The Great Sights of Melbourne

Thursday, 28 May 2015
I’ve probably seen about 100 of these lists. Pretty much everyone says the same thing. Mine may be no different than the others. Mainly, I wanted to compose this list to help me categorise everything to do in Melbourne. There are so many amazing things about Melbourne (it can often be overwhelming to sit down and choose just one to write about)! Seriously, this city is pretty freaking amazing! There is never a dull day here. From nature to food, to festivals, to culture, there is always something happening in Melbourne. That may be why I love this city so much. It isn’t a city where you go, see a monument, snap a picture, and then that’s it. Each location I’m going to list has a variety of activities to do. Each time I visit them, I explore new areas, see new things, experience new things, and it's incredible! Not many cities have that capability. Some of my favourite things to do in Melbourne are:

This is one of my favourite places in Victoria. There is so much to along the Great Ocean Road. From the CBD, you can take short day trips up to Torquay, but I wouldn’t recommend going much farther unless you’re only planning on seeing one particular thing. One could easily spend a week exploring all the towns and sites along the Great Ocean Road. Along the 243 km road, you’ll encounter the 12 Apostles, Cape Otway and the Great Otway National Park, London Bridge, Loch Ard Gorge, Apollo Bay, Bells Beach in Torquay and much, much more!

Just like the Great Ocean Road, there is so much to see in the Dandenong Ranges. Fern Gully is a real place! I repeat, FERN GULLY IS REAL!! All you have to do is travel a wee bit outside the city, and you’ve reached it! I’ve only seen a small portion as of yet, but it reminds me of something straight out of Jurassic Park! There are so many hiking trails it’s fantabulous! If you’re into death by stairs, 1,000 Steps is the hike for you! Not only do you get to murder your glutes with heaps of stairs but you also get a nice little history lesson about the soldiers in 1942.

Sherbrooke Forest
Queen Victoria Market
I’m pretty much in love with Queen Vic Market. Yes, there are the stereotypical souvenirs, and you can’t really haggle here, but there is so much to choose from. There are the fresh fruit and veg, the meat, the cheese, the clothes, the souvenirs. The list goes on and on. During the summer they even do a night market! Heaps of food and drink to choose from. The only downside to the night market is that all the portions are standard sizes. They really should scale the portions down, so you are hungry enough to try all the fantastic food!

 I may be alone here, but I’m a sucker for adorable animals. Actually, scratch that, I’m a sucker for animals in general. Australia just so happens to be home to all of my favourites. After 26 years of life, I FINALLY got to see a platypus (One day I WILL wade with the platypi at Healesville Sanctuary)!  Three different zoo’s, three remarkably different places. Melbourne Zoo is excellent and reminds me a lot of the San Diego Zoo. Healesville is basically all Aussie animals. It’s awesome! And Werribee Open Range Zoo is basically like a Safari. Tip top Melbourne! A+ on your zoo game!

Playtime with the Dingo Puppies

Royal Botanical Gardens
 I realise I’m singling out RBG here, but basically, any of the gardens in Melbourne are completely fantastic! Seriously, Leslie Knope would freaking lose her shit if she came to Melbourne. I kid you not when I say every couple of blocks there’s a park or a garden. Royal Botanical Gardens is hands down my favourite. There is so much to see and so much to explore. Personally, I like that within the RBG there is a California Garden. It's a bit of my old home mixed right into my new home! Not gonna lie, though, the park at the end of my street is absolutely beautiful! Not bad for only have to walk a couple hundred meters down the street!
Neighborhood Park. Eat your heart out Knope!

Melbourne's CBD
There is a reason Melbourne is one of the best cities in the world to live in. There is always something going on, and there is so much life in the CBD. Yes, the hook turns can be insanely annoying, but there’s free, YES FREE, transportation within the CBD! There are so many fantastic sites to see within the CBD. There are the blatantly obvious like Flinders Street Station, the Library, Fed Square, Melbourne Museum, etc. But there are also insanely cool little alleyways with heaps of fabulous restaurants or awesome graffiti art. Every time I go to the city I find or see something new. It never ceases to amaze me!

Beautiful Sunset Over the Yarra

Phillip Island
Phillip Island is not just amazing due to the penguin parade. This island is freaking awesome. There is some incredible surfing! I personally prefer surfing on Phillip Island to the back beaches on Mornington Peninsula because there are fewer rocks and during the offseason, fewer people. Phillip Island reminds me a lot of Catalina Island. Which is fantastic because Catalina Island is one of my favourite places on the planet.
Surfing on Phillip Island
Port Beaches
The port beaches often get a bad rep. One really shouldn’t go swimming in the water, but that doesn’t take away from the amazingness of these beaches. Brighton Beach has the iconic bathing boxes, Port Melbourne and St Kilda have some impressive scenery, paddle boarding, and windsurfing, or Elwood Beach that has some pretty fantastic views of the city and has a friendly atmosphere.

Princes Pier, Port Melbourne
I love wine. In my family, if you don’t like wine, you’re basically disowned. I must admit, before my move to Australia, I knew nothing about Aussie wine. Sure, in the states you can get Yellowtail and Cupcake Wine (but I’m pretty sure Cupcake is a New Zealand wine that Americans try to pass off as Aussie) but let’s be real, my father would roll over in his grave if I ever drank either of those. They were mainly just cooking wine. I was a bit apprehensive to Aussie wine but after heaps of tastings and a wine appreciation course. I’ve actually started to enjoy Aussie wines. There are some fabulous wineries close to Melbourne. Yarra Valley is freaking awesome and if you’re headed to Healesville why not stop and do some wine tasting? Mornington Peninsula also has some fantastic vineyards with great views of the ocean.
Vineyard in Mornington

There is so much to see in Melbourne, and I’ve only seen a small fraction of the city. I’m always keen to hear ideas of places to see, food to try, and adventures to be had. I'd like to know, what's your favourite thing about Melbourne? Any favourite places to eat or have a drink? Let me know in the comments below!

And until next time...

Stay Curious!

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Meet My Partner: Why Inclusive Language is Best

Tuesday, 26 May 2015
Let me preface this post by saying it really has nothing to do with my partner. More so how much I prefer the use of the word partner to the term boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancé/husband/wife etc.

I must admit when I first got asked if I had a partner I was a little taken aback. In the U.S., the term partner is more commonly used in the LBGTQ+ community. So as I was sitting the back of my mate’s car and his misses asked me if I had a partner I just assumed he had told her I wasn’t into guys to make it a little less weird that I was staying at his house for the next two weeks (shame on my ignorance). But didn’t really question it because the last thing I wanted to do was cause issues and either way, at that time the answer was no. Since living in Australia, I actually prefer the term partner to any other term. I have a couple reasons why:
    Howdy Partner!
  •  No Pressure: This may just be me, but I feel by using the term partner the pressure is off. I don’t feel pressured to do what society or family/friends think I should be doing. It’s great! I feel like I can truly focus on the relationship part of a relationship! Woohoo!
  • “So When Are you ______”: This has to be the biggest difference I notice when introducing my significant other to people. When I say, “This is my boyfriend ___” I tend to get bombarded with questions like,  “How long have you been dating?”, “When are you getting engaged”; etc. I have friends that are engaged or married, and they’re often asked, “When’s the wedding?”, “How long what you been engaged?” “When are you having children”; etc. I have never once been asked these questions when I introduce my significant other as my partner. People do not focus on the stepping point of our relationship we “fall” into but instead, turn their focus on getting to actually know my partner. SHOCKER!!
  • It's Not a Checklist People!: Why do I get the feeling that relationships are turning into a massive checklist? Maybe this is part of the reason some marriages fail? Congrats! You're dating! Then, woohoo! You're engaged. Next, you've gone and got married and popped out a few kids…what’s next? There really isn’t another milestone where you can level up in the relationship. If the relationship consisted of ticking boxes, it’s likely going to fail. No checklist=no pressure to conform to what’s expected within a relationship. For the first time EVER, I haven’t felt the weight of this “checklist”. So what if I choose to not have children. Who cares if I don’t ever get married! Who cares if we decided to move to Antarctica and adopt a bunch of penguins as children. We’ll do what we feel is best for us!
  • It’s an All-Inclusive Title: By using the term partner, you’re not singling out any group of people. Saying the word partner makes it, so there is no awkward looks or apprehensive discussions when you assume someone is heterosexual. That way there’s no awkward conversation about how you just assumed a person fell into a specific category.
  • It Really is a Partnership: Sometimes I get the feeling that people are in relationships just to say they are. That totally defeats the purpose of being in a relationship. Yea maybe in high school or primary school it’s cool to say you have a boyfriend/girlfriend because that means you’re “mature”, but once you hit your twenties, it really becomes more than your newest flavour of the week. By using the term partner, I honestly feel like we are equals in the relationship. He is the person I’m choosing to share my life with. He’s there for the ups and the downs. I value his opinion. It is not a one-sided relationship. It’s a partnership. Decisions are made together. Even simple ones like which planter we should put in the backyard for the herb garden!

I guess at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter how you label your significant other. As long as you find that person who challenges you to be the best version of yourself, the person who wholeheartedly accepts and embraces your quirkiness, the person whom you can literally talk about anything, and there's no fear or judgement… what else really matters?

Which term is most common in your country? Do you prefer the term boyfriend/girlfriend to the term partner or visa versa? Share your stories in the comments below!

And until next time...
Stay curious!

Gong Hey Fat Choy

Sunday, 17 May 2015
Like many people these days, I have a bucket list of things I would like to do within my lifetime. Most involve seeing the world. Chinese New Year in China was one. I know that Hong Kong isn’t Mainland China but Chinese New Year in Hong Kong is still pretty freaking awesome. 

Year of the Goat/Sheep/Ram
Depending on who you asked, this year is either the year of the goat, the sheep, or the ram. Some places would even go as far as to say 'Happy Year of the Goat, Sheep, Ram' (Apparently it can be translated into one of the three animals). Regardless, everywhere in the city was decorated! It was amazing to see. Red was used EVERYWHERE! The colour symbolized good luck. Red envelopes with money will be handed out to family and workers as well. You could walk into shopping centres and find red envelopes hanging from trees. Simply amazing!

Big Buddha
Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha) is a breathtaking, massive statue of Buddha sitting near the Po Lin Monastery. Considering the statue is fairly close to the airport and I wasn't travelling with any luggage, this was the perfect first stop in Hong Kong. If you're travelling to Hong Kong as a backpacker, stop at Big Buddha after your flight lands (if it's still light out). It's worth it! 

There are a few ways to get to the Big Buddha: cable cars, bus, taxi, ferry, or the hike. *If you're going to hike, you're going to need quite a bit of time and it's not for the out-of-shape.* We took the cable cars and I highly recommend it! The ride is about 25 mins and you get amazing, breathtaking views of Hong Kong! 

There are plenty of shops and restaurants in the village before you get to the steps to Big Buddha. Once at the steps, its just a short, 280-something step walk up to the top. Definitely worth the trip up! 

What would I do different next trip? Get there earlier to spend more time exploring! I feel as though I rushed through the Monastery (seriously, I had to go back through pictures just to see if we actually made it there). I also would like to do SOME of the hike. Maybe not all of it, but just a bit. I'm thinking that spending some more time exploring around the monastery and Big Buddha would make it feel less touristy. Less like we only went to snap a few pictures and leave. 

Related Post: Angkor Temples: Temples to See When Touring the Small Circuit 

New Years Parade
I was beyond excited to see the Chinese New Year Parade. We got some pretty awesome seats to see the parade as well. While most were standing along the side of the streets, we decided to sit on the wall of a park, giving us prime viewing of the parade. Shortly into the parade, I realized this was going to be closer to a Western parade than I previously expected. I thought there would be heaps of lion and dragon dancers and other things relating to the year of the goat/sheep/ram. Most were local dance studios and floats of local businesses. The finale was also quite anticlimactic. But with the seats we had, it really was a great experience. 

Junk Boat Fireworks Show
So contrary to my initial belief, the boat is a junk boat, not a drunk boat! But... we did our darnedest to make it a drunk boat! Thanks to Cathy, we had prime viewing of the New Years fireworks from the harbour. This consisted of dinner, drinks, and a boat ride around the harbour before parking the boat in the middle to view the fireworks. It honestly was the most memorable part of my trip to Hong Kong! I enjoyed it so much! If ever you have the chance, this is the way you need to view the fireworks!

Chinese Food
Let's be real, I'm allergic to pork and fish so I was very hesitant to eat a bunch of different foods in Hong Kong. Positive: There's a massive variety in the food selection! And a majority of people speak English (Yay for not having to learn "I'm allergic to pork and fish" in Cantonese!). 

Related Post: Adventures in Hong Kong

Negative: I wasn't feeling too hot whilst in Hong Kong so I didn't venture too far in my food selection. But Chinese food in Hong Kong is definitely NOT Panda Express or Pick Up Stix (thank God!).

Ocean Park
This is the Hong Kong version of Sea World (plus there are rides on the top of the mountain!). Be prepared for lines, upon lines, upon lines. There were lines for everything! Even walking! Now I don't always do the best with crowds, especially big crowds. Not only were there heaps of people running or slowly, very slowly, walking around the park, but there were also railings guiding people in the way that they could walk. Some of them made absolutely no sense what so ever and you ended up walking way out of the way, other times it did actually help with the flow of traffic. By the end of the day, I felt like cattle being herded. 

Related Post: Chiang Mai: Volunteering at the Ran-Tong Elephant Sanctuary

But oh the animals!! The pandas are super adorable (who doesn't love pandas). Go see the dolphin show as well! It was really entertaining and I had to resist the urge on multiple occasions to get up and jump in the pool with the dolphins. There is also a pretty cool roller coaster up on the top of the mountain. It looks like you're walking into Luna Park and then the roller coaster is dangerously close to the edge of the cliff but gives you a pretty fantastic view (if it isn't cloudy). On non-windy days, you're able to take a cable car up to the top of the mountain but unfortunately, they were closed the day we were there.

Due to our short trip, I did not get to see all of Hong Kong. We did explore of some Hong Kong Central, went shopping, explored one of the markets and made a short trip up to the Peak. Exploring more of the culture is definitely on my to-do list for the next visit. There was so much that I didn't get to do on my first trip! Definitely visit Hong Kong if you ever get the chance! You won't be disappointed!

Until next time...
Stay Curious!

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Unanswered Questions I Have for Australia

Wednesday, 6 May 2015
I've been living in Australia for about 8 months now and yet, there are still some things that completely boggle my mind. I've asked about a few of these and usually get the "eh it just is" response. So here are some questions I have for Australia:

1. Why do you call lemon-lime pop lemonade?
Here lemonade is Sprite, 7-Up, etc. A lemon-lime carbonated beverage is not lemonade. Lemonade should be a lemon flavoured, non-carbonated drink sweetened with sugar. I've now been in Australia for 4 years and still occasionally get disappointed when I order a lemonade and get a Sprite. 

This is lemonade.

2. What's with the baby-shaped candies?
Because naturally when I eat sweets, I wanted to feel cannibalistic. The Starburst Babies aren't as weird to me as Chicos. Chocolate flavoured, baby-shaped candies...still struggling with this one. And am I the only one who finds this could border on mildly racist?

Weirds me out every time I see them. 
3. Why do you have chicken flavoured chips?
Again, why is this a thing? It seems like a strang flavour for a chip (not that America is free of oddly flavoured chips). I've tried them with an open mind and just haven't found one I enjoy. Some brands market them in a yellow bag (which in the US is the colour bag for regular flavoured chips). This is the only time I get irritated. I've accidentally bought chicken flavoured chips only because I wasn't paying attention. Major props on your Salt and Vinegar chips though! I much prefer the balsamic vinegar to whatever the heck Americans use on their salt and vinegar chips. 

Only really gets confusing when the bag is yellow.
4. Macca's Delivers?
This is soo American to me. I'm also mildly shocked that America didn't do this first. I'm curious, outside of drunk uni students, does anyone actually have Macca's delivered? I mean $30 minimum seems like a lot of Macca's. *Update* Macca's delivery is now on Uber Eats and Deliveroo. You no longer have to fork out $30 on Macca's. Just whatever meal you'd like and a small portion of your dignity. 
Lovin' it at 3 am!
5. How are bare feet allowed in stores?
I lived in a beach town in the US. I'm used to seeing people walking around without shoes on their feet. But even in those beach towns, you were required to put shoes on before entering a store. I hate shoes as much as the next person, hell I'll wear thongs in winter, but I still cringe a bit when I see people walking around without shoes in the shops (especially when I'm over an hour away from the beach).

NO! Just no!

6. Why is C-U-Next-Tuesday used as a term of endearment? 
I understand that is is not always used endearingly, but it's a pretty common word. I hear it as frequently as I hear "mate" being used. The first time I heard someone referred to as a "bloody c*nt", I quickly looked over thinking a fight was about to break out. To my surprise, they both were laughing and hugging one another. Who woulda thought! 

**Post Update** I have now learned to love the word C-U-Next-Tuesday (you're welcome mum. I censored my writing just for you and Granny Liz). America, please embrace this. Seriously. When you call your best friend c*nt and someone you've never met before mate, the world is a happier place. 

I'm sure in time I'll have a better understanding but until then, if someone could help me out that would be wonderful! What are some things that boggle your mind about America or Australia? Have any answers to my questions above; let me know in the comments below! 

Until next time…

Stay curious!

Do shoes hung over a telephone wire mean the same here as they do in the States? Or do people just want to be rebels and sling overly priced shoes over a telephone wire? 

Want to know other differences between the US and AUS? Check out the following:


Difficulties You'll Face When You Lose a Parent

Monday, 4 May 2015
Today has been the first day in a long time I’ve cried because I miss my dad. Most days I can keep it together, but some days, it genuinely sucks. I hate the feeling that three years later I have to question whether my reactions to certain things are “normal” grief responses. I may be alone in this situation. I may over analyse my feelings because of my psych background. But what if I’m not alone? What if others fear the same thing? Losing a parent SUCKS! I haven't always coped with my grief in the healthiest of ways. Maybe others have gone through similar situations/feelings as me. I decided to share the ways my father's life has negatively impacted me:

  • Everything He Will Miss: This is probably the most obvious. There’s weddings, graduations, the birth of grandkids, moves, promotions, etc. The list could go on forever. The first number I dialled when I decided to move to Australia was my dad's old cell number. Right before hitting dial it hit me if someone did answer it wouldn’t be him. This is sometimes the hardest concept to wrap my head around. How is it that a man, whom I’d never known a day of my life without, will miss so much? Special events, such as holidays, are also still hard. People are really great about keeping in touch the first couple weeks after a death. Slowly, the world goes back to their normal lives and slowly, so did I. But there are still times that hit you like a semi truck. Especially when I started taking over for holiday cooking or decorating. Christmas this year was harder than I expected. I did ok the last two years but being away from all my family and not having my "Twas the Night Before Christmas" book my dad made as a joke one year, made the holidays rough. 

  • The Random Times: You expect holidays, birthdays, and the anniversary of the death to be painful but no one prepares you for the random times you’ll be overcome with sadness, anger, etc. It happens at the most random times, in the most random places, and normally, with minimal triggers. When I first moved to AUS, I was sitting on the tram and BAM! I started balling hysterically because I realised I couldn't share this with my dad. It gets better with time, but I’m not sure it's something that entirely goes away.

  • Fear of Loss: After my dad had passed away, I developed an extreme fear of loss. This manifested itself in some ways. Before his death, I was in a relationship that had reached its end point. About the time I was going to end it, he passed away. I decided I would wait to terminate the relationship until after the New Year because I couldn't deal with any more loss (I lost my grandma and dad within 45 days of one another). How messed up is that statement? I was willing to stay in a relationship I knew wasn’t functional for the sheer fact that I was afraid of loss. Over the last 3 years, there have been other situations where similar proceedings have followed. It’s happened with friendships, school, and minuscule day-to-day functions. I still struggle with this one a bit, but I’ve come a long way!

  • Isolation: I became very isolated after my father's death. I do not mean that I isolated myself from others but that I became insanely focused on what I wanted. I did not care about how my actions would affect anyone else as long as at that time, it protected my sanity. I did this in some ways, but mainly it was just completely shutting down. It became very challenging to correct this maladaptive behaviour.

  • The Broken “Helper Gene”: This may sound completely contradictory to the previous comment but after my dad passed my “helper gene” was broken. I’ve always tried to help others. I realise I’m only human, and there are times I’ve failed miserably, but for the most part, I try to help whenever I can. After my dad passed and I got out of my selfish rut, I became overly fixated on what and how others were feeling. I often put way more effort into a situation if I thought it would save others from some sort heartache in the future. You know what the biggest problem with this is? I’m not sure I was helping for the right reasons. The few situations this happened, it just created tension between myself and the people I didn’t want hurting. I tried to maintain toxic friendships to save other friendships; I invested heaps more into my clients instead of matching the client's effort, etc. I became obsessed with the idea of making sure someone wasn’t suffering. Basically, if I couldn’t help myself, I would try and help someone else. How was this healthy? IT WASN’T!  I wasn’t working on my own grief. I was merely bypassing it for a period of time.
  • The Loss of Understanding: It isn’t a secret to those close to me that my father and I both suffer from familial hemiplegic migraines. These types of migraines basically mimic stroke symptoms along with all the other awesomeness that accompanies a migraine and is passed genetically within families. It’s incredibly difficult losing the one person who actually understands what you’re going through.  I have people in my life who try to understand and empathise, but it’s not the same. I see the worry, concern, pity, annoyance, stress, questioning, etc. in a lot of people. It’s comforting to have at least one person understand what you’re going through. That it’s real and is as much of a headache as Godzilla is a tiny lizard.

The list could truly go on forever. Every day something occurs that I think “I should call my dad” or “Dang I wish he was here so I could tell him about this story. He’d love it” or some other reason to reach out to him. I often wonder if he would be proud of my decision to move across the world. I often think back to all the times we discussed diving the Great Barrier Reef and how I really need to get up to Cairns so I can FINALLY do that. No matter how many times I tell myself that death is an inevitable part of life it still sucks. It will always suck. I’ve lost some amazing people in my life way before I was ready to have them leave. And it’s not fair. Not in the slightest. One of the only comforting thoughts I have is that those we love, never truly leave us. This may sound cliché but I’ve had too many experiences that tell me otherwise, and this is incredibly comforting. 


A Weekend Getaway to Bali

Friday, 1 May 2015

Bali is one of the most beautiful islands I've ever been to. I've now been twice. My two experiences were vastly different from one another. The first time I went to Bali, I went as part of a risk and trauma assessment class. We got to see various areas of the island, got a first-hand experience as to how the Balinese live, and were immersed in the Balinese culture. My most recent trip was purely for a holiday. The entirety of the journey was spent in Ubud, attempting to relax. This trip had many positives but also a few negatives.
My sad attempt at yoga.
  • Do NOT trust what you find online: On my first trip to Bali, our transport was arranged for us. We didn't have to worry about haggling taxi drivers for the best trip. I did quite a bit of research online trying to figure out what a fair taxi cab price from the airport to Ubud would be. The airport has a website that shows the cab fare is maximum 195,000 rupiah. I also looked at reviews for our hotel and saw the most that people paid were 250,000 rupiahs. Figured if we found a cab between 150,000-250,000 they were reasonable. WRONG! I showed the website to the taxi cab stand and got the response "no this is wrong and isn't up to date". Even with the board in the airport showing 200,000, we were still being quoted 350,000 (Original quote was 700,000). We finally found a guy who offered to take us for 150,000. We repeated the price 3 times and made hand motions for 1-5-0 just to make sure that was the price we agreed to. After him saying yes, we got in the car and went on our way. When we got to the hotel, the cabbie caused a scene and started shouting that we agreed on 350,000 and we were ripping him off and that the cops would be called. NOT the way I wanted to start my trip. I had also done heaps of research on the Hanging Gardens as this was one place I wanted to visit (I did about 2 hours of research on this location). Their website says you can gain access to the pool for $40USD. We show up, they say the website is wrong, and that it's $350USD to access the pool. Needless to say, we didn't see the Hanging Gardens. 
  • Bungalows at Bunga Permai
  • Bunga Permai: We chose to stay somewhere away from Central Ubud. The hotel itself was quite nice. It was reasonably priced, the food was surprisingly fantastic, and the seclusion made it quite relaxing. The staff, however, weren't much help. Depending on who you talked to you were quoted different prices (even on activities they had solidified prices on), or they just weren't helpful. I get that there is a language barrier, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt, but it just seemed to me as though every person was just trying to get your money or upsell you. 
Awesome Poolside Views
Related Post: Gong Hey Fat Choy! 

  • Monkey Forest: This place is fantastic! I think I could visit the forest every day and be a happy camper. However, if monkeys scare you, this is not the place for you. Some of the monkeys are quite aggressive and will not hesitate to climb on you or try and steal your purse. I had a baby monkey Kronwall, another monkey that tried to grab my bag (baby monkey is my new hero). Side note: the monkeys are insanely soft. I wasn't expecting their little hands to feel so soft. They're adorable. Even when they jump from a tree and cling to your shirt. 
    My monkey hero after he Kronwalled the bigger monkey
  • Central Ubud: I LOVE central Ubud! It's amazing! There's the market, the culture, the food. It's just amazing. The first time I went, I thought all the prices would be uber cheap in comparison to American prices, it was cheaper but not what I was expecting. Coming back to Ubud after living in Australia, everything is SO cheap! Unlike Kuta, Ubud is more focused on relaxation. There are heaps of yoga studios and spas. The beautiful thing is the massages are roughly $12USD, and if you don't like one place, just go a few doors down and try the next! My favourite part of central Ubud is the market. You can find your typical souvenirs there but there is also some amazing finds there. There's incredible artwork. The paintings and wood sculptures are amazing! Most places will go down about 40% in the original asking price. And although you can't walk more than 5 steps without being offered a taxi ride, people aren't pushy here! You say no and they leave you be!
    Ubud Market
  • Bali Zoo: Last time I was in Bali, I missed out on getting to interact with the elephants. This time I decided I wouldn't pass up on the opportunity a second time. Getting to go on an elephant ride and feed the elephant was amazing.
    Poor elephants
    I was surprised at the treatment of the elephants though. It made me sorrowful to see the elephants chained up in the back. It also broke my heart to see the 'trainer' hit the elephant with an ice pick looking tool on the head to keep control over the elephant. I'm sure there has to be a better way of training the elephants and wondered if only reinforcing the elephants when they exhibited positive behaviours could extinguish the need for the picks. Another positive of the zoo was how interactive it is. There are multiple shows where you get the chance to interact with the animals. We got to hold a Bearcat, Salt Water Croc, and a Gibbon! With the package we purchased we got:
    Cute Gibbon monkey
    •  transport to and from the zoo, 
    • a lunch buffet, 
    • free fruit to feed the animals (in addition to feeding the elephants), 
    • the extended elephant ride in which we got to walk through the rice fields and see a temple,
    • and insurance

  • Bali Belly: I have been incredibly lucky to not succumb to the Bali Belly on either of my trips (I did get sick the first trip, but it wasn't Bali Belly). It is crucial that you steer clear of non-bottled water while in Bali. By this, I mean even using bottled water to brush your teeth. In most restaurants, ice is entirely fine. Just stay well hydrated, and your trip will be delightful. 
Walking through the rice fields
There is so much more of the island I still want to explore. There's the surfing, snorkelling, dolphin sighting in Lovina, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Kuta's nightlife, Ayana bar on the rocks, and so much more.