10 Best Travel Experiences of 2015

2015 has proved an interesting year for us, full of surprising life changes!

This year Victoria and I committed to a couple of life-changes. We gave up booze for the year. Yep, that’s right we haven’t drunk a drop of alcohol for the whole year. We decided to get fit and healthy, which meant we started hitting the gym multiple times per week. Plus, towards the end of the year we gave up meat, so we went from part-time vegetarians to full-time vegetarians.

These new life-changes definitely made our travelling adventures a little bit different. I’m sure most people couldn’t imagine going on holidays without enjoying a cocktail by the pool, or a cold glass of bubbles. Neither could we when we started out!

We had the opportunity to travel through some incredible countries including Taiwan, China and Indonesia. We were also able to visit a few places multiple times such as New Zealand and Singapore. What a rad year it’s been!

10 Best Travel Experiences of 2015

Here are our top ten highlights from the past year…

Fell in love with Melbourne

For some reason Melbourne has never really interested me. This year Victoria and I had the opportunity to go down there in June and just the thought of it made me groan. Seriously, what was I thinking?! Melbourne is awesome. The food, the coffee, the vibrant culture, there’s so much to do and see down there.

What’s the deal with all the scrumptious food? It seems almost unfair that every meal blew our minds, and our taste buds. Some of these restaurants need to come to Sydney right now!

When our friends asked us to go back again in November, obviously Vic and I were over the moon and said YES. We love this place now.

Our favorite meal that totally exceeded our expectations was Saigon Sally in Windsor. Hands down the best Vietnamese I’ve eaten. 

So, if you’re looking for the best place in Australia for food, fashion, coffee and culture, Melbourne is THE place to go!

Ticked off a bucket list item

When I was younger, I was mesmerized with travel and wildlife documentaries. I remember watching one about Komodo Dragons and thinking, I want to go to Komodo Island! As a kid, visiting a remote island with man-eating dragons seemed like an impossible dream, but this year we got to do it… and it was beyond awesome!

After being invited by Wonderful Indonesia to come check out some of the best sights in Indo, we cruised around a handful of the 17,000+ islands that make up the country. Two of the islands we visited, Rinca and Komodo, are home to those famous dragons I’d seen in the docos. Getting up close and personal to these ancient beasts was pretty cool and one item I’m pretty stoked we I got to check off our list!

Took our first business class flights

If you’ve ever taken a flight, you’ll know that it’s everyone’s dream to be sitting in business class (or even first class!). After numerous flights crammed in cattle, we finally got to experience business class… and it was even better than I could ever imagine!

You have space, a flight attendant at your beck and call, chilled champagne on arrival, celebrity chef inspired meals with real cutlery (no plastic here!) and there’s even a cheese and cracker cart that gets wheeled around the cabin just incase your cheese craving hits mid flight!

The best feature though, has to be the sky beds. When you’re doing a long haul flight the difference they make to the enjoyment factor of the flight is unbelievable. We were flying Sydney to Taipei (around 12 hours all up) so we definitely made the most out of being able to lay down flat and catch some Zs.

With a bucket load of Dom Perignon champagne on offer and an extensive list of exotic cocktails our flight attendants were a bit shocked to hear that we didn’t drink alcohol. However, they were more than happy to whip up some mocktails for us. Talk about great service!

Travelled with Travel Bloggers

Making new friends when travelling is the ultimate souvenir. New buddies help create epic memories that you can hold near and dear to your heart when you look back and daydream about your last holiday. Am I right?!

On our recent trip to Indonesia we were fortunate to travel with a group of super talented travel bloggers. We swapped travel stories, had heaps of laughs, some crazy adventures and got to explore several of the Indonesia islands together.

It was such an epic experience that we’re all aiming to do another trip together in 2016…watch this space!

A tourist in my home city

We’re forever travelling. What a lifestyle eh?! One of the best things about travelling is coming home to Sydney. It’s mind-blowing to be able to witness different cultures and scenery around the world and it makes me so grateful for how beautiful Australia is, especially my home city of Sydney.

Located about 10 minutes from our house, our first stop after any trip is Bondi Beach. Whether we’re here for a swim, breakfast or to stretch our legs along the coastal walk this area totally recharges our batteries after a long flight.

In 2015, we actively looked for new adventures to experience in and around Sydney. We do cool things all over the world, so why not in our hometown? A couple of experiences stood out this year.

  • Sydney Cycle Tour: No better way to see the local sights than cruising around on two wheels. Bonza Bikes in The Rocks are total legends and looked after us for the day. 
  • Tree Top Adventure Park: Growing up as a gymnast, I love this type of stuff. You get hooked up to a series of ropes up in the treetops and get your monkey on. Great for little kids and big kids too!
  • Mermaid Pools: Fun day trip from Sydney if it’s a hot sunny day. Fill up your esky, grab your cossie and chuck on some hiking shoes and drive 1 hour and 20 minutes out of the city to hit up this hidden spot. The walk to the pools is easy to moderate, and at the end you’ll be rewarded with a swim in the natural pools. There’s even a couple of rocks that you can jump off into the water, obviously check the depth before you jump, safety first

Swam in ‘that’ pool

If you’ve ever seen pictures of Singapore, undoubtedly you’d have seen photos of Marina Bay Sands and their rooftop infinity pool. It’s probably one of the most iconic Singapore images.

Victoria and I have visited Singapore several times and have wanted to swim in that famous pool, but you can only access it if you’re staying in the hotel. Boo! So on our most recent trip we finally stayed there and boy was it good! Yeah!

The pool totally lives up to how it looks in photos! And because the hotel is THE place to stay in Singapore while you’re chilling by the pool getting your tan on, you can also do some casual celebrity spotting too. We were there when the women’s tennis competition was on, so all the top tennis players were there including Venus Williams.

If you’re heading to Marina Bay Sands, keep your eye out for David Beckham and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay as they’re regulars of the hotel!

Giant Pandas in China

With only 1,500 pandas living in the wild these guys may not be around for much longer, so when we got to spend the morning with over 50 pandas in Chengdu, China it was pretty special experience.

When you look at the facts about these giant black and white bears, it’s pretty amazing that they’re still alive. They’re digestive system is designed to be carnivorous, however they only eat bamboo. As such they have to eat a shitload of it to get their nutritional requirements.

Female pandas are only fertile 2-3 days of the year, which obviously makes breeding super difficult. Plus to make it even more challenging, they’re solitary animals so often the male won’t find the female when she’s fertile. Bummer.

To make matters worse, female pandas are one of the least maternal animals out there. There’s plenty of YouTube footage showing how mumma pandas are literally shocked when they have a baby. This can make it quite difficult for the bubbas to stay alive as the mothers can abandon or accidentally kill them.

The research center in China that we visited in Chengdu are doing amazing things for the preservation of these amazing animals. If you get the chance to go, do it!

Finally went to Byron Bay

One of the most visited places in Australia is Byron Bay, so a lot of my mates were shocked that I hadn’t ever been there. Luckily at the beginning of the year, one of our friends invited us up to attend his personal development course. With a reason to go, we road tripped up there for a week… and there’s a reason why it’s so popular with the tourists. This place is pure paradise!

If you’re looking for perfect white sandy beaches, great surfing spots, dolphins, whales, great vegetarian food, epic weather, a chilled relax vibe then Byron Bay is the place for you.

Ate a great meal from a toilet bowl

At the beginning of this year we were invited to spend two weeks in Taipei, Taiwan. To be honest, I knew nothing about Taiwan before saying yes. I imagined it to be similar to Beijing in China. Dirty, busy, and heavily polluted. Imagine our surprise when we touched down and discovered that Taipei is nothing like Beijing.

The streets are clean, the city is quite green and there are no major problems with air pollution. Taipei is a quirky mix of Japan and China and they love their ‘cutesy’ characters like Hello Kitty.

Victoria and I wanted to sample the quirkiest thing we could find. Thanks to one of our blogging buddies who had been there before we knew exactly what we were looking for… a toilet themed restaurant! You definitely wouldn’t get this in Australia!

Modern Toilet is an experience not to be missed if you’re heading to Taipei. The entire restaurant is decked out as a restroom. The seats are all toilets, your food comes out in a toilet, and so does your drink. When you visit the restrooms the hand basin is even positioned in a toilet (this one grossed me out a little!).

The food was surprisingly good though and it’s well worth visiting for the meal alone.

Camper vanning around the South Island

Hands down camper vanning around the South Island of New Zealand was our best travel experience of 2015.

Neither of us had ventured to the South Island before so we totally stoked that our friends had decided to get married there.

Starting in Christchurch, we headed down to Queenstown via Akaroa and then road tripped up the West Coast. This 2-week trip was filled with picturesque views of snow-topped mountains, crystal blue lakes and a bunch of glaciers.

We also snuck in some adrenaline pumping activities such as bungee jumping, white water rafting, a scenic flight over Milford Sound and swimming with the worlds smallest dolphins.

The South Island is basicially the set of Lord of the Rings. Imagine how cool that is! Everywhere you look you can imagine in Frodo and Gandalf chilling in the scenery all around you. Plus with a kick-ass itinerary you can quickly see why the South Island made it to number one of our 10 best travel experiences of 2015.

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