Category Archives: Travel

Paradise; The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I spent my first night at La Ruka having an early one.  There were plenty of people socialising outside my room, which was a shared, eight person dormitory; however I was tired from travel and needed the rest.


  
And I’m glad I did this as I was up early the next morning for a Vinyasa Flow yoga class with the most charmingly crazy and insane woman I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.  She had the class howling during Downward Dog, and gribbitting during Frog Pose.  At first I was a little embarrassed, but soon enough I was laughing at what a fun filled class it was, with less hippie rubbish and more emphasis on having fun whilst stretching into hugely uncomfortable positions.


I started this lesson thinking I wasn’t a particularly sweaty person, but finishing it absolutely sodden.


I then enjoyed a platter of fruit for breakfast, and strong coffee, before starting my shift at La Ruka, which consisted of working the front desk for five hours, whilst getting to read my book and listen to my music.  It really wasn’t anything remotely like hard work which was nice.



After this I got my chance to be sociable, and had drinks with some of the other guests at the hostel, before hitting a club down the road called Tasty Waves.

This was the night I first started to wonder if this was really a place I wanted to be.  Yes, it’s beautiful, yes I’m in paradise, however, the feeling of constant unease was really grinding on me quite relentlessly.

I almost feel weak saying this, as I know I’ve travelled around the world many times, and many of those times have been alone, however, I didn’t feel safe there.  Everyone plays it down and simply says “well don’t go out at night on your own”, however those same people are telling me stories of either themselves or friends who have been mugged at gunpoint, threatened with a machete or even worse; gang raped.

I also know that these awful things happen all over the world, and very much so in places I’ve lived such as London and Los Angeles, however, these cities are huge and Puerto Viejo is tiny, with a high rate of such things.  It is still a very appealing place to live, full of lovely people, and many do spend their time living there with absolutely no troubles, however I don’t like being told what to do, and that includes not being allowed to leave a club when I want to go to bed, because it’s too dangerous for me to walk home 1 mile on my own.

It’s even a reason why this blog has far less photos than I wanted, as whilst I was there a lovely American man I met called Gary, got his camera and all his photos stolen whilst he had his back turned, and I’d hate to get mine stolen too.

Walking back from the yoga one day along the beach trail, which is surrounded by thick trees, I saw a machete just laying at the base of a tree, somewhat hidden from clear view.  It’s very plausible that this was just belonging to a worker, as they use these to cut back the grass, however seeing this, and then looking up to see a man walking towards me holding another one, I was quick to find my way back on to the main road.

It is paradise and full of so many beautiful people, however I began to increasingly think; I want to be somewhere I can go for a nighttime stroll with my boyfriend, if he were to visit, having had a few drinks, without the feeling I may get jumped and have a Demi Moore situation on my hands, like in the movie, Ghost.

Saying all this, the day time feels more than safe around the town.  It’s small and has a few shops set up, mainly by expats, and has a very arty and bohemian feel about it.


  I continued to do yoga every day, and tried to keep drinking to a minimum, and started to feel better almost instantly.  My routine would be to get up around 7.30AM, and use the internet for 45 minutes before heading to my 75 minutes yoga class.  After this I’d come back and have a small breakfast, before heading to the beach for a couple of hours, where I’d swim in the beautiful Caribbean Sea, and laze in the sun whilst reading my book.  I’d then either enjoy the rest of the day with other hostel guests or be doing a shift at La Ruka.

    




    

 Apart from that underlying feeling of lack of safety at night, everything was perfect.  The owners, Dannie and Dave were awesome, and made the hostel feel like a big home.  We had a great set of volunteers working there, Audrey and Charlie, both from the USA, Cocie from France, and the amazing Kato from Guatemala, as well as a bunch of really nice guests coming and going.  Living with these guys was awesome, and every night was filled with laughs as we sat in the smoking shelter, Kato playing the drums and Cocie trying really hard to roll the perfect joint, and when succeeding, rewarding himself with croissants from the bakery up the road.






Unfortunately there was one older woman there who seemed to be a little bitter about life, or something she was unhappy with herself regarding, and would always make negative comments and not greet people with a smile.  It’s odd how people seem to think just because they live the lifestyle of dropping everything and traveling, getting one dreadlock and preaching about Bob Marley makes them a peace loving Rasta; however, all they’re doing is belittling people and making other feel small.  The behavior of this individual was recognised by others too, so at least I knew it wasn’t my own self doubt or paranoia.


This, combined with the safety aspect resulted in me making the decision to leave Puerto Viejo.  If I look at this, I certainly could have stayed; the negative individual didn’t impact my life THAT greatly, however, there was a feeling in my gut that told me there was another part to my journey that I need to take.

I had a fantastic time at La Ruka, and would recommend that hostel time and time again to anyone visiting the area.  I only spent just over a week there, however, it’s changed me already.  The rash I had on my face caused by stress has just disappeared, I’ve lost weight, I’ve eaten nothing but fresh produce (well almost nothing but) and met people who have changed my outlook and put me on a positive spin.  I’ve learnt so much from Dannie, even though she probably doesn’t realise how much she influenced me in such a positive way, and Kato taught me so much about what it is to love the people around you.


I loved playing with all the animals at the hostel, and checking out the amazing wildlife surrounding the area.  I would love to go back, and if Central America is ever on the cards again after this trip, I’ll be sure to make a visit.





However, the next chapter is Nicaragua, where I’m off to tomorrow to live as part of a Conscious Living, Yogic Community, two miles from San Juan del Sur.  Here I will be studying yoga and attending other workshops daily, whilst volunteering with building work and gardening surrounding the property, as well as helping to look after two twin babies.  In return I get to communally cook vegan food, and live in an environment where smoking and drinking is forbidden.  If you know me, you’re probably reading this bit and laughing – Hell I would too, however the people that I’ve met in Puerto Viejo have made such an impact on me with their refreshing ways, I’d like to give learning about myself in depth a try too.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be here: http://www.nomadicyogaschool.org/

I’ll let you know how I get on.

Kate x

¡NO HABLO ESPAÑOL! Learning to survive in Central America

After being back home and randomly around different parts of the UK since my return from Thailand in April, my feet were getting itchy and I had to leave.
There was no purpose; no need for me to be in England, apart from being here for family who are getting older. However, after a long internal battle with myself, I realised I’d done all I could and I had to think about my own happiness; my own state of mind. Which, as it stands at time of leaving, is a bit of a mess.
I perused the SkyScanner website, and found an incredibly cheap ticket to Costa Rica.
I said my goodbyes in a matter of weeks, I packed my bag, arranged travel insurance and boarded my flight to San José. Via Frankfurt and Dominican Republic first; obviously a cheap ticket means putting your body and mind through the ultimate test of time travel.
So wearily, I arrived around 5AM Thursday morning, having traveled for about 24 hours, and left the airport with the name of a hostel I had booked, to be greeted by a swarm of excited taxi drivers wanting to take me to “the best hotel in San Jose”.
I picked one with a relatively friendly face and he took me to one of the many approved, orange licensed cabs parked outside the airport. 

 

 As he showed me in and took my bag, he suddenly shouted “oh no no no no no” and started pulling my bag back out the taxi.
Confused and slightly worried, due to the fact it’s dark, I have no idea where I am, if this guy’s legit and why he’s put me in a taxi only to take me out again, he starts laughing and pointing me towards a different taxi. He’d told me to get in the wrong one, but I laugh this off due to the fact they are all the same shade of orange; anyone could make that mistake.

   
 
He drives me away from the airport and to a town just outside of San José itself, called Alajuela. I’d emailed the guy beforehand to tell him I’d be arriving at an insane hour. We’ve got our AMs and PMs mixed up.

 I stand outside a barred gate with barbed wire on top, ringing on the doorbell until I see a man sleepily rub his eyes, and start struggling with about four locks to let himself out and me in.

   
 This process takes about ten minutes; I kid you not. All I can think is “I hope they never have a fire”.
Finally I’m in and am shown straight to my room. There’s some kind of dropping on the pillow but I don’t care. I brush it off and pass out for a couple of hours.

  
That day I spend my time relaxing by the pool, and practising my very poor Spanish.

   
    
 Friday morning comes and I’ve packed up my things again, and head out to reception to ask them to call me a cab. I’ve told the guy I want to go to Quepos, so the taxi adamantly assures me he’s going to take me to a bridge where I wait for a bus that’ll take me on the 5 hour journey to the small Pacific town.
I get out the taxi with all my belongings, and am literally left on the side of a highway. Another man is stood there, I ask him “Quepos?” and point to the spot in which I’m stood.
“¡Si!” He exclaims, showing me all his teeth in a wide grin. 

Two minutes later he flags down a bus headed somewhere else and I’m left at the side of the road, alone and clueless, but kind of feeling proud at the fact I’m in yet another stupid situation.

   
   
Eventually I see a blue bus on the horizon and wave it down.
Thankfully it’s going to Quepos, so I board, enthusiastically, whilst bashing other passengers accidentally with my oversized backpack.
I sit by the window, spending half the journey leaning out like an excited dog, snapping pictures of the towns we pass through and the leafy forests surrounding us.

   
    
   

The draining system is somewhat hazardous

Eventually we make it to Quepos, where I meet up with one of the most beautiful and fabulous women I’ve ever met; Amy, who I met on my travels to Thailand.

  
We spend the weekend bathing in the sun, checking out the markets, spotting monkeys and drinking cocktails. I get to see her humble but cute house she lives in, via the charity she is working for here.

   
    
 We catch up and we offload, and I feel that both of us have come away from this weekend feeling a lot brighter and more positive about life. How could we not? We are both now so fortunate to call Costa Rica our home.

   
    
   
On the Sunday I board the bus back to San José, where I’ve booked a different hostel; Costa Rica Backpackers. 
 After a not very nice experience with a touchy taxi driver, I’m relieved to get to my room. Its such a shame that girls are encouraged to travel alone, and men act like they will give the best advice and support for them to do this confidently, but then take advantage by having a disgusting grope.
The same taxi driver who told me to look out for myself and to not be alone at night as there are nasty men in this city, and I shouldn’t be without a friend seeing as I’m a woman. After appreciating his words of advice, he then took an opportunity to slide his hands up the back of my shorts and grope my ass, and as I moved away he tried to follow me. If this was in the UK I’d have said something / offered a firm slap around the face; however having just been warned of the “dangerous men” I would be encountering, I was scared so kept quiet, only able to mutter the words “dirty pervert” under my breath as I ran to the gate of the hostel and quickly rang the doorbell until I was buzzed in.
Having a word with myself and self reassuring that this was an isolated event, involving a man who’s prick was undoubtedly the size of a peanut, I took a deep breath, pulled on some jogging bottoms (which enraged me that I felt I had to; however I wasn’t going to get too brave) and went for a walk into San José.

   
    
   
I was quickly cheered up the by sight of a cockerel pulling a chariot (see below) and found a place to enjoy some pasta and read my book.

  
I rushed back to the hostel before the sunset; I’m sure I would have been fine, however San José just gave me a general feel of discomfort. I felt like I was in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet, however less snogging Leo, and more feeling the sense of an impending gun fight at any moment.
However, waking up this morning and having the loveliest guy taking me to the Bus Station, who genuinely seemed to care, and didn’t try any funny business, reaffirmed that actually it’s only a few individuals who give places a bad name, and there’s more good people out there than bad.
I boarded the bus to Puerto Viejo, and had a lovely 5 hour drive to the Caribbean side of the country, admiring more beautiful scenery and ocean views.

   
 I’ve now arrived at the hostel at which I am working a few hours a day at; La Ruka. I help out in exchange for a free bed. I know this sounds too soon but I LOVE it already. 

All the staff here are friendly, relaxed and easy to talk to. It’s hot, and as the town is on the Caribbean side, there’s a massive sense of relaxation. People don’t bother with shoes, everyone’s on a bicycle, you can hear crickets and wildlife in the trees surrounding, and everyone has a healthy glow to them.

As I’m writing this, I keep going to brush my hair off my shoulder, it’s tickling me, which is odd as there’s no breeze. I turn my head to see a tiny baby gecko sat on my shoulder. I’m literally living in amongst a solid load of trees, full of insects, birds  and animals; but I’m not complaining, as this is their home I’m living in.

  
  
I can tell it’ll be hard to leave; luckily I don’t have a clue when that’ll be yet. 

  

Unlikely Paradises in Unlikely Places

Tiree. Never heard of it. Apparently it’s some tiny little island five hours from the coast of Oban, Scotland.  Admittedly it wouldn’t be somewhere I’d choose to spend a two week holiday if I hadn’t met and fallen head over heels for a strange, exotic Scotsman who I’d met when traveling Bali.

So after a little gentle persuasion and many Google searches to see how true the idea of a tropical island in Scotland actually is, I decided to say “screw it” and spent two weeks on the Isle of Tiree.

Said Scotsman came and met me on the mainland, and drove us to Oban, where we caught the 7am ferry through the inner Hebrides and to the most outter Island, Tiree. 

    
The journey was five hours, and was bloody miserable.  The weather was particularly bad on this day, and the ferry’s captain even came on the tannoy to warn us the incoming winds were so dire, they may not be able to dock at Tiree, and instead turn round and do another five hours back to Oban.  “Great” I thought.  Ten hours on a bloody cold ferry that smelt vaguely of the cooked breakfast coming up from the deck below.

Poking around at some luke warm baked beans, and tasting the local cuisine of potato scones (which I later learnt when done properly are actually v nice and up there with the humble crumpet in ratings of tasty treats), myself and Sam felt it was time for some sleep.

We swayed our way up the stairs like two drunk men coming out of a branch of Ladbrokes after the Grand National, as the boat ran over waves aggressively.  The mist and the fog was so thick I couldn’t make out any of the surrounding islands, said to be beautiful and breathtaking.  So with lack of things do to and severe lethargy I curled up into the foetal position on a cold fake leather seat, trying to huddle myself warm.  

The boat was full of those cheery types you see that actively try and peruse holidays that are damp, outdoorsy, and freezing, as they sit there in their The North Face or Jack Wolfskin jackets, cheeks rosey from all the wind and cold weather they’ve exposed themselves to over the years, grinning mildly at the thought of hiking over a bog and swimming through a marsh in Baltic conditions, only to build a shelter out of cow turd in order to spot a rare bird before going back to their homes in the Cotswolds.  

These types kept leaving the “lounge area” to get out their binoculars on the deck and see what they could see through the gale force winds and and lashing rain. That’s fine. They can do that. But for heavens sake would it kill them to shut the damn door behind them?? Recognising my internal anger rising, and wanting to keep poised and calm and not a total bitch, I gently walked over the the open door and shut it, so that the howling winds would stay outside, and hopefully I could have some sleep.  However, returning to Sam, (who was contently curled in his own foetal position, breathing heavily and looking v peaceful) I found that in my 30 second absence a little old lady with a Peter Storm waterproof and heavy duty walking boots had taken my place, leaving me with no room for a lay down and a snooze.

Again, taking a deep breath and and smiling to myself, I rose above it, and took myself back downstairs to buy a cup of tea to warm me up.  I spent the remainder of that journey clutching onto that tea, trying to make it last as long as possible and to keep my body temperature just above freezing, whilst eating my “Mutiny Slice” and trying to think of jokes surrounded said boat bought snack.

After 5 hours, on came the tannoy announcement, like the voice of God himself telling us we had reached Tiree, and as the predicted storm hadn’t hit just yet, we were able to dock and to access the island – hurrah!

I woke up Sam and we sleepily headed back to the car deck, where we switched that heating on full pelt, sitting and warming up, waiting to be beckoned off the boat by a ferry staff member.

  
  
We left the boat, and drove the short distance to Sam’s brothers house. The rest of the day was spent napping, sitting by a log fire and listening to the howling winds.

I’m happy to say that all my melodrama and misery was probably mainly due to the fact that I was tired and cold; as my trip to Tiree turned out to be two amazing weeks.

So, to the set the scene, Scottish Sam, has an older brother, Marti, who runs a small business on Tiree, with his wife Iona.  The business is called Blackhouse Watersports, and together they offer lessons in surfing and kite surfing, as well as equipment rental for both sports, as well as kayaking and bike hire.

My plan was to spend a couple of weeks on Tiree, getting to know the family and then on top of that enjoying the delights of a small island with the population of less that 1,000.

During this time, Blackhouse Watersports were also running a Surf and Yoga retreat, meaning there were a good few beginners who I could join in with when learning to surf, in attempt to disguise how terrible I actually am.

But before I even managed to join in a surf class and hide myself, Sam was asking me if I fancied going, just me him, and his ten year old nephew, at one of the beaches; Crossapol.

   
The weather was howling, the air had an edge of ice to it, and all I wanted to do was lay on a sofa and eat disgusting amounts of cheese on toast on my own.  But hey, if I’m getting myself into a relationship with a guy who lives, breathes and would quite possibly eat surf if he could, I must endeavour to be really optimistic about it.  Must keep telling self; today freezing nipples off in bitterly cold Atlantic Ocean, tomorrow perhaps catching waves in Costa Rica.  Sure.

    
Sam got out out the car, easily gliding himself into his perfectly fitting wetsuit, fresh from the internet. I was thrown an old wetsuit, handed down through previous ex girlfriends as if some Olympic torch that must keep burning. I jumped out of my clothes, trying to be as enthusiastic as possible, wondering how my ass may look in this wetsuit compared to its previous owners. As it turns out, I needn’t have worried about that part.  What became more of an issue was how I was looking just trying to get the damned thing on.  

The legs seemed to be ok; it was when we got to the arse / hips vicinity things started to go down hill.  My new boyfriend had to hold the folded up material, as I proceeded to jump into it, hoping with each extra bit of force, a butt cheek would slither its way slightly further into the wetsuit.  He then tried to help with my arms, and they slowly went in through the holes, and needed peeling up towards my shoulders.  At one point halfway, I was stuck, arms outstretched and crossed over, rather similar to a straight jacket, with the zip still wide open at the back, with my two ass cheeks being pushing up and together rather like an ass cleavage, if you will, with the wetsuit doing a great job of acting like a Wonderbra for the buttocks.

       

   

  

  After more struggles and unntractive groanings, and mental notes to go on v quick blitz diet, I was finally in the wetsuit. And it fit! Hurrah!! Thoughts of having to swap said wetsuit for XL men’s suit gladly diminished quickly, and I picked up a surfboard, thrust it under my arm, pretended to myself I looked like some kind of surf chic pro, and strutted my foamed neoprene bottom down to the sea.

And cor blimey I was awful. Thankfully though the sea temperature was actually quite bearable on the majority of my body, and my wetsuit was the thickest you can buy, or so I believe.  It was just when the water went in my ears, I got flashbacks of drinking Slush Puppies too fast as a child and in turn getting awful brain freeze.  However this just felt like somebody had just taken a Slush Puppy and poured it directly into my ears.

After an hour or so of frantically trying to get up on the board, and instead just falling off repeatedly, I thanked Sam for all his teaching help (which in all honesty was really useful, I just so happen to have all the grace of Bambi having done a tab of acid)  and let him enjoy some time with his nephew, who was absolutely owning this whole surfing thing, as I returned the car, and gracefully (NOT) removed my wetsuit in the privacy of myself and a very cheery Boarder Collie I found in the car park.

      

      Over the next few days, the winds started to drop and the sun began to shine a little more.  Some of the guests from the Surf and Yoga retreat went swimming by the pier and collected a whole load of mussels to bring back for our dinner that night.

    

  

  

  

    Myself, Marti, Iona and Sam, and the River Cottage chef, also called Sam, who was responsible for all the amazing food served at the retreat, spent the afternoon sat in the sun, cleaning the muscles and putting them in fresh water to purge them for the evenings supper.  After an hour and a half yoga session, we returned to the accommodation, Island House,  where the mussels had been cooked up in a bloody delicious white white and cream sauce, with fresh bread to dip in, heaps of butter and of course heaps of wine. 

It was also (my) Sam’s 30th birthday, so his parents came down to the house, along with the nieces and nephew, and we all ate, laughed and drank, until it was time to watch the incredible sunset at the back of the house, over the lake, as swans (quite possibly were ducks but poetic license etc) and their cygnets glided through the glass like water, and a little otter rose its silly little head, and then disappeared again without a trace.

   
      

   

    

    

    

   

After some awesome views, everyone decided to call it a night, bar myself and Sam, who instead grabbed a bottle of wine and a half finished bottle of whisky and head to the beach, where Sam built a massive bonfire, and we got stupidly drunk and talked absolute rubbish until the early hours.  This also led to setting my bag on fire, and not noticing this for a good few minutes.

   
      

    

   

The thing about Tiree is that it hardly ever gets dark in the Summer.  In fact, it has even coined the nickname of “The Sunshine Isle” as it is so far north, it shares the same latitude as Southern Alaska.  So it wasn’t until about 2am it finally felt like bedtime, and then unfortunately you want to get up again at about 6 because of the glorious sunshine. However, when it shines there, it really shines, and I managed to achieve one of the best tans of my life, without even trying.

      

        

  

  

  

  I spent the next few days trying more surfing, going on long walks around the many beautiful white sanded beaches, one of which I was dive bombed at due to angry gulls protecting freshly layed eggs (fair play), and sitting at more campfires on the beaches, drinking port and appreciating the beauty of not being in a God damned city.

      

             
      

    

      

   

Regardless of my first miserable impressions, I loved my two weeks there. I loved the beauty and the simplistic way of life; the fact there were no high streets trying to tempt me out of my money, only one pub and a very basic petrol station to fill up at.

   
        Blackhouse Watersports are running a fantastic business with huts at both Gott Bay and Balevullin to cater for different water activities.  We spent the majority of the time down at Balevullin, as a shed has been recently contructed there, creating such a nice focal point to spend the day at the beach at.   Its natural materials means it just sits, perfectly blending into place by the sand dunes, and importantly means that there’s some privacy for when I next get into my wetsuit, and don’t want to display the Wonderbra-for-the-Butt idea to the whole island.

    
Most importantly though, Blackhouse Watersports is a great way for the kids to become more active and to get involved in sports, with free board rental to all children there.  The business is an incredible asset to the island, and this combined with about a million and one other reasons, is why I have decided to call it my new home as of next week…

    

The biggest lol-iday of my life.

When I first got to Thailand, I stayed in a hostel in Chiang Mai and was put in a room with three other girls; Amy, Pooja and Alex.

These girls turned out to be the three most hilarious, beautiful and ridiculous people I’ve ever met.  Straight away we bonded, and never stopped laughing the whole time we spent together.

Being a girl, it’s common to make friends with groups of other females, and unfortunately find there’s bitchiness and annoyances and other negative vibes happening in the group.  With this group of gals I sensed none of that; and it just felt so care free and fun to be with them.

Sadly, we all got placed at different schools, and whilst Alex and I were close by in Chiang Rai, Pooja and Amy were placed down South in separate locations.

So with this being the last weekend in Thailand for many of us, we agreed we had to meet up in Bangkok for a big old last goodbye.

I flew in from Bali on the Friday, checked into a hostel on the Khaosan Road where I met up with Cailin and Mayuree who I knew from teaching up in the North of Thailand.

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At 4am Pooja arrived and came and got in bed with myself and Cailin.  It was so awesome to be reunited, and as we spotted each other we screamed and ran into a romantic embrace. The kind from the movies; but for some reason I’m eternally single so share these moments only with other gal pals.

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“Do not PISS” Slightly awkward as I’d already started.

The next morning Pooja and I made our way to the hotel that we would be staying in with Amy. (Unfortunately Alex was not yet in Bangkok so couldn’t join).

As a special treat; Amy had paid the majority of the price for staying in the hotel where the Hangover Part Two was filmed; The Lebua State Tower. The posh bit; not the bit at the beginning, which is more of a crack den really.

Pooja and I got there first; and we rocked up in a tuk tuk round the corner, with backpacks and plastic bags, pulled our heads up high and pretended we belonged in such an environment as we introduced ourselves to the reservations desk.

This place is a five star hotel. There was a man playing the grand piano, marbled floors, insanely comfortable seats. This certainly was no Khaosan Road Palace Inn.  (Which ironically, is very far from being anywhere near a palace, rather misleadingly).

We were escorted upstairs by a beautiful Thai lady in a power suit who showed us to our rooms; later joined by a bellboy with all our luggage.

We squealed with joy and delight as we noted our living room, sofa area, amazing marble floor and bathtub, kitchen area and huge fluffy white beds.

The bell boy then decided to watch and stare in silence as I struggled with the patio doors to the balcony, telling him and Pooja that we’d been given a dud room, before smiling, calmly taking a key from his pocket, and gently opening the door for me with great ease.

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We squealed some more, took some photos, and decided to hit the pool.

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We then went to the back to the room to wait for Amy. When she turned up we absolutely lost it. Although I’d spent New Years Eve with her in Chiang Rai, we hadn’t all been together since October.

It was like we’d never been apart. Straight away we were screaming and laughing together, and doing the whole “wah check us out, we’re at the hangover Hotel” girl thing.

We decided to go downstairs to the pool area, where we lay on the large circular sofas and enjoyed a cocktail each.

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Everyone staying at this hotel looked like they belonged. They all had that certain look of class. We all had that certain look of not having had our hair cut in months and could probably do with some make up and clothes without holes in them. We styled it out regardless, and managed to pretend to be classy whilst ordering the cheapest drinks on the menu.

Pooja harbours a deep and intense fear of pigeons. There were loads of pigeons hanging around the pool area. When the drinks were brought over to us, we had a complimentary bowl of nuts to accompany them. Pigeons spotted said nuts, and well…went nuts. And then Pooja went nuts. And Amy screamed. And I got out my iPhone and videoed it.

And then the waiter tried to remove it, the bird got scared and catapulted into the swimming pool. At which point EVERY single posh person sat around the pool was watching us screaming at the flying vermin with total looks of disgust upon their stiff faces.

Being the eternal “want to save the world and all pigeons in it” wannabe hippie that I am, I then proceeded to strip off my dress, where luckily I had my bikini underneath and climb into the swimming pool to save the creature. I was then being shouted at that I would catch something from this bird (I’m not into bestiality so presumably not chlamydia) and was thankfully thrown a serviette rather than a condom.

I’m glad to say the bird was saved, and I didn’t catch any diseases from the creature, and we all survived to tell the tale.

We quickly knocked back our drinks, and proceeded to smuggle our own affordable booze into the room where we were super cool and grown up and pretending to be Biggie Smalls.

We showered, drank, joked about how this would be like the actual film, The Hangover, and generally got our sass on, whilst polishing, shaving and preening every part of our bodies.

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We took endless amounts of selfies, ya know, cos we don’t do this kind of vacay-ing often, before our friends Mayuree, Cailin, Grant and Emma arrived.

We applied yet another layer of lipstick before heading up to the Sky Bar at the top of the building, and that’s where the memories start to fade.

We had a beautiful view over Bangkok, and were surrounded by beautiful people in beautiful clothes and very over priced drinks.

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We stayed for just the one before agreeing that as lovely as this was, it was time to hit Khaosan Road; the land of debauchery and backpackers.

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It started in Burger King. We were there. Pooja had something revolving around crispy chicken. I had a fillet of fish burger. This we remember.

We then met up with the others who had taken a separate tuk tuk. There was a beer tower.

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There was a club. There were more beer towers. Before we knew it a few hours had passed. Emma and Grant had gone home, Amy, Pooja and myself were in a state of intense slurring. Intensely slurring “I Love You” at each other. And then we had the amazing idea to get tattoos to show our deep and intense love and friendship, which we would always harbour for one another. Obviously.

Mayuree and Cailin have since helpfully filled us in on the remaining facts. We entered one of the many tattoo parlours on the road. Pooja announced that she requested a tattoo, and specified that she would like “one of your non HIV needles”. As if this was an option or service that the business provided.

We GOOGLE searched images unil we found what we wanted. Pooja wanted an elephant. I didn’t, I wanted a peace sign.

We kept running in and out on beer runs to the street vendors outside. We were sat downing Leo’s in tattoo chairs. At this point none of us have any memories.

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fully aware of how cringe inducing this is. The Wolfpack. 😎

 
We hear there were more trips to fast food chains, and then we disappeared into the night.

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I woke up with a very sore ear. I asked the girls what happened. They had no idea. I look in the mirror and I’ve got a piercing. Pooja says something about her ankle. She looks down and screams at the outline of an elephant blowing a Peace Symbol out of it’s trunk. It’s so sh*t we can’t help but laugh. She immediately explains that having a traditional Indian tattoo representing something through her Indian heritage would have been ok; her mother would respect that. But no. She got drunk as a fart on Khaosan Road and chose an elephant blowing a peace sign. Classic.

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I look down and have an equally as bad peace sign on my toe. Luckily it’s small enough for me not to really care.

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Pooja asks Amy who some guy is. Let’s call him Trevor. Amy replied “How do you know that name?!” in sudden shock and panic. Pooja calmly tells Amy that she was found in the middle of the night, passed out with phone resting on face, with Trevor just on the phone. Pooja walks over to Amy and takes phone, sees Trevor’s name on the phone, and kindly ends call. Trevor is a dark and distant ex boyfriend of Amy’s.

We spent the rest of the day stroking each other’s sore heads, equally combined with a great amount of ribbing of one another for poor life choices.

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And before I knew it Amy had to return to her town, as she had to be back at school on Monday.

I felt so sad, almost like those feelings you get when you break up with someone. My stomach ached form laughing so hard all weekend. These girls were the best. I love that I met them and I love that they entered my life and just made it so much better.

We headed back to Khaosan Road, minus Amy where we met up with Alex who was now in Bangkok.

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Thankfully, learning from the night before we took it easy and just had a few drinks.

Today we spent the day by the pool, laughing so hard again, stomach muscles (which I never knew I even had) hurting so hard through all the deep, intense laughs.

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I feel so sad to say goodbye to these people. I came to Thailand all alone, knowing no one. As soon as I met every single one of these girls I’ve met, we clicked. We laughed. We were SO stupid and messed around. I learnt a lot about myself, and learnt to stop over thinking, and to stop worrying about how I look, and learning that being beautiful really comes from having a bloody big old LOL.

I’m ready to leave Thailand now and to start a new chapter of my life, but I just wish I could take all these girls with me. I feel genuinely happy now. It’s not a false or a forced happiness. It’s a genuine warm, glowing feeling inside. I sit and think about all the times I’ve laughed so hard these past 6 months that I’ve snorted or even dribbled due to lack of ability to close mouth through crippling laughter.

I miss my kids from the school every single day, and the lovely teachers who worked there, I miss the girls I lived with in and around Chiang Rai and the girls I met in Chiang Mai at the beginning. I met the best people in Pai, and my travels to Bali completely resulted in me falling in love with the place and feeling feelings I hadn’t had for a while.

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I sit here with a full grin. However I’m not sad, I’m ready to leave. I look forward to new developments in my life and to seeing the ones I love again. Thailand; you’re the best decision I’ve ever made. Peace out.

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Bintang-alanging in Bali

As the boat ploughed along through the ocean, from Gili T back to the mainland of Bali, I was hit with more waves of euphoria. Sitting upon the top deck and looking down; random fish would jump up alongside the boat; almost chasing or trying to keep up with the speed. I felt like after swimming with the sea turtle and having such a great week; the joy of seeing fish skip alongside me, with the sea spray slapping me in the face; life couldn’t get much better.

  
The boat made a stop at the mainland to off load all passengers; whilst Abbey and myself stayed on board. The boat then made the quick trip, half an hour across the water to Nusa Lembongan.

  
We got off and onto a smaller boat; which then drove us up through the shallows and onto the mangrove beach.

   

From here a small truck came and took us to our accommodation; the Yoga Shack.

 
We dumped our stuff and whizzed off to the beach to watch the sunset and enjoy fresh fruit juices in the dusky haze.

 

  

 We already knew we’d fallen in love with this island; it was such a welcome change for it to be so chilled and relaxed; compared to the never ending pumping music of Gili T.

The next day we woke up early and went on a snorkelling trip on a local boat to see manta rays and untouched coral.

It was amazing. Unfortunately I can’t upload any underwater photos yet as my laptop has given up the ghost; but me managed to spot and swim with these huge ghost like manta rays which were just so stunning on so many levels. Although we knew they were entirely harmless they still manage to make you realise how insignificantly tiny you are when you get to see these wonderful creatures in their natural environment; and how we get to see a tiny part of this planet; with all these other worlds taking place under water.

 
The next few days were filled with yoga and healthy eating and lots of healthy juices.

We both took a surfing lesson which was incredibly difficult for me; someone who seriously lacks balance; but was at the same time incredibly awesome.

I managed to stand up a few times; and I knew my pop up was weak; but it made me so exhilirated just to ride a wave.  It was fair to say Abbey was significantly better though. 

   
  

 

The following days were more about relaxation than any more activity; as we hired a moped and drove to a couple of resorts on the island; where we were able to enjoy beautiful beach views, infinity pools and cocktails.

   
  

   

  
 

Before we knew it our few days were already up as we begrudgingly said our goodbyes to the island and the wonderful Andrea who runs the Yoga Shack.

We boarded a fast boat back to the mainland; where we had a hostel booked in Seninyak.

   

On the Sunday , Abbey had bought me (as a birthday present) an all you can eat and all you can drink brunch at the W hotel. It was amazing. I have no words that can describe nor do justice to the amount of food that was at the brunch.

There were stations upon stations offering foods; from oysters and crab claws, to a hog roast, to sushi, to Yorkshire puddings.
When we arrived we were greeted in my favourite fashion; by having a glass of prosecco thrust into our hands; and those glasses were never empty for the three and a half hours spent there.

   
     

We stuffed out faces in a disgusting fashion, really taking advantage of the whole all you can eat aspect.

 

a before and after portrait, quite aaccurately summing up the two looks we had that day

 
We nearly got matching tattoos of carrots but thankfully decided not to; before moving onto another bar further down the beach to watch the sunset.

   
  

 

Sadly, Abbey then had to board a flight back to her new life in Perth, Australia.

I spent the rest of the week hanging out with some people from Scotland and Wales who were all fully awesome and provided lots of laughs and good fun nights out in Kuta.

   
         

I’m so glad I decided to add the holiday on to my trip; I feel I fully deserved it especially after having to have had my stay in Chiang Rai tarnished by someone I thought was a good friend unfortunately showing their true colours as a vile person. This and Pai have certainly made me feel myself again and I feel on top of the world.

I now am currently about to board a flight back to Bangkok for a long weekend with good friends before the next chapter of my life in the UK and it feels good. ❤️ ✈️

Two Old Sillies on the Gili’s

Abbey and I boarded the little boat, sat on the roof, and kicked back with a Bintang Beer each, as we quipped through the waves, music blaring out from the boat and massive smiles on our faces.

We got off the boat, after about two hours of beers and sun, and walked straight to our hostel on Gili Trawangan.  There are three islands altogether making up the Gilis’; Gili Meno, Gili Air and Gili Trawangan.
We were staying in the simply named “Gili Hostel”; and plonked our bags down and headed for a wander down to the local reggae bar; Sama Sama.

Here we sat and enjoyed a cocktail and some food with two other people that were in our room; before heading back again to wash up for our first night on the island.


The next day we woke up and went for breakfast. It was the morning of my 26th birthday. For years now I’d dreamt of swimming with a sea turtle; and having lived in Fiji I would have thought I’d have achieved this by now. However, unfortunately, due to the Chinese and their black market, sea turtles, amongst other creatures, are becoming increasingly rare.

So after eating, Marco said he’d come snorkelling with me in the persuit of one.

On the first snorkel we didn’t see much; just some fish and some dead coral; however over the next few days we persisted and my dream came true.


We paid a guy we had met in a bar to take us snorkelling on his boat with a few other holiday makers. He guaranteed me 100% he would show me a sea turtle. And he did not dispoint.

We did a few jumps into the ocean that day, and already by the first we had spotted the turtle. The only thing being; it was about 20 metres below us on the ocean floor and unless you had some serious free diving skill, it wasn’t that easy to get to.

We saw a couple of these and most of the people on the boat trip appeared to get a little bored after a few of hours of seeing turtles on the floor.  As everyone was making their way back to the boat, I saw the turtle moving a bit more, and noticed it was swimming up towards me.  I thrust my GoPro camera into the hands of the local guy, and I swam towards the turtle. I swam along side it, and held its shell for about one minute, before it delved back down again to the depths.  It was the most amazing one minute of my life, and I think I will go as bold as saying that that resulted in the best day of my life. It was so magnificent and beautiful, and I feel so lucky that I managed to get so close to such an amazing creature in its own habitat.



The rest of the time of the island mainly revolved around eating, drinking and more snorekeling, however after the sea turtle experience the rest of the swimming seemed so tame.




I had a great time here and met some awesome people; who all contributed to me having the most relaxed and care free, fun packed birthday to date. 




I received no cards nor presents, yet got hoards of love sent to me from friends and family all over the world; so what more could I really want?

Next stop; R&R at the Yoga Shack, Nusa Lambongan.  Leaving the party behind in exchange for some good healing vibes. For now at least.


The most romantic night of my life

So after writing the previous post, my plan was to have an early night and wake up at 3am for my flight to Denpasar, Bali. However, instead I laid awake, thinking of all the exciting times I had ahead with my best buddy. So I left the hotel and travelled to DMK airport, Bangkok, where I boarded my flight. IMG_1101 IMG_1105 When I arrived at Denpasar airport, I took a taxi to my accommodation which I had booked previously online at Bookings.com. I just wanted to go somewhere that was cheap, and had a swimming pool that I could use, whilst I waited for my friend to arrive. So I found this cute place online called Alam Puri Art Museum and Villa. It was only £10 a night each so we thought “perfect”, and booked it.

I arrived at the hotel and was immediately blown away. The place was like a dream. It was a collection of little private villas, all situated so that you wouldn’t even know anyone else was staying there.

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The architecture was incredible, massively playing on the Hindu roots of the country. I felt as though I’d been transported to Hampi, India, with the stone statues of Ganesh, covered in a wet moss and offerings to the various Hindu Gods laid around the gardens. I was led into my villa, which had its own private splash pool and seating area. I then took the stairs up to my SUITE. Suite. Not room.

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There was a massive four-poster bed with white linen, and white drapes surrounding it. A huge television in a beautifully carved wooden cabinet. The bathroom was a neutrally tiled room, with an enormous stone bathtub that could easily fit four people in it. After squealing in total delight and running round opening all the cupboards, I thanked the guys that had helped me with my bags and changed into my bikini. I went to the large communal pool, where I sunbathed, ate a salad and had a cocktail.

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When the sun had disappeared behind a building and I was in the shade, I returned to my room, where I treated myself to a bubble bath, and basically swam around in sheer delight and joy; blasting out my favourite songs from my laptop and just feeling so incredibly joyful. I spent the entire day alone and being thoroughly lazy and indulgent but I didn’t care. I was in paradise and it was amazing.

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At about 10pm I hear a knock on my door, and in walks one of my best friends in the world; Abbey. She goes through the same range of emotions as I; squealing with awe and shock of such an amazing place.

The place was totally designed for and catered towards couples, so I do wonder if the staff thought Abbey and I were gay, but oh well; its 2015.

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We ordered a bottle of wine from room service, ran ourselves another massive bubble bath, donned our bikinis, and sat there feeling totally in our element, whilst watching Fifty Shades of Grey on my laptop. We then spent the rest of the evening rolling around on the humongous bed and laughing at what a treat this was – £10 each. That was it. God I love Asia.

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I woke up in the middle of the night, rolled over and couldn’t even see Abbey. The bed was that big. I almost had to shout out to ask where she was. “Top left hand corner!”

In the morning I woke up lazily with the sun creeping through the double doors and onto the white linen.  Abbey had got up first so I woke alone, and stretched out all to myself. I do love Abbey but I definitely had the thoughts of how lovely it would have been to wake up with someone special there. Unfortunately I am not in love with anyone right now, so Abbey will have to do.

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Abbey’s romantic yet creepy photography

We went to the restaurant where we had a great breakfast (all included in the price) before a car met us and took us to the port so we could catch a boat to the Gili Islands.

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We were sad to leave our little spot of luxury; however it was time to get back to it and be the grubby little backpackers that we are at heart. So typical Kate and Abbey style, we boarded that boat with a bag full of Bintang beers, sat on the top deck, and toasted the next two weeks of stupidity and laughs.

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Let’s get Bintang-ed.