The perfect day in Sydney

My second day in Australia was the most perfect day of fun! In the morning my friend & I went to a really cute Saturday farmers market. It was full of fresh food stalls, baked goods, juices & street food as well as fresh flowers, homeware & skincare. I loved browsing & tasting all the different foods. I had a fresh juice for breakfast & a steak salad for lunch. I feel healthy & content. I think I’m having a reverse culture shock coming back from Asia.

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Next up we went to the shops to pick up a few bits & pieces. I ended up in Mecca – a Sephora-esque shop. I found a miniature Origins night mask that I’ve been searching for for over a year! I also finally bit the bullet & got a neck support for the remainder of my travels. I just can’t cope with dozing off inflight for 2 minutes & waking with crippling neck pain. It will be worth $20 & the hassle of carrying the bulk of it around.

After shopping we went to the cinema to see The Jungle Book in 3D. I really miss the cinema when I travel despite not going much when I stand still. The movie had amazing CGI effects. 3D has developed a lot over the past few years & it doesn’t hurt my eyes half as much! FYI The Aussie popcorn is just salted, I adore a mixture of sweet & salted….

We went back to my friends house & her boyfriend was waiting for us with a bottle of bubbles! We went for the most delicious Indian meal & finished the bubbles & a beautiful red wine. This Indian was on par or maybe better than the food I had in India. I got a bit of angst eating the Indian food in India for fear of the hygiene levels of the establishment & I am so happy to shake this worry back in Western countries!

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Totally full & exhausted after our fun filled, perfect day, we got home & quickly dispersed to bed. What a lovely day. I knew I was right to look forward to Sydney again.

Farewell Nepal!

Farewell & thank you Nepal. You were lovely!

My last days in Nepal were a delight. I wandered around Kathmandu calling in to the shops of people I had become friendly with for a wee chat. I ate well, planned my trip & relaxed. I made friends at the hostel, visited the Garden of Dreams, wandered the streets & really enjoyed my last few days.

 

 

Garden of Dreams

A blissful Garden hidden behind a busy main road. The beautifully named garden is neo-classical style & was built in 1920s. It’s a peaceful hideaway from the hustle & bustle of town. The destruction from the 2015 Earthquake is evident as rebuilding is ongoing….

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I didn’t know I would visit you until a few days before & I am genuinely glad I have! I hope to make it back someday to tackle Everest Base Camp. I have a newfound confidence that I am capable & if I build some stamina I can do it. What an achievement it would be! A little Irish wanderer like myself getting to Everest Base Camp – amazing! Next time I see you Nepal, I’m coming for Everest!

Next up is Thailand & something I’ve never done before – a weight loss camp!

Back to Kathmandu, Nepal

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Back in Kathmandu it is busier & louder than I remembered. The streets are smaller, dustier & more crowded. The beggars are closer & the sellers are louder. The narrow streets & tall buildings are not the breath of fresh air I experienced when I arrived from India. I’m relieved I only have a few days here & I hope they’ll be spent relaxing & planning my onwards trip as much as possible.

Debilitated by impatience I go ahead of my friend to the hostel, check in & lie in my bed exhausted. Exhausted from another day spent wishing my time away sitting on my arse on shitty cheap transport. I melt into the bed & my problems evaporate. My friend joins me & I pretend to be asleep, drowning her out with my wishes that she wasn’t here driving me crazy. I miss my independence & anonymity.

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Leaving Pokhara, Nepal

Flights booked, plan formed & renewed energy flowing through me – I am happy to be moving on! It’s nothing personal Nepal, honestly. I have really enjoyed aspects of you but for me, right now, you haven’t been taken into my heart. I’m leaving Pokhara to go back to Kathmandu for a few days before jetting off to Thailand – one of the countries firmly secured in my heart. I am happy to be leaving Pokhara. It wasn’t the holistic haven people boasted about. It was a cloudy, rainy, dull town – with some charm. It’s my own fault for not seeing or doing more. I am fair weather, I hate monkeys & I’m on a budget. You can still do most if you fall into these categories. I just didn’t seem to have enough motivation.

When the weather clears & you can actually see the peaks of the mountains it is beautiful & impressive. Even the moody clouds & the howling wind were striking. One day the weather just turned from pleasant to shiver inducing eery. The sky went dark, the clouds felt so close like they could touch the ground & the air became haunting. The pictures below don’t do justice to how encapsulating & sinister the clouds felt.

 

 

 

 

 

I felt a little stuck in Pokhara. The mountains were more freeing although not in my heart like the mountains in Verbier, Switzerland. I don’t feel like I’m being unfair to Pokhara or Nepal. Everyone has personal preferences, nostalgia that draws them to form an opinion, gut feelings on certain places. That’s what I love about travelling. It’s such an individual experience in the end. The Pokhara I see will not be the one unfolding in front of your eyes when you go.

I’m in a grumpy mood waiting for my eternally late friend to go to the bus station. I’m not looking forward to our long, bumpy journey squashed on the bus. I can’t wait for space from her. I can’t wait to be back in the Thamel 327, horizontal – My happy place.

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.

Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal

Boudhanath Stupa is slightly out of town so after Durbar Square my friend & I made our way to the busy bus station on the side of town. There were what seemed like hundreds of buses & little instruction as to their destination. We asked someone who seemed to hold a look of authority & he pointed us on to to a rickety bus. We perched in the front unsure of where we were going to end up. The journey was almost an hour long & god help whoever sat beside us as they were offered mints & encouraged to chat & answer our random questions. The people are good natured, smiley & helpful. We feel relaxed in their company & similar in traits. The bus abandoned us in the middle of a busy street & we looked at each other unsure of which direction to go in. Just as we were sighing at the prospect of guessing our next move & getting harassed by taxi drivers, the young boy who sitting beside us on the bus appeared & pointed us in the right direction. Thank you!

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Boudhanath Stupa dates back to the 14th Century & became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. It is the biggest stupa in Nepal & one of the largest ancient stupas in the world. It is believed the stupa entombs the remains of Kassapa Buddha & it is embellished with many buddhist symbols. It is the epicentre of tibetan culture in Nepal & is an important place of pilgrimage for Tibetan Buddhists as well as Nepalis.

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The area was extremely busy. We paid our entrance fee & joined the throng of tourists & locals walking clockwise along the prayer wheels. It is believed that if you circle the stupa even once you will be granted a chance to atone for your sins. There were so many people & beggers everywhere. Bodnath Stupa was also damaged extensively by the earthquake the previous year & men & women were working non stop to reconstruct the stupa & restore it to its previous glory.

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Starving we took a break & had some average pizza in a restaurant down a side alley. By this stage the claustrophobia had gotten too much for me. I went for a walk alone but I couldn’t handle the beggars & people with puppies & the crowds so instead of continuing around the temple I told my friend I would meet her at the entrance & fled seeking peace. Sorry, I’m a terrible tourist! Can’t I just wander around somewhere peaceful chatting to locals & sampling food? That’s all I want to do!

We took a taxi back to Thamel & haggled to less than half the price of the initial rip off offer. It felt better to get back to the manageable bustle of Thamel. I don’t think tourist sights are my jam. My friends are keen to visit another temple but I doubt I will join them. I certainly won’t join them for their trip to the monkey temple either! They are also going to to Pashupatinath Temple to witness the traditional burial & cremation ceremony. I am curious about this but morally I don’t feel right about rocking up with a DSL camera & a bag of popcorn while these people are experiencing life’s worst hardships. Some things are sacred & not appropriate ‘tourist sights’.

 

Exploring Hampi, India

Due to the excruciating heat & my Irish constitution I need to work by a tight schedule to get the most out of my day! I get up early to explore, before midday I am at melting point so I am either back at the hostel in shade or chilling out in a restaurant with a book i.e. not exerting myself if it can be helped. Around 4pm I can brave the world again & go for another wander. This pattern really works for me!


Yesterday, on my first explore around the village, my poor Haviana’s snapped apart to irreparable status – so my first steps around Hampi in daylight were barefoot & rather desperate for new flipflops! Luckily there were shops nearby & I picked up a pair of nondescript flip flops for 150Rupees (£1.50). It’s cheap, but at home we are spoiled by Pennys/Primark which offer similar prices & quality. Hopefully my new footwear will last until I can find a pair of trusty Havianas.

Today post blistering middy heatwave I ventured towards the monkey temple – obviously with no intentions of going to it, but to explore around it. As a pale blonde people really enjoyed waving at me! They were so friendly I happily waved back to men, women, children, families on a scooter & this lorry load of workers! They are so friendly & seem genuinely interested & happy so I gladly reciprocate the waves.

I was enjoying my stroll & excited to venture to the unknown but then….. Two scary looking monkeys in a tree! Without thinking I instantly back peddled, my upper body frozen in the position it was in when I spied them. I was terrified they would see me & come near me. I wanted to scream & run away but I was afraid it would draw attention towards me. Once I got a safe distance away my breathing started to resemble a somewhat normal pattern again & I was able to act like a regular person, or try my best to. Clearly shooken up, the men I had previously overtaken regarded me with confusion as this merry power walker had retreated back this path for no obvious reason with a look of impending doom etched on her face. Embarrassed by my fear of monkeys I passed them awkwardly & wished I was back in the safety of my hostel room. I ventured off the path again but I couldn’t help thinking it was a bad idea in case I saw any more monkeys. I made my mind up to go straight back to the village & to accept that I’m not brave enough to venture out & face monkeys….

Go to Stewart Island they said, see a kiwi they said

So here I am on Stewart Island too bloody tired to do anything never mind hunt a Kiwi! A long day stuck on the bus has ensured that I have no energy to appreciate my awesome surroundings. I took the Stray bus from Gunn’s Camp at 8am & now it’s late evening post an 8 hour bus journey, wait around in Invercargill (which isn’t as bad as people say) & 1 hour boat trip.
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As soon as I set foot on Stewart Island I knew instantly I would like it. I am convinced there are places that instantly make your heart beat more contently. The water was clear, the sun was shining & the air was fresh & cool. There was even a blue tinge to the bright beaming white sky, but that may have just been the rain preparing to come. The rain came before I even collected my bag from the collection point.
I will force myself to go for a quick explore while I can still keep my eyes open! I’m looking forward to my amazing nights sleep & maybe a cold beer if I can convince myself that I won’t fall asleep during it!

That irrepressible desire to book more flights *sigh*

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Apparently not content with stopping over in Singapore on my way to NZ I have an overwhelming need to visit another country in Asia while I’m there. I have 1 weeks & I’m looking for travspiration (travel inspiration) of amazing places you have visited.

My top wants on the list are: incredible sights, cheap massages, amazing street food, easy going atmosphere…. I’m sure it won’t be difficult to find in Asia.

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I would like some adventure but absolutely no monkey related ‘fun’. I’m not a fan of monkeys. I tend to actively avoid any living animal show or display. I love animals & I refuse to support the exploitation of them. Even if the companies say the animals are treated well I’m sure they would prefer their freedom in the wild.

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While we’re on the subject of creatures the less mosquitos the better. I’m trying to put off Dengue Fever as long as possible. I’m estimating via probability I am about 50 bites away from being very high risk. That’s around 2 or 3 days worth of bites for me.

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I wouldn’t mind escaping the busy cities, learning Reiki, surfing, reading in a cute cafe & as you know eating. I can’t get enough of street food & grieved unashamadely for it once I left Thailand.

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I’ve been on Skyscanner checking flights & Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam & Thailand are all within my budget. I’m currently leaning towards Bali. All suggestions are welcome. Please comment & put a link to your blog if you have some interesting reading for me. Thanks!