Goodbye Australia

With my flight back to England fast approaching, I had to make the most of my time in Australia. Melbourne is a fantastic city and I had met some lovely people but I had also seen and done so much already in Melbourne and I wasn’t quite sure what else I
could do to fill my time.  Money was running very low and so I very easily came to the decision that I would like to spend my last full week relaxing in the sun, back up north in Airlie
. I really enjoyed the few days I had previously spent in Airlie Beach and knew this is where I wanted to be. After a lot of internet time, I found a very cheap return flight and set off for Airlie Beach.

I flew into Hamilton Island Airport which meant an hour’s ferry crossing over to Airlie Beach and as soon as
I stepped off the ferry I could feel the lovely Australian heat. Wearing black jeans and black t-shirt (the weather in Melbourne at 5am is not very warm) and backpack on back I took the 20 minute walk to Nomads Hostel, where I had pre-booked 2 nights, due to the
fact that it had a swimming pool. By the time I arrived, I was soaked in sweat but had a huge smile on my face as I knew instantly I had made the right decision.

I spent the week just as planned, jogging every morning, swimming in the lagoon and sunbathing by the hostel pool. Being on a very tight budget I went shopping with $30 and bought a supply of food for the week. It is amazing what dishes a backpacker on a budget can come up with. I met so many more lovely friends and spent my last precious nights partying with
them. I spent my last night with Alice from England and Jimmy from Sweden and not wanting my time in Airlie Beach to be over, we partied through the night until it was time to get my ferry. No sleep and a quick shower I set off on the 20 minute walk in the
morning heat back to the ferry. I was sad to leave Airlie Beach but I still had 3 days in Melbourne before the dreaded flight home.

And what a lovely 3 days in Melbourne
I had. I was lucky enough to be able to stay with Dan and his housemates again which meant I was able to accept an invite to The Australian Open with Alan (Dan’s housemate) and his friends. The Australian Open is a major tennis tournament held annually in January in Melbourne. It was the first day of the Open and I was fortunate enough to see some big tennis names playing or practicing. We were at the match where Ana Ivanovic won her first game and we saw R.Nadal and Hewitt practice. It was also the first day of the start of a heat wave for Melbourne. You can imagine my delight! I spent my last day in Australia on the beach of St Kilda in the 43 degree heat and watched the beautiful sunset over
Melbourne city.








I will never forget my fabulous Christmas of 2013!

A few weeks ago Christmas was just an inconvience making my travels complicated and expensive. I had always planned to be on a beach on Christmas day, regardless of the weather and whether I was alone with a good book or with new friends, but I can now say I had the best Christmas!

I booked back into Base Hostel in St Kilda for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so that I could be by the beach. I met up with Julia, the Brazilian girl I had met on my first day in Melbourne and we sat on a grass area opposite the beach drinking in the sun and chatting with the many others doing the same.

As the sun was setting we got ready to go into the city to spend the evening with a group of French girls Julia had met. They lived in an apartment in the city and put on a buffet and we sat chatting and drinking for hours. We then went to a bar in the city where we finished the night.

Waking up Christmas morning did not feel strange at all. I think I am that content in hostels they must feel like home! I woke up, cheerily wished my room mates merry Christmas and tried to facetime friends and family. I was only able to get through to 2 of my friends as they had just got home from a night out, it was so nice speaking and laughing with them and once I had spoken with them
I was even more cheerful. I went downstairs to have breakfast and started speaking with a guy and 10 minutes later we were arranging the day at the beach. By 12pm I was sat in 34 degree heat on the sand surrounded by hundreds of people in swimwear and Santa hats, sat with a great bunch of people with the music blaring and the alcohol flowing! It is amazing how a “good morning, merry Christmas, what’s your name?” can lead to when you are backpacking!

At 3pm it was time for Christmas dinner. I had paid the hostel $20 and myself and 40 (plus) backpackers sat together enjoying turkey with all the trimmings and pulling crackers with new friends. It was not long before I was back at the beach partying with a new bunch of great people until an amazing sunset. We enjoyed the sunset together and as they began to disperse I was invited over to party with another great bunch of people. By midnight there was 3 of us left standing and so we made our way to a club to see in Boxing Day morning.

My alarm was set for 8am Boxing Day as I had booked myself onto a tour to visit the set of Neighbours. Neighbours is an Austrslian TV programme which is very popular in England. It was extremely popular back in the 80’s and as a child I was a huge fan. I have not seen the show for about 15 years but I wanted to visit the set as it was a big part of my childhood. Admittedly I did not recognise much but I did recognise the houses and the street and that was enough to make me happy. I spent the rest of Boxing Day window shooping at City Docklands, watching some of the Ashes (cricket) on the big outdoor TV screen in Federation Square and walking around the city.

I met some wonderful people and I will never forget my fabulous Christmas of 2013.













Melbourne – Australia’s Cultural Capital

544 miles from Sydney and a 17 hour bus journey is Melbourne, ‘Australia’s cultural capital’ and (what should be) my last destination before flying back home to England.

I was lucky enough to be invited to stay with a friend of a friend whilst in Melbourne, but for my first night I booked a bed at Base Hostel in St Kilda. I have grown to love hostels as they are a great way of meeting like-minded people and with Christmas approaching I felt it would be nice to meet more people. St Kilda is also Melbourne’s most famous beach and when I booked my ticket to go travelling the one thing I knew I wanted the most, was to be on the beach on Christmas Day.

When I arrived in Melbourne I was greeted by a dark sky and pouring rain. The bus dropped me off in the city and I had to make my way to St Kilda. I knew there was a tram that would take me there but having never used a tram before it was a long process. First I had to find the correct tram stop and then I had to find somewhere that sold tickets as you cannot buy them onboard. After a 17 hour bus journey, walking around with my backpack and 2 other bags in the pouring rain wasn’t much fun. But as soon as I arrived at the hostel I was greeted with a friendly face who let me check into my room early for a shower & change of clothes. When you have spent the past 2 nights on a bus and had your morning wash in McDonalds this is ‘Christmas come early!’

After a hot shower and a chat with the people in my dorm I set off to explore. St Kilda Beach reminds me of the beaches back in England. There is a theme park called Luna Park situated in front of the beach and although the sea is clean and clear it is more of a grey colour than a nice bright blue and with the dull sky, it really felt like England. I had met a girl from Brazil, Julia ,at breakfast and we were to go on a free walking tour of the city. Unfortunately we didn’t make the tour on time so we wondered around the city ourselves and came across the Exhibition Centre where a James Bond exhibtion was being held. We then wondered through the streets of Fitzroy, home to lots of quaint and quirky shops and cafes. It was then back to the hostel where I had a few drinks with my room mates.

At 10am my friends friend, Dan, came to collect me. Dan lives in Richmond which is about 5 miles from St Kilda. The weather was still dull and so we went to Chadstone Shopping Centre, the biggest shopping centre in Australia!

After 2 months in hostels, it was nice to be in someones home with a home cooked meal and a double bed in a room all by myself. But, the following day it would be back to the hostel for Christmas celebrations…




Fraser Island, where nature is your playground

My first day in Rainbow Beach was not so great. After another long bus journey I arrived to heavy rain which lasted all day. Even though it was raining I still did my usual thing of getting lost and exploring my new surroundings but there wasn’t much to see, just a parade of shops and about 3 hostels and a beach. I then spent the rest of the day watching movies in my hostel, Pippies.

The following day was much better, the sun was out and I went for a morning jog along the beautiful coastline then sunbathed on the beach before my 2pm meeting to discuss my camping trip;

3 days and 2 nights on the worlds largest sand island – Fraser Island.

The meeting was to advise us of the dangerous animals, especially Dingos and how to drive on the island. We were then split into 4 groups of 8 and these people would be who I would be sharing the 4×4 and cooking with. I was very fortunate to be put in a great group, 5 lads from Belgium and Germany and 2 girls from England. After the meeting we set off in our groups to do our food & alcohol shopping for the 3 day trip. We spent $26 each which provided us with breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks and luckily we bought just enough to last us.

The next morning we all gathered around our cars for a few final tips and then we made our way to the ferry to take us across to Fraser Island. Once on Fraser Island the fun began immediately. Always following the lead vehicle driven by our guide Brett, the first driver of our car, Benni, raced us along the long stretch of sand dodging waves and rocks. We then swapped drivers twice whilst driving inland up and down sandy tracks surrounded by forrest. The forrest was amazing, especially when you remember that there is no soil on the island at all, just pure sand. After a few hours of crazy bumpy driving we arrived at Lake Mackenzie.

Lake Mackenzie, originally named Booroongora, is a huge lake made of pure fresh rainwater. The sun was blazing and so it was a welcome relief to jump into the fresh clean pure water. We spent a few hours here before it was my time to drive! I was nervous to begin with, as I haven’t driven for a few months, it was an automatic which I had never driven before and I was going to be driving on sand. Once I got going though, it was so much fun and easier than I thought.

Heading further north after some lunch we stopped at the shipwreck S.S Maheno. The Maheno was a luxury passenger ship and also used as a medical ship in World War I. The shipwreck will stay in the same spot until nature takes it away.

Another driver took to the wheel and we headed for camp. Pippies Tag Along Tours have a campsite permenantly set up and so all we had to do was choose a tent, crack open a beer and start cooking dinner. Our group had decided on bbq for the first night and so we had a lovely feast of meats and salad. After food, the alcohol took control and we all started chatting easily and then started playing drinking games and ended the night dancing around the campsite.

The next day my group were severly hungover but luckily we knew we were in the tour guides car that day so we didn’t have to drive. Instead we were able to relax and enjoy the day. First stop was the Champagne Pools, this is actually the sea but rocks are placed in a way that the waves crash over them and then the sea water forms lots of little bubbles, hence the name Champagne Pools. After a nice refreshing swim we then headed for Indian Head. This is a huge cliff face where the original natives of the island spotted Captain Cooks ship approaching the island. We sat on top of the cliff for a while watching Mantaray and Turtles gliding through the waters below us.

After a spot of lunch it was on to Eli Creek. Eli Creek is a flow of fresh water on the beach pushed out by natural springs further in the island. The power of the springs pushing the water out creates a natural flow which enables you to slowly float down the shallow creek. Our tour guide provided us with rubber rings which added to the fun.

Another night was spent in camp (after sandboarding down the sand dunes) eating and chatting and I also had an encounter with a Dingo! We had seen a Dingo in camp the night before but it just looked at us and walked away. This time I was coming out of the shower block alone when the Dingo came out of the bushes and started walking towards me. I doubt it would have done me any harm but it was not worth the risk. I calmly shouted back to the girls in the showers to open the door quick and I slowly walked backwards into the block. I waited 5 minutes and then we all walked out together, by this time the Dingo had moved on. Phew!

The last day on the island was spent at Lake Wabby, a lake formed in the sand dunes. It was once one big lake, but over years more sand dunes have formed, creating smaller seperate lakes. Again this was fresh water and after a long, hot, tiring 40 minute walk into the island and across sand dunes it was a beautiful welcoming lake. A lovely end to such a great weekend.

Our tour guide Brett was brilliant, so knowledgable, passionate, relaxed and good fun, I would definately recommed this tour to anyone travelling the East Coast.

So much fun and so much beauty on one island where nature is your playground.














Sailing the Tropical Waters of Whitsundays

Sometimes I surprise even myself. 2 nights and 3 days onboard the S V Whitehaven, a 17.5 metre yacht, is not something I ever saw myself doing. But the offer of cruising tropical waters of the Whitsundays, (the Whitsunday Islands are a collection of continental islands off the central coast of Queensland, north of Brisbane), sunbathing on the open deck, snorkelling coral bays and stepping on the beautiful sand of Whitehaven Beach was an opportunity I could not miss out on.

A very expensive $400 paid for 3 days and 2 nights and food on the boat, use of kayaks and snorkel gear and also 3 nights accommodation at Airlie Beach Waterfront Backpackers.

We set sail on Friday morning after meeting the 3 crew members and the other 24 passengers I was to spend my time with onboard, all of whom where really nice. We were given a safety talk and then it was 3 hours of sailing to reach Whitehaven Beach. The weather was perfect and we spent the 3 hours sunbathing and getting to know eachother.

Arriving at Whitehaven Beach, the largest of the 74 islands, the boat moored up and we jumped into the speed boat to take us over to the island. After a short walk through a wooded area we stepped onto a beautiful beach with miles of pure white sand and beautiful blue water. We spent a few hours here taking photos, sunbathing and playing frisbee and then we took a walk up to a viewpoint to witness a beautiful scene. The tide had started to go out and the clear blue sea gave way to swirls of white sand and in the shallow waters you could see Stingrays gliding through the water. Beautiful.

The next 2 days were spent sailing and stopping off at various coral bays for snorkelling and kayaking, with each coral bay getting more colourful and a wider range of marine life swimming around.

The food on the boat was amazing, lots of it and also snacks inbetween meals meaning I never went hungry. The crew were very knowledgeable and each evening they would sit with us and talk through the islands, coral bays and marine life we had seen.

My main concern about sailing was suffering with sea sickness. It isn’t something I normally suffer with but I had never been on a boat overnight, but luckily I was fine and loved every minute of it. The cabins were very hot and the beds rather slim but all in all very comfortable and opening your eyes in the morning looking through the porthole to see the sun and sea is a picture I will never forget. At night we would all sit around drinking and chatting under the bright stars. I was lucky to have a lovely bunch of people onboard and met some great personalities.

After the sailing trip I stayed in Airlie Beach for 3 more days. It is a beautiful beachside town popular with backpackers. The sea is inhabited by jellyfish from November to May. But there is a big swimming lagoon on the shore similar to the lagoon in Cairns. There is also an area of the sea sectioned off by nets. I spent my days in Airlie running, swimming, bush walking and meeting more great people. But once again, lots of goodbyes as I set off further down the east coast on a 14 hour overnight bus. Next stop Rainbow Beach.











Where Rainforest meets Great Barrier Reef

“Asia is all about culture & history, Australia is more about nature and beauty”. These were the words of a fellow traveller I met in Indonesia and in my first week in Australia I was able to witness the beauty of nature myself.

Daintree Rainforest is the oldest known rainforest in the world and the edge of the rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef, so whilst standing on the golden sandy beaches of Cape Tribulation I was able to marvel at 2 of the worlds natural wonders at the same time. Pretty amazing.

I had already snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef and so it was time to explore the rainforest. Our guide led us into the rainforest following a guided path until we came to a stream. We were told we could swim in it as it was perfectly safe but we weren’t warned about the strong current! I got into the cold but refreshing water and started swimming about, then I spotted a big rock which the sun was shining on so thought I woud swim over to it to warm up. As I put my hand on the rock the strong current suddenly pushed me away and was pulling me along down stream. I was really struggling to fight against the current but finally found a calm spot and used all my strength to swim and pull myself out. I was pretty worried for a while but now all I can do is laugh at the thought of me bobbing down stream in the worlds oldest rainforest! That’s not something that happens every day!

After our swim we were ushered back to the minivan after what was about just a 10 minute walk in the rainforest! I was not impressed. Luckily, the tour we was on could be done in one day or split over 2 days so you could spend the night in the rainforest. We opted for staying over and so we had the opportunity of experiencing more of the rainforest. We stayed in a hostel which was made up of little huts in the forrest and we had booked a night walk. Although the night walk cost us an extra 40AUD (about £22) it was worth it. Our guide took us into the forrest following only natural paths, once we were deep in the forrest he asked us all to turn off our torches. I was waiting for my eyes to adjust to the dark so I could start to see objects but it was so extremely dark it was impossible to see anything and because the trees tower higher than the eye can see I couldn’t even see the stars! We stood in the rainforest in pitch black for about 5 minutes just listening to all the different sounds. At first I was really scared but then I was just mesmorised. After a few minutes I began to see fire flies flitting about and then I noticed the luminous fungi! It was all around us, sparkling. It reminded me of the sea plankton in Cambodia. It was quite a magical sight. When the torches went back on we continued our walk and along the way we spotted a Forrest Dragon, (only found in the Daintree Rainforest), a yellow and red frog, many Huntsman spiders, a huge Brown Tree Snake and lots of other weird and wonderful creatures.

The following day we cruised along the Daintree River and was fortunate enough to spot a few crocodiles along the riverbank. It really was amazing seeing all these animals in their natural habitats and not behind a glass at the zoo.

I spent a week in total in Cairns, I met some lovely girls from England and Canada and had a great last night at the Woolshed which is a popular backpackers club.

After more goodbyes I set off on my own again for the next part of my trip.









Singapore Sights

After nearly a month of travelling I came across my first scam, but before you worry, they didn’t get away with it. Paula and I booked bus tickets from Malaysia to Singapore. We wanted to be dropped at a particular place and only 2 buses offered this. Unfortunately they were premium buses and were more expensive but it meant we had luxury seats. Very exciting for a traveller who has endured hours and hours on awful buses. So for 30 Singapore Dollars (£15) we booked our seats and arrived at the bus station in good time for the 3pm bus. We collected our tickets at the booth and after half hour wait and watching what looked like our bus drive past, we were ushered onto a bus. Luckily Paula noticed it wasn’t our premium bus. We took our bags off the bus and went back to the ticket booth, the lady said our bus had crashed and they had to put us on the standard bus. They hadn’t advised us of this and we would never have known that it would only drop us at the border and cost other passengers 40 Malaysian Ringgit (£7)!! They were not prepared to refund us but thankfully Paula stood her ground and threatened to call the Police. Suddenly we had a full refund. We knew we saw our bus leave, it had the bus name we booked, it had the seats the internet described and it left at 3pm!

We left the bus station and got the train to the next bus station where thankfully we were able to buy tickets for a bus leaving at 5.30pm and only cost us £7.

On a good note, everything happens for a resson. On the bus we met 2 guys from Singapore who were extremeley friendly and keen to tell us lots about Malaysia and Singapore. We met up with them again one night and they took us to see the Singapore skyline by night and then to get food. On a little street nestled between skyscrapers the road is closed off at night for street food vendors. The place was obviously very popular with locals and it was great to sit and listen and learn about their country and neighbouring Malaysia.

Singapore is like another world compared to Thailand and Cambodia. And although it was nice to walk around clean and safe streets admiring the expensive shops and buildings, 3 days was enough, especially on a backpackers budget and backpackers clothing! I did have a wonderful time visiting the zoo and getting to see my favourite animal, the polar bear and treating ourselves to a day at Universal Studios on Sentosa Island.

Having to say goodbye to yet another great travel buddy, I booked a rather expensive flight direct to Lombok in Indonesia and was about to set off on my own once again…








Fun in Chiang Mai

4 nights in Bangkok and it was time to head north to Chiang Mai. A group of friends I had met in Bangkok were also heading the same way and so we booked our night bus for £9 from an agents on Koh San Road and set off on the overnight trip. We decided to find a hostel on arrival. With the arrival time being 5.30am, this was not as easy as we thought, but after an hour or so we agreed on a little guesthouse named Darets at a price of 100bht (£2.14). The room was very basic with no common area so we decided to stay for one night only. The following 3 nights we spent in Deejai Backpackers at a price of 175baht (£3 approx.)for aircon and the last night at 80baht (less than £2) for a fan.

On my first day I explored the city and was quick to notice Chiang Mai was so much quieter and cleaner than Bangkok and the local people were so happy and friendly.

To the amusement of friends and family back home, who know I do not like to spend time in the kitchen, I took an evenings Thai cookery class and I really enjoyed it! The chef took us to the local market and did a ‘show and tell’ of some of the ingredients we would be using. Back at the kitchen we chose which dishes we wanted to cook. I chose, spring rolls, chicken in coconut soup, Chiang Mai noodles & chicken curry and stir-fry chicken and cashew nuts. My dishes turned out perfect, (yes, we got to eat everything we made), with the exception of me adding too much lime to my soup. Whoops! The class was carried out by Baanthai Cookery School and cost 700baht. Which included transport and a receipe book.

The following day it was time to work off all that food and I set off on an all day trek which included a stop at a waterfall where we could cool off. The rocks were so smooth we were able to slide down the waterfalls. So much fun. After a 40 minute elephant ride we were taken to the river and this is where it got even more fun – white water rafting! This was my first time and I was really nervous to begin with, but once I hit the first rapid the adrenaline kicked in and it was fantastic.

My last day in Chiang Mai I wanted to visit Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep which is one of the most famous temples in Thailand, and is situated high up the mountain. A tuk tuk would charge around 500bht to drive you up there but luckily for me a guy who works at the hostel offered to take me and my friend there. The temple was as lovely as expected, but another spectacular vision was waiting for me further down the mountain – Wat Palad! This temple is not likely to be found in travel books, but I was lucky enough to have my own personal tour guide who had actually spent time there living with the Monks. The temple was built as a rest point for Monks making the journey by foot up to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep and is hidden away from the main road and built amongst a soothing natural waterfall. This temple is by far, the most authentic, majestic, peaceful, temple I have seen, and I have seen many many temples. I jus wish the pictures did it better justice.

This was a fantastic end to my time in Chiang Mai but I had one more thing I wanted to do – a traditional bamboo tattoo to remind me of my travels. I chose to have a small Lotus flower on my hip; the Lotus is an important flower in Thailand and in the minds of the Buddhists, the flower stands for purity of spirit. Although it is rooted in mud, the plant is able to rise up above the dirty water and yield a flower of such perfect beauty and purity.

And so, after some great experiences and fun nights spent with new friends it was time to head west, to Pai.










Bangkok life!

My first morning in Bangkok I woke up to the loudest thunder, brightest lightening & heaviest rain I have ever heard, but by 12 noon the storm had passed leaving it very hot and humid. A little uncomfortable, but to me this jus adds to the great atmosphere of Bangkok.

I had estimated to spend 3 nights in Bangkok but have just booked an extra night here at Napark Hostel. I met a great bunch of people on my first day and its been non-stop since. On the first day we walked to Wat Pho which is a beautiful temple in Bangkok and home to the Sleeping Buddha. Entrance fee 100bht. We did originally set out to see the Grand Palace, but got lost and ended up here instead!

The following day me and Rachel headed out early to the Umbrella Market and the Floating Market. The Umbrella market was unusual to say the least! The market traders set up stalls along the rail track and when the train comes they put down their unbrellas until it passes. Of all the places they could set up market, why here, I have still yet to research!
The floating market was another interesting experience, traders trade from their longtail boats on the river and although this an historic market it has now become a tourist trap. But if its helps the Thai people earn money then there is nothing wrong with tourist traps in my opinion. We had to pay an additional 150bht to cruise along the river market, but I was happy to pay this as the experience was one of a kind.

This trip cost 350bht. I booked it through a travel agent I came across whilst out walking.

Napark Hostel is a brilliant starting point, its safe, clean, friendly and central. A bit more expensive than others but a great place to meet your first set of travel buddies.

My first 4 days has been everything I expected and I am really enjoying myself.