Writers Block

I have not written in a while mainly because life got in the way…

New jobs (2 to be exact), a trip home, a trip to Ireland, friends got married and one visitor from home. Its been a crazy half a year. I am finally settled into my role at work and slowly gaining my me time back.

I worked hard at developing some great habits of self care and being present (mindfulness). I have let them all go the last couple of months. I am slowly building it all back up. Over the next few months I really want to put my time back into my exercise and mindfulness. A lot of my energy goes into work and will continue to but I need to make sure I take that step back so I do perform well at my day job.

Do you ever feel sometimes life takes a hold of you ?

Goals for September:

  • Keep writing, even if no one is reading it it really helps me unwind after a long day
  • Exercise more often, I have already signed up for a PT session once a week
  • Get back out more in the outdoors and take the camera
  • No phone before bed, try reading instead
  • Get into work earlier, usually can get a bit more done if I am in earlier
  • To not stress the small stuff and just work on focus

Chitwan National Park.

Day 3 (continued…)

The bus was pretty comfy and we had air conditioning. We were pretty confident we would survive our 8 hour trip. Leaving Kathmandu we slowly made our way through the busy roads, cows and people trying to sell us food through the bus window.  Once we had left the city we drove down a windy mountain road. The edges of the road were just sheer drops down. I was so glad we were on in the inside of the road for most of the journey to Chitwan. About 4 hours in we had a pit stop and some food. I bought some biscuits and MK had some traditional Nepalese food. It was like a Indian veggie samosa. The rest of the journey to Chitwan was on a windy road which followed along side river. There were some pretty narrow bridges we had to cross in the bus and some hairy moments when the bus would over take another bus on a corner. The next stop was in a busy town and all the tourists on the bus got off, but not MK and I we just sat there. We had been told to sit on the bus until the last stop so we did. Maybe we should have used our common sense and got off when all the other tourists did. After the town the bus went out into rural Nepal dropping off the local people. On the last stop we got chucked off by the ticket boy with our bag…this did not look like Chitwan.

 

We stood in a small village surrounded by dirt roads, fields and a few huts. There was a lady who was trying to get MK’s attention and a man stood behind us.  It did not take us long to figure out the lady was just trying to sell something to us or worse. I turned to my phone and saw we where a hour from Chitwan. I called the hotel and gave the phone to one of the local people stood behind us. The hotel asked the villager to flag down a tuk tuk for us to get to the resort. About 10 minuets later a tuk tuk drove through and stopped. Finally we were getting out of this village and heading to the right destination. The tuk tuk driver agreed a price and I showed him the map. We were about to leave when two motorbikes pulled up with men on the back. They got off the bikes and ran up to the tuk tuk window and started to hand us Nokia phones asking us to wait. We realized they were all arguing over who got to drive us. It got a bit intense when more and more villagers started to surround the tuk tuk and they were asking us to get out so they could take us. In the end we just asked the driver to go. A hour later we were in Chitwan national park and at our hotel. The hotel manager was very confused on how we ended up where we did. We showed him our tickets and he explained the bus company we were on sometimes turns into a local bus and you have to change…lesson learnt, always follow other tourists!

We were staying at the Chitwan Village Resort just outside of the main village. Whilst we had some dinner the hotel manager ran us threw our options for our stay. We had one full day in the park. We decided to do the Jungle Trek in the morning, watch the elephant baths and then go for a jungle Safari in a Jeep in the afternoon. That night after a long day of travel we headed to the village to watch the cultural show. The show was a hour of traditional dances put on by the local people. After the show we had a early night as we had a long day of exploring the park the next day.

 

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Day 4.

We woke up early to have breakfast before our jungle guide came to pick us up. Our jungle guide picked us up, a man called Ram. We hopped into the car and drove into the park. The first part of the morning was going down the river in a traditional kayak. The kayaks where trees hollowed out. They were used to transport goods across Nepal until roads were built. When the roads were built the people used the boats for tourists. We climbed inside the tree boat and floated down the river with our guide and a local steering the boat. Only a few seconds into us leaving the river bank we spotted our first crocodile sunbathing. The next 10 minuets were full of crocodiles in the water and on the river bank. The craziest thing was seeing locals picking grass and just meters away there would be a big crocodile chilling on the river bank. We arrived at the Elephant Sanctuary. The sanctuary was not what we expected at all. The elephants where all chained up. We do not support that at all. We just smiled and nodded as our guide took us around, they are very proud of there elephants and how they take care of them. It didn’t seem it was our place to bring up our views on elephants being chained up.

The jungle hike started from the back of the Elephant Sanctuary. Before we began the trek we had a safety briefing from Ram. There were two basic rules…

  1. If you see a Rhino, hide behind a tree
  2. If you see a elephant, run in the opposite direction

It was at this point I became a bit nervous about the next two hours. The grass was long as it was coming to the end of Monsoon season. It was humid and we were walking under the midday sun melting. I did get a leach on me but Ram was quick to remove it off my leg. The jungle was beautiful and we saw a lot of deer. I am relived the only animals we saw on foot was a group of deer. Mike did spot some tiger footprints in the mud as we were coming to the end of the hike. We crossed the river in a wooden kayak again and headed back to the hotel. On the way back they showed us the elephants bathing in the river but again it was not something we really wanted to see as they let tourist climb on them. We had a few hours for lunch and then we met back up with Ram on the Safari Jeep.

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Again it was just MK and I on the safari tour with Ram. We drove through the national park for 3 hours. Ram could spot a deer in the bushes miles away, he had eyesight like a eagle. There was no sign of any Rhinos. After 2 hours of driving around taking in the views we had began to loose hope on seeing a Rhino. We were on our way out of the park when Ram spotted a Rhino. We drove right up to it as it munched on the grass. It seemed un-phased by us approaching it in the jeep. We took a few photos then all of a sudden many other jeeps came roaring up to the Rhino. Ram asked us if we could leave in case the Rhino spooked. We left the jungle on a high seeing a Rhino that close was incredible. It was so big and I was also so relieved we did not see one that morning whilst on foot. Our guide explained they do charge and tourists have died.  Traveling back to the hotel we got caught in a huge down pour. Luckily I had my rain jacket, not so much for MK who got soaked, but we didn’t really care after just seeing the Rhino. On our last night we had dinner in the village centre and had a early night as we had to be up early again for the bus back to Kathmandu.

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Day 5

Our tour company had phoned the hotel to ensure they made sure we got on the right bus after our disaster on they way to Chitwan. We were basically hand held to our seats, which I didn’t mind as I was nervous about us missing something on the way back.

The bus ride back to Kathmandu was pretty terrifying as the driver seemed to love taking over on corners, it was raining and we were on the edge of the road the whole way back. MK went to sleep and I was so jealous as I just wanted to wake up and we would be back in Kathmandu. The last bit we slowly made our way up the mountain road with the drop just getting higher. I tried to just look out the front window and not to the side. I was so relieved when we got back into Kathmandu. The bus pulled up on the street we had left a few days prior. I saw our guide Raju waiting for us. Raju walked us back to the hotel and let us know about the plan for the next day.  We would be having a day to ourselves in Kathmandu and our welcome meal in the evening with Raju.

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…

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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.

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.

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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

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

To Ski or Not to Ski

Taking a break from Nepal blogs this week and decided to talk about snow.

Winter hit this weekend, the sweat pants came out and the summer wardrobe was packed away. Not going to lie, it was very nice leaving the house Saturday night not in a ball of sweat from blow drying and straighten my hair in 34 degree heat.

Only 5 hours from Sydney in the Snowy Mountains they have already received there first sprinkling of SNOW! I have been skiing twice in Australia and both times it has been with the same company…Oz Snow. Both times have been such a blast. Its a great weekend with friends and minimal organisation on your part.

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This year we have friends going again and its so hard to say no…but we have to do some hikes and think about our month off in Nepal. It is amazing how hard a two lettered word can be …no! Personally I know I could go but then later down the line I would really be struggling to hit my goals money wise before we head out in September. It is a no ski zone for us this year. We both would really love to go to New Zealand but we have no holiday for a while, so that will have to be a trip we do in the future.

Link to my to blog on my Ski Trip 2016.

Never fear we might be seeing snow in a few weeks. We have booked our weekend to Jindabyne at the end of May. We are hoping the weather isn’t to bad and we can complete the 20KM Mt Kosciusko hike. The original plan was to go up on the June long weekend but that is the opening weekend of Ski season and accommodation was pricey to say we were not skiing. By bringing the trip a few weeks forward we have saved over half on accommodation. Full blog of our weekend in the Snowy Mountains will be up a week after our trip. I am actually excited to experience the other side to Jindabyne, see what it has to offer and to get a decent mileage hike complete.

Snow boots out, winter jacket and woolly hats at the ready!

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