Tag Archives: Blog

The Magic Healing of Balian

I’ve fallen into the trap recently of becoming complacement.  Lazy.  I came away wanting to get my writing done, study, enjoy the things I was doing at home and online; but to do it in a much warmer setting, whilst experiencing a different culture. 

That was happening, and I was moving around at the same time, exploring, fulfilling my life in different ways with new places, new experiences and excitement.

In the last few weeks I have rented a small room for myself and my boyfriend, who is arriving this week.  However in the run up to his arrival, because neither of us were entirely sure when it would be, I have spent my time preparing for him; nesting if you will.  However, due to work commitments, his arrival date had to be pushed back, and I didn’t realise it until these past few days, but I’ve managed to put my entire life on hold for this.  I’ve not been doing any of the things I love, instead have just been going to the gym, and working on my tan, thinking of nothing more than how big my bum looks, and filling my brain with self indudlgent and trivial thoughts, rather than doing the things I set out to do.

To add to this, I ended up doing something last week to a friend I have made here, that really, really hurt her.  It was a completely drunken and foolish thing to have done, and I can make every excuse in the world, but essentially I hurt someones feelings, someone who I care about, and as a result of this, have spent the past week being rather critical of myself, and evaluating the kind of character that I am, if I could have done something so clearly hurtful to another human being.

  

❤️

 
So as you can see, even though I am in paradise, I’ve slipped from my healthy place of self love and self worth,which I was discovering, back to not really knowing who I am.

A few photos from my favourite place in Canggu; Echo Beach

     
   

Thankfully, I feel that I realised this pretty quickly.  
So having woken up yesterday morning, after an evening of drinking with friends from home, and a dark cloud of hangover and guilt looming over me, I packed some clothes in a bag, rolled up my yoga mat and caught a ride, North up the coast, to a small village called Balian.

I’ve been here now for less than 24 hours, but having got my head down last night, woken up early this morning, and completed a yoga session for the first time in ages, I already feel better.

I felt a sense of guilt; for feeling disappointed in myself; when I’m in the most beautiful place on earth, and I’m not sat behind a computer in an office in Highbury & Islington, working in a crap job for the council like I was before.  I should be just embracing it, and being happy.  But instead, I’d become lazy, waking up every day to lounge by the pool before going to my gym session down the road.

My brain works 1million miles an hour, and I know this.  I need to have more mental stimulation to challenge myself each day.  Yes, I’d be meeting people all the time, making friends, going for dinner, having drinks, but I still wasn’t filling my mind with substance.

 

Deni, lovliest guy and best waiter in Bali

   

Monggos; my local bar /restaurant / sofa spot

 

Wednesday night drinks at Old Mans

Complaining about working out, post training at Bali Fit

Teaching the most loveable, oversized pup in Bali, how to swim

 

Looked after a puppy for the day as a trial. It was great til she peed in my bed. Now revaluating want of children or puppies in life

 
I woke up this morning in Balian, and as I say, went to practice yoga.  I then came back to my hotel for a breakfast of watermelon and pineapple with yogurt, and some gritty Bali Coffee.  I then slipped into my bikini, grabbed my novel, and walked down to the beach.  Here, in between reading chapters, I’d look up at the surfers taking it in turns to catch a wave, or the men out on the fishing boats, not too far from the shore.

 

Last night’s sunset at Balian

 
I looked to my right, and saw the ocean crashing against the rocks that were jutting out into the water, and the little bungalows situated on top.  To my left there was an expanse of more beach, with palm trees lining the way.

  
   

After overheating on the black sand, I gathered my things to return to my hotel, a short 3 minute walk up the cliff.  I came to the (infinity) pool, even though where I’m staying is certainly budget accommodation, and took a swim, before stopping to look over the edge, at the waves rolling in from the Indian Ocean.

  

“Budget” Accommodation


 I’ve since been sitting in the sun, taking positive actions to get myself back on track with where I need to be.  I’ve done some writing, and looked into more online work, as well as chasing up some other things that have been sat at the back of my mind, niggling at me.

I’m glad I took the escape to Balian.  Yes, I was living my own paradise in Canggu, but even the most perfect of places have their way of grating on you.

For me, I needed the change of scenery, just so I could hit the refresh button, and remember why I was here.

If you’re reading this and you feel like you need somewhere with no distractions, and somewhere that literally will give you a reminder of the true Bali, and not the tourist version, I can whole heartedly recommend Balian.  I’ve achieved more of my “to do list” here in one morning, than I have done in one week in Canggu. 
 After spending a couple more days here, I’m going to head back to the relative hustle and bustle of the hipster town, and keep my newly rediscovered work ethic intact, finish my online studies, whilst getting some writing jobs under my belt.  And then finally get to see my beautiful boyfriend.  Perfect.

  

 

How not to make life hard for yourself; renting in Bali

After having spent yet another week living out of my backpack in a hostel (the very lovely, but very cosey single room I rented in Serenity Eco Guesthouse, Canggu) I suddenly had the realisation that I should be thinking of getting settled.

In my mind, I was waiting for my boyfriend to fly out and join me until I rented somewhere more stable.  Perhaps because I wanted to make sure we found somewhere we liked together, but in actual fact it was more likely that I was hoping then he could do the searching so I wouldn’t have to.

However, with his arrival impending, and a gental nudge and suggestion from him to find somewhere, I agreed.  Having trapsed through the Internet half heartedly, looking for somewhere to stay on all the usual site (AirBnB, Booking.com), over the last couple of months, I was so sure that nothing was within our budget.  Our budget being as cheap as possible, without living in a total dive; a dive so dismal that would inevitably make us want to kill one other.  Not asking for much then.

So having exhausted the Internet, I was slowly giving up hope.  It was only when I took a trip to the beach in Nusa Dua with another girl I’ve met here, I was advised to just keep my eyes peeled, and that I could find really good deals just by walking down the street.

The boyfriend and I had already agreed upon the village of Canggu, on the west coast of Bali.  Here, he can surf daily, and for me, there’s loads of places to keep practicing my yoga.  Its somewhere that has enough social life to be fun, but not too busy like Seminyak or indeed the living hell that is Kuta.  It has a good mix of all the positive aspects of Bali, my only worry being the amount of showy “hipster” types, but again, maybe the more yoga I practice, the more zen I’ll get about this kind of thing (!)

So I took to the Internet once more, sitting in a bakery in Seminyak last week, ferociously Googling every phrase I could think of for finding property to rent in Canggu.  There are many real estate sites out there, however, unfortunately most are tailored towards those with a grander disposable income, and my searches kept coming up with entire villas to rent, with three bathrooms, a swimming pool, and a dreamy view of the rice fields.  That would be lovely, however, not realistic.  How could this be so hard?  All we wanted was a decent sized room with an ensuite; no kitchen or living room necessary.

I did find a couple of basic properties through random searches, however all were a good distance from the beach, and were nothing spectacular.  I arranged viewings of several properties for the next day, feeling a little disheartened, as I don’t ride a moped, and was hoping I could live somewhere I can access all necessities by foot.

That evening, I made my way back to Canggu, and asked the moped I had caught a lift with, to drop me off in the center of the village.  The main part of Canggu is pretty much three parallel roads running to the beach, which meet at the top near a few bars, restaurants and a smattering of shops.  I walked the length of one of these roads, right from the shops, all the way to the beach.  It’s funny how I hadn’t noticed before just how many signs there were saying “Rent a Room”.  I’d been in Canggu for almost a week, and hadn’t noticed a single one.  However, now that I was looking, the signs were everywhere.  I must have poked my head in ten different properties, all basic rooms with an ensuite.

 Edit   

These properties varied significantly.  I saw ones that had no windows, moth eaten beds; ones with puppies running around, (however, this unfortunately isn’t worth living somewhere with no access to clean water) ones where there was mould growing in the walls and ones where building and construction work were still ongoing, and would be for the next year, at least.

However all of these were relatively within budget, and it was looking like the best option would be sharing a twin room with fan, and using an outdoor cold shower.  Not awful, however, far from the image I’d dreamed up before, of living in papardise.

I was just about to call it a day on househunting, when I passed one last guesthouse.  It had big gates, an outdoor pool, and was walking distance to the beach and to the bars.  As I enquired further, I learned that it had hot and cold water, and air con.  All this for the same price as the other dingy rooms I’d been shown.  

I asked to be shown around, and it kept getting better.  The rooms were bright and airy, no small, cramped and depressing rooms.  There was furniture, a beautiful big white bed, the pool was small and clean, and it had 24 hour security.  The cleaning gets done and the bedding changed twice a week. And there are no bills – everything is included.

  

    

    

  

  
Across the street we have our local, Monggos, but I prefer to call it Bintang Toed Joes.  Down the street a little there is a gym called Bali Fit, which offers training programs which are pretty much Cross Fit – exercise so difficult it makes you weep, but is incredibly good for you.

     
The room is being let for £268 per month, a price I couldn’t afford on my own, but thankfully with Sam coming, it is possible.  For the solo traveler with a tighter budget, I saw plenty of rooms that were half this price and a little less luxurious, however still perfect for one person.  

I’m glad I shopped around and compared properties, as I almost went for a room at half the cost that wasn’t even in Canggu; instead it was in some sort on no mans land between here and the next village on.
From walking around all day I managed to find something that is perfect for us.  Sam can wake up with the sunrise and walk with his board to the beach for his mornin surf.  I can attend Bali Fit for their 7.30am class of the, beating my ass into shape.  

We can later grab breakfast together in the cafe at the gym, where they offer gorgeously healthy food, smash avacado and eggs on toast, or natural protein smoothies served in coconuts filled with goodies such as acai berries and flax seeds.  

  

 

After letting it digest he can go off for another surf and I can join the yin yoga class then maybe do some writing in the sun.

In the evenings,there are the most beautiful sunsets to be seen, a few hundreds metres from the front door.  The surfers can be watched, catching the last waves of the day, as the sun sets behind them.  Looking to the left, you can see the planes coming in to land in the distance at Denpasar airport, the lights on their wings cutting through the clouds seemlessly, before touching down.

There are an array of restaurants, otherwise know as warungs, that can be eaten at, all servings a mix of Western and Indonesian food.  Many of these warungs are health orientated, as Canggu is just one of those kinds of places, and you can eat beautifully fresh fish for great prices.  

Another option is the beach at a bar called Old Mans, where street vendors gather to sell food for next to nothing; grabbing one of these whilst watching the sunset over the sea is another great way to finish the day, on the cheap.

It just goes to show, the Internet isn’t always the answer, and sometimes all it takes to find your own personal paradise, is a bit of legwork and a lack of laziness.

And with that, I’m off to “Warrior Training” before meeting friends at Old Mans for a game of Beer Pong.  Ciao.
 Edit   

In and around a load of Volcanoes

As the name of my blog would suggest, I literally just do not know how to sit still and relax.  Every time I rest my backpack down and my feet up, I’m thinking about whether or not I’ve made the right decision; whether or not I should be exploring a different place; whether or not the place I am currently at is going to offer me what I’m trying to gain from being away in which ever corner of the world I find myself.

This time was no different.  I arrived in Popoyo, and thought “shit”.  Not because it lacked beauty, but because I guess if I’m being completely honest, there was nothing there.  Nothing to distract my overcreative and overreactive brain from itself.  I realised that it was going to be me, my brain, and not much else for the duration of my stay.  Yes, I’ve been traveling alone since day one, however there’s always been people there to me, to talk with and to keep myself busy.  Now I was in a place where it was just my thoughts and I.

So instantly the negative thoughts began, and I was already planning to go somewhere else.  I thought Gigante was quiet, but Popoyo was another level.  It’s worth pointing out that it is currently low season at the moment in Nicaragua, and that other times it may well be busier, however for now it was just myself and another couple, who seemed to want to keep themselves to themselves, staying at the basic but pleasant, Sunset Villas.
I went to my dorm, where I was the only one, and took a nap, before waking up to eat my freshly caught fish, and watch the most incredible sunset over a vastly empty and beautiful beach.  I took this in, and had a word with myself in that moment.  A word with myself about how it’s time to learn to switch off.  Time to learn to live in the moment.  Time to learn it’s ok just to not plan my next movements for the following 24 hours, and time to give that overactive, overthinking brain of mine a bit of a holiday.

  
Im so glad I made that decision, as I spent three nights being able to sort of touch base with myself again.  A huge reason for me getting away was to continue my studies online in aromatherapy, and during my trip to Popyo, I picked up my pen and papers for the first time since being away and did just that.  I’d take my breaks sunbathing, before coming back in to the sheltered area, sitting underneath structures, thatched with palm leaves, and read and write whilst listening to the waves crash down just meters from where I sat.

   
   
I’d wake up early before the sun was too strong, and managed to do a personal first; running on the beach.  Everytime I’d been walking on the beach, my feet would sink so far into the sand, it was a struggle in itself to get from A to B slowly, never mind running.  However, I’d seen a change in myself since being away, and having this as an incentive to spur me on further, I forced myself to get up and run.  And I tell you; it wasn’t even THAT bad.  I didn’t last for ages, but I got myself out of bed and did it, which was an achievement in itself.
On the Monday, I saw there was a yoga class along the beach, at a place called (appropriately enough) Popoyo Yoga.  I went along and attended the 09.30AM class, feeling much more comfortable in a Downward Dog, than the whole running thing.

It was myself and two other Western women in the class, one of which being the instructor.  I’ve practiced yoga all over the world, in all places and with all sorts of people.  The place where I’ve practiced most has been the UK, so I kind of felt that was the most likely place I’d encounter stereotypical white girl yogis.  No, no.  This tiny little beach of Popoyo, on a random stretch of coastline on the West side of Nicaragua was where I experienced my biggest and most cringe worthy white girl moment to date.
Eyes closed, beginning of yoga practice.  In a medatative position; hands rested on knees, palms facing upwards to receive.  It was Canadain Thanksgiving.  We were instructed, in soothing tones, to dedicate this practice to something we are thankful for.  To give praise and thanks to something that brings us joy and happiness.  I let my mind wander; thinking about the things I’m thankful for. To be lucky enough to be in Nicaragua? To have a boyfriend who I literally think is bloody beautiful? That I’m happy and healthy and blessed with a good life? As I drift off my attention comes back to the instructor’s soft and spiritual voice, and if I’m not mistaken, uttering the words “For me, I am thankful to Starbucks for their Chai Tea Latte.  And I look forward to having this again when I return to Canada”.  And in this very moment, right there, eyes closed, pretending to meditate, inhaling wafts of sea breeze and incense, I acknowledge that it doesn’t matter if I’m practicing yoga in Nicaragua or Clapham High Street.  I’m embarrassingly white girl, and always will be.

   

   

After my time here, I felt that I’d relaxed my body and mind enough to be ready for the next stage of my journey, so I got a cheap taxi to take me from Popoyo to the port of San Jorge, where I caught a ferry to the island of Ometepe.

  

Ometepe is an island that is formed of two volcanoes; Conception (1,610 M) and Maderas (1,394 M), in Lake Nicaragua, and about a 1 hour ferry ride from San Jorge.  

  
The volcanoes, especially Conception, loom over the surrounding areas of Rivas and Tola, constantly surrounded by a thick cloud of smoke.  The volcanoes are still considered to be very active, and as recently as 2010 there was an extremely violent eruption, resulting in an order from the Nicaraguan Government to evacuate the island.  However, very few residents listened to this order, instead deciding to stay.  This may be due to the fact that the volcanic ash makes the soil of the island extremely fertile, and with a huge part of the islands economy being based in agriculture and livestock, you can see why people wanted to stay.

  

It is clear as soon as you step onto Ometepe that the rich soil is unlike most, purely based on the flora that’s flourishing from any direction you turn.  I can honestly say I’ve never seen such amazing colours; bright greens and intense blues, pinks and reds of the flowers.  Even if you’re not big on hiking volcanoes and long walks (which is what many visit the island for) just to come and observe your immediate surroundings is worth the rickety ferry ride and endless bugs and mosquitoes alone.

I stayed at a hostel recommended to me, called Little Morgan’s.  It was situated in the small town of Santa Cruz (a lot smaller than the Santa Cruz I’d previously visited in California) and down a steep driveway running through a couple of fields.  I checked in, took note of the fact that I was in the jungle, staying in a building made entirely of wood (which was an extremely impressive piece of architecture) and that in hot season (thank God it’s currently rainy season, even though it barely rains) you can easily see up to 50 tarantulas here a week.  I laid my head down, flicked two cockroaches from my pillow, and slept.

   
 
I got up at 6am the following to day to walk to a hostel up the side of the smaller volcano to participate in the 7AM yoga class.  By the time I reached the yoga platform, in the middle of the jungle, my thighs were on fire and my bum cheeks felt an intense sensation of sore, having not known such movement for a good  few years.  I did a yoga lesson, funnily enough, with the ex lover of Xian, from the Yogic Ashram I stayed in, and the farther of her two boys.  To cut things short, he was pretty much as out of his tree as the people at the Ashram who were making digeridoos out of bamboo.  He started telling me how my star sign aligned with his and I was the sun to his moon, meaning we were a match.  Sensing his tantric lines that he undoubtebly uses on all of the girls, and thinking I much prefer my nice fella who doesn’t choose to wear a scrunchy and feathers in his hair, I smiled and continued the yoga practice, thinking I’d choose to channel my yogic energy to a Starbucks latte rather than someone who feels that lines from Game of Thrones are going to wash as spiritual karmic rubbish.

  
I spent the next day taking in the scenery and really appreciating that this was probably one of the most beautiful places I had ever been in my life.

   
 
   
 
   
    
    
    
    
   

After another night in the beautiful hostel, myself and another girl I’d met, Sarah, caught the 11AM ferry back to San Jorge, where we shared a taxi to a place called Laguna Apoyo. 
 I knew I’d wanted to visit, having been sat down on the toilet somewhere having a wee, only to look up at the back of the bathroom door to see the words graffitied “Visit Laguna Apoyo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️”.  

“Well,” I’d thought to myself.  “Amongst all the declarations of love etched onto the door, and numbers to call for good times guaranteed, someone’s gone out of their way to leave a five star review.  I’d better check it out.”
So I now find myself sat in the sunshine writing this, having had a deep and peaceful nights sleep on the edge of yet another volcano (this time on the inside)  this one having had erupted around 23,000 years ago, forming a crator in which sits a lagoon, 200 metres deep, and surrounded by the tall green hills of the former volcano.  I thought I was purely a beach bum, however I’m getting increasingly sold on the idea of volcanoes.
   
 

Changing Plans | Changing Places; Nicaragua

The thing about travel that resonates with me and attracts me so much, has to be the ability to totally change plans.

  
At the time of writing my last blog, I would have told you that I’d still be living as part of that yogic community in the forests just outside of San Juan del Sur. And although I am geographically still pretty close to there, in every other sense of the word, I’m a million miles from it.

So I left San José, Costa Rica, that morning and boarded a Tica Bus bound for Managua, Nicaragua.

I excitedly checked my bag on to the bus, paid my exit fee of US$12, and grabbed myself a microwaved breakfast of eggs rice and beans (Gallo Pinto).

It was 7am and I’d secured myself a window seat for this 8hour journey. I had a plan. To get on that bus and to sleep. Sleep and read. I’m not traveling with much music at the moment due to a broken laptop and freeing space on my phone for more photos; which I’m quite happy to do as it means I am more aware of what is going on around me on all these long bus rides. I’m sure you can imagine my distinct frustration to board the bus, American Psycho in hand, to be greeted by two Ticos (a polite word for native Costa Ricans) who were watching loud music videos, and seemingly not very funny comedy shows on their phone, and continued to do this for two hours straight, whilst laughing hysterically out loud. Once they finally stopped this, the male of the pair decided to take the seat behind mine to stretch out for his sleep. That’s fine. Sure. But he wasn’t a small man, and managed to stuff his knees up against the back of my chair, kicking like a small child on an aeroplane, whilst sticking his feet through the centre of my chair, and the chair next to me. You won’t be surprised to hear I have since downloaded some more music on my phone.

At the border things got very confusing. The entire bus load were directed off the vehicle and into an office, where we had our passports stamped. “Great” I thought. That was quick. Back onto the bus we got. Then a man in uniform came and asked me for money into Nicaragua. An entry tax, which again is common, and not a problem. He also took my passport, which I was slightly uneasy about, however, I watched all the other passengers and I followed suit.

We then pulled into a big concrete coach park, with about 8 other coaches. Everyone got up to leave the bus and again, I followed. No one spoke any English and my Spanish is coming on very well, when asking for an apple and if anyone has seen my trousers, however, those sorts of phrases are somewhat redundant in such a situation.

  
Everyone dispersed and I left the bus to be greeted by an abundance of moustached, Hispanic men, waving currencies at me. Dollars, Colones, Cordobas. Luckily it wasn’t for the reasons you may think, and they were simply carrying out their own business as exchange bureaus. 

I looked to my right and my bag had somehow exited the bus and was left on the floor. I picked it up, confused and sweaty, and shouting “No Gracias” as nicely as I could to the army of people trying to sell me things and exchange my money. I entered a big official looking building, that unfortunately was as unofficial as the car park, with people running around and yelling things in Spanish.

I followed the crowd, where I had my luggage X-Ray’d, before returning to the bus where someone grabbed my bag, asking me, “Managua?” before throwing it back into the underbelly of the bus.    

The bus driver sat in his seat, reading the newspaper, feet up on the dashboard, blasting the air conditioning, whilst keeping us locked outside on the Tarmac for around 45 minutes. Luckily there was no shortage of vendors selling food, so after perusing all my options, I settled for my second Gallo Pinto of the day. This one was served with, what I thought was cheese, but turned out to be the most disgusting curd I’ve ever tried, so I fed it to a stray dog hanging out in the immigration bus park. As I did this I looked up to meet the gaze of an angry looking local, standing next to the old woman I’d bought this from. Suddenly, wracked with fear that I’d just gravely insulted his mother and would be punished, I slithered off into the crowds to locate the ice cream man.
Eventually, we were allowed back on the bus, and my passport was returned to me, with a big Nicaraguan stamp. I was in.
Finally I got to Managua, where unfortunately I had to visit in order to run an errand, and hit the hay almost instantaneously.

The next day I was up early and got myself to Huembe Bus Terminal, to catch a bus south, to Rivas.

Entering the bus terminal was like going back to India. It was crazy. People yelling things, pushing, shoving. My bag got taken by a helpful yet unsettling man and thrown under what is known as a chicken bus. I didn’t see any chickens, however I wouldn’t have been surprised.

  
I felt like I was a child in wartime Britain (although everyone speaking Spanish) and was being sent away because of the Blitz. People were hanging out windows, saying goodbye to loved ones and crying; I was hanging out a window trying to buy a packet of crisps due to getting rushed and pushed onto the bus before having had time to eat.

  
After many people getting on the bus trying to sell a range of goods from tacos to colouring-in crayons to seeds, we finally were on the move.
 On this journey I experienced the most insane thunderstorm of epic proportions.
I shan’t bore you with details, however, was thoroughly convinced of own impending death due to fork lightning crashing down from the skies at alarming rates, and the fact I was riding, what was essentially, a tin can for adults rather than tuna. 

  
Alas I made it to Rivas after a thoroughly eye opening journey, where a nice man in a car said he’d take me to where I needed to be.

And so the treasure hunt began. I’d printed a set of instructions sent to me previously by Xian, who runs the commune, and it was certainly not the easiest of places to find. All I knew was that I was in Rivas. And there is a town 29KM away called San Juan del Sur. And on this road at some point between the two there is a gap in the barrier on the left, that has a very small sign saying “Rancho del Oro”, and I must follow this sign, even though where I’m going, isn’t Rancho del Oro.

After driving around and past the sign a few times, the taxi driver and I finally found it. I asked him to drop me there at the road side and I’d make my way in to the forest myself, not wanting to make a big scene of my arrival, as I knew that Xian doesn’t want to promote her commune to the neighbours, thus disrupting their way of life.

He insisted he drove me and after the car struggled to climb a very steep hill, pass a pack of very snarly and angry dogs, and almost get lost amid trees, I must say I was grateful for his persistence when I finally reached the sign for the commune.

I paid my fare, donned my backpack and walked through the overgrown path, over a chain barrier and into a vegetable patch, where I was greeted by Xian and one of her beautiful baby twin boys.
    

  
After remarking at how unsweaty I was considering the big climb with my backpack (didn’t tell them about the taxi), I explained “oh I don’t really perspire” (another lie) and sat in the back garden and talked to Xian and the three other volunteers helping at the Ashram / commune.

  
The day was drawing to a close, and some of the others made a big vegan-friendly dinner, whilst Xian warned me to keep an eye out for scorpions, tarantulas, a spider that lived under my bed that they weren’t sure if it was a scorpion as it moved sideways like a crab yet had a leg-span bigger than my left ass cheek, oh and of course the coral snakes whom are venomous. I took this onboard along with trying to stay level headed that it can’t be THAT bad, seeing as she lets her twin babies roll around on the floor freely.

  
I spent that night having a very uncomfortable sleep under my mosquito net, waiting to be abused or harassed in some way by various arachnids and reptiles.  

  
After sleeping for what felt like an hour, I was awoken by the chants of a Hare Krishna recording, and Xian making some odd bird like call, telling us it was time for yoga.

  
We each took out matts and did some poses on the floor, however, I found that maybe this place was less about the practise of yoga, and more about the theology behind it. There was a lot of talk of the art of breathing, Tibetan monks, and something that didn’t sit well with me; the importance of celibacy.

That was my first twinge of “maybe this is over my head”. After all, I want to do yoga to get fit and gain better balance, not know about the seven different ways I can breathe through my dominant nostril.

We then went outdoors to do our three hours of gardening in the commune, where I planted some nectarine seeds and raked out a path.

  

  
  
  
After playing with the babies some more, and reading my book, I could feel the beginnings of a headache coming on. To cut a long story short the headache turned into a migraine, which turned into a cold sweat, which turned into an anxiety attack which turned into a projectile vomit.

All this whilst a white guy with dreads insisted on playing his didgeri-bloody-doo that he’d just made from a piece of bamboo.

Debating over being a failure and then being reminded by the Trustafarian that nothing was worth this new form of torture, I made the decision to leave the next morning.

After saying my goodbyes (especially to the babies who I’d totally fallen in love with in that short amount of time) I again donned the backpack and made my way out into the forest and onto the dirt track, to find my way back to civilisation and toilets where people flushed their poo.
It’s nice now I’ve got to the grand old age of 26, where I don’t need to prove myself like I used to. I’ve lived in Fiji, and many other examples have been experienced by me to demonstrate my lack of fear in roughing it. However, I’ve done that now. And living in a house, however lovely the residents, where people generally have the runs and yet there’s no soap or cleaning products due to their chemical content, well….I just don’t need to do that any more.

  
 
   

  
I finally emerged from the forest, sweaty and exhausted on the side of the road, where I hailed a car and got a ride to the town of San Juan del Sur.
I checked into a cheap and clean hostel, and showered with soap (hurrah) and spent a couple of days practising yoga without having to discuss giving up my sex drive (hurrah again) and eating cheap, fresh and delicious fish.

  
  
  
    

I then caught a shuttle about an hour and 30 minutes up the coast to a tiny little hamlet called Playa Gigante. The minute I got there I fell in love with the beauty.

  
  
Nothing was there. Nothing. Just a selection of small restaurants and hostels; most of which were closed due to it being low season at the moment. I checked into a $10 per night hostel, which was bloody lovely as far as hostels go (own fan and everything, in big natural wooden bunks) and relaxed.

  
  
  
Later that day I met three people from the USA; Alexie, Kyle and Juan, and Robbie who was cycling through the Americas (although Australian), and instantly I hit it off with them all. I had a group, and it wasn’t even difficult.

  
  
The next day we met some more people, one of whom being Sierra, also from the States, who was just all round bloody lovely. We decided to all go on a catamaran booze cruise for three hours, which is probably one of the best $10 I’ve spent so far. We were all just mindlessly bobbing up and down on inflatable rings and life jackets, drunk as skunks thanks to the unlimited “Pirate Punch” we were given. I can’t tell you how much salt water I drank that day, having continually dunked my cup of Pirate Punch into the sea, however it was all worth it, and we had a great time on the boat.

  
The next day was our last all together, and after hours of lounging in the sun and swimming in the beautiful sea, we climbed a peninsula jutting out into the ocean called Giant’s Foot. From here we watched the sun set, beautiful colours pouring from behind the clouds and onto the sea, and we all got sentimental about how much we all liked each other, and drank some tinnies.

  
  
We’ve since split up, Which is really sad as we had the best couple of days together. However I guess I started this blog saying what I love most is freedom when traveling; I suppose even better than that is the people you meet who make the best impacts that last lifetimes.

  

  

  
I’m now in a small town called Popoyo, further up the coast from Gigante, where my current plan is to finish reading American Psycho. It’s a tough life. Peace ✌🏻️ 

  

An Open Letter to my Dad on his 90th Birthday

Dear Dad,


I can’t believe you’re actually 90 today; I haven’t known you for most of it, but I have known you for the last 26 years.  That’s a really long time in itself.  As I sit here in Thailand, writing this, I can’t help but feel emotional thinking of you and how much I love you.


You didn’t have to have me; you’d already fathered four other fabulous children, but you did Mum one last favour and agreed to one more.  And then I came along and made you endure years of dramas, tantrums, burnt bathrooms and horrid boyfriends, when you could have happily been living your retirement out in Spain.  I’m so glad you chose to have me though and I got to have one of the greatest men as my Daddy.


I know you’ve always felt somewhat bad for being such an older Dad than that of my friends, but I don’t think I’ve told you enough that I never wished for a younger Dad.  Yes; you couldn’t kick a football around with me, but every day when I got home from school you were there.  Every morning when I huffed and puffed around the house before school as a hideous teenager; you were offering me porridge and cleaning up after me as I rushed through the door.


You’d take me to watch Mum at the Squash club, dangling me over the edge and scaring the life out of me. You’d take me to Brownies, to ballet lessons.  You were my lazy partner in crime on holidays to the Lake District.  Mum and Joseph loved hiking up hills and through fields and lakes, whereas you just understood me, so you’d let me stay in the car with you, possibly going off for some cake or something during the long wait.  


You’d make me scream with anger when you’d force me to recite my times tables, and ask me how to spell things, repeatedly; however without that, I certainly wouldn’t have got the qualifications I got from school.


You stood by me as I dropped out my first degree to do Nursing, ran away to India, and came back saying I wanted to be an Events Manager.


You helped me revise for my degree, testing me from a huge pile of flash cards full of boring information about business models and economics.


You cuddled me and kissed me on the head every time I came home crying because some boy had hurt me.  No man I know can ever live up to my Daddy.


I’m sorry for everything I’ve put you through with my sporadic love life and career decisions, and any tattoos or piercings that have made you consider disowning me.  


Please know how much I love you, and even though I love being away, I hate not being at home with you and Mum as we sit by the fire and watch University Challenge on Monday nights, and I just feel safe there.


I feel like I have FINALLY found a vocation which I love now; there must be something in the blood about you producing daughters who teach!


I love you Dad, and as I write this, with my Kindergarten class asleep during their nap time on the classroom floor, I can’t help but be excited about coming home and seeing you and Mum, and being the kid again.


Thanks again for everything over the past 26 years.  I am so so so proud to not just call you my father, but my Daddy.  


Happy birthday, love your little girl, 

Kate x

  

   

  
 

  

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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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.