Thanks Skyscanner!

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I am much better at sky scanning than soul searching. After a few nights mulling over my options on Skyscanner I have come up with an epic itinerary. I’m super excited!

I have accepted a temporary nanny position in Europe & will be beginning in 2 months. In the meantime I am taking a tour of epic proportions! Thailand, Australia (to pick up my luggage & see my friends again), Shanghai (to visit 2 friends), Japan (I can’t wait! My face lights up when I realise I’m going!), South Korea (to visit a friend) then Switzerland for work.

I am really craving western culture & lifestyle after a couple of months in India & Nepal. I want better hygiene standards & ease of life with an ache that moves me. I am begging to walk down a street that’s not covered in litter. I think this is the first time I’ve craved western life. I’m almost ashamed to admit it. I feel like I’m betraying the carefree spirit backpacker I am but my heart wants what it wants! I’m optimistic about going back to Europe again. New Zealand has made me appreciate how fortunate I am to live in Europe – as a curious traveller. The access to numerous countries, cultural differences & stunning beauty is incredible.

It has taken a couple of nights to book everything with a few price increases & hidden charges. Now I have everything booked I want to tell the world – I HAVE A PLAN! I know where I’ll be for the next 4 months! I have direction, multi-directional direction.

Cultural Identity in the Tibetan museum in Dharamshala, India

While in the Tibetan museum in Dharmsala I paused at a quote from a Tibetan boy:

‘If you take our cultural identity from us, what do we have?’

This resonated deeply with me. I feel this also. Being from Northern Ireland is a burden on owning & celebrating your cultural identity. Internally, without too much soul searching, I know exactly my cultural identity & heritage. I feel exactly where I fit into the world jigsaw & I comfortably slot in to my place. Outwardly it is a different matter. My friends on both sides of the border in Ireland come from various backgrounds & each would have an opinion on where they feel I should sit. Even voicing my own opinion with some of them could lead to an argument or sideways glance. How can my personal cultural identity be moulded by someone else. I find it incomprehensible for something so personal as someone else’s sense of true belonging to be debated & decided for amongst others. How do you know what my heart leans to? How do you know where I truly find my solace? And what right do these people have to place me in a box when it is such a unique & intimate connection I have with my sensation of being?

With the state of affairs in Northern Ireland it can be suffocating to bury your true cultural identity. Whether I hide for convenience, to escape confrontation & conflict, fear…. When I travel I feel free. I tell my friends my nationality & they seem satisfied. Why do I even acknowledge their response or approval? Some question based on geo politics but I can clearly state my stance & move on. When people label me as being british it feels entirely alien to me. I feel I don’t match their stereotypes & characteristics. It doesn’t fill my heart with the feeling of comraderie or belonging. I feel a disaffection & disassociation which I cannot evade. If my neighbour or brother feel the opposite to me about being labelled British I couldn’t care less. I am happy people have a sense of belonging & strength to be patriotic.

To have someone take your cultural identity from you is a destroying. I perceive cultural identity to be a birthright. To feel secure on your soil with your people in a place you were born &/or raised. How disorientating to have this swept away from you. How sad to have this element of you removed while others can enjoy & celebrate their own. How can you ever retrieve this in a world of judgement, control & power mania?

People born in a country of minimal conflict who can & rightfully own their cultural identity with pride without being judged or questioned – I envy you. To not always look over your shoulder for haters, to not have to justify yourself to either side of the border & the whole world, to celebrate with every person on the street, to not face controversy must be bliss. Appreciate your freedom for something you, maybe rightly so, take for granted.

Onwards

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I’m feeling odd. Anxious yet exhilarated. The feeling of suffocation balanced by my unwavering reflex to breathe. The urge to relax but the urgency to adventure.
It’s ironic that I’m feeling odd when the feelings above are so familiar to me. I know the symptoms all too well – itchy feet. I feel like I need to move. I price flights. I google places afar. I price flights again. This cycle continues until I take the plunge & book flights.

I’ve booked flights. I’m going to Sydney in a few days, Bali the following week then possibly India.

My mother worries that something terrible has happened & asks why I don’t like New Zealand. Of course I like it! My new friends look awkwardly at me as I tell them. They wonder why I’m being so rash & question why I don’t want to stay in New Zealand. I have 8 months left on my working holiday visa. They question why I want to visit these countries & seem frustrated with my simple response that I’ve never been to them before. My friends minds wander to the cause of my sudden departure being due to a tumour flourishing within my skull causing this scatty, unreasonable behaviour. I might question it too… But this is not an isolated case. This is consistent with my path & decision making history.

This is the last minute, always on the move, always on the cusp of a new adventure, very delicate ecosystem of life that I lead.

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A Random purchase

Today, completely out of the blue, I booked a SKY DIVE for tomorrow morning!

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It isn’t something I ever had a strong inclination to do. It was never on my to do list & I always dismissed it as being too expensive.

I, maybe wrongly so, find it very self indulgent spending big amounts of money on myself for things that aren’t necessary or practical (travel excluded, obviously). I always travel on a very tight budget & miss out on most of the activities other people do. Hopefully my mindset is changing & I can take the full experience from places more often – funds willing!

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Resolutions

    
This time around I have decided I want to do something rather weird & quirky….. Nothing too dramatic. Ok, so I have pondered getting the side of my face pierced but I have opted not to pursue that (for now). I am thinking of a crazy trip somewhere – like ride a tuk tuk around India or cycle the South Island. Something a bit less done. Something I would not have previously contemplated.

 
Inspiration is always welcome on this blog so please post any suggestions in the comments for me 😀
On a side note I am also considering a dry January or something slightly less restricting. So far I have went 4 days without booze which is possibly the longest I’ve ever gone without alcohol in New Zealand. Working in a bar exponentially increased my alcohol intake. My body will revel at the long overdue & wholly deserved respite.

Today is Day 1 of running! I went for a run to the centre of New Zealand this morning! It was not the flattest terrain I could choose to begin running again, but it was fun. It was rewarding to get to the viewpoint & I’m exhilarated to call myself a runner again! ☺️🏃💨

I hope to make little adjustments in my lifestyle for as long as I can maintain them while coming up with my random epic trip…. Happy new year everyone! x

When in doubt, panic book a flight

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That old chestnut. It gets me every time.

Not sure about what to do or where to go?

Follow these 2 simple steps to recover control & proliferate some life direction:

1 Panic browse flights

2 Book one in vague hope that a plan will follow

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This is my 2 step solution to any new year anxiety, stress or pressure you feel. It’s similar to running away from your problems, but with a hell of a lot more velocity than your little legs can manage & you just gotta roll with any turbulence.

Now that I’ve completed these 2 steps, what comes next???

Getting into my rhythm

“Normal life”, I’m doing it! I’m NAILING it! I work 5 days a week, I meet friends & go for coffees. I go to the cinema, go for brunch, go for lunch. I meet people for drinks. Frequently. I go to see plays, I go to the museum, I go for walks & explore. I am really finding my rhythm in Wellington.

It is so freeing to have allocated days off, a set start time & the opportunity to give shifts away for an extra day off.

I wonder why I busted my balls for so long working more than one job, doing 60+ hours a week, being on call with no reimbursement, not giving my personal time the priority it was crying out for.

I am basking in this newfound normality.

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Hey Thailand! Here I am!

I have arrived in Thailand!

I am of course ridiculous & decided that I needed a new Chanel lipstick for my month of backpacking in Thailand. I know. I was rolling my eyes at myself when I was walking towards the till in duty free. I’m sure that was a lovely sight for the anxious cashier.

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When I arrived in Bangkok I opted on taking public transport to my hostel rather than the easy-way-out taxi – mainly due to it being rush hour & my massive dislike of sitting in traffic. The public transport was very straightforward, frequent & easy to navigate. I was pleased despite not being accustomed to the weight of my backpack yet!

I stayed at the Saphai Pae hostel. It was clean & spacious with a well laid out big bathroom block. I stayed in an 8 bed dorm on the female only floor. The staff were helpful & I would stay there again. After my well deserved shower I went for a wander about the area then went to bed. It was pure bliss to lie horizontal on a bed & stretch out. I was in heaven!

The next morning, after breakfast, I went to Hua Lampong train station to get a ticket for the overnight train to Chiang Mai for my Thai massage course. You can’t buy these tickets online & they sell out quickly so I was risking them being sold out. Luckily there were 4 seats left in the 2nd class air conditioned carriages. I opted for seat 15 as the other seats were very low numbers indicating they were near the toilet which might be a bit smelly & have through traffic all night with people using them. The only seat available that wasn’t near the toilets was an upper bunk. The upper bunks are slightly narrower than the bottom bunks but this didn’t really bother me. The ticket was 791b & would leave Bangkok at 6.10pm & arrive in Chiang Mai at 8.10am the following day.

I wandered around Bangkok & had some street food of gyoza for 50b (£1). I went to MBK & Siam centre to browse – I bought a few things I ‘needed’ but I didn’t go crazy because everything I buy I have to carry on my back.

I arrived at the station 45 mins early & my train was already being boarded. We took off at 6.10pm & an hour later a lady came around & started converting the seats into bunks. I was delighted! Another lady came around with a menu for dinner but I wasn’t very hungry. She seemed a bit offended that I didn’t order anything….

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The bunks on the train with their curtains closed

When I climbed into my bunk I fell straight to sleep – I’m not sure how as everyone was talking so loudly. I woke up a few hours later & read for a while, then I noticed a cockroach walk down the wall & under my mattress! Oh the horror! I was determined to go back to sleep so I put my earphones in (so the cockroach wouldn’t be able to burrow into my ears if he had the inclination, obviously) & anxiously fell asleep. At around 7am the lady came back to convert the bunks back to seats. I was massively jealous of the people in the bunks that she left until 8am. It seems that I have become obsessed with lying down.

I heard that transport is rarely on time in Thailand so I was surprised when we arrived bang on time! This was the last stop so everyone left the train & there was the usual hub bub in the train station of taxi & tuk tuk drivers, hostel owners, confused sleepy backpackers etc. I slipped into a nearby cafe to escape the bustle & enjoy a coffee. When relative calm resumed I found a tuk tuk driver & haggled him down to 200b for my trip to Baan Hom Samunphrai – Thai Massage School Herbal Retreat Centre. It was a bumpy 20 minute drive out of the city over a bridge, past the tamarind hedge to my home & haven for the following 2 weeks.

Links

Saphai Pae Hostel, Bangkok http://www.saphaipae.com

Baan Hom Samunphrai, Chiang Mai http://www.homprang.com

The Interlude

How lovely it is to be home. I profoundly appreciate the time I have to spend with family & friends. I’m laughing till my stomach hurts, which I haven’t done in such a long time. Which is an absolute shame because it’s one of my favourite things to do.

It is an utter luxury to have my own room & to be able to get into bed without concussing myself incarcerated by the suffocating low ceilings.

Sweet, glorious freedom.

I can’t get enough of it.

Walking to visit a friend with a bottle of wine or even going to the cinema is such a treat to my senses. Cooking! Driving! Grocery shopping! Speaking the same language as the people surrounding me!  Striking conversation effortlessly with strangers! Oh the simple pleasures. I am on my knees begging to be engulfed with the unassuming, normal reality of life.

I do not miss the daily, relentless, soul purging cleaning & chores. On reflection I don’t know how I put up with the mindless tedious schedule. I relish the power of not feeling owned. A call from a crew recruitment agency about an upcoming position quickly affirms that it’s too soon to even contemplate going back to yachting. I am not going to relinquish this new found free rein. I badly need a break – It’s a prerequisite to my sanity and transitory bliss.

Now to catch up on a years worth of gossip with my friends, laughs, family time, appointments with my dentist, doctor, health clinic, hairdresser, vet (for my dog, not me), backdated babysitting duties….. A massive clear out of all my unsuspecting accumulated belongings is an inevitable long overdue task. Here’s to my break from work & putting some graft into organising myself and catching up on my Irish life.

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