Annapurna Base Camp Part One

Day 11 (continued)

We were on a flight and in Pokhara in the blink of a eye.
MK was very quiet, our guide was still smiling and I was trying to keep conversation going. It was just soul destroying after a year of dedication that we were not even going to attempt the Everest Base Camp Trek. After a short taxi ride we arrived at our hotel. In the space of our 20 min flight the travel company had changed all our arrangements. We were now doing a 10-day trek to Annapurna Base Camp.

 

In the hotel room we called home and checked in. We freshened up before meeting Raju in the lobby. Raju took us down to Lake Pokhara. It was very over cast and the mountains were hidden behind the clouds. The lake had lots of colourful wooden boats waiting to take people out on the water or transport them to the temple in the lake. It was a quick trip to the lake before Raju took us out to dinner. We asked a few questions about the hike and if he thought we made the right choice. After dinner we headed back to the room for our last night of comfort because the next day we would be finally putting our walking boots to the test!

IMG_7372

Day 12

After a lovely breakfast in the hotel we packed our duffel bags and headed back down to the lobby. We met our Sherpa who had caught a bus from Kathmandu overnight (8-hour bus ride) to be here this morning. He was a young lad wearing trendy clothes, skinny black jeans and a purple v-neck T-shirt. It was his first hike as a Sherpa. We all got into a mini bus and headed to the police station to collect our permits for the trek. Once all the paper work was done, we began our 2-hour car ride to the start of the trek. By this point we were not fazed by the road works, busses backing up along the edge of cliffs and cows in the middle of the road. We climbed all the way up to the top of a valley then began going down on a incredibly bumpy road. At one point there had been a landslide and a huge bolder was blocking the way. One car at a time had to slowly and carefully drive around it. We finally reached the start of the hike. We bought rope and a plastic sheet to cover our duffel bags. Our Sherpa tied up the duffel bags with the help of some more experienced Sherpa and carried them with the weight on his head. It is a sight to be scene. Raju explained to be a mountain guide you have to have at least 2 years’ experience as a Sherpa beforehand.

With all our bags secure we began. It was not long until the heavens open. Quick pit stop to put on our water proofs and collect our passes for the national park. We walked through a small village then on to a windy road which went up and down. We crossed a river and stopped for lunch. We were so used to eating big meals we had a sandwich each and a can of soda. Such a big mistake for me. I was so full after lunch I struggled to get going again. My day pack was also to heavy for me to carry. The next two hours were long and hot. It was incredibly humid and raining, it was very sweaty with the rain coats on. It was a slow incline all the way up to our first tea room. The scenery was rolling valleys rich green fields with small villages set in to the valley side. We had to climb up through the village we were staying in. It felt like it was never ending steps, but little did I know that tomorrow I would be climbing 1500 steps. Finally, I saw Mike and Raju sat outside a tea house, day one was complete. I sat down MK was laughing as I had steam coming off my head. I was so hot but as soon as I had sat for a few minutes the cold set in. Raju got us some water and a local tea. The tea was delicious and really warmed us up. The tea house was in our first stop of the trek Tikhedhunga. We went to our room which was a dark room with two single beds either side of the room. There were posters on the wall of places around the world. The beds have thin foam strips as a mattress and the bedding is dropped off in your room later. We both had a shower and got ready for the night. It wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be. We didn’t need thermals on. When we came out of our room the clouds had rolled in and the beautiful view had disappeared. We sat on the balcony with other guests. Raju came up to take our order for dinner and our order for breakfast the next morning. The choices for dinner are the same in every tea room. It is a choice between the local Nepalese food and western. MK chose the Nepalese food every night and I was not as brave and ate pizza every single night. I didn’t have to worry about any issues in the toilet area. Raju came back after dinner and gave MK and me a plate of apple and pomegranates. Whilst we tucked into the fruit Raju explained the plan for the next day. The next day was one of the toughest out of the 10 days. We would be walking uphill for 7 hours and conquering 1500 steps. At the top we were told we would have a fancy tea room. The owner of the tea room loved to share his jokes and stories with us about his guests. Once he had finished, we headed to bed. I was a bit worried about bugs so I had a bug proof bed outfit on in bed which consisted of sweat pants tucked into socks, t-shirt tucked into sweat pants and ear plugs. MK was not so fussed just sleeping in his undies!!

 Day 13

It was a early start. I was a bit anxious about the challenge that lay ahead on this day. It would really test my training. Breakfast was great and with a full belly we packed up our bags and set off. There were a few groups walking the same way as us and the whole day we just kept passing them. We soon realized that a few of the groups were like us an had changed their plans as they could not get to Lukla for the base camp Everest trip. The morning was spent slowly making our way up the never-ending steps. They were very uneven which made it hard for me to get into a rhythm. I was super slow but Raju kept saying ‘ slowly, slowly’ ‘bistarai, bistarai’ to us which did keep me going. MK was fine and walked a lot faster then me. We would take breaks as the sun in the morning was incredibility hot. Raju provided us with a cucumber at one of our stops, freshly picked from a farm we were walking through….so fresh and delicious! We passed through marijuana farms as we carried on climbing up through the valley. After lunch we only had 2 hours of walking left. I could not believe it we were nearly there. After lunch I pushed on and kept up with MK and Raju I just wanted to get to the tea room. The village came in view and just like the night before we had to walk up the entire village as our tea room was right on top of the village. I had exerted all my energy on the last stretch of the walk which meant it took me 30 mins to get up to the tea room. It was a big building and it looked more like a hotel. There was lots of construction going on in the village getting all the accommodation ready for peak season. This village seemed like it was built for tourists. This village was popular because of the trek we were doing and because this was the last stop before Poon Hill. Poon Hill is a popular shorter hike. MK was already checked into the room and chilling. I did some stretches as my legs had begun to ache slightly. It was so cold in the room we took off our wet clothes as we waited for the Sherpa to catch up with us. Obviously, this day was so tough for every one and it took our Sherpa another hour to reach our tea room. By this point i was wrapped up in the spare bed keeping warm. We had an ensuite in the room which was very fancy. There was a pair of little shoes in the bathroom for us to wear. We soon realised why when we flushed the toilet and it flooded the bathroom. After a warm shower (my last shower of the hike) we went downstairs. The dining area had a huge fire pit in the middle of it. It was lovely and warm in there and people had all there walking gear hung around it. I began to journal and MK was on his phone. We just relaxed and reflected after a long day of uphill walking. Same routine for dinner, we would eat then the fruit came out and a cup of tea. Raju explained about the next day and taught us how to play a local card game. This card game became very important to us all throughout the rest of the trip.

7524909184_IMG_2306

Day 14

We were up at 5AM in the pitch black. We would be using our head torches this morning as we did a short hike up to Poon Hill to watch sunrise. We had to bring our big down jackets as it would be cold at the top. It was also our first taste of walking at high altitude. Torches on we started to walk up to the top. It was very busy with lots of other groups going up hoping to catch a glimpse of the mountain range. I again was back to a slow pace and focused on my breathing. We saw a peak for the first time walking up and MK got excited and rushed up to the top which did leave him short of breather due to the high altitude.  Everyone was gathered at the top looking around at all the clouds. I didn’t really know what to expect. Then for about two minutes the clouds parted and a entire mountain range of peaks appeared.  I have never witnessed anything like it in all the traveling I have done. Raju was as excited as we were. He had my camera and was snapping away while explaining to us all the different mountains. We took lots of pictures and soaked up the view. In a blink of an eye the clouds rolled back across and it was gone. We had so much adrenaline from the morning we quickly descended back to the tea room talking about what we just saw. We learnt later on we were very lucky to see the whole mountain range as the weather is very temperamental. A couple of hours later after a feed we were back in the walking boots and heading off for our next 7-hour day. The day began with a steep incline up out of the village and then we walked downhill until lunch time. We walked next to a river the whole way down the valley. Along the way we came across a section of the path covered in small rock formations which from first glance looked like grave stones. Raju explained that hikers staked the rocks on top of each other as a symbol of luck. We walked across a very old looking wooden bridge to our lunch stop. The heavens opened and we did feel a little smug being inside while we watched other hikers get caught in the rain. Well as you probably guessed we started to walk after lunch and the rain retuned in full force. This part of the day we had to climb up a step path which was now slippery and in some small areas had a waterfall hitting your face from the rain bouncing off the rocks. I had a break with some of the Sherpa’s, one of them told me it was his first and last trek. He did not like the walk at all and was exhausted. I noticed he had blood on his clothes, he had been bitten by a few leeches along the way. The rain got heavier and the path got steeper. I decided that not looking down or behind me was my best option for getting to the top. I trekked on until I saw the tea room. Raju as always was waiting for me and as always MK was already in the room. MK did have his first leach on him which we got off and out of our bedroom. We spent the whole night in the dinning hall as the rain continued. There was a huge fire pit covered in clothes drying from the days wet walk. The room kept us nice and warm until bed. I did not shower as MK had spilled my shampoo in the last tea room which meant my hair for the next 8 days took on a life of its own.

IMG_7436

Day 15

In the morning at this tea room we woke up to the clouds parting and an incredible view of the valleys and one mountain peaks called ‘Fish Tail’.

It was still raining when we left the tea room. It was a slow decent as there was lots of mud and slippery surfaces to contend with. We walked through a forest then across a farm until we reached a steep part of the valley and walked down a windy path. The best bit about this walk is you can see where you are walking down to and then the steep climb up waiting for you on the other side. Once at the bottom of the valley we started to climb up again. We had lunch at the top in a tea room and we even saw a line of horses carrying goods up to the villages ahead of us. It was either by person or animal that anything and everything would be transported up to the villages from this point on. We passed a primary school and some children hanging around outside the school. Raju asked them why there were not in school…they just giggled and asked MK and I for chocolate. On this day there was a section of the path which split into two levels I went on the lower level and Raju yelled for me to go back on to the higher one as the ground was weak and it would slide from beneath me. It did scare me a little but also made me thankful to have such a experienced guide looking after us.We were so high at this point all you could see was clouds. Our tea room came into view at the top of the village. It was the best tea room we stayed in. We were told we got the honeymoon suite, which I think meant double bed. They also had a barista machine so for the first time in the trip I had a great coffee half way up a mountain! When we arrived in the tea room there was a bit of panic from people. We later found out a hiker had fallen down a waterfall and died. The mountain police where searching the river for her body. The thought of what happened to this hiker stuck with me the rest of the trip. I also could not work out how she fell and at this point no one knew any more information. It was a terrible tragedy that happens a lot on these mountain tracks. Raju walked us down into the village. Along the way the dogs of the village decided to join us which made my day. Raju told us to wake up early in case the clouds moved over night as at this point in time there was no view. 

Kathmandu.

The time had final come for us to leave Sydney for and start our trip around Nepal.

Day 1.

The first leg of our flight was 14 hours long to Dubai. We only had a two hour gap between flights. After a bit of a rush to the correct terminal for our flight to Kathmandu we were hit with a delay for two hours. This two hours soon stretched into another two and ended up being a 10 hour delay in Dubai. Finally we got a call over the speaker that the Kathmandu flight was boarding. I was just so happy to be finally boarding the plane I never even thought ‘Why were we delayed for so long?’. The flight was smooth and empty, we stretched out to get some rest. The pilot let us know due to the delays in Kathmandu airport we could not land so we would have to circle. I was to tired to care about us circling. Looking out the window at the mountains it was just a relief to be so close to finally being in Nepal. All of a sudden a huge plane came from under us and up the left hand side of the plane. I have never seen two planes so close to each other in the air, it scared me to death. All of a sudden I was wide awake and just wanted to land. My wish was granted only a few minuets after our close encounter with a China Eastern plane we were landing.  The plane came to a halt, we had finally touched down in Nepal. When we were exiting the plane two men got down on there knees and kissed the ground. It was at this point MK let me know the reason for our delay was due to a plane crashing off the end of the run way that morning…Welcome to Nepal!

IMG_7091

30 hours later we were slowly making our way through Nepal immigration.  Immigration is slow and painful so just remain calm. It will be a long process. There is a line for the paper forms, then the electronic form and one for you to pay. After all that is complete you line up for the immigration desk. We were unlucky our immigration officer finished his shift. We had to stand and wait for the next one to come on duty. Once we were in the country we went through security again and collected our bags. As we exited the airport we were met with a crowd of people yelling names and holding signs. I spotted our name and waved. Our guide Raju came running up to us with a smile on his face welcoming us to Nepal. It was such a relief to see him as we thought with us being so late he might have given up on us. We got into a car and were given welcome flowers around our neck. Driving into Kathmandu at night was chaos, cars, trucks, people and motorbikes going in every direction. Exhausted from our travel it was hard to take it all in. We arrived at our hotel Kamuri Boutique Hotel in Thamel (tourist area). We arranged a time with Raju for the next day and we checked in. The hotel was lovely boutique hotel. Both of us were so happy to be safely in Nepal and at our hotel. We ordered some food and beer to the room. The night consisted of drinking our beers eating some great food and passing out.

IMG_7112

Day 2.

The hotel included breakfast, we made our way down to the dinning room. Breakfast was a continental style with all the favorites; tea, coffee, cereal toast and eggs.  Once we had food in our belly’s we went for a wonder around Thamel, which is a bit harder then you may think. The city is still recovering from the earthquake 5 years ago. The roads are dirt roads and there are no pavements. Buildings are still badly damaged or completely destroyed. Everyone seems to be working hard to get the city built up again. Walking down the small dusty roads you have to be alert as scooters and cars are just centimeters away from you. Electrical wires hang across the streets in mass quantity. We even saw two men trying to put one up and it was just hanging in the middle of the road. Most of the shops are hiking, tourist or food shops. There is such a buzz in this city it is beautiful chaos. After a small walk we decided to change some money and head back to the hotel. The only bit of dodgy trouble we had the entire month happened this day. Once we changed our money we did a quick count in the shop. As we counted the man at the counter was straight on the phone to someone and we heard him speaking Nepalese then say ‘Australian Dollar’. I assumed he was phoning the bank. We left the shop and not 30 seconds later a man came up to MK talking to him. When I turned around I saw another man very close to MK’s back pack. MK soon realized something wasn’t right when they complimented him on his Australian accent (neither of us are Aussie). We made a few quick turns and lost the two men. We figured the guy at the shop had tipped off his friend that we had changed a fair bit of Australian dollar. As I said earlier that was the only dodgy incident with people we had for the entire trip.

In the afternoon we met Raju in the lobby of our hotel and walked over to the trekking companies office. In the office we ran through our itinerary and paid the balance of our trip. We received a t-shirt each and a map for the route to Everest Base Camp. At this point it felt so exciting and nerve wracking to think we were so close to starting the trek. The trek did not start for another week but they really went over and beyond to look after us. We had booked to go to Chitwan National Park before the trek. Raju offered to take us to the bus the next morning and pick us back up from the bus when we returned. With all our questions answered we left the office and headed back to the hotel to get ready for tea. That night we walked around Thamel to a place called OR2K. Really laid back restaurant with a huge menu (veggie menu). Chilling on the pillows we tucked into different types of bread and dip along with a Everest beer. It felt great to relax and start to enjoy Nepal. Back at the hotel we packed a small bag for Chitwan and planned to leave our big luggage in our trekking hotel the next morning.

IMG_7110

Day 3.

Early start as we had to meet Raju in the lobby at 6AM. He pulled up on his bike and we popped our duffel bag on the back of the bike. We walked behind him with our backpacks. Our first stop was the trekking hotel were we checked in our backpacks. Next stop was the bus. We followed Raju down to the main road were about 10 buses were lined up. Everyone was trying to get us on there bus. Raju took us to our bus and sorted our tickets out for us. The roads were still busy even in the early hours of the morning. The buses have a unique way of reversing. The ticket boy stands at the back of the bus and bangs on the back to let the driver know hes fine to reverse. When he stops the banging the driver stops reversing and waits for the banging to start again. 7AM came and we were off on our 8 hour bus ride to Chitwan National Park.

Final…Nepal Health Update.

The countdown is on…..not long until we set off on our adventure. The packing list is getting smaller and we have ticked off our medical check ups as well.

MK and I both went to the doctors to seek advice on what we would need health wise. We have both been to Asia before, we have had a lot of injections between the two of us over the years. The end result was a few booster shots to keep vaccinations active and our typhoid injection again (they only last 3 years). My advice to anyone traveling abroad is to always go to the doctors to make sure you are aware of any health risks on the country you are traveling too.  On top of the injections I also was prescribed altitude sickness tablets and Malaria tablets. I do like to make sure all my bases are covered so I took everything the doctor said on board and feel pretty set for the trip.

MK and I went to the chemist and bought tablets for nausea, cramps, headaches, the squirts and muscle pain. When we are on the trek we are really dependent on ourselves, we need to be a walking chemist for those just in case moments. We also have electrolyte tablets for hydration and a lot of hand sanitize wipes and gel to keep ourselves as germ free as possible. Our wonderful friend who is a nurse sent us a few pointers to get the right stuff…one great tip was to have vitamin C tablets with us as there will not be any vegetables or fruit on the way and we need to keep are immune system up (Thanks for all the help Em).

Our traveling chemist is ready for our trip and we have all our injections…now all that is left to do is to just make sure we are in good health before we leave. Both of us have given up alcohol for August and we are eating as clean as possible. Over the past year I have been exercising and eating well. I even did Optifast to shock my stomach into loosing weight and signed up to a gym and have been hitting the stair machine hard. We have both been hiking as well and have discovered some great walks through out NSW.  I am super proud of the effort we both put in and believe we will keep going when we get back as we have loved all our outdoor hiking and feeling in better shape. Personally I am super chuffed with myself as I have lost a total of 12KG this past year. Here is the photo proof below…

 July 2017                                                                August 2018img_6922

I have finally realized the trick to loosing some weight…you have to want to change and you have to change your lifestyle. There is no hidden trick to loosing weight just a lot of consistent hard work. I am not perfect I have eaten biscuits and enjoyed a pizza but I have learnt how to do it in moderation. I have also rediscovered exercise. This year alone I have been to the gym, boot camp, hiking, F45, kayaking, swimming, climbing and yoga. It does not matter what you do as long as you keep moving. I will share the things that helped me along this last year, support from friends and family, Optifast, reducing my booze intake, take photos so you can see the difference, set a goal weight and don’t put to much pressure on yourself. I still have a way to go until my goal weight but I am pleased with my progress and hopefully hit my goal weight early next year.

Nepal Prep Update.

77 days now until we leave for Nepal (less when this blog actually posts) so thought I would give you guys a bit of a update.

I am still on Optifast having the two shakes a day and a low cal meal for dinner. I have had a few nights out with drinks but very few in the past few months. I also feel I am in control of myself more. If I do go out I do not go crazy. The weight came off very fast at the beginning but now its crawling off so really need to put my best foot forward exercising. I have set myself a goal to have another 6KG off me by MK’s birthday, lets see how I go. MK has also given up carbs until we go now so as you can imagine our fridge is just meat and veggies at the min…the healthiest our fridge has ever looked.

7583921760_img_1655-1

Exercise wise it is still running, swimming and hiking. Since the last update we have completed two more hikes Mt Kosciusko and Ruined Castle. We have noticed our bodies are not in pieces after the hikes and we can keep exercising. I have a few more hikes I would love us to get done before we go. I really enjoy the winter walks at the moment its great to be outdoors in the cold breeze and even see some snow. A lot of stretching is being done at home as well we are both being careful the last thing we want is to pull a muscle after our exercising. I also did my first F45 class which was so tough but so good and something I will look into after Nepal. I do have City2Surf in August as well which will be a cool challenge to complete before we go.

7583921760_img_1680

I got a list from the travel company on what we need to bring and wow it is a lot longer then I imagined. At first it was a bit over whelming looking at all the items we need to take with us. After studying the list its not a lot of stuff its just a lot of stuff you would not normal need on a trip. I think I am going to hit up Ebay for a few items and also the Kathmandu store in our local outlet mall, it always has a great sale on. I currently have the list typed out in Excel and once complete I shall share it with all the prices and where I bought the items. I do find every time I buy something I want to go out walking to try it out, which is going to keep me exercising. Started to look for travel Insurance which is a bit tougher then I originally thought. Most sites I have been on so far only provide for EU residents. I am struggling to find a Australian company. I think it will take a bit more research to find the right cover for us. July we are off to the doctors to get all the jabs and pills we will need for the trip. I will blog on what we get once that has been completed.

7516807696_img_1546-1

Blue Mountains Ruined Castle

Over the July long weekend we stayed in Sydney to save some pennies and to do a hike. As you all well know we are training for base camp trek in September. We have already done a few hikes over the past few months. The hike we did this weekend was to the Ruined Castle via The Golden Staircase.

The hike is located in the Blue Mountains just outside of Katoomba. You can actually hike to the Ruined Castle from Katoomba. We started from the Gold Case Staircase car park. It took a hour and  half to drive to the starting location. Setting off a bit later then planned in the morning  the car park was full when we arrived. We ended up parking up the road about 1KM from the carpark. The road down to the carpark is very bumpy and has huge pot holes I would not take a low car down this track, we saw a few people struggling with their cars. The weather was suppose to be dry during the day… do not do this walk in wet weather with the steep inclines it gets slippy.  Be careful and please read all the information provided on the NSW National Park website (link at the bottom of this blog). It had rained the day before making the ground still a bit wet.

The start of the walk takes you 800M down the Gold Staircase. This path is steep and has steep inclines and steps to tackle. There is a railing around most of it but there are parts without so please be careful. MK did slip on our way down as one of the rocks was slippy but luckily he didn’t slide anywhere. The views as you go down are beautiful ,I didn’t get my camera out as I was to busy looking where my feet where going. Once at the bottom of that section you walk 3.5 KM to Ruined Castle. This is a easy path its flat most of the way and no sheer drops. It goes through a rainforest type environment, it looks like how you would picture a enchanted forest as a child. When you reach the Ruined Castle camp site there is a toilet. After the campsite its a 600M steep incline up to the Ruined Castle Rock. There were lots of walkers on this path and on top of the rock . The rock was extremely busy with people having there lunch.

7583921760_img_1655

We completed 10KM in 3 hours but I would advise 4/5 hours as we did not stop for lunch and were rushing to get back. Lucky for us as we got back to the car the heavens opened, so we missed the downfall. If you are a experienced hiker and good with heights you would enjoy this walk for sure. Below is the link to all the official information you need to complete this hike.

Hiking is getting easier for us and our legs are not hurting the next day either which is a great sign. Our hiking boots are getting warn in and no blisters which is another good sign. I have a fear of heights and I have been working to conquer this and control my fear. If you read the Mt Kosciusko blog you will know I froze when I had to climb over a snow bank…well I made sure on this hike I fought through all my fears and had no wobbly legs. I am extremely happy with how I handled myself on this hike as I was way out of my comfort zone height wise but kept a good strong grip on my fear.

information on the walk CLICK HERE

7583921760_img_1668

 

 

What to do this weekend (Queens Long Weekend 2018)?

One plus to living in Sydney is there is never a long weekend to far away. The June long weekend for the Queen’s Birthday (we don’t even have this off in England) is just around the corner. I am staying in Sydney for this long week… I decided to put a list of some of my favorite things on this weekend.

Vivid: The light festival is still going over the long weekend. The bridge, the opera house, circular quay, the rocks, the botanical gardens and even more will be lit up with huge displays. Take a night to wrap and wonder around. Also have a go on the hands on exhibits in the rocks.

China Town: The China Town markets are on the Friday night. Go for dinner in one of the great restaurants and if you are feeling brave try out one of the karaoke rooms in China town. Recommendation for food would be the Noodle King.

Lunar Park: Go and be a big kid at the theme park on the harbor. Looking over the lights of vivid as you go on the Ferris wheel or play in the big fun house. There are the old fairground games as well if you are feeling lucky and want to win a big stuffed animal. There are lots of places to grab something to eat as well.

Cockatoo Island: It is your last chance to catch the 21st Beinnale of Sydney art festival. Catch the ferry over and wonder around the exhibits before having a hot drink taking in the city skyline views. There is a really clever mirror exhibit which is very trippy.

Watsons Bay Hotel: This long weekend the famous hotel is holding a Rose brunch. Grab a few of your girlfriends and head over to watch a winter sunset while sipping on some Frose.  Brunch and bottomless rose for two hours….a great way to spend afternoon with the ladies.

Merivale Bars: For all of June Merivale are offering 49% off drinks every day between 5PM-7PM. Check out their website to see were your closest bar is!

Newtown Chili Festival: The event is being held in The Bank. The day will consist of chill BBQ’s, chill cocktails and a chili eating contest. If you think you are brave enough. You will be warmed up that day for sure with all the chili activities planned.

Farmers Market: Inner West has a new farmers market. There will obviously be delicious food on offer throughout the market but they will have live music playing as well. The market has a pasta making demonstration this weekend. They run every Sunday 8AM -2PM and all of the market is under shelter.

Blue Mountains: Hiking in winter is possible. Jump in the care and head up to the mountains to do a bit of hiking. Some great trails to look up would be the Grand Canyon Loop and the Ruined Castle hike. Always prepare for hikes and make sure someone knows where you are heading and don’t hike alone.

Solo Travel

I don’t think I have talked about Solo Vs Group travel before I arrived in Australia. It is the famous question among backpackers is it better to travel on your own or with people?
I have traveled both ways. I went to the Dominican Republic on my own and met up with  people I had never met before when I got there. I went around Europe on the trains with my friends and I went around South East Asia on my own. I have done most of my Australia travel with people as well. I don’t think one is better then the other but I do think that both make you a better traveler. 
Why Solo Travel?
Solo travel helps you build your confidence. You have to make the move or start up a conversation to meet people in hostels. There were a few points in South East Asia were I felt I was a stuck record and I was just saying my name and everywhere I had just been on repeat. But once you have the whole introduction done you can usually tell with in a few minuets if people are looking to make friends or not. I did have one guy tell me he didn’t want to talk to anyone, I respected his bluntness and left him alone…so yeah don’t be to offended when you meet people who just are burnt out. I met some incredible people when I was traveling on my own. I have kept in contact with them and met up with them when ever they are in Australia. Some people you meet and actually bump into them again which is always nice. You cant beat seeing a friendly face in a foreign country. Being on your own you do become a independent and better traveler. You do not have anyone but yourself to rely on. You become very aware of your surroundings and making sure you are safe. All your travel arrangements and research is done by yourself which in turn makes you a savvy back packer. I have only ever had one experience when I did not feel safe on my own in Kuala Lumpur. A man was following me and would not leave me alone. I used my common sense and went into a shopping center with lots of people around and found the information desk. As soon as I approached the desk the man backed off into the crowd and waited for me. I told the lady behind the desk the man behind me was following me and she said to wait with her until he left. The woman behind the desk pretended to get a map out and point to things. When the man finally had enough of waiting for me he left and I went straight back to the hostel. I tried not to be affected by this but it did freak me out and i did not really relax in KL. I just used common sense and would never go out on my own at night or go to dodgy areas….do you research on where you are going. Things go wrong when you are back packing and when you are going solo you just have to adapt and sort something out…it makes you more resilient and adaptable to all situations. When you do join a group of travelers for a day trip or for a few days you also become a lot more open to all sorts of people cos you miss the human contact and enjoy having some company. I did 3 days in Singapore and no one was friendly at all in my hostel and I didn’t meet anyone. When I went back to Thailand after those 3 days I was so excited to speak to people in my hostel and hang out with humans and have some conversation.  Solo travel is a great way to find out how much you will push yourself. I really built up a lot of confidence on my solo travel trips and I became comfortable at putting myself out there to meet others. It does sound so cliche to say solo travel really helps you realize who you are but its true. 

img_6139

Why travel with friends?
Traveling with your friends just creates the best and funniest memories you will make. Even the times when you travel and fall out or get on each others nerves will turn into a funny memory. Solo traveling is great to find yourself and realize what you are capable of by pushing those boundaries, but traveling with your friends just has the best buzz. I did Europe with my oldest friend from America and we still to this day talk about that trip and all the crazy stories that go a long with it. I did the East Coast of Australia with my two best friends from the UK and neither of them had ever back packed before. A few times it was very intense but also one of the best trips we have ever done together. I was glad I got to show them the backpacking way. They both really embraced it and when something was not what they expected they really just got on with it. MK and I have done lots of little trips away and had our holiday to Fiji but in September we will do our first bit of traveling. I am excited to see how we work together over the month and enjoy Nepal together. Hopefully be the first of many travel trips for us. I also believe because I have traveled on my own if I am with my friends and there is friction or something is not right I have a calmer approach to it and can easily take charge to solve it. Also if I am with friends and they want to do something different to me on a trip, I am okay to go do what I want on my own as I have done it before. I love taking photos and keeping a record of everything I do. Sharing those experiences with people who are special to you is the best feeling in the world. I think that is why I do love traveling with friends and family. 

img_6137

I think overall I enjoy and like to solo travel and its not  big deal to me to go on my own….but if I had a choice I would choose to travel with friends or family in a heart beat. Sharing memories and experiences with those closest to you  for me is one of the best feelings in life.