few hotel restaurants we visited during our 5-day blog-trip, a couple of them that I particularly loved for their great ambiance and a fine-dining experience, would be One Worlds Hotel in Petaling Jaya and Avani Sepang Goldcoast Resort in Sungai Pelek.

More than food, though it’s definitely worth a mention, something that put Avani Sepang in my top charts was the amazing views you get from their restaurants. It’s one of the two Zen Retreats Near Kuala Lumpur, that I recommend.

Satisfying views from the restaurant window at AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort, Selangor

Exploring The Heritage Town Of Klang

For history buffs, the Heritage town of Klang offers a bounty of cultural and historic sites. Take a free English walking tour around the city, hosted by the city’s municipal council and Tourism Selangor (every weekend) or simply explore its many streets on your own. We did a walking tour with them which took us around a 3km loop in under 2.5 hours. We covered some of the highlights in the city including Klang Fire Station, Sultan, Abdul Aziz Royal Gallery and Royal Klang Club, among others. You can book a tour for free, on their website here.

The heritage city of Klang

Another point of interest is the town of Little India, which is one of one of several Indian business districts in the Klang Valley, but the one you can find in Klang is just a bit intense, to be honest. From Indian astrologers luring tourists on streets to high-end jewelry shops, the Little India in Klang Valley takes you to a different part of the continent altogether. You can even buy Tamil magazines and other local Indian products.

The many Little India towns in Malaysia are so Indian in their appearance that they take you back some 7 thousand km. This shop here, for example, can be seen selling Indian magazines, published in Tamil, in addition to other Indian products.

How to Reach Selangor

The state of Selangor basically surrounds Kuala Lumpur, and depending upon which part of Selangor you want to go to, if you’re starting from Kuala Lumpur downtown, you reach between half an hour to two hours drive. An interesting thing to note, however, is that the Kuala Lumpur airport, which otherwise has been named on the city Kuala Lumpur, is actually located in Selangor, so technically speaking you’re actually inevitably flying to Selangor and then making your way to the biggest and most popular city in Malaysia. We flew with MalindoAir from NewDelhi to (Kuala Lumpur International Airport1) and then hired a mini van to reach KKB — our first destination in Selangor.

Selangor In A Nutshell

Much of Selangor to the west and south of Kuala Lumpur is a part of the Klang Valley conurbation, which is the most developed part of the country. It is an area of sprawling townships and large industrial estates linked by networks of highways. Here also are the country’s main airport and port, as well as the federal territory of Putrajaya, the Malaysian administrative capital.

However, man-made and natural attractions are plentiful, that draw-in both local and international tourists. There are great day trips to be made here from Kuala Lumpur, whether to see a Hindu temple at the Batu Caves, discover indigenous crafts at Pulau Carey , experience the rainforest near KKB, or exploring the old royal towns such as Klang.

I visited Selangor on a FAM trip hosted by Tourism Selangor and Malindo Air. Though my trip and experiences were all sponsored, all recommendations and advice are totally personal. I only recommend what I personally like.

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Zen Retreats In Selangor, Near Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur can be a great city for a first timer, but if you’ve been there before, or are going to be staying in the town for a few days, be well informed that the town may appear as one chaotic mess. It is one of those cities in the world that never sleeps. Its energy hits you in the face and the madness grows on you over time. Everywhere you turn in Kuala Lumpur there is blocked traffic, crowded sidewalks, annoying taxi-drivers and smoggy air.

But the good thing is, Kuala Lumpur is not short of quick and accessible getaways or, of Zen Retreats!

Drive an hour or two, in any direction and you’re either going to end up in a thick rainforest, or somewhere closer to the musical sound of the ocean, a kind of setting perfect for a quiet holiday experience. During my recent 5-day blogtrip with Selangor Tourism and Malindo Air, I happened to explore a peaceful forest reserve in the north of Kuala Lumpur, and an idyllic beach resort in its south — two very different and distinct places, yet equally charming. And one thing that made them similar despite their differences, was the piece of mind you get there.

The Sticks, in Kuala Kubu Bahru
Imagine waking up to the sound of birds chirping, the whisper of rustling leaves, and the yellow morning sunlight shining on your face. Wouldn’t that be blissful? Well, you can actually experience a similar setting if you’ll visit The Sticks, an eco-resort located at an hour’s drive from downtown Kuala Lumpur, a visit. Smacked within the tropical rainforest in Kuala Kubu Bahru, in Hulu Selangor region, The Sticks can be a perfect hideout spot for urban millennials. The only thing is, be prepared to get some nasty mosquito bites (unless you apply a mosquito repellant) and coming across some deadly-looking spiders and lizards.

Located in the dense rainforest of Hulu Selangor district, The Sticks is an ideal Zen Retreat near Kuala Lumpur.

To get here, you will need to do a short 10-minute trek (so make sure you bring a backpack, not a suitcase) which takes you away from the nearest road connection, guaranteeing a peaceful stay at the property. The trek moreover passes through a beautiful suspension bridge located over the stream of Sungai Meranti. A natural pool for some evening-tubing can moreover be spotted in the stream.

 

The sheds here are intentionally created with a minimalist feature, free from any lavishness, with the sole purpose to allow you to fully immerse in the beauty of the jungle. If you feel like being a bit adventurous, you can always opt for exciting activities like jungle trekking, river rafting, or taking a dip at the cascading waterfalls and plunging pools. So don’t forget to bring your swim shorts and some sun-screen.

An interesting thing to note is, the entire property has been built on a former tin mining site, keeping the environmental sustainability in mind. The resort facilities were constructed with a minimal clearing of the surrounding rainforest. Accommodations are powered with solar energy and supplied with water from the nearby stream of Sungai Meranti.

Other than water activities, another fun activity to fill-up your day with is paragliding at the nearby site of Batu Pohat hill at Millennium Park.

The park is located at 10-minute drive from The Sticks.

Avani Gold Coast Resort

If you’re more into beaches and luxury, with a bit of fine-dining, while literally floating over the sea of Malacca as you sleep inside your bedroom, the AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort is the place to be. About 90 km south of downtown Kuala Lumpur (a 45-minute drive) towards the coast, AVANI offers its guests a relaxing water escape.

It features over-water villas that, together, and if seen from a distance overhead, form the shape of a palm tree. Stretching over one kilometer of water, the luxurious villas are placed over the sheltered waters, while perfectly balancing accessibility and isolation.

Stretching over one kilometer of water, the luxurious villas are placed over the sheltered waters, while perfectly balancing accessibility and isolation. With that said, the best thing about staying in AVANI Sepang Goldcoast is the panoramic ocean views right from your bedroom window.

The food at AVANI Sepang Goldcoast was delicious too! With five different restaurants plus room service, we were spoiled with choices at every meal. Breakfast was served in a buffet-style with a huge selection of Asian and western dishes.

The beautiful infinity pool located by the Clubhouse is everyone’s favorite area. From the infinity pool we got the sweeping views of the ocean, and around the pool is two rows of cabanas. Perfect for anyone who prefers some time in the shade!

As for the activities, you can choose to laze by the pool and enjoy the resort’s facilities, or pick a ball and head out to the beach for some exciting beach games. The Resort also has some free daily programs lined-up to keep guests busy such as Yoga, Power Walk, Bicycle tours for beginners and adults, Zumba for kids, beach soccer and beach volleyball and a Zumba Live party. If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, go for a short boat tour along the mangrove river and watch the tropical flora and fauna. Expect to spot a bunch of lame monkeys, and if lucky, perhaps a few Mangrove Monitor Lizards as well.

But even if not, just like it happened with me, you will have your time capturing life around the Mangrove.

Read: Other Things To Do In Selangor

I visited Selangor on a 5 Day FAM trip hosted by Tourism Selangor and Malindo Air. Though my trip and experiences were all sponsored, all recommendations and advice are totally personal. I only recommend what I personally like.

Tips On Travelling Through Western Australia If You Aren’t Driving

Western Australia is a road trip hot spot. There is something for everybody, especially if you opt to take a self-drive through the regions spanning the biggest state down under. Here you can find moving sand-dunes, white sand beaches, some 100,000-year-old sandstone formations, massive gorges, mountain ranges, vineyards, historical towns, indigenous communities and everything else you can think about. One thing for sure, the roads and highways are really great and you’re going to have the best time of your life driving.

But hey, wait, what about those who are not driving, and wanted to travel across Western Australia, the country’s biggest and the least populated state, using public transport? Is it even possible for someone to travel here, should they decide not to drive? Well, I’d give a Yes and a No, at the same time.

If you’re going to and from the main cities, like Perth or Albany or Broome, you should be fine, though the frequency of buses and train connecting different cities will always remain poor. Moreover, the cost of transport is so heavily overrated that you are not going to be very happy using it much. On the east coast of Australia, buses and trains are the cheapest options. On the west coast, the case is rather the contrary. Here buses are surprisingly expensive, due to limited competition, and there are not many people moving up and down the coast. At times, you may feel that it’s easier and cheaper to fly out in Western Australia than travel by land unless you’re driving. For example, a 250km ride between Perth and Margaret River, which takes less than 4 hours can cost a whopping 77 dollars if you aren’t eligible for a student or a senior citizen discount – which, as a traveler, will most likely be your case. So what are your chances?

Tips On Travelling Through Western Australia If You Aren’t Driving

Use Facebook Rideshare Groups

One of the quickest, convenient and cheapest way to travel in Australia is ride sharing. Find someone who is going in same direction and chip in some fuel money. Moreover, in a country where people are always struggling to travel, ride sharing is even more active, as so was the case in Western Australia.

Facebook groups can be a great way to find people to travel with. For example, I used Margaret River Ride Share Facebook group to find someone to ride with, and travelled from Margaret River to Perth in under 3 hours (the guy drove pretty fast) for only 20 dollars, a bus would have cost 77 dollars. Pretty sweet deal, right? Search similar Facebook groups, targeting the city you are going to or leaving from, and you never know if you may go lucky just like I did.

Find Someone In Your Hostel

If you just happen to check the notice board of your hostel, chances are you may find a sticky note humbly asking you to share a ride. If not, why not stick a note for yourself, or ask at the reception of your hostel, and moreover of a few motels nearby you. Forget sharing fuel cost, some kind people sometimes even drop travellers for free.

From Bunbury to Margaret River in south, I found a humble lady in my hostel who was driving to Margaret River. Not did she drop me right in front of my hotel doorstep in Margaret River, but also quickly toured me around the city and took me to the beach to grab a quick sunset. Here’s a Facebook post I did on my page, thanking her.

Use Transwa, They Have The Widest Network In Western Australia

Though you may find a few other bus companies operating in different part of WA, for example, Southwest Coachlines in the Southwest region and Integrity Coachlines in the Northwest, among others, Transwa has the most widespread network of national and regional buses and trains, particularly in and around Perth. They’re moreover slightly cheaper than others, so if nothing works out, give their website a visit and see if have a service where you’re going.

Recommended Read: Best Spots For Photography In Perth

What About Hitchhiking?

Honestly speaking, I never tried hitchhiking in Australia. Though the idea struck me a few times, other people always discouraged the idea by saying it’s not safe anymore. Speaking of legal matters, to the best of my knowledge it’s not actually illegal to hitchhike in Australia, although some states (particularly Victoria and Queensland) make you believe it is. In Western Australia, on the contrary, this is definitely not the case and is comparatively okay to hitchhike. On highways, it will most certainly be illegal to do so as people are not allowed to walk on them, so be careful. Moreover, since obstructing traffic is an offense throughout Australia you need to have your wits about where and how you’re doing it.

All in all, hithchiking never felt like a good idea to me, not because it felt unsafe, but because road laws in developed countries have always been too complicated for me to handle.

That’s all I’d to share. But is there anything you’d like to add? Any suggestions, spill in comments below.

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What To See And Do In Bunbury

There are some towns that you instantly build a liking for, and Bunbury, for me, turned out to be one among them. As I left Perth and traveled south to Bunbury, on a chilly Monday morning in August, the time of the year when tourism in Southwest of Australia is at its all time low, I found a city unlike any other. It was quiet yet not dead, urban yet bucolic.

Western Australia’s third largest city Bunbury, has something for everyone — from beaches to wildlife to wineries. But one thing that makes it wonderful to a next level is a peaceful locale it offers! You’ll arrive for only a few days, but you’ll want to stay forever, as was the case with me. When I initially arrived in Bunbury, I’d planned to stay for only 2 nights, rather I ended up staying four.

It was wet and cold when I visited Bunbury, and had I arrived a couple of weeks later, I’d have explored a completely different side of the city. As soon as the winter goes weak, after the month of August, Bunbury, just like most of the Western Australia, turns into a green lushness to rival the countryside in Europe. Rolling hills with views stretching out to the coast makes it too beautiful to handle.

Visiting Bunbury During Off-season

Since Bunbury is located along the shore, it’s a perfect little town to enjoy the beautiful Australian beaches and trying out different water adventure activities including surfing and swimming with Dolphins, but if you just happen to visit the town during off-season, as was the case with me, you may find almost everything being shut down. But on a bright side, an offseason means having no backpackers crowd and having all the beaches (even if they’re too cold to swim) to yourself.

In the month of August, from cafes to roads to hostels, everything spoke of nothing but tranquility. I particularly loved enjoying the everyday sunset from Marlston Hill Lookout Tower, with no one around, where (as I was told) during peak tourist seasons, the place can be so full that you may have to wait – and sometimes even miss the sunset – to find a spot on its observation deck.

Recommended Places & Experiences In Town

Other than beaches and sunsets, Bunbury is home to a wide range of wild and aquatic life. Visit Bunbury Wildlife Park (10 dollars entry for Adult) to meet and feed the Kangaroos, spot nearly 40 different native bird species, Wallabies, Wombats and some ugly looking reptiles. Another interesting place very close to Bunbury National Park is Big Swamp Walk, that promises some cool photo opportunities. Walk all the way to the boatshed and you will find enough places to stop by and pose.

If you’re in town, don’t miss the Dolphin Discovery Centre. Spare some time and stand still on the beach under their care to spot a Dolphin for free or book a cruise trip with them for a guaranteed Dolphin spotting. You can moreover touch a starfish, feed an Octopus and spot a Sea Horse in their little aquariums.

The entry to Discovery Center (during the time I visited) was free.

For those interested in photography, sunsets, and beaches, visit the Wyalup-Rocky Point before the dusk to catch a beautiful sunset and a dramatic and colorful shade along the horizon of Indian Ocean.

Also Read: Best Spots For Photography In Perth

Visiting The Fairyland Of Gnomsville

About half an hour drive from Bunbury lies one of the most quirky attractions of Southwest Australia – Gnomesville, in Ferguson Valley. As you approach the area, you begin seeing the gnomes, and well, they’re quite intimidating so you won’t even miss. It is estimated that there are now over 5000 different gnomes in Gnomesville left behind by visitors, and the number is continuously growing.

There are remarkably few people who know exactly how the first few Gnomes came here and who placed them. However, there are several different stories.

Some say that a random gnome appeared, and other people placed their gnomes so the original one would not be lonely. Another story says, it all started by local workmen who created a cricket scene in the middle of the roundabout which links Wellington Mill Road and Ferguson Road, to create an attraction, and other people followed. But whatever’s the truth, the entire mob of Gnomes in Gnomsville is surely something unique in the world and worth exploring.

Where Did I Stay

As a solo traveler my first choice always turns out to be a backpackers hostel, thus while in Bunbury I stayed at Wander Inn, located hardly 50 steps away from the Ocean Drive and the beach. Moreover, with a big common area in front and back, and a free Pool Table, finding friends there was never a problem. I’m sure the place turns absolutely mad, bustling with backpackers during a good season time.

Have you been to Bunbury? Please share any of your own tips or suggestions. Or leave a question and I’ll hopefully be able to answer it.

Other Places Of Interest In Western Australia: Swan Valley | The Pinnacles & Yanchep National Park | Fremantle | The Scene Of Public Transport In Western Australia

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Finding My Love For Astrophotography And Stargazing In Australia

As I grabbed myself in the middle of a pitch-dark forest with nothing but a cosmic diffusion of blackness spread all around and looked above, the sky glittered in the distance. It felt like a fairy tale with a million stars twinkling in my eyes. I couldn’t recall when did I last saw something as beautiful and surreal.

They say that the Southern Hemisphere holds all the good stuff, with most of the largest and brightest galaxies visible directly through a naked-eye. I couldn’t agree more. Here the central parts of the Milky Way are always directly over your head, stretching from the horizon to horizon, like an open, brilliant bruise.

As the night grew darker, and any sort of artificial light disappeared, the many diffused nebulas and a hazy Milky Way took over the reality, giving an unbelievably strong bright light, casting dramatic shadows of anything and everything that stood tall on the ground.

At about 3-hour drive, in the east of Perth, The Space Place Observatory (the place I was volunteering at) offered people around Perth a quick escape and an ideal way to explore and learn more about the universe.

The business was run by a middle-age couple Hans and Bella, who were, themselves, fascinated by the idea of stargazing, hence decided to pursue their passion by running a family business around it. Owning a few high range telescopes and giving people a flabbergasting experience of their lifetime, to me, at least, it felt like a wonderful retirement plan.

I remember the first time I looked through the telescopes, as it pointed towards Saturn, it was an experience of a different kind. So far in this lifetime, I grew up hearing and reading that name, but now I was actually looking at it. Never did I feel so real and insignificant at the same time.

And the fact that some of the galaxies, that I later saw, were a few billion light-years away, (meaning that the light that made me see them was) belonging to a time when dinosaurs were still alive on earth, was totally overwhelming!

The first “wow” moment of my stargazing adventure, however, took place before I had even looked through a telescope. Staring up at the cloudy night sky one cold August evening when winter hits the southern hemisphere with all its might, I spotted a bright pinprick of light to the south-west. “Which star is that?” I asked Bella, who was too consumed repeating “gorgeous” over and over again. A few moments later, she relied, “Rigel, one of the few brightest starts up there,” sounding a little irked, as if I’d almost disturbed her from a meditative state.

I happened to stay with Hans and Bella for nearly a week, as a workawayer, helping them in the garden, managing guests during the nights of stargazing event, and a bit of help here and there, including feeding and looking after their bunch of cute Alpacas.

I had a one bedroom caravan to myself, parked in an open field, with nothing but a few acres of garden surrounding me from one side, and a stable with four cute Alpacas inside, on the other. Right above, was the beckoning infinite space that sparkled almost every-night, during the time I stayed there.

I think volunteering is a wonderful way to travel and learn more the world we live in, as it allows you to absorb a place more closely and relatively, than you otherwise can. And because of the fact that you’re volunteering for someone, they are always more eager to share ideas, their learning, and expertise with open arms.

During my one week stay with Hans and Bella, I visited the nearby towns with them every-time they went shopping, visited the community fire-department station (because they’re volunteering there) and met almost all the guests that visited them in the house. The learning was unlimited, and the memories, long-lasting.

In just one week, I learned more about the outer-space and the planets that surround us, than the entire life put together. Though I think I still know (almost) nothing about it, because there’s so much to learn about it that you never believe in yourself no matter how much you know. Almost like my two weeks of volunteering in a Horse-farm in Germany, where even a daily riding lesson felt like nothing in the end.

But just like many other experiences, that came my way as I continue travelling footloose and free, while following the idea of slow-travel, this one-week of stay with Hans and Bella, in their lovely property, with all the unique experiences we shared together, is going to stay in my happy memories, almost forever!

[Also Read: My Workaway Experience In Rome]

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9 Best Spots For Photography In Perth

With a constant green of a surrounding forest, a saturated yellow tropical sand, and some periodic rain coming my way, as the train journeyed towards Toodyay, from Perth, in Western Australia, I felt a sudden nostalgia towards the city I’d just left behind. “What a cute little city Perth was,” said a wistful voice inside me. But alas! I had left it behind. A part of me still wanted to return and enjoy a bit more of the beauty that ‘little Perth’ had to offer.

If you know exactly what you’re looking for, and where, Perth can be quite promising, at least for photographers. With its never-ending charm, no matter how many days you stay there, the city constantly appears like a series of beautiful pictures seemingly shot at the first morning light, or right before the sunset, when the entire world changes itself from a bright white to a soothing pink, or a dissolving yellow. Not to mention, there’s much more to explore in Perth, than the obvious — a series of beautiful beaches and a glittering skyline. So just hit the street and let the seeker inside you go all wild and crazy.  And for some assured and good Instagram pictures for you and your family, here are my 9 favorite photography spots in Perth.

Not to mention, there’s much more to explore in Perth, than the obvious: a series of beautiful beaches and a glittering skyline. So just hit the street and let the seeker inside you go all wild and crazy.  And for some assured and good Instagram pictures for you and your family, here are my 9 favorite photography spots in Perth.

Kings Park  

Perhaps the most popular and easily accessible place (that can be reached using the free city bus) to capture Perth’s skyline from, with a bit of green and a glittering blue in the frame, is Kings Park. The elevated position of the place gives sweeping panoramic views over the city, with the Swan River and the Darling Ranges beautifully distributed in the distance. Walk along the Frazer Avenue to find your favorite spot, or head straight to Kaarta Gar-Up Lookout for great views.

Cottesloe Beach

Popular among locals and tourist alike, Cottesloe beach is a bustling strip of glittering white sand, clear turquoise waters and the iconic Indiana Tea House that takes the center-stage on the foreshore. To get the best shot, time your visit for the early evening to catch a west coast sunset. The beach is moreover popular for surfing if you want to capture some water sports and related activities in Perth.

Trigg Island Beach

A few beaches away from Cottesloe, and towards the north, lies the undisputed king of Perth’s surf beaches. Trigg Beach is full of surfers and adrenaline junkies during summer, but if you happen to visit it during winter (an offseason for water sports) it can just be one of the most beautiful and peaceful beaches you may find. Be here before dusk, to catch a perfect sunset and get beautiful shades along the Indian Ocean.

 Swan Valley

If you thought Perth is all about white sand beaches and a towering skyline, well, thing again. Because at a just 30-minute drive from Perth CBD, lies Australia’s second oldest, and one of the popular wine regions. With over 40 world class wineries the beautiful Swan Valley, makes it feel like a different world. And its many vine-lined vineyards make for some great photos.

Elizabeth Quay

If capturing the glittering skyline and its dramatic, dissolving shadows is your thing, look no further than Elizabeth Quay. Just walk around the place to find your favorite spot, or get on the striking bridge to capture a thousand twinkling lights of skyscrapers and a bit of you, in the background.

Foreshore Walk

If you want to catch Perth’s skyline from a distance, with the beautiful Swan River flowing in the foreground, take a ferry from Elizabeth Quay and go to the other side of river Swan. Known as Foreshore Walk, this 2 km long walk, made up of dirt tracks and grassed areas, offer panoramic views of the city skyline.

You can moreover do different tricks while riding on the ferry.

Graffiti Laneways

From skyscrapers to laneways and everything in between, street art in Perth is revitalizing Perth’s public spaces and fabricating its social scene. And one of the many laneways to uncover in Perth to click some amazing tapestry of street art and make it an exciting backdrop for a happy snap, is the hip and grungy Wolf Lane. Other places of similar interest may be Prince Lane and Nick’s Lane.

Crawley Boatshed

As the first morning light hits the city, the Crawley Boatshed, popular for its ideal wedding shoot location, comes into life. A stunning piece of nautical architecture, the boat shed offers a rather romantic site for photographers and daydreamers to let their creativity go wild and footloose free. The best time to be at Crawley Boatshed, however, is before dawn.

Fremantle

At 25 minute drive from Perth, lies Perth’s most iconic and historic suburb the town of Fremantle. A perfect place to explore, especially for those who love colonial style architecture, Fremantle literally takes its visitors back in time. Every street unwinds its own version a sublime selection of historic buildings, that are now pubs or hotels or fast food restaurants. And if you want to imagine the pioneer life as soon as you enter the city, head straight to the West End, particularly the Cappuccino Strip, which is a busy cosmopolitan mix of cafes, restaurants, and pubs, with one thing in common – their buildings dating back to 18th and 19th century.


Either visit the above-mentioned places or find someplace new, because wherever you choose to take a photo, with Perth’s dry and sunny weather, you can be sure that it will be a stunner. 

Any other suggestion on best photography sites in Perth? Spill in comments below!

Continue planning your trip to Perth, by reading: Wine Tasting In Swan Valley | Street Art In Perth | Day Trip To The Pinnacles From Perth  

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Where To Find The Street Art In Perth

No matter where I am, as soon as I hear that there is some street art to discover, there’s no need to tell me twice. I’ve some affection to street art, some personal liking that I make it a priority – and that’s exactly what happened while I was in Perth.

As I arrived in the city and started walking from the Perth central train station to Haus Accommodation, the hostel I was going to staying in, located just a few streets down the road from the train station, I came across some random but startling art murals. A bit of inquiring with the hostel staff, and I found that Perth, just like a few other towns around the world, may just be a graffiti art lovers’ heaven.

During the past decade, Perth has rapidly transformed itself into a modern-day artist’s playground, with its urban tapestry of street art adding new shades to its culture, and taking over the city, almost beautifully. From skyscrapers to laneways and everything in between, street art is revitalizing Perth’s public spaces and fabricating its social scene. And to honestly tell you, the many graffiti dominated streets, located around the city-center in Perth, can just be one of the highlights for a tourist to uncover. Though it may still take a few good years for Perth to challenge the likes of Ljubljana’s Metelkova Graffiti Area or Street Art In Penang, the booming street art scene here is still transforming bleak walls across the city and sculpting them into a cultural oasis.

Starting Off With Nick’s Lane In Northbridge

I found that no area is undergoing a change more dramatic than Perth’s largest entertainment precinct, Northbridge. Shifting from its former reputation as an infamous hot spot for night-time activity, Northbridge is now a beating soul of Perth’s community and night life events. Just walk across its many intermingled streets and you may come across impressive street art almost everywhere.

Many cafes and bars have subtly transformed themselves too, including my hostel, that provides colorful artworks on pretty much on every wall. But to find an overload of street art, head straight to Nick’s Lane, which is a long stretch of colorful buildings painted in red and blue and green, and an overload of beautiful graffiti being done on them.

Next: Prince Lane & The Highlighted Wolf Lane Carpark

A small but interesting thoroughfare to start with, as you slowly move towards the city center, is Prince Lane, that provides creative art murals in the form of a weaved montage. Though its shabby appearance may look a bit scary and dangerous to walk at night, during the day time, you will find Prince Lane no less vibrant and colorful.

Also Read: Best Sport For Photography In Perth

The many colored-garbage bins and the neglected red-bricked buildings complement the graffiti, done with them. A small 100 meter stretch of a laneway, Prince Lane quickly sets you in a mood to explore more of what Perth has to offer.

Moving further, Wolf Lane and its car park, which apparently is located just across the street, is perhaps the highlighted and most talked about graffiti areas in Perth. Sandwiched between Perth’s high-end fashion strip King Street and independent retail stores, Wolf Lane offers an environment of a different kind.

Its many quirky small bars and daytime cafés, surrounded by huge murals and charismatic small-scale art displays moreover offer you a rather offbeat experience of gulping down a pint of beer, while taking in the walls that pioneered the creative movement in Perth. To suggest you a couple, visit the much-loved bars of Cheeky Sparrow, or the cozy Wolf Lane Bar.

So, all in all, Perth offers more than just a stretch of beautiful beaches, a glittering skyline, a few highlighted suburbs like Fremantle, and the touristic vineyards in Swan Valley. A part of it is also artistically beguiling, if only you’re ready to range over and explore!

Have You Seen Many Graffiti Areas Around The World? What Would Be Your Favorite Place?

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A Day Trip To Fremantle, From Perth

“Everybody go to Fremantle on a Sunday morning, it’s one of those towns that are meant to unwind and relax” suggested the receptionist in my hostel. Staying in Perth on a work holiday visa for the past 7 months, her suggestion sounded no less than an expert advice. I was told that I can take a train from Perth to Fremantle from the main train station in Perth, situated about 5-minute walk from the hostel, and be there in no more than 25 minutes. Another way to get there was by taking a 60-minute cruise ride from Swan River, right next to Elizabeth Quay, that costs about 30 dollars.

Uninterested in a cruise ride, as I always have been, I decided to take a train. But if you end up in Fremantle after noon with a little to no idea about what to see and do there, as so was the case with me, the town may just feel a bit overwhelming. So a quick probe, and I found a list of over a dozen tour companies that run a half-day tour to Fremantle, from Perth.

The next thing I knew, I was in a 12-seater van with 7 other guests making my way to Fremantle, looking hopeless but absolutely forward to soak up the city in a quick guided tour. I booked my tour with Aussie Perth Tours, the same tour company I did a day trip to Pinnacles with, a couple of days ago.

To tell you honestly, Fremantle is not a town you would want to see in a hurry. A few good hours exploring its historic street and watching locals do their daily routine is a must. But if you’re bound with time, and driven by the idea of comfort, then a guided tour may just be a good idea.

After quickly picking up all the guests, our guide, Tony, started off with a quick introduction about Fremantle. Famous for its port, which technically is Western Australia’s one of the biggest, Fremantle came into the tourism radar after hosting the America’s Cup in 1987. Buildings were restored, cafes opened and the restaurant scene improved incredibly. In January 2012, the ISAF Sailing World Championships bought Fremantle into the news again.

But a fancy appearance and the many modern day events are not what makes Fremantle Fremantle. Its colonial style buildings and a rich history are the reason. As soon as you enter the town and walk along its many intermingled streets in the city center, you literally go back in time. Every street unwinds its own version a sublime selection of historic buildings, that are now pubs or hotels or fast food restaurants.

If you want to imagine the pioneer life as soon as you enter the city, head straight to the West End, particularly the Cappuccino Strip, which is a busy cosmopolitan mix of cafes, restaurants, and pubs, with one thing in common – their buildings dating back to 18th and 19th century. Famous for Italian influence of pizza and pasta, and the state’s best coffee, Cappuccino Strip is the center of Fremantle’s entertainment precinct.

Another highlight in the town is the Fremantle Markets, popular for its fresh and local produce, the many souvenir shops, and a great cozy atmosphere.

It’s a perfect place for tourists who want to get obviously Australian souvenirs like koala bear or kangaroo plushies, boomerangs, and that sort of thing. The place also offers a number of places to eat and tantalize the tastebuds.

And since everything, from Falafel rolls to Sushi and Teryaki, tastes no less world-class, I won’t give any suggestions and spoilers and let you experiment on your own, except for one thing – a cup of gluten free and an absolutely seductive coconut icecream, at Cocowhip. Though a 12 dollar price-tag may feel a little overwhelming to some people, but trust me guys, it will well worth an investment.

Moving forward, there are over 3000 heritage listed properties in the Fremantle area, with most of them retaining their classical facade, contrasting with the modern slopes of the neighboring buildings, and building a timeless balance between the old and the new.

All in all, Fremantle is a cute little town with its own kind of a laid back vibe, a bit of historic scenery and a mix of modern day art. And a quick day-trip from Perth, if you don’t have a few nights to totally dedicate to it, is definitely worth a consideration.

Have you been to Fremantle? What did you most like about it?

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Wine Tasting In Swan Valley: A Day Trip From Perth

If you thought Perth is all about beaches, beers and sunsets, take a deep breath and think again. Because at just 30-minute drive outside of the city, lies Australia’s second oldest, and one of the popular wine regions. With over 40 world class wineries, six breweries, two distilleries, and different fresh local produce, the beautiful Swan Valley, makes it feel like a different world.

Sitting on the Gnangara mound, a large mound of sandy but very fertile soil, its entire 105 sq km of land has been very thoughtfully planned. As you enter the Swan Valley and start exploring, you come across big and boutique vineyards harmoniously growing on either side of the road, making each site a sight to behold.

[Also Read: A Day Trip To The Pinnacles And Lancelin, From Perth]

With open spaces, vineyard vistas and plenty of fresh country air, the Swan Valley is a perfect place for day-trippers in Perth looking for some open spaces and fresh air. The only disappointment, however, is that there’s nothing (other than smart branding) to call Swan valley a valley, given its entire region land is amazingly flat just like its surrounding towns. But what it lacks in ‘valley’, it makes up for in great produce, good wines and friendly, passionate locals.

How To Plan A Day Trip to Swan Valley From Perth

If you want to make your own way to Swan Valley, be informed that regular train services operate from the Perth CBD to both Guildford and Midland (the two surrounding towns). But the sad thing is, there’s no public transport from these locations to the Swan Valley. So transport arrangements such as a hire car or chartered bus trip should be made for a bit of convenience and time-saving unless you’re planning on hiring a bike and pedalling it for yourself.

Speaking per my experience, booking a day trip (from Perth) will apparently be the best and the most convenient way to explore the region on a fast track, as it will take you to a few big and boutique wineries, a couple of breweries, and (perhaps) even to the regions only chocolate factory. I booked a full day tour with SVTours that took us to two big wineries, two boutique wineries, a brewery and a chocolate factory. The entire day was loaded with tantalizing wine tasting, periodic snacking, and the many uninterrupted conversations with the other tour members.

I think the idea of speed grazing, in small group tours, is simply brilliant. You get driven around the place, at a cracking pace, eating and drinking as much as you can in a fairly short time, while learning about the local produce. Do some shopping during the process if something catches your fancy or simply enjoy the day sampling and watching demonstrations.

Kicking Off With Some Wine-Tasting: The First Half of The Trip

Following the Great Eastern Highway for a few quick minutes, and in about 30 minutes of drive from Perth, we entered the beautiful Swan Valley. A quick overview of the day by our guide and we reached the first wine tasting location of Sandalford Winery that has been producing its own trademarked wines since the 1840s, making it one of Western Australia’s oldest, largest and most distinguished producers of premium wine.

Repeating the fundamentals of seeing, swirling, sniffing, sipping and savouring, we started our day with some sparkling, before slowly moving to sweet whites and reds. We tasted a total of eight different selection of wines, with some of the guests getting overwhelmed with their taste and ending up buying a few bottles for later.

The WINEderful tastings, however, soon took a toll and started confusing our tastebuds, as we tried more and more, and further moved to our second winery for another selection on 7 different wines at Mandoon Estate — another big, though fairly new, winery in the region, producing a large selection of selective trademark wines. Though Swan Valley has over 40 wineries, speaking of the size, most of them are boutique wineries, except for the two — Mandoon and Sanfalford, that produce and sell their wines outside of their establishment in Swan Valley. Mandoon Estate also runs an in-house brewery and a restaurant perfect for some delicious afternoon munchies.

Our tour group grabbed a table at Mandoon’s Homestead Brewery, where I ordered for myself some tapas and their freshly brewed lager to flush it down.

Second Half Of The Trip: Two Boutique Wineries, A Brewery, And The Chocolate Factory

Having my stomach satisfied, our brain back to senses and taste buds fairly neutralized, we headed to the first boutique winery at a short drive from the Mandoon. I think I like the idea of visiting boutique wineries and trying their products as they’re more particular and careful about what they produce — almost like buying some fresh produce from a local farmer than shopping at a big supermarket.

The first place we hit was the Windy Creek, that started producing their wines back in the 1930s, but with time they only got better. The atmosphere inside their boutique shop was comparatively cosier, and the bartenders, more customer-driven.

After sampling a few more fine wines that Windy Creek had to offer, we moved to another and the last vinery we were visiting for the day — Lancester Winery, which turned out to be my personal favorite, for its perfect ambience that boast perfect mix of indoor and outdoor locale, some great wines — including Chenin blanc, Verdelho, Chardonnay, and the legendary Old Vines Shiraz  — and a selection of local gourmet cheese.

The Last Two Stops: Mash Brewery & The Margret River Chocolate Factory 

Nearing the conclusion of our trip, we were taken to a local brewery to taste some in-house and freshly brewed beer. Mash brewery, as was named, has been a part of the craft beer movement in the country, since 2006, and if they are pretty good at it.

It is a unique little venue with brewery equipment on view, tall ceilings, long gorgeous wooden bar tables and painted pin-up girls on the wall. The restaurant area offered a rather casual eating experience with menus and plastic pots, and serviettes, knives and forks at your tables. The drink menu had a good selection of their handcrafted beer, with the wheat and Freo Doctor being the most selling favourites, though I ordered an Indian Ale!

Satisfied and pleased, we moved to our final stop that many of the tour members were long waiting for — the Margeret River Chocolate Factory. As the name rather suggested, it didn’t turn out to be a factory, but just a big, full of chocolate, consumer shop, with more than enough free chocolates to taste and even more to buy.

Things To Note

  • The 32km loop of Swan Valley, with its 150+ attraction, can feel overwhelmingly massive if you’ve only a day to spare. The best idea would be opting in for a guided tour unless you’re staying there for a few days.
  • Swan Valley is the first and the only Humane Food Region in Australia, meaning the kind of welfare that animals and their products get here is unmatched. Most of the items available here are moreover organic, making their way straight from the paddock to your plate.
  • If you’re looking for some rural charm while living in Perth, Swan Valley has it by the truck load. It moreover borders two diversified towns of Guildford (popular for its heritage rich) and Midland (a burgeoning retail hub).
  • If you’re doing the tour on your own, it’s best advised to make a pit stop at the Visitor Center in Guildford on your way to Swan Valley to get your bearing.
  • The Valley also has its own Heritage Cycle Trail with four different routes, each sign posted to tell stories, and depict interesting characters and points of interest. It’s said that touring the Swan Valley on a bicycle is the best way to go forward, but if only you’ve enough time.

Have you been to Swan Valley? What did you like the most about the place?

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