Friday, 20 July 2018

Wait - aren't you supposed to have started your road trip by now?

I am surprised I haven't broken my computer yet - or at the very least crashed the Russian visa website. I have been constantly glued to my computer hoping that, as if by magic, my incessant checking would force the Russian embassy to process my visa faster. It has been 15 working days now, and there is still no sign of our visa. I had my hopes set high when I first went on Google to find out the average processing time. I was reassured by the fact most people said it took 5 working days. Oh, how naïvee I was to believe that now! Of course, nothing ever goes to plan when you need it. 

Thankfully, I also only just received proof of ownership from DVLA for my car to enable us to take it into the 'Stans. Admittedly, this one is not my fault. I asked my dad several times a few months back whether the car was in my name -- "Yes my dear, stop bugging me, it is definitely in your name". At the end of June, when I returned to England, I asked him to dig out the proof of ownership. "Oh," he replies, "sorry, but it's actually in the companies name - I'll have to get it changed". 

To backtrack slightly -- I should have told you, and if you know me in real life there is no way you could have escaped it -- but yes, I am driving to Mongolia (and back!) in my 2002 TD4 Freelander Land Rover with my boyfriend Harley. I only got back mid-June so we had limited time to organise everything - it turns out there was more to be done than I hoped. My car is constantly being sent away to have its air conditioning repaired, the visas have been a bureaucratic nightmare, and we had to find time to build a bed into the back of my car.


Thursday, 14 June 2018

Reflection: Travelling round-the-world 2018



As my time draws to an end, I am filled with a conflicting sense of sadness and overwhelming excitement. I have undoubtedly had some phenomenal adventures on this trip - this reminds me, since I didn't blog, I'd like to write down the key highlights to come my mind:
  • Hiked Mount Batur volcano (Indonesia), through strong winds on a loop near Mount Cook (NZ), to a beautiful view of Lake Wanaka up Mount Iron (NZ), to a lookout point over Honolulu (Louis Ridge Trail, Ohau, Hawaii) and up to the caves at Pinnacles National Park (California) -- to name a view.
  • Paddle-boarded in Gili T.
  • Learned to surf in Kuta, Bali.
  • Scuba-dived in the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkelled in Hanauma Bay, Hawaii. 
  • Saw wild seals, sea lions, dolphins, and whales as well as rattlesnakes, deer, and kangaroos in all kinds of varying climates.
  • Made incredible friends (shout-out to Andrew, Amaia, and Aaron) and watched some of the most amazing sunsets and sunrises I'll ever see in my life while touring around the South Island of New Zealand. 
  • Hitchhiked all around the North Island of New Zealand and met a whole range of people thus rediscovering how fantastic humans are.
  • Swam and stared in awe in waterfalls in Ubud, Cairns, Hawaii, and all over New Zealand. In fact, got completely soaked by one accidentally while on a boat through the Milford Sound fjord on the South Island.
  • Spent a wonderful time with my younger sister wine-tasting in Yarra Valley, cruising the ocean for 3 days, road-tripping to the Twelve Apostles, and hiking through the Grampians National Park (while narrowly avoiding being killed by a kangaroo during a 6am morning wee). 
  • Enjoyed drinks with old friends and my first ever travel buddy (Olivia) while visiting her in Brisbane. 
  • Road-tripped with my parents for the first time in years around the USA - visited the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Sequoia National Park, Yosemite, and all the way up to Sacramento to see my great-aunt and learn about our family's history.
  • Drove on the wrong side of the road for the first time (oh and nearly killed us 3 times) while touring down the Pacific Coast Highway with Matt Carabine, an old school friend from my computing class. On route visited Silicon Valley, San José, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, and LA (to name a few places!).
  • Enjoyed my first ever couchcrash experience in San Francisco where I got to meet couchsurfers from all over the world and go to CS HQ!

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Budgeting for 2 weeks in Bali

Are you taking a trip to Bali soon? Are you wondering how much you will need for a two-week vacation? Well, that is perfect timing then because I have got the low down right here! Prices are accurate as of February 2018.

Activities 
- 450k surf lesson with Pro Surf Bali.
- 400k Mount Batur, coffee plantation, rice terrace, Balinese massage with Puji Hostels
- 40k each paddle board rental for 1 hour
- 30k waterfall entrances 
= 920k (£48)

Accommodation
- £51 for 4 nights Airbnb/ Canggu (private room)
- 100k p/n * 3 for Ubud/ Puji Hostel (8 bed dorm)
-150k p/n * 2 for Gili T/ My Mates Place (3 bed dorm)
- 96k p/n * 3 for Kuta/ Kayun Hostel (8 bed dorm)
= £51 + 888k (£46) = £97

Shopping
- £10 black Billabong bikini
- £7 glasses
- £2 Sarong
- £15 green Billabong bikini set
- £10 Billabong top
= £44

Transport 
- 225k to Canggu (airport taxi)
- 35k Canggu to Ubud (split between 4 on Grab)
- 500k return to Gili Islands including transfers from ubud and back to Kuta
- 60k from kuta to airport (uber)
-55k bike rental per day * 4 Canggu, 1 Ubud, 2 Kuta = 7 days (385k)
= 1205k (£63).

Overall accommodation, activities, shopping, transport: £252.
Other/ mostly food + drink: £190. 

= £442.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Budget for 20 days on New Zealand's South Island: Route, Car Rental & Accommodation

Accommodation
·      $0: Couchsurfed in Christchurch, Kaipoura, and Nelson
·      $0: Carpark for non-contained vehicles near Lake Rotori
·      $18 pppn: Punakaiki Campsite
·      $32 pppn: Glowworm Hostel in Franz Josef
·      $36 pppn: Base Hostel in Wanaka 
·      $25 pppn based on 4 sharing: Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park
·      $24 pppn based on 4 sharing: (x 2 nights): Te Anau Kiwi Holiday Park
·      $30 pppn: (x 5 nights): Nomads Hostel in Queenstown
·      $0: Carpark near Lake Ohau
·      $28 pppn based on 3 sharing: High Country Lodge and Backpackers Motel in Twizel 
·      $7 pppn: Carpark in Mount Summers
·      $34 pppn (x 2 nights): Urbanz Accommodation in Christchurch
= $388 (£200) for 20 nights accommodation on the South Island.


Monday, 1 January 2018

2017 Year-in-review + Plans for 2018!

So in this past year, I graduated from the University of my dreams and fell straight into unemployment. Well, actually, I have been employed - many, many times. I have done every type of work possible! But nothing others would consider 'normal' or 'conventional'. I cast asides my hopes of corporate law and have decided to lead an unconventional life for now. 

When it comes to online work I have been paid to comment on tech-related articles, conducted research for the Canadian History Channel, produced a preface for an archival series on historic steamboats, proofread countless books and articles, written content guides to several counties around the UK, and written a powerpoint for an Iraqi card company to present to the British and Iraqi government to gain the business of the Kurdistan government. I mean... that's just a small sample of the random work I have been doing.

I have also completed a load of promo work - I spent a month working for Volvo as a Welcome host, handed out champagne at the opening of a sofa store in Norwich, worked for Xbox at the EGX games show, directed people around a track at a biking competition, and stood in Tescos getting customers to try Maybelline products. 

In terms of travelling, over Easter I spent time in Denmark, Barbados, and the USA (Boston, Providence, Newport, D.C.). In the summer I then travelled to the Middle East and spent a month in Isreal, Palestine, and Jordan. 


Wednesday, 6 December 2017

"I fainted in a burger shop after an overdose": 3 times I ended up in hospital abroad

Warning: Disgusting details and vomit-inducing stories ahead!


So, it turns out I have a habit of getting ill in the least convenient places in the world. Why? Well, read on to find out:


1. Yangon, Burma (2014).
Ah Burma: at the time it was possibly one of the most beautiful and friendly countries I had ever been to. But, with that said, it is not the type of place you want to have to end up taking a trip to the hospital. While the treatment is likely to be cheap, it will not necessarily be the best. 

So what happened? Well, I believe I was bitten by a spider (or spiders) in the Philippines, then every mosquito bite I got after that somehow got severely infected! I had about 10 of them over my body, and every time I accidentally knocked them against anything, the bites exploded and pus just went everywhere. It felt like they were never going to stop spreading and I was in a constant state of agony. 

After some internal debate on what was the best move, I was fortunate enough to track down an international private clinic. Here, I was treated by two doctors and a nurse, and it only cost £40 for the consultation, cleaning, dressing, and two swabs to be sent off and analysed. I was told not to leave Yangon for three days before my results came, but I had only gone to Burma to see Bagan, so I cut my trip there short and made it back in time for the results and medication. 

The worst part is that I had delayed my flight back to the UK for two weeks because I wanted to learn to dive in Koh Tao, but after developing this infection I was told not to go in water for one month - my hopes of diving were over! Thankfully, I ended up in Thailand back in the summer of 2016 and squeezed it in then, but it was very upsetting at the time (first world problems). I also still have the scars on my legs today. (Before and after pictured below).