Sometimes the best moments are the ones that weren’t planned at all. I finally believe this to be true.
Spontaneity is the said to be the best kind of adventure – and that’s exactly what happened to me and my boyfriend on our recent holiday.
I spent months planning what was going to be an incredible trip to Phuket, Thailand and then to Bali, Indonesia. 5 days in each place with multiple hotels, excursions, and dinner reservations made weeks in advance. I worked with a company called The Asia Collective to get a few of the hotels taken care of, and was excited to experience two places I have always wanted to go to. From the Elephant Sanctuary to private villas to a boat tour around different islands – it was a paper perfect trip. I knew going into it that it was monsoon season in Bali, but was told it was like tropical showers and the weather in both places would be great.
We took off for Hong Kong on December 20th – with an 8 hour layover we were excited for. This was my first real trip with my boyfriend so I wanted it to be perfect. I soon realized, perfection can’t be planned.
On our first Hong Kong layover we went straight to Lin Huang for a traditional and delicious dim sum breakfast. I loved it. We then took the tram up to Victoria Peak, a insanely beautiful view of the city just as the sun was rising. After that we explored the Ladies Market for trinkets and other small bites, and then it was time to head back to the airport.
A few hours later we landed in Phuket – it was nighttime already so we could barely see what we were driving through – heading straight to our hotel The Keemala. Made up of beautiful treehouses in the jungle, we woke up to nature’s sounds in our little private pool villa. The weather was really gloomy and cloudy, so we headed down to breakfast which is when the discussion began. The Weather app, Dark Sky, any .com you could imagine – everywhere we looked it said rain and clouds for days. We looked at Bali – thunderstorms for the next 20 days too!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a cozy rainy day – but when you travel across the world for the only time off both my boyfriend and I actually get all year without work attached… we didn’t want to waste it NOT being on a beach all day.
Pinching and squeezing the Iphone map we looked at all nearby places, from other parts of Thailand to the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and other countries in Southeast Asia. Every single place from the Maldives to Bora Bora – RAIN RAIN RAIN.
The day was passing by as I cried hysterically feeling like a failure for planning such a perfect trip in the wrong time of year to go. How could I not realize this would happen…
Finally we made a decision – lets get to Bangkok tonight so we can be in a major city with an international airport – and decide where to go from there. And just like that our real adventure began.
Without hesitation I wiped my tears away, cancelled every single reservation I spent months making, packed up my still very packed bags, and headed to the airport for a one hour flight to Bangkok. We read on Vogue.com about this amazing hotel called The Siam, and through AMEX were able to book it last minute.
A potential 24 hours in a new city? We weren’t going to waste a minute in Bangkok. That night we landed and headed straight to NAHM – awarded one of the best restaurants in the world. I changed in the lobby of the Como hotel which is where dinner was and we sipped down martinis while eating a Michelin star Thai meal. After our delicious dinner we headed to the hotel and got a good night sleep.
Waking up refreshed, we made the decision – AUSTRALIA! Sydney to be exact.. we were already so far around the world, what was another 10 hours for beautiful beaches and an awesome place we both have never been to. We had friends there too – who already had a bunch of really cool NYE and NYD plans we could come along for – so it was a no brainer. We booked a flight for that night, so we could still enjoy the day and explore Bangkok. With our plans finally somewhat made, we headed on a private boat to the famous flower market. We walked along the water passing all the palaces and temples nearby, stopping to eat street food along the way. After the palaces we headed outside of the city to the “weekend markets” – which was Thai food heaven for my boyfriend. I ended up eating things off skewers and trying just about anything that looked somewhat interesting. I left with a tummy ache but didn’t regret a second of it!
Back to the airport we took off for an overnight flight to Sydney, landed and headed straight to Bondi Beach – to our new home at the QT Bondi.
Bondi – we dropped our bags, grabbed our bathing suits and headed straight to the Icebergs for a swim. The weather was beyond perfect. Post swim and tanning we walked along the beach to North Bondi Fish – one of my favorite places for fresh sashimi and fish tacos for lunch. That night we met up with friends at Mamasan Bondi (Bad Mama) for dinner and drinks – it had cool hipster vibes with incredible Asian food.
The next morning we woke up to clouds, it was Christmas day and everything was closed. We didn’t come all this way for a cloudy day and had heard incredible things about a nearby place called Hamilton Island – the Whitsundays (by the Great Barrier Reef). Said to be some of the nicest beaches in the world we hopped online and booked the last hotel room on the island. A quick hour and a half flight – we packed an overnight bag and were off again! We flew to Hamilton Island and were on the beach with blazing sun and the clearest blue water a few hours later. Completely exhausted from traveling we laid on the beach for hours watching the sun set, then fell asleep early.
The next morning we woke up and took a private helicopter to Whitehaven Beach. Flying over the Great Barrier Reef and landing on the whitest sand beach with the bluest waters Ive ever seen in my entire life, it was incredible. We landed right on the beach with not a person in site. A picnic was set up by our pilot while we ran into the water topless and enjoyed a day of sun and champagne. It was so so romantic.
Back on the chopper we flew again over the most incredible waters Ive ever seen, and took our buggy back to the Marina for lunch at a cute cafe. That night we went to the Qualia for dinner (which is the luxury boutique hotel we would have stayed in but it was of course fully booked). Dinner there was delicious and we stayed for cocktails after.
The next morning we flew back to Sydney and had sunny perfect weather for an incredibly fun trip for the rest of the time – here’s a little of what we did…
Restaurants / Bars / Activities:
- Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel for lunch / drinks
- North Bondi Fish for an amazing lunch right off Bondi Beach
- The Icebergs for a day of tanning and dinner at their top floor restaurant
- Bondi to Coogee walk (an incredible scenic walk along the water)
- Coogee Pavillion
- Porch and Parlour (breakfast spot)
- The Shop (breakfast / lunch spot)
- Drake Eatery (for lunch)
- Mr Wongs for dinner in Syndey
- The Opera House for oysters and a quick drink
- The Island (for a party)
- Gould Street (for the best shopping in Bondi)
- Paddington (for all the Aussie brands shopping)
- Tamarama Beach, Kutti Beach, Bronte Beach (the Bonte Baths too), Camp Cove
- Raw Bar (for lunch)
- La Fonda (Mexican)
- Neighborhood (for cocktails)
- Freds (intimate and cozy for dinner downstairs)
- Seans Panorama
I absolutely LOVED Sydney and can’t wait to go back to Australia because I have SO MUCH MORE to explore from driving up the coast to Byron Bay and Melbourne.
We left Sydney for our last layover in Hong Kong again – which we quickly fell in love with too. We booked a night at the Upper House hotel (a super chic boutique hotel), and a dinner reservation at Mott 32 (you have to reserve the peking duck in advance). The next morning we explored the Central District, walking up Hollywood Road and then along Gough Street too. It was recommended that we eat at Ho Lee Fook, Lok Chai Teahouse, or Little Bao for lunch – but we ended up going to this famous noodle place called Wong Chi Kei instead (it was so yummy).
Overall it turned out to be one hell of an adventure and I loved every second of it!