a little bean update (with pics)

Today I’m not going to post a whole bunch of mush on how much motherhood has changed my life (but yes, it has) and I’m not going to rant for long, I’m just going to post a few pics of my little mate. He never fails to put a smile on my face and hopefully he’ll have the same effect on you.

Much love xx


stirling smile

a new project: thebeautifultraveller.com

Hi guys!

It’s been a little quiet lately over here at flygirl… I know, I know, it’s the number one blogging sin. But I promise I’ve been working on something!

I started a new baby with my sister Dayna (www.thebeautifultraveller.com) and I would love it if you could check it out. It’s brand new so it’s still being built and refined but we would just love, love, LOVE any input you might have.

Have a suggestion, a tip, a hint or a criticism? Send ’em my way.

flygirl has been an amazing first foray into the world of blogging and it’s taught me a lot, but I still have a long way to go. I will of course keep this site up and running as I’d love to stay connected with everyone I’ve met through this site and I really would love to hear from everyone.

If you also have any travel stories or insight into a particular destination you’d like to share I would be forever grateful!

Of course that goes both ways, always happy to help you out in any way I can.

Amelia x

a last-minute flight to perth…

The other night we received some sad news: we had a death in the family. This wasn’t unexpected but until it actually happens you never know how the news will hit you. This family member lives Perth (a three-hour flight from us) so we have booked some last-minute tickets to fly over on Sunday.

As sad as it is, it will also be a new experience: this will be Baby’s first time on a plane and with that comes our first time flying with an infant. There’s so much more to travelling with a bub than I ever imagined (checking in the pram, feeding him on take off so his ears don’t hurt, making sure the hire car has a car seat, booking a hotel room with a cot), but seeing his little name on the ticket puts a huge smile on my face.

This will be the only time we can get away together for a while and it’s obviously the first time the three of us are travelling together so, even though we’re flying over for a sad occasion, we’d like to have one day to do the touristy thing and have some family time.

So, dear readers, for those of you who have been to Perth, what are your must-do activities for someone who only has one day free? (hint: we’ve been before and are confident with the roads, but have never had the chance to properly explore) And for any one with kiddies, what hints or tips would you offer for a first-timer like me?


layover: 24 hours in tokyo

From Australia, it’s a long way to Europe (or anywhere, really) so each time I travel I try to incorporate a stopover in a different city. Japan Airlines flies from Melbourne, Sydney, the Gold Coast and Cairns to Tokyo and passengers can then connect through to Europe. It’s not the most common connection from Australia to Europe (Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong or Dubai would probably be the most popular) but it’s a really interesting option for something different. Flights don’t connect efficiently though which usually means a mandatory stopover, but the plus side to this is that, if you book the quickest connection, JAL will usually provide you with accommodation for the night. If you’re up for an adventure though, bypass the airport accommodation and head into the city for a 24-hour Tokyo jaunt.

shinjuku at night

shinjuku at night

night life

Tokyo possesses some wonderful night life, whether it be hole in the wall bars, karaoke clubs or Ministry of Sound-style super clubs. Shinjuku is where I based myself since that’s where our hotel was, but Roppongi and Shibuya have a great atmosphere as well.

a view from the top

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku provides a wonderful view over the whole city. It’s worth it to gain an appreciation for Tokyo’s mix of old and new – this concrete jungle has beautiful green gardens scattered throughout. Unless you happen to be in Tokyo on a super clear day though, don’t expect amazing views of Mt Fuji – smog usually makes it pretty hard to see.

something fishy

Stay out late enough and you can head straight to the fish markets before dawn. “The Fish Markets?” you ask. Yes, the fish markets. I guarantee you will never see anything else like it. You need to be there early enough (say, about 4am) but it’s worth it to see the major players of the sushi world bidding tens of thousands of dollars for the best fish (especially tuna). It’s madness… like watching the finale of The Block, only better (and stinkier). So these are the three things I would do on a one-night layover. There’s so much to do in Tokyo if you have the time (Studio Ghibli, Disney, shrines galore, Harajuku etc etc) but for one night, immerse yourself in the crazy. Also, check out my friend’s page over at kittenishgirl, she’s a Tokyo fiend!

review: phinda mountain lodge, south africa

This would have to be it… the most wonderful place I’ve ever stayed (so far, anyway).

Phinda Mountain Lodge, an andBeyond property, is located near St Lucia in the province of KwaZulu Natal. The lodge itself is located on the Phinda Private Reserve and there are several other lodges within its confines.

The first impression of this place is incredible. We were seated on the main deck for our welcome drink and orientation, and it was hard to take in much information when the view of the mountains and valley is such:

lounge/main deck

lounge/main deck

view over the mountains from the main deck

view over the mountains from the main deck

We were assigned a guide and driver and briefed on the afternoon’s game drive before being shown to our rooms. The rooms could be more accurately described as a villa; a sprawling space with everything one needs, opening up to a beautiful deck complete with loungers, a plunge pool and an outdoor shower. One can sit in the plunge pool and look down onto the plain to watch elephants roam. Or imagine taking a shower afterwards and a giraffe pops his head up to say hello!

We were given extremely strict instructions, however, that after dusk we were not to attempt to enter/exit our rooms without security as the risk of injury was too high (read: being eaten)! No matter, the security guards were so caring and obliging of us that it felt lovely to be looked after so.

my bed - wonderful

my bed – wonderful

The mini bar was extensively stocked (to the point of having cocktail shakers) and this was included in our room rate – no nasty surprises upon checkout!

In the evening, I would arrive to my room thinking to myself “gee, what a day, a long soak in the tub would be beautiful” only to walk into the bathroom and find it already filled – complete with rose petals!



outdoor area

outdoor area

getting around on game drives with our driver/guide and spotter

getting around on game drives with our driver/guide and spotter

Unforgettable experiences are guaranteed at Phinda, whether they be sundowners on a hill overlooking a herd of elephants, tracking a rhino on foot, or a candlelit braai feast in the middle of nowhere. The wonderful guides and spotters are extremely well-educated on the wildlife, but the highlight for me was having an in-depth discussion on the universe with our guide while star-gazing. I thought I knew quite a bit on this topic but he put me to shame!

All in all the three days/two nights spent here on safari were absolutely incredible and I’d recommend it to anyone. The only negative about my stay was that hubby wasn’t there to share the experience; no matter – we’ll be staying here when I manage to make it back with him.

the author travelled to Phinda as a guest of South Africa Tourism

the stork has arrived!

I know, it’s been a bit quiet on the fly girl front – brewing a baby really took it out of me. Not to mention that he stayed in to cook for an extra two weeks! But he’s finally here, so I’d love to introduce you.

little Stirling Alan

little Stirling Alan

All the clichés are true. How can you not wake up every morning wanting to do more, be better, and feeling absolutely inspired (even on a couple of hours’ sleep!) when you wake up with this little face beside you?

the fail that was 2014’s resolutions

Happy New Year!

So I’m a sucker for a good resolution to break, and what better time to reflect on one’s broken promises than on the anniversary of when they were made?

Maybe that sounds a bit cynical; maybe I did better than I think? Last year I decided to make broader goals that focused on improving myself rather than overly-specific small things that were doomed to fail quickly. Before I make a set of new ones, here’s a little report on last year’s (which were made, drunk, on a beach in Madagascar having just become a ‘Mrs’ – in case you need some context).

Did I make a plan for my life and stick to it?

Yes and no. We achieved some big things, like buying our first home, quicker than we thought but then we also changed our minds and decided to start a family quicker too! So, while my ultimate “forever plan” to get married and start a family has been achieved, I haven’t sorted out any of the other details. In fact, I’ve made it harder because my career will now probably have to take a back-seat for a few years.

Did I learn to adapt to life changes?

Yes – see above for a prime example! Life is changing and is about to change again very quickly, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Did I have more GRIT?

Hmmm… yeah I don’t even know where to start with that one. FAIL!

Did I stop burying my head in the sand?

Let’s just say I improved, but didn’t stop completely. I do think I became more assertive when addressing issues and I procrastinated less, but this still requires work.

Did I exercise my brain?

FAIL. No I did not. Well, not in the way I meant to. I read a fair bit but there were definitely no French classes!

Did I exercise my body?

Another big fat FAIL. Actually, I did a bit by continuing volleyball but then I fell pregnant and that was the end of it. Does growing another human inside you count?

fridays with hubby: an osaka wrestling match

Sometimes I struggle to find inspiration, particularly after a long day. Sometimes I think, “what is it that makes my life so interesting? Why bother writing?” then I realised… I live with one of the most interesting and inspirational people I know – my husband! He’s not much of a writer so I thought, in between coats of paint on the house, shed-building, landscaping and the million hours of work he does per week I would hassle him for some of his stories (over a beer) and attempt to dedicate a few posts to him. Here goes!

This adventure starts on the way to find “some local market or something”. Fly-man and his intrepid traveller friends wander past a brightly coloured building aptly titled “Osaka Pro Wrestling” with two clowns painted on the front. The wrestling wasn’t on at that point but somehow they managed to find their way back later in the evening to take in the show.


Osaka Pro Wrestling, Logan Winter

Osaka Pro Wrestling, Logan Winter


When seated (in the front row!) it becomes apparent they’re the only Westerners there. As a result, hubby says they were treated like (sort of) celebrities/a bit of a novelty. At this point, hubby says he really doesn’t know what he should tell me, so I try to ask more questions.

“Was the wrestling good?” I prompt.

“Nah, it was shit-house” is the reply I get. Then he adds that it was a super-fun experience but that I shouldn’t expect WWE-style wrestling. Okay then. (Trying to talk to me about wrestling is like trying to talk to him about nail polish).

“Was there music?” I try again (because clearly I know nothing about wrestling).

“No of course not.”

“Was there yelling?”

“Yeah but it was all in Japanese so I have no idea what they said, but I can only assume there was some form of banter.”

He does go on to say that after the show, the organisers made them try some local lemonade and the wrestlers wanted to have their photo taken with these curious Australians and ask them about various Australian wrestlers. (At this point I ask hubby: “are there any Australian wrestlers?” to which I get a slightly annoyed “YES! Duh.” Ummm… Okay.)

So there you have it. My first attempt at trying to dictate some of my darling hubby’s travel stories. Probably shouldn’t expect that Walkley anytime soon…

Aussie tourists and Japanese Wrestlers, Logan Winter

Aussie tourists and Japanese Wrestlers, Logan Winter

review: centara grand at central world, bangkok

We were off to a slow start when our driver (after negotiating an hour’s worth of Bangkok traffic) dropped us at the wrong Centara. We were booked into the Centara Grand at Central World and not the Centara Grand Central Plaza. After a long flight we were weary and didn’t notice we were at the wrong hotel until well after the driver had gone, leaving us to schlepp across town to find the right hotel. When we reached our hotel, it’s fair to say we were glad we were booked at the Central World Centara and not the Central Plaza – the Central World just nails the wow factor as soon as you walk in. The check in staff were friendly and helpful.

It was so late by the time we reached our room that the restaurants were closed so room service it was; we promised ourselves this would be the one and only time we ordered pad thai on this trip (we wanted to sample more quirky local foods) but alas – the dish was disappointing and set in motion a ten-day quest for an authentic version.

As is often the case in Asia, the bed wasn’t particularly comfortable for my Aussie bottom and the room did have a couple of quirks; for example one of the lights in the room wouldn’t turn off which made for some restless nights but the room itself was lovely and spacious, very clean and the bathroom was excellent. What you want is a massive tub to soak in after a gruelling day shopping at one of Bangkok’s mega malls or markets and that’s exactly what this bathroom had.

There are some things you don’t really expect at a five-star hotel: the restaurant running out of spoons at breakfast, paying through the nose for internet, having to call up at 5pm because your room hasn’t been made up etc… but hey, it’s not like any of these things ruined our stay.

The hotel itself is in a decent location – in the high-end Western district of Pathumwan so it was nice and close to MBK and the Paragon mall but harder to get to Patpong night markets, Chatuchak etc. One night taxis and tuk tuks flat-out refused to take us to Patpong because of the traffic which was pretty disappointing.

The Red Sky bar on the 55th floor really was the highlight (and actually what drew me to this hotel in the first place) – amazing food (we had the squid), delicious cocktails and breathtaking views over the whole of Bangkok.

Overall would I stay there again? Absolutely, although I’d consider an alternative like the Banyan Tree which is a little closer to all the action.