How solo travel = self healing

Solo travel personal discoveries – How solo travel = self healing.

 

Why this blog?

A recent message, from a splendid travelling friend, stated that I am a “philosophical walkabout”… Another close friend, whom I met at the Vipassana retreat, has started calling me a Dervish. Meaning; a wanderer that has chosen poverty over possessions in the search of ‘faith’ – or something (in my case).

Both of which has prompted me to write the story of how I reached this point.

Plus everything web based tells me I need to show that I’m human in the eyes of internet land if I’m to make a difference in this world. This, possibly over-sharing, quite personal story about “How solo travel = self healing” scares the bejeezuz out of me because I am generally a very private person..

So, here it is.. honest, raw, vulnerable me.

 

fibromyalgia + travel

self healing

Yoga Instructor, yeaaahhh!!

 

What’s with all this travel / soul / self searching?

The beginning…

Let’s roll back about 10 years ago. I met a man. It was the single most stressful 5 year start to any relationship I have dealt with.

Without going into too much detail, just imagine the most horribly angry and manipulative ex-wife (even 13 years post-divorce), a very troublesome teenager that broke in to and stole everything from our house (amongst other things), and fighting to keep a relationship alive – single handedly.

Add to this mix somehow gaining glandular fever, along with working in a high stress job at the time.

I have been through plenty of shit before and classify myself as pretty good at going with the flow, truly knowing that everything will turn out ok.. however, all the above broke me. (Now I couldn’t be more grateful).

My physical and mental state completely crashed.

 

 

 

 

What is Fibromyalgia?

My mental state turned into a physical illness – Fibromyalgia.

For those that don’t know about fibromyalgia yet, here’s a brief and basic run down.

The best description I’ve ever read is this;

Imagine body aching flu symptoms x 100; add some fire ants to all your joints plus biting your already sensitive skin / nerve endings; the inability to retain anything in the brain longer than a nano-second; and the mental anguish of a very bad PMS sufferer.

For about 4 years my physical state was so bad that I couldn’t even walk to the letterbox without causing excruciating pain and needing to sleep for many hours afterwards. I also lost friends because I couldn’t commit to anything due to body and mental flare ups… and most likely forgetting that I was invited to events.

I’d always been proud of my memory, so I really struggled with the memory loss. I was constantly beating myself up about it.

Having to give up full time work because I became an angry, forgetful boss and when I returned home of an evening all I could do was crash on the couch in pain which wasn’t easy for someone that is super motivated in work and play.

Anger was my go to emotion (which is completely out of character for me usually). To the point that just about everyone in my path was called a c-bomb. I was fuming at cars cutting me off, people making little mistakes at work, strangers even looking at me, and my friends for not being there for me.

That’s not living, let me tell you.

Let’s not forget that I have epilepsy and debilitating migraines on top of this.

 

 

How and what made me change?

I have a step-mother who has suffered with life-halting issues (including fibromyalgia) pretty much since she joined our family about 30+ years ago. (Coincidence?)

Due to her being confined to her house most days, she was my motivation for not settling for a life of living house, lounge or bedroom bound. Her vitality dissolved, sadly. NO FREAKING WAY WAS I GOING TO CONTINUE LIKE THAT! I truly mean no disrespect towards this poor, pained lady, I purely found her situation motivational.

Plus, I assume I inherited the superpower of inner strength from my Ma.

 

My expectation of people understanding the pain I went through mentally and physically doesn’t matter, but I’m sure everyone that knew me before, during and after can see that my inner light is shining brighter every day now. Which I attribute to all the work other naturalists have consummated (including my inner work).

 

 

 

solo travel = self healing

Dr Himali & your new Ayurvedic Therapist

 

Natural Therapy healing

Psychological appointments, General Practitioner appointments at least twice weekly, many blood tests and Rheumatologist appointments – all in the name of finding out what was wrong with me.

There was a lot of trial and error with Doctors and Naturopaths for me over 3-4 years.

Until I met Kylie Stabler – an Aussie Chinese Medicine specialist from Natural Therapeutics in Brunswick. Coming off pharmaceutical anti-depressants, ceasing pshychological therapy and opting for healthy eating, acupuncture and natural herbs (the winner being in the form of Metagenics NeuroCalm) changed my life. 

As did the unwavering support from Kylie – she gave me her personal phone number in case I just needed to talk. Which I did.

Admittedly it would take me 2 days to recover from each acupuncture session, but when I did recover – I was gaining in strength and mental clarity, very slowly.

(Kylie also helped one of my besties get pregnant later in life)

My gratitude also extends to Sudi De Winter from Inner North Osteopathy for his continued support for my pained back and neck.

I didn’t drink alcohol for about 2-3 years either. I was refusing to let this Fibromyalgia beat me.

As you can see, I gave “conventional” medicine a fair go, but what actually helped was Natural Therapies.

Hopefully that explains my search for alternative therapy education so that I can offer benefits to other psychological and physical sufferers.

 

 

self healing

Torres del Paine Towers trek – My Everest with Fibromyalgia

fibromyalgia + travel

Total of 26 gruelling kilometres to reach 875m

 

Coming out of the Fibromyalgia haze

So, fast forward a few years of all the natural therapies plus delicately finding the balance between forcing myself to exercise and resting my body to help decrease the symptoms of Fibromyalgia… 

…and I’m set to do the Torres Del Paine hike in Chile. Sadly my Achilles gave way and I wasn’t able to even start the hike let alone finish it.

This hike, to me, was my personal Everest after the hell my body and mind had been through. I was incredibly upset. In fact, I cried all the way back to the camp on my own. 

The opportunity came up to go back and attempt this the following year. I just had to do it.

And I did.

Ever since then I have been increasingly proud of my mental strength and physical ability. Above all else, I have been listening to my body and gut instinct more.

 

solo travel = self healing

 

 

Fibromyalgia

Even with Fibromyalgia I became the fittest, calmest and happiest I have ever been – through Yoga

Travelling & Studying

  • I’ve learned what a Yogic life is about whilst studying in Rishikesh, India – It’s not just about posting pretzel-like yoga poses on Social Media.

 

  • Ayurvedic therapies with a Doctor 1:1 in Sri Lanka. Enabling me to help people with physical and mental ailments. When practicing on the Doc herself, she said “You were a healer in a past life.” And.. “You are in my top 3 students out of thousands.” The Doc proceeded to show me her book of previous students to cement this generous compliment.

 

  • Reiki – I was attuned a few years ago, but I’m enhancing that on a daily basis. Giving distant Reiki to friends and family has been healing for all involved.

 

 

What I have learned about myself

  • I am resilient AF!
  • My Fibromyalgia is almost non-existent now.
  • My spirituality has grown tenfold and I trust my instinct more than ever – with success.
  • The road of fewest obstructions is directing me to share my knowledge on how dealing with my past got me to where I am now. 
  • My main intent is to do things that make myself (primarily) and others happy. 
  • I am kind to myself both physically and emotionally when I need it most.
  • Aiming to be kind to those that try showing they don’t need kindness. (Ok, there are occasions when I slip, but my heart is in the right place most of the time)
  • No longer attempting perfection reduces stress and pressure.
  • Trying to rid oneself of ego is hard, but imperative for self healing.
  • You can love those close to you, but from a distance, in order to heal.
  • Personal boundaries are my best friend.
  • Being in nature, especially water, restores energy and aids in self healing.

 

We are all one – no exceptions.

 

 

 

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Why did I embark on this philosophical walkabout for the last 1.5-2 years?

 

I can literally feel the emotional pain the whole planet is in.

People don’t need to suffer as much as they currently are.

I want to emanate the change that I want to see in this world. You can too by taking steps in the right direction.

My past shows that I have always tried to help all living beings – maybe not ants and mosquitos so much – but now I am on a serious mission to heal the world. And not in my usual style of “One person at a time.”

solo travel = self healing

Our world is in trouble and I don’t just mean in a climate way. People. People need more help than ever – and FAST.

Everyone is greedier, angrier, sadder, sicker, easily stressed. It’s up to us to change all of this.

We can’t go blaming anyone else for our choices.

An increasing number of male suicides / people taking their own lives is beyond comprehension and those people left behind feel helpless. My plan is to help change this.

I truly want to help others with chronic pain, mental angst and relationships with self & others…  including us scary menopausal women.

I’m not saying that everything in the world is bad, on the contrary actually. I want people to see all the good there is out there. I guess my travel show off images and little tales of fun are my way of showing that life is awesome and not to always believe what you see on the news.

 

fibromyalgia + travel

 

How about you?!

Surely you don’t believe that working a meaningless or stressful job just so you can afford material things is all that life is supposed to be? I know we need funds to be able to live (also part of the reason I’m writing this is to get more exposure for my website). But is what you’re doing to earn money feeding your soul and making you happy?

What kindness do you give yourself on a regular basis to help you deal with everything life throws at you?

How often do you mentally abuse yourself for making minor and major mistakes?

Are you kind to everyone? Even those that aren’t kind to you?

How often do you smile or laugh?

Do you use substances to help you deal with your daily life?

 

 

 

 

How I can help you

I plan to create a space with more blogs about following our true life path so we can all lead a permanently happy life.

In nearly 2 years of solo travel = self healing I have chosen to learn things that will benefit not only myself, but many others. The learning wasn’t purely a schoolroom environment by the way; I also mean listening to and talking with so many humans that are either enlightened, on their way or struggling with life.

Prior to my travel I was attuned to level 2 reiki and plan on enhancing that even further. There are other studies coming that you will all benefit from. So stay tuned my friends, we are going to make life easier, happier and healthier in no time… as long as we do this together.

Also dealing with personal deep issues has been the best thing I have done for myself (and others) – emotionally and physically. Thanks to the very knowledgeable, wise and kind, holistic guide and friend – Dr Nikki Staley from Staley Health.

When (or IF) I grow up, I want to be just like Nikki. She’s an enlightened inspiration.

 

How solo travel = self healing

 

I’m going to create a cult where we all live harmoniously and have little people running around naked. 😉

 

I’m not after a pity party here by the way, I purely want to share my story as to why I have chosen this new fruitful life. I’ve always been different to most and tried too hard to fit in. Now it all makes sense. I just wasnt built for a ‘normal’ societally acceptable life.

 

fibromyalgia + travel

It’s all about education of the mind, body and soul…. and being ok with vulnerability.

 

I’d love to hear from others that are dealing with pain, anxiety, depression etc.. I am here for you. xx

Diary from a Vispassana retreat reject

What is a Vipassana retreat?

For those that haven’t heard what a Vipassana retreat / silent retreat / noble silence is all about, I’ll give you a brief explanation:

Vipassana = to see things as they really are.

 To self transform.

Firstly, please note that not all Vipassana retreats are created equal, nor is everyone’s Vipassana experience identical.

vipassana

Brahma Vihara Arama entrance

 

Rules of Vipassana retreat / Silent retreat / Noble silence

The plan is; to be silent, reflective and completely present and mindful for 10 days straight. Without distraction.

A few days before this silent retreat started we were all sent a very extensive list of conditions to abide by.

 

NO…

Communication what-so-ever.

Phone

Music… No Music?… NO MUSIIIC!?

Reading

Writing (oops)

Talking (to self or others)

Eye contact (again, with others or self – insert cross-eyed emoji here)

Alcohol

Yoga or any exercise

Smoking (Incl. internal combustion?)

Murdering of any living being

Food after 12pm

Shorts, singlets (or anything that allows heat to be released from our bodies, basically)

 

There are more rules, but I’m sure you get the idea. There is to be nothingness.

Sounds like a walk in the park, right?! I believe this to be the most extreme version of Vipassana retreat / Noble Silence / Silent retreat.

 

 

silent retreat

Buddha & Bodhi tree

 

 

 

 

Silent retreat diary entries verbatim

This Vipassana retreat was from 16th -25th November 2019.

You know me, always rebellious from the start….These are my (retyped) hand written notes below.

 

Day 1: 16th Nov 2019

Arrived for the silent retreat registration at Brahma Vihara Arama in Lovina, Bali at 4pm. Scootered there by my very kind friend, Surya. I really want to call him Namaskar. (Yoga joke) I left my arrival as late as possible because I was actually nervous and questioning “Why The Fk?” someone would willingly do this Noble silence / Silent retreat / Vipassana retreat.

Why was I so nervous about coming here?

Is my concern about not coming out of this Vipassana retreat the same person I went in as? If that’s all it is, then why did you come here Dufus?!

Vipassana retreats should be about an inner, mindful journey – that I believe I have already been embarking on for a few years now.

The weather is, surprisingly, pretty darn hot up here in the hills. Maybe only a touch cooler – possibly because it’s nearing dusk and there’s a breeze. (Clearly gave me a false sense of security)

Katja and I are roommates and we have made the most of the time we have left to use our voices. We covered all the important details – literally talking at each other – where we are from, do we snore/fart, why the hell we are doing this.. etc. How grateful I am having met this wonderfully mindful German lady – who also is a solo female traveller.

We are offered some food at registration – as we all reluctantly hand over any communication devices to the temple staff. Then we are treated to an opening ceremony with the Burmese Buddhist Monk – Pembling Sayadaw U Oshada – we shall call him U-O from now on. At this stage we are given more rules and how to’s. 

Then….. Silence.

Will Katja and I not talk at all?

Include no airconditioning or fan in our tiny box room with 2 single beds and it’s better than a gym steam room.

It feels odd knowing that I’ll not be talking to any friends and family back home or abroad.

 

 

Noble silence

Brahma Vihara Arama gates overlooking Lovina – Also where I was told not to sit during walking meditation

 

 

Day 2: 17th November 2019

Morning:

It’s 3:50am – we are up, Katja and I, but we haven’t heard the wake up bell yet. Maybe, when we were told that a bell will sound 5 times at 3:45am to wake us ready for first meditation, was all a big in-joke made by the buddhist monks.

Fingers crossed that these weary legs will get used to sitting for so long each day.

Last night was a severe case of Monkey Brain (termed by U-O as erratic thoughts) as I attempted to drift off to sleep – unaided by reading, music or meditation sounds. Got there eventually.

First up we walk around in silence, the slower the better. Already I’m giggling internally at how we all look like a bunch of brown (sarong) and white (shirt) zombies – quietly, aimlessly, meandering the temple.

Yes, it’s a 4am start. At least the Balinese roosters that never sleep are making us feel as though we should actually be awake at this hour – without alcohol and party music.

 

 

Afternoon:

It’s the first full day of our Vipassana retreat and I couldn’t complete it. I hobbled away at 7:30pm.

Why?

Ok, here’s how our days are supposed to go;

Wake at 3:45am

Walking meditation at 4am for 1 hour (walking really REALLY slow – focussing on our foot movements only)

Sitting meditation in the stupa for one hour (no movements unless absolutely necessary)

Breakfast from 6-7am

Walking meditation

Sitting meditation

Blah blah blah

Lunch at 11am – 12pm… No eating AT ALL from midday until the following day’s breakfast.

Walking

Sitting etc etc

4pm Dhamma talks (or listening rather) with U-O – plus more rules to abide by

Walking

Sitting

Finish at 9:30pm

In other words, we are awake 19 out of 24 hours each day. 2 of those hours taken up with food.. the rest is sitting and walking in silence. Do you want me to do the math for you?

8 hours sitting cross legged – because anything aside from that is considered impolite.

8 hours walking like a bunch of Thunderbirds.

That other hour is for laundry, bathing, teeth brushing, bug extraction and trying to still the mind without any help and getting to sleep ASAP.

EVERY. DAY.

We are allotted time to talk to the monk to discuss our progress every second day. Can you imagine all the verbal diarrhoea that we’ve all pent up in our silence?

Not feeling the love from my achilles and knee right now.

Nicotine patches start on the shoulder, seem to be locating them in my underwear around midday due to excessive heat (mainly) and menopausal sweat.

There’s a Justin Bieber look alike as one of the fellow zombies here. Hey Biebs! 

 

 

Noble Silence

Wise words

 

 

Day 3: 18th November 2019

Morning:

Is today classified as the evil “day 2” blues day I’ve read about in other blogs about silent retreats / noble silences? Or was that yesterday?

My mindset is really happy and positive, but my friggen knee and achilles have something else in mind.

I can feel my heart rate has gone crazy high. Actually hit my target 2000 calories burnt before 7am according to my Fitbit Versa. (upon further research, it appears that my Fitbit conniption caused my heart increase, so don’t panic Ma.)

Couldn’t eat breakfast this morning, lacking appetite – even though my belly was rumbling like a mini earth tremor.

Mutant cockroach extracted by broom from bathroom. Poor Katja looked horrified or terrified – too hard to tell without words.

 

What am I doing here?

I’m still not getting the whole “Focus on the pain” – “Pain will lead us to Nibbana” (which I assume means Nirvana)

WTAF?! I don’t understand.

Oh! I was mildly lectured for two things yesterday… 

  1. Resting during walking meditation. Nun: “this is walking meditation, not sitting.” Ali to self: it’s at least 40 degrees plus I’m fully clothed, hot-flashing, without a beach and piña colada in sight, luv.”
  2. Walking outside the (unmarked) female only territory. 

C’monnnn! I’m just trying to escape…. V e r y   S  L  O  W  L  Y.  

Walking meditation

I’ve decided that walking meditation during noble silence now looks like a bunch of Cadbury’s Top Deck (chocolate) brides that are rehearsing walking dramatically slow down the aisle towards her future husband… while someone messes with the slow motion function on the TV remote.

Focus on the foot, not the hilarity of chocolate brides, Al.

Why is it we have to do so many hours of mindfulness?

Is this as simple as just being in the NOW? If so, I think I’m ok on that one, thanks – well, most of the time.

First interview with U-O today. I just know he’s going to tell me to focus on the pain without moving. FUCK THAT!! I was in tears last night because I’m not allowed to move this knee. (I’m laughing as I type this btw, so don’t feel sorry for me)

Today I’m walking like an 80 year old.

Did I mention the heat yesterday? Add to this some impromptu menopausal hot flushes at inconvenient sitting meditation times. Lost about 5kgs in sweat alone today. Geez I’d hate to be underwear for a middle aged woman.

OK! OK!

5 Things I’m grateful for:

Learning meditation from a buddhist monk from Myanmar

My rebellious nature creating funnies

Filtered water

Katja

Getting through this 10 days

 

silent retreat

Brahma Vihara Arama shrine

Afternoon:

Vipassana interview with Guru was at 9am. I wanted to unleash verbal chaos, but found I had little to say or ask. 

I have to focus on the pain. (Laugh and insert eye roll here)

Now, I know he’s said that numerous times already, however, I really tried it – it actually seems to work. My concentration… hey butterfly. Hey frog. Shhhhh. Did Beibs just look over here?…. Maybe needs some more work.

During one of the sitting meditations I had full comedic movies and funny cartoons playing in my mind. How did I not laugh out loud? Must go back to primary focus – observing the belly rise and fall with the breath… or the pain.

Fitbit having another conniption – complete loss of time knowledge and whether my heart is still beating.

 

 

 

 

Silent retreat

Oh! You’re quiet now, aren’t you! 😉

Day something… 19th November 2019

 

Morning:

I have no concept of time right now…

“And on the third day” they brought in the dogs and flies at breakfast to test our slow, mindful eating practices for our Vipassana retreat. Add the whining, needy cats and I think that gives you a clear understanding about how we’re feeling this morning.

I’m still internally chuckling at the slow walks, especially with the post-apocalyptic sunrises whilst watching the poo-brown-sarongs and white shirted zombies silently searching for brains. Perhaps it’s our own brain we are in search of? Have we lost them already? Here’s hoping.

So far this Vipassana isn’t at all what I anticipated. I know, I know – no expectation, Dufus.

Even though I am mildly amused and understand the required practice of being in the moment – I’m feeling that this Noble silence may be a tad primitive and very strict.

All previous thoughts I had about becoming a Buddhist Nun – GONE!

I can’t be fucked being mindful today. (Bahahahahaha)

Do I opt for a post breakfast nap – or save that for the heat of the day… or ditch the farken hot daylight completely today?

Currently sitting outside our room, mindfully snacking on my contraband sunflower seeds and cashews whilst breaking the rules of writing.

Ok, so maybe the mind is clearer? I feel like bursting with laughter at nothing. Maybe this is deliriousness or is it hysteria? Wasn’t the remedy for hysteria a vibrator centuries ago? You’re right, monkey brain hasn’t quite left me… yet.

Seriously, the slightest thing could trigger an outburst of uncontrollable laughter right now.

Tried to feed a grasshopper my breakfast prawn cracker. He’s not a fan either.

Mutant, tropical (human hand-sized) spidey in the bathroom is, so far, the only creepy that we haven’t extracted from our room. I think I’ll name him Wazza.

It’s so hard getting the flies to mindfully fuck off. Must. Not. Murder. Beasties.

I think my elbow bites have subsided a bit today. Unfortunately no escape via hospital visit today.

I wish I didn’t have hair.

 

Vipassana retreat

The detail at these temples ❤

5 Things I’m grateful for:

I’m still alive

Having rebellious whisper chats with Katja (I think our meeting was the reason we are both here – of which I couldn’t be more grateful) – we even got those “must-be-quiet-uncontrollable-giggles.”

Contraband snacks

Exceptional sunrises at the temple (that I shouldn’t be watching because I’m supposed to be indoors pretending I’m a pretzel, meditating)

3 or 4 days done already

FRESH MANGOES!

Afternoon:

I humbly apologise to anyone I may have spiritually distracted during noble silence meditation today. Seems the creative juices are flowing and I don’t want to stem that flow.

 

 

Vipassana retreat

Buddha & Pineapple

 

 

Questions about Silent retreats:

So what is the point of all this mindfulness?

Is it to open up our intuitive receptors?

Am I a silent pineapple?

Is it to have that control over everything in our sub & conscious minds?

To slow down everything?

To become completely present?

Observation and not reacting to our feelings? 

Learning loving kindness?

Is that silent guy really Justin Bieber?

Am I prettier when I don’t talk?

 

YES.

 

Diary Cont..

Katja and I are obviously trail blazers because I caught a few others not going to class and opting for sneaky whisper chats across beds.

As for this fasting bizzo to enhance our mindful eating… pffft! Don’t they realise they’re trying to stop a cow from what it does naturally?

Food definitely tastes better. Or is it that I appreciate it more due to lack of availability?

OH! Last night I dreamt I was a fighter pilot!!!! Not just your average flying dream. You may call me Maverick.

Before the retreat we also received a list of items that were recommended to be brought to the silent retreat.. One of the critically notable items to mention is toilet paper. This poses the question:

How much toilet paper does one person need over 10 days? Answer will be confirmed at the end of 10 days.

Can people hear me munching on my choc chip cookies right now?

Is the Nun going to send another of her creepy crawly army into our room to punish me? (as I sit here editing whilst indulging after midday, there’s just one fly testing my mindful eating – nearly 2 weeks later)

What do Monks and Nuns wear under their robes? Personally, I hope they are like the Scots with their kilts. And is this how all the bowing started – trying to get a sneak peak of what’s underneath?

“Initiate. Peel. Lift. Forward. Drop” (this is the mental mantra for each step as we gaze mindlessly 6ft in front of us) Every. Single. Step. Eight+. Hours. Per. Day.

Groundhog Day/hour/minute/second

 

Noble Silence

Brahma Vihara Arama

Another day begins… 20th November 2019

Morning:

My earworms upon waking are back. “I wanna walk with you on a cloudy day. In fields where the yellow grass grows knee high” Nora Jones. (Hello my Grangamite – that is my beloved Grandmother’s song)

Dream: In a resort/car fix place. I jumped into the tiny pool and was blamed by a very cranky female owner that I emptied the pool of too much water from my bomb. She used a folded towel to show me how much the water level had dropped. 

I’m guessing this has something to do with being in a delirious dehydration. 

New earworm: “Would I try a little tobacco, would I keep on hiking up my skirt?” “EVERYTHING’S FIIIINE!” – Tracey Bonham

I’m completely convinced that I’m done here. Perhaps I’ll talk to U-O to find out the full purpose of this Vipassana retreat / silent retreat.

Last night the large red ants crawling all over my bed was the last straw. I actually feel great mentally – physically not so much, but I’m ok with that.

I’ve realised a few things:

Hinduism is officially my favourite now.

There’s no chance I’ll be a buddhist nun.

I enjoy not talking/no phone/fasting.

Super rapt I met Katja – she’s hilarious, quietly – of course.

Nobody looks or “feels” happy here.

I’m better equipped to deal with pain now. Maybe this was my lesson.

Will they allow me to quietly escape?

I’m a non-conformist. I’ll continue my path of research to come to my own conclusions about living mindfully (and spiritually & mentally happy) instead of following a particular crowd.

I spoke with U-O and impressed him with my limited Burmese lingo. He tried to convince me to focus on the heat… DUDE! That’s all I am doing. Not helpful in this instance. Just ask my saturated clothing.

Just realised why there’s underwire in bras… fluid collection during crazy inner and external heat.

 

Afternoon:

I escaped…. SLOWLY.

I didn’t get the answer to the most important query – being how much toilet paper does one human need over 10 days of noble silence… but after 4 days I was well on my way to finishing the first roll.

Maybe Katja can provide the answer? I left her what was remaining of my poo tickets..

Answer: A vague recollection, a few weeks post-retreat has us thinking that 3 rolls of toilet paper between two of us over 10 days was just about right.. possibly only because I left early though. 

 

 

In addition, I wasn’t the only one that attempted or succeeded in escaping.

 

 

silent retreat

Looking out from the sitting temple.. just longing for aircon

 

 

How a Vipassana retreat should work

Do I need to mention that I meditate 2-3 hours every day? It’s not like this quietness and solitude is new to me.

If it takes 21 days to make or break a habit… so, why is it 10 days of noble silence?

According to Dhamma.org; “the prescribed code of discipline is to learn the basics of meditation and to practice sufficiently to experience its beneficial results.”

To learn abstination from:

  • killing
  • Stealing
  • Sexual activity
  • Speaking falsely
  • Intoxicants

 

The cost of Noble Silence / Vipassana retreat

We weren’t charged to do this silent retreat / Vipassana retreat, however we were encouraged to leave a donation.

  1. For the temple for accom & food
  2. For U-O and his mean nun

 

What now?

Above all else, (and post further research), it seems as though I feel most of the above practices are my every day life. I know I could do more, but I’m actually happy where I’m currently at – for now.

I will do another silent retreat, just maybe not as strict or hot or full of creepies.

Perhaps a visit back to Incredible India is on the cards.

 

It’s all about being zen as fuck, living in the present and being skinny… or something like that. 

 

Please talk with me about your experiences with Vipassana

Are there any other mid-life women out there that have tried this version of Vipassana retreat? Please tell me your thoughts.

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7 days in Lisbon, Portugal

Loaded Lisboa

Free and cheap things to do in Lisbon.

Is this still classified as solo female travel if I’m visiting friends whilst I spend a week in Lisbon?

I’ve left my usual tropically warm Asiatic confines to hit winter in Europe. This trip to Mallorca via Lisbon is my first ever European city and what a spectacular start.  

For this solo female traveller, a 14 hour – sleep deprived – British Airways flight from Kuala Lumpur via Heathrow, lands me early in the AM. Therefore has me trying to locate my brain.  However, my thoughtful friend, Simone, takes me out exploring Lisbon city, eating nearly all day, in an attempt to get me onto local time ASAP. 46 hours awake and I’m seeing unicorns with butterfly wings before me.

I swore I’d never own a puffy jacket, but knowing I was going to Europe in winter purchasing this clothing item on the way to Melbourne airport was a necessity. My Kathmandu aqua (of course!), wearable, super lightweight ‘duvet’, that packs into it’s own tiny sleeve, is one of the best purchases for my time meandering this hilly, coastal capitol. 

There is a plethora of free things to do in Lisbon travel, so I’ve listed a few below.

 

What & where to eat/drink ..

During your 7 days in Lisbon

1. An absolute MUST when you travel Lisbon:  Pasteis at Pasteis de Belem (Portuguese egg tarts) – with their crispy and incredibly flakey pastry encasing the tastiest, creamy and light egg custard you could ever imagine. Literally melts in the mouth. People line up for hours waiting for a seat in the most popular eateries. It was a tad early to try these incredible tarts with Port (another Portuguese staple), which is the norm for visitors. 

 

Pasteis Belem

Pasteis Belem – a MUST in Lisbon

2. Sardines in any form – Portugal specialise in these stinky little fish. As you know, I’m not a seafood feaster, so I skipped that.

3. Cherry liquor – comes with intoxicated cherries and served in a scrumptious dark chocolate shot cup.  Uurrgggllll 🤤

 

cheap things to do in Lisbon

Intoxicating cherry liquor served in dark choc cups

 

4. Vino verde – a local specialty, very light and crispy white wine. Snacks of crunchy fava beans a splendid accompaniment.

 

Lisbon Travel

Viño Verdè

5. Lx Factory – an excellent place to hide from the rain downpour. Wander, shop, eat and drink your way around this artistically vibrant area. 

6. Port – from Porto is the preferred choice (other than coffee) to have with Pasteis.

7. Clube de Fado – I felt like we ate everything on the menu here. Excellent local vino buzz followed by Fado singing lulling us into a food coma. Check my video link here.

8. Time out Market – sounds like the corner where naughty people go.. but it’s a large tin shed where you can eat your weight in every cuisine possible.

 

 

free things to do in Lisbon

Lisbon city’s vibrant laneways

What to see..

During your week in Lisbon

This city has it all..

1. Ancient buildings – most are older than white-man settlement in my home country, Australia.

2. When you travel Lisbon it’s hard to miss the UNESCO listed, 16th century, “Cultural Heritage of Humanity” – Torre del Belem. She sits beside the Tagus Estuary as part of Portugal’s historical defence system. More information here.

 

Lisbon travel

Torre del Belem

 

3. Colourful, individually hand painted, tiled facades that are centuries old and still appear new. If you haven’t had enough of viewing the blue hand painted azulejos, you can visit the National Tile Museum.

 

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4. Cobble stoned streets lined with ancient 2-4 storey houses showcasing laundry from the washing-lines outside their multi-coloured façades. Include a plethora of climbing plants and you have the most ludicrously picturesque backdrop.

 

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..And most of these are free things to do in Lisbon!

5. Of course, you can’t miss the Arco da Rua Augusta (stone arch) located pride of place in Praca do Comercio (Waterfront Square) looking out at the estuary. This Arch and her surrounding building were created to commemorate the Great Earthquake of 1755. (I’ll not complain about my age or earthquakes again.)

 

Solo travel Lisbon

Arco du Rua and Praco do Comercio

 

6. The beach! Obviously my puffy jacket and I weren’t going to swim here, but the beaches sure are purdy.

7. In true form of visiting countries that have famous, man-made landmarks, I avoided Castelo de Sao Jorge (St George Castle). Apparently it’s a good place to visit especially when you have a full week in Lisbon. But I’m sticking to my guns. No Royal Palace in my 20+ visits to Bangkok, no Taj Mahal in India – you get the idea. I guess I’m not the best solo female traveller if I’m dodging the crowds, right?

8. The city shrouded in Christmas decorations. There’s no hiding from tinsel, colourful lights and nativity scenes around this time of year.

 

off the beaten path

Simone & Roberto under Chrissy decos

 

What to do..

During your 7 days in Lisbon travel

No man-flu is going to stop me from exploring this city – at the time of my 7 days in Lisbon – in my usual fashion. That is; attempting to get really lost just so I gain a better understanding of the locale and humans.

1. Street art everywhere, which is reminiscent of Melbourne’s creatively vibrant laneways.

 

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2. Lively neighbourhoods with local traditional food, fado singing and music. One night out with my wonderful hosts, Simone & Roberto, I was taken to Clube de Fado for exceptional vittles and where a woman’s passionate Fado singing nearly brought me to tears. Check that video out here.

3. Sit in one of the many rooftop bars overlooking the terracotta tiled roofs and taste test the local cuisine then wash it down with a cold beer or vino verde. A cocktail while watching our warming sky-ball dip below the horizon at the high Portas do Sol is a must.

And for those not as driven by food and wine, yet still free things to do in Lisbon..

4. Easily explore the city either on foot, by tram or by train. The Central Train Station (Estacio de Rossio) is beautifully lit at night.

 

Explore Lisbon

Estacio de Rossio

 

5. Wander aimlessly and get caught up in the lanes’ little, traditional food and wine, family run, eateries. The best people watching and solving life’s mysteries happens outside these restaurants on frail and ancient looking wrought iron chairs and tables.

6. Gawk in awe at the World Heritage listed Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (Jeronimos Monastery). This 16th century mammoth monastery built in honour of Vasco de Gamo because he (and his crew) stayed in Lisbon before they set off to become the first Europeans to reach India. (or something like that).

7. Watch the sunset from up high at one of the many Praca’s (Portuguese squares) that overlook the city and all those terracotta tiles plus those infamous hand painted tiled buildings.

 

Lisbon solo travel

Surrounded by terracotta and hand painted tiles ❤

 

8. Just walk everywhere. There are incredibly lanes to explore. Even more important when one eats as much as I did during my 7 days in Lisbon.

 

I’m just going to bombard you with photos instead of talking about this perfect city..

 

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Lisbon travel / solo female travel

My local friends tell me how much Lisbon has changed since they arrived 7 years prior. It appears that the Portuguese Government are setting up incentives for non-nationals to live there. I’m super keen because there’s nothing Lisbon can’t do.

 

It’s all about education of the mind, body and spirit (as I solo travel)…. and making myself snottier by inhaling too many Pasteis.

 

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14 reasons to travel Sri Lanka (Part 2)

 

Softly spoken Sri Lanka travel blog Continued from Part 1.

More information on travel in Sri Lanka below.. 

 

14 reasons to travel Sri Lanka

View from our room

9. Ramboda Falls 

During Sri Lanka travel we head south and east, takes us deep into the deepest blue of the Bunsen burner flame of the Sri Lanka map. Luckily for us, and tip of the hat to uncle Nigel (thanks, Nige!) we have an old-school fold-out paper map to trace our route, circle stops and appreciate this graphic flame often and at our leisure.

Turns out that deepest blue in the bunsen burner means altitude! We spend the morning gaining some of it pretty quickly. It’s about 2.5 hours of up into the mountains before we have to ditch the car at a turn off and are shuttled down an immensely steep switchback drive to the lobby of the most spectacular Ramboda Falls hotel.

The casual hostel scruffiness here gives way quickly and magnificently to the surroundings – a south facing overlook on a wooded ravine. Flanked by a powerful nearby double waterfall on the left, a taller, slender, silent one straight ahead in the distance and a crinkle of mountain range spanning out to the right.

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It’s hard to describe the excitement when the guy helping with our packs and showing us our way to the room leaves the main dormitory style building and leads us out to the furthest-most cottage perched right at the steepest and most nicely shaded spot where the view is nothing but Sri Lanka travel’s finest.

An afternoon of waterfall and sun bathing, dog-befriending and balcony music happy hour sunset give way to an evening of buffet, wine, table-side Sri Lankan happy-birthday guitar and tambourine quartet (not even close to my birthday, but very nicely played, Ali!), a few hours of 8-ball billiards in the hotel bar with self-soundsystem and finally, a flat-on-our-backs-in-the-grass star-gazing cosmos ponder.

 

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10. Nuwara Eliya

(Travel Sri Lanka) Next day, awakened by a small platoon of caffeinated monkeys on the tin roof of the cottage, it’s off through the tea plantations, into a tea plantation factory (where our guide reinforces my hunch that most commercially available black tea bags are filled with the dust swept off the factory floor) to the nearby town of Nuwara Eliya.  This place is too cute. Much cooler temperature-wise given its altitude than anywhere else we’ve been, NE is full of storybook brick and stone Tudor architecture inspired by the English countryside.

 

14 reasons to travel Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya colonial Post Office

Apparently, the British colonialists found this to be one of the best spots to set up a home away from home complete with a golf-course, plush resort hotel and downtown with banks and a post-office.

Taking a walk a few blocks north of downtown though and the bus terminal, fruit markets, roti cafes and shops selling SIM cards, milo, hardware, bridal hairstyling, stiff-billed Stussy caps and elephant pants – say, “nah, this isn’t the Cotswolds, you’re travelling Sri Lanka still’. It’s just a little less hot.

 

14 reasons to travel Sri Lanka

Tharanga in the Nuwara Eliya market

 

But then a walk by the adjacent recreational lake feels again like somewhere else altogether – maybe Sweden? Who knows. It’s nice though, and our guide there, a smiley yellow dog that trots up and puts his paws in Ali’s seated lap, stands tall to signal his approval of her, makes sure we leave town with a profound appreciation for its welcoming and carefree spirit.

Another light-agenda day is just right, and after a breezy windows-down drive back through the tea plantation road switch-backs, we spend the rest of the day near the hotel luxuriating by a natural pool in glittering dappled sunlight, bouldering and building Zen rock piles.

The evening is about a village walk, another riverside waterfall scamper to get the bpm’s up. Then a fantastic night of watching Makila, a local dude with big plans, and his buddies laugh uproariously and tweak each other gently about not *quite* getting the cue ball up table, around a coin and back to home in three shots, no cushion or coin to be touched – a game that Ali knew would be all it takes to start a fun, bonding party like this.

 

 

14 reasons to travel Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya train station

11. THE Train Ride

I believe this to be one of the main reasons to travel Sri Lanka:

This morning we’re met by our second driver/guide, Nisha.  He’s a lithe, handsome guy who looks quite a bit younger than a 43-year old dad of two teenagers. Nisha’s got an easy smile, gentle demeanor and the same confident flow behind the wheel as Tharanga.

I’ve learned from Ali that Nisha is the engineer and artist behind our itinerary and he’s got the presence you might expect from a mastermind.

We make a stop back in Nuwara Eliya for a little breakfast and coffee before heading over to the train station to catch the 12:15 to Ella.

14 reasons to travel Sri Lanka

The best train ride I’ve been on

The train is only half an hour behind schedule and when it does pull in it’s interesting to note that it takes about five minute of Nisha and his colleagues trailing other guides and their disembarked clients before they return hurriedly holding tickets for us to board. (Sri Lanka Travel made exceptional via train)

First impression, after lots of hype is “Oh. OK. Cramped commuter train through the countryside with other underwhelmed, snacking Eurameristralians.” Ali even picked up a dark vibe in her foursome across the aisle from me – which, thankfully, made us move to a better location in the carriage.

But then. End of Car. Open doors. Full-face lean-outs over seated leg hangers.

 

14 reasons to travel Sri Lanka

Leg-hanging out the door whilst cruising

 

“Tika-taka, tika-taka, tika-taka. Ta-tak; ta-tak; ta-tak.”

This was the dialog between the steel wheels, the carriage, the tracks, the sleepers and the earth as we coasted past a grove of silvery gum trees bathed in dappled sunshine that punctuated a view of green mountains through them and blue ones beyond. It was only another bend before the train was enveloped in a passing cloud, bringing a cool misty ghostliness to the emerald grasses and fiery flowered bushes that brushed our outstretched toes.

Here and there a face would drift by, one with a whistle, softly but firmly blown to signal something like “I’m here”. Another squinting through a sunbeam to gather a glimpse of the far paler faces aboard looking back through open windows and sunglasses.

There was nothing loud or abrupt or forced or splashy about this afternoon train ride, billed as the most beautiful in Sri Lanka, between the quaint Britishy-feeling tea and scones resort town of Nuwara Eliya.

Surrounded by some of the country’s most prolific tea-producing plantations and the not-so-nearby ayurvedic backpackers/ beer/tea/shisha/massage basecamp called Ella nestled in the crook of Adams Peak and the 9-arches bridge.

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About an hour in, after a station stop in a sunny-side opening for a side-by-side seated leg-hang of our own, albeit on the less scenic, less sunny side.

But then, almost instantly, a big right-hand bend and the valley of the gods opens up to us through ghostly gum trees and we’re there, floating, clicking, clacking, grinning and breathing involuntarily deep breaths.

Next through a cloud, then whipped at the toes by sun-warmed grasses, past small farms and houses bathed in late afternoon golden glow.

Please don’t let it stop. And it doesn’t.

Seeming hours (and it was) of fragrant sun-dappled woods, 200-km views to distant mountains, wooshing tunnels and smiling faces at stations and between.

THIS is the Sri Lanka I brought with me when I left. Mountains, colors, tea, train, mellow sunny fragranced fields, patient tuk-tuk travelers stopped at crossings and gentle breezes.

 

12. Ella

At our destination, Ella, high in the central province mountains, all pile out and it’s apparent that more than half of the passengers are 20-30-something crunchy back-packers, tatted, dreadlocked, tanned, ankleted, pony-tailed and equipped for trekking.

The town itself is small and caters to this contingent – hostels, bars, shisha joints and lots of little mom-and-pop ayurvedic massage emporiums. After a pot of street-front, people-watching tea, we book into a massage place. Relatively early to bed at another deserted hotel after some amazing hotel-grown-and-made pumpkin soup.

 

14 reasons to travel Sri Lanka

Mini Adam’s Peak

 

The following morning we make quick work of Mini Adams Peak – a brisk vertical endeavour that rewards with an incredible panoramic view of surrounding mountains. Now cast in stark atmospheric relief by the brilliance of the mid-morning sun and offers a nice glimpse in the direction of the next chapter of our tour, south toward the ocean.

A family of mountain dogs and their pups show us around the summit after they were treated to Coconut Haiwaiin cookies care of Nisha, much to the delight of a pair of Aussie ladies whom Ali pegs as being from Queensland.

 

Part 3 continued here.

 

If you’re considering a trip to Sri Lanka, PLEASE make sure you get in touch with the below wonderful humans to help make your trip a comfortable and educational breeze:

 

Nisha (organised the WHOLE trip for us):

WhatsApp; +94 77 626 4733

 

Tharanga (majority of driving & educating):

WhatsApp; +94 70 363 6046

 

For discounts on accomodation through Booking.com, click HERE.

 

 

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7 days in Resplendent Russia

Travel Russia – Guest travel blog by my dear ‘Fraunty’, Dr S.

Dr S – Guest blogger

Hi readers. Dr S here.. I’m writing a guest travel blog about spending 7 days in Russia in September last year – better late than never – to contribute to my friend’s over 40’s travel blog. Apologies in advance but my musings usually contain a lot of pictures of buildings, sorry, but it’s my thing. 

7 days in Russia
Building artwork

Russian food?

I’m not a gourmet foodie, so I’m not qualified to report on that. As long as I can get something to eat, I’m happy.

Guess what?! You can get beer in McDonalds!

Just like a chocolate milkshake…

And even coffee guys look interesting when you’re in another country.

7 days in Russia
Coffee with Vodka, please

I should also qualify my Russia guest travel blog with the disclaimer that I only spent a week in Russia and what can you really know about a country if you’re only there for a week? Just what you see in that time frame is all.

Massive Moscow

Anyhow, we flew from Lyon in France, to Moscow, with Aeroflot. The usual advice is “don’t fly Aeroflot”, but that’s just a hangover from a past bad reputation. These days Aeroflot has a whole bunch of new planes and is as reliable as any other.

We spent our 7 days in Russia about five months after Moscow hosted the World Cup of football, and so the locals were fairly used to tourists by that time.

Mainly Aussies and Poms (Brits) and mostly really drunk tourists as far as I can tell, fortunately they didn’t hold that against us.

How to describe Moscow?

If you asked me for one word to describe Moscow, that word would be BIG.

Everything is enormous, not just the tourist hotspots like the Kremlin, but even including footpaths that are so wide that about 50 people could stand side-by-side, shoulder to shoulder. This is a typical Moscow building in the old section of town, with a person in the shot to give an idea of scale.

7 dyas in Russia
BIG building

Moscow Architecture

The main road that runs through Moscow has 14 lanes, 7 on one side and 7 on the other. If you’ve ever tried to cross 14 lanes of traffic, don’t. Thankfully they have underpasses everywhere as that’s the only way to get across such huge roads. The Kremlin (below) is ginormous. 

7 days in Russia
Kremlin (big-walled) with one of the 7 “Empire State” buildings in the background

All BIG things have to be cleaned sometime, and so Moscow also has the World’s Largest Street-Cleaning Fleet to clean their huge streets – see following picture.

7 days in Russia
BIG street cleaning fleet

Red Square is humungous. Moscow has seven similar buildings that look suspiciously American, in the style of the Empire State, spread all over the city and known as the 7 Sisters – and they too are monumentally huge. Seven is of course so much more impressive than just one. Naturally, huge buildings need huge entry canopies.

7 days in Russia
BIG Canopy

The university is huge, and guarded by the statue of some angry dude …. 

7 days in Russia
BIG Uni at night


Subway (no, not food)

… and the subway is both incredibly ornate and you guessed it – huge.

There’s lots of heart-warming propaganda in the underground train stations – lots of statues, mosaics and paintings of happy peasant folk with lots of wheat, showing how well fed and happy everyone was back in the days when the central Government was in charge of everything. Bit like the way we’re heading now in Australia (end of political commentary).

7 days in Russia
BIG yellow subway

The subways are fortified so they can double as bomb shelters, and the university has underground bunkers as well – turns out they thought the Americans would drop a bomb on them, while we Westerners were raised to think it would go the other way. Who knew?! 

Even the portable toilets look like they’d withstand nuclear fallout. 

7 days in Russia
Bomb shelter/proverbial shitter

Anyway, you get the idea. We spent 7 days in Russia to discover that Moscow is really big.

I think all travellers would agree that it’s the little oddball, spontaneous things that you remember and hold dear. Like, of course I remember the Eiffel Tower, but … once we got lost in the back streets of Paris, and we accidentally ended up being the only two members of an audience when we stopped in a dead-end street to listen to a young girl playing her violin in her own home, with the shutters open due to a heat wave. We stood there and listened to the magic, until she noticed us listening and stopped. Tower schmower – it’s those joyous little surprises that you never forget. 

Moscow – Military Tattoo

During our week in Russia, Moscow gave us a lovely surprise, albeit a big one because they only do big there. We trooped out to see the onion dome church thing at night, St Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, and to my inner photographer’s dismay, it was dark and unlit. Disappointed, we trudged home.

Found out the next day that the Cathedral was in darkness because there was an event being held on the other (Kremlin) side, and it was – omfg – a Military Tattoo in the land of the military!! We hunted high and low for tickets, at 2pm the booth said they were sold out, then a kind local explained that any spare tickets would be re-allocated to all the booths at around 5pm, and so we returned and were lucky enough to get 2 tickets just in time to get there.

I can’t fully express what a total BUZZ it was to see a Military Tattoo in Red Square in Moscow, a place that’s fairly keen on all things military. They had invited entrants from all over the world, so not only did we see all the incredibly proud local army & navy types, but we also saw army bands from all kinds of obscure places – Mexico, Ireland, Sri Lanka – all of which were amazing. 

Tattoo Excitement

The roar that went up when any of the Russian military came out to play was deafening, and chock-full of national pride. Some of the Russian musos were hilarious, earnest young Russian military boys gettin’ down and funky for the crowd and generally not taking themselves too seriously. (Taking the piss as we say in ‘Oz – so they do have a sense of yuma!).

There were bands from Mexico, Sri Lanka, Ireland, and so on, you name it they were there. 

The ones that took the cake as far as we were concerned were the Dutch – they not only played their musical instruments while at the same time riding their specially modified bicycles (the Dutch do love a good bicycle), but they rode said bikes on the extremely rough cobblestoned Red Square surface – and, aiming for a degree of difficulty of 11.5, they did all this in national dress including wooden clogs.

Ever tried to ride a bike in wooden clogs? Unfreakinbelievable. After the concert, they hung out in the carpark, playing more music and signing autographs like rock stars. Full marks to the Dutch crew.

Conclusion on Moscow

7 days in this Russian location was mind-blowing. The Military Tattoo was held in Red Square with St Basil’s onion-dome Cathedral and the Kremlin’s Spassky Tower in the background, both lit with an ever-changing array of colours, and of course fireworks at the end, while the moon popped up as well (it was, of course, big). 

7 days in Russia
St Basil’s with moon

One of those shake-your-head-am-I-really-here moments that absolutely thrilled us during our week in Russia. What a SHOW! It was a night I’ll never forget and totally unplanned, we were just dead lucky. Which makes it doubly grouse.

7 days in Russia
St Basil’s with fireworks – SERIOUSLY?!?!

St Petersburg

We didn’t have time to get out into the countryside which is where I believe you get to see the darker side of Russia – i.e. poverty, and zero amenities, poor food, no medical assistance, etc. We instead caught the train to St Petersburg, a pleasant 4 hour train ride. Along the way, you catch glimpses of how people outside of Moscow live, with apartment blocks cuddling right up to power stations. 

7 days in Russia
Power station vs housing

And we saw some ripper vehicles during our 7 days in Russia.

St Petersburg – Don’t believe the hype

You know how when every one you know tells you to go see a movie because it’s great, fantastic, amazing, life-changing and all that? St Petersburg suffered just like that, from too many superlatives. It is a place consisting of 30 or so islands, a whole lot of rivers and canals in between, and as a result, their biggest claim to fame (Hermitage Museum aside) are the bridges that rise up at around 1am to let ships and barges in and out. 

7 days in Russia
Bridge up

Don’t get me wrong, they are worth seeing, because up go the bridges, along with the light poles, tram lines, electricity wires and the lot, so it’s all fairly clever, but otherwise St Petersburg didn’t really do it for me. People call it ‘The Venice of the North’ because it’s allegedly so beautiful, but being so close to sea level, it’s a very flat landscape, which is very boring for photography enthusiasts.

St Petersburg Architecture

There’s some nice architecture and for that reason people have been known to compare it to Paris; there’s lots of gold leaf everywhere, plus Peterhof is St Petersburg’s (naturally bigger) answer to the palace at Versailles, but I just didn’t find it special.

It does have the other onion dome thing – the very seriously-named Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood – which has something like 35,000 square metres of tiling, again with the huge theme. Sort of like penis envy really. “My palace is bigger than yours.” “My church has more tiles than yours.”

Australians can be equally proud of what we have that’s big, with the Big Prawn, the Big Pineapple, and of course, all our Greats – the Barrier Reef, the Australian Bight, Great Ocean Road, the Sandy Desert and so on. But I digress.

7 days in Russia
‘Understated’ palace

With Moscow so HUGE and St Petersburg so flat with a handful of big things, you have to give serious thought to what camera lenses will work for that week in Russia. (Ed: should have sought advice from photo guru; Ali)

Accommodation – St Petersburg

Not sure if I’m allowed to give plugs, but a big shout-out to the people at the Hotel Rossi, all of whom were absolutely sensational. All the concierges got involved with our taxi hassles and any other requests for assistance.

The door guy was awesome in giving us suggestions for each day out (and how to get back), the rooms are lovely, it is well located near the main drag, and they have an in-house spa for massaging sore travel-ravaged bodies. Also, their lift, pictured below, tells you what day it is, which is bloody helpful when you’re on holiday.

7 days in Russia
Oh, it’s Toosdee.

Taxi Turmoil

Yes, I mentioned taxi hassles.

When you spend 7 days in Russia, you can’t help but learn the hard way about getting around via taxi.

The taxi industry in Russia is a huge racket allegedly run by the Mafia. They tout at the airports for your business.

You will see guys wearing a Taxi sign around their neck; they offer a quote for your trip, if you accept or even hesitate, they take your bags and start walking so you have no option but to follow, and then they put you in an unmarked domestic car with a driver from another country who already has your bags locked securely in the boot by the time you catch up. At that point, anybody could be taking you anywhere and charging anything, and it’s pretty scary.

Taxis cost how much?

The charges range wildly – we paid 250 roubles for a cab to the Hermitage from our hotel, because the hotel booked it, and were charged 1500 roubles for the same trip back (not booked by the hotel). Even if you ask them to quote you a price before getting in the cab, they can and will often increase the price at random as you go along, so you just can’t win, and it actually became a bit of a downer the longer we stayed.

It’s a real headfxxx, the only consolation being that when you convert it back to AUD in your head, it’s not a lot of money in real terms.

Conclusion

Shout-out also to all the various tour guides we had to show us around during our quick 7 days in Russia – they are very open and will tell you all about themselves, what they earn, how they live, what their politics are, what the history is, and so on – a fantastic source of real-life information, and just something we prefer compared to looking at dusty old things in museums (but to each his own).

In the end, we’d have been happier to have used the 3 days (out of the week in Russia) we spent in St Petersburg to have stayed longer in Moscow. But hey, they’re the things you learn only when you get out there.

Me, I used to be so scared of flying I would only go where I could get to by bus or train (i.e. inside Australia), so I’m just plain ecstatic to be anywhere else.

What experiences have you had in Russia that you can share with us? Is this a good Solo female traveller destination? Please comment below..

Want to learn more about solo female travel for over 40’s? Try here.

14 things to consider before housesitting

House-sitting Havoc – Mallorca

Do you want to know what Mallorca and Silence of the Lambs has in common?? I’m about to tell you…

Imagine going to a country where your family heritage resides, add the fact that I’m a sea worshipper, you’ll understand how much my soul was looking forward to this Mallorcan Island trip.

I’m in heaven, surrounded by salty aqua, secluded empty beaches and white limestone cliffs over looking the Mediterranean Sea, living virtually for free, looking after 2 dogs and a cat. The dogs; Puppy (Pronounced Poopy) – a very lucky Mexican dog, that only speaks French, living the life of luxury on Mallorca; Iria – a stunning wolf-cross whom only speaks Spanish and did her utmost to ruin my sanity; and Margot – a cat whose head is too small for her body.

Margot

For a self professed “Animal whisperer” like myself this housesit was going to be a cinch… Or was this animal-sit just to prove to me that my ego was too big?

The sheep of Spain wear these beautiful wind chime chattering bells around their woolen necks – which, in normal circumstances, sounds like something from a guided meditation by Buddhist monks, but hearing the chaotic rush from those bells after being chased by Iria, I now have flashbacks to Silence of the Lambs. (Insert mental image of Clarice Starling trying to catch a serial killer).

My fluffy, freedom-seeking, soul-sister proves how alike we are by choosing lambs as her favourite meal. She would disappear for an hour or so, initially, and I’d just live in hope that she’d return after she had finished whatever it was she was doing (this was on numerous occasions before I was able to discover exactly where she went on her expeditions). 

Iria after her first of many Houdini acts

So, if you’re contemplating doing a house and furry-beast-sit for anyone, here are some things to consider and questions to ask the owner before you say yes…

Porto Cristo Boat Harbour
  1. It’s possibly mid-winter or high-summer where you’re going to housesit. 

If you’re ok with chilly or cooked bones then by all means sign up for everything and anything.

My most recent housesit I was incredibly enthusiastic about going to Spain (from Australia) and having spoken to my incredibly kind and seemingly relaxed homeowner, I anticipated a super laid back 2-3 months with 3 beasts and all the time in the world to myself to explore my mild wintery island home (I say mild due to Melbourne’s Antarctic wind blown, frosty comparison), complete some study and travel blogging. Boy was that far from reality.

Thankfully Mallorca’s version of winter is a humid balminess – On average, temperatures were around 15-20 degrees celsius.

Find out whether supermarkets, restaurants and other basic necessities are operational during winter or if you’re going to be bombarded by tourists before your decision too. I discovered that just about every town shut down for 4 months upon my arrival in early November. Insert tumbleweeds being the only traffic through the small, crispy breezed, ghost towns with closed, multi-colour shuttered doors and windows contrasting the endless terracotta stained buildings.

“Ready for a walk, Iria?” Uhhhhhh….

2. Find out what training the furries have had.

Dare I go into detail about how important it is to train your dogs? Even something as simple as being able to walk them on a lead and recall should be mandatory but isn’t always the case – so I painfully discovered. Humans spend all this money on educating their children, why do animals miss out? 

In my not-so-humble opinion – humans need more training than domestic pets. What makes you think you can house a wolf-cross, another elderly Mexican dog and a cat, whose head is too small for its body (obese), in an apartment with very minimal backyard? 

Tiniest backyard (I have a well, cute dog and a murderous looking white van – Silence of the Lambs ref #2)

I’ve walked these animals on average 18kms per day. It’s not anywhere near enough. Poor Iria needs to roam free on acreage not be trapped in a townhouse with a bedroom sized yard day after day.

Due to the beasts neediness / separation anxiety, I couldn’t leave the house for 5 minutes without something in the house being attacked.

Chaos by the pesky varmints:

Numerous books selected individually from the full bookcase, then ripped to shreds;

Tea towels mauled, swallowed and vomited up in a pea soup looking liquid days later – inside the house;

The box of masticated materials is currently too small so a new, larger shipping container is required now.

Although I appear miffed at Iria, I know the problem lies in ownership.

It’s cruel keeping this stunning creature locked up and without any training what-so-ever. 

To put it simply; Make sure you’re fully aware of each of the animals’ idiosyncrasies.

Looming beasty

3. Meet and talk with the owner and animals before you take on the role. 

Personally, I think you can tell a lot about domesticated animals behaviors by their owners personality. In this case, I believe that my host creates these needy relationships where she is depended upon to warrant her own existence. This is why all three animals required constant attention.

If you’re overseas then I suggest a few Facetime/Skype calls to see how all parties involved are behaving. Find out all behavioral patterns before agreeing because you may find that your usual natural ability to talk to and understand animals is pointless.

Mallorcan house

4. Ensure all the basic house stuff is operational. 

i.e. Wifi, hot water, electricity etc

The first month I spent without wifi – that caused absolute boredom and crabbiness because I couldn’t do any of the blogging and study that I had planned.

Also, the hot water disappeared for a week. I believe I was advised that the gas bottle would last a good couple of months, so I didn’t think to check that initially. But after being frozen solid each morning in the shower for a week, during winter, I thought I’d better see if it was a lack of gas. Of course it was. 

See below regarding receiving detailed notes on how things operate within the household.

Unicorn onesie for warmth

I tried not to use the heaters too much as my host told me how much previous house sitters cost her in electricity. Well Love, perhaps investing in something other than electric blow heaters is a cheaper option. After 1 month of being cold and fully man-flued – even whilst wearing a rainbow coloured dragon onesie for warmth – I decided that heating was an absolute necessity.

Wedged tubby cat (in litterbox)

5. Do you know enough of the language to get you out of a tough spot?

Say your wolf-buddy disappears for hours at a time – how do you put up signs or ask neighbours if they’ve seen the missing fluffy when your native tongue is English and everyone else speaks Español?

Or wifi doesn’t work – how do you call the provider to work out the issue and have it fixed?

6. Check which neighbours are besties with your host. 

I say this for 2 reasons; 

1. Who is going to be informing your host what you’ve been up to? 

2. Who can you call on for help?

Where shall I sit?

7. Are you physically and mentally strong enough to do all that is asked of you?

In this case, walking the beasts for 18kms per day over rocky, limestone cliffs beside the Mediterranean Sea wasn’t enough to stop chaos in the household. Plus, being in my 40’s I’m not that well equipped physically to do much more walking every single day. And not being prepared for the three most needy animals I’ve ever met was one of the most mentally draining experiences I’ve had to deal with. 

8. Check the beasties for any health issues. 

I’d suggest even taking before and after photos to ensure you’re not blamed for problems once the owner comes home. (Like when you hire a car, go over the critters checking for any scrapes and bumps).

Yes, I was blamed for 3 different problems that were not within my control.

Murderous white van – Silence of the Lambs ref #598

9. Is there a car for you to use? 

Are you confident enough to drive on the opposite side of the road and car?

You know I’m a sucker for large, salty aqua, outlined with rocky limestone cliffs and hills, so I’m incredibly grateful that the lady I’m housesitting here for, for 2+ months, has allowed me to use her criminal looking van so I can visit such quiet and pretty coastal towns.

Driving on the opposite side of the road, sitting on the opposite side of the car and changing gears right handed in the white, serial killer appearing, VW van is amusing. 

Attempted gear changes with left hand: 19

Wipers on instead of indicators: 1 (true, only once)

Trying to find seat belt with right hand: 12

(Insert rainy day – wipers and indicators both going for nearly the whole drive)

10. Know what your host expects of you.. 

..and what you expect from your host.

Being able to use the heaters when you have icicles hanging from your nose is an important query.

Will you be paid for your services? Or do you have to pay?

What tasks are you asked to perform on a daily/weekly/monthly basis? Like putting bins out for collection. Bill payments so you’re not left sitting in the dark at night without electricity. Worming the pets. Taking pets to the vet for check ups. Will they leave you enough food or money for supplies and emergencies?

If it’s a decent length housesit then ask if it’s ok to have friends visit. Super handy for those sits over the Christmas/holiday period. Surely you don’t want to spend Christmas and NY with furry, needy beasts alone.

My friends’ arrival couldn’t have been timed any better, I was at my wits end after 6 weeks in my nightmare. Thankfully they helped me walk Iria to give me a break from being dragged along the street and resting my temporary Tourette’s – I don’t think I’ve ever sworn this much in my life.

Just for old times sake I took Iria for a toilet break where I was lucky enough to score some more animal induced skin loss and bruises. Ugh! Get me out of here.

No, that’s not my knee.

11. Ask for detailed written instructions of how to run the house and pets.

If you’re anything like me, the memory can be a bit of a sieve sometimes, so having everything in writing helps you recall what’s expected. I was fortunate enough to spend a few days with my hosts before they left for overseas, but still, I can’t be expected to remember everything.

12. Know the dates of your homeowners travel plans. 

Even ask for a copy of their itinerary just in case of emergency contact. Also, knowing where they are at certain times can help when you are trying to contact them – especially when you discover that they had lost their phone in their country of tour and you have no idea where they are.

I loved the fact that my host was travelling with her young daughter and not having any real plan… initially. 

After a month from hell I started asking the question as to when she will return home, only to be met with “I don’t know” too often. This same person contacted me almost on a daily basis as to when I was arriving in her country about 3 months out from my arrival. 

So, it’s important to get all the information ahead of time so you know where you stand and can book your own escape. 

13. What to do if you want an invite back for the next holiday.

Do a big house clean at the end of your stay, make those floors and kitchen shine like the sun.

Give the beasts loads of love so they actually want you back. Buying their love with treats also acceptable – unless you’re dealing with an obese critter.

Take LOTS of happy phone snaps and send to the host on a regular basis. Those images that show how much they’re enjoying themselves are best.

14. Learn the lessons of yourself if you have had the housesit from hell.

I discovered that Iria and I are alike – we don’t like being tied down and in a small environment without escape options.

I also learned that, even after my whole India-Yogic experience, only recently prior to this housesit,  wasn’t enough to help keep me calm in very stressful situations. Something to work on, personally.

I despise neediness, 

I need secluded, warm, swimable beaches,

My Spanish is average.

My friends and family call me the Dog Whisperer because I have an innate sense of what a dog needs and train them pretty well. So I am always confident in my abilities when I go to any housesit.. This time my ego has been shot down.

Still want to housesit after hearing this worst case scenario? Here’s the website I used to score this gig; 

www.trustedhousesitters.com

This website requests supporting reviews on your previous housesits, which is important reassurance for the homeowner that is allowing a stranger into their private world.

They also charge you an annual fee for the privilege.

It’s all about education of the mind, body and spirit…. and getting the hell out of crappy situations immediately.

For more images and entertainment head over to my YouTube Channel here.

I’d love to hear your travel house-sitting stories and will happily add them to the blogs here so comment below or send me an email. https://blinked.com.au/contact/

For super cheap and extensive travel insurance;

  1. They feature your unique Refer-a-Friend link: https://www.1Cover.com.au/?raf=1546193
  2. Your friend clicks on your unique link and buys a 1Cover policy from our website. They can also buy a policy from our Call Centre, quoting your unique code: 1546193

14 Housesitting tips

Housesitting Tips from Mallorca, Spain

housesit petsit

Porto Cristo is stunning

Housesitting tips to travel solo cheaply

 

Do you want to know what Mallorca and Silence of the Lambs has in common?? Read on…

 

Imagine going to a country where your family heritage resides, add the fact that you’re reading about a sea worshipper, you’ll understand how much this soul was looking forward to this Mallorcan Island trip.

Porto Cristo is heaven, surrounded by salty aqua, secluded empty beaches and white limestone cliffs over looking the Mediterranean Sea, living virtually for free, looking after 2 dogs and a cat.

The dogs; Puppy (Pronounced Poopy) – a very lucky Mexican dog, that only speaks French, living the life of luxury on Mallorca; Iria – a stunning wolf-cross whom only speaks Spanish and did her utmost to ruin my sanity; and Margot – a cat whose head is too small for her body.

housesit petsit housesitting tips

 Iria

housesit petsit housesitting tips

Margot

 

I’m not a newbie to this housesitting gig:

For a self professed “Animal whisperer” like myself this housesit was going to be a cinch… Or was this petsit just to prove to me that my ego was too big?

My fluffy, freedom-seeking, soul-sister proves how alike we are by choosing lambs as her favourite meal. She would disappear for an hour or so, initially, and I’d just live in hope that she’d return after she had finished whatever it was she was doing (this was on numerous occasions before I was able to discover exactly where she went on her expeditions). 

The sheep of Spain wear these beautiful wind chime chattering bells around their woolen necks – which, in normal circumstances, sounds like something from a guided meditation by Buddhist monks, but hearing the chaotic rush from those bells after being chased by Iria, I now have flashbacks to Silence of the Lambs. (Insert mental image of Clarice Starling trying to catch a serial killer).

 

housesit petsit housesitting tips
Iria after her first of many Houdini acts

 

 

So, if you’re contemplating doing a housesit / furry-beast-sit for anyone, here are some things to consider and questions to ask the owner before you say yes…

 

 

Porto Cristo - Housesitting tips

Porto Cristo Boat Harbour

Housesitting tips

 

1. It’s possibly mid-winter or high-summer where you’re going to housesit. 

If you’re ok with chilly or cooked bones then by all means sign up for everything and anything.

My most recent housesit I was incredibly enthusiastic about going to Spain (from Australia) and having spoken to my incredibly kind and seemingly relaxed homeowner, I anticipated a super laid back 2-3 months with 3 beasts and all the time in the world to myself to explore my mild wintery island home (I say mild due to Melbourne’s Antarctic wind-blown, frosty comparison), complete some study and travel blogging. Boy was that far from reality.

Thankfully Mallorca’s version of winter is a humid balminess – On average, temperatures were around 15-20 degrees celsius.

Porto Cristo

What’s open?

Find out whether supermarkets, restaurants and other basic necessities are operational during winter or if you’re going to be bombarded by tourists before your decision too.

Discovering that just about every town shut down for 4 months upon my arrival in early November was a slight surprise. Insert tumbleweeds being the only traffic through the small, crispy breezed, ghost towns with closed, multi-colour shuttered doors and windows contrasting the endless terracotta stained buildings.

 

housesit petsit housesitting tips

“Ready for a walk, Iria?” Uhhhhhh….

 

 

2. Find out what training the furries have had.

Dare I go into detail about how important it is to train your dogs? Even something as simple as being able to walk them on a lead and recall should be mandatory but isn’t always the case – so I painfully discovered. Humans spend all this money on educating their children, why do animals miss out? 

In my not-so-humble opinion – humans need more training than domestic pets. What makes you think you can house a wolf-cross, another elderly Mexican dog and a cat, who is the reason “ball of fluff” became a real explanation, in an apartment with very minimal backyard? 

Tiniest backyard (I have a well, cute dog and a murderous looking white van – Silence of the Lambs ref #2)

 

How to combat a tiny backyard:

I’ve walked these animals on average 18kms per day. It’s not anywhere near enough. Poor Iria needs to roam free on acreage not be trapped in a townhouse with a bedroom sized yard day after day.

Due to the beasts neediness / separation anxiety, leaving the house for more than 5 minutes – without something in the house being attacked – was a tough ask.

Chaos by the pesky varmints:

Numerous books selected individually from the full bookcase, then ripped to shreds;

Tea towels mauled, swallowed and vomited up in a pea soup looking liquid days later – inside the house;

The box of masticated materials is currently too small so a new, larger shipping container is required now.

Although I appear miffed at Iria, I know the problem lies in ownership.

It’s cruel keeping this stunning creature locked up and without any training what-so-ever. 

To put it simply; Make sure you’re fully aware of each of the animals’ idiosyncrasies.

 

Looming beasty

 

Housesitting tips

3. Meet and talk with the owner and animals before you take on the petsit. 

Personally, I think you can tell a lot about domesticated animals behaviors by their owners personality. In this case, I believe that my host creates these needy relationships where she is depended upon to warrant her own existence. This is why all three animals required constant attention.

If you’re overseas then I suggest a few Facetime/Skype calls to see how all parties involved are behaving. Find out all behavioral patterns before agreeing because you may find that your usual natural ability to talk to and understand animals is pointless.

 

Porto Cristo
Mallorcan house

 

Housesitting tips

 

4. Ensure all the basic house stuff is operational during your housesit. 

i.e. Wifi, hot water, electricity etc

The first month I spent without wifi – that caused absolute boredom and crabbiness because I couldn’t do any of the blogging and study that I had planned.

Also, the hot water disappeared for a week. I believe I was advised that the gas bottle would last a good couple of months, so I didn’t think to check that initially. But after being frozen solid each morning in the shower for a week, during winter, I thought I’d better see if it was a lack of gas. Of course it was. 

Housesitting tips

See below regarding receiving detailed notes on how things operate within the household.

I tried not to use the heaters too much as my host told me how much previous house sitters cost her in electricity. Well Love, perhaps investing in something other than electric blow heaters is a cheaper option. After 1 month of being cold and fully man-flued – even whilst wearing a rainbow coloured dragon onesie for warmth – I decided that heating was an absolute necessity.

housesit petsit housesitting tips

Wedged in tubby cat

 

5. Do you know enough of the language to get you out of a tough spot?

Say your wolf-buddy disappears for hours at a time – how do you put up signs or ask neighbours if they’ve seen the missing fluffy when your native tongue is English and everyone else speaks Español?

Or wifi doesn’t work – how do you call the provider to work out the issue and have it fixed?

When you n need to replace gas bottles, where do you go, who do you talk to?

 

6. Check which neighbours are besties with your host. 

I say this for 2 reasons; 

1. Who is going to be informing your host what you’ve been up to? 

2. Who can you call on for help?

housesit petsit housesitting tips
Where shall I sit?
housesit petsit housesitting tips

 

Housesitting tips

 

7. Are you physically and mentally strong enough to do all that is asked of you?

During this petsit walking the beasts for 18kms per day over rocky, limestone cliffs beside the Mediterranean Sea wasn’t enough to stop chaos in the household. Plus, being in my 40’s I’m not that well equipped physically to do much more walking every single day. And not being prepared for the three most needy animals I’ve ever met was one of the most mentally draining experiences I’ve had to deal with. 

 

housesit petsit housesitting tips

 

 

8. Check the beasties for any health issues. 

I’d suggest even taking before and after photos to ensure you’re not blamed for problems once the owner comes home. (Like when you hire a car, go over the critters checking for any scrapes and bumps).

Yes, I was partially blamed for 3 different problems that were not within my control.

 

 

Murderous white van – Silence of the Lambs ref #598

 

Housesitting tips

 

9. Is there a car for you to use for your housesit? 

Are you confident enough to drive on the opposite side of the road and car?

You know I’m a sucker for large, salty aqua, outlined with rocky limestone cliffs and hills, so I’m incredibly grateful that the lady I’m housesitting here for, for 2+ months, has allowed me to use her criminal looking van so I can visit such quiet and pretty coastal towns.

Driving on the opposite side of the road, sitting on the opposite side of the car and changing gears right handed in the white, serial killer appearing, VW van is amusing. 

Attempted gear changes with left hand: 19

Wipers on instead of indicators: 1 (true, only once)

Trying to find seat belt with right hand: 12

(Insert rainy day – wipers and indicators both going for nearly the whole drive)

 

 

10. Know what your host expects of you.. 

..and what you expect from your host.

Being able to use the heaters when you have icicles hanging from your nose is an important query.

Will you be paid for your services? Or do you have to pay?

What tasks are you asked to perform on a daily/weekly/monthly basis? Like putting bins out for collection. Bill payments so you’re not left sitting in the dark at night without electricity. Worming the pets. Taking pets to the vet for check ups. Will they leave you enough food or money for supplies and emergencies?

Housesitting tips

If it’s a decent length housesit then ask if it’s ok to have friends visit. Super handy for those sits over the Christmas/holiday period. Surely you don’t want to spend Christmas and NY with furry, needy beasts alone.

 

My friends’ separate arrivals couldn’t have been timed any better. I was at my wits end after 6 weeks in my nightmare. Thankfully they each helped walk Iria and Puppy to give me a break from being dragged along the street. Along with resting my temporary Tourette’s – I don’t think I’ve ever sworn this much in my life.

Just for old times sake I took Iria for a toilet break where I was lucky enough to score some more animal induced skin loss and bruises. Ugh! Get me out of here.

No, that’s not my knee.

 

Housesitting tips

11. Ask for detailed written instructions of how to run the house and pets.

If you’re anything like me, the memory can be a bit of a sieve sometimes, so having everything in writing helps you recall what’s expected. I was fortunate enough to spend a few days with my hosts before they left for overseas, however, one can’t be expected to remember everything.

 

 

12. Know the dates of your homeowners travel plans. 

In other words; ask for a copy of their itinerary just in case of emergency contact. Because knowing where they are at certain times can help when you are trying to contact them – especially when you discover that they had lost their phone in their country of tour and you have no idea where they are.

The fact that my host was travelling with her young daughter and not having any real plan was music to this solo travelling female’s ears… initially. 

After a month from hell I started asking the question as to when she will return home, only to be met with “I don’t know” too often. This same person contacted me almost on a daily basis as to when I was arriving in her country about 3 months out from my arrival. 

For instance, it’s important to get all the information ahead of time so you know where you stand and can book your own route out. 

 

 

  • housesit petsit housesitting tips
  • housesit petsit housesitting tips
 
 

13. What to do if you want an invite back for the next holiday.

Do a big house clean at the end of your stay, make those floors and kitchen shine like the sun. I pride myself on this clean up – thank Ma for being the hospital grade cleaner for me to learn from.

Give the beasts loads of love so they actually want you back. Buying their love with treats also acceptable – unless you’re dealing with an obese critter.

Take LOTS of happy phone snaps and send to the host on a regular basis. Those images that show how much they’re enjoying themselves are best.

 

Housesitting tips

 

14. Learn the lessons of yourself if you have had the housesit from hell.

Iria and I are alike – we don’t like being tied down and in a small environment without escape options.

As a result of all the chaos I learned that even after my whole India-Yogic experience – only recently prior to this housesit – wasn’t enough to help keep me calm in very stressful situations. Something to work on, personally.

Neediness is not fun, 

Warm secluded beaches are my thing – not this winter caper,

My Español is average.

Friends and family have previously dubbed me the Dog Whisperer because I have an innate sense of what a dog needs and train them pretty well. So I was always confident in these natural abilities when invited to any housesit.. This time the ego has been shot down.

 

In conclusion; This was a worse case scenario. Every other housesit has been an absolute breezy dream, so please don’t be deterred.

 

Still want to housesit after hearing this worst case scenario? Here’s the website I used to score this gig; 

www.trustedhousesitters.com

This website requests supporting reviews on your previous housesits, which is important reassurance for the homeowner that is allowing a stranger into their private world.

They also charge you an annual fee for the privilege.

 

It’s all about education of the mind, body and spirit…. and, above all else, getting the hell out of crappy situations immediately.

 

For more images and entertainment from this petsit head over to my YouTube Channel here.

I’d love to hear your travel house-sitting stories and will happily add them to the blogs here so comment below or send me an email. https://blinkedtravel.wordpress.com/contact/

 

 

For super cheap and extensive travel insurance;

  1. They feature your unique Refer-a-Friend link: https://www.1Cover.com.au/?raf=1546193
  2. Your friend clicks on your unique link and buys a 1Cover policy from our website. They can also buy a policy from our Call Centre, quoting your unique code: 1546193
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Filipine Frenzy

 

Manila – Pollution central

International arrivals – the Smart (local sim) people were so darn helpful, they even organised my Grab taxi (like Uber) to my hotel. I think it took about 45 mins to travel 6kms. 

Traffic is almost permanently gridlocked. I think the traffic is officially putting Bangkok and Vietnam cities to shame. The excessive volume of cars is helping the Grab/taxi drivers lose a lot of money I’m told.

A very poor public transport system adds to the chaos.

One day I was busy editing photos in my room then all of a sudden there’s an almighty siren, that was reminiscent of WW2 Air raid sirens (I’m not that old but I’ve seen movies). I go out to my little balcony to watch two large street blocks of businesses and appartments being evacuated. Surely, not again?! Loads of emergency services turned up surrounding the blocks, but I couldn’t quite figure out what was happening. I can only assume it was a bomb threat. Thankfully I wasn’t too close, but I was wondering how far a bomb blast would reach as I was only a block away from the action. Poor Ma, I keep texting her when these things happen. All these “events” are becoming a big joke to me now. There will be a blog on the events I’ve had along my travels.. it is funny and I’m one hell of a lucky solo traveller.

Domestic airport – terminal 4 is possibly THE worst airport I’ve encountered so far. What makes a bad airport?

Long fucking queues – there’s even a queue to get into the airport!

Slow operating personnel at check in, security checks (and there’s 3 of those), food stalls and the waiting area… blah! Many of us sat on the floor due to lack of space and delayed flights.

 

IMG_7783

Palawan – Puerto Princesa

A huge sigh of relief as soon as I exit the plane.. that was until the herd of sheep all decided to stand on top of me whilst I awaited my backpack. Whyyyyy? There was one man, a non Asian, who desperately tried to push in right beside me and 50 of my close friends. I suggested standing on the other side of the conveyer belt where the luggage was actually coming from and no people were standing.. but nope.. he just HAD to be where it was most inconvenient. Lucky my strong suit in basketball was defence. I kept blocking that dude – but he wasn’t giving up that easily.. so I moved. Is this an Australian thing where we are used to having plenty of space? I don’t understand the need to push and shove when there’s more accessible space close by.

Palawan Seaview Resort is pleasant. Again, I feel it’s pricey for such simplistic rooms but I’m guessing that’s because I was so spoilt for choice and quality at decent rates in Indonesia. The staff are forthcoming with incredibly helpful travel info. 

I was very sweetly sent a note to go out for dinner with an older gentleman that is residing at the hotel. Very old school letter invitation.. quite rare these days and very thoughtful.

We went to dinner in a food court at the local shopping centre (please try not to laugh – he paid). Interesting man – he is a law professor in Japan and predominantly deals with people (mainly women) whom have been wrongly incarcerated. FYI, he thinks there’s no doubt Schapelle Corby was innocent. I’m still not convinced.

Anyway, this guy (and numerous predecessors) prompted my new disclaimer that needs to be signed by EVERY male I meet…

 

Yes, I’m travelling solo.
No, I’m not interested.
Yes, I DO love being on my own. Lots.
No, I’ve never been married or had children.
Because I’ve never wanted to, simple.. no, you won’t change my mind – google menopause.
Yes, I am really 46 (mentally 26).
Just because I’m travelling solo doesn’t mean I’m desperate to find Mr Right or Mr You’ll Do.
Yes, I’m happy. Very!
Please don’t take my compliments or kindness as a green light.
I am a positive person and believe others (male or female) should be made aware of their positive traits.
This still doesn’t mean I’m interested in forming an everlasting relationship with you.
If you need viagra, you’re too old for me.
If you don’t need viagra, you’re too young for me.
Nope! Still not interested.
Don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re going to be told to back off – you are making me uncomfortable and I will throat punch you – Read my warning signs. 
You don’t need to tell me how good you are, I can figure it out for myself.
You are taking your life in your hands if you call me babe, bae, honey, darling etc etc….
Chew with your mouth closed or expect another throat punch.
Just NO!
Still want to talk to me? 
Sign here ______________________________________

 

 

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0322.JPG

Away from Puerto Princesa city

Once again, it pays to talk to the locals. I was given directions to Nagtabon Beach and the beach was perfect. All the way over on the west coast of the island (I’m sleeping east side) and it’s more of a surf beach with only locals hanging out eating Sunday picnic lunches and squealing with pure delight while playing in the waves. Watch out for the sand flies though. Thanks Jerrold, you get a mention in the exclusive blog called Blinked Travel – just because he’s a hottie and gave me loads of insightful info. 

I decided not to head straight back to the hotel, instead in search of more secluded locations.. headed further North only to be met by big black rolling and thunderous clouds. I did a quick u-turn and flew like the wind. I even got up to 80kmph on my little 110cc scooter. I know! Such a speed demon.

As I got closer to home I noticed more big black clouds and that the roads were wet. Somehow, this time, Mother Nature wasn’t trying to kill me and I avoided all storms out on scooter.

2 hour Asian combination massage at the hotel was kinda brutal but feeling better for it now.. especially considering it only cost me $25 AUD – WIN!

I’m noticing lots of basketball courts around this island. For once, an Asian country that isn’t obsessed with football (soccer). Seeing Cavs and Warriors singlets are happiness to my basketball brain. I’m tempted to go play with some of these young fit basket ballers – only because they’re shorter than I am and I (wrongly) believe my body is still 26.

I joined a tour group to visit the underground river and whilst I was waiting for all the young softies to do a mangrove boat tour I jumped on the 750mt zip line across the crystal clear water. 🤘🏽

Surrounded by perfect azure beach on one side and lush green forest the other – we arrive at the underground river via boat just before the brief tropical downpour hit.

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River – a more recent addition to the natural wonders of the world and listed under UNESCO Heritage. Established/discovered in 1999, this underground river is its own eco system. She covers around 22,000 hectares but not all of it is accessible – mainly due to lack of oxygen further inland. Filled with marine life, bats and snakes (saw one swimming and eyeing me as its next victim) and some of the highest cathedral-esque ceilings complete with water carved statues of Mary and other Christian “mythical” creatures.

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Now I’m at 4 (out of 7 listed) natural wonders visited… but really, countless numbers yet to be seen and some that should be listed. 

 

Kay’s Hot Springs – only one pool that wasn’t going to cook me in seconds. Do people actually have no feeling in their skin and use those stupidly hot pools? Who doesn’t love the smell of boiled human flesh?!

 

Travelling back roads and met with surprised looks and smiles everywhere on my scooter. It’s taken a while to get used to being gawked at, but it’s fun now. I feel safe and if I smile at anyone they grin back and usually wave.

Out in town with locals – playing pool (potting balls from 1-14), drinking Red Horse beer.

Plus the tequila shot from 65 yo Rod, the Filipino visiting from Chicago (with his wife back in his hotel room) and offering me his services because he has needs not being met. Rod, please see above disclaimer!

 

IMG_7838

El Nido – I love you

Stayed at Lally and Abet… Location and breakfast great, large room with patio – simple accommodation. $70 AUD pn 

Nacpan beach – another perfect white sand and turquoise liquid filled location. A few more tourists than other beaches, but I didn’t have to fight for space in the water. Although, I had an entourage following to palm shaded spots on the sand. (Insert eye roll – my personal space is a fictional barrier apparently)

Snorkelling trip with a group of divers, instead of doing the tourist island hop tour with one small snorkelling opportunity, was the best decision. Note to self… pack sunscreen, dufus. My already noticeably large forehead looks like a red-light hookers beacon now.

Sava Beachside Restobar for beachside, sunset viewing PLUS 2 for 1 cocktails. Pina coladas served in coconut shells, both delivered at the one time. Nobody likes to rush these things, but when it’s this warm one needs to ensure drinks stay cool during consumption. My excuse, don’t judge.

IMG_7812

Filipinos can SING! Have seen many of them in Thailand, but I’m talking about staff and just about every local you walk past. They’re always singing.. and it’s beautiful to hear.

Meeting the lovely Al and having a private island hopping tour. Being taught to eat my rice and chicken like a local, using my hands as utensils, plus teaching Al to swim. All beaches secluded and empty.. except for some grouper, turtles and a vehemently protective fish – whom bit me twice (he even drew blood – dude, you’re no mosquito, I can’t help you with babies). I googled him.. I must have been too close to his house. It’s ok, I understand personal space, buddy. 

Food plentiful and ever so delicious. Wonderful Adobo spices (which I have just learned actually derive from the Spanish!) – in the sense of many flavours, not heat – is to die for, as was their bbq chicken that sat marinating in Asiatic spices for hours.

IMG_7819

 

Again, the giving Al looked after me by organising his friends to take me and my bags to the airport on motorbikes. Sorry Al, as beautifully kind as you are, you also need to read above disclaimer. (Al is the one wearing the white t-shirt below)

If you ever head to El Nido, I promise you that Al, Gregg and Regie will take the best care of you. I can’t wait until they have their own boat to do personalised tours.

 

Live music at Pukka Bar was great. A two piece ensemble – acoustic guitar and female singer with a hauntingly beautiful voice singing alternative tunes which melted my heart.

 

 

Is it only an Asian female thing to be that scantily clad and over friendly to entice the foreign men to buy them drinks and eventually marry, then take them back to new countries? I’ve seen it all too often in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar – and have asked why. It’s all about the perception of what fat, bald, western men offer. Money. Who cares if the ladies are unhappy – it’s easier selling your body to the same man each day, right? 

 

Cebu City

Its quite the industrial hub and waaaay bigger than I anticipated. Lots of traffic plus dilapidated housing for the happy and friendly locals.

Great thunderstorms here.

Didn’t get out much due to monsoonal rains. Ran back to Palawan instead.

There are many places to go on Cebu Island, but it’s just that wet time of year, sadly. On the upside, I will have to come back just to visit the other islands.

Back to Palawan just to be hauled up in my hotel room for days on end due to more rain. It’s that bad I’m contemplating popping home for a week or two. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (Clearly I was THAT bored… I went home)

Estrella falls – a substantial 90km motorbike ride away (each way) from Puerto Princesa, but well worth it. Fresh, warmish water filled with slippery rocks and, I’m pretty sure, those little dead skin eating fish you see in tanks around Thailand and Bali. Cheeky buggers liked my feet.

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Ala Amid Bed & Breakfast – don’t be fooled by the “buffet” breakfast… its pretty dismal. But if you order a separate meal from reception it’s really tasty. Great, clean and comfortable corner room with handy undercover balcony over looking the pool – great for those rainy days.

Sesakot falls – too cold to swim this day, but still enjoyable relaxation sitting in a broken down hut listening to tunes and sipping Red Horse beer with my buddy, Jerrold.

Hanging with locals again out in town… STOP PLAYING THE NIGHT BEFORE FLIGHTS!

 

 

There are many reasons to love the Phillipines: 

It was once ruled by the Spanish – so many words derive from espanol, making signage and language possible to understand.

The women are stunning here.. I truly enjoy being insignificant. 

Even the boys and lady-boys are hot.

The importance doesn’t lie within how good a house looks, it lies within just having a roof over their heads. Happiness in simplicity.

Many parts of these islands are untouched, so you can have jungles, waterfalls and beaches all to yourself.

Perfect beaches that the locals care loads about. One of my local friends posted today on FB that El Nido boats aren’t allowed to carry plastic water bottles any longer! 👍🏽

A basketball obsessed nation. I believe Steph Curry was in Manila during my stay on Palawan. Had I known he was coming I would have stalked the poor boy.

Cheap, cheap, cheap.

Mostly perfect weather… well, you know, besides the biggest typhoon Asia had in recorded history.

Red Horse beer – meaty and evil! 6.9% alcohol content is a bit of a panty dropper. And at $2.50 AUD for a litre, it’s asking for trouble.

E-Republic Bar, where the locals go, is waaaay better than the touristy Tiki Bar. Some funny lady-boys and a live band, along with Red Horse Beer makes for a chuckle a minute… even if I didn’t understand most of the words.

One month is not anywhere near enough time to explore all these pristine islands. I’m going back. Sorry Thailand, I have a new favourite.

Hopefully dodging the super typhoon. Yup, just escaped that nasty, destructive beast by only a few hours.

 

It’s all about education of the mind, body and spirit… ok, maybe not so much education here, but the island hopping is sublime.

Filippine Frenzy – Philippines solo travel

Here’s how solo travel in Philippines went down…

Manila

Pollution madness

International arrivals – the Smart (local sim) people were so darn helpful, they even organised my Grab taxi (like Uber) to my hotel. This taxi ride took about 45 mins to travel 6kms. 

Traffic almost permanently gridlocked. Traffic here in Manila is officially putting Bangkok and Vietnam cities to shame. The excessive volume of cars is forcing the Grab/taxi drivers lose a lot of money, so I’m told by my drivers.

A very poor public transport system adds to the chaos.

 

Discovering I still want to live:

So here I was, busy editing photos in the room when all of a sudden there’s an almighty siren that was reminiscent of WW2 Air raid sirens (I’m not that old but I’ve seen movies). From my little balcony I watched two large street blocks of businesses and appartments being evacuated.

Surely, not again?!

Plenty of emergency services turned up, enveloping the blocks, however, I couldn’t quite figure out what was happening. I can only assume it was a bomb threat. Thankfully I wasn’t too close, but I was wondering how far a bomb blast would reach as I was only a block away from the action.

Poor Ma, I keep texting her when these life threateners happen.

All these “events” are becoming a big joke to me now. There will be a blog on the chaos I’ve had along my travels.. Amusing (now) stories – let me say that I’m one hell of a lucky solo traveller.

 

 

Domestic travel

Terminal 4 is possibly THE worst airport I’ve encountered so far.

What makes a bad airport?

Long fucking queues – there’s even a queue to get into the airport.

Slow operating personnel at check in, security checks (there’s 3 of those), average food stalls, the waiting area… blah! Many of us sat on the floor due to lack of space and delayed flights.

 

Puerto Princessa

Puerto Princessa

Palawan – Puerto Princesa

Exit plane, big sigh of fresher air and relief from chaos..

..that was until the herd of sheep all decided to stand on top of me whilst I awaited my backpack. Whyyyyy?

There was one man, a non Asian, who desperately tried to push in right beside me and 50 of my close friends. I suggested standing on the other side of the conveyer belt where the luggage was actually coming from and no people were standing.. but nope.. it was a necessity for him to be where it was most inconvenient.

Lucky my strong suit in basketball was defence. I kept blocking that dude but he wasn’t giving up that easily.. so I moved.

Is this an Australian thing where we are used to having plenty of space? I don’t understand the need to push and shove when there’s more accessible space close by.

 

Accomodation Puerto Princessa

Palawan Seaview Resort is pleasant. I feel it’s pricey for such simplistic rooms although I’m convinced that’s because of being spoilt for choice and quality at decent rates in Indonesia. The staff here are forthcoming with incredibly helpful travel info. 

I was very sweetly sent a note to go out for dinner with an older gentleman that is residing at the hotel. Very old school letter invitation.. quite rare these days and very thoughtful.

Dinner  in the local food court at the local shopping centre (no chuckles – he paid). A really interesting man – he’s a law professor in Japan and predominantly deals with people (mainly women) whom have been wrongly incarcerated.

FYI, he thinks there’s no doubt Schapelle Corby was innocent. I’m still not convinced.

 

Anyway, this guy (and numerous predecessors) prompted my new disclaimer that needs to be signed by EVERY male I meet…

 

Solo female travel disclaimer

 

True story, I am travelling solo.
No, I’m not interested.
Yes, I DO love being on my own. Lots.
Seriously, I’ve never been married or had children.
Because I’ve never wanted to, simple.. no, you won’t change my mind – google menopause.
I truly am 46 (mentally 26).
Just because I’m travelling solo doesn’t mean I’m desperate to find Mr Right or Mr You’ll Do.
Yes, I’m happy. Very!
Please don’t take my compliments or kindness as a green light.
I am a positive person and believe others (male or female) should be made aware of their positive traits.
This still doesn’t mean I’m interested in forming an everlasting relationship with you.
If you need viagra, you’re too old for me.
If you don’t need viagra, you’re too young for me.
Nope! Still not interested.
Don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re going to be told to back off – you are making me uncomfortable and I will throat punch you – Read my warning signs. 
Please don’t tell me how good you are, I can figure it out for myself.
You are taking your life in your hands if you call me babe, bae, honey, darling etc etc….
Chew with your mouth closed or expect another throat punch.
Thanks for your kind offers, but just NO!
Still want to talk to me? 
Sign here ______________________________________

 

travel Philippines

 

 

 

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0322.JPG

Away from Puerto Princesa city

Once again, it pays to talk to the locals. I was given directions to Nagtabon Beach and the beach was perfect. All the way over on the west coast of the island (I’m sleeping east side) and it’s more of a surf beach with only locals hanging out eating Sunday picnic lunches and squealing with pure delight while playing in the waves. Watch out for the sand flies though.

Thanks Jerrold, you get a mention in the exclusive blog called Blinked Travel – just because he’s a hottie and gave me loads of insightful info about Philippines travel. 

 

As I return closer to home I noticed more big black clouds and that the roads were wet. Somehow, this time, Mother Nature wasn’t trying to kill me and I avoided all storms out on scooter.

2 hour Asian combination massage at the hotel was kinda brutal but feeling better for it now.. especially considering it only cost me $25 AUD – WIN!

I’m noticing lots of basketball courts around this island. For once, an Asian country that isn’t obsessed with football (soccer). Seeing Cavs and Warriors singlets are happiness to my basketball brain. I’m tempted to go play with some of these young fit basket ballers – only because they’re shorter than I am and I (wrongly) believe my body is still 26.

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Underground River

No solo female travel in the Philippines would be complete without visiting the Subterranean River.

I joined a tour group to visit the underground river and whilst I was waiting for all the young softies to do a mangrove boat tour I jumped on the 750mt zip line across the crystal clear water. 🤘🏽

Surrounded by perfect azure beach on one side and lush green forest the other – we arrive at the underground river via boat just before the brief tropical downpour hit.

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River – a more recent addition to the natural wonders of the world and listed under UNESCO Heritage. Established/discovered in 1999, this underground river is its own eco system. She covers around 22,000 hectares but not all of it is accessible – mainly due to lack of oxygen further inland. Filled with marine life, bats and snakes (saw one swimming and eyeing me as its next victim) and some of the highest cathedral-esque ceilings complete with water carved statues of Mary and other Christian “mythical” creatures.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Puerto Princessa’s Subteranean River now makes it 4 (out of 7 listed) natural wonders visited… but really, countless numbers yet to be seen and some that should be listed. 

 

Kay’s Hot Springs – only one pool that wasn’t going to cook flesh within in seconds. Do people actually have no feeling in their skin and use those stupidly hot pools? Who doesn’t love the smell of boiled skin?!

 

Philippines travel / solo female travel

Off the beaten path and safety

When you’re met with surprised looks and smiles everywhere whilst on scooter and it’s delightful. I confess that being gawked at in most countries has taken a while to get used to, but it’s entertaining now.

Safety is always important when you’re a solo female traveller. I can confirm that your security will rarely feel threatened here, consequently, make sure you smile at everyone as you will be met with such sweetness you won’t want to leave… ever.

Out in town with locals – playing pool (potting balls from 1-14), drinking Red Horse beer.

Include the tequila shot from 65 yo Rod, the Filipino visiting from Chicago (with his wife back in his hotel room), offering his services because he has needs not being met. Rod, please see above disclaimer!

 

IMG_7838

El Nido – I love you

Stayed at Lally and Abet… Location and breakfast great, large room with patio – simple accommodation. $70 AUD p/n. 

Nacpan beach – another perfect white sand and turquoise liquid filled location. A few more tourists than other beaches, but you won’t have to fight for space in the water. Although, there was an entourage following to palm shaded spots on the sand. (Insert eye roll – personal space is a fictional barrier apparently)

Snorkelling trip with a group of divers, instead of doing the tourist island hop tour with one small snorkelling opportunity, was the best decision. Note to self… pack sunscreen, dufus. My already noticeably large forehead looks like a red-light hookers beacon now.

Sava Beachside Restobar for beachside, sunset viewing includes 2 for 1 cocktails. Pina coladas served in coconut shells, both delivered at the one time. Nobody likes to rush these things, but when it’s this warm one needs to ensure drinks stay cool during consumption. My excuse, don’t judge.

 

 

IMG_7812

travel Philippines

 

 

 

Local humans are wonderful

Filipinos/Filipinas can SING! Have seen many of them in Thailand, however the staff and just about every local you walk past are sweetly singing and it’s fabulous to hear.

Thanks to Al for introducing himself to me to enable some of the best island hopping and local experience I could have hoped for when I travel Philippines.

There’s no requirement for eating utensils when you’re taught how to eat like a local, using hands only. As thanks I gave Al some swimming lessons.

All beaches secluded and empty.. except for some grouper, turtles and a vehemently protective fish – whom bit me twice (he even drew blood – dude, you’re no mosquito, I can’t help you with babies). I googled him.. it appears swimming near his house is tempting fate. It’s ok, buddy, I understand personal space. 

The food plentiful and ever so delicious during this solo travel expedition. Wonderful Adobo spices (which I have just learned actually derive from the Spanish!) – in the sense of many flavours, not heat – is to die for, as was their bbq chicken that sat marinating in Asiatic spices for hours.

IMG_7819

 

Once more the giving Al showed his true kindness by organising his friends to escort me and my bags to the airport on motorbikes. Sorry Al, as beautifully charitable as you are, you also need to read above disclaimer. (Al is the one wearing the white t-shirt below)

If you ever travel Philippines make sure you head to El Nido, I promise you that Al, Gregg and Regie will take the best care of you. By the time you get over there hopefully their operation will be even better once they buy their own boat to run these sensational private tours.

 

Live music at Pukka Bar was great. A two piece ensemble – acoustic guitar and female singer with a hauntingly beautiful voice singing alternative tunes which could melt even the coldest of hearts.

 

solo female travel

Cebu City

Its quite the industrial hub and substantially bigger than anticipated. Lots of traffic plus dilapidated housing for the happy and friendly locals.

Great thunderstorms here.

Didn’t get out much due to monsoonal rains therefore I ran back to Palawan instead.

There are many places to go on Cebu Island, but it’s just that wet time of year, sadly. I will have to come back just to visit the other islands.

 

Palawan again

Why come back to Palawan? Because I love it and Cebu had relentless rain. The rain is so heavy I’m contemplating popping home for a week or two. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (Clearly I was THAT bored… I went home)

Estrella falls – a substantial 90km motorbike ride away (each way) from Puerto Princesa, but well worth it. Fresh, warmish water filled with slippery rocks and, I’m pretty sure, those little dead skin eating fish you see in tanks around Thailand and Bali. Cheeky buggers liked my feet.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ala Amid Bed & Breakfast – don’t be fooled by the “buffet” breakfast… its pretty dismal. But if you order a separate meal from reception it’s really tasty. Great, clean and comfortable corner room with handy undercover balcony over looking the pool – perfect for playing cards on those humid rainy days.

Sesakot falls – too cold to swim this day, but still enjoyable relaxation sitting in a broken down hut listening to tunes and sipping Red Horse beer with my buddy, Jerrold.

Hanging with locals again out in town… STOP PLAYING THE NIGHT BEFORE FLIGHTS!

 

travel Philippines

 

In conclusion:

There are many reasons to love the Phillipines: 

It was once ruled by the Spanish – so many words derive from espanol, making signage and language possible to understand.

The women are stunning here.. Insignificance is my new favourite feeling. 

Even the boys and lady-boys are hot.

The importance doesn’t lie within how good a house looks, it lies within just having a roof over their heads. Happiness in simplicity.

There are many places to visit that are crowd free. So you have jungles, waterfalls and beaches all to yourself.

Perfect beaches that the locals care loads about. One of my local friends posted today on FB that El Nido boats aren’t allowed to carry plastic water bottles any longer! 👍🏽

solo travel

A basketball obsessed nation.

Cheap, cheap, cheap.

Mostly perfect weather… well, you know, besides the biggest typhoon Asia had in recorded history.

Red Horse beer – meaty and evil! 6.9% alcohol content is a bit of a panty dropper. And at $2.50 AUD for a litre, it’s asking for trouble.

E-Republic Bar, where the locals go, is waaaay better than the touristy Tiki Bar. Some funny lady-boys and a live band, along with Red Horse Beer makes for a chuckle a minute… even if I didn’t understand most of the words.

One month is not anywhere near enough time to explore all these pristine islands. I’m going back. Sorry Thailand, I have a new favourite.

Escaping the destructive typhoon by 3 hours – Yes, I’m still that lucky solo female traveller.

travel Philippines

It’s all about education of the mind, body and spirit… ok, maybe not so much education here, but the island hopping is sublime.

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