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    Asia & Oceania Travel

    Koh Chang Thailand – Take it Slow

    Location: Koh Chang Thailand

    It’s our second visit to Thailand. We came here for a really long stay when we first began our world travels. During that time, we moved around a lot, packing in as much as possible. Seven years later, we arrived on the island of Koh Change with zero plans and zero expectations. It turns out Koh Chang Thailand – Take it Slow, is a perfect island for just that.

    We stayed in the very south part of the island near to Bang Bao

    How to Get to Koh Chang

    Just off the coast of mainland Thailand, and an hour flight southeast from Bangkok is Koh Chang. There are several islands in this area. Fly from Bangkok to Trat (about an hour flight) and then secure a van on arrival at the airport. The van takes you from the airport, onto the ferry and across, then down the Island to your accommodations. We were the last ones to be delivered since we are so far south. Most visitors stay in the White Sand or Lonely Beach area. Cost for the airport to door service was about $21 pp.

    Another option is to take a car or van from the Bangkok Airport. This was something we did not know you could do, and if we hadn’t already booked and paid for our flight we would have done this. This option, though it involves about a 4 hour drive, gets you to Bangkok at your desired time…not when the Trat flight arrives. We had a six hour layover in Bangkok. It wasn’t horrible but if we had it to do again we would hire a car or van.

    This is Koh Chang

    Where We Stayed

    We booked an Airbnb in Bang Bao, which much to our surprise, ended up being at the very ends of the earth in Koh Chang. The road only goes about a half a mile past our condo. But there are still some things in the Bang Bao area; several small bungalow type accommodations, a handful of Thai restaurants easily walkable and the Bang Bao pier where most of the snorkel boats go from. Apparently the road used to not end here. It used to go all the around the bottom of the island, but it washed out and has yet to be repaired. Our guide told us he didn’t think it ever would be.

    The beach at Tranquility Bay
    The pool at Tranquility Bay.

    We chose a lovely view condo at the Tranquilty Bay Residence. It’s kind of a strange place though. We loved the view and the pool too. But the complex, like so many places in Thailand, appears to have over reached a bit. It’s really big, but about a third of the units have not been finished. During our 30 day stay there were perhaps ten units occupied out of forty or more. Apparently there was a restaurant at one time, but not anymore.

    We booked our condo through Airbnb and paid $80 per night which was a discounted price due to our long stay. The view though…amazing.

    The beautiful deck at our Condo
    The pool was sparkling clean and never crowded


    We spent the entire month of January in Koh Chang and we had great weather. The rainy season is over by November, but there still can be an occasional shower. It was mid to upper 80’s Fahrenheit every day.

    Sunrise hike
    Sunset walk

    Getting Around

    We aren’t confident scooter people, but scooters are the way most people, locals and visitors alike, get around. We were surprised to learn the Taxi Union is strong and so Tuk Tuk’s are forbidden on the island. That was disappointing because we love Tuk Tuk’s. Because of the remote location of our condo, you can’t just stand outside and expect a taxi to go by. Renting a car is also a hassle. So, we managed to hook up with a taxi driver and contacted him on WhatsAp the few times we needed a ride.

    I need to mention that this remote location brought with it some challenges as far as getting groceries. An easy walk to a decent 7-11 as well as a nice but tiny store that provided fruit, veg, coffee, toilet paper, rice and even fresh shrimp and chicken. We used those as needed but the two times we did tours (see below) we paid a driver to also take us to the much larger supermarkets in the town of White Sands Beach. By doing this we were able to have a good selection of ingredients for meals we made at home and then we ate out about once a week. See more about restaurants below.

    Teeny market at Bang Bao Pier
    Super Market at White Sand Beach

    Things To Do

    Well we spent most of our time just hanging out. We did our morning run in our neighborhood (hilly, and aggressive monkeys hanging out in the road), did yoga on our beautiful deck and then spent a couple hours at the pool most days. I read seven books in the month of January so that tells you how my days went. But all that said there are some fun and interesting things to do on Koh Chang, if you get bored of the beach or pool. Check out this list;

    Klong Phlu Waterfall

    Island Tour

    We hooked up with Coco Dee Bo Tours on the island and booked a couple of tours through them. In an effort to get a feel for the island, we did a full day island tour. Our driver and guide, spoke great English and had wonderful insight to the sites on the island. We visited several beautiful view points, an elephant sanctuary, and Klong Phlu Waterfall. We visited a historic fishing village and took a ride in a traditional Thai boat. It was a great day.

    Relaxing tour in an authentic fishing boat
    Several elephant sanctuaries, some more humane than others. Choose wisely.

    Bird Watching

    We really enjoyed a private Bird Watching Tour we booked through Coco Dee Bo. Our guide was excellent with an amazing ear and eye to spot some really great birds. Walkingthrough both private land and National Park land we spotted 14 new-to-us bird species. It was really fun and a good little hike too with great flora. Highly recommend.

    Bird Watching in the national park
    Isn’t he pretty?

    Bang Bao Pier

    Bang Bao Pier is often a stop on island tours, but it is right in our back yard so we visited there regularly. The Bang Bao Pier is home to the snorkel and dive boats…all shapes and sizes. It is also where you might go to do some souvenir shopping as well as pick up fruit and vegetables, seafood or visit an ATM. There are also several restaurants, a few Thai massage spots and a 7-11. A few remaining active fishing boats are here and homes of fisherman. The ferry to outer islands and Cambodia leaves from here each morning.

    Bang Bao Pier has boat tours and restaurants
    Bang Bao Pier has souvenir shops

    Ghost Ship

    Since we were on a mission to Koh Chang Thailand – Take it Slow we decided to hike to the Ghost Ship instead of hiring a guide. We like to hike and the abandoned ship is about four miles from our condo at the end of a long and dusty road. The story about the ship is that it was part of a resort, but when a guest fell or jumped from the top of the ship and died, people stopped coming to the resort. Today it’s an eerie shell of a place, but on the most spectacular beach. Staff (or an opportunist, I’m not sure which) collects 100 Baht (about $3USD) per person to enter and see the ship, resort, or go to the beach.

    Ghost Ship
    Abandoned Resort

    Snorkel Tours

    Bang Bao Pier is home to the majority of the dive and snorkel trips out of Koh Chang so it was very convenient to where we were staying. There are literally dozens of options; private, huge group, small group, family, slow boat, speed boat, catamaran…and the list goes on. You can do full-day with lunch and stop at five or six islands or choose half-day and stop at 2 or 3 islands. I would suggest use a clearing house like Coco Dee Bo to see all the options and book what works best for you.

    Every size boat to choose from for your snorkel tour
    Snorkel Thailand

    Thai Cooking Class

    We had the most wonderful three hour cooking class with Napalai Thai Cuisine School. At the class we learned to make ten things, all delicious, fresh and simple. I love Thai food and have cooked it often over the years, but taking the class was a way to learn even more. Our instructor Bunny was great. See the blog post I wrote about it last week here. If you come to Koh Chang, don’t miss it.

    Yummy Pad Thai
    Delicious Thai Chicken Curry

    White Sands Beach Night Market

    The night market at White Sands Beach, also called Walking Street, was a bit of a let down. I had envisioned the glorious night market of Chang Mai from our last visit to Thailand. Well, it wasn’t that. But I’m still glad we went. Mostly because the bustling area of White Sands Beach was fun to see at night….so different from the remote area we were staying near Bang Bao. The number of vendors at the White Sands Beach Night Market (happens every night) varies with the season.

    Grilled Whole Red and White Fish, White Sands Beach Night Market
    A popular fruit stuffed crepe at the White Sands Beach Night Market

    While in White Sands Beach we also ate at Beach Tango, a colorful, toes in the sand bistro. A good choice when in this town.

    Beach Tango


    Many years ago I had a Thai massage on the island of Koh Samui. OMG I thought they were going to break me in half. But this massage, at the Indie Beach Bungalows and Cafe was much more my style. Just enough pressure and very relaxing – with a little bit of chiropractic service thrown in. I enjoyed it so very much, I went two times. Everywhere you go on Koh Chang there are massage places. It’s a very Thai thing to do. Inexpensive too – starting at about $10 USD.

    You can listen to the lapping waves during a massage at Indie Beach Bungalows

    Where to Eat on the South Island

    Since we didn’t have a car we didn’t wander too far for dining out, but there were several excellent places to eat within walking distance of our Airbnb. Although we primarily cooked in our condo, we did eat out about once a week and again the last few days when our food was pretty much gone. The following places we can recommend in the Bang Bao and Had Sai Noi area of the Southern most part of Koh Chang;

    Indie Beach Bungalows and Cafe – this lovely spot is owned by our Airbnb Host and was an easy walk from our condo. We ate dinner here three times including once for their Tuesday night buffet. Additionally we ate breakfast here once. It’s a great spot and inexpensive and the view is amazing.

    Tuesday Buffet at Indie Beach
    Indie Beach Cafe
    Indie Beach Cafe

    Ido Ido Beach Cafe – right next door to Indie Beach is Ido Ido Beach Cafe. We had dinner here one night. It’s a bit more rustic than Indie Beach but we enjoyed the food and a nice beach view.

    Fried Banana on the beach at Ido Ido

    Pipin Cafe – with some of the friendliest people we met on the entire island, the Pipin Cafe was conveniently located next door to our Airbnb. We first had breakfast there one morning when the power was out at our condo. Luckily they use gas for cooking and they created an amazing Thai Omelet for me, one of my favorites. We enjoyed it so much we returned for dinner on another night and enjoyed several delicious dishes and ended with a giant Mango Sticky Rice.

    Best Thai Omelet I ever had at Pipen
    A soupy dish with shrimp veg and delicious broth at Pipin

    Nongyim Seafood Bang Bao – on the Bang Bao Pier we discovered a tiny little place highly rated for Seafood. We had only eaten shrimp since arriving, and really wanted to try the local fish. We we went to Nongyim where we had a whole fried Seabass as well as some great squid salad. Really enjoyed it.

    The Sea Bass was excellent
    Fresh and delicious Squid Salad

    Koh Chang Thailand – Take it Slow

    So that is how we spent our month on the island of Koh Chang. Most people don’t come for a whole month. Four days would give you time to see and do a lot. A week would be perfect. Or stay a month, and take it slow.

    Koh Chang Thailand, Take it Slow
    Swimming off the dock at Tranquility Bay

    Thanks for reading my post Koh Chang Thailand – Take it Slow. See last week’s post Cooking with Napalai Thai Cuisine, Koh Chang Thailand.

    We are headed to Europe now for the next three months. Stay tuned!

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    Asia & Oceania Travel

    Cooking With Napalai Thai Cuisine School, Koh Chang Thailand

    Fun, Easy & Delicious

    We have enjoyed a quiet and relaxing month on the island of Koh Chang in Thailand. Koh Chang is pretty laid back, and that was what we were looking for. We did find the energy though to do some fun things, including an amazing Thai cooking class. Thai food is incredible! Simple and fresh ingredients come together quickly for flavorful dishes. If you are coming to Koh Chang, I highly recommend Cooking with Napalai Thai Cuisine School, Koh Chang Thailand.

    Let’s Go!

    Cooking with Napalai Thai Cuisine School, Koh Chang Thailand

    Located in the Amphoe area, owner and instructor Bunny tells me she started the school eleven years ago. I was very impressed with the layout of the mostly outdoor kitchen, and the quality of the kitchen and fresh ingredients. Bunny’s English is excellent and she has so much energy! Probably where she got the nickname Bunny.

    There are three choices of classes daily, and depending on where you are staying you can also get a pick up. We chose the afternoon class. This class is 1200 Baht per person (about $35 USD) and you choose one of two dishes in five categories. So between my husband and I we made ten dishes. The food is also consumed as you make it, so unlike some classes you eat it all while it is hot. I liked that. The class took about three hours. See the other offerings on the website here.

    Instructor Bunny talks about Chilies
    Napalai Thai Cusines School
    Let’s cook!

    Let’s Get Cooking

    At the afternoon class there were two soups offered, two curries (which included making two curry pastes), a choice between Pad Thai and Cashew Chicken and finally two desserts.


    Fresh and local ingredients are the key to Thai cooking. Most of the ingredients in classic Thai food can be found in the USA and Europe, although you may need to substitute a few things. Talking about the local ingredients is one of my favorite things about taking a cooking class in most countries we visit. Bunny explained some unusual-to-me ingredients like galangal, finger root and a tiny berry-like aubergine.

    Galanga, Ginger, Finger Root and Turmeric
    Fresh and local
    Beautiful ingredients ready for the pot


    I’m a sucker for coconut milk based soups, and so I chose to make the Tom Kha Kai – a Chicken in Coconut Milk Soup made with lemon grass, galangal, kaffir lime, chilies, onions, mushrooms, coriander, sugar, lemon juice, fish sauce and coconut milk. It was fabulous. I will certainly make this again.

    Arne chose to make Tom Yam Koong – A Hot Sour Prawn Soup. His was also delicious, made with prawns (or you can use chicken), lemon grass, galangal, onion, tomato, coriander, chicken stock, lemon juice, kaffir lime and fish sauce. Both soups quick and easy.

    Tom Kha Kai
    Arne enjoying Tom Yam Koong

    Main Dish

    Arne chose the Pad Thai, a dish most people are familar with. We have made this at home and have certainly eaten it in many places around the world. The recipe at Napalai included noodles, chicken, spring onions, cabbage, egg, two kinds of mushrooms, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, tamarind paste, dried shrimp and chili powder. In a wok it comes together very quickly.

    Kai Phat Met-Ma Maung is Stir Fried Chicken and Cashew Nuts, one of my favorites. Preparing the ingredients on the chopping block took more time than the cooking. It was all simple using carrots, baby corn, onion, mushrooms, red chili, garlic, sugar, oyster sauce, fish sauce, chicken and cashews. This one is easy to make at home and I have already made it.

    Pad Thai
    Kai Phat Met-ma-manung


    Red Curry and Green Curry are a little different in Thailand than what you might be familiar with in India. Though not difficult, it is a little more time consuming to pound the ingredients for the curry paste. These two dishes were spicier than anything else we made, even though we scaled back on the spices. If you aren’t used to the spicy chilies here, you need to be careful…it can really knock your socks off.

    We started by finely chopping our ingredients for the two curries before moving to the mortar and pestle and grinding the ingredients into paste. The pounded ingredients for the red curry included red chilies, garlic, shallot, lemon grass, galangal, coriander, kaffir lime, turmeric, peppercorns, cumin and shrimp paste.

    Finely chopped
    Grinding the paste

    The ingredients for the green curry included green chilies, garlic, shallot, lemon grass, galangal, coriander, kaffir lime, turmeric root, pepper corns, cumin and shrimp paste.

    When the curry paste was ready we moved to the woks where we added the chicken, eggplant, corn, basil, fish sauce and coconut milk.

    Homemade curry paste starts the dish
    Kaeng Khiaw-waan kai


    Of course the much loved Mango Sticky Rice, Khao-Neeaw Ma-Muang, was on the menu. And this stuff is dangerous. I could eat it every day. One of my all time favorite desserts and it is so easy. We also made Banana in Coconut Milk, Buat Fak- Thawng, which tasted like a Banana Cream Pie without the crust. The freshest fruit and good quality coconut milk/coconut cream, as well as sticky rice are the featured ingredients in these desserts.

    Khao-neeaw ma-muang
    Buat fak-thawng

    Cooking Around the World

    For me, taking a cooking class in a foreign country is hands down the best way to get close to the culture of a place. Food is such an important part of people’s lives, religions and culture. Seven years ago I took a Thai Cooking Class in Chiang Mai. And my experience Cooking with Napalai Thai Cuisine School, Koh Chang Thailand was an exceptional refresher. And I learned some wonderful new things too. Thank you to Bunny for being an exception chef and teacher.

    Thank you for reading my post Cooking with Napalai Thai Cuisine School, Koh Change Thailand. If you are coming to Koh Chang, don’t miss it. I hope you saw last week’s post Sensational Singapore – A Visit to the Lion City.

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    Asia & Oceania Travel

    Sensational Singapore – A Visit to the Lion City

    This was my second time visiting the sparkling city of Singapore. Our first visit five years ago was only for a couple of days. So when we had a transiting opportunity to visit again we grabbed it. We spent five nights in Singapore this time, which gave us a perfect opportunity to return to some of our favorites, and discover lots of new things. Let’s talk about Sensational Singapore – A Visit to the Lion City.

    Sensational Singapore – A Visit to the Lion City

    The Lion City

    Officially the Republic of Singapore, this island/nation city/state in it’s present form came to be in 1819. That’s when Stamford Raffles established Singapore as a trading post for the British Empire. But through the centuries prior to that, the region was a maritime stronghold through several empires. Singapore’s perfect location about one degree of latitude (137 kilometres or 85 miles) north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bordering the Strait of Malacca to the west, the Singapore Strait to the south along with the Riau Islands in Indonesia, the South China Sea to the east, and the Straits of Johor to the north. (Wikipedia)

    Singapore gained independence in 1965. Over the past fifty years Singapore has seen rapid growth and expansion as center for international trade and economic globalization. Today it is a sparkling city of high rises, fantastic tourist attractions, exceptional food, beautiful parks and gardens and a varied ethnic base. It also is home to the best airport in the world – Changi – definitely an important part of Sensational Singapore – A Visit to the Lion City.

    Where to Stay

    Singapore can be very expensive, but we found a really lovely hotel in a perfect location, central to most attractions. Our room at the Oasia Downtown was about $200 a night, more than we pay in most cities but a bargain in Singapore. We declined the $25 per person breakfast and instead easily found breakfast for $3 to $5 at the nearby Hawker Center…more about those in a minute.

    Oasia Hotel Downtown
    A bit of a view

    Our Favorite Things to Do

    We re-visited some of our favorite spots from our last visit, and discovered a few new spots as well. We had four full days, but you could easily see the city in less time, so just choose what is most important to you. There are a few things we wanted to do that we did not get to because of a big rain storm…but that leaves us something for next time!

    Gardens by the Bay Super Trees and Sky Walk

    Possibly the most popular thing to do as a visitor to Singapore, the fascinating Gardens by the Bay glowing trees, is a must. Each evening at 7:45 and 8:45 pm the trees perform a beautiful light show choreographed to music. There is also a sky walk, which we did before sunset, that offers great views of Sensational Singapore – A Visit to the Lion City. This is my favorite thing in all of Singapore.

    Sky Walk
    Super Tree Light Show

    Cloud Forest

    We timed our visit to the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome perfectly, as we woke up to a deluge of a tropical storm. We took a Grab car (one of Singapore’s alternatives to Uber) to the Cloud Forest, and hardly got a rain drop on us, as Singapore has laid out this city with covered walkways to protect pedestrians from both rain and sun. The Cloud Forest is a fascinating domed tropical garden with waterfalls, and thousands of trees and tropical plants

    At the top of the Cloud Forest
    Cloud Forest

    Flower Dome

    Next door to the Cloud Forest is the colorful and cheerful Flower Dome. I love this place. Christmas decor was still up when we visited in January, but the festive flower displays change seasonally and so you can visit often and see something new each time.

    Flower Dome
    Flower Dome

    Merlion at Marina Bay

    The Merlion is the symbol of Singapore, and the statue with the cascading fountain is a gathering place. Each evening at 8:00 pm you can sit at the Merlion and enjoy a light show across the bay looking at the iconic Marina Bay Sands Resort.

    The lightshow looking across at Marina Bay Sands

    Singapore Botanic Gardens

    Located in the Tanglin neighborhood of Singapore and easily accessible by Metro (Napier stop), the Singapore Botanic Gardens is a beautiful space to wander with lovely lakes, ponds and plants and flowers. It is also home to the National Orchid Garden.

    Lovely art as well as gardens
    Singapore Botanic Gardens

    Sentosa Island and Cable Car

    There is a lot to do on Sentosa Island, including beaches and amusement parks. But we just took a leisurely ride on the cable cars for a wonderful view of the island and the city.

    Looking at the city from Sentosa
    The beach at Sentosa

    China Town

    Our hotel was situated on the edge of China Town and we spent some time walking around, looking at shops and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, which is right across the street from the Maxwell Metro Station.

    Budha Tooth Relic Temple

    Arab Street

    We had not visited Arab Street or the Muslim Temple on our last visit. There are many shops here and a ton of restaurants catering to the tourists. We ate a quick lunch at a Turkish Restaurant and also had quick visit to the Muslim Mosque.

    Muslim Mosque
    Arab Street Dining

    Peranakan Museum

    I’m so glad we took time to visit the Peranakan Museum. Housed in a historic building that was formerly a school, the Peranakan Museum explores the culture known locally as Peranakan. The term refers to a person of mixed Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage. Many Singapore Peranakans trace their origins to 15th-century Malacca, where their ancestors were thought to be Chinese traders who married local women.

    Once stigmatized and looked down on, today Peranakans are proud of the unique heritage and deep roots in Singapore.

    Beautiful Building for the Peranakan Museum
    Peranakan Museum

    Little India

    We only had a quick walk through colorful Little India, but it’s worth a visit if you have time. There are lots of restaurants and shops. On our visit locals were preparing for the upcoming Pongol Festival with lots of decorations and flowers being prepared.

    Little India

    Things We Did Not Do

    Bumboat from Clark Quay

    I really wanted to take the little Bumboat Tour from Clark Quay down the river to Marina Bay. But the night we planned to do it was too rainy. I’m gonna save it for next time.

    Bumboat in Marina Bay

    Marina Bay Sands Hotel

    On our last visit we went up to the top of Marina Bay Sands and had a drink in the bar. It was the most expensive gin and tonic of my life…but it was worth it for the view. We did not do it again this time, but if its your first visit to Singapore I recommend it.


    I’m not much of a shopper, but if you are, Singapore is your dream come true. There are many malls as well as sections of the city like Orchard Road, designed for shopping with everything you might need and want.

    Where to Eat

    Hawkers Centers

    We love eating at the Hawkers Centers in Singapore: inexpensive, delicious and a big part of the local culture. We ate nearly all our meals at three different Hawkers Centers; Lau Pa Sat, Maxwell Center and Tanjong Pagar.

    Hawker culture started in the 1800’s after Sir Stamford Raffles turned Singapore into a thriving port city. The Street Hawkers where often migrants from China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and other lands. For them, street hawking was an easy way to earn a living as it required little capital.

    Breakfast at Tanjong Pagar
    Famous Chicken and Rice dish at Maxwell Center

    After WWII and independence in 1965, effort was made to license and oversee the burgeoning hawker culture. In 1986 the government decided to open Hawker Centers, and move the hawkers into collective spaces. Today, the Hawker Centers are not only an inexpensive way to dine and enjoy a wide variety of ethnic foods, but these places are the gathering point for residents and visitors alike. Today Singapore is home to 119 Hawker Centers.

    Dumplings at Lau Pa Sat
    Satay Street at Lau Pa Sat

    Lau Pa Sat is the largest and most well known. Excellent food 24 hours a day. And every night around 7pm (earlier on weekends), Boon Tat street on its SW side closes and becomes Satay Street. An absolute must not just for the food but for the atmosphere!

    Kaya Toast

    We also ate breakfast one morning at Tong Ah Eating House to try a Singaporean local favorite called Kaya Toast. I had read about this very simple breakfast enjoyed by locals and Tong Ah was an easy walk from our hotel. Kaya Toast is toasted bread with coconut “jam” served with two soft boiled eggs. Simple and delicious.

    Kaya Toast
    Served with strong and sweet coffee

    Peranakan Cuisine

    It was really fun to connect finally in person with a social media friend who lives in Singapore. We all enjoyed a wonderful Peranankan dinner at True Blue. The food was interesting and the company divine.

    Slow Stewed Meat at True Blue

    Dining in the Dark

    I read about Nox Dining in the Dark and thought it would be something fun to try. Well, it was unique that’s for sure, but I don’t think I would do it again. You start with an amuse bouche and a drink in a bar with lights on, then you are taken to a completely dark room where you dine. Multiple courses served, some easily identifiable and others plain flabbergasting. Afterwards you guess what you ate and learn if you are right. You understand how much of the enjoyment of food is based on visual input once you don’t have that input!

    Amuse Bouche before the lights went out

    Changi Airport

    I don’t remember ever recommending an airport as something to do at a destination before. But Changi Airport is a must. It’s big and beautiful with so many options for dining. If you have a layover, there are places to stay, shower, and play. There are gardens, a pool, a giant slide, arcade, art, butterflies and so much more. Make time for Changi as a layover, or like us, on our departure day we went several hours early. Most airlines offer early bag check to give you hands free time in this beautiful airport.

    Changi Airport
    Changi Airport

    Sensational Singapore – A Visit to the Lion City

    As one of the worlds major hubs, many flights make stops in Singapore. You will find connections to all of Asia, Australia, Europe and the USA. So be sure to add a few days in this fascinating, modern yet historic, and culturally enticing city. You’ll be glad you did.

    Did you see last week’s post Seventh Annual Travel Awards 2023? It’s a good one. Don’t mis sit!

    Asia & Oceania Travel

    Tasmania – Australia’s Island Paradise

    Location: Tasmania Australia

    I arrived in Tasmania Australia with absolutely no expectations. I love it when that happens. Sometimes it’s on purpose and other times it’s just because we are busy and have not really planned our visit. Usually this results in wonderful surprises and discoveries – and this is exactly what happened for us in Tasmania – Australia’s Island Paradise.

    Hobart from on top of Mount Wellington

    Tasmania – Australia’s Island Paradise

    Island Paradise? Absolutely. But maybe not in the way you are thinking. It’s not tropical…but there are beautiful beaches. You’ll love that it’s not crowded…most of it wild and undeveloped. Also it’s not hot…with four seasons but rarely getting over 75 – 80F degrees in the short summer.

    And yet it truly is a little Eden. About half the size of the State of Washington, the heart shaped island is home to a fascinating collection of birds, animals and plants. With miles of undeveloped coast, rain forests, mountains, waterfalls, lakes and meadows. A hardy local population of about 540,000 are friendly, patriotic and helpful.

    Beautiful Tasmanian beach

    Tasmania has a rich history. Home to aboriginal tribes for tens of thousands of years, the tribes were nearly wiped out when Europeans arrived. Abel Tasman, the Dutch explorer, first named the island Van Diemen’s Land in the 1640’s. The British began “transportation” in the early 1800’s, transporting convicts to gaols (jails) throughout Australia including Tasmania. In an effort to colonize the area, more than 162,000 men, women and children served hard labor between 1788 and 1868. Most of them stayed, and populated the Australian mainland and Tasmania. It is estimated that 20% of today’s Australian population can trace their roots to British convicts transported during this time.

    What’s Your Pleasure?

    During our visit, Tasmania provided us activities that we enjoy the most; bird and wildlife spotting, hiking, walking, learning about history, eating seafood and drinking local wine and beer! We did all that and more during our four week visit to Tasmania – Australia’s Island Paradise.

    Amazing local beer and wine throughout Tasmania

    Most people probably aren’t going to spend an entire month. But hopefully this post will help you set your priorities for visiting Tasmania.

    By the way – if you plan to visit more than one national park in Tasmania, it’s worth it to purchase an annual pass which we did. Definitely worth it for us at US$60. Learn more about it here.


    We spent an entire month in a wonderful historic Airbnb in Hobart. All but two of the activities listed below we did as day trips from Hobart. One overnight was to Freycinet National Park, although we could have done that in a day trip too. Additionally we took two nights to go north and visit Launceston and Cradle Mountain. It was great to use Hobart as our home base, since we had such a lot of time to work with. If you have less time, be sure to spend at least a few days in lovely Hobart because there is much to do. Read all about the amazing things we did while living in Hobart for a month here Hobart Australia’s Most Surprising Town.


    Bruny Island


    DISTANCE FROM HOBART – 35 min drive and 30 min ferry ride.

    Bruny Island (approximation)

    A short drive from Hobart to the small town of Kettering, you catch a small ferry to Bruny Island. Plan ahead because sometimes you wait a couple of ferries – it’s really small. Once on the island, there are some fun things to do…we did it as a day trip but depending on how much time you have it could be a great overnight. Bruny is home to some great hikes including Fluted Cape Walk, which we did. It involved a pretty steep climb but that gave us some wonderful views. We had hoped to see the famous Bruny Island white wallaby but unfortunately we didn’t. Hopefully you will. There are about 200 on the island.

    Bruny has beautiful beaches and several wineries. We took some time to visit a local brewery that also makes cheese Bruny Island Beer and Cheese Company and enjoyed a little lunch.

    Bruny Island Beer and Cheese Company

    A popular thing to do on Bruny is get out on the water on an organized boat cruise. We didn’t do this, but there are many ways to enjoy the water…and many other things as well. Learn all about what to do on Bruny Island here.

    Bruny Island Ferry
    Fluted Cape Walk
    Fluted Cape Walk

    Tasman Peninsula and Port Arthur


    DISTANCE FROM HOBART Just over an hour to Tasman Peninsula and an additional 20 min to Port Arthur

    Tasman Penninsula Port Arthur (approximation)

    Tasman Peninsula

    We started early for this day trip and enjoyed everything we did. Starting on the Tasman Peninsula we made several stops to enjoy the beauty of this astounding scenery of this area. This is home to the multi day hike known as the Three Capes. On this visit to Tasmania we were not prepared to do overnight hiking, but it’s one of the most popular things to do in Tasmania. Learn more about it here.

    However our day trip included some short walks that provided us outstanding views of this rugged and beautiful area. Starting with a couple of short loop walks that took us to the Tasman’s Arch and then to the Devils Kitchen. Another short walk in this same area is to a Blow Hole at Fossil Bay, with spectacular panoramas along the gorgeous coast. I highly recommend a stop at the Tessellated Pavement too. It’s also a short walk and worth it to view this very unique rock formation, created by the expanding salt in the rock cracks. Unreal and bewitching.

    Tasman’s Arch
    Tessellated Pavement
    Devil’s Kitchen and Coast
    Alien looking “loafs” at Tessellated Pavement

    Port Arthur

    At the end of the Tasman Peninsula we come to Port Arthur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and former penal colony. Between 1830 and 1877 nearly 13,000 convicts came to this remote point of the Tasman Peninsula, at that time reachable only by water. The convicts that were housed here were those who recommitted crimes. A high offender penitentiary. The museum and self-guided tour is so perfectly presented and easy to understand. At the start of the tour you receive a playing card with the name and picture of someone who either lived or worked in Port Arthur. As you tour the grounds you read the interpretive signage and try to find your person. It was fun and interesting for young and old alike. This unique historical site of Port Arthur is sad, but frankly beautiful too. Port Arthur is a not to be missed attraction of Tasmania.

    Engaging way to explore Port Arthur
    Port Arthur
    Beautiful too

    As we returned to Hobart we stopped at one of the dozens of wineries in this area. Visiting Bangor Vineyard winery we enjoyed an early dinner in their incredible restaurant and some delicious wine too.

    Bangor Vineyard
    Bangor Vineyard

    Mount Fields National Park


    DISTANCE FROM HOBART one hour and ten minutes

    Mount Fields National Park (approximation)

    At 600 feet, you’ll enter this beautiful national park and find a cool rain forest and home to some of Tasmania’s tallest Eucalyptus trees. We enjoyed a full day hike doing the three waterfalls loop. On our visit we hiked about 7 miles but there are short and easy wilderness walks that take you through the beautiful fern trees and to the popular Russell Falls, one of Tasmania’s most beautiful waterfalls. After our hike and picnic lunch we drove up to Lake Dobson. It was noticeably colder at this elevation of 3500 feet. In the winter it’s popular for snow activities at Mount Mawson Ski Field. Mount Fields National Park is not as popular as some of the other national parks close to Hobart, we loved how few people were there on our visit. I highly recommend you visit.

    BIG trees in Mount Fields
    Russell Falls

    Maria Island


    DISTANCE FROM HOBART One hour by car and then 30 min by boat.

    Maria Island

    One of our favorite things we did on Tasmania was visiting Maria Island (pronounced mar – EYE – ah). Another national park, it is remote and beautiful and home to abundant wildlife. I recommend booking your boat ahead, especially during high season. It’s recommended you arrive at the ferry 45 min before your departure. The passenger-only ferry with Encounter Maria departs from the small town of Triabunna. At the ferry you will find parking, rest rooms and a small place for coffee and fish and chips.

    One day or More

    The boat ride can be a bit bumpy, so if you are like me plan ahead with your motion meds. On arrival there are multiple hiking options depending on your fitness level. We did three different hikes; first to the Fossil Cliffs, about an hour and half. The fossils are pretty cool and the hike along the rocky cliff side of the island is windswept and beautiful. We encountered kangaroo on this section.

    Next we did the Reservoir Circuit, a very peaceful walk through tall forests with fewer people. On this walk we saw our first potoroo and some beautiful birds.

    We walked through the Darlington Township, another of Australia’s penal colonies of the 1800’s and enjoyed our picnic lunch at one of the provided tables. It was here that we encountered the rare Cape Barren Goose.

    Boat to Maria Island
    Fossil Cliffs

    Next we walked along the beautiful Rutherford Beach cove to the Painted Cliffs, one of the most beautiful areas of the island. A fascinating geological feature of Maria you don’t want to miss. Make sure to check on the tide however, to properly see the Painted Cliffs the tide must be low enough to walk to them.

    Walking back to the ferry we encountered wombats. Several wombats, including a Mama and a baby. Such a treat to see these incredible marsupials up close.

    We took the 10:00 AM boat out of Triabunna and returned on the 4:15 departure from Maria. This gave us plenty of time to do all of the above. There are longer hikes as well, and you can stay the night in both small historic lodging or camping. Don’t miss Maria Island when visiting Tasmania.

    Beautiful Painted Cliffs
    Mama and baby wombat

    Freycinet National Park/Wine Glass Bay


    DISTANCE FROM HOBART 2 hours 40 minutes

    Freycinet National Park (approximation)


    We visited Freycinet as an overnight but you could do it as a day trip from Hobart. Deciding to make it an overnight, we stayed in the tiny town of Swansea, about an hour from the park, in a small cabin in a caravan park. Swansea has a few restaurants but not much else. We did enjoy a walk through town and along the waterfront.

    Beautiful beach near Swansea
    Dinner in Swansea at The Branch

    Wine Glass Bay

    Wine Glass Bay is the main thing most people come to see. There is a fairly steep hike up to the viewpoint that includes about 1000 stairs. Once at the top the view makes you forget all about that. At the lookout, you can choose to walk another 1000 steps down to the beautiful sandy beach. Then, turn around and back up, and down the other side. It is a bit difficult, but if you take your time, I think nearly anyone could do it. Be sure and bring water.

    Looking down onto Wine Glass Bay
    The beach at Wine Glass Bay
    Made it to the top!

    Cape Tourville Light

    It’s also worth it to visit Cape Tourville Light. The view is incredibly, and although very windy I definitely recommend the short walk around the light. The view from the windy cliff where the light house sits is stunning.


    OVERNIGHT – we did Launceston as part of a two day tour of Launceston, Devonport and Cradle Mountain (see below)

    Distance from Hobart 2 hours 30 minutes

    Launceston (approximation)

    Launceston is Tasmania’s second largest city. Located on the Tamar River, it’s home to James Boag’s Brewery – Australia’s largest brewery. It’s a small town with lots of historic charm in the Victorian style architecture. It’s easy to do a self-guided walking tour. Don’t miss the Old Umbrella Shop, owned by National Trust Tasmania.

    If the weather is fine make sure to visit the Cataract Gorge and ride the old school Cataract Chair Lift over the gorge.

    National Trust Old Umbrella Shop
    Cataract Gorge

    Cradle Mountain National Park and Devonport


    Distance from Hobart 4 hours. From Devonport it’s about 1 hour 30 min.

    Cradle Mountain National Park (approximation)


    We drove from Launceston on to Devonport (about an hour) where we rented a tiny cottage in a caravan park with views of the the Bass Strait. We chose Devonport because it was easy to access Cradle Mountain National Park which was our main reason for coming to this area. The region is very agarian, a bit windy and absolutely beautiful. Devonport is home to the ferry that crosses the Bass Strait, the treacherous span of water to mainland Australia.

    We didn’t have much time in Devonport, and frankly there isn’t a lot to do. We enjoyed a leisurely walk along the waterfront a long and well maintained Torquay Heritage Trail.

    The best thing we did in Devonport was go at sunset to see the Little Penguins. Often called Fairy Penguins these little cuties leave their chicks on shore and go out to fish from just before sunup until after sunset. Conservation volunteers man the overlook at Lillico Penguin Viewing Platform each evening to help visitors spot the little penguins as they come ashore. It was cold and windy and of course dark…but I’m sure glad we did it.

    Torquay Heritage Trail
    Little Penguin at Lillico Viewing Platform – using red lights to see the penguins after dark

    Cradle Mountain National Park

    We arrived at Cradle Mountain National Park about 10am. It was the week after Christmas and it was really busy with tourists and locals too. We hadn’t realized that visiting Cradle Mountain means a shuttle bus inside the park. At first I was annoyed about that…always wanting to be able to control my timeline. However, it was a very efficient system, even on a very busy day. The shuttles are large and comfortable and frequent. Even if you already have a parks pass, you’ll need to stop at the visitor center to get your shuttle tickets.

    The park is about 3000 feet, and even in early summer, it can be chilly. When packing up that morning in Devonport where it was 75 Fahrenheit, we had only thrown in our down jackets and hats as an afterthought. Thankfully. We wore all of it most the day. Beginning our hiking around 11am with the Dove Lake Circuit, one of the most popular hikes in the park. We followed that with a nice stretch of the Overland Track – most of which is on a raised platform. Next we enjoyed our picnic lunch and were just heading out to do a portion of the river gorge track, which wanders back down to the Visitor Center. But right then it started to rain…a nasty, misty, soaking rain, and we decided we had enough for the day, and headed back towards Devonport.

    Beautiful Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain National Park
    Bundled up but loving Cradle Mountain National Park

    And We Didn’t See It All

    There are a few things we did not squeeze into our visit. Despite the compact size of Tasmania, if you like nature, you’ll never run out of things to see and do. The people are so friendly, prices are good, roads are passable to all the places I mentioned here, and summer and fall provide comfortable temperatures. Spending the holidays here we observed how laid-back life is – even as Christmas approached. People are unpretentious, happy, and completely at home in this beautiful state.

    We loved everything about our time in Australia, and Tasmania is a place we would love to return to again. If I can help you plan a visit to this remarkable place, let me know. Tasmania – Australia’s Island Paradise.

    See last week’s post about Hobart Tasmania – Australia’s Most Surprising Town here. Be sure to come back NEXT FRIDAY for our ANNUAL TRAVEL AWARDS post – which incidentally has a lot of Australia in it too! You don’t want to miss it – always one of our top posts of the year.

    Want to learn more about our time in Australia? Check out Visit Beautiful Brisbane, Visit Marvelous Melbourne and our Caravan Travel post one and post two.

    Thank you for reading this week’s post Tasmania – Australia’s Island Paradise. We would really appreciate your shares, pins and comments to help our post get more views. Thank you.

    Asia & Oceania Travel  --  Island Life

    Hobart, Tasmania – The Most Surprising Town in Australia

    Location: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

    Tasmania. Where is it? I don’t think most people even know. Not that long ago I wouldn’t have known either. But today I can say it is one of the most amazing places I have ever been. And Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania, is definitely worth a visit. Let me tell you why I say Hobart, Tasmania – The Most Surprising Town in Australia.

    Looking down at Hobart from the top of Mount Wellington at 4400 feet

    Hobart, Tasmania

    Tasmania is Australia’s southernmost state. It’s an island too, about half the size of the state of Washington, an hour flight from Melbourne. Hobart is the capital city of Tasmania and is home to 198,000 people. The city of Hobart sits at latitude 43 south – which is equivalent to Milwaukee Wisconsin or Marseille France north. During our visit we rented a wonderful Airbnb in Hobart for an entire month over the Christmas holidays. Even though December is the beginning of summer in Australia, it never gets too hot in Hobart due to the southern exposure, and we had a little bit of everything in the weather department. It’s a perfect size city for getting around, and we had time to do so many wonderful things: from museums to hiking and more – Hobart, Tasmania – The Most Surprising Town in Australia.

    Lovingly refurbished historic home
    Historic Airbnb built in 1860
    We loved this Airbnb

    Hobart, Tasmania – The Most Surprising Town in Australia, has a colonial and penal colony history but natives were here much earlier. Wikipedia says “The first European settlement in the Hobart area began in 1803 as a penal colony and defensive outpost. In 1804 it was moved to a better location at the present site of Hobart at Sullivans Cove, making it the second oldest city in Australia. Prior to British settlement, the area had been occupied for at least 8,000 years, but possibly for as long as 35,000 years, by the semi-nomadic Mouheneener tribe, a sub-group of the Nuenonne, or South-East tribe. The descendants of the indigenous Tasmanians now refer to themselves as ‘Palawa‘.”

    Historic Hobart Harbor (Canva)

    Things to do in Hobart Tasmania

    In this post I will share with you all the great things we discovered to do in the city of Hobart, or less than an hour from the city. Next week’s Friday blog post, I will expand more on all the incredible attractions more than hour outside of the city. But if you are only visiting Hobart, there is so very much to do without leaving the city Let’s talk about it.


    Battery Point – one of Hobart’s oldest and best preserved neighborhoods just south of the CBD. Founded in 1818, Battery Point (so named from the cannons once positioned there) is perfect for a self-guided walking tour when visiting Hobart.

    Battery Point
    Row Houses in Battery Point
    Battery Point

    Hobart Wharf and Constitution Dock – a beautiful part of the city, this historic waterfront area is home to the fishing fleet as well as yachts and personal sailboats. Many tours leave from here and there are casual eateries and fine dining options. The cruise terminal is close by.

    Hobart Waterfront
    Mawson’s Museum, replica of early Antarctica cabins
    Lots of seafood options at the wharf

    Cascades Female Factory Historic Site – not to be missed former site for female convicts who were transported from Britain beginning in the early 1800’s. This is a great place to begin learning about this bleak time in Australia’s history prior to visiting Port Author about an hour and a half from Hobart (more on that next week). Don’t miss this fascinating, sad but also intriguing UNESCO World Heritage Sight in Hobart.

    Cascades Female Factory
    Historic Cascades Female Factory
    Cascades Female Factory


    MONA Museum of Old and New – Difficult to describe; weird, curious, eccentric. Definitely thought-provoking. I struggle to understand modern art…so some of it went over my capacity. The architecture however was fascinating. Even if you go away scratching your head, it still is worth a visit when in Hobart for its state-of-the-art concept. I also recommend arriving by ferry on the Derwent River from Hobart Harbor.

    Museum of Old and New

    Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery – Wow. This museum was a real surprise right from the start when we realized it was free. Housed in a historic building near the original docks, TMAG is home to a wide range of exhibits from art to history and nature. I was particularly impressed with the aboriginal exhibits which I thought presented that story very well…despite how disturbing it can be. A very similar tale to the plight of the Native American.


    Glow Tour with Lisa Ann – staying up past dark was worth it to do this unique tour. We walked through a city park and were astonished at the wildlife there. Using UV lights which don’t disturb the animals, we explored trees and found possums, endangered bandicoots, wallabies and pademelon. The platypus were elusive but regularly are seen after dark. A fun evening.

    Endangered Bandicoot

    Parks & Gardens

    Mount Wellington, now called kunanyi in respect to the original local people of the region – It’s a very easy drive to the top of kunanyi- Mount Wellington, about 40 minutes from Hobart. Certainly the top was chilly but worth it for the amazing views…incredible from 4400 feet.

    Afterward we went back down to about 3500 feet where it was a bit warmer and did a lovely hike below the iconic Organ Pipes rock formation, and had a picnic and enjoyed so much bird life. This park is a must when in Hobart.

    Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens inside Queen’s Domain Park – we spent Christmas Day walking around this beautiful botanic garden – one of many we enjoyed in Australia. The well tended and diverse 17 hectare space is housed within the more wild Queen’s Domain Park. Consecutively , worth a stroll when in Hobart. Free too!

    Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
    A Beautiful day at Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
    Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

    Intercity Cycleway – used for commuting and recreation both, this wonderful paved trail runs along the old railroad tracks from Hobart all the way to Claremont. About 16 miles and we used it regularly for our morning runs.

    View of the Derwent River from the Intercity Cycleway


    Salamanca Market – held every Saturday 8:30-3:00 through out the year, this huge outdoor market offers a wide variety of food, produce, gifts, clothing, arts and crafts. On Salamanca Street right near the wharf. The area is also home to wonderful shops, restaurants and historic sights.

    Salamanca every Saturday year around
    Salamanca every Saturday year around

    Sunday Farm Gate – my favorite for locally grown and produced, this market is held every Sunday in the summer. Home to fresh bread, produce, cheese, honey and even gin and whiskey all locally made.

    Sunday Farm Gate
    Sunday Farm Gate

    Hobart Twilight Market – Happening twice a month in the summer and once a month in the winter, the Hobart Twilight Market takes place near the waterfront and Franklin Pier. Albeit you’ll find lots of yummy options for dining as well as distillery options, crafts, honey and more. Live music. Dates vary so check the website.

    Hobart Twilight Market

    Food and Restaurants

    Because we had such a great kitchen in our Airbnb, and because we work hard to stay on budget, we actually did not eat out very often during our month in Hobart. But we did enjoy the following;

    Street Eats – during Australia’s summer months (December – February) every Friday night at Franklin Square you’ll find Street Eats. This Friday night food truck festival is a great gathering place complete with music.

    Street Eats
    Street Eats held at Franklin Square
    Friday Street Eats

    Breakfast -looking for a tasty breakfast in Hobart CBD? Look no further than Criterion. A unique and tasty menu and excellent coffee with great service and a good price.

    Breakfast at Criterion

    Lunch – Cultura Espresso and Bistro is a perfect place for a quick late breakfast or lunch. Italian specialties with excellent coffee and wine too. Try the Chicken Panzanella Salad.

    Lunch at Cultura

    Dinner – We enjoyed dinner out at a handful of restaurants and can recommend all of these;

    Da Angelo Italian – this highly rated restaurant in Battery Point serves spectacular food with wonderful service too. I had veal bianco and my husband had lasagna (his favorite) and we both were really happy. Da Angelo has a great local wine list, perfect with our meal.

    Pearl & Co. – casual seafood eatery connected to the fish market and located right next to where the fresh fish comes in, a really delicious selection of seafood. Oyster, calamari, blue-eye trevally and scallop pie all were perfect.

    Delicious and authentic Italian at Da Angelo
    Pearl & Co.

    Room For A Pony – it’s a funny name but a very popular spot for both indoor and outdoor dining and perfect for groups in North Hobart. We enjoyed a delicious salad and pizza. Simple and family friendly.

    Poncho Villa – we read such good reviews about this Mexican restaurant we had to try it. Consequently, Poncho Villa is so popular it even requires a reservation. The Mexican food was authentic and delicious, while being creative too. I’m glad we went!

    Landscape Restaurant and Grill – fine dining at it’s best. This beautiful restaurant on historic Hunter Street was a perfect way to end our month in Hobart. Beautiful steak, fish, wine and service…everything you need for a perfect celebration or night out.

    Room For a Pony
    Poncho Villa
    Perfect meal at Landscape


    Cascade Brewery Tour – it’s not free but it’s really interesting to tour the oldest brewery in Australia. Fascinating building and history and your ticket includes a lovely tasting at the end. Tickets $35 Aussie (about $20 US)

    Cascade Brewery, Australia’s oldest brewery

    While in Hobart, we made a point to visit several local microbreweries. I can recommend all of them if you are a beer lover like we are. Definitely check out T-Bone, Shambles, Deep South, Captain Bligh, Hobart Brewery and Overland.

    Captain Bligh’s


    Theatre Royale – this beautiful historic theatre, built in 1837, has events through out the year. While we were in Hobart we enjoyed a fun and festive annual Christmas show. Check out offerings when you visit.

    Saint David’s Anglican Cathedral – this beautiful and historic church hosts many events throughout the year open to the public and during our stay in Hobart we attended a free (donations welcome) holiday musical event that was truly spectacular. We loved being there with all the locals enjoying the music of the holidays in a venue where the acoustics were heavenly.

    Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens – in the summer the Theatre Royal presents shows outdoors at the Botanical Gardens. We enjoyed a fun production of Pinocchio the week after News Years.

    Saint David’s Cathedral performance
    Beautiful Saint Davids Cathedral

    Pinocchio in the Park


    Richmond is a tiny colonial town about 30 min drive from Hobart and definitely worth a visit. Luckily we went in the morning, before the tour busses arrived, and enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Czeg Cafe. Secondly we followed a self guided walk around the village following the city’s online guide.

    During our walk we visited the well preserved and interesting Richmond Gaol as well as the convict-built stone bridge – built in 1823 and still in use. Richmond has some fun shops and many other restaurants as well. In the region around Richmond you will find multiple wineries. We visited Nocton Winery and enjoyed a tasting – taking two bottles home for our holiday celebrations.

    Richmond Bridge
    Richmond Gaol
    Czeg Cafe Richmond
    Breakfast at Czeg.
    Nocton Winery


    For such a small town Hobart is home to large variety of events and festivals throughout the year. See the full list here. While we were visiting, one of the biggest events of the the year, Taste of Summer , took place the week after Christmas and first week of January on the waterfront in Salamanca. The party on New Year’s Eve was a great fit for us. Certainly the event has so much food, beverages, excellent music – and on NYE front row seats to the 9:30pm fireworks (family and old people friendly) and the midnight fireworks as well!

    Taste of Sunmer
    Happy New Year
    Taste of Summer

    See More Tasmania

    Although I spent a month in Hobart, you could explore the city easily in three or four days. Therefore giving you time to see so much of the island of Tasmania, if you don’t have a full month like we did.

    However, next week I’ll tell you about our adventures around the island of Tasmania…some day trips from Hobart (more than an hour) including Bruny Island and Port Arthur. Additionally we also did some overnight trips including Freycinet National Park and Cradle Mountain. I hope you will come back to learn all about that next week. Tasmania is an astonishing place. I think I’m in love. Meanwhile, thanks for reading my post Hobart, Tasmania – The Most Surprising Town in Australia.

    Do you want more posts about Australia? Click on these Visit Beautiful Brisbane, Visit Marvelous Melbourne, Caravan Travel Australia Part One, and Part Two.

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    Asia & Oceania Travel

    Birds of Australia

    Location: Australia

    Australia is a land of diverse and unique wildlife, and one group of animals that truly stands out is its birds. With over 800 species, Australia is home to a remarkable array of avian wonders. From the iconic emu to the colorful lorikeets and the raucous cockatiel and cuckoo, the birds of Australia have captured our hearts.

    Little Friarbird, Merlin App
    Yellow Tail Black Cockatiel, Merlin App
    Channel-billed Cuckoo, Merlin App

    Remember the Kookaburra Song?

    One of the most famous birds in Australia is undoubtedly the kookaburra. Known for its distinctive call that sounds like laughter, the kookaburra is a symbol of the Australian bush. With its stout body, large head, and strong beak, this bird is a formidable predator. It feeds on a diet of small animals, including snakes, lizards, and insects. The kookaburra is also known for its territorial behavior, often defending its territory with loud calls.

    Laughing Kookaburra, Merlin App

    Another bird that is synonymous with Australia is the emu. As the largest bird in Australia, the emu is a flightless bird that can reach up to 6 feet in height. With its long legs and powerful stride, the emu is a fast runner, capable of reaching speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. These birds are found in various habitats, from open grasslands to dense forests. They feed on a diet of plants, insects, and small animals.

    Emu at The Australia Zoo

    Colorful Birds

    Australia is also home to a wide variety of colorful parrots. The rainbow lorikeet, with its vibrant plumage of red, blue, and green, is a common sight in many urban areas. The King Parrot is a beautiful green and large and the Crimson Rosella is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. These birds are highly social and often gather in large flocks. They feed on nectar, pollen, and fruits, using their specialized brush-like tongues to extract food from flowers.

    King Parrot
    Crimson Rosella
    Lorakeet, Merlin App

    In addition to these well-known birds, Australia is also home to a number of unique species. The superb lyrebird, for example, is known for its ability to mimic a wide range of sounds, including other bird calls and even human noises. The southern cassowary, on the other hand, is a large, flightless bird with a striking appearance. With its bright blue neck and helmet-like casque, the cassowary is a true marvel of nature.

    Cassawary at the Australia Zoo
    Lyer Bird, Merlin App

    New Birds Everyday

    During our visit to Australia, we used our Merlin App to identify more than 80 birds that were new to us. We also saw many more birds that were not new to us like storks, ducks, spoonbill, cormorants, oyster catcher and many, many more. We never imagined how entertaining it would be to engage with the birds and other wildlife of beautiful Australia.

    Red Rumped Parrot, Merlin App
    Reed Warbler, Merlin App
    Oyster Catcher
    Black Swan

    And a few discoveries while in Tasmania, where we are spending Christmas;

    Green Rosella Merlin Ap
    Tasmanian Nativehen Merlin Ap
    Black Currawong Merlin Ap

    Whether you’re a bird enthusiast or simply appreciate the beauty of nature, the birds of Australia are sure to captivate you. From the striking pink gallah or white and pink corella, to the teeny blue fairy wren, these birds are a testament to the country’s incredible biodiversity. So, next time you visit Australia, don’t forget to keep an eye out for these amazing creatures.

    Gallah, Merlin App
    Corella, Merlin App
    Blue Fairy Wren

    Thanks for letting me share about our experience with Birds of Australia. Most of the images here are from the Merlin App. I highly recommend downloading the Merlin App before you travel anywhere in the world.

    See last week’s post Visit Marvelous Melbourne Australia. And be sure to engage with this week’s top performing pin Cooking Class in Hong Kong with Pots and Pans Studio.

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    Asia & Oceania Travel

    Visit Marvelous Melbourne Australia

    Location: Melbourne, Australia

    I’m so lucky to have so many friends on social media who have given me so much advice about visiting Australia. And most of these friends I have never met. It’s possibly the best thing about social media. Thank you everyone who helped make my trip so grand, and helped make my Visit Marvelous Melbourne Australia post so fun.

    Marvelous Melbourne


    We have seen a lot of territory in the past five weeks since we arrived in Brisbane in October. And we certainly couldn’t skip Melbourne – oh no! Melbourne was high on my list and I was excited to have four full days in the city.

    Recently Melbourne passed Sydney as the largest (population wise) city in Australia with more than five million people. The two cities have had a love-hate relationship since the first days of settlers. Founded in 1835, Melbourne is the capital city of the state of Victoria. But it wasn’t until the 1850’s gold rush that Melbourne really took off. Today Melbourne is a cosmopolitan city with a colonial foundation, a wonderful outdoorsy population, a great restaurant and coffee culture, fascinating history and beautiful parks.



    Our flight from Brisbane didn’t land until 11:00pm so it was nearly 2:00 am before our heads hit the pillow. It was important we didn’t try to pack too much into our first full day since we weren’t sure how tired we would be. Nonetheless we were awake by 7am. We enjoyed a leisurely morning organizing the room and getting out the door about 10am.

    Where to Stay

    Melbourne has a wide variety of options for accommodations. We felt for our purposes staying in the Central Business District (CBD) would give us easy access to everything we wanted to do. So we booked five nights at the Clarion Suites Gateway on Williams Street right near the Yarra River. Lucky for us gave us an upgrade to a suite with a full kitchen, living room, washer/dryer and a separate bedroom and bathroom. That was a real treat after living in the Aussie Nest Caravan for four weeks.

    Our hotel was two blocks from this scene

    Day One

    I’ll give you a day by day of our itinerary. Four full days of Marvelous Melbourne. You could do the city in less time, but I am so glad we had four days, and could easily have filled a couple more. For your visit to Melbourne (and you definitely need to visit) I’d suggest trying to see as many of these things below as you can.

    Historic Core

    We began in the Central Business District, walking from our hotel along the Yarra River. The city is festive in Christmas decor and it was fun to see. Our first stop was Flinders Street Station, the historic train terminus of Australia. Originally sited in 1854 with a bunch of ramshackle shed, the current and impressive building was completed in 1909. Be sure to take a look at the clocks on the front entrance. Historically indicating the next departure for Melbourne’s various train lines, the clocks quickly became a meeting place in the CBD. Now computer-operated, they were once manually changed for each departure.

    The clocks at Flinders Street Station
    Flinders Street Station

    Across the street is Federation Square, a gathering place for the people of Melbourne built in 2002. “Fed” Square is home to hundreds of events through out the year. On the square you will find the Koori Heritage Trust Museum, The Australian Center of the Moving Image museum and the Ian Potter Australian Art Gallery. Across the street be sure to go inside Saint Paul’s Angelican Cathedral. It is a masterpiece, and if you are lucky you will hear the organ master practicing on the gorgeous soaring old pipe organ. What a treat that was!

    Federation Square
    St. Paul’s Cathedral

    Walking on we ducked into several of Melbournes famous “laneways”, what we might call alleys back home. Melbourne was originally laid out in a grid, known as the Hoddle Grid. The Grid remains the heart of the CBD and home to thriving businesses in the historic grid and laneways. Unlike alleyways back in the USA, these spaces are fully utilized with outdoor cafes, coffee shops, boutiques and art galleries. My favorite of the laneways was the DeGraves but there are many to visit. Continuing we visited The Block, a beautiful indoor space on the famous and historic Collins Street. This beautiful European-feeling space was a perfect place for some tea and a croissant at one of the lovely tea rooms.

    DeGraves Laneway
    The Block
    Gelato on DeGraves Laneway
    Tea at The Block

    Queen Victoria Market

    It wasn’t raining so we decided to walk to the Queen Victoria Market since we still had plenty of time and surprisingly plenty of energy. From the Flinders Station it’s about a mile. But if you don’t want to walk, the Melbourne Tram System is free in the CBD core. I wasn’t too impressed with the part of the Queen Vic Market that was selling souvenirs, suitcases and shoes, but I loved the produce vendors, the meat and fish area and best of all the hall with cheeses, pickles, and salami. Oh my. We picked up some treats for back at the hotel.

    Victoria Market
    Victoria Market

    Out On The Town

    A few weeks ago we purchased tickets to see Mamma Mia at the Princess Theater, a beautiful historic theater. The theater was built in 1886 and seats more than 1400 people. It’s always something we try to do in as many cities as we can – take in a live show or performance. I’d seen Mamma Mia live before but my husband never had. It definitely gets your toes tapping! The theater was lovely. Before the show we had a marvelous dinner at the iconic The Waiters Restaurant. Started in the 1940’s as a place for local immigrants to come after their shifts at surrounding restaurants, this iconic, no frills, Italian restaurant serves delicious and authentic food. Call ahead, no online reservations. It was delicious. And fun.

    Mama Mia at the Princess Theatre
    The Waiters Restaurant
    The Waiters Restaurant

    Day One Highlights

    Flinders Street Station

    Saint Paul’s Cathedral

    Federation Square

    Grid and Laneways

    The Block

    Queen Victoria Market

    The Waiters Restaurant

    Day Two

    I started the day with a five mile run on the Capital City Trail, a 30km loop trail around the Yarra River. Our hotel was only two blocks from this trail and I took full advantage.

    On the Capital City Trail

    Let’s Stroll

    After a quick shower we walked the trail again and made our way to the beautiful Queen Victoria Park and King’s Domain, passing Government House on our way to the Royal Botanical Gardens of Melbourne. Australia has been such a wonderful surprise with the tremendous number of botanical gardens everywhere we look! All of them free! And this one, begun in 1846, is hands down the best. In fact Quantas Airline magazine proclaims this stunning 33 hectare garden the number one thing to see in all of Australia. We spent two hours and enjoyed it so much.

    Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne
    Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne

    Next we strolled the lovely and swanky neighborhood on the southside of the gardens and stopped for a late lunch at Matilda 159. A definite place to visit when in Melbourne. All wood or coal fired foods and absolutely delicious.

    Kingfish Sashimi at Matilda
    Delicious at Matilda
    Tender filet at Matilda

    Holiday Lights

    After a rest back at the hotel next we headed out to enjoy Melbourne after dark. The city is joyfully decorated for the holidays. The Southbank and South Wharf is a lively place of trendy restaurants and bars all along the river, and Fed Square was also lovely with the holiday lights.

    Southbank Lighted Holiday Display
    Federation Square

    Day Two Highlights

    Capital City Trail

    Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne


    Southbank and South Wharf

    Day Three

    The day dawned wet, but I headed out for another quick run on the Capital City Trail because it’s a fabulous part of Visit Marvelous Melbourne Australia! So, let it rain!

    Grey Morning on the Yarra River

    Shopping Day

    Next we ventured to the South Melbourne Market to meet a friend for lunch. Despite the rain we wandered around the South Market and did a little shopping. I loved this market and it is all indoors so on this rainy day it was busy. Next we enjoyed fresh cooked seafood at Claypots Evening Star and loved catching up with my friend from high school. We tried nearly everything on the menu! It was delicious.

    South Melbourne Market
    South Melbourne Market
    Claypots Evening Star
    Claypots Evening Star

    Next we took an Uber to The Royal Exhibition Building where we enjoyed both the astonishingly beautiful historic building built in 1880 for the International Exhibition as well as the Christmas gift show. Despite the rain continuing, many locals were out and getting their jingle on for the start of the holiday season. The Royal Exhibition Building is also home to the Melbourne Museum and tours of the dome are available with advance reservations.

    Royal Exhibition Building
    Beautiful interior of the Royal Exhibition Building and the Holiday Market

    Finishing our day we walked a few blocks to visit the Little Lon Distillery, recommended to us by a local. Here we were surprised another holiday event underway – a European Christmas Market. We sampled some gin at Little Lon and then hopped on the Tram to head back to our hotel. Tired and happy.

    Little Lon Distillery

    Day Three Highlights

    South Melbourne Market

    Claypots Evening Star

    The Royal Exhibition Building

    Little Lon Distillery

    Day Four

    Our final day in Melbourne. Wow the time flew by. We woke up to fantastic weather so we were grateful for that. After I did my Sunday run along the river, we headed out for the day.

    Off to St. Kilda we went. And the weather was perfect for a stroll on the beach, in this trendy and touristy neighborhood of Melbourne. St. Kilda is building a brand new pier – it looks amazing – so I hope to see that the next time we are in Melbourne. There were a few people in the water and sunbathing, but mostly St. Kilda was filled with couples walking hand in hand, families pushing strollers, cyclists and runners. It was a lovely scene.

    St. Kilda Pier
    The beach at St. Kilda

    Making our way away from the beach, we tucked into Radio Mexico, a popular St. Kilda spot with very authentic Mexican food. Surprisingly authentic as a matter of fact…I could have been in Mexico. We sat out on the patio, enjoyed the fine weather and some of our favorite cuisine of the world.

    Street Tacos at Radio Mexico, St. Kilda

    Day Four Highlights

    Saint Kilda Neighborhood

    Radio Mexico

    Visit Marvelous Melbourne Australia

    Sadly it was time to say farewell to this great city. I’m sure my husband got tired of me saying “honey I could live here”. It’s full of accessible walking, running and cycling trails. The river is also accessible for kayaks, sculls and small boats. The beach is nearby. The food is amazing. The people are great.

    There are things we did not do; Williamstown, a river cruise, museums. Those will need to wait until next time. And I certainly think there will be a next time. We loved our Visit Marvelous Melbourne Australia.

    Marvelous Melbourne

    Stay tuned as we head next to Tasmania, Australia’s southern most state and island. We will spend four weeks in Tasmania, so lots of adventures ahead.

    Thanks for reading this week’s post Visit Marvelous Melbourne Australia. Be sure to see our posts one about our month in the Caravan and our post two about our month in the Caravan.

    You may also enjoy Visit Beautiful Brisbane Australia.

    We love it when you pin, share and comment on our blog posts. Thank you so much. And once again, thanks to all my social media friends who gave me such great tips to make our Australia visit amazing.