When I finished university lots of people were asking me what my next move was. Masters degree? Get a ‘professional job’? Figure out what I’m going to do for the next 50 years of my life? No thank you. I applaude people who know exactly what job they want to get and what they want to achieve from their career. I’ve just never been like that.
My family and friends were excited for me when I told them I wanted to travel. My older relatives thought I was brave and adventurous, I guess because people rarely did the backpacking thing when they were young so it seems like a big deal to them. However for my generation it’s a big step but the technology and transport that’s available to us makes it a million times easier.
I received confused responses more than negative. To fund my travels I worked in a coffee shop and got to know lots of our customers quite well. Many of them couldn’t understand why I wanted to ‘live’ out of my backpack and not just go away for a couple of weeks and come back to work. They didn’t grasp that going to work at the same place everyday, seeing the same people and same places would eventually drive me insaaaane. And I don’t need what I can’t fit in my bag. Some people love that life though. Everyone’s different.
For me it wasn’t just that I didn’t want to get stuck in a frustratingly dull daily routine for the rest of my life. I wanted to explore other people’s cultures, open my eyes and learn. I didn’t want to be that kind of person that lives in a small town for my whole life and ends up being arrogant and closed-minded through no fault of their own.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness” -Mark Twain
So am I running away from life just because I won’t be in one place for a length of time or have a long term job? No. Mine and lots of other people’s lives are just different. Doesn’t mean we are avoiding anything.
What I have realised recently is that when I do decide it’s time to stay in one place and have a long term job, I know that I will have to be doing something worthwhile, something that helps others. Any suggestions would be very welcome. But for now I’m happy just plodding along at my own pace going in whatever direction I want to.
I thought I would quickly just share my adventure so far in the form of maps because I don’t want to ramble on and on ya know. I started in Cornwall, UK where I have lived for most of my life. I feel lucky to have been brought up there as it’s a beautiful place with a relaxed way of living. However, for me personally it has many drawbacks and this was highlighted to me when I went to uni in London for 3 years. But that is for another blog post because I have lots to say on that topic 😉
The route we did around Thailand and Vietnam is a popular one and one I think is great if it’s a first adventure or a solo trip. Although the countries were completely different to anywhere we had been before, it didn’t take long to adjust to their cultures. The fact sooo many people spoke English and there were always fellow travellers doing what we were doing really helped. I’m not saying our time there was plain sailing but it wasn’t as daunting as I thought. And most of our great experiences were made that good by the locals that helped us.
There are so many places/things we didn’t get to see, it would be easy to spend several more months there than we did but due to visas and money it makes it a bit more difficult (as I’m sure lots of people understand).
I’m starting off my first ‘proper’ post with my elephant experience because it was so special and awesome.
If any of you have been to Chiang Mai you’ll know that elephant experiences are being sold everywhere, from cheap prices to very expensive. However it’s commonly known that lots of these elephants are treated like circus acts and live in horrible conditions.
My short time travelling parts of Asia taught me how much the locals really rely on tourism as a way to provide for their families. Therefore, people like myself over pay for everything unless you’re a ruthless barterer (which I am definitely not). My view on this is that ultimately I don’t mind paying a bit more than I should, I’m in their country learning about their culture and I want to respect that. Not saying I was constantly mugged off and wasted my money, just that I appreciated what they were doing.
Anyway, my point being these elephant experiences are perfect money making opportunies for the locals so we really wanted to pick the right one. The main aspect being we wanted to visit elephants that were happy, we weren’t interested in seeing them ‘perform’. I love elephants and wanted to meet them in their natural habitat.
We stayed in a comfortable hostel called Finley’s Cottage in Chiang Mai and they suggested we did a half day experience with Woody. Woody owns an elephant sanctuary in Baan Chang (2ish hours from Chiang Mai) and uses the money from the tours to keep the sanctuary running. We took his advice and I’m so glad we did. Included in our package was the return bus ride, feeding the elephants, learning about them, a bareback ride and lunch.
From the get go we could tell they loved the elephants so much which was amazing to watch and actually a relief we had picked the right sanctuary. We rode a massive elephant called Magnum and he was beautiful. When we were on our little trek through the forest we stopped in a lake so they could chill out and the workers showed us how the elephants liked to be scrubbed and washed. You could really see the passion they had for the animals.
If you love elephants and want to experience looking after them and see them in their natural habitat I would highly recommend Woody’s sanctuary. The price was also very reasonable which was an extra bonus to our unforgettable day. Definitely one of my favourite memories.
I had allllll the good intentions of starting a blog around 3 months ago. I excitidly (is that even a word) left Cornwall, bag packed, boyfriend by my side, journal and pen poised at the ready to document my travels round Asia. But yeah that never happened.
I knew in my last year of uni that I wanted to travel after I had completed my degree but I didn’t realise how long it would take us to save a decent amount. But we got there! And during that year of saving my passion for travel just grew and grew.
During the 2ish months of travelling Southeast Asia (could have stayed longer, would love to see the parts we didn’t get to) we were so busy exploring and experiencing a culture we’ve never seen before, I didn’t get round to writing down our adventures (partly laziness, my bad).
I enjoyed English at college and weirdly found essay writing quite fun at uni so I thought my travels would provide me with the opportunity to do some travel writing and actually something interesting to write about but that didn’t go quite to plan. So I’m trying that out now I’m in Australia.