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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Starting 2014 as I mean to go on.....

Another huge break in my blogging but I have very good reason. I am just waiting to board my 11th flight in less than four months, I can't count how many places I've been in each of those countries I've visited and I'm absolutely loving it, having the time of my life.

I have become an expert packer and I'm a total pro with a backpack now. It definitely took awhile but now I have it so what I need in one place is on top, or I can access it easily. Of course you can get one with all the little zips and pockets to compartmentalise but those are more expensive, no doubt about it. If you need tips on this sort of stuff I follow https://twitter.com/nomadicmatt and I find him absolutely awesome for info on the road.  I think I did ok in my original packing - two pairs of jeans,  one pair of shorts, a pair of leggings, couple of summer dresses, a rain jacket/windbreaker and waterproof hiking pants - alot of rollable items that don't crease! BRING tampons ladies, they don't seem to be available in many places in South-East Asia or Sri Lanka. If you're passing through Thailand you can buy EVERYTHING on a budget, including any pills you need for sleeplessness etc. I met a guy who arrived in Bangkok with a plastic bag, great call. Leave space, you can always buy things. The night market in Luang Prabang is great for t-shirts (surprisingly good quality), bags, gifts. You can buy hoodies in any market in Thailand. Before you leave, if you're in Europe near a Tchibo store - they have good, reasonably priced hiking shoes which have seen me through 3 mountain climb/hikes (upto 3,500m - can't vouch for above or icy conditions).

So, I rang in the New Year in Chiang Mai, Thailand beside the Iron Bridge watching more fireworks than I've ever seen (yes, even in Dubai) and a sky full of Chinese lanterns. I was surrounded by amazing people, including some family (my aunt Helen and Uncle Tony were visiting from Seoul and my cousin, Alex is now living in CM) and the whole night cost me about 8 euro, including two song-teow, a plate of food and copious amounts of alcohol. I even had a man to kiss at midnight ;)

Australia Day was spent in Perth, having a barbie beside a pool with a group of Irish people! Alot of fun but I've had more Aussie 'Straya Day's in Dubai down at Barasti. Interesting seeing a whole Irish community 20, 000km from home. Waitangi Day was fun in Wellington, less of a celebratory feel than other national holidays but some very friendly Kiwi's about nonetheless.

Chinese New Year I spent in Brisbane and it was a nice dose of culture, although I'm sure it would have been much better in Melbourne, Singapore or Bangkok.

I learnt many things about being on the road  - it's cliched to say always expect the unexpected but I can't stress it enough. There will be quibbles, mess-ups and emergencies (try overbooked hostels, buses that don't have your name on the list, running over a kerb in your friend's lovely car!!) and next time I would have an EMERGENCY fund of about $1000 (AUD/USD) for these things... but credit cards come to the rescue.

In New Zealand I've finally understood the phrase "It's not about the destination, it's about the journey."  It's the one country that taking a bus in really rewards you, I just wish I could have stopped every half hour to explore!

In Perth I had people offer to walk me two blocks to show me where I needed to get to, stop on the street for a chat, on the Gold Coast I made friend's with a cockatoo, I finally held a koala in Lone Pine Sanctuary, petted a kangaroo and on Rottnest Island I got up close and personal with a quokka, a rare marsupial with the cutest face. My experiences are increasing everyday and I honestly couldn't be happier.

I keep getting told I'm "so brave," for travelling alone (as a girl). No one seems to ask the men. This is brief but I like it - another solo female traveller
http://www.trishavelarmino.com/2014/01/an-open-letter-to-solo-female-travelers.html?utm_content=buffer25a56&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
People tell me they admire me, which is nice but really it's a little selfish and I'm ok with that. I've got to the point where I'm doing what I like in my life and I'm really embracing it. I don't regret not doing this when I was younger, now I know that you get more out of the day by getting up earlier and I'm not throwing up over the side of the boat because I drank too many shots last night and can't appreciate the dolphins. Don't get me wrong - I still party VERY hard, anyone that knows me will attest to this - I just pick and choose my times more carefully, most of the time. (There have been a few write-off days and I've been hungover in more airports in the last two months than most people have probably been in airports in the last year!)

So, I will catch up on my blogs and keep reading all of yours, but if you're going to do anything this year - book a holiday somewhere you've never been - it's not about the money - you can go 100km away in your own country and have a walking tour, and remember "Travel is the only thing you can buy which makes you richer."

A very late (but not so much for Chinese) Happy New Year.

Some cool travel peeps on twitter
@LeanItinerant
@theintlwanderer
@LiveTravelling
@Wegotwo
@Just1WayTicket