Krabi, Thailand

Here I am back in Krabi! It was 18 months ago since my last visit & now I’m back in the same hostel, same room, & eating at the same night market. I just miss the Costa Rican friend I made last time. She was a foodie like me & we spent a lot of time talking about food, browsing the street food stalls, trying new things & eating, of course.

I adore Krabi. It has 2 food markets. I really am a greedy little lady…. It is on the coast & has beautiful views & great accessibility to the islands. There are numerous activities for backpackers & tourists such as cookery courses, hikes, island hopping, snorkelling, climbing. The options seem endless!

I’m staying in Pak-Up Hostel. I loved it last time I was here so I’m happy to be back. It is reasonably sociable with a big common area downstairs & seats outside to people watch on the street. It is on the higher price range for hostels & you can find much cheaper accommodation nearby, but I didn’t mind splashing out. It’s clean, the beds are comfortable with adequate storage, power sockets & lights are in each bed. It’s also central (to the food markets).

I’m going to have a busy few days here, I have to catch up on admin, post a package back home & I’m in the middle of applying for a Canadian Working Holiday Visa. I’ve also booked to go on a boat trip, go snorkelling & do a cookery course.  I’m keen to maintain my running regime so I have my alarm set for the morning & my kit set out. I also hope to keep up with the daily Thai massages!

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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.

My exit plan from Nepal

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I’m at another crossroads of my life. It’s more of a spaghetti junction. I could go anywhere in this world – within reason…. Myanmar looks hauntingly beautiful & backpackers speak fondly of it. Bhutan would be incredible to visit. Mongolia is high on my list. Japan has been sitting on the forefront of my mind. My cousins can’t recommend Vietnam enough to me. Thailand is a country I adore. Then I have to think of my finances…. I could go back to New Zealand to work. I could nanny again. Working on super yachts is another option. Back to Ireland & spend time with my family in the homeland after all these years? Another country? Another career change? Am I getting too old for this shit??

I’m open to all suggestions. One option is to nanny in Switzerland & Spain for a few weeks for a family I worked with before. It would get me to Europe for the summer, I would be closer to my family, I could replenish my funds.

Sat in my hostel in Nepal with travel options, destinations, prices & dates scribbled on to a notepad I close my eyes & melt into my bed. My mind is a busy chattering of what I could do next. So much research into expenses, visas & possible itinerarys. I just want to choose something & throw myself into planning. I’m worried that I’m running out of money & as time ticks by, my options diminish.

Day trip to Bangalore, India

Today I am feeling a bit better & am torn between keeping low to get better or venture out & explore. Naturally exploring wins! I ask at the hotel reception for information & they look blankly at me. I google areas to wander around & hop on the bus going to town.

On the bus all eyes are on me. I feel like a circus freak. The bus is packed & I’m stood at the front for all to oogle.

The front of the bus is for women & men have a separate entrance to the back section where they sit. I sigh with relief at the segregation. According to google this bus should take me to the area I want to go to but apparently this was not the case. The ladies at the front of the bus tried their best to guide me & translate to the ticket vendor. I take their advice & hop off the bus is the middle of fuck knows where & wait for another bus. By this stage I have completely lost all orientation & will to explore. The roads are so incredibly busy with traffic. Busier than you can even imagine. The roads are dirty & dusty & there is a thick smoke in the air. The noise of beeping horns is suffocating & incessant. The smell is unpleasant & it is so hot & humid I struggle to catch my breath.I hop on another bus & have to change again with no clue where I’m going to until I finally reach a bus station, unsure of where exactly I am.

I wander around in hope but I just see beggars & staring faces. I haven’t seen another Westerner for 3 days & it is clear that they don’t frequent these areas. It wouldn’t bother me usually but the locals cannot take their eyes off me. I looked for wifi to try to get my bearings & come up with an action plan but to no avail. Tired & still recovering from my sickness I give up on my outing & retreat to the dirty, busy bus station. I sit being watched for an hour hoping a bus will eventually turn up to take me back towards my hotel. I berate myself for wanting to explore & feel I should have had a quiet day to build my energy up again & get ready for travelling tomorrow.

The bus back isn’t as long as my 1 hour plus trip out here. The bus abandons me somewhere I don’t recognise. I could literally be in any area of Bangalore. I don’t have a clue. I stop & ask for directions & walk, being watched like a hawk, for 20 minutes before I find my street. By this stage I’m hungry, fed up & tired. Unfortunately the smell of Indian food makes me feel queasy which is awful because I adore Indian food. I’m starting to get my appetite back but I can only eat Western food which is so frustrating. I would love a curry but my brain & body are telling me no. I settle for a dominos pizza which tastes processed & unhealthy. I go back to my room, craving the luxury of not being looked at.

Absolutely not the Indian experience I came for!

Hampi Sunset, India

The sunset in Hampi is stunning. Next to The Goan Corner is the most incredible haphazard boulder formation. It looks so surreal! It felt like desert yet there were trees & rice paddies & jungle nearby. Imagine the set of a star wars movie with temples from The Jungle Book & an Indiana Jones-esque feel. You’re close!

Before sunset locals & backpackers gather on top of these huge rocks to bask in the sunset. There are drummers, singers & even a guy who does a mean didgeridoo impression. Seriously, I was so impressed someone dragged a didgeridoo up the rocks & looked & he was just making the sound with his mouth. This is India!

My iPhone camera does not do the incredible scenery justice, stunning!

Unfortunately we rushed up to the sunset & I only had my iPhone on me, hence the quality of the pictures aren’t the best. I hope you can get a glimpse at what the area was like. It felt like another world to me.

This view though….

The massive boulders are so impressive! If you enjoy bouldering then this could be your happy place – & not just Hampi, there are other areas nearby with amazing bouldering. Unfortunately at 40 degrees I couldn’t function enough to learn a new sport. The area is full of people walking athletically towards the rocks with a crashed on their back. I enjoyed hearing people ponder whether they were spare mattresses to sleep on & whether they climbed with them attached to their backs, they don’t.

The rocks had been cooking at high temperatures all day so be prepared for a toasty seat once you get up there. I was sweating so much after sunset just from the heat being passed through from the rocks! I had to use my flip flops as a seat barrier to prevent me from poaching in my own juices. I’ll let you savour that visual.

The kids were so charming & all the backpackers were obviously impressed by them

There were small children on the top of the rocks selling Chai. They were adorable & each were astute business children! They sucked us in with small talk & always tried to double our orders. They were cuties, quick minded & confident. Such intuitive little salespeople! I really hope they reap the benefits of their child labour. I mean that sincerely. I see the benefits in that they are improving their english, they are confident interacting with people, savvy, clever & don’t seem to be miserable doing this – although they are very young, maybe under 10 years old!

The music continued long after the sun went down. I teetered down the rocks before it got too dark, showered off the day & curled up in bed for a proper good nights sleep. Bliss. Thank you Hampi!

Wandering around Palolem, Goa, India

I’ve been in Palolem for about a week now & I initially scheduled just a couple of days here. It has been a struggle to leave & many of my friends here have voiced this issue. One of my friends had a month long trip around India planned but she has spent the entire month intoxicated by Goa, unable to leave. We laugh at her meek efforts of travelling India, although I am aware this is a very realistic occurrence when you get sucked into the Goan way of life. There are many expats here who live here for half the year then go home or elsewhere when the temperatures shoot up & rainy season comes along. It’s a lifestyle I envy & aspire to!

I spent several afternoons idling my time away at Bhakti Kutir, a health & nature resort in Palolem. I frequented the cafe/restaurant in the cutest surroundings that wash over you like a satisfying sigh. I relish the relaxed mood this cafe infringes upon me. It is a blissful utopia. If you visit you will totally agree with me. As you enter in the evening tea lights light the path to the restaurant & the ambiance is heavenly!

 

I herd them moove past my hostel – sorry, my misteak. These puns are offal! Pure manure!

Be prepared to share your space with holy cows in India. They roam around freely & are respected on the streets & roads. It’s funny how you can adjust to things so quickly. Cows are number one. Fact. Move on.

What’s his beef?

 

 

Spicy poppadoms with a soda lemon juice

The food has been amazing here! I absolutely love Indian food & I haven’t been disappointed! It has been incredibly reasonably priced & is delicious. A bit heavy, so I have been alternating meals for smoothies & juices to maintain a balance. I haven’t ate as much Indian food as I expected due to skipping meals due to the combination of the massive portions & the heat has kept my appetite at bay.

Potato korma with a nan bread

 

 

Litter is a big problem here in India. There is rubbish everywhere. I love this sign warning people, it says: Notice – If anybody found dumping garbage here, fine up to 5000 and a free bamboo massage.


Massage! Great!

 

What’s a little nail polish between friends?

I can be a slightly ridiculous packer – as we all know. I have, of course, taken 3 nail polish & nail polish remover with me. I’m not vain, I just feel really grubby with plain nails. I think this stemmed from working in massage where I spend much of my time looking at my hands & I would despise my nails if they weren’t clean, tidy & polished. I have a silver for my toes & white & duck egg blue for my fingers. Nothing fancy, just clean & simple. Yes, my new companions have taken water filter tablets & uv sterilisers & I have nail polish… But hey, it makes me happy!

The cleaners at Summer hostel are lovely & chatty. They laugh with me everyday as I keep extending my stay & even join in my Skype calls to my friends & family. One day I was getting ready to go out when one of the ladies ran up to me saying “I’m sorry, my god told me in my dream that I had to tell you what I did!”

I was so confused as to what was upsetting this sweet & usually smiley lady. She held out her hand to me & I look it assuring her that everything is ok. Then she turned her nails to me to show me we had the same nail polish on. The exact same nail polish!

After I polished my nails the day before I left the nail polish on my bed & the cleaner seen it & clearly quite fancied it! I told her it was fine & laughed with her. Then the other cleaner came in – with the same nail polish on her fingers! I laughed louder at these two ladies sneaking my nail polish on when I was out. I took a picture of our identical manicures & whilst I was doing so I glanced to the floor & seen that they had done their toes too! Hilarious! We all laughed & admired the colour. I gave them my white polish & I couldn’t find the blue one again… I presume they are stilling painting their nails with it.

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We all have great taste in nail polish!

Goa

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I love how the palm trees lean to the sea as though they want to dive in for a swim too

I feel so happy! Goa is stunning!!! My hostel is lovely & the people staying at the hostel are really friendly. They are all solo backpackers which is so refreshing & the majority are in their late 20s which is also a nice change. It feels so comfortable to be surrounded by like minded people with the desire to travel but no long term career plans. We tell each other similar lines of ‘I’m not sure where I’m going next’, ‘I don’t know how long I’ll travel for’ ‘I don’t know what I’ll do next’. To say those lines & be met with understanding is so precious. To not feel judgement, jealousy or confusion is unusual & reassuring. I didn’t realise how much negativity I associated with people’s perception of my lifestyle until I felt this alliance with these fellow solo travellers. They are a breath of fresh air.

We aren’t travellers with no ambitions, we have the desire & capabilities to be successful yet rate experience & travel as more valuable.

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Samosa breakfast at the hostel

I had the nicest day meeting everyone in my hostel over a laid back group breakfast of samosas, yum! Then a few of us went to a beautiful hidden away cafe for Chai. Afterwards we laid on the beach & went for a swim in the deliciously warm sea. In the evening we went home & got ready for the first Indian meal of my trip! I was so content after an amazing first day & having incredible Indian food in India with great company. My first day flew in as a blur of super interesting open people from varying backgrounds, stunning surroundings & food that lived up to my particularly high expectations.

Night everyone x

Amed to Kuta, Bali

Amed has been lovely. I adored snorkelling, it was amazing! I only have a few more nights left in Bali so I will head back towards the airport & relax before my onward journey. I took the Perama bus to Kuta for 100IDR. I was the only passenger for hours of this journey & befriended the lovely driver. We communicated in sign language & facial expressions, sharing food & laughter. I was happy to be stretched out for the majority of the Southbound trip.
There was so much rain & long queues of traffic en route. I felt so sorry for the people walking or on motorbikes, absolutely soaked through. It is just coming into rainy season so some afternoons there has been rain, although it clears up quickly. It is thick, heavy warm rain that starts without warning from the sun bright sky. Only the tell tale cloud lingering above indicates you may be due a downpour.
Everyone advised me against Kuta saying it was a tourist hotspot. I made it my pitstop on my way to the South of Bali for one night.
One night too many! The first thing that hit me was the fumes from the cars! I was not used to this pollution compared to my happy snorkelling world in Amed! Next was the incessant harassment from the people selling things in the street. Even in the downpour of rain people were still begging me to get my nails done, have a massage or take a taxi. The saving grace of the evening was the lovely food at Warung Indonesia – thanks again TripAdvisor!
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Nasi Goreng & mango juice at Warung Indonesia

I returned to my hostel for peace but there was a party by the pool & the loud music pumped right into the dorm room through the balcony doors which didn’t close properly…. My only comfort was that it was a one night only endeavour!

Auckland

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Hello New Zealand! I am in Auckland. It has the feeling of just another city about it…. That is to be expected when you are in another city.
I am so happy to finally be here, in New Zealand, after having it in the back of my mind & as one of the big ones on my list for 15 years! I am sure it won’t disappoint.
I have booked my hostel in town for 2 nights so I can get my bearings & decide what to do next. I have zero plans. I wanted to research but other things got in the way, like work & quality time with my family & enjoying Ireland before I left again.
Sometimes plans can feel suffocating. I relish the freedom to decide on the spot where to go next or to mull over my next stop.
New Zealand I am all yours! Inspire me & I will go wherever you lead me.