MALAYSIAN BORNEO – Nature lovers paradise

Finally, another destination bucket list tick! There’s only one thing on my mind… ORANGUTANS (and more recently, thanks to my buddy, Molly… the sun bears)

Left scary Lombok for chilli crab in Singapore for 3 days.. now I’m here.

Started in Kota Kinabalu.. thankfully it rained lots so I finally edited some of my 21 folders full of images.

 

KOTA KINABALU

City is named after the local mountain.. which is a beautiful sight when it’s not covered in cloud. Surprisingly much bigger than any other mountain I’ve come across here in Borneo.

Meh, KK – it’s a small city… more like Geelong but with skinny, tanned people and less visible butt tattoos.

The waterfront could use a revamp, but there are some cool restaurants and bars over looking the water and islands. It’s a great spot to watch the sunset.

I was “stuck” in bar because the rain came in horizontally, so being undercover outdoors wasn’t going to keep me dry.. inside I go and I think the rain stopped around midnight.. well, let’s stick with that guess. Chatted to another Aussie who had just come back from Uncle Tan’s Wildlife trek – (Bee (my bro) had only just mentioned this very same trek earlier that day) so after that chat I was sold and booked my tickets the following day.

IMG_7705

Breakfast of champions – substantial weight gain in Malaysia, the food is spectacular!

 

Uncle Tans Wildlife trek

Being covered in sticky, smelly and pointless bug repellant – the fuckers even attack through clothing and two layers of repellant.

The catfish jumping in the water around the huts sounded bigger than they actually were.

The tree roots that look like they’re shrouded in a greenish sheet and pretending to be ghosts at Halloween.

The birds! So many exotic, chatty, colourful birds.

Evil macacques, lots of evil monkeys.

ORANGUTAN in the wild.. not a rehab centre behind glass.

Probiscus monkeys – they look like someone stuck a penis on their faces

Squirrels – black ones and brown ones. Saw one in the camp’s resident cat, Putut’s, mouth and taken into someone else’s hut.

Mutant bugs that sound like airborne chainsaws.

The night noises so much louder than during the day – mainly teeny tiny frogs.

Being the only person in my tour ‘group’ – this place can hold up to 80 people.. I’m currently the only one here during the 5 hour transition of new and old groups.. so I get undivided attention and extra long safaris

Iddy biddy Bats dive-bombing you at night as you and your low battery torch find your way back to the hut or bathroom along the rickety, wooden, large gapped footbridge/track over water.

Being impressed by the guides that can spot an inch long frog in the dark (with torch) from 50mts away in a moving boat.

Bugs. So. Many. Bugs.

Learning which tropical plants are edible and which are topically medicinal.

Butterflies that float and actually glide in the breeze-less, thick tropical air as though they were eagles searching their prey whilst using the thermals to use less energy and keep their high vantage point.

No shower for 3 days – all weight gain from here was purely sweat, mosquito bites and repellant.

Bright starry skies at night without light pollution and no moon.

No rain starting from the day I arrived – finally Mother Nature’s weather isn’t trying to scare me off – just her mutant tropical bugs tested me.

Singing karaoke whilst the staff play drums – drums being the loose floorboard in a certain spot at the table along with the table top and tambourine – acoustic guitars and more tambourines.

I SAW A SLOW LORIS! Big hi-fives and even a hug in excitement from Otto for finding this little beasty.

Everything is damp. I mean clothes, but those parts of the body that don’t see much daylight didn’t see dryness the whole time as well.

Mosquitoes absolutely smashed my calves on my morning trek.. and I was wearing full length pants with one layer of repellant underneath and one on top. I’ve recently found out that it’s the female mozzies that bite and that blood extraction is purely to produce children. I can officially say I’m an egg donor and have children all over the world. On top of this new knowledge, these blood suckers have a thirst for beer swilling blood providers. Basically, I’m screwed.

IMG_7752

 

Fireflies. Little dancing fairy lights in the darkness.

Bioluminescent fungi! These little mushrooms, unassuming by day, lit the pitch black forest at night like Christmas trees

Honestly, I’m unsure if there’s anything that makes my soul happier than being in nature.

Is there anything Peppermint can’t do? This little oil has stopped itchies from mozzies in every country, and it is immediate relief.

The palm oil plantations… everywhere! Something like 80% of Borneo (Indo and Malay) was logged and turned into palm oil plantations. Now there are only 3 primary forests – but currently 10 secondary forests that were rebuilt starting in 1987 and hopefully more to come.

My hero, Otto, used to work in conservation and with the WWF, so he’s helped a lot in Malay Borneo to rebuild the forest and save the animals from extinction. A very knowledgeable man.

 

IMG_7746

Simple accommodation – usually shared, but I had this to myself. 🙂

 

THE ROAD TO SEMPORNA

An hour boat ride out of the jungle to the port we saw a few crocs along the river banks. The Spanish couple with me were so excited about 1-2mt crocs.. 😏 As we Aussies know, they’re just little ‘uns!

The Spanish couple had organised a car pick up so it’s just me to travel in the 22 seater bus alone (again) with the driver.

It’s an hour and a half trip to do the 100+kms into Lahad Dahtu. Pretty uneventful trip so I spent a lot of time frowning at all the palm oil plantations that have successfully ruined 80% of this island’s forestry.

I arrive at a petrol station to meet with my next bus. My driver, I’ve named Uncle Noddy, has been waiting just for me. There are only 5 of us making the journey to Semporna.. a measly 150kms away.

I’m given more royal treatment by being allowed to sit up front with Uncle Noddy and there’s a young Malay man who sits in the first row of the back of the bus and chats non-stop most of the way. Thankfully his English was pretty good so he acted as a translator at times with Uncle Noddy – whom spoke very broken English.

The chats turned to me being a solo traveller and not having a husband or children on so many occasions along with offers from him (36yo) and Uncle (60yo) to be my boyfriend. Uncle Noddy made sure I was aware of his.. umm.. stamina and power by using hand/arm actions!

After about 70kms, which has taken about 2hrs thus far due to the old bus’s ability to travel at approx 40-50kms p/h – any faster she’d overheat – the conversation has dropped off and I’m grateful for not being in the spotlight. That is until I see Uncle Noddy drifting off to sleep at the wheel.

There are only so many fake coughs one can do to help keep him awake and the rest of us alive. I offer lollies in the hope a sugar hit will liven him up.. nope. So I employ the help of youngin in the back to keep Uncle awake. A few slaps on the arm and more talking were starting to fail. Next option?

“Hey Uncle! Let me drive and you sleep.” Using charades and simple words to get my point across. He seemed keen on the idea so I waited patiently for him to stop and let me drive. After some time I kept pestering him and my translator to pull over and let me drive but the damn translator wanted to be dropped off before he’d allow a woman to drive.

Finally, we’re 60kms from destination and translator gets off. I take my chance – after the selfie request by translator – and jump into the bus’s drivers seat.

It seems Uncle Noddy has changed his mind and is nervous so we discuss for about 5 mins whilst I reassure him I can drive a manual (didn’t tell him that I’ve never driven a bus before).

Uncle gets into passenger seat after much reassurance from me and we’re off!

The remaining people on the bus (we had collected a few more along the way by this stage) were all wide eyed and staring at me in a nervous panic. The smoothest gear changes (I’ve possibly ever done) convinces the passengers and Uncle that I know what I’m doing.. all is well with the world.

Uncle kindly shares his snacks with me on our road trip – which I’m grateful for due to tight schedule and missing lunch. He’s much better as a passenger.

I do all the pick ups and drop offs, including into Uncle’s narrow laned village to drop nappies and snacks off to his family.

As I dropped one of the original passengers off I asked for his $35 ringgit – he found that extremely amusing.

Many people in cars, buses and on the side of the road clearly know Uncle and his van as he does this trip every day (and at that pace) so when they saw me driving there would be huge smiles or clapping.

Each time new passengers got on board their eyes popped when they saw who was driving.. until I take off.. then Uncle ever so proudly turns to the new passengers and gives them the nod. I think he’s proud of me and showing off a little!

After my 60kms we arrive at the bus terminal around 4:30pm and receive lots of smiles and hi-fives. Even an older female, original passenger, shakes my hand and says thanks.

I ask if I’m to catch a taxi to my homestay from here but uncle wouldn’t hear of it. He personally drove me in the bus to my accommodation.

Win! Although, I was still charged full price $35 ringgit.

And damn funny. I am now the latest of Marvel’s superheroes after the lives I saved.. they call me Blonde Bus-lady. Wonder Woman is envious I’m sure.

 

 

 

SEMPORNA

Even though this a tourist location I still seemed to be the only blonde wandering the streets. I finally understand what Tom Waits meant when he sang “I’m big in Japan”.. I’m so tall here!

Not much to the town. It’s dilapidated with many homes and shops scantily covered in rusty corrugated iron sheets and plastic.. and boasts a substantial amount of seafood eateries by the water. Makeshift markets taking up narrow laneways making the walk to certain areas longer than necessary due to the bottleneck of people shopping or trying to pass through.

Homestays seem to be the go.. maybe because most of Semporna is booked out with Chinese tourists – surprisingly something the locals don’t like. They prefer western tourists from what several of the locals have told me.

Hosanna Homestay was quite simple yet pricey for just a room with a bed with aircon.. bathroom was shared with 3 other rooms. The hosts very helpful and were in the process of prettying up the place.

$70 AUD p/n. Dependant on the type of solo traveller you are, there’s a room to suit your needs and budget with these homestays.

Kampung massage – Bayu Spa & Beauty – yesssssss!! More perfect SE Asian Massage. They tried to turn me away, but upon seeing my sad face they decided to look after me. On top of the awesome massage the very kind therapist gave me a small Aura Seri Spray to help with my stress. (May have something to do with Mother Nature trying to kill me… or the bus drive). More selfie requests from the staff made me feel special.

 

Officially THE worst “toilet” in SE Asia so far.

 

THE WATER

Went out for a day snorkelling trip with Borneo Speedy Dive tours and once again, this lucky solo traveller was assigned a guide all for myself. The lovely Victor was so sweet, kind, helpful and just as excited about finding the biggest turtles I’ve ever seen. If he had front teeth I’d consider being his wife #2. (Never mind the fact about becoming a Muslim)

I swear the more I snorkel the better the reefs and diversity of marine life… We swam with huge turtles that would have been close to my height – that’s if they were actually ninja turtles and could stand.

Saw a multitude of fish – tuna, crocodile fish, all the usual tropicals, angel fish as big as my head, a moray eel and the really punk (spikey) lion fish.

My super guide, Victor, took control of my new GoPro Hero5 – it’s friggen AWESOME! – and gained a lot of exceptional footage because he’s a free diver that can hold his breath much longer than my piddly 30 seconds.

What a day! They had to force me out of the water (Total of about 3 hours swimming over two locations) because all my Chinese counterparts wanted to go home. I suggested just leaving me there – this water is home to me.

The reefs are in great condition around these islands. Brilliant and bright colours showcased against the aqua expanse. These Malay people are wise enough to not allow people to wear sunscreen (other than a natural one), no standing on or touching any coral – even though I’m told it’s hard to control “so many stupid Chinese”! Not my words.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I really wanted to visit Indonesian Borneo, but, due to my hasty exit from Lombok and not having time to research, it was too hard to get from Semporna – which is stupidly close to the Indo border – into Indonesia without going all the way to KL first. Madness I tells ya.

Overall I found Sabah kinda pricey for a SE Asian country that didn’t have the usual perks – like decent accommodation. But as usual all the locals are super friendly, kind and the guides I had went above and beyond to make sure my solo butt was well cared for.

A big shout out to Otto and Eim at Uncle Tan’s and for Victor at Borneo Speedy Dive tours. These guys all made me feel well looked after.

It’s funny how one day out in the ocean can make you change your mind about a place. Maybe, because I’m a water lover, my want to never leave the pristine coral and marine life made this place special.

 

 

What are your thoughts on Malaysia? I have a ticket to fly back there, but into Kuala Lumpur, and would love more feedback on where to and what to do… off the beaten path of course.

 

Its all about education of the mind body and spirit…. and being a water baby.

F*ck Bali!

“Bali? Gawd no! I’ll never go there.”

It’s always been my mantra. Not founded on anything other than waaaay too many Australians go there… and usually cashed up bogans (red necks with money). I’m not saying I’m any better or worse, I just know that when I travel I want to be out of my comfort zone, so spending time with many fellow Australians isn’t my ideal holiday experience.

Stay with me though…

Here I am. That place I said I’d never go.

Only 5 days in and I’m yet to completely change that Fuck Bali attitude. However, many of my favourite people swear by Bali’s awesomeness and their enthusiasm towards this isle is infectious so I’ll give it my three chance policy.

Booked accomodation two nights before my arrival and they cancelled on the day of my flight here. Booked another one which, upon landing at Denpasar airport (easily navigated, albeit crazy busy), also cancelled. At least Nadi from Bella Apartments called me and apologised profusely then offered me a free dinner at her restaurant when she returned. So that’s two cancellations. Had to book an expensive villa in Seminyak because, due to Ramadan, nearly everywhere was booked out – in my price range anyway.

My ‘taksi’ driver from the airport charged me double what I should have been charged too (should have been around 200,000 IDR). I was informed to get a Bluebird taxi from the airport – turns out there are naughty charlatans dressed in blue with Bluebird lanyards waiting for unsuspecting newbies to rip off.

To add to the disdain I can’t seem to locate my Australian sim which I had swapped for a local Telkomsel sim… so if you need me grab a flight or whatsapp me.

Three chances done by this stage, right?! And it’s only day 1.

SEMINYAK – Another Australian town

Baby Melon Villas (lurve the name – it’s a few words explaining child birth, so I’m told) – is a special place. Wonderful, kind, gracious hosts (I say gracious because there wasn’t any judgement or complaint after they had to change my bedding when my superbly inebriated friend came to stay and pee’d the bed) and the accomodation with its stunning tropical gardens, grand open plan, minimalistic kitchen plus a pool, that I only had to share with a leopard speedo wearing permanent resident.. didn’t see those leopard budgie smugglers on said resi, sadly – I only saved them from blowing off the balcony. And I was surrounded by 4 gorgeous dogs and 3 cats – one cat looked like she belonged to Batman’s entourage.

Assuming I don’t waste all my money on cheap Haviana’s (thongs/flip flops) and Bintang, I’m coming back here.

I guess it’s not all bad here, I mean, I got to catch up with some of my favourite family members here. We spent nearly a whole day by the pool playing with mini humans and it was truly grounding. Don’t get excited Ma, I’m not coming home or having babies.

Travelling solo has its perks, but nothing beats quality family time.

IMG_0488

JIMBARAN BAY – Seafood

I’ve left Seminyak for Jimbaran and things appear to feel much better. Accomodation (Bali Breezz Hotel) is much cheaper here compared to Seminyak and less traffic thankfully.

I’m surprised at the lack of Australians and the influx of Chinese and Japanese people… well, it is a seafood Mecca, so I shouldn’t be that surprised.

I’m currently sitting here romantically involved with my iPad (whilst I flick flying creepies off the screen) – the two of us at a beachside table watching the planes appear to land on water as the sun sets over mirror-esque sea – I appreciate exactly where I am in the here and now.

This week’s lessons:

1. Never say never

2. Be in the present because it’s all you have

Finally a move to Jimbaran Bay restores a little faith in Bali. Sadly I’m not much of a seafood feaster, but for those that love to indulge, this is THE place to go. Spectacular view directly at the sunset over calm water as you sit in plastic chairs on the sand whilst being waited on hand and foot by the Balinese waiters. The Balinese people, as I get further away from that ‘other part of Australia’, are becoming friendlier and kinder.

Taking my trusty two wheeled steed back into Seminyak in an attempt to locate my missing sim was interesting. With the amount of unseasonal rain that pelted down for an hour (I hid undercover) it would have been quicker to don the floaties and swim the 16kms. Already I ride like a granny, so as I avoided puddles the size of Olympic swimming pools I think I annoyed the locals – its difficult to tell if honks are aggressive or a warning of “I’m coming through”. I’m learning that the advantage of age is not giving a crap about the traffic behind… can’t wait to do this when I’m 70!

Booked an extra night at Bali Breezz Hotel, Jimbaran Bay, so that I can explore. Today I cruised all around Uluwatu area and I’m in lurve. I really must re-learn to surf because I could easily live here, do yoga, teach Photography and/or English and surf.

Uluwatu02

SANUR – Yawn

This is only a transitional stop whilst I decide whether to go to Ubud or Amed and Gili islands. Private car from Jimbaran to Sanur is only 250,000 rupiah and took an hour – 100,000 rupiah = approx $10 AUD. Considering it’s the same distance from Seminyak to Jimbaran I’m ok with the price – the previous trip cost me 400,000 rupiah. One learns pretty quickly which drivers to deal with in future. Always check the price before the trip, compare with others if you can and BARTER HARD people, be tough!

Arrived at Puri Kelapa Garden Cottages about 3hrs earlier than check in , but the helpful hosts have allowed me into my room early. A huge tick in my travel books. On top of allowing an early check in, these fantastic hosts (and my super friend, Ashy) helped me with urgent sim replacement from Australia. Well done kids!

A beautifully gardened locale close to the beach and shops a short walk.. this place is really peaceful… you know, other than the gale force winds and planes overhead.

Sanur is a bit quieter than Seminyak but I think the beach is better at Jimbaran. I guess the eternal winds here in Sanur don’t help the beach goers much.

UBUD – Hippie heaven

I’ve been looking forward to heading up into the hills of Ubud for health, relaxation, fun stuff and most important – yoga.

Accommodation: Krisna House for 9 days

Strangely I’m comparing Ubud to Rishikesh and not the very similar Chaing Mai in Thailand.. it’s still pretty hectic here, but somehow I find the people and traffic harder to deal with compared to India.

Saraswati yoga studio – absolutely brilliant! Small classes and really knowledgable teachers. All teachers were tremendous at adjustments, variations and explanations. A ‘real’ yoga experience, not just for Insta posers.

So a few escapes from the town into the hills are required. Little ‘Scoopy’ (scooter) and I head inland. I think we actually made it right into the middle of Bali one day. I love going through villages that wonder what this white person (and I am very white – nobody would believe I’ve been in summer weather for 8 months) is doing in their little lanes.

e0913a08-37d5-40d3-b413-81a7072e158c118325af-7f9b-4391-aa51-6411efc43fd5

The views of Mt Batur are spectacular as was the temple further up on a hill top – Pura Ulun Danu Batur is substantial in size and intricate detail.

Batur24

img_0431

View over to Mt Batur and trusty Scoops.

Batur_temple_flat_0168b68d07-3b5a-4b1a-b446-3ae4cea84f97

Pura Ulun Danu Batur

When I returned l’il Scoopy to her rightful owners I confessed to the hire guy that I went to the middle of Bali and showed where on a map. His eyes popped out of his head and he asked “on THAT?” Referring to Scoops.

The luscious green rice fields and volcanoes make for such beautiful viewing whilst Scooting on the backroads. Dodging roosters, that clearly have no idea when dawn is here in Bali (they crow any time, day or night and its constant).

2df086e2-8f2e-4ce7-a29e-b6c23185039e

RiceTerraces_flat_13

On my way to middle earth my eyes appeared to be attracting a lot of dust that somehow made it between my helmet and sunglasses.. I cursed the trucks, cars and motorbikes I was behind, until I was alone on roads and it was still happening. Lightbulb moment: that pesky volcano, Mt Agung, has been flexing her fiery muscles of late, so it must be her ash in my eyeballs. Volcanic ash is good for the complexion, yes? Airport closed for a day due to this ash.

Agung39

Mt Agung flexing.

Note to scooter riders; don’t smile whilst riding. The dust/volcanic ash in your teeth for hours after your ride is like chewing flies.

I had the privilege to learn authentic Batik painting from a young man at Nyoman Warta Batik Class.. sadly the main guru painter was busy organising a big cremation at the monkey forest (oooh, fingers crossed it’s an evil monkey removal strategy), thankfully, yet sadly, I met him after I’d finished my masterpiece because I’ve heard he adds some beautiful, creative finishing touches. There are plenty of options to have this meditative and cultural experience in Ubud. I can highly recommend this place and its helpful, kind and warm family.

Ubud is quite fantastic.. another organic, vegetarian and vegan haven with spas and yoga studios everywhere.

ULUWATU – The surf capitol

Left Ubud for a trip back to Uluwatu to catch up with my buddy, Ashy, visiting from Torquay on his first ever trip overseas. Klapa Resort in Dreamland Beach a stock standard, stale place devoid of personality… but loaded with a rooftop pool and bar show casing 270 degree views over some serious surf wonderland.

 

We found these tiny laneways around the cliffs that lead to Pecatu/Padang beach. These beaches are astonishingly special and beyond my dismal vocabularistic capabilities. I think it’s Bali’s version of Greece’s cliffs filled with wonderful hidden restaurants, B&B’s and bars that you can only get to via foot through narrow lanes and nasty stairs… My pick: Kelly’s Warung, Bingin – the perfect place for sundowners. What a sublime little area.

Bali is winning me over! Shhhhhhhh!

We witnessed a cleansing ceremony at one of Uluwatu beaches. Apparently a Balinese gentleman has had such bad luck in his life that they needed to remove all the negativity surrounding him by chanting, burning incense, flicking water from a holy bowl, blessing a juvenile duck and baby chicken (we were so worried they were going to be sacrificed that we seriously contemplated freeing our feathered friends), surrounding themselves with flowers and gifting their god with previously cooked roast duck and other pretty things.

IMG_7734

Man with a life of bad luck in the middle holding a black duck. (??)

I surprised my buddy with a trip into Legian to watch live Midget Boxing – thanks to the Cuz (Ryan) for the info on this craziness. FUNNIEST. NIGHT. EVER! If you haven’t heard or seen the footage and photos, I highly recommend looking here – Facebook; Blinked Travel. I had the absolute privilege of being a “Round 2” card holding bimbo and I kissed every single little ‘un on my 3 laps around the ring. Having a little person madly dry hump me when I went to hug him made my life feel worthwhile. My face and belly muscles had a better workout than my month in Rishikesh doing yoga.

ab5445b8-e28a-4877-9c29-45d7ab017471

Side note; these little people are shunned in Balinese society, so the boxing gig is how they make money and survive everyday life in Bali. Every cent from door sales plus donations go directly to them. I think it’s quite gracious of the Y Bar owners to do this for a minority (groan).  If you’re in Bali, go find them at the Y Bar (pronounced ‘E Bar’ by locals and taxi drivers) in Legian and book well in advance because it is packed out! They’re on every Tues, Thurs and Sunday nights.

AMED – Ahhhhhh

4 hour drive North East from Uluwatu to Amed.. what an exquisite place. Black, volcanic stone/sand beaches lead you into pristine clear turquoise water with feisty Mt Agung as a backdrop.

We went snorkelling around an under water temple, saw plenty of fish and popped my head above water just in time to see Mt Agung puff some ash into the atmosphere – she’s normally covered in cloud but for this moment she was perfectly visible and gently flexing, as though she was pretending to nonchalantly lift her wine to her lips but showing off those fit limbs to all the boys. I’m crushing on this magnificent volcano, I believe there’s some exceptionally positive energy surrounding her.

Perfectly serene accommodation at Double One Villas. Chose the beach villa which overlooked the pool and beach. Doing Yoga poolside as our life giving fire ball appeared above the horizon each morning is spectacular.

My regular motorcycling buddy tried to get the little vesper (plus two of us) up the side of a large hill on dirt tracks while attempting to locate a different view of Mt Batur was an interesting field trip. Turns out, vespers aren’t made for off road biking.

GILI AIR – Perfection

img_0428

Oh! Hellooooo Gili Air! A tiny blip off the larger Lombok Island. I was in a rush to book a ferry over to the island and in such haste neglected to check reviews before hitting the ‘pay now’ button. Why did I think it was a good idea to check the reviews after the fact?? No glowing feedback whatsoever! Uh-oh. This put the wind up both of us – even my regular sea faring buddy.

Patcha Express… you did a marvellous job! First of the 3 express boats over to the islands, safely and without issue (at this point we haven’t returned to Bali, but receiving thumbs up for now).

Aaaaah, the serenity. It’s warm, it’s remarkable, white beaches encircled by the cleanest aqua, and it’s not full of loud Aussies. She’s only little and there isn’t anything motorised here, just horse and cart or pedal power to get around.. and one lap took us a couple of hours – I’m guessing a lap could take about 25 mins if there were sealed roads and not large patches of sand.

Staying at Colour Cottages on the East side of our islet and already my ever happy and friendly buddy has created a special bond with one of the locals, Sahrul. Sahrul has helped us with many touristy options without asking for a cent. Gotta love that want to just be kind for no reason.

IMG_7542IMG_7543

Unedited iPhone images. Impressive sunset (with Mt Agung in the background).

Snorkelling – some of the best I’ve encountered. Yup, better than Great Barrier Reef as far as visibility and diversity of swimming critters seen. Swam with a huge loggerhead turtle and I think some green turtles. How they appeared to swim so slowly against the current was bizarre to watch. They appear to just float without flapping their flippers and still overtake me as I madly kicked my fins to keep up with them – all this against the current. Show-offs!

Gili Air has it all. Fitness, serenity, pristine waters, bike riding, making life friends with the locals (and a fantastic Aussie couple – they travel, not holiday). ❤️

Return trip on Patcha Express… I’m still recovering 6 hours later. My goodness, Mother Nature put on a “swell” show on the way back to Bali. 🤮 Two travel calm and tissue in my ear wasn’t enough to stop the nausea.. no barf, but it was touch and go. Turns out, this was the last day of ferry travel for two weeks! Thanks again Ma Nature.

Big shout out to Ashy for his unwavering kindness and happiness in everything and everyone he approaches. He not only helped bring me a replacement sim, after doing all the running around with Telstra back in Australia, and at the expense of movie time with his son (that only cost me a t-Rex suit – can’t wait for footage, Seth), he brought me my fave biscuits and other gifts. His eagerness to embrace my way of travel, always smiling and talking to (mostly at) locals and new friends is infectious. Always offering to help carry my many bags and generally just wanting to be kind to everyone anytime, anyhow. He gave up some of his favourite clothing items to the staff at Colour Cottages just because they needed them more than he did. What a great trait to have.

I know I was hard on him by asking him to shoosh and internalise quite often, but he listened and stayed happy about it. (INSERT “SHHH” HAND GESTURE HERE)

Ashy, you’re an absolute gem! Thank you for everything and welcome to the travel bug.

IMG_7733

He looks a tad nervous.

SUMMARY

Another Asian nation and proof that everything is fluid. Buildings and pavement go around living things.. traffic – albeit chaotic in appearance – flows without aggression.. many waterways and of course mostly surrounded by beaches.. then there’s the people, ever kind, giving and free. The new Asian slogan – Asia, it’s fluid.

A lot of negatives I’ve said about Bali are in jest mainly because of my attitude pre-arrival. It’s proof that you manifest what you think. Honestly, if you don’t mind a shitload of Australians, nice beaches, cheap shopping, cheap food and warmth.. you’ll do just fine here. If you’re anything like me, then stay away from from Seminyak, Kuta, Legian.. and maybe even Ubud. Blaze your own paths my friends, it’s worth it. Meeting locals that will give you better advice than most holidayers is worth its weight in gold.

Stay tuned for the long awaited comparison between Thailand and Bali.. I finally have some decent knowledge to discuss the two fave Aussie destinations.

For anyone looking at travelling soon, I have a link to accommodation discounts with booking.com here.

Please tell me about your Indonesian “must do’s and see’s”… Because I’m going back!

Vinyasa Yoga School

Perhaps arriving in India skidding sideways with excess weight due to overindulgence of beer and pad Thai in Bangkok wasn’t the optimum beginning for my yogini journey in Rishikesh… but that’s how it happened.  

What a screeching halt! Strictly vegetarian and no alcohol… WTF was I thinking? Perhaps the liver booked my flight and yogic journey? Needless to say, my body and mind will thank me for the experience.Always wanting to try a detox or health retreat (with occasional bacon and pina colada) for 5 days on some warm tropical island, but super nervous about pushing my comfort zone into a state of complete health, this Rishikesh trip was REALLY going to test me.

I had a few days to myself before other students arrived and before school started so I went about exploring. Beatles Ashram – which was quite good, albeit in ruins – taking hours to get around on foot due to more family photos and offers of chai with shop owners etc etc. There was some sensational photography of the Fab 4, with captions about which songs they were writing at the time of each image, in a gallery that I wasn’t allowed to photograph, sadly.Rishikesh16_1Rishikesh17_1Rishikesh18_1Rishikesh19_1Rishikesh20_1

What came first? The Ashram or the Egg man? Goo Goo G’joob (who would’ve thunk it wasn’t koo koo kachoo? – Thanks google) – Beatles Ashram

The welcoming ceremony at Vinyasa Yoga School was beautiful. Chanting, burning ghee and mango wood, plus we added a woody aromatic mix (I’m unsure what it was) to the fire that filled the room with relaxing scents. We all received our own fresh orange marigold necklaces and had to choose which class we wanted to start with of a morning – this is how the school determined which classes we took each day so the classrooms weren’t too full. We’ve since learned that there’s normally 40-60 people here at one time…. We had a total of 16. An even split of 8 per class and my group stupidly chose to start Vinyasa (the evilest of the two choices) at 5:30am!

Early to bed every night for us.The first week I really struggled with vinyasa classes.. perhaps it was my dismal ‘man-flu’ or the sudden halt in all the naughty Thai delicacies, but – if I’m brutally honest – I actually hated Vinyasa – yes, I had a melt down. Would you believe that it’s now my favourite? There’s nothing like waking at 5am, groaning, feeling old and as though all those beautifully stretched muscles from previous days have contracted further than when they started, to pushing the limits and re-stretching them.. sweating profusely, grunting and coming out of the class with shaky arms and legs but feeling like it’s a perfect way to start the day. The mental clarity after these classes is pure perfection. All this yoga seems to have helped my Fibromyalgia loads too. Hopefully I can share this positive gem with other sufferers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Rebellious Vinyasa Yoga class escaped one morning…

Yoga classes:  Philosophy – with Simon, Pranayama – with Pankaj, Health and Safety – with Leevka (super important for my nanny country of origin – Australia), Anatomy – with Kusshal – yeah, I guess we need to know what body part is going to break during each pose, Vinyasa – with Deepak (superstar guru and all round nice guy – even with his cheeky evil ‘I’m going to hurt you today’ grin) & Telissa, Hatha – with Sarita, and Meditation – with Moshka & Mandeep – 6 days per week from 5:30am to 8:30pm (incl breaks).

You know the hardest part of all this? It’s not the lack of meat, eggs, bacon, bacon, bacon, cheese or wine, or eating so much spicy Indian food to make your sphincter incompetent (or is it incontinent), or so many hours of study, it’s the weather!! Without researching the temps before booking my flight – which was spur of the moment, only booked a week before the course started – I expected the base of the Himalayas (locals pronounce them ‘Himarlia’) to be relatively cold.

Man, was I wrong. As I type this it’s just under 50 degrees CELSIUS! Geez, am I glad I purchased and packed that hoodie!? Sure, there are three air conditioners plus ceiling fans, that have regular power failures, but nothing… absolutely nothing helps reduce that kind of degrading heat. Deodorant is futile and underwear screams in panic when we start climbing the 5 flights of stairs into those hot boxes (no pun intended).

Speaking of stairs.. we average around 40 flights per day. One day I must have either forgotten lots of things on different floors or had energy to burn because my Fitbit registered 270 flights of stairs! (a flight is calculated at 10ft each) My buns are strong enough to crack walnut shells now.

So, here we are at week 3 and it’s aaaaall about the complete yoga journey. Purifying the mind and body to reach Samadhi (illumination/realisation). What a task they have ahead of them with me. Ok, maybe there’s some wonderful bonding going on between all 16 students as well, but we’re all here for a yogic (mental, physical and spiritual) change.

Now that we’re at the business end of the course there’s a mild concern about actually leaving this peaceful yet crazy haven and venturing back into the temptations of sleeping in and Singha beer on my brief return to Bangkok. I’m determined to keep up my morning yoga… repeat: something about morning yoga blah blah.

Vinyasa yoga school is such a perfect platform for sending out the wonderfully positive messages of the yogic world via us yoginis. The teachers are spectacularly calm, knowledgeable, super kind and infectiously happy. When, and if, I ever grow up, I want to be like them.Rishikesh21

Only a  few of our wonderful teachers on our Graduation Day.

If I actually gave high-fives, I’d give our marvellous man on reception, Manoj (Manu), a big high-five and even a fist bump. He looks after us all too well – he would do anything to help us students out, anytime. And a caring youngster he is.

In our yoga fees we are covered for accommodation, Sunday activities, all meals and classes. The measly sum of $1,900 USD is all they ask and a lot of that money goes back into the local community. Possibly to the cows, but it’s a great set up. Business aspirations right there.

Sunday activities organised by Vinyasa Yoga School… sunrise over the Himalaya at Kunjapuri Devi Temple – Hindolakhal Hill, meditation in a cave that JC (Jesus) apparently hung out and meditated in (I arrived too late to find out all the real goss on this one so excuse the lack of information), Ayurvedic massage and the f’ing awesome white water rafting down Ma Ganges River. We were given permission to jump overboard and body surf the milder rapids.. yup, I did! First overboard! There were times I was just casually floating on my back looking up at the foothills of the Himalayas wondering what I did right in this world to be given such an incredible experience.

Kunjapuri Devi Temple view at sunrise plus an evil Macaque monkey

I have briefly touched on the critters here in Rishikesh, and there are plenty of them, but there’s one evil monkey incident that will stay with me forever. During hatha class we were doing a move called chopping wood. You swing your arms, palms together, from above your head to down between your bent legs quickly (like you’re chopping wood) and expel air from the lungs – which causes us to make a “hah” noise – like when we were kids pretending we knew karate. Our class took that noise and accentuated it.

Two of the girls from the 300 hour class were in their yoga studio in the opposite building across the narrow lane. They heard us chopping wood, came out to their balcony and copied us – noises and all. It was really amusing so our class stopped, went to our window and watched whilst laughing.

Then out of nowhere a beautiful, huge, grey, male langur monkey raced along their balcony and used one of the girls as a springboard to another balcony! The girls moved so fast back into their room that Barbara dropped and severely scratched her glasses. It was incredible!!! The monkey would have been 3/4 of my height and thankfully didn’t have long nails. Poor Barbara was a tad shaken and is only just able to chuckle about it now. It was one of those moments where it happened so fast and yet appeared to unfold in slow motion.Vimyasa28

Female mini versions of above mentioned evil monkey that had used Barbara as a springboard.

Here I sit in a cafe sipping my fresh ginger, lemon and honey tea watching one of the ‘cafe boys’ (that tend to have women from all walks of life falling at their feet and in love with them) burn numerous incense sticks, ring his small bell whilst praising the Ganges – I finally realise that I’m officially qualified as a yoga teacher. I’ve extended my stay by a few days and now I’m wondering why I’m leaving – especially without any specific destination in mind.JPEG image-26F6DA55AAF8-1

I passed!

After school finished I decided to move hotels – this hotel and relocation across the bridge has already brought me some intense experiences. The lovely Kamal, who manages Seventh Heaven Hotel, upon my arrival felt I needed a hug. I initially thought it odd, but hey, when in India right!? This hug had so much energy and healing that I was almost brought to tears. There was absolutely nothing sexual about it, just pure loving energy that I’ve never experienced before. Kamal agreed that it was a bizarre experience. Wow! Confirmation that broken hearts heal and in the strangest ways.

Seventh Heaven Hotel itself is beautifully quiet and far enough away from main roads filled with constant beeping horns, no evil monkeys and no cows blocking narrow lanes. The balcony views at the surrounding green and smokey Himalaya foothills are superb.

On my way to the Beatles Cafe (fantastic vibe and food here) to meet the remaining students I got sucked in to having a brief reading from captain shady on the street. I’m impressed that he was able to write things that I was thinking on little pieces of paper, place them in my hand before he’s even asked me the questions to those answers scrunched up in my palm… but FARK! It cost me waaay too many rupees. Hopefully he’s honest enough to give that money to the under privileged kids as promised.

Enough digression, back to the yoga experience… 3.5 hours of yoga per day is going to be hard to uphold, but I’m all too keen to do it. I’ve not felt this fit, happy and healthy in years and I can’t wait to spread the loving message with everyone.

The importance of breathing properly is more apparent than ever. I always knew it was beneficial and after Pranayama classes we’re reminded just how paramount the deep, proper breath is to your whole physical, emotional and spiritual systems.

Do I really need to mention meditation? I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing me preach about it before this course, so I’ll keep quiet… for now.

My mission before this course was to complete a headstand unaided. Tick! No photographic evidence due to limelight panic and my hasty exit of said pose, and the inability to do it again under pressure.

Graduation day was a mixture of emotions for all of us I think. The excitement of completing 200 hours of our yogic journey plus the sadness of leaving all our new found and strong bonded friendships.Grad_Girls

Such inspirational women. ❤ Love and miss them loads.

Rishikesh23

Not usually on this end of the camera – but as a lean, mean, yoga machine in a pretty frock I thought I’d better show off.

If I were negatively geared mentally, I’d still struggle to find anything awful about this Vinyasa Yoga experience. Grateful and blissed out just don’t seem like strong enough superlatives.Vinyasa Yoga School, I love you.

Now hand me some cutlery for my steak and refill my wine.. it’s time to plan the next educational expedition.

What do you think I should do next? Tai chi in China, acupuncture in Taiwan, massage in Thailand, back to Rishikesh for yoga therapy? Have you had experience with any of these? Let me know.

It’s all about education of the mind, body and spirit.. and evil monkeys.

!ncredible !ndia..

I’m off! Leaving the comfort zone of Thailand and my new buddies at Bradman’s Bistro (perfect place for sports loving, Aussie food devotee wanderers that miss the traditional pub) for an unforgettable journey in India, solo. I’ve heard some female solo travellers state that India is either the best place to go alone or the worst.  I will advise at the end of my trip – assuming I allow it to end, sorry Ma. So far, I’ve had nothing but pleasant country and people dealings. 

Thai Airways flight to New Delhi. I’m glad this is only 4.5hrs because I’m wedged in this dickie middle exit seat, between two Indian, possibly deodorant wearing, business men. Thankfully both men were super helpful and thoughtful by putting my bags away and lending me an extra pillow to rest my arm on due to the lack of space in my seat. Food average, another rubbery frittata and baked beans. I wonder if there’s a methane barometer in the plane?

Delhi airport is REALLY easy to navigate. Even though I joined two separate, wrong, long queues before locating the shortest e-visa queue. Why didn’t I find the shortest queue first and work backwards from there? As I walked up  to the start of the non existent line three immigration specialists did their best to attract my attention by calling out to me and waving their arms so that I would visit their window. They were obviously bored.

I was in such a hurry to find my way out of international and locate my domestic flight that I neglected to attack the ATM and didn’t grab a SIM card. Rookie mistake, I should know better! Thankfully I had $150 AUD in my purse to exchange. I’ve heard that the ATM’s run out of cash in Rishikesh, so I had better spend wisely. All of a sudden I’m grateful for the lack of alcohol in Rishikesh..

Jet Airways flight to Dehra Dun (finally someone taught me how to say it correctly – Dehrra doon). I was at check-in about 4hrs early, but the kind man directing Jet Airways human traffic said I could check in now and go through the exclusive priority lane (all lanes were empty) if I filled in a customer service review form. Of course I said yes and gave him a glowing review. Thanks Adnan!

Two sides of the one ridge.. incredibly diverse.

Paid my way into a lounge for some Indian food and wifi. Just having somewhere comfortable to sit, with an ok array of food, wifi and charging stations is worth the $23.  Alcohol is not incl in the lounge price btw, not that I purchased any – I’m taking this abstinence seriously now. You can also pay for showers, sleeping pods, massages and just about any added extra you can think of here. Thank you Premium Plaza Lounge at Terminal 3 – Delhi Airport.

ESLBE9656

Look at all those colours!

My pre-organised taxi driver had my name on a card, spelled correctly mind you, as I exited the airport. Not only does he drive me the 16+km to Rishikesh, he plays the knowledgeable tour guide around the place – these discussions were in between an almost constant beeping “Warning! I’m coming through” of his car horn trying to compete with every other driver and rider on both sides of the road. Lanes are merely rough guidelines apparently.

“Over there is the forest where tigers are. Also, elephants are walked through here every night.” Guess where I’ll be heading soon!?!? Then we stop in an area where it’s clear that cars can’t go any further. The narrow laneways really only fit humans, dogs, motorbikes, horses, cows, monkeys and donkeys. Then my driver signals to a young boy who comes, picks up my 15kg backpack (most of that weight is my pillow – perhaps another discussion) and my camera case then leads me through tiny lanes, down some stairs, across a big bridge (Lakshman Jhula) over the ‘Mother’ Ganges river, down the street, up another two narrow laneways to the Vinyasa Yoga Training centre. Poor bugger! I felt bad, but not quite bad enough to offer my weakling assistance. 

Rishikesh_24hrs_web-03

Example of the narrow streets and a temple with loads of shoes.

Rishikesh_24hrs_web-07

Lakshman Juhla Bridge over Mumsy Ganges River. How patriotically painted is that bridge rail?

I’m finally settled in to Gangotri – the accommodation supplied to us students by Vinyasa Yoga Training Centre (if you visit, don’t expect Westernised service – nobody is in a hurry here) and I’m ready to explore.. 

Today I feel like a rockstar (not THE Rockstar) because my morning exploration consisted of being asked regularly to join the travelling family photos. My calling has been answered after 20+ years of photo bombing or taking selfies with other peoples cameras – it pays to be persistent.

Rishikesh_24hrs_web-05

One of my new families seem quite proud of me taking photos of the laneway.

After my delicious Middle Eastern breakfast from Little Buddha it’s time locate an ATM and SIM card. It took me nearly three hours to walk 2kms. Why, you ask? Well, so many shop keepers want to sit and chat with me plus all the requests to have my long lost Indian families include me in their photos takes time you know! I’m offered an interesting and accurate aura and body reading by Raj from Rajasthan in his shoe shop (he goes in the book of people whose names sound like their location or career – like Matt from Ballarat, Thomas from Thomastown and Jason the Stonemason), milky, sweet chai tea with Ahsp (this is what I deciphered from his note with his phone number) from Mumbai and to buy a pair of pants for a man who is dressed in faded and well worn Buddhist orange pants and top is casually reading, sitting on a concrete bench seat beside the road.

If you haven’t heard about India and their cows already…

Cows are sacred here so they roam freely and willy nilly, being dodged by the locals in cars, on motorbikes and meandering tourists. How wonderful it is to see EVERYBODY walk, drive or bike around our bovine friends whilst napping in the middle of a bridge or road – no matter what the chaos caused surrounding them may be. I saw one cow chase a lady across the crowded bridge so to free herself she dropped her small bag of puffed rice for the cow to devour whilst nasty cow mentally laughed at her lack of comfort. Cow 1, Lady 0.

Rishikesh_24hrs_web-04

Iddy biddy baby cow.

Rishikesh_24hrs_web-08

Lakshman Juhla bridge with cow photobomb – clearly my spirit animal.

You will definitely notice that cows have 4 stomachs here, it is dung-a-plenty – which needs to be skilfully navigated when walking about the packed, dusty streets and laneways. I wonder if I’ll be picturing these magnificent creatures walking around roasted with gravy and veg in a month’s time? Ooooh, note to self – don’t walk around town with my gorgeous Graine leather wallet.

Rishikesh_24hrs_web-06

Baby shadow dawg followed me around. Cute love heart shaped nose.

If there is such a thing called nirvana for hippies and wannabe’s, Rishikesh is it! It’s cow stinky yet incense infused, bright, colourful, noisy and yet calming – every sense is assaulted. You can’t walk more than 5 paces before stumbling across some form of Ayurvedic medicine, massage, crystal or music therapy and of course yoga. I came for the yoga and some form of personal spiritual awareness campaign, but having only been here less than 24hrs I’m all too excited to sign up to study everything. I already feel at home here and have to pinch myself to confirm that I’m really doing this. It makes me smile with pure gratitude.

Like I’ve said before… it’s all about education of the mind, body and spirit.. and dodging cow pats.

Asian massages – relaxing??

Here are some tales about massages in SE Asia:

THE GOOD….

Chaweng main st,  Dusit Spa 2 this place should become an institution. The exterior, with ludicrously high steps that wouldn’t pass OHS inspections in Aus, is quite a large shopfront but as soon as you’re through the front doors and past reception this grand interior looks like it’s been taken from the old Roman baths. Highest of high ceiling with sandstone Romanesque columns, spacious to the point of looking like a ballroom including extravagant, dimmed chandeliers. To my left as I walk towards the back of the building is a pool… or is it a spa? After being out in that Thai heat I’m dying to jump in, clothes an’ all! My new TEFL buddy, Molly, and I are led to the bench seat opposite so we can drool at the pool and have our feet bathed in rose petal water. Seriously. 

Next we are lead upstairs to our shared massage room. Don’t they know I’ve only known this girl for a week? We have to semi nude up, thankfully “shy” Molly went to the ladies whilst I strip and race to my massage bed before her return so that she’s not subjected to boobs hanging around my knees. Lucky for me I am face down and don’t have to pretend to look elsewhere whilst she takes her turn getting her clothes off. Little did we know that this was only the beginning of our nudie runs on Koh Samui! 

The massage is possibly THE best I’ve had, definitely the best I’ve had in Thailand that’s for sure.. and I’m sure I’ve had quite a few. The Thai massage ladies are so gentle in personality but can be brutal with their slim, strong, tiny fingers that could lift a full cement truck without strain. Not this time my friends. I know it’s a relativity subject, but I like the semi firm but relaxation touch and I felt like this lady knew exactly what I needed. If only I was that way inclined, I’d marry this woman! Dust Spa 2 is THE place to go for massages on Koh Samui.

 

THE BAD…..

Is there really such a thing as a bad massage? Yes, yes there is! 2013 – Cat Ba Island, Vietnam, I treated myself to a 3hr massage. After 30 mins my skin is stretched so much that I feel as though I’d be looking like a sharpei dog when I finally stand up. Try explaining to a non English speaker that oil is required for massages. My skin was pushed, pulled, stood on and simply tenderised like a steak pre bbq… all 3hrs without oil. 

 

THE ENTERTAINING….

This one time, with a friend, whom shall remain nameless – unless he confesses – in Nha Trang, Vietnam. Again, a shared room is kinda awkward with a friend, but we soldier on. We were advised by a “trustworthy” local that this place was the safest to go to. Insert evil chuckles here. I’m out to the world in my blissful happy place when I hear quiet giggles and my friend urgently whispering my name. I refuse to be mentally removed from my relaxed state and ignore them all, but it continues – for about 15 mins. I’m sure the rest of the story is best told by my victimised friend, however, I’ll give it a go. Apparently, once he was told to roll onto his back, he was mildly abused by numerous Vietnamese girls. A few tweaks here, a few tweaks there.. you get the idea. I laugh still about that time.

My lady boy in Pattaya was funny! So feminine in her attitude. Loves shopping, looking after her skin (collagen tabs quite popular here), dislikes the sun and heat (wants to move to Norway where its not warm – these people who prefer cold weather really do exist!), hates doing oil massages because the oil gets under her perfectly manicured long nails, wonders why tourists love elephants but also loves her super strong whisky straight up.. and lots of it apparently. It’s Songkran week and she’s receiving texts from her friends to hurry up and get drunk and wet outside the shop front with them!

My right foot kept cramping, she tried to help me but to no avail. I think we wasted half an hour on that stupid foot and giggled at how silly my body is. In fact, she told me to stop walking everywhere because my calves were too tight.. “get motorbike taxi and stop walking you crazy lady.” 

 

THE AWKWARD…

The request to remove my Wonder Woman underwear leaves me feeling vulnerable and without power just like Samson having his hair cut. So here I am, face down on the table which I’m sure is just a handmade MDF board on unstable legs (kinda like my body at present) disguised with a yoga mat and towels awaiting the evil little fingers to work out all the chinks in my armour. Witchit, my masseuse, is brilliant btw! He’s the only person where I’ve not mentally screamed in agony during a Thai massage. I think the fact that he has male(-ish) hands and not tiny, skinny, manicured, truck movers made the difference.

The security of my towel is removed and replaced with a hand towel. Hahaha I can’t help but laugh.. I’m a western woman with – as mum likes to call it – a ducks bum, that hand towel is lucky to cover one cheek! Then that mini towel, let’s call it a face washer for size comparison to my butt, is removed and gently shoved into my crack. No joke. I have to wonder if someone gets to use this towel after me, because I haven’t showered yet? 

I clearly typed the following comment pre-today’s awkward massage. And that’s all I’m saying… 

Basically, when it comes to massages in SE Asia I am grateful for being female and not being asked if I want a happy finish.

 

It’s all about education.. of the mind, body, spirit and locating a relaxing massage.

Mastering the art of Asian loos..

How to master the art of the “starters block” loo in Asian countries.

  1. For three months prior to your trip, do squats – 100 per day minimum.
  2. Hong nam, nha ve singh etc – learn the word for dunny in your chosen country of visit.
  3. BYO toilet paper – everywhere!! Some places charge for the wiping privilege. True.   (3THB for this little gem) IMG_7155
  4. Plant feet on grippy looking porcelain..
  5. Stand tall on the block
  6. Bend knees
  7. Take your squat position..
  8. Use your forearms/elbows on the walls to hold you steady – not hands.. do I really need to explain why?
  9. Get ready.. get set…
  10. Go!
  11. Aim for the water, not the bowl! (I’d say the opposite to any male because who enjoys that noise where they pretend their appendage is bigger than it is in reality?)
  12. Nobody likes pee splashed toes, ankles, calves, knees – dependant on your power – easier said than done, being female and having little direction control an’ all.
  13. Ensure bladder empty, these squat toilets, I’m sure, aren’t a happy place for anyone.
  14. Throw your used paper in the bin, not in the starters block.
  15. Blocked toilets are ugleeee and too common.
  16. If you find somewhere to wash your hands, toes, feet etc – do so. Otherwise, byo baby wipes. (Recommended) 
  17. In fact, consider creating a handbag made from wipes before your arrival.
  18. Reconsider your drinking habits… why would you want to drink so much that you need to pee so often?
  19. If you need to do number twos, walk directly out of bar, find your comfortable hotel.. quickly.
  20. Remember to take all valuables with you when you leave. “Vagina still attached – check – I’m good to go.”

IMG_7158

 

It’s all about education.. of the mind, body, sprit and bladder control.

Ramblings from the Middle Ages…

 

Cathay wing

I used to rely on my very well travelled partner (now ex) to get me through the airports with absolute ease – it helped that he had a few cards that made us feel important and get to the shorter queues. Now, it’s completely up to me. I didn’t think I’d have to do this alone too often, but here I am to confirm that I survived and proved to myself that I CAN do it alone.

Thanks Cathay Pacific for their lovely Premium Economy flight to Hong Kong, and whilst I’m showing appreciation, thanks to Hong Kong Airport for making my solo journey through a completely unknown airport easy.

About the Cathay flight. I have my usual window seat and this time a new travel buddy, but the same outcome… he was asleep before take off. I’m always envious of those that can sleep on flights.

photo

 

It was an early-ish flight out of Melbourne direct to HK so breakfast was served. A slightly rubbery frittata and some baked beans that were reminiscent of the famous Brunswick breaky. I ask the question that everyone thinks… Who thought it a good idea to serve baked beans in such a confined space?

Lunch, I plucked up enough courage to order Kung Pao prawns (not normally a big seafood eater here)… What could possibly go wrong by ordering seafood from a plane – there are schools of fresh fish in the sky, yes? I’m still alive and without issues to tell you that it was great. The slight heated spice sat quite well with the perfectly cooked jasmine rice. And against all the wine buffs, I ordered Louis Filipe Edwards Central Valley Cab Sav (quaffers give it an 8/10 btw) with my prawns. Ever trying to swim against the tide I am.

Movies watched (limited options surprisingly):

Goodbye Christopher Robin – sweet, yet slightly dark. Perhaps not made for kids – of the lesser vintage physically, not mentally.

Justice League – two solid hours I SHOULD have been studying for my TEFL course that I will never get back.

Bay Watch – don’t judge me! It was great eye candy and I even had a couple of chuckles.

Next flight was a Bangkok Airways direct to Koh Samui. They served up something resembling dog residue but tasted divine! Slightly sweet, salty and spicy chicken with rice. Isn’t it funny how the little dodgy, propeller driven planes can have the best food, just like the shady looking restaurants with plastic tables, plastic chairs and paper table cloths.

Goodbye Christopher Robin is on the screen for this flight, so I jumped back a row of seats to avoid my neighbouring coughing, sniffing, seat warmers, which allowed me the whole row to myself and I napped. It’s tiring work this flying caper it seems.

After what felt like days, I land at Koh Samui and get to my hotel around 9pm. That’s a solid 14 hours of doing very little. After a shower I decide to drag my sluggish backside to a bar in the main Street of Chaweng with a corner location that has excellent people watching. I was the only person in the place, which lasted a whole 10 minutes. It appears that my sitting there alone with my beer was a advertisement along the lines of “The Singha is fine here, come on in.” It was packed in no time! The Palms Bar & Grill, I thank you for your great live music and super cold Singha that kept me up for another 3 hours, and Ark Bar for the entertainment on my staggered, barefoot, beach meander home. Someone needs to remind me that I’m 46 not 26 any more.

Al’s Resort (yes, I choose my resorts based on my own name) at Chaweng Beach on Koh Samui is my go to abode whenever I am there. And boy have they GROWN. I feel like the proud Aunty that visits occasionally and when I see the kids each time they’ve changed even more. “How did you get to be so big?” And how much did we all dislike hearing that as kids?! It’s a mental response of “Duh, I’m 5 years older than when I saw you last.”

photo

It’s at Al’s Resort that I decide on an interactive trip. Admittedly, I had to consider 4 weeks of study in between fun things to do, but I’m going to allow the masses decide what I do, eat and drink next. It’s all good in theory, but a majority of my people are 4 hours behind me, so by the time I’m ready for dinner and their decisions, they’re kipping away solidly. I’m still sticking with this theme, it just needs to be modified slightly.

My three days at Chaweng Beach were just to mentally stop, deal with the last few months of chaos and then prepare myself for the Samui TEFL course about to start on Monday. I think the Samui TEFL course deserves its own blog to be honest. It was intense, long hours and I made some great buddies in between.

So what was I thinking, coming to a tropical paradise full of honeymooners, solo and not long after an unpleasant divorce?? I’m jaded and can’t help but think “These happy couples will figure it out one day.”

It’s all about education… of the mind, body and spirit.