Friday, 7 November 2014

Maca Villas & Spa Bali Review

I must admit that I do not really do accommodation reviews often, maybe a mention of where I stayed and a brief mention of my thoughts of it. However, when a time comes that I have stayed in a place that is worthy of a fully dedicated review post, I will do so. Maca Villas & Spa is one of them.

It was my second trip to Bali, whilst it was my boyfriend's first time. In the past, I had stayed at a 3-star hotel in Kuta and thought that it was already good for the comfort rating, so I wanted to experience what a 4 1/2-star accommodation could offer in Bali. 

As a travel agent, I had gazillions of properties to choose from, in the popular suburbs of Bali - it took a very, very long time deciding and narrowing it down to a few options. Initially, due to budget constraints, we were looking at just a nice 4-star resort in Nusa Dua, Ubud or Seminyak. However, digging around a little bit and asking for a further reduction on the rates (perks of being a travel agent!), I decided that I liked the look of Maca Villas, plus with the obtained discount, it fitted the bill - who doesn't want a private pool villa? Plus, not to mention, the description on their website sold it to us:

"We proudly present a deeply personal brand of luxury that is ultimately experienced from the comfort of your very own private villa for two. The property is the perfect base from which to enjoy island life and spend leisure-filled days doing exactly as you please.

Awaken to your preferred choice of breakfast served by your unobtrusive butler. Dip your toes into the refreshing waters of your private pool. Lounge the morning away on your outdoor sun bed. Feel the gentle cares of the afternoon breeze as it drifts away slowly over your villa. Relax with a nurturing spa ritual. Indulge in social cocktails at the bar followed by an evening of wining and dining at our celebrated restaurant venue.

Time is all your own at Maca Villas & Spa Bali."

Upon arrival at Maca Villas, we were courteously greeted by the security guard/shuttle driver/greeter. The lobby had an interesting layout as it was technically open-air, with no doors, but tastefully designed. 

Not my photo of the entrance/reception. Shared from Tripadvisor

The receptionist had a massive friendly grin on his face and asked for our names. Here's an advice: Don't freak out when they ask for your photo identification, and they take a photo of it. It is part of their legal requirements to do so. I guess they take a photo as the reception did not have a back office to accommodate a photocopier. 

We were also welcomed with a refreshing drink (which tasted like a non-alcoholic mojito) and I was presented with a small bouquet of frangipani flowers. 

Then we were led to our villa: the pathway was littered with pebble stones and tiles in-between, with a fountain/small pond along the way. They definitely had the whole lush tropical setting going on, which was nice.
Lush tropical forest pathway

Oh, and I forgot to mention that they had another guy carrying our luggage to our villa (we only had one-checked luggage, thankfully for him!).

We stayed in a one-bedroom pool villa (we stayed in Villa No. 15). There is a one-bedroom deluxe pool villa, but the only difference is the shaded daybed almost literally on the pool. To be frank, I preferred ours, just simply cause there's a wall "waterfall, which provides the perfect trickling sound that boosts the whole tropical getaway experience (it does turn off at night, and some points throughout the day).

When the receptionist opened the massive wooden front entrance door, we were greeted with this site:

This photo does not do it justice!

I was quite ecstatic - I ended jumping around like a little girl.

 Yes, if you haven't noticed: The bedroom faces the pool and those doors do open! 

 I do apologize. I could not resist the welcome drink and managed to stop myself from finishing this to take a photo with my mini frangipani bouquet :)

Living space

 Bedroom: King bed :) Alright, the bedroom doesn't look as impressive, but it serves its purpose well in giving you a good night's sleep. Those pillows are to die for.

View from the bedroom

The bathtub! Big enough to fit a couple for those romantic soaks. Or, alternatively, by yourself. Yes, that's a small TV there too. Bath salts provided.

 Gotta love the rain-like shower-head from the ceiling. It is going to be a must-have in my own house one day.

 Photo of the sink area, plus a bonus included coincidental selfie of me. 

James chilling with a beer and getting relaxed

Photos aside, I will get on to what is provided in the villa rate. First of all, I must rave about the amenities provided - I am like an amenities nazi and will judge a place based on what is provided and the frequency of amenities replenishment.

The first place I always scope out is the bathroom. This is what I found:
  • 2 x Toothbrush & Toothpaste pack: Stock standard disposable toothbrush, but commendable toothpaste size - it's not one of those tiny, one-time-use sized ones (twice if you're lucky). This was even replenished the following day (great to take home for future travel, but I didn't)
  • 1 x Comb: Not a great comb. Sharp edges.
  • 1 x Cotton buds kit
  • 1 x Shaving kit: Provided the disposable Gillette razors, which is great, but comes with the tiny, one-time-use only shaving cream tube. Gentlemen, I recommend bringing your own or purchasing it whilst you're there. 
  • 2 x Sewing kit
  • 2 x Shower Caps 
  • 2 x Bottled Water (glass bottle which comes with caps; yes they are free)
  • 2 x Mini Soap Bars
  • Shampoo, Conditioner, & Lotion

The items mentioned above are replenished when needed aka like the next time the room gets serviced. Otherwise, here are the other basic amenities provided:
  • Hairdryer
  • Bath Salts
  • Bottle Opener (for the bottled water)
  • TV
  • Wall Phone: Yes, and it was conveniently located right next to the loo. I laughed a bit. You've got to be pretty desperate to call whilst doing your business.

In the bedroom:
  • 2 x Pairs of Flip-flops/Thongs: When the receptionist was giving us the initial brief tour of the villa, he presented us with a brand new pair of flip-flops/thongs each - obviously do not expect a pair Havaianas' quality - to wear around the villa, if we needed (ended up not using them and walked around barefooted). 
  • 2 x Bathrobes
  • Safe
  • Power converter plug: OH YES YOU DID NOT READ THIS WRONG. We forgot to pick some up at the airport, so I asked the receptionist during the briefing if they had one. He looked at me, smiled, and pointed it out on the bedside table. WTF. Impeccable to the max.
  • TV: They do have some movies loaded, and no charge for the movies.
  • Electric Air Freshener
  • Alarm Clock
  • Cordless Phone

In the living space/mini-kitchenette/dining table:
  • Mini Bar: At your own expense
  • 4 x Bottled Water: Great tip, is to chuck it in the mini-fridge, so you have cold water for later. They replenish these in the kitchen & in the bathroom, so you LITERALLY NEVER RUN OUT. Seriously, my boyfriend drinks so much water, and the poor man who services our villa kept bringing more, and more. At one point, we had 4 bottles in the bathroom and about 7 in the kitchen. No, it's not from accumulation - they just replenish each time we had none/a couple of bottles left. I think they just brought more cause they were sick of replenishing a few at a time. lol
  • Bottle Opener (yup, another one in the kitchen for convenience. Love it!)
  • Fruit basket: Ours had local bananas, passion fruit and apples
  • TV: A total of 3 TVs!
  • 2 x Swimming/Beach Towels

Last but not least, if not, most importantly: FREE WIFI -Pretty decent connection and speed too. They provide logins upon arrival.

After scoping out the villa and chilling for a little while, it was time for dinner. Maca Villas do have a restaurant & bar: MASE Kitchen and Bar

For any wine lovers, they do have quite a large range of wines. If not, there are plenty of other options in the drinks menu.

 Chose to sit outside, next to the public pool

Candlelight dinner by the pool. Quite a romantic setting indeed <3 

 First meal in Bali: Ayam Panggang Bali. OMFG best chicken ever!

Now, onwards to the services Maca Villas provides as well:
  • Free shuttle (more like a private car!): From Maca Villa to Seminyak Square: one-way only. However, if you need to go for a quick stop at a convenience store/pharmacy, the driver is willing to wait for you and bring you back.
  • Spa: Treatments at your own expense. Note: They have a bathroom facility in the spa which guests can utilise after checking-out should they require a shower. Just remember to set an appointment though.
  • Breakfast service: Breakfast is included in the rates, but the best part are the options. You could choose to dine at the restaurant OR get it delivered to your villa, when you want. I am going to elaborate further on this later.
  • Day Trips: At your own expense. Prices listed in their guest information book.
  • 24/7 Room Service
  • Free Afternoon Tea 
I have to admit that we were bloody well pampered for breakfast. Here's why:

The option of going to the restaurant is normal, but why do it when they offer to bring your breakfast to your room at the time you request it?! Upon check-in, they provide you with a sheet, detailing the foods they have to offer for breakfast. Freshly squeezed juices, patisseries, Western breakfast options and Balinese local favourites. Think a huge range from just eggs, bacon, salad, on toast to Nasi Goreng. You can also order 1 coffee per guest - just write how you like it.

Nasi Goreng is A-amazing! Served with Kicap Manis, Achar & Sambal (my favourite chilli sauce!)

Worst case scenario, if you had forgotten to fill the sheet out and drop it off at the reception, but you know some of the items on the menu, you could always ring reception and put a phone order in. They are also pretty efficient with that last minute service, but for obvious reasons, do not abuse it.

The last word of advice, and please take note: REQUEST A MOSQUITO NET TO BE SET UP ABOVE THE BED.

During the day, those bloody suckers aren't to be seen much (maybe an odd couple). However, more of them come out from no where during the evening hours. 

I was lucky enough to get a few bites and I was somewhat more tolerant to the Asian mosquito type bites. I don't know if they differ from different parts of the world, but I get small, itchy bumps that disappear in two days. In Australia, the bites I get swell to an equivalent of a large walnut lump - intense itching and they bruise! :(

James, on the other hand, suffered the way I do when I get Australian mosquito bites: Lobster red large itchy lumps. He was eaten alive.

The sliding doors in our villa had gaps, even when locked & closed, were big enough for mosquitoes to pass through easily. I think if they could manage to fix this, there'd at least be less mosquitoes (1 is better than 4 or 5, but none is best).

I do have to state that Maca Villas are doing their best in getting rid of mosquitoes by doing whatever they do to kill mosquitoes. 

Anyways, in summary, just get the net set up. It does also provide quite a romantic feeling somewhat. I liked it, so it was an added bonus.

So, this is what I thought of Maca Villas:

Ambience/Presentation: 4.5/5 (I personally didn't fancy the open-air reception concept, but everything else was great!
Value for Money: 5/5 (I thought the normal price was just a little bit pricey, but for what I paid, it was completely worth it!!)
Convenience/Location: 4.5/5 (Although it is walking distance to the beach - 15 minutes walk - it is easier to catch a cab or take the free-shuttle!)
Service: 6/5 (Overly exceeded my expectations: smiling faces and on time. Cannot ask for more!)

If you do not believe me, head on over to TripAdvisor and read the comments for yourselves!

Maca Villas & Spa Bali
Jalan Lebak Sari, No. 7 | Petitenget
Seminyak, Bali | Indonesia
(P): +62 361 739090

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Tasmania Specialist Conference 2014 (Plus a Free 4-days Educational Trip!)


So, I have been a busy, busy little bee (hence the delay in submitting a post, let alone such a long one)! The rewarding aspect of being a travel agent, is that occasionally I score a free trip (aka also known as a famil)!

Everyday, we get a "Hotline" (which is a Word Document, containing various important travel-related updates), and several months ago, the Hotline contained a first ever Tassie Specialist Conference, to be held in Hobart. The only thing I needed to do to qualify as a Tassie Specialist was to do several online modules and pass the quiz! After completion, I received a pretty nifty little pack containing my certificate of completion (officially a Tassie Specialist!), some maps and further information regarding Tasmania. 

For those wanting to know more, in-depth about Tasmania: 


These links contains almost all the handy information needed to plan your next trip to Tasmania. Even though the first link relates more towards travel agents, it is definitely a resourceful website :)

Not long after that, I received an email for an Expression of Interest to register for the conference and also the choice of a famil (I chose the post-conference North-East famil initially, but got the North famil in the end) and pretty much forgot about my registration, so you can imagine how surprised I was when they have accepted my registration! I FINALLY GOT MY FREE EDUCATIONAL TRIP!! I was completely over-the-moon, and could not believe what I was reading (I had to re-read that email 3 times). THANK YOU TOURISM TASMANIA! <3

P.S: I had almost wet myself from excitement when they sent my flight details & itineraries. 

Without further ado, here is my Tasmanian experience:

DAY 1 [19SEP14]
Woke up nice and early and ducked down to Brisbane domestic airport to catch my 8:00AM Qantas flight to Hobart. Now, I have to focus on this fact that it was my 1st time flying with Qantas! 
Okay, it is ironic that I sell Qantas but had never flown with them before. I was pretty damn excited about it. The Qantas section of the domestic airport had the self-check-in option but I still enjoyed queuing to drop off my checked-luggage.

Qantas, however, does not have a direct flight to/from Tasmania (Launceston/Hobart) and both ways   goes via Melbourne.  

I had about an hour plus transit time there and did some shopping (Victoria's Secret had a 40%, so I bought myself a brand new handbag and make-up case :P ). 

Onwards from Melbourne into Hobart. My, oh, my, what a beautiful way to fly into a city! The flight from Melbourne to Hobart was operated by Qantas Link, so it was a smaller aircraft (2 x 3 seats configuration) and the plane flew pretty low over the water to land.

AAANDD, Qantas actually provided each passenger with an iPad mini for entertainment! The only downfall is that I did not take a set of earphones with me :( so I had to twiddle my thumbs for entertainment.

Another thing I have to mention, is that Qantas does not hold back on feeding their passengers:
 Flight from Brisbane to Melbourne, I either had a choice of Muesli & Yoghurt (which came with a mini muesli bar), or the Cereal with a Mini-Muffin. I chose the latter.

For even a short hour-plus flight, Qantas served a damn good Shepherd's Pie (Aussie style, with Tomato Sauce). It is good based on other airplane food.

Upon arrival into Hobart Airport, Kate from Tourism Tasmania was there to greet and welcome those who were on the same flight/arrival date. Hopped onto a coach bus and onwards to Hobart city!

View from the coach 

There were several stops, as some of the other consultants stayed at other hotels nearby. In my itinerary, I was staying at Hotel Collins

It is a pretty cute, small 4-star property, which is conveniently walking distance to Woolworths, the ferry terminal (to Peppermint Bay & Mona), and the Salamanca Markets. 

I shared a room with another Flight Centre consultant for most of my trip.

Lovely touch! They had provided us with a customised welcome letter and also a little gift - 3 pack of preserves. I <3 sauce.

One thing I have to rave about the room is... THE PILLOWS! OMG OMG, SUPER DUPER COMFY PILLOWS!! I slept like a baby for the short 2 nights I was there. I was also very tempted on stealing bringing home one of them. 

Upon check-in, they had also given us vouchers for breakfast and 1 x Standard Drink (tea, coffee or a Tasmanian beer/wine). A girl I met along this famil, Victoria, agreed that an alcoholic beverage right after check-in would be awesome. 

Moo Brew Pilsner is awesome!

Then, we decided to check out Hobart's waterfront area and for some lunch.

Victoria and I decided to try Mures for some seafood!

Nothing better than a small basket of prawns, half a dozen oysters and a beer :)

After lunch, we decided to check out the Salamanca Market area, where we had a couple more drinks.
Once we had our alcohol fix, we ducked back to the hotel to refresh ourselves before heading to the Welcome Reception, which was held at the Henry Jones Art Hotel

Yes, I got lazy and did not attempt taking any photos and was busy picking at the canapes - which were super delicious.


Guess who gate-crashed our little function?
Omfg with Heston Blumenthal #tsc14 #mycookingidol #bucketlist

Didn't make it for drinks at the Observatory as I was too drunk off the generous free-flow of alcohol that night and wanted to have a good night's rest for the next day - the Salamanca Market Challenge & the Conference.

DAY 2 [20SEP14]
Woke up, got ready, had a very healthy breakfast whilst reading through the Salamanca Market Challenge.
Still can't believe that they gave us $10 each! :D Thank you!

I wanted to buy like most of the things the market had to offer, but guess I can't have everything :( One stall vendor did catch my attention though:

Jewellery made from antique silverware! 

Unfortunately, I have misplaced the business card, so I cannot place further information. I did purchase a ring which was made from a cocktail fork though!

After the challenge, we ducked down to attend the conference which gave us a goodie filled with many good random things - a slab of Cadbury Chocolate Bar, a bottle of the Cape Grim water: "purest water on earth", and etc. The day consisted of speeches about the different areas of Tasmania, morning tea, lunch and the best part: speed-dating suppliers! We've received further promotional goodies and information. Some of the best items I gathered from that day was a little seal stuffed-toy, a computer-mouse and some other random toys.

Our evening itinerary was a cruise, courtesy of Peppermint Bay Cruises, to.. well, Peppermint Bay where the gala dinner was held.

 They gathered most of the photos that was posted on Instagram and projected it on the wall. Yes, my photo of Heston did pop up too!

Unfortunately, I did not win the Salamanca Challenge: the reward was a scenic flight of Tasmania. 6 lucky consultants had a chance to do so!

By the time dinner finished and the cruise back to Hobart, the majority of us went back to our designated hotel and crashed. I slept like a baby that night, but rest was well-needed for what was in store for me!

DAY 3 [21SEP14]
Woke up really early to pack and ducked down for breakfast. I was really excited as it was the first day of the actual famil! Checked out and first stop: a ferry ride to MONA (Museum of Old & New Art). Even the ferry was funky! They had a caged parrot on the ferry, no joke!

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we only ended up having 45 minutes to run around the place. Rather than appreciating too much of it, I was running around the place with my camera to grab as many photos as I could. Yes! Photography is allowed in MONA, however, there are some areas that flash is not appreciated.

MONA was definitely one of the strangest art gallery I have ever been to: there are many weird and fantastic pieces which shocked, insulted my senses and intrigued me. Definitely a place worth visiting, even if you are not that interested in art.

 This... really bugged me. From afar, I couldn't make out what it was meant to be, until closer inspection.

Yes. Yes, they are plaster casts of 150 female genitalia - ranging from young to old. Holy Jesus, some disturbed me.

My favourite one so far: the ash Buddha!

Smelly, pooping contraption 

Okay, remember when I said that some of the works here will insult your senses. Well, this is one of them. One of the girls on the trip told me to check out a machine which is meant to mimic and show how food is processed into faeces by our body. Supposedly, they do feed the damn thing. This is the only photo of it - as I approached it for more up-close photos, the strong smell of poop raped my nostrils and I ran away gagging.

Me in front of this wired-truck-thingamajig!

After MONA, the 2-hour plus drive begun, to Launceston, with scenic fields along the way. We stopped to grab some lunch at Zeps Cafe, in Campbell Town. Again, due to time constraints, we had to order food that could be made relatively quickly (this was a shame as I would have loved to try the pork belly on the menu!!). Once our bellies were filled, our next and last stop for the day was in Hadspen, at The Red Feather Inn

Since there was a larger ratio of women to men, the women shared the 'Murphetts Cottage'(I finally had a room to myself! First & last night of no co-sharing!!), whilst one lucky dude had 'The Loft' to himself!

Living room - Murphetts Cottage

Super-duper happy to have had a large bed to myself for a night!

Who knew red onions could be used as home decorations? I didn't :/

We had an hour plus or so to just chill/unpack/etc., before the 'Perfect Pasta Class' begun. I was super-duper excited because I had no clue how to make pasta from scratch! Plus what we made was our dinner for the night - Minestrone Soup for entrees, Ricotta & Spinach Stuffed Ravioli (pan-fried with pine nuts and broccoli) and Tiramisu for dessert.

Had a few others starting the tiramisu 

After prepping the pasta dough, he split us up by assigning certain groups with different tasks. Some stayed on to prep a different sort of pasta dough, made from semolina flour, whilst a few of us went out to the veggie patch to gather some fresh vegetables.

 Fresh, as fresh can get!

We ended up with a massive bowl of spinach and other vegetables such as kale, celery, broccolini and etc., to be used in the entree and the main course. We then had other prep work before the actual fun begun - turning rested dough into pasta (ravioli)!

 Some funky Stained Glass Pasta!

My babies :) 

This was made from the semolina flour batch. I have no clue what type of pasta this is, but I am assuming it is Radiatori. This was used in the Minestrone soup.

Left over pasta hung to dry 

Then the even more enjoyable part = eating our results!

By golly, this Minestrone, served with the little semolina pasta and pesto was THE BEST I've ever had. Not just cause we had made it, but I hate the soup in general as I find it either too bland or watery at times. This one was perfect! 

The Tiramisu team may have been over-generous with the alcohol - there was literally a shot of liquor left at the bottom of the glass! Still yummy though :)

After dinner, some opted to head to bed early whilst a few of us decided to gather around an outdoor fire-thingamajig and have a couple more drinks. Needless to say, I was super-drunk that night. Worst decision ever as we had another big itinerary the following day. Other than that, I think most of us from the group can agree that The Red Feather Inn experience was the highlight of the trip.

DAY 4 [22SEP14]
After the usual shit of packing up and checking out, the first stop was at the Queen Victoria Museum - started off with the normal stuff you see at a museum: stuffed local animals, some historical artefacts, etc. One funky part was a stuffed Tasmanian tiger (now extinct) and a rail-related portion of the museum.

 Taxidermy of a Tasmanian Tiger

Straight after the museum tour, we had the Boags Beer Lovers Tour (which sounded awesome when I had a look at the itinerary, but not so great when I was hungover.. Boo..). It was a quick tour about James Boags Brewery and how beer is produced. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed inside, but got a few photos at the tastings, which was outside the factory. It was definitely a first beer tasting I've had that was paired with cheese! Also, got to munch on some actual roasted malt. That was a first.

 Yummy beers, though I personally enjoy the Boag's XXX Ale the best. Please note that you can only drink Boag's XXX Ale and Wizard Smith's Ale in Tasmania. They aren't exported inter-state. 

Mini-museum upstairs: Can designs over the years (plus an accidental selfie included)

Couldn't believe that I had a beer (as opposed to a full 3 glasses) and cheese for morning tea, before we headed into the Tamar Valley region, stopping at Velo Wines for lunch, where we all received a pizza each. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you whether I liked any of their wines or not, as I was still not feeling well enough for the consumption of alcohol.

A filling lunch also meant sleepy time: whilst we drove onwards to the next destination, I fell asleep on the coach (I am assuming there was a few of us who dozed off!) and woke up when we arrived at Seahorse World, where we had a quick tour about the place. Highlights of this place: I got to touch and hold a live seahorse! *squeals*

 There's something very disturbing about seeing this many seahorses in one area. I don't know why this freaks me out a bit :/

 This sea-dragron is my favourite! Look at the bright colours on it! 

Okay. This photo does NOT do this crab justice. Let's just say that the big claw was like half a metre long, if not bigger. 

Our tour guide holding up one of the biggest hermit crab I've seen in person

No photos of me holding the little seahorse though :( *regret*

Located right next door to Seahorse World, is the Platypus House, where we had our second tour about these cute little fuzzy semi-aquatic egg-laying mammals. I only learned several years ago that platypuses are actually venomous (males only). You know what they say! There are plenty of things that can kill (or attempt to kill you) in Australia!

No photos of a platypus as it was pretty dark and all my photos turned out blurry *cries* But, I'll make it up with an up-close photo of an echidna! First ever time where an echidna is literally walking around right next to you.

It's so cute! It's little long pink tongue goes around slurping the feed in!

After our little tours, we drove to George Town, where we checked-in at Peppers York Cove. We had a little site inspection after checking-in.

 Our room for the night. Every deco at Peppers is pretty modern. Love the red, white and black decor.

Missed out a photo of the showers - the room I was in had those shower-heads which is was as big as a side-plate and was installed from the ceiling, which gave a rain-like experience <3

Since we were pushed for time again, we pre-ordered what we wanted for dinner before our last tour for the day: Low Head Penguin Tours

I've seen many penguins before in the wild, so this tour didn't appeal to me too much, BUT I did get to see a couple of penguins in the act of mating, and that was the highlight. Seriously, it's not everyday you get to see them doing it, like doggy-style.

By the time the tour ended, I was starving and could not wait to hide from the cold. Dinner was waiting for us when we returned.

Prawn & Scallop Slider for my entree: Wasn't too impressed as there wasn't much prawn nor scallop and a whole lot of bread. Slightly disappointing.  

Main course: Wallaby with beetroot quinoa. First time having wallaby and goddamn it was good. Tasted like a cross between kangaroo & beef. Ommnommnomm

As per usual, after dinner meant bed-time for me, as we had an early morning start again.

DAY 5 [23SEP14]
I'm not a huge breakfast fan, but I decided to have something warm and savoury. The staff at Peppers were courteous enough to accommodate my simple request, which I am thankful for.

 Poached egg with fried haloumi - Told the staff to give me one egg as opposed to two and not to serve me toast. Perfect portion right here :)

View from dining area

After breakfast and having my caffeine hit for the day, we were off to Hollybank Treetops, where I was lucky enough to do the 3-hours Zipline tour (this is was on my bucket-list). The other group did the Segway Tour (2 hours duration) instead.

No photos just of yet as we weren't allowed any mobile phones or loose items. But, I did receive a DVD copy after my famil, so look out for a post with further updates :)

Did I mention I had fear of heights?

Post-adrenaline rush, it was time for lunch at Pipers Brook Vineyard, where we had a tasting as well. Though we only received small portions of wine, all of us started acting silly. I personally did not enjoy any of the wines there enough to purchase a bottle (since we were to visit Jansz after that; decided to keep my options open for bubblies instead).

Best platter ever! The quiche served on this plate was the fluffiest, most decadent quiche! T_T I don't know when I'll be able to find a quiche this good ever again (note the quiche portions are on the middle right).

Bellies full and we were to do a quick tour of the winery: From the machinery to the cellar where we tasted wine in the process of ageing in the barrels. Not tasty I tell you!

Next stop: Jansz 

My manager was like going-on about Janz, and I was a clueless child. Supposedly, it's one of the well known brands for sparking wines.

Tasting time!

Out of the entire lot, I liked the taste of the Jansz Vintage Rose 2010, so I bought a bottle (off memory, I paid like $45AUD for the bottle).

By then, I was relatively tipsy and was ready to check-out our next stop in Launceston: The Cataract Gorge.

Yes, I realise that I've been saying "First Time" a lot, but it's true! There's many things I haven't experienced before :( First time on a chair-lift too.

 There was a lot of plants before reaching the end. Had to hold my legs up to avoid contact

 Quite a few peacocks flaunting their tail feathers

Next stop: Hotel Charles

No photos here as it reminds me of Hotel Collins, which wasn't a surprise when I learned from the conference, that it was run by the same group of hotels. We had like an hour and a half to relax before we had a progressive-dinner (courtesy of Tourism Northern Tasmania).

Another first, with progressive-dining. Had entree at Hotel Charles before moving on to Saint John Craft Beer Bar for mains - had one of the yummiest pork belly burger and fries, prepared by a food van Eats with Beats.

Entree: Salmon, Scallop, Quail & Pork Belly <3

Cannot remember where dessert was held, but they had some great Creme Brulee (I had two small portions despite being over-stuffed with food).

Being that full, falling asleep was not an issue when we finished our progressive dinner.

DAY 6 [23SEP14]
Our last day in Tasmania! Woke up really early to have some breakfast before my final packing :(
The last stops in Launceston was at the Design Tasmania Centre (which didn't really appeal to me too much), other than the fine woodwork displayed.

However, close by was a park where they had a Japanese monkey enclosure. Thought that was pretty nifty!

The last place we visited before heading back to our respective cities, was the Tasmanian Gourmet Sauce Company, where we had lunch and a chance to purchase sauce (and if you don't know me by now, I am addicted to sauce. All food must have some sort of sauce/gravy/relish!!). Purchased like 4 different ones!

Not only did they serve lunch, and sell sauces, they also have a garden and some scenic view going on.

Straight after lunch, we headed down to Launceston Airport to check-in for our flights back. At the check-in counter, my checked-bag actually weighed 24kg ++!! I arrived in Tasmania with only 16kg!! I blame all the brochures and stuff I received from the conference lol.
Thankfully the lady at the counter wasn't particular about that 1 extra kilo.

Was pretty sad to leave Tasmania after spending such a short but intense time there.

 Leaving Launceston :( Photo courtesy of Skye (taken from her Facebook)

First and foremost, I must apologise for the long wait in posts as I either procrastinate or get too busy to finish a post, especially one as long as this! I have truly enjoyed my stay in Tasmania, and can definitely understand how and why they are able to say that 70% will come back to visit this beautiful Australian state.

The local produce is fresh, and so is the air, which means better tasting food and a better lifestyle (definitely won't see hustle & bustle anywhere!). Wildlife and scenic views are abundant and there's definitely plenty of activities to suit all sorts of budget.

I haven't been able to share all of the photos from this trip as I'm afraid it'll make this post way too long, but have posted the nicer ones!

Other than that, I want to personally thank all of those responsible for my trip and making it such an enjoyable & memorable one.

I can only hope to have the chance to visit Tasmania once again!