Bali - but different.

[gallery] So, Bali is boganville. Right? Well, if you go to Kuta area, yes. But go just thirty minutes north to Canggu, and it's completely different. Sitting at Echo Beach, watching the sun set, we see one hawker, a handful of locals, a few handfuls of surfers, a bunch of expats and some more tourists. All calm, all chilled, all getting on with the relaxed life. No smutty stickers, no drunk obnoxious grots. I find myself saying many times that I can see why people fall in love with the place, and live here. Expats sit at beachside cafes, tapping away at their laptop while swigging a beer. Everyone(well, nearly) rides a motorbike down, except for me and hubby, on our bicycles. Everyone knows them though too, branded with The Chillhouse, an accommodation in the area. It's like one big, happy family. Even further north is The Menjangan. It's the quietest part of Bali I've set foot on. Well, that is, until , we, and particularly, my kids, get there. The squeals of excitement that echo through the forest as we bump along the dirt rocky tracks in a double decker open minivan surely scare the monkeys back a step or two. The deer grazing at the beach don't seem to mind the curious kids sneaking up on them either. And the calm bay, bordered with white sand beach, framed by mangroves, is perfect to burn energy. After coming back from a canoe exploration, we wander the boardwalks through the mangrove, chancing upon a Monitor Lizard. The huge lizard watches us as we scuttle past, then slowly moves on.

So, for somewhere different, but still easy and cheap - Bali can deliver. Think outside the square - or from the stretch of  hectic tourism that is Kuta, Legian and Seminyak - and head up. Canggu, Medewi, and Menjangan. Treat yourself. We met a few travellers from Australia, travelling up around the North West of Bali, and all of them were very impressed, and so glad they made the effort. Even the girl that wobbled around like a walking bandage after coming of her motorbike on the way up.

Tourism crime and scams - the opening of first Crime Crisis Centre in Phuket

Image This week, the first Crime Crisis Centre, at Phuket International Airport opened its doors.

Another will be opened in downtown Phuket, both operating around the clock, in an aim to crack down on tourism crooks.

Crooks that range from ripping off tourists in jet-ski scams, accusing tourists of damaging the rental jet-skis and demanding huge sums for repairs to threat of physical violence.

I went to Phuket last year, and can certainly see how many scams there could be, and how the unassuming tourist is an easy target. Thai newspapers report that Russians, Koreans and Chinese have been active in both Phuket and Pattaya, some using Thais as nominees in setting up businesses to con foreigners. So it's big business.

It's just another reminder of how we need to be careful when travelling. Travel not only securing your personal belongings, but thinking with your head screwed on. Don't trust people on the street. Don't buy drugs. Don't say you will buy something, then change your mind. Don't go down into the slums. Don't take too many chances.

Do have fun. Do take notice of things. Do secure yourself. Do let your family and friends know your plans. Do get things in writing. Do use reputable companies.

I have been conned, probably more often than I know it. The one that comes to mind, is arriving at Peru airport at midnight, hotel booking in hand, being led astray by a tour company saying the hotel had closed, and they will find us a better hotel. They found us a hotel, but also at an extra cost. They also had us come in for a meeting the next morning, where they sold a 'cheap' package for travelling through Peru and Bolivia, including a tour of the Inca Trail. We weren't in any harm, the tour was brilliant, but we did pay much more than we should have.

That, I guess, is where planning and common sense comes in. Research what things cost, know what you want to do, and have options.

Travel is a wonderful thing, and can be so fulfilling and exciting. But with all excitement comes its dangers - stay safe.

Melbourne - the city of laneways and a shot of coffee.

Melbourne-4239 Melbourne-4316 Melbourne-4288 Laneways. The back end of town.

Not normally the most elegant or tourist worthy part of town. But there are exceptions. Take Melbourne for example. Cafe lanes, bar lanes and artworked lanes litter the city. Litter that is shutterworthy for the International tourist. A photographer looks at it different though. Although we love to sit and have coffee we also see character, life and intrigue in the empty or littered lanes that everyone scurries past.

While most people are looking that way, we look this way. Look up and look down.

TIP * When going for a walk with your camera, don't forget to take a look behind you. Things can look different from another angle. Light, shape, form. Even people continuing with their lives, thinking you have passed. Click. Moment captured.

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