Goodbye Australia

With my flight back to England fast approaching, I had to make the most of my time in Australia. Melbourne is a fantastic city and I had met some lovely people but I had also seen and done so much already in Melbourne and I wasn’t quite sure what else I
could do to fill my time.  Money was running very low and so I very easily came to the decision that I would like to spend my last full week relaxing in the sun, back up north in Airlie
Beach
. I really enjoyed the few days I had previously spent in Airlie Beach and knew this is where I wanted to be. After a lot of internet time, I found a very cheap return flight and set off for Airlie Beach.

I flew into Hamilton Island Airport which meant an hour’s ferry crossing over to Airlie Beach and as soon as
I stepped off the ferry I could feel the lovely Australian heat. Wearing black jeans and black t-shirt (the weather in Melbourne at 5am is not very warm) and backpack on back I took the 20 minute walk to Nomads Hostel, where I had pre-booked 2 nights, due to the
fact that it had a swimming pool. By the time I arrived, I was soaked in sweat but had a huge smile on my face as I knew instantly I had made the right decision.

I spent the week just as planned, jogging every morning, swimming in the lagoon and sunbathing by the hostel pool. Being on a very tight budget I went shopping with $30 and bought a supply of food for the week. It is amazing what dishes a backpacker on a budget can come up with. I met so many more lovely friends and spent my last precious nights partying with
them. I spent my last night with Alice from England and Jimmy from Sweden and not wanting my time in Airlie Beach to be over, we partied through the night until it was time to get my ferry. No sleep and a quick shower I set off on the 20 minute walk in the
morning heat back to the ferry. I was sad to leave Airlie Beach but I still had 3 days in Melbourne before the dreaded flight home.

And what a lovely 3 days in Melbourne
I had. I was lucky enough to be able to stay with Dan and his housemates again which meant I was able to accept an invite to The Australian Open with Alan (Dan’s housemate) and his friends. The Australian Open is a major tennis tournament held annually in January in Melbourne. It was the first day of the Open and I was fortunate enough to see some big tennis names playing or practicing. We were at the match where Ana Ivanovic won her first game and we saw R.Nadal and Hewitt practice. It was also the first day of the start of a heat wave for Melbourne. You can imagine my delight! I spent my last day in Australia on the beach of St Kilda in the 43 degree heat and watched the beautiful sunset over
Melbourne city.

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Another side to Cambodia – beautiful beaches and no pollution!

Leaving the chaos of Phonm Penh it was time for beach time. Just a 5 hour bus ride at $7 to Sihanoukville and the madness of Phonm Penh was replaced with a beach resort. It reminded me of any other seaside town; a beach, bars and shops. Once off the coach we were met with tuk tuk drivers and men on motorbikes. For $1 me & my backpack jumped on the back of a motorbike and headed for a hostel. The hostels here were mainly bungalows, which could be quite pricey as a single traveller but lucky for me I was with Jenni, a Spanish girl I had travelled there with and so we shared a bungalow at Big Easy Hostel for $4 each. After being in Thailand, prices in Cambodia seem rather expensive!

We started our first day on Serendipity beach but this is where all the nightlife is and so the sea wasn’t very clean. We paid a man & his motorbike $2 to take us to Ortis beach; this was more like it! Clean white sand and clean blue sea.

The next day a group of us headed for “the island” named Koh Rong.

A 2 hour boat trip at a pricey $10 each way, I was met with pristine white beaches, turquoise water and limited development. Backpackers staying in Sihanoukville will undoubtedly head over to “the island” for a few days, but with only 18 clusters of bungalows, no roads and no electricity, only current generator generating electricity at certain hours of the day, it still has that desert island feel. I doubt developers will allow it to stay like this for long though!

As there was 6 of us we were able to get a lovely beach bungalow at Happy Bungalows for $12 each, very pricey for a backpackers budget, but it was a treat to ourselves.

Unfortunately I only stayed for 1 night and 2 days and by day we relaxed on the beach and swam in the warmest sea I have ever been in. By night the sky was so clear you could see hundreds of stars. We drank through the night and by 3am we were swimming in the sea (still as warm as a bath) amongst the lights of the plankton. What an amazing experience!

I left the island at 4pm the following day and sailed back to Sihanoukville. I found a hostel for $1.50 named Utopia, which was the worse dorm of my trip so far, but for such a cheap price I was happy. Not wanting to spend too much time in the small smelly dorm I headed out to the bars and stayed there until I could drink and dance no more, meaning I only had to sleep for 3 hours before I was getting my bus back to Phnom Penh…

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