Keppel Falls Trail

The Keppel Falls Trail was one I proudly completed by accident. Having parked gamely at the Steavenson Falls and doing a small circuit of what the waterfall, we gave in to the temptation of just going up a little bit, just to the first lookout to see how the trail’s like. Of course we wouldn’t finish the hike. We’ll just go back down again after that, in time for lunch. These were the famous last words that we told ourselves.  From there onwards, it became a silly game of ‘just to the next lookout point’, until we realised we were truly and seriously halfway around the trail and to go...

The Warburton Valley and Marysville

During the long AFL final weekend, it was easy and blissful enough to pack up some things and do a drive eastwards towards Warburton and Marysville for the great outdoors while many stayed in Melbourne clad in yellow and black. The Yarra Valley touring map is a good indicator of what’s worth seeing, though I was more interested first and foremost, in what the walks were. Skirting the Yarra Valley – I figured it was best to do the hard walks and all first before hunkering down with gourmet food and wine – and heading to Marysville via East Warburton (on the C511/C513), the drive through Warburton began peacefully enough...

Victoria High Country

The north-eastern bit of Victoria isn’t a place I’d ever visited and the Easter holidays made me strain at my leash a little just to get outdoors. The entire Great Alpine Road journey – from Wangaratta to Bairnsdale – felt like the answer to it, though the full journey (from Melbourne to Melbourne in a roughly circular route) was way too much for just a short 2-day trip up north and back again. From Wangaratta to Metung or a whopping 339 km/211 miles, it’s a non-stop ride in the car on sealed roads would just take about 5 hours. I didn’t feel that brave or eager to do it all...

The merry, brutal world of Melbourne property rentals

My rude and green introduction to the world of Melbourne rental properties started one early Saturday morning in January where at least 30 desperate, harried and stressed people turned up for a property inspection in Brunswick West. All that I’ve read about renting in Melbourne had been overwhelmingly negative—about prices, the high season (exactly the wrong time to enter it, as I did), the ugly bidding wars—and thus far, I was proven right. Getting a rental home started to feel just as bad as searching for employment. Despite the property downturn, rents were still soaring, simply because demand outstripped supply. What I’ve learnt so far: That the reasonably-priced apartment a...

Getting a Car Down Under

The search for a used car is always daunting. Waltzing into a car showroom and pointing a gnarled finger at a spanking new, fancy vehicle is not something my budget allows, so it’s back to the drawing board (hard research) before looking up private car sellers and dealers. But as extensive as the public transport network is in Melbourne, getting around without a car can be frustrating, particularly if it involves too many changes and roundabout routes that take over an hour. A browse through forums is a useful way to get started. Forums like reddit provide threads of conversations that can range from meaningful and thoughtful to downright silly....

The Settling-in Process

I waffle on big decisions. To pick a place to settle in – at least for the next few years – isn’t an easy decision, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve made a few choices, did several turnarounds, then chose again and am still wondering if I’ve done it all correctly. Fickle, fickle, fickle. Melbourne (Australia, not Florida) is it for now, with the partner, which sort of makes things easier and not, with also the view that this might just be a temporary location before we pack and move again. An apartment in the Docklands via Airbnb for about a month and a half is what...

Short winter days in Melbourne

I’m entirely unused to spending just a few days in a place that will probably take years to know inside out. Having been to Melbourne several times over the past two decades (nothing like the passing of the years to show how much mileage you’ve gotten along with it), this has by far, been the longest gap in which I’ve eschewed one of the world’s most liveable and coolest city in favour of other far-flung places. With four days, there was just too much to see, too much to eat, so little time. The rich, cultural diversity of this place can’t make it any swankier honestly, and the inner-city ethnic...

Beneath the surface

It’s hard to write about Vancouver. Officially, it has been named one of the most liveable cities in the world, even through skyrocketing property prices (thanks to foreign speculation and buying), with a huge and impressive backcountry of British Columbia backing it up. An hour’s drive northwards brings you to Squamish, a haven for outdoorsy types. Drive east and you’d still be hard-pressed to escape the beautiful scenery that encircles the entire place. In Vancouver itself, there is a multitude of fascinating neighbourhoods that hold their own ethnic enclaves and by extension, the cuisine on offer is as varied and authentic as the immigrants themselves who bring a wealth of...

Day-tripping to Whistler

The Travel Companion (TC) and I debated long and hard about renting a car in Vancouver, even if it was only for a few days. Public transit has always been encouraged and what people say about Vancouver being a ’small’, walkable city is to an extent, true, unless you’re staying out in the suburbs and not Downtown. In the end, we compromised (isn’t this always the case?) and rented a small, white pimple of a VW Golf—easy to handle, though guaranteed to give you performance anxiety as larger cars and trucks breeze past on the highway—because we wanted the freedom of exploring Vancouver’s suburbs while doing a day trip to...

Kuala Lumpur for the lazy traveller

The usual 3-day itinerary in any place typically involves a clever mix of time-saving routes and an assumption of boundless energy that will enable any intrepid visitor to cover a key number of sights. In short, a brag-worthy itinerary for a short but exhausting period of time that you can confidently say to anyone ‘I’ve visited this place and have seen the top x number of things I should see in it’. Doing this in a place as dauntingly large as Kuala Lumpur is a difficult task to plan. Doing 3 days over a festive period (Chinese New year) with many Chinese shops (and areas like Chinatown) is impossible. But...