The Best Thing I Ever Did….. Leave

Salt Flats Bolivia


 3 years ago now my boyfriend & I decided to leave…. well go travelling, he had been made redundant but had found another job and I just decided to quit mine. We decided almost on a whim where we wanted to go and both, luckily, wanted to go to the same places. Antony was going out 2 months before me to work on the national parks in America; I was staying here to earn a bit more money, as we weren’t planning on working whilst we were away. So I bit the bullet and moved back in with my Mum & commuted two hours a day to work, to try and save as much money as possible. 

We made it! Machu Pichu

 Booking our round the world tickets was one of the most exciting things I/we had ever done,(until we went away of course), and we celebrated with a much earned beer. I was 24 & Antony was 28 when we went away, and we both agree that it was the best thing we have both ever done. 



Ice Crevice Franz Josef Glacier

We had a loose itinerary and did most our research online for America, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil & Argentina. In total we spent 1 month together in America, doing Vegas was the highlight for me. The next 2 & half months were spent in South America where we did the Inca Trail, Slow Boat down the Amazon, The Bolivian Salt Flat & San Pedro Prison. Christmas & new year were spent in Rio where we dressed like locals all in white and gave offerings of brightly coloured flowers to the sea, we Samba the nights away, ate Acai to our hearts were content, we witnessed the energy of a new developing country. After Rio we moved to Ilha Grande a tropical island the reminded us of Lost, we hike the island, got caught out in tropical storms with water rising to our knees (we are both over 6tf!), running from the thick tropical rainforest onto the most beautiful if not wet desert beach I have ever seen, we thankfully caught the last boat back to the main part of the island, there are no timetables here, after shouting and running into the sea. In Argentina we experienced how nice and welcoming the locals were the force of Foz De Igagzu, got a taste for local wines in Mendoza on the famous bike tours and took part in siestas. Chile was a fleeting stop only in Santiago before we flew to New Zealand.










The Routeburn Track
Our Australasian journey started with 2 months in New Zealand starting in Auckland and finishing in Christchurch. We well and truly used our hiking boots by doing the Routeburn, Abel Tasman, Franz Joseph & Tongariro crossing. We camped for almost two thirds of our time there to save as much money as possible, really noticing the price difference to South America. In hind sight we both agreed that 6 weeks would have been more than enough time here and we would have spent the other 2 weeks in South America as there was soooo much we didn’t have time to do.




Terrance The Beast
The next 4 weeks were spent going from Sydney to Cairns, again on a tight budget we used relocation websites to find campervans and cars that needed to be moved up the coast conveniently to the places we wanted to go. This was by far the best way to travel as we diverted as much as we wanted and had a great time seeing places they don’t take you on buses. 4 weeks were enough to do the East Coast, and we found Australia extremely expensive, a bunch of bananas were £13!!! They grow them too! We did however get up close and personal with Kangaroos & went snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, one of my life ambitions.

Rice Paddies Of Sapa

The next 4 months were spent traveling around South East Asia. Our senses were bought back to life with almost overwhelming combinations of sights, colours, smells and sounds. Food became colourful again and our first meal in Singapore, Indian Curry eaten off banana leaves with locals, was so good I can almost taste it now. We had basically spent 3 months living of instant noodles, value bread and instant soup in Australasia. We spent 3 days in Singapore enjoying the Eastern and Western influences and feasting on amazing cheap, colourful & delicious food.
 

Sunset from our £5 per night beach hut in Thailand

Malaysia was our next stop, where we went to Kuala Lumpur and spent 3 days there, we stayed in a hostel which cost £2 each per night, located right next the one of the biggest markets in Asia quite a feat. We grew to like the hostel but to begin with I refused to touch anything and slept on a large scarf I had been using as a beach towel. Tioman Islands were our next destination; the island is STUNNING with white sand secluded beaches, no cars and no electricity. We enjoyed great cheap food, cheap accommodation and snorkelling, straight of the beach, to our heart was content. Penang a foody heaven was our next stop we weren’t over keen but it was a good base to get our Thai visas and to get into Thailand.

 

Elephant Ride In Cambodia- We made sure they were well looked after.
On arrival into Thailand we went straight to Koh Phangan for the full moon party. We decided we didn’t want to stay near the main strip as it was meant to be dirty and expensive. Instead we went to Hada Salad beach and found the most amazing beach huts right on the beach. The huts consisted of a double bed, bathroom and balcony with a hammock, it cost us £2.50 each per night, a bargain for amazing beach views and perfect peace. Our days before the full moon party were spent snorkelling and sun bathing uninterrupted and peaceful. The full moon party in my eyes was over rated with just a stupid mix of western teenagers & 20somethings getting stupidly drunk. But that’s just my opinion.

 

Angkor Wat Cambodia
The main highlights of our Asian experience were the Angkor Wat temples & Elephant ride in Cambodia and the laidback beach life & Captain Chims great food in Shilankovilla. Vietnam was a busy loud and bustling yet intriguing country with many great and beautiful places to see, we spent a month here but hiking in Sapa and our tour of Ha Long Bay were my favourite activities. Laos is the opposite of Vietnam; it is quiet, peaceful but just as intriguing. We saw stunning temples and even got caught in a landslide on top of a mountain, a point where I really thought our luck had run out, we spent around 2 & half weeks in Laos and felt very relaxed for it. The remaining two weeks we spent getting ourselves back to Bangkok for our return flight home. Our 1st experience of Bangkok was not great and we weren’t looking forward to returning, but we upgraded to accommodation with AC! (The 1st time in 4 very hot and sweaty months) thanks to a very lovely Christmas present from my Mum. It was also rainy season so the city was actually starting to look cleaner and was less busy. The notorious Koh San Road became our base for our last 4 days where we explored the area went to a roof top bar in our “best” clothes and just savoured our last few days of our epic journey.




Vietnamese Food.. All This for £5!
 

All in all we spent £10,000 each that’s including our round the world ticket.

We went to 14 countries in 10 months.

 We had the most amazing adventure and talk about it every day, even two years down the line. It is without the best decision I ever made and I think Antony would agree with me too. We have so many great memories that we can look back and think yes we actually did do all of that!
Me Feeling Very Tall In Sapa Vietnam

The two questions that I get asked the most are; would you do it again?


Yes I would love to do it again but probably for no longer than 6 months.

 
What was your favourite Country?


Almost impossible to choose from but my favourite continent was South America, I would love to go back to learn Spanish properly and hope to do so before or for my 30th Birthday!

Escapism……Sapa

Northern Vietnam- Sapa

Sapa one of Vietnams most northern cities, people mainly go there to go hiking through the rice fields that you can see above and to meet local tribes.
After spending 20 hours or more getting there, with no toilet, we stayed here for 3 nights 4 days. The highlight of our stay was the hike we did with a local Black Hmong Tribe, Lily, to her house. We spent 4 hours walking down into the rice paddies where we then stopped for lunch at Lily’s house with her family. Amazing! Such a great day they loved telling us about thier tribe. The most amazing thing was that Lily, aged 54, had never been to school but had taught herself how to speak Vietnamese and English, she couldn’t even write her own Black Hmong langauge. Incredible, thanks Lily for a great day out.