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

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!

bathroom

bathroom

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

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

considering a babymoon? read this first.

There’s a trend these days for couples to enjoy a “babymoon” before their babies are born – that is, to have a little getaway, enjoy some quality time together and relax before that little bundle of joy arrives and sleepless nights set in.

It’s a cute idea for those who have the time and resources and let’s face it, what new mum or dad isn’t at least slightly anxious about impending parenthood?

I’m all for the idea in theory but there’s one really big thing to think about that a lot of people seem to be forgetting: their travel insurance.

Being an expectant mum myself, I’m seeing lots of women considering babymoons which is great, but what concerns me are two trends: travelling without insurance, or travelling with insurance and assuming baby is covered. Here’s a little newsflash that surprises a lot of people: baby won’t be covered if you travel overseas.

For Australians, travel interstate is fine because pregnancy will always be covered by Medicare (the joys of being a citizen of a country with such a scheme). If you travel on a cruise though (even if it’s a domestic cruise) or you fly out of the country this is where expectant parents really need to consider the risks far more thoroughly than they have been.

On a standard policy (bearing in mind this is a generalisation, however it is based on experience and in-depth conversations with several insurance companies) a woman with a single pregnancy would be covered up to about 26 weeks (depending on the policy) provided she has experienced absolutely no complications whatsoever. This 26-week limit means all travel must be completed by then, NOT that you must depart by then. It’s usually about 18 or 19 weeks for women pregnant with multiples.

But here’s the trick: while the mother is covered, the baby isn’t. This means that the mother could go to the hospital complaining of pains and be treated but the minute the decision is made that the baby is to be delivered, that’s it. Cough up the dough because the insurance company won’t be.

Consider the risks of this: what if a mother went to say, Fiji or Bali for a week at 25 weeks, fully intending to be home by the 26 week mark. While away, she goes into spontaneous labour and needs to deliver. At 25 weeks the foetus is viable and is born alive, but now needs three months of round-the-clock care in the NICU of the hospital. Sorry, but those parents will be paying. Not to mention having to stay in that country for the whole time, paying for food, accommodation etc and not going to work. Can you imagine?

Or, on the most awful end of the scale, consider the tragic case of the lady who this week delivered her baby at 24 weeks on board a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Brisbane. The plane needed to be diverted to Denpasar and unfortunately the baby passed away. No post-natal care would be provided for this woman and the repatriation cost of her baby’s body wouldn’t be covered either.

As ridiculous as much of this may sound, I’m yet to come across a policy that works differently (but if you happen to come across one let me know!)

My advice: ALWAYS read your Product Disclosure Statement, ask as many questions as you can and really consider if a particular policy is right for you – or indeed, if the risk is worth it.

thailand’s proposed tourist ID bracelets

Just over two weeks ago, two British tourists were murdered on Koh Tao, a picturesque island in the Gulf of Thailand. The (grisly) circumstances still remain something of a mystery which isn’t helped by accusations of local police bungling the investigation.

Coupled with ongoing protests throughout the country (but mainly centred in the capital, Bangkok), tourism numbers appear to be down. I’m waiting for cold, hard statistics to come through on this before I leap out of my chair and blame a particular issue for the decline but the Thai Government is obviously worried because they’ve come up with an idea:

ID bracelets for tourists.

That’s right: Thailand’s Minister for Tourism has proposed the use of ID bracelets with a traveller’s accommodation details and, eventually, some sort of electronic tracking device.

Granted, this isn’t his only idea – curfews and local “buddies” were also suggested – but I want to hear people’s thoughts on heading to an island like Koh Tao or Koh Phangan and being issued with an electronic ID bracelet to avoid getting into trouble. An extension of the type of paper bracelet one wears for admission to music festivals or a nod to Big Brother?

Share your opinions below!

my dumbest obsession

Someone with an interest in pop-psychology, or hey, maybe someone actually qualified, needs to tell me RIGHT NOW why I have such an obsession with Air Crash Investigation.

Firstly, what is the appeal of hearing any kind of story where people die?

Secondly, why would I choose to watch a show about plane crashes when my job (read: livelihood!) kind of requires me to want to get on planes?

Maybe it’s so I can sound smart in the lunch room at work when I use words such as “aileron”.

no, Sri Lanka is NOT the “new Bali”

…ugh.

I came across this article today and, as most news.com.au articles do, let’s be honest, it made me cringe.

“Is Sri Lanka the new Bali?” it asks us (but don’t worry, it’s a rhetorical question… I think?)

All I can say (/scream) is NO! NO! NO! Don’t even sully Sri Lanka by suggesting it!

It’s not air to say that by comparing one to the other, it’s making the other look bad, but the implication to a lot of Aussies when making such a loaded statement might just be “hey, let’s go to Sri Lanka and get boozy and make ourselves look bad”. Bali is a beautiful destination, full of stunning scenery, fascinating culture and friendly locals, but very year it is overrun with hundreds of thousands of (mostly) Australians looking for a cheap holiday and often a place to get wasted. When I was growing up, it was a prime destination for family holidays but last time we were there, the streets of the main tourist districts were full of loud, drunk yobbos.

Anyway, I respect the fact many will disagree with me on that but it isn’t actually the point anyway. The tourism industry experiences phases, just like fashion really. One day a place is hot, then another place is hotter. For example, in 2004 (pre-tsunami), Thailand was the place to be. Around 2010, that dramatically shifted to Vietnam. Now it’s Sri Lanka. Even so, each destination is so unique and wonderful that it’s unfair to try to compare.

Reading on, the article actually doesn’t make the sweeping comparisons I thought it would. It does compare the two with the usual “Bali is uncool now vibe” though (which I can’t criticise since I just wrote this post!) Must be one of those headlines that try to grab your attention (and clicks) by saying something dumb. Nothing new for news.com.au I guess.