Kayaking in the Mekong river

As the kayak glides down the river I look around, amazed by the stunning scene to my left and to my right. In my mind I’m playing one of my favourite songs “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner. “Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river. Said we rolling, rolling, rolling on the river. Tu tu tu ….” I hum the lyrics to myself as I smile and feel this blast of happiness streaming through my body. I’m sure I’m not the only who does this, but whenever I go somewhere or do something, I always think back to a song that reminds me of the place I’m in, the song now becomes the song that takes me back to that moment and that day.  Being here in Laos has made me realise so many things about myself, and the life I want to continue to have when I get home. How far I’ve come from when I first started this trip and how different my mindset has become. I always used to say I need to go find myself whenever I felt lost, but one night me and Aubrey discussed life, the universe and the whole bunch, and the topic about losing yourself in a relationship came up. The sentence “find yourself” came up too, and I realised how wrong that sentence is, for me at least. Traveling has opened many doors and opportunities, but most importantly I didn’t find myself, I got reacquainted with myself. That’s why I don’t like the phrase “go find yourself”, indicating that we are all lost here in this world. No, we are not all lost. Some of us just needs to get to know ourselves again, reconnect with our inner child who so badly wants to come out and play. I never lost myself, I only forgot about those parts that made me, into me. And ever since I realised that, I’ve been happier than I have been in a very long time. Something else I realised rolling down the river, is how much I love being outside and doing outdoorsy activities like diving, hiking and kayaking.

Last time I kayaked I think I was 12, it was a school trip and I don’t remember much. But I do remember some of the kids managed to flip the kayak and was wet the rest of the day. We didn’t flip the kayak, no me and Aubrey paddled the Mekong river like champs. We went with Green discovery tours, paying 41 USD each. The more people joining in, the cheaper the price. One of the girls called in sick so it was just me and Aubrey, and the guide of course. The drive out to the start point took 45 minutes ish, as the car was driving down to the river, two little boys followed running after the car, their laughter echoing in the mountains. I snapped a photo and they gladly posed with the biggest smile on their faces, finding this foreigner taking their picture hilarious. Me and Aubrey shared a kayak making us a lot faster than our guide, taking several breaks just gliding while waited for him to catch up. The sun was so strong and it felt like my skin was burning. I did put on SPF 50, but that didn’t stop me from getting a deep tan. In fact I am super tan now after being out in the sun these last 3 weeks. After 1 hour we reached Pak Ou caves, also known as Buddha caves. Back in the day the locals didn’t have temples, they would come up to the caves instead. Still to this day, people come up here to give their offerings and prayers. Before going home we did one more stop at a village called Whiskey village, to see how the locals live. We were greeted by 3 adorable little boys dressed up as superheroes. Batman and superman all gladly posed for my camera, like Aubrey so vividly put it, my eggs are ringing haha. After the village we paddled another 10 minutes to the checkpoint where the car awaited. All in all we paddled 10 km down the river, and the next day we could tell by how sore our shoulders and backs were.

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If you find yourself in Luang Prabang wanting to do it too, you should go but not with this company. It was a great tour, but Green discovery felt rather unprofessional. I don’t know if it’s just a Laos thing, but we spent one hour extra picking up the kayak equipment, not letting Aubrey know before picking her up, she waited one hour not knowing if they were coming or not. We did several more stops back and forth, on the way back our guide even stopped to buy chicken cages. Once again dropping off the equipment instead of dropping me off first. I spent 2 hours longer than necessary, they even tried to charge us extra because the other girl canceled. So do the tour but choose another company. Kayaking was a super fun activity leaving me with an amazing memory. It’s something different that I will gladly continue to do when it’s time for me to return home. On this trip so many people have asked me if I’m doing a gap year, no this isn’t my gap year, this is my bucket list year. Where I do everything I’ve ever wanted and never tried before, like golfing and Go karting. I know, I’ve never gone Go karting but that is going to change very soon. So stay tuned!

Have a Buddhaful day, love Chris.

Kuang-Si waterfalls

There are few places left in the world where you step into what looks and feels like a fairytale realm. Kuang-Si waterfalls in Luang Prabang is one of those places. Clear turquoise water flowing down in never ending eternity pools. Your brain can’t compensate for it’s beauty and an endless “oh my god”, “wow”, “it’s so ….” is all you can manage to say, with the biggest grin over your face. Is it worth the trip? This must be one of those beautiful places overcrowded with visitors. YES, YES, YES a thousand times over, YES. Pictures, videos, stories and articles can’t justify it’s beauty, it can only be experienced. Know when to beat the crowd, get your bathing suit ready and strap on those hiking sandals, because Kuang-Si waits for no one.

One Norwegian, one French and one American girl agrees to meet at 7.30 am Monday morning, to experience this magical place firsthand. We met at Joma café in the middle of Luang Prabang, located right next to my guesthouse. The more the merry, or the more the cheaper is the slogan here in Luang Prabang. We split a tuktuk, paying 200,000 kip for a roundtrip, 5 hour tour. When haggling a tuktuk, you agree on a price and the amount of time you would like to stay at your destination, if it’s a roundtrip. Depending on the driver, some will charge you extra if the wait is long. Gasoline is very expensive and taking a trip in between waits will cost too much. You pay another 20,000 kip in entrance fees, and off you go. Remember to go early as your chances to explore and enjoy will be bigger, than if you come here later in the day. But don’t let that scare you off from coming here, as I’ve said, it’s worth it.

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On the way you will pass a bear sanctuary, with bears rescued from those who believe the bear bile will increase male virility and sexual prowess. I mean, we live in the 20th century.. Time to pack up those superstitions (China and Vietnam I’m looking at you). If you want to read more about it, you can read about it here. Warning: it’s very graphic, but informative. It amazes me how someone can hurt these furry creatures. My mind experienced cuteness overload when watching these adorable bears eat with their cute little faces. I just wanted to run up to them and cuddle (which I would never because they are wild, and wild belong in the wild), but you know, that’s just me, crazy right?

After you’ve had your dose of cuteness overload, you walk up another 5 minutes. The moment we heard the distinct sound of water falling down we all started smiling and doing a quiet squeal, like the girls we are. Reaching the waterfall is one of those experiences that’s too hard to explain in words, I’ll let the pictures speak for itself, even though pictures don’t do it any justice. We got to caught up in the beauty of it, wanting to reach that area you see in the pictures, and forgot to actually explore the lower part, which is the first part of the waterfall. As you cross the bridge there is trail you can take that will lead up to the middle part. For some reason there were a no entry sign, by the looks of it a tree had fallen down blocking the way. Like the other visitors passing by trying to warn us, we so cockily ignored, climbed back down to hike up the other trail.

So I’m not lazy, I consider myself quite sporty. But when you travel long term working out becomes less of a priority, there is just a lot more fun stuff to do, then spending time in the gym. The hike up was hot, slippery and I felt like I was going to die. I started with being first, but after 5 minutes I let my fellow travelers surpass me as I was trying to catch my breath. That’s how out of shape I am right now. The hike it self isn’t that bad, but when your body is in hibernation from workout, you will deff break a sweat, unless you are one of those weird people who don’t sweat. I’m looking at you Anadora. 45 minutes later we reached the top with a breathtaking view. Once again my brain couldn’t cope with the stunning view and I was left in awe. The top of the waterfall is worth the hike. While you soak in the view, you can swim around in the many many pools to cool off, enjoy a lao beer or go for a boat ride. Just remember bug repellent because it is the jungle after all, and those pesky little suckers are everywhere. There you have it, now it’s time for me to shut up and let you scroll through my pictures. Enjoy!

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Luang Prabang

For now this laptop lives on, and I can finally tell you about these past amazing days. From Vang Vieng the mini van drove through hills, mountains and the off beaten road the reach Luang Prabang. The roads between cities here in Laos is pretty bad, and almost everyone in our minivan got car sick. I was the last person they picked up before hitting the road and had to sit in the front. Right before the minivan picked me up I took my precautions taking a pill against motion sickness. The drive from VV to LP takes about 4 hours, driving up through the mountains. The view is amazing, so make sure to get a window seat, preferably in the front, because you know, you don’t want to hurl all the way to Luang Prabang, like one of the french guys in the minivan. As I mentioned the roads are pretty bad, and it almost gave me a heart attack. The driver drove like a mad man, almost running down everyone walking in the streets, and raping the car horn for everyone to move out of the way. At one point he almost ran over a dog, instead of slowing down to let the dog get out of the way, this guy starts speeding up, and the dog barely survived. Good gracious, we have at least another 3 hours to go. I say a little prayer and kiss my buddha for good luck.

Here are some pictures of the view you get when you drive:IMG_6701IMG_6707

In Luang Prabang I stayed at this wonderful guesthouse called Nocknoy Lanexang Geusthouse, 2 minutes walk away from the night market. Perfect location! The woman running the guesthouse were super sweet. Here you also get free breakfast, 2 bottles of water everyday along with towel change, great wifi and air con. The beds are huge and soft, guaranteed a good nights sleep. After being fairly unlucky with previous stays here in Asia, I do appreciate a nice and clean room, without bedbugs. I’m sure you can understand, so if you are looking for a nice place to stay, I whole heartedly will recommend Nocknoy.

IMG_6722(Banana pancakes, fresh fruit and mango smoothie for breakfast)

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My friend recommended me a travel group on FB, called Girls love travel, in shorts, GLT. Here you can post travel related questions, meet up with other travellers, or get travel tips. I’ve been a member of this site for a couple of months now, and haven’t met anyone, until I came here to Luang Prabang. I’ve been traveling alone for a while now, I truly love it but sometimes it gets very lonely. Especially when there is so much cool stuff to do, and sometimes you just want to share those moments with someone else. So I wrote on GLT, asking if anyone were in the area and wanted to go to Kuang Si waterfalls with me. I was in luck, a girl named Aubrey replied that she would be there as well, traveling solo and would love to go with me. And just like that, we met up in the afternoon and boy did we go on adventures together. Aubrey is the redhead chick in the pictures, and I had an amazing time together with her! Just because you travel alone, doesn’t mean you have to be alone all the time. For any other solo female travelers out there, GLT is a great community for those times when you just want to share that happiness. Traveling is a wonderful learning experience, challenging me in so many ways. For every day that goes by, I’m falling more and more in love with this world. I can’t wait for my next adventures, but first imma tell you about my awesome nature treks through the jungle in Luang Prabang.

Have a beautiful day everyone, love Chris.

Vang Vieng

It seems everywhere I go, I come across bed bugs. Those pesky little annoying sons of bitches got this ninja thing down. I usually don’t write tips and tricks, unless I’m writing about a really good or bad experience, that’s just not my blogging style. But this is the 3rd time I’ve come across bed bugs in 3 months. Luckily I caught them right before I was going to lay down in my bed. The hostel seemed so nice, so clean. There were tiny dark spots on the sheets, but I ignored them, checked the mattress, the corners and it all seemed fined. I put on my bed bug sheet, but still right before I was going to sleep, a really big one crawled over my bed. Now if you have never encountered these pesky little shits, you can’t imagine what this does to your sleep and psyche. You become paranoid, you’re afraid to sleep, you think every little dust or dirt on the bed is bed bugs. You become obsessed. It was the middle of the night, people working in the reception had gone home for the day, and there I was at midnight, wondering where the hell do I go, what do I do now. I packed up my stuff, started reading more about how to avoid bed bugs, what to look for etc. Then I walked over to another hotel, and spent the night on top of the duvet, clinging to my silk liner like it was going to save my life. This is night number 3, and I’m still paranoid. I probably got bitten, how much and how many bites I don’t know yet. It usually takes 3-4 days before the bites appear. I might get lucky and caught the bugger right before it did any damage, so fingers crossed.

My bus was picking me up from the first place I was staying in, so I walked over and explained what had happened. The manager apologised, reimbursed me, and explained they had just had pest control 4 days ago to get rid of bed bugs. And now they’re back. Like the pest control said, you can get rid of them, but you can’t avoid them. Because some traveler will bring them with them, and you know the drill. So what can you do to avoid them?

  1. If you see dark tiny spots on the sheets, don’t stay. Bed bug sheets can only do so much
  2. Keep your luggage off the floor, preferably in the bathroom
  3. Check all creeks, corners, mattresses, sheets, pillows and so on
  4. Trust your instincts
  5. Sleep with clothes on, inside of a silk liner if possible. Less skin exposed, less skin for the bed bugs to bite

Well this is all I have for tips, so if any of you got any better tips, please do share.

As I said in my previous posts, I only had one day in Vang Vieng. I really wanted to try tubing and the hot air balloon ride, but because of the lack of time, and monsoon season, I did neither. With the little time I had, I rented a bicycle and rode around for a couple of hours doing some sightseeing of my own. This city is so beautiful, I mean just take a look at the picture I posted. The first one was the view from my hotel room. Yes I stayed in a hotel, just couldn’t take the risk of bed bugs again. Even though there is no guarantee that hotels don’t have them, but here in Asia, there is a bigger risk because of all the travellers staying in hostels, they move around so quickly, that symptoms from bites don’t appear until after they’ve moved from 3 or 4 new places. So yeah the hotel was great, slept on top of the duvet again, and kept my backpack in the bathroom. But enough about bed bugs for now. Vang Vieng is such a beautiful, peaceful city with mountains everywhere. Green lush nature with a river that attracts so many travellers every single year. If you need to relax a little, take it easy after hectic traveling around SE Asia, I would say Laos is the place to be. There isn’t much to do, so learn to enjoy the calmness, and go with the flow. Get your cycling on, strap them hiking boots on or trek away through the jungle to find a hidden waterfall. Either way, Laos will have something for everyone.

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Vientiane through pictures

I wasn’t sure I was actually going to go through with my travel plans to Laos, because I was stuck in an island mindset, all I could think about was when my next dive were. Also I felt it would be same same but different, like Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. There are many similarities, like the language. I can speak Thai with everyone and they understand me, so no language barrier. But boy do I feel like this country is very different. Now I’ve only been here a couple of hours, but the little I saw, maaan it’s beautiful. The atmosphere is so chill. From what I’ve heard Vang Vieng is everyone’s favourite city, we’ll see about that tomorrow. I had high expectations for Vietnam but was disappointed, or didn’t see the allure like everyone else. For many different reasons, like rudeness of most people I encountered, the lack of will to help accommodate my vegetarian diet. I’ll tell more about that when I get to writing about the last part of my Vietnam trip. Anyways, back to Laos. I’ll just keep an open mind about this country, without any expectations. Kinda hard to have any when I booked my tickets 24 hours ago, without doing any research. Whatever happens, happens.

Vientiane, I like you. You are beautiful, and here is a handful of photos I snapped while strolling around, trying to cover as much ground as possible before the sun set. There was a strong french atmosphere going on in this city, I like it. Enjoy!

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Check in: Laos.

You know that feeling you get when you can’t really be bothered with doing anything or going anywhere. Koh Tao definitely had that effect on me. I ended up staying longer than I had intended, and in the midst of the island vibe I forgot to cancel my reservation for the hotel in Laos as proof of onward travels from Thailand. The reservation is in 2 days, non-refundable, in Luang Prabang. I had to leave the country on the 28th anyways so might as well get my ass in gear. My hotel booking is in Luang Prabang for 4 days, but I would love to see more of this beautiful country. Last night I booked a last minute flight for today with Air Asia. Air Asia is the asian version of our Norwegian, with super cheap tickets for all the neighbouring countries here in Asia.

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The next days will be pretty hectic to say the least. I need to start exploring as much as I can, I have less than 24 hours in Vientiane, which is where I am right now. Tomorrow my bus leaves for Vang Vieng at 9.30 am, where I will also only be staying one night before going to Luang Prabang, and then finally relax a little again. It’s really easy to get around here in Asia, every hostel is so used to backpackers that they have arrangements with the bus companies. You just buy a ticket for your next destination in the reception, and they come and pick you up wherever you are. I’ve heard stories about bus travels in Laos, so let’s just say I will be taking my motion sickness pills, and drink up on coffee when I arrive, as those pills make me sleepy.

After 10 days living on a beach my mind is no where near the hectic state of mind one needs to travel around like I am going to the next couple of days. But I have done some research and there is a few things I would love to experience, like tubing down the river in Vang Vieng. So stay tuned! I promise I’ll try to be better at updating my whereabouts and what’s what. I even have a ton of film to edit from Cambodia, same with pictures from Vietnam. With the whole bedbug situation everything got pushed back. Well for now, tudelu!

Bucketlist: Certified diver, check!

“My name is Scotty and I will be your instructor” is the last thing I hear before I slowly sink down into this alien world. Tiny little bubbles tickles my face, everywhere I look there is colourful fish going about their day. On Scotty’s command we descent further down and here I am surrounded by massive schools of fish. Diving is one of the best feelings in the world, the feeling of being weightless while swimming through pristine turquoise waters, seeing Nemo for the first time. It only takes 2 dives before I’m hooked, like a drug addict screaming for their next high. A week later and this lil mama is now a certified advanced diver, I will gladly tell you the whole process so you too can channel your inner Ariel. If the thought about going deep down in the ocean scares the shit out of you, don’t worry, I too was scared shitless on my first dive, all the way down to the bottom. As soon as you get a dive or two under your belt, you will be more comfortable and those silly little fears will vanish without you even realising it, because you will be too busy being amazed by the abundant of colourful life that lives under the sea. So here it is ladies and gents!

IMG_6509img_6540.jpgDay 1:

After a happy islander breakfast, we’re ready for our first lesson at 8.30am. The afternoon before we received some homework to read up on for today’s class. Like the lazy student I am, I did not read everything. A little tips, do your homework, you will be more prepared for everything your instructor will teach you. I were in a group of 6 with 4 boys and us two girls. Scotty takes us up to the pool and equipment room to get us set up. He gives a demonstration on how to set up your diving gear, signs and signals, lessons we will be doing underwater like removing our mask, alternate airsharing with your buddy. Eeh how about no? before I finish that panicked thought “don’t overthink diving” Scotty says. First time breathing underwater is a strange sensation where it’s mind over matter. Your brain will tell you that you can’t breathe even though you are breathing perfectly fine. One at a time we do our lessons, except for struggling a bit with our masks, the rest goes smoothly. After todays pool session we head to restaurant to order lunch, and watch the rest of the academic video. Last piece of information for the day is explained by Scotty to get us ready for tomorrows exam, and to answer any question we might have.

Day 2:

This was the day to actually go diving. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. Before go head to the boat we do one last academic lesson before the exam. The exam were really easy, just do the homework and pay attention to your instructor, which you would want to do anyways for your own safety and peace of mind. I scored a 92% with 4 wrong answers, that means I pass! I celebrate with buying my own mask, I have a feeling I will be doing a lot of diving in the nearest future.

First dive site is Japanese Gardens, with a depth of 12 meters. We prep our gears, our group is the first one out so we just stay below and get ready. When diving you always dive in buddy teams, which is for your own safety, in case you go out of air (which you won’t because only losers go out of air) and to make it more comfortable. My buddy is a french girl Marine, who were just as nervous as me. The last check before jumping, rolling, back flipping whatever you prefer into the water, is buddy checks to make sure everything is in place. Scotty jumps in first, and of course I had to be first student in the water. My mind is freaking out, so after 10 seconds of eeh, aaah, nervous laughter and mentally peeing myself I just jump. The thought of doing is more scary then action itself, and like Scotty says “don’t overthink diving”. I was still freaking out in my mind as we were going down, all the way down to the bottom and that fear didn’t go away until dive nr 2. It takes some time to get used to the breathing and controlling your buoyancy, the breathing techniques that will make you go up and down, which is necessary to master before swimming over coral and through caves.

Dive 2 and it just keeps getting better. No more freaking out, this feeling of being underwater is growing on me. This time when I come up I prefer to go back down. And just like that a new human fish is born.

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Day 3:

Up bright and early for a morning dive at 6.30 am, this day we go down to 18 meters! No lessons, just fun diving. All open water divers get filmed on their last day of training, and number one rule of diving – be cool. Our first dive site Chumpon pinnacle, and this time I roll backwards into the water like those cool divers you see on TV. Do I feel cool? Yep, I sure do. The visibility is great, I look down and there is fish everywhere! So many colourful fish and that’s not even the the reefs or close to the corals. Massive schools of fish swim around us, I don’t remember the name for most of them but the colours are hypnotising. We go all the way down to 18 meters and I feel jealous of those who are below me who get to see more cool stuff. But this isn’t the end for me, no I am doing the advanced course as well which means I can dive down to 30 meters. Out of our group I was the only one going on to advanced. On the boat back we all applaud each other for now being certified divers, and celebrate with a drink in the restaurant while watching todays footage. Two of the boys, Maron and Joffrey decided to also do the advanced after watching the video. Yaaay! Go team Scotty! 20813338_1741725519188263_463348589_o20840022_1741725242521624_1641527180_o20841453_1741725042521644_523827808_o20841467_1741724855854996_1348517002_o20841317_1741724852521663_1119350396_o20839784_1741725469188268_332367010_o20841692_1741725512521597_1016360967_oIMG_6568IMG_6569P1050874P1050879P1050880

Day 4:

First day on advanced, I feel confident and happy. I’m well hydrated and I have the buoyancy under control. We need some more lessons before going out, like how to use a dive computer to monitor our ascent and a dive compass for navigation. We do a practice run on the beach following the compass. Seems easy enough, note to self, ask more questions instead of getting cocky. My mask started fogging up when we jumped into the water, the further we go down the more crap our visibility is. I can barely see anything, and it’s getting uncomfortable. The water gets colder and by the time we’re at the bottom I can only see 1 meter in front of me. I almost land on a sea ulcer (imagine a big spiky needle pillow) and starts flapping away crashing into the other guys haha. Scotty comes and help me position myself. When you dive down to 30 meters, most people will experience what we call narcosis. It’s best explained the feeling of being drunk, people who don’t drink or smoke will feel it more strongly than others, aka me. Let’s just say my narcosis was not fun. I actually freaked out, I forgot everything about how my dive computer worked, while everyone else were swimming up I stayed at the bottom because I thought my computer told me I couldn’t go up. All I saw was yellow which means slow down. Joffrey saw me on the bottom just staring at my watch, while I couldn’t see anyone. I almost started crying freaking out on how the hell do I get out of here, not knowing everyone were right above me. After what felt like forever, which was probably just 2 minutes, Scotty comes down and pulls me up. I was in no real danger, my instructor were there the whole time, but it can be really scary. For me it was. When we got back to the boat I were still a bit shaken up, but after a while I felt more embarrassed that I hadn’t payed proper attention to what my instructor had said.

So a lesson to everyone myself included, don’t get cocky. Or you will be that idiot who stayed at the bottom while everyone else goes up. Causing stress not just to yourself but also for everyone else. What’s the number one rule of diving? Be cool. I was not cool haha. P1050883IMG_6572IMG_6573IMG_6578

We did two more dives that day, navigation which went OK because my buddy forgot how the compass worked. And the last dive was night dive. That was really cool! We saw some blue spotted ribbon tale rays, or tiny stingrays in other words. I were a bit scared because I’m scared of the dark, but that was no biggie. It was fun all until I was feeling a bit unwell. I thought it might be because I ate too much, but when we got back to land I felt worse. Everyone on the resort had the stomach flu at one point, so it was something that was going around. Including me. I spent the night in the bathroom and had to skip the next days dive. Which kinda sucked because we were supposed to go wreck diving. And I really wanted to do that too, my only option was to wait for two more days until Friday. So I did, I spent the days walking on the beach, catching up on my reading and getting properly hydrated. I finished my advanced course with another instructor, Stefan. And did a celebratory drink in the evening with the rest of the instructors and dive masters. After one week I was finally a certified advanced adventurer. If I can do it, you can too. I’ve loved it so much that I haven’t wanted to leave this place. Yesterday I did fun diving, we swam through caves and I saw my first turtle! It was so cute! I’m already planning my diving bucket list with whale shark being my number 1. My plan was to leave today, but when the dutch boys came back, Maron and Joffrey, I couldn’t resist staying for another couple of days to dive some more. So yeah I will be staying put in Koh tao little longer, doing some fun dives. and enjoying lazy beach days. I’m trying to convince Maron to join me diving in Borneo, Malaysia, which is supposedly one of the best dive sites in the world. img_6595.jpgIMG_6596IMG_6597IMG_6600

So there you have it guys, diving is amazing, and please don’t do like me and wait until your 25 to do your first dive. There is a whole world of unexplored magical places you can only discover of you dare to enter the water. Have an amazing day, I know I will, right next to all the colourful fishies.

Check in: Koh Tao

“Found the truth beneath your lies, and true love never has to hide” my phone starts ringing, my alarm is that Beyoncé song I can never listen to anymore. I check the time, the screen lights up 3:35am. Already? Didn’t I just fall asleep? It’s too damn early, or should I say late? I really want to shut the alarm off and go back to sleep, but I have a bus to catch in 2 hours. Logic wins over lazy this time, and down the stairs I go to brush my teeth, strap up my backpack and get ready for my next adventure – Koh Tao.

When you’re trying to catch a taxi 4.30 in the morning, it’s not always that easy when in less touristy areas, like where my grandparents live. After running back and forth between both sides of the road trying to hail a taxi, a man from the other side helps me, by watching the left side for me while I look out to the right. Finally we spot one taxi with the red sign which means available, and off I go. Thankfully it’s not one of those chatty taxi drivers, because it’s too early for conversations. When I arrive the Lomprayah office there is already a long line stretching all the way to the sidewalk. I get my ticket, and my pink sticker for Koh Tao Island. The bus leaves at 6:00 am, it’s a 6 hour bus drive to Chumpon before getting on the speed ferry to Koh Tao. The bus ride was surprisingly comfy, even though my stomach was growling the whole time. Normally the bus will stop  at least once, on one of those gas stations, but not today. No sir. We finally arrived in Chumpon at 12:00 am, I quickly run to the bathroom, and stop by the minimart to buy a bag of chips before the boat leaves. I feel like an animal devouring the whole bag within minutes. To be fair, the bag was tiny. One thing I hate about taking the boat, is my body’s lack of handling motion. I get easily motion sickness, especially on an empty stomach. Of course today the waves were extra frisky, which left me sitting outside on the platform, the furthest in the back on a staircase, ready to vomit any minute. And the fact that I had no food in my stomach made it impossible to relieve my suffering. On and off with my hands covering my eyes I fell asleep, while passersby climbed up and down the stairs giving me the pity look. When we finally reached shore I was so relieved! I got picked up by a taxi sent by the diving hotel I’m staying with, Big blue diving resort. The island looks beautiful but I feel like I’m in some foreign country with only backpackers and tourists.

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So for those wondering what I’m doing here in Koh Tao, I am here to get my divers certificate! Doing the open water and advanced course. First lesson was getting registered, watching a couple of videos and getting acquainted with our scuba instructor, Scotty. Tomorrow we will have our first lesson in the water, in the pool to be exact, and I’m so excited! We even have homework, so I better get started. Have a beautiful weekend everyone! And wish me good luck.

25.

Today is my 25th birthday. 25 years on this earth, and for the first birthday in my life I decided to do absolutely nothing. I’ve always celebrated my birthday the way most people do, involving a lot of alcohol and dancing the night away with a bunch of friends. Every year I’ve always gone over the top with celebrating. Last year I spent my birthday in the Maldives doing a private dinner on the beach. It was amazing, but expensive as hell, but that’s what I wanted (I know, such a princess). I could’ve done something similar this year, celebrate it with some travelers I’d met, go to a bar by the end of the night in true backpacker spirit, nothing wrong with that. But I wanted to do something different and more personal, like spend the day with my grandparents, which I haven’t done since my 12th birthday. Yesterday I dragged my butt out of the house to go exchange money for my mom, and went to Central Plaza to buy some cake. And to add a little birthday gift from me to me, I went for a little shopping spree. My grandmother has diabetes and she can’t eat much sweets, therefore I bought her and grandfather each a sponge cheese type of cake I knew they would love, and picked out a matcha cake for myself. This morning I woke up to a big bowl of fruit my grandmother bought for me from the morning market, and she had prepared my favourite Thai dish for dinner. Can a girl ask for more? Before having a big bowl of sticky rice for breakfast, I headed over to 7 eleven to refill my sim card so I could download last nights episode of game of thrones. Yes, I spent the morning eating sticky rice with mango and watching game of thrones, which was awesome. I mean, I’m not gonna spoil anything, but that ending? Oh happy birthday to me! I also bought my grandfather some lottery tickets, that made him so happy. Happier than I have seen in a long time. We didn’t win anything, but we enjoyed cake together. And family time trumps everything, well for me it does because I grew up on a different continent from my grandparents. Here are some pictures of my day, nothing fancy. Just some pictures of food, because, food is life.

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They say one year older one year wiser, I don’t know about that but I do know that I am happier than I have been in a very long time. I’ve not only made one of my biggest dreams come true, but I’m living it every single day. Traveling the world while crossing off one thing at a time from my bucket list. A little change of plans, Laos will have to wait, because I’m going to Koh Tao on Friday, to get my divers certificate! I’m so excited!! I will do the diving course at Big blue dive, doing the open water and advanced course which will take place over 6 days. Oh and for those wondering, my bed bug bites are almost gone. It’s still bit itchy and I look slightly less diseased so that’s good news. Now this birthday girl is hitting the sack early, I need to get to a medical office tomorrow to get cleared for scuba diving because I suffer from motion sickness, and a slight fear of open spaces, like underwater (shark even though I’ve dived with them before). Let’s just hope I don’t panic when I’m 30 meters down. But hey, that’s why we need to get certified to scuba dive, right? Good night everyone!