So you want to go to Bondi?

When I first visited Sydney I met up with some Aussie friends at Bondi (pronounced “Bond-eye”) beach. I remember being shocked that they actually lived there. I asked one of them: “So you go to work and then you come home and…go to the beach?”.

Early morning on Campbell Parade #nofilter

I had travelled halfway around the world to visit this famous beach and here was a guy who had a similar day-to-day as me (similar job in media, working in the city), but he would finish his day in paradise. I couldn’t comprehend that you could actually live like this: city life and beach life together as one, with no compromise in sight. He then pointed to a block of apartments just behind me and said, ‘Yup, and I live right there!’. Gobsmacked.

It didn’t take long for me to move over. Soon I was working in the city, living a block from the beach and enjoying this miraculous, #nofilter life. – Alex

And now, five years later, it’s time to leave this beautiful place. It’s been amazing to pack up and not feel that panic of “What if I never do this again?”. That sense of completeness has come from hundreds of sunrise and sunset swims, gelatos, boardwalk/coastal walks, grassy knoll sits, and more. I think Tory and I can both say that we’ve lived Bondi to the fullest. In honour of this we’ve put together a little guide to help you get the most magic out of our favourite bubble…  

Just an average sparkly Saturday #nofilter

Bondi – The bad

A lot of people in Sydney have an opinion about Bondi. Most of the time it goes something like this: too busy, too touristy, too expensive, too vain, too party hard, too wellness, etc. But I think, as with everything, there are many facets to it. Yes, you can find all of those things if you choose to, but our experience in Bondi has pretty much been the opposite.

Too busy:

If you like walking, you’re in paradise. If you try to drive, then you’re asking for it. And of course one of the most famous beaches in the world, in the biggest city in Australia, is going to be busy. What else would you expect? Summer brings the crowds for good reason, it’s 20min from the city and it’s gorgeous! Come winter though it’s a quiet little paradise, but you have to get out there to enjoy it.

Too touristy:

Campbell Parade, the main street along the beach, is usually tourist central, but as soon as you turn onto Hall St, Curlewis St, wander into North Bondi, etc. you’re all good. When you live in Bondi you get to experience the strength of its community. Try to NOT run into someone you know – I literally can’t leave the house without having an impromptu catch up with a few friends along the way.

Too expensive:

From billionaire penthouses (James Packer had a property on my street) to backpacker share houses…there’s literally something for everyone. I was lucky enough to find an apartment with very cheap rent and stay in it for five years. It was cheaper than what I paid in Toronto – and it was bigger, nicer and one block from the beach. Believe guys!

Wholesome afternoon at Icebergs #nofilter

Too vain:

The land of fitness and yoga. Bondi is a land of beautiful people and it’s easy to look at that as intimidating, but instead of looking at how ‘good’ most people look I think it’s important to look at what they’re actually doing…running the beach, swimming at Icebergs, coastal walks, ocean swims, outdoor workouts…get amongst it! Find the joy and stop caring about what everyone looks like. Most people are outside pursuing their sporty passions, so find yours and join them. My favourite group are the 70+ budgie smuggler (speedo) swim crew, who are out for a sunrise swim EVERY, single morning, shouting hellos, always with big smiles on their faces.

Too party-hard:

If you’re looking for it you can always find it, but one of the beauties of Bondi is that most places aren’t open past 12. This means you can go out and still be well-rested for sunrise!

Too wellness:

The land of GF, kombucha, bio-dynamic, mylks…yup, all true. I think I’m too far down the rabbit hole to comment on this one haha. I’ve drank the Kool-Aid and it was refined sugar free!

Tory and Anna, the sunrise squad #nofilter

Bondi – the good

It’s called “the bubble” for good reason.

It’s the only place I’ve ever found where from about 5am-8am (give or take your schedule), you can swim, surf, run, do any other kind of workout, chat with friends while walking the boardwalk, meditate, be lucky enough to catch a breaching whale or jumping dolphin or two…but still be in your city office by 9am ready to pump out your day. And when summer rolls around, add coming home from work and doing it all over again until sunset. Absolutely life affirming.

Such an amazing community of positive, go-getting people who value and treasure how special the situation is. Case in point: there are two free foam surfboards that live in North Bondi, tied to the boardwalk. They’re for anyone to use and I’m guessing some magic fairy comes along to replace them if they ever get broken.

Top qualities: community, small-town vibes, friendly, safe, multicultural, the best activities are free, good food @ a good price, ridiculously beautiful, so walkable, best people watching, BEST ICE CREAM

Mysterious sunsets #nofilter

Our top 5 favourite things to do in Bondi

After five years of dedicated research, here’s our list of the top five things to do in Bondi. Also note…with the exception of one, they’re all FREE…oh Australia <3. Heed this advice, go forth and enjoy it to the fullest!

2 degrees out, 20 degrees in #nofilter

Sunrise (swims) / $0

The number one thing I would tell anyone and everyone to do is sunrise. If you aren’t doing Bondi sunrises you are missing the best thing about it. No matter how tired you are or how cold it may seem, when you get down to Campbell Parade and see that beautiful bay, it shapes your whole day. Each sunrise is different (just ask Aquabumps). No matter how early you wake up, you’ll always feel like you’re late because there will always be someone keener than you already out on the boardwalk, the coastal run, in the water, etc. It’s a buzzing hive of happy people, all doing their own thing and you can’t help but be inspired by it. Starting your day feeling like you’ve already accomplished something great = priceless.

And if you’re out there for sunrise, why not add on a swim/dip/dunk…be brave. Get in there. You will never, ever regret it. I promise!*

*You also never know who you will bump into. Like the time Tory and I were walking down the boardwalk and ran into Hugh Jackman and Zach Efron fresh out of the water and rinsing off at the outdoor showers…

Pro tip: Someone once told me that the water temp is a few months behind the season, so the water’s actually warmest at the start of winter and coldest at the start of summer. – Alex

Icebergs: the pool for the people #nofilter

Icebergs sauna and swim / $8 per visit or get a 25 visit card for $160

Confession…I didn’t even go to Icebergs for the first two years I lived in Bondi. Have you seen it? Coming from Toronto, where anything that beautiful would require membership and $$$, I didn’t even think it was something I was allowed to do. It wasn’t until I wanted to improve my ocean swimming skills and signed up for swimming lessons at the pool that I realised its motto was ‘everyone is welcome’. I was never a lap swimmer until I took that course and learned the pure joy of swimming in a salty, straight-out-of-instagram pool. Add on some meditation or friendly chats in the sauna, complete with ocean view (I once watched a pod of dolphins leap for joy as I was dripping in sweat) and a post sauna hot waterfall shower in the change room and you are set…pretty much for life. – Alex

Coastal walk #nofilter

Bondi-Coogee coastal walk (or Bondi-Tamarama / Bondi-Bronte/Bondi-Clovelly) / $0

When I first moved to Bondi, I couldn’t believe the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk was in my backyard. It’s a 6km walk one way starting from Icebergs and winding along the coast on the cliffs past Mackenzies Bay, Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly, Gordon’s Bay, and Coogee – all beautiful beaches unique in their own way. Everyone in the Eastern suburbs has a favourite and there’s really something for everyone whether you prefer rocky bays, white sand or cement or you’re into ocean pools, parks, bbqs, volleyball or tanning. Around every turn is another breathtaking view and there are some days when the sun is so bright and the ocean so blue that the water literally sparkles. During different parts of the walk you feel like you could be in the mediterranean, on mars or in the tropics and if you’re lucky you may spot dolphins, whales and the occasional local celebrity. I’ve probably done the walk almost a hundred times by now and still, every single time, I stop multiple times along the way to take it all in. It’s the type of experience I would have only had once a year on vacation when I lived in Toronto (if I was lucky), and now I could do it every day if I wanted to which I still can’t quite believe. – Tory

Grassy knoll hangouts #nofilter

Grassy knoll sits (North & South)

North Bondi / Sunday summer sunset sesh:

Best place to listen to some acoustic guitar whilst watching the surfers, swimmers and sun, and enjoying a few before night falls. Also: very good people watching.

South Bondi / Full moon, new moon, or just any nighttime sesh:

Have sat on this well-lit grass, at night, with friends or on my own, probably over a hundred times. Lie down, take your shoes off, plant your feet on the grass and look up at the stars. Stay until everything feels calm, peaceful and right. Repeat as many nights as needed. – Alex

Nighttime runs / $0

One of my favourite solo things to do in Bondi is go for a run at night. I love running through the streets up to the North Bondi Golf Course where you can catch some epic sunsets and panoramic views of the neighbourhood and the ocean. In the summer, I’ll run down to the beach for a dip and in winter to the boardwalk for a mini workout. The beach at night is a completely different place – no crowds but always enough people around to make you feel safe. Bondi is my playground on those runs. Sometimes I’ll try to master a chin up at the infamous bars that are normally filled with musclemen and influencers (I still can’t do a single chin up without jumping!). Other times I’ll practice handstands, do a mini workout or just sprint down the boardwalk at full speed. There’s a sense of freedom in the darkness that makes me feel like a kid again. If you’re ever feeling like Bondi is too hectic or just need some peace, then definitely take some time to explore the neighbourhood at night because there’s a whole other side to it in those quieter moments. – Tory

Our favourite Bondi eats

Bondi has heaps of food options and we haven’t even come close to trying them all, but here are a few of the Bondi staples that we love and highly recommend. If you’ve ever visited us, we’ve probably taken to you at least one (or several) of the places on this list. – Tory

Classic açai bowl and choc peanut butter bowl

Cali Press – My go-to spot for smoothie bowls and people watching. They have the best acai in Bondi (expertly layered with delicious granola and topped with passionfruit, coconut flakes, goji berries, pistachios, banana, strawberry). Honourable mentions go to the PB & Choc and Green Me bowls and the Le Chocolat smoothie.

Nalinis – Delicious, healthy, plant-based Indian meals cooked with love! Nourishing food made by a mother and daughter team that feeds your body and soul. The falafel bowl and tasting platter are my favs and if you’re keen for dessert their nut-based ice creams are a treat.

El Indio – Authentic Colombian food and warm vibes. I recommend the bowls which come in huge portions and include your meat of choice, rice, beans, salad, and plantains (the best!). Always brings me back to the days of living in Costa Rica and getting $5 meals from the local soda.

Bangkok Bites – Best Thai food in Bondi. BYO, super fast service and delicious meals that come in generous portions. The seafood feast, papaya salad with softshell crab, and pad thai are a must.

Gertrude & Alice – The bookstore/cafe of my dreams – cozy, warm, serves delicious meals and always has a box of free books to peruse outside. The lentil soup is famous for good reason and their sweet treats will satisfy any of your sugar cravings.

Macelleria – I still don’t know how to pronounce this one but what I do know is that they have the best burgers in Bondi. And it’s not just burgers, you can get steaks and other meat cooked fresh as well as some delicious sides – sweet potato wedges and mixed veg are always winners.

El Indio…chicken, guac and muy rico

Messina – My first love in Bondi! Alex took me on a Messina Gelato tour when I first arrived in Sydney that included a 5 course degustation at their factory and I was hooked. They make everything themselves (they even have their own dairy cows now) and they put actual chunks of cake/pie/cookie etc. into their gelato. Every week they have new feature flavours and they let you taste test as many as you want! I recommend always trying a few of the features, but you can never go wrong with salted coconut mango, mint chip (very minty!), choc chip and anything chocolatey. Also pro-tip from the factory tour – any time they have pistachio gelato they are actually selling at a loss so take advantage if that’s your flavour of choice!

The Shop – Tiny spot owned by Bondi locals that makes it feel like you’re eating a home-cooked meal with your family…because they are…a family…and you feel it. Their salads are divine, especially the Japanese chop chop and Italian meatball.

* Side note – Just realised 5/8 of these places are on the same street within 100m of each other, that’s how small the Bondi bubble is!

Other random, wonderful Bondi things

  • Stop making sense

    Going to Harris Farm Markets multiple times a week (sometimes multiple times a day)

  • Margaritas at Bondi Rumba, cheeky dance sessions at Bar 34, chicken kahuna burgers at The Stuffed Beaver
  • Petting Billy at Birichina on the walk down to the beach
  • Going for a swim at the exact same time as [insert friend’s name here], without ever having to make plans to do so
  • Walking out of the house on a Sunday at 7am and not coming back till 7pm because you’ve spent the whole day going from random run in, to impromptu activity to impromptu meal
  • Hearing so many different languages as you walk down the street
  • The little community library bookshelf popups scattered all over the place, often found in random little alleyways
  • Sunset summer surfs after work, even when there are no waves and you just sit out there surrounded by a haze of cotton candy skies
  • The days when the ocean is so flat you can just float on your back for ages
  • F45 Bondi, the BEST team of trainers and fitness community
  • Drinking chai at the market on Saturdays
  • The house on Curlewis that says ‘Stop Making Sense’
  • Uge-spotting (Aquabumps)
  • Seeing every Australian reality TV personality in person at the pub, boardwalk, Icebergs, etc.
  • Chocolate chip cookies from Umu
  • Swimming the bay and having the lifeguards come over to ask you “How ya going?”
  • Sunset volleyball sessions: friends, music, life!
  • Walking the boardwalk: bare feet on warm concrete – one of life’s simplest pleasures
  • Spotting new art on the graffiti wall along the boardwalk
  • Forest Knoll Ave…if streets looked like fairy tales, this would be it

    Volley crew #nofilter

Mid-arvo, chilly swim, happy as a clam #nofilter

So that’s our little (long) love letter to Bondi, our cozy bubble home for the past several years.

Bondi, you’ve brought us more beauty, joy, friendship and life lessons than we could have ever imagined. Thank you for the countless fairy floss skies, ocean therapy sessions, lazy beach days, boardwalk strolls and nights spent stargazing. You’ll always have a place in our hearts as our first Aussie home. Bondi, you are pure magic and we love you!

Written by Alex & Tory


So you want to go to Canggu?

In the last year and a half I spent about 5 months off and on living in Canggu, Bali. It’s now the unofficial #1 digital nomad destination in the world and a few people have asked me for tips so I thought it would be worthwhile to put together my own little guide to living short term in Canggu.

I’ve never been a backpacker in the traditional sense. Whenever I go away for a chunk of time I tend to find one place I really like and settle down there till it’s time to go home (and then I usually go back a few times). Example:

  • Ios, Greece: A tiny party island in the Cyclades, near Santorini. I went for a week, stayed for a month and returned the next summer for four months. This was when internet was dial up and you had to pay $/minute(!). I worked as a waitress at a breakfast restaurant on the mountainside overlooking the ocean and made 20 euro/day, my room was 6 euro/day and that was all I needed.
  • Jaco, Costa Rica: A touristy beach town, an hour and a half from San Jose. I went for a week, came back for a month, stayed for three months, came back for another three months and then some more. I was already working as a freelance web designer in Canada and just continued working full-time in Jaco. 9-5 (give or take), Mon-Fri on my laptop, outdoors at beachside cafes, sweating like crazy and stopping when the mosquitos started to come out.
  • Canggu, Bali: A touristy beach town (they seem to be my fave), close to the well-known Seminyak and Kuta areas. I visited for three days during a girls trip, came back for three weeks, then later a month, then later three months. I tried not to do the full-time thing like I did in Costa Rica, but did do a few small freelance projects while there (a little $ goes a long way in Indonesia).

I still love all three places and basically left a piece of my heart in each one. It’s crazy to see how fast they’ve grown though. In the last few years Canggu has really exploded – so much development and SO MANY digital nomads. Even if I’ve only been away for a month, Canggu is different every time I go back. This guide is very specific to my experience and my little pocket of life on the island of the gods. There is so much to do and see in Bali that I just can’t cover here, so for now…

Canggu

There are definitely some misconceptions about Canggu. It’s not jungles and waterfalls and endless rice fields (although there are a few beauts left!). And on the main streets it’s crowded and loud and dusty. The beaches are not white sand and they come with their fair share of garbage (although there are lovely groups coming together to clean it). The sea is not turquoise tropic – you can go to the Gilis for that. But it IS beautiful in all its messy glory. There is peace amongst the chaos. And once you start to understand its rhythms you’ll find so much joy bubbling up from the surface and understand why it’s becoming (if it’s not already) the most popular place to live in Bali.

The beauty of Canggu

Why did I go?

The first time I went for an extended period, I had a yoga retreat in Keramas to go to and decided to come early (three weeks early) and give myself the first proper break I’d had in a few years. After that I went back each time with different projects in mind, like finishing my portfolio, starting up Tnfld, and doing two different yoga teacher trainings at The Practice.

Living in Australia, Bali is a quick five hour plane ride away. You can get a return flight for under $400 AUD if you’re lucky. My favourite reasons to go: Surfing, yoga, food, people and the Hindu-Balinese culture.

The thing is…Bali is cheap. Like so cheap it makes Costa Rica seem like a high flyer trip in comparison. The low cost of living, combined with a ridiculous high quality of life is why so many people end up coming and staying. The beauty of this dynamic is that if you’re trying to get an online business off the ground, study long distance, write that book, etc. it buys you time. It gives you space. All of which give you the biggest luxury of all: creative freedom.

 

Recommendations

(Culture / Work / Sleep / Eat / Play / Getting around / Money / Visa)

Culture

Beach ceremonies at the temple

My friend, who had never been to Bali, recently went and texted me from the airport –  “Alex…I love Bali already…it smells AMAZING!”. It’s true. The island of the gods is full of dreamy incense, beautiful flowers and 3x (or more) daily offerings to the deities. There’s always music in the air, ceremonies to be performed, special holidays shutting down the streets. The ‘ishvara pranidhana’ (yoga term for ‘devotion to god’) is everywhere. The thickest thread tying together the cultural fabric.

Day out with the Five Pillar Foundation – a must do!

The Balinese are some of the most kind, friendly, funny, and easy going people. Family is everything and you see that everywhere. The support system is so strong. The Hindu Balinese religion is one based on karmic beliefs, which makes it the most special community I’ve ever seen.

I highly recommend doing a day trip with the Five Pillar Foundation. I can’t recommend it enough and I’m NOT regularly a day-trip, tour type of person. It’s amazing and will start you off on the right foot in terms of beginning to understand the roots of where you’re living. Check out my “Learn/Bali” highlights on insta of my day with them (not sponsored!).

It’s really easy in a Westernised place like Canggu to skim over the Balinese culture, but if you want the full Bali experience, do yourself a favour and open up. There’s legit magic in the air there – let it in!

 

Work

Good little worker bee (at Alter Ego cafe)

Don’t go to Bali expecting to find paid work. To legally work you need a KITAS permit. The government is very strict about this (especially in more populated places like Canggu) and has been known to look at social media, etc. so always be careful. Even if you’re teaching a one-off yoga class and want to advertise it online, it’s something to be mindful of.

I went with money saved and a few freelance clients and that was all I needed to get by. I’ve met people doing everything from everywhere:

  • Marketers/developers/designers…and one lawyer (shout out Bibi xx) working full-time remotely for companies abroad (https://remotive.io/)
  • Startups: lots of drop & ship, apps, fashion (baby wraps, bikinis, etc.)
  • Online English teachers for Chinese students
  • Freelance writers
  • Yoga teachers working exchange for room and meals
  • Bitcoin adventurers
  • Online health coaches, yoga teachers, fitness gurus, life coaches, etc.
  • And a lot of expats opening their own businesses in Canggu (restaurants, salons, fitness studios, luxe villas, etc.). 

Co-working: There are a ton of co-working spaces now in Canggu, but I only have experience with the original: Dojo. It’s expensive, but it can’t be beat for an introduction to Canggu. Such a great, welcoming staff, awesome community, events, talks, Friday drinks (Beach & beers). So many inspiring people – you’re always learning something new. The Facebook group is one of the best resources and ex-Dojoers are still active (including me) from all over the world.

I usually get a smaller package of hours and spend most of my time working from laptop friendly cafes.

 

Sleep

My #1 office

Guesthouse or villa? If you’re staying for a little while this is definitely something you’ll need to consider.

For me location is most important. To make sure I would go surfing early mornings, get to yoga on time, be able to walk home safely if I went out at night…I needed to be close to the beach and pretty much on Batu Bolong (the main street).

Check the map when you’re looking for a place, Canggu is actually quite large, long and wide. If you’re not riding a scooter you want to make sure you’re near the places you want to be. I’d also recommend booking a place for a few nights and then seeing how you feel about it once you’re there. It’s way easier to walk around and find a place you like (not to mention negotiate a better long-term deal) if you’re there in person.

It’s hard to find a villa that matched my location needs (they’re usually a lot further out), so I chose guesthouse. I loved my big room, my balcony overlooking a field, within earshot of my yoga studio (and all the “oms”).

If I was staying longer than a few months I would look into a villa, but for me (and for most of my friends) guesthouses were the way to go.

Price: I paid $22/night and stayed at D’Canggu (you can pay a lot more or a lot less, there’s something for everyone in Canggu).

Guesthouse: booking.com, airbnb, all the usuals, Villas: Facebook groups are the way to go. Try Canggu Community, Canggu Community Housing, etc.

 

Eat

The summer salad at Cafe Vida, topped with Barramundi. It’s one of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten.

Eating is a huge part of my day when I’m in Bali. I tend to pick spots I can stay at for a while and get some work done, so they end up doubling as an office for me. If you aren’t living in a villa you really won’t have much, if any opportunity to cook. It’s usually cheaper to eat out anyways. It’s really interesting to see how much extra time you have when you take grocery shopping, food prep and cooking out of your day.

The food in Canggu is just…wow. Like you will dream about it for the rest of your life. It’s like living in a real life Instagram foodie account and finding out there are no filters. There is nothing sweeter than sitting on the porch at The Shady Shack for a whole morning, getting your work/study/relaxing done and enjoying every minute of it.

You can get Balinese, Australian, American, Vietnamese, Mexican, Japanese, Greek or search by vegan, paleo, refined sugar free, gluten free, avocado based (seriously) – whatever your preference.

You can eat for as little as $3/meal at a local warung or go as big as you want at one of the more ‘fine dining’ restaurants. It’s all up to you and your budget.

As for drinking…I don’t really drink when I’m in Bali. The odd cider here or there, but I’m not there for the Bintangs and spirits are almost the same price they’d be in Australia. Sparse drinking helps keep my spending in check the most. It also helps me stay on track with everything else I love to do…like waking up early to surf, go to yoga, etc.

And not seriously, but also actually very seriously: coconuts. I drink at least one a day (avg. $3/coconut). Nothing better than getting a coconut, sitting on the beach, watching the sunset and listening to some live reggae.

Tory comes to visit. We drink coconuts.

My absolute fave places to eat in Canggu: (honestly even though a new restaurant pops up every week, these have all stood the test of time so far)

For doing (a lot) of work:

For some variety:

Food: I spent $15-30/day on avg. Check out my “Eat/Bali” highlights on my insta.

Cafe Vida strikes again. Fish tacos – art on a plate.

 

Play

Surfing

Living my best life

Yes, I live in Australia. Yes, I live a few minutes from the beach. But seriously, the surf in Canggu is my favourite. If you seem to be an eternal beginner like me, this is the place to be. On good days (and there are a lot of them) the waves are big enough to get on, but soft enough to not hurt, they break far back from the shore, and the water’s deep and gentle…it’s the most forgiving surf playground I’ve ever been to. It’s usually pretty easy to paddle out. Standing up is…dare I say…kind of easy. You get to focus on practicing your turns, your speed, etc. Just like everything else in Bali…the waves give you time and space. Also the social aspect is phenomenal, people are friendly and open, you can sit on your board and chat between waves. It’s something really special. Go early, it gets way too crowded later in the day and watch out for beginner-beginners, their boards are heavy, big and all over the place!

I’ve thought about buying a board while there before or bringing one from Aus, but in the end I always chose to rent ($5/day). Here are my reasons why:

  1. It’s cheaper. If it gets damaged, you pay a nominal fee and that’s it. You don’t have to spend the big $ to fix it or replace your own and there’s no downtime waiting for it to be fixed or finding a new one.
  2. You can change it up. Big waves = smaller board, small waves = bigger board…the waves are your canvas to paint with whatever brush you feel like.
  3. It’s social. You always meet other people renting, the surf hut locals, etc. Always a laugh.
Yoga

My happy place. Ginger tea, bean bag chair, & the garden. Cue sounds of birds chirping and the pond flowing.

You can’t come to Bali and not do some yoga.

The Practice: And if you’re going to do some yoga…you can’t go past The Practice. It’s the heart and soul of “my” Canggu. Grab a ginger tea, cozy up on a bean bag facing the garden, look out for Jamu prowling through the grass and bliss out. And then maybe get to a class or two…

This is probably my most luxe purchase. It’s more expensive than a month at a Sydney studio, but it’s 1000x worth it. This is the real deal. Get to one of Octavio’s class if you can and let me know your thoughts!

Serenity: I sometimes get a 10 pack of classes, my favourite thing to do is check out the different treehouse feeling yoga shalas and have tempe curry in their cafe. All their teachers are Balinese too, which can be a nice change of pace.

Getting around

To scooter or not to scooter?

So…I don’t know ANYONE who rode a scooter and didn’t get into an accident. It definitely freaks me out. A friend’s brother was in a life-changing accident and over a year later he’s still recovering. I’ve seen more than a handful of crashes and injuries happen right in front of me. People don’t wear helmets, they don’t wear proper shoes, and they drive drunk (a lot).

That being said. It’s hard NOT to have a scooter and really experience Canggu. I was limited with where I could live and what I would do because of it, but I didn’t have a proper driver’s license at the time and I didn’t have insurance to cover any scooter injuries (***your insurance DOES NOT cover scooter accidents unless you have a scooter license back home – check into this!***). So even though I’ve seen so much firsthand I will probably drive a scooter the next time I go back (but get my license first, like my friend Ruth is doing atm).

So my advice for scooter riding is:

  1. Just wear the helmet. And make sure it fits.
  2. Wear your Supergas/Converse/runners. Don’t wear flip flops. The first thing people do in an accident is put their feet down…and it’s not pretty. I had to pull a scooter off a girl who had fallen over while driving slowly down the street in the late afternoon. The kickstand had gone straight through her foot and dollar store flip flop. It was awful 🙁 Shoes people, shoes!
  3. Don’t drive at night. Or at least please don’t drive drunk. You may think “I would never”, but that’s what they all say…before they do it! Things feel different when you’re in the moment.

Pretty much anything goes with scooter driving, for better or worse…

Money

Atms are everywhere, but be smart about which ones you use – there’s a lot of skimming going on. Just stick to the highly visible, high traffic ones…I’ve never had a problem.

If you have to exchange money, get a recommendation – I’ve heard so many stories about people getting conned.

They accept card almost everywhere – the positives of living in a highly developed piece of Bali.

Sid comes to visit. We sunset.

 

Visa

This is super basic advice, based on a Canadian passport experience. As always, do your research, they don’t mess around with this stuff, so get yourself in order before you go!:

  1. Make sure you have more than six months left on your passport otherwise they will turn you around at the airport.
  2. You have two easy options (there are more long term choices available, like a social visa, but I haven’t pursued them). The first one is an automatic you get 30-days as a tourist to enjoy. If you overstay your 30 days you have to pay by the day (I think it’s about $30/day atm). The second option is to do a visa extension which gives you 60 days, but you need to make sure you buy the ‘visa on arrival’ that allows you to extend it with a visa agent past the initial 30 days. I think all-in-all the whole thing cost around $100, but I could be wrong (did not keep track). Doing a visa run is really common and pretty much essential if you want to stay longer. There are cheap flights to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, etc. some people just do a quick run around and don’t even leave the airport, but I was lucky enough to have a good friend in Singapore, so I tried to make the most of my visa run when I was there for three months.

Sunsets. Worth every visa run.

My basic daily budget in AUD (not skimping, living THE LIFE):

Accomodation: $22/night (I made a long-term deal. You can do a lot cheaper than this, but I loved where I stayed – so much that I stayed there twice!)

Food: $15-30/day (At first I thought…wow, is that actually a lot? Then I realised I don’t buy groceries. In Sydney my weekly groceries, combined with going out for food with friends adds up – a lot! In Canggu I eat exactly how I want to, my dream day on a plate basically. It’s the greatest luxury.)

Surfing: $5/day

Yoga: TBD / You can buy class passes or unlimited per month

Co-working: TBD / Hour-based packages

Sim card: $20 every so often (they have great data packages, I always buy one as soon as I land and then top up at the convenience store. I think in three months I had to top up twice.)

My basic daily schedule:

Surf, fruit stand brekkie, yoga, brekkie/lunch & work for a few hours. Then nap or beach or popsicle or massage or all of those things together if I’m lucky. More work. Maybe some yin yoga. Sunset on the beach with friends and then dinner. Maybe some dancing. Bed. Repeat as much as needed.

 

Questions to ask before you go

  1. How long will you stay? (visas)
  2. Will you scooter? (insurance)
  3. Guest house or villa? (lifestyle)
  4. What do you want to focus on? Surfing? Yoga? Crossfit? Jujitsu? Work?

Best apps

Go Jek: it does everything for you. It’s your Uber, your Deliveroo, your grocery shopper, your Dial a bottle, you name it.

Gu Guide: Best advice on everything in Canggu from an Aussie girl who fell in love with an Indo boy and is raising their beautiful baby in the Gu. Her insta stories are my favourite.

What have I gotten from my times in Canggu, Bali?

I’ve made some of my best friends in Canggu. Real kindred spirits. People I can’t believe I haven’t known my whole life.

I’ve found so much inspiration, as well as confirmation that success is yours to build and hold. It seems like anything is possible in Canggu and I think that’s because you get a great spattering of entrepreneurs from all over the globe, it’s hard not to pursue your dreams with that kind of influence around you.

The first time I went on my own, I was coming off of a real hard period in my life. My health was haywire, I didn’t really know which way was up. But I went surfing every day. I got massages every day (did I forgot to mention the cheap massages…?!?!). I did yoga. I met amazing people. And legit, for the most part, all my physical ailments went away. There’s something to be said about getting out of your regular physical space. Sometimes all you need is a big hit of perspective and the soothing magic balm of Bali to believe.

This is the longest thing I’ve written for Tnfld by far and I feel like I haven’t even touched the surface. If you’re thinking of going to Bali, just do yourself a favour and buy the ticket. Be open to everything and get amongst it…you won’t regret it!


Tnfld Podcast | Ep04: Josh, from ambitious dropout to dream maker

Hometown / Auckland, New Zealand
Currently resides / Bronte Beach, Sydney, Australia 
Job / Full Stack Web Developer

A little bit about…

Josh is truly living a 2019 life. He’s found a way to have both work and play in the best way that suits him and his needs. A lot of that came with knowing himself and what would and wouldn’t work for him. A lot of people think “Oh, I want to be a digital nomad” without actually thinking about what that could mean (financial instability, bad wifi, the temptations of being in paradise, but not being able to enjoy it). As a full-stack developer he could have easily gone that route, but he knew being a full-time digital nomad wasn’t right for him. He wanted there to be a separation between work and travel so that he could fully enjoy his travel time and BE THERE 100%. But short trips weren’t going to cut it. So when he got back from Bali after a month he had a proposition for his boss…

Josh’s advice for living life Tnfld
  • Ask for what you want, especially at work, whether that’s more vacation time, flexible hours, a work from home option, etc. “It’s 2019 I feel like we should be able to ask for what we want and not always feel like we work for our jobs, but that our jobs can work for us too. And we can kind of create this life – why do negotiation always have to be about money?”
  • Do different things to break out of your comfort zone: “Every time I’ve made these drastic life changes it’s been kind of scary, but when I look back later I always think – wow that’s the best thing I ever did.”

  • March to the beat of your own drum. If you can’t hear that beat, do the things you need to do to grow your inner voice and your confidence in that voice. Over time you can teach yourself to be more confident with your decisions, with change, and ultimately with yourself.

Our favourite quotes

“For me the dream life would be a 50/50 mix of both travel and work. Take three months off for travel then come back and have a [9-5 work] lifestyle and nourish that other side of my brain [for the next six months]. The dream is to do both. So I asked for it. No one’s ever asked and no one thinks to, because negotiation is such an ancient thing. No one really asks for what they want and I thought…what do I really want?”

“For the first time in my life I came back to work from the holidays and I didn’t have the post-holiday blues. I was ready to work. [I thought] “Man my life is sick, I’m ready to work”…it was my choice to be there. That was the difference.”

“People say to you “Oh, I wish I could do that” and I think, “Why can’t you?” I’m not special. I’ve had nothing given to me, not a cent from anyone ever….but I’ve always just gone for it and slowly over time I’ve taught myself to be more and more confident with those decisions and making those changes.”

Josh’s Motto

In 20 years’ time you’ll always regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did.

Inspired by Josh? Check out his travels on Insta…

thekiwinomad_ (he’s also an amazing photographer)

Josh’s Favourites

Some of the books that influenced him the most when he was first starting out…


Tnfld Podcast | Ep02: Ben, from corporate to creative

Hometown / Northern Beaches, Sydney, Australia
Currently resides / Berlin, Germany
Job / Freelance strategy and design consultant, co-founder of The Cultive

A little bit about…

Ben is the kind of guy you can throw into any challenge and he will not only adapt, but find a way to thrive. He’s a natural leader and has an inherent ability to infuse a sense of calm and ease into even the most stressful of situations.

Earlier this year he and his partner Caitlin left their corporate lives in Sydney and embarked on a three month adventure through the European summer. They’re now settled in Berlin and thriving.

Ben’s Motto

“Your energy is contagious. The energy that you give off, whether that’s happy, sad, irritated – whatever you’re projecting really affects everyone around you and that’s what you end up getting back.”

Ben’s advice for living life Tnfld
  • Take advantage of your environment. Instead of bracing against an upcoming cold winter, reframe it in your mind – build your winter nest, find a way to relish the time indoors and use the space you’ve carved out to get creative.
  • Do things straight away – even chores. Just do it when it should be done. Do it as soon as you can and then you’re on your way to the next thing.
  • If there’s something you want to achieve, focus all your upcoming decisions towards making that goal, even if they’re tiny little actions. Every bit will help you realise the big picture.
Our favourite quote

“I always think that happiness is a hard concept to talk about…I think about it in terms of satisfaction or fulfilment.

Being here [Berlin] is a totally different experience. It gives us not necessarily more happiness, but more opportunity for satisfaction in terms of fulfilment, because of the flexibility that we’ve managed to build in. So yeah, there’s more choice everyday…where we can wake up and say ‘are we going to work on this…are we going to work on that? Or maybe today we won’t work at all….have a new experience…go out to the national park.”

Inspired by Ben? Give him a follow on Insta…

@thebentweedie  |  @thecultive

Ben’s Favourites
Books
Podcasts
People

Moving to Australia pt3: How I stayed

So I visited Australia, I fell in love with Australia, and then I moved to Australia. But the tricky part was…how would I stay?

Home and away (but actually the beach the TV show is filmed on)

Making the decision to move to another country is a giant step. Buying the ticket, telling your family and friends, packing up your belongings…they’re all big stepping stones to the life you want. Then there’s finding a job, residence, and community in your new home, and add on all the psychological stuff and it’s pretty full on. But the most important part, in my opinion, is figuring out your visa situation. Not just for the immediate future, but for long term.

The thing is – and I’ve seen it time and time again here – even if you think you’re just coming for a fun year, you really never know how you’ll feel by the end of it. And if you realise you can’t bear the thought of leaving, life will be infinitely easier if you’ve at least plotted out a slight idea of how you can stay.

There have been so many changes to the system in the past year that some of this does not apply, but I figure there’s still some value in my journey to Permanent Residency.

How I became a Permanent Resident in my favourite country on earth:

Holiday working visa, 417 (HWV):

https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/visa-1/417-

This visa entitled me to one year of travel and work around Australia. I was allowed to work anywhere I wanted  so long as it didn’t exceed six months in any one place. This is available for Canadians and a host of other nationalities up until the day you turn 31. The price at the moment is $450.

HWV 1 year extension:

That time I worked on a cucumber and strawberry farm…

If one year isn’t enough time to explore the country there’s a way to add an additional year to your HWV, for many countries there’s the option of doing your regional work (aka farm work…although it doesn’t actually have to be farm related). This involves spending 88 days working in regional Australia. I worked on a small cucumber and strawberry farm in Woolgoolga. I dreaded it, but in the end it ended up being one of the most interesting and Australian experiences of my life.

Temporary work (skilled), 457 (aka Sponsorship!):

*This visa no longer exists as of this year…but my advice about planning definitely still applies*

Sponsored, happy and celebrating Xmas in July

During the second year of my WHV I spent six months working at a well known media company with the aim of getting sponsored by them. They offered me sponsorship and the next phase of my Aussie journey began.

At the time I started (2014), to get sponsored you needed to have a relevant degree to the job you were being nominated for, meet the min. amount of experience required, and a host of other things. I have friends now who have worked really hard to be offered sponsorship only to find out they don’t meet the minimum requirements and would have been better off getting a more relevant education to enable them to stay. I also have friends who weren’t fussed about their timeline so didn’t check out their options early…they ended up missing out on the 457 path to permanent residency, even though they are sponsored now and are very uncertain about their future in two years.

So much has changed in the last year regarding this visa, that I advise you to do your research and do it well!

Permanent Residency, 186:

https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/visa-1/186-

With the now defunct 457 visa, once you worked at your place of sponsorship for two years you were eligible to apply for Permanent Residency. I was lucky that at the time the waitlist was only 6-7 months. The whole process was costly (I think I spent around $8k), but more than worth it. On Feb 13th, 2016 I got an email from immigration saying my PR had gone through. I didn’t even know how much it meant to me until I burst into tears at my desk like a crazy person. Haha. Luckily it was 5:30 and time to go home. I detoured to the Opera House with some friends to celebrate in style and ferry home with the beauty of Sydney stretched out before me. I am a proud Permanent Resident and so happy to call Australia home.

Citizenship:

https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/citi/pathways-processes/application-options/migrant-with-permanent-residence

Once you’ve had your Permanent Residency for one year and lived in the country for at least four years, you’re allowed to apply for your Citizenship (cost: $285). Having done my Permanent Residency application myself I had everything I needed pretty much to do the Citizenship application too. It was quite straightforward and I’ll keep you updated on my status. So far it says wait times are 12 to 16 months and I’m on month six at the moment. 100% worth the wait.

So again, I can’t reiterate how important it is to do the dry work: check out what options are available to you before you even really need to look. The information is all out there and it could save you heaps of time, money and heartache in the future. If you have the chance to live in your happy place, grab it and go forth!

*UPDATE* One year and four days after applying I had my Citizenship interview and test. I just got my letter of approval and am waiting on my ceremony date. It’s not official until you pledge yourself to Australia at the ceremony. So excited and so proud to be an almost Australian citizen.

Moving to Australia

Written by Alex


Moving to Australia pt2: The seed is planted

In February 2012 I visited Australia for the first time. On this fateful trip, I conducted a little survey with every Australian I met by asking them: “Would you say you’re happy?”…not confronting at all, right? 😂

Sneaky pic I took of happy beach goers

But I was in shock. I couldn’t believe this magic place existed. A place where in some ways, everything was the same as where I came from: people worked 9-5, rode public transport into the city, spent the weekend hanging out with friends. Except it didn’t feel the same, it didn’t feel the same at all. It was sunny, warm and the ocean – the ocean – was right there. And nature. And so much green. I met people who had the exact same job as me, but lived in Bondi beach. They lived in a place that I had spent years dreaming about, finally getting up the courage to visit for a few weeks.  They would go to work, then come home and go for a surf! They would hang out with their friends on the grassy knoll on weekends and then head to someone’s house for a barbie (barbecue to the uninitiated) to finish off the day. They had 20 DAYS OF VACATION a year. They were allowed and encouraged to take unpaid leave. They also smiled a lot and seemed very relaxed. There was a general sense that these were people who were enjoying their life as they were living it. It was not about someday – it was happening right now.

But I had always loved Australians, from my fateful days spent on a little island in Greece during two uni summers, when I became friends with a group of them. I loved their easy going, straightforward attitudes. They were just generally good and decent people and so much fun.

So when I asked the “happy” question, the immediate reaction was “…ah, what?” Haha. But then in true Aussie fashion they would “give it a go” and their responses were always along the lines of “Yeah, I guess I am!”.

All the blues and greens

This gave my Toronto-conditioned brain a real jolt. If I’d asked the same question back home the answers would have been along the lines of “I can’t really complain, it could be worse” to the classic “…is anyone really happy?”. This general attitude of complacency – or acceptance, by virtue of it not being “as bad” as something else – never sat well with me. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand how you could think like that and be able to find the motivation to go forward. By this point I’d already experienced some really big highs and lows in my life and my whole adulthood in Toronto felt like one long string of baseline “meh”ness. The moments of existential despair had overtime become more and more frequent. I found myself constantly thinking…how could this really be as good as it gets?

Well, it turns out it wasn’t. At least not in Australia. The secret was out! (to me). I had found the place that made sense to my brain. The place that made life worth living. I had peeked behind the curtain, I had seen the emerald city and there was no going back.

I spent the last day of this fateful first trip by myself. I walked through the city and suntanned at Bondi beach. I observed everyone and everything. I soaked up as much as I could and wrote it all down: the things people said to each other, the difference in attitude, my complex feelings of wonderment. I promised myself to find a way to somehow live like that back in Toronto. I was blown over, but I still didn’t see how that amazing place could ever be MY life. I didn’t dare dream that I would actually live there one day. That Bondi would be my backyard. That I would swim every morning in that beautiful, freezing cold sea. That I would get so used to sunshine that a rainy day would be welcomed.

So I went home and tried to keep that sunshine with me…

Six months later I applied for my Australian Working Holiday visa. A year and a half later* I was living in my apartment in Bondi.

And that’s how my love affair with Australia began.

*A whole hell of a lot went on in between then (hello separation from my partner, living a wild life in Costa Rica, working on a farm in small town New South Wales), but that would literally take a novel to write…or many, many more stories.

Moving to Australia

Written by Alex


Moving to Australia pt1: My first time in Sydney

Before I’d ever set foot in this place, Australia was this thing in my mind for a very long time: a sunshine country full of beaches and beautiful, friendly people. In the depths of winter in Toronto, I had this recurring dream where I would wake up on a beach, squinting at the sunlight – the sky unbelievably blue, the surf frothy. The soft sand littered with lifeguards and beachgoers all out enjoying the gorgeous, sparkling day. It was so warm and it felt so real; it felt hopeful and happy and right. I’d wake up from the dream and lie still, eyes closed, trying to hold onto that feeling for as long as I could. I wanted to feel that sunshine…

I visited Australia for the first time in 2012. My best friend Sid and I had always wanted to go ever since a fateful summer living on an island in Greece, where we’d met our first Aussie friends. We spent years after talking about it, but it was one of those trips that seemed like you would need a lot of time and money…and it just seemed SO FAR AWAY. So we let ourselves get swept up in our work and relationships and the trip became a distant dream.

My first pic in Bondi – little did I know this would literally become my backyard in two years.

Then one day, out of the blue, Sid said she was planning a three week trip to Australia and asked me if there was a chance I would come. At the time I was a few months into what I thought was my ‘dream job’ (aka. the thing that was going to make life better, fix everything, give me purpose, etc.), but it had turned into my own personal nightmare – as these things do when you rely on a job to fix your life. I was depressed, anxious and had no idea what to do next. I felt so trapped and I needed an out badly. This was my out.

Quit my job and travel for three weeks?!?! I thought it was crazy at first…three weeks away was a lot in Toronto at the time, but the idea wouldn’t leave my mind. After a month of more misery at work, I realised this was the perfect excuse to leave. I also found out it would only cost $500 return for me to fly with Sid since she was a flight attendant, which basically removed any other worry I had left. Looking back this was all such an obvious sign from the universe – when things start flowing, let the river take you! 

So I gave my notice, threw caution to the wind – with no job prospects for when I returned – and left. We flew to Vancouver, spent the afternoon there (such a good flying break – highly recommend), then took the midnight flight to Sydney where we were set to arrive early in the morning.

When we got out of customs I saw a row of palm trees just outside the gate. The air had a headiness to it. It felt like beach to me. The sky was blue. The colours were different – have you ever noticed that not all blue skies and sun are the same? This sky gave off a bright and warm light. I thought about that feeling I would get when I watched an Australian tv show back home. It was weird to be travelling in an English speaking country – so easy, but still different. We went to buy a bottle of water and I remember being shocked at the $3 price (haha, if only I knew!). We got on the train and headed to Central Station where our hostel was.

When we arrived in the city we were both awestruck. More palm trees. Blue skies. Heat…and this was downtown (or as the Aussies call it “the CBD”). I remember a change starting to take place within me (an awakening really) that I couldn’t yet articulate. The gears were turning. This was an English speaking, first world country – NOT in the US (which I was never a fan of), with amazing weather. We were giddy with excitement.

View from Taronga zoo. I thought it looked like Toronto.

You know those things you put off for awhile out of fear, a purported difficulty, or a myriad of other reasons? But then, when you finally do it you’re like…oh. OH. OHH! And regret immediately not having done it earlier? That was Sydney for me. That was Australia. I had a huge…“How did it take me this long to get here?!” stamped in my brain, on constant repeat. Why would I ever have put this off? Yes, the flight was long, but really – any flight longer than 8 hours is going to take your day and night anyways, right? And yes, it WAS so far away from Toronto, BUT in all the ways that mattered, it didn’t feel very far at all. It was easy to navigate, there was no language barrier and it was familiar – a thoroughly western city. And then on top of all that, it was absolutely, bloody gorgeous. I finally understood what world class city meant. The harbour, the ferry commutes, the luscious park havens right in the CBD (Hyde Park and Botanical gardens), the food and THE BEACHES: white sand, clear water, 20min from downtown – they were everywhere! And the weather, did I mention the weather?! It was Toronto on its most glorious day…every day.

I loved Sydney the minute I laid eyes on it.

Moving to Australia

Written by Alex

Tnfld

How to live a life Tnfld. A life that is true, real and bountiful… expansive as the sky above.

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At Bondi Beach – catching some sun on the grassy knoll or frolicking in the surf.

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