coming home

I decided I wanted to start a travel blog not when I began travelling, but when I came home. I’ve travelled before: I’ve camped on the Murray River, couchsurfed at a Catholic school in Apia, summered in a cabin on Pambula Beach, and wintered at the Hilton in Queenstown. But this time was different. This time I returned home with a swollen feeling in my chest and a sinking feeling in my gut. This time I was leaving a place, a time, and people with whom I felt appreciated. Our group disintegrated as soon as it had formed, each member going out separate ways, continuing on our preplanned, prepaid journeys. But for three weeks, we were golden.

I like to think that in a parallel universe, somehow, fate would have decided to keep us together for good. Would have allowed us to stay golden. Now it’s more a dull, dark yellow held together by Facebook messages and reminiscences.

In 26 days I am returning to Hanoi, hopefully for good. And I couldn’t be more excited. No more feeling trapped. No more smothering the free spirit that tells me to keep walking, keep wandering, even when it starts getting dark. No more wondering if this is all there is. Because there is so, so much more. But it won’t creep up and bite you on the bum. Only you can take all the bits and pieces, the vision boards and fleeting thoughts, and make a home.

In 26 days, I will be home.

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Adelaide to Melbourne

After a week in Thailand and a redeye flight to Melbourne with zero sleep, you’d think I’d be over travel, right? Got it out of my system? Haha! Fools!

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The next day I was up bright and early to catch a flight to Adelaide with my dad. He’d bought a second hand car over there, and we thought we’d make it into a road trip. The one hour flight and QANTAS quality was a welcome relief from the long-haul, budgetiest of budget journeys I’m used to. Safe to say, Dad and I travel differently. I did laugh when he asked the motel for “one of the nicer rooms, with a view”. I usually ask “4 dollars a night…do you have anything a little more affordable?”

The owner of the car Dad had purchased picked us up from the airport, which was small, accessible, and easy to navigate. Our first impressions of Adelaide were quality, and they only got better.

In our less than 24 hours in the South Australian capital, Jeff and I got “the vibe”, a good one at that. Quiet, but not boring. Buzzing, but not hectic. Entertaining, but not overwhelming.

Melbourne St was of course, ahem, gorgeous. A nice café strip with plenty of choices for coffee, vegan options, and a pleasant walk in the sun. We grabbed a cuppa and some energy balls (Dad told the server “these better give me energy!”) and walked along the nearby Karrawirra Parri (Torrens River). What can I say – gorgeous!

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After checking out another car while we were in the area, the next 2 days were ours to spend at our leisure! I directed us to Ital, a vegan popup cafe in the CBD, which turned out to be closed. We decided to stroll along Hindley St, revelling in our new surroundings and the peaceful atmosphere when compared to the Melbourne CBD on a Sunday. I spotted a sign saying “vegetarian food” – jackpot!! We stepped inside the dingy hole in the wall that is Jerusalem House, a unique Israeli restaurant with non existent service and a menu that will blow your mind. They had plentiful vegan options, and reasonable prices. Even the pickled cabbage tasted good – I know, right?

Next stop was Glenelg Beach, thanks to a recommendation from my friend Olivia, who has been raving about her home town of Adelaide for as long as I can remember. Picturesque and energising, the pier provided a panoramic view of the coast, with its palm trees and historic buildings, street performers and fishermen. Adelaide didn’t seem as diverse or multicultural as Melbourne; even a bit monocultural, though I am hesitant to make a judgement on one day’s experience. Nonetheless, the culture of Adelaide was pleasant and inviting. God, the city council should sponsor me already!

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After the beach, we hit the road. We could have taken the fastest route, through the Grampians, but Dad and I are always up for new sights and places. Neither of us had ever been to Mt Gambier, and we heard there was a lake that was blue. Let’s go, we said!

On the way to Mt Gambier we spotted many, many silos, one standing out from the pack. Coonalpyn is a town of 300 people, five of which are painted 30 metres tall on three grain silos on the side of the Dukes Highway. Guido van Helten, a Brisbane-based artist, spent a week talking to and photographing Coonalpyn locals, before deciding to paint five Coonalpyn Primary students in his iconic work.

Finally we arrived at our rest stop, with sore bums and itchy feet, ready to rest up for the day of exploration ahead. The Lakes Resort did not have a lake view, but it was planted on the side of the ex-volcano which is now home to Blue Lake. The motel was standard, nothing fancy, but certainly not budget – I would recommend it to mid range travellers.

After a decent sleep in, we checked out and hit the road once more. A quick check on Happy Cow indicated that there were two vegan friendly eateries in town, and by vegan friendly, I mean they knew what the word vegan meant. Metro was the only café open on a Sunday, understandable in a town that, despite being the largest city in South Australia besides Adelaide, has a population of only 29,000. I would recommend Metro to vegans and others alike – try the granola bowl (made vegan), and the soy coffees are top notch.

On our way the the famous Blue Lake, we spotted a roadside information centre called the Lady Nelson Discovery Centre. With a large boat standing out front, it looked interesting enough. We stepped inside, a bit confused and not really sure what we were there for, but the lovely staff directed us to the Discovery Walk, where we would apparently “travel back in time”. The local council has put some serious work and funding into this centre – it detailed the history of the local area from 40 million years ago, to European settlement. Interactive displays with wall paintings, glass floors, hanging seaweed, and short films: I could have stayed all day! The information on the local Buandig (Aboriginal) people was fascinating. Though told by a white character (the white saviour narrative was heavily at play), a short film detailed the horrible way Aboriginal people were treated by early settlers. Among countless oppressive circumstances, they became more susceptible to disease, and, being considered by the English to live an ‘uncivilised’ way of life, were shunned, and not classified as citizens of their own country until 1962. It makes you think about how little progress we have made to this day.

Next was Blue Lake, which turned out to be…grey. The lake only turns blue in summer, over the course of a few days in November. The sunlight reacts with minerals in the water, leading to the lake’s stunning colour. Nonetheless, the lake nd surrounding area was serene, reminding us of awe-inspiring Mother Nature.

Next to Blue Lake is Valley Lake, both of which are actually craters of a dormant volcano. The Buandig legend goes that Craitbul and his wife, giant humans, wandered from place to place, foraging for roots and cooking them in makeshift underground ovens. An evil spirit followed them wherever they went. They made their way inland, as the spirit could only exist near the ocean, and made their final ovens on Mt Schank and Mt Muirhead. The underground water level rose, extinguishing their fires, and creating the lakes we see today. It is said that anyone who denies the story of Craitbul can simply climb to their former campground and dig, where they are sure to find the giants’ oven.

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We climbed a steep incline to get to Centenary Tower. Built in 1901 to commemorate 100 years since the first sighting of Mt Gambier by European settlers, the tower provides stunning panoramic views of the,surrounding region, with a sundial that points to Melbourne, London, and Tokyo. The city council is actually looking for a tower caretaker. If you can deal with no running water, toilet, or electricity, in return for a spellbinding view all day long, give them a call!

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Dad was uber keen to go to Umpherston Sinkhole, and he was not disappointed. The sinkhole existed before European settlers arrived in Mt Gambier, formerly “Gambierton” after Admiral Lord James Gambier. Also known as the Sunken Garden, this stunning clash of natural and man-made beauty showcased the sinkhole’s growth throughout the ages. The actual sinkhole itself is ancient. In 1886, James Umpherston made it into a garden, a pleasant resort in which to retire from the heat. In 1982, a footpath was constructed to increase accessibility to visitors, in which people have etched their names. One of those weird wonders that owes itself to the unusual geology of the Limestone Coast.

Finally, it was time to say goodbye to SA and cross the border. Adelaide was certainly worth the road trip, and Mt Gambier was definitely worth the detour. We will be back sooner rather than later.

Halls Gap

Hello dazzling travellers! I am seriously enjoying exploring my own backyard here at home, and Halls Gap has definitely been a highlight. I can’t believe I had never been to the Grampians before! Halls Gap is a great vantage point – a fascinating little tourist town nestled at the base of a magnificent mountain range.

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The Grampians YHA Eco Hostel provided all the information I needed – a map of the local area, best sunrise spot, best place for a beer…you know, the essentials. You can actually sign up as a YHA member for $25, and receive 10% off every YHA booking in Australia, and 10% off over 4,000 Hostelling International hostels worldwide. I’ll certainly be making use of my membership this year!

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This hostel was actually surprisingly less like a hostel, and more like a shared living space. I was surrounded by more families and elderly travellers than I have ever seen in shared accommodation – and I can see why. The kitchen was clean and big, living spaces were peaceful and comfortable, and the surroundings were serene. When I first arrived, I was greeted by a mob of kangaroos just across the road. Even as an Aussie, I can’t go past a group of kangas without coo-ing at how bloody cute they are! I even made my first hostel breakfast – so yummy, and so proud of myself!

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Boroka Lookout provided the goods for a breath taking sunrise with a stunning panoramic view.

 

Silverband Falls was a nice, accessible walk – I passed two companions on my way in, one in a wheelchair. A nice spot for meditation and enjoying the isolated serenity.

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One lesson I have learned in my travels is that the best experiences are spontaneous! I remember finishing up my first ever tour in Vietnam, and wishing I could continue travelling with my tour group. But we all had to continue onto our pre-paid, pre-planned journeys, booked months in advance because we thought we needed to plan our enjoyment. There’s something about changing your plans on a whim that adds so much value to an experience. Plus, whatever it is is exactly what your heart desired in that moment…like pulling into an aerodrome on the side of the road and hopping into a glider which would catapult you 1500ft into the air. I guess you could call that spontaneous.

About 15 minutes out of Ararat, I came across a sign on the side of the road that read “Gliding lessons – open today”. I drove past it, and pulled over to look up the place on my phone and see if it was something worth doing. I couldn’t find much information, so I drove back and checked it out. The place seemed pretty deserted, but there was one person in the carpark. I introduced myself and said I wanted to go up on a glider flight. He informed me that unfortunately they only ran on weekends as they were a volunteer club, and were finished for the weekend. But, he said, I’ll check for you just in case. So he talked to his mate over in the hangar, who talked to his mate, who made a call to the guy who knew that other guy. And before I knew it, these amazing gentlemen had organised to come in especially for me and take me up!

As I continued on my way, I thought, what have I done? I can’t back out now – they are coming in especially for me! So the next morning I rocked up, and after a short explanation on how the glider works, we were ready to go. In fact, they had cancelled the powered plane that morning as the weather was bad and they thought they would have to cancel the flight. The weather was good, but with no plane to tow us up, we were pulled up into the air by a 1km wire connected to an engine powered winch. No. Kidding.

Once we got the catapulting and the screaming and the nearly vomiting part out of the way, I got chatting with my pilot. He lived 2 and a half hours away from the aerodrome! Did I mention they came in just for me?! He told all about his passion for gliding, and what led him to it in the first place. I have never felt more at ease in a little unpowered capsule flying 1500ft in the air. Never.

The flight cost $150, but the experience was priceless. I could not recommend the Grampians Soaring Club enough – check them out here.

Speaking of spontaneous spontaneity, on my way back from the aerodrome, I came across a sign reading “Pinkey Point Historical Site – Turn Right”. Well, your girl is always up for a historical site. As it turns out, Pinkey Point is the first site of gold mining in the Ararat area, discovered by Joseph Pollard “and his mates” in 1854.

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You could still see the planks of wood where shallow mining shafts were once dug. The hills and divets in the ground conjured images of a booming mining camp, littered with holes and buzzing with hopeful miners.

The best (and only) cafe in Halls Gap is Livefast. Though a bit pricey, they can get away with it with the stellar quality and lack of competition. I thoroughly enjoyed my well deserved coffee and brekky after a sunrise hike.

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Even a stroll from the hostel was filled with adventure. Literally 20 seconds after walking by this tree, a deafening crack echoed throughout the valley. Check out the carnage! The next photo was the walk back to my hostel, for comparison’s sake. I think this shows that if you aren’t willing to take a risk, you will never leave your house! I could have easily died, but what am I supposed to do, never walk under a tree again? Puh-lease! That being said, if you do hear the tree above you falling at a rapid rate, I would not recommend taking the risk of staying under it. It’s all about balance, people!

Thankfully, a stroll along the main road wasn’t all life and death experiences. Most of it was pretty cottages, old churches, and a busy mind, proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and ending up here.

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I ended my time at this beautiful pocket of forest paradise with a peaceful sunset at Reed Lookout, content, motivated, and ready to continue my journey no matter what lay ahead.

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Thankyou all once again for reading!

Namaste

What The Health? –  what the corporations don’t want us to hear

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Last night I had the privilege and honour of attending the largest animal rights related film screening in the history of Australia. What The Health, written and directed by the creators behind Cowspiracy, is as groundbreaking as its premiere attendance. It pieces together the uncomfortable truths about health, animal products, and the pharmaceutical industry that many of us already know, but push aside, because the reality is just too painful. Consuming chicken causes diabetes, but sugar doesn’t? The American Heart Association is sponsored by Monsanto, one of the biggest agricultural biotechnology corporations in the US? The American Diabetes Association promotes recipes on their website that cause diabetes? Surely these kinds of atrocities could not be allowed to go on. Right?

Even as a well informed ethical vegan, I was utterly gobsmacked by the information presented so eloquently in this film. Andersen contacts organisation after organisation, wanting to know about the link between diet and their respective disease of concern. Every single one declines to comment once they realise the nature of the interview. The 900 strong audience seemed to share my surprise and disappointment, gasping and muttering at every turn. It just seems incomprehensible that our own health system is making us unhealthy. But Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, the directors of the film, make these facts real and concrete and scary.

There are aspects of the film that do seem to have been slightly manipulated. Three people with major chronic health issues are presented as completely “transformed” and no longer dependent on medication after only 2 weeks of following a whole foods, plant based diet. Now, I don’t doubt for one second the power of a plant based diet. I have personally experienced an improvement in physical and spiritual health on this lifestyle. However, the rapid transformations make it seem like everyone’s chronic health issues can be cured within 2 weeks. It’s not that easy for everyone. Medication will still play an important part in the prevention, treatment, and cure of disease; veganism is not the solution to all of our problems, but there is no doubt that it is a step in the right direction.

Regardless of the film’s slightly biased optimism, What The Health’s message rings true. Corporations make money off of us being sick. Surgeries and medication rack up bills into the thousands, and doctors tell us there is no other choice than a life sentence of daily pill popping. Fast food is marketed strategically to our most primitive senses and desires, and it is us, not corporations, that suffer from falling into the trap. We need to dramatically rethink our health and wellbeing as a society if we have any chance of leading happy, healthy lives, free from the constraints of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and countless other chronic health issues caused by consuming animal products.

I strongly encourage you to check out What The Health. Watch the film on the official website here for $13AUD, or check out the various screenings around Australia and the world. The website also features a cookbook, companion book, and merchandise, and information on what to do now that you are armed with all of this awesome information. Animal Liberation Victoria also did a superb job of running the event, as well as Raw Events.

Go forth, spread the love, and spread the health! We need it now more than ever.

Living the dream

It’s been weird having a break from travel, and a break from blogging. Looking back on blog posts and private diary entries from last year, I feel disconnected from that time in my life. The posts express an eagerness to educate others on my experience, and express my passion for that experience. And it’s like I can’t quite seem to connect with that passion again.
Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere! Twice weekly blog posts are on the way, I promise! It’s just really strange getting back into a habit that blossomed from a mindset in a totally different era of my life. I was more innocent, definitely more naïve, like a kid on a playground, wanting to try everything, not worried about falling off the equipment.

But the reality is that we fall. We fall in love, we fall out of love. We fall into freedom and mobility. We fall away from our passions and into the mindless monotony of society. We fall all the time. 

A conversation with an acquaintance at a party recently gave me a little more perspective on…well, other people’s perspectives. It’s a conversation I’ve had countless times in the last few years. Almost immediately after the “hi, how are you’s?”, this person launched into an excited monologue about how inspiring they found my way of life. They told me how cool they thought it was that I’d said “fuck it” to my school, my peers, and my family’s expectations of a “high-achieving” student like me, and chosen instead to follow my heart and travel the world as much as possible. They told me how they felt stuck in their degree, how much they loathed everything about it, and wished they could do what I do. According to this acquaintance, I was living the dream, so surely I mustn’t have any legitimate worries. 

I’m going to drop a truth bomb on y’all. This lifestyle is fucking hard. Most of the time when I was on the road, I was incredibly exhausted. I rarely clocked off from work, had a rigid schedule, and a group of people relying on me at all times. I constantly moved around, so I found it hard to pick up the local language, or make friends in any of the 6 destinations that I rotated between. The tours themselves presented problems, with missing, sick, injured, rude, and downright irresponsible customers presenting stressful challenges daily. And when I came “home”, despite my best efforts, I was jobless, penniless, and slowly began to become lifeless.

Every lifestyle has its perks, and its pitfalls. I will hopefully be embarking on my next adventure soon, and I can often fall into the trap of expecting that change in lifestyle to solve ALL of my problems. All of them. Surely as soon as I cross the Austrailan border, I will be able to start my life anew! Complete independence and constant rich cultural experiences: what could go wrong? I’m living the dream! 

The truth is, no one is living the dream. Everyone has their shit. Living on the beach with a bottle of rum in one hand and a coconut in the other will not fulfil you forever. All we can do is live life to its fullest, grasp every single opportunity by the balls, and remember, as often as possible, where we came from, and where we are going.

I’m back!

You’re probably thinking…dazzlingtravelling…that rings a bell…didn’t that used to be a really awesome travel blog? You are correct, my friend! After a long break from blogging, but by no means a break from ever dazzling act of travelling, it’s time for me to get back into it. I want to share my adventures with you all again! 

I may upload some content from while I’ve been offline, but mostly I will be posting new and exciting things about mini-adventures within Victoria. I have a wicked getaway in Thailand coming up, meeting up with my best friend who is on an indefinite solo adventure, and even wickeder plans bubbling away that will be revealed in time! But for now, let’s explore!
Today I woke up and felt like an adventure. Only a one day thing because, well, money, and I had dinner plans back in Sunbury. I’d heard the word “Lerderderg” bounced around by my peers and family every once in a while. Today seemed like the perfect opportunity to check out this mysterious place!


Photo: parkweb.vic.gov.au

Lerderderg State Park is a vast nature reserve, stretching from Bacchus Marsh in the south, to Bullengarook in the East (round my neck of the woods), Trentham up north and Blackwood Mineral Springs to the West.

The Parks Victoria detailed a 2km bushwalk starting from Blackwood Mineral Springs, to Shaws Lake. Sounded like a plan to me!

Even the drive to Blackwood was interesting – I discovered towns that had existed 20kms from me my whole life, but that I had never visited, nor realised how lovely and quaint they are! Woodend and Trentham hold a slow, easygoing feel that could easily attract people looking for a break from suburban life. Like someone I know…

What I didn’t realise, rather naïvely, is that Blackwood Mineral Springs actually has a mineral spring! Go figure!

This is the most refreshing, ice cold, pure mineral water I have ever tasted. Stay hydrated kids!


The Blackwood-Shaws Lake loop was almost completely devoid of sign posts. One could see this as an obstacle – it did result in a 6km trek that should have been 2km at most. But it’s all about the journey, right? My excessive, unnecessary detour took me past a seemingly abandoned wildlife park. At least I assume it is or was one at some point in time. I was thoroughly confused about the random gorilla statue in the middle of Lerderderg Forest, paired with a real live horse, and various other statues of giraffes, pandas, and kangaroos. Who knows why the place is here or what it is? Not me.


By following Google Maps when sign posts epicly failed me, I finally arrived at Shaws Lake. What I gorgeous place for a picnic, nice quiet read of a fantastic book, and a new outlook on life.


I sat under a rotunda, switching between reading, admiring the beautiful surroundings, and trying not to get wet, before eventually making my way back to the car park, which ended up being about 500m away. It’s all about the journey, Chloe, it’s all about the journey.


So that does it for the first local adventure featured on dazzlingtravelling! I’d love if you could stick around, there’s more hot stuff coming your way soon! Until next time, au revoir!

Day 58 – Dalat

What a week it’s been! Dalat, you’ve been too good to me!



My colleague Lien and I booked this double private room at Nguyen Minh Hostel online for $17AUD/night (!!!). What’s even crazier is that I moved into a separate room, a quadruple with two double beds (it was all they had left) which cost $11USD/night! ($14.75AUD) In comparison, a dorm bed in Australia will set you back $20-25AUD/night absolute minimum. You can’t make this stuff up, people.

Lien and I visited so many cool places; Dalat is literally such a random town. There’s so much weird shit here! For starters, the climate, landscape, produce, and population are so different to the rest of Vietnam (at least the places I’ve visited, which have been large cities and coastal towns. It is relatively cool here, and constantly raining. It’s high up in the mountains, so the landscape is really hilly. It actually reminds me a lot of New Zealand in that respect! Because of the cooler climate, Dalat is the pretty much only place in Vietnam that grows and produces wine, flowers, coffee, and fruits and vegetables that grow in cold weather, like berries. Furthermore, I’ve noticed a larger ethnic minority population here. Unfortunately, a lot of the ethnic minority people you see here are very poor and travel to Dalat from rural areas to beg. Many of them are children. One 13 year old boy we spoke to said he is on school holidays, so his parents drop him in Dalat at the start of the week, he has to beg every day, then they pick him up and he spends a week at home. We asked him where he sleeps, and he replied “wherever I can”.

On Monday, we took a city tour, which covered loads of Dalat’s most popular tourist sites.

Datanla Falls: There was two ways to get to the bottom of these falls – walking, or tobogganing. Y’all know me. Which one do you reckon we chose? #sorrymum

Check it out here! (I did NOT go this fast by the way!) >>> https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Fc23gBCCfSg


Dalat Market: a hub of activity, selling produce, packaged food, clothes; basically a Vietnamese Coles. Sometimes a kids’ dance club comes to the middle of this roundabout and dances for hours in the rain. Because why not…? Keep reading to hear about the best vegan eats in Dalat, which I somehow stumbled across at this market.


Dried Flower Showroom: these dried flowers are fresh flowers that have been genetically altered using biotechnology to last for 3-5 years, and are dyed the most amazing, vibrant colours. 


Statue of Golden Buddha and Van Hanh Pagoda: Built in 2002, this statue measures 24m high! Such a beautiful monument.


St. Nicolas Cathedral a.k.a. Cock Church: wher they worship c…hrist. They worship Christ. What did you think I was going to say? 







The summer palace of King Bao Dai, the last King of Vietnam: After Bao Dai stepped down as King, handing over rule of Vietnam to Ho Chi Minh and the Communist party, he relocated to France, where he lived out his days, apparently too ashamed to remain in Huế. This place was gifted to Bao Dai and the royal family by the French government, for them to stay at when they visited Vietnam. The amount of leisure/sitting areas her was insane. You could just imagine the royals flouncing about, sitting here for a cup of tea, sitting there to discuss terribly important matters. The grounds were equally as gorgeous as the interior, with bright, well kept flower gardens peppered throughout the eerie woods.


Canyoning: this. was. insane. I got thrown in with a group of about backpackers who had all booked together. There were people from New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, England, Holland, France and Canada. This adventure consisted of 3 abseils, two of them down wet cliffs or waterfalls, and one resulting in a 5m drop into a lake; a 3km trek through the jungle, a 100m zipline, and opportunities to jump off the 6m and 11m cliffs into the lake. #reallyreallysorrymum. Fun fact: picture #2 was taken about one minute after a girl lost her balance and slammed into the rock face on my left, followed by the guide holding the safety rope slipping a good few metres, way too close to the edge of the cliff, before regaining his balance and telling me to smile for the camera. Rightio mate! Oh, and the safety mechanism to prevent you crashing into the rocks at the end of the zipline? In all seriousness, I would do this every week if I could – sooooo much fun. (Photos courtesy of Dalat Passion Tours)

Unfortunately a lot of my pictures I took on Snapchat and forgot to save them in time, but we also rode the cable car from Robin Hill to th Truc Lam monastery, which boasted birds eye views of Dalat City and the surrounding farms, woods and mountains.

Finally, the randomest of all the random is the 100 Roofs bar. Check this place out!



(Photos courtesy of Google images)

I have no idea how many rooms or floors this place has. It’s a labyrinth that must have some T.A.R.D.I.S. style physics going on. Great for a game of hide and seek, not great for losing your friends.

A sad part about Vietnamese, and Asian, culture is the mistreatment of animals. It’s not pretty to look at, but it’s the truth and it’s sonething I encounter every single day. Multiple live chickens stuffed into tiny cages together. Fish kept in tanks far too small and far too crowded. I’ve even seen a dog with its lower leg stitched on to its upper leg obviously improperly, the lower leg hanging limp and useless from the knee. Animals are viewed as equal with inanimate objects, and are exploited for money in ways that would never fly in Australia.


These poor horses looked so skinny and miserable. Standing in the damp, cold weather all day with no proper clothing. Shit like this absolutely breaks my heart. To me, it’s no different to seeing a human in the same position. If a human were made to endur ethe same conditions as these horses it would be wdapted into a horror movie. I can only hope that one day the broader public’s eyes will be opened to the sheer cruelty and masochism of these practices.

Now for my favourite part: fooooooood. Thankfully, absolutely no animals were harmed or exploited for these delicious dishes! Vegan for life and proud of it!


Vietnamese filtered coffee overlooking the main roundabout. Not a bad way to start the day.


Roasted sweet potato – snacked on this outside Truc Lam Monastery while waiting for the tour bus #classicveganweirdo


Lunch on the city tour was at a hotel restuarant, and consisted of this pineapple claypot and a SHITTON of steamed rice. The lovely Singaporean guy across from me looked slightly distressed that I almost finished a serving of steamed rice meant for four people. #highcarblife


If you have me on on any sort of social media you’re probably sick of me raving on about bloody soy bloody coffee. But you guys don’t understand how much I love this stuff, and how hard it is to find over here! The server even made TWO special trips to the shop to get soy milk just for me! Props to Chocolate cafe, another joint that seriously provides the goods – I also scoffed some toast, spinach, mushrooms, AND tomatoes for breakfast – wasn’t quite up to the standard of mum’s cooking, but it was close enough!


And now for the grand finalé! So one fine morning, I decided to peruse www.happycow.net for some cheeky vegan eats. Dalat has loads of vegan restaurants that serve local cuisine, but I noticed the Dalat Market was listed as having a few vegetarian food stalls in a food court on the second floor. I thought I’d check it out, and eventually found this place up a random staircase in the fresh produce section. I walked up to a stall which read “Cơm Chay”, meaning vegetarian rice, vegetarian food. The whole transaction consisted of me asking “vegetarian?” to which the cook replied, “noodles or rice?”. I chose rice, and I was not disappointed. For only 30,000vnd ($2AUD) I got a taste of about 10 different dishes, including mock chicken, jackfruit, some green stuff, green beans, three types of fried tofu, taro chips, some noodley things, rice, and vegetable broth with steamed potatoes, carrot, and some other vegetabley-ness. This was undoubtedly the best meal I had in Dalat. In fact, I returned pretty much daily, and ordered the “same same as yesterday” (you can’t say same just once guys, duh) and added a steamed dumpling-y thing with a very sweet, thick bread stuff with a mushroom/bean/mystery mixture. 

A special mention to the Italian restaurant that served a to-die-for Pizza Vegana, topped with tofu, mushroom, olives, and some other yummy stuff. This is the first pizza I’ve had in Vietnam that had a proper doughy pizza base. *droooool*

PS – I sincerely apologise to any of my former English teachers reading this…I know vegetabley-ness is not a word, but it just fits so well!

That concludes Chloe’s adventures in Dalat! I probably won’t post again for a while due to being busy with work (and by busy I mean I’m usually hungover on my days off so stringing together an articulate blog post is out if the question). Tạm biệt y’all!

Day 54

I’m back! Sorry for the unexplained absence, I’ve had virtually no free time for the past few weeks. I guess it’s time to catch you all up!

Excuse the weird hand gestures – my attempt at pointing at my back…it’s harder than it looks. But look – we have t-shirts!


On June 5th, I discovered 5,000vnd beer. Literally the smoothest, most refreshing beer I’ve ever tasted. Best enjoyed at 2am with old and new friends, sitting on plastic stools on a random street corner in Hanoi. Either there were some mad hallucinogens in that 30cent beer, or this girl across the street had 20 helium balloons tied to her hair.

This clip-on fish eye lens for iPhones is probably the best invention ever. Okay, sliced bread is cool. Maybe the second best. Need to get one of my own so I can quit borrowing Jane’s!  

I will always associate these sombreros with Taco Bill, where you win one if you finish a fish bowl margarita. I wonder if that’s how these guys ended up with them…

So cool to see monkeys sooo close up! They’re cheeky little things! (Surprise surprise) These ones are addicted to junk food, soft drink and beer, as that’s what the staff and guests feed them. Pretty sad, really. The staff kept shooing them away when they got too close to the dining area. So sad that they are used to attract visitors – the Monkey Island website boasts about its monkey population – but are not respected or appreciated in reality.

Between fish-eye lenses and panoramas, I’m basically a professional photographer now.

A typical restaurant fruit salad here will set you back around 60,000vnd ($4AUD). Not a bad investment for your health. It’s so easy to fall into unhealthy habits here – oily, fatty food, and dairy and meat products are ubiquitous. Cigarettes cost about 30,000vnd a pack (not even $2AUD) and alcohol is obviously cheap as chips. But give me orange juice, mangoes and bread any day! It’s become pretty standard for me to order OJ on a night out. The bartenders think I’m crazy hahaha.


I have frequented Huế’s main attractions a few times now. I hope to see more of this historic city. Mainly because my colleague does not stop raving about it. She must love it there for a reason, right? 


Here’s just a few of the random vegan finds I’ve stumbled across. 

  • I figured out you can order smoothies without milk and yogurt ✅
  • I’m fairly sure the famous Cong Caphe coconut coffee is vegan ✅
  • Discovering more vegan restaurants every day, including the food court above Da Lat market. Some don’t speak English, but it’s no dramas because it doesn’t matter what I order because everything is vegan!  ✅
  • When in doubt, morning glory and rice is literally EVERYWHERE. Honestly, if you think you can’t be vegetarian or vegan in Vietnam you obviously don’t WANT to follow that diet. There’s been many times when I have chosen to consume a very small amount of animal products due to hunger or politeness. But that was my choice. I could have chosen to purchase another meal, or eat plain rice. It is possible if you are motivated to make that extra effort, and it always pays off ✅



This is what the counter at the bookstore looked like. Queue? what is a queue?


A really cool part of my job is working with local NGOs to assist in completing painting, construction, and gardening projects for schools and kindergartens in desperate need of renovation. We also spend a few hours in the classroom, helping the students with their conversational English.


The road from Huế to Hoi An is full of opportunity. The Elephant Springs is not well known among foreign tourists; hence the baffled stares we got by every man and his dog, especially being a group of 20 Westerners, most of us girls in bikinis.

On the same road is Hi Van Pass. The views from up here are surreal, whether it’s sunny or misty. People often ask if I get sick of visiting the same places. But honestly, you’d have to be pretty out of touch to get sick of this view.


Snapped this shot while resting on a bike ride through Hoi An. I imagine tourists would look at the paddocks on the outskirts of Sunbury in the same way I see these rice fields. But when we see these views every day they become mundane.

We played this game in the backyard of the owner of Little River Cafe in Hoi An. We were blindfolded and had to hit a target, like a piñata. That’s it. It’s so simple but so much fun! One thing I’ve learned from this country is that you can do a lot, and have a lot of fun, with very little.


Night buses can be death, but I got this sunrise as consolation. Not a bad way to start the day.


Someone told me you should see the sunrise once a year. I think that’s pretty sound advice to live by. Two sunrises in one week is just excessive.


Longson Resort in Mui Ne runs an awesome Jeep tour for only $5! It takes you to the local fishing village, a natural stream and rock formation, and two lots of sand dunes. Not too shabby for $5.


Somehow I got dragged to this karaoke bar in Huế (I blame Lien). Somehow I ended up on stage with a guitar.


Our Cu Chi tunnel guide decided to skip the background information on Vietnamese politics in favour of a 20 minute lecture about money and power and how we can heal the world with forgiveness and love. Maybe do quit your day job, Mickey. Motivational speaking is more your forté.


And finally, I’m staying in one place for more than 4 days this week!! I’m plonking my ass down in Da Lat with this one. Got a double room at Nguyen Minh hostel for $17USD/night. Craziness. 

Stick around, should be able to post again this week about our Da Lat shenanigans!