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The transition. Asia – Australia Part 1; Before I leave

Before I leave.

HOLY MOLY. Here I am, 6 months later on my last few days in Asia before Australia.

  What a whirlwind of emotions right now. Gutted to leave Asia. Excited to see Australia. Strange to be further away from home but closer to a more westernised and civilised lifestyle. It’s an odd subject I really don’t hear many people talking about but a journey a lot of us make.

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It’s a major adaptation. We’re used to moving countries, learning new currencies and blagging our way through backpacking crazy places but this is different.

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Trying street food in Penang, Malaysia pre thunderstorm.

Heading to Australia after traveling in Asia will be a huge shock. I don’t quite know what to expect however everyone’s telling me the same. They love it and I know I’m ready for the challenge. australia

The worries.

What if it’s so cold? What if it’s too expensive? What if I can’t get work?

These things will always run through your head but remember, Worry is a misuse of imagination.

I’m even further away from home, the furthest possible point for us English across the world.Planet-Earth-picture

The perks. I’ll be back in civilisation, I’ll have more access to home comforts. I’ll see friends I’ve not seen in ages and catch up with ones I’ve made in Asia. Even the little things we become accustomed too in Asia like everyone speaking English, fresh air, routine.

Do I want that yet? I don’t know. We will have to find out.

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Beach front bungalows for $30 US!

The adapting. For me, price is going to be the weirdest. I can get bags of laundry done for £2.50. A taxi across the city for £3. A big meal for £1. Spending AU $8  a night on clean and safe accommodation in beautiful locations. Australia is back to western prices. I have little money and need to make it stretch until I get a job.QUP88wFp

Weather. For those that know Australia, I fly into winter. For Melbourne, where I’m heading, it’s cold. Like coat and scarf kind of cold. I am coming from 35+ degree heat. I have one pair of jeans I bought in Hanoi and a little black hoodie. It’s safe to say, I am not prepared.

Lifestyle. Back to work. Back to paying rent and bills. Finding a new group of friends, and not just for a couple of nights. Hostels in Asia are so sociable and it’s so easy to meet people. I’m moving to a new city, in a new country and it is not Asia.

I luckily have a good friend to stay with and know people that can help me with accommodation while I get on my feet. For those going straight to hostels, they will still be sociable but a totally new environment.

Fundamentally.. So I promised I would do 6 months in Asia, and I did it! With some mental, occasionally physical and definitely financial challenges, I made it. And I’m still in one piece feeling as strong as ever. It’s normal to feel a roller coaster of emotions. Not just coming from Asia but all over the world including England. You know it’ll all work out.

Have a little bit of cash, your visa sorted and a positive mind and it’ll all work out.

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Want to find out what’s been going on since I landed in Australia. Read Part 2 here. (Coming soon).

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My 8 biggest travel tips..

There aren’t really any secrets. No myths or hidden meanings. Taking these things traveling simply entitled me to the best travel..

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1.Give yourself as much time as possible.

I had no end date,  little at home that I had to go back for, other then friends and family of course. I detached myself from most things meaning I had all the time in the world. Literally.

So many travellers do 2/3 months which is sweet but the opportunities you’ll miss out on is crazy.
The less time you have, the more you’ll feel you want to plan. Wanting to fit everything in leads to not letting go as much. My favourite thing is turning up somewhere and staying for however long I feel. I understand we have to make the most with the time we have but try to just go with the flow.

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2. – Don’t plan anything.

Maybe a train ticket or a busy hostel but most things you really don’t have to plan.
It’s great to have some idea of things, especially if your on my own however planning less leaves less room for an adventure of the unknown.

I turn up in cities with no idea where I’m sleeping, I don’t plan most activities and like to get myself ‘lost’. Things and people are popping up in all places, new adventures and random memories will happen if you just go with the flow. Trust me. It works.

3.Don’t expect anything.

I mean nothing. Easier said than done sometimes. I get it, if you’re paying 20 dollars for your own room, you will have expectations of value. It’s a difficult one to grasp, rather then have little expectations, have none.

Let things surprise you, let it blow your mind more then you thought it could.

I feel I grasped this and my satisfaction and experiences have hugely improved. I’m not feeling let down, I’m not wishing it was something else.

I know when something isn’t substantial, I’m not saying settle for something you shouldn’t but in regards to travel, it could be a beach, a hostel, a meal, a tour, an adventure, expect nothing.

4.Stay open minded.

It’s easier said then done.
Try not to close off options or even have too much of an opinion. Stay strong to your beliefs and keep your passions strong but don’t restrict yourself. Embrace the cultures, the traditions, the odd foods and different ways of living. Immerse in different experiences and talk to people from all different backgrounds and countries. It’s part of the fun.

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5.Speak to people.

Okay, Everyone speaks but really go out your way, speak to people from all around the world. Chat to the locals, get to know the staff in your accommodation and of course, all the other backpackers.DSC_3296Made friends with these two little ones in Kampot, Cambodia.

Backpackers are your biggest help while traveling, they offer advice, support and most importantly, tips on where to go and what to do. I never looked at lonely planet. That’s a secret I guess?

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You’ll find most backpackers are chatty, friendly and also want company. Sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know. Hostels are the best places to meet people so get out your comfort zone and just say hello.

6.Don’t ever say what if.

Well, maybe if you’re about to launch yourself of a building.. Not literally, but 90% of the things we do when we travel has some element of risk. Everything we do has risks but travel is here to take us out of our comfort zones.

If I said what if, I’d still be sat in my bedroom in England rather then be in the middle of South East Asia having the time of my life. I’m alive and free and loving every single second.

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– which leads me onto my next one.

7.Enjoy the bad times. You’re having the trip of a lifetime.
I’m doing more things in South East Asia over 6 months then people do in their entire lives, let alone the seasons abroad and other travels however everything doesn’t go perfect. Despite the happy travel photos and wonderful check ins, we do have down days and things arent all sunshine and daisies.

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£3.00 a night for a shared hut on the beach, with no fan but I was living in paradise.

It’s about memories and experiences we make building us passionate personalities.
Even the random long journeys or the stuffy accommodation.

Life isn’t perfect, backpacking isn’t about luxuries. We have to embrace and just enjoy every second. Live in the present. Even when things don’t go to plan or something may not work out, one day you’ll be thinking back to that time and wishing you were back.

Don’t take anything for granted.

8. Life isn’t too short. It’s what you do with it that makes it short.
I’ve just reached my 6 month point and it feels like yesterday I left my home in England and boarded that plane to Bangkok. Time flies when you’re having fun but that’s the thing, for every second you have, you won’t get it back. There are 6o seconds in a minute. 60 minutes in an hour. 24 hours a day. That’s 1440 minutes in 24 hours. Enough with the bullshit. Don’t waste your time away.

8. Say yes as much as possible.

Hold up. Don’t go buying meth from the dodgy Tuk Tuk man or purchasing bloody everything on Khao San. It’s easy to hold back due to finances or avoided situations but sometimes you should try saying yes even when you really don’t feel like it. You never know where it could lead you, who you’ll meet and new oppurtunities.

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A very emotional day volunteering at the KohPhangan Stray Animal Care.

Your travels are the best time of your life.

Enjoy it & embrace it! IMG_9997

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5 reasons to travel solo

Traveling isn’t for everyone. Backpacking on your own can be pretty daunting.

There will be times you feel a little lonely or just want someone you know to watch your stuff, give their opinion and look out for you, however these minor little issues are overpowered with the opportunities, skills, lessons and adventures solo travel can give you.

Got sent this that someone took of me without realising. That was one sunset

1. Do what you want. Go where you want. Eat what you want. Sleep where you want. You have no one else you have to worry about.

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2. Most people are solo. I’ve met plenty of travellers in couples, small groups and in tours however 90% of people I come across are doing it all on there own. Lead your own adventure and it’s so much easier to meet people!

Decided to give Thai food a night off and treating ourselves to a pizza and wine night. Beautiful restaurant with fabulous people.

3. Change your mind? Want to travel with people. There is always someone willing to let you join them for some of the trip.

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Thanks to these awesome guys for coming on the trek with me. All staying in the same dorm in the city, we just decided one morning to all go together. A farther and two sons from Hawaii and 5 elephants including a one year old baby running along with us. Glad I shared the experience with such humble and down to earth guys.

Elephant trekking with three Hawaiian firefighters.

I’ve managed to meet people in the strangest of places and looked out for each other, even if it’s just a short boat ride down the Chao river in Bangkok. Even the longer bus and trains there seems to be people I’ve met in hostels and random backpackers and we stick together. Everyone looks after each other in some way!

Sky bar with an English, an ozzie and Dutch. #travel #backpacker #thailand

4. Be yourself. You’ve no one to correct you, prove yourself too, impress. Be real and honest with yourself and everyone around you.

Climbed the waterfalls, smoked a J, drank a beer, slided down the waterfalls with the locals.

5. You will develop certain skills that only traveling by yourself teaches you. Be aware, trust your gut, use your social skills and so many more. Want to know? Find out for yourself.

Had fun with the local children in the hot springs.

 

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Am I in love already?

Am I in love already?

Yes yes and one big fat yes.
Wait? With a guy? Pffft. Don’t be silly.

Despite meeting a couple of awesome guys where there has been a connection. Unfortunately, no love there.

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North of Thailand, 3 hours up from Chiang Mai, up in the mountains lies Pai.

Backpackers paradise. Stoners dream. Food lovers heaven. Nature freaks second home. Hippy central and perfection.

It was love at first sight.

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I don’t really plan my travels. I just go with the flow and see what happens. I have a route in mind, however, I go off recommendations, what’s going on, who’s going where and simply wherever the hell I feel like going. My choice is limitless and it feels awesome.

‘You have to go to Pai Leah.’          

‘You heard of Pai? It’s ideal ‘              

‘Still up in Pai, I can’t leave’

So, after 5 nights in Chiang Mai, I book the crazy bus drive up the twisted mountain roads, 762 curves, around 91 miles on route 1095 and it was one heck of a journey. Not that I felt I was in a great amount of danger, but it is one mad bus ride. Don’t think you’ll get away with it as every drive is as ridiculous as the next. I was prepared from hearing stories, however, I was taken away by the insane views. Driving up to the bright blue sky staring out the window to see unbelievable views of the countless green mountains. Getting closer and closer to the clouds it felt pretty surreal. Luckily I traveled with three Hawaiian dudes I had previously met who I sat with and we kept each other company.

 

So where/what/who? Pai.
North Thailand. South East Asia.

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Pai (ปาย) is a small town near the Myanmar border, about 146 km northwest of Chiang Mai on the northern route to Mae Hong Son. It lies on the Pai River. The town has thesaban tambon status and covers parts of the tambon Wiang Tai of Pai district. With a population of 2,284. slowly becoming one of Thailand hippy, backpacker destination.

What makes one tiny town so good?

I couldn’t imagine I would find such a perfect place.
A vibrant, quirky, relaxed, unique and fabulous town, Pai is different.

I found a hostel, unpacked and called my friend Luke who I met in Bangkok who also arrived in Pai the same day. We ventured out to the night market and it was love at first sight.

The market was filled with cheap local food. Unlimited stalls of noodles, pad-tai, pancakes, fried rice, fresh fruit and more. What I also liked was they provided western food. I don’t mean greasy pizza and burgers. But real fresh local wraps, sushi, cakes, crepes, salads, homemade beef burgers, endless fruits and smoothies. For less than £2.00 I indulged in fresh sushi, a scrumptious strawberry smoothie and Luke and I fell in love with a bakery where I paid 50 baht (around 95p) for a huge piece of chocolate and banana cake. Oops.

 

Surrounded by the lush green mountains filled with waterfalls and jungles this small town was becoming more and more ideal. A stunning stream of water flows down near the bottom of the town with unbelievably beautiful bungalow guesthouses surrounding the fresh fields.

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Due to the high demand of buisnesses a lot of the owners are also English and Pai is only growing with tourism which may lead to it getting a lot busier. You go because of recomendations however not everyone knows much about this surreal Thai village and most people find out about this surreal little town until you get out and start traveling and it’s always mentioned somewhere.

It’s the right balance.
Being on a tight budget I was worried this place would rinse me. So much to do, to see, to try, to explore. I was wrong. Again, it’s about getting the balance.

Dollar.imageWell, Thai Baht really..

I stayed at two different hostels over 6 nights. Costing around 180 baht (£3.45) (less then 7 australian dollars) for a 14 bed mixed dorm. Both hostels had wifi, a pool, one hostel had a puppy pit with new born bulldogs. A bar serving cocktails and food, a treehouse with cushions, hammocks and mattress, yoga classes, circus classes, warm showers, and help from staff for all sorts.

I’m spending less then £10 a day on my hostel, smoothies, iced coffee, fruit, some type of street food for dinner and sometimes petrol for my moped. Depending on which city and what else I want to do I may be spending more on certain activities but there is so much to do for free. So many stunning drives, waterfalls, mountains to climb and temples and large buddhas to see. The hot springs cost me £3, my weed cost £10, my ped was £2 a day and any thing else I was extra careful with budgeting.
Huge bottles of cold water from the small supermarket 7/11 is 14 baht (8p) and if you need to buy toiletries, toilet paper etc it’s also very cheap. A large bottle of Chang beer is around 60 baht in most places which is just more then £1. Yoga classes and mediation groups can be found for 100 baht which is just less then £2. Talented tattoo parlours offering traditional bamboo and regular guns can be anywhere and will be cheaper then back at home.

Most places I’ve visited in Thailand have similar prices however for such a marvellous town where I could easily see myself staying, it’s nothing campered to home.

Feeling comfortable travelling solo, despite making so many new wonderful friends, there were people about. Wondering around in baggy vests, oversized travelling pants, dreadlogs, riding around Motorbikes and scooters. Everyone was getting on with there adventures. I felt as though I could fit right in.

Who needs adults #hotsprings #thailand #pai #water #swim #nature

Who needs adults #hotsprings #thailand #pai #water #swim #nature

The air was mild but the humidity from the daylight sun was slightly warming. Currently it’s mid December and it can get quite chilly at night. Especially if you’re coming from Cambodia and Loas and places like Bangkok. Fortunately they sell second hand jackets and hats which is actual quite funny to drive buy and see everyone buying warm coats to drive around in at night.

From there is history….

During my stay:

I wake up everyday with no idea what I’m doing. Do I want to drive up through the secret twisty roads and take in breathtaking views, do I want to go lie by the pool and soak up the sun or shall I wonder around the town and treat myself to a fabulous Thai massage for £3.
How about meet up with friends for lunch for less then a £1 and chill together watching the sunset.

Do I head to a reggae bar and roll a joint or 4.

Sunset bar with these fellas. Loving life in Pai way too much!

Wonder around cafes and care for puppies and meet the locals.

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Sit sipping sweet coffee and treat myself to the huge variety or cakes and pastries at the local bakery or shall I just disappear someone quite and blog like I’ve chosen to do today.

One of my favourite things is to put my headphones in, roll a joint and lie in the hammock and meet friendly and interesting people from all over the world.

#travelgirl #goprothailand #goprolife #goprotravel #hammock #pai #thailand #world #asia

When you’re travelling you can do these types of things all the time.
Never the less, there’s something about Pai. The people, the atmosphere, the vibes and lifestyle is so mellow and positive. So convinent and easy it’s hard not to just settle here.

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Feeling so close to nature, yet managing to find hot showers, warm double bed bungalows, large cheap dorms. Having cheap but amazing foods or splashing out on fresh fish and cocktails it’s the perfect balance.

Meet fascinating people. Chill the heck out. Lay in the sun. Trek through the jungle. Swim in the waterfalls. Bathe in the hot springs, ride through the mountains. Indulge at night. Wonder down the stunning stream or just drink smoothies and lie in a hammock. Anything is possible and it’s bloody incredible.

Yes, due to tourists they have restaurants, bars, guest houses and souvenir shops. If you are looking for somewhere low on tourists this may not be the place for you however the people visiting are pretty low budgeting, backpacking, beer drinking, weed smoking peace lovers. I never felt like it was too busy and the places I hung out was just the right amount of people.

Climbed the waterfalls, smoked a J, drank a beer, slided down the waterfalls with the locals.

I have to continue my trip to my next destination and continue my journey but I will be returning. Whether it’s for a day or a month or a year. I shall be back.

Looking to travel to Pai?
My top places to go :

Sunset bar. •Night market • Mo pang waterfall •Earth tone • Hot springs national park • Edible jazz •

 

Been to Pai?
Comment below and let me know your recommendations on where to go.

Traveling to Bangkok? Make sure to check out my top tricks and tips for traveling Bangkok by clicking here!

 

Pai Canyon

Pai Canyon

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What traveling does to the mind. Part 1.

The mind.

The powerful seat of human consciousness. In control of our likes, dislikes, passions, worries.

It’s can do odd things, some we enjoy, some we dont. It’s just as important to keep the mind as healthy as the body.

Our brains determine the way we think, how we act and define who we really are.

I’m no doctor, no scientist and no one to tell anyone how they should think or what mindset to be in.

What I can tell you is that when you travel, see the world, leave your comfort zone and experience once in a lifetime opportunities and make unbelievably beautiful memories… That gives you one happy and positive mindset.

Whatever we do throughout are life, the experiences we build give us our intelligence and humour. Our faith and belief, our likes and dislikes and even our worries and problems. Most of us want to be the best person we can be. Some more to their chosen career, to their partner, their family, some to their faith and religion.

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During my current trip I have a lot of time to think, to appreciate, the take in and to explore different emotions. I’ve already met so many fascinating and different individuals from all over the world.

Thanks to these awesome guys for coming on the trek with me. All staying in the same dorm in the city, we just decided one morning to all go together. A farther and two sons from Hawaii and 5 elephants including a one year old baby running along with us. Glad I shared the experience with such humble and down to earth guys.

From locals living in small Thai villages with hardly any running warm water and just a small hut for the family. I’ve met business men from America, students from Ireland, doctors from Germany, bartenders from Australia, firefighters from Hawaii, crazy yoga guys from Canada and backpackers from all over.

Everyone I met has their own reasons to travels, their own stories, different backgrounds and exciting adventures ahead. There seems to be certain things that we all have in common. The mindset that travelling gives you.

Exploring the jungle in Chiang Mai. First time I've actually been alone since doing the trip. Watched the sunset up in the mountains and swam in the waterfall. Felt perfect

Where do I start?

The feeling of freedom, relaxation, appreciation, survival, positivity, strength, passion and of course wunderlust.

I knew I wanted to travel for years. It’s my parents I have to thank for the travel bug. My beautiful mother and farther. I was 9 when they took us for our first real travelling experience. Funnily enough it was too Thailand, where I’m currently writing this blog post. They took my younger sister and I backpacking around the beautiful country. Being a little girl left with only memories and experiences. We later did 4 weeks in Canada and also done a couple of weeks in all sorts of places from India -France. They gave me the travel bug.image

 

As as mentioned in other blogs I flew off for my first season abroad when I was 18 and this only enchanced my passion to see the rest of the world. I decided to start with Europe. My first big solo trip. Doing only 5 weeks around the continent was enough for me to realise
this is what I had to do. I wanted to visit everywhere, you name it, it would appeal to me on some way.

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So, back to basics. The mindset of leaving.

When you leave your hometown with a backpack and no real plans. It’s a strange feeling.

Personally, I felt excitement, hope, anxiety and strength.

No one wants to leave loved ones for a crazy amount of time. All of us want to keep our favourite comforts, whether it’s our bed, our pets, our car etc..

You have to leave everything behind and go.

It’s a pretty scary time, and majority of people who I speak to tell me they get nervous, they get homesick sometimes and question what life would be like if they just stayed at home continuing with there daily way of living.

Funnily enough this lasts till you get on that plane. Your survival mode kicks in, the excitement that this is really happening, the realisation you’re one of the few people at home who is actually pursuing there dreams. Your mind is strong. You need to keep this up.

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For those traveling solo like myself. You ask yourself whether you made the right choice going alone. Are you ready for this.

Let me tell you, regardless of where you go, who or what you leave behind, the worry and determination your experiencing. You’ll be fine. If you can get into the correct mindset or the feeling I’ve been mentioning. If you stay positive, calm, strong and healthy.. You can do anything.

During this trip my faith in humanity has been increased. Meeting people from all over the world in major capital cities, to tiny local communities up in the mountains. They want to talk, meet, help and get to know you. Watching locals work so hard to feed there loved ones despretatly working to cook or sell. I know risks and what can happen but I’ve actually felt pretty safe and comftable my entire trip. It feels like there is always someone to help you. No ones angry, no ones stressed or worried.photo_mind

Almost every single person I’ve met including the locals has been happy, relaxed and positive. They look at the better side of things, they tell you honest opinions with a lovely kind nature. People are going on with their lives doing what needs to be done. Deep down people just want to help and do what needs to be done. For me, this reminds me to be appreciative of my journey.

It gives me the mindset I want to have.

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Like this post? Check out ‘The truth about solo travel’ by clicking here!

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The truth about solo travel

Solo travel?

Impossible.

We live in a world with billions of people.

8/10 people are travelling completely alone. Exactly the same as me. One rucksack and a passion to explore. Some for less then a month, and some for as long as they can.

Travelling isn’t something you do. It’s a lifestyle.

When you’re at home preparing for the day you leave, sitting on that plane travelling to the other side of the world with no one but yourself. Reality sinks in, oh shit.

Am I really doing this?

There is a difference between feeling lonely and being alone.

Despite travelling ‘alone’ I’ve not once felt lonely the entire time. If anything, I feel like I’ve made so many brilliant friends and I’m constantly surrounded by outgoing and positive people.

I’ve travelled to different cities with guys I’ve met in my room that morning. I’ve gone trekking through the jungle with someone I met in a coffee shop. I went out with 17 people in Bangkok also solo in my hostel and it felt like we all knew each other for years. I am always with people and if im not, it’s out of choice.

Lady boy cabaret night with the family. #chiangmai #cabaret #hostelliving

There is something about the nature and social side of backpackers, either solo or in a group that is pretty magical. You just start a conversation and everyone is so friendly and open. I’ve met such incredible and interesting people who I get on with so well and the best thing is, i’ll end up seeing them again. Whether it’s some random street in a different city or even in the same dorm in my hostel in a different country. It’s so easy to bump into people in the most random
places.

Traveling isn’t for everyone, especially backpacking. Like I said before, it’s a lifestyle. A way of living. It takes you out of your comfort zone and devolves certain skills you can only gain from doing such trips. Living your life, with all your belongings out of one bag.

The mindset to travel is a different game altogether. You have to overcome the fear of being too shy to say hello. You have to get over the fact you’ll sometimes eat lunch or dinner by yourself. Learn that sleeping in a dorm with 15 other people that may not speak English isn’t too bad. Or where I’m currently writing this blog, on a tiny mini van heading from Pai to Chiang Mai, North Thailand, down a mental twisted and very bumpy 3.5 hour journey squashed in the back with a girl asleep on you isn’t all that bad. So I keep trying to tell myself.

A big one for me is that you learn not to judge. Travelling solo leaves you making new friends with everyone and anyone. It’s quite strange how such an natural feeling for any human being, quite a negative quality 99% of us have, somewhat disappears. Some of us more then others but we all automatically judge. What they wear, their style, the way they walk and talk. It’s natural, we all do it. We try not too and it might not be much of an assumption but part of using are eyes and brains together is ‘judging’ someone else.

Climbed the waterfalls, smoked a J, drank a beer, slided down the waterfalls with the locals.

For me and I can see many others, while travelling solo, let this go. We don’t have time to assume or create an idea of who might be in the bed above or who’s sitting next to you on your train through Vietnam, you’re more interested in their stories, their experiences. Where have they travelled and where to next. You meet them as them, for who they are without all the excess baggage home life can string along.

Some people love being solo and others hate it but one of the best things about travelling on your own is the fact you can do whatever the hell you want. No waiting around, no taking into consideration what everyone else wants to do. As selfish as it sounds, you only have to worry about yourself and when there’s so much to do in such incredible cities it can get pretty frustrating having to wait around and miss out certain things you want to do.

There are downsides to travelling solo however situations people expressed concern about, have not been an issue. Everyone is so friendly that anytime I’ve ever needed help or wanted some kind of advice or answers, someone’s always been there. Don’t get me wrong, I realize it won’t always be like this and I won’t always find helpful people. The disadvantages can sometimes suck, even just asking someone to take a photo or keep an eye on your stuff when you go to the toilet. You just want someone’s second opinion or need some advice from someone you know never the less they are such minor things.

45p to take me to Khao San from the river taxi

Most people travelling are here to have a good time, a fun time, a positive time and a real time.