Reflections On My Travels

So this is a long overdue post! I promised it a while ago and as per usual life got in the way and i lost motivation and time. So here it finally is, less of a story of my travels as much as it was planned to be, and more of a reflection on the last year of my life.

So lets flash back to the summer of 2016 when i quit my perfectly reasonable job in IT and decided to travel to the other side of the world, to what i expected would be the sunny, chilled and beautiful New Zealand. In reflection, only really one of those was the case and it certainly wasn’t the weather! I packed up my little life in London, dragged my boyfriend straight from finishing his masters degree and we took the grueling 24 hour trip to paradise.

We had a 2 day stop over in Hong Kong and met some incredible people who would stay with us throughout our trip. Hong Kong beautifully broke up the flights and was a lovely start to the adventure of a lifetime. I wish we had the money and sense to have done a similar stop over on the way home because 31 hours straight travel was ridiculous. Not impossible, obviously, but definitely not something i will be signing myself up for any time soon.

When we arrived in New Zealand, we were faced with a few things we hadn’t really considered. First and forever the most shocking was that it wasn’t always sunny and hot in New Zealand, in fact the weather is basically England on a much more extreme scale. We arrived in Auckland on a gloomy overcast day, to check into a dorm room in a hostel just off the main street. It didn’t occur to us that we would be in a dorm, or that obviously that’s what happens when  you stay in a hostel. So that was a travel shock, the reality of having to share every inch of space and time with strangers. We quickly moved to private rooms in hostels after leaving Auckland, to minimize the awkwardness for us and for everyone else.

So our travels really began when we boarded that bright green tour bus that would be our home away from home. We traveled north to the brighter bay of islands, where we got to see dolphins and sit on the beach and really experience those minutes of holiday and travel. Including the diabolical alcoholism and mischievous activities in the early hours, which made great conversation on the bus the next morning. We made our down the north island to wellington. We sand surfed, caved, luged, spent a night in a Maori village, sat in a natural hot pool on the beach and of course basically drank ourselves out of pocket.

We arrived in Wellington to pouring rain, and yet it felt like we had come home. We spent the night in a hostel before spending two weeks with a distant relative of mine, who became like our mum and took care of us when we needed someone. That will be one of the things i treasure, building that relationship and having that love of family even when you are as far away as you can get from home. Wellington is where we set up our lives, made friends, got jobs, moved into a little flat, really lived like the kiwis do. And it was one of the best experiences of my life. That little flat will forever remain in my heart, as will the people and those gorgeous streets and views as you walk through Wellington and along the harbor. There are some bad memories of there, but they are by far outshone by the joy and beauty of the city and of my time there.

So after several months, it was time to pack my bag and go solo for my adventure down south. So i said goodbye to my jobs, to my friends, to my boyfriend and boarded a ferry to the south island. It was, without a doubt the most amazing and important thing i have ever done. The amount i grew within myself is impossible to describe, the relationships and bonds you can create with people in such a short time is life changing. You will be pushed to truly do what you want, to be responsible for only you and to deal with the consequence of what you do and want. You will push yourself into doing things you would never have imagined you would do, like skydive or learn to surf or crawl into bed with people who you barely know but love.

So New Zealand, you were stunning, absolutely the most beautiful place i have ever been and think will ever go, photos of you don’t look real and i cannot describe your immense totally consuming beauty. You were a challenge for my heart and my head, but most of all my liver. You were completely and utterly the best decision of my life and i cannot thank you and everyone who made you what you were for me enough ❤

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Home

So I have been home for almost 2 weeks now, and after months of pining to be back, I can’t wait to go again! 

The inevitable dread of starting back at work, at having to live at home with my parents again, of having to balance my social life and do all the other adult things is already wearing down on me! 

The only benefit: the fact it’s summer. The hot weather and promise of a holiday in a couple of days is the only thing dragging me through the harsh reality of being back from my travels.

Holiday blues are real, and they are punishing. 

Not as good as I thought

So I have come to the end of my travels, they will get a seperate post! 

But what have I learned about myself? The cliche that travelling helps you find yourself, helps you develop and grow as a person. I guess in my case is very accurate. 

1. I am not as much of a good person as I think I am 

2. I can solo travel

3. I can put myself out there and make friends 

4. I like attention, in fact maybe I actually need it 

5. I am adventurous 

6. I am brave 

7. I overly mother people 

8. I try to justify everything, even when it shouldn’t be justified 

9. I feel like I missed out on certain experiences

10. I am not the person I thought I was. I am not the person I think I am. I am becoming a person I didnt see coming. 

Day 1 

THE ADVENTURE HAS BEGUN! 

So at the delightful hour of 6:35 I started my journey, I boared the commuter train back into Wellington. I was anxious and excited, about to undertake the most challenging 2 weeks of my life. So South I traveled, crossed to the South Island by the ferry to start my first ever solo traveling experience. 

I was praised by the beautiful view after the 3 1/2 ride, Picton glowing in sunlight reflected off the sea. I made some friends on the crossing, I haven’t managed to fully put myself out there, there is something hooding me back. Thankfully, everyone has been very welcoming and inclusive, which has made the first day a lot easier. 

What the plan is for this evening I don’t yet. But I am sure it’ll be an adventure. 

10 Item Wardrobe

So i have just been sat here watching a poorly shot but interesting TED talk on a theory called the ’10 Item Wardrobe’ – if you want the full effect and explanation this is the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3CLRL32Mcw

My first  impression was of immediate horror and the idea seemed impossible. To cut down my wardrobe to 10 key items, 4 bottoms and 6 tops and just continuously wear the same items over and over again. In our society the idea of wearing the same outfit once a fortnight is ludicrous! Although i am a big repeat offender in that respect, i generally try to avoid wearing the same clothes around the same people as much as my wardrobe allows and continuously complain at its lack of variety and choice to help me avoid repeat outfits. So, this idea of cutting even more from it is very alien and very scary.

However by the end of the talk it seemed quite liberating. The idea that you present yourself in your best clothes all the time, that you represent you in your truest self in your style and your comfort… sort of just makes sense. Why am i buying all these pointless clothes that i don’t feel amazing in just so i have more choice of things to put on? What i should be doing is using that money and time and investing in things that make me feel amazing all the time and worry less about what other people think, or whether i am repeating an outfit… because heck, that outfit looks great on me and makes me feel confident and sexy, which is a much better accessory than a purple crop top i bought to inject some colour into my wardrobe.

So maybe 10 is a little radical for me, i need some variety, i live in England our weather changes so often that layers and clothes for all weathers are a must have. But maybe the excessive amount i do have, even now when i am on the other side of the world with one suitcase that i don’t wear half of, should be the wake-up call i need to cut it down. So this is my promise to myself that i will get it together tomorrow, throw away anything with a stain or a rip, or that doesn’t fit me quite right and start enjoying the clothes i do wear, everyday, not just when its been long enough since the last time i wore it.

Where have i been?

So the last week has been one of the most stressful, full on and hellish weeks ever. So i quit my horrible job at the bakery 3 weeks ago but my last day was last Thursday. The relief to be done with them was overwhelming…but very short-lived.

Firstly; i didn’t get paid on the usual fortnightly date as they said they would pay it with my final pay packet. – Not immediately a problem, a bit annoying as i was out of pocket from travel costs, rent etc for the 3 weeks since our last pay came in. However had i known the shit storm to come i would have put up a much bigger fight about this.

Secondly; I only had to give a weeks notice, i ended up working 3 weeks as favour to them as i didn’t want to leave them without staff and struggling. – WHAT A MISTAKE THAT WAS. I went out of my way for them and they basically took the piss by making me work over time for those few weeks and treating me with their usual shit.

Thirdly; So after staying longer, working over time and training my replacement, none of which were contractual obligations, all of which i did because i am a good person, they go and royally screw me over. They take a deduction of $550 from my last paycheck. This was made worse by the fact it was made post tax, so of the $1400 they owed me, $300 went to the tax man, $550 went back into their pocket and a measly $620 made it into my account meaning my 76 hours of work came out to be worth just over $8 an hour, a lot lower than the $15 minimum wage and a hell of a lot lower than the $17 an hour they are usually worth.

This forced me to go and see a lawyer to see what could be done about the massive deduction and at that point the withholding of my pay. The lawyer unhelpfully told me that i did have a case but it would be a long and dirty fight. Considering that i am leaving the country in 35 days that wasn’t really an option for me, which my previous employers knew and took advantage of.

So i finished the week feeling deflated, taken advantage of and stupid for ever agreeing to work for those people and with very little options.

I made the decision not to pursue a law suit or hate campaign towards them… for the simple reason THEY ARE NOT WORTH IT. They are not a worth a single second more of my time, and after this post i will have blocked the numbers and started moving forward with my life having learned a big lesson and grown up a hell of a lot more than i realised i need to.

7 Weeks

In 7 weeks today I will be back on British soil. I will be home. I will get to see my friends and family and my adventure on the other side of the world will be over. 

I should feel sad, I should be yearning for more travel. But I am not. I cannot wait to see my mum, to be in my house, to see my friends, to walk around my hometown, to see the lights and hustle and craziness of London. To see my dad and my sisters and get back to reality. 

I have had an amazing time, it has been the biggest learning curve of my life other than university. I will be forever thankful that I did this, that I saw this place, that it let me be a part of it and it a part of me. But it will never be my home, and my home is calling for me. My heart is yearning for the familiarity and safety of my world.

As the time draws nearer I may wish I was staying, but with 7 weeks to go my eyes are only fixed on the finishing line. 

The worst part of travelling 

Travelling is always played as this beautiful, fun and worthwhile exercise. And while all of that is true, it does hide the rather dark and gloomy side. 

For me, that side is homesickness, loneliness and an ever growing feeling of being lost. Not the nicest feelings to dwell on, but I think important to address and acknowledge. 

I thought homesickness would only be brief and passing but unfortunately it seems lingering and consuming. You end up missing the simplest of things, like celery sticks. You never even knew they were important to you, but suddenly you can’t find them at a supermarket and you get an overwhelming feeling of needing to go home, and how much easier things are at home. 

You miss family and friends and even though you meet people who you end up adoring, they don’t quite hit the same spot as a chat with your  bestfriend or your mother. You want to tell them about your everyday stresses, about painting your toenails, about buying a snickers bar, about seeing something funny on the street. And you can’t. You are 13 hours apart, and have to wait till early morning or late at night to speak, and obviously you are too busy at those times of day for a proper chat, and the time you really need them is at 1pm when you are bored, stressed and lonely. 

You need to make basic decisions, like which pair of jeans to buy or whether to reply to someone’s message, and yet you can’t get the response in time. 

Overwhelmed and lonely, those are the prevailing feelings you get late at night or while walking around in the afternoon after work. You don’t have anyone to call to vent, you don’t have anyone to drop in to, you have to take comfort in scenery and yourself, but they can’t always consul you. 

So travelling, as great and wondering and adventurous can also be lonely and hard. 

Little to Big

When i was little i wanted to be a Vet, and up until i was in year 9 and having to chose my options for GCSE i was pretty certain that is where my life was going go. I was going to be a vet, get married, have 5 children and live happily ever after. I am now 22, far from being or even wanting to be a vet, both wanting and being terrified of the prospect of children and almost completely lost to where my life is going or where i want it to go.

When you are young its very easy, you make a plan and there isn’t any life to get in the way of it, it all makes sense and sounds plausible and perfect and right. Then you sit down with that piece of paper at 14 and have to decide what subjects to drop and what dreams go out the window with them. For me, that was being a vet, i didn’t want to do triple science, something i was told would be essential for me to pursue being a vet as i would have to do at least one science for A-level in the years to come to be eligible to study veterinary science at uni. I wanted to do dance and drama… so being a vet fell to the wayside, and along with it my life plan and career goals.

Fast forward 8 years and i am still just as lost as i was sitting down with that piece of paper and changing the course of my life forever. Maybe i want to go back to uni and study social work? Maybe i want to travel more? Maybe i want to work in PR? Maybe i want to start to settle down? Maybe i am getting too old to have options? Maybe i am still really young and have time to mess around for a while?

Maybe i am stressing over nothing?

But right now, i feel lost and don’t know how to start to make decisions and create a new course for my life and in 6 months i will be back in the UK and the need to make a decision will be upon me.

Why you should visit – London

Obviously i am biased! This being my hometown, but that doesn’t make it not a spectacular holiday destination. As the UK’s largest city and England’s capital, it is a thriving hub of places to explore and things to see.

Notable attractions: Big Ben, Parliament, London Eye, the Shard, Tower of London, St Paul’s & Westminster Abbey, Buckingham & Kensington Palace, Tower Bridge & London Bridge, Cutty Sark and of course Trafalgar and Leicester Square.

So although they may be the most notable things to see while wandering the old streets of central London, they aren’t the only appealing things.

For a culturally entertaining day; the countless museums and galleries. For example the Victoria and Albert, Science, Natural History and  British Museum are worth a walk around. If you fancy a more artistic day, the National Portrait, Tate Modern, Tate Britain or National Gallery might appeal a bit more.

For theaters and shows, you have endless choice in the west end, or shows at the O2 or Royal Albert Hall. For a slightly different and cheaper approach i cant recommend enough a fiver standing ticket at the globe, your legs might ache a little by the end and you are exposed to the elements, but the rustic, traditional shakespearean productions will make a fan out of anyone.

If you want to walk around some markets, you are in the right place! From the delicious selection on offer at Borough Market, to the antiques at Portabello road, to the fabulous little stalls at Spitafields, you can have a whole day out exploring the little stalls of London markets. Another recently saved and soon to be fully restored indoor market is Smithfield market, brings you the crop of the day and the finest meats London has to offer. If you want something a little more alternative and a bit further out, a trip to Camden Market cant go a miss, the array of pubs and bars, mixed with food stalls and independent shops makes an eclectic but beautiful mix.

If you are more of an outside person and just want to explore the green spaces of London, you can walk from St James Park into Green Park and then through Hyde Park, and along to Regents park and up onto Primrose Hill with relative ease. Hyde Park in particular is a hive of activity from music acts through the summer months to Winter Wonderland in the winter, and of course home to Kensington Palace. Primrose Hill is a particular favourite and home to a delicious and stunning little cake shop, aptly named Primrose Hill Bakery.

Fancy seeing some famous little spots; Baker Street, the famous home of a certain detective, Mr Sherlock Holmes. Or, Abbey Road Studios, where a very famous band, The Beetles recorded an iconic album. Maybe a walk through Whitechapel on a Jack the Ripper experience is a little more your thing? In which case, with the London Dungeons not a stone throws away you can have a whole afternoon of creepy! Maybe you are a little more of a romantic and would rather have a walk along the canal in Little Venice? Or fancy more of the orient in China Town?

Not to mention of course, one the major appeals of London is the shopping. The busy rush of Oxford Street from Primark to Selfridges! Or the technology center of Tottenham Court Road and Regents Street. To lovely Carnaby Street slightly more hidden away but still rammed full of inviting shops. Notable shops are of course; Selfridges, Liberty, Hamleys and Harrods.

I could go on forever of things to see and places to go in London, but instead i’ll round it off here with a few of my favourite little spots. Brick Lane, the best place for an Indian in the West. Hampstead Heath, endless fields and foresty areas to get lost in, and if you are brave enough some ponds to swim in. Notting Hill at the end of August for Carnival. And finally, Haringey Green Lanes, the only place to get a Turkish, Kurdish or Greek meal in the country, Kebabs that aren’t just for 2am but for a gourmet dining experience.