Melbourne- a real good time

I have been lucky enough to spend about two weeks exploring Melbourne and have come to the conclusion it is one my favourite new cities. It is diverse both in terms of urban verse nature and its people, has a great transport system and one of the most relaxed cities I have visited.

I know most people wont be lucky enough to spend so long in this great city, so I wanted to share a few must do’s that are Melbourne unique.

  • Shrine of Remembrance and Botanical gardens: this area combines the second biggest botanical garden in the world and a beautiful war memorial/museum. On a sunny day combine with a picnic its a great day out.
  • Tram 35: if you want to get to know Melbourne quick get on the free tram 35 and take a circuit of the city. It takes about 45 minutes and you will have your bearings in no time.
  • Gelato at Pipapidos: there’s always a line but it goes quick; this Gelato was on par with what I had in Florence.
  • ACMI: I love a good free museum and this audio/visual one is the best of its kind. It is super interactive, good for all ages and has some super cool gadgets to play with.
  • Brighton Beach: With its colourful sheds this is the perfect place to see sunset over the city.

Other goodies in Melbourne: hit one of the numerous roof top bars, visit the Victoria Art Centre, visit Melbourne museum and the surrounding beautiful park,
and/or hit Fitzroy for some good eats and drinks.

Outside of Melbourne: the Great Ocean road is a must do-with some of the amazing views Victoria has to offer.

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Khoa Sok-get ready for amazing views

I have been a bit laxed since getting to Thailand. I have been either chilling out in cool areas like Pii or partying on the Islands. So it was amazing to get back to one of my passions, hiking.

Khoa Sok National Park for those not planning a multi-day hike can be split into two sections

Section 1: The National Park forest trails-these are accessible via Surat Thani town. They can broadly be split into three parts.

  1. Main paths via the main entrance in town- this section is super accessible and although the forums say you need a guide they are so well laid out both in terms of the path and signage, even if you haven’t hiked before you will be fine.
  2. Advanced path via the main entrance in town-these trails are a follow through from the first section-you will see signs once you hit the restaurant. You may read on forums that you get fined without a guide-this is bullshit. It is true that the paths are more difficult and the signs are limited but if you are a semi-experienced hiker you will be fine. If however you haven’t hiked before this is where a guide will come in handy.
  3. The forgotten path via motorway 401 near the Khao Sok Valley viewpoint. This path leads to a beautiful waterfall and flora. However the paths are confusing. I went with another experienced hiker and we got very lost. Lucky we used logic and eventually made it back to a waterfall we recognised from a previous day hike. Please don’t attempt this on your own, you will need someone with experience as there is no real information online about the geography of this trial.

Section 2: The National Park lake and caves-this is accessible via the Phang Kan region.

Broadly speaking there are two ways to do this:

  1. Good old fashioned tour (please note the park entrance is 300, cave entrance 200 on top of the price you pay). From what I could see you can do a day trip or a two day with an overnight stay.
  2. Do it yourself-Really you need 4 or more people to make this work. In essence you need to get to the pier of Phang Kan. Personally I hired a scooter with a friend and drove from Surat Thani as the views are amazing. Once you get to the pier you need to negotiate a price for a private boat-don’t pay more than 2000BHT in total (500 each if four). Then sit back and enjoy a private tour for a friction of the price.

Enjoy your trip to this amazing park. Also Jungle Hut Hostel has the best beds in Thailand.

Travelers vs homemakers-Quotes

I have been travelling now for almost 10 months (10 amazing life changing months). One of the questions I often get from friends back at home aren’t you fed up with travelling now. I understand that question completely of course, but its a strange question when every new person I meet on the whole just wants to travel forever. So I thought I would try and explain the two sides via quotes.

“I would rather have a passport full of stamps than a place full of stuff”  Vs. “A man (or woman) travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it”

“I wake up each new day and wonder what I will discover next” Vs “nothing is better than going home to family and eating good food and relaxing”

“Home life is no more natural than a cage is to a Cockatoo” Vs. “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort”

“Travel makes one modest- you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world” vs “The ache for home life is in all of us , the safe place where we can go home as we are and not be questioned”

“Travelling leaves you speechless-then turns you into a storyteller” vs “Home is where one starts from”

Where do you stand on the debate?

Full Moon Party, Thailand-stripped back

So a couple of days ago I went to the full moon party on the Thai island of Koh Pha Ngan. Instead of sharing my experiences as this blog is purely PG 😉 I wanted to explain what’s it all about outside of all the hype.

Format

In its bare form its about a mile of beach, which 40k plus people descend on to have a party. The beach hosts a number of bars/clubs. From what I could tell the beach could be broken into around 4 sections.

  1. Techno/ drum & base
  2. Food stations
  3. Pop music
  4. Old school 70/80’s remixed

People

The majority of people will be tourist on the younger side, covered in body paint and will be wasted or chemically altered.

People go to have a good time, so expect people to be partying hard, and if your foot is stepped on only a few times that’s a great night.

Drinks and food

So drink prices vary a lot between bars and side streets, so if your on a budget shop around. To the most part people will be drinking buckets. Just a caveat these are super strong so unless you don’t want to remember the night pace yourself because they hit hard.

Food is a crap take on western classics e.g. pizza’s/burgers, but when your altered you don’t really care.

If substances are your thing look for locals in the side streets outside of the bars.

That’s all folks- just a piece of advice if you are older and don’t bounce back like the youngsters don’t hit the Jungle party the night before….I made that mistake.

 

Stuff I think I know-49 assumptions

Introducing my exciting new blog ‘stuff I think I know’.

Aiming to question my assumptions…

I am super excited to introduce my new blog ‘Stuff I think I know‘.

This new blog explores the things/assumptions I believe. Setting myself a challenge in 365 days to proof 49 of my assumptions.

So check out my new blog Stuff I think I know‘. I have 13 assumptions I am working on so far, so please write in widely believed assumptions and if I too believe them I will attempt to proof them.

Remember to follow us to get all the latest content as its published.

 

Koh Tao, Thailand-Paradise

I have spent about a week in Koh Tao (island on the East coast of Thailand). I have heard from a number of expats describing it as paradise, but i’m afraid I have been to nicer islands e.g. the Fiji islands. However lets not get negative because Koh Tao is definitely a place to visit.

Geography– lets start by explaining that you can ride across the island in around 15 minutes. Therefore the island activities are limited.

So in my opinion if you are not a scuba diver don’t spend more than a few days here. Those days should roughly consist of:

  • The Koh Tao bar crawl (Mon, Wed, Fri.)
  • Scooter round the island
  • Go to a beach I recommend Ao Tanote (there a cool rock jump)
  • Hike up to ‘two views’ viewpoint
  • Snorkerling trip
  • Try the amazing 995 roasted duck (so good and soooo cheap) and try the best Pad Thai I have had in Thailand at Mama’s

Now the real crown of Koh Toa is SCUBA diving. You will see endless Scuba schools and I’m told that Koh Tao is the cheapest place in the world to learn. So try something new and learn, I did and loved it. My awesome school was Roctopus.

Chiang Mai, Thailand in two days

There are some excellent guides on what to do at Chiang Mai in Thailand, the city/town has a lot to offer after all. However when you have limited time how can you choose? After eight days these are my recommendations.

Chiang Mai in two days

Day 1-AM: Tan Pra Maha Kajjana followed by some frozen yoghurt on Rachadamnoen Road.

Day 1-Afternoon:some much needed lunch at Aroy Dee, then off to Grand Canyon Waterpark (not my normal suggestion but its the best one I’ve been to).

Day 1-PM: Book on one of the many great Thai cooking classes.

Day 2-AM/Afternoon: You have to go to one of the elephant sanctuaries (please go to one of these rather than the cheaper alternatives, the elephants are so much more happy)-I personally had the best time at Elephant Land.

Day 2-PM: Hit the night market along Changklang Road, then off for some much needed food at Ploen Ruedee Night Market.

Enjoy and if you have any questions please ask

Become a child-Gibbon experience

Ziplines, a jungle and giant treehouses. Do I need to say anymore!

The Gibbon experience in Laos is based in Nam Kan national park. Although marketed as a conservation project (which it very much is) the real USP is becoming a big child again. In essence there are three options; express, class and waterfall. I choose Waterfall.

The basic makeup of waterfall

Day 1- safety and check-in at their main office, drive to Nam Kan national park, hike to a waterfall for a much needed swim, hike some more, then fly about on ziplines and sleep in an awesome tree house.

Day 2- lots of hiking, some amazing ziplining, exploring the jungle for wildlife and a new tree house to sleep in.

Day 3-a little bit of hiking, lots of ziplining flying and driving back to their main office.

Who should do it: those who love nature, hiking and being a kid.

Who shouldn’t do it: those with a low level of fitness( its difficult), those afraid of bugs and people who need mirrors/hot showers.

Sa Pa-so many choices but what to do

Those who choose to travel in the north of Vietnam are more than likely planning on visting Sa Pa to see the beautiful scenery. However the question is how to visit.

Solo– If doing it on your own make sure to have your route well mapped (there aren’t signs) and stay overnight at homestays as it makes a massive difference.

From Hanoi-there are usually two transport options; overnight bus or train. I would personally recommend the bus as its quicker, cheaper and surprisingly comfortable.

Sa Pa trip-so you decide to trek but with so many options which trip do you choose?

  1. Make sure the guide is from one of the local tribes as they will be able to explain the diffrent cultures which helps enrich the experience.
  2. Make sure the travel agency works directly with locals and not intermediate companies.
  3. Please book a package with a homestay and not a hotel. It might not be as nice but you will get amazing local food and actually get to know the locals-plus loads and loads of rice whiskey.

One final thought-I already started to see lots of industrialisation e.g. hyrdo plant. So go in the next few years as it wont be the amazing local experience soon.

Solo travel- the recharge

Getting into solo travel espeically in an unusual environment can be hard. It has a lot of ups and downs.

At the moment after 9 months on the road I am feeling drained. After all being a solo traveller takes alot of energy. You are constantly having to make new friends, usually not eating and sleeping that well and trying to maximise your experience.

For me the answer as someone inclined to be an introvert is to check-in to a hotel with my own space. Acknowledge that it’s OK  not  to feel on a constant travel high and give myself time to do nothing. Then get out of the rut and plan something sociable.

How do you deal with the travel lows?