Home, Sweet Home?

Well, I've been back from my year-and-a-half in Bali for about 5 weeks, though it feels like a lifetime ago and a dream all at the same time. In between job applications and catching up with friends, I'm starting to settle back in and consider what is next in terms of BIG SCARY GROWN-UP decisions...

...and I'm leaning towards a house!

Of course until I get full-time work and replenish my savings, this is a bit of a pipe dream. But it's quite nice to have something exciting to work towards and fuel for my Pinterest obsession in the meantime.

As I mentally collect notes on what I'd like in my FUTURE DREAM HOME, I'm pinning like a fiend. Right now, FUTURE DREAM HOME requires approximately 68 lounge rooms, 12 kitchens, 16 bedrooms and a treehouse. Something tells me I might need to KonMari my dreams a little bit!

So, apart from taps that come over the centre of the sink (how frustrating is a tap that hovers on the edge of the basin and won't let you at the water?) and plugs with built-in extension cords, what does my FUTURE DREAM HOME look like?

+ As an avid collector of art, weavings and other treasures from my travels, I know my FUTURE DREAM HOME will need to have lots of wall space, lots of light and lots of display nooks. I also own a LOT of books (Sorry, KonMari, I did try!), so built-in shelving (or my own personal reading room) is important.

+ Having spent so much time travelling and in Indonesia, I'm pretty used to a wide variety of showers. My FUTURE DREAM SHOWER MUST have a detachable head, strong adjustable pressure, and enough space to turn around in without knocking everything over. I'm a big fan of the wet room style, though preferably not full Indonesian style, with the showerhead placed right over the toilet and requiring a combination of acrobatics and yoga to not fall in!

+ Oh and a bathtub. Built-in or freestanding, I don't really care. But a bathtub is essential for life/world peace/love/happiness/etc. A nice view out the window would make my dreams come true.

+ Adequate storage and preparation space in my FUTURE DREAM KITCHEN. I don't need/want a dishwasher, having been without one for most of my adult life, but one thing that's always tricky to find is space to dry the dishes. I've been obsessed with the idea of these drying racks from India for the past few years (maybe recreated in wood). Also a good excuse to purchase fun, pretty dinnerware, seeing as it will be on display!

+ A bedroom that I can actually dream in! No technology allowed, a light and airy space where I can wake up with the sun and not be tempted to check my email after a 2am trip to the loo. There will probably be candles, incense and some special items on display from my travel and there will almost definitely be a huge pile of magazines and books on my bedside tables, but in my FUTURE DREAM BEDROOM they will be read/devoured/consumed, instead of just making interesting paperweights and something to trip over in the dark.

+ An office space. It's only recently that I've felt this is really important in a future home, now that I'm hoping to transition to taking on some more freelance work or maybe (one day) starting up my own business. Something light, airy and simple to keep me focused and inspired.

And finally...

+ Ocean frontage. What, a girl can dream, right?

What does your FUTURE DREAM HOME look like? Comment with your thoughts or links to your Pinterest!

All images link through to their original sources.

On Finding Motivation

Lombok, Indonesia

Motivation is literally the desire to do things. It's the difference between waking up before dawn to pound the pavement and lazing around the house all day. - Psychology Today

Lately I've been struggling with motivation in most aspects of my life - work, health and play. I'd like to say there's a reason behind this, like the blues, exhaustion or a bad experience, but there isn't and blaming something isn't going to get me out of the rut.

Here in the Southern hemisphere, Spring has now sprung (though you wouldn't know it in the land of perpetual sunshine that is Indonesia) and my Facebook news feed has been filled with motivational quotes directing me to dust off the winter cobwebs (Winter? What winter?!) and get excited about life. And you know what? I'm just not feeling it.

Find out what I'm doing to tackle this...

I've just passed my 1 year anniversary of living in Bali, a beautiful place that seems to inspire so many people to reach for their dreams but is beginning to leave me feeling sleepy and not really all that bothered. Bali is an expat's dream with ready access to Western comforts at cheap prices. I have absolutely loved my time here and wouldn't trade it for anything, but it is not without its frustrations.

The Balinese are known for living in the here and now. There is little consideration of the past and even less thought to the future. A great way to live and look at the world, but when you're trying to get things done, it can make for a very slow-moving train. Working here, don't expect to be told you're going away with the team for 3 days until the night before, throw out any notion you had about preparation for meetings (these will be sprung on you after they've started) and you will be sorely disappointed if you try to garner enthusiasm for a project that won't start for a month or two.

Time moves at a very different pace here and when you've come from the high-tech bullet train to a meandering locomotive, making the leap from one to the other can be very difficult.

I wanted to examine where I was tripping up the most in each aspect of my life and come up with a solution.

WORK: I work for a non-profit organisation in a volunteer capacity (kind of like the Peace Corps, but . I spend 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday in an office, sitting under a noisy air-conditioner and next to a toilet with a serious drainage problem. Some days the office is full of meetings and chatter in Bahasa Indonesia that I can only vaguely understand. More frequently, my colleagues don't come in at all.

The motivation that arrived with me in suitcase-loads now comes in short bursts and is often squashed by lack of enthusiasm from colleagues who are busy working in the field and are unable to provide support for marketing or fundraising initiatives. For the first time since I was made redundant 18 months ago, I  miss working in a team, in a busy office with rules and deadlines and expectations. But the grass is always greener, right?

My solution: Honestly? I'm still working on it. I have a huge wishlist of things I'd love for my organisation to start doing, but with the resignation of my counterpart a couple of months back, this fell into the cracks and has never really been resurrected. I'm trying to open my eyes more and grab opportunities where I can. This volunteering for international development gig is tricky - we're meant to be building capacity of local staff members. If all I'm doing is designing the documents and running their social media for them, what good am I really doing? But if I don't do it, no one else will.

So I've given myself a short, achievable list and if all that I do is leave behind some easy-to-edit templates, social media tips and a revamped website, then that's pretty good. I've got 12 weeks left to do what I can to leave feeling like I've achieved something, whether I have buy-in and support from my colleagues or not.

HEALTH: When I moved to Indonesia I thought, 'Great! I'll lose heaps of weight, get a great tan, become a pro surfer and do yoga Every. Damn. Day.' Easy, right?


Problem #1: The Indonesian diet is full of palm oil and sugar (Indonesia ranks 7th in the world for Diabetes), making weight loss a tricky beast.

Problem #2: It's also a holiday destination, so it's difficult to completely shake off that 'I'm on vacation, I can eat whatever I want and laze around in bed until 10am every day' mentality.

Problem #3: I'm really not that good at surfing. Bodyboarding, no problem. Standing up. Problem. And you need to be seriously fit to surf, which is part of a vicious, vicious cycle.

Problem #4: Yoga classes are expensive and it can be really difficult to make yourself do a full 70 minutes in your bedroom, surrounded by the temptations of the internet and bed. My poor yoga mat, which I lugged over here so proudly, tends to sit gathering dust on the floor at the foot of my bed.

My solution: Get out of bed in the morning. Don't roll out at 8.30, just before you're due at the office. But get up when you wake up. For me, this is usually around 6 or 6.30am, having become accustomed to the loud dogs, chickens and children that start their chorus shortly after dawn. It's significantly cooler at this time of day, the sun still hours away from reaching its hottest, and my mornings (well, most of them) are now filled with a brisk 5km walk along the beach before work. BAM! Not only do I feel energised and ready to tackle the day, but I'm getting some of that hard-to-come-by exercise too.

PLAY: I can't even tell you how many TV series I've binge-watched since I moved here. The latest and greatest in TV and film can be purchased for $1 each from any number of bootleg DVD stores on the tourist strips, and I've made full use of each and every one of them. Entire days have been wasted surfing the web, with more time spent refreshing websites in an attempt to make them load properly on my awful internet connection than actually engaging with the content. With a wealth of distractions so readily at my fingertips, it's no wonder I've only read about 5 books since I moved here and my Wacom drawing tablet, sketchbook and set of pencils have lain unopened since late 2013.

Avoiding these distractions (for me, at least - I am my father's daughter!) is easier said than done - last night I decided to tackle clearing out a few drawers in preparation for the full pack-up that will take place when I leave in December. I found a couple of broken cameras and wanted to offer them to other expats on a Facebook group for the local area. I thought I'd better get the message out there immediately and would get straight back to the task at hand. Nope. Two hours later I was still lying on my (unmade) bed, now watching an episode of 'Wonderland'. Whoops!

My solution: No more laptop before work. No laptop in the evening. That's a rule. I have a kindle chock-full of great books I've been meaning to read, an always overflowing laundry basket, a love of cooking and I'm determined to find where my mother's incredible drawing ability is hiding out in me. I've got plenty of things to keep me entertained without having to resort to the internet or TV. Once everything's done? It's fair game, but so far I'm enjoying my newfound free time. Today I even read for an hour before work.

I loved The Nife en l'Air's piece 'The Need for Distraction' a couple of weeks ago on finding alternative distractions. Great inspiration for me going forward!

I'd be foolish to think that moving back to Australia will fix everything, in fact, it might just make the lack of motivation worse. It's certainly an uphill battle and one that I'm sure is going to take a lot of time and effort to perfect, but at least I've made the first steps. I guess I've been paying attention to those motivational quotes all over Facebook after all!

What do you do when you're struggling to get into the right gear? All suggestions welcome!

Must Read Books {August}

Must Reads - August So, I had grand plans of finishing ALL of these books by the end of August so I could tell you how great (or not) they are, but I've only managed to make my way through two and a half of them. Epic fail, Louise. But I figure that Indonesia Etc is probably only going to be of great interest to those of you who are living or visiting Indonesia. Right?

Read on to see what I've been reading this month.

Gone Girlby Gillian Flynn: A couple of years late, but just in time for the release of the film in October, my friends and I all passed this around one-after-the-other this month. From about halfway through we were all absolutely hooked on the story of Nick Dunne and the disappearance of his wife Amy Dunne. Reading this was particularly interesting to me as a high-profile case with eerily similar circumstances had just passed down a guilty conviction in my hometown.

It's a really hard book to write about because....well I don't want to give it away! Just read it. It might take you a while to get into it but if you persist, I'm sure you will soon be hooked just like we were.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica: A friend had recommended this to me in my post-Gone-Girl haze, saying that it was being hailed as 'The Next Gone Girl'. The Good Girl tells the story of Mia, who goes missing, and is split into short chapters from the point of view of various characters close to the case, both 'before' and 'after' the kidnapping. It's a really interesting concept, but unfortunately I found it super predictable so spent most of the book waiting to see if I was right. I was.

That said, it's well-written and a good book to pass some time. Perhaps if I'd read it before Gone Girl I would have enjoyed it a lot more, but I was hoping for more excitement and twists in the plotline than it had to offer.

And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini: The latest book by the author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns was hotly anticipated and so far, does not disappoint. The book explores the idea of family and the ways that we nurture, love, betray and sacrifice for our loved ones.

I'm only halfway through the book but already have been drawn into the familiar yet foreign worlds that Hosseini builds with his well-crafted words. I'm getting my tissues ready for the end, expecting the same tears as have flowed after reading his previous books.

Indonesia Etc by Elizabeth Pisani: I haven't started this book yet but I must read it before the 6th of September! Why? Because author Elizabeth Pisani will be speaking at TedXUbud and I will be attending!

Indonesia is home to 300 ethnicities spread across over 17,000 islands and is considered the world's 4th most populous nation. Elizabeth Pisani's Indonesia Etc was born out of over 30 years of travel through this wide and splintered nation, which is one of the richest upcoming countries in the world but also houses some of the poorest communities. Within its pages, she has recounted a 26,000km journey around the country trying to find the links that tie the dispirate people of Indonesia together.

Here's a few stats from the book:

  • 1 in 30 people on this planet live in Indonesia
  • 64 million Indonesians use Facebook
  • Jakarta residents tweet more than any city on earth
  • 80 million people live without electricity
  • 110 million live on less than $2 day (almost 1/2 the population)
  • Hundreds of thousands  of people live without electricity AND earn less than $2 day but they still have access to and use Facebook!

If you're interested in reading more about Indonesia, check out these great articles: here and here.

What books have you been reading this month? I'd love recommendations!


Bali's Best Brunches - Sisterfields Bali

Sisterfields, Seminyak, Bali It's no secret among my friends that I'm a huge brunch fan and can't go past eggs benedict, mushrooms & avocado on toast or the ultimate breakfast fan's prize: an all day breakfast. In fact, just the words 'All Day Breakfast' send my heart aflutter. The luxury of being able to eat breakfast for dinner is pretty much heaven on a plate.

I'm currently surrounded by some pretty incredible breakfast nooks here in Bali, so I wanted to share the love so that you too can enjoy the delectable dishes on offer for 'the most important meal of the day' when you visit.

Enter the first contestant - Sisterfields Bali in Seminyak.

I'd wanted to visit Sisterfields for a while, but the timing never seemed to work out and I was held back by a crippling need to continue to go to my old favourites time after time.

Sisterfields, Seminyak, Bali

Sisterfields, Seminyak, Bali

You see it's hard to walk more than 20m in tourist-centric areas of Bali without stumbling across an oh-my-gosh-amazing cafe or restaurant. New places are opening every single day and it can be a little overwhelming! And while I'd love to eat out every single day just to sample them all, my waistline does not think this is such a good idea. So eating out has become more of a special occasion, and when you find somewhere delicious, it's hard to stop yourself from going back time and time again. My poor parents felt the worst of this when I insisted on making their 2 week holiday in Bali a door-to-door adventure from cafe to restaurant to cafe. There just wasn't enough time (or stomach!) to fit in all the deliciousness and unfortunately for my tastebuds, Sisterfields never make the cut.

Boy did I regret that once I pushed open the floor-to-ceiling glass doors of Sisterfields' bright and airy location in Seminyak!

Sisterfields, Seminyak, Bali

Sisterfields, Seminyak, Bali

Sisterfields, Seminyak, Bali

Located in the heart of Seminyak just across the road from Seminyak Square (your taxi driver will know where this is), Sisterfields quietly opened its doors early in 2014. Serving an all-day breakfast menu and a lunch menu, they have rapidly become 'the' place to eat.

It was about 1pm by the time we made it from Sanur over to Seminyak and we were STARVING. We made our way out to the gorgeous deck area and nabbed a spot in the sunshine under a beautiful black & white striped umbrella.

Sisterfields, Seminyak, Bali

Sisterfields, Seminyak, Bali

Service was fast and friendly, though we all needed extra time to choose just one dish from all of the incredible-sounding options on the menu! I went with the bowl of 3 salads from the display case inside, which I'd drooled over as we made our way outside. In hindsight, 3 was probably too much for me and I could have been fine with 2 salads and room for a treat after.

My friends ordered the Crispy Soft Shell Crab Hawker Roll and the Eggs di Abruzzo. We sipped on fresh juices (a Pash Me! and delicious apple/pineapple/ginger/lemon juice) and soaked up the lovely atmosphere. The food was fantastic and the decor comfortable and fun. I will definitely be finding my way back here as soon as I can.

Check out Sisterfields on your next trip to Seminyak. You won't be disappointed!

Jl Kayu Cendana #7 Seminyak Open 7 days; 7am-5pm

I've been Liebstered!

I've Been Liebstered!

Thanks to Lauren over at Life Imagined for nominating me for a Liebster Award!

While not really an award as such, the Liebster is kind of like a chain letter (remember them?) for the blogging world, a way for bloggers to praise fellow bloggers they feel are doing a good job, boost traffic a little bit and also get to know other bloggers in the process. While I've not done anything like this since I was a teenager, why not, says I!

So here we go...

The Rules 1. It must link back to the person that nominated you. 2. Nominate 11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers. 3. Cannot nominate the person who nominated you. 4. Provide nominees with 11 questions of your choice. 5. Must inform nominees of your nomination. 6. Provide nominees with a link to your post for more info.

So here are Lauren's questions for me:

1. What is your favorite season, why? Having grown up in a place known as the 'Sunshine State', I actually really love winter. Or maybe more the idea of winter: boots, fireplaces, blankets, hot chocolates and hot baths. After a year living in Indonesia where it rarely dips below 25 degrees C, I'm looking forward to being in a place where I can walk down the street without breaking into a sweat!

2. What is inspiring you most, right now? I really struggle with being overinspired to the point of it preventing me from acting on said inspiration. Right now I'm focusing on my pinterest account and checking out some great new accounts I've come across lately (check out who I'm following on my account!).

I also like to just get outdoors and observe what's around me. If you look closely, there's creative inspiration everywhere. You just have to make sure you're tuned into it. When in doubt, I force myself to head out with a camera. It doesn't take long for inspiration to strike.

3. What project or purchase for your home is on top of your to-do list? I'm getting ready to move back to Australia in January after 18 months living in Indonesia, so top of my list is decluttering everything I've managed to accumulate while I'm here and organising to ship home some great furniture pieces I've bought while living here, like bedside tables and chairs. There's an amazing street in Kerobokan full of wooden furniture-makers. I've never managed to successfully visit every store in the whole street, but it's on my Bali Bucket List! Right now I'm lusting after a crocodile bench like this one.

4. What setting/place brings you the most peace/calm? I've actually been thinking about this a lot lately, since my trip to Flores in Indonesia. After a horrendous trek up and down a mountain where I most definitely did not feel peaceful OR calm, we ended up at the ocean and I could feel my heart settle into a contented state and a feeling of calm just wash over me from the first glimpse of water. It was the first time I'd really noticed how much of a calming influence the sea has on me. So I'd have to say anywhere near the ocean or a river.

5. Favorite flower? It's hard to go past the Frangipani, which is prolific here in Indonesia. Every day people collect fallen flowers (and some people even shake the trees to force them to fall) to put in offerings or sell to local temples. But now that we're coming into September, I'm pining for the purple explosion of the Jacaranda tree flowers that will soon be blooming back home.

6. Your lesson of 2014? You can do anything you want to do. Just over a year ago, I'd been made redundant from a job I actually hated and hadn't given much thought to the future, despite telling myself I was going to quit eventually. I'd been studying graphic design and digital marketing on the side, assuming I'd use the upskilling to move into the digital marketing field because it seemed like a good 'career move'.

But you know what? I tried it and I hated it. I've spent my whole life convinced that I'm not creative enough to be a graphic designer when in reality, it couldn't be farther from the truth. If you asked me a year ago whether I thought I could be a graphic designer for a living, I would have laughed in your face. But now not only am I living abroad experiencing an amazing new culture, but I'm working as a graphic designer full-time for an NGO. 2014 has taught me that if you want to do it, just do it. I've always had this mentality about traveling and seeing the world but never applied it to my own life until now. And I'm not looking back!

7. Your song of 2014? Wow, that's a hard one! I don't listen to a lot of music here as there is always so much noise outside with motorbike and car horns as well as the gamelan and temple music, so any silence I can get is a blessing. But more recently I haven't been able to stop playing Sam Smith's song 'I'm Not The Only One'. Not sick of it yet!

8. Favorite book, why? Of all time? Into The Wild. I first read it when I was about 15 years old and have vivid memories of lying on a pull-out bed at my friend's grandparents house in Noosa for the holidays. And while it would take me years to actually work up the courage to do it, it planted the seed for a love of adventure and travel in me that has never stopped growing.

9. What do you envision your life being like in 10 years?In 10 years I'll be 41. Wow. That's a bit scary to think about! I'd hope that in 10 years I'm still seeing the world, surrounded by people who make me feel good about myself and who brighten my days and am still following my dreams, no matter where I am. I'd like to say I'll be married with a kid or two, but sometimes that stuff just isn't meant to be. I can't wait to see where I end up though!

10. If handed 10 million dollars, what would you change about your life? I'd hire a personal trainer for a start. Someone to kick my butt into action, celebrity-style! In this day and age, $10 million would get me a pretty amazing pad in Byron Bay near the ocean, but not much else. And while that would be amazing, I've watched enough reality shows to know that just because you can afford it now, doesn't mean you'll be able to afford it in the future. So I would invest, start a foundation to support a worthy cause and take my mum on an amazing adventure to East and Central Africa, where she grew up.

11. If teleportation were possible right now, where would you go first? Hmm, have I already been given the 10 million dollars from question 9? Because that would change everything! I would probably want to teleport to The Maldives, where my friends got married a few years ago. And pick them up on the way!

I'm not really sure how to figure out people's followers other than to check their Bloglovin' account and base it on that, so apologies if you've got more than 200 followers or have already done this and I've just offended you! My bad!

I nominate:

  1. Jasmine from Reckless Abandon
  2. Evelina from EvelinaT
  3. Hayley from Chasing the Comet
  4. Sarah from Sarah-Wynne
  5. Julia from My Wonderland
  6. Lottie from Hi, Lotts!
  7. Isabella from Sincerely, Isabella
  8. Mo from Ollivander Mo
  9. Abigail from Sweeter Gets The Journey
  10. Flora from The Accidental Londoner
  11. Fii from Little Miss Fii

My questions for you are:

  1. Name one place you've traveled to that you would go back to in a heartbeat, and why?
  2. What one piece of advice would you give a younger version of yourself?
  3. What is your favourite word and why?
  4. What 3 people would you invite to a dinner party, dead or alive?
  5. How do you motivate yourself every day?
  6. What's your favourite meal/food and why, if it has a memory attached?
  7. If you could have any job in the world, regardless of required skills or intelligence, what would it be?
  8. What's one thing you'd love to learn how to do?
  9. Where do you live and why should it be on my travel bucket list? Sell your hometown!
  10. What is your most prized possession?
  11. Camping, backpacking on a budget or luxury hotels - which do you prefer and why?

Looking forward to all of your answers!

Click This! {Best of the Web}

Box Light from BxxLght Click This! {Best of the Web} is a place for me to link out to all of the things that are keeping me occupied when I'm not busy working, blogging or eating eggs benedict (yummmmmmm).

First of all, I'm still lusting over the light boxes (see above | image credit) from BxxLght. Definitely my first purchase once I've moved back to Australia and got a few paychecks under my belt!

This week has been all about my neverending to-do lists and making the time to get things done. I'm pretty great at writing to-do lists, but sometimes I'm a little too good, spending more time on the making rather than the doing. This post on How To Get Back On Track When You've TOTALLY Lost The Plot is really helpful if you're feeling the same way!

Some friends and I recently formed an ad hoc book club - primarily an excuse to drink wine on a Friday night - after we all read the same book one-after-another, Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. First meeting and my friends had to spend most of the evening reminding me of plot lines and character names. I have a habit of immediately forgetting books once I've read them and always marvel at my mother's ability to read book after book after book and still recall details about every single one of them. It's nice to know I'm not alone: The Curse of Reading and Forgetting. Is this why I can remember the lyrics to infinite Katy Perry songs but not remember a single thing about the book I read last week?

I used to be early to everything. Sometimes up to an hour! But living in Bali and having to cope with 'Jam Karat' (or rubber time, where events can start up to 24 hours after the pre-arranged time) has cured me of that. Even after 1 year, I'm still convinced it will take less time to get around than it actually does and am constantly late to appointments, meetings and dates with friends. And I'm more distracted than ever. 5 minutes before I'm due to meet someone seems like a perfect opportunity to clean out the vegetable drawer, because I have to walk past the bin to leave the house anyway. It makes sense! I loved reading this piece on the thought process of a late person and recognising so much more of it in myself now!

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” ― Stephen R. Covey  --> Living here in Bali there are hundreds of tourists arriving every week. Great for local businesses but frustrating when you see how people behave when they're away from home. In short, they behave exactly like they do at home. Rude, impolite, impatient and suffering from an overwhelming lack of cultural sensitivity. Among a long list of other things, they should all be forced to read this piece on How to Create an Instant Connection With Anyone You Meet as soon as they set foot on Indonesian (or anywhere!) soil. Listen first, then react and change the way you connect with people.

And finally check out what I've been loving on the web recently on my pinterest account!

Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia - A Travel Guide

Flores, IndonesiaLabuan Bajo is a small fishing village turned tourist mecca at the North-Western tip of Flores, known as the Gateway to the Komodo Dragon. It was my second visit to the town but with more time on my hands, I was keen to soak up the relaxed atmosphere and devour the sunset views. I'll post more another time about my trip to see the Komodo Dragons - an absolute must-do if you're in this part of Indonesia. For now, here's a quick guide for how to spend a couple of days in Labuan Bajo.

Flores, Indonesia


Labuan Bajo is first and foremost a jumping-off point to Komodo and the surrounding islands, as well as other parts of Flores, so there are few sights in and around the actual town itself. But if you have a couple of days to kill and are keen to take it slowly, there are some great spots you can visit.

The key attractions in town are the various dive schools who will take you on day trips around the local islands. I'd actually organised to go to Labuan Bajo a day earlier than my friends in order to go diving near Komodo Island but the trips are full-day trips and returned too late for my friends and I to start our Flores road trip. I can't wait to get back another time - the diving is meant to be fantastic.

Also highly recommended - but I wasn't able to fit in this trip - is Kanawa Island. Featuring a small resort, this island is a must-visit for a relaxing beach vacation close to Labuan Bajo. Crystal clear waters, kayaks, snorkelling and stunning sunsets, it's worth an overnight trip here, though boats can be chartered just for the day at an additional cost.

The morning markets are a great way to experience the local culture. Remember to ask before taking photographs and go armed with a few Indonesian words, as many of the locals here are not involved in the tourist industry so do not speak much English. Ask for directions at your accommodation if you're not sure.

Flores, IndonesiaFlores, IndonesiaFlores, IndonesiaFlores, IndonesiaFurther out of town are the waterfalls and gorges Cunca Wulang and Cunca Rami. Keep in mind these are around 35km out of town on a bumpy road. I'd reached breaking point after a week in a car so opted to relax at our Eden Beach hotel while my friends explored the waterfalls. Cunca Wulang is often inaccessible due to bad roads but Cunca Rami is worth a visit if you're in the area. Keep in mind you will probably be required to pay a driver a full day rate, which can be about US$75. This is not a trip to make if you're travelling solo or on a tight budget! Ojeks (motorbike taxis) can probably take you there cheaper, but the road can be unsafe so ensure you are riding with a helmet.

Flores, Indonesia


Casa Selini is located in a great spot on the main street in Labuan Bajo, Casa Selini has just three small rooms attached to a restaurant/cafe. It's decorated in a shabby-chic style full of shells, coral and fun pictures on the wall.

Be warned that Room #3 is right at the back of the property next to the kitchen and the mosque, so you will be kept up late by the abrubt Greek owner screeching at her staff and woken early by the pre-dawn call to prayer. Not the most relaxing night I've ever had but the room was very comfortable. It was quite pricey at Rp450,000/night (around US$45) but the location was fantastic. Apparently the rooms at the front are better. I booked through Agoda.com.

Flores, IndonesiaCasa Selini

Waicicu Eden Beach is a beautiful oasis with its own private beach. Set on a hillside, make sure to warn the owners if you will have trouble walking up/down lots of steps. It took a solid 5 minutes of walking up steps to reach our bungalows! The accommodation is reached by a 20-30min boat ride. Beware if you're planning to arrive at night - the boats don't have lights on them, so they prefer not to take them out in the dark. The views are incredible and we paid around Rp350,000/night (around US$35) for a fan-cooled twin-bed bungalow with million dollar views. Book directly through their website for the best deals.

Flores, IndonesiaFlores, Indonesia

Amazing views from our room at Waecicu Eden Beach


Labuan Bajo has doubled in terms of tourist offerings since I was there 9 months ago. They've really started to take advantage of the spectacular views and influx of backpackers, with affordable bars and restaurants lining the streets.

Flores, IndonesiaI had a couple of lunches at my accommodation's cafe, Cafe Selini, which offers a Greek menu (a rarity in Indonesia!) full of tasty chicken souflaki and spanakopita. I had the most delicious pumpkin soup I've ever had in my life and the chicken souflaki was absolutely delicious! Unfortunately, service is a little slow, even when you're the only customer or you order your food ahead, so make sure you give yourself enough time.

Flores, IndonesiaFlores, IndonesiaFlores, IndonesiaLa Cucina is a cute little spot that I visited for breakfast and dinner, with a small bench area facing the ocean. This place can get busy so make sure you arrive early to secure a spot. I had Wild Boar Tagliatelle for dinner - so delicious! Breakfast was simple eggs, toast and fruit but they were very accommodating with my hatred of bananas and easily made some menu adjustments to the fruit salad and juices for me. Great views at sunset, like most places along this strip.

Flores, IndonesiaFlores, IndonesiaOsteria Del Mare is located on the ocean-side of the main drag and, like many restaurants in Labuan Bajo, offers a mostly Italian menu. I enjoyed sunset mocktails here at the bench-seats facing the water and spent half a day relaxing in the upstairs loft. Their juices and mocktails are fantastic, but unfortunately I made the wrong choice with my food. I ordered a Pizza Marinara, expecting fresh prawns to be gracing the topping of my pizza. Instead it was covered with mashed up balls of fish. And got cold pretty quickly in the breeze. It was pretty unappetising. I thought you couldn't go wrong with pizza!

Fortunately the hammock more than made up for it and I whiled away 4 or 5 hours here with my book.

Flores, IndonesiaFlores, IndonesiaFlores, IndonesiaFlores, IndonesiaTreehouse is one of the older establishments in town, on the same stretch of ocean-facing road as Osteria del Mare and La Cucina. Unfortunately I made my 'I'm near the ocean! Surely the seafood will be amazing!' mistake once again, ordering garlic prawns. More like garlic miniature prawns. Cooked in a thick creamy sauce with the shells on, I think they'd forgotten to check on them and by the time they arrived, they were a thick gelatenous goo and very VERY messy to eat. I'm not averse to peeling prawns, but this was beyond a joke. I will never learn. Should have stuck with the Nasi Goreng.

Flores, IndonesiaThis is a toilet. Please do not meditate here. Some people clearly need reminding!

Flores, IndonesiaSteps leading up to the top balcony at Treehouse.

Well that's it for now! I imagine if I went back to Labuan Bajo in another 6-9 months things would have grown and changed even more. If you've been, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the best (or worst) places to eat and sleep in town, leave a comment!