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One of the main things I absolutely adore about travelling is all those completely unexpected and unplanned experiences that you stumble across on your journey. For someone who was little miss organised at home, it’s a refreshing change from life at home and has led to some of the most exciting and memorable moments for me. By following my gut instincts and my heart, I have opened myself up to a wealth of experiences and opportunities to meet amazing people I would never have come across otherwise, and for that I will be forever grateful. All of my friends know exactly who they are – the girls I randomly met at the pier who I ended up sharing bungalows with and having the best girlie sleepover. The Pioneer Club who have well and truly stolen my heart after partying on the islands and getting matching bamboo tattoos. The couple I met deep in the jungle who live just an hour away from me at home – all have played a huge part in my journey.

One night in Phuket was a perfect example of this, I was supposed to meet some blogger friends for dinner but I was given the wrong directions to meet them and we totally missed each other. Starving, I wandered along the street with food on my mind and found a little restaurant that looked more like a school cafeteria serving just Thai people so I headed in and had a delicious plate of fried rice and satay chicken. I ate surrounded by awesome Thai men who didn’t speak a word of English but we still managed to communicate the basics as they tried to teach me some words and tried to trick me into eating deathly spicy food. It was such a perfect example of how welcoming and friendly the Thai culture is, the group of men made me feel completely at home and despite a serious language barrier, we realised that humour is something that can translate across any language if you give it a chance. It was such a fun experience and one I might not have had if it weren’t for missing my friends.imageAfter saying my goodbyes and leaving the restaurant, I wandered down the road trying to find my way back and happened to pass an artist working in a gallery at the side of the road. Curiosity got the better of me and I couldn’t resist a peek at his work. I tip-toed into the workshop, trying not to disturb him while he worked, but he looked up straight away and welcomed me in. It turned out that Monthian Yangthong is hailed as one of Phuket’s, and possibly Thailand’s, most popular and talented artists who has exhibited his works all over. I was so lucky to walk in at that point because I had the amazing opportunity to see him working on his latest piece, surrounded by walls adorned with previous works. Known as “the artist who steals faces”, his latest collection is a series of woodcuts made of the faces of well known western artists ranging from painters and musicians, to politicians, scientists and more.

The works are amazing. Imposing, and yet welcoming, the carvings use a combination of dark and light to tell the story through the faces of these well known characters. Some are haunting and the others seem almost endearing. I’m no art expert, but I know how amazed I was by the level of complexity to his work – how each carving took so long to prepare and plan, how he created many different variations of the same work to contribute to a final piece, and how he told each individual’s story through minute additions to the carving that were blended in to the very faces. It was so interesting to see the different stages of each work, and to see how his works have changed over time. From a family of Buddhist farmers who originate in the north, Monthian finds these values translate over into his works with symbolism of both appearing in the form of wheat and lotus flowers, plus the use of water.imageI spent several hours hanging out in his workshop, watching him work, talking about art and Thailand. He was interested to hear about my travels, and although at times we had to struggle to translate certain words, we managed to have a really interesting chat about his background and his works. It was such an enlightening night and a great experience for someone who didn’t really know much about art to speak to someone who has dedicated his life to it. One of my favourite things about the evening was that while we chatted about art and life in Thailand, his family all sat on the floor alongside us and painted. Such an artistic family, his wife was working on a painting of sunflowers, while his two beautiful little girls painted and made cut-outs. None of the three of them spoke any English, but they made me so welcome by showing me their paintings, offering me oranges and water. It was so touching to see how kind they were and how welcoming to a random person who walked in off the street, but it was a perfect example of the amazing Thai culture that has made me feel so at home in this amazing country.

If you have the opportunity, I would definitely recommend you check out Monthians’s work – you can find more information on his Facebook page.image

What are the most standout unplanned experiences you’ve had while travelling? How has a mix-up led to one of the most interesting nights of your life?  

Ab Lucy sign off

 

imageAfter a few days in Krabi, I started getting itchy feet and was keen to explore somewhere new – Phuket was close by and happened to have an Emirates office, which I needed to reorganise my flights so the decision was made, so after waving my goodbyes I headed out on the open road again. I was intrigued by Phuket, I had heard so much about it, but often far. Ore negativity than positive comments. Actually many people had recommended I skip it altogether, but I was keen to see and judge it for myself. After a bit of background reading, I realised I couldn’t stand the thought of staying in Patong or the other beaches like Karon, so I chose to stay at Phuket Backpacker in Phuket Town. This was the best decision I could have made, the hostel was great – really welcoming and cheap. It was also right in the centre of everything with the market right across the road, bars, restaurants and massage parlours lining the streets. It was also in a great position for exploring the rest of the town including a collection of local temples and shrines, the old town and Khao San.imageimageThe town has a lovely bohemian feel which was really perfect for me after weeks of being on the islands. It was such a different atmosphere and was definitely far more Thai than other areas I have been which was brilliant. I feel like I really had an opportunity to spend more time with the locals and seeing how they live rather than being constantly surrounded by backpackers and tourists. If you want to see more of the Thai way of life then Phuket Town is for you. My favourite thing about the area was the countless coffee shops and cafés which provided me with the perfect places to sit and enjoy my time there, particularly catching up with emails and blogging. After being on the islands and having such awful wifi in so many places, this was a great place for catching up with home and was actually the first time I had spoken directly to family and friends for about a month!imageI would spend my days exploring the town, heading to Karon on the bus if I fancied a day at the beach, or chilling in cafes and writing. It was heaven. There was so much to do in the town and I was even lucky enough to find out two other travel bloggers (Jules and Christine of Don’t Forget To Move) were in town so it was a great opportunity to meet for drinks and a night of singing along to Thai cover bands, raiding the big weekend market and exploring the area. These guys and a couple of others were the only backpackers I really spent time with which was nice, after a busy few weeks it was great to have some quiet time to myself inbetween hanging out. Can you believe a solo traveller was desperate for time alone? I really had missed writing and it was great to have some time to do more of it. It was also a really interesting way of meeting expats – I met a couple of guys in the coffee shops who actually lived in Phuket after moving here a few years ago. They were working remotely from the coffee shops at their own pace and it looked like a pretty good way to live your life.imageI was surprised how much I actually enjoyed Phuket Town, but I would really recommend it after being there. Perhaps the other parts of Phuket are a lot more tourist and seedy, but this is a great way to spend time with locals and to experience a different side to Thailand. I found it a far more welcoming place than Bangkok, which although a fantastic experience, was a little much to take in. Phuket has a slower pace and a more relaxed atmosphere which is refreshing, it takes the best elements from the busier places and blends it with the peaceful and chilled attitude of the islands.

imageimageI enjoyed Phuket Town so much that I can’t fit all my experiences into one post so I have two more coming up for you guys on what I got up to there. These are just my first impressions of the place. As for recommendations of where to go and what to eat, I would definitely say stay at Phuket Backpacker in Ranong Road as some friends stayed elsewhere and had to walk a distance every time they wanted to do anything – my hostel was right in the centre and cost just 250 a night. If you stay there, you simply MUST try the mango sticky rice on sale at the stall at the entrance to the market across the road – it is easily the best I have had yet in Thailand and I have to admit I ate two portions in one day! For the best breakfast, coffee shop and place to catch up with your emails or blogging, The Gallery cafe is right around the corner and the food is delicious, the walls are full of art and it is never busy which is perfect if you want some peace and quiet. Also, don’t miss out on a walk around the Old Town, the buildings are beautiful and definitely worth a look, it is just one street behind the market.

What were your experiences of Phuket like? How does Phuket Town compare to Patong?

Ab Lucy sign off

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As I write this, I’m about a month into travelling solo and lo and behold, I’ve managed to pick up some illness. I was waiting for this time to come, I knew it would strike me down at some point, I had just expected it would be an upset tummy that kept me chained to the toilet rather than a cold! Can you believe it? I’m halfway round the world in tropical heat and in suffering from a cold that would strike me down in the middle of winter at home – all thanks to the air conditioning spreading those germs around while we sleep at night. So I’ve spent a day in bed feeling lousy, watching Netflix and generally feeling sorry for myself – I rarely let myself do this at home and just plough through when I’m ill, but here I know it’s my body’s way of saying it’s tired and needs to rest.

So being ill sucks. It sucks no matter where you are, but we know it’s always a lot better when you’re at home with your mum or partner to look after you and give you snuggles, feed you chicken soup or ice cream, and to change the TV channel for you when you get bored of Charmed reruns. Being a solo traveller, you get none of that, it’s all down to you, and this is when it really gets hard and you can often feel at your loneliest during your travels. This is when it shows what kind of person you really are, whether you’re going to wallow and mope, or take care of it all and cope.

Top tips for coping when you’re ill as a solo traveller:

  1. Sharing a dorm when you’re poorly is never fun, either you’re the annoying person up all night to the loo or you’re the one sniffing and blowing their nose loudly. Often, if you can afford it, now is the time to plump for a private room or even a hotel, having a little extra home comfort will also help make you feel a bit better.
  2. As soon as you start to feel ill, stock up on all the essentials like water, toilet roll/tissues, any paracetamol, cold and flu capsules, other medications, rehydration tablets, simple foods that will last a few days and fruit for vitamin c, an extra layer of clothing, or a fan for when you get the hot/cold sweats, make sure you have plenty of entertainment like Netflix or downloaded films.
  3. Don’t feel guilty about taking a few days to stop the city exploring, beach days etc – this is your body’s way of telling you to slow down and catch up on sleep, relax, so take advantage of a movie marathon and remember the temples have been there for thousands of years and will still be there in a few days.
  4. For another of those home comforts, contact home! Call or Skype your mum and dad so they can feel sorry for you, FaceTime your boyfriend and get lots of sympathy. Just speaking to your loved ones can make you feel heaps better when you’ve been wallowing and feeling alone, use the time to catch up with people and you’ll feel better for it.
  5. Now is a great time to use those friendships you’ve made, ask your mates to pop out and get you supplies, I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to as they hope someone would do the same if they were poorly. Us solo travellers are a friendly bunch and we like to look out for each other, don’t be afraid to ask.
  6. Remember the little things – it’s so easy when you’re travelling alone to just lay in bed and feel awful. I know I’m guilty of knowing exactly what would make me feel better and yet not bothering to actually do it. I’m talking about things like forcing yourself to eat so you have some energy, taking a shower t wake yourself up. Do these things and you will feel so much better, with no one else around to motivate you, you have to be your own cheerleader.
  7. Really relish that first morning when you open your eyes and realise you feel back to normal – it’s such a good feeling (one I am awaiting at the moment). It will happen even though it feels like it never will, most illnesses only seem to last 24 hours, or a week with three bad days and a few recovery ones. If you follow these instructions, they will be as bearable as possible!
  8. And after the illness fades, you better get back out there and start making up for lost time! There are places to see, things to eat, stuff to do, and it’s all waiting for you. So go for it, kick some ass and feel fabulous.

Have you been ill while abroad – how did you cope? Any other suggestions for how solo travellers can cope when they’re feeling poorly?

Ab Lucy sign off

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It was a hot and sweaty climb down the steep steps with my bag, followed by a breezy longtail boat ride from Railey before I reached Krabi town. I couldn’t wait to dump my bags at the hostel and to finally see it after hearing so much about it from other travellers. I was staying at Pak Up Hostel, which Lonely Planet has dubbed as one of the best in Thailand and apparently much of Asia according to those staying there. In fact, as I strolled up the hill towards the hostel, an American guy shouted across the street and invited me to join a group going back to Railey but as I’d just arrived he recommended staying at this very hostel. When I arrived, I was pleased to be shown straight to the English Room, where I stayed in the Leicester Square bunk – making me feel right at home. It was just 250 a night, which was a welcome relief after paying 800 a night in Railey and finding everything so expensive there.

I don’t normally focus too much on where I stay, just a passing recommendation for you guys, but this time the hostel was more than worth it. The cleanest, comfiest beds I have slept in, and Pak Up boasted the most welcoming and friendly staff who will help with anything you need, especially saving you money and time. I was touched to see how they became really fond of us and chatted every time we passed through reception, remembering our names and everything we had told them – little things like that make a really big difference. I was really impressed with how clean not only the dorms but the bathrooms, showers and toilets were as well, with hot showers! My first hot showers since Bangkok!

Minutes after arriving, I became instantly really good mates with everyone in my dorm and from several others along the hall. We made plans to eat dinner together and to have drinks in the evening which was great. I headed out exploring but realised there wasn’t much to see in the immediate town, that you did need bikes or a bus, but it was interesting to walk around a town instead of a seaside resort after weeks on the islands. Quite refreshing actually. The town itself has a really nice relaxed atmosphere and is a perfect place to stay if you want to explore the area with cheap travel to Railey, Ao Nang, Koh Phi Phi and a few other places. There are loads of coffee shops and restaurants to sit in and watch the world go by while you catch up with emails or a good book.image

After an afternoon exploring, I met up with everyone from the dorms and we went down to the night market which was just at the end of the street and was full of amazing, fresh food being prepared right in front of you. I loved the spring rolls, the coconut balls, the pad Thai, the basil fried rice and the satay chicken. The whole area came alive in the evening as everyone headed down to the dock to feed up and browse the stalls. I particularly enjoyed watching an old Thai man, he must have been around 70 years old and yet he could cook quicker than anyone on the other stalls – he was brilliant to watch. We had a lovely first evening filling up on food, then headed back to the hostel to sit out on the porch chatting and drinking a disgusting rice wine called Siamsato that two of my new friends recommended.

The next day, one of my new friends and I hired a motorcycle and headed out on an adventure to explore a nearby national park. We had wanted to check out the tiger temple, but it was too hot to climb 1300 steps so we went waterfall hunting instead. I trusted him to ride the bike as I knew he had several at home and was good with them, but it was still a nerve-wracking drive to the park. I’m not a very good passenger as I am so used to always being the driver. But we made it in one piece and the park was beautiful, we trekked up a steep climb to the top of the waterfall where we jumped in and stood under the torrent of water. It was a perfect way to cool off and later we wandered around the park, breathing in a bit of nature and spotting amazing trees.

That night, the Pak Up family got together and I was joined by a whole group of new dorm mates – one who brought along a ukulele and sang Jack Johnson songs and classic nineties hits all night for us, plus another awesome doing he had written himself and was due to release soon. We sat out on the porch for a fun night of drinks and singing along, and were joined by a random Thai guy from the street who wanted us all to try his opium cigarettes and was convinced he was Captain Jack Sparrow! We all had so much fun I was convinced to stab another night despite my original plans to move on to Phuket Town the next day. The next day, two of us went on a day trip to Ao Nang on the bike and had a lazy one on the beach and driving around. I was glad I didn’t end up staying in Ao Nang like I had planned beforehand, it was way too touristy for my tastes and the high numbers of older German gentlemen flaunting themselves in tiny speedos was not something I want to wake up to each morning.image

Our final night together was a celebration – we were all heading off either the next day, or shortly after to our next destinations, so it was good to have a final send off for the travelling family. I was surprised, considering how little time I was in Krabi, how attached I became to the place, and to the people. For a place that has only a small amount of attractions and sights to offer the traveller, it is well worth stopping off for a while. If only to meet some of the most amazing and interesting travellers I have met yet. Plus a chance to stay in this fantastic hostel can never be passed up for that price! I was sad to say goodbye to my friends, but excited to start my journey to Phuket Town for a completely different experience.

Have you stayed at Pak Up Hostel – what did you think? Did you love Krabi like I did?

Ab Lucy sign off

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There are plenty out there who think backpacking, when it really comes down to it, is pretty much just spending months on end lazing on a beach, tanning and partying as soon as the sun goes down. I won’t lie, there’s plenty of that, but there is also so much more to it all. I’m talking about the hours on end spent wandering the streets, looking at beautiful buildings, talking to local people, trying food and soaking up the culture. I’m talking about the times when you get up at half past five to hike up to the highest point of the town to watch the sun rise, when you are chased by monkeys are crazy dogs to get to a temple, and the times when you go off exploring on bikes. It’s actually pretty damn busy, and looking back now over the last few weeks, I can’t understand how I’ve managed to cram so much in. It’s pretty tiring actually, I haven’t really had many days of just doing nothing and relaxing because I’ve been so keen to explore and discover more about the places I am staying in.

Anyone who knew me, or read this blog when I was at home, will know that I never stopped. I was working four jobs at one point to pay for this trip, alongside blogging and still having a life – I love to be busy and to enjoy the world around me to the max, so much so that I would often exhaust myself because there was no let up. Out here, I’m definitely a lot better at giving myself time to enjoy, appreciate and to relax, but I’m still on the go all the time – I guess it’s just me, I really like being busy. But travelling has really made me understand that sometimes doing nothing can be the experience in itself. Just having that time to let it all sink in, to reflect on my experiences while I am out here. And this doesn’t just apply to me out here, I wish it was something I had done more of when I was at home, perhaps then I wouldn’t have felt such a need to get away from it all.

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I think it is something we all could learn – to appreciate “Dolce Far Niente” as it is called in Eat Pray Love – anyone who has seen the film or read the book will remember the description by the Italian guy of “The Sweetness of Doing Nothing”. That we shouldn’t feel guilt for taking time out to just be still and at peace instead of sitting in front of mindless and brain numbing TV, instead of rushing around like a crazy person, and instead of expecting so much of ourselves all the time. Look at the way we greet each other after a long day at work – “what did you do today?” Like the success of our whole day is measured around what we achieved, what we ticked off our list, and if it isn’t enough, we feel guilty or lazy. Why don’t we ask what has made us happy today, or what has made us smile?

They say travelling changes you, but I disagree, I don’t think it changes you. I think it just brings you out of yourself – into the person you always had potential to become. It just takes all of those pressures of society, family, friends and the rest away, allows to you to breathe and to look at what you want to do, for yourself, and not for anyone else. After a tough two years of putting insane pressure on myself by working so much, studying, writing both for this blog and for the festival website, plus keeping up with my family, friends and my boyfriend – it became too much. I removed myself from the whole situation and I can honestly say I’ve never been happier. I no longer feel pressure to achieve, achieve, achieve at work, or to write when I’m exhausted so I don’t disappoint myself or my readers – now I do things because I truly want to, and if feels great.

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I’m writing this post in the middle of a week spent in Phuket Town, which is actually becoming one of my favourite places so far. It’s so bohemian here, full of amazing little coffee shops and cafes that are filled with books and art, so quiet I almost think I am the only person to discover them, and totally inspiring for writing. Through these heavenly little discoveries, I have truly found the sweetness in doing nothing, which has in turn completely inspired me to write. The first visit to my favourite of these little cafes, The Gallery, I sat on a sofa covered in deliciously comfy pillows, I ate poached eggs and avocado on toast with salsa, I drank fruity smoothies and I read a magazine. The magazine was two months out of date, but it didn’t matter because I was outside my comfort zone, I was relaxing and feeling no urge to move or walk or do anything, I was just enjoying that moment of mindless food and reading. To put this in perspective, I genuinely haven’t read a magazine for about two years because I am always too busy.

Since then, I have spent lots of time doing the same, escaping to these little havens where smooth jazz versions of my favourite songs play in the background while I take in the art hanging on the walls, where I watch the world go by on the other side of the window and where I find my inspiration to write for you guys. I tried this a few times back at home, but the fast pace of life there always got to me and I always ended up tapping my feet, impatient to get on with the next thing, here I feel I am able to give myself this time without guilt or worry. It’s such a good feeling, but one I think can be achieved anywhere, it just depends on whether you will let yourself – I never did at home, but here I finally do. So how can you achieve this at home?

Try these tips and see how it works for you – if you saw my previous post on mindfulness, those tips are also great for this!
1. Turn off the TV
2. Give yourself 10 minutes a day to just sit
3. Lock yourself in a room, or go to a coffee shop, just anywhere you can be alone with your thoughts
4. Let your mind wander and appreciate everything around you
5. It might sound silly, but trust me, it makes a huge difference to your life and heck you deserve it!

What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you give yourself enough time to just be? 

Ab Lucy sign off

 

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After Koh Phi Phi, I was exhausted and desperate for a break and a chance to relax on a beach soaking up some sun. I’m not as young as I used to be and four big nights in a row, dragging my sorry self back to the hostel at 5am and then getting back up at 8am for a full day of fun was hard on my body. I loved it and didn’t want to miss a second of hanging out with amazing people, but I had already done longer on this party central island than most and was keen to get away. So when Tibby had to head off to his next destination, I took my chance to head to another new place – hoping for a more chilled out vibe. I certainly got it, Railey is about as chilled out as it gets and although it didn’t quite charm me like Koh Lanta, I loved it for many different reasons. I actually met a girl on the ferry over there and we ended up spending the next few days together, relaxing and chatting. When we arrived, clamouring out of a long tail boat at the shore and splashing through the waves with our bags, we headed to Railey Headlands where we were hoping to stay in bungalows at Railey Cabana but after a long walk they were fully booked, so we treated ourselves and stayed in the hotel next door for the night.

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The first night, we were tired but wanted to explore so we heard west for dinner where the nice beach was, but realised this was the family area so after food we walked to the east side – yes it is that small – where we found lots of monkeys chasing us along the way. But when we arrived, we knew this is where we wanted to stay, bars lined the shore, restaurants overlooking the sea, chilled out backpackers and reggae music galore. The next morning we moved there to a place high up above the shore where bungalows surrounded this restaurant, Rapala Rockwood was a great place to stay, although the steps killed my legs every day, and was full of fabulous backpackers who all wanted to make friends. Me and the girl I had met shared a bungalow the first night before she flew to Malaysia, then I stayed on alone in it for about five days. I met some fabulous Swedish girls, a small group from Austria and a few others who had been travelling across Peru and Nepal. So many interesting people and the locals were fantastic as well – the girls and I spent one evening teaching a Thai guy who worked where we were staying English – he actually did really well!

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I also had a magical evening where I stumbled across the Israeli guys who had been travelling Nepal and Peru and had brought a whole suitcase of instruments including a guitar, ukulele, flute, and a few others, plus a didgeridoo! We spent a night just playing the instruments, singing and having a laugh – one of those totally unexpected moments in life that you will remember forever. Especially my terrible attempts on the didgeridoo! I also spent most nights hanging out at the reggae bars below my accommodation, before heading to The Last Bar which has the most amazing fire show I have seen yet, set to dubstep, I have never seen them move so fast or so dangerously, and with so many mistakes, you know they are the most daring yet! Plus the Muay Thai boxing on some nights was brilliant – finally one that doesn’t look stylised and choreographed! I would definitely recommend if you happen to be staying there as most of the other bars close down early – a blessing if you’re in need of some early nights, undisturbed sleep and peace & quiet!

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There’s not a huge amount to report from Railey, as much of my time was spent laying on the beach, watching fire shows, swimming, sleeping and battling rubbish wifi. But it was a great in-between place to relax and rest after a hectic few days. Lots of people I met in Krabi after were just making day trips to Railey, which is also a great option as there isn’t much to do there apart from rock climbing and relaxing. You could easily experience it in a day, although I’m glad I stayed a few days. It was really nice to stay in such a rugged and wild landscape, totally different to how flat Koh Lanta was and so quiet compared to Koh Phi Phi. I loved seeing monkeys running around, huge cliffs towering over the beach and lush jungle between the east and west side. Such a contrast to other places I have visited and so striking as you’ll see from my photos.

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Have you been to Railey? What did you think? Where’s your favourite place to go when you need to chill out? 

Ab Lucy sign off

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I’ve spent about a month on the road now, living out of a bag, getting strange women to wash my pants when I run out, showering in shared bathrooms, sharing bedrooms with up to 12 people at a time, falling madly in love with the amazing people I meet and parting ways the very next day. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and the most exciting thing I have ever done. The freedom and complete self-reliance is so refreshing after living in that sheltered little bubble back in my home town – I didn’t realise how small my world was until I broke out of it and saw how much more there was waiting just outside. I’ve been so busy and overwhelmed by it all that I haven’t even had a chance to feel homesick yet, I miss everyone from home but knowing they are just at the end of a Facebook message or email means they are never truly far away.

One thing I have really found from my experiences is that travelling had just further confirmed how little it takes to make me happy. Back at home, before I started saving for travelling, I used to spend my money pretty frivolously on nights out, clothes and all sorts. It never actually made me happier, it was just what I, and many others do to distract ourselves. Then I decided to go travelling and instead of spending, saving became my priority. I loved watching the pennies stack up, working several jobs to add to my stash. It showed me that cutting these nights out and all those dinner dates, clothes out of my life was not a big deal and actually it made me happier to have a goal to work towards.

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Since being out here, I’ve been living off around £15-20 a day, that includes a room, food and drink, massages, boat trips and anything else that comes my way. My best experiences so far? The ones that cost barely any money at all – watching the sun set over the islands, snorkelling with fish, eating street food with new friends, jungle trekking… I could go on. Coming to South East Asia has really helped show me the value of my money, mainly because everything is so cheap here. By converting every amount, it really makes you think about what you are spending and the bartering makes it okay to argue over every last penny.

It’s refreshing to be in a place where the goal is to spend the least amount, I always feel like the UK is all about having the newest, shiniest, most expensive brand name going. But what does it really matter? And what does it really add to your life? I remember that cycle so well, seeing something in a shop window, feeling that pull to buy it and then, when you finally have it at home, feeling guilty for your purchases. But here, I’m rendered back to basics and I love it. It’s such a freeing feeling to be out of the cycle and it makes me realise quite how ridiculous it was to be in it. It sounds cheesy and I know it’s all over those Instagram quotes, but out here you really do collect memories instead of things – I suppose when you carry everything you own on your back – memories are nice and light to carry in your mind.

But of course, there are some things I am missing from home:

  1. Toilets that flush without three buckets of water
  2. My electric toothbrush
  3. My phone working
  4. A time when I wasn’t covered in mosquito bites
  5. I genuinely cannot even think of a fifth one… That’s how much I love it here.

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What makes you truly happy? What couldn’t you live without if you were away backpacking for a year? Been away travelling – what home comforts did you miss the most?

Ab Lucy sign off

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When we arrived back, we were starving after the rubbish food on the boat so we headed straight for food. We decided to try out some crocodile skewers, which, I hate to say it, but tasted so much like chicken we were actually suspicious of whether it really was crocodile! After that, we headed to what turned out to be both of our favourite restaurants and plumped for panang curry which was amazing! Really randomly, after dinner we were wandering the streets and happened to walk past a bar where a guy was standing in the doorway. This guy I have known for around eight years after meeting him at school and I had no idea he was travelling, let alone that he was in Thailand! Complete surprise to see him there – reminds you how small the world is! The rest of the night was a blur of buckets, stupid dancing, fire shows and fun before I tiptoed into my sleeping dorm.

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The next day, me and my new pal met for a day of sunbathing, and he reckoned he was going to get me on a hike. I was less sure about this considering the 30+ temperatures! He had decided to get a tattoo of the copyright symbol on his bum in Phuket which was a little delicate for swimming, so he had to spend his day on the beach in the heat. Finally he persuaded me to walk round the beach, across the rocks to see the smaller island better. This was not the greatest idea as it turned out, I was okay in flip flops but Tibby managed to cut his foot on a rock while trying to escape some scary monkeys who cornered us. I pegged it while they grabbed at his leg, and eventually they forced us into the water to walk back to the beach – very funny and scary. They hadn’t minded us at all on the way out there, but obviously didn’t like the look of us on the way back!

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I spent the next hour or two booking my ferry to Railey for the next day, and battling the rubbish wifi to let people back home know I was alive. After very little luck with the latter, it was time to head out and meet Tibby for more buckets, fire shows and fun. We managed to find an awesome bar where an English guy was singing acoustic covers of all our favourite songs, which was a welcome distraction from the cheesy dance music pumping out of every other bar. I also met some hilarious drunk Canadians who were all too quick to tell me, in detail, abut the happy endings they had been given in the massage parlours! Another late night, but a good one. The next morning, we parted ways, him to Ao Nang and me to Railey, each ready for a new adventure.

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So my final thoughts on Phi Phi? It really depends on who you meet and what you want from the Thai islands. I didn’t come here to drink buckets and get smashed, but with the right person, you can have a good time. Without meeting Tibby, I definitely wouldn’t have enjoyed my time there as much – it was nice to meet someone who shared the same opinions of the island. It’s not the easiest to meet people there, and it does help being with a friend or in a group as most arrive with people to go out with. But don’t be put off, the boat trips are amazing from here, Maya Bay and Monkey Beach are fabulous and a welcome escape for the day, plus really great value for money. I would recommend going, because it seems wrong to miss out when you’re already in Thailand, but I wouldn’t suggest staying for more than a couple of days. I can’t understand people who go there for a longer holiday, unless they are staying on the other side of the island where it is more peaceful.

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Highlights?
1. The boat trip
2. The food in the restaurant covered in writing – don’t think it had a name
3. The very suggestive ladies outside the massage parlour by my hostel – they chased Tibby down the street offering a happy ending! Ha
4. Snorkelling
5. My partner in crime

 

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Are you enjoying my travel posts? What would you like to see more of? And if you have any recommendations for Thailand, please do share in a comment below! 

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