Subscribed to the new Through Helen Highwater yet? :D

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New reader recruits wanted!

Hi my lovely readers….I need your help! Whilst the transition to my new site, well, carries on transitioning….I will need my current subscribers to kindly sign up again but to the new Through Helen Highwater page! Otherwise, you’ll miss out on any new updates to come! :p

Believe me, I have exciting ideas for the end of this year /next and who else will I have to rave all about it with haha…they’ll be tribes, jungles, trekking and probably more trekking! Also looking into doing some kind of energy healing work for the indigenous people in the midst of the amazon rainforests! Yeh yeh I know….you can take the girl out of Bali haha! I’m afraid I am having hippy withdrawals and I’m already itching to pull the Hippy Neil (from the Young Ones) back out of myself and find my imaginary dreadlocks once more…they need to be dusted off and unleashed and swooshed about again ;) And you never know, there may be further unexpected Angelina / Indiana Jones moments, well, here’s hoping!

So log onto: www.throughhelenhighwater.com and click on the Follow my travels button where you can virtually sneak into my invisible man and pretend you’re right there with me….

Thanks everyone! Can’t wait to get writing again :D

xxxx

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Through Helen Highwater is moving!

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Readdy for the end…..Hell no!

‘Clunk’…….’Bang’…….’Crash’ came the noises from downstairs. Stirring, I rubbed my eyes and peeled back the clutches of my thick duvet. Mama was making a racket downstairs in the kitchen. ‘What the……’ Well, the first thing I actually thought was where the heck am I!? Staring around the room, I could see familiar childhood teddies, dog-eared and dusty books balanced on the shelves, framed photos of my brother and I, oh and piles of clothes on the bedroom floor! Nothing’s changed then I thought haha!

“I’m home!! I can’t believe I am home!” I muttered to myself. There was no time to be checked out by, no worry about where I had to be, no need to repack my invisible man, no need to worry about tripping over any fellow ‘hostellers’ and no thought was needed as to where I was getting my next breakkie from….I was HOME! Now staring through the objects in my room, I drifted off into my usual day dream….’I think I just woke up from an 8mth long dream! Did any of this actually happen?! Wow, that was some dream I tell thee!’ It actually felt so surreal and I’m sure any fellow traveller will tell you the exact same thing!

“Morning darling! I’ve made you a lovely cup of tea, it’s on the table for you” “Ah thanks Mum!” Came my zombie and jet lagged reply. “Righto, I’m just off to work but we’ll look at some of your photos later!” With that Mama rushed off to work that Tuesday morning. At the kitchen table, there I sat (and probably with the most vacant expression on my face!) still shell shocked and repeating the same line over and over in my head…’I still can’t believe I’m home! The Readders is back!’ Staring into the steaming hot cup of tea, I drifted off into another day dream and one where I wanted to stay with all the monks, monkeys, tigers, temples, markets, bugs, beaches, street dogs, kangeroo’s, deserts, mountains, volcano’s, jungles, spiders, tuk tuks…….(now if this was a movie, my voice would now fade out and the scene would go black to make way for the next bit hah!)……so que fade out about now!

So let’s rewind a bit and transport ourselves back to the last leg of my journey. On goes the transportation hat and Malaysia…..here we come (if only!)

< < < < REWINDING, please wait a moment…..!

So I’ve wheeled my invisible man out of the airport at Kuala Lumpur and found my shuttle bus waiting point. I was starting to feel uncomfortable standing there in the sweltering heat of the afternoon but I let the little beads of sweat sit on my forehead knowing that the aircon of the shuttle bus would soon surround me and make me feel as though I’d then stepped into the antarctic! I was actually beginning to wonder if I was indeed standing in the right place as the shuttle was rather late but then again, looking around, the traffic was horrendous! I could see cars, taxi’s, buses and coaches all at a stand still either waiting for people to move out the way or get in them!

Suddenly a shuttle pulled up opposite me. The tinted window of the passengers side smoothly slid down in slow motion revealing a dark skinned Malaysian man. “Helen??” The driver seemed to instinctively know I was his pick up! “Yup, that’s me!” With that, the driver hopped out and lifted the invisible man from the trolley. “Woah, you must be a strong girl haha!” He said huffing and puffing. The invisible man clearly squeezed every molecule of air from the drivers lungs as he lifted it into the back of the shuttle bus. “Hah! It’s ok when both straps are on your back! Even better when you find a trolley to take the load!” I chuckled. I then gave the driver my hotel voucher and climbed into the back.

The driver was a nice guy, same age as me too. Turned out he had just had a short holiday in Penang with his friends! We exchanged our stories of ‘Did you see this?’ and ‘Did you see that?’ and laughed saying we’d probably walked past each other or maybe even eaten at the same cafe one day hah!

“Anyway, why are you staying at the YouniQ Hotel? You know there is nothing around there, nothing!” The driver seemed quite curious as to why I’d booked the hotel he represented and I was curious to know why he was keen to slate his employers haha! ‘Ahhh’ I thought to myself….I could see why once we’d pulled up outside! He was right, there was literally nothing around the hotel, it was in the middle of nowhere. It was a real tumbleweed moment! “Well, I’m only here for a few days until I fly back to England you see and being close to the airport and low on budget, I thought this would be a good place to chillout?” I replied. “Well, it’s only a 20 minute train ride to the city so you can always do that if you get bored!” (Which actually, he was wrong, you were looking at 2 x trains and an hour of window gazing!)

After signing in, I went straight up to my room and whipped my hiking boots off (I always wear them when I fly as they take up so much room in the back pack you see haha!). “Ahhh….I can chill and watch a bit of telly!” Thankfully the hotel was a nice place to relax in and well, it made up for being in the middle of nowhere, it had to! I slapped the cheap, plasticky, white kettle on and unpacked a sachet of Milo (Asia’s version of Cadburys hot chocolate) and settled down to watch a bit of telly. “Hang on a minute…no movie channel?! Oh great!” How annoying! Nevermind, MTV it was…I had to catch up with what was new in the charts right!

A hot chocolate later, I ventured outside to see what was on offer around the hotel. As I said, it was literally in the middle of nowhere so I wasn’t expecting to find a nightclub (even though that would have been uber cool!) or any swanky bars to get merry in but I did find a small tuck shop and a restaurant. Feeling hungry I sat in the restaurant and ordered some noodles and a teh tarik which is my favourite…If I haven’t already explained, a teh tarik is basically a malaysian tea made with condensed milk, yummy! Not sure that would work in the UK! Can you imagine that…PG Tips made with tip top hah eww!  :p After I’d chowed all my noodles down, I went up to pay. “Thank you Miss. Do you come alone Miss?” I was used to this kind of response by now but I tell you what…out of all the countries, Malaysian’s were the most curious hah. I think this is because they are used to seeing women with husbands….their husbands pretty much tell them what they can and cannot do etc so I must have either looked completely rebellious or um, divorced and on the rejection pile?! Who cares I thought! After I’d explained that yes, I was on my own and yes, I was fine with that he bunged the change in my hand and let me go.

I then went back to my hotel room, switched MTV back on and fell fast asleep!

Knock, knock….”Hello?” KNOCK, KNOCK! “Excuse me, hello?? You want room cleaned?” The repetitive rapping and tapping was just starting to break through and into my wondrous dreamland but it was the final “HELLO!” That woke me and caused me to sit bolt upright with hair flopping over the front of my face! “Huh, what!?” It felt so early. “Go away!” Oops, I didn’t mean to sound so rude but I’d only just checked in and was thinking ‘my room can’t be that bad already?’ haha! Eventually I could hear the maid slope off down the hall and wheeling her squeaky trolley with her. Checking the time, it was 10.30am! I really didn’t do very much that Friday apart from chill, watch MTV and eat haha!

Big City…Big Disaster more like! 

‘Hey Helen! I’ll meet you at KLCC around 3.30pm’ Shazreen’s message popped up on the screen of my tablet Saturday morning. ‘Fab! Looking forward to catching up with you matey!’ Came my reply. I could’t wait to see Shazza! I started my journey with her and was abouts to close it with her too (which of course was also kinda sad!) :/ I found out how to get to the KLCC (which is the huge mall right next to the KL’s Twin Towers) and got on my way.

Urgh, well, what a disaster! Getting there was fine, not a problem at all….as I mentioned, it was x 2 trains and about an hour or something silly…but I had didn’t have a watch on me or my mobile (because I didn’t have any credit) haha! I was relying on my tablet and a free wifi spot so I could tell Shazza where I was. Well, it all backfired on me! The Readders was so distracted by all the bright lights and shops that she totally forgot the time didn’t she!! By the time I’d realised, it was gone 4pm, oh noooo!! ‘Oh Helen you wally! Right, need to find a cafe with wifi’ But could I find any wifi? I was walking around with my tablet as though I was ‘dowsing’ for the slightest sniff of internet to tap into. ‘Coffee Bean’ Aha…bingo! I managed to connect or so I had thought but it kept saying the signal was too weak and disconnected me! Rarrr! I then found another spot ‘Starbucks’ but the same thing happened! Well by the time I’d faffed about trying to find any wifi, it was now getting dark so I decided to catch the train one stop back. Eventually I found some wifi that seemed to be stronger there but Shazreens messages were all coming up with “Where are you? I’m by the giant book store”…”Oh Shazreen, I’m so sorry! Time has completely run away with me this afternoon” I then explained the whole situation with the wifi etc…I was hoping we’d catch each other on the Sunday as I wasn’t due to fly out until the evening but unfortunately Shazreen wasn’t available! I couldn’t believe it. How gutted!

Feeling like an idiot, I tucked my tail between my legs and hopped on the next train headed for my hotel * sighs! Lesson here;  on my next travelling trip, I am going to get myself an iPhone with blimming wifi hah! As soon as I got back to my hotel it was about 9.30pm…yep, 9.30pm! I bought some tinnies of Tiger from the tuck shop next door, packed my invisible man and fell asleep!

Let me buy you lunch!

I was up pretty early in the morning and slipped into the clothes I’d purposely left out the night before (made sense as I could pack the invisible man up with minimal Helen faffings).

Checking out at 11am I then had about 7hrs to kill in ghost town! I ended up finishing one of my blog entries as well as had a go at piecing a few ‘movies’ together with clips I had taken the day before (which are now in the Readdy to Playlist tab).

I was actually getting pretty hungry which was good timing with what happened next….

“Hello Miss. Do you need taxi?” Looking up from my tablet, I could see a short Malaysian guy standing before me extending his arm. Wedged in between short stumpy digits, he offered me his business card. “Not right now thank you but later, yes please!” I replied. Of course, with that the taxi mans ears pricked up! “Ok. Where you go later?” “To the airport for about 6.30pm” “Ok great. I charge 50 Ringgit” “FIFTY!!” I blurted! If I was drinking at the time, I’m sure I would have spluttered it all over him haha! “That sounds way too much. I haven’t even got that much in my wallet!” Fact! I was skint and I really didn’t want to take anymore money out on my last day…and where was the nearest cash point around here anyway?! “Ok, ok….40″ He had me by the short and curly’s really because I didn’t have any other options at the time. “Look, I need money for lunch too so even if I paid you 40, that means I will have to go hungry” I wasn’t in the mood for being ripped off on my last day either. “Lunch? But it’s Sunday, no where is open nearby. Look, I am kind man, I will drive you somewhere so you can have lunch. If you eat at the airport it will be very expensive. I will charge you 35″ Checking my wallet, it seemed I could afford that and also something cheap to eat. I knew I’d get fed on the plane but I needed something before then. “Ok, deal” I said. “Great. I will take you for lunch in say 20 minutes. I won’t charge you for the ride because I need to clean my cab anyway so while I do that, you can eat next door” “Ok, lovely. That’s very kind of you, thanks” With that, the taxi guy walked off but as promised, he came back 20 minutes later!

I was grateful for the aircon in the taxi as it was sweltering outside. “Very hot today right!” “Yup. But I’m not going to complain as it’ll be so cold in the UK when I touch down!” “Haha. So what food you want? Noodles? Rice? Spicy?” “Nothing too spicy. Maybe some noodles” “Great, I know good place and very cheap. Oh and I’m Dahari. What is your name?” Dahari held his stumpy digits out towards me and waited for me to shake them so gently squeezing his hand, I too introduced myself. “I’m Helen. Nice to meet you” With that Dahari pushed the gear stick into 1st and drove us out of ghost town. He was right though, nothing was open so I was pretty grateful he offered to take me somewhere for lunch however, part of me was also thinking ‘Why is he doing this for me?’ ‘Is this so I can pay him the full fare later?’ Haha! Isn’t it funny how our minds can easily become so suspicious! It’s true though, if this happened in England, you’d automatically be searching your mind for answers to questions like ‘What does this person want from me in return?’ Hmm. So as I mentioned, nothing was open! When we did pass a shop or cafe, the shutters were all locked down and not one person was about. The only thing that was missing, was the noise of a slight wheezy breeze, a huge tumble weed lazily rolling past and the dull droning of a clock tower haha! “Today is a day of rest” “Oh of course, because it’s Sunday!” I responded. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that nothing would be open today.

Wow, clearly the whole town knew this cafe was the only one open! I could see a mix of Malaysians and Chinese people filling each and every table until they were spilling out on to the ‘overflow’ tables surrounding the cafe outside.

Dahari parked up and walked in with me. “What would you like?” Dahari said passing me the menu at the same time. Staring aimless into the menu, it took me a few moments to realise it was in fact all in Malay anyway so I didn’t have a clue what to order. “Um…just some noodles will do nicely, thanks! Oh and a teh tarik!” Of course, my fav Malaysian tea, yummy! “Great, I’ll order for you and then go and wash my car” “Thanks!” With that, Dahari ordered my meal for me and then disappeared to put his car in to be washed (coincidentally right next door!). Sitting on my todd, it felt as though I was getting glared at from each and every direction! Stares of the usual ‘Where is your husband?’ and ‘What is that white girl going to have to eat?’ type of looks. But then again, that was more than likely to be my imagination going crazy as usual!

Dahari happened to appear at my table at the exact same time my food did but thankfully, he was more full of chat than I was so shoving greasy (and slightly spicy) noodles into my gob, I was just happy to hear him go on. In fact, Dahari was doing nothing but gloat about how much of a nice person he was….”I found a diamond ring in my taxi last month. I could have kept it but I didn’t. Thankfully the owners came back for it. I did get it valued but I still didn’t want it” (hmm…he must have thought about keeping it if he went to the trouble of getting it valued right?) In between the smug stories (yes, they kept coming!), Dahari lit up a cigarette and practically exhaled the smoke into my noodles!  “I also found a Gucci watch on the back seat of my taxi too. I held onto it to look after it for the owner incase he showed up again (which he did)! He tell me I was good man and gave me a reward”. Wiping the now smoky flavoured noodle sauce from around my chops I just uttered the odd acknowledgement that I was kind of listening “Oh that’s very nice of you!” “Yes, yes! And now I take you to lunch because I am so nice and I help you or you go hungry haha” Hmm….*que suspicious mind, tick tock, tick tock! I was still really wary of him and as to why he took me for lunch!? But get this, even after I’d eatern…the waiter came over with the bill and Dahari paid! “It’s ok, I will sponsor you” Flicking his cigarette butt on the floor, Dahari fumbled in his pocket for some Ringgits. “Dahari, don’t be silly, I can pay for myself!” But despite my efforts of extending my hand with the exact money pointing palm up, Dahari got in front of me and paid my bill! Afterwards, we went next door to pick up his squeaky clean taxi!

“Ok, so I pick you up from the hotel lobby at 5.30pm yes?” I’m not sure if Dahari was asking or telling me at that point hah! “Um, sure, ok” “I know it is early but at least you will be able to watch people running all over the place at the airport hahaha” Dahari coughed, spluttered and then wheezed as he laughed out loud…his smokers cough was more apparent than earlier, maybe he’s just recently started smoking more? “Yeh sure, good point!” He was right though, at least I could day dream and ‘people watch’ and spritz on all the latest expensive perfumes as you do haha. Once Dahari walked off to do whatever it was he said he was doing, I logged back onto the hotels computer to kill some time.

Readdy to fly?

“Helen. You ready?” I smirked to myself as Dahari obviously didn’t know my surname but for some reason I found that rather amusing hehe. “Yep, I guess so” Dahari took the invisible man from me and puffed and wheezed as he did so. “Oooffff. You don’t travel light lady!” “Haha…it’s all the souvenirs!” I waved goodbye to the reception staff of the hotel as Dahari opened the taxi door for me and ushered me in. “Well, this is it. Let the journey home begin!” Pulling away, I took my last look around the ghost town I’d been staying in for the past 3 days and was in fact, soon looking forward to delighting my eyes with perhaps ‘too much’ to look at hah…

“So where did you say you were from again?” Dahari asked as he slid some sunglasses on and up his nose. “The UK” “And how long your flight tonight?” “Um…something like 14hrs in total. I have 2 to catch, here to Singapore and then Singapore to London” “Wow, long time in the air then!” Dahari exhaled almost as though he was sighing in relief that it wasn’t him up in the skies that evening! “Oh well, I’m looking forward to watching movies and listening to music on the main flight. I’ll pass the time no problem” No problem?? What was I saying that for? Although actually, I probably could…I’m like a pro when it comes to day dreaming and ‘time wasting’ haha! “Hah. Yes, lots of movies then”

And there we were….Kuala Lumpur’s International Airport came into view and for some reason, I suddenly got a slight rush of nerves…maybe it was because I knew this was the last stop perhaps? Dahari parked up in the taxi rank and immediately hopped out to get the invisible man out the boot and while he did that, I hopped out to get a trolley. Wheeling it over to Dahari, he dropped (and I mean, literally dropped!) the invisible man onto the trolley as though he was relieved to be shedding the whopping 19kg’s from his stubby arms, hands and fingers hehe! I then leaned into the taxi and left my 35 ringgits in the glove box.

“Ok, thank you Miss Helen. Have a safe trip home” Once again, Dahari extended his stubby fingers to shake my hand goodbye! “Thanks Dahari and thanks for coming to my rescue at lunch time. I’ve left your fare in the glove box ok” “Thank you” Then with that….I looked up, found my terminal and wheeled my trolley over to start the last and final trip. Watery eyed, it was as though I was walking (and rolling my trolley!) in slow motion and oh boy, what a journey its been!

I sailed through security and immigration in a hazy day dream and found my gate straight away. I think I was pretty numb and shocked at that point to the fact that I was actually going home! Sitting down, I realised I must have been staring at the floor when a black man came and sat next to me and abruptly disturbed my day dreams….”Excuse me Miss….Hello? Can I use your phone?” “My phone? No sorry, I don’t have any credit” There was something about this guy that I didn’t like! Well, for one, I didn’t like the fact that he seemed to single me out and I was sitting in an area all on my todd at that point. “Ok, well, can I just put my sim in your phone then?” I then realised he was staring at my tablet..”Look this isn’t a phone by the way and no!” I responded by asserting a more ‘stern’ tone in my voice. “I need to get hold of someone” He seemed a bit agitated now. “I’m sure if you ask the porters they will be able to help you. Plus, there are computers around where you can access the internet for free” I was trying to help him as much as I could. My mobile didn’t have any credit and was pretty flat at the same time haha! The fella then stormed off dissatisfied with my answers but I was kinda thinking ‘oh well, I did try!’ I then took a wonder and found a book shop where I bought a travel book (a backpackers adventures around Hong Kong, China and India), and a book written by a guy who trekked the length of the Amazon rainforest near Peru…something for the plane or indeed inspiration for once I was eventually home.

The first flight to Singapore was nice and easy and being only an hours flight, it certainly did whizz by up there! The flight was late coming into Singapore but I didn’t mind at all because I had about 3hrs wait in between. It didn’t seem like I was waiting all that long before I heard my call; “All passengers for flight SQ522 headed for London, Heathrow….we are now ready to board. Would passengers in seat rows 20 to 30 please head towards the check in crew with your boarding tickets” Came the announcement over the tanoy. ‘Ooo that’s me!’ Heading over with my ticket sticking out of one hand and my rucksack dragging on the other, I took a slow walk over. The crew of Singapore Airlines warmly welcomed everyone as we all crammed in one by one.

Yay, window seat for me! Settling into my seat ready for the monster 13hrs ahead, I took a peep around…..hmm, spare seat next to me, Singaporean lady in the aisle seat, ooo hot guy 2 rows behind ;), nice looking couple directly behind, French family sitting in front of me and more families and couples in the other nearby seats. I started chatting to the Singapore lady next to me who was lovely. Phew, sometimes you hear about people sitting next to horrid passengers on long haul flights haha but so far all was good! For some reason I felt it appropriate to tell everyone near me that I’d been away from home for 8mths and that in 13hrs time I’d get to see my Mama and Papz again haha! Of course, they didn’t care but I was rather excited at the thought of seeing my folks and I wanted to shout about it lol! Well, in fact, it was such a bitter sweet feeling….yes I wanted to stay and keep on travelling in the world but the thought of seeing my friends and family was also making me grin so far across my face that it must have looked humanly impossible to stretch a smile that far!

Finally, the plane is slowly creeping along and turning around until we’re facing the long stretch of runway ready to take off. Again, listening to my take off tune of ‘One day I’ll fly away’ (which in my head I had now changed to ‘One day I flew away’), I’m staring out the window and into the night sky with my eyes welling up faster than I could dab them with the corner of my sleeve, sniff sniff :'( Speeding up and up until that G force rush kicked in for the last time….now in the air, I sat there slightly dumb struck.

Once I’d snapped out of the ‘Oh my God’s’ whizzing through my mind, I flicked through the entertainment system in the back of the chair in front of me. MOVIE TIME!! And well, that was it….I was determined not to sleep and watch movies back to back hah so I did just that! Even when all the lights in the cabin went out I was still sat there watching movies hah! The bright blue light from my lil TV screen must have lit up my row and the row behind oh well…everyone seemed to be sleeping with eye masks on or at least trying to sleep and didn’t seem in the slightest bit bothered as to what I was doing or watching haha.

So….a dinner, snack, breakfast, several swigs of tea and cups of orange juice and 7 movies, yes SEVEN movies later and we have the announcement to ‘buckle’ up for landing as we were now approaching Heathrow O.M.G!!!

Back to the start! 

The Airbus touched down at 6.20am with a slight scrape and screech but it had to be by far the best landing of the whole trip! I knew my Papz was waiting for me in the International arrivals lounge and I couldn’t wait to get off and see him! (My Mum was picking me up after you see). What is it with airlines…as soon as you land there seems to be a massive hold up until people are allowed off. Well, I think that was me being rather impatient because of course I couldn’t wait to get off! Looking around, some people were still seated and others were either standing in the aisles all lined up ready to pile out and others were standing up where they were sitting with their heads slightly crouched to one side because they were standing directly under the air blowers. As soon as the line of people started shifting forwards, that was it, I grabbed my rucksack and tagged along following the rest of the sheep out in line.

Brrrrr!!! First thing I noticed was the weather, well, the lack of sun and heat! Of course, that was to be expected right but woah! I’d been so used to stepping off planes and being greeted by mother nature waiting at the exit with a hot blanket to immediately smother and wrap around everyone she came into contact with but this time it felt like Jack Frost was there pointing and laughing as soon as he’d sprinkled his cold magic on us hah!

I was becoming out of breath from the speed I was walking. Again, passing through all the normal ‘I have nothing to declares’ etc…It was straight to the luggage belt to collect my battered and bruised invisible man (who to be honest, looked like he needed a holiday himself haha!). Ooo ooo, there it was! My bright red backpack, wire mesh and pink scarf must have been the 2nd to come round the belt…right slap that straight on the trolley and let’s go find my PAPZ woo hoo!! Suddenly I felt as though I was in an episode of supermarket sweep or something….I’d already scooped up the jackpot and dumped that into my trolley but now it was a race to find the finish line (aka my Papz!). So whizzing around people, dodging other trolleys and masses of suitcases I finally see the exit signs! It felt as though everyone was in my way and doing all they could to block my path (which is always the way when you need to do something or be somewhere right!) Wheeling my invisible man out through a set of double doors that was it…..’Hang on, is that Papz? OMG, OMG!’ A rush of excitement and goosebumps ran through me…Firstly, I still couldn’t believe I’d touched down at Heathrow and secondly, I couldn’t believe that this was the first time I was seeing my Papz after so long! I got a glimpse of my Pappa’s outline between a bald headed man and another guy in a big fluffy hat and again, it seemed as though they were walking in slow motion! So guess what I did….I screamed haha! “WOO HOOOOO!”  And with that, it was as though the sea parted….the sea of people that is haha. Everyone just moved out the way for me so with that, I gave my trolley one almighty push, pressed all my upper weight on the handle bars and I lifted my feet like a kid so the trolley propelled itself along and heading straight for my Papz!

As soon as my trolley was in reaching distance of ma Papz, I ditched the trolley and ran over and gave him the biggest, longest squeeze! “SWEETIE!! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE BACK!! Let me take a look at you!” Shouted my Papz. “AHHH, I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M HERE!” Of course, I was balling my eyes out by this point haha….I think even my Papz  quickly dabbed his eyes ssshhh ;)

I tell you what, it’s not that I didn’t feel safe abroad but right at that very moment, I felt SO safe and like nothing could touch me haha…And I didn’t give 2 hoots what anyone around us thought either….it was as though everyone became invisible for just those few moments and everything stopped in it’s tracks! Once everything started up again, Papz and I went off for a few cups of tea and had a good old chinwag in the nearby cafe :)

Afterwards, my Mum came along to pick me up outside Terminal 3…yup, where it began all those months ago! My Papz waited with me until my Mum arrived and there she was….I could see my black Corsa pulling in and parking up and I got the same rush of goosebumps. “YOO HOO!” I gave my Mum a big squeeze and waved my Papz off. All the way back Mum and I were munching on Galaxy chocolate and talking about this and that and then suddenly, as the adrenalin began to wear off….that sleepy slump feeling began to creep over me.

I dragged my invisible man up the stairs behind me bumping it on every step until I’d reached the top. It felt kinda sad that it was going to be unpacked for the last time and then slung in the corner of my room. It was also sad staring at the invisible man now weighing next to nothing and slumping over itself as it’s ‘guts’ were now all missing! As the kettle boiled downstairs, I gathered all my souvenirs and skipped downstairs to show my Mum this and that and to share the weird and wonderful sachets of strange teas and coffees that I’d accumilated along the way oh and also to give her some of her pressies too ;)

Back with a bang….wallop more like! 

Well, well, well! It took a good few days to realise the Readders had made it back to the good old U of K! Looking back on my photos just made me think it was a dream….’Did I really do this and did I actually do that?’ ‘Did I really climb a mountain?’ ‘Did I really sit behind a Tiger?’ My mind has taken quite a long time to ‘settle’ down and essentially get over having ‘English’ culture shock hah! 

So, here I sit writing to you from the comfort of my own home using the free wifi (courtesy of Mama), tapping away on my pink laptop (which by the way feels ginormous compared to my 7 inch tablet!) oh and plenty of english tea on tap haha! So…..I should be super happy right? Well, one quote I mentioned earlier was ‘bitter sweet’, well, that is truly the best way I can sum up being back I’m afraid haha and I’m sure many a traveller perhaps feels / felt the same. I have felt like a bird of paradise roaming the world doing as I please and exploring this utterly special plant we live on…..but now I’m back, I have to get back to ‘reality’! :/

UH OH….I have to get a J.O.B ARRGGHH!! Hmmm :( I can’t bear the thought of being cooped up in an office from 9 to 5 BUT….I shall view it like this – This is just a stop gap, for the Readders WILL get back out there and go on new adventures and explore new lands. I’ve already decided to follow my intuition and plan for Peru, Costa Rica and Cuba so BRING IT ON! I’ve already gone out and bought a book about Peru to ‘geek’ up on. Plus, I’m looking into Amazon adventures and hanging out with the tribes there so trust me, I’m sure my next blogging adventures will be worth tuning in for and I seriously can’t wait to share it with you all! :D 

Finale!

Ok, so this feels weird! I don’t want to use the word ‘goodbye’ as we know this will NOT be the end! This is simply the beginning! I reckon, this first adventure was more about giving me the courage, the savvy, the ‘you CAN do this’ and almost the ‘what to expect whilst travelling’! It really is an amazing world out there and I’m SO so glad I grew a pair and stepped out of my comfort bubble to chase my dream.

I’ve seen and experienced things I could have only ever imagined and would have kept on imagining if I didn’t do anything about it! Anything is truly possible if you really want it! And that is exactly what I told those kids in the school in Thailand…I really believe that! Sounds mushy but follow your heart and do what makes you happy, do what gives you that thrill!

Instead of thumbing through the soggy pages of a National Geographic magazine (that I’d clearly drooled over) fantasizing over the many photos and articles from the comfort of the armchair wearing my fluffy bunny slippers…I felt as though I’d been transported to the middle of the jungle and had ditched the remote for a journal and Indiana Jones cap to become the editor haha! (Que any travel magazine employers out there hint hint!) I have loved each and every minute of it! The good, the bad and the ugly and well, the super seriously ugly! The ups and the downs, the cheers and the tears….it has ALL been so very worth it.

Thank you to each and every one of my friends and family for being there and keeping me going when I’ve needed that extra push the most…and of course thanks to all the wonderfully fab people who have chosen to follow my blog and my adventures too! Please keep me on your follow lists readdy for the next chapters! ;)

I hope I have also managed to aid any other travellers currently out there doing it or the people who are thinking of doing it and looking for ideas…just GO FOR IT! You will NOT regret it and don’t worry if you don’t have too much of a plan, just follow your heart and go where feels right…for sometimes the unplanned things are the greatest plans of all haha! And also a big shout out to each and every awesome person I’ve met along the way and much gratitude to the many friends and families out there who’ve extended the comforts of their own homes to me! I’ve met so many wonderful and kindhearted people and made life long friends – people that I will never forget! Thanks to all the travellers who have let me be part of their journeys too :D

So, enough of all my waffling and until the next time….this has been Through Helen Highwater and by God, what an adventure and what a great beginning!

To be continued……………

*Awful computer game alarm then goes off….

Helen reaches a hand out from under the duvet and whacks alarm…..”Wow! What an amazing dream!!”

Back to the start!

Back to the start!

Haha! Just had to put this in for a laugh (My friend Simone will have a chuckle over this hehe!)

And just out of interest really;

End of Transmission

*Cue fuzzy radio noises! …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

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The Thai of my life!

Yesss, I finally got a window seat for my flight to Bangkok! Although saying that, I felt kinda blue peering out of the window and watching Penang shrink into nothing more than a ‘toy town’ below! I was sad because I knew that Bangkok was to be the last destination. Now, each time I board a plane, it feels as though it’s bringing me closer to ‘that day’ when I finally have to step onto the last airport shuttle headed for Heathrow :(

Phew! Ok, so I’ve touched down in Bangkok…again haha! But this time of course, it’s for the last time on this leg of my journey *sighs. But anyways, I was really looking forward to seeing my Thai pals and hanging out in the city once more. I know my way around and well, just where to hang out and let my hair down so I will be making the most of my final week or so.

I got through immigration and customs all ok and had another stamp bashed into my passport allowing me up to 30 days stay. Hey, hang on a minute, I tell you what…I managed to get through Penang security AND Bangkoks with a 2ltr bottle of water in my hand! How that happened I don’t know but hey, that could have been ‘bomb’ liquid for all they knew muwahahah! That’s never happened before…I normally get my water taken off me but not that time haha! Just a random observation…

My fab friend Ken (or Kendoll as I call him) offered to come and meet me at the airport which was sweet of him. He even assisted me with my luggage and getting me to my hotel which was great actually and it avoided hearing all the ‘Excuse me Miss, you want taxi’ etc. Once I’d checked in, we went straight to the movies! Well, I had some movies to catch up on hey lol! So we had some food and watched Gravity (which is FAB for anyone who loves their space movies!)

30 degrees of Rain!

Oh noooo! The rain’s followed me all the way from Penang! And it’s determined to scrub off all proof of the slight jaundice looking tan I’ve achieved right before I hit Heathrow haha! Nevermind. I wasn’t going to let the rain put me off having a good time either on my final week of being a free spirit!

I tell you what though…I love the rain abroad, it’s so warm! Who needs wellies when you can wade through the puddles in yer flip flops! * Sighs, if only the rain was like this in the UK…wet and warm haha! The only bummer is that yes, you still get really dirty feet haha. Sometimes I’d look down and think, ‘Huh, since when did I get black grubby toes!’ hah! So yup, I will miss the ‘hot rain’ :)

The Flower Market

My friend Kendoll told me about a Flower Market near Koh Sarn Road and asked me if I’d been there before. “No, I haven’t. I’d love to see it though before I leave Thailand” I excitedly replied. “Yes, it will be good for your pictures”. So Kendoll agreed to take me there and show me around. It was amazing, I loved it! Plus it was a brucey bonus having a local to hang out with and speak ‘Thai’ to everyone for me haha!

It was just gorgeous! I could see the market folk all setting up their stalls ready before the customers flocked…although saying that, it didn’t actually get all that busy but again, another bonus for me! I could see trucks delivering bags FULL of flowers! Some Thai words were exchanged from the drivers to the stall owners and they’d then drive off. I watched as the marketers then opened each bag and literally picked out flowers one by one and ‘arrange’ them either in glorious bouquets or just singly in their rows.

It was just fascinating to take a slow walk around and see stall upon stall, row upon row and bouquet upon bunch of flowers in every shape, size and variety! Oh and the smells….WOW! For once it disguised that Bangkok ‘stench’ that I had become all too familiar with haha! It wasn’t just a flower market….it was like walking through a perfume factory! Oh and the colours, you would not believe it but the sellers even decorated their stands with the flowers by colour! So red with red, pinks with pinks etc…now that must have taken forever but it was quite an impressive display.
I found a Rose stall and stood and watched for a few moments as the market lady picked out what looked like a dozen roses and bundled them up with speed. Can you believe, that a dozen red, pink or yellow roses were the equivalent to 1 English pound….yes 1 POUND! Everyone would be buying their Mums or lovers a huge lorry load of them if they were that price in the UK right? Although it would probably cause our roses to become extinct at the same time too!

Once the flower stalls diminished, new stalls were revealed with a different variety of produce to entice… Wow, fruit and vegetables! Most of the fruit and veg still seemed so foreign to me (of course) well, I mean, a lot of it I had now tried but to name them….ppfftt, forget it! Un-hygienically, the stall owners even let their pets crawl all over their produce! Hmm…2 cats and a puppy – if that happened in the UK, they’d probably get shut down! It was cute all the same though because I wasn’t IN the market for buying that evening haha!

Bo in the Big City

Yay, my friend Bo from the School in Nang Rong came all the way over to Bangkok just to see me and party one last time woo hoo. So Ken, Bo and I all went out for dinner as soon as she arrived. It was sooo good to see Bo and I immediately threw my arms around her when I spotted her getting off the train at Thailand Cultural Centre. “BO…..how are you! So good to seeya again!” I screeched! “HELEN! I missed you!” Awww….

After a huge (and of course, rather cheap) plate of salmon and veg, we had a walk around town before hitting the city centre. It was rather funny actually because we found some 3D paintings on the walls….you know, the kind that you stand in and it looks like you’re abouts to fall into a black hole or something when really it’s all an illusion! That was fun. After much mucking about of pretending we had angel wings or were surfing the ocean, we then caught a tuk tuk into the Big C itself…

One last hit…

We all hopped out the tuk tuk (and probably all looking rather windswept too!) and took a slow stroll around Koh Sarn Road.

“I can’t believe you’ve never been to Koh Sarn Road before Bo?!” I said, giving Bo a wide eyed look. It made me chuckle though…’Hah, an English gal showing a Thai national around her own city!’ hehe.

It was so amusing to see Bo’s face as we walked past the usual stands selling all the tat I’d seen many a time….the wooden ‘croaking’ frogs, the brightly sewn bracelets with every obscene word you can think of, the ‘slinky’ penises! And then there were the stalls selling the edible bugs – scorpians and tarantulas on sticks, the giant locusts, bowls of hot fried meal worms YUK! Oh and don’t forget the clothing stalls displaying T-shirts in vivid colours with slogans of ‘I love BKK’ or ‘Chang Beer’. And then there are the club promoters bombarding you as you walk past their bars….”Hello Miss, you come inside. Buy one get on free bucket” Oh my goodness…and how could I forget this…”Hello Miss, you want to see Ping pong show? Or how about a happy ending?” You have to laugh at it all really. But I’m also glad I saw and heard all of that and glad Bo experienced it too even if she did look kinda shocked (same as me the first time hah!) And again, you have to avoid the limbless beggers sitting in the middle of your path which of course, is horrific to see but I have been told they are professional beggers who have made a trip specially from Cambodia because Koh Sarn is where all the tourists go! You know, when we were walking around, I was thinking to myself; It’s kinda like….you have to experience the darker side to see it and believe it – believe that it all goes on so you can appreciate all of the good, the beautiful and the wonderful things of this world if that makes any sense!?

We were pacing in slow motion for a while and in silence for most of it because I wanted Bo to take it all in. After hearing the many chants of “Excuse me Miss” this and that and the constant flow of hard and heavy bass music mixing into softer tones of live acoustic Bob Marley to Green Day variations, we decided to hit a club….yup, the one and only ‘The Club Koh Sarn’. I laughed to myself again thinking ‘The amount of times I’ve stumbled out of this club hehe’ Well, it just had to be done one last time……

Heights, Flights and….Hangovers!

Yup! You guessed it! Bo, Ken and I all had a wicked night in ‘The Club’ on Koh Sarn that night. Bo and I were also loving mucking about with the free glowsticks you get given when you walk in which immediately makes you feel 12 again haha, funny that! It was also fun chatting to the many different nationalities and hearing about where people had been or where they were off to next… One guy from Dublin came and sat with us and immediately plonked down 3 shots on our table “Drink with me!” He slurred and then promptly hiccuped! “No no, you go ahead” I replied….I really didn’t fancy doing shots that night as I knew that would kill me! The Irish fella was harmless though, just way more drunk than we were haha. He downed all the shots, chatted to us for a bit and then……threw up right at our feet! GROSS! Shame really haha. What a conversation killer that was so yup, we moved away sharpish and left him for his mates to clean up hahaha!

Ok, so falling out the club at 4am we grabbed a cab back to our destinations. We weren’t that drunk (well, not as bad as the Irish dude that’s for sure) but we were at that ‘happy state’ lets say! “Oh my Buddha! I have to be up around 8-8.30am to get ready for my flight!!” Stumbling with my words was a sure sign I needed to hit the hay….well, the TIME was a sure sign I needed to hit the hay hahah! Saying our goodbyes, we all headed our separate ways.

As soon as my head hit the pillow….well, actually, I can’t remember that bit but I do remember the horrid video game alarm of mine going off at a most unholy time! “Oh nooooo!” I groaned but miraculously was up, out and in a cab to the airport to catch my final flight to KL. I was feeling dehydrated, a little nauseous and ached from all the dancing we did the night before. But above all of that, I felt sad and had to fight my watery eyes from actually turning into waterfalls haha!

Finally boarding the plane to KL, I sat and watched the air crews usual safety routine of ‘what to do if’ and then sat staring out the window (yay, another window seat!) whilst listening to the tones of my ipod playing ‘One day I’ll fly away’. The rain outside was hitting the window (another symbolic moment hah!) as I stared blankly out into the distance. I then watched the run way lines gradually speed up and up until they became one continuous line….then the ‘G-force’ facelift feeling hit and we were up! Once more, I watched the airport, the buildings, the roads and cars all turn into nothing more than a ‘toy town’ below. It was almost as though the higher the plane went, the more ‘fake’ the toy town below became hah! Nausea crept over me once more and reminded me how much of a blast I’d had with my friends just hours before! Heavy eyelids encouraged me to make use of the 3hrs ‘free time’ to sleep the hangover off so I gave in resisting and soon drifted off into a sweet slumber…

“Hello Miss….MISS? Can you please open the window shutter” That must have been the 2nd or 3rd time the air hostess had muttered those words to me but the nudge from the person in the middle seat abruptly brought me back to ‘reality’ when they interrupted my slumber with their pointy elbow! “Sorry! Are we landing now?” I stuttered. “Yes, we are now arriving at Kuala Lumpur” Came the reply. “Great stuff!” I tried to sound enthusiastic but I was kinda blue knowing that actually, this was to be my final 3 days before heading home!!

I found the shuttle bus to my hotel straight away and was soon on my way to ‘hibernation’! No, I won’t really be locking myself away for 3 days but I am looking forward to taking it easy and catching up with some telly etc…oh and MTV, who’s at number 1 right now, I have no idea haha? I will also be looking forward to catching a few of my Malaysian pals too and seeing what they are up to.

I will also have to think about what I’m going to do with my blog right? :( I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this but I guess I won’t have a lot to write about until the next time I explore the world and believe me, this is just the beginning (until I save up again!) Now I know I can do it, I have well and truly been bitten by this beautiful bug and I don’t intend to stop now! :D

But this post isn’t the last one, don’t worry! I still have another one in me yet but that one may be coming to your screens from the good old UK!

So thanks again Thailand and for giving me the Thai of my life! ;)

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Pee-nang!

So, I’ve made it to Penang and oh my, what a difference to Bali! I’m missing Bali so much already and of course the wonderful friends I’ve made. But ho hum, that’s what the life of a traveller is all about ;) Each and every moment is being stored, recorded, experienced and locked away for my memories :D

Well, it took all day to get to Penang and theoretically speaking, it’s only 4hrs away from Bali! So anyways, I left at 9am and arrived at 9pm, phew! I slept well the first night, I tell thee haha!

I was pretty tired and groggy when the plane finally landed but I knew I could relax a bit as soon as I got in a cab. Waiting for my invisible man to finally make an appearance on the revolving luggage belt, I stood for a moment just taking in my surroundings. I must have been the only white person there but hey, I was pretty used to sticking out like a sore thumb now right hehe.

The invisible man and pink scarf…(yes, STILL clinging on in it’s now battered and rather dulled down shade of pink) slowly came round the belt. The whole back pack I must say is beginning to look just as tired as me haha! Hauling the invisible man onto my luggage trolley, I then joined the que for the customs and security checks….and straight away I was approached by one of the airport workers.

“Excuse me Miss, where you from Miss?” A stern looking Malaysian man started to walk over to me, his eyes narrowing the closer he got as if he was already trying to work out what he was going to say to my response! “I’m from the UK” I replied. Taking a dry gulp, I started to feel that nervous flutter rising up from the pit of my belly which of course is really silly because I hadn’t done anything wrong but in good old fashioned Readders style my mind was naturally awakening with it’s ever enthusiastic curiosity! “May I see your passport?” Asking with authority, I immediately passed it over, “Of course”. I was then beginning to wonder why I had been singled out from the line of other people…’Hmm…why is he not asking other people the same question?’ I thought to myself but of course, what can you do apart from follow orders! “How long you stay? “Oh just 9 days” “For holiday?” He asked…’Um, well, YEH!’ I was thinking….what else for haha…then my mind flashed to a comedy programme that I used to watch with my Dad ‘How not to live your life’ and my mind was then whizzing through all the things that I should NOT say at that moment LOL! But anyway, it was all fine and dandy and he left me alone after that…very odd! But at least I didn’t get strip searched lol! Without naming any names, I have met someone on my travels who has unfortunately been a strip search victim and this person is the most innocent looking person you could ever meet haha! 

To me to you….to LAZY BOYS please! 

Finally escaping the airport, I was greeted by a waft of heat…30 degrees of it engulfed my whole body and infact, it felt as though the heat was almost punishing me for enjoying the air conditioned environment inside! I wheeled the invisible man out to the front and followed the signs for the taxi rank. With the address of the hostel screwed up in one hand and the other pushing the trolley, it wasn’t long before I was approached by hoards of “Excuse me Miss, you want taxi?” Well, I’ve learnt to ignore these and follow the signs for the official airport taxi’s as you are bound to get a better rate. Chatting through the glass window of the taxi office, I was immediately assigned to a cabby man who slung my back pack straight in and ushered me into the car. This taxi office was actually a pre-paid service which I thought was pretty good…ok, so they could have been charging over the odds however, at least you knew that you’d already paid and didn’t have to worry about what the fee was going to be at the end of the ride! So, sliding into the back of the cab (note to ladies….I strongly suggest you always take the back seat…not that anythings ever happened to me but I just think that this is safer plus I just feel more comfortable in the back!) and we were off.

Wow, Penang is just lovely! It felt as though I was back in Kuala Lumpur except without the hustle and bustle of the city centre. I was then reminiscing about the start of my journey which began all those months ago…8 to be precise! I was also then day dreaming out the back of the taxi’s window as to how far I’ve come! ‘Hey, you’ve done the full circuit you know Hels, you should be proud of yourself!’ Said I to um, me haha! * Sighs! Re-focusing out of the window again, I could once more see familiar street food stalls selling whole chickens that were hanging in rows by their feet (heads included), noodle stands, hot and spicy mixtures and rice stalls oh and the all too familiar street dogs sniffing around for the odd scraps! Gorgeous palm trees, outdoor restaurants decorated with a multitude of bright lights trying to entice people in by their fancy-ness and locals going about or should I say buzzing about on their scooters! Note to self, I really want to get myself a pink scooter when I’m back in the UK haha, they are so much fun!

An hour passed and I was beginning to wonder where we were. “Um, do you actually know where Lazy Boys Guest House is?” I questionably asked. The aged taxi man seemed a bit lost in my opinion. “Yes, yes….Lady Boys I know!” Stating the wrong guest house whilst scratching his head was a clear giveaway that he didn’t have the faintest idea! Good job I wrote the full address and phone number down! Then literally a few moments later…”Crazy Boys eh?” “No, Lazy Boys!” I emphasized on the pronunciations of LAY ZEE BOYS as best I could haha! “Yes, yes that’s what I say to you!” Grrr…in my sleepy state, I was trying hard not to get annoyed but after the 10th time, yes TENTH or so time of hearing every variation of Lazy Boys, I suggested that he pulled over and called someone! “Ok, ok,, I ask my friend” Phew, finally we’re (hopefully) getting somewhere. The old man then stopped at the nearest street food stall and asked the worker if he’d ever heard of the place rarrrr! I made a firm but polite suggestion when he got back in the car “I have their phone number, just call them!” What is it with men and directions, they just don’t like just calling direct do they lol?

I think the taxi man was just as excited as me when we finally pulled up at Lazy Boys Guest House except I think his was more of a proud and boastful victory ‘Yay, I found it!’ kind of moment haha! Dumping my invisible man at the front door, he promptly sped off. Hauling the back pack up with both hands, I just couldn’t lift it, I didn’t have the strength to pull it on my back so I wobbled and hobbled with it swaying from left to right finally dropping it just inside the doorway so I could sign in.

Aww the owners are soo nice! I was warmly welcomed by the husband and wife who immediately took my things, showed me around and made me feel at ‘home’. So pleased I picked this place. The reviews all seemed fantastic on Trip Advisor and they weren’t wrong! My single room actually looks like the kind of bedroom I had as a teenager so straight away I felt pretty comforted by that. Hey and perks of staying here are; FREE laundry service, FREE cups of tea and coffee, use of kitchen and utensils oh AND there is a mini music room fully equiped with a drum kit, keyboard, acoustic and electric guitars woo hoo! After letting Mama and Papz know I’d arrived safely, I quickly whizzed to the 24hr convenience store next door and ‘stocked’ up! Yay, I could buy cereal and milk! After buying my essentials and labelling everything as ‘Helens, do not touch’, I then went to bed where I had the best nights kip I’d had in a while! ZZzz…

Lets go to the beach beach

Oops, I woke up at 10.30am Saturday morning haha, guess I needed it! The good thing about the room is that it’s so dark, although, could be a bad thing because I thought it was still the middle of the night when I woke up haha!

Rising from my slumber, I stumbled to the shower rooms to snap out of my sleep drunken state! A bowl of cereal and a cuppa tea later and I was readdy to explore my surroundings woo hoo.

I took a walk around and to be honest, there doesn’t seem a lot to do in the sleepy town centre but of course a bus ride here or there opens you up to a lot more. I know there are botanical gardens, a butterfly farm, the JUNGLE, beaches etc..but just for today, I felt a beach day was in order!

Finding the beach, I took a walk up one side, then the other and just enjoyed taking in the fresh air, the ‘fizzing’ sounds of the waves caressing the sand, the sights of people on jetski’s and gentle music wafting in the wind from nearby restaurants. “Ahh, this looks like a good spot” I thought to myself. Unrolling my beach mat (kindly lent to me by the guest house) and plonking myself down, I popped my ipod on and opened my journal. “Right, I’d best get updating ready for my blog”. I must have only scribbled a few words when…splodge….hmm, wiping off the small droplet of water I carried on. SPLODGE, SPLAT, oh noooo!! Smudged biro letters turned to water and began running down the page! ‘Dammit’ I had to run for cover because a few splodges and splats turned into the heaviest downpour I’d seen in a while. Hiding underneath what I can only describe as a ‘grass umbrella’ I waited for the rain to stop or at least subside. I waited..waited and waited some more until I had to give in to the rain! At least I found the bus stops on my jog around town…oh and MacDonalds too, oops! Well, after a month of detoxing and eating nothing but veg and salad in Ubud I thought ‘why not’ ! Haha.

So the first day was pretty much a wet beach and chill day…well, actually, it turned out most days were peeing down hence the name of the blog hehe!

Butterflies, Bugs and Beetles = :D 

Ok, so Sunday I decide to get up early and find out where the Butterfly Farm was. I figured that if it was raining again then an indoor activity would be best. The hostel owners gave me a map of Penang and also a list of all the bus numbers and routes which was fab. So, armed with my map, the bus journeys and my camera, I was off…

Wow, what a seriously hot day! It reached 30 degrees and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky! ‘Oh, so today looks like it’s going to be hot as and I’m staying inside!’ Typical, I thought to myself but oh well…maybe I could hit the beach afterwards? I found the bus stop no problems, sat myself down and popped my ipod on and waited. It wasn’t long before I was approached for a ‘taxi’. A dark skinned Malaysian man came and sat himself down next to me and asked “Where you go Miss? I can take you” Turning my head towards the man I firmly said “No thank you, I am taking the bus out of town” Finally, he got the message and walked away but minutes later another Malaysian man came over and plonked himself down on the metal chairs. “Where you going?” He asked in a monotone voice. “For a day out” I replied, well, I didn’t want him to know exactly where right! “You need taxi? I give good price” “No thank you. I want to take the bus” I gave a firm answered and then popped the right headphone back into my ear to make it clear that I wasn’t interested in talking to him. He too got the message and thankfully bus 101 then appeared in the distance. Wow, it was only 1 Ringgit and 40 cents to get to the Butterfly Farm (I know 1 RM is about 20 English pence so less than 30p to get there!) A cab would have still been cheap but FAR cheaper to get the bus, plus it’s more fun to stare out the window and travel like one of the locals hey. Oh and the hostel owners warned me to ‘watch my valuables’ on the bus as other guests have complained of having things stolen…so just have your valuables at the front of you (so bags on laps ok!).

Oh my word, the bus driver was a maniac! He was driving so fast that I seriously thought we were going to make it round the bends on 2 wheels! I had to hang on to the bars as tightly as I could! One poor tourist let go for a split second to re-adjust her bag but a 2 wheeled turn of a corner and she went flying tee hee! Her partner had to catch her! No language was needed at that moment either, all of us tourists were exchanging looks of ‘Strewth! Are we there yet?’ haha.

Phew, finally the bus driver came to an abrupt stop almost causing me to head butt the person in front of me and shouted “Butterfly Farm” Ooh fab! So I hopped off (probably looking rather green in the face at this point along with the other tourists hah) and like a Lemming, I followed them for a few metres thinking they too were heading the same way. We walked up the road in a crowd of mixed accents and languages but they all soon veered off into the Toy Museum leaving just me, myself and I exposed. Hmm…I guess the Butterfly Farm is further up, so I kept walking until about 5 mins later there it was! I did actually spot a huge monitor lizard blocking my path and typically, once I managed to get the camera out, it slid off, boo!

Wow, the Butterfly Farm was so cool and I recommend anyone who makes it to Penang to make the trip out. It’s so close to Batu Ferringhi and just under 6 english pounds to enter. I could see every variety, every colour, shape and size of butterfly fluttering about and doing butterfly things haha. Then you take a walk through the bugs and reptiles corner which of course is my favourite woo hoo! Ooo, snakes, scorpians, spiders, beetles and reptiles :D In actual fact, I could identify (not by name) a lot of the bugs and reptiles that I had seen on my travels too which amazed me! I then realised just how much wildlife I had encountered along the way!

I then came to a platform showing illustrations of all the different bugs, animals and wildlife etc in the world and just how different it is all over. Next to the ‘Nature’s Atlas’ there was an option to play some music so I loaded up ‘What a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong and it was amazing! The display then seemed to light up all the different mammals, landscapes, bugs and plants etc in sync with the music and just at that moment, I smiled to myself and actually, I didn’t care that I probably looked like a smiley freak haha because yes, it is a wonderful world and the music carried me off into a day dream about my travelling adventures to date and made me feel so very fortunate to have discovered just some of the world :)

The Perfect Stranger…

After much butterflying and bugging around, I then took a walk back to the bus stop and headed for Batu Ferringhi to find a spot for lunch. I quickly found a nice place (the most packed one around of course! It’s common sense to always head for the one where all the people are at!) I sat down and ordered some chicken and fried rice and did a bit of people watching. There was just one other white couple and the rest were all locals…a good sign really because I wanted to go where all the locals ate and avoid the temptation of going back to MacDonalds haha! I also spotted a nice looking Chinese guy sitting on his own…I watched as he slurped up his snake like noodles and sipped the soup from his bowl. After a short while, the Chinese man went up to pay his bill and um…..MINE!! I didn’t realise he’d paid my bill until he was walking out..”Hey, that handsome Chinese man just pay your bill Miss” Shouted the Waitress! Omg! Well, the whole restaurant turned to look at me and as usual, I went bright red! My mind was racing with questions like ‘Why? Why would he do that? Who was he? Why didn’t he just say hello if he wanted to chat with someone?’ “Huh?! Really? But he’s a stranger to me” I stuttered…I didn’t really know what to do! Looking through the open flaps of the restaurant (which was literally a glorified marquee) I caught his gaze as he walked around the corner and before he went out of sight I managed to mouth the words ‘Thank you’ He smiled back and then disappeared.

Soon the buzz of peoples gossiping, points and stares disappeared and thankfully went back to focusing on the food on their plates once more. And I too went back to finishing my plate but I couldn’t help ponder about the kind stranger who wanted to randomly pay for the food I was eating! But then I was battling with my independent Beyonce alter ego of ‘I can pay for my own food thanks’ hahah…hmm, Penang is a small place so perhaps if I see him again I can find out why he wanted to do that or….I could just leave it for what it was – a kind gesture from a beautiful stranger ;)

Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang Hill

Wanting to explore more of Penang (and secretly hoping to bump into the perfect stranger again), I decided to catch another very speedy bus out for an afternoon so ended up at Penang Hill. There you can visit Kek Lok Si Temple which is beautiful! A huge white temple surrounded by wonderful grounds, a wishing tree and a wishing pond packed with Koi Carp! The temple itself is like a mix of Thai, Chinese and Burmese styles so it was different from what I had seen before.

As soon as I got there, I was busy looking around until I came across the wishing tree. You basically buy a ribbon with your chosen message (from the options they have on display) and hang it on one of the branches. I chose ‘Constant Happiness’ of course :D Then I took a walk over to the wishing pond although, couples were crowding the wishing pond and enjoying their ‘moments’ together so I sat there feeding the hungry carp with some bought fish food pellets hehe…that was fun though. I spotted a big black fish in there which wasn’t a carp but more like a cat fish? I wanted to stick my finger in the water to see what it would do…so I dapped a small stick in and ‘SNAP’ the black fish had hidden teeth and attacked the stick as though it could have been some kind of small prey for it’s lunch hah! Phew, so glad I didn’t risk my finger in there lol!

After much pottering about, I decided to grab something to eat before heading back. A local told me “If you want to try local food, then you have to try Laksa” Laksa is basically a spicy fish soup. Hmm, sounded pretty nasty to me but hey, I wanted to try it and eat as a ‘local’.

So, taking a seat in a local street cafe, the waiter plonks down a bowl of this Laksa. “Enjoy!” “Thanks!” With chopsticks, you pick up the noodles and fish with one hand and then plonk the mixture onto a spoon with the other and well, slurp it up! To start with I wasn’t too sure but actually, I started to rather like it! I believe the fish was mackerel but it tasted a bit like spicy tuna and I love tuna so I ate it all up hah!

Turns out, the owners have been running this cafe for 57 years! Yup, 57yrs of knocking out the same dish, day in, day out…oh and get this…that is ALL they make! It all became clear once I’d taken a glance around the packed seats…everyone was in fact eating the same dish! “Everyday people come here to eat my Laksa. Some ordering 2 / 3 bowls per time” The owner seemed to proud to be able to boast this as fact of course. I was then day dreaming and thinking ‘I bet every line in the cafe owners face could tell the story of how all this began!’ In fact, the table I was sitting on starting filling up as there were no seats left! ‘Wow, people really do fill this place up fast!’ I thought to myself, taking a final slurp from my spicy fishy dish. But what a fascinating story hey and one that the cafe owner will continue going on and on no doubt.

Busy doing nothing!

The following days were complete wash outs…the heavy rain was as persistent as an army of a thousand drummers and stormy winds seemed to scatter the rain like seeds leaving limited dry patches to take refuse under! “Hmm, what am I going to do with myself?” I thought…well, it’s a good job the hostel owners and guests were easy to get along with at Lazyboys. I really didn’t do much at all apart from laze around, chat with other travellers and sink a few Tiger beers whilst listening to Azlan (one of the hostel owners who yes, shares the same name as the Lion from The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe haha!) playing his own rendition of ‘No Woman no cry’ on his acoustic guitar…”Azlan, you keep missing out the verse that repeats ‘Everything’s gonna be alright, everything’s gonna be alright!’ Haha” “Ah yes, so I do haha…Oh well, this is Azlan’s version!”

I was desperate to go trekking in Penang’s National Park but I felt rather jinxed by the weather, oh and the fact that I was alone too was another issue! Hmm. Grabbing a Tiger beer from the fridge, I peeled back the ring pull hearing it snap and fizz. Once the bubbles crept back into the can, I took a slurp and then pondered for a minute or two. “Azlan, do you think trekking is possible alone?” “No. You will need a guide but really it’s better in a group. Also, with the rain, you could slip and fall or worse still, lose the path. But also, even when the sun is out, it will be too hot to trek and it’s not an easy walk” He seemed quite serious. “Oh” I didn’t really know what to reply…it seemed a harsh catch 22 situation because yes, I could have hired a guide but I really didn’t want to just go off into the jungle with a stranger either…I would have rather fancied going in a group, safety in numbers and all that.

Life’s a Beach

So with trekking looking more like a ‘could have, would have’ scenario…some kind of mass laziness came over me haha! I thought to myself, you know, you’ve done so much trekking, you’ve seen so many jungles why not just take these 9 days to do absolutely nothing! With the beach conveniently over the road, I spent much of my time there and loved it ;) I loved sitting there and taking in all the sights, sounds and smells….lovers taking a romantic sandy stroll together, children playing volley ball, families taking a horse ride up the shore, locals trying to catch the slightest glare from tourists so they could rent out their deck chairs and umbrellas, watching teenagers fall off the banana boats and seeing the odd over weight, white balding man wearing things he really shouldn’t hahah! And trying to resist the succulent smells of barbequed food which would gently waft under your nose and turn into a seducing and beckoning finger – (just like it would in a cartoon) until your tummy would give in and grumble to it! Or watching the sand dogs (like street dogs but um, well, sand dogs) curl up and find a spot to snooze in….

But do you know what else I really loved about it all….the sitting there and not being noticed. I could just blend in and be ignored, I could be anyone I wanted to be on that beach. I mean, travelling is a great escape if you’re looking to escape anything (which of course I’m not) but there is something about sitting on a beach and watching the sun-setting while your favourite tunes gently serenade your ear drums – it’s so peaceful, so beautiful. But then, sometimes, I would feel a slight hollowness trying to rise up…hmm, what is this? Then it hit me…’Oh my god. I’ll be home in a week….ONE WEEK!’ Of course, I can’t wait to see my family and my friends but I just can’t believe that my wonderful journey will soon all be over. Day dreaming at the sinking sun sounds rather sentimental I know but it also felt rather symbolic to me too.

One afternoon, I sat on the beach to scribble an idea for a short novel (just an idea that I may pursue once I’m back!) and a sand dog walked right over to me and just stood just a few metres directly in front of me and stared. ‘Ok, just stay calm, just stay calm….’ Telling myself to stay calm was just not going to happen but I had to try and stop the fear from breaking through my pores and giving the sand dog the green light to bite! I dropped my gaze to the sand because I didn’t want to try and play a stare out game with what could potentially be a dangerous dog right?? ‘Ok, um, try and look busy’ I carried on scribbling to through off a ‘Bothered, do I look bothered that you’re standing there?’ demeanor haha! And then the sand dog curled up, sighed and started to snooze right there in front of me. ‘Aww, he seems alright’ Phew! My fear began to disappear and I felt relaxed that the sand dog and I had made our ‘peace’ of sharing our space together.

Moments later, the sand dog got up and stepped even closer to me and laid down once more to kip. In fact, the sand dog kept getting closer to me until he was literally sat by my side. It was rather cute actually….the stray sand dog, my bodyguard haha! “I guess you get lonely too sometimes hey lil one!” I said, giving him a lil tickle on the head. So there I was, scribbling the drafts for a potential novel whilst taking in the most beautiful sunset of the week with my stray sand dog. I bet it looked rather funny to the locals casually walking past too hahah but I know it made me chuckle!

Georgetown

Wow, time to check out of Lazyboys and head for Guest Inn Muntri in Georgetown. 7 nights in Penang seemed to fly by but hey, now it was time to explore the main town.

I arrived at my new hostel and was immediately shown to my room and woah…it was like a prison cell (well, from what I’ve seen on telly haha!). I’m not claustrophobic but the room was so small that I feared I may actually develop the phobia just from staying there! So picture this….a tiny room that even the invisible man had trouble fitting into, no windows to peer out of and nowhere to hang your clothes…oh AND, I got eaten alive by mozzies before I’d even got into bed that night! There does seem to be more mozzies here than in Bali so I well and truly paid the price for forgetting to apply my bug repellent that day.

Avoiding hanging around at the hostel, I went off to explore my new town! I must say, I much preferred Penang. Penang is quieter and I was also missing ‘my’ beach! Georgetown is more about the history and the buildings. However, the buildings are very pretty…they seem to come in every pastel shade going! I saw pale minty green buildings along with fine yellow, orange and pink structures, it was rather stunning. There were also a lot more tourists and a lot more bars to walk in and fall out of but I wasn’t too impressed hah. ‘Oh well, just another night and I’ll then be heading back to Bangkok to see my friends’ I thought to myself and hey, whatever the situation…it is what you make of it.

I did actually check out of the hostel to avoid being suffocated and bittern to death by mozzies and pitched up in a much nicer place so I could enjoy my final night in Penang in comfort ;)

Getting a cab back to the airport was funny, well, not so funny actually. The day I checked out was typically a ‘monsoon’ day and the rain was bucketing down. I hailed a red and white cab down and asked for the airport. I trusted the look of this cab because of the ‘This taxi is metered, no haggling’ sign on the door…’Great stuff, this’ll do’ “Hello, taxi to airport please?” “Yes, get in” comes the enthusiastic reply from the taxi dude. I firmly responded with “Meter” as I chucked my bag in the front seat. “No, no…fixed price, 50 Ringgits” “Forget it!” I couldn’t believe it. So it wasn’t metered at all then!?

I hailed the next red and white cabby down and opened the door and asked the same question. “Metered taxi to airport please” “No meter. I do fixed price only” “Well, why say you’re a metered taxi when clearly you’re not!” I was getting a bit hacked off with not just the taxi guys but just at how tourists can be treated in this way. I told him to get lost and walked away leaving the door wide open for all the rain to come pouring in haha! It was funny seeing this Malaysian taxi driver ranting what I can only assume to be bad words at me. I stood under nearby ledge for shelter from the rain and smirked to myself watching in amusement as the cabby driver frantically tried to reach to shut the door of his cab to stop anymore rain seeping in. I could then see him dapping the inside of the door with tissues before he then wheel spinned off…..good punishment for him really hehe!

A chinese man and his daughter saw the whole thing (and no, sadly it wasn’t my perfect stranger coming out of nowhere to whisk me off haha) but he asked what happened and was I ok. James was his name and his daughter was called Nikki. “I just picked my daughter up from her computer class. I live right by the airport so I can take you there” After much umm-ing and arr-ing, I thought it would be pretty safe as he was with his daughter and she’d be coming along for the ride too. So James and Nikki drove me to the airport and all for free, he wouldn’t take a dime for his efforts even when I insisted. There really are some wonderfully kind people out there…always trust your gut and go with what feels right and you’ll be ok! My instinct has kept me safe and believe me, your intuition grows tenfold when you’re out in the world.

And that was beautiful Penang! It was short but it was very sweet. However, I feel I need to come back just for the trekking one day!

Someone once told me ‘A wise man said, leave some things undone’ I’d like to interpret that to mean….’Because you can come back and knot the bits you left for they will then become the best bits!’ ;)

So farewell Penang – Bangkok here I come just for one last hit! I’m looking forward to saying my final goodbyes to my Thai pals and catch up with the movies, bowling, drinking etc :D Then it’s one final trip back to KL where it all began….

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That Healing Feeling!

WOW! What an unbelievable few weeks! Since my last catch up, my days have been filled with healing, training and learning, releasing pent up grief and stale energies, growing physically and mentally and sharing this beautiful experience with the most wonderful, awe inspiring people I have ever met! And without sounding like a total hippy, this blog is by far going to be the most difficult to express to you all as a lot of what I experienced (along with my new friends), has very much been a beautiful and highly personal journey. But tell you what, I will continue to babble on as usual but just keep the personal revelations in my glittery trinket box…sound like a good deal? ;)

XMEN clan (well, XWOMEN!)

So after my last blog, I decided to have a fairly chilled out week and pondered more about booking this Certified Spiritual Healers course that I had found in ‘Ubud Community Magazine’. After a few email liaisons with White Star, I just knew it was the course I was looking for and signed right up! I couldn’t wait to get started and in actual fact, I had a gut feeling that this was what I came to Ubud to do.

I negotiated a great deal on my transport for the week with Gaday (yes, it really does sound like G’day!) who works just outside my B&B and grabbed myself a note book and that was it, I was ready to go!

Day 1

Finally reaching day 1, I excitedly hopped onto the back of Gaday’s bike and headed for Bumi Resort where the next 7 days of training would begin!

Arriving early, I took my time to take in the serene surroundings of what was going to fast become familiar ground and oh my word it was just beautiful! The training was situated at the back of the resort, in the garden if you like and right next to the swimming pool! Underneath a large shaded area, there were 4 massage tables along with brightly coloured cushions, mats and blankets all neatly placed in their piles. Sounds of gentle water features whirling and birds singing their distinctive songs instantly added to the calm serenity of the place. Our visionary senses were treated to lush, green rice fields which seemed to carry on for miles and completed the perfect sense of tranquility. “Wow, what an idyllic place to train in!” I thought to myself. Walking back over to the shaded area, I could see a circle of 8 chairs…I knew then that this was to be my new group. I was quite excited that there were only 8 chairs actually because I was under the impression there would be around 40 / 50 of us so to see 8 chairs was a relief haha. So, I placed myself in one of the chairs and sat in a nervous, excited and anticipated state and waited to meet the group that fast became my new spiritual family!

The first person to arrive was Sonia, a beautiful woman from Perth, Australia. We introduced ourselves and immediately got chatting about the course and how we found it etc when suddenly a silver 7 seater pulls up delivering more fellow students.

Wow, everyone looked beautiful and radient and well, just like a lovely bunch of people! White Star (Lino) followed behind and immediately I was thinking, ‘Woah, there she is, the lady herself, the master!’. Lino was also joined by her husband Robert who was also to be one of our teachers for the week. Forming our circle, we all filled out the necessary paperwork etc and then got straight onto the introductions. I felt really nervous because we were taking turns in ‘doing the welcome speech’ and yep, in true Readders style I could feel my cheeks burning up when it was my turn haha! I instantly took a liking to everyone…such a mix of wonderful individuals! Doing a list is probably the easiest way I can introduce everyone to you;

Jodi: The earth mother / flower child who has a lot of love and powerful energy to give.

Joanie: (who I instantly felt calm around) A knowledgeable lady who holds such wisdom and compassion. Also very powerful.

Nea: An inquisitive and enthusiastic individual who is also a very talented crystal jewellery maker (and yes, we did all end up buying a huge bundle of stunning designs hehe)

Jenny: Gorgeous Irish girl who is also very powerful. Jenny has her own Mind, Body and Balance business. Very earthy too and usually found climbing the nearest tree haha.

Pauline: Another compassionate and enthusiastic lady who like myself, may have doubted her abilities in the beginning but she cured my Bali Belly within a day, I’m serious.

Lynne: A super cute Chinese lady who shared so much positive energy with us all. A sensitive soul with so much to give. Very powerful psychic in training!

White Star and Robert: Our teachers of course! The most wonderful people you could ever meet..they have so much time, patience and knowledge to give and never ever judge. They are rather inspiring teachers and manage to break difficult topics down and into ways that are easier to remember. They recognize each and everyone’s individual talents and help to build your confidence to realise your potential. They really are amazing and I highly recommend them should anyone also be looking into spirituality courses. What I also loved about White Star and Robert is just how much compassion they have for people and their love of wanting to help others…mix it up with their sense of humours too and you have the perfect team!

Wow, so that’s a very brief run through of the FAB new family I made haha. And I tell you what, it seriously felt like we were attending that school from XMEN, The School for the gifted and White Star was the bald headed professor haha.

So getting started, we were all given our manuals and began learning Cranio Sacral Therapy and Hands on Healing. Now I won’t go into all the details of how and what we trained in because I will be here forever haha so I shall just give you the brief idea.

Cranio Sacrel Therapy is working specifically with the energy on and around the skull and spinal fluids and helps improve a long list of aliments including: Migraines, sinusitis, depression, stress, whip lash, ear problems, brain injuries etc…and hands on healing is like reiki. So I picked up so many new ‘moves’ and treatments to use when I get back home. I loved it! What I also loved about the day is the amount of hands on work that we did. We were constantly changing partners which was great so not only could we get to know everyone but we could also practice on different aliments and techniques with each other.

When we were practicing, I did feel as though I couldn’t let myself go to start with but I tell you what, by the end of the week I was flying haha! Well, I think we all were in more ways than one ;)

Day 2 – Time to ‘shake things up a little’

Back at my B&B on Monday evening, I was lying on my bed trying to catch up with facebook as well as watch movie clips on You Tube! (Well, there isn’t a TV in my room remember so I have to make my own entertainment). In the middle of watching new up and coming movie trailers, my bed started vigorously shaking! It was like a scene from The Exorcist! “What the?!” Hmm..maybe it’s the wind? But the curtains weren’t moving! I was so confused…how could the bed be shaking and nothing else be wobbling about? This bed is seriously heavy too, it’s a full on 4 poster, solid wooden framed bed that I even have trouble shifting sometimes just to reach the plug! Well…I hopped out of bed and turned the big light on straight away. It must have gone of for maybe 15 seconds which doesn’t sound long but when you don’t know what’s going on, it felt like forever! I messaged one of my friends back in the UK..’OMG, I think there’s a ghost in my room!’ It was as though someone was holding onto the headboard and shaking my bed back and forth and side to side haha! Well, I couldn’t sleep a wink after that! In the morning I was walking in to the class and met Nea at the entrance. “Morning, how are you? Omg, did you feel that earthquake last night?” Nea looked just as shocked as I did and she lives in Bali haha “No way! Omg, feel it, I nearly fell out of my bed hah, I actually thought there was a demon in my room!” “Haha! No way. Yeh, I could still feel the aftershocks!” Although feeling an earthquake is a frightening ordeal, I was also kinda relieved I could sleep with the light off that evening knowing that there wasn’t a demon in my room after all haha! My Dad actually found a link to a Bali news update and we found out the earthquake was recorded a 5.4 on the richter scale! I was told anything at 5.6 and above will cause the windows to wobble and fall out!! I feel very fortunate to have just felt the bed shaking and would rather not experience anything like this again…EVER!!

So day 2 of my training consisted of more cranio sacrel therapy work along with colour healing and working with the chakras. I love colour healing as that is how I currently treat people. I see all sorts of colours when I’m working on people so it was definitely ‘my bag’ But I learnt so much more along with the meanings of each colour…just fascinating.

Also, the funniest thing happened. We had a new guy join our classes for a few days too, a chinese guy called Andrik. I had actually brushed shoulders with Andrik a few days earlier when I was in the crystal shop in town! Well, I just had to ask him…”Um, were you in the cystal shop the other day?” I inquisitively asked….”Yes, I was! I remember you!” How funny. Later on that day, Andrik asked if I was ‘that girl from the Big Bang Theory’ hahaha…bless! I’m not sure which girl he meant but I took it as a compliment. I got to partner with him too and he is such an amazing healer.

I got to work with the lovely Jodi today but I actually made her cry, oops! But Robert said that was a great thing because the energy was helping her to release any stale energy that she may have been harbouring…so it felt nice to be able to help her :) Then when Jodi worked on me, I felt super happy for the rest of the day and right into the evening haha! I must have taken on some of her traits it felt wicked!

Day 3

Today we finished learning about Cranio Sacrel Therapy and also learnt how to clear negative energy from the body. Then later on in the afternoon, Robert taught us how to diagnose chakra ‘issues’ with pendulums. I must admit, I struggled with this but then when I switched pendants and used my necklace it worked!! I think Robert realised at this point that I may have had issues with believing in my abilities. Joanie also said to me that I am a very capable healer, I just need to believe it.

Day 4

Today we learnt how to clear entities and also how to protect ourselves whilst working on people.

I got to work with the lovely Lynne today. I had such a great connection with Lynne…I think it’s because we are very similar people. But anyway, as I mentioned, Lynne is a powerful psychic in training and oh my word, she had a message for me which I won’t go into detail with but she was spot on! I just wish she believed in herself more too…she doesn’t realise just how good she is right now and how amazing she can be! Lynne told me it’s also the same for me, she said she can feel I will be a great healer but I too need to believe it and practice!

Day 5

Removing entities, protection and sound healing! Wow, we have been learning so much and it’s all been absolutely fascinating!

The sound healing was pretty cool too. We all had a session at the Yoga Barn in town and then joined a workshop. Sound healing is wonderful! As you all know, music can tell a story and really transport your mind into ‘other’ places right….well, you can actually work on using the frequencies and vibrations of various instruments and sounds to alter your own frequencies. It’s really hard to explain but I highly recommend anyone to just go along and try something like this. It’s a real stress beater! I just love music anyway so I was really getting into it. When Shervin (the teacher) began getting all the instruments out, I suddenly felt as though I had become a kid again and was attending a music lesson back at school haha. Well, I got to play with singing Tibetan bowls, huge drums, rattly things, shakers and bells, it was so cool, I just loved it!

Later on in the evening, I went out for dinner with Lynne and met 3 of her other friends. We had such a good time! We actually went and watched some live music over at the Laughing Buddha which was a mix of Jimmy Hendrix and Bob Marley, ‘Yeh man’ !

Day 6

Saturday was all about psychic surgery and using protection mantras. This was fantastic…it really is more about getting right to the root of a physical problem and curing it once and for all. Pauline actually cured my Bali belly within the day and I had been suffering for near on 3 weeks!

After another fantastic day, Lynne and I (any my other new buddies) all met at CP Lounge (local club here) and danced the night away. Oh dear, I didn’t get back until 3am haha! It was worth it though, cutting up shapes on the dancefloor!

Day 7

Feeling super tired from our night of partying (hehe!), Sunday was to be our last training day…it was so sad because we had all gotten so close. Today was all about how to heal with our guides, soul retrieval and channeled healings. It was another superb day and to top it off, White Star and Robert gave us all such a wonderful graduation send off. We were all presented with certificates and a gorgeous smelling ‘flower necklace’ (can’t remember what they are called hah). We had all come so far and grown in our confidence as well as our abilities. I could certainly feel the change in myself :D

But actually, even though we had all graduated, there was just one more day that we were invited to attend and I think it was this day that really awakened us all!

Blessings and Water Purification

So it’s Tuesday morning and the day we get to meet traditional Balinese healers and well, receive some healings! We were all so excited!

First up, Robert drove us to meet a 90yr old Pedanda named Ida Griya. It was a fascinating experience and such an honour to be in his presence. Ida Griya is extremely well known in his community for his work which includes healings and blessings. As soon as we were inside, we could see him praying and getting ready to bless us all. Sat in wait, we all watched in awe while Ida blessed the water, the flowers and singing in prayer. There was a slight breeze in the air that brushed past the many burning incense sticks which carried their strong flowery aromas right under our nostrils.

“Ok, you can come up now” Ida Griya’s wife ushered us over to see him. Ida was sitting above us on a raised platform (an alter I guess). Looking up at him, he began singing his prayers over us all and flicking water on our heads. Then one by one, he poured a large bowl of water over our heads! I felt a bit panicky at that point because the water is trickling into your eyes, up your nose, just everywhere haha. After the showering, Ida’s wife places a small cluster of rice on your forehead and then weaves 3 different flowers in your hair…you are then all blessed!

After this, we then all had lunch before visiting the High Priestess Maharishi…and Oh my word! She was amazing!

Maharishi is like a magic goddess to me! Now this experience, I really am going to keep private (booooo I hear you all chant in the background haha) but unless you experience her power, my words really won’t be able to even come close to expressing what you can feel.

What Maharishi basically does is clear you of any negative and stale energies that you may have kept hidden deep within. She will chant, meditate and then pour buckets and buckets of water over you to essentially ‘flush’ them out….and I’ll just tell you this…..after she purified me, I couldn’t stop laughing afterwards! I felt as though I had just been exorcised and then sucked on a bag load of laughing gas! I was giggling away for a long time, I just felt so happy! I highly recommend this over any spa day I tell thee! I really shared such a special moment with everyone there that day…walking back to the car looking like drenched rats, we were just all lost for words!

Final Goodbyes!

Wow, what can I say! I have come a long way on my journey but this trip really has changed my life! Everything that I have worried about, been stressed over or been held back by has well and truly been healed and flushed out by Ubud itself! I now know I was meant to come to Bali and stay in Ubud for personal growth as well as my training and development as a spiritual healer. I have learnt so much and been blessed to have shared it with the most amazing and awe-inspiring people I could ever meet! Our ‘Xmen’ class have all vowed to keep in touch and have some kind of reunion! It’s amazing how close to people you can become over a short space of time but we did go through so much together, it really was the most intense week!

And as for leaving Ubud….omg, I really don’t want to leave.  All the locals say Ubud has some kind of spell on all the travellers who have been lucky enough to come here….well, it’s certainly true for me as I was only thinking of staying for 2wks tops but fate had other ideas haha! When I am on that plane on Friday afternoon, it will really feel as though my mum’s just dropped me off at nursery school again…you know that feeling when you don’t want to let go of her hand *sighs!

Well, I must continue on with my journey but I shall never EVER forget what happened in magical, mystical Ubud! But I have promised myself that I will return. I would really like some more training from White Star to develop myself further so here’s hoping….I just need to get saving when I’m back to the UK haha!

So adieu adieu beautiful Bali….I arrived with nothing but came away with wonderful experiences that I will always treasure, life long friends and a new wisdom that only my Xmen friends will understand ;)

Penang, here I come!

p.s. link to the course I did incase anyone reading this is also interested:

http://www.divinelightministries.com/index.html

xxxx

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Welcome to Baliwood!

So I made it to ‘Bali Wood’ Hah, ok, not quite but I just couldn’t resist putting this as the title!

Wow, so it felt like it took forever to get to Bali…The Ozzies were saying it’s only a 3hr flight from Australia but mine felt more like a 12hr process but then again, I am on a budget so opted for the slow mo options ho hum!

Game of Chinese charades anyone?

So I left Australia on Thursday evening and arrived in Bali Friday afternoon. During my connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur, the air crew handed out arrival cards and I had that De Ja Vue feeling when I was faced with familiar questions such as “Are you bringing in any meat, poultry, fish, drugs, pornographic material!” I actually had a comedy moment that I WISH someone had filmed…it will be one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments but I’m sure this would have given Catherine Tate some new material haha! Ok, so basically, I was sitting in the middle seat sandwiched between 2 Chinese girls (I later discovered that Bali has a lot of Chinese visitors but I’ll cover that bit later). So, picture this…everyone is now filling out their arrivals cards apart from the 2 Chinese girls next to me. Once I’d finished mine, the girl to my right (who was called Chi), asked me to help her. Chi could hardly speak English! I soon discovered this because she was copying my answers on her arrivals card, yep, everything from my name to my DOB! “Woah, woah! That’s my name!” I chuckled. “You put your name here and your birthday here!” Phew, she finally got that bit but the next part turned into a game of charades, it was so funny! I pointed at things like ‘Are you bringing in any guns?’ It must have then looked like I was rein-acting a scene from Platoon or something, oh dear! Chi did this cute little giggle where she’d put her hand over her mouth and laugh. Great! So she understands me signing in the air looking like an idiot haha! So you can imagine that for each question, I had to act something out so she understood it all hahah! For the drugs question, I just smoked an invisible cigarette, squinted my eyes and then smiled like a Cheshire cat! I knew Chi understood me because she did that cute giggle from behind her hand once more. I found out that Chi and her friend were going to be passing through Ubud so I said I’d probably bump into her! Once we’d touched down, Chi gave me her email address so I’m guessing she wanted to meet up but I assume the poor thing won’t understand it anyways hah oh well!

Touch Down! 

WOW! The heat surrounded (and suffocated) me as soon as I’d stepped off the plane, my word it’s hot! I reached for my shades to stop the sun from completely burning my retina’s to buggery and then followed everyone into the arrivals lounge. Most of us headed to the VOA (visa on arrival) booths which were located to the left of the arrivals hall. The first thing you must do is pay $25 US dollars for the actual visa…the staff then hand you the paper visa which is lose in your passport. You then walk over to the Immigration who assess your passport and review your visas. I was told I might have needed to produce my onward flight ticket just to prove I was going to leave Bali (guess they have a problem with people wanting to stay haha!) but I got away with it and I’m glad I did because my ticket was deep in my backpack which I hadn’t yet collected!

After my visa was stamped, I then walked over to the baggage claim area. Be careful here as there are porters readily waiting for everyone’s luggage to come round the belt so they can collect it for you which is fine BUT if you want them to haul it around (which of course they are more than eager to do), they will expect silver to cross their palms! I was aware of this from previous research so was readdy for them haha! They are easy to spot…there must have been about 5 waiting by the luggage belt and they were all wearing awful grey, well, off white uniforms with small square hats! I rushed over to the belt and actually saw my invisible man just coming round…the pink scarf still miraculously hanging on for dear life even after all these months haha! So on the trolley the bag goes and I’m off. As soon as I was outside, I was surrounded by the all so familiar airport hustle and bustle…families and friends greeting their loved ones, the usual chorus of “Excuse me Miss, you want Taxi, special price for you!”, Car horns tooting away and the hoards of men and women holding up tatty cards with their customers names….oh and hang on….”HELEN READDY’ Yippee….there’s my prearranged taxi! Handy (the hotel owner) was there ready to pick me up and whisk me off to his B&B so pretty ‘Handy’ really boom boom!

And WOW! Bali is absolutely beautiful! These were the first words that came into my head; ‘Green, lush, jungle, hot and humid, tropical, rice fields, hippy, yoga, chilled, spa’s, massage, taxi’s’ It actually reminded me of Chaing Mai in Thailand but just had a slightly different vibe. I’ve been told that Bali and in particular Ubud has a ‘magic’ to it. A lot of people come here for the yoga and the spiritual healing side which of course was one of the things I came here to do myself! I could see women carrying huge and heavy looking bags or baskets on their heads which still to this day amazes me how on earth they do it! I could also see masses of bright and colourful shops all lined up next to each other displaying either shoals / scarves, wooden carvings, paintings etc.. oh and then there were the all too familiar mangey looking street dogs! Oh no! I really don’t like street dogs…just takes me back to the Monkey School when that dog tried to bite me in the butt remember?! Nevermind, I will avoid them like the plague (or rabies hah!). Not too many street food stalls but then again, that was fine by me as I’d been told to avoid the street food altogether as this was one common cause of the ‘Bali belly syndrome’ haha!

Pulling into Ubud was just stunning! It was different to the other towns we had passed on the way and I knew then that I had picked the best spot! It is literally surrounded by forests and jungles which is a Helen haven! Other places such as Sanur, Kuta and Jimbalin just seemed way too touristy for what I was looking for.

Once I’d arrived, Handy gave me the key to my room and I immediately jumped into the shower, told Mama and Popz I had arrived and then flopped on my traditional Indonesian looking bed and crashed!

Saturday I didn’t really do too much at all, I kept this day free to explore my surroundings and get a feel for what I was going to do etc..I soon got lost in the many alleys, side roads and cross roads! “Right, must get a map sorted out” So that’s pretty much the first thing I did actually. Great stuff! I was soon getting to know where the cafes, bars and restaurants were as well as where the ATM’s and local convenience stores were situated too.

One thing I did notice is how Indonesia smells! It is lush! They are permanently burning incense sticks which is all part of their daily ritual.  Balinese people make small offerings to their Gods each and every single day. The offering is basically a banana leaf which is carefully (and magically) made into a square shape…the inside of the square is then packed with 5 different coloured flowers, rice and anything else they wish to place in there. The offering is then placed in front of temples, statues, in front of businesses (for luck) and in front of their homes etc and it is finished off by placing a burning incense stick next to them. I did in fact accidentally step on a few in the first week oops! But then so many other tourists had done the same because I could see many a squished offering along the pavements hehe! But how beautiful Bali is! And yes, it really is true that they wear flowers in their hair and also round their necks! Even the men do it is just so wonderful to see :) They really are lovely people who seem so down to earth and of course to nature.

Volcanic Climb! 

Saturday evening I had gotten a good idea of what day trips I wanted to do so got cracking with booking up my week ahead. The first thing I wanted to do was see a real life volcano…but hang on, this tour says you can climb a volcano but more to the point…an active one! Omg, what a thrill! So I got onto the tour operators and booked it. “Thank you Miss Helen. It will be a 2am start” Came the reply from my email. “2am, are you sure! That’s rather early!” I was quite shocked haha…it was already 8pm Saturday evening you see so I knew I had to get to bed pretty sharpish if I was to be up and out by 2am. “Yes this is correct. It takes a few hours to drive to the volcano and then at least 2hrs to climb to the top. We must be there in time for the sunrise”. Wow, now this I have to do!

1am my alarm went off, yep, both of them haha! I was up, washed and outside waiting for my lift. I must admit, it did feel rather dodgy waiting outside for a man to pick me up in the dark…and who was I looking for? Oh no…street dogs! I kept crossing the road and tried to avoid them incase they could smell my fear haha! Suddenly a 6 seater mini van pulls up…I instinctively knew this was for me, well, I think it was the ‘Bali Adventure Tours’ on the side of the bus that gave it away hah! Out jumps Dewa, my driver. “Hello Miss Halan! I am Dewa, we go to Volcano now” A rather plum but very jolly man jumped out and opened the door for me to hop in. “Thanks Dewa” Dewa wouldn’t stop talking all the way to the Volcano! He was lovely though, totally harmless and full of life! The Balinese people do seem so happy (well, the ones I’ve met so far). Actually, his accent did uncannily sound like that character from Fonejacker George Agdgdgwngo! (My Dad’ll know who this is lol!)

A few hours later, Dewa parks up and tells me we’ve made it to the volcano. I couldn’t see a darn thing though but it was 3.30am! I met 2 other people who were also on my trip…a lovely couple from Austria oh and then our guide showed up and I kid you not, he looked about 12 hah! “Hello please. I am your guide. Please, each take a torch” I forget his name but I shall call him Mowgli because he looked like that cartoon character from the Jungle Book! Mowgli each gave us a torch and then ordered us to follow him. Ok, so it’s dark and it was absolutely freezing! The first part of the walk was fine, nice and flat! The ground at that point felt more like black sand but Mowgli said this was ‘volcanic ground’. Wow, so here goes!

We’d walked along to the base of the volcano and it was then I realised just how much of a trek this was going to be. We couldn’t even see the top because it was still so dark. Being not quite so full of beans at 3.30am, that was the moment I knew I was going to feel so drained once we’d reached the top! My inside chatter was trying to prepare me for this huge feat…’You can do it Hels! C’mon, it’ll be so worth it up top!’ Then it began.

To start with it was fine. Feeling like I had an advantage in my hiking boots, we all stormed onwards and upwards. It was a gradual incline which felt nice and easy but then suddenly the black/grey sand disappeared and gave way to huge grey rocks! The climb then got steeper and steeper until it literally was turning into a ‘climb’ Lagging at the back, I was getting short of breath but I didn’t want the others to notice hah! The Austrians were like super humans, they just didn’t stop! ‘Oh god, I can’t stop now! I’ll get left behind!’ Stupidly worrying about what they were thinking, I kept going. I had to whip my jumper off because I felt so hot and sticky from the climbing!  Then my legs were feeling heavier and even my hiking boots were starting to feel as though they were giving up on me! Each step became more challenging…you had to almost strategically place your feet in the ‘right places’ because the rocks were so lose…they would just give way from under your feet as though they were trying to escape being trodden on by my huge size 8’s! As soon as a rock would roll out from under your step, it would make your legs work even harder to try to stick to the uneven ground once more before you face planted into the nearest rock haha!  Eventually we stopped for a break! Phew! Glugging my water down and catching my breath, we were then ready to carry on. It was more of the same…lose rocks meant lose footing and even more trickier boulders blocking the ever increase incline of the volcano meant we had to help pull each other up. Looking over our shoulders, we could see a line of moving lights! “We must move quickly to beat the crowds. That is other people climbing up to the top!” A competitive sounding Mowgli urged us to keep going as quick as we could. I think he just wanted us to get the best spot up the top!

The climb just seemed relentless and the ground unforgiving! I was desperate for the ground to start feeling more ‘flat’ but of course this was never going to happen until we’d reached the top right! ‘At least let there be a clear path! These rocks are killing my legs’ I muttered! But then, there we were! An hour and a half later and we’d made it to a clear, flat part of the volcano. “Well done everyone! Now then, would you like to keep going to the crest of the crater?” Mowgli gave us the option to go right to the tip of the crater so we could actually look down into it! Well, what the hell, you can’t come all this way and not do it right! “Yeh sure, lets keep going” We all replied in unison! “Ok, it’s another 30 minutes climb!” Mowgli could see I was tired so he held my hand to the top.

Ok, so now we really were at the top! It was still fairly dark but the Mowgli promised the sunrise would soon be showering us all with its array of magical colours. So I bought a hot chocolate and waited and oh my word….the climbing, the pain, the sweating, the freezing cold air (and funny sulphury eggy stink) was worth it for there it was……..the darkness soon gave in to the rising sun and everyone watched in a stunned silence as the sky turned from a deep blue, to dark burnt orange, to reds, golden shades of orange and then pinks. There was an even bigger volcano opposite that we couldn’t see before. It was as though the sunset was a stage show curtain….it was lifting to show the Kintamani volcano in all its spectacular glory. It was just breath taking. You could even see the clouds ‘hugging’ the monstrous looking volcano as though they were the pillows for Kintamani! That’s exactly what this volcano was though – a sleeping beauty! Without moving my gaze from the beautiful sight in front of my eyes, I curiously muttered to Mowgli “Don’t the locals get scared it could erupt again?” “Oh no. They are not afraid” A short but sweet answer is all he gave but I was almost glad he didn’t give me an informative answer for that would have meant I would needed to have given him my full attention and for now all I wanted to do was stare at this magnificent backdrop!

After our National Geographic moment, we then climbed a little way down where Mowgli showed us some natural hot springs! That was amazing…hot steam was protruding from holes in the ground! It was like the steam coming out from a boiling kettle! Oh and then we saw a whole bunch of monkeys all well, monkeying around haha! I was wondering how on earth the monkeys all got up here but there were other signs of life including trees and bushes so I guess volcanic ground is still rather fertile. The climb back down didn’t take as long because we were mostly sliding down or should I say ‘sand surfing’  haha, that was quite fun!

Coffee pooed out of a cat?

Our drivers then took us to see a Luwak Coffee Farm. I’d heard about these on the TV but didn’t really know much about them. And wow, what an interesting place! We were warmly greeting by the plantation owner who then kindly showed me around.

“Welcome Helen. I’d like to show you around and then let you take a peek at how the Luwak Coffee is made. Then if you like, you are welcome to try some of this famous coffee” Juda was a nice guy and seemed more than happy for me to have a nose about. There was no messing either, we went straight to the Luwak’s ‘pen’. The Luwak is a kind of cat I think…looked a bit like a cross between a cat and large rat to me hah. They basically feed the Luwak these special red berries. Juda explained that the Luwak only eats the best of the best berries and they will leave the dodgy looking ones. The Luwak then spits out the red skin of the berry and congests the seed. This seed is then fermented inside the gut of the Luwak. Of course, the exciting bit (to the farmers) is when the Luwak goes for a poo! The seeds are excreted and then collected ready to be made into coffee. But this isn’t as gross as it might sound….the farmers actually want what is inside the seed so the outside shell is removed and the inside bean of the seed is then boiled twice over and thoroughly cleaned. The bean will then be continually tossed and turned as they are roasted for 45 minutes straight (I pity the person who has to do this job!). The roasted beans are then crushed into a powder and the powder will then be sifted into jars ready to be sold. Well, I just had to try some of this famous and rather expensive coffee. It is very dark and very strong! Phew! That seemed enough to give me an almost immediate wake up call! ‘Ping….you’re now back in the room!’ haha! It wasn’t a coffee I wanted to bring back home but they let me try all their other teas and coffees and what a range! They did chocolate coffee, vanilla coffee, ginger tea, lemon tea. I actually ended up buying some Rosella tea….a red coloured fruity tea which was so delicious! Apparently it’s good for losing weight too!? It was amazing to witness such a farm and again something else to tick off that you just wouldn’t see anywhere at home hey! I thanked Juda for showing me around and letting me try his products before rejoining Dewa to drive me back. Dewa chirpy as ever quickly showed me the rice fields on the way back and that was pretty cool. They are just stunning to see.

Turtle Island Adventure 

So I’d heard there was a Turtle Island somewhere around here and wanted to check it out. So I found a tour company who would take me and made a day of it. I was picked up at 8.30am and driven to Nusa Dua Beach where the boat leaves for Turtle Island. The plan for the day was snorkelling in the Indian Ocean, a trip to the Turtle Island itself and then a full body massage at a spa on the way home, bonus!

An hour and a half later and we’ve arrived at Nusa Dua Beach. It was packed full to the brim with tourists and surprisingly, it was mostly Chinese / Asian tourists. I was asked to fill out some paperwork for insurance purposes….apparently joking and saying ‘Is this incase I drown it covers you guys?’ wasn’t really the funniest thing to say haha….I was then kitted out with my snorkelling gear and taken to the boat and I tell you what….I was the only one on the boat = bonus!

I was excited to go snorkelling but had that nervous feeling which took me back to my snorkelling adventure on the Similan Islands in Thailand. But I did get used to it didn’t I so surely I can do it again?

The boat noisily pulled away from its anchored parking spot and whisked me away in what felt like my very own privately chartered boat! Churning up white frothy waves, we headed full steam ahead for destination Turtle Island! The boat had a glass bottom too so I was busy peering through trying to catch a glimpse of any marine life from the depths but we were going to fast to see anything. Suddenly, my leather-faced boat driver stopped in a nice quiet spot, handed me some bread and told me to dive in! Then I had a rush of nerves, ‘Oh god, here goes! I’m sure I’ll turn into a dolphin once I’m in there right?!’ Chattering to myself didn’t help though hah! So on went my snorkel and flippers and yep, a bright luminous orange life jacket. I placed one step on the rung of the ladder and went to put my other foot down on what should have been another rung but there wasn’t another one and I flopped straight in! Once more, flapping and wailing about as though I’d never seen water before haha! Oh dear! Just not a natural at this at all! I managed to grab hold of the side of the boat and held on tight. Leather face came over to see what the commotion was. “What the matter Miss?” Staring up at his puzzled wrinkly face I just replied “Oh nothing, I’m fine hah, it’s just been a while!” Eventually I let go and just let the life jacket do the work for me. My lungs went into over drive with panic drawing in as much air as they could through what felt like a narrow straw but then I just had to tell my lungs to quieten down so took long slow deep breaths until my breathing went back to normal. Phew…right, finally back into the swing of it, yay! I think it’s the shock of trying to only breath in and out of your mouth.

Oh, I completely forgot the bread that leather face gave me! I was still clutching the small plastic bag it was contained in! Sliding the now soggy bread out, I scattered all 3 slices straight into the ocean which soon wrapped all it’s wetness around the bread and gently pulled it under. Fish of all colours suddenly came out of nowhere and began ‘pecking’ at the disintegrating slices. Wow, they are in touchable distance! Suddenly something touched my leg and that was it….I let out a gurgled “Arrgghhh” and was flapping my legs and arms about like some crazy women haha! But I turned around and just caught glimpse of a shoal of bright orange fish…’Oh you silly idiot Hels!’ haha, they were only being curious and ‘kissed’ my leg hah!

Well, as much as it was fab seeing all these fishes and corals and funny sea slugs lazing on the ocean floor, I don’t think I can match the sheer beauty of what I saw at the Similan Islands you know. But it was still absolutely awesome. My time was up so I had to get back to the boat. Well, getting back on was just as bad as getting off hah! I just couldn’t seem to pull myself in. The one and only rung just wasn’t giving me enough of a leg up. Leather face came over to help me but I ended up cutting my leg on something and blood was now trickly out from my knee…well I then wanted to get into the boat more than ever now…um sharks?? Hah! Phew, all in and towelled down, Turtle Island here we come.

We moored up at a gorgeous looking white sandy beach and headed straight for the entrance. After I exchanged 10,000 Rupiah for the entrance fee, I was off like a kid in a candy shop! There were baby turtles right through to the larger full grown adults. I was amazed that you could just ‘get in’ with them and have your photos with them. I also felt quite sorry for the turtles too though because people were just getting in with their shoes on so I was thinking the water must not be all that clean for them, poor things. Trying to pick one of the adult turtles up was just impossible! They were just too heavy however, you could easily pick up one of the ‘teenagers’ so I had my photo with this gorgeous lil turtle :)

There were also other animals you could have your pictures with too including a snake, eagle, iguana oh and a fruit bat! Yay, I finally found something with the same hair colour as me hah! *Note to self, must sort that out when I get back to the UK! We finally left the island after spending about an hour with all the animals and turtles and headed back to shore. Yay spa time!

The driver took me to a spa where I was to have a 90 minute traditional Balinese massage. Upon arrival, I was taken to a private room and handed a pair of ‘paper knickers’ ‘Oh my god!’ That is literally all you have on hah! Bit embarrassing really but the massage was lush…I couldn’t stop giggling though because it was so god dam tickly! The massage lady was laughing too! Afterwards you are told to get in the shower to wash all the oils off.

So, massaged up and coming out smelling like a joss stick, the driver then took me back although he stopped at a Gold and Silver factory to let me have a nose about (they must get commission if you buy something?) Well, it was fascinating to see all the workers cleverly crafting the most intricate of designs from rings to bracelets to earrings etc…and then unsurprisingly, I was shown around the shop. It was funny actually because I saw one of the factory workers leave the room but he had to be scanned before he could exit! I was told the silver here is 92% pure so I guess it’s no wonder all members of staff are searched!

Heading back to the car, I was relieved to be going back to my B&B, I felt shattered hah! Sitting in the car, my butt felt like it was on fire! I was wondering if I was having a reaction to some of the oils? How strange. So as soon as I was back, I checked it out and oh my goodness! I had a bad case of sunburn hahaha…I forgot to put suncream on my butt so I guess when you’re snorkelling on your front, your butt is in full view of the sun isn’t it how funny! It seriously looked like I was wearing white pants haha!

Monsoon on Horse back! 

I decided to chill out the next day and give my burnt butt a break while I plotted my next moves. I’d read that horse riding on the beach was a must here so checked it out. I found a highly recommended company on trip advisor called Bali Island Horse. Wow, this place looked amazing. You get to go horse riding on a black sandy beach at sunset…well, the photos drew me in and sold me to the idea of it so I booked it up.

It was another hour and a half drive but once I’d got to the stables it was straight to it. There was a small group of people already getting kitted out with their hard hats so I was taken to the office to do the paper work (more insurance and promises of ‘I will not sue if….’ haha). Then the staff member asked me to pop myself on the scales! They say you can’t ride their horses if you are over 90kg’s. After all the boring stuff, it was off to meet my horse and guide. It was so funny because they had a few ‘funky’ hard hats to choose from if you wanted to be a little different! I chose the punk one oh yeh! Everyone else went for the normal standard hard hats so I found it hilarious that mine was a wicked spikey one. My guide (who’s name was pronounced Kiss!) was a really sweet and rather tiny looking man who I later found out was actually a pro jockey! Once I was in the saddle, we walked on over to the beach.

“Kiss…the skies are looking rather grey and cloudy! Do you think rain is coming?” I questionably asked. “Hmm…Yes, I’m afraid it might rain Miss Helen but lets hope not” I really hoped it wasn’t going to rain because I really wanted to see this glorious sunset on horseback but hey ho, I should have checked the weather before booking, tut tut! It was such a nice walk over to the beach on horseback..we walked down quiet countrified lanes, past rice fields and small wooden shacks selling water and other drinks and also past women carrying what looked like bundles of fire wood on their heads!

Making it to the beach, I just couldn’t believe how black the sand was! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black sandy beach before but it looked stunning! Kiss scooped some up and placed it in my hand. “Look at the sand Miss, it sparkles” And actually, it did! It looked like it had glitter in it or something, wow! So you can imagine just how gorgeous this would have looked at sunset…all black but sparkly! And then suddenly, I felt a wet splodge on my hand, then another on my arm and another on the other arm until whooosh….down came the rain! “Oh no Miss! Quickly, there is a cave at the other end of the beach” Kiss then started to jog which of course made my horse start trotting. Well, I was all out of sync and my punk helmit slipped down over my eyes hah! That must have been a funny sight! Trying to lift my head to see from under it, I was bouncing all over the place. We finally made it to the cave and took shelter from the heavy rain. The cave was so noisy. ‘What is that?’ I thought to myself…woah, there were thousands of bats hanging feet first from inside the grooves of the caves ceiling! It was really smelly too with all the poop below hah. “I’m so sorry Miss, but it looks like the rain isn’t going to stop” The other group had already started heading back but even when we gave it a bit longer, we just had to resign ourselves to the fact the rain was there to stay.

Remounted and heading back to the stables, we both got thoroughly soaked through! Oh and of course not having a change of clothes meant I had to sit in the car soaked to the bone and shivering! Oh and guess what? The car’s here don’t have heaters? Just air con or cold hah! So yup, the journey back felt like the longest ever. As soon as I got back though I jumped straight into my boiling hot shower which was lush ahhhh!

Even though the weather felt like a monsoon, I still had a fab time! Just loved the horse riding on the beach. At least I can add that to my experiences hey, horse riding on a black sandy beach in torrential rain haha! ;) And anyways, I didn’t mention that we did see a mini sunset, but it was just too cloudy to see it in all it’s glory but a teenie weenie one made all the drenching worthwhile!

Enter Fleur and Gaynor! 

Before I left the stables, you are invited to chill with some peanuts and a drink before going back to your hotels and that is where I met the lovely Fleur and Gaynor! 2 lovely ladies who I clicked with straight away. I was sitting scoffing my face full of peanuts when I heard Fleur say “Shame about the rain hey” “Ah yeh, it was a dam shame but hey, horse riding in a monsoon’s something we may not do again haha!” I replied and we then both laughed it off. Then Gaynor (the other lady)  lit up a cigarette and asked “So where abouts in the UK are you from?” “Oh I’m from the South” After a pause, Fleur then asked “Ok…so where in the South?” “Surrey” I replied….again, another pause until Fleur inquisitively probed further “So…..where in Surrey?” Once I’d told her where I used to live, she gasped…I’ve been there before and actually did business in the neighboring town! Gaynor had been there before too! Wow, such a little big planet hey! They were also coming to Ubud the very next day, I couldn’t believe it! We exchanged emails and vowed to meet up once they were in town. Fleur is a New Zealander and Gaynor a Londoner. Both ladies live and work in London. Oh and did I mention that Gaynor is like a travelling pro! She’s been everywhere so was amazing to hear her stories and gain some tips too ;) It was so lovely to meet such wonderful people and locals at that!

Shaky Reiki session! 

The day after the horse riding, I decided to book myself in for a facial and massage to ease my John Wayne cowboy legs hah! Bali Botanical is a place I’d recommend actually, very professional in there. There was another thing I wanted to tick off and that was a fire dance and a reiki session! The Kecak fire dance was brill! Every sound and noise is made by just the mouths of the men, no instruments are used so it sounded awesome! The way they are all able to keep in time too is just incredible! After listening to much ‘Bops, screeches, chanting and wailing’ and watching men walking over hot burning coconut shells, I resided back to my room to research ‘reiki’ and coincidentally found a lady 3 minutes from where I was staying!

I booked an hours ‘Intuitive Healing’ session and couldn’t wait to experience it. As I’ve mentioned before, Bali is meant to be a sacred and magical place so I was keen to see what this session was going to be like, I arrived at the reiki lady’s house late Friday morning…it looked like Jemima was staying in a B&B but I assumed it was her ‘office’ that she hires for her clients? I was greeted by a lady who must have been in her 40’s and my did she look a character! She had straggly blond hair and I can still distinctively remember what she was wearing…..she had on, a lime green tight sleeveless top, and rainbow crystal necklace, black leggings oh and an orange tutu around her waist hehe. “Nice to meet you Helen, I’m Jemima. Take a seat and I will explain what we will be doing in todays session” Jemima offered me a bottle of water and then we were talking about why I was there etc…

So finally, we came to the session…I laid down and Jemima placed all sorts of crystals on and over me. It felt amazing! I could actually feel all the energy rushing around and doing its work hah! All seemed to be going really well until Jemima started playing on her guitar and singing to me! She called this sound healing which may well work for others but at the time I felt really silly….there I was laying down with an assortment of crystals on my body and a lady in an orange tutu serenading me with her guitar hehe….”You are worthy, you are special, just be you” were words to that effect. I was trying hard not to chuckle over this ordeal and was relieved when it finally came to an end.

After the session, we got chatting and actually ended up having lunch together. Jemima put together a training package for me to study with her however, at the steep price of 2 grand, I had to decline! I have actually found a Professional Spiritual Healers course nearby that I am looking at enrolling on. This will give me exposure to all sorts of elements of healing that I will be able to bring back to the UK with me but how cool will that be to say I’ve studied and trained in magical Bali!

Healers are funny here. I think you can meet genuinely fantastic healers or the ones I call the ‘tourist trappers’. I’ve heard of a legendary healer who lives in Ubud called Cocarda Rai who is an 82yr old traditional healer. Apparently he diagnoses by stabbing your feet with a long stick which sounds rather painful! Then (I’m guessing if you need it), he’ll mix up a concoction of herbs and plants and proceed to grind them to a pulp in his MOUTH….he’ll then squirt this herby mulch between the gap in his teeth and onto your face lol…hmm! Don’t fancy that much!

In the evening I met up with the girls and I took them to the Jazz Cafe up the road. I’d heard of this place and wanted to check it out and oh boy are we glad we did! It was such a top night! So there you go, any Ubud travellers, check out the Jazz Cafe for some fantastic live music from talented artists!

Temples and Elephants!

Fleur, Gaynor and I spent a fab few days together and it was just wonderful to have the company :) We visited Gunung Kawi which is the water temple and also Goa Gajah which is the Elephant temple. Well, all temples start looking the same once you’ve seen a few I tell thee hah! One of them (Gunung Kawi) was rather impressive actually. 300 steps down and you’re suddenly transported onto the set of an Indiana Jones / Tomb Raider / Aztec movie, it was fantastic! There were mini waterfalls, trees with snake-like roots growing above the ground, local villagers making offerings, stalls selling wooden carvings, giant stones that had patterned carvings etched into them and Balinese men making structures out of wood and giant banana leaves. I was just waiting for Indiana Jones to come running from somewhere followed in hot pursuit by half naked men in masks and grass skirts hehe.

We also visited a lovely lil place called Petulu which is where the Heron Invasion is! Apparently after once of the volcano’s erupted, all these herons starting arriving and nesting in the nearby trees. There are now so many of them that it’s turning into more of a plague hah! But it really was spectacular to see all these thousands of stunning white and orangey looking herons all fighting to get onto the teeniest and what looked like the only few patches left on the heron ‘crammed’ trees! The trees almost looked saddened and burdened by these birds haha (but then again, that’s just my imagination lol!)

Then there was the elephant sanctuary! And oh my word that was just so gorgeous! The sanctuary rehabilitates elephants who have been mistreated and or abandoned in life. It was such a pleasure to see these elephants, they seemed genuinely really happy too. What we also loved about this place is that each and every elephant has their own personal keeper so they end up forming a wonderful bond together! I really did feel that all the elephants were happy to be here.

Fleur and I also managed to get our photos cuddling all the elephants too it was so so cute! One little baby elephant wrapped his trunk right around my waist, it was just so adorable awww. Oh and we were also lucky enough to spot a wedding! An asian looking couple were getting married ON the biggest elephant I’d ever seen! They’d decorated the elephant with red and gold cloth and he looked just as splendid as the bride and groom, how fantastic to see!

After much elephanting around, we all went off for a final goodbye drink in the evening for Fleur and Gaynor were off to the Gili T islands for a few days before heading back to London.

Sitting in the bar, I couldn’t help feel a little sad that my 2 fab new friends were now going to be leaving me. Travel friends are like revolving doors here…they come and they go but I know I will always keep in touch AND meet up with the close friends I’ve made. Before I waved Fleur and Gaynor off, we promised to meet up in London once I’m back in the UK yippee!

Ahh I am just loving Bali so much though ya know! I feel completely safe, now know where to go and not to go, as well as where the nicest dinners are to be had hehe! In fact, I’ve booked my remaining 3wks here! And god knows how I did it but I managed to knock my B&B right down from $25 per night to a steal at $10 per night woo hoo!

So……here’s to another 3wks of beautiful Bali if you care to join me. I feel this next part of the journey will be very much a spiritual one ;) xxx

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Northern Territory Rocks!

WOW! Back from my Ayres Rock adventure and what an amazing couple of days! My words and pictures will not be able to express (or give Austalia’s red centre) half the justice this spectacular place deserves! If I could lend you my eyes I would but I guess you’ll just have to use your imagination (with the help of my descriptive adventure blog hah) just how truly magnificent this place really is!

Oh but first things first…I must tell you how I spent my last night and day over at Hunter Valley! As you know from my last blog, I was staying with my friends Lynne and Rob. Lynne and Rob knew how bug and wildlife crazy I am so on my last evening, they both took me over to visit one of their friends because this friend practically lived on a farm haha and I loved it…….

Earth Mother!

We pulled up at huge wooden cabin (which immediately reminded me of Ross’ cabin) and tapped on the front door. It was pretty dark but a dimly lit porch lantern revealed 2 old (and rather creeky looking!) rocking chairs which actually made me think of the movie Deliverance haha! Suddenly the door flew open and we were warmly greeted by a lovely lady who instantly made me feel as though I was her long lost daughter which was so nice! Her husband was the same, both were just wonderfully welcoming and made me feel right at home :) The lady (whose name ashamedly escapes me right now but for the purpose of my blog will be renamed Jane!), showed me around and oh my word…they could have charged me an entrance fee to see all of their animals hah!

The barn out the back was infact like stepping into a Reptile house at the local pet shop! Shelf upon shelf, top to bottom were glass aquariums all neatly lined up next to each other. So like a kid, I rushed over to the first ones to peer inside…I could see snakes of all sizes and colours in the first few glass cages and bearded dragons and blue tongued lizards in the others! They were actually breeding the snakes so there were smaller containers and incubators which they called ‘nurseries’. Pressing my face against one of the glass aquariums, I was busy watching a small python slowly rearing up and turning it’s scaly head to look at me. I was imagining that snake Kaa from the Jungle Book staring at me trying to hypnotize me with it’s eyes haha…then the thing jolted forward and attacked the glass haha, so glad the glass was between us phew! After I’d met all their reptilian lodgers, Jane then took me into the lounge where I was immediately greeted by the cutest lil puppy, a goat and……a baby Kangeroo!! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!

“Would you like to bottle feed the goat and Kangeroo Helen?” Jane was busy preparing 2 small bottles of milk so it was obviously dinner time for them and what perfect timing for me to ‘rock up’ ! “Hell yeh I would!” I screeched with eyeballs the size of dinner plates, I was so excited hah! “It’s not often you will be able to say you’ve fed a Billy and a Joey hey!” Jane laughed as she approached me with the first bottle. “Ok, lets go in the garden for the goat as he can be messy” I followed Jane outside and was soon barged by the little black goat excitedly jumping past me for he clearly knew what was about to happen. Standing in the garden, Jane showed me how to feed ‘Billy’ and then let me take over. I held the bottle down low and straight away Billy latched on! He was drinking so fast that he was almost choking the poor little thing haha…he had to stop for a cough now and then before drinking some more, it was so cute! And yep, he was proper messy…milk was going all over the place….the lawn, all round his chops and splashing down my trousers hah! Billy only drank half the bottle so handing the leftovers back to Jane, she then got the other bottle ready for ‘Joey’

“Right, it’s better if you sit yourself down in the rocking chair and then I’ll put Joey in your arms so you can feed him” Jane then picked the baby Kangeroo up in a nice big snuggly blanket and placed him gently in my arms. Omg, I was lost for words he was so god dam cute! Jane then handed me the bottle and just like Billy, Joey went with it and drank…in fact, he drank and drank and drank until the whole bottle was gone! It was just unbelievably adorable looking down into the eyes of this gorgeous lil Kangeroo awww! It’s such a sad story though…Joey’s mum was killed by a car (which is fairly common over here). They found Joey lingering near her body not knowing what to do with himself so they took him it to look after him. They are planning to release him when he’s older but it may have to be at a sanctuary now as he’ll be too used to humans by then.

Janes husband said normally Joey doesn’t like being around people he doesn’t know but he must have been comfortable with me haha! “You’re a natural Earth mother Helen!” Jane said laughing! After the Kangeroo gobbled all the milk up, I took him outside to let him have a pee! This was so cute because whenever I turned to walk away, Joey followed me! “Go on, do your biz Joey!” I ordered him as though I was his mama haha! But each time I walked off, Joey hopped one, two, three steps after me….I asked Lynne to film it because it was just so adorable haha! After all the fun and excitement of meeting the family (and the farm), we had to leave to go back for dinner so we said our goodbyes and left. Sitting in the back of Lynnes car, I was grinning like a cheshire cat for that is one experience that I will never ever forget!

Wine Tasting….drinking more like! 

The next day, Lynne and Rob took me off to see some of the many wineries in the Hunter Valley, I mean, it had to be done right…I was in Wine Country so it would have been rude not to! Wow, the countryside is just so beautiful around here. You are just surrounded by acres and acres of land purely dedicated for grape growing!

We stopped by 4 wineries and one place where you could try some Hunter Valley cheeses, jams and chutneys which was so yummy! It’s so funny going to these places because of course, you’re only given a tiny amount of wine and you’re standing there thinking “Is that all I get?” haha! But oh my word, by the time I left to get on the train back to Narwee, I actually felt rather sloshed hahah!

Well, I had no idea what wine was what to be honest, I was just more than happy tasting the freebies they were pouring us *hic! No, actually, I rather liked the Chardonnay’s (which would normally be my wine tipple anyway). It was funny trying to be all serious about it though! I was standing there with a flushed faced and probably looking as though I’d stepped out of a cider farm rather than a winery (and probably wobbling a little bit too!) listening to the sales men and women going on about “Full bodied this and crispy that and fresh citrus flavours” I nearly laughed when they came out with the ‘spit bowel’ “Why would we want to waste it?!” I whispered to Lynne and Rob hehe! Lynne was a little sloshed too I think hah! Poor Rob was the dedicated driver so he was stone cold sober! That was such a great afternoon and I’m so chuffed I can tick the vineyards off my list too.

At the end of the day, Lynne and Rob drove me to the train station at Awaba so I could get back to Gemmas in Narwee. It was sad leaving them! They treated me as though I was family! I am so so grateful to them and their kindness and will always keep in touch with them all. Aww they even paid for my train ticket to get back which was so sweet of them. So thank you Lynne, Rob and co….I hope to see you again someday.

Rock on! 

It was an early start the next morning as I had to be up and out for my flight to Alice Springs….yep….my adventure to Ayres Rock :D

Thanks to Gemma, I only needed to take my small ruck sack so left my (now 19kg) invisible man behind! So a few clothes, hiking boots, torch and camera were the only things I really needed to take with me. As soon as both my alarms went off at 5am (I struggle with getting up at silly o’clocks so need more than one wake up call!), I was up, washed and dressed and then off to grab my train to the domestics airport terminal. 30 minutes later and I’m already checked in and waiting in the departures lounge making use of the free wifi haha! It’s amazing to think that it takes over 3hrs to reach the centre of Australia and if you take a flight from Heathrow for 3hrs you’ll be in another part of Europe! This makes you realise just how big Australia really is so my 4wk trip hasn’t even scratched the surface!

Oh one really embarrassing thing did happen actually….As soon as I’d gone through security (the bit where you put all your gubbins in the plastic trays to be scanned etc), there was a security guy standing at the other end. I was busy scooping up all my belongings and was just abouts to walk on through when I heard a loud authoritative voice booming down at me “Are you ignoring me Miss?” Looking up I could see this huge security man staring at me with a sheet of instructions of some kind and a funny looking plasticy ‘wand’ “Um, no, not at all!” Nervously I approached him to see what he wanted. “Read this” He then shoves this sheet of instructions in my one and only free hand. It basically said I was going to be searched and was I ok with it, oh and that they could take samples if they needed! Well, I had to say yes of course but wondered why I had been selected haha….my imagination was then chattering away ‘Well, I must look dodgy or something’ ‘Perhaps I look like a gangster drug lord’ ! Then that was it……as soon as he was waving his funny plastic wand up, down and over me I went bright red! I think it’s only because I could see other people staring at me and I was wondering what they were thinking haha “Oh look, she’s been pulled up, bet she’s smuggling drugs or something!” Oh dear! While I was being ‘wanded’ I felt I needed to break the awkward silence so I said “I don’t know why, but I feel really nervous!” “Well you shouldn’t be if you’ve nothing to hide!” was the big security dudes response to that! Anyway, he then put the wand into a machine which promptly lit up with a green light which instantly made me feel better….phewie!

The plane journey over to Alice Springs went pretty quick actually and was a nice smooth ride. I flew with Qantas who I would rate 2nd amoung all the other airlines I’ve now flown with (Singapore Airlines are still my number 1) You get fed, watered oh and you also get to watch a movie which helped to pass the time. Most of the time I was staring out the window waiting in anticipation to see the ‘red land’ approaching below. And wow……when we were almost there, yup, there it was…..Planet Mars was now in view! That is exactly how it looked to me! Below I could see mile upon mile of ‘red’ ground and rocks! Blimey, this really is the desert! Then the captain called out to the air crew to get ready for landing and I pretended I was listening to astronauts communication to their space station; “Houston, prepare the rocket for landing”

As soon as I was off the plane, I had to reset my watch to match the new time in Alice Springs….see, this is how big Oz is, even though you’re in the same country, there are still time zone differences! Alice Springs is 30 mins behind Sydney. The heat also hit me as soon as I’d stepped my astronauts foot onto the floor of the red planet (haha….well, it was tarmac at this point!) It was 34 degrees, about 10 degrees hotter than Sydney. Straight away I’d found my free shuttle bus transfer to my hostel (Annie’s Place) and sat waiting for the bus to fill up before it moved on. It’s funny actually because I later found out that the girl I was sitting next to, was indeed a girly on my tour :D

The bus went round dropping people off at various hostels but finally we reached Annies and 3 of us hopped out. Waiting at reception, I got chatting to the other girls who were also on my very tour! Laura and Anne-Marie were lovely, a german and english girl. Once we’d been given our room numbers, I went and unloaded and then met my other roomies. I was in a 6 bed dorm and thankfully it was a female only one (never have understood mixed sex dorms). Immediately I met 2 more girlies in my room who were on my tour (germans) and I met an Aussie girl called Heidi (however, not on my tour). Within 10 minutes, Heidi and I took a walk into town for lunch and we were also joined by Anne-Marie on the way out. So literally, I’d instantly made new friends within the first 10 mins…that is how easy it can be when you’re travelling ;)

Well, what can I say, Alice Springs really doesn’t have much to offer but that was also the beauty of it! It was fascinating! It made me think of that movie ‘The Hills have Eyes’ haha. Alice Springs is hot, well, very hot, dusty, fairly spread out and not very built up. I found my throat would dry out so quickly but that is probably because I was in a semi-Arizona desert! There were also a lot of Aborigines around too, they were sitting in their groups or lazing about on nearby lawns and benches. In fact, one came up to me begging for 5 dollars the cheeky swine….apparently a lot of them are addicted to alcohol and other ‘highs’ and if they are caught begging they can be fined. I think that’s what us white people introduced them to (or so I’ve been told).

After much exploring and walking around, Heidi, Anne-Marie and I all went back to the hostel to freshen up and get ready for day one of our tour. We met later again for dinner and that’s when I met most of the other group and every single person I met, I loved! What a wicked bunch of like-minded individuals. That’s another reason I love travelling, you just get to meet so many people from all around the globe and it really opens your eyes (and mind) to new cultures etc…I think I can safely say I now have friends around each and every corner of the world (and hopefully lots more places to stay one day when I go travelling again after this trip haha!)

Once everyone had eaten dins, we all went back off to our dorms for bed because we had a super early start in the morning….5.45am to be precise ouch! But saying that, no one got a good nights sleep because Thursday nights at Annie’s are party nights so all of our dorms were filled with house music, banter, laughter and the chinking of pint glasses etc until gone 1am haha! Nevermind, that’s hostels for you to be honest. As soon as our alarms went off, we were up, breakfasted and then met our tour leader out the front. As soon as we were on the bus, most of us then all fell asleep. We had a 3hr journey ahead of us before we reached the actual Red Rock they call Ayres!

Our tour guide Angus, was so cool! Of course, he was an Aussie guy who lived in Alice Springs so he was a fully fledged ‘local’ and knew the place like the ‘out’ back of his hand. “Right, wakey wakey everyone! I’d like you to each grab a coloured pen and draw pictures on your windows. The best decorated window will win alcohol!” Angus enthusiastically shouted over the microphone! I grabbed yellow and pink felt tips and then started drawing typical aussie emblems on the window (Koala’s, crocs, BBQ’s etc). It was quite fun actually and it got everyone mingling. Later on, we all stopped for a toilet and coffee break and got to know each other a bit better. We also ended up buying more provisions for our trip; sun cream, ice cream oh and wine / beers ;) Oh and guess what I saw in the shop? Obviously you can buy souvenirs etc but I saw a bag of Ayres Rock sand and…..a bag of camel poo! haha….yup. an actual bag of s**t, it was so funny! Imagine coming back and giving that to one of your friends…”Oh, I got you a s**t present!” LOL!

Back on the bus, Angus asked us to each sit up at the front and introduce ourselves on the microphone…he’d already set us questions such as; Name, age, places already travelled to, best place we’ve been to so far oh and what super powers would we have? Well, for my super power, I said I’d wish for a matrix style power….you know, the one where you could plug your mind into a machine and tap in what you wanted to know be it a new language or how to fly a helicopter and then within minutes, your mind would be saturated with the knowledge of your chosen new skill! :) That seemed to go down well with the group anyways haha.

It was just amazing staring out the window. We spotted wild and free running (or hopping) Kangeroo’s too which was fantastic! You forget they are wild here because you are so used to seeing them in zoo’s right? But the main thing you see is literally miles and miles of red dusty ‘plains’, dry looking bushes and the odd trees, plus the roads are some of the longest and straightest I’ve ever seen…..welcome to the desert haha! We soon stopped again for some firewood. Angus asked us all to do our ‘gathering’ bit and find suitable wood for our campfire that evening. “You want good wood that is fairly thick and almost as long as you are” Sounds easy enough, so off we all went sourcing wood. We spotted a fair few lizards (no snakes sadly) and managed to get a whole bundle of wood. Angus tied it all up and plonked it on the top of the bus to take back to camp.

Ayres Rock Sunset 

Tired, hot and sweaty, we’d finally reached our camp. Straight away Angus was getting everything set up and the camp fire ready to light for when darkness fell upon us. “Right everyone, once we’ve unpacked, we’ll sit and have some lunch and then we’ll go for a walk around Ayres Rock. Later on we’ll go and watch the sunset together and toast with Champagne and biscuits. When we get back to camp we’ll prepare Camel patties and Kangeroo steaks for dinner, how does that sound?” Angus then paused allowing us to all shout “WOO HOO!” Camel and Kangeroo haha! Well, c’mon, when you’re in the outback, you’ve gotta try these things right!

So off we went to Ayres Rock! Wow! I really have landed on Mars haha! There it was, right in front of us, the famous red rock itself! “Rifght everyone, grab yourselves some water because you will need it! Don’t let yourselves get dehydrated especially as we’ll be drinking later!” Good old Angus, he really did look after us all out there. So we filled our water bottles up and then took a walk over to the rock to start our trek. I’m not sure of the kilometres but we must have walked for about an hour and a half. It was just incredible! You could even still see aboriginal paintings inside the walls of the rock! Angus was so knowledgeable and taught us how the aborigines lived and how they would hunt etc…there were even certain crevasses of the rock where the abbo’s would sit and cook, hang out or even teach their children how to hunt. Some of us placed our hands on the rock and took a picture of well….our hands on the rock haha just to show we’d touched it! Angus told us that some people even lick it which is pretty gross hey! I loved it…here I was, walking around Ayres Rock in the middle of the desert with fab new people AND getting an education out of it too. And the other thing that fascinated me was the fact the Abbo’s never wasted a thing….each and every plant was a tool of somekind, be it for medicine, making weapons, clothing or material, just amazing! For example, one plant (which sounds like The Yipe Yipe plant) was pretty cool. You’d cut open one of the stems and a thick white liquid would ooze out. This would have been used to ‘glue’ wounds together or even as a nasty punishment…..if an Abbo had betrayed his / her tribe (or just been naughty in general), you could end up with this glue in your eyes which would cause a 2-3 day blindness! It get worse, they’d then dump you in the desert and force you to find your own way back in your blind state, strewth! They had pretty nasty punishments you know but they believed they had to be harsh so you wouldn’t fall out of line again! Another punishment would be to get you to stand so many metres in front of the tribe and you’d be shot at by spears! ‘Dance Abbo, dance!’ Wouldn’t fancy being an Abbo myself haha!

Oh there was also a cultural centre that we had a walk round too. It was basically like a mini museum where you could learn more about the lives of the Aborigines, see the weapons they’d made for hunting as well as all the various plants and medicines they’d use etc….as I mentioned before, nothing was wasted, everything the land produces is used up!

After we’d had a good walk round, it was time to head off for the sunset woo hoo! Pulling into the ‘sunset point’, our eyes were suddenly staring at crowds of other visitors! It’s funny because in the desert, you almost feel as though you’re all on your todd, you only see your group really but as soon as you’d reach the ‘touristy’ bits, you’re suddenly with the masses again hah! So, out came the champers, biccies and dips and then we waited. The sun doesn’t take long to go down in the desert, before you know it you are suddenly surrounded by a blanket of darkness so we knew we wouldn’t have to wait for long. But there it was…..wow, just breathtaking! A mix of purpley blues would slowly transform the sky and blend into deep oranges and pinks through to firey crimson reds. The rock itself seemed to change colour with the sunset which was absolutely gobsmackingly beautiful! Photographs just don’t seem to capture the beauty of sunsets really do they! Once we were in total darkness and the champers had all been downed (of course ;)), we all headed back to camp for our camel burgers and kangeroo steaks. And do you know what….they actually tasted gobblicious :D

Before we got into our swags for bed, I found out Angus actually had the same camera as me (Canon 7D) so I asked him if we could all ‘paint with light’. That was great fun! There we all were drawing our names in the skies with torches and generally mucking about and having fun with it haha! Later on around the campfire, we unrolled our swags for bed. Swags are literally thick sleeping bags with a soft padding inside (so like a mattress) and oh boy are they comfy! They are super cosy and nice and warm. All laying on our backs and staring up at the stars, we all screamed with delight when we saw a shooting star “Make a wish, make a wish!” * Sighs, that moment still gives me goosebumps! We could even see the milky way! It really felt like we were all in a movie haha. I couldn’t help but say goodnight to everyone in the style of the Waltons, “Goodnight Mary-Jane” then of course everyone giggled and followed the theme, “Goodnight John Boy!”  Some of us were worried about bugs getting into our swags during the night but Angus said the camp fire would keep the nasties away. We tried not to worry about what would happen once the fire went out haha but actually as soon as my head hit the pillow, the champers (and wine!) soon knocked me out and do you know what….that was the best nights sleep ;)

Kata Tjuta

So it’s another early start, 5am ouch! It was freezing first thing and of course still being dark, we were all fumbing around with our torches hah. Breakfasted, washed and swags rolled up, we were off to see the sunrise over Ayres Rock and Kata Tjuta which was just across the way from Ayres Rock. It was absolutely stunning to see the rocks go from dark to grey to a deep red before turning to their usual burnt and dusty orangey colour! We then drove round to Kata Tjuta to start our 2nd day of trekking. Kata Tjuta is a much larger and more spread out rock formation and is simply magnificent! We spent hours trekking around (and through) the Valley of the Winds as they call them. Oh and I also spotted a little bearded dragon too which was another highlight for me hah! Phew, it was stinking hot and again the heat and dust gave us all that dry feeling in our throats. We must have all drunk at least 1.5 litres during that trek. Angus was nagging us all to keep the fluids up, he would joke that he didn’t want to fill out any ‘paperwork’ you see haha! One thing we noticed is just how dirty you get trudging through the desert. All our clothes and hiking boots were covered in red dust and actually, the people wearing shorts were getting red smudgy legs – the dust would just cling to every little drop of sweat, nice!

With most of the day trekked away, we then drove back to camp for lunch of sausages, sarnies and left over camel and kangeroo meat, gobble gobble! We then had to pack up our stuff to move onto our next campsite – Kings Creek Station.

This camp was pretty cool! We unloaded and once again got our swags out and prepped the campfire for later. There were more facilities at this camp too….yup, they had a pool yipeee! So we all hung in and out of the pool and generally mingled and had a great time. Angus prepared a ‘damper’ cake for us too! It was basically a bread choccy cake that you make in a small pot –  you bury the bread under hot coals and slow cook it I guess and oh my word that was so yummy!

Once darkness fell upon us, the drinking began and the portable speaker was cranked up and the bread cake was gobbled! At bedtime, I laid on my back again so I could drift off looking up at the stars because I knew I may not have that chance to do it again haha! I didn’t actually sleep so good that night for some reason. I remember looking up at thinking “Oh my god, where am I? Who stole the roof!?” haha! Plus there was a super noisy cricket right next to my ear chirping away for most of the night keeping me awake the cheeky lil thing hah!

Kings Canyon

Our third and final early start! It was a rush to get all packed up, loaded up and rolled up but back on the bus we were headed out for our final trek. Angus saved the best to last in my opinion ….The Kings Canyon.

This place is absolutely spectacular! Words will not be able to describe the sheer beauty of this place! The Kings Canyon is HUGE (hence the name I guess!) You are surrounded by cliiff tops and sheer drops! It may not be too wise for someone with a fear of heights to embark on this trek haha. Well, I know I’m not afraid of heights but I kid you not, we stopped to look over one cliff edge and even I felt wobbly! I think it’s your bodies natural reaction to stay away from such dangers though.

I loved it here. The walk was approx 5.5km and took us about 3.5hrs to trek round. This was such an experience and do you know what, I imagined that this must be what the Grand Canyon looks like? Who knows, maybe that’ll be my next stop one day haha.

At the start of the trek you are faced with what they call ‘Heart Attack Hill’ and oh my goodness, it is SO steep! That took us about 20 minutes to clear. But just as you think it’s gotten flat, the cliff soon gets your legs working again and drags you onwards and upwards, good exercise though! We trekked the North and South Walls and also saw the Garden of Eden which was like a small lake in the dip of the mountains, just breath taking! We even saw wild bright vivid green budgies swooping down for a dip! When we reached Pride rock (yup, the Lion Kings rock!) we all stood at the edge and posed and that was pretty hair-raising I tell thee!

Coming to the end of our trek, it was then sadly time to head back to Alice Springs. Angus put ‘our camp tune’ on the radio and we played a trivia to keep us entertained on the way back to the hostel.

Before we reached Alice Springs though, Angus pulled into a Camel Farm! That was great fun, For 7 dollars you could get a camel ‘run’ yep, a ‘run’. I didn’t fancy it myself as Angus explained some of the camels have bucked before, gulp! But it was fun watching a few of the others being thrown about hehe!

Ayres Rock after party! 

Finally getting back to Annie’s Place, we all got freshened up and glammed up for our leaving party. We’d actually bought Angus a thank you card earlier in the day so we presented this to him over dinner.

“Hey Angus, who won the window decorating competition?” I shouted over everyone. “Yehhh Angus, who won?” A mass chorus of excited chants were thrown back over to Angus. “Oh, do you know what, I say you all win so I’ll buy you all a shot and a few jugs of cider” “YIPPPEEEE!!” Then the drinking began and continued on until the wee small hours of the morning!

It was hard saying goodbye to everyone. Even though it had only been 3 days, we’d actually all gotten pretty close to each other. I’m so SO happy I did this mini trip. Once more, I’ve been privileged to meet such FAB and fun people and see another part of the world!

Monday morning I checked myself out and headed off to the airport for my flight back to Sydney. And there was about 5 others from my group also on the same flight back as me so we all managed to sit near each other for our way back which was cool :)

Next move

So another adventure ticked off and another country conquered….well almost! I’m not done with you yet Oz, I was just getting into the swing of it all but will now be whizzing off to Bali. Not quite sure what I’ll be doing there yet but I know one thing for sure – a massage will be the first thing I do hahah!

So thank you for having me Australia, <3 ya!  I have a feeling our paths will cross again…..Adieu for now  ;)

I will leave you with ‘our camp tune’ to listen to :D

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Ozzy ozzy ozzy….

If someone had said to me a year ago, “You will be visiting Australia” I would have laughed it off…..but right now, here I sit typing up new tales from Oz land as we speak! Still can’t believe I am here in Sydney Australia…just unbelievable!

Back to the Future!

Leaving Thailand was super hard and yes, as soon as I was on that plane, I did watch it disappear (well, from the aisle seat anyways!) into a nothingness black sky below (it was a night flight!)

Going back a little….the whole flying experience was a breeze. I flew with Air Asia who all in all aren’t bad, they sure are better than Orient Thai who I certainly wouldn’t recommend! Oh if you’re going to hire the in-flight entertainment, there are only about 5 Hollywood movies pre-loaded plus the battery on the 10.1 inch tablet started dropping quite rapidly so just watch that if you’re on a long haul flight so I now have to become accustomed to a new time…Australia is 9hrs ahead of the UK and 3hrs ahead of Thailand so I guess it’s like going ‘back to the future’ haha! It’s a bit of a nightmare skyping home though!

I didn’t sleep at all on the plane…I just watched a few movies and listened to a bit of Justin Timberlake and then it was pretty much time to get off! As soon as the wheels touched down, I just couldn’t believe I was in the land of Oz!!

Anything to Declare?

Before you get off the plane, you are asked to fill out an arrivals card and my word…the questions are quite funny actually for example..’Are you coming into our country with any meat, poultry or fish? Are you entering with any medicines? Are you arriving with any soil on your shoes?’ Hmm..well I ticked no for everything and then realised that my hiking boots may still have some dried mud on them? I was then thinking…do I declare or don’t I? But don’t worry..there was actually hardly anything on my boots and definitely nothing worth mentioning anyways but at the time I was fretting hah!

Then an announcement came over the speakers about illnesses…’If you are sick or have been ill abroad, you need to report it. Our Airline crew are also expected to report any sick passengers that they may have encountered’ What!! Ok, so my strange random case of scarlet fever had gone but I had a terrible cold and chesty cough…so there I was again, worrying about if I had been ‘reported’ hah! Then there was the mention of sniffer dogs being used (if they were uber suspicious I guess), blimey!

So you get off the plane and obviously have to clear immigration…no problem but then you have to get through quarantine! Oh great! My imagination was running wild again…’what if they notice I’m not 100% and pull me up on it?’ ‘What if they want a blood sample and it turns out I’m actually harboring some kind of jungle fever?’ Gulp! But it was dead easy…the chap checked my arrivals card and told me to exit via ‘Lane 8′ and that was it…I’d by-passed the quarantine and ended up in the arrivals lounge woo hoo! Then it was time for me to grab a cab straight to Mikes. All I remember thinking was 2 things 1. Goddammit it’s freezing (15 degrees – half the temperature of Thailand) and 2. So far, Sydney looked a bit like England. I got in the cab and gave the driver Mikes address and then sleepy heavy eyes got the better of me and forced me to drift off….

Possibly the Perfect City….

It was so good to finally arrive at Mikes! I hadn’t seen him in over a year and neither of us could believe I was there in Oz so it was great catching up! Sitting on the sofa I did start drifting off again so after a few hours kip, I was right as rain.

On Friday, Mike took me for a walk so I could get used to my new surroundings. It was amazing! Everything just looked perfect and even though it was cold, the sun was still shining. I could see wide roads decorated with beautiful tall palm trees, huge houses with pristine and perfect front lawns, committed joggers whooshing past leaving a scent of heavy deodrant as if to cover up their ‘sweatiness’ oh and I could also hear new bird calls which made it sound like I was in paradise! That was another thing I couldn’t wait to see / hear, Australia’s wildlife…it’s exciting (yet scary at the same time) sharing the same land as some of the most poisonous creatures on earth right?!

We walked through the nearest park again avoiding more committed joggers (and believe me, I’ve noticed there are a lot in Sydney!) and it was then just across the harbour I could see the Opera House and the Bridge. It was that moment that made me realised the Readders was definitely in Oz!!

At the beginning of the week, with everyone being at work, me, myself and I (and a Sydney guidebook) decided to catch a bus into the city itself. Wow! Sydney is amazing! Still kinda think it looks a bit like the UK but it’s bigger and cleaner (sorry UK but it is!). Sitting on the bus into the city was cool, it drove over the Bridge and just over to my left I could see the Opera House. And I tell you something else, it is such a joy to overhear peoples conversations and actually be able to understand them all haha! It really is the small things I guess!

My eyes were darting all over the place! I could see impressive buildings from modern looking sky scrapers so tall you had to crook your neck to see the top right through to older looking french architectural buildings so it’s like a ‘modern meets culture’ – a great compromise so you have a bit of both.

I ended up walking around the City centre and then Darling Harbour and then had a nose around ‘Wildlife Sydney Zoo’ oh and had my photo taken in the mouth of the worlds biggest croc haha! Catching the bus back to Mikes, I found out you can get a ‘My Multi’ travel pass…well worth doing if you’re going to be travelling around a fair bit. There are different zones 1, 2 and 3. 2 seems to suit me but for $52 I can use the trains, buses and / or ferries as much as I want for 7 days which is pretty good. A great site for transport timetables etc.. is http://www.131500.com.au

Getting around is pretty easy and within a few days, I was already beginning to know my way around too. Annoyingly I don’t have one of these iPhones with GPS or anything so I’m relying on traditional paper maps but actually, I’ve been well chuffed with my map reading skills haha! Ok, so there was one time I did get a little lost but that was the fun part…getting lost and then finding all these other places I wouldn’t have found otherwise for example, I stumbled across Paddy’s Markets! A friend did tell me (thanks Emrys) there was a huge market right in the centre and hey ho, I accidentally found it woo hoo! I also found China town too. That was funny, without realising it, I was thinking to myself…hang on a minute, there are a lot of Asian people walking about…awesome, I’m back in Thailand haha! There really is something for everyone in Sydney…bars, restaurants, markets, history, museums, parks etc…It is like a huge London I reckon! A lot of their roads are also named after places in London and they also have their own version of Hyde Park too.

Open Top Bus Tour(s)!

What a perfect way to get around Sydney! I decided to book on a sightseeing bus so I could see the highlights of Sydney but also to see if there was anything I wanted to go back to in the week…which yep, I’d spotted a Museum with a photography gallery on and also a Botanical Garden that I wanted to have a peep in. I highly recommend this tour to anyone who wishes to see the City in an afternoon. Sydney Explorer takes you around the City in 90 minutes and of course covers all the ‘must sees’ including the Opera House, the Bridge and the Rocks etc..

I actually booked onto 2 tours because they were doing a 2 for 1 deal and it was perfect because the other tour was headed out to Bondi Beach which was another place I really wanted to go. The tickets can be validated for either 24 or 48hrs and you can literally hop on or off whenever you like within your time limit. When the bus arrived at Bondi Beach I hopped off and spent a good hour just pottering about there. I’d promised my Step Bro Kyle that I’d find Bondi Skate Park and take a few shots for him too. While I was taking photos of the skaters, I suddenly heard this voice to my right. “Are you a photographer?” I looked down and saw a guy about my age sitting on a bench also watching the skaters. I also noticed he was cutting up a lemon which I thought was a bit odd but I poo pooed it. “Um, no, just taking some shots for my Step Bro” I didn’t want to get into how I was this aspiring photographer you see so turned my head and carried on taking photos.. “Thirsty?” Looking back at the man on the bench, he was now holding up a bottle and swishing it from side to side causing the brown liquid to lash around inside the bottle as if to try and tempt me with it? “Is that….Tequilla? Um, no thanks, I’m good” I point blank refused…it wasn’t even lunch time either…Oh and I mean, I wouldn’t have said yes if it was later in the day either haha! “Yep, Tequilla indeed. Ok, suit yourself!” Then this guy dabbed some salt along the line of his thumb on his right hand and yep…there he was doing tequilla slammers for his lunch! Well, I didn’t stick around so got the snaps I wanted and then headed back for my open top bus haha.

I tell you what, Bondi reminded me of Cornwall! I think it’s just the laid back atmosphere and seeing all the surfers, surf shops, wacky novelty shops, bars and restaurants etc…I could have spent all day there but I had to get back.

Bit of this and a bit of that! 

Well well! I’ve been mixing it all up and fitting in what I can here to make the most of the time I’ve got so I’ve been getting beached up, zoo’d up, cultured and agricultural hah!

Yep, Mike and I took a look around Sydneys Botanical Gardens and the Australian Museum displaying the photographers gallery. The gallery was amazing! It was a Wildlife Photography display and the runner ups (and the winners) photos were being shown…wow, some of the photographs were so inspiring! I found myself staring at one photo in particular for ages…it was a photograph (which was a runner up and really should have won in my opinion) of a monkey that some locals had caught (I’ve completely forgotten the country now but looked somewhere like Indonesia?) and the hunters children were holding the monkey up to the camera to show off their furry prisoner (who sadly was going to be killed and eaten). What grabbed my attention was the expression on the monkeys face, poor thing looked petrified and naturally you would be if you were abouts to be cooked up into a monkey brains soup right?! The photograph had so much depth to it…the scenario, the expressions on the kids faces who were excited and the expression on the monkeys face which was the complete opposite…it was as though he knew he was going to be eaten. I just couldn’t stop staring at it! The winner was actually a young kid from Bedford, a village not far from my Mum so that was kinda cool to see a winning pic so close to home even though it was 8,000 odd miles away hah!

After our imagination had gotten lost in the photographers gallery, we sneaked upstairs to the Dinosaurs display (I think our ticket only covered us for the photography bit you see haha!). That was awesome! My Dad would have loved it in there..of course you can imagine it was full of enormous dinosaur bones all pinned together to show you the sheer size of these monsters! You just can’t comprehend what it must have been like living in the dino’s era hey! How scary would that have been! I put my head inside the skull of a T Rex and omg, his jaws probably wouldn’t even need to chew…bet they gobbled their prey up whole hah!

August 16th i took myself off to Taronga Zoo. I knew I had to be busy that day as it would have been my Brothers 30th Birthday…so what better way to keep the mind busy by visiting another zoo!  I had been recommended Taronga Zoo which was only about a 12 minute ferry ride out of Sydney and a ‘must see’. I’d also heard you could get your photo holding a cuddly Koala so it was something I had to tick off the list! One of Mikes house mates actually had the day off too that day so we both went together. It was nice to have the company actually and wonder about with someone.

Wow, this place is amazing, you have to go, it is huge! You can easily spend a whole day here wondering about plus there is a cable car ride that you can take and see the whole of Sydney below! The only thing is, you can’t actually hold a Koala here, it’s some kind of rule they have over in New South Wales but I think any other state you can hold them. I didn’t have my pic with a Koala here as it was pretty expensive and you aren’t that close to the lil bears either lol!

Over the weekend, Mike and I took a ferry over to Manly Beach. I did laugh at the name hehe…I wonder how they came up with that! Similar to Bondi with again, a very similar atmosphere..cool, calm and chilled oh and saturated with beautiful people (well, of course, define beautiful!)…what I should say is, the place is full of buff, bronzed fella’s (sorry guys, can’t report back on the gals as my eyes were too busy soaking up buffed boys hahah!) But yup, awesome day looking around and taking in the rays of Manly Beach! I actually took myself back there a few times and found there’s a lot more there than you first think. I found an art gallery, scenic walkways, Shelly Beach oh and a super haunted place called Quarantine Station! Well, it’s meant to be the most haunted place in Australia!

Reminising

So after a good week with Mike, I decided to move on and stay with an old school friend who I found out also lived in Sydney! Gemma lives in Narwee which was only about 20-30 minutes up the road but it gave me the chance to catch up with her and also see a new area. Gemma’s place is awesome! They have such a gorgeous house (pool and granny annexe included) and a family of 3 beautiful girls. Of course, I’ve been staying in the granny annexe all to myself which has been a dream…makes a change from hostels and sofa surfing haha.

Gemma’s been showing me around the sights. We all went out for a trip to Botany Bay and had a look around the places where Captain Cook first docked his boat and discovered Australia which was pretty cool.

I tell you what, their wildlife is amazing here. So far, I’ve only seen about 2 lizards (and very small ones at that) but their birds are stunning! First of all, you won’t miss out on seeing the many white Cockatoos! They are everywhere! When I first saw one, I was thinking ‘Has someone’s parrot gone missing?’ haha. And they also have beautiful Rainbow Lorikeets…again, they are like small colourful parrots! Not seen any scary snakes or red back spiders yet but there’s still time ;) Oh and the other birds I have seen are Mynahs! I then found myself wondering about Morris and if he was still surviving out there.

So anyways, all in all Narwee is the perfect location. Gemma is right on the train line so I’ve been able to get out and about and take myself off whenever and wherever!

I’ve made many a trip into the city…The other day I walked around for hours! I walked right the way across the harbour bridge and all  the way back again and up one of the turrets to get an overview of Sydney. I then walked all the way over to the Opera House for a peep inside. Actually, a french guy asked me to film him ‘free styling’ down the steps on his BMX bike, he was pretty good actually! I should have asked him if he was going to put that on You Tube!

Blue Mountains 

I decided to book myself on a day tour to the blue mountains via PJ Tours. Wow, I highly recommend this place! It gives you a taste of just how breathtaking the scenary in Australia really is…but this is just the tip of it! Australia is HUGE and I don’t think you realise just how big this place is until you get here…

After a few teething problems (missed the bus the 1st day and the 2nd day I was waiting in the wrong place….mistake of the tour company I’ll have you know haha!) I finally made it 3rd time lucky haha but my word was it worth it.

It was an early start..the bus picked me up from the City at 7.25am and then drove us all to the tour office. From 8am we were then on the road to our first stop, Echo Point. Brrrrr, it was freezing over at the mountains and I’m sure the wind was trying its dam hardest to blow all of us tourists right over and down the mountainous edge…hey that brings a whole new meaning to ‘She’ll be coming down the mountain’ hey hehe.  They had snow up there just 2 days ago so that gives you an idea of how cold it felt. Just be sure to take a jumper AND jacket and possibly your gloves too hah! I loved this place. We got to watch an Aborigine show oh and guess what…..I got pulled up to the front with 3 other girls haha! Was so embarrassing! Note to self, never sit at the front cos it’s bound to happen!! They taught us the female peacocks dance and played their didgeridoos at the same time. Then 2 men were pulled up to help perform the ‘male’ dance. That was fun! Afterwards we were driven to the main attraction of the Blue Mountains.

W.O.A.H! Words will not be able to express the sheer beauty of this place! The 3 Sisters rock formation was stunning, well, the whole scenic backdrop was a jaw dropping treat for the eyes. We all piled into a cable car with a glass bottom which yup, was pretty scary watching the safety of the loading platform suddenly disappear making way to the incredible drop below my trainers! I was thinking ‘Is this thing secure?’ ‘What if the glass falls out!?’ Gulp! A hoard of Japanese tourists were all hogging the view but I managed to get some shots between the mass of heads and bodies. You then all pile into another cable car which takes you down to the bottom of the mountains. Finally touching the ground, we were then left to have a wonder around the Rainforest walkway which was amazing. First thing you notice is how tall the trees are and how small you are. Old haunting looking trees eerily tower over you and peer down with their crooked branches as if to say ‘What are you doing in my neck of the woods?’ Haha. Walking around, I spotted a Lyre bird scratching at the forest floor. These birds are incredible, they mimic other bird calls as well as other (un-natural) sounds including, car alarms, chainsaws and cameras clicking! So clever! Check them out on You tube.

I also spotted a lot of rusty old mining equipment that the miners once used back in the day. I even came across an original entrance to one of the old mines which was pretty cool. Almost an hour had passed and it was time for me to make my way back up and find the coach. Now this was the best bit…to get back up to the top you had to take the old scenic railway – a 52 degree inclining train! Yup, it really was an omg moment haha!

Waiting for the train, I noticed a sign which explained you could adjust your seat to a whoppingly terrifying 64 degree angle…Now this I had to try lol! The railway line looked horrendously steep and it got me thinking how on earth does it work? Then without fail my trustee ol’ imagination started to kick in again…’So, what happens if the brakes fail, would the train suddenly whoosh straight back down leaving your stomach at the top…like a lift that’s suddenly lost all its power?’ Gulp. Then I could see it slowly descending the side of the mountain to come and claim its victims, oh I mean, pick us tourists up haha. The doors opened upwards all futuristic like…exactly in the same fashion as the car from back to the future (Delorean I think it’s called?) So I slid in and like a big kid I was already fiddling with the seats angles haha. Waiting for the train to start, you just can’t help but sit a moment and take the impressive views in. The train then started to make its sharp climb back up to the top and oh my word..I was trying to film the event but I kidd you not, the train felt as though it was getting steeper the further it went up the mountain lol…so much in fact that the invisible hands of gravity came right into my carriage and yanked me forward! Yep, ladies and gents, I slipped right off my seat haha. It was awesome though and the views just leave you speechless. At the top, I grabbed a hot choccy to warm my cold (now also blue) hands and then found the coach. Next stop was a quaint little sleepy town called Leura where we were to grab some lunch.

Leura is such a sweet little place! It seems pretty untouched and by that I mean there were no big chain stores or fast food restaurants. Apparently MacDonalds tried to open a store here but the people of Leura objected (and good for them standing up to these giants I say). But Maccy D’s got the huff about it and took them to court and the result…they lost! So there will never be a Maccers in Leura or in fact Katoomba haha.

The houses are so pretty here, they all seem to have an American countryside meets Aussie outback style… Pristine and quirky wooden houses complete with the white pickett fence :)

After some munch and a nose about, it was time for our next stop… Featherdale Wildlife Park! This is another place I recommend you take a trip here if you can. This place is ideal for kids too as it’s very hands on (also perfect for me hah!). You get to feed the Kangaroos, have your photo with a Kookaburra sitting on your arm oh and not forgetting the cuddly Koala’s! That was so cute. You can’t hold the Koalas but here you are allowed to touch them and stand close to have your photos with them. Then it was back on the coach and time to take a drive over to our River Cruise. We actually passed the Stadium where the Sydney Olympics were held too (back in 2000) so that was another sight ticked off.

Arriving at Holmbush, we boarded our Captain Cook Cruise boat to take us all back to Circular Quay where the trip would finish. I went and sat on the top deck and got right up to the front (of course) and watched in wait for Sydneys harbour to appear in view. The sun was beginning to set and covered everything with beautiful gold, orange and pink shades, it was just stunning. The couples all rushed up to the top deck at this point to take in the romance of it all which then kinda made me feel like a billy no mates haha. Before long, the sun had disappeared now giving the moon it’s chance to shine. I then watched in a stunned silence as the bridge and harbour came into view…seeing it all at night time is a MUST. It’s funny isn’t it how night time can show you a completely different scene. Passing the bridge and the Opera House all lit up was just spectacular. I’m so glad I went on this day trip. Pulling in to our stop, I couldn’t help but feel a little homesick. I just wished my Mum, Dad and Bro could have seen these wonderful sights that I’d witnessed today.

Off to the Valley…

Remember I went to the  Similan Islands back in April (in Thailand) and got stranded on the live-a-board boat during a huge storm? Well, a lovely family who I met on the boat said I could come and stay with them if I ever came to Oz so…….that’s where I am right this very second, in their wonderful home!!  The Blue Mountains and the Hunter Valley just have to be the most beautiful places I’ve been lucky enough to see in Oz so far. As soon as I arrived at Lynne and Robs home, I was just lost for words! Now I really am in the true Australia…right in the outback or infact…the bush!

Their house is just gorgeous! They are situated on a slight hill and literally surrounded by trees, hills more trees oh and a mountain in the distance! Straight away Lynne showed me around. I think I was just in some kind of stunned silence hah! Oh and guess what….there was a Wombat in the garden, I just couldn’t believe it! So of course, I was snapping away and getting piccies of him munching the lawn. There were also Kookaburra’s everywhere…it was almost like they all wanted to come and stare at me being the new person on the block, it was so surreal.

As soon as I’d been shown my room, Lynne and I went off for a walk to meet the neighbour Ross. And when I say walk, it’s literally through the bush! It was so cool. Lynne spotted a Wallaby just hopping off in the distance and again, I just couldn’t believe my eyes. It’s just another world here having all this wonderful wildlife in their garden! Well walking on through the bush we got totally lost and Lynne was getting worried because it was dusk at this point and as soon as dusk hits, it really doesn’t take long for the darkness to fall. So picture that…it’s getting dark, neither of us have mobiles on us and we’ve no idea where we’re headed! I was secretly trying not to panic and hoped that Lynne would soon recognise a rock or tree that took us the right way again. We were clambering up and over thick branches, climbing huge rocks, getting our feet stuck in wet boggy patches but then thankfully we could see a clearing and went for it. Phew, we found a path which actually led back to Lynnes house. “I think we’ll go back to the house and then drive us to the neighbours haha”  I let out a nervous but very relieved laugh and looked forward to a very much needed glass of wine from one of the bottles we were taking with us!

Well, oh my word! The neighbours house came into view and it literally felt as though I’d stepped onto the set of a movie! It was like a huge wooden cabin! The car headlights shone onto the front of the house and revealed a man bent down on one knee and vigorously prodding a burning log fire…wow, I really have landed in the outback hey! After the initial meet and greet, we all sat round the fire and had a ‘sausage sizzler’ with a few glasses of vino, gobble gobble! Rob (Lynnes husband) then joined us and we all sat around chatting away about life in general lol. One thing I noticed is just how clear the sky at night is here, that’s because there is so much light pollution in Sydney so the stars are so much brighter here. Rob was pointing out what star was what and I’m hoping I can remember them all for when I go to Ayes Rock (I’ll be camping out under the stars you see…that’s for my next blog ;))

Ross then showed me around his home. It was truly amazing but what made it even more special was the fact he built it all by hand himself! The only way I can describe this place is like so…think huge log cabin (or a lumberjacks house) in the middle of nowhere…wooden floors, huge open kitchen, open fire (rug included!) a small cabin (or shed) to the side of the house….wow! I think this huge wooden house had everything apart from a Bear or Deers head proudly hanging on the wall from above the fire haha!

Ross is such a fascinating man! I would love to spend more time chatting to him. I thought he must have been a builder having built this fine structure himself but no! He is actually a bug scientist…yep you heard me right…a bug scientist (ok, I forget the correct term now) but I was in my element! So there I was, outside with wonderful people munching a sausage sizzler, enjoying a few glasses of hunter valley wine and talking to my version of David Attenborough!! We were chatting about spiders, snakes and anything bug related. I said to Ross how I wished I could have been like David Attenborough and he said why not….it’s never too late!

In the morning at Lynnes house, I was enjoying munching my brekkie sitting outside and still not quite believing that I was actually here! Suddenly, 2 brightly coloured parrots landed on the bird table! Wow! Cor that makes a change from sparrows or blue tits hey! It really is amazing how you can be in the city one minute and then in the middle of nowhere the next day. I absolutely love it here and I’m so glad I decided to come to Hunter Valley. I reckon I can safely say I am more of a country gal than a city gal ya know!

So….what’s next on the Readders adventures? I’m only here for a few days as I will soon be flying out to Alice Springs to meet  another tour group. Now this is something I can’t wait for…I will be camping out under the stars at Ayres Rock and hiking around the Kings Canyon woo hoo! It’s just for 2 nights but I reckon it’s one of those must see and do adventures. I also can’t wait to meet the other people on the tour because having done previous gap adventure tours, the people are always fun and like minded individuals.

So, I’ll give your eyes a break for now and I will tell you all about my Red Rock adventure for another time. I’d better do it before my Ozzie trip ends because the next chapter will be all about adventure number 3…..yep, Bali baby!!

xx

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Leaving the Land of Smiles – Insert sad face!

Ok, before I reflect upon ‘gushy’ sentimental goodbyes to Thailand, I must give you an up to date Readders Digest because hey, it’ll be the last one on Asia………or will it ;)

Flip-Flop saved my life….well, my foot!

Haha, ok, total exaggeration…..I will explain!

Do you know what? Ever since I have been back from BKK, my house has been ‘alive’ with creepy crawlies. It is ‘them’ now sharing their toys with me (or so it feels!). It might actually have a lot to do with it being the rainy season too. It has rained here in Thailand everyday which in turn brings all the beasties out! Huge spiders that jump, (yep, jump) enough to make even the sportiest of jumping athletes envious, giant army ants through to the teeniest of tiny ants, ginormous flying termites, geckos, lizards oh and a crab – a singular side walking crab haha! That was so odd! I stepped out my house one wet evening, torch in hand and there it was – a grey palm-sized crab staring up at me through it’s funny boggerly eyes! Of course, I had to fully inspect him with my torch all the while he was ‘eyeballing’ me right back. The crab then clasped his little claws together, repeatedly opening and closing them (at this point, I imagined his claws sounded like a chef sharpening his knives on his sharpening block!) as if to say ‘You come any closer…..I’m not afraid to use these!’ hah, so I tapped him gently with the tip of the torch and off he scuttled in a sideways motion.

Another evening back in the house, I was standing over the sink brushing my teeth….of course, still sharing the sink with the giant army ants who set up residence in the overflow holes remember hah! They didn’t bother me anymore. If you cleaned the holes out, they’d just be back the next day anyway but the ants had become a regular common ‘fixture’ just like a soap dish or flannel – they’re always there!

Sitting back down, I noticed something on the side of my rubbery flip flop. ‘What is that?’ I noticed it was one of the giant ants. Thinking I’d accidentally squished one, I tried to flick it off…..it didn’t budge. A few more flicks and the giant ant was still firmly stuck to the side of the flip flop! I took a closer inspection…OMG! This giant ant wasn’t squished at all, this was obviously one of the soldiers and it was biting the side of my flip flop with it’s out of proportionately sized head! His huge jaw like pincers were ferociously  attacking that flip flop as though his life, his Queen and country depended on it! Well, I’m so glad that wasn’t my foot! I’m not kidding but he was near on slicing into the rubber as though it was a lump of butter – yeouch haha! Finally, I gave up and just stared at him in amazement gnawing away.  I was imagining him muttering away angrily to himself (with a mouthful of rubber of course) ‘Take that, and that!’ He finally got bored and scuttled off taking his funny looking ‘big head’ with him hah!

I think I’d better think it out again! 

So I’ve finally got my butt into gear and yes, I am leaving Thailand…the land of smiles as they call it. I just can’t believe it!

I’ve had to change my plans quite a few times actually and it’s taken much thought and careful consideration. I drafted ideas to take myself off to New Zealand after my Australian adventure….then off to West Papua, Indonesia to hang out with the loin clothed and bare breasted Dani Tribes (stop sniggering at the back haha!)….then another short flight up to the North Sumatra Province (still Indonesia) to trek through the dense jungles of Bukit Lawang in search of their resident ginger monkey (Orangutans) BUT I’ve sadly had to cancel those thoughts and fantasies because the FCO (coincidentally) believe both these areas of Indonesia to be unsafe for tourists right now. And as my parents are reading this I won’t go into the details but all I’ll say is…..as the good old saying goes ‘better to be safe than sorry’ I’ve come up with plan b!

I’ve decided to continue with my plans to Oz (Thursday 8th August to be precise woo hoo!) and then jet set off to Ubud, Bali for a month and CAN’T WAIT. I have read Ubud is fairly similar to Pai in Thailand and that is one place I wanted to visit but didn’t. Pai is said to be a relaxed and almost hippy like town :) In short, Ubud looks to be bustling with culture, (markets :D), scrummy food oh and yoga, massage and healing practices! Being trained in Reiki, I would really like to experience ‘Indonesian’ reiki and in fact, pick up some new techniques if I am able to have extra lessons out there! :)

After spending a ‘spiritual’ time hippy-ing it up in Bali, I will then fly off to Penang in Malaysia (near Georgetown) where I aim to trek the jungles of Penang State Park and also take myself off to visit monkey and turtle beach.

Then it’ll be more jungle trekking down at Taman Negara National Park before hitting Kuala Lumpur once more.

Let me clear my throat! 

Oh my goodness! What a wonderful send off I had on Friday morning! I was sooo nervous the night before because June asked me to do a ‘goodbye’ speech in Friday mornings assembly! ‘Speech!!’ I thought…..’Oh no!! “Is that Ok?” June asked, peering over the top of her familiar thick rimmed glasses. Perhaps she could sense my hesitancy by the ‘rabbit in the headlights’ expression on my face hah!

Well, I had to reply with; “Of course, I would love to!” Suddenly that injection of adrenalin was drawn up and injected straight into the pit of my stomach. I could already feel the adrenalin travelling through my system and I imagined the chemicals taking a ride on my red blood cells as though it was on some kind of ‘tubing’ adventure rushing through my veins! It brought back memories of when I did my welcome speech! ‘Oh, stop it Helen! It should be easier this time because you know them all now….right!?’ Well, easier or not, it still made me break out into that cold sweat like before haha!

So Thursday evening after I’d booked a few flights and accommodation for Bali :D I then went straight back to the house to write up a short speech. I thought it would be great to finish by saying something in Thai followed by all of us singing one of their favourite songs that I’d taught them…’Wherever I go!’ Ken text me some Thai words and with that my speech done it was time for bed!

Beetle Bum!

As usual I did my daily routine of shaking out my inner silk liner and then my sleeping bag because one thing I’ve learnt out here…is anything can be lurking in your shoes, under towels OR maybe sleeping bags! With everything shaken out (and nothing falling out), I got tucked up, rested my head on my brick of a pillow and soon started to slip into the land of nod…..

I woke up suddenly around 4.30am and couldnt get back to sleep. I felt itchy, hot and bothered. Trying to ignore these annoying sleep interrupters, I forced my eyes shut and tried desperately to get back to my lovely little dream of working the red carpet at the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival hah! (been on my mind a lot this week you see!).

Suddenly, it felt as though something crawled over one of my legs! ‘What the hell?’ Surely I’d imagined it and it was just my silk liner brushing against my irritated skin? Nothing can get in here, I’m wrapped up snug as a bug in this and not with a bug right!? Nope, there it was again. Scratching the back of my leg from under the sleeping bag, I tried to ignore it for a second time! This time, I felt something crawling over my butt and when I went to scratch, I felt something!! ‘AARRRRGGHHH’ I screamed haha! If only this was on tape…it must have looked so funny! Well, I was trying to scramble out of that sleeping bag as fast as I could but I was encased and trapped in the silk liner and the sleeping bag so picture this: my legs were frantically kicking about so much that I could have sworn I looked like I was pedaling one of Fred Flintstones leg powered cars hahah!!

Finally escaping the prison of my sleeping bag, I jumped up and brushed myself down….nothing on me! Ok, lets shake out both the bags….and there it was….a small black beetle GROSS! God knows how it got into the inner liner but I wasn’t happy. I spritzed the place with bug spray and then felt comforted enough by that to soon rejoin the land of slumber. But then it only felt like a few moments later when the awful electric sounding alarm went off!! :/

Graduation Day?!

Right, it’s speech time! It actually felt as though it was my very own graduation day or something. I was nervous but at the same time, felt quite sad too. I know I banged on about becoming ‘bored’ nearer the end of my time at the school but actually, I’d come to realise just how much the school had become a part of me.

So, it’s 8am and the whole school have begun congregating outside for their Friday mornings assembly. The children all walked over neatly in their lines and sat down together row upon row. All the teachers then sat at the sides so they could keep an eye on them all! Waiting for the assembly to begin, I looked around and saw all 700 little faces sitting down and staring straight towards the front. As usual, they all looked so well behaved and so ‘regimented’. Following the usual morning ritual, the first kid walked up to the front and began speaking in Thai and then the Thai’s National Anthem would be sung whilst one kid would raise Thailands’ flag up the pole. Flag now flying, June stepped up to make an announcement….I was suddenly transported back to my first day, my first speech. The injection of adrenalin was once again ready to shoot it’s dreaded concoction of poison into my system! I was waiting for my ‘turn’ and in turn, waiting for the reaction of pure fear to take over for I knew June was building up to my ‘leaving’ speech!

Moments later (which felt like a lifetime of waiting!)……

“Helen, would you be kind enough to come up to the front please?” June was now looking at me and pointing the microphone in my direction. Now over 700 faces were also looking at me! Oops, there it goes…adrenalin is now tubing on my river red so it should help me through ha!

Taking the microphone, I nervously began my farewell speech to everyone. Even though I had written a few selected words, I couldn’t help but think…’do they actually know what I am going on about?’  haha! Towards the end of my chatter, I then said something in Thai to them all….now that (I think!) they did all understand! To end, I asked all the children to join me in singing one of their favourite songs which went down well.

Oh this is what I said in Thai;

Khobkhun mak kha

Tea hai oh kas di chan

Ma yooh tee nee

Mee kwam sook

Mahk mahk kha

This basically means thank you for having me, I’ve really enjoyed staying at the school and teaching English to you all..

Afterwards, the Sub Director came up to the front and began talking to me. He’d also put together a few words together for me! It was so touching! Although I didn’t understand the first part (which was all in Thai), he ended by speaking to me in English :) He expressed the schools gratitude for my help, kindness and for also sacrificing my time for them. He then also went on to say that I will always be in their memories and their hearts and I’m always welcome……*sobs! I was just lost for words after that….not knowing what to say, I just kept repeating ‘Thank you, thank you’ and glared back at him with watery eyes and a bright red chevvy chase! haha!

After the Sub Directors words, the school presented me with a beautiful handmade silk scarf that I will treasure forever. It was then that the kids thought it would be funny to bundle me hahaha little buggers ;)

Sing us one final song

Once everything had become settled and all the kids were off in their classes, I was then booked up for my final lessons too. It was so sad…the children didn’t want the lessons to end and in fact, they ran over time which of course, I didn’t mind at all.

Back in the office, I was thinking, I really should get packing once schools finished but the school had other plans….

After ‘work’, the teachers all took me out for dinner and karaoke! It was my surprise leaving party :D I had no idea! We all enjoyed a banquet of food along with more ‘speeches’ and more beautiful pressies! The food was delish. Star was shoving all sorts under my nose, bowls of green soup like liquids, funny looking meat balls that came in different colours (white and brown), fishy things (steamed and grilled and yup, eyeballs intact)….. ‘Helen, you must try this and also this one!’ Star wanted me to try as much Thai food as I could before going on my way but I also think she was trying to fatten me up just like all mothers do (I saw Star and June as my surrogate Mums you see aww). Oh one embarrassing thing happened…when I tried one of the spicy meat balls, I tried to cut one in half with my spoon but as soon as I pressed into it…the thing grew wings and just flew right off the plate and onto the floor! I thought no one had seen but once I’d bent down and picked the meatball up…my eyes caught everyone elses staring at me! They all then broke into laughter and yep, once again, I had rosy Readders cheeks hahaha!

The final final speeches were getting quite emotional but the last one from June ended with “If you come back next year, we would like you to join us!” Wow, sounds like I have a ‘job’ in the bag there if I really wanted one hey! :D

Joe and M, the ladyboys of the school asked if they could play barbie with me in the morning….they wanted to dress me up in traditional Thai gear, full make up, the works! Well, hell yeh! What girl would refuse a pampering right! Only downside was that I had to meet them by the office at 8.30am. I knew it would be worth it though.

At the end of the evening, June and Star dropped me back at the house and I was dreading it for now, I had a monster job of repacking my old friend the invisible man! :/

Well, I was up until gone 2 in the morning busy making sure I’d got everything. I checked, double checked and triple checked the house. Phew, I think I’ve finally got the ‘knack of the pack’. Roll, squeeze, cram. Heavy at the bottom, light at the top and just make sure as much air is squeezed out of the bags too. I’ve actually heard some travellers will get their bags of clothes vacuum packed before they go…yeh, I can see how that will help….will give you more space too.

Finally, wrapping myself up in my silk liner and sleeping bag, I said my last goodnight to the house before drifting off……

Helen of Thai

Again, it only felt like I’d been asleep an hour or so before the dreaded mario brothers alarm shrieked at me to get up! I literally through on some trews and a Tshirt and got myself over to the staff room where I met Joe and M.

And wow! What an experience! Straight away, Joe started slapping on my make up and I had the works!! Dark black eyeshadow blending into lighter browns and 2 full sets of fake eyelashes! To finish, Joe slicked on the brightest pink lipstick I’ve ever worn haha! I was then fitted with a long black wig! Wow, the Readders with long black hair….I couldn’t wait to see how different that was going to make me look! I imagined it wouldn’t look too good against my pale skin though, I would probably look more like a vampire than a dainty Thai!

Now for the clothes. Joe wrapped the top half around me (under my Tshirt) and measured me up. It was like a beautiful silk bodice. You basically get ‘stitched’ into all the gear while you’re still fully clothed! Again it was the same for the bottom half…you get wrapped into the skirt part (over your trews) and then you have to wriggle out your trousers and Joe then popped in the final stitches so it was literally made to measure. Well, I couldn’t breathe haha! I imagined I was wearing a corset or something and that Joe had just put one foot on my back whilst pulling the strings so tight that every molecule of carbon dioxide was forced out of both my lungs hah! Once I was measured in and secured and stitched up, Joe then wrapped a delicate see through pink shawl around my shoulders to complete the clothing part. Joe and M then both ‘decorated’ me with all the traditional Thai jewellery including a crown, belt, bracelets etc…

Done! Excitedly clapping theirs hands (in a feminine ladyboy fashion), Joe and M stood me up and seemed so pleased with their ‘work’ and couldn’t wait to show me off outside to the school! I tell you what, all that gear was so heavy, I felt weighted down with accessories and I was also starting to feel rather hot in my new thick wraps but I couldn’t wait to see the finished look. Handing me the mirror, I just couldn’t believe what / who I saw! Wow, that just isn’t me! I looked completely different and couldn’t stop staring at the strangers reflection!

Walking out the office, the first person I saw was June “Wow….you look like an Angel, so beautiful!” Well, that was it, I started getting my usual and all to familiar rosy glow haha. Of course, who doesn’t like a compliment but I guess I was so overwhelmed with the whole look and with everyone’s kind comments.

The teachers all wanted their pictures taken with me, the children, standing by the schools Buddha statue etc…and Joe and M kept asking me to stand or sit in what felt to me like silly poses haha. But great fun all the same and an experience I feel very lucky to have been privileged with.  Thank you Joe and thank you M for transforming me into a full blown Thai!

Party in BKK

Finally, it came to say the last LAST goodbye to the school. Joe and M took all the gear back but I still had a face full of thick make up and I was fretting about the thought of sitting on the bus looking like a ladyboy myself haha….I pulled off the fake tarantula looking eyelashes which helped a bit and then heard June toot her car horn from outside the house.

Driving to the bus station must have taken at least 2hrs! June wanted to take me as far as she could you see which was very sweet of her. We chatted non stop all the way and it was actually this car journey that made me feel more ‘bonded’ with June than I had before…strange that and bad timing with the fact I was on my way outta there!

At the bus station, June helped me to get my ticket and gave me a big hug that felt like it seemed to go on and on. Both our eyes were welling up and June promptly said, “I have to go now, I can’t watch the bus pull away” and with that we both went our separate ways :( The double decker bus looked pretty empty so I zoomed straight up to the top to bag the front seat! Pulling out of the bus station, it was then I sobbed a little as I watched North Thailand disappear.

My bus was so late arriving at Morchit Station in Bangkok, it must have been 10.30pm. Once at Morchit Station, I then had to grab a short cab ride to the train station so I could catch the Skytrain to On Nut to meet my Japanese pal Tomo. Finally reaching On Nut station, the usual ‘thick’ smell of pollution and other stinky smells soon hit (and blocked up) my nostrils.  I met my friend Tomo nearby and we then both had to quickly get ready to go out and meet the others and party!

4 of us all partied hard in the touristy area of Koh Sarn Road! Walking the streets together, I looked around thinking ‘In a funny kinda way, I’m actually going to miss all of this’ The hustle and bustle, the buy one bucket get one free, the being approached every minute to come and see the next ping pong show or the ‘you want laughing gas?’ or the ‘you want to eat scorpian?’ haha! I’d gotten used to the same old lines and right at that moment, I suddenly didn’t feel like the ‘tourist’ anymore and found I kept repeating ‘Mai ao Kha’ (which means no thank you).

We all partied until the early wee hours at ‘The Club’ and had such a fun night! And one thing that did make me laugh…I actually made friends with someone who lives 2 miles from my Mums house in Bedford!! How incredible! Such a little big world!!

Ooooh you give me fever! 

Ok, so I thought it was more than likely my fault but I ended up falling rather sick 2 days after our party night. Being hungover on the Sunday, I didn’t feel anything more than ‘hungover’ but Sunday evening I was engulfed by an awful fever which ended up lasting for days. My throat was so painful, it was on fire and my temperature was fluctuating from hot to cold quicker than I could put a jumper on to then whipping it off again. When I’d actually lost my voice, I got in touch with my friend Ken for help….squeaking away like sooty and sweep, Ken and I met up and he rushed me straight to the pharmacy. I was becoming panicky you see with nasty bugs flying around such as Dengue fever and malaria I thought I could have picked something up ‘Oh great, what if I have one of these diseases?’ ‘Did I pick something up from the school on my last day?’ ‘Crap, I’d better be 100% by Thursday for my flight to Oz!!’

Well, Ken and the pharmacist were chatting away about my symptoms and I was then issued with anti bacterials, some more pills to sooth the pain of sore throats and some throat lozengers. I’m so grateful Ken was around to help! Phew! I couldn’t get over the fact that the chemist could just hand out Anti-B’s like that too….it was as though she was prescribing me skittles haha! Well, do you know what, I didn’t care if they were going to even be the right ones because at the time, I felt so ill, weak and shivery that I was willing to take anything.

Even though I’d just started taking all these pills (and probably sounding like a rattling pharmacy myself!), I developed a burning red itchy rash which started on my throat and soon spread downwards until my whole body was scarlet..then my stomach decided it wanted in on the ill action and began cramping up (felt like indigestion or something). Yep, I knew exactly what this was….Scarlet Fever! I’d had this once before when I was at college…you’d think you can’t get this kind of illness anymore, and god knows where I caught this, strange hey!

Well, a few sweaty days later…I had beaten the fever and my voice was slowly coming back! The rash has died down too and is nothing more than a few itchy patches now. I’m not yet 100% but not far off so do forgive me if my blog’s not quite up to my usual Readdy standards ;)

Goodbye Thailand

As much as I am looking forward to kicking up the pace on the running machine of adventure, I am actually going to miss the school as I said earlier and well, Thailand overall! I was starting to pick up their ‘ways’, their language (ok, so I only learnt a few words!) but I mean the way they speak, the way they talk to you e.g. the ‘Where are you going Miss?’ ‘How old are you?’ ‘Are you married?’ – which of course, in the beginning, I took all of this as being a bit rude or nosy however, Thai people have to be the least rudest people you could ever meet. They are so kind, generous and sincere and always seem willing to help you no matter how trivial the need.

My Thai friends even said I was beginning to dress and act like a Thai hahah! Although my dietry requirements could never adapt to all the spicy food…my poor tastebuds, my tummy, boy will I be glad to be leaving ‘phet’ (hot) food behind haha!

This might sound very sentimental because right now, the theme tune to Jurassic Park has just started playing on my ipod and is reminding me of when Judith and I went jungle trekking in Laos haha! Hey, maybe you should put it on while you’re reading this, music really does help the imagination ;)

So, here goes…..one door closes and another one opens (in the form of a plane haha)

Here we are! And what an incredible adventure Thailand (and Indochina) has given me but now, the time is right to go. I will soon be following the yellow brick road with my little wooden stick (white bag hanging off the end of it!) and waving goodbye with the other :'(

So when I am on that plane Thursday evening, feeling the planes wheels turning to straighten up for it’s powerful boost along the runway waiting for the plane to gradually speed up and up until the ‘super jet booster’ button is hit projecting all passengers ‘G forced’ faces back into their seats and up into the air……my mind will be rushing with beautiful memories. The elephants, the temples, the Buddha’s, the culture, the markets, the crickets (and eating of them!), my gecko family (who I wish all the best with their new batch when they finally come to hatch!), the giant ants and termites (well, maybe!), the parties, the friends, the jungle treks, their simple yet beautiful way of life, Helen’s bug hunts, the weather, the school, the food, their laid back ways (Thai time), their ‘don’t worry’ attitude and their traditions! The list could just go on and on!

I’m so so proud of myself! I can’t believe I’ve completed and survived the first leg of my journey. I know my Brother would be so proud too and I know he’s been looking after me along the way and I reckon he’d also be thinking, ‘You did it!’

I will be looking down from out the planes window, watching with watery eyes as Thailand shrinks in size until it looks nothing more than a miniature toy town…and perhaps like something that I imagined ‘happened’

Always in my heart, always in my memory, forever…..

Love you Thailand <3

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