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Adventures on $200

Adventures on $200 Places

Day Tour Through The Blue Mountains, Australia

October 3, 2015

For the month of August our Adventure on $200 was a tour through the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney Australia.


Here are the highlights:

Cost: $240 AUD = $169 USD for two

Length of Time: 8am-6pm (10 hours)

Activities Conquered: Feeding kangaroos, koalas, goats, baby dingoes, witnessing the majestic Blue Mountains, rode the steepest railway in the world, walked through Sydney Olympic Park and took a ferry ride through Sydney’s Parramatta river and Sydney harbour.


Before coming to Australia I knew we were going to have a great time but I had no idea how much fun.   We planned on spending 2 weeks in Cairns Australia but when the volcano in Bali erupted and our flight back was cancelled we hopped down to Sydney.  I am so glad we did!  I knew I liked Sydney but after this week vacation it currently holds my #1 city in the world spot.

We don’t normally visit anywhere for less than a few weeks now so when we booked Sydney for a mere 7 days I knew I had to do some tour booking asap.  One of our favorites was this tour by Dingo Travel in Sydney taking us to the Blue Mountains west of the city by about an hour.  The Blue Mountains are known for dramatic scenery, steep cliffs, eucalyptus forests, waterfalls and villages dotted with guesthouses, galleries and gardens.  Echo Point gives you amazing views of the storied Three Sisters sandstone rock formation.

The day started with a great trip to Featherdale Wildlife Park.  We were there early which was awesome because we got in before all the Chinese buses of hundreds of tourists came in.  This meant awesome interaction with koalas and kangaroos as well as seeing awesome other animals.  The wombat has become one of my favorite animals after seeing them here!

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We packed up and made our way Echo Point after the wildlife park to see the famous sandstone formation, The Three Sisters.  Quite a bit cooler up there I was happy I brought my rain coat which acts as an awesome wind breaker.  There is also an informative Aboriginal dance/info session that we attended.  Afterwards we even got our picture with an ‘Aborigine’ but he is super white so I’m unconvinced he has ancestors from anyone besides the Europeans who settled Australia.  Then we went to Scenic world and rode a cable car that gave you amazing views of the steep cliffs, Three Sisters and those beautiful Blue Mountains.  They get their blue color from the eucalyptus vegetation and how it reacts with the air and its more magical in person than through the lens of an iphone 6.

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At the bottom of the ride you walk through the beautiful forests and see the mines that were used to get coal back in the 19th century.  They still have the mines that you can walk in as well as see the mines that have been closed up by large boulders. It was really interesting to see how small miners had to be and how dark their workdays would have been.  It was a hard job and I have much respect for anyone who used to or still does mine.

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The railway took us back up the mountain at a scary 52 degrees.  That makes it the steepest in the world and I wanted to document it but I was too busy holding on making sure I did not fall forward on top of the guys below me.  I did get this photo though before we started moving.  The photo above is the original one used for the miners and the below is the railway today.

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We then grabbed lunch in a cute little mountain village complete with meat pies, soup and flat whites.  The Australians know how to make some incredible coffee and the flat white has become my favorite caffeinated beverage, by FAR.  Next up was a bushwalk through The Blue Mountains National Park to see Bridal Veil Falls (I wonder how many waterfalls are named this, it is quite common). Incredible steep cliffs and small walkways made for a great way to walk off our lunch calories.

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Lastly we walked through Sydney’s Olympic Village and caught a ferry ride back into the city through Parramatta River and Sydney Harbour.  Catching great views of the bridge and Opera house from the water was an unexpected treat!

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The tour ended at 6pm we grabbed some dinner and headed back to our quaint little airbnb in Paddington.

Such a wonderful day and so fun to relive it now while I write the post.  I miss Sydney and cannot wait to go back.

Have Fun Do Everything,

Liz

 

Adventures on $200 Places

Hong Island Tour, Krabi Thailand

July 6, 2015

For the month of May our adventure on $200 is the amazing Hong Island Tour in Krabi Province, Thailand.


Here are the highlights:

Cost: $140

Length of time: All day adventure

Activities Conquered: Long tail boat cruising, seeing all of Hong Island, swimming, snorkeling, frisbee, swinging, relaxing in a cave, and touching a sea urchin


The day started off with a pick up at our hotel where we were shuttled to a beach to meet our guide Sven and our 2 Thai boat drivers.  Immediately we went to Hong Island which translates to ‘big room’ island and drove our boat throughout the ‘room’.  Now we have been on a similar tour where we drove our boat into an epic cavern but then our boat stopped and Sven told us we were able to swim in this area!  This was an amazing surprise because we were able to get in the water and wave at all the boats filled with tourists as they drove by in jealousy while we swam.

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After we got our fill of swimming in an amazing lagoon we packed it back in and went to the beach part of Hong Island, which is actually where the film The Beach was shot.  This area was absolutely breathtaking shades of blue and green with a stark contrast of the white fine sand.  We hung out here played a bit of frisbee, watched another movie get filmed, and caught some rays.

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Next up was lunch on the boat that consisted of curry and rice along with fruit for dessert.  So good!  We took a bit of a cat nap on a nearby island that had a pretty amazing cave on it so we could get some shade.  The best part of this island pit stop was the fact that as we were arriving the other 2 boats were departing so we had the entire island to ourselves!

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Lastly we stopped at another island nearby on the way back into shore and again we were awestruck by the beauty of water and land Thailand has to offer.  There were tons of swings so you know we had to try them out!  This island a few years back was actually inhabited by some locals but unfortunately the government had kicked them out.  However their homes were still intact and able for us to check out.  I can’t imagine how beautiful it would be to wake up on the island and see this beauty every day.  No wonder Thais are so happy all the time!

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This was an absolute joy to island hop and we were able to share it with some amazing friends who flew all the way out to Thailand to visit us and we wouldn’t have had it any other way!

Have Fun Do Everything,

Liz

Adventures on $200 Places

Garden Tour, Aquarium and Night Safari In Singapore

July 2, 2015

For the adventure on $200 in the month of April we decided to be super touristy in Singapore.


 Here are the highlights:

Cost: $196.19

Length of time: Multiple day adventure

Activities Conquered: Multiple gardens in Singapore, canopy tree walk, cable car ride, hiking, visiting an aquarium, and a night safari.


This adventure was a blast and at first we didn’t want to do these things because we were feeling a bit touristy but then we realized we are going to be tourists for the next 12 months!  We better make the most out of every opportunity we have :) This one is 3 part; garden tours, the aquarium and the night safari.

Singapore has some amazing things about it one of which is how beautiful it is.  Every city has its own beautiful spot that everyone talks about, but here in Singapore it’s the ENTIRE city.  At any given moment there are like 100 gardeners tending to the shrubs that separate the lanes on the highway or trimming back the trees that line the sidewalks, it’s a city that takes pride in its landscape and it shows.  The botanical gardens are no exception. We toured the eco manmade trees at the Gardens By The Bay, which are the iconic gardens right in front of the mega Marina Bay Sands. These gardens have the super trees which are the man-made ones that light up at night, the flower dome and the cloud forest all of which are beautiful and are home to some of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen.

The Supertree Grove allows you to climb up in the trees and see all the vegetation that has been planted in the manmade trees to give environmental benefits to Singaporeans.  There is even a canopy walkway that is 22 meters above the ground and you can walk from tree to tree.

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The Flower Dome amazed us with nature by showing us thousands of flowers in a climate controlled spring environment.

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The Cloud Forest showed us different vegetation at different heights and even had an indoor waterfall!

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The next day we did the Botanic Gardens which has the world-renowned orchid gardens within it.  I spent an entire day in here getting lost among the trees and vegetation to make me forget I was in a huge metropolitan city.  The orchids are to die for, I could come wander these gardens every day if I lived here.  Bonus: the trails throughout the gardens are absolutely perfect for running I wish I would have known this I would have brought my trainers instead of my computer and book!

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A monitor lizard in the pond where I was working

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Following my garden days we decided to do the S.E.A aquarium.  The S.E.A. aquarium is over on the island of Sentosa that’s like the Orlando of Singapore, with tons of resorts and kid friendly parks.  There is a cable car that you can ride over to the island, it leaves from a hill in mainland Singapore with a cool hike up the hill.  You can also drive to the cable car but we wanted to hike it and I was glad we did, the cable car and hike both give you beautiful views!  We both are water lovers and love everything about the underwater world so absolutely any aquarium fascinates me but this one was special.  It is the worlds LARGEST aquarium which is a right in and of it’s own and my favorite part of the aquarium is the huge glass wall that shows you animals ranging from manta rays, goliath groupers, napoleon wrasse and so many other animals in the same massive tank.  We picked up a seat on the floor right next to the 5-year-olds and sat in awe for over an hour as the goliath groupers that we have only seen hiding underneath ships in the ocean swam right along with the manta rays.  I could have sat there for longer but we were getting hungry for lunch and well, a girls gotta eat.  The aquarium has tons to do for the kids with interactive games, shows and huge replicas of boats, fun for all ages.

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The night safari was the last on our Singapore adventure on $200 and it was a fantastic way to end the trip!  We arrived to the park at 7pm, as the park opens at 7:30, but the restaurant opens early for you to get a bite to eat.  We grabbed some food and watched the fire breathers performance at the front of the park to welcome us in, what a show! Then we took a ride on the shuttle bus around the park where you see all the animals awake, eating, playing or lounging around.  They have all sorts of animals from wallabies to tigers to lions to deer to all the small reptiles and bats!  So many bats!  Once we did the shuttle tour we went in for the creatures of the night show and the animals work with trainers and saw a huge boa, multiple otters, a spotted hyena and a binturong.   The binturong was my favorite because I had never seen one or even heard of one before!  Once we saw this show we decided to take on the park on foot for a bit deeper look at the trails we saw a snippet of on the shuttle tour.  The coolest part of the tour was that it was at night and it’s not too hot and how close you feel like you are to the animals.  The park does a great job of natural barriers so you don’t feel like you are staring at a tiger through a fence.  You are absolutely safe and at a distance from the animals but you feel like they are closer to their natural habitat than most other zoos I have been to.  We loved this safari, even if the pictures didn’t turn out great.

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Alright, now for prices and how we did all this for $200

Gardens By The Bay: Skyway for the Super Tree Grove is $5 a person and to do both Flower Dome and Cloud Forest is $20 a person. Total of $50

Botanic Gardens: All are free except the Orchid Garden which is $5 total of $5 since I did this one solo.

Aquarium: $38 for 1 person total of $74

Cable Car: $29 for one person total of $58

Night Safari: $37 a person total of $74

Total bill in SGD $261 converted into USD $196.19

I would say that’s big bang for your buck!

Get outside and see your world and as always,

HFDE,

Liz

Adventures on $200

Shooting A Bazooka and Other Big Guns In Cambodia

June 26, 2015

For the month of June our adventure on $200 was shooting some really big guns.


Here are the highlights:

Cost: >$200

Length of time: 11am-4pm

Activities Conquered: Buying targets from local Cambodians, shooting 1 rocket launcher, 2 hand grenades, AK47, M60, and a .50 caliber gun


So Cambodia is full of absolutely insane things and one of those is the shooting ranges.  We heard about the ranges where you could throw a hand grenade or shoot a bazooka from word of mouth and we decided we had to find out if they still existed.  YES they do! We found the one we did actually through tripadvisor, who knew it would be so easy!?  After a few emails arranging with Steven our dream had become reality.

On the big day we were picked up and joined by another couple from England.  The shooting range is a bit far outside of Phnom Penh and it takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to get there.  We picked up some targets on the way in the forms of propane tanks and watermelons and continued on our way.

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The range is actually on the military base in Cambodia so that was pretty cool.  Immediately as we arrived our guide offered us beers but we figured we would wait until the shooting was done to start the drinking.  A few minutes later he was ready for our first weapon, the hand grenade.  We walked over to the hill where there was a pond in a ditch where we would throw our grenades.  We practiced with a few rocks and once the Cambodians were pleased with our rock throwing they handed us the grenade and pulled the pin.  Quick to action! Greg did a great job actually hitting the pond which was a mere 20 feet from us, I on the other hand was dead on in my rock throwing game but choked when it came time for the grenade.  My hands were shaking and I was convinced it would explode in my hand (obviously this is silly since I am holding the lever) and missed the pond.  I blew a huge hole in the ground and even my Cambodian soldier got nervous and yelled at me to get down and hovered over me, looking back that was very nice of him considering I met him a mere 5 minutes before my failed launch.  Everyone was completely fine and they have a serious ditch built up for people like me.

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Next up the bazooka/rocket launcher.  We went big fast.  Greg and our English friend both did a launch and it was insane.  Super loud and there was no counting down so it completely took me by surprise when it launched and Greg just barely missed the propane tank that was set up.  What an insane thing to see and it was Greg’s favorite weapon for sure.

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Then we proceeded to watch the guys clean and set up an M60, M16, AK47, .50 caliber gun and grenade launcher for our choosing.  We decided to do the next mega gun, the .50 caliber.  Talk about some serious bullets those things are HUGE.  Greg shot the majority of this gun’s ammo but I did get one bullet in, not too fond of it as it completely intimidated me (and I don’t look comfortable in the pics either).

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Following the mack daddy was the M60.  This one was fun because we had a good amount of bullets and we were shooting at a target of watermelons.  It always makes it more fun when you can aim and hit something.

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Lastly we shot the AK47.  It was my favorite probably because I was shooting at a propane tank and hit it multiple times making flames shoot through the air.  Like I said I am a big fan of targets, especially when I hit them.   The only thing that wasn’t fun here was that Greg went first and obviously hit the target so he got the big boom and I was stuck with small booms, but I promise all the Cambodians were yelling and telling me I was doing good because I was actually hitting it, even if I didn’t get the big flame. His photo is pretty awesome though!

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What an insane day!  I would completely do it again if we had the chance and if anyone is in Cambodia I highly recommend Steven at Cambodia Shooting Range we had an absolute blast.  They also told us that all of the weapons are left over from the war and because it costs the government money to dispose of them they figured they would use to help support the military.  However what this means is when the ammo and guns are gone, they are gone so I recommend not waiting, but really just don’t wait because its so much fun!   For this adventure on $200 it definitely went outside the budget.  However as I was reminded the other day the rule was that the whole thing didn’t have to be under $200 it just had to be something we wouldn’t have done without the extra $200.  So what we decided was we would buy one round on a gun we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise and all of our ammo, this ended up being the AK47 as well as a ton of watermelons and a propane tank.  Completely worth every penny!

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As Always HFDE,

Liz

Adventures on $200 Places

Underground River Puerto Princesa Philippines

March 7, 2015

So we have officially started the adventures on $200 escapade!  First up was the underground river in Puerto Princesa, Palawan Island Philippines — man that’s a mouthful!  This adventure was amazing!!


Here are the highlights:

Cost: $80

Length of time: All day adventure

Activities Conquered: Zip lining, eating worms, lunch prepared by locals, beach sitting, 2 pump boat rides and an amazing tour of one of the new 7 natural wonders of the world the underground river.


The day started early with a 7am departure time then came a 3 hour ride picking up our fellow passengers and driving to the small town the underground river is in, Sabang.  We stopped about 30 minutes from Sabang at Buena Vista overlook for a quick pic and to get out and stretch our legs.  Which we definitely needed to and were thankful that we stopped.  The roads are windy and bumpy, we are too big for the small seats in the buses (not built for us large Americans), and the A/C (aircon as they call it here) doesn’t get all the way to the back (we were in the last row) but we definitely realized all of this is worth it when you get there.  Check out the view!

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Now we thought this was amazing and we had no idea what was in store ahead but judging from this spot it had to be good so we chugged some water and jumped back into the last row in the van giddy for what was coming.  Our tour guide Manny warned us that it {obviously} is a popular spot and there would be a lot of waiting so we could go zip lining before lunch if we wanted to for 550 PHP or about $12, we didn’t hesitate.  We couldn’t believe no one else wanted to do this but I am glad because we had the whole tour and zip line to ourselves.  First we met Filipino 1 to ride in a jeep to a river, then we met Filipino 2 to cross the river on a bamboo raft, Filipino 3 takes you on a walk through an amazing EMPTY beach and up through the forest to the zip line.  They hook you in and set you loose on a 1/2 mile long zip line above the bay, BEAUTIFUL.  Once again the Filipinos were super nice and obliged to my photo requests with a smile :)

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Up next was lunch Filipino style under huts on the beach.   There was also a lady selling “tamilok” aka mangrove or wood worms in a styrofoam cooler, we had to try them.  They tasted like oysters but much slimier and Greg got quite a crowd when he became the first person to buy them from her, I got a pretty hilarious video and here’s the pic.

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After lunch we boarded the motor pump boat to the entrance to the underground river.  Once we got to the entrance we got off the motor pump boat, walked along paths to the other side of the cove that is protected and more waiting happens as each paddle pump boat loads up with 10 anxious visitors goes into the cave does a loop and comes back out.  The river is protected and in a national park so there are no motor boats allowed nor any swimming.  While we waited for our number to be called we practiced our hand stands and took some sweet selfie-stick photos.  *The entrance to the cave is the hole to the right of my legs and to the left of Greg’s*

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After all the waiting we put on life vests, hard hats and finally boarded our boat!  The tour was amazing, huge open caves, 70,000 bats, pitch black darkness {if the single spotlight your boat has is turned off} and our guide was hilarious pointing out all the funny shapes the limestone stalactites and stalagmites formed.  This river is the second longest underground river in the world next to the one in the Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico) that was discovered in 2007 and can only be reached by scuba diving (this one might be easier to reach but it’s much more crowded).  This river is 15 miles long and our permit took us 2.7 miles in.  I wish we could have gotten photos inside the cave but we only had iPhones so we needed light and these are the best ones we got :)

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Can you believe we did all of that for $80 US dollars!!??  Me neither and I can’t wait to see what other adventures we can do with the remaining $120!  Help us out and tell us what we should do, we need recommendations!!

HFDE,
Liz