I turn 24 this week, and I thought I’d mark the occasion by remembering all the things that made my 23rd year on this beautiful Earth memorable. Continue reading “Me at 23 – Reflections On The Year”
A couple of months ago I visited Somerset House for their most recent visiting exhibition – Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent. Always up for trying new things, and especially when art is involved I was eager to visit (and sniff!) this exhibition as soon as I came across it. Continue reading “What To Do This Week In London – Perfume at Somerset House”
A couple of months ago I spontaneously booked a weekend away in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic and at long last my late summer mini-break came around at the beginning of September. Here you’ll find what I managed to cram into my weekend and what can be achieved on a budget friendly, two-day visit. Continue reading “A Weekend In Prague – 2 Day Itinerary”
I’ve seen articles, posters, and all types of merchandise using “Catch Flights Not Feelings” as a motto to comment on the idea of motivating young people to explore the world and visit new places, instead of looking to develop an emotional connection to someone and committing to staying put in the pursuit of emotional stability from a relationship.
Sounds cool right? Rebellious almost, to defy conventional standards of searching for a partner and instead searching for an adventure. Continue reading “Catch Flights Not Feelings – Why Not Both?”
As a traveller, and especially while backpacking, you’re blessed to meet many wise, wonderful, and wacky people. Here are a few of the stereotypical personalities that I stumbled across in my experience. What personality types stand out for you on your travels? Continue reading “All The Travellers You Meet On A Gap Year”
Any trip away is met with a panic about taking your most treasured items away from their home, and I’m sure I’m not the only one to get paranoid about whether you’ll be the unlucky story of that person who’s luggage went missing, or whose belongings were stolen, lost, or left behind. While there is a certain amount of chance involved in these situations, I found a few preventative measures helped to put my mind at ease, and at least when I did eventually end up in crisis situations I felt a little better equipped to handle it!
We all get holiday blues on return from travelling, and having been home I’ve seen plenty of friends and colleagues visit the beautiful places I experienced. Besides the obvious envy over the wonderful time they’ve had I’ve been wondering what I would have done differently and what I wish I could see again in more detail. Of course, I wouldn’t change my trip for anything, it was perfect in its occasionally chaotic way! Even at the time I worried about missing out on particular hidden gems and experiences, but with limited time and on a backpacker budget choices always must be made about the priorities of your activities. So, where would I return to see and do more? How has this impacted what places I miss most? Here’s a quick run-down! Continue reading “Should You Revisit Countries You Miss?”
We’ve seen the best things I’m glad I packed in my (not literal) suitcase, and the things I regret lugging about, so what did I find a burning need for? What was I kicking myself over NOT packing? Crossing over with the previous parts, here are a few of the unexpected items I wish I’d had to hand!
As my wanderlust itch is never satisfied, I’ve decided to follow an idea I’ve seen before and curate a collection of ideas to inspire my future travel plans and bucket list goals for around the world. I’ve included those which I’m lucky enough to have already crossed off, and the list is by no means complete as I imagine I’ll continue to add more and more when inspirations hits, and when I’m reminded of something amazing I’ve already done! Suggestions are most certainly welcome – sharing is caring!
- See the Northern Lights
Climb Mount Doom See Fairy Penguins on Philip Island, Australia Visit New Zealand(not for the last time that’s for sure!) Visit the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
- Helicopter ride over NYC
- See the geysers in Iceland
Swim in the Great Barrier Reef See the 12 Apostles
- Boat ride through the fjords of Norway
- Visit Machu Picchu
- See the Grand Canyon at sunset
- Visit the Canadian Rockies
- See the Taj Mahal, India
Pet a kangaroo Hold a koala
- Go whale watching
- Ride a tram around Lisbon
- Stay in a 5* hotel (anywhere!)
See the sun rise at Angkor Wat
- Attend La Tomatina in Valencia
- Eat Swedish meatballs in Sweden
- Cuddle a wombat
- Reach the top of “Stairway to Heaven” in Hawaii
- See the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City
Eat churros in Spain
- Walk on the Great Wall of China
- Hike through Yellowstone National Park
- See Mount Fuji, Japan
Visit Anne Frank’s house
- Attend a Holi Festival
Take a boat trip through Halong Bay Eat gelato in Italy
- See Giant’s Causeway, Ireland
- Stay at the Ice Hotel
- Sled in Finland
- Walk along the salt flats in Bolivia
- See Pink Lake, Australia
- Attend the Field of Light at Ayers Rock, Australia
- See the bioluminescent plankton in the Maldives
- Feed the flamingos at Flamingo Beach, Aruba
- See the penguins at Boulders Beach, South Africa
- Glacier Hike on Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand
Take the tourist shot in front of the leaning tower of Pisa Visit Auschwitz, Poland
- See the sunrise at Bagan, Myanmar
- Drink at a jazz bar in New Orleans
- See The Wave, Arizona
- Explore a market in Marrakech
- See Iguazu Falls, Argentina
- Hike to Crater Lake, Oregon
- Feed the monkeys at Monkey Forest, Bali
Island hop in Fiji Touch the Sydney Opera House
- Float/swim in the Dead Sea
- Dinner at the top of Burj Al Arab, Dubai
- Get to the top of Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
- Drink tequila in Mexico
- Visit the arctic circle
- Eat sushi in Tokyo
- Eat pizza along Cinque Terre, Italy
Make a wish at the Tevi Fountain, Rome
- Go to a classical concert in Vienna
- Take a surf lesson in Australia
- Roadtrip across the US
- Vists Oslo, Norway
- Visit Golan Heights, Israel
- Hear live music at the Bluebird Cafe, Nashville
- See the old city of Istanbul
- Stand on the peak of the Alps
- Visit a Christmas market in Germany
- Explore Banff National Park
- Do the Philosopher’s Walk in Kyoto
- Attend Loy Krathong festival in Chiang Mai
- Hike a mountain in Stavanger, Norway
- Island hop in the Philippines
To celebrate a few recent family events we decided to splash out and enjoy dinner at The Landmark Hotel in Marylebone, where the Winter Garden restaurant invites class, fine dining, and a haven of peace within busy central London. The perfect way to feel fancy (for once!), we relished the chance to enjoy such a treat.
For my final weekend road trip around the South Island I finally got the chance to visit somewhere very high up on my NZ bucket list. Arthur’s Pass is a tiny village nestled in the depths of the Southern Alps and is one of very few townships to stop at during the long drive between the east and west coast.
Although I was working remotely while in NZ, I was fortunate enough to take a couple of days off to make the most of the time there, and spend as much time with Kazimir as possible. Following a very relaxed night away in Hanmer Springs, we spent the rest of our long weekend closer to home, and enjoying more of what the city of Christchurch has to offer. Having spent a little time in the city last year, I knew of a few spots that I liked already, but the benefit of having my very own local tour guide meant I was lucky to get the inside knowledge on all the top recommendations.
For our second mini-break, we headed north and inland to the picturesque alpine town of Hanmer Springs. About a two hour drive from Christchurch, along the coastline and after stopping off to admire the mountainous views several times we reached our cabin room at a cosy holiday park. This efficient accommodation was perfect for our one night stay, with shared facilities but a lovely comfortable room with all you could need, but we weren’t in there for long as Hanmer Springs is truly a place to embrace the outdoors.
During my recent visit to NZ, I was working remotely from home which meant most free time throughout the week was spent chilling out, enjoying the sunshine, and staying close to home in order to get enough rest for an early start at work. However, Kazimir and I still had the pleasure of enjoying some delicious meals out and about Christchurch, and discover some unique bars to have a drink at. While there are loads of places to eat and drink out and about, here are some of my favourite spots around the city!
That’s right, I just couldn’t keep away from my favourite country. After the gruelling 28 hour flight I finally made it back to my beloved Christchurch, and was met by my favourite Kiwi, Kazimir.
A quick nap later and we wasted no time enjoying a drive around the Port Hills, overlooking the many bays around the coastline. There are plenty of amazing views and scenic lookouts around the hills, and it’s a popular spot for a walk around the tracks, taking varying amounts of time depending on your fitness and time restrictions. For the keen cyclists, it’s also a chance to really test your ability to tackle a steep incline!
We’ve heard about the wonders of the spoon in the list of my favourite few items to take travelling, and now here’s the next part in Suzy’s Suitcase! This time we take a look at the things that in hindsight I really shouldn’t have bothered with, and what was better off left behind!
It’s been a chaotic year for many, but are there any positives to be found in what seems to be considered a disastrous series of events throughout the world? From my personal experiences, there’s so much to say about the amazing things I learned about during my travels and on my return. For me, this has been a year of major highs and lows, with some of the most significant discoveries happening across the world, so let’s review!
When packing for a long trip, many of us agonise over what to fill our bags with. I had the added pressure when packing because I was about to become a backpacker, AKA trying to fit my life into a small vertical tube. Here are some of the things I should never have bothered with, and some of the things I couldn’t have done without. In part 1 of Suzy’s Suitcase, here’s just a few of the things I would recommend taking on a long trip.
When I was travelling I got addicted to podcasts for a few reasons, but I’d already enjoyed listening to them on my way to and from work because they’re just about the right length of time to make a journey pass faster, and now I’m home I’ve continued that habit. Once I realised I could download them onto my phone while taking up minimum storage, and without using sooo much battery I ended up with plenty of hours to get hooked on long journeys. They’re extremely diverse and you can listen to almost anything to suit your mood, interests, and styles. Ultimately, there’s loads of reasons why I can try to convince you to listen to podcasts, but really, they speak for themselves more than anything. I’ve had tonnes of recommendations from people, and when asked for mine these are always my favourites ones to subscribe to, enjoy!
When you travel, you will talk endlessly about the many wonderful people you meet along the way. It’s pretty hard to stay in touch with them all, especially the ones that live in other countries. I’m lucky enough to not only have met some of the world’s finest people, AND stay in touch with them, but for one unassuming Kiwi I’ve managed to keep him in my life on a more significant level.
When I told people I would be travelling alone for a while, there were some mixed reactions. Family members were usually curious and asked exactly where I’d be off to, whereas friends were often very supportive and thought it was awesome (spoilers, it is). I feel pretty fortunate that I had the chance to be a solo gal out there alone, and to be one half of the “Double-Trouble-Dream-Team”: Em and Suze. I’d definitely made the decision to only visit countries on my own that I felt would be ok for a first time trip, and there is certainly a part of that which is due to the worries of others. I also think that those worries wouldn’t have been quite so vocalised if I wasn’t a female travelling alone. I’m so glad that I was able to experience countries in Asia with one of my closest friends, it would have been a totally different experience on my own, but I would definitely like to get out there and see some countries a little further out of my comfort zone during a solo trip, for the comparative experience if nothing else!
Everyone goes through different experiences and transformations throughout their lives, but travelling has the ability to fast track some of those changes, and that means that when you come home there can be a hell of a lot of adjusting to be done. There’s a million posts and lists about what coming home is like, so here’s my addition to the blogosphere on the matter. There’s certainly more than just these, but a Top Ten run down seems like a nice start! Maybe there’s scope for a sequel to bump up to 20 at a later date… Anyhow, these are the ones that really stood out for me as I came through arrivals and back into ordinary life.
Three months down the line.
The tan is faded, the bank account is in recovery mode and it’s all back to normal. What’s it been like settling back into Suzy’s Surrey life?
THE LAST TRAVEL ACCOUNT!
I realise I have written A LOT over these months about my trip. I’ve tried to be as detailed as possible, mostly so that one day when I look back and feel even more nostalgic than now I can remember the wonderful highs and lows, twists and turns. I imagine they would be hugely boring to anyone, hence why I’ve tried to include pretty pictures! There are stories and moments I’m sure that have been omitted from my forgetfulness, but for the most part I think it’s all pretty accurate! It’s absolutely not over though, there’s still so many thoughts I have on travelling, the trip and so on so I hope I can keep writing. Here’s to one last blow by blow account, featuring my favourite quotes from The Beach!
We left Bai Xep in the early hours of the morning for a journey up the coast of Vietnam. The day was broken up with a few stops that are absolutely worth noting. About halfway along the journey, we stopped at My Lai and the memorial museum in this quiet, pensive part of the country. This well known village in southern Vietnam is devastatingly famous, as it’s the site of the My Lai Massacre in 1968 where around 500 unarmed civilian villagers including entire families were slaughtered by American soldiers, and has been described as “the most shocking episode of the Vietnam War”. We watched a short documentary explaining the events of the massacre, and to better understand what had happened on that tragic day. I won’t go into the details of the massacre, but it was far too barbaric for words, and without reason or rationale I was shocked into silence at the brutality of humans. Trying to understand the mentality of the Americans was complicated, and later we tried to desperately figure out what could have caused their behaviour but there will never really be an answer. Following the film, we went to the museum area to visualise the event, and see important pieces of evidence and items from the village. Much like the War Remnants Museum, there was a lot to take in, and as the entire situation can be analysed it becomes very complex. I felt at this point I could not read or learn any more, so chose to take in the severity and gravitas of what I already knew, and look just at the photographs that so vividly show the event.
We were up early to catch our fancy bus from Phnom Penh (thank God I’m not typing that again, I can’t spell it at all) to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) formally known as Saigon. It was the usual long bus ride, filled with the familiar manic driving that we were becoming used to in SE Asia. Once at the border we quite simply waltzed our way through the disorganised and unofficial customs where the security guard was quite happily having a little nap! Once finally into the crazy city, the pouring rain left us feeling a little disoriented and lost, but we soon found our way to our wonderfully cheap hostel after battling the streets with seemingly millions of motorcyclists rushing in every direction. A relaxed evening was spent attempting to find a market and instead finding a supermarket and getting confused, so we headed in for an early night before a day of sightseeing to follow.
From Rabbit Island we were going to be making our way to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, but not before some very important stops. Understanding the recent history of a country such as Cambodia is hugely important, and so visiting the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and S-21 were significant occasions for us. It’s hard to say how we felt going there, I very much wanted to learn more and fully understand for myself what occurred at these places and why, but to say we were looking forward to this experience is the wrong phrase, however for a long time this destination had been high up our list of important places to visit. To begin the account of our visit, I feel I should introduce what I already knew.
Our arrival into Cambodia was a memorable event. After leaving Don Det by boat, back onto the bus, then another bus, and finally having to walk the final stretch across the border wasn’t the usual customs and checks we were used to. In fact, applying for a visa involved signing a bunch of papers, and paying around 10,000 kip for a “medical certificate” (pretty sure we were basically paying to NOT have one!). Another several hour bus ride slog and we’d finally made it to Siem Reap! We arrived at the lovely Living Quarters Hostel and soon headed out with the gang to the infamous Pub Street to find some food. Having been in the relatively remote and quiet Laos for the past couple of weeks, the hustle and bustle of city life was a bit of a shock. Added to that, we were now dealing with yet another currency to add to all the confusion! Although we had very much enjoyed at the scenery and new experiences Laos had to offer, we knew we like Siem Reap and Cambodia almost immediately. The relaxed and cheery attitude was appealing, but some of the locals could get a little too cheeky and try and milk you a bit (one particular kiddo was keen on hissing at people for not giving him money…).
Another day another bus (I’m really starting to hate buses), this time taking us to the capital of Vientiane. As we approach the capital city of Laos we stop off at yet another temple (another one in a cave this time), before rolling into the beautiful and utterly French-inspired city. We headed to COPE, a centre which houses some items and allows visitors to see a few short documentaries on the making of prosthetic limbs in Laos. The Vietnam War is something that had a huge impact on this defenceless and innocent country, and still today most of the east side of the borders are littered with thousands of undetonated bombs, often amongst the fields and farms. This has caused extreme pain and suffering in the many years since the war, as locals are frequently encountering the deadly items. The importance of raising awareness of this tragedy is vital to the continuing work that volunteers and staff from all over the world carry out in safely removing the bombs from the land. The Lao people suffered enough, and should not have to live in fear of losing their homes, families or lives due to a battle that they were quite literally the middleman in. This eye opening exhibition at COPE allows the visitor to appreciate the complexity in dealing with just a small part of this issue, that of helping those injured to recover and regain part of their normal lives. It’s most certainly worth a visit in Vientiane, as few other places will you really get a sense of the impact the bombs have had on Laos.
After yet another long stint on the bus we finally made it into the beautiful country of Laos. As this was Chao’s home country, we could see how eager and passionate he was to show us around and immerse us in his culture. On arrival into the Bokeo providence capital of Houay Xai we could already see a remarkable difference compared to the comparatively westernised Thailand. The people here seemed much more relaxed, living their daily lives rather than obsessing over how best to gain from unassuming tourists, the homes seemed more like actual homes, there was not a hostel in sight! Best of all was the beautiful landscape we were blessed to view. All around are lush green fields, the mighty Mekong River flowing in the distance and a sense that life here will be much calmer. Well, except for the life-or-death experience of driving a full tuk tuk of people and luggage over a narrow, rickety wooden bridge!