Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Travel Blog: THE END.

I can't believe this is it.....
the end of my travel blog, which has lasted over a year! :(

I thought I better finish it before the end of 2013, so here is a quick summary of our adventures....

It all started at Manchester Airport....

From there we had a lot of travelling to do.  All in all we endured:
13 flights
19 boat rides
1 campervan rental
Too many buses and trains to count.

We had many different sleeping arrangements over our trip.  Mine included:
5 beachside huts
1 jail
3 nice hotels
1 friend's floor
1 tent
1 yacht
1 grumpy relative's spare room
2 swags
1 sleeper train
1 rural lodge
1 night boat
1 gorgeous flat to call my own
Too may hostels to begin to count.

Once in Australia, I went through 5 jobs to keep me alive.  Throughout our journey, we experienced extreme weather including tornadoes in New Zealand and floods in Australia.  The bar where I worked at the time was situated on the riverbank, and I spent a week of the Summer clearing sandbags instead of sunbathing. We also chose one of the coldest places in Aus to spend the Winter - good choice.  Of course, looking back there are many things like that I could change, but we still had the most amazing time even if our planning wasn't exactly thorough.

Our journey, expanding over 5 countries, crossed paths with an abundance of wildlife, from monkeys and elephants in Thailand, to seals and dolphins in New Zealand - not forgetting my favourite marsupial, the koalas in Australia and touching a shark in the waters of Fiji.

Aside from all the facts, I returned a different person; with a tattoo, eating new cuisines, and with an array of new friends for life. I now have friends all over the world, including Irish friends, Americans, Taiwanese, Australians, Canadians - and even Germans. (Yes that one's a shocker!)

The most difficult part for me is choosing a favourite place I visited, or even a few favourite places.  All anybody asks me about travelling, is "Where was your favourite place?" But it's just an impossible question to answer, when I loved every single city, island or town for totally different reasons.

Rik and I had the pleasure of taking a video camera on our adventure, and I'm so happy for it now! I tend to have a terrible memory, the sights and sounds of my first destination are already hard to recall.  So thankfully, we have memories forever in our videos and photographs.  Here is our little montage:

Thank you so much to those of you who have been following our journey from the beginning.  Hopefully the adventures are not over! As you know, we got engaged while we were travelling, and instead of planning the wedding I'm too caught up planning the extra long honeymoon travel experience.  I'm already feeling travelsick and long to get back on the road again! Feel free to ask me any questions you may have or contact me if you'd like advice for your own trip of a lifetime.

Jade x

Time to wrap this up with a few inspiring travel quotes :)

This may have to be tattoo number 2.....

Ignore the '22' part.....age should never hold you back from going anywhere or doing what you want.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Travel Blog: Leaving Melbourne

10/10/13 - THE END

The end of our big trip crept up on me stealthily.
After flying back to Melbourne from Fiji, we returned to a completely empty, uninviting flat.  Saying goodbye to our new family of friends was hard, but it was equally as heartbreaking to turn our backs on that beautiful city.  It felt like home from day one; welcoming us into its grid of cultural variety, greeting us with seasons and a fresh, cold wind.  Although the weather was terrible most of the time as we lived in Melbourne throughout Winter, I still fell in love with the little-Europe-in-Oz.

There are interesting things everywhere, I've never known a city to be so vibrant in every single suburb.  One thing Melbourne is infamous for is its array of street art, so this post is an homage to this city's creativity - noticed by every tourist.  Here is a selection of my favourite graffiti spots and other artwork I stumbled across: 

Melbourne, we will miss you terribly but will definitely grace you with our presence once again. x

Friday, 29 November 2013

Blogging for The Lowry

Apologies for interrupting the travel blog, unfortunately there's not many posts left to do anyway :(

I have been back in the UK for well over a month now, and still struggling to adapt! Only new things seems to excite me now, and there aren't many new experiences for me in my home city of Manchester. 

I think that's probably one of the reasons I enjoy watching live dance and theatre, especially premieres - most of the time they bring something new to the table.  I was selected by The Lowry Theatre to review the first night of Chelsea Hotel by Earthfall.  This was exciting, my first press freebies (That was something new for me, hurrah)

To be honest I wasn't overly impressed with this pioneering dance theatre company's production Chelsea Hotel. Having heard of them for years, throughout my dance training at university, I guess I'd built up my first time watching a live performance.  The problem is, I've matured watching modern contemporary choreographers such as Jasmin Vardimon and Hofesh Shechter, whose innovative choreography and emotive hold on an audience is profoud; and they were probably inspired by the likes of Earthfall and other physical theatre companies.  And Earthfall are sticking to their classic style, making me feel like I've been transported back in time watching their performances.

Take a look at my review on the Lowry's blog.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Travel Blog: Fiji

8/10/13 - Fiji, Viti Levu

After returning to the mainland, we embarked on the second half of our Fiji trip - the 4 day Feejee Experience.  They do lots of different packages, mainly aimed at backpackers for different amounts of time.  As we were short on time, we just chose a 4 day pass that drove right around the main island.

The main highlights of this trip were: 


Jungle trekking

And, of course, the village visit to a school:

I had anticipated doing some form of volunteering on this gap year, with children or animals, but unfortunately it never happened.  That is why I was so excited to visit a small school in Fiji! Unfortunately we couldn't stay for long, so we didn't have an opportunity to help in the classroom or teach.  We gave them a group donation though, and the teachers were thrilled with it.  The school children performed lots of songs and dances for us, and we were treated like VIP's. It was such a memorable moment for all of us on the tour.
Here's the boys performing a traditional song and dance for us

Monday, 11 November 2013

Travel Blog: Fiji


I don't know where to start because it has been quite eventful already, and we are still only a few days in.

  • We have met a French guy called Pierre. (Yes, really)
  • We have stayed on deserted islands that are more remote than you could ever imagine.  The first island we stayed on looked like the island from Lost.  And it kind of felt like we were stranded on the fantasy island too! It was back to basics - only 8-10 other guests, from all over the world, and we ate fish that had been caught fresh by the Fijian staff.  Spear fishing too, not the lazy modern way!  It also felt like we were staying on some form of retreat or ashram, as meal times were so structured.  The sound of drums summoned us three times a day, to eat whatever the locals had made for us. (Heads up - a LOT of pineapple).
  • And yesterday, whilst lying in my hammock on our beautiful, secluded beach, Rik asked me to marry him.  I wasn't sure if he was serious at first, but it turns out he was and now we are engaged.(!!!!!!!!)

  • Also, we touched a shark!! Maybe it was only a small, harmless, reef shark but STILL. I touched a shark. Unfortunately no photos, because as I have mentioned before, I was silly enough not to invest in a waterproof camera.
So I'm lost for words in Fiji! As I write this, I am at our second shipwreck island of the Yasawas, just outside our beach bure watching the sunset over the calming ocean.  It could definitely be labelled paradise.

We also have this amazing little bathroom in our bure. It is outside, at the back of the hut, almost like a shower garden. I absolutely LOVE it. I would love it slightly more if it dribbled hot water instead of freezing, but hey. I'm not a complainer.
Our beautiful shower garden!! Getting naked outside was an experience
There isn't much else to report on from the first half of our Fiji trip.  It is so relaxed, but for some of our travelling companions "Fiji Time" got very irritating.  Apart from lots of snorkelling, and exploring a cave, there is not much else to do but relax.  Or this kind of malarkey:
For more exciting and adventurous travel, check out my next blog post with the Feejee Experience.  Our main activity on the islands was climbing the huge mountain behind one of our resorts.  It was the hardest trek of my whole year - I was not expecting it in Fiji! New Zealand, or Australia, yes.  But no, it was this rock climbing affair, 900m above sea level that nearly defeated me.  Nevertheless, as always, the view was more than rewarding.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Travel Blog: Australia

16/09/13 - Darwin

We carried on our journey overland from Alice Springs to Darwin with Mulgas Adventures.  Once again it was a really fun journey, always making sure we stop at the best sites and attractions whilst getting to our destination as quickly as possible. Our first stop was the Devil's Marbles, where we had endless fun taking these sorts of photos:

We stopped overnight at an outback pub, in a "town" with a population of 7 people. That's not what I call a town! 
As soon as we arrived in Darwin, the next day we were off on camping trip number two. This time myself and my fellow Dora Explorers were seeking out the great national parks, Kakadu and Litchfield.  These places are not only natural wonders, full of billabongs, rivers and cascading waterfalls.  They have an abundance of wildlife, from fresh and saltwater crocs, to tiny termites that make mounds taller than humans.  And on top of all that, the parks have heaps of indigenous culture ingrained in them, including famous Aboriginal rock art sites. 

Just one of the many huge termite mounds!

The places we visited were incredible, including the most famous Kakadu spots Twin and Jim Jim Falls. Unfortunately because of the time of year we went, the falls were actually dry, but it was still so beautiful! Maguk was another fantastic swimming spot, which was so secluded.  I couldn't actually get many photographs because I didn't have a waterproof camera.  That is my best piece of advice to anyone travelling here - get a waterproof camera!! There are countless spots where you can swim through pools and rock climb to gorgeous secret places; and only one person in our group could take photographs of the amazing scenery.  

A few other exciting elements, like the croc spotting cruise and 4 wheel driving made this feel like the ultimate adventure.  Camping anywhere always feels adventurous, but being told to watch out for dingoes on the way to the toilet block in the night takes it to another level.  We also tried some more local cuisine....green ant! Obviously not as filling as kangaroo or buffalo (which we did eat again from the BBQ) but surprisingly tasty!! We didn't have to kill them either - the only tasty part is their bum, so you catch one, lick its bum, then place it back on its tree.  Sounds quite hilarious doesn't it?!  But it tastes like citrus and is used for seasoning by the Aborigines.
Here's the truck we spent 3 days in:

I'll finish this post with a photograph of me with our tour guide, Rob.  We nick named him Crocodile Dundee, and he was absolutely crazy and fearless.  I hope I'm like him when I'm older - still a free spirit!

Has anybody been to these places? I'd love to hear from you, especially if you have some photographs of the spots I couldn't get my camera to.  Please feel free to ask any questions too, on any of my posts.
Jade x

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Travel Blog: Australia

12/9/13 - Alice Springs, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

So today is my birthday!! And to celebrate, I flew to Alice Springs to explore the outback. Rik decided he didn't want to go, but I've been fascinated by Uluru since childhood.  As our departure date from Aus hurdled towards us, I decided I wasn't leaving until I went to the Northern Territory.
So I planned a Girl's Roadtrip of course!! And it was an amazing adventure.

We booked our Uluru 3 day camping tour with Mulgas, and I can't recommend them enough.  Our guide was fun but also very knowledgeable of the area.  As with all these tours, there is a lot of driving involved but they try everything to keep you entertained; from trivia quizzes to drawing on the windows.  And trust me, the early get-ups are always worth it!
Not long after we set off, we pulled up to our first activity - camel riding!
Then I picked up this sexy necessity:

Then it was off to the famous monolith, Uluru.  It is a place that is really hard to describe - you just have to go and experience it yourself, to understand why people believe it to be spiritual.  It is so calm and still.  We spent lots of time here, walking around the base, watching the sunset, camping in the national park and then watching the sunrise over the rock.

The camping was surprisingly one of the most exciting parts of the tour.  Camping in the outback means no tents - just swags! The main benefit of this is the ability to stare at the Outback night sky.  I remember distinctly one night, (after a few glasses of goon and moonshine by the campfire) I fell asleep rather quickly without appreciating the stars.  Then, during the night I woke up, and literally couldn't stop myself saying "WOW" out loud.  It is everything you imagine it to be and more.  Really trying not to sound cheesy, but it made me excited to be alive.
 Our swags around the fire
getting tucked up for bed!

The food was also amazing - barbecues with sooooo much local meat. I like my meat! I tried camel, kangaroo and buffalo and loved it.  Chomping on a real kangaroo tail though...not so much! 

 After Uluru, the next day we drove to Kings Canyon, which I didn't know much about.  After a three hour hike, I'd fell in love.

The whole tour was an eye opener. Born and bred a city girl, I'd never seen anything as vast as the Australian Outback.  I'm not sure I could live there, (far too many flies) but I definitely could have spent a bit more time in that amazing place. 

I've figured out that I really like going to places that make me feel completely insignificant.  Especially when it's forces of nature, like Uluru and Kings Canyon, that cause the effect.