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Koh Mook, Could this be the best unexplored Island in Thailand? Blog Post Guide
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Koh Mook – Thailand

Koh Mook – Could this be THE BEST unexplored island in Thailand?

Tropical Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand
Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook

When we decided to go island hopping in Thailand we only had a few weeks to fill and with so much choice it can be hard to decide on just a few. There were a few criteria that we wanted our tropical islands to meet – beautiful empty white sandy beaches and no crazy party atmosphere. After visiting Koh Lipe we had a pretty big task to complete because of how much we enjoyed it there. If you haven’t seen our Blog Post on Koh Lipe – check it out here.

After scouring the map to find islands on our journey we came across Koh Mook, found perfect accommodation and after viewing the photos we couldn’t wait to visit.

WHERE IS KOH MOOK? Located in Southern Thailand on the Southern Andaman Coast. Koh Mook is also known as Koh Muk, with Muk in Thai meaning Pearl. So welcome to Pearl Island.

Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand
Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook

HOW TO GET THERE? There are several ways that you can access Koh Mook with the most common being by speedboat or van+ferry combo. 

From the Islands– You can access Koh Mook from another island (we came straight from Koh Lipe) using the speedboat.

From the Mainland– If you travel from the mainland then you can go by ferry from Pakbara Pier with Hat Yai being the closest airport. Often the ferries are combined with vans to make a package – it is much better value and far easier.

Tropical Flowers, Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand
Frangipani on Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand

WHY VISIT? If you are looking for a quiet, undeveloped Thai island experience with a picture perfect beach then look no further.

Pro’s – Koh Mook is so quiet which means you get the relaxed island vibes. We also found food much cheaper here than in Koh Lipe with a great selection of low key restaurants. The local islanders were the friendliest we met which was the cherry on top of our visit.

Tropical Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand
Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook

Con’s – There are few beaches on this island and if you are looking for the perfect white sandy photo there is really only one, where we spent all of our time. Sivalai Beach – if you google Koh Mook this is the poster child for the island.

Top Sights

Sivalai Beach

Technically known as Hao-Laem Beach but because the Sivalai Beach Resort sits on this beautiful peninsula this is the most common name. If you stay at this resort you have direct access to this beach and if you don’t, then its not far at all to get here. Luckily for us we were staying a mere 10 minute walk away. This beach is a big reason we came here, most days there were only a handful of people enjoying it, soft white sand, clear blue ocean, frangipanis and palm trees. It was a tropical island bliss.

Palm trees on Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand
Sivalai Beach perfection, Koh Mook
Frangipani on Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand
Koh Mook, Thailand

Beachside dining at The Perfect Bar & Restaurant

A very highly rated place (just take in the Trip Advisor reviews) because the food is delicious and reasonably priced, it’s located in a wonderful beachside setting BUT most importantly the staff are just insanely nice. Always wearing the biggest smiles which made you feel so welcome. We ate here a few times and loved each occasion.

Cycling around the Island to Charlie Beach

You can easily hire scooters in Koh Mook or grab a free bike like we did from our accommodation. My insta worthy yellow beach cruiser was the perfect companion to explore the island. We cycled through local villages, took a cruise to our moonlit dinner reservations and visited Charlie Beach (also known as Farang Beach) on the other side of the island.

Beach cruiser palm tree grove, Coco lodge, Koh Mook, Thailand
Beach Cruiser at Coco Lodge, Koh Mook, Thailand
Cycling on Koh Mook Island, Thailand
Cycling on Koh Mook, Thailand

Beachcombing

That favourite past time to while away the hours on the beach whilst you search for mermaid treasure (that’s what I like to call the shells I collect – or hoard as my husband would say!) You have come to Koh Mook to relax right? So take in the views, stroll along the beach and see what treasures you can find

Tropical Beach Shells, Koh Mook, Thailand
Cowrie Shells on Sivalai Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand

Emerald Cave

This is actually one activity that we didn’t do when we were there but we heard great things.

WHERE TO STAY? We stayed at Koh Mook Coco Lodge. Offering simple bamboo huts in a palm tree grove located right by the ocean. Only a 10 minute walk from Sivalai Beach and an even shorter walk to the local town where all the restaurants are located this was the perfect place for us.

They offer free bicycles to use, the huts are really clean ( they are also made up everyday for you) and come with free bottles of drinking water. They do have their own restaurant which we had breakfast in but wouldn’t recommend it. There are also a lot of wild dogs here which some may find a bit aggressive but we didn’t mind them. The owners are very friendly but speak little English. All in all it was great value for money.

Thai Bamboo beach huts on Koh Mook, Thailand
Coco Lodge Bamboo Huts, Koh Mook
Koh Mook tropical sunsets Thailand
Beautiful Koh Mook sunset

How Long to Stay? We stayed for 3 nights but you could easily spend longer in Koh Mook. If you are looking for a quiet little paradise then a week wouldn’t be a stretch.

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Koh Lipe – Thailand

Koh Lipe – Your Guide to this Thai Island Paradise

Thai Long Tail Boats on Koh Lipe Island Thailand
Traditional Thai Long Tail Boats, Koh Lipe, Thailand

WHERE IS KOH LIPE? Located near the Malaysian border in the Andaman sea in Thailand, Koh Lipe is one of the furthest islands to visit on the traditional Thai Island hopping route. 

HOW TO GET THERE? There are several ways that you can access Koh Lipe with the most common being by ferry, speedboat or van+ferry combo. 

From the Islands– You can access Koh Lipe from another island (we came straight from Koh Lanta) using the ferry or speedboats.

From the Mainland– If you travel from the mainland then you can go by ferry from Pakbara Pier with Hat Yai being the closest airport.

Swimming on Koh Lipe Island in front of Castaway Resort, Thailand
Swimming on Koh Lipe Island, Thailand

WHY VISIT? If you like white sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise ocean, access to dive sites and a bustling town with cool restaurants and bars then Koh Lipe is the perfect fit for you.

Pros – We loved staying on Sunrise Beach as it was one of the best beaches we visited on our trip in Thailand due to the white sand and clear ocean.

Koh Lipe Castaway Resort Beach on Koh Lipe Island Thailand
Castaway Resort Beach, Koh Lipe Island, Thailand

Cons – It is more expensive to stay in Koh Lipe than surrounding islands. Accommodation costs more along with essentials like soft drinks and beer in the local supermarkets being almost twice the price. 

Top Sights

Sunset Beach

Take a walk across the island to visit Sunset Beach. You can snorkel once here and watch the sunset with a cold brew or two.

Diving with Castaway Resort

Located at Castaway Resort they run daily dive activities along with snorkelling tours. You can learn to dive with them and even hire out water sports equipment.

Walking Street

The bustling Walking Street is where all of the restaurants and bars are located. It runs directly between Sunrise Beach and Pattaya Beach. Offering a selection of food for all budgets, our favourite was Banana Roti’s from the street food stalls. You will notice how much they love condensed milk here so a drizzle of that on your Roti is the perfect finishing touch.

Sunrise Beach Walk at Sunrise

Watching the sunrise on the beach is always a favourite pastime of ours and it was made all the easier because we stayed on the beachfront. This time of the morning is always quiet here and perfect for relaxing before a busy day ahead. You could even follow your sunrise walk with Yoga or Sunrise meditation at Castaway Resort.

Palm Trees at Andaman Resort

Palm Trees on the beach at the Andaman Resort on Koh Lipe, Thailand
Andaman Resort Palm Trees Koh Lipe, Thailand.

Walk to the North of Sunrise Beach and you reach the Andaman Resort which is home to a selection of stunning palm trees. The perfect backdrop to your island vacation photos. 

Palm trees on the beach at the Andaman Resort on Koh Lipe Island Thailand
Perfect spot for your holiday photos, Sunrise Beach, Koh Lipe.
beach views on Koh Lipe in Thailand
Views from the beach on Koh Lipe, Thailand.

WHERE TO STAY? Sunrise beach is the most beautiful beach on the island and we were lucky enough to stay at Castaway Resort. We stayed in a Beachfront Breezy Bungalow and it was just pure magic.

Castaway Resort Thai beachfront villa on Koh Lipe Island
Our Beachfront Villa at the Castaway Resort on Koh Lipe.

These two floored bungalows overlook the ocean which you can admire from either your hammock on the front deck or from your bedroom balcony (or even your bed if you feel like it). The ground floor is your spacious bathroom with steps leading up to the second floor bedroom. The bed situated in the centre of the room is the main focus and the perfect place to relax and listen to the ocean breeze.

Beachfront hammock and private villa deck
Our very own beachfront deck and hammock, Castaway Resort, Koh Lipe.

With woven beach bags, floor cushions and lockable chests to keep your valuables safe, it’s the little touches that make a big difference. This eco friendly resort does not offer hot showers or air con but we felt neither of these were needed. With the heat of the sun, a cold shower was the perfect way to cool down and the ocean breeze provided sweet relief in the evenings. They also use an initiative called Trash Hero to help keep the island clean from plastic pollution by encouraging you to refill your water bottles (or purchasing one of their refillable bottles) from their filtered water station.

Private Beachfront villa accommodation on Koh Lipe Thailand
Can we just live here forever? Koh Lipe, Thailand

The resort has it’s own dive shop where you can take dive/snorkel trips and even learn to dive. You can take part in yoga classes, treat yourself to a spa treatment and even experience sunrise meditation. With a beautiful alfresco restaurant and bar offering fantastic food and a daily happy hour this resort has everything you need for a trip to Koh Lipe. To find out more about Castaway Resort click here.

tropical happy hour cocktails on Koh like
Cocktails and Happy Hour?! Yes Please!

HOW LONG TO STAY? We found 3 nights is the perfect amount of time to visit Koh Lipe

Thank You to the Castaway Resort for hosting us, our stay was gifted and all opinions are our own. We truly only recommend places that we absolutely love.

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Kamenjak – Croatia

Croatias Best Kept Secret – Kamenjak National Park!

Kamenjak National Park, Croatia. I am pretty sure you have never heard of it. If you have, then I hope you have visited because I’m gonna tell you why it’s a must in this post. When you think of Croatia you probably think of Island hopping off the coast of Split, checking out Kings Landing in Dubrovnik or maybe even checking out Rovinj as it becomes ever more popular thanks to Instagram.

Luckily for us one of our Instragram followers suggested travelling to this amazing location when we got to Croatia. We are so glad they reached out to us because they helped create some of our favourite memories. Kamenjak National Park is on the Southern most tip of the Istrian Peninsula.


Source: Google Maps

You cannot camp in the National Park but you can camp right next to the entrance to the park, so you are within super easy walking distance. There are also plenty of hotels and guest houses you can stay with in Premantura. Booking.com has so many choices (all with really incredible reviews) and if you book through my link you get 10% back on your stay.

It is an absolute nature lovers heaven!! I cannot stress this enough! The water is an incredible crystal clear blue, it is clean as clean can be. There are masses upon masses of wild flowers of all different vibrant colours and varieties coating the coast. The rocky coastline is dotted with idyllic, secluded islands and there are literally hardly any cars around. You can cycle your way around the park (this is what we opted to do on our mountain bikes) or walk and find your own private piece of nature to bask in.

This little piece of Paradise is 100% well worth the visit and detour away from the usual Croatian hot spots.  If you plan on visiting the stunning towns of Rovinj or Pula it’s just a short distance down the coast. You will also be pleasantly surprised with the drive back up on the East Coast. Reminiscent of the coastal roads on the Amalfi Coast past cliff hugging fishing ports. We took a few days out of our schedule to just relax here, riding our bikes along the coast and admiring the views….oh the views! 

We stayed at Arena Stupice Campsite in Premantura, the location of this campsite could not be any better for the views. It’s located next to the sea and you can walk and cycle in to the park from the campsite (if you drive in you have to pay a daily fee). The camping pitches are not the flattest, many are on a slant and it’s very hard to figure out what actually classes as your pitch. But there are plenty to choose from so just take your time scouting out a spot.

HOT TIP: If you camp at Arena Stupice Campsite make sure you pre book your spot online before you arrive. You will get a much better rate and a better site to camp on. We ended up booking online when we were stood in reception as they could not offer the same online rate in person.

Plenty of visitors come here to sail, kayak, fish, hike, cycle and just spend time exploring the coastline. 

We are big cyclists so started our cycling tour on the Dinosaur Trail. Fun Fact – Dinosaurs used to frequent this area in the Cretaceous period. How awesome is that?! Along the path you can explore all of the geological curiosities of Kamenjak.

The path continues around the edge of the peninsula and mainly along the coast. We stumbled upon the quirkiest little beach cafe- in the middle of no where. Imagine turning up to what looks like vegetation on the edge of the cliff with a few wooden structures outside.

You hear the murmuring of voices and make your way into the bushes to find what looks like the Lost Boys camp from Never Never Land. Safari bar is surprisingly busy for somewhere thats completely hidden. Take a visit here just to witness the quirkiness including the giant swing, sea shell dens, roller slide and tiki huts. 

As you walk through the bar to the cliffs edge you reach the most stunning view and cliff jumping hot spot where the water is incredibly clear.

We hopped on our bikes to continue the ride and came across vast empty countryside, empty beaches and incredible views. We stopped to take a dip in one cove we had all to ourselves. It’s that quiet we would turn up to a beach and if there were people there we would just move to the next beach which would inevitably be empty.

A short while later we arrive back at our van in the campsite and settle in to our camping chairs to take in the view. We crack open an Ozujsko Limun, our favourite Croatian tipple and chat about how awesome our day was. All thanks to a fellow traveller recommending Kamenjak National Park. If you plan on visiting Croatia and like nature then make sure you visit here! It’s just incredible.

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Dubrovnik – Croatia

What No One Will Tell You About Visiting Dubrovnik

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Dubrovnik is a big hitter when it comes to places to visit in Croatia. As such this means that finding places to park your camper van (if travelling this way like us) for a reasonable price is near impossible. Some campsites charge upwards of 45 Euros per night.

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Using all our resources and after much research we decided to not stay in the main town and booked a campsite in Kupari. You can also find cheaper accommodation like we did by staying outside of the main city. For 15 Euro a night, our campsite was located about 20 minutes down the road. You can access Dubrovnik from here by local bus, but we decided that the more fun way (and also an excuse to make an experience out of it) was to travel by boat.

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Kupari is a really interesting place to stay, it is pretty deserted and this is mainly because the beaches have empty hotels that were used a bases for the army. They were destroyed during the Croatian War of Independence and have not since been inhabited. Covered in graffiti and overgrown with weeds it’s like something out of an apocalypse movie. Imagine sunbathing on the beach as you would in a resort, but turn around and the desolate hotels stare back at you. A little eerie but something really amazing to experience. Unfortunately this was the last year that you would be able to see these hotels like this as the land has been bought by a luxury development company who will be building a Four Seasons hotel in their place. They won’t be in bad company as the 5* Sheraton is located just around the bay, also a 10 minute walk from the campsite.

HOT TIP – If you fancy a dip in their pool, you may just be able to walk through the lobby and downstairs, grab a towel from the pool boy and lay on the sun loungers for a while and take a swim. Just saying……

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We decided to use Adriana Cavtat, the boat transfer company that our campsite suggested. If you travel to Dubrovnik and want to take the same boat, I don’t recommend using this company. The transfer itself is lovely but they are never on time and often get full from the previous stops so you can’t get on the boat that you have been waiting 40 minutes for. It isn’t worth the hassle and there are other providers who seemed more reliable. The views on the journey are awesome, arriving into and departing from Dubrovnik this way is just magical so I highly recommend getting on a boat at some point during your stay.

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Dubrovnik is by far the most busy city that we have visited in Croatia. It is overwhelming how many people visit, and we didn’t visit in peak season. Also bear in mind that we visited in the middle of May and it was 38 degrees! Even the gelato shop manager was pointing out how hot it was for us,  but nothing compared to the temperatures they normally experience – over 40 degrees.

The reason it gets busy it because:

  1. It is an absolutely gorgeous walled city that is so well preserved you cant help but fall in love and tell all your friends about it so they want to come and visit. The views from walking along the wall are just insane.
  2. Since Game of Thrones came out and everyone realised that Croatia is where it is filmed, and Dubrovnik in particular is Kings Landing then the city has really thrived with this tourism. Tours, merchandise, souvenirs you name it.
  3. Cruise Ships – hoards of cruise ship tours come to Dubrovnik to experience this beautiful city so the streets are filled with walking tours.

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To avoid the busy period – come out of season, like really out of season. Find out when the cruise ships are not docked in Dubrovnik so there will be a massive reduction in tourists. This way you stand a chance at experiencing this beautiful place in a little more peace.

The best part of Dubrovnik – walking along the city walls. To be honest, we didn’t do any research on this but knew it was a must do activity. So we were pretty surprised to find out that the entrance to the walls is 20 Euro per person, for us on a very tight budget this was a major splurge. But it was 100% worth it. The journey will take you a good 1 – 2 hours, mainly because the views are just to die for and there are so many nooks and crannys to discover. But also because it is so busy and wide enough for just one person you end up queuing in places.

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My main tip would be to not walk the walls at midday, there is practically no shade and maybe 1 or 2 places to find refreshments along the way.

Once we walked the walls we headed down in to the town to discover what other treasures there were. There are plenty of amazing restaurants, bars and shops interspersed with old churches and museums. Take a walk along the waterfront and admire the views, or even take a boat ride out to sea to visit an island.

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Have you been to Dubrovnik? What are your tips for visiting?

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If the thought of going to Las Vegas has ever crossed your mind-then look no further. This guide to the 10 Top Things To Do In Las Vegas And Not One Is Gamble, is the final nudge and will make you want to take that credit card out of your pocket and head straight to the Travel Agents. Earlier this year we spent 4 amazing nights in a Suite at The Signature at the MGM Grand, one of the only hotels in Las Vegas that does not have a casino inside. For us this was perfect-we don’t gamble, did not have the funds to either but wanted to experience what Las Vegas had to offer. Here are ten reasons why we can’t wait to go back:

  1. I call it adults Disneyland. Imagine a place where you are surrounded by your wildest fantasies. This place is insane, over the top, extravagant, beautiful, luxurious and incredibly likeable. Even the fact that it is in the middle of the desert makes this seem like it has just been plucked out of a movie-wait a minute,it has. If you have seen movies such as The Hangover you will realise that this party destination can bring such eccentricities as drunken weddings, riding a roller coaster on top of a building or even just having the worst hang over of your life. The fact that you can buy meter long slushy margaritas and walk around town all day with them only encourages you to keep bopping along in the holiday spirit.collage town
  2. The BEST place for seeing a variety of shows. Whether you are a die hard Celine Dion fan or want to get back to your childhood roots and see Brittany Spears, Las Vegas is the place to do it. There is an abundance of wildly different shows from Cirque du Soleil to the Blue Man Group and something to everyones tastes.collage shows
  3. Visit Paris, Venice and Greece all in one day. Never thought that was possible, well in Las Vegas anything is possible. Head over to the Paris hotel to be treated to an enormous Eiffel Tower or visit The Venetian to have a punt in real Gondolas whilst you are serenaded by authentic Gondoliers. If that wasn’t enough culture for you pop over to Caesars Palace to experience togas and Grecian statues galore. collage europe
  4. Visit a swanky bar. Las Vegas has some of the most luxurious bars in the world. The place is literally dripping in diamonds and money. You can even visit a bar set inside the worlds largest chandelier-I can’t even think of anything more luxurious than this.
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  5. Watch the world famous Bellagio fountains move to music. The BEST place to witness this is by far the Hyde Bar at the Bellagio Hotel. Visit at sunset or early evening when the fountains look the best and the bar isn’t busy, then sit in the luxurious setting of the Hyde balcony overlooking one of the worlds most famous sights.
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  6. Eat at an all you can eat buffet. These are a must if you come to Las Vegas and has to be done at least once. After much internet research before we went we ended up heading to two. The MGM Grand and Bellagio. For under $30 (approx £17) you can eat as much food and drink as you like, at the MGM they even throw in unlimited champagne-yes unlimited!!! Beware though, you might find yourself rolling out if you try and eat too much, it’s hard to resist everything thats on offer.Screenshot_2014-07-22-17-22-36
  7. Get on the VIP list. If you want to party then get yourself on a VIP list. You don’t have to be rich or famous just savvy and well prepared. Sign up to a free vip list website and you will be able to get your name on a list, get free drinks and free entry to some of Las Vegas hottest night clubs.
  8. Hotel Hop. You can easily spend all day just walking up and down the Strip hopping from one hotel to the other. Each one has so much to offer you will be entertained for hours. Best thing of all-you can do this for free!
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  9. Stay somewhere luxurious. If there was ever a time to push the boat out and stay in a luxurious hotel then this is IT. Las Vegas is one of the most popular destinations on the planet and as such offers the largest variety of luxury accommodation all within one area. As it is a gambling city you are able to stay in the most amazing hotels for a fraction of what it might cost somewhere else. Choose the time of the year wisely and you could have 4 nights in a 5* hotel suite for less than what one night might cost in New York. collage mgm
  10. Get Married. Cliche-yes! But still a very popular wedding destination and with a variety of wedding chapels and reasonable flight prices you can invite your family over and have your hen/stag party, wedding and honeymoon all in one.

Now if that isn’t enough to persuade you, I don’t know what is.

 

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From Corporate to Cloud Nine

“In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take”

Daydreaming at your desk, screensavers of far away paradises pop up on your computer screen and you can almost hear the beautiful and soothing sun-kissed jams floating past your ears! That is until you are interrupted by the trilling sound of the telephone reminding you exactly where you are-sound familiar?

Meet Tyler Rosolowski- an I.T expert from Auckland in New Zealand.Tyler made the life changing decision to leave the corporate world behind him and travel to cloud nine, Buka to be exact. Buka is an Island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville of Papua New Guinea. The region is also known as Bougainville Province or the North Solomons.

Tyler 1 Tyler has been volunteering as an Information and Communications Technology Network Adviser with the Division of Education in Buka since July 2013. He will complete his assignment in January 2014.

I asked Tyler to be a part of my Corporate to Cloud Nine Blog Post because of his particular situation. Before Tyler set out on his adventure he represented the essence of Corporate. A very successful I.T expert working the 9-5 job, like countless others Tyler had toyed with the idea of giving it all up and travelling. Here is Tyler’s story on how it all started:

“After arriving home from holiday in South Africa with close friends, one of whom was volunteering in a remote village in Africa, I made one of those lifestyle choices. The ones we all dream of in the quiet moments between phone calls and new emails.

On the night of my return I lit one of those big candles on my deck in Parnell. I decided that by the time it burned down, I would leave New Zealand on an IT adventure to volunteer my skills.

I found an excellent volunteer agency in Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA). I feel humble and honoured to follow at least a little in Sir Edmund Hillary’s footsteps and try to help others as he did.

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After many leaving parties, a rather painless short set of flights, and a day in Port Moresby I arrived in Buka. This is where I rested for my first night before going to a less exotic inland location. I was the only white man I saw all day in Papua New Guinea, and soon got used to the locals looking at me, the people are really friendly.

ImageWhen’s the last time you experienced travellers saw a hand written ticket? Computers are not down, they just don’t have computers. Once you pass security there are open windows where you can chat to people in the car park and pass things to. Only in Buka!

I sit here now in the heat on a beach on Buka Island, Bougainville, the breeze on my face and arms, making the layers of dried sweat pleasant again. There is the sound of kids playing and waves gently breaking on the reef.

bukaI’m looking out at the golden sands and crystal clear waters, kids playing in a traditional dugout canoe and cooking smoke from villages lazily drifting up between the plantations and lush green forest. The taste of fresh, sweet pineapple is lingering in my mouth. I regret nothing of my escape, except not putting some rum in my coconut, which I’m told is delicious.”

When I ask Tyler how his life is still treating him volunteering on a tropical Island 5 months on-his response “Amazing!”. We can all make that escape whether it is to volunteer your skills, start a fresh or just travel.Yours, Ever The Wanderer

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A Full Guide

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The art of Bartering was something that was very new to me when I first visited Bali in 2006. It was during my University summer holidays that my friends and I decided to flee the unpredictable English summertime and board a jet plane to Indonesia.

Bali is not only a cheap destination but offers a tropical paradise packed to the rim with culture. With culture there comes new lessons to be learned and the art of bartering is one that you will experience hands on, literally as soon as you land and drag your bags outside the airport to hail your taxi.

Here, at the taxi rank in the sweltering humid heat of Denpasar Airport was where I put in place my bartering technique that I had learned from a fellow University friend who had travelled to these parts in previous summers.

Tip number 1: When the taxi driver asks you if you have been to Bali before-always answer YES, even if this is your first time in the tropical paradise. They use this as a technique to see if you are familiar with their tricks to determine how much they will say it costs.

Tip number 2: Once you have decided which taxi driver to go with out of the swarms that surround you ALWAYS divide what they say is the charge by at least 2 sometimes even 3. I knew from my friends that the typical cost of a taxi from Denpasar Airport to Kuta was at the time 35,000 Rupiah, now when my taxi driver said it would cost 120,000 Rupiah I knew I was being fleeced.

The general rule with bartering is that you can do it with almost anything, even hotel rooms! However this has become a little more difficult in recent years as Bali is becoming a more popular destination since it has recovered from the negative effects of the Bali bombings.

Menu items in restaurants are a set price but if you walk into street shops ( more like a market stall) you are welcomed to barter here. Arranging transport around the island is also a good opportunity to barter as there is much competition between varying establishments. If you walk into Billabong in Kuta there are set prices but if you fancy that shell bracelet that someone has shown you whilst you are sunbathing on the beach you can definitely barter there.

As a general rule it is a customary experience to barter with the locals, it is their culture- so get involved but also don’t let them take too much advantage. It is also easy to get too sucked into the whole experience. Try to remember what it is that you are bartering for and how much that extra 2,000 rupiah means to you (approximately 10 pence or US 20 cents).

Even after I was given advice by my friend I still made mistakes, after buying a bag from a stall I was sure I had bartered correctly and gotten a bargain. £6 for a bag in my opinion was cheap but when I spoke to some friends who had been in Bali a while, they let me know that I could have got it for a third of the price still!

Generally items are pretty cheap, think 20,000-35,000 Rupiah for a pair of sunglasses-even if they have an Oakley label on them. These are fake after all.

My words of wisdom- go with the flow and make mistakes so that you can learn from them but only ever pay what you are comfortable with. If you think it is too expensive then there are always other stalls selling exactly the same thing.

Yours, Ever The Wanderer

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Working Holiday Visas-Tips and Myths

In 2007 I decided to embark on my first working holiday, it is now 2013 and I am living and working in my fourth country-pretty safe to say that I enjoy the lifestyle of working and travelling at the same time.

Fancy living and working somewhere like this? Lake Louise, Banff National Park
Fancy living and working somewhere like this?
Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canada

If you, like me want to enjoy the perks of a working holiday you must first arrange to get a visa. ‘Visa‘ sounds like a scary word, one that involves lots of paperwork and preparation, I am going to tell you that you are wrong. If you follow my guide, with tips and debunked myths you will be able to spend more time planning your trip AND have more money to spend!

My number ONE tip:

When I was in New Zealand working at the Americas Cup race in Auckland, I met a fellow traveller from the UK. The conversation of visas came about and we found that we had organised ours differently. Said friend has purchased her visa through the first company that popped up on Google, it had a professional logo and being the first site she presumed it was the correct one to use. I went through the New Zealand government website and mine cost at least half the price.

Many companies are out there to persuade you they are the best company for arranging your visa-the truth is- the government website for each country offers the most reliable and best priced service.

Tip number TWO:

I am currently living in Canada and when I arrived I discussed how I organised my visa with my work colleague. She had purchased her visa through Bunac, this company offers a package of sorting out your visa, employment and CV advice, help with arranging a bank account and social security number. The cost of this package is £329 not including the visa fee, £100. I went through the Canadian Government website and paid £90 (now £100).

I obviously did not receive any of the other benefits but I was able to do those for free-and easily. A bank account is as easy as just picking one and walking in, hey presto you have a bank card. The social security number is a straightforward online application form. The information you provide to Bunac and other such companies will be the same you provide on your own application via the countries government website, so you really are paying for them to type it into the computer for you. Package deals may seem appealing but consider how much money you will save by knowing how to do it yourself, and trust me it’s very easy.

My Top Picks:

If you fancy the land down under-Australia:

  • Australia was the first country I visited on a working holiday visa, straight out of university I couldn’t wait to fly across to the other side of the world. The visa process is a very straight forward online application via the  Australian Immigration Website
  • Depending on where you come from in the world determines how long it takes for you to receive it but mine came back within 1 hour! Pretty quick and hassle free!

Maybe New Zealand is more to your taste:

  • I lived and worked in New Zealand for 2 amazing years and highly recommend visiting this stunning country. I applied for my visa online via the New Zealand Immigration website and received it within 2 weeks.

Does Canada sound appealing?:

The Canadian visa process is a little more long winded than Australia and New Zealand so I recommend preparing far in advance, the processing times can be 4-8 weeks, they are released in different time slots and are very sought after.The visa is called International Experience Canada and you will find further information on what you need to do in order to apply at the Canadian Government Website

If you would like further advice on working holiday visas or other destinations, leave a message and I’ll get back to you.

Yours, Ever The Wanderer

For Trip Planning, Recent Posts, wanderings

Escape The Daily Grind- How To Quit Your Job And Travel The World

“Repeat After Me-I Am Free”

So you are thinking about packing it all in and venturing out there into the great wild world? There is no better time than NOW. As the saying goes- “Repeat after me-I am free”, after all we are the makers of our own destiny. We made the decision to start travelling the world when we were 20 and 7 years later we are still enjoying the cultures and beauty that the world has to offer.

Where do you start? Well that is the easy part, decide where you want to go, do some research and pack your bag; easy as that. There are so many ways you can travel around the world and on all budgets. If you want to backpack across Europe or become and expat in Asia there are travel resources out there to help you do just that, right at your fingertips. The only thing that will ever get in the way of you carrying out your dreams, is you!

Fear of the unknown, fear of quitting your job and not knowing what the outcome might be, or fear that you won’t be successful or have enough money. Trust me these are all fears that have crossed my mind at some point along my past, but all you have to do is know that it is possible and it is so easy to achieve your dreams.

A few months ago someone said to me “You are so lucky”, this struck me as odd as I replied “I am not lucky, I made the conscious decision to travel”. It is a mindset that you have that can make you think it is hard, or it’s about luck when really all you need to do is make a dream and plan it.

Once you start deciding where to you want to travel to, you can research costs and make arrangements for tickets and accommodation etc. Once you book your ticket, the rest will come naturally and the excitement will follow. All those fears you had will disappear and be replaced with excitement for the future and what is to come.

For those of you who have more ties with mortgages, belongings and jobs it too is an easy dream to achieve once you know how to achieve it. There are an abundance of companies out there willing to help you with shipping belongings, putting them into storage or helping you rent out your house or flat. It may seem like a big task to start with but the end reality is what is so important-achieving your dream of travelling the world-doesn’t that sound so exciting.

Ever find yourself daydreaming at your desk with screen savers of far away places, make that dream into a reality and start planning your trip of a lifetime now. If we can do it-you can too.

Yours, Ever The Wanderer

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