Barong & Kris Dance of Good vs. Evil

The Barong & Kris Dance is a traditional Balinese dance drama portraying the eternal battle between good vs. evil from characters in Bali mythology. Barong, is a lion-like creature, is the king of all good spirits and Rangda, is a widowed witch and the queen of all evil spirits. Both are equally revered and worshipped amongst the Balinese Hindus as one cannot exist without the other. The backstory of Barong and Rangda is explained below.

“The story goes that Rangda, the mother of Erlangga, the King of Bali in the tenth century, was condemned by Erlangga’s father because she practiced black magic. After she became a widow, she summoned all the evil spirits [demons and witches] in the jungle, to come after Erlangga. A fight occurs, but she and her black magic troops were too strong that Erlangga had to ask for the help of Barong. Barong came with Erlangga’s soldiers and fight ensued. Rangda cast a spell that made Erlangga soldiers all wanted to kill themselves, pointing their poisoned keris (swords) into their own stomachs and chests. Barong then cast a spell that turned their body resistant to the sharp keris. At the end, Barong won and Rangda ran away.” —

The drama we watched is depicted in five acts in Indonesian and features a Balinese gamelan orchestra, Balinese dancers, actors in full traditional costume, and sword-wielding Kris dancers. For those who do not understand Indonesian, there is an English translation that explains what is happening during each act which I have re-written and included below. The original translation was hard to follow and to fully understand the drama, the storyline needs to be understood before watching. The dance show can be viewed daily from 9:30-10:30am in Ubud in the Gianyar area for IDR 100,000 and comes highly recommended to watch to enjoy Balinese culture.

Barong – King of Good Spirits

Barong, the king of good spirits

Barong is the king of good spirits and is portrayed as a fun-loving, lion-like creature with a red head, covered in thick white fur, wearing gilded jewelry adorned with pieces of mirrors. The term barong is derived from local term bahruang which today corresponds to Indonesian word, beruang which means bear. The origins of the Barong are quite uncertain as its origins could be from animist worship before Hinduism appeared when villagers still believed in the supernatural protective power of animals.

Rangda – Queen of Evil Spirits

Rangda, is the mother queen of all the evil spirits with an army of demons and evil witches who practice black magic at her disposal. She is depicted as an old woman, with long and unkempt hair, pendulous breasts and claws, and her face is traditionally portrayed with fanged teeth and a long, protruding tongue.The name Rangda in old Javanese and Balinese language means widow. Rangda’s origin was linked to the legend of Calon Arang, the legendary witch who wrecked havoc in ancient Java during the reign of Airlangga in late 10th century. She is also linked to the legend of divorced and exiled Javanese queen Mahendradatta.

The Barong Drama

Indonesian dancers in traditional outfits with Barong, the king of good spirits.

The dance starts with music by the Balinese Gamelan Orchestra

The monkey and tiger, both friends enter the forest. Three men are seen making and drinking palm wine in the forest and are also servants to Dewi Kunti. They spot a tiger and see it killing a child and the men respond by attacking the tiger to fend it off, but the monkey assists the tiger in the fight. The nose of one of the three men was bitten off and the tiger and monkey escape the scene.

Act 1: Two female dancers who represent the servants of the Rangda search for the servants of Dewi Kunti who are on their way to meet their Patih (Prime Minister).

Barong Dancer
One of two dancers, also one of Rangda’s servants shows off her intricate hand movements called mudras, or symbolic ritual gestures similar to classical Indian dance.

Act 2: Rangda transforms one of her female servants into a witch (who also looks like Rangda) and starts to fight the servants of Dewi Kunti. Dewi Kunti’s servants manage to escape the Rangda and encounter the mischievous monkey again on the trail. This time they defeated the monkey and they make it safely with Patih to later meet up with Dewi Kunti.

Barong dance is injected with some humor. The servants of Dewi Kunti (right) and Patih (left) kill the monkey who tries to attack them
Barong dance is injected with some humor. The servants of Dewi Kunti (right) and Patih (left) kill the monkey who tries to attack them earlier.

Act 3: Dewi Kunti has promised the Rangda to sacrifice Sadewa, her son. A witch appears and ends up possessing Dewi Kunti and she becomes angry and orders the Patih to bring Sadewa into the forest. The Patih is later also possessed by a witch so he does not have pity on Sadewa and continues to take Sadewa into the forest and ties him up to a tree.

Rangda witch with Sadewa in the Barong Dance
Rangda here with Sadewa tied up to the tree

Act 4: Unknown by Rangda, Siwa, a Hindu God appears and grants Sadewa immortality. The Rangda appears ready to kill Sadewa to eat him up, but Sadewa is still alive. Rangda then surrenders and asks Sadewa for redemption and Sadewa agrees and kills the Rangda. The Rangda goes to heaven.

Rangda witch with Sadewa in the Barong Dance
Left: Rangda witch with Sadewa, Right: One of the servants of Dewi Kunti

Act 5: One of the servants of the Rangda called Kalika comes up before Sadewa and asks him to redeem herself too, Sadewa refuses. Kalika gets angry and transforms herself into a boar to fight Sadewa. The boar is defeated. She then transforms herself into a bird but is defeated again. At last she changes herself into a Rangda. Sadewa meditates and then he changes himself into a Barong. Still the Rangda seems to be too powerful for Barong to defeat Rangda and the fight doesn’t seem to end. Followers of the Barong, Kris-wielding dancers appear and help Barong fight Rangda. Rangda puts a spell on the followers to turn their swords to kill themselves, but Barong casts another spell to make them immortal. Ultimately the fight ends and Rangda is scared away.

Kris Dancers stabbing themselves with the keris sword.

Where to Watch

Jambe Budaya, Jalan Pasekan, Batubulan, Gianyar
Phone: (0361) 2770291
Daily: 9:30-10:30am
Cost: 100,000 IDR

Other Traditional Balinese Dances

Another equally enchanting traditional Balinese dance to watch is the Kecak dance where hundreds of half-clothed men chant the word kecak to a melody they create with their own voices while the Hindu Balinese epic of Ramayana is portrayed by beautiful Balinese dancers. One show in Central Ubud even had a man who kicked fire under a trance.

Fremantle Prison – Breaking in and Going Under – A Journey Through The Tunnels

UNESCO Site #11
Australian Convict Sites (Fremantle Prison)

Fremantle Prison

Fremantle Prison is a UNESCO Heritage Site, part of Australia’s convict prison sites and the only building listed in Western Australia. Being the most intact convict-built prison in Australia, it was in continuous use for almost 140 years until 1991. Opting for a more adventurous tour, we decided on the tunnel tour. Slipping into our coveralls and putting on our hard-hats, we had to descend down a 22-meter ladder where we would eventually go under the walls of the prison and underneath the city Fremantle itself.

Fremantle Prison
May and Josh giving their thumbs up at the end of the tour.

A Brief History

The tunnel system began in 1888 with prisoners completing the system in 1894. Used as a catchment area for water draining through the limestone formation to provide water for the commercial and domestic needs of the city of Fremantle in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1910, the prison and Fremantle were connected to the metropolitan water scheme and the tunnels were no longer needed to supply water for the prison or city of Fremantle. They were still used to provide water for the lawn and gardens of the prison though.

The Tunnel Tour

Fremantle Prison
Descending down the ladder. Photo credit: Fremantle Prison.

This has to be one of the funniest tours we have been on. There was no photography allowed, due to safety precautions, so we can only share the photos Fremantle Prison has. Descending down the ladder was a bit scary at first but we both made it down with ease. It was reassuring that we were connected to the ladder with a safety harness. When we reached the bottom of the ladder, the first thing we were shown were the fossils of shellfish, indicated that we were standing on the bottom of the ocean. Well, what used to be the bottom of the ocean. As we were led down dry sections of tunnel, we noticed what looked like roots hanging down from the top of the tunnel. Indeed, they were from the trees growing outside the walls of the prison. We were now outside the prison, we had escaped, or so we thought. The tunnel system only had entrances and exits inside the prison, but it stretched out from the prison and under the city, there was no escaping the prison from the tunnels. After reaching the end of one of the tunnels we made our way to the few tunnels that had water in them, boarding our replica convict punts. This was the best part of the tour.

Fremantle Prison
Paddling down the tunnels. Photo credit: Fremantle Prison.

Paddling down the knee-deep water of the narrow tunnel was a fun and exciting challenge. Keeping the punt from hitting the walls the hardest part, we both had to continuously put our hands out to brace ourselves and keep the punt from hitting and damaging the walls. The commentary from the other members of the tour had us laughing the whole time, especially when we floated under a beam with cockroaches on it and one lady started to freak out. Our guide told us that there were no officially reported deaths while the convicts constructed the tunnel, but it is hard to believe no one died in the construction of the tunnels. As we paddled our way down the tunnels we were aided by modern lights helping us to guide our way, but when he had the lights turned down to the level of what the convicts would have been working under, we could see very little. We think the reason no one was reported to have died was that officials did not want the general public to know that there were dead people contaminating their source of drinking water. At one point, we stopped the punts and could hear noise coming from above. It was hard to tell what the source was and we all guessed wrong as to the source. We happened to be under the main road in the city and heard cars driving by. Once again we had left the prison but could not escape. After paddling our way through the tunnel system, we had to go up the way we came down. This time, it was much easier going up than going down, concluding our being convicts for a day. A video of the tour by Destination WA.

Prison Art Gallery

Afterward, we toured the prisoner gallery which included art from the various prisons around Western Australia.

Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison
Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison

Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison
Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison

Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison
Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison

Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison
Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison

The Street Art Scene in Melbourne

Melbourne: A Street Art Capital

Melbourne calls itself as one the street art capitals of the world. Anywhere you go, you will find some form of unique expression of street art. This allows the city’s culture to be fully expressed in the streets of Melbourne. You will find it peeking out everywhere. It is hard to walk down an alleyway, laneway, or peer in a window without seeing some form of art. From being perched high up on the side of a building to laying on the ground, you will discover art that will grab your attention. No nook and cranny seems too small to be used.

The famous street art of Melbourne draws numerous visitors from around the world. Though mainly consisting of murals and stencil art, it also includes any other forms of art. As you walk along the alleyways you will find poster art, sticker art, wheat pasting, street installations and reverse graffiti. Each adding their own unique message to the street art culture. Many prominent international street artists have contributed to the bustling street art at the turn of the 21st century. Artists such as Banksy (UK), ABOVE (USA), Fafi (France), D*FACE (UK), Blek le Rat (France), Shepard Fairey (USA) and Invader (France) have all added to the street art culture in Melbourne. New artists pop up all the time to gain notoriety and showcase their work internationally. Not only is Melbourne a “street art capital” but it is also dubbed the “stencil capital of the world.” Embracing the style at an early stage.

Our Self-Guided Street Art Tour

Being lovers of artistic expression, we spent our days in Melbourne deliberately walking around to discover it. To get a better sense of where to go, we made our first stop the Tourist Information Center at Federation Square. Here we picked up some amazing and free walking maps along with transportation information. At the center, a clerk went over the  self-guided map for “Arcades and Lanes.”  Providing her choice of popular street art spots. Recommending places to see like Hosier Lane, Rutledge Lane, and Blender Lane and informing us which ones we should avoid. When we got hungry, she recommended a bar and restaurant that she particularly enjoyed, Ferdydurke. Here we would find a variety of wall to wall, floor to ceiling posters and stencil art. Besides art, Ferdydurke also offered up some tasty Pirozhkis and beer while we enjoyed a view of a beautiful mural from their balcony. With so much art to see, we couldn’t help but stray from the map. Deliberately getting lost in the city, we found the majority of our favorite art sprawled in random locations. Walking through alleyways near the Queen Victoria Market and in Chinatown gave us many pleasant surprises. An art student we came across mentioned the up and coming district of Fitzroy, where the street artists flock to since there are more unclaimed walls. So we headed over there to see what we could find. When we got tired, we just rode the tourist train or caught a tram in the CBD or Free zone.

Hosier Lane

Melbourne Street Art
Left: Hosier Lane signage
Right: Akid One (Malaysia)

Melbourne Street Art
Students visit Hosier Lane and admire Ganesh by Deb as part of their art studies.

Melbourne Street ArtMelbourne Street Art

Melbourne Street Art
Right: Monday Sucks!! by #MaizeOne

Melbourne Street Art
Left: Reflections of graffiti art.
Right: Chinese visitors are so hipster cool and color coordinated.

Melbourne Street Art
May and Mike from Monsters, Inc.

Blender Lane

One of the more prestigious street art laneways was started by The Blender Studios. What started out as a street art collective has since evolved into an art complex and ideas factory. On Wednesday evenings from 5-10pm, the Blender Lane Artists Market comes alive with live with music and performance artists, food, stalls of crafts, fashion, and art for sale, and even the chance to preview open studios.

Melbourne Street Art
Blender Lane

Melbourne Street Art

Melbourne Street Art

In and Around Melbourne

Melbourne Street Art

Melbourne Street ArtMelbourne Street Art
Left: ArtEquities’ Con Artist’s Profitable Con Art near the Queen Victoria Market
Right: Near the Queen Victoria Market

Melbourne Street Art
Monster trash cans near Ferdydurke

Melbourne Street ArtMelbourne Street Art
Left: Keep Your Coins, I Want Change near Queen Victoria Market
Right: Jacob Coopedge, student of Latrobe College Art and Design, painting his grayscale work to size on the gallery wall

Melbourne Street Art
Found near Chinatown

Melbourne Street Art
Found near Chinatown

Melbourne Street ArtDragon spotted in Fitzeroy area.

View More Photos Here

If you are interested in street art, Rash (2005) a documentary directed by Nicholas Hansen explores urban street artists in Australia through public dialogue.

Daintree Rainforest

For the final few days of our visit to Cairns we decided to rent a campervan and visit the Daintree Rainforest which is located North of Cairns. From Cairns you can sign up for a day trip to the forest as part of a tour but since we are not really tour people as we wanted to rent a campervan and do our own tour, at our own pace. Daintree Rainforest is part of Australia’s Wet Tropics of Queensland, one of the oldest tropical rainforests in existence (it is thought to be over 135 million years old) and at 120,000 hectares it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We rented a campervan from Spaceships Campervan for $60 AUD (or $42 USD) a day including insurance. If you are very confident in your driving ability, you can choose to not get insurance, but we chose to get it just to be safe even if it doesn’t cover collisions with wildlife such as kangaroos who are most active at dusk and dawn. Our itinerary was to spend two days and one night in Daintree Rainforest and then head south towards the Atherton Tablelands to see waterfalls and hopefully get a glimpse of a platypus for three days and two nights, but ended up cutting it short due to bad weather to two days and one night instead.

After making a wrong turn and ending at Kuranda (with a GPS we rented) we got back on the highway towards Daintree with plans to stop at the various view points along the coast which our hosts at the Travellers Oasis Backpackers highlighted on a map for us. The major stopping points included Mossman Gorge, then crossing the river via cable ferry, and entering Daintree to find lodging. The view points along the way were nice and scenic, reminding us of the California coast, which made for a nice drive.

Our Spaceships Campervan rental was an Alpha 2 Berth model named “Ham the Chimp.” This was pretty much an automatic mini van that was modified to contain a platform bed where we stored our baggage, food in the fridge locker, and cookware underneath. It was May’s first time driving on the opposite side of the road and Josh’s second (his first being in Japan). We had to constantly remind ourselves to keep left as there were a few times we drove on the right (or wrong) side of the road. Bottom photo set courtesy Spaceships.

Mossman Gorge

Our first stop in the Daintree Rainforest was Mossman Gorge where we hopped on the shuttle bus ($8.90 AUD) at the Visitor Center to the trailhead so we could hike the trail through the rainforest. The visitor center offers guided tours by aboriginal guides who explain how the local aboriginals use the forest for medicine and other aspects of their lives, but being short on time, we did a self guided tour. The loop trail has many informational signs and we were able to enjoy the experience without a guide, but we would have gotten more out of the experience with a guide during one of their Indigenous Tours or Dreamtime Walks.

The trail starts off as an elevated boardwalk which gave us a different vantage point of the forest. As we continued to walk through the rainforest, we came across a popular swimming hole that looked very tempting to take a dip in, but because we didn’t have our swimming suits and were warned that there could be strong currents, we decided to walk through the rainforest path instead. We first crossed the Rex Creek Suspension Bridge, which shook with every step that we took and ascended to the Manjal Dimbi (Mount Demi) Lookout point. Roughly translated, Manjal Dimbi means “mountain holding back.” According to Aboriginal dreamtime stories, the large humanoid rock represents Kubirri, who came to the aid of the Kuku Yalanji when they were persecuted by the evil spirit, Wurrumbu. Kubirri holds back the evil spirit, who is now confined to The Bluff above Mossman River, Manjal Dimbi has been anglicised to “Mt Demi” and Kubirri is known as the “Good Shepherd.” After descending from the lookout point we arrived at the junction for the Rainforest circuit track and decided to complete it in a clockwise fashion. This trek was clearly marked through the forest which contained many informational signage to explain the flora and fauna and history of the rainforest. After the rainforest circuit, we proceeded to the various scenic lookout points of Mossman Gorge to admire the large boulders there. After Mossman Gorge, we continued our journey North towards to the main part of the rainforest, but had to cross a river by driving our car onto a cable ferry.

A cassowary and totem poles displayed at the Mossman Gorge Visitor’s Center created by a local aboriginal

Large boulders at the Mossman Gorge

Left: Josh crossing the Rex Creek Suspedned Bridge which shook with every step he took.
Right: Wild medicinal mushrooms growing on a log at Mossman Gorge loop trail 2.4 km long.

Manjal Dimbi, a view from Mossman Gorge

Left: Beautiful tree bark naturally tinged pink at Mossman Gorge.
Right: A giant spider we saw hanging along the Mossman Gorge.

Daintree Rainforest

As we continued our journey up north for our 2D 1N (2 day, 1 night) self-guided tour through the rainforest, we stayed overnight at Lync-Haven Rainforest Retreat for the night to cook our spaghetti and marinara sauce dinner. We met another couple who have been traveling in a rental campervan for 4 weeks now. We shared our portable gas stove and propane with them so we could all dine together under the group camp shelter along with some unexpected guests, bats, while it rained. The first night we spent sleeping in the campervan was an uncomfortable experience as we are slightly above average in build and the campervan is not so above average in space. May was glad she did not have to use the toilet in the middle of the night because that would require some interesting maneuvers to get out from the side door on Josh’s side, the only exit at the time. If it weren’t for the heavy rain paired with lightning and thunder, we would have an alternate exit from the back, which would have popped open to provide extra space and ventilation as well. But, we managed to sleep decently and awoke to the roaring sounds of the rainforest where sounds from the bats flying overhead competed with the insects, birds, and other wildlife we may not have seen. That was a great morning and to top it off, we decided to hike the trails at the campervan park. The trails were a little hard to follow due to the overgrowth of the flora but it was a great experience seeing everything so up close and personal. We even spotted a musky rat-kangaroo running about in the forest. Afterwards, we took our campervan and stopped at boardwalks taking in the beautiful flora and fauna and managed to see and an endangered bird, the Southern Cassowary. We actually heard the movements before we saw the bird itself, and tried to take a photo of it, but it moved so quickly which made for an unbelievably magical experience.

We woke up from sleeping overnight in our campervan at the Lync-Haven Rainforest Retreat to numerous bats flying overhead.

Left: An overgrown trail we took at the Lync-Haven Rainforest Retreat, where we stayed overnight.
Right: One of the many boardwalks at Daintree Rainforest.

Left: Vine climbing on a tree. The Daintree Rainforest hosts a lot of symbiotic relationships.
Right: Strangler Fig tree taking over its host tree.

Left: A part of the rainforest we hiked
Right: A wavy branch

Left: The roots of trees poking out of the marshlands of Daintree Rainforest.
Right: A curly tree branch spotted at Daintree Rainforest.

Funny speed bump sign we spotted at Daintree Rainforest to warn us of what happens since cassowaries often cross the road and are hit

Trees at Thornton Beach in Daintree Rainforest

Left: Giant fig tree Josh is standing by. Right: A “Columnar” fig tree is result of the host tree dying and leaving the Strangler Fig Tree with a hollow core.

A view of the “Columnar” fig tree from the center, inside where the host tree once stood

Buttress roots of a tree in Daintree Rainforest. The buttress is used to support the shallow roots of the trees.

Orange-footed scrubfowl we spotted along the coast

Orange plant we saw with the Daintree Rainforest where parts were neatly separated

Curtain Fig Tree

The Curtain Fig Tree is one of the largest trees in the Atherton Tablelands region. The Curtain Fig Tree is a Strangler Fig Tree whose seeds germinated at the top of the host tree while its roots grew towards the ground. These ariel roots drop 15 meters (49 feet) to the ground. After visiting the Curtain Fig Tree we stopped by the platypus viewing platform to try and get a glimpse of the elusive animal but to no avail. We stayed overnight at a local camervan park and were planning on seeing some of the many waterfalls located in the region but the weather did not cooperate, raining to entire day.

The Curtain Fig Tree and its ariel roots

Creation of the curtain fig tree

The Curtain Fig Tree and its ariel roots


View More Photos of Daintree Rainforest and Atherton Tablelands Here

Kuranda – Koalas, Kangaroos & Birds


We took a half-day trip up to Kuranda from Cairns to visit the Koala Gardens and Birdworld via the public bus that only runs several times a day. Kuranda is a small village located 25km from Cairns and surrounded by Heritage Rainforest. There is a scenic train that leaves from Cairns and travels through the forest. It makes a stop at Barron Gorge for a view of the large waterfall. There is also Skyrail Rainforest Cableway where you can ride in a gondola that runs above the forest. We thought about taking the train up and the Skyrail down but ultimately decided to take the bus as it was the cheapest. That allowed us to save some money in an otherwise very expensive country to visit. Kuranda Village opens and closes according to the tourist schedule. So the entire village shuts down by 4:00 pm. We had to make sure we departed Kuranda by 3:30 pm or else we would miss the last bus back and would have to sleep on the park bench.

Kuranda Koala Gardens

Visiting the Koala Gardens, we were able to hold a baby koala. He was so soft and light it felt like a stuffed animal. Rocco was his name, and he wasn’t really cooperative when it came time for May to get her picture taken with him. Like many other animals, he thought she was edible and decided to nibble on her arm. But overall it was well worth it. Quite the unforgettable experience. We were also able to see many other furry and not so furry creatures.  These included a wombat during feeding time, many kangaroos and wallabies to interact with, crocodiles, reptiles and more. But since it was the middle of the day most of the animals mainly just laid around in the heat since they are most active during dusk and dawn.

Josh and May holding Rocco, a baby male koala who was a bit feisty because he wanted to sleep after being handled 26 times before us. Koala’s are only handled at most 28 times per day.


Koala getting ready to nap after repositioning

We really enjoyed the Koalas that were there and are excited to show you many photos of them

Crocodiles napping

Kangaroo needs a little help scratching his back while the wallaby in the back sniffs on some grass

Kangaroo hanging out on the lawn and after several hours, during our second visit, he finally stood up.


Giant lizard

Probably the same giant lizard who escaped his enclosure to hang out with the kangaroos

Birdworld Kuranda

Having held the koala and interacted with kangaroos and wallabies, our furry marsupial friends, we decided to tour the Birdworld. If you tour both, you get a discount. We were warned that the birds like shiny objects. They will go after zippers on backpacks, earrings, and buttons on clothing, buttons on hats, or really just buttons. There was a display case of items they had found. Josh didn’t listen to the advice from the staff. As soon as he walked in, a bird landed on his hat and tore the button on top of it off. They weren’t kidding about the warnings! The same bird wasn’t finished with his task and later landed on May, attacking the zipper pulls on her backpack and hair clip. We decided to call it the psycho bird. It was a fun and interesting day trip, one we won’t forget.

We called this bird the psycho bird because he kept on attacking Josh’s hat to collect his button.

The same bird that landed on May’s shoulder to grab her hair clip and zipper from her backpack

Eclectus Parrot

Two Chattering Lorikeets mating at Birdworld Kuranda

Blue and Gold Macaw from Central & South America

Indian Ringneck

Scaley Breasted Lorikeet

View More Photos of Kuranda Koala Gardens and Birdworld Here

The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and is also Queensland’s state icon. We went on a snorkel and discovery scuba diving trip with Passions of Paradise, a catamaran that took us to two sites, Paradise Reef and then Michaelmas Cay. We rented an underwater camera from Passions because our GoPro Hero4 Black decided to not work when we tried to power it on for the second time ever.

Passions of Paradise catamaran cruise company. Photos above courtesy of Passions of Paradise.

May snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef
May snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef

Josh in the middle, on his first discovery scuba dive session at the Great Barrier Reef

Fish and coral in the Great Barrier Reef
A blue and white striped angelfish and a striped surgeonfish and coral in the Great Barrier Reef

School of fish swimming around to find coral to eat
School of black fish swimming around to find coral to feast on

Hard coral at the Great Barrier Reef
Hard coral at the Great Barrier Reef

Giant clam

Giant fish Josh saw at Michaelmas Cay when he jumped off the boat

Photo Gallery: Sydney


We visited Sydney, not once, but twice in the month of May! The first time, we spent a few days as a layover from Fiji to catch our next flight to Cairns and the second time was to head back from Melbourne for Vivid Sydney, an annual festival of light, music and ideas that ran this year from May 22-June 8, 2015. In Sydney, we walked around the Circular Quay, Sydney Harbour, Central Business District (CBD), had lunch at Chinatown and made a new friend Steve from South Africa over lunch, went to the Sydney Opera House (many times), checked out the Royal Botanic Gardens, climbed on the Sydney Harbour Bridge during Vivid Sydney, and did a whole lot more. Check out our photos below.

Syndey Opera House from the ferry boat

Detail of the ceramic tiles on the Sydney Opera House

Yellow crested cockatoo dining on dinner of fresh grass at the Royal Botanic Garden

Yellow crested cockatoo intently modeling for us

Sydney Harbor Bridge during sunset

Sydney Opera House at night next to the restaurants

Sydney Bridge Climb

There is no other way to experience Sydney, than to climb to the very top one of Sydney’s iconic landmarks, the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Josh has previously climbed the bridge, but it was my first time and we decided to do the night climb during Vivid Sydney. It was also the world’s widest long-span bridge, at 48.8 m (160 ft) wide, until construction of the new Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver was completed in 2012.

Sydney BridgeClimb, courtesy of BridgeClimb

Sydney BridgeClimb during Vivid Sydney with the Sydney Opera House in the background

Sydney BridgeClimb during Vivid Sydney with the Sydney Opera House in the background

Sydney BridgeClimb during Vivid Sydney with the Circular Quay skyline in the background

Group Photo of the Sydney BridgeClimb Experience. Sorry about the lo-res, they didn’t provide us with a digital copy.

Vivid Sydney

Vivid Sydney Sail Boat

MCA Australia, The Rocks during Vivid Sydney

Sydney Opera House during Vivid Sydney

Sydney Opera House during Vivid Sydney

Sydney Opera House during Vivid Sydney

Circular Quay during Vivid Sydney

Sydney Harbor Bridge

Vivid Sydney Exhibit

Customs House lit up with an animated sequence at Vivid Sydney

Vivid Sydney Opera House and Sail Boat

The Circular Quay during Vivid Sydney

Sydney Opera House during Vivid Sydney

Norbert the Nautilus at Chatswood

View Entire Sydney Photo Gallery Here

Photo Gallery: Fiji


Sigatoka is the main market town and “capital” of Viti Levu’s Coral Coast. It is situated on the main Queen’s Highway, almost exactly half way between Nadi and Suva, and at the mouth of the Sigatoka River. Sigatoka itself is a bustling little town with a thriving market. Whilst there are shops catering to day trippers from the Coral Coast’s resorts and hotels, there is no real tourist accommodation in the town itself, so it remains a very local town. Two or three ‘super’markets around the market square, a busy bus station, small shops, hardware and farm supplies, vehicle parts and repairs, pharmacies and shoe shops, tailors and hairdressers and second hand clothes all dot this area.

Harinam Sankirtan, a weekly event where devoted disciples chant the holy names of Krishna or God or chant the Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare” to reach self-realization and to bring blessings around the Sigatoka town from the Krishna Temple.

Krishna dancers in Sigatoka

Krishna dancers in Sigatoka

International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) Krishna Temple perched high up on the hill in Sigatoka which cost FJ $6 million to build

Delicious vegetarian lunch at the Radha Krishna Temple Restaurant in Sigatoka

Shrine for His Divine Grace Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami Gurudev aka “Srila Gurudeva” by his many disciples and “Goswami” by his godbrothers and members at the Krishna Temple

Artwork depicting a story of Krishna’s teachings

Sigatoka Market vendors selling an array of fruits and vegetables

Sugar cane sellers at the Sigatoka Street Market

For sale at the Sigatoka Market, super small, but super spicy peppers and paw paw (or papaya)

Women holding up her orange-stained hand at the Sigatoka Market probably from mashing turmeric

Sigatoka Market vendor selling a variety of root vegetables, staple food of Fiji

Master woodcarver carving boats of different sizes to sell as souvenirs

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Namatakula Village

Namatakula literally means “the place of the snake.” The village, Namatakula, is incorrectly spelled on all records. On their arrival Nagwatakula, the correct traditional spelling, pronounced Namwatakula, the Rogoua Clan saw a bright orange snake, thus the name “Nagwatakula.” Snakes on Viti Levu have since been wiped out by the mongoose. Namatakula Village is located on the Coral Coast, halfway between the main towns of Nadi and Suva. It is known to be one of the more prosperous villages on Fiji with a population of over 600 people, over 100 houses, two churches, a primary school, and a gym to be built for producing several rugby legends.

The Methodist Church built in honor of Reverend Thomas Baker, who was the first and only missionary in Fiji to be killed an eaten by cannibals of another tribe.

Sisters hanging out at the Namatakula Village while watching over some of the kids of the village

Children playing in the Namatakula Village

One ball, many kids, easily entertained

Joshua lifting this kid up like he’s superman

Child giving two thumbs up for the fun experience of being a super hero

Having fun pointing at each other

Schoolwork displayed outside a classroom of the only school, a primary school called Ratu Filise in the village

One of the one hundred houses in the village. In the front on the right is a tombstone for the deceased and chickens roam rampant here.

View of a house from a cement wall which houses glass beer bottles for recycling.

Another house with mother and son chatting

Kids hanging out on the porch at the village

Namatakula Village contains many dogs which run rampant. Here are two dogs that just finished copulating and haven’t detached yet.

A child hanging outside of their house

View of the church through the front porch

Enjoying a kava ceremony with Oni, at the village chiefs house

Joshua, one of the chiefs of the day, trying out Kava for the first time.

The kava plant. The root is the prized possession which grows near the surface

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Garden of the Sleeping Giant

The Garden of the Sleeping Giant contains a beautiful orchid garden of more than 2,000 varieties that was started by late actor Raymond Burr who is most famous for his role as Perry Mason on American TV.

Walkway through the orchid gardens

Hanging orchid


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Sabeto Hot Springs and Mud Pool

We arrived here after visiting the orchid gardens. We hired a private taxi driver to take us here so we can get dirty and then get clean. First we slather mud from a bucket all over ourselves, then we let the breeze dry the mud on our skin, while helping with cooling off in the heat. Then we proceed into the mud pool where we walked through a knee-deep mish mash of mud, underwater flora, and warm water coming up from the spring. After we rinse ourselves from the mud, we move onto the hot springs, where it was much warmer on one side.

Slathering mud and letting it air dry to cool us down at the Sabeto Mud Pools and Hot Springs

Soaking in the Sabeto Hot Springs


Resort Activities

We stayed in the Beachside Bure at the Mango Bay Resort on Fiji’s Coral Coast which featured many free activities.

Mango Bay Resort, Beachside Bure

Polynesian Dance

Polynesian Dancers

Making coconut shell jewellery