logo

image

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

image

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.

image

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.

image

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

 

image

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.

image

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!

image

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!

image

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.

image

 

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

image

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.

image

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.

image

 

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

image

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.

image

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!

image

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.

image

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.

image

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

 

image

 

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! 

Ab Lucy sign off

 

image

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?

image

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.

image

Thinking about travelling solo but scared to take the first step? Tell me about your fears and let me reassure you…

Ab Lucy sign off

image

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.

imageimage

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.

imageimageAfter 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.imageimage

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.imageimage

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? 

Ab Lucy sign off

image

  1. Forget about a normal sleeping pattern for the day – don’t be one of those people who moan about having to get up early or late because time doesn’t really exist in this odd little day of travelling across time zones. I always say treat it like a day where you will sleep terribly and in small doses, you will be completely exhausted and won’t be able to catch up with yourself until you have had a day of normality again. This also means, it is totally okay to nap at any time of the day – grab some zzz’s while you can!

  2. Alcohol is acceptable at any time of the day – particularly because of the different time zones, totally okay to have a whiskey for breakfast.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

image

 

How about you guys – any rules you fancy adding to the list? Leave me a comment with your suggestions! 

Ab Lucy sign off

 

image
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?

image

  1. It really is one of the friendliest cities I have ever been to – the people are amazing, generous, kind and endlessly helpful. After a 14 hour flight you really need a bit of help to make the rest of your journey as simple as possible and I couldn’t have had a better taxi driver who took me to the door of my hotel, but who also made the effort to chat and offer recommendations on the drive there. It was great to get advice from someone who knows the city on what sights to see, how is best to get around and that kind of thing. It also gave a great start to my time then, I instantly felt welcome and the following days brought more of the same.

image

  1. A slight disappointment was the skyline as we approached from the airport. I wasn’t the only one to be surprised that there wasn’t really much of a view from the taxi window, a few other travellers mentioned it as well. I think we kind of expected the views you get on the drive into New York or Dubai – huge, masterful buildings that impress and excite you – I was rather underwhelmed by the view but the city made up for it later on.

  2. 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!)

image

  1. The city itself? Bangkok is nuts. Simple as that. There is so much going on, so many sights, smells, tastes, sounds – it is a total attack of the senses that just leaves you gobsmacked. I loved it. It’s very busy, but has none of the hustle and bustle of London, it’s so much more laid back and all about fun. In the day, Bangkok is kind of non-existent, although I did have a great day out on the river and sightseeing, but it is at night that the city truly comes alive – as we travellers all kept saying to each other – anything can happen in Bangkok. You can totally see why The Hangover 2 was set here – it’s the only place as crazy as Vegas that could provide a backdrop for a story that ridiculous! The shopping is fab, the massages are so good and the food is incredible.

  2. 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!

image

  1. You suddenly realise how overly safety conscious Brits are – in Thailand, health and safety is nothing but a fleeting thought and yet it’s easy to feel completely safe. The streets are so busy that you are never alone or feel very vulnerable – easy to lure you into a false sense of security (watch your bag) and I find it hilarious that the taxis all have seat belts but you’re not able to use them – don’t get me started on the scooters and tuk tuks!

  2. 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.

image

 

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! 

Ab Lucy sign off

 

 

imageOf 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.90s 2image90s 3 imageimage imageOf 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.90simage90s 4image90s 1imageOf 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.90s 5

Have you had a 90’s party? Who would you dress up as? What’s the hardest goodbye you’ve had?

Ab Lucy sign off

sun 3As 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. sun 2sun 1I 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.IMG_7416sunrise 1This 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.spa paniniI 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.relax

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?

Ab Lucy sign off

love mapAs 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.markI’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.sgp 4

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?

Ab Lucy sign off

Get Exclusive Access

When you sign up you will also get a FREE eBook - 50+ Easy Ways To Save Up To £10k For Travel

digital nomad visas
© 2024 Absolutely Lucy
Designed by Choose Purple
chevron-down