A man straddles a captive element during the last minutes of daylight

Why you should NOT ride elephants.

Featured Image: El Vaquero

Humans are drawn to elephants. Whether by their size, intelligence, beauty or any other coveted quality, people are willing to travel great distances just to lay eyes upon them.

This attraction is the foundation of a booming tourism industry in Asia.

Unfortunately, by virtue of their magnetism they are subjected to practices that threaten the survival of the species. When most people think of issues that have befell the elephant, few would consider more than ivory poaching.

However, in order to support a growing demand for elephant tourism, operators engage in cruel and systemic practices that transmute wild elephants into docile and submissive creature capable of being ridden.

The rising demands to outlaw elephant rides in Asian countries may seem excessive to those unaware of the situation. But, they have resulted from these practices.

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It is common practice to ride elephants in most asian countries.

Image source: El Vaquero

The situation.

The Asian elephant is listed as ‘endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened species. Most of the species native countries, except India, host less than a few thousand individuals – several nations have less than two hundred.

In total, their population is estimated to be around 45,000. (Several studies, however, suggest that this is only a crude guess and the true population level is much lower).

A slew of factors contribute to this hastening decline, including: environmental degradation, population fragmentation, human encroachment into habitat, poaching and skewed sex ratios.

Asian elephants are expected to be extinct in the wild in less than 10 years if intervention does not occur.

Tourism.

Poaching tends to sit at the forefront of peoples mind in this situation. But, poaching needs to be understood as a response to an incentive.

Tourism promotes poaching. In order to meet the growing demands of tourists to interact and ride elephants, you need elephants. And, year-on-year, more and more elephants are plucked from the wild to meet this demand.

So prevalent is this demand that in many countries, captive elephants outnumber wild elephants. In Thailand, for example, of the countries estimated 5,000 elephants, more than 4,000 are in captivity.

Supplying a constant need for elephants from a population diminishing at an unprecedented rate is one thing. But, how do you turn a 4-tonne wild animal into a submissive prisoner of your tourism venue?



Crush their spirits…

This title is not intended to fuel an emotion-driven sentiment. Rather, the process of domesticating an elephant is called Phajaan, literally translated to ‘the crush’.

Phajaan originates from Indian hill tribe communities. The traditional practice comes from the idea that shaman can physically separate spirit from body.

The process is rather simple, although macabre. As the name implies, you need to break the animal into submission.

“the brutal truth is that breaking these animals’ spirits to the point that they allow humans to interact with them involves cruelty at every turn”

– Dr Schmidt-Burbach

The process begins around infancy. The baby elephants are dragged from their mothers and place in a kraal or ‘crush cage’ – this often results in the killing of the protective and aggressive mother. Here, it is completely deprived of movement and starved for several days.

Phajaan begins. This involves brutalizing and torturing the baby for around 3 days or as long as needed, using methods of burning, stabbing and beating. Literally breaking the elephant into docile submission.

This stands as an introduction to the tourism industry. For the rest of its life, the relationship of elephant and mahout is one of master and slave – submission through fear.

Mahout continue to brandish a bull hook or some nostalgic weapon of fear when in the presence of the elephant to reinforce submission through visceral fear. The intentional use of these techniques to induce submission in an elephant is hard to view as anything but the most heinous inclination of humans.

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An award-winning photo by Brent Lewin of the Phajaan process.

Image source: NBC News

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A Bull Hook is the weapon of choice when ‘breaking’ elephants.

Image source: A Beating Heart

A lifetime of problems.

Beyond the torturous initiation into the tourism industry, any issues that follow seem banal. But, the life of such an elephant is filled with hardship. The biggest draw of tourism operators is elephant rides. An action elephants are simply not built for.

When considering the elephant in its simplest form, a creature of mass proportions, it is difficult to assume that riding such a creature would have any substantial impact. But, this is because we draw assumptions from other aspects of our life.

When we think of riding elephants, it is likely in the same light as horses? (Horses, however, have undergone selective breeding to achieve a specimen that can bare great weight on their back).

Unfortunately, the spine of elephants is distinct in the animal kingdom.

“Instead of smooth, round spinal disks, elephants have sharp bony protrusions that extend upwards from their spine. These bony protrusions and the tissue protecting them are vulnerable to weight and pressure coming from above.”

– Carol Buckley, president of Elephant Aid International.

Elephant tours can total more than 8 hours a day and have up to 5 passengers, plus a saddle. In the immediacy, this can cause damage to the skin, promote the development of painful skin lesions and bring about general pain and discomfort. Over years, like most spines, improper posture and movement can cause degenerative spine conditions – an elephant that cannot perform profitable tasks is discarded in the cheapest manner.



YOU are the problem… and the solution.

It is the demand from tourists for entertainment that drives the poaching of baby elephants, their torture and a life of hardship. But, tourism in and of itself, is not a bad thing. There are many examples of the good that has come from an ethical and sustainable tourism industry.

For all those anthropocentrists, tourism could support the transition of those that rely on this cruel practice to an alternative where the welfare of the elephant and its carers are equal. For example, much of Africa’s elephant tourism industry offers non-invasive interactions and remains a highly lucrative industry for the economy.

“Elephants need to eat and mahouts—lacking any government financial support—need money to survive.”

– Chanantpha from the Elephant Nature Park

The Elephant Nature Park in Northern Thailand is a rescue and rehabilitation centre that operates on a caring ethos. While the elephants are rescued from the tourism industry, their indefinite care relies upon the continued operation of the Nature Park.

In order to support its operations, the park offers guests the chance to feed, bathe and simply observe the animals’ nature behaviours. For those particularly keen souls you are even able to volunteer your services for the nitty-gritty of elephant care – if you know what I mean. Elephant rides are vehemently opposed.

The Elephant Nature Park symbolises the development of a multi-national mindsight that emphasises the importance of ethical tourism. And, its sending ripples through businesses that continue to offer elephant rides. Nowadays, there are only two kinds of people that ride elephants – the ignorant and the cruel.

Will you be riding elephants in Asia?



A famous photo, taken by Joel Satore for the Photo Ark, depicts a young Loris wearingly looking at the camera with notably large eyes

Hands-off the Loris!

Featured Image: Joel Satore, founder of The Photo Ark

Most people could presume the story of the slow loris that met the hands of a tourist attraction – an exotic creature with desirable qualities is subjected to deplorable conditions.

It’s a tale heard over and over again, from the petting of tiger cubs in India to elephant rides in Thailand to dolphin dives in Indonesia. Industries that cater to the desire of tourists to interact with these animals offer big returns. The more intimate the interaction, the greater the return. The welfare of said animals does not fit within the parameters of the most profitable interaction.

In the case of the loris, there is a simple business model: engage the curiosity of tourists with an exotic creature and offering photo-ops that they can parade to acquaintances. Or, seek out those that desire a rare and exotic creature that they can boast about to acquaintances.

In either case, the success of the business is founded on an individual’s need for external validation.



Ohhh… what is that?

The slow loris is a general term used to describe a group comprising nine Strepsirrhini primates that share, among several qualities, brachial glands on their upper arm that secrete a liquid toxin and a nocturnal lifestyle.

The latter quality laid the foundations of our attraction to the loris. Not because they are active at night, but because their body became adapted to being active at night. Specifically, their eyes, which have become enlarged for higher light sensitivity.

Coupled with their timid persona and gentle movements, the slow loris is the pinnacle of adorability. It is no wonder they have become so popular as a portrait partner – even the likes of Rihanna sought to be graced by the photogenic loris.

Even when engaging its venomous defence, the loris can’t help but attract more people. When threatened the loris will raise its arms above its heads and lick the toxins from its brachial glands. When mixed with saliva the toxins are activated. Unfortunately, this is its response to being touched and tickled. A response that we perceive as a comedically adorable gesture. (The loris was first shot into popularity when a video surfaced on YouTube of this exact behaviour).

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A screen shot from a viral video of the loris being tickled.

Image Source: Share the Buzz

This popularity has done little to slow the decline of the loris species – it has hastened it. Every member of the slow loris group is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Javan Slow Loris is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’.

The slow loris decline has resulted from habitat loss and degradation through deforestation and other factors; poaching to supply a demand on the Asian market for ‘traditional medicine’, which utilises the supposed healing qualities of the loris; and supplying the illegal exotic pet trade – this includes those that end up on the shoulders of tourists.

The illegal wildlife trade is widely stated as the biggest factor in the loris’s systemic decline. But, how does this toxic denizen of the night become the ephemeral curiosity of a feeble day-dweller?

Behind-the-scenes

Transforming the only toxic primate into a hands-on attraction or innocuous household pet is really a simple task that could be performed by a halfwit. If the loris’s bite is toxic, then its bite needs changing? What harm could a toothless mouth do?

To make the loris harmless, it needs to have its teeth removed. And, the simplest and cheapest way to remove teeth: take your average toe-nail clipper and start removing teeth.

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Typical method used to remove loris teeth.

Image Source: Wikipedia

While the cruelty of this systemic practice is blatant, it is often only the beginning. In order to satisfy the demands of tour operators and potential pet owners alike, the loris must be subjected to conditions that are oppositional to its very nature.

Who would desire a creature that sleeps all night, demands only high quality exotic fruits and insects, and travels vast distances into the dark yonder every day? No one would. People in the market for this kind of ‘pet’ desire something whose nature is catered to human desires, not its own. But, this only results in more problems for the loris.

Loris are strictly nocturnal animals. Exposing them to day light causes discomfort and stress. It is hard to detail and relate to this kind of discomfort because the eyes of diurnal creatures allow them to transition between light and dark reasonably easy.

(To all those photographers who have stumbled upon this article, imagine trying to achieve the correct exposure in harsh daylight when your camera has become locked on extended high ISO. You will toggle the shutter and aperture, but achieve little more than the outline of shapes. No matter how you buffer the ISO with alternative settings and tricks, it cannot be denied that the ISO is simply too high to offer an appropriately exposed image – it’s not an exact one-to-one comparison, but you should have an idea of the exposure issues faced by the loris’s eyes).



The loris are naturally inclined to travel long distances at night in the search of food. Confinement in cages or relatively small enclosures perplex this natural desire. Again, this induces a highly stressed creature that results in higher mortality rates; general discomfort; an overall poorly mental wellbeing; et cetera.

On these night prowls the loris will source a large and varied platter of food. Their optimal diet is complex, consisting of fruits, bird eggs, insects and tree sap. Ignorance of these requirements or an inability to meet this complexity results in the high rates of health problems in gaoled loris. These health problems include: obesity, diabetes, pneumonia, malnutrition, infection, metabolic bone disease and more.

With the plight of the loris founded on the human interaction itself, there is only one way to mitigate this issue: keep your hands off the loris!

What are your thoughts on the use of animals as dispensable objects of curiosity?

The DJI Phantom surrounded by several other pieces of camera equipment that are often the subject of the TSA's attention

All about drones on airplanes.

Featured Image: Jetpack Insider

With the rising popularity of photography, due in part to platforms like Instagram, upmarket cameras are having an ever-increasing presence in extra-national travel. Long has the DSLR been the must-have travel companion. But, recently a newcomer with a reasonable price tag has entered the market – consumer photographer drones.

Drone’s and quadcopter’s have existed for nearly a century. But, only recently have they become accessible and affordable to the common consumer. Following the release of the ‘Parrot AR Drone’ in 2010 and subsequent creation of offshoot companies like DJI, the use of drones by hobbyists soared.

It did not take long for drones to become the favoured accomplice of tourists and photographers alike whilst abroad. 

Today (2018), airplanes have never seen a higher concentration of long-haired, bandana straddling dinky dories cradling their fancy cameras and drones or well-dressed, well-groomed Asians with a burning desire for social media stardom and a wallet to support it.

Your typical camera set up, the DSLR or point-and-shoot, are the norm. They have long held a presence in the minds of aviation regulators, whom have regulated and adapted to the ‘threats’ they pose. Most nations have adopted and accepted them across their boarders – although there are still some less than desirable destinations that may raise a fuss.

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The Parrot AR Drone was released in 2010, as the first drone with a consumer-friendly interface.

Source: geek.com

The general rule-of-thumb for air travel with handheld cameras and gear that is not of an excessive amount is:

Bring it in your carry-on bag. And, accept that you may be pulled aside for a ‘random inspection’ .

In all fairness, most airports will not hassle you beyond a bit of a post-TSA rummage through your belongs. (Though, few airports are concerned enough to raise said concern).

With that being said, there are some pieces of photography gear that may draw unwanted attention. Namely, drones. Drones are still a recent entry in the market. Many nations have been quick to lump them in with traditional camera gear, although others have not.

Travelling with drones.

Travelling with drones tends to raise much concern in people. Can I bring my drone into country X? What if I’m stopped at the airport? What if my drone is confiscated? What if [insert any variation of a terrible event that could befall an individual and their drone]?

Maybe its the price tag. Maybe it stems from the large amount of misinformation out there. Or maybe it stems from something completely unbeknown to myself. Whatever the answer, the status of drones should not be seen as all that different to conventional cameras. The only difference is perception.



When DSLR cameras were first introduced to the market, there was the same kind of response from aviation regulators. The same kind of hysteria in the general public. And, the same amount of misinformation. But, now that they have become established as a common item, you will scarcely receive a second look when attempting to clear TSA.

As time progresses, drones will eventually be viewed in the same manner. In many countries they already are. However, this perception does need addressing if you are hoping to bring your drone into a country legally.

Drones are still a relatively new product. Some nations, specifically their ports of entry, are still adjusting. While regulation does vary across the world, if you consider two points, you will not encounter any undesired interactions.

Not all countries accept drones.

In this article I have attempted to hammer-home the point that most countries show little concern fro drones. However, this is perhaps counterintuitive because 15 countries have completely banned the import and use of drones and around that same amount have highly restrictive regulation that is tantamount to a ban.

For example, India does not allow drones into their boarders. Their offical position is one of regulating for safety, although it has amounted to a flat-out ban. Through excessive restrictions and bureaucratic nonsense, drones are outlawed. (However, you can still smuggle drones into India relatively easy).

Most of the countries with complete bans tend to be less-than-desireable locations, such as Syria. Although you may find yourself at least one of the more popular locations on ban list, such as Dubai and Morocco. For this reason, a little research before departure is recommendable.



If you are uncertain on the status of drones in the country you are visiting, websites like UAV Coach have an extensive listing of drone laws compartmentalised by country. An alternative option would be to check a country’s’ aviation regulatory agencies website, such as the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) in the USA, as laws do tend to come-and-go with little public consultation or notification.

Lithium Ion batteries can be hazardous.

You are now equipped with the necessary tools to discern if a country you intend to travel to allows drones. But, can you discern if the country you intend to travel to allows lithium ion batteries.

Most drones, at least any worth their salt, utilise Lithium Ion batteries (LIB).

With technology being firmly directed at smaller and more powerful systems, the LIB has filled the gap by offering a higher energy density over most traditional batteries. However, the shortcomings of the LIB system were overlooked in the utilisation of said battery.

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Few airlines allow more than 3 DJI drone batteries on-board.

Source: DroneUplift

The design of the LIB resulted in high energy density, but also, among several issues, higher instability, which requires constant mitigation measures in the form of a protective cover against short circuiting.

For this reason, drone batteries can only be brought on an airplane in your carry-on baggage where they can be monitored and a protective casing can be verified by airport person ell. (Drone batteries are widely consider uninstalled batteries, as opposed to installed batteries, which carry more lenient regulations and may, in certain cases, be carried in checked luggage).

But, it is always best to place batteries in your carry-on baggage. If not to at least ensure their safety – have you ever seen how baggage handlers actually handle baggage?

Furthermore, most airplanes allow no more than three 100-watt hour drone batteries per passenger and only two batteries over 100-watt hours – most consumer drones, including DJI Phantoms’, fit into the first category.

Travelling abroad by air with a drone-in-pack is rarely a difficult task. Most airlines and airports have or are nearing accustomization. Just be attentive, do your research and you and your drone will return home unmarked and in one piece.

What country(s) have you had issues bringing a drone into?

For some of those common sense, drone water-safety reads, check out:

Is the DJI Mavic Pro waterproof? (Underwater for 4 hours)

A traffic jam in India. Likely during rush hour, nothing but Tuk-tuks are visible on the rundown freeway

Do you have what it takes to drive in India?

Header Image: Andrey Martovskiy

The Indian landscape has an infallible beauty to it. From its sui generis Himalayan mountain range to the dense tropical forests of the south to the eclectic Ghats of Varanasi, there is a simplistic nirvana found in visiting these places. India should hold a place on your bucket list!

But, its one thing to describe this beauty. It is quite another matter to reach them. Specifically, traversing these regions in a fashion obtainable by the common man can be expensive.

Trains will get you to most places, if you are willing to brave an overnight train ride on India’s infamous railway line. This really is your only viable option for inter-regional travel. This leaves only one issue – intraregional travel.

India is typified by enormity. Its towns are vast and its iconic points seldom exist in proximity.

How are you going to get from the Dashashwamedh Ghat of Varanasi to the Tibetan Temple, nearly 10km away? I can tell you how. With great difficulty. Many of the streets of Varanasi, for example, are too narrow to be navigated by taxis or even Tuk-Tuk drivers, whom will refuse even an attempt.



 

Many of the truly unique places do not offer a persistent and easily accessible taxi service without you parting ways with a significant wad of cash. Even a seemingly novel task like chowing down on some veg curries will be costly.

There seems to be an unspoken rule amongst Indian drivers – accept no less than 4 times the price of that which a local pays from a foreigner.

It looks like you will be walking. What else can you do when your pockets run empty or, at least, reasonably empty?

Well, you could drive yourself. It is not the common avenue of travel for tourists nor the most stress free. But, then again, there is very little that is stress free in India. And, the constant availability of your own scooter and own heading may make navigating to your desired locations somewhat streamline and minimise interactions with locals.

But…

Do you have what it takes?

I have driven scooters all around the world. From the novel task of navigating Bali to the hustle bustle of Bangkok. Getting from one point to another has been an interesting task at times, but I never found myself exiting my comfort zone. And, then I came to India.

There are certain places where scooter navigation is out of the question. Places like New Delhi and Mumbai, for example. Firstly, no local in their right mind would rent out their scooter unless they desired it to be returned scuffed-up with a beaten driver. Secondly, and more importantly, the roads take a special few to navigate. Many Indians seem happily complacent to accept rides from those that have mastered the art of not-dying-in-the-worst-traffic-in-the-world.

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Source: India

I had considered Bangkok a lawless road. While federal road laws do exist, it seems that no one accepts them and, instead, a community derived road conduct exists. It may not be perfect, but it seems to work. However, in India the only conduct that seems to exists is;

Every man for themselves.

The concept of give-way is determined by the trajectory and momentum of two or more drivers near collision; space is measured in centimetres; a honk has an infinite amount of meanings; cows are immovable objects that favour the middle of the road; stop lights are token gestures; cutting-off others is a high score game every driver plays; if you want to move nowhere, drive as fast and as close to others as possible – and nobody seems to want to go anywhere.

You would be hard-pressed to find places in the world that can rival Indian roads for the title of ‘Worst Roads in the World’.

But, it is important to distinguish the massive differences between a place like Delhi and a relatively banal road like those found in Khajuraho or Pushkar. A foreigner can navigate the roads of a place like Khajuraho without exiting the realms of sanity and relative safety. The rules listed above still exist, but there is a mere fraction of the amount of people.



Depending on the specifics of your location, it will be possible to hire a scooter. If you are staying in lowbrow accommodation, most locals will be able to put you in contact with someone who will hire out their scooter – most likely they will offer their own. Some are kind enough to simply request you pay for the fuel you use, which is rarely more than a few AUD dollars.

If you do manage to hire a scooter, visit all your desired locations and accomplish all meagre tasks that could not be reached on foot, you will inevitably ask yourself…

Is it worth it?

Between moving at a snail pace, continuously and unknowingly being honked, making every possible wrong turn and being in a constant state of flux, the whole ordeal will deplete your motivation. Furthermore, constantly teetering near the door of agonising pain that would follow a crash is unnerving, to say the least. And, the security and accessibility of your own scooter does little to compensate the whole ordeal.

In a place like India, you need to do as much as possible to reserve your motivation to travel. You will end up paying a larger, but still relatively small fee for a local taxi. But, in the end, the money that could have been saved by renting a scooter will offer little comfort.

Again, some places in India are suitable and maybe even more enjoyable on a rented scooter, but these places are few and far apart unless you get off the beaten tourist trail. (But, this opens up a whole other door of hardship).

You may have what it takes to drive in India. But, do you have what it takes to prosper in India while riding a bike?

Will you be driving in India?

For more articles with the sole focus of travel in India, check out How to smuggle a drone into India.

 

How to smuggle a drone into India.

India is one of only a few nations to completely outlaw consumer drones. While the government suggests they are for regulation not prohibition, their actions suggest otherwise. Laws governing the use of drones have effectively removed the ability of any individuals to purchase or own a drone in India nor import as a foreigner.

Mountains of paperwork, excessive restrictions and indecipherable bureaucratic jargon are just a few of the hurdles to drone usage in India. Their stance is truly unclear. But, they are adamant about one thing; should you try to enter India with a drone while lacking appropriate paperwork it will be removed from you at the airport.

To some, the use of a drone may seem like a trivial matter. But, the Indian government has affirmed their belief that any ‘regulation’ is purely directed at minimising any potential injuries.

Regardless of the ban…

I recently travelled to India via the Ghandi International Airport, the busiest airport in the world, with my DJI Mavic and no paperwork. 27 days later I departed the same airport with a stockpile of drone photography from a myriad of corners around India.



An impasse?

Several weeks earlier I was on the cusp of a backpacking trip through Southeast Asia. Adventure was my calling. Photography my motivation. For near on two months I had been lugging around a second backpack solely dedicated to photography equipment.

Reaching the southernmost boarder of Indonesia, I was faced with my first dilemma – India or Cambodia? I am not sure to what reasoning I made the decision, but I quickly found myself with a ticket and e-visa to India.

With ticket in-hand and pack on back, I was faced with my second and more substantial dilemma when doing some research on India; No drones allowed and I was carrying my recently purchased DJI Mavic.

Stressed. Frustrated. Tired. And, conflicted on what path was best to take with the few options I had.

There were essentially two options. Send the drone home, effectively ending any aerial shots during future travels or take a risk and try to smuggle in into India. Through this article, you can easily assume which option I took.

With a disheartened smile and drone in pack, I boarded my plane bound for Ghandi International Airport. I had read much about smuggling drones into India and had developed a full-proof plan;

Put the drone in my carry-on bag. Smile. Act like a normal non-criminal. Hope for the best.

It may sound foolhardy. But, had I done anything else I would have inadvertently revealed the presence of my drone.

Smuggling a drone into India.

Despite what you may have heard about Indian airports – busy, sluggish, aggravating and excessively restrictive – you’d be wrong. Well, actually you’d be right on all points but the last. In fact, unlike many airports around the world, it is a trivial matter navigating security.

After departing the plane, you will navigate a long corridor to the visa check point. Here, you will go through the normal rigour of entering a country. Applications, photos, passport checks, questions, tensions, et cetera. But, if you have filled out the appropriate paperwork it should not be too tedious.

Next you will precede to baggage collection. Up until now everything should be running smoothly with minimal risk to exposing your drone. But, after baggage collection you will head to the TSA. The dreaded TSA. The biggest threat to your clandestine operation.

Here is how it will play out:

You will approach the TSA. Officers will glare at you and your baggage. As you move towards the baggage scanner, they will trade looks in a threatening and suspecting manner.

Images start racing in your head. Upon scanning your baggage, alarm bells ring. The officers are prompted to investigate your baggage. They uncover your drone. You are escorted to a sealed room where you are separated from your drone and this whole operation is declared a failure. (I can vividly recall these exact fears playing out in mind). But, back to reality.

With a large sigh and gulp you move towards the TSA. A man asks for your passport. And, seeing that you are a foreigner – “here it comes” – he points to the exit. You walk straight pass all the TSA and straight out of the airport.

You have successfully entered India with a drone. And, you are an international drone smuggler.

There is almost no challenge to bringing a small to medium sized drone into India if you are a foreigner from a popularcountry.

Now that you are in India, you have to determine whether or not you are going to use it. There are many places with signs forbidding drone usage and many that do not. It is a novel task getting the drone in, but the penalties are excessively harsh if they catch you. Specifically, they will immediately confiscate the drone and most likely demand an on-the-spot fine, which you will not want to deny them.



Depending on your situation, the best advice I can give you for drone smuggling in India is:

Avoid if possible. Risk if necessary. Do not bring anything you are not willing to lose.

What if I get caught?

Obviously, there is the risk of, for some unknown reason, being requested to run your bags through the TSA and the drone being uncovered. If the drone is discovered it will be confiscated.

(Depending on your drone type, running your baggage through the TSA may not uncover it. The DJI Mavic, for example, is compact and foldable which hides its true nature from the authorities. The Phantom Pro, on the other hand, will likely be conspicuous and easily discoverable).

This does not mean that your drone is lost forever. Only during your stay in India. Upon confiscation of your drone, the authorities will force you to fill out some paperwork declaring, among several things, that you recognise why your drone is confiscated.

On the document, there will be a box you can tick that indicates your intention to collect your drone when leaving India. Be sure to tick this box otherwise your drone will truly be lost. Upon departure of India through the same entrance port you will receive your drone back, should the authorities be feeling hospitable. 

Have you smuggled a drone into India?

***Note: I was travelling with a DJI Mavic Pro. The unique ability of this drone to fold up meant it was far less conspicuous than most drones. This was likely a contributing factor to the success of my smuggling operation. I can’t speak to the ability to import non-compacting drones.

 

Dealing with Bali Belly (Traveller’s Sickness)

You’ve heard all the warnings about food in Bali and taken all the recommended precautions to avoid the infamous Bali Belly, otherwise known as Traveller’s Sickness.

But, despite all that research and planning, you have ended up here. Likely meaning that it was all for nothing. Diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, aches and pains are pretty good indicators that you have got Bali Belly and are in for a few rough days.

 

What is Bali Belly?

 

Bali Belly occurs when an individual consumes contaminated food or water that has been exposed to pathogens, including bacteria, viruses or protozoans. This commonly occurs in the first week on the island as the body is exposed to an unfamiliar environment with a great swathe of foreign bacteria.

Some people are more susceptible to Bali Belly than others and everyone will experience it differently. But, common signs of Bali belly include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Malaise
  • Stomache cramping and pain
  • Mild Temperature
  • High urgency to use bathroom

Secondary issues can include:

  • Dehydration
  • Headache

If blood is present in your vomit or stall, you have a high fever or significant abdominal pain, contact professional person ell as these symptoms indicate something severe.



 

Overcoming Bali Belly.

 

There is no way to sugar coat it: Bali Belly has no quick fix. The next 12-36 hrs are going to be hell. But, there are a few options that may help ease the whole ordeal.

 

Option 1: Tough-it-out

For most people, Bali Belly is discomforting but not severe. It will pass naturally within a day or two. During this time, your hotel room will be your only solace should you choose to tough-it-out.

Maintaining water levels and keeping up nutrient levels with small and frequent meals should be your main focus. Electrolyte drinks, such as Hyrdalyte, will help ensure you are hydrated – you are going to be losing a lot of fluids that need replacing.

No relief will be found in this option, but minimal money will be lost!

 

Option 2: Antibacterial tablets & water

For those above-standard cases of Bali Belly, it is best to gain access to some anti-bacterial medication. (Bali Belly is most commonly caused by Bacteria, such as e. coli). This will require a visit to the local doctors for a prescription – unless you have bought your own medication. The consultation and tablets will cost you upwards of $120 AUD.

For the good ol’ self-prescriber, consider these tablets or something of the sort:

Cedantron for nausea and vomiting; Buscopan for stomach cramping; Nexium for a gastric acid regulator; Paracetomal for headaches. And again, keep yourself hydrated and eat small amounts of food frequently.

 

Option 3: Visit the local hospital

If you are on deaths doorstep and a doctor has confirmed it, you will likely be requested to spend the night in the monitoring ward. Here, they will place you on an IV drip for hydration and nutrients; have a nurse check on your condition regularly; offer you a variety of medication based on your condition; conduct several tests for various measures of health.

This will speed up your recovery. BUT, it will cost you in excess of $1300 AUD. AND, depending on your insurance company, Bali Belly may be excluded in a ‘due diligence’ clause. You either want to double check with your insurance company or spend a sleepless night in your hotel room.




 

Avoiding Bali Belly.

 

By now it may seem redundant. But, there are some simple things you can do to reduce your chances of contracting Bali Belly. (These suggestions are also applicable to most developing nations). Things you can do to minimise the chances of Bali Belly, include:

  • Use bottle or filtered water. This includes, brushing your teeth, in your tea, frozen water products, water used in food, et cetera.
  • Avoid peeled and pre-cut fruits.
  • It is advisable to avoid meat altogether. Eating rare, raw and undercooked meat is particularly inadvisable.
  • Food at room temperature or exposed to the environment has an increased chance of contamination.
  • Avoid dairy.
  • Ensure that plates and utensils are completely dry before use.
  • Eat at popular and busy restaurants. These places will have a high turnover rate so food is more likely to be fresh.
  • You can’t be too clean! Always wash your hands with soap and get familiar with hand sanitisers.

 

While Bali Belly is synonymous with travel in Bali, it should not be a deterrent. The island is popular for a reason and there will be no issue if you are vigilant about what you eat and drink. And, you can find comfort in the knowledge that you will recover eventually.

 

What is your best tip for avoiding Bali Belly?

 

 

***After contracting a severe case of Bali Belly and being requested to spend a night in the hospital, this article is nothing more than a reflection of the writer’s experience and what they were recommended.



Backpackers Guide to ‘Travel in North Bali’

 

North and South Bali share few similarities. The weather. The people. The environment. All drastically different despite only being separated by 50 or so kilometres. All travellers experience the South, but few make it to the North of the island. This is a mischance!

The North is the place for those that want to get away from the tourist haven of the South and experience something more wild and raw; to experience a relatively untarnished representation of Balinese Life.

The North is an entirely different landscape from the South, typified by dense jungles, raging waterfalls, jagged highland mountains, monkeys and dogs, and people living truly subsistent lifestyles. If you want to see the true Bali, this is where you must go.

But, this contrast has come-about because Northern Bali is relatively untouched by tourism. The distance from the islands only international airport dissuades many from visiting. In line with this comes the need for an entirely different method of travel distinct from the convenient south Bali. Most importantly, how can you travel on the cheap in the disjunct North.

This is not an article on things to do in the North. It is about the most economically efficient way to travel so as to fully experience the local environment and culture on the cheap. If you are looking for adventure try Bali’s 9 waterfalls in 9 days or The Top 10 Things to do in North Bali.

 

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Where to stay?

 

North Bali is a large area with many things to see. Unfortunately, they are disjunct and there are few, if not none, local taxis eagerly scouting for tourists. Unless you organise a private driver and are willing to spend a premium fee, you will find yourself in the middle of nowhere with few options.

With this in mind, you need to place yourself in a position that is central to everything with viable amenities and resources. This would be in the region surrounding Lake Buyan. The main highway runs directly pass this lake, providing the best starting point for anywhere in the region. Hotels are scattered all along this stretch of the road and many locals have set up various shops catered to local and foreign travellers. Also, most trails and attractions in the region connect to this road.

Hotels in the area go for around 200,000 IDR, or about $19 AUD, a night. But, if you look around and travel wiser you can get them cheaper. If you are travelling with a group or a friend and willing to share a room it will make things cheaper. For example, a room at the One Homestay and Warung costs only $7 AUD, including breakfast, a night when split between two people.

If you use any online booking sites, such as booking.com, and time your stay right, you can always save with unique offers, flash sales and super cheap deals. Just be flexible, patient and bring a friend!

 

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How to get there?

 

Now that you know where you are going, it is time to get there. Most taxi’s will take you to Buyan, but it is likely to cost you in excess of 600,000 IDR.  Unless you are travelling in a large group and split the bill, it is not a viable option. Thankfully, there is an alternative. But, it is a bit… rough.

You are going to have to do it how the locals do it. Mini buses run from Denpasar to Buyan daily. Most do not go directly to the lake, instead zigzagging across the country, dropping off and picking up people and packages. Eventually they will make it. Though sometimes it can take up to 8 hours – a private taxi could do it in 2-3 hours. But, most commonly it takes about 4 hours and costs 60,000 IDR per person. (Depending on your luggage you may have to pay for a second seat).

The bus leaves Ubung Terminal in Denpasar around 0900hrs, bound for Seririt. It makes a stop of in the Munduk region, the location of Lake Buyan, a bit after lunch. It is best to come to the terminal early, around 0800 hrs to purchase a ticket, beat the crowd and ensure your spot on the bus.

 

Getting from A to B.

 

The best and cheapest way to get around North Bali, much like the rest of the island, is by scooter. There really is no rival in a cost + convenience equation.

Most hotels rent out scooters or will happily put you in contact with a rental company – it is best to email the hotel prior to arrival just to double check.

You should expect to pay 70,000 IDR per day. However, most companies will do it cheaper if you rent for multiple days and haggle. (I rented a scooter for three days and got it down to 170,000 IDR). If you are a good haggler, you could get it much lower.

If you can ride a scooter in Denpasar, you can ride one in the North. The roads are nowhere near as crazy. And if you are not comfortable in Denpasar, the North is the best place to practice riding. You will not regret trying! Just be prepared for a few long hauls to reach the best spots.

 

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Where to eat.

 

There is no shortage of chow-down spots around Buyan. You are only limited by your preference and budget. There are many upbeat restaurants that have adopted foreign cuisines purchasable at a reasonably cheap price. But, you cannot go past local street food for affordability and taste!

If you are worried about trying street food, you should not be. A lot of the stigma is borne out of excessive western standards of cleanliness and individuals raised on a silver spoon. Ultimately, doing little more than making pansies out of people and limiting them from experiencing the splendour of Balinese cuisines. Most shops pride themselves on a clean working area and producing quality food. But, there is the very odd few. If you are concerned about a vendor, my only advice to you is;

Drink bottled water. Eat where others eat. Avoid meat. 

While in Bali, I ate street food for every meal for nearly a month with no issues. Each meal comprised of a main dish and a bottled drink, rarely costing more than 30,000 IDR, or about $2.50 AUD.

There is not much else you need to know for travel in the North. This side of the island is perfect for those adventurous souls wanting to get away from the hustle-bustle of Denpasar or the touristy Canggu to experience a more untarnished representation of Balinese life. Now that you know you can reach the North on the cheap…

 

Will you be visiting the North?

Bali’s 9 Waterfalls in 9 Days

By Gaia’s grace, we have waterfalls. Whether by the tranquil mind that comes from a raging torrent or the adventure had in trekking to these secluded locations, waterfalls seem to bring out the best in people.

Bali hosts a diverse myriad of waterfalls across its small, but varied landscape. One could not hope to ever visit all of them. But, you can at least scratch the surface and visit some of the more awe-inspiring waterfalls.

So… here are 9 of Bali’s waterfalls you can visit in 9 days to get the scratching started.

 

Day 1/ Banyumala Twin Waterfall

 

Situated in Bali’s northern foothills, the twin falls will be one of the more secluded locations of your trip. This is a good thing. The seclusion means fewer people and few gawking tourist trappers. In order to reach it you will be travelling a far distance – on bike and foot – from any built-up areas, so come prepared.

There is a small sign on the side of a single lane road indicating the beginning of the track to Banyumala. The walk is not strenuous, but it can be a bit hazardous with steep stairs and moss-covered rocks. From experience, I can tell you; locally bought thongs do not handle well.

 

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Entry Fee: 15,000 IDR

Location: Wanagiri, Sukasada, Wanagiri, Sukasada, Kabupaten Buleleng, Bali 81161

Note: Follow the signs. Not the path. (You could end up back in Denpasar following some of the paths locals have carved).

 

Day 2/ Sekumpul Waterfalls

 

The other twin falls, as they are locally known, are one of the most well-known waterfalls of North Bali, potentially of the whole island – largely due to their high presence on Instagram. Despite this, few people visit them daily because it is difficult to reach. The nearest built-up town is about one hour away by scooter and the waterfall itself can only be reached after hiking a 1.5km trail.

Be ready for some fees! We were charged three times – a registration fee, an entry fee and a second entry fee halfway along the hike. (They even attempted to charge us a fourth time when riding out on our scooter). Unless you have a strong backbone, you will end up paying. It does put a dampener on the mood, but there is not much you can do about it.

 

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Entry Fee: 20,000 IDR

Location: Sekumpul, Sawan, Lemukih, Sawan, Kabupaten Buleleng, Bali 81171

Note: There are several signs along the side of the road indicating the entrance to the falls. Unless you wish to hike several kilometres, it would be advised to ignore them and continue to the above location and ignore the ‘suggestion’ for the guide. Not even a fool could get lost on the hike.

 

Day 3/ Fiji Waterfall

 

What could be better than twin waterfalls? How about triplets? Just a short 500m hike from Sekumpul exists another equally spectacular waterfall. Though not as well known, but by no means Sekumpul’s lesser, Fiji waterfall is the meeting point of three individual streams of water on a single rock face.  The sheer volume of water here creates a thick and constant mist. If you are planning to visit this waterfall you will get wet.

Cost: 20,000 IDR

Location: Sekumpul, Sawan, Lemukih, Sawan, Kabupaten Buleleng, Bali 81171

Note: This fall is found at the same location as Sekumpul. To reach it, all you must do is follow the flow of water up the valley floor.

 

Day 4/ Git-Git Waterfall

 

You will see Git-Git long before you reach it. It seems small. But, as you slowly navigate the rocky – oh, so rocky – path, it grows. And, grows. Until, eventually, you are standing at the base of a huge waterfall, over 100ft high.

If you have come around dawn, the sun will be rising perfectly symmetrical to the valley, giving of rays of light illuminating your walk. It is a sight to behold and worth the early rise.

Entry fee: Come early enough, it is free.

Location: Jl. Raya Bedugul – Singaraja, Gitgit, Sukasada, Kabupaten Buleleng, Bali 81161

 

Day 5/ Golden Valley Waterfall

 

Situated in the middle of a coffee plantation and just a short walk to a local eco-café, the Golden Valley Waterfall is the most developed and civilised waterfall on this list.

The waterfall itself is not overly awe-inspiring. But, when complemented by the visually appealing tropical plants that surround it and pungent coffee aromas, it is definitely not one to be missed. You may even want to take your time and sample some fresh local fruits and coffee.

Entry Fee: Free 

Location: Tutub, Munduk, Banjar, Bulelang, Bali 81152

 

Day 6/ Air Terjun Munduk

 

Cascading nearly 100ft down a worn-smooth rock wall into a tiny pond, Air Terjun Munduk easily rivals any single waterfall on this list for sheer volume of water. The valley that plays host to the waterfall is constantly filled with a thick mist emanating from the violent collision of water and rock at the base of the falls. And yet, through it all, the soft chimes of the local swallow populations, that for some reason have chosen to nest around the falls, can be heard.

 

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Entry Fee: 15,000 IDR

Location: Jl Raya Munduk, Desa Munduk, Banjar, Buleleng, Munduk Banjar, Munduk, Banjar, Kabupaten Buleleng, Bali 81152

 

Day 7/ Sambangan Falls

 

Sambangan is the par excellenceof waterfall cliff jumping. Encompassing several waterfalls along a single stretch of river, there is plenty on offer for those looking for a bit more… adrenaline.

There are three different jump heights. For newbies or the kids, Kroya is perfect at 3m. Getting a bit more intense at about 9m, Kembar Falls will get the heart racing. And, for a truly fear-inducing jump, try your luck at Pucuk falls with a 15m jump.

Entry Fee: It is 10,000 IDR to look at the falls. But, if you are planning to jump the fee is about 125,000 or more depending on the guide and the package you select. It is a tad frustrating being forced to hire a guide just to jump from the falls, but it does give the added safety of a life jacket if desired.

Location: Jalan Raya Desa Sambangan, Sambangan, Sukasada, Kabupaten Buleleng, Bali 81161

 

Day 8/ Aling-Aling Waterfall

 

Aling-Aling is the sacred waterfall of the local people and for this reason people are restricted from swimming in it. Although you would not really want to. The waterfall billows of a cliff some 90ft high before raging towards the ground. The rocks at its base have been visibly worn smooth from the relentless and sheer force of the water. It would not be a pleasant swim!

 

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Entry Fee: 10,000 IDR.

Location: Jalan Raya Desa Sambangan, Sambangan, Sukasada, Kabupaten Buleleng, Bali 81161

Note: Aling-Aling and Kroya waterfall are individual falls found in the same valley. Entry to one will cover both falls. (Due to the cultural importance of Aling-Aling and its distinct contrast to Kroya, I felt it deserved its own place on this list).

 

Day 9/ Nung-Nung Waterfall

 

You are going to have to work to reach this one. Some 500 steps separate the beginning of the footpath and the waterfall. And, let’s just say, it is not a breezy walk. But, this waterfall is not one you will want to skip due to some stairs.

During the rainy season, this waterfall likely boasts the largest flow of all the waterfalls on this list. Complemented by a cliff roughly 70ft high and lush greenery, this is one you will not regret making the slightly long and arduous trip for.

Entry Fee: 20,000 IDR

Location: Nung-Nung Village, 35km north of Ubud.

 

How many waterfalls did you visit?

40 Things to do in South Australia

The sun-scorched lands of Australia harbour many gems that need only be found. From its Jurassic-like coastlines to its dramatic contrast in landscapes to its bountiful display of unique wildlife, it is a truly unique continent. Whether your interests be in the natural wealth of the area to be found in the North, the allure of a life of excessiveness in the East or an adventurer’s dream in the West, there is really something for everyone. No matter your bearings, there is one direction commonly overlooked.

South Australia detracts nothing from this eclectic beauty, but is often neglected from one’s itinerary when visiting Australia. Whether it be a lack of information on the area or a lack of international popularity, South Australia should not be left dormant at the end of a holiday. If you’re unsure of what activities lay in wait or if it is the place for you, here are 40 things to do in South Australia that might peak your interest and motivate you to explore this beautiful, but forgotten, corner of Australia.

1 # Swim with New Zealand Fur Seals

The name might have confused you, but be assured New Zealand Fur Seals live in high concentrations throughout South Australia. Fur Seals are often depicted as globuolous denizens of the sea, lounging out in the sun for extensive periods of time. In reality, they are this, but also highly inquisitive and playful creatures. Just be sure not to get too close and annoy them as they have short temperaments towards their foreign guests and are known to be a bit rough even when their intentions are good-natured.

Featured Blog: Can you swim with Fur Seals?

Where can I find them? New Zealand Fur Seals can be found throughout South Australia. However, the best location for swimming with them is near Port Vincent, due to the reasonably clear water.

mnkkllklkkl.jpegWebsite: Seal Swim Kaikoura

2 # Cliff jumping at Second Valley

Jagged cliffs protruding from the ocean at a steep angle, turbid water funnelled into a narrow crevice and a sliver of ocean to cushion your landing. Usually this would not be an advised area to visit. However, these qualities are exactly what makes this region a popular summer location for tourists and locals alike. The cliffs are perfect for jumping off and there are a range of popularised jump spots, at varying heights, to suit anyone – even those afraid of heights.

Featured Blog: Journal # 10 A day in South Australia’s turquoise sea – The jewel that is Second Valley

Recommendation: The cliffs are not the kind of place you want to bring small children or animals, but the area preceding the cliffs is a great location for snorkelers and beach goers.

2.5 # Camp on a cliff at Second valley

In the opposite direction to the prior mentioned cliffs, there exists another range of cliffs, but with entirely different compositions – they are nowhere near as steep and jagged. They make the perfect location to camp under the stars. And, the next day rise with the sun as it illuminates the cliff side in a soft golden glow.

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3 # Catch a wave at Basham Beach

The swell and waves of this beach are not particularly large in comparison to many of the more well- known surf spots around the world. However, they are big enough to get a few good runs. And, if you come on a weekday, you may have the surf almost to yourself.

How to find it: Despite being a popular beach locally, it can be difficult for visitors to find – it doesn’t really have any signs indicating where it is. The only indication of the road that leads to the beach is a metal mural carved in the shape of a surfer. Depending on what direction you come from, it will either be at the beginning or end of the small town of Middleton. Just follow the road directly adjacent to this sign and it will take you straight to the break.

4 # Skate Down the Anzac Highway

Bereft roads carve their way through the countryside as they make their way towards Innes National Park. Some roads form seamlessly straight bridges of asphalt that fade into the horizon, while others zigzag and turn back on themselves. These roads form the only human made structure in the land. This dramatic natural contrast complemented by the uniqueness of each road makes it the perfect place to whip out the skateboard and fly down the gentle gradient of these roads.

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5 # Get lost in the Little Sahara

By no means comparable to its larger brother in central Australia, the Little Sahara is still a place worthy of your presence and somewhere you should want to go. Shifting sands motivated by a constant gentle breeze mean that at no time does the area mirror the next. I wonder what it will look like when you get there?

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6 # Explore Kuitpo Forest

Covering an area of 3,600 hectares and harbouring a menagerie of wildlife, the Kuitpo community forest should be high on the list of any nature lover. Trails are dotted throughout the region and there are many designated entrances to park your car at. So, come early before the ‘crowds’ build up and you may even catch sight of the regions rare Bandicoots.

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7 # Dive with Great White Sharks near Port Lincoln

The often calm and temperate coastal waters of South Australia are a favoured environment for Great White Sharks. Most people would be inclined to hop out of the water in the presence of said creatures. However, entire industries have been established around diving with sharks in the relative safety of cages. A popular diving industry can be found in Port Lincoln.

Cost: Several shark diving companies operate out of Port Lincoln. Each set their own price and do vary slightly. On average, you are likely to pay around $130 for 45-min in the cage.

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8 # Pig-out in Chinatown

Chinatown in Adelaide is a melting pot of culturally iconic dishes and unique cuisines, all collected into a single easily accessible food court. Complemented by a handful of small shops that sell unique items from all over the world – Persian rings, Nepalese jumpers and Thai massages, to name just a few, are all readily available 6 days a week.

9 # Skydive over arid lands

For many it’s a rite of passage into adulthood – doing something completely terrifying to know your alive. For others, it’s a regular activity to get that adrenaline running. Either way, South Australia offers many opportunities for those would-be skydivers. You need only choose what you prefer; descending to the site of dramatic coastlines receding into turquoise oceans or watching as the ever-shifting sands of a desert rapidly approach from below or maybe you’d be more inclined with a city view beneath you.

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10 # Visit the secret Pink Lake

Nestled into a forgotten corner of south Australia, the Pink lake is a beautiful, yet widely under-utilised tourist attraction. (This is actually probably the reasons it is so good). Tiny bacterium interacts with the natural salt content of the lake giving rise to the landmarks signature pink water.

Featured Blog: How to find Lake Bumbunga, South Australia’s secret pink lake

11 # Hunt for the Secret Quarry

Few people know of it and even fewer know how to find it. An abandoned quarry lays dormant in a secluded area of the Adelaide Hills. The Quarry itself is not particularly amazing in its looks. But, the pleasure derived from finding a secret swimming hole that is relatively devoid of tourists is quite alluring.

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12 # Watch the sunrise at the Mount Barker Summit

Foreshadowing the dainty town of Mount Barker is a modest peak some 15km from the centre of the town. This summit is the highest point in the region and the perfect place to watch the sunrise or sunset. You can drive most of the way, but will have to walk for about 200m from the carpark to the actual peak. It is not difficult, so you do not need to worry about any fancy hiking gear.

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13 # Go shopping at the iconic Rundle Mall

Rundle Mall offers a bounty of options for any shopper. Whether you’re looking for food, clothes or, something less mainstream, such as military gear, you will find it at Rundle Mall. I can’t recommend the area enough, purely based on my love of Gong Cha – a cold Chinese bubble tea.

Where to park? Unfortunately, the only place to park your car is in one of several paid parking lots. For a 3 hour stay the park costs about $15 :/ The only other option is to walk several kilometres.

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14 # Find rare birds at the Coorong

The Coorong is a nationally recognised National Park residing in the vicinity of Goolwa. As the name suggests, it is a Coorong. As such, there is not much in the way of terrestrial fauna. However, you don’t have to be a birder take interest in this place. The area plays host to a bounty of rare and beautiful seabirds, all of which flaunt striking colours and/or unique looks.

Featured Blog: Journal # 9 In search of the Coorong’s rare birds

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15 # Snorkel the Reef at Port Noarlunga

Imagine a reef system residing two hundred metres off shore that separates a cove from the open ocean and whose natural protection has promoted an abundance of sea life. Couple this with a natural inclination held by the fish to associate humans with potential bread-givers i.e. they will eat bread out of your hand. This is exactly what you will find at Port Noarlunga.

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16 # Swim in crystal clear water at Moonta Bay

Moonta Bay has earned a reputation for itself as the haven of summer retreats. And rightfully so. Throughout the months of December to February, the waters off this reclusive town become crystal clear under the constant scorching of the harsh Australian sun. Perfect for a relaxing day out or an exploration of our neglected underwater world.

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17 # Climb to the Three Falls in Morialta Conservation Park

Over 10s of thousands of years, immense volumes of water have coursed through Morialta Conservation park. To this day they are flowing and rarely dry-up. Over this time, the water has carved its own route through the rocks. The result being a smallish stream typified by three relatively large waterfalls. These falls are dotted along a popular walking trail about 7.3km long.

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18 # See African animals in Australia

Monarto Zoo is an internationally recognised and popularised zoological park administrated by the Royal Zoological Society of South Australia. The park contains Lions, Cheetahs, Giraffes, Chimpanzees and a variety of other animals that would never otherwise be found in Australia.

Cost: Entrance to the park can be gained for a fee of $19.50 for children and $35.00 for adults. However, to fully enjoy the open-range zoo you are going to have to charter a bus which will cost extra depending on the animals you wish to see.

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19 # Catch a Sunset in the Mouth of an Eagle

If you happen to find yourself on Kangaroo Island, it is well worth taking a drive over to Flinders Chase National Park to see the Remarkable Rocks. One in particular is easily recognised by its eagle-like appearance. If you come at the right time of year you can even watch the sunset in in its ‘mouth’. (You’ll need a lot of luck, though)

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20 # 4WD through the Flinders Ranges

The Flinders Ranges covers an area of 200km, making it the longest mountain range in Australia. Through the dramatic orange landscape and extensive 4WD tracks it has garnered a good reputation for itself among outback explorers. Mind you, this is not only to the appeal of motor enthusiasts. Anyone would find appeal in the magnificent Australian landscape.

Some Popular Sites: Razorback Lookout | St Mary Peak | Wilpena Pound | Arkaba Station

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21 # Tour the worldly renowned vineyards of Barossa Valley

If you’re into wine, you’ve come to the right place. Barossa Valley is to wine what Silicon Valley is to tech companies. Many of the wineries in the region are internationally accredited and produce a variety of difference wines at varying prices for any budget. You’re sure to find one that takes your fancy.

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22 # Find the wild side in Flinders Chase National Park

This is the second time Flinders Chase National Park has been mentioned on this list. And for good reason. Along with hosting the remarkable rocks, the area is a place that highlights the exquisite beauty of nature. From unique wildlife to dramatic coastlines, this region has everything for those that find serenity or interest in natural beauty.

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23 # Sandboard down huge dunes at Goolwa

The allure of Goolwa has been typified, in part, by the presence of immense sand dunes nestled between an ocean and a great Coorong. From 4WDing to Hiking, the sand dunes are used for a multitude of recreational activities. Recently though, the areas large sand dunes have been popularised as a great location for sandboarding.

Note: As it stands there is no place to higher specially designed sandboards. However, just about in flat object will serve its purpose fine as a makeshift sandboard.

3615443539_b80c5bd692_o.jpgFlickr: IIan W

24 # Hike to Alligator Gorge

If your keen on adventure or not afraid of a bit of strenuous exercise, then it will be well worth taking a drive down to the starting point of the Alligator Gorge walk. It isn’t particularly difficult, but it is secluded. So, bring your camping gear and be ready to find a campsite in the rugged Australian outback.

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25 # Camp-out on a Beach on the Innes National Park

Innes National Park is iconic for its beautiful landscapes, lingering wildness in this urbanised world and, most importantly, its relatively secluded beaches. There is no better feeling than setting up camp on a secluded beach and watching the stars settle in for the night.

Note: Not all beaches can be camped on legally.

 

26 # Take a Risk and Dive for Abalone

Abalone is one of the most expensive seafood’s in the world. It can sell at around $60 per/kg. Here in South Australia, there are pockets in the ocean where these denizens of the sea live in abundance. So, why buy it when you can catch it yourself for free? Just be aware that this environment is also the favoured environment of Great White Sharks.

Where? Abalone can be found all along the waters of the Eyre Peninsula. It can be worthwhile consulting with local experts on the best place to dive, so you do not spend days aimlessly searching in areas that do not have a high population.

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27 # Australia’s own Horseshoe Bend

America has the horseshoe bend. But, what about Australia? Well, as it turns out, so do we. It is not the exact proportions of its larger American relative, but is, by no means, not astounding. A short drive from Mannum along the Murray River will bring you to a point recognised as the highest point of the river and also where the river takes a snake-like course, curving and bending back on itself. Hence the name, ‘The Big Bend’.

Where to find it: The nearest town is Nildottie. When you reach this small town, your destination is reasonably easy to find – just follow the many sides.

Note: You will want to make sure you are on the correct side of the river, as it is a long drive back down the beaten trail to the nearest ferry to cross to the other side.

Featured Blog: Australia’s own Horseshoe Bend

28 # Swim with Dolphins at Second Valley

If you’re lucky, you will be able to swim with dolphins at second valley. There not always there, but I have found that they come in greater concentrations and in higher frequencies to this region.

jkxcjzkvzjcxkjkvcxzkjxc.jpegFlickr: Wildquest Bimini

29 # Watch the annual Whale migration off the coast of Kangaroo Island

The months of May through to September mark the prime time to see Southern Wright Whales migrating off the coast of Kangaroo Island. If you charter one of the many whale watching businesses in the area, you are almost guaranteed to have a close encounter with a whale.

9484934132_c58efca3bf_o.jpgFlickr: Rod Brunker

30 # Hike the Deep Creek Conservation Park Trek

This will not be a leisurely stroll through the park. The Trek is quite extensive, with some being 13km long, up steep hills and through narrow valleys. While difficult, the area is incredibly beautiful. You will be welcomed by a great host of birds, mammals, reptiles and plants.

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31 # Visit Lake Eyre

Lake Eyre is the lowest point in Australia and its largest lake. It remains resolute in a barren and dry landscape and stands as one of the few bodies of water in the visible land. It is quite a site to be had whilst standing on a desolate lake bed – during the dry season –  with nothing but uninhibited horizon to be seen.

Did you know? If you come at the right time of year, the lake will be bone dry and will have taken on the form of a giant salt pan constituted of white crystals that glisten in the sunlight.

kjblkbbjklbjkllbjk.jpegFlickr: Kevin Lebre

32 # Hike a dormant volcano near Mount Gambier

This is a two-for-one listing. You can spend the day climbing a dormant volcano – a rewarding activity on its own merit. Once at the top you can lounge around and admire the beauty of a lake that has filled the dormant volcano and turned a dark blue colour.

3239428704_247cacb228_o.jpgFlickr: Jazzfan22

33 # Drop-a-line in the Murray Mouth

This listing is for those avid fishermen out there. Not everyone enjoys the activity, but for those of you that do, the Murray Mouth is rumoured to be a fishing hotspot. From bountiful schools of small fish to large Mulloway, there is a range of fish to challenge any fisherman. 

Note: This location is only accessible by a car that can tackle large sand dunes.

34 # Admire the majesty of nature at Admirals Arch

Many of us can forget to embrace the power and majesty of nature. Sometimes we need to take a step back from the hustle-bustle of the 21st century and admire nature for these qualities. Admirals Arch can offer this experience. From the dramatic rock formations worn by millions of years of ocean waves to the large seal colony that calls these coastal waters home, it is easy to get back in touch with nature here.

17300e188fa7138b7e9e54cb51b4c0ed.jpgFlickr: Ross Holmes

 

35 # Search for Koalas in a forest

Few Australian species rival the Koala as a symbol of the countries unique biodiversity. Unlike other species, such as the Emu and Echidna, Koalas can be found quite easily in several high-density pockets around South Australia. The Morialta conservation park is a renowned Koala habitat and you are bound to see multiple ones on any given day.

8531176432_5894aa7334_o.jpgFlickr: Aliaa Almaliki

36 # Get lucky and spot a Penguin on historic Granite Island

Despite extensive conservation and breeding programs, there are now only 17 Little Penguins left on the island. Anthropogenic pressures and natural predation have devastated the population. If you’re lucky you might get to spot some penguins exiting the water at dawn after a night of fishing. Although if you’re not lucky enough, the island hosts a very pleasant walk that is well worth the visit alone.

15314152279_eb24b82321_k.jpgFlickr: Rotheche

37 # Don’t fall in at the Umpherston Sinkhole

It may sound like a daunting task to brave the rims of a sinkhole. However, in reality the sinkhole is extensive and placid. It even has a garden at its base. Few people upon first sight would likely describe it as such. Nonetheless, it is an incredible place to relax.

kjikkndkdfsa.jpegFlickr: Dirk HR Spennemann

38 # Swim with Sea Lions

Unlike their larger relatives the New Zealand Fur Seal, mentioned earlier in this article, Sea Lions are well known as playful, friendly and inquisitive creatures. They also do not have anywhere near the temperament of Fur Seals. Just be mindful that sharks do petrol these waters and realise that, should any trouble occur, the ramifications are entirely your own doing and not that of the inquisitive sharks!

Where to find them? Port Lincoln has several companies offering tours to a Sea Lion Colony and snorkelling gear. They even claim to offer a level of protection from sharks through their ‘shark deterrent’ technology and trained ‘water scanners’. They can take you out for the day at the cost of $195 for Adults and $135 for those under 16.

14363416361_55e4e76b33_k.jpgFlickr: Joost van Uffelen

39 # Don’t get lost in the Kelly Hill Conservation Park

The region plays host to an extensive cave system, which may be explored with a tour guide and is one of the main attractions of the Park. It may not sound particularly alluring, but the caves are quite spectacular and learning about the history of the caves from the experienced guide, informative.

9312328933_24b686a609_k.jpgFlickr: Graham Watson

40 # No visit would be complete without visiting the Giant Rocking Horse or the Giant Lobster

Is there anything more alluring than a lobster and a rocking horse of epic proportions. Apparently not. And so, someone built these exact things – this is sarcasm should that not have been obvious. I can’t really speak to the travel value of these two icons, but they are something to consider visiting if you find yourself in the vicinity.

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Flickr: Bruna Ragaini

(Bonus) # 41 Camp under the stars in the Simpson Desert

Since the last ‘thing’ wasn’t all that awe-inspiring, I thought I would give a bonus suggestion. Camping under the stars is always a great experience and doing so in the Simpson Desert is just as memorable. But, doing so after a day of exploring his vast and red desert will make the whole experience that much grander.

34900640602_e66d77e473_o.jpgFlickr: Toni Moran


Note: I’ve been to all these places, but many were before my time as a photographer. All photographs that have been taken by someone else have the names of the owners listed underneath. Show some love to these talented photographers 🙂

Flying on a one-way ticket? Here’s how to avoid problems.

“I intended to fly to Bali on a one-way ticket from Australia. But, this was before I encountered a commonly unknown issue.”

Bali has grasped a reputation for itself as a haven for simple and inexpensive travel. Backpackers and budget travellers alike embrace this quality and often start their journey here or ensure that it’s on their itinerary. I am a backpacker and I recently ran into some issues in Bali originating from my preferred style of travel.

If backpacking be your intended form of travel, you will undoubtedly be purchasing a one-way ticket at some stage of your journey, just as I did. Unfortunately, if you are intending to do so in Bali you will likely be barred from entering the country. You may be able to enter other countries on a one-way ticket, but Indonesia is notably strict on its visa applicants and excessively harsh with its penalties.

But, why?…

In the mind of the Indonesian government, coupled with a less than positive track record, people travelling on one-way tickets have a higher chance of getting involved in clandestine or illegal operations. Specifically, this kind of travel was akin to people coming to live in Bali indefinitely without becoming a citizen or engaging in the countries prolific drug trade. While the issue is nowhere near as severe as it once was, the mentality has persisted into modern times. And now, they simply do not allow people to enter the country on a one-way ticket without proof of onward travel (PROF).

People who have been barred from accessing a country are required to return to their country of origin immediately and possibly face legal costs. The airline is liable for these costs.  Naturally, this has resulted in many airlines being stringent abiders of this rule, as well as its biggest enforcers. Now, many airlines will not allow you to fly on one-way tickets without PROF either.

The extent of this rules application is quite fluid. Some countries in Asia and throughout the world will turn you away if you’re travelling on a one-way visa, while others will not even raise a finger in deterrence of your entry. It is best to do a bit of research on your intended country of travel before purchasing a ticket so you don’t run into this commonly unknown issue.

If you do find yourself in this issue or just wish to be informed for future preference, there are some things you can do before you fly to another country, in this case Bali, that will alleviate any hassles you might otherwise encounter.

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Website: suitelife.com

Pre-book your tickets… 

Before you enter the country, ensure that you have a ticket purchased to leave the country. This does not have to be a return ticket to your country of origin. Simply a ticket that confirms you will be leaving the country in your prescribed amount of time. This can be the country directly adjacent to the one you are in. All that matters, is that you can show boarder control you will not be in their country.

Of course, this means that the essence of freedom that comes from not knowing where you will be in the next month will be gone and the constant impediment of a schedule will be pressed unto you. For some of you this may not be a big deal. For others, it may just not work.

If your travels allow you to plan ahead, pre-booking your tickets will ensure that you are never barred from entering a country on a one-way ticket. As frustrating as it can be to forego that essence of complete randomness that comes with not knowing where you will be in a month, this is the option we resorted to in order to get us out of the slight bind we had been caught up in.

 

Purchase a refundable ticket

It can be a hassle to pre-plan your travels and the previous option may not be suited for you. There are other things that can be done. If you consider the legal jargon, all that is required is to show border security that you have planned your exit from the country. Once you’re in the country it is at your own discretion if you follow this plan.

Similar to the previous option, you book a ticket out of the country. Any country will do. Just try and find the cheapest flight you can. But, ensure it is refundable. Use this ticket to persuade boarder security that you are intending to leave the country. Once you are in, it is as simple as cancelling your ticket and waiting for the refund. And when you know where you want to travel to next, then book your next ticket.

I haven’t had an issue with this option. However, it can take a significant amount of time to get your refund. In one instance, over a month. If you can afford to spare a few hundred dollars for several weeks you will be fine. Just make sure it is a fully refundable ticket and there is no clause in the fine print, such as only refundable with an airline-specific voucher.

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Website: indiatimes.com

Purchase a visa

There is really only one other way to get into Indonesia on a one-way ticket – purchase a visa. Specifically, a visa that will confirm you will be staying in Indonesia indefinitely for a prescribed amount of time.

A visa will allow you to enter Indonesia and most other countries without having to display a ticket of exit. If you can afford the cost of a visa, which can be in excess of $200, and you accept the forced schedule and conformity required by a visa, then this will allow you to enter a country on a one-way ticket and also allow you to stay in said country for a much longer time than an individual on the ‘standard’ 30-day visa.

 

Proof of onward travel… by air

There is one important point that needs to be understood. Proof-of-onward travel really means proof-of-onward-travel-by-air. Border crossings by bus, ferry, trains or something of the kind will not be considered proof of onward travel. The only way to use this type of border crossing will be to enter the country with one of the two latter points addressed above.

I’ve always found that if you are in anyway unsure about your ability to access a flight, arrive to the airport early to ensure there is time to sought out any issues should they arise.

Hopefully, you will never have to deal with this issue. But, should it arise, at least you can now consider yourself slightly more informed. Good luck!

 

Have you ever flown one-way to a country without any proof of onward travel?