10 Things I Can’t Get Used To after Travelling in South East Asia

For the past few months my blog has kind of been put on the back shelf. I told myself I’d keep it going throughout my South East Asia travels, but who was I kidding, it was never going to happen! The past 4 months have been a crazy whirlwind adventure of buses, tuk tuks, motorbikes, long tail boats, packing and unpacking, bag lugging, sweating, hotels, bed bugs, monks, temples, villages, rice terraces, street food, beer tasting, adrenaline activities, and cultural madness. So I decided to leave things until I got back.

And here I am, back home in sunny Northern Ireland (it hasn’t stopped raining…), so I’m sure I can get back on track. To ease myself back into blogging I thought I’d start with 10 things I can’t get used to after travelling in South East Asia.

1) Every time I use the toilet I pause before putting the toilet paper in the bowl. I still haven’t got my head around the fact that it’s ok to flush almost anything down the toilet in this country.

2) When I go shopping I have to resist the urge to haggle for everything.

3) When I see a dog my first reaction is to keep my hands well away, but then I remember it’s ok to stroke the dogs here, they don’t have rabies.

4) I never realised how happy getting into a bed with freshly washed, cozy, warm, bed covers could make me. 1 week later and I still go to sleep every night with a big smile on my face.

5) It’s a bit scary talking to people from home again. They talk so fast, they use words I haven’t heard in years, do I use those words enough? Do I even sound Northern Irish? I’ll need to get myself a Norn Iron dictionary.

6) I am no longer a gypsy. I don’t have to pack and unpack a bag every few days, and it’s now normal to sleep in the same place each night.

7) All of a sudden it matters what I wear. My faded, suncream stained singlets don’t really cut it anymore and it’s probably a good idea to check my reflection before leaving the house.

8) When meeting up with friends it’s hard not to start every sentence with ‘When I was in Australia/Thailand/Cambodia…’ I’m sure they don’t mind hearing the odd story but lets be honest, they’d rather talk about who’s getting married or having a baby.

9) Every time I see a wispy fly floating around my instant reaction is to cover myself in deet, but then I remember that Northern Ireland seems to be one of the few places in the world where you don’t get mozzies.

10) Since arriving back I’ve heard nothing but complaints about the rain and the lack of summer. And yes, everyone is wearing jeans, jackets and scarves. But when I think back to the past 8 months and how I’ve been constantly covered in layers of sweat, suncream and insect repellent, I’m finding this whole cold thing a novelty. Although that said I seriously miss wearing flip flops. Shoes suck.

Moving On to Asia

Okay, so I’ve been completely rubbish at updating my blog recently. The last post I wrote was on Fraser Island which is were I was months ago! And since then I’ve covered a lot of ground.

I’ve travelled up the East Coast to the Whitsundays and then on to Cairns. I’ve gone sailing, snorkelling, played around in Queensland waterholes, and scuba dived on the Great Barrier Reef. From Cairns I drove 6000kms through the Outback, stopping at Ayers Rock, The Olgas, and Kings Canyon, to then continue down the middle through the strange town of Coober Pedy and on to Adelaide. It’s all been fast paced but amazing.

In Adelaide I experienced an adrenaline fuelled week of panic, running around like a headless chicken as I tried to sell the campervan, organise my surfboards and belongings to ship home, and complete what felt like a million other tasks. By the skin of my teeth I managed to get everything done, kinda.

Right now I’m sitting in Melbourne Airport about to board a flight to Singapore. After 15 months I’m saying goodbye to Australia, leaving from the same airport I arrived in, and setting off on my 4 month South East Asia adventure.

I’m feeling a mixture of nervousness and excitement but at the same time I don’t think it’s really sunk in that I’m leaving!

So hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll have some time to get up-to-date with my blog and write about all those things I’ve done since Fraser, as well as some new stuff on Asia!

Time for Something New

It’s funny how quickly a decision can be made to send your life in a new direction. First something sparks off an idea, before you know it you’re making plans, and then you’re taking actions to make those plans happen.

For Chris and I it was a wedding. Our friend from home, Speedy, contacted us to say he was getting married to his girlfriend, Wenching, in Singapore at the end of March 2015.

We were so excited by the news! Not only would we be catching up with Speedy (who we hadn’t seen in over 18 months) and going to his wedding, but it was also an excuse to go to South East Asia.

The original plan was to aim to be in Darwin by March, fly to Singapore for the wedding, and then come back to Darwin after a few weeks to continue our Aussie road trip.

But then one day we were talking and Chris made a suggestion which I’d already toyed with myself. Why don’t we just leave Australia for good in March and start our South East Asia trip?

All of a sudden I was filled with that feeling of excitement you get before going travelling. I couldn’t keep the smile off my face and my mind was going crazy with all the possibilities that were now opening up. Surfing in Indonesia, chilling on Thai beaches, hiking, scuba diving, experiencing new cultures and food, I couldn’t wait!

Don’t get me wrong Australia’s been great. For the past 4 months I haven’t really had a care in the world. Bumming around in our campervan, surfing at any beach with a ridable wave, partying when we got to the bigger cities, it’s been awesome! But I’ve been here for over a year now and I’m just ready for something new.

South East Asia’s been in the forefront of my mind since I left to go to New Zealand back in January 2012, so I think it’s finally time to go.

So last week, with the click of a button on flight scanner, Chris and I took the action to make things happen. We booked flights to Singapore and then on to Bali. And that’s just the start.

But before I get ahead of myself, I’ve still got 3 months to spend in Australia, and I intend to make the most of that! There’ll still be plenty more Aussie blogs to come.

Asia Can Wait

Before I went travelling I had a plan, and that plan started with New Zealand. There was just something about the country that attracted me to it, the natural beauty of the place, the mountains, the unique landscape, the people, I couldn’t wait to get over there and see it for myself. I also thought New Zealand would be a good starting point for someone like myself who had never travelled before. The culture wouldn’t be much different and there wouldn’t be a language problem.

From here the plan was to step it up a bit and go to Asia, do some ‘real’ travelling as I thought of it. I thought that after 2 years travelling around New Zealand I would be craving something a bit more adventurous, I would want that extreme culture shock, to be put out of my comfort zone and experience crazy things. And this is exactly how I feel! But I didn’t follow the original plan and instead, I went to Australia. Continue reading