Okay so to say my expectations for Koh Phi Phi were low was a serious understatement. I really couldn't bare to leave Koh Lanta and to say goodbye to all my friends. Everything I had heard about Phi Phi put me straight off the island. I know, I know, all those who have been will say it is beautiful and picturesque, some even dare say it is the prettiest of the Thai islands. I couldn't agree less. Those who have been to Koh Lanta will understand my shock horror at seeing how dirty, chock-full of tourists and how commercialised Phi Phi is in comparison, and from the moment I arrived on the island I was already counting down to the day I could leave.
Just to give you a taste of what my expectations were based on, a friend who I had met in Koh Lanta had just arrived from the island and she had told me about when she was swimming in the sea, felt something on her foot and picked it up thinking it was a stick - it crumbled in her hand, it was a giant lump of shit. This was definitely one of the worst stories I had heard about the island, but the others certainly didn't paint it in a good light. So you can understand why I was instantly put off, but for the Phi Phi lovers, give me the benefit of the doubt because despite this I still went to the island to form my own opinion.
I was staying at Rock Backpacking, which was great value for money at 300 baht a night for a dorm with fans. The toilets and showers were so clean and the guys who ran it were so helpful - all wifi on the island was abysmal though due to the sheer number of people there using it. I would recommend the hostel, although I was a little disappointed after being told it was the party hostel and finding everyone already asleep when I returned each night abut 3/4am. Wusses. There were nice people staying there, but a lot of people on holiday who were just there to get drunk and not to meet people. I prefer more backpacker central places where people actually want to get to know each other.
My first night there was spent watching the sunset from the viewpoint - so beautiful. I actually went back another night with a new friend and a guy proposed to his girlfriend while we were up there. So cute. I found the best little place for Pad Thai - seriously a godsend after finding nothing but kebab shops elsewhere! Went back loads for authentic Thai food, which was seriously lacking in other restaurants. Had a massage, manicure and pedicure, all for £10 - bargain! Then spent the rest of the night watching boxing, fire shows and exploring. My second day was spent trying to find a clean stretch of beach where the water wasn't covered in a layer of scum - finally found somewhere and sunbathed all day. Bumped into a couple I met on the ferry to Koh Lanta - they barely recognised me as I'm so black now. We spent the rest of the night eating food, going to the boxing - my friend actually competed for a bucket and ended up knocking the other guy out cold! Then we headed to the beach and made some other friends while watching the fire shows.
The next day, I had booked on to a boat trip around several beaches and islands, with plenty of opportunities for snorkelling for just 600 baht (£12) Met a guy called Tibby on the boat, he was also travelling solo from his home in Belgium before starting a new job in Melbourne. Bonding over the terrible food, we snorkelled and marvelled at all the amazing fish beneath the boat - such beautiful colours! The next stop was Bamboo Island which was so perfect and untouched - the sand was pure white and the waters so clear with reef right next to the beach so perfect for more snorkelling. We got a bit carried away spotting fish and ended up being the last ones back to the boat. After a couple more stops, we ended up at Monkey Beach, where monkeys just run wild on the beach and grab food from your hands - so cheeky! I brought along some bananas and fed them, the babies were so cute! They were all so tame, usually monkeys can be a little scary.
After this, it was the highlight of the trip, we'd been waiting all day for Maya Beach (where The Beach was filmed) and it didn't disappoint. As we pulled up in the long tail boat, it looked exactly like it does in the film, minus all those damn tourists! Such a beautiful place, you can see how it would inspire any director, set between these huge cliffs with pure white sand. I managed to find a nice empty stretch of beach to sit and chill out, then Tibby came and joined me and we took lots of photos before our time was up and we headed back to the boat. On the way back to Phi Phi, we stopped at sunset point to watch the bright orange sun burn it's way down into the waves, dead silence on the boat, everyone was speechless at the beauty of it all.
I have so many pictures and so much to tell you guys about Phi Phi that I've split this into two posts for you... The next one will have the pics from Maya Bay and everything else I got up to! I will also try and share the video of the boxing on my Facebook page as it takes ages to do it on here, so give the page a like and check it out!
For those who have been to Koh Phi Phi, what did you think? I'd love to know if anyone shared my experiences or if actually you loved the the island just as it is...
Those of you who have been following my journey will remember when I posted about the reactions of people as they realised I was planning on travelling across Asia, Australia and New Zealand by myself. Solo. Alone. Big decision right? And not one I took lightly, but by the time I made this decision, I had asked several friends who had all been unable to get out of commitments - jobs, relationships, houses.... The list goes on and still meant I was no closer to getting out and seeing the world. Then I realised, what am I more scared of - never getting the chance to achieve my dream of travelling or facing it independently? Once I weighed up my options, I knew that although it was a scary decision, it was the right one to go by myself.
So how has it actually been? Well, after travelling solo for just under a month already - boy that time has flown by! I can say it has been the easiest and the most natural thing in the world. I have loved every second of this journey and have met so many amazing people, seen some amazing places and have become more confident than ever in my ability to do this, to complete the next (hopefully) 11 months of my time away and smash it. So this post is to put your minds at ease and to make you realise quite how easy it is to travel by yourself, and how in so many ways it is actually far better than travelling with another person or a group. Trust me, once you get over the first bit, it's really not scary at all.
Okay, so sitting in the airport alone was the first time the nerves kicked in and it really hit me what I was about to do. A glass of wine to steady the butterflies, and I made the mistake of checking my phone which was full of soppy, sweet and emotional messages from everyone I knew - welled up a bit didn't I?! It was so touching to receive so many messages of support and really helped me get over my fears. This was the first time I had ever flown alone and it was just a week after yet another plane had disappeared, but I actually loved it. So what was I afraid of? I'm not even 100% sure now but it was things like being lonely, not having anyone to share my experiences with, not being able to cope with organising, feeling unsafe, having to admit defeat and come home. All pretty irrational fears as I knew none of these things would actually happen - I know enough girls who have done similar trips and been fine, so why would I be any different?
I happened to see a quote on the day I left about it being good to do something if it scares you. I love that idea, all the biggest decisions in life are the scariest and yet the ones we take the biggest risks on tend to turn out the best. We just have to be brave enough to make the first move. I did make the first move and it has truly paid off better than I ever could have imagined. Not for a single moment have I been completely alone, I have had some of the best experiences with new friends that I know I will stay in contact with and meet up with later on, one even invited me to her wedding! I have had people to eat with, to dance with, to go out on boat trips with, to hang out with... The list goes on. I am actually starting to reach a point where I crave some time completely to myself. But it is wonderful and even more amazing, I have not once had to make the first move, the other travellers always beat me to it because everyone is so damn friendly here.
The organising has been astonishingly easy - ferries, flights, buses and the rest are all on offer everywhere and all you need to do is decide where you want to go. So simple. Leaving you more time to chill at the beach instead. I don't think I have every known a country to be so easy to travel round, but so many backpackers have trodden this route ahead of you it is easy to follow in their footsteps. As for feeling unsafe, that couldn't be further from how I feel. Thailand is probably one of the safest countries to travel solo as a woman. Ignore the newspapers, trust me, I used to work for one and know how they sensationalise the smallest story. It really is safe here. Don't ever get complacent and take risks because you feel so safe, and I certainly won't be wandering down any dark alleys alone at night or leaving my passport out on the table in a bar. But don't feel scared to stay in a bungalow on your own, or to do anything. The people here are (mostly) the kindest people I have ever met, who will go beyond the call of duty to help you find your way, and your fellow travellers are always on hand. Never really being alone means I've always had someone with me, and if not, there are so many people around all the time that you feel so much more comfortable.
My main point in all this? Don't listen to your parents, all the worrywarts or any of those who react in shock when you say you're going alone. Ignore anyone who goes on about how "brave" you are for doing it. It's not brave once you get out here, it's standard. And all those travellers who have said doing it alone is the best way to go are right, yes it's a little more expensive at times, but it means you are completely independent and yet never lonely. You don't have to have the intense one-on-one relationship between two travellers, you don't have to have arguments in the group, and you never have to wait for everyone to be ready before you go to the beach, simple! Trust me, everyone I have met so far is insanely jealous I am doing it alone and they are travelling with a group, and after experiencing travelling with a group for a few days I am even more glad to be independent. I can see so plainly that I have the better end of the deal in so many ways. I've also realised that the majority of those who have approached me here wouldn't have done so if I had been travelling with a partner. The only thing I'm not looking forward to is when I get poorly, which is bound to happen at some point, and I have no one to look after me. But even then, I will find a way to cope and to smash it.
Thinking about travelling solo but scared to take the first step? Tell me about your fears and let me reassure you...
After a day on the road, in the air and on the open sea, I finally arrived in Koh Lanta where I was to meet up with some friends for a few days of birthday celebrations. The ferry over gave spectacular views of the island and neighbouring ones, and I couldn't wait to hit the shores. Koh Lanta is stunning - when you think of paradise, golden sands, clear blue waters, beautiful shells littering the beach and lots of little shacks with hammocks - that's basically Koh Lanta. The beaches are beyond beautiful and absolutely deserted. Although this place is paradise - many travellers don't make it this far and so the lucky ones who do find empty beaches and an amazing, chilled out atmosphere helped along by the fabulous bars along the beach. It's a diverse crowd who make it here, so far I've seen quite a few families with young children, honeymooning couples and holidaymakers - but there are also a fair few backpackers.
My first night on the island, I was hoping to stay at Bee Bee Bungalows but found they were full on arriving, but it turned out to be a blessing because I then found a lovely little hut on the beach instead. It was less than 10 metres from the beach and the sea, so I could hear the waves crashing on the beach at night - perfection. I love the bungalows, they give such a fabulous experience I can't imagine you get in a hotel - although the cockroach in the toilet was a rather funny experience, thank god for a flush! I spent my first night eating and drinking at the Reggae Bar just down the beach - this is my favourite place on the island. The music is amazing, the people there are fantastic - I made a great new group of mates that night and partied together, I even moved closer to the girls so we could spend the week together. That night we went to an awesome party we found in the woods with the guys who run the Reggae Bar - it was amazing.
After just one night, I woke up early and walked miles to the next few beaches to see what else was along there - lots of yoga, massages and food. Then I spent the morning swimming in the sea spotting fish and sunbathing until my friends arrived so I could join them at their villa which was pretty lush and had its own pool and jacuzzi! The guys had been living in some pretty awful hostels for the last three weeks so they were really excited to have a bit of luxury for my friend's birthday. The next few days were spent sunbathing on the beach, exploring the island, having pool parties and something very special for her birthday. We booked to go visit elephants and to feed them before going on a jungle trek to a bat cave and then on to a waterfall where we sat on rocks and pretended to be mermaids. It was an amazing way to celebrate and we were all so excited to see the elephants - they were so beautiful and gentle. It got me really excited for when I spend a week volunteering at the elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai in March.
After one more night together celebrating Stav's birthday with a BBQ, beers and a fire show, and letting off some fire lanterns - we parted ways the next morning and I returned to the beach. I definitely missed sleeping on the beach - it was strange to have air con and to not hear the sea each night but I had so much fun with the guys. Now, after meeting up with my Austrian mates from the first night, I have moved into the bungalow next to them at the Reggae Bar and plan to stay a few more days before moving on to Koh Phi Phi for some shopping. We're having a great time and spent a day on this beautiful tiny beach - the best one on the island is Noi Beach - where we swam and watched the sun set after lunch at a viewpoint restaurant high on the cliff. It was amazing to finally see a sunset, I kept missing them all week! That night, we meta group of French travellers, an American girl and two guys from Switzerland and Holland - it's a diverse crowd who are attracted to the island. We had a great night laughing around a huge fire on the beach and dancing salsa in the waves.
The next few days were a blur of yoga, food, sunbathing and swimming. After hearing the water at Koh Phi Phi is full of sewage - one girl even ended up with a lump of poo in her hands, nice! I will get my fill of the ocean before I head over just in case I have to refrain from swimming there and will save myself for Krabi and Koh Tao where I hope to do diving. It's going to be so hard to leave this place, I seriously love it here and could happily stay here forever. I've lost all track of time and don't want to find it again. But I will force myself to move on in a few days, safe in the knowledge that I plan to return before I leave Thailand. Highlights from the week had be all the friends for life I made, the scooters and exploring, finding our own private beach and playing mermaids. If you go to Koh Lanta, stay av gone Blue Wave Beach Bar, dance to reggae, watch the sunset from the viewpoint over dinner, go trekking through the jungle to waterfalls and chill out.
Have you been to Koh Lanta? What was your favourite part?
Research everything - especially prices. You can save yourself a lot of money by checking how much a taxi from the airport should be to where you are staying - they will always bump up fares according to whether you have just arrived or are leaving and particularly if you are foreign. I paid the right amount and luckily didn't get ripped off but even I noticed my fare went down by 50 baht on the taxi back to the airport. Don't be afraid to barter with them and the same hoes for buying things in the street - ask for prices at different stalls as they can vary a lot.
Tuk tuks are great for getting around, but make sure you hold on to your knickers as you fly round corners, down back alleys and speed past the traffic. Also, if you travel through busy parts of the city or at rush hour, be prepared to breathe in a lot of horrible fumes from the older buses. Again, barter for prices and be wary of the drivers stopping off and trying to get you to buy suits, prostitutes or worse - two lads I met were driven off to a warehouse where a load of Thai girls were kept in boxes with numbers on them and were sold for sex - they only wanted to go to a bar and after making a speedy exit were dragged into a ping pong show!
When sightseeing be very aware of your body - respect is very important, particularly at religious sites and the palace - covering your body is standard but I know I met lots of travellers who had forgotten to bring a long sleeve cover up and trousers and were not let in some sites as a result after paying. Always have cover ups on you and be prepared, also, make sure you treat every site with respect. Shoes off where needed and head bowed in some places. Be wary when taking photos - most things are fine but I saw some tourists being told off for taking photos at one religious site.
Indulge in massages a lot - when will you ever find such fabulous massages for less than a fiver in England? Make the most of it - I've had one every night so far! Try and stick to a female masseuse as I found when I had a bloke give me a foot massage that he was a bit too firm - he was obviously more used to massaging other men. Make sure you don't get overcharged - some places will try and jack up the price a bit for westerners.
Eat where the locals eat - I couldn't believe how many tourists I saw in a Burger King here - get a real taste for the country and eat the street food rather than at the often overpriced restaurants - some of the tastiest food I have had so far has been stuff I have eaten from the carts at the side of the road and from restaurants that looks like someone's garage. That's where the locals eat, not fancy restaurants - that's where you'll find the best food.
Don't try to do everything - it is easy to feel like you should be constantly on the go when there is so much to see and do here, forget New York, Bangkok is the city that never sleeps. But you'll burn out! It's okay to have a wild night and spend a hangover day by the pool - or to spend an evening just chilling in a bar on Khao San instead of in ping pone shows etc.
Try something weird. Don't be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone - this is certainly the place to do it! The street is lined with odd little stalls selling strange delicacies like locusts, spiders, grubs, scorpions and all sorts of others.. I wasn't brave enough for those just yet but I did try a strange dried and compressed squid - not something I would have again but we were glad we tried! It can be your own bush tucker trial!
Have you been to Bangkok? What top tips would you like to share?
Alcohol is acceptable at any time of the day - particularly because of the different time zones, totally okay to have a whiskey for breakfast.
Always snag a window or aisle seat - nobody wants to be stuck in the middle of a row unable to get out and stretch their legs or get to the loo. These also usually have the most leg room - even with short legs like mine leg room can make or break a flight! Also, try and ensure you are sat a good distance from the toilets, close enough if you need it but far enough that the flush doesn't disturb you.
Diets and healthy eating go completely out the window when you're flying for 14 hours - two airplane meals loaded with salt, additives and all the rest, booze, and somehow fitting in 12 meals in one day.. Whoops! Praying every opportunity because you're never sure where your next meal is coming from is allowed - plus with all the sleep deprivation you need all the sugar you can get!
Stay hydrated! Nothing worse than eating all this salty food and then being left gasping for a drink - and all that air conditioning just dehydrates you further. It's amazing the way being dehydrated can seriously affect every aspect of your life - your mood, ability to make decisions and attitude are all influenced by this and yet it is so easy to control. Just try and make sure you have a bottle of water on you all the time and drink a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage as these also dehydrate you.
It's okay to get a bit emosh watching a soppy movie - yes people will think you're weird, but who cares? When it comes to films like Marley & Me, and The Fault in our Stars, I reckon the people who don't cry are the weird ones!
Always think ahead and have a place to stay at the other end and your transfers sorted out, after a long haul flight you are exhausted and more likely to end up in the wrong place or in a vulnerable position - don't let yourself be a target for those who are looking to take advantage of this. Also - if you are staying in an apartment or self-catering, make sure you will have access to the place, that there will be someone to let you in and that it is secure. In some places there are whole gangs just waiting for people to be directed to the wrong apartment so they can break in and rob you while you sleep - don't believe me? It happened to me on the first night of a holiday - pretty bloody scary and I was lucky they just took my valuables and didn't attack me. I consider myself a pretty savvy traveller, and yet I was still a victim of this - don't let yourself be one too.
Always stick to the time zone you are in when it comes to meals and sleeping - when you arrive at your hotel, if it is dinner time, try and eat dinner. Fight off sleep until it is time for bed there, it will help you adjust quicker and will fend off jet lag - give in and you will find yourself wide awake at 2am and wanting your lunch.
Keep your toothbrush in your hand luggage, after two six hour flights and and a three hour drive, you'll be feeling a bit grubby and it's amazing the difference brushing your teeth can make - it will make you feel so much better.
Take plenty of things to keep you entertained - iPad, phone, music, book, magazine - if you end up being delayed these will keep you sane. As will a packet of sweets and a drink. You might also find it helpful to keep your phone charger on you - there are loads of charging points in bars/restaurants these days and you never know when your battery will die on you!
How about you guys - any rules you fancy adding to the list? Leave me a comment with your suggestions!
After around 24 hours of flying, driving and waiting to travel, I was so pleased to finally arrive in Bangkok - desperate to get to my hotel for food and a shower. It was early evening when I arrived and I was keen to get out and check out the city for myself after hearing and reading so much about it. I spent a brief three nights in the city and as I write this I am waiting for my flight down to Trang where I will be ferrying and bussing my way to Koh Lanta to meet some friends. That's not a long time spent in Bangkok - don't worry I shall return at a later date for more fun - but it was long enough for the place to leave a lasting impression on me. I can tell it is definitely one of those places you will either love or hate - and I certainly hadn't expected to love it as much as I did. But what were my first impressions of Bangkok?
The hotel I was staying in was fabulous - I started out with a couple of nights in a hotel as a treat and it sure was! I was surprised to find op how far my money went here - it was a cheap hotel by English standards - more budget than a Travelodge but far more luxurious with huge rooms, really nice bathrooms, a view over the canal, restaurant, pool, gym and spa! Definitely a good way to start the trip - would really recommend the Nouvo City Hotel (just a short walk from Khao San road and the staff were amazing - even helping me organise my transport down to Koh Lanta!)
There is no standard type of traveller. Khao San road is a spiritual home for all types of backpacker, holiday-maker and traveller, and they mingle amongst each other freely. I love that there is no standard here, everyone is so unique and so nobody stands out, we all have a place. You could be walking down the street next to a dreadlocked backpacker, a family with two young children, someone else who came here on holiday and ended up staying for five years and a ladyboy. But all are welcome and all are eager to talk to you, make friends and experience this crazy world together. Being a solo traveller has been brilliant so far - I've made loads of friends and have barely been alone for a minute!
Back to The Hangover again - when they say "Bangkok has him now" I know exactly when they mean now - this city will suck you in to its core and it will spit you out again. I've seem some astonishing sights and after talking to a load of people, it seems that it is easy to have a little too much Bangkok - perhaps why some people can't handle the city. In small doses this place is great, but watch out for the buckets and watch out for the weirdness.
For those of you heading to Bangkok anytime soon - enjoy! And I hope you enjoyed this post - my first of many on the road - they will be slightly less frequent now, partly because I'm having so much fun and partly because it takes so much longer to format them on my iPad but I promise they will keep on coming! In the meantime, if you have any recommendations for Bangkok for when I return there, leave a comment - or any recommendations for Koh Phi Phi (my next destination) they would be very welcome!
Of course, I couldn't leave the chilly shores of Ye Olde England without a good old shindig to party with all the people most special to me - and how better to celebrate that by taking them all back to the 90's?! I love a good party and I love when people go all out, dress up and have a fabulous time together - so I insisted on a nineties theme - with plans for decorations and all sorts. It was an amazing night, everyone made such a HUGE effort on the costume front, particularly all the boys who never do dress-up - it really made all the difference and we had some seriously good ideas. Among the costumes we had two Ginger Spice's, one half of Dumb & Dumber, some 90's chavs, a bit of grunge and Clueless, Mrs Doubtfire, Wayne's World, Hunter S Thompson from Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas, The Big Lebowski, Ali G, Buzz Lightyear and loads more! Talk about a great mix, and I made sure the house was decorated with posters of music, TV stars and films from the 90's, some great cassette tape bunting I found on eBay. We had a soundtrack of pure 90's music and plenty of 90's sweets like sherbet dips, flying saucers and lollies. But what made it the most special was having so many of my favourite people there - I'm so happy so many could make it and to have spent a night partying with them all. Of course, I too dressed up for the party - finally achieving my wish of becoming Princess Jasmine from Aladdin (one of my favourite Disney movies from the era) - and if you can't be a princess at your own party, when can you? I found this great costume online for less than £20, despite it being exactly the same as a £70 version! If you have a party like this, or any fancy dress theme its always worth shopping around for fancy dress online - when I was at university I was a bit of a pro at this - so many shops stock exactly the same outfits under different names/labels and at very different prices - and there is always one with a sale on! I loved my costume, and added some gold sparkle make-up and a bit of bling and I was ready to go.Of course, there was also a sad side to the party - it was so hard to say goodbye to my closest friends and there were some tears. I was proud I actually managed to hold it together during the party, but was a bit of a mess the next day. It's hard to say goodbye to those closest to you, even when you know you are making the right decision. My mum keeps reminding me that it's a very different world now and when people go travelling, they don't really go away. That there's no waiting for the post to arrive with hopes of a letter saying all is well, now you can Skype, Whatsapp, email, text, write... You can be in contact constantly if you want - it is harder than ever to go off the radar and with social media it is so easy to share every step of your journey. She's right, I know that wherever I am in the world and however long I have been away, that I can instantly get in contact with my family or friends if I need or want to. If something happens and any of us need to talk or just to see each other's faces, it will be possible. Just because you're 2,000 miles away, doesn't mean you have any excuse to be a bad friend.
Have you had a 90's party? Who would you dress up as? What's the hardest goodbye you've had?
As I'm sure you can imagine, last week flew by in a blur of family time, catching up with friends and saying my goodbyes, packing and a constant battle between eating my fill of British food to last me the next year and working it off at the gym to get my body even remotely bikini ready. As you read this, I'll be somewhere in Bangkok - hopefully wandering around a market eating delicious food and taking in the sights. I'll be spending the first couple of days in a hotel, getting my bearings and making a firmer plan for the upcoming weeks and meeting up with friends. I'm sure it will only just be starting to register that this is how my life will be for the next year - no more getting up at the crack of dawn to go to work in cold, raining England - but finally what I have been working for and planning for over 12 months is finally a reality! I can't quite believe it myself. I have to be honest, I've had the worst possible run of news stories since booking my flights - it seems there's pretty much been a murder on a Thai beach, a shark attack in Australia, or a plane going missing every bloody week! Great for reassuring my mother I'm going to survive my trip, and great for reassuring me that I'm going to survive my flight. It's okay though, I've never been much of a worrier so I'm putting all these news stories to the back of my mind and just doing everything I can to avoid being mugged, raped, murdered or involved in some horrible incident. In the meantime though, I have been doing my utmost to make sure I have some very special memories of home, my family and my friends. I'm sure there will come a time when homesickness strikes and I am very glad of them! As you guys will have already read by now - I've got some pretty good ones in the bag after a perfect Christmas with the family, my Mexican-themed New Year's, my Nineties-themed Leaving Party, and a couple of lovely dates with the boyfriend.This post is just a quick one to show you what else I got up to in the week between Christmas and flying out. My week started with a bracing, windy walk on the beach with my parents at Sunny Hunny - we have a beach hut there and it was a chance for me to say goodbye to the hut as I won't be seeing it for over a year. It was a beautiful day, very frosty and the coldest morning yet of 2014, but perfectly fresh at the same time. I love walking at the beach on cold, sunny days - the air is so clean and it really does blow away all the cobwebs. It was great to get some serious fresh air and some colour in my cheeks - plus with that and a few workouts, it was great to get past feeling so stuffed with all the delicious Christmas food. We covered about six miles and it was good to spend some time back by the sea - my inner mermaid was satisfied. As you can see scattered around this post there are a few pics I captured while by the sea - it's such a pretty place. I also had a lovely day at the spa with my mum where we were treated to a lovely facial and full body massage, plus lots of lovely steam rooms, Prosecco and cake. A pretty perfect mummy and daughter day - it was really lovely to have a day just the two of us before I go. This was followed by New Year celebrations, catch-up's with the boyfriend's family and other friends and then my long-awaited Leaving Party! The week finished with a lovely family meal with my parents and grandad - then some sad goodbyes with my best friends and the boyfriend. Then before I knew it, my parents were driving me down to Heathrow and I was on a plane, and whoaa now I'm in Bangkok. Life is pretty crazy sometimes, but crazy good. After a really rubbish start to the year, I couldn't have ended it on a better note.
What have you guys been up to? Are you sad to say goodbye to 2014, or are you already head-first into making 2015 the best yet?
As you read this, my travels will have already started and I thought it was important to write this post and share what has probably been the hardest part of my decision to leave. The first thing everyone has asked me upon finding out I was going travelling was "are you going with your boyfriend?". When I replied no on each occasion, I saw the same surprised blank faces in front of me - particularly when I announced I was going it alone. I'm not sure why it is such a shock to people as I've always been quite an independent person - but clearly it seems quite odd to a lot of people that we would be able to go without each other for any length of time. To paint a picture for those who don't know us, me and Wolfy have been together for well over eight years. We've survived all sorts, including me moving away for university for three years, and defied all those who said we'd never last or that we weren't suited - amazingly there were a lot of people who felt that way. But we made it this far and we seem to be doing better than okay. So I can totally understand why people think "they love each other, therefore they must not be able to live without each other".
Relationships always face difficulties at some point - a hurdle that pops up out of nowhere, whether a problem between the two of you, or interference from outside sources. But when you've been together as long as we have, and from as young an age, sometimes the problems that crop up are actually just dreams that pull you in opposite directions. We've all got dreams, big ideas and hopes for the things we want to achieve, see and do - but what happens when they clash with those of the one we love? Well we're faced with a big decision about what to do. This is actually something that's been playing on my mind a lot lately because I have a few friends who, although in slightly different situations, have struggled with similarly big decisions. I guess it is a common theme in our twenties that we will be faced with big choices over our relationships - our teens are the easy time, although they may not feel like it, when nothing really tests us other than ourselves. Even the separation of university is something that can be easy to live with because to an extent we still have a choice over distance and whether we want to go the distance. But by the time we hit our twenties, we are looking at careers, new homes, marriage and babies in some cases, and travel. There are so many more factors that will affects our relationships and we will be forced into difficult decisions.I'm not the only one who has found this, I actually know several people who have found lately that they have had to choose one aspect of their life over another. One friend has chosen to move two-and-a-half hours away from all of her friends and family, leaving behind a job she had worked her way up to, in order to follow her boyfriend. He was moving to a much better job and she had to take a pay cut in order to be with him, but for her the decision was the right one for her because she loves him and wants to be with him. Now they are able to live together, instead of breaking up or living hours apart. A couple I know came to an end after the subject of travel was broached, they had been together for years but he didn't want to travel and she passionately did - so they finished and she started planning her trip. I know of another couple who broke up because the guy wanted to settle down together, with big plans for marriage and babies, but she wanted to keep her freedom and to work on her career first, so they broke up and moved on. What do all of these couples have in common? They're all in their twenties and their lives are ever changing and evolving - sometimes couples are on different wavelengths and that can mean different directions.
For me and Wolfy, I know that we are on the same wavelength but that after eight-and-a-half years we are being pulled in different directions. For me, I'm in a job that I just can't do any longer and I've reached a point in my life where I want to experience something new. It was a choice between moving away for work or travelling, and that decision was a simple one for me. For Wolfy, he regrets not putting in the time and effort for his studies and has realised he needs a change of career, so for him, the move is to retake his A-levels and go to university. The timing for us isn't great and we don't want to be apart, but we also both realise that we have to follow our individual dreams in order to be happy together. Neither of us should have to put our individual dreams on hold at this age, surely we will only end up resenting each other if we try? I'm not saying it's going to be easy - because I know it won't be. Saying goodbye earlier this week was the hardest thing I have ever done. But for us, this isn't a break up, more like hitting pause on things until we can resume play. We hope that it will be just six months until we are reunited in Australia - that might be naive on our part, or it might be a mature decision that works out really well. Either way, all we can do is hope that things work out for us. I've always believed that everything happens for a reason - I'm not always sure what that reason is but I know that it will all work out in the end. And I'm treating this just like that - it doesn't mean being separated is any easier, but it does mean we can hope that if we are meant to be together that it will work out.
I'd love to hear your stories of when you've been forced to choose between love and your career, or family, or even travel, like I have. Did it work out for you? Or do you still regret the one that got away?
Just a quick post today to share with you guys how I spent my New Year's Eve - as you can imagine I'm completely up to my eyeballs in packing, organising paperwork and trying to find everything I need for the next year - yikes! So this post is just a little one to mark another Happy New Year spent with the boys - my last one for a while. We've been having a New Year's party together for years now so it will be strange to spend the next one away from them all. But we made sure this was a good one - me and Wolf whipped up some Mexican food and supplied the tequila - the boys brought the fun. We had a great night, all rounded off with some very bad dancing. Hope everyone else's New Year celebrations were as much fun.Of course there was talk of what our New Year's resolutions might be, but we all agreed there is very little point in making a resolution when we're all happy the way we are. Also - I certainly don't want to come back from travelling to find out they have all changed! All this New Year New Me rubbish... I think we're all getting a bit old for that - if we really wanted to make a change, we would just do it and there would be no reason to wait for the New Year. I made my change months ago and next week it will finally begin! Bring it on! I hope that however you spent your New Year, that it was full of family and friends, and plans for the future. Whatever 2015 has in store for you, make it a big year!
How did you celebrate New Year? What have you got planned for 2015?