Pearls of Wisdom: How to cope with the post travel blues

Maya bay in Thailand, paradise!
Maya bay in Thailand, paradise!

 

You carry your heavy backpack through the threshold of the front door, nonchalantly throw your bag on the floor and sit on the sofa. At first your surroundings feel reassuringly comfortable. You know where everything is, the toilet is clean and you can make yourself a cup of tea whenever you want. The first few days are bliss. You enjoy hot, long baths and walk the familiar streets eating familiar food that you missed when travelling. At first your friends are so excited to meet you but after a few weeks the novelty wears off. Things are like they always were, boring.

And you crave adventure.

At first coming back from a big trip or even a short trip can feel amazing, as the old adage goes ‘there’s no place like home’. Some of us however are blessed with a wandering soul and start to feel uneasy when we are in the same place for a long time. Normality and routine bores us and we crave new experiences.

Before my big trip I read many blog posts stating that coming home would be a lot harder than actually having the guts to go. It took immense guts to decide to go on a ten month adventure and even more guts to ask my boss for a years sabbatical! Surprisingly I ended up having reverse culture shock when I first travelled from Asia to Australia. This is one of the reasons why I didn’t suffer from culture shock after my big trip.

But I did suffer from the post travel blues.

In beautiful China town in Kobe, Japan.
In beautiful China town in Kobe, Japan.

Nothing changes

Nothing changes at home. Yes your friends may get married, have new jobs and children and a few may even move out-of-town but overall everything and everyone is the same.

The hard thing to realise is that you will never be the same.

Travel changes us. Irreparably. This is one of the reasons why we travel but it can also make us feel like a fish out of water when we eventually make it back home. It’s hard to just slot back in to real life with the knowledge you’ve amassed.

No one cares about your travels either. Yes your friends may ask a few curious questions when you first get back but after a few days they are back to discussing boys or work problems. This isn’t their fault, it’s just hard to understand travel unless yu have actually done it. I guess it’s similar to the way mothers say you never know true love until you have your first child.

We are in an exclusive club whether we like it or not.

The post travel blues affect us all in different ways. One person may spend hours a day poring over their holiday photos, wishing that they were back in an exotic place. Another person may think about the people they met and the experiences they had and crave that feeling of intense connection with a place or person. The post travel blues can cause us to retract from daily life and in severe cases cause depression.

Rather than wallow in self-pity and wonder why your friends and family don’t seem to care about your travels or the ‘new you’, channel your energy constructively. Here are my tips for curing the post travel blues.

Relax and pamper yourself

Before even thinking about jetting off to somewhere new, take some time to appreciate the time you spend at home. Everything at home is familiar and convenient and after a few days of relaxing you may find that the travel blues start to go away. Sleep in your comfy bed, lie in each day without worrying about snorers or people packing their backpacks at 4am and rustling plastic bags.

Just do exactly what you want for the first few days, eat your favorite foods, take naps, watch Netflix all day, just do whatever you need to unwind. Live in the moment and appreciate the small luxuries that being at home brings.

Meet up with old friends

We all have at least one friend who we have known for years. I’m lucky to have a group of friends that I’ve known since we were babies. When you meet with friends like this everything is easy, no matter how long you have been away it always feels like you last saw each other a week ago. Even though they may not be that interested in your travels you can still swap stories and just chat away like the old times.

Meeting new people is part of the charm of travel. You meet people who you would never bump in to in your small town and learn so much about the world, different cultures and different insights on opinions. However making friends can be hard sometimes when travelling solo. It’s quite stressful to have to make new friendships every time you change your hostel bed and sometimes loneliness can creep in. Enjoy the instant, easy friendships that you have at home.

Book a day trip

One of the best feelings in life is the feeling of having something to look forward to. Something to fantasise about and keep your mind occupied in its idle moments. When I get back from a trip I usually plan a day trip for the following week, something that really interests me and excites me. It could be a trip to a new city and explore the museums, a hiking trip in the countryside or visiting somewhere interesting locally. Whatever it is just enjoy it. Not all the best travel moments are experienced far from home.

Curing my post travel blues with a daytrip to beautiful Gunma!
Curing my post travel blues with a daytrip to beautiful Gunma!

Book a holiday

Tried all of the tips above and still feeling the travel blues? Well now is the time to book a trip to a foreign country, something to really whet your appetite. I booked a week in Krakow just a few months after I arrived home from my ten month sabbatical. After starting work again and experiencing a mundane life it was just what I needed to keep my spirits up.

The bad news is that you may start to feel the travel blues when you get back from the trip that was supposed to cure your travel blues. Life sucks eh?

This means that you are officially diagnosed with wanderlust. A rare condition that can strike at any time and most people never make a full recovery. It will also make you skint and cause you to be lonely at times.

As Micheal Palin Succinctly put it, ‘Once the travel bug bites there is no known anecdote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life’.

 

Have you ever suffered from the post travel blues? Do you have any of your own tips on how to cope with the post travel blues? 

I’m now on Snapchat! Remember to add me @pearlsandpassports to stay up to date on my travel adventures in Japan!

 

 

 

 

The moment you realise that travel has changed you forever

 

Tonight I realised just how much long term travel has changed me.
I was in the fitness boxing class at my gym, I asked a girl who was a similar height to me if she wanted to be my partner. She said yes then asked me in a really condescending manner if I had done boxing before. I replied that I had in this fitness class. She then said that she was a kickboxer and may hit too hard, I simply said ‘just don’t hit as hard then’…
As soon as we started the class I could sense the animosity between us. She barely looked at me and angrily brushed past me. I decided to carry on with the boxing class though thinking that this may just be her personality. I’ve been told myself that I take a while to ‘warm up’ to new people.

Then the boxing started, It’s only a fitness boxing at a local gym for fun and it’s not competative in the slightest. I was first to hit her pads, instead of recieving the impact (I was only hitting it lightly) she was pushing the pad back at me with double the force that I was giving. It was hurting my hands.

Then it was her turn to hit my pads, she was hitting them with full force and I could actually feel the stitches on the pads straining. She then told me off and told me to match the force and called the instructor over saying that she wanted to pad with him!

I’m moderatly fit at the moment so I can’t think why she felt such animosity towards me. Did she think that I was fat or unfit because of my appearance? Either way she was on an ego trip with very negative vibes that I did not want to be part of.

I politely said ‘maybe it’s best if I go and you pair with the instructor’. I just couldn’t handle her negative vibes anymore. The instructor tried to convince me to stay but I just calmly grabbed my things and walked out.

When I was in the gym downstairs I saw a girl who walked out of the class at the start because it was too physical. She didn’t seem so enthusiastic on the exercise bike so I plucked up the courage to ask her if she wanted a little boxing session because I had my own pads and gloves.

What could have been a very negative experience turned in to a very postive experience, I taught her what I knew of boxing and we had fun practicing different punches with each other. I found out that she was originally from Sri Lanka so I talked a bit about my time there and she read my numbers and said I was very chatty because I was a nine!

Pre travel Steph would have stuck out the boxing class even though it was making her miserable. Even if she did pluck up the courage to leave she would be feeling angry and frustrated, not calm like I felt. She would have certainly never have asked a stranger to box with her!

It just goes to show you that the effects of travel are evident in everyday, mundane life. Travel has taught me so much and to have much more respect for myself and others. To care less about what people think of me.

Travel really is the only thing you can buy which makes you richer.

Having fun with my French friends!
Having fun with my French friends!

 

Do you think travel has changed you? If so do you have any examples?

July travel plans: I’m heading to Tuscany, Italy!

If you follow me on Facebook you will already know this exciting news.

 

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I originally intended to travel to somewhere in Eastern Europe after being captivated by Poland’s culture, history and friendly people.  When searching on the Ryanair website I suddenly had an urge to go to Italy. Visions of an Eat, Pray Love kind of holiday filled my mind so I decided to book a return flight to Pisa without knowing much about the region.

I figured that Rome would be full of tourists and that Tuscany will be a little quieter at this time of year (I may be proved wrong…).

The more I researched about the region the more excited I got about my trip. So here are my travel plans for the week.

3 days in Pisa with a day-trip to Lucca. I’ve always been fascinated by the leaning tower and have been recommended to visit the small town of Lucca by a good friend who has travelled in the region.

4 days in Florence with a daytrip to Siena. I’ve always wanted to visit Florence, I love small cities where you can walk everywhere and it seems full of culture. I decided to stay in a campsite on the hills which is a ten minute walk from the centre of the city. I’m staying in a ‘tent-dorm’ which will certainly be a new experience. It will be well worth it though when I wake up to views of Florence and the Tuscan countryside! I also can’t wait to see my favorite piece of art in person; Botticelli’s Venus in the Uffizi!

Siena is a small Medieval town in southern Tuscany, I’m fascinated by medieval architecture and I am going to try to take some beautiful photos on my DSLR.

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Apart from the beautiful scenery and culture I can’t wait to eat delicious Italian food, drink Italian wine and try and blend in with the stylish Italians despite packing only carry on luggage!

 

I miss long term travel but for the time being small holidays are satisfying my wanderlust. I’m so lucky that I live in Europe and have so many different countries just a short flight away!

 

Have you ever travelled to Tuscany? If so do you have any travel tips for me?

 

 

The first 24 Hours after returning Home

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while but for some reason I’ve been putting it off. Maybe because after the initial 24 hours my thoughts and feelings changed so often that really I did not know what I was thinking. Travel really does change you and coming home is a shock to the system in many ways, both good and bad.

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My last plane ride felt very different to every other flight on my big trip around the world. Instead of feeling butterflies and anticipation because I was arriving in a brand new place, having to adapt and learn the local ways I felt nervous and excited because I was going back to ‘normal’ life.

I was going home.

My motto is que sera sera, what will be will be. I initially planned to be home after a year, after all I managed to get a career break and I had a job to go back to, a luxury not many returning travellers have. I guess along the way I wished for something amazing to happen to me, for my life to change irrevocably. To fall in love with a person or a place, for my heart to tell me to stay in one particular place, for something extraordinary to happen.

Unfortunately for me this did not happen. I actually felt ready to go home.

My last flight to Manchester actually arrived early. I was surrounded by English people in the terminal and I didn’t realise how much I missed the English accent and the way we interact with each other. I had been away for ten months and was about to meet my parents again. Although we had kept in touch via skype when I’d been away I still felt like I didn’t know what to expect, will it be the same as before?

Throughout my trip I had been waiting for this moment, the moment I walk through the arrivals gate, drop my bags and run towards my screaming parents. As I took the tentative steps out of the arrivals gate I looked around and my parents were no-where to be seen. All around me families and friends were being reunited, tears were shed and hugs were given.

I had missed my moment.

I decided to sit down on my heavy backpack for one last time and just soak in the atmosphere. This was home. This was normality. It felt easy yet alien at the same time. In the back of my mind I was glad that I visited ‘Western’ countries at the end of my trip. Suffering from reverse culture shock would have made coming home unbearable.

They finally walked through the doors, looking the same as when I left them. I don’t know what I was expecting. They didn’t see me and walked right past me so I crept up behind them and surprised them. The feeling of love was overwhelming, it was so nice to see my parents after ten months of new people. Everything felt familiar and almost too easy from that moment on-wards.

In the car on the way home I watched the changing scenery go by, surprisingly parts of the journey reminded me of places that I had seen on my travels, a leafy roundabout in Australia or factories in Malaysia. I had to remind myself that I was now back at home, not on the road.

 

I had always thought that moving back in with my parents after all this time would be weird but it was the most natural thing in the world. It was nice to sit in familiar, comfy surroundings and feel completely at home, something that is rarely encountered on the road. After sometimes experiencing loneliness on the road,  it was so nice to have people to talk to all the time, people who understand me and know me.

After flying for over 30 hours in the past 4 days I was mentally and physically exhausted. I went to bed to try and sleep but my mind was in overdrive. I couldn’t stop thinking about the past, present and future. I was in a new cycle of my life and I couldn’t focus. I stayed up the rest of the day and ate loads of salad, I was craving it after weeks of unhealthy eating in New Zealand. I watched TV and was very happy just doing nothing. Not having to think about anything, plan anything, everything just felt easy!

I was overwhelmed by the amount of possessions that I owned, despite selling or giving away most of my possessions before I went travelling. For 10 months I had owned just what could fit on my back, now I had a room full of pretty shoes, dresses, handbags and makeup and I wanted to try them again right now! Probably my favorite part of coming back home was ‘going shopping’ in my room, finding outfits and possessions that I had longed forgotten about. It felt amazing when I wore my first vintage dress again. I felt more like ‘me’.

I had expected to be inundated with invitations from friends but that was not the case. People get on with their own lives when you are away. When you get back you have to fit in to their lives again. It’s crazy to think that life goes on without you.

After a few days I did meet my friends, other family members visted me and I started to feel more settled. What surprised me most was how little people wanted to talk about my trip. I had kept everyone updated about my whereabouts on Facebook but I still thought that people would love to hear my travel stories, about the time I lived with that crazy ex monk, when I rode an elephant or even the time I jumped out of a plane at 12,000 feet. Nope, no-one wanted to know anything.

I guess if you have never experienced long term travel you can’t be expected to understand what it’s like. Maybe people are not interested, maybe they can’t understand what it’s like or maybe they are jealous that they won’t take the plunge and travel.

I will never know. All I knew was that I would never be the same person that first stepped on the plane to Dubai.

Travel has changed me and I’m ready to start the next chapter of my life.

 

 

How did you feel when you came back from a long trip away? Did you find it hard adjusting to ‘real’ life or did you find it really easy? Did your friends and family react how you thought they would?

 

 

Nine Months of Travel: Summary and review

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My ninth month of travel was mostly spent in Australia, I place I have mixed feelings about. I don’t think that I ever really got over my reverse culture shock whilst I was there.

 

 

After a few days in the chilled out town of Coolangatta which is right on the border of New South Wales, it was time to head to the cool alternative town of Nimbin!

 

 

If only travel was as easy as that! When I arrived in Byron Bay, fully expecting there to be transport to Nimbin I was told that there was only ONE bus a day travelling to Nimbin and that I was an hour too late!

Initially I panicked, big time. I had arranged to stay in Nimbin because there was no accommodation in Byron Bay due to it being a busy weekend. I started thinking rationally about how I could sleep on the streets that night and how I would hide my valuables when a helpful woman at the information centre interrupted my train of thought and handed me a list of hostels in Byron bay.

I rang about 6 hostels, saddened to hear that there was no room at the inn, then I found one! I was so happy I accepted the bed without even enquiring how much it was. Luckily it was the cheapest hostel bed that I payed for in Australia.

I stayed the night in Byron bay, made some great friends and went on a fun night out. I was on a high and really enjoying New South Wales. The next day I got the bus to Nimbin,  but all was not what it seemed…

 

 

 

The bus to Nimbin is sold as a kind of hippy bus. Basically people go to Nimbin for the day to gawp at aging hippies, buy a few space cakes then hop back on the bus to civilised Byron Bay. I wanted to explore deeper than that and I ended up staying 2 nights in Nimbin (Sleeping in a teepee!) and 1 night in nearby Jiggy staying with a guy called ‘Dave Cannabis’ and riding ‘Hippy horses’. I had the true Nimbin experience!

 

 

 

In hindsight I should have stayed in Nimbin for longer, I loved the laid back attitude of the town and the beauty of it’s natural surroundings. There’s nothing nicer than falling asleep to the sound of wallabies, exotic birds and badicoots outside!

But no, the adventurer in me wanted to see more of this massive country so after a few more days in Brron bay I spent 2 nights in Coffs harbour. One of the most boring places in the world. The beach was beautiful and I enjoyed some delicious fish and chips there but the whole town was very residential and ‘vanilla’. Not my cup of tea.

 

Coffs harbour. This is the best bit about the town.

 

Bellingen was supposedly another alternative town like Nimbin and I was very excited to visit. If alternative means middle class ladies who lunch dressed in hippy pants this is the town for you. It was not an alternative town by any means. It was very chilled out and a nice place to spend a few days though. I will never tire of seeing ‘old’ heritage buildings that were built in 1921 though!

 

 

 

 

It was time to get back on the Greyhound bus and head to Port Maquarie, a place I chose to go because I found a flyer for a hostel that had floral bedding, a swimming pool and free WIFI! Did I mention the FREE WIFI?!

When I got there I was told that there was no free breakfast and WIFI like the leaflet promised. The bedding was a manly gemoetric style too. Noooo! Port Maquarie was another ‘vanilla’ town. Probably a nice place to live but a boring place to visit.

I’d had enough of small town living and needed to spend time in a metropolitan city, boy did Sydney deliver!

Sydney ended up being one of my favorite cities of all time. I stayed in a quirky train carriage right on the tracks of central station and I set my alarm for 7am everyday because there was so much to see and do. I loved how historical Sydney is, something that the rest of Australia lacks.

 

 

 

 

 

I spent my days wandering around the city, exploring every museum and art gallery within walking distance, sipping Lindt hot chocolate and attending every free walking tour available.

I was in love!

 

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In love with a city in Australia? I could barely believe it! It felt good though so I extended my stay for 5 more days.

Melbourne. Oh Melbourne. It’s the city I had highest hopes for in the world and the city that disappointing me a bit. I absolutely loved the city but it was not the ‘alternative city’ that people had been promising me. No one dressed individual or arty like I was expecting, just ‘charity shop chic’ and I was the most ‘vintage girl’ around apart from a beautiful 50’s girl in an alternative shop.

It was quirky but nothing like what I had expected. I don’t think the freezing cold temperatures helped either. I had to buy tights, cardigans and a skirt because it was so cold and rainy. The cold and rain also limited what I could do.

I loved the quirky laneways in Melbourne and the diverse little districts like St Kilda, Fitzroy and Brunswick. Melbourne is also home to one of the  best museums in Australia: Melbourne museum and the most useless museum in the world: The Hellenic museum (Greeks settled in Melbourne. The end).

 

The South Bank at night.

The street art is very cool though!

 

Australia tired me out mentally and physically. It was not what I had been expecting and in a way that was quite liberating.

Part of me was expecting to fall in love with Australia, I thought I would love the sun, nature and the laid back lifestyle. I found out that it just wasn’t for me and that was ok.

I still think that you are either an Asia lover or and Australia lover.

I’m certainly an Asia lover!

 

Which one are you?

You can keep up to date with my adventures by following my Facebook page. I update it daily and it’s an easy way to contact me.

https://www.facebook.com/PearlsandPassports

 

Choosing happiness: I’m coming home!

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As I write this i’m sat in a library in New Brighton near Christchurch in New Zealand. As I look outside the window I can  see waves crashing on a beautiful pristine beach and see the sunlight reflecting off the azure water.

It’s hard to believe that nearly ten months has passed since I started my semi RTW trip to Asia and Oceania.

As I sit here I’m trying to make sense of my feelings. I am so excited to go home. To see my friends and family and celebrate Christmas with my loved ones will be the perfect end to my trip. Unsurprisingly I am also starting to mourn my freedom, before my trip has ended.

This past ten months has gone so fast and yet so slow. I have done so many things that are out of character and developed as a person more than I can ever imagine.

I have battled a tropical disease on my own, resisting the lure of comfort and home and instead choosing freedom and travel. I have faced my fears, experiencedbeing groped and scammed,  talked to people from all around the world, experienced intense loneliness and reverse culture shock and seen extreme poverty and disability.

I am a changed person.

The one thing that I want when I get back is to be happy, life is too short to waste doing things that you don’t love. I want to wake up every morning and literally seize the day! I’m excited to see how the new me acts in the ‘real world’.

I will do everything in my power to be happy in life. I have changed and my life back at home will inevitably change too.

I never want to be unhappy ever again.

In the future I’m going to choose happiness, everyday.

 

You can keep up to date with my adventures by following my Facebook page. I update it daily and it’s an easy way to contact me.

https://www.facebook.com/PearlsandPassports

 

 

 

First impressions of Singapore

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When I arrived in Singapore I was a little bit burnt out from travelling around Sri Lanka. Although I loved the country it was not an easy country to travel in as a newbie traveller and I was frequently overwhelmed by the sighs, sounds and different cultural practices.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I arrived in the vast Singapore Chiangi airport. I window shopped at all of the Western luxuries that I had been without for weeks and my mouth watered when I saw a Subway. Sri Lankan food is delicious but it does get a bit repetitive. It’s very hard to find bread and mayonnaise that is not sweet out there too! I had actually dream’t about a tuna and cheese sub when I was on my bus to the airport in Sri Lanka.

My backpack was now 19kg so I treated myself to a taxi to the hostel to save my legs and my dignity. It was strange not having to barter for ten minutes before agreeing on a price. The hostel was cosy but absolutely tiny! Luckily it was very well laid out and every square foot was useful and functional. I would soon learn that most Singaporeans live in small government owned flats. It’s a very densely populated city state!

 

I wandered around the sprawling city after recharging with a nap. I absolutely love architecture and Singapore’s skyline was nearly as impressive as Dubai’s! Despite the city landscape there were areas of grass and trees too.

 

 

 

Singapore is modern, clean and English speaking. It was a welcome rest-bite from ‘real Asia’ and I spent a week relaxing and eating delicious local and international food. I love fashion and I loved the Singaporeans quirky fashion sense. I spent hour looking at kooky Asian cosmetics and beauty products, I couldn’t believe that they had strips to make their eyes a more Western shape and every face product was whitening.

I guess everywhere in the world people want what they don’t have.

The rumours are right, Singapore is spotlessly clean and there are signs everywhere telling you not to chew chewing gum, jaywalk or even bring smelly Durian fruit on the metro!  Other bloggers have described it as being too perfect but I thought that it still had lots of character and history.

In Singapore I was anonymous. It’s very overpopulated so people barely acknowledge your existence as they push past you in the busy streets or busy metro system. Surprisingly I had mixed feelings about this. I sometimes got annoyed at how much I stood out in Sri Lanka, how people would chase me down the street trying to sell me things or talk to me. Here everyone just went about their daily business, barely glancing up from their smart phones.

I missed the attention.

I ended my first day in a hawker centre near Bugis street. Eating the delicious and very cheap food (just $3 for prawns and noodles!) I felt excited to further explore the city. Singapore has world class museums, art galleries, monuments, nightlife and undoubtedly the tastiest and cheapest food in the world. I felt completely safe.

Despite all this I felt like I wasn’t in Asia anymore….

 

Have you visited Singapore? If so did you think that it was too perfect or an example of how a well run city should be?

You can keep up to date with my adventures by following my Facebook page. I update it daily and it’s an easy way to contact me.

https://www.facebook.com/PearlsandPassports

 

 

 

Seven months of Travel: Summary and Review

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My Seventh month of travel was a very different month for me, I travelled very fast compared to normal but it was one of my best months yet!

My month kicked of in the gritty seaside resort Sihanoukville. Despite looking worn out Sihanoukville has a hidden charm. It’s extremely cheap and you could easily live off $5 a day if you budgeted very hard!

I stayed at Utopia, little did I know that It’s known as the scuzziest place in Sihanoukville. You can get dorms for as little as $1 a night if you don’t mind sleeping on a mat on the floor in a line with other people. I opted for the ‘deluxe’ dorm that had air com and a private bathroom. I think it’s called the deluxe dorm because it’s the only one without bedbugs though….

The nightlife in Sihanoukville is amazing! You can get free drinks from most bars, cheap beer and ‘buckets’ for as little as $1! (They are cut open Sprite bottles instead of actual buckets though). They also sell laughing gas, something that I had never seen before. I loved my nights in ‘Snooky’ but there wasn’t much to do in the day.

One day I took a ferry to Koh Rong where a French child projectile vomited all over himself. This was quite a scary sight, not dissimilar to the exorcist. Luckily as soon as I stepped off the ferry all my worries went away.

Koh Rong was my idea of paradise!

A handful of bars, guesthouses and restaurants are dotted along the pristine beach. The sand is white and so fine it looks like talc. I spent three very content days and nights in Koh Rong.

My Cambodian visa was running out so I took the overnight bus to Bangkok. As always the bus ride was very eventful and I was spooned by an Asian man and nearly fainted at the border because I was suffering from severe food poisoning. No one helped me even though I made it clear that I was struggling. Traveling solo makes you realise that no one really cares about you and you have to be strong and look after yourself.

Bangkok was heaven after months in poorer Asian countries. I spent my days buying a whole new travel wardrobe and drooling at all of the beautiful makeup and toiletries that I could buy! I was also in heaven thanks to my beloved 7-Eleven! I went on a day trip to the floating markets, the bridge over the river Kwai and I also visited tiger temple where I got to stroke actual tigers!

It was then time to experience the Thai islands, something that I had been looking forward to for all of my trip! My first island was Koh Samui, despite being quite touristy and full of couples and families I had a fantastic time thanks to meeting a great group of friends! The nightlife in Koh Samui is legendary!

Drinking buckets on a night out in Koh Samui

I travelled to Koh Tao with a group of friends that I met in Koh Samui. I fell in love with the island instantly, it’s so chilled out. The town area is small and pedestrianised. I spent the first few days eating delicious food (They sold Spanish omelette! yay) and relaxing on the pristine beach.

On September the 9th it was my birthday! I normally hate my birthday, It’s a day of reflection for me and I hate getting older. Luckily I have so much to be thankful for at this time in my life. I spent the day sunbathing in my new bikini, I had a massage and enjoyed Mexican food and cocktails in the evening!

Life is good!

It was then time to face my fears and complete my PADI qualification! I’m normally such a wimp when it comes to the sea but I challenged myself, faced my fears and gained my PADI open water certificate! I will write more about scuba diving in a future blog post.

It was then time to head to Koh Phangan and tick the full moon party off my bucket list! I spent my time there in a 40 bed dorm and once again met some lovely friends. It was amazing to see the population of the town swell as the full moon party neared. The pre parties really put me in the mood for the main night, the full moon party!

The actual full moon party could not be more different to how I celebrated the last full moon. At the last full moon I was at the retreat and spent the evening chanting around a fire and throwing rice in to it. This month I was partying in neon on the beach with over 20,000 other people! There were skipping ropes of fire, ‘death slides’ and loads of crazy sights to behold. The pre parties were such good fun too. The mood was amazing and watching the sunrise was one of the most beautiful moments in my life.

 

 

I rounded up my seventh month of travel by taking a night boat, bus and ferry to the beautiful island of Koh Phi Phi where I got to tick another item off my bucket list!, I will tell you more about my time there in my next monthly round up!

In conclusion month seven was one of my easiest months of travel. I made amazing friends which really does enhance the travel experience. I spent the month doing what I like to do best, partying and lazing on the beach. I also spent most of the month in my favorite Asian country, Thailand. It’s so easy to travel here and the food is amazing!

Next month I will be leaving my beloved Asia and heading to a whole new continent, AUSTRALIA! I’m kind of scared and apprehensive about leaving Asia, it’s been my home for seven months after all!

Total countries visited=2, Cambodia and Thailand

New travel wardrobes bought= 1, I replaced nearly every item of clothing during a crazy shopping spree in Bangkok! I had actually forgotten how to shop believe it or not…

Number of times I was spooned by an Asian man on a night bus= 1, on the night bus from Sihanoukville to Bangkok.

Modes of transport= Night bus from Sihanoukville to Bangkok then a variety of buses and ferrys as I island hopped.

Night ferry’s taken= 1, from Koh Phagnan to Surathani. We had to sleep on tiny thin mattresses lined up on each side of the boat (It actually reminded me of the dorms in Utopia…). The guy next to me actually put his leg over me as I was sleeping…

Number of buckets imbibed= 13, I had a very fun time on the islands, the hostel owner even gave us one free because it was his birthday!

Bucket list item ticked off= 2, to attend the full moon party and visit the beautiful Maya bay in Koh Phi Phi.

Lessons I have Learned= Have fun and enjoy the friends you make on your travels whilst you can. You never know when you will meet a group of like minded people again.

Number of 7-Eleven toasties consumed= 36

Number of 7-Eleven iced lattes imbibed= 10, I had to give them up because they started giving me heart palpitations, so tasty though!

 

 

 

Sweet as Kandy in Sri Lanka

 

I tentatively turned my back on the sun-kissed shores of Hikkaduwa to visit Kandy which is located inland in the centre of Sri Lanka.
Kandy initially shocked me with it’s beauty. As my tuk tuk from the train station chugged up the hillside I was rewarded with stunning views of a city nestled among the mountainous jungle. The views were literally breathtaking and I was keen to snap some shots of the fiery sunset as soon as I had placed my backpack back in the hostel.
I met an English guy in the hostel and we decided to explore the city of Sri Lanka together. After walking what seemed like miles in the low morning sun we finally made it to the town centre. To be honest I was a little disappointed when we found the town. It was gridlocked with traffic and the smell of traffic fumes burnt my nostrils. As we approached the centre of the town and the vast lake my opinion quickly changed.
You can clearly see the effects of colonisation in Kandy. English style churches and Dutch and Portuguese architecture sit happily next to sprawling temples. It feels very European in some parts which actually made me feel home sick.

 

At the centre of the city lies a vast lake. This lake was built by the British and I had a peculiar bout of deja-vu. I really felt like I was in England (Despite the blistering sun, we don’t see much of that in England!) which was quite a peculiar feeling. Nevertheless the lake was absolutely beautiful.

 

kandy lake

Like any other city Kandy has a fair portion of people trying to ‘rip you off’ or people offering tuk tuk tours for an extremely inflated price. The English guy that I was with decided that we should follow a guy to buy tickets for traditional Kandy dancing. I warned him that it will be a rip off but he had still not got used to the charming nature of Sri Lankan’s. When we got there we had to wait for ages and were offered an extremely high price for the tickets. We walked off (with a smile) and told the guy that we would think about it. In my mind at least the guy got a small financial reward because we followed him to the ‘ticket office’. We went to watch the traditional dancing on a different day, it really was a spectacular sight but the hall was full of tourists. I loved seeing the normally shy Sri Lankan women dance in their colourful saris with wide smiles on their faces.

wood carving workshop

 

A wood carving workshop

 

washing an elephant

 

Washing an Elephant at Millennium Elephant sanctuary

 

 

Tourist attractions

 

  • Kandy is home to many tourist attractions. One of the most impressive and interesting was the colonial graveyard behind the Temple of the tooth. This held the graves of all of the (Mainly British) settlers in Kandy. The graves were quite amusing to read and very honest. One poor chap died from Diarrhea!
  • The Temple of the Tooth is the main temple in Kandy. It’s a place of pilgrimage and worship for many Buddhists and is said to hold the actual tooth of Buddah himself!
  • Traditional Sri Lankan dancing is found everywhere in Kandy. I found the act to be very entertaining but the dance hall was full of tourists and no Sri Lankan’s.
  • Saint Paul’s church is found right next to the temple of the tooth and is a brilliant example of Sri Lanka’s tolerant ways towards other religions. It’s very traditionally Anglican, just like you would find in the UK!
  • Rent a tuk tuk and just outside of Kandy you can find various Elephant sanctuaries, herb gardens, traditional wood carving workshops and factories where tea is processed.
  • Kandy is such a surprising city, unlike anywhere else that I visited in Sri Lanka. It’s a lot cooler than the coast too which makes a refreshing change!
  • Have you ever been to Kandy? If not would you ever like to visit? Do you prefer to visit beach resorts or inland destnations on your travels?

Advice for staying safe in South East Asia for solo female travellers: Guest post on Ytravelblog!

staying safe in Suth East Asia

I’ve been travelling for seven months so far and I’ve learn’t an awful lot about how to stay safe in Asia. Even though South East Asia is a very safe destination it’s always sensible to take precautions, especially when travelling alone as a woman.

I’m proud to announce that I have had an article published on the amazing www.Ytravelblog.com . It’s one of my favorite travel blogs and I love how each article is written with love and honesty.

Read on and let me know what you think!

http://www.ytravelblog.com/female-solo-travel-south-east-asia/Vietnamytkohchang