2017...

this year got off to a whirl-wind of a start with a trip to singapore - london - dubai straight up, on jan and the momentum honestly has not stopped. work is pretty manic right now, we are in the early stages of getting two business off the ground, we are about to start another renovation and on top of all that, we are getting married in 20 days.

this is the reason its taken me so god damn long to update this blog. one of my new years resolutions was to certainly keep on top of this more however some times, its a bit difficult to be honest.

i will turn 30 this year which is something i am acutely aware of and for some reason, i felt compelled to try and do my best to visit a country i have never been before every year, from now on. i am actually really excited to see which country that will be in 2017. perhaps africa. somewhere in south america or maybe even somewhere closer to home. who knows?

i am going to upload a few travel snaps from the past months adventures, to keep you abreast of where i have been before doing another quick wedding update. i hope you enjoy! 

singapore

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Jamee ParkerComment
a whip around hipster-ville....

yes yes i know that this little blogging bride to be has been very slack of late in the updates. i have a legitimate reason, i promise. i have been travelling for work, so whilst i won’t be able to update you at the moment with the wedding progress, i will update you with a few little snaps from my latest trip to london!

i returned from london at the end of last week in what was a manic twelve day trip to dubai and london. i love my job, i really do, however the travel element was not really factored into our larger plans of organizing a wedding and full scale renovation when we opted to plan a wedding in six months, so these latest travel stints have certainly thrown a spanner in the works.

this being said, i am following my trusty wedding planning guide and seem to still be ticking things off the list (i have also enlisted the services of a wedding stylist/on the day coordinator who is keeping me a little in check as well).

so whilst i technically had five full days in london, three of those were full up with work work so this guide is really an overview of my weekend, the spots we visited and maybe some you may like to check out when your next in good old london-town.

this trip i spent a lot of time in the north part of london; camden, soho, clerkenwall and stoke newington – so i was certainly hanging out with the hipsters, i was in a new neck of the woods.

saturday am

brunch at all press espresso followed by some delectable snacks and vintage shopping at broadway markets (i encourage you to go down some of the cute side alleys as this is where we found some beautiful hand crafted homewares and one of a kind jewelry).

saturday pm

make your way to morty and bobs for the best bloody mary i’ve ever had (it was also my first) and a bite to eat (gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches anyone).

if you are up for a bit of shopping and the thought of oxford circus freaks the living shit out of you, head to kings road off sloane square for some retail therapy.

once you’ve headed home to spruce up, head on out to bistrotheque for dinner (this place is a bit hard to find, but once you do, its uber amazing) before heading into shoreditch for some drinks at one of the many bars or clubs.

sunday am

head to clerkenwall for breakfast at granger and co (australian owned but man they do great coffee) or modern pantry.

from here colombia street flower markets are a beautiful way to spend a lazy sunday before heading into soho for a bite to eat. i found the bus the easiest way to get aroud these parts, its also quite pretty and fab people watching.

sunday pm

soho has many many great restaurants however we opted to dine at mele e pere, a fusion restaurant which serves up a fantastic french/italian menu. the pumpkin gnocchi with black truffle shavings was certainly my pick!

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Jamee ParkerComment
i am a blogging bride...
hellomay

the blogging bride. the blushing bride. i am beginning to swish these fun terms around in my mind, similar to swishing around a nice mouthful of fine red wine on a cold winters evening.

its just gone a little over two and a half weeks since kurt and i set a wedding date, which was in fact roughly six months almost to the date, that we will inevitably wed.

this being the case, i thought i might document my journey of pulling a wedding together in five and a half months for those also considering pulling off the “impossible” as many peeps have said to me recently.

before i go into too much detail, i would like to disclose a few things. i have a bit of experience managing and organising events as i worked as a part-time wedding coordinator at a fancy resort whilst at university. this however by no means makes me an expert! the next thing you must know is that i am a typical anal-retentive virgo and like to work with lists, diaries and calendars and i consider myself pretty darn organised.

and so begins this mini-series of the blogging bride (jamee edition) which will be exciting, nerve-wracking and you will probably begin to notice that the closer the wedding gets, the more wine i will consume whilst juggling work, travel, home renovations, exercise and planning a wedding.

pick the date

kurt proposed on august 5, 2016 in bali, the details here on an earlier blog, we moved back to australia on august 28, which was also the date we chose our wedding date. whilst swimming and sipping bintangs and watching the clock to when we needed to jump into a cab enroute to the airport, saturday 25 febuary was decided upon.

get my butt into gear (and shape)

the next thing i did, which some of you may think is weird, was go to the gym and sign up with a personal trainer. with a little under six months, this for me, was crucial as i want to look my best and therefore diet and exercise needs to be high priority.

hair and beauty

as you know, i work for an incredible skincare company, so all things hair and beauty are at the top of my list (always). preparation is crucial for healthy and glowing skin and luscious locks. not only was this week focused around getting a big hair cut and overhauling my haircare regime, i started to lock in my facials for the next few months. i am aiming to get a treatment every three weeks, so this first week i started with a much needed microdermabrasion which will be followed this week by my second treatment, a peel.

another note on this. i have also started to grow out my brows, even more than usual, as i have a particular shape in mind and do need a bit of time to achieve this. rather than usual waxes, i am going to step up the brow-tints and keep them tidy myself in the coming months.

misc.

according to wedding website the knot, there are a few crucial things that i should have locked and loaded at this point, but as mentioned, we are only now into week three so there are still a lot of loose ends dangling around.

what i have managed to do at this stage is: chose a location for the ceremony and reception, order save the dates (they are currently at the printer) and choose the wedding stationary, compile a wedding guest list and obtain addresses, i have booked our makeup artist, we have secured our dj for the reception, booked and paid for accommodation for the bridal parties, secured a location for the “recovery brunch”, started feeling out locations for the rehearsal dinner and welcome bbq and this weekend we are meeting with a potential civil celebrant with the view of looking him in asap provided we gel with him at coffee.

obviously there are a lot of other things in the pipeline but at this stage, we are feeling good about it all. calm and somewhat collected. i purchased hello may this week and have been browsing the pages for some inspiration and must admit, this has already come in handy with a fabulous discount code to the print fairy, the spot i am using for the stationary.

let me know if you have pulled together a wedding in six months or less and give me any hints and tips!

Jamee ParkerComment
when one door closes...
balidoor

when one door opens... a great start to any sentence i think. in my dreams the end of that sentence would be pack your bags and go travelling, but in this instance, it ends with another one opens. when one door closes, another one opens, and so begins this little blog update. 

kurt and i left bali roughly a week ago, bound for australia. thats right, we packed our bags, moved out of our villa, had a little mini-vacay and bid farewell to bali as our home (at least for the time being). we can tick that little goodie off the bucket list. live in bali for six months. check check and check. 

bali was a blast at times, a whirlwind of fun, excitement and craziness all in one eight month bundle of shenanigans. we loved it and hated it (sometimes) but would not change a thing about calling bali our home from february - september 2016. 

we are now back on home soil and whilst its not as chaotic as bali, we have a few exciting months ahead of us with a big home renovation, a wedding in feb 2017 scheduled and some fabulous prospects on the job front - all in sight. 

this being the case, we will be doing a lot of travel around this glorious country for the time being so stay tuned for some fun updates about the spots that we will visit between now and our next big adventure. 

 

Jamee ParkerComment
amazing amed...
amed

for those of you who know us, kurt and i have always held a place in our hearts for amed. in the past we have driven around the island and always seem to come back to this quiet and quaint fishing village and we can't really put our finger on why.

after recently finishing the refurbishments of our vintage motorcycles (pictured above) we couldn't wait to get out on the open road and head to amed for a long weekend away. as i am sure you can image, the trip was meant to take roughly two hours but given bali traffic, the unpredictable downpours of rain and the general fact that i am completely new to motorbike riding, the trip took just over four hours.

yes there were a few road-side stops (nb. tantrums) along the way however we finally reached amed, albeit a little wet and wired from the ride and happened upon a glorious villa that could accommodate us last minute. it was a real treat for us (villa bukit segara) and to make the tiresome ride all the more worth it, out came a glorious bottle of champagne which kurt had smuggled with him all the way from perth and to cut a long story short, kurt proposed that afternoon overlooking the ocean and i of course said yes! 

apparently, unbeknownst to me, at the beginning of the year kurt said to himself, it that woman rides a motorbike to amed - i'll marry her - and so i did, and so he popped the question in the most perfect and surprising way. so needless to say we are now in that newly-engaged phase but back to the story, we still had to ride back to seminyak. i can tell you, my butt did not want to get back on that motorbike seat after the ride over but the scenery was well worth the trip home. 

if you are heading to bali and have a few days spare, i urge you to make your way to amed, if you are reluctant to leave the island but want to get away from the hustle and bustle. sure its quiet, but the locals are friendly, the seafood is always fresh and you can't help but be charmed by the picturesque coastline and the crystal clear sea. 

Jamee ParkerComment
news flash - i might actually like bangkok...

ok coop-ettes i am about to make a big change on stance here. my own stance that is.. i might actually like bangkok. after a few previous disasters here including bombings, a political crisis and many food-borne illnesses… i have not always had a fondness for bangkok.

a few weeks ago however i spent three evenings (for work – but i have tried to make the most of my down time) and i do believe this thriving metropolis may have something to offer after all...

after landing at around 2pm on an overcast saturday afternoon i was content with spending an afternoon lounging by the pool however that was not to be (read. rainy season) so it was a relaxing bath (much needed after my travels in singapore and malaysia), a movie and room service. for those of you who follow my blog, this is not something that i usually do, however i really enjoyed every selfish minute of it.

sunday was my day. i had always planned on making the most of my one day off so it was a private driver, chatuchak markets, nahm for dinner and off to maggie choo’s for a night cap. i felt that i really had planned the perfect day, which captured the essence of bangkok… from the markets and haggling to a very well-reviewed spot for dinner (read foodies from all around the world) before a well-deserved nightcap at a downtown favourite.

big shout-out to the gorg folk at a pair and a spare for there weekend itinerary ideas!

not once this trip did i venture out in a tuk-tuk or hit a street stall for some tom-yum but i must admit, this being my first time to travel to these places solo, i really needed to feel confident and safe in my surroundings. needless to say, the oriental residence was the perfect base (#workperks).

p.s. sorry about the shit quality of pictures on this post, there were taken on iphone.

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Jamee ParkerComment
when nature attacks...
nature

well its offical - there are so many, so many good things that i could highlight about being a permanent resident of bali. however on this occasion, i would like to point out the not so good things. the things that are like an emotional slap in the face. 

it has taken a bit of getting used to living on my own. not that i am alone all the time, kurt is here 50/50 and man oh man, sometimes i do revel in having my own space. there are no wet towels and board shorts left on the floor all over the house, no empty bottles of bintang in the sink (naturally the rubbish bin is next to the sink but they havent quite made it there) phone charges and cables left all over the place - you get my drift.

you see when i am alone i revel in eating a bowl of pasta, watching netflix and having a nice glass of vino or having giving myself a facial/manicure and pedicure whilst listening to backdated hack podcasts. 

but today, things came to a head and i need to highlight the benefits of having a man around the house. when it suits, of course. today i was showering. just taking a leisurely shower after a busy morning of body pump, breakfast and emails when i reach for my trusty frank body scrub.

this is an everyday occurrence, something i would never even think twice about. except today, i unassumingly reached my hand into the bag to scoop up a handful of coffee granules in anticipation of exfoliating away the dead skin cells sitting on my skin - when.... a dead gecko found its way into the scoop of coffee scrub i was about to liberally apply al over my body...

just the other day there was a gigantic spider in my bathroom and too afraid to kill it or try and move it along, as i don't know what type of weird tropical venom these balinese spiders have, i locked the door and hoped it wouldn't make my way into my bedroom and make a nest in my hair while i slept.

another thing that happened to me last week, which was relatively mortifying was that i was just riding along, on my scooter, minding my own business on my way to lunch and a wasp flew into my helmet and starting stinging my neck. obviously i was moving at a quick pace on the bike and couldn't just pull over to kill it, no. i had to let it bite me until it was safe for me to come to a complete stop. needless to say, luck i am not allergic to stings of this nature. however i did have a red neck for the next few days which was covered in welts. 

so i must admit that i am just waiting for an effing snake to make its way into my kitchen one day soon while i am cooking some food and my trifecta of nature hating on me may be over with... i don't know.

this may all seem a little odd and like i am carrying on a bit, but when you have no-one to come home to, no one to move the spiders on or someone to care a little if you have wasp stings all over your neck, it is a little bit of a reality check. 

Jamee ParkerComment
slow down on gili air...

we have been avoiding the gili islands like the plague these past six years as the tales we hear from fellow travellers about the infamous gili-t and the shenanigans that go on have well and truely spooked us.

that being the case, we have had a few long weekends the past few weeks and i wanted to get away. laze on beautiful turquoise beaches and well and truely relax. and well and behold, the gili islands seemed a good choice. close. cheap. relatively easy to get to. but how to avoid gili-t...?

i did some research and gili air seemed the natural choice. a spilt between the mayhem and party vibe of gili-t but with the quaintness and chilled out vibe of gili meno. so i booked us a place to stay and off we went, to gili air. 

after a few hiccups and delays with our fast boat (tossing up between flying from bali to lombok or fast boast is always a cause for concern) and we were in island paradise. where the turquoise water beckoned and the dramatic rainforest covered wild mountains of senggigi continually threatened rain just over the small body of water dividing the islands and lombok. 

we stayed at the divine slow villas on gili air and julie and her team made our long weekend just perfect. the villas were idyllic. every little detail was though of and we really couldnt have chosen a better spot. we hended up most days at a divine beach club on the south eastern corner and drank cold bintangs, swam and ate delicious organic salads (kurt opted for the burgers).

there is certainly somthing to be said for taking some time out to simply just slow down. the main method of transport on the island is either horse and cart or bicycle. we opted for the latter and ended up riding the circumference of the island while we were there. we headed back to bali a little sad as our three days left us feeling like we had had a week off. so where to next? with a visa run on the cards in the coming months, perhaps we venture further afield to somewhere new, or somewhere old. vietnam. thailand. laos. who knows...

if you are heading to gili air, i can recommend the following spots from our personal experience - accommodation: slow villas (who can also arrange private transfers from your villa or hotel in bali right to their door on gili air), food: the mexican kitchen, scallywags beach club for their evening beach bbq, mowies for food and drinks, sunset drinks: scratch beach club and mirage sunset bar, coffee: coffee and thyme, beach club: scallywags beach club.

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our bali life...
ricefields

april is my favourite time in bali. there is always the lingering smell of fire in the air and a real energy. its rice harvesting time so the streets are abuzz from first light with locals in their little handwoven hats heading out into the fields for a long day of pick, pick, picking.

the endless blue skies are now only broken by the occasional welcome spur of rain as opposed to the daily race to get home to beat the looming storm during the wet season and the humidity seems to be dying off.

people either love bali or they hate it. you never really seem to talk to a person who is ho-hum about bali. i truely believe that to enjoy this place and really just "get it", you need to give yourself over to bali and just go with the flow.

bali has its own pulse. its a living, working organism that has blood flowing through its veins. the balinese people have a vibrancy and kindness to them, they value family and hard work and are always busy - there is always somewhere to be, somewhere to go or someone that needs tending to.

kurt and i often and talk about bali and our magical life here, which unfortunately he only gets to experience 50% if the time. but we discuss riding a motorbike and how it truely is one of the best ways to experience the true bali.

the smells, yes good (think sate ayam on the open grill) and bad... (use your imagination) , the sounds, of honking horns, ringing bells and chit chat, you get either the sun, smog or rain on your face and really get amongst the daily grind of bali... so tell me this - when are you coming to visit?

 

Jamee ParkerComment
bali eats... dinner

well here is my last food post for a little bit, to wrap up the three part series of great bali eateries for breakfast, lunch and dinner. i hope you have enjoyed these suggestions and that they assist you on where to eat on your holiday/ weekend trip or even if your an expat looking for new spots to frequent.

dinner would absolutely have to be my favourite meal of the day, period. i love spending time choosing a cuisine, a restaurant and am usually able to pop in somewhere for drinks either before or after. by doing this, i am usually able to tick a few different spots off my list as well as have a cocktail (or two) before dinner. 

dinner

petitenget - one of my new favourite spots for b,l or dinner however dinner at this place is a real treat. the wine menu is just as extensive as the food menu, which is rare in bali. wine is a commodity (seriously a $4 bottle of wine in australia runs for around $25 here) so its a real treat. the homemade pasta will blow your mind and the great thing about petitenget is that they will often send small tasters free of charge in between courses. (pic 1 below)

la baracca - this is one of my go to spots for a cracking pizza. the simple pizzas are very similar to what you will find in europe. minimal toppings but great quality. my go-to is certainly their proscuitto pizza with rocket. i will admit, i do even go-jek this place if i'm swimming in the pool and cant be bothered leaving the villa. 

motel mexicola - a firm fav for tourists and expats alike however its certainly over rated but is a go-to if on your first trip to bali and want to get into the mix. the vibe here is great. the staff and the music are both fantastic. the mexican is good but over priced for what it is. book in advance. 

hanks pizza -  a real expat spot, this place is great on a thursday night for drinks, pizza and some good live local talent. this place is known for its mean cocktails and also gets a bit crazy later in the evening. its a great spot to get a little loose before a night out. 

watercress - the food here is always colourful, fresh, healthy, seasonal and fresh. its worth booking in here if you are staying in north seminyak or petitenget for a consistent, well priced dinner spot. 

saigon street - vietnamese that will blow your mind. this is a great spot if you are either at the w hotel or potato head for sunset cocktails. all you have to do is walk across the road and you'll think you are in a groovy little spot in ho chi minh city. everything on the menu is good. strike that. fantastic. another plus here is that they serve champagne by the glass, another rarity in bali. (pic 2 below).

the butchers club - oh em gee. i heard about this place from a few of the girls at the gym. go figure given that you would have to work out for seven hours to work off these cheese burgers, duck fat chips and blue cheese salad. this place is the bomb. a real treat but worth every bloody mouthful. 

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Jamee ParkerComment