Maldives on a Budget

Maldives has always been a dream destination for us. So when Scoot announced that all flights that layover in Singapore will be 300aud off each way, we grabbed the opportunity and booked flights to Male! There is no option to waive the baggage allowance so we ended up with 20kg each included in the ticket price of 283usd RT per person (from Perth, WA). Still not bad!

Crew, prepare for arrival!

We arrived on a Friday so there are no public ferries to take to the islands. We opted for the speedboat transfer arranged through the guesthouse in Huraa. By the way, we booked Beach Heaven Huraa through Airbnb ( The owner of the guesthouse, Mustafa, was easy to deal with and quick to reply to all my queries through Airbnb. He welcomed us at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport and led to the speedboat all the while explaining that we have a little problem and that we have to go to Male City first (10-min boat trip since the airport is on a separate reclaimed island) to get some fuel. He said we was not going to be with us through the whole journey, he’ll be staying in Male but his son will welcome us in Huraa. We don’t mind the slight inconvenience, we are in paradise after all!

a most welcoming sea port

a most welcoming sea port

We arrived after 30mins at sea. Huraa is one of the 200+ inhabited islands in Maldives (1200+ islands all in all!), situated in Kaafu Atoll and is between two luxury resorts (Four Seasons Resort and Club Med Kani). I couldn’t believe my eyes upon seeing the waters surrounding the island! Amazingly turquoise! Straight out of the movies!

Huraa upon approach

Huraa upon approach

Fazan, Mustafa’s son, walked us to the guesthouse and explained the amenities and schedule of meals (since our 100usd/night stay included breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet-style!). He also gave us directions to the Bikini Beach. Since the Maldives is a strictly conservative Muslim country, bikinis are not allowed to be worn in public beaches unless it is a designated bikini beach.

Bikini Beach, Huraa

We spent the whole afternoon of Day 1 in bikini beach. Not so much swimming as just dipping in the waters and lying down in the lounge chairs provided. Exactly my idea of a relaxing tropical beach holiday.

Day 2 breakfast was scrambled eggs, sausages, roti with butter and jam, and this very tasty concoction of coconut, fish, chillies and curry. And then off we went to snorkeling. Fazan went with us so there were 4 of us in the boat including the boatman-navigator. We stopped in the middle of nowhere, the waves were huge and I thought to myself- ARE WE STILL DOING THIS? Fazan took out the bread and tore it to pieces before throwing it out to the ocean. Out came the fishes! It was a surreal experience, the water being so clear that you feel like you are already snorkeling without getting yourself wet. But of course we still jumped off the boat- we paid 20usd for this HAHA!

Fazan (in pink) and the boatman whose name I forgot

Fazan (in pink) and the boatman whose name I forgot

Feeding frenzy

Feeding frenzy

I WAS SO SCARED because 1.) the waves were out to kill me 2.) I don’t know how to swim 3.) the flippers were annoyingly difficult to use because of reason #2. Still the fishes were worth the effort. Fazan said we could swim to the coral tree if we want but I contemplated all the while approximating the distance from the boat to where I think he was pointing. If something happens I don’t have travel insurance! #ResponsibleYOLOing

Locals playing football

Locals playing football

We decided to live like a local that afternoon. We watched a football game (Maldivians love football!) and hung out at the local port. It was nearly 6pm by then so we got our cameras ready for that daily spectacle that is the sunset. Having seen the sun rise that day, we realize that it has been a long day. And that is exactly what we want- longer days in a tropical island worrying about nothing, simply wishing that all the other days will be as magical.

Dhoni- traditional Madivian fishing boat

Dhoni- traditional Madivian fishing boat

Note: USD is widely accepted. We didn’t exchange for Rufiyaa at the airport but paid in USD for snacks at the local minimart in Huraa and got our change in Rufiyaa. We were going to use the Rufiyaa for our ferry ride back to Male but Mustafa said we could take a speedboat ride for free! 80usd/person one-way normally and we got it for free!

snorkeling spot with a view of the overwater bungalows

snorkeling spot with a view of the overwater bungalows

Mustafa sees us off on day 3. Thanks for everything, Mustafa!

Mustafa sees us off on day 3. Thanks for everything, Mustafa!

Cape Leeuwin: Australia’s (Most) Southwest

Cape Leeuwin lighthouse is mainland Australia’s tallest lighthouse (39m high, 56m above sea level). Where two oceans meet- Southern and Indian- it is also situated in Australia’s most southwesterly point. It was 100% manually operated till 1982 by a clockwork mechanism & kero burner, one of the last in the world. Its beam can shine over the landscape for 48kms.

For a fee of 8AUD, one can gain access to the grounds. Marvel at the restored keeper’s cottages and the great history of the lighthouse which was built in 1895. For 20AUD, one can have a guided climb of the tower.PEMBERTON 620PEMBERTON 628PEMBERTON 640PEMBERTON 673


We also had a quick stopover at the Old Waterwheel (turn off just 100m north of the lighthouse carpark). This was constructed in 1895 to supply water for the builders of the lighthouse.

And we had a quick photo op! Amazing structures along the coast, geological marvels! Lots of wind and water action I saw there. Also see the foliations on the rocks and some bedding planes? Makes you wonder the geological events that shaped them!



Beauty and Seclusion: Point D’ Entrecastreaux

About 30mins from Pemberton is the town of Northcliffe, gateway to D’ Entrecastreaux National Park which stretches 130kms along the south coast (from Augusta to the west of Walpole) covering 114,000ha . The French Admiral Bruni D’Entrecasteaux lent his name to the Park; he was the first European who saw the area in 1792.

We visited Point D’ Entrecastreaux which boasts of spectacular high limestone cliffs fronting the wild Southern ocean. We didn’t have time to visit the lighthouse though . Nearby places to visit are Salmon Beach and Tookalup which have tables for picnics and offer great views. One can also go whale-watching in winter and spring.


There were only 5 people on the beach yesterday morning including 3 lads who were spearfishing. Now that is a getaway!
How to get there:
30kms south of Northcliffe. Turn off Windy Harbour Road onto D’ Entrecasteaux Drive and then follow the signs to the point.

Rocky Cascades: Beedelup National Park

Beedelup National Park is just a short drive away (18km) from Pemberton city center. A highlight of the park is the Beedelup Falls which is a small series of rocky cascades. It would have been a prettier sight had it been winter. From the waterfalls we followed the Beedelup Loop Walk, a walking trail which took us to the 75m-high walk-through tree (trunk hollowed out!) and through to the Karri Valley Resort (magnificent views of the Beedelup lake) for a total of 4.7kms full circuit. It was an enjoyable, albeit challenging, trail- full of steep ascents and winding paths! Good thing there were no snakes which are a common sight this season.


This walking trail actually spans 1000kms- from Kalamunda in Perth to Albany! Now that's a challenge!

This walking trail actually spans 1000kms- from Kalamunda in Perth to Albany! Now that’s a challenge!

In the Company of Giants: Gloucester National Park

Pemberton is nestled in a valley surrounded by magnificent Karri forests of the Gloucester National Park, with its green pastures and vast vineyards. It also hold pride in being a tall timber country, still producing beautiful hand-crafted works.

About 327kms from perth, it may be quite a long drive but I assure you folks, it will be well worth the almost 4 hours of backbreaking but definitely scenic drive. There are a lot of recreational activities to do while at Pemberton- canoeing, fishing, biking, swimming, and bushwalking!

Pemberton is home to Gloucester National Park, with its towering Karri trees and beautiful rivers. We have embarked on a walking trail from the Gloucester look-out tree (61m high and can be climbed by the visitors) passing through the magnificent Karri forest in the guts of Pemberton. The karri trees are actually one of the tallest flowering trees in the world and their hardwood is prized for its fine woodcraft qualities. With no elevated vantage points within the Karri forest to build towers,foresters came up with a smart solution to build fire lookouts on the tallest trees- the Gloucester tree (picture below) being one of them.


BALI: Island of the Gods

This was our itinerary when we went to Bali last 18-22 April 2013. 

Day 1- Arrival

Day 2- Watersports at Nusa Dua, GWK Cultural Park, Padang-Padang Beach, Uluwatu Temple (high up the cliffs with hordes of playful macaques along the way), Seafood dinner at Jimbaran bay.

Day 3- City tour on motorbike- Kuta beach, Legian, Semin   yak.

Day 4- Whitewater rafting at Ayung River, Kintamani Tour (Batur Volcano and lake), Ubud spice garden visit and coffee-tasting (including Kopi Luwak!), and Tanah Lot (Bali’s iconic postcard-perfect sea temple).

Day 5- Lembongan island tour and stand-up paddle boarding. And the cherry on top- a soothing and well-deserved BALINESE MASSAGE!

I will let the pictures do the talking.



Lembongan IslandIMG_20130502_091725[1] IMG_20130520_232925[1]DSC07361 IMG_20130520_232750[1]

GWK Cultural Center IMG_20130520_232655[1] IMG_20130520_233110[1] IMG_20130520_233326[1] IMG_20130520_234142[1] IMG_20130520_233945[1] IMG_20130520_234247[1] IMG_20130520_234416[1]

Coffee-tasting trip

Secrets of the Afterlife: Magic, Mummies and Immortality

20 May 2013 |  Western Australian Museum

I’ve always loved museums and I’ve always wanted to be an Egyptologist! So this exhibit was a treat for me. Most interesting pieces were the Shabtis- little figurines, supposed servants for the afterlife, which can be activated by a spell written on the person’s tomb (for even in the Field of Reeds there is work to be done!). What is more fascinating is that the tools that the servants would need in the afterlife tasks (plowing, harvesting crops,etc) also come with the Shabtis in miniature proportions. Reminded me of Polly Pocket!

“Secrets of the Afterlife: Magic, Mummies and Immortality in Ancient Egypt”

Exhibition dates: 17 May 2013 – 22 September 2013

Don’t miss it, book your tickets now! (costs $20 per person, totally worth it!)


2013-05-202 2013-05-201 2013-05-20 DSC07735 DSC07725 DSC07724 DSC07718 DSC07717 DSC07716 DSC07715 DSC07713 DSC07712 DSC07711 DSC07710 DSC07708 DSC07707 DSC07706 DSC07705 DSC07702 DSC07696 DSC07694 DSC07691 DSC07679 DSC07665 DSC07663 DSC07661 DSC07660 DSC07659 DSC07658 DSC07657 DSC07653 DSC07647 DSC07635 DSC07634  2013-05-2012 2013-05-2011 2013-05-2010 2013-05-209 2013-05-207 2013-05-205 2013-05-204 2013-05-203

North WA: Geology Fieldwork-cum-Roadtrip

I have been feeling so uninspired lately that even a simple blog post (90% content of which will be photos for obvious reasons) seems like a freaking workout. My muse has eluded me and my journal now looks like a planner with just phrases and tasks accomplished for the day. Nevertheless, i have mustered all my energy to update this blog so please (my extinct readership) bear with me.

3 May 2013| Lancelin Dunes, The Pinnacles Desert, Stromatolites, Lake Thetis, Cervantes, and Jurien Bay

STROMATOLITES. Living fossils. Now seeing modern versions of earth’s oldest life forms. Tagging geol friends! — at Lake Thetis.


Seagull-spotting seems like a good hobby although less productive as knitting or growing mushrooms or making dead mice dioramas. But hey, aren’t all hobbies supposed to be that way – at Lancelin


Another seagull shot (Jurien Bay)

We have fed the seagulls in Cervantes with chips to have this shot taken. Manipulative humans for the sake of a quality photograph. Now this is totally unethical. haha


Great migrations- creepy crawlies edition. I got goosebumps when I saw this at Lancelin… then I imagined the caterpillars doing the conga line.Tata Tata Ta Ta!


“I go to seek a Great Perhaps.” –Francois Rabelais


Sorrento Quay. Hillarys boat harbour. Such a scenic spot the time of day this shot was taken, with the reflections of the beautiful seaside apartments enough to justify the high rent and cost of living. Great place to catch the sunset!


Lancelin dunes- perfect for a scifi movie action scene shoot!


The pinnacles at Nambung National Park are actually limestone pillars weathered through thousands of years of wind action. Wonderful sight to behold, like thousands of tombstones jutting out from the yellow sands!


Exploring the great outdoors and the scorching heat of the desert sun.

Swan Valley, Western Australia: Food and Wine Trail

This is how we recently celebrated a friend’s birthday; we drove to Swan Valley (around 30mins from Perth CBD), a famous wine and food destination in WA. It is, in fact, the oldest wine growing region in Western Australia. We sampled free chocolates, tasted different varieties of wine, munched on cheese, and sipped several coffee brews. It was a DIY food and wine trail and the best part is that everything was free! (except for the Chenin Blanc that we couldn’t get enough of so we bought a bottle.)