Sydney Harbour Bridge at sunset

Sydney was full on, beautiful, busy, and reflective for us.  We started off arriving on Sunday night; Nerida and Paul picked us up from the airport and we had a casual dinner at their house in Bondi.

Monday:  We went over to Manly on the ferry and saw our first magnificent Sydney sunset over the bridge and opera house.  We were reminded of Sydney’s beauty – the harbour, bridge, opera house, national parks, north head – there are definitely parts of Sydney that will stay in our hearts forever and the Sydney Opera House is still our favourite building in the world.  We had dinner with Andy, Steph, Janie, Iain & Sandra in our old hometown pad of Osborne Court.  It was awesome to catch up with everyone and hear of future plans, all while sitting in the neighbouring penthouse to where Sydney stole our hearts.

Tuesday: We spent some time on Bondi beach and had our first pies of the trip – there is a vegetarian pie store that has about 10 different vege options to choose from as well as gluten free options – yum.  We then travelled to Neutral Bay to meet up with Tim, Anita and Sean.  We had hoped to have dinner at our former favourite Japanese restaurant, Dan Dan, but it’s sister restaurant Sushi Samurai had taken over both and so we ate there.

Wednesday:  A long trip over to Cromer Heights.  We found Jen’s house and knocked on the door and Steve answered (at this point in time we hadn’t met Steve yet) “Hi, is this Jen’s house?”, Steve, looking very confused… “Yeah….”, “Hi, I’m Karen and this is Dre, you must be Steve…” Jen leaning over stairs “I was expecting you guys tomorrow!”  “Really?”  “Yeah… you said the 9th didn’t you?”  “Ummm….  well, today’s the 9th?  Isn’t it?”  Haha.  So we arrived at Jen’s house a day earlier than she thought we were, but yes, it was the 9th, and she’d invited everyone else to come the following day.  Not to worry, we were here for company, so let’s cook and then eat!  So we raided Jen’s fridge and proceeded to cook dinner while she phoned friends who were meant to come tomorrow.  Lee turned up, so all was not lost.  Sadly we didn’t get to catch up with Gracie, maybe next time.  A delicious dinner and lots of wine was had by all, and all in all it was an awesome night.

Thursday: We made it back to Bondi from Jen’s by about lunch time and arranged to catch up with Julia and Sam.  We were going to meet them in the city but then we all decided Bondi was the place to be.  So we walked down to the beach and met up with them.  We all did the beginning part of the Bondi – Coogee walk, sat on the beach until the sun started going down, and then walked back into town for some drinks and snacks.  We then proceeded to have a yummy dinner cooked by Paul, a fish curry.

Friday:  OK so by now we were realising that we should have allowed a few extra days for Sydney!  We met another Paul in Lane Cove, and proceeded to sell him many of our worldly possessions that we no longer need for our Asian lifestyle.  We then moved on to our beloved Manly, where we had a typical “Lauren” meal, nothing less than a 5 star restaurant quality, 3 course, wine matched meal.  Ben cooked prawns and yabbies on the bbq while Lauren made a delectable tuna cevice, a cauliflower puree with Marlin and salads, and a berry compote for dessert.  YUM.  Lauren, you remain our favourite chef.

Saturday:  Stop off in Lane Cove again on the way back from Manly to Bondi.  Arrive in Bondi hungry and in need of a shower, late for our own party.  Nerida has organised almost all of our friends to come around and catch up with us (eternally grateful to you Nerida!) along with amazing snacks, like cucumber and smoked salmon and dill, homemade guacamole, veges for the bbq, and an amazing gluten free dessert.  Nerida, you are an amazing chef too.  So we spent Saturday lunchtime/afternoon catching up with Mikey, Costa, Nick, Amber, Hunter, Soph and Ryan as well as Nerida and Paul.  It was fantastic to meet Hunter, Nick and Amber’s son who is now one.  He is so much bigger than our nephew Storm, and of a similar chilled out temperament, exploring his world with curiousity.  Also it turned out to be our only chance to see Nick and Amber, and Mikey and Costa, so we were really pleased to have this time to chat and find out what’s been going on for these guys since we left.

Sunday:  Well, we had originally planned to have a chilled out morning and afternoon, after the Saturday, and then see Nick and Amber late afternoon and evening.  Alas, it was not to be, and we ended up seeing Anita for a coffee/fruit juice, Charlie and Deb for an awesome catch up at their newly purchased house in Frenchs Forest, and then stopping at Ry and Sarah’s house in Manly where we also managed to catch up with Steve, Carly and Cyrus by chance.  Catching up with Deb and Charlie was really good – they are 9 months pregnant and absolutely glowing with the prospect of their baby daughter being born, and their house was pretty cool too.  Then Ry and Steve entertained us for a couple of hours while Cyrus (Steve & Carly’s baby) slept and the girls were out in Manly.  It was an unexpected pleasure to catch up with Steve and all that has happend in his life over the 4 years since we saw him last.  Ry was just the same as we remembered him, and we honoured the night by getting tried and true Chat Thai for dinner, our favourite restaurant in Manly from when we lived there.

Monday:  We caught the train up to Woy Woy on the central coast, to see Scotty, Soph, Sammy and number 4 Paton who is currently cooking in Soph’s tummy.  It was a really fun day with a great Aussie seafood lunch, a trip to Sammy’s favourite park, where we rode the swings and watched Sammy ride the flying fox, then went to the beach, where it was far too cold and windy to stay, and coffees and afternoon tea at another park on the water before heading back on the train.  It was cool to see beautiful wee Sam all grown up, at 3 years old she has an awesome personality and is heaps of fun.  We then had our final dinner with Paul and Nerida; Nerida had picked up on the fact that the one thing we do miss in Laos is Salmon.  And so, we had a perfect last meal to end our Sydney experience:  Crispy skinned Salmon on the bbq, with a delicous salad.  Nerida, we really hope you know how much we appreciated all you did for us, especially the Saturday get together and the Salmon on the last night.  Heaven.  All of it.

And so on the Tuesday morning Nerida took us back to the airport to fly back to Asia.  We were left with so many feelings about Sydney that it’s hard to even begin to write about them all.  It was weird how everything felt both so normal, and yet so far removed from our current life, all at the same time.  It was sobering to see everyone ‘plugged in’ to their iphones/laptops/facebook/whatever else the current trend is.  “The Matrix” has reached reality big time.  It was sad to see so many people looking so disheartened and downcast about their lives or whatever it was they were headed off to do.  It was interesting too see how much a part of the rat race life in general here is.  It was awesome to see Sydney harbour in all it’s glory.  It was the best thing to see all of our friends.  We do miss all of our friends, and often think of all of you guys.  But in the end, right now, there’s not much on earth we’d give to exchange the life we have in Laos.  The freedom we have created there and the life we have is just something else.  We can’t wait to get back.

Trip to the Gold Coast

We had a quick weekend up on the GC once again.  It was an honour to be flown up for the business builder of the year 2010 awards and to speak from the stage alongside some amazing talent.  We had a fantastic dinner with the team and caught up with our fellow internet entrepreneurs who have become our friends over the past few years.  And spent the rest of the time on the beach dodging the many blueys which had washed ashore.

Our 4th Wedding Anniversary

We headed up to Port Stephens for our 4th Wedding Anniversary and it was fantastic!  We stayed in a lovely apartment overlooking the beach and spent a lot of time swimming and gazing at the view.  We also decided to go on a bush walk on the hottest day of the year, 46 degrees!  Luckily it was along the coast so we went for swims along the way, and eventually got so hot that we went back out to the main road and jumped on a bus back to Nelson Bay.  A good week away.  You can see our photos here.

Blue Mountains for Amber’s 30th


We went to the Blue Mountains with a group of our friends and all rented a huge house to celebrate Amber’s 30th.  We had a fantastic time!  It was a Japanese-themed weekend, with everyone dressing up in Japanese fancy dress and all of the food was also Japanese.  Yum!  We split our time between doing some more of the walks in the Blue Mountains National Park and partying.  Our photos are here.


The Blue Mountains


We went up to the Blue Mountains for our 3rd Wedding Anniversary.  We had heard about an amazing walk called ‘The National Pass’ and decided this would be a fun thing to do in combination with a mini-holiday to the Blue Mountains.  The day before we left Sydney the weather was forecast to be very cold and rainy up in the mountains – and so luckily we packed all of our warmest clothes.  When we woke up on the first morning it was freezing, but we got rugged up and set off for our walk.  While we were waiting at the train station we watched what we thought was an amazing rain storm roll in over the hills, what we didn’t realise is that the reason why it looked so cool was because it was actually snow!  We were soon in the middle of a snow storm, outside in the freezing mountains with icy, icy wind.  It soon passed though and blue skies were once again, so we set off.  The walk is 4 hours long so when we were 20 mins into it and we got stranded in a hail storm, we were seriously thinking about turning back and doing the walk the next day.  But again the skies cleared to blue, so we continued on.  Within minutes we were so glad that we had kept going, we were rewarded with the most beautiful walk we have done.  Many places along the way we could see over 20 kms over the mountain ranges, it was jaw-dropping and just amazing.  The weather added to the beauty as well, with the blue mist from the mountains and the blue skies, the waterfalls were sparkling and almost deep blue… very cool to see.  The photo above shows the light reflecting off the waterfalls, this is what is really looked like.  Next time any of you come to Sydney you really must go out to the Blue Mountains and do this walk, it really is worth the trip.

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Dre getting snowed on!

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Dre and the steep stairs, and another waterfall.

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This one we are standing behind the waterfall.  We have lots of cool photos, if you want to see them click here.

Our 10th Anniversary

A couple of weeks ago it was the 10th Anniversary of when we met.  To celebrate, we decided to have a holiday in the Hunter Valley, relaxing and drinking lots of wine ;)


We did a fantastic winery tour – the best one we’ve ever done, and as well as drinking good wine and sampling fresh Hunter Valley produce, we spent a day in the Hunter Valley Gardens.  Everything about the holiday was superb and it was an absolutely perfect way to spend some time.  You can see our photos here.

Manly Dam


Over the past few weeks we haven’t had a free day (or hour!) to ourselves at all, so we decided to have some time out and go to Manly Dam last Saturday.  We spent the day doing the walks and also just lazing in the sun on the rocks, it was such a good day.  We saw lots of crazy insects (we reckon we see about one new insect we have never seen before every week over here!) and also some cool white spiders which live on white flowers and are really well camouflaged.  To see our photos click here.

Fairlight Walk

We’ve been doing lots of walks (as usual) around Sydney of late, we recently did the Fairlight walk just near our house.  This walk we’ve done many times but thought we’d put some photos up this time for those of you who haven’t been for a visit.  We live near so many beaches, this is just one of them but only around 10 minutes walk away from our apartment.  Click here for our photos.

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Our 2nd Wedding Anniversary

We had an awesome anniversary weekend, which started by going up to Palm Beach and catching the ferry across to Mackerel Beach.  We took a picnic and wine and spent the day over there, a beautiful white sand beach with not another soul to be seen, and bushwalks in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.  We went on a bushwalk and found a bush turkey, and heaps of jumping bull ants!  These ants can bite and sting, and have massive orange pincers and are about 2cm long.  They are a bluey colour and are a bit scary.  (OK, just Karen was scared.)  Lots of people who get bitten apparently develop an allergy to them and get a swollen ankle/leg if they are bitten on the foot, and the pain lasts for weeks.  We were pretty keen to get close enough to have a look but not so close that we’d become their next victims!!!  We escaped unscathed but it definitely added some excitement to the day.  Mainly we lazed around on the beach and went for swims, it was a lovely day.  We took lots of photos, which you can see here.