A Budgeting Guide For Dubai

Having heard the rumours and panicking about last minute currency exchanges my trip to Dubai was finally here!

Having tried to research the trip and a spending guide I noticed how lacking the internet was of one, So below I've helped list a compilation of things you may need to budget for on your trip!

Dinning Out

Breakfast at a hotel if not included – 16-25aed

Lunch or dinner at a hotel – ranging from special offers of 39 – to 150aed

McDonalds meal – 23-30aed

Meal with soft drinks in a mid range restaurant- 100aed

Coffee at coffee house – 20aed

 

Out and about

Metro from the airport to the city centre – 10.50aed

Unlimited day ticket for metro (all zones) -20aed

5 Mile journey in a taxi – 26aed

Day entry to a water-park – 310aed

Soft drink from a supermarket – 9-13aed

Bottle of water from a supermarket – 1aed

Can of beer from a supermarket – 9aed

Crisps – 10aed

Cigarettes –  10aed

 

Hope this helps some towards your budgeting plans for a trip to Dubai, I averaged £100 spending a day while I was there and that covered eating out for lunch and dinner mid-range, visiting a water-park and travelling using a mixture of taxis and metro.

Has anyone else been to Dubai, Did you manage to spend less than me a day? Was there anything I may need to add onto the list?

 

At the time of travel the exchange rate was 4.41 Dirham to the Great British Pound, please check the current exchange rates before travel.

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My Top Dinning Spots In Pantai Cenang, Langkawi 

If you're anything like me food is a massive part of the day, I've been known to be planning my lunch and dinner while eating breakfast!

Finding places to eat and recommend is my favourite part of a trip and often is the first thing I start to research once I've booked flights, So here you have it, My recommendations for your trip to Langkawi.

 

The Kasbah - Lorong HJ Salleh Lot 1301, Kampung Bohor Tempoyak 

Located off the beach front and hidden within the houses of Pantai Cenang this awesome reggae shack is a great hideaway from the midday's sun. With a selected menu full of summer cravings, unusual salads and burgers with fresh juices, smoothies & milkshakes it is the kinda place you should take a pack of cards and spend the afternoon.

Prices are really decent with my meal coming to 30RM (Burger with chips and milkshake)

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Indian Palace -  2, Jalan Pantai Chenang, Kampung Lubok Buaya

Down on the main stretch this upstairs no frills Indian is a great showcase of the multitude of cuisines on offer in Malaysia. The menu has a wide range of choice with lots of curries I'd not heard of before, best kind of menu!

With reasonable prices we were able to order a medley of dishes to try out with an average meal price of 40RM (1 Curry, rice and nan)

 

Red Skys - No. 6, Casa Fina Avenue, Persiaran Panthai Cenang

Wanting different dining tonight we needed somewhere that had a mixture of choices, Western & Malay and redskys fitted the bill.

Hidden from the street by metal cladding, plants and twinkly lights it certainly met the Instagram requirements… With the western menu it did mean prices were slightly higher than we'd been used to but our dinner choices did not disappoint.

With freshly cooked pizzas and Nasi Gorang (My favourite Malay dish if I must chose) value for money was fair with my meal coming to approx 30RM

 

Kalut Cafe & Bar - Mali Mali Beach Resort, Cenang Beach

Located on the beach this place is hard to miss. With rent-able loungers during the day you can get a bed and a parasol for less than 20RM for 2. Although they have no food/drink service during the day once they switch up for the evening set up you'll be first in line for the bean bags and silk umbrellas they bring out.

With a prime spot for the sunset you can settle in with a few beers and a early dinner with the summer vibes year round!

 

Other places we dinned and enjoyed are Red Tomato, The Telaga Walk & Indian Palace be sure to check these out too! Has anyone been to Langkawi before? Any other places I've missed out?

 

SkyCab Langkawi 

Heading to Langkawi and looking for things to do? Look no further!

Float over the jungles and head for the clouds with Skycab’s famous cable car, The longest free span Mono Cable car takes you to the tip of Machincang mountain over 700 meters above sea level.

Located in the west of the island you’ll only ever be a maximum of 45 mins drive from the ground base and with Uber and fixed rate taxis you’ll find access is super easy!

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Reaching these heights is dizzying with a steep climb to overcome the ride is pretty exhilarating but gives you some beautiful views like the one above!

We purchased tickets on a combo B package which within the 120 RM price included the cable car return with express lane queue jump, the 3D art museum and the Skydome and  we also added on the sky bridge once we got to the top station for only an extra 5RM each.

The skybridge is the longest free span curved bridge in the world, It makes for a pretty interesting photo. With glass panels it’s pretty scary seeing down against how high you are!

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For a great half day trip out it’s well worth the money no matter the weather, With release from the sun in the breeze or if the weathers bad you can easily wait for the clouds/rain to pass by using all the indoor inclusions within the ticket, Be sure to check out the 3D museum for a laugh and some fantastically funny shots to send those back home!

Batu Caves, Malaysia 

Having missed out on the batu caves last time I visited Kuala Lumpur I knew I didn’t want to miss out this time round and spent some time studying the map and from talking to the locals I wanted to share the quickest and most cost effective way of visiting yourself.

Located approx 40 minutes by train from Kuala Lumpur central in the area of Gombak, the limestone cliffs are home to a series of caves and cave temples which are a must see while in the city.

The caves are the most popular Hindu shine outside of India and is dedicated to the Lord Murugan who guards the entrance to the entrance to the caves and the worlds tallest statute of the god.

Getting to Batu Caves

As I mentioned getting to the caves are pretty simple, once you’ve arrived at KL Sentral station you can hop onto the KTM Komuter line and head to the Batu Caves station. Tickets are simple to purchase and can be done from the ticket machines as they have an English option. For a return ticket you are looking at an approx cost of 7RM.

Tickets now come as plastic coins which you tap into the screen of the barriers and save to exit on the other side, heading to the platforms all are listed and have signage in English again and you can know you’re in the right place thanks to the signage above the tracks.

For ladies also travelling on their own you’ll be pleased to know there are women and children’s carriages only if you prefer this choice, just make sure you keep your eye out for the floor and door markings, and those travelling I a larger group beware you aren’t getting in the carriage unless you fit the criteria.

The station is the last on the line and all stops are announced in English and a handy lit map of the stops show where you are headed next. Once you’ve arrived and exited the station the caves will be rig in front of you and with free access there are no queues to join and you are then able to explore the area.

Arriving at the caves you will find yourself at the bottom of the towering staircase to take you to the cave system at the top, If you do want to see it for yourself you must climb all 272 steps. Be sure to stop along the way (foot traffic allowing) as you’ll be able to get some beautiful views and see just how far you’ve gone! The entrance to climb and into the cave is free of charge, however if you’d like to go into the dark cave with a guide this is an additional cost and must be booked on arrival for an allotted time.

Top tips

* Be careful of those pesky monkeys, they love they love to take ahold of anything your carrying. Hold onto phone and camera tightly and do not try to touch or feed them.

* Remember to be respectful of where you are visiting. Local cultures have different beliefs and arriving to the caves in short shorts or short skirts may be frowned upon and don’t be surprised when you are advised you must pay for a Sarong or cover up due to this. Smoking is not permitted within the grounds.

Penang Street Art

Heading to Penang there is one thing you absolutely can not leave without seeing and that is the beautiful art hidden within the city of Georgetown located in the east of Penang Island.

We arrived from our beach resort via the Rapid Penang 101 bus for for 2.70RM per person and started our trip out from the bus terminal close to the jetty inwards.

To show you a little taste of the art within the city take a look at my shots below.

Honestly there is no wrong turn within Georgetown and there’s always something to be discovered, if however you like a list to tick be sure to pick up a map with the guide to follow either by popping into the local tourist information or from the airport.

I’ve saved a copy which you can load and refer back to without internet access.

Get the map here 


Places To Vist From Ubud, Bali

Located in the uplands of Bali only 2 hours from the popular coastal resort, Ubud sits pretty amongst Bali’s most famous landscapes.

Most may recognise Ubud from Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ the picture however is a little different from that you will find when you arrive. Having built on the back of the tourism with the books popularity there now is much more than perceived in the movie, Not that this doesn’t better benefit the local communities it does mean you won’t fall off the beaten track as she does in the movie.

Having recently visited I wanted to share my top not to miss tips to show how you can get off the beaten track!

 

Tegenungan Village Waterfall

Located only a short drive from Ubud plan a day to visit the beautiful falls, As it is only a short drive and a small entry fee (10,000) plan a full day here to give you time to climb down and spend some time in the waters. Although a steep climb is is not as far as it appears! As we were on a day trip we only got long enough to visit for a photo stop however we’d of liked to spend a long morning there, Taking a slow walk back to the restaurants and stalls along the entrance and car park before we headed home.

 

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Tirta Empul (Holy Spring Temple)

With so many great places to visit in Ubud a couple of days in the town will not go a miss! Tirta Empul or for the tourists known as the holy spring temple is a place where the local Hindus are able to self cleanse the mind and soul using the holy waters in the natural springs within the temple. It was super interesting to obverse each person ‘cleansing’ themselves and there was nowhere I felt as calm while I travelled in Bali.

Entrance was approx 15,000 per person and it does included a sarong hire (bring your own if you wish to use the cleansing pools)

Plan to spend a hour or two to enjoy all on offer, and to capture photos. There is some of the most beautiful architecture I’ve seen and I spent ages trying to capture the intricate details.

On a side note if you were looking to get some shopping done and knick-knack shopping done the market maze on your exit is the place to go! You can enter the markets without having entered the temples so if temples aren’t your thing check out the stores. They have the same produce as the markets in Ubud market but the ladies here see a lot less visitors in the same space of time so get less trade. I brought so much while I shopped I spent my daily budget within 15 mins.

 

 

Tegallalang

Often seen blazoned across the front of the Bali guide books the rice terraces in Bali are unmissable. Only a very short drive from Ubud you enter into the small village set around the planting fields.

As one of the more recognised this unbelievably is located on the side of the main through road, Surrounded by shops and restaurants, It feels so out of place. When we travelled the fields had just been recently cut back so it wasn’t as spectacular as I’d seen in previous photos and it turns out had we arrived only a day before this wouldn’t be the case (ask your hotel and local drivers as they’ll be able to advise locally the last time it was cropped)

You must pay an entry fee when arriving in the village, and is a per car/motorcycle and less than £2. You then are free to scramble in the fields and capture as many photos as you would like.

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Goa Gajah (Elephant Temple)

Located only 6kms from Ubud this beautiful carved cave is not to miss if you are looking to include some culture in your trip to Bali.

Somewhat misleading the Elephant temples name comes from the intricate carvings on the entrance into the medication cave. You can easily spend an hour or two and hire a local guide on arrival to talk you through the history of the temple and it’s historical purpose for the locals of Indonesia.

Entry is approx. 10,000 per person

If you are after shopping the markets surrounding the temple are a great place to grab a bargain. The stall holders get less trade here due to the lack of visitors so make the most of an afternoon and give your money into the local communities and grab your self a treat or two.

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Please remember as when visiting any local religious sites and small communities to dress appropriately. This will mean ladies covering their arms and legs while in the vicinity. As the weather can get humid I recommend wearing a t-shirt with a pair of shorts and purchasing a sarong from the local traders to use as a wrap up and cover your legs.

 

All prices are quoted in local currency and based on an exchange rate correct at the time of posting. £1 is equal to 17,000 IDR

The Best Backpacker Islands In Fiji

After spending a month in Fiji and visiting 12 of the Yasawa and Manacuna island chain I wanted to share my knowledge to help you get the most of your trip and ensure you have the best time possible while keeping to what can be a strict budget!

I’ve chosen the islands based on the likeliness of meeting fellow travellers and with enough free activities to keep your days filled with fun!

 

 

South Sea Island

I loved my time on South Sea so much I wrote it’s own post, Check it out here!

With communal dining tables and one large dorm room of 32 beds it’s pretty hard not to get talking to people here! Be sure to take advantage of the free water sports on offer with your new friends.

Beachcomber Island

Another Island I spent some time on and ended up writing a whole post about my stay, Check it out here!

Known as the party island of Fiji it is pretty hard to not meet people, With a huge dorm room of 198 beds and communal style dinning the folk at Beachcomber try hard to get groups of people together ready to enjoy some time together in the evening once the fun really begins! If you are staying on Beachcomber for a couple of days and do make some new friends, why not arrange a day trip from the island over to Cloud Nine? A floating bar in the middle of the Paficic Ocean…. What dreams are made of! Check it out online here!

 

Wayolailai Ecohaven Resort

One of my favourites which I spend many a day lounging in the hammocks on the beach enjoying lazy sunny days. I’ve wrote a whole post about it here.

Sitting on the hillside with the most dramatic sunsets I’ve seen, the tradition keepers at Wayolailai are keeping things real. With traditional Bures (a wood or straw hut some what similar to a cabin) room upgrades sitting pretty within the gardens of the property.

This resort has plenty going on to meet others staying on the islands and for those into keeping active you will find lots of like minded backpackers. With kayaking, summit hiking, shark diving there is something for everyone.

For those more like myself be excited with jewellery making classes, basket weaving and star gazing.

 

Barefoot Manta Resort

With the resort located smack in the middle of three beautiful beaches it is easy to see why this is a firm favourite with the backpackers! With one for Sunrise, Sunset and Manta Ray Beach sitting right on the well know Manta-Ray channel its easy to wile the days away.

As the resort sits on the channel for the passing Mantas come summer (May-Oct) floods of backpackers arrive hoping to arrive their dreams of seeing these majestic creatures in the wild. With viewings almost daily in the season you won’t need to wait long until you are doing the snorkel fins and mask and heading into the water, and then what a story for your dinner companions.

Having lots of activities on the books it is a real crowd pleaser, From abseiling down the rocky cliffsides to Weaving lessons they are also home to the Vinaka Fiji volunteer program (check out there website here) meaning you can pay back to the beautiful country as a thanks for hosting you!

 

White Sandy Beach

Located on the largest island in the Yasawa group, Naviti there is two resorts next door to each other meaning you have twice the chance meet up with new travellers.

Not everyone wants a party resort to meet others and lets face it although great for a couple of nights your liver and wallet will be glad you’ve moved on which is where White Sandy Beach comes in. It is a quiet resort so if you were wanting the party life I suggest this may not fit the bill, but for those looking for something more traditional to share with their fellow peers than White Sandy Beach is the place to be.

Sitting beachfront this small property has a house reef steps from your dorm and a hammock with the best view of the bay.

With a large communal dinning table and activities planned by the staff you will never get bored. With Fijian singing and dancing its hard not to get involved. Personally my favourite part of the none flashy resort is the staff, They work incredibly hard to ensure everyone who visits will not be alone and are great at helping those who may be a little shy meeting the other travellers at the resort.

 

Boathouse Nanuya

Mega modern Nanuya is for the flash packers amongst us. Lets face it after a couple of weeks/months without the home comforts there is nothing nicer than having a these on hand and this is where the Boathouse comes in.

Decked out with ultra modern features like hot water (can be a rarity in Fiji) air conditioning, a western menu, WIFI and now with SKY  it attracts all those who’ve missed creature comforts.

Not like this is a bad thing, for myself I know I was desperate for a hot shower and a great burger after a month of fish and curry it was all I was dreaming about! As this is a great resort for everyone you get an opportunity to meet lots of different people, Most of which you will find have visited the other islands also.

With so many activities and facilities on offer it can be easy to spend 4/5 days at the resort so keep this in mind when hopping through the islands! Sign up for the sunset cruises, Glass bottom boat tours, fishing trips but be sure to check out the close by Sawa-I-Lau Caves for a great afternoon out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 New Years Resolutions

We all have them, whether we keep them or not is a different story….

This year I wanted to set myself something achievable, as my plans have fallen through to travel for 12 months again due to work commitments I’ve allowed myself to throw caution to the wind and given myself a larger budget for my annual trips. I was worried I may regret my choice not to quit my job and travel I’ve planned some awesome trips this year to make up for it!

So first things first the booked trips!

  • Dubai in Feb 2017
  • India in March 2017

Then what else I would like to achieve this year….

  • Read at least a book a month by joining a book club. I love a recommendation and go by other people’s opinions, I love to read but often find I don’t make the time unless I am travelling and then struggle to put it down. I’ve joined onto nomadic Matts booklist where an email is sent monthly with recommendations.


  • Travel more within the UK, a overnight break once a month with a touristy activity planned. I’m forever away from home and am often visiting friends up and down the country but as I’m visiting people who’ve done all there is to offer to many times in their home towns I think I need to mix things up a little and see about arranging something at a midway point! 


  • Wear my wardrobe. Does anyone else find they have racks and racks of clothes but stick to the same couple of things and fall back outfits? After spending a small fortune on my collection and less and less room to store it I figure some has got to go. My plan is to completely empty my wardrobe and only allow things back in once it’s been worn. Think the mess alone will drive me crazy but maybe it will inspire me to try different items together! 


  • Save more money. Luckily I am working full time and I work within an industry which can be notoriously lacking in its benefits, however my company offer fantastic perks within the job including free holidays. This year I want to take advantage of the offers and see if I can do a completely free trip on them! 


  • Write more. If I’m honest the last thing I want to do once I get back is start setting up the blog, I find it hard enough to write in my journal while I’m away. I know I need to spend the time and arrange great posts which people can enjoy and further their own trip experiences with.


  • Travel to a new continent. So this year I didn’t manage to achieve this and was on my list for 2016 so I do need to crack on with it this year! My aim was to get to South America finally… Maybe that should be the free trip I mentioned?!


  • Finally my last but not least is visiting 5 new countries before 2017 is out. To be honest I feel I’m cheating already on this as I’ve booked India and Dubai which are both new, but I do like a challenge so maybe I should aim for 5 after those… 


So there you have it, my 2017 resolutions! Has anyone got anything similar to me? I try to be fair to myself each year when I write these, I don’t like to set the bar to high I cant complete them all but I do like a challenge and to push myself to try something new.

Great Ocean Roading

Who doesn’t love a road trip? Imagine 243 kilometres of coastal road with the big blue on one side and the other dramatic cliff-side and green rain-forests while you drive one of the most popular drives in the world.

Stretching from Torquay in the East, Only 97 kms from Melbourne to Warrnambool in the West this drive is made of so famous thanks to the passing of the surfside resorts, and scenic landscapes along its stretch and the important history it plays for the Australians.

Built in memorial of those who fought and dies within the first world war, the servicemen who returned were given reemployment in building this roadway to help the coastal towns in their struggle with their isolation from the larger ports and cities.

Here’s my low down on the Great Ocean Road and my tips on where to stay and see along the way!

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*Torquay

Heading only few hours drive from Melbourne this coastal town is one of the most famous along the route as it is home to the surfing mecca of Bells Beach. Home to the Rip Curl competitions every Easter this is the longest running surfing competition and means you are sure to be able to spend some time watching the pros do there best practising even outside of the summer season! We ended up spending three hours in the rain mesmerised by the swells of the water and the elegance of those riding.

There are tons of discount stores in Torquay should the surfer chic take hold and you are desperate for some new gear. For those looking for professional gear these outlet stores will offer better discounts than you can get in the larger cities.

If you are new to surfing personally I prefer Torquay to have your first experience rather than in Byron as everyone is keen to. The beaches in the area have taught Kelly Slater and that’s a good enough excuse as any, Lessons for beginners, intermediate and advance can be picked up locally and keep your eye in the store windows for local instructors rather than the larger group sessions!

If you are the sporty type or are pushed for time have wander at the Australian National Surfing Museum to learn more, or try your hand at some sunbathing and surf watching from the shore!

Looking for somewhere to stay? Try the Bells Beach Backpackers for an affordable and comfortable stop.

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*Lorne

Heading further west Lorne is another cute seaside town, Although for us we used this as the gateway into the the Great Otway National Park. With hundreds of walks, hikes and sights we wanted to spend a couple of days away from the beaches discovering the more interesting in land area. With lush tropical plants and ferns its hard to remember you haven’t just entered Jurassic Park. Take in an evening tour with your torches looking for the elusive glow worms that live within the tropical fauna

For those wanting to learn more history surrounding the great ocean road head to the heritage centre in the visitor centre in town.

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*Apollo Bay

Heading further south Apollo Bay is a popular stop way on the route, and a nice place to rest for a night or two. With a lovely long beach right on the roadside it is easy to spend a day or two soaking up the sun in the summer months and enjoy the small town charm.

We also used Apollo Bay for the Otway national park as we were again closer to some of the hikes in the area and took in a couple of waterfall hikes the hostel reception staff recommended.

We also headed out to the Otway National Park from here to Lake Elizabeth for canoeing at dusk to see if we could spot the magical platypus. Only a 50 min drive each way this was an amazing experience and can be booked before you arrive here. Advance booking is highly recommended and if you don’t spot a platypus then you will receive a 20% discount on your next trip. If you chose the dusk rather than the dawn you may also spot those glow worms I told you about!

Looking for somewhere to stay? Try the surfside Backpackers located just opposite the beach, this popular hostel has lots of common areas and chances to meet new people.

 

*Twelve Apostles 

Heading north again towards our final stop now, over 227 kms from Melbourne is the twelve apostles off the coast of port cambell national park. Formed from the erroision of the harsh southern sea there are now fewer than 10 remaining so no better excuse than to pull over before they completely disappear.

dsc00716As you can see from my picture even a day in the middle of summer doesn’t mean the weather will play nice!

These limestone stacks are the most famous structure along your trip and one of the busiest spots you will come to along your journey with day trippers desperate to get a selfie with the Apostles in the background.

There are tons of spots to pull over on your way to Warrnambool, including any of the beaches along the shipwrek coastline, the Loch Ard Gorge or the London Arch.

 

 

*Warrnambool

Saving the best for last (If travelling from Melbourne) Warrnambool was my favourite town on my journey along the great ocean road and my starting point as we drove from Adelaide.

As we were out of season it was unfortunate we couldn’t take advantage of the local whale watching tours, although we did head to the look out point over the waters to see if there was anything else we could spot!

Be sure to head back to the Tower Hill area for Kangaroo, Emu and Koala spotting as they are both native to the area, take in some of the short nature trails or complete some of the longer hikes. Be sure to enquire about the tours surrounding the local Aboriginal culture!

Dining at Cactus Jam was a highlight and having some flavoured margaritas to toast our journey was brilliant. The food was incredibly tasty and good value, a great find and I highly recommend it to anyone who makes it this far!

 

Now I know there are some who are visiting with a short window to explore the area and with day trips from Melbourne on offer you have no excuse not to see the wonders along the route, However if you have the opportunity to spend longer make sure you do! Hire a camper/car and spend at least 3 nights travelling along the GOR, I’m positive you wont regret it… Hopefully after reading my post you’ll know there is so much more to see than the Twelve Apostles. 

 

Travel agent top tip, be very mindful of the ever changing speed limits if you are hiring a car… Thanks to this i received my first ever driving offence. Although there are no cameras in place there are plenty of speed traps and police waiting, drive with extreme caution around and during public holidays.  

My Favourite Sunsets And Where To Find Them

Not being a morning person my favourite time of the day is dusk and I love to plan how I’ll view the last light of the day.

My most memorable moments from my year in Sydney were watching the colours change from my favourite spot in the Sydney Harbour, since I’ve learned to appreciate the moment a little more and enjoy with a sundowner, great company or a good book!

Here are some of my favourite pictures over the last couple of years!
Pictured above is the rolling green hills in Cairns while I was on a sunset water tour. Australia, Cairns. Queensland.

 

Just look at this beauty I caught the last moments of last month (November) on my walk home from work. UK

 

wp-1481582528130.jpgThis is from one of my most recent trips, After arriving on the ferry we climbed the short walk to the look out point to arrive in the nick of time! Gili Trawangan, Indonesia.

 

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This was a picture perfect moment I captured while I was spending time in Fiji, You must expect a view like this nightly! Naviti Island, Fiji.

 

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I caught this while we were bumping around in our safari jeep headed out to see what animals we could come across as the day turned to night. Addo National Park, South Africa.

 

IMG_1044My final sunset memory is the unforgettable experience of watching the sunset from Uluru, Australia. This is a once in a lifetime kind of thing and to experience the colours of the rock and sky change together is incredible!

 

 

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