Coming Home

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It started 4 weeks ago, a constant voice of “book your flight” and truth be told I had no idea what date I would actually book when I sat down to finally plan my return to London. Originally I had thought early October, then end of September, but when it came down to it, I knew I just wanted to be home. This time next week I’ll be in England, curled up in my favourite chair with a strong tea, and that thought makes me feel beyond calm. 

I’ve spent the past two months on a farm packing apples in a house share of thirty girls. We have two toilets, one is outside, and two showers. It’s cramped at the best of times and whilst I’ve met some absolute angels here, I’ve also met people who have taught me things that I didn’t quite expect. I had something, two things, stolen. One being my silver bracelet with HOPE written on it and one a black viscose tshirt that I bought from a Market in Bangkok. Whilst neither item had any particular value, when you do not own a lot of things it seems like the end of the world because what on earth will I wear with X, Y, or Z without my black tee staple? But then it hit me. I did not need these material items, I just liked them. At first I struggled to understand how someone could take from somebody who literally has nothing, but I take comfort in knowing that whoever took them needed them more than I did. 

Today is my last working week, on Friday I’m heading the Melbourne, ironically my least favourite place in Australia for my last two days. I booked a nice hotel and I’m literally going to chill and bathe myself in deep heat because packing has not been kind to my health. I couldn’t even begin to write what a whirlwind my time in Australia has been. I came out here without a plan, I just knew I was desperately unhappy in England but I could never pin point quite why. My happiness was based purely on fashion and to me now, that is very sad when the world has so much more to offer. 

When I get home I assume I’ll be temping in London whilst I try to find my feet on the career ladder, but around that I’d like to volunteer at the hospice which cared for my Nana and I’d like to travel the UK and Ireland. I want to see Scotland and stay in an isolated cosy log cabin in the wilderness. And I’d like to see Tuam (Galway, Ireland) where my family is from. And I’d like to go to Wales and scream at the rugby after one too many beers. There are so many experiences and things that I want to do before I settle and get a house with a mortgage, and tiny humans that rely on me. 

I don’t know what will happen over the coming months. I don’t know if I’ll stay in Kent when I’ve learned how easy it is to pick up and move your life wherever you want it to be. I am a risk taker, and at the end of the day, that is how you grow. 

Monday: A Month of Farm Life

Australia 2017, Uncategorized

Just checking in to say that yes I am still alive, and yes I’m loving life again. I ended up in Brisbane desperate for a job, any job. I rung my mum in tears on the high street with the intention of flying home in two days because I’m literally unemployable out here. I told my friend Kim my plan and went to the reception of our hostel to extend my stay for a few more days before I was going to book my flight. The lady on reception was taking ages and I mean I was stood for over ten minutes whilst the person in front of me in the queue asked every question under the sun. Eventually I lost my patience and headed back up to our room where I had a missed call from Kim. After two weeks of looking for a decent hourly paid farm job we’d found one! The timing was honestly uncanny and in that moment I knew I had to stay. I’m a great believer in what’s meant for you will not pass you by, and it was the sign I needed to stay.

The next day we flew from Brisbane to Melbourne before getting on the three hour train to Shepparton. It has now been a month and already I know I have made memories and friendships that I’ll never forget. Suddenly everything just clicks and it feels good. I’m contracted out to a different packing shed to the main one with fixed hours so I actually know when I’m coming home now which is amazing. My plan at the moment is to finish, fly to Sydney and spend three days there before finally flying back to London and starting my life all over again. 

I’m scared about coming home, really really scared and it sounds so silly but I haven’t lived in Kent for nearly six years. My friends are all over the UK and now, well, the world. Whilst I know I’ll be fine, it’s still going to weird trying to make friends as an adult which is ridiculous because I’ve done it every single day I’ve been in Australia. I think the first thing I’ll do when I get home is boil the kettle, have a proper English tea in my favourite cup in my favourite chair with my favourite book. I’m weirdly excited about it and it’s so nice to finally have an end goal. Then reality will probably hit me as I scramble for a job, which is something I’ve also been thinking about a lot and what path I want to take. I know I want a job that matters and that helps people. I want to be a policewoman, and that’s bizarre for me to say out loud because I always thought girls should have girly jobs. I was always a strange kid, I wanted to be an astronaut so I could be the first girl on Mars, then I wanted to be a firefighter, to join the army and then fashion took over my life. 

I lost myself for a while in materialistic things, I loved that my salary allowed me to buy whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I lost sight of what really matters in life. Living on a farm and dressing like absolute shite every day has taught me a lot about myself, including that you can go without showering for a lot longer than you thought possible and if it doesn’t smell you can definitely still wear it even on the fifth day. Packing fruit actually gives you so much time to think, like the work is easy but so repetitive that you just get lost in your thoughts. I’ve thought through so much and settled a lot of things in my mind.

I don’t know what will happen when I go home, but right now in the present moment, I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long, long time. 

Liv on: The Art of Changing

Australia 2017, Thoughts on Thursday, Uncategorized

One day you’re on cloud nine, exploring all these amazing new places and seeing strange animals and sights, and the next day it loses the sparkle. I can’t quite tell you when I started to feel this way but its something that’s been playing on my mind a lot. When I was in Bangkok I was honestly a click away from changing my flight from Australia to the UK and I don’t know why but I didn’t. It was like a sudden feeling came over me, like I wasn’t ready to go home entirely. I always thought travelling would make me realise what I wanted to do as a career and I’d discover some unknown things about myself. I was disappointed to find that this wasn’t the case, at least not at that moment in time.

I guess the point is this, you never realise you’ve changed in the moment, it’s only weeks after the fact when you look back and realise that you’ve reacted differently than you would of when you were your past self. It’s hard to put into words the feeling, but it feels good, really good, when you don’t cry or act like the world is ending but rather react with a simple okay and a step back to analyse why something happened and how best to move forward. 

Yesterday I realised what I want to pursue as a career. Today I feel like I’m figuring out my life long plan and tomorrow I’m hoping I’ll have an answer for the present. At the moment I’m in an awkward kind of limbo between the UK and Australia. I literally cannot get a job anywhere and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because my hearts not in it, at least not right now. I feel like my heart is ready to come home, but my willpower is so strong and stubborn. I said I would do a year, maybe two, maybe four if I went to NZ for a while and I’m finding it hard to allow myself to let go. In my mind it’s a sort of giving up. It’s just so hard to think about how I could be progressing in the UK whilst I just exist in Australia. 

I really truly do not know what I’m going to do or if my decision will be the right one, but I guess what’s life without risks hey? I took the biggest gamble coming here, but if I hadn’t I would still be staring at lab dips and feeling indifferent over three identical shades of pink. I think we always end up where we are supposed to be, or at least I like to think that way as it makes me a little less apprehensive and more excited. All shall be revealed in time. 

Thoughts on Friday: A month in ThailandĀ 

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Tomorrow I leave Thailand after a month of exploring. To be honest I don’t know what I expected when I boarded my flight from Melbourne to Bangkok, but it wasn’t what I’ve experienced. I’ve found myself in places and situations that I never really imagined could happen in Thailand and I’ve seen things that I never expected to see over here. It sounds silly, but I imagined Thailand to have pristine beaches and sand to envy even the beautiful beaches of Australia but was left bitterly, bitterly disappointed by the littered beaches across the mainland and all of the islands I visited. Whilst I know tourism undoubtably is the cause behind all of the litter, I wish 7/11 would stop giving you straws for everything. Yoghurt? You need a straw. Noodles? Straw. Tea? Straw. It’s insane and unnecessary and WHY are there never any bins anywhere? It’s very bizarre and something I can’t quite comprehend. Another thing I never expected was all of the pollution from the bikes – I had some insane vision in my head of all the stars I’d be able to see in the night sky and you know how many you can see here? Four. Four stars. 

Anyway disappointments aside, the absolute highlight for me has been Pai where I let go of all my negative energies (and negative people) whilst staring out the back of an open taxi completely in awe of the rolling hills and scenery, and in that instant I felt lighter. I found myself in the winding roads of Pai, in the bakeries and in the street food (where I accidentally had purple looking meat in a veggie spring roll and was ill for two days, but I digress). I would of loved to have spent longer here and I’d definitely revisit if I’m ever in Thailand again. Pai was the turning point for me, where I realised how much I’ve changed as a person since January because I had time to sit and reflect on so many things and met some wonderful people.

I won’t lie however, I am extremely excited to be back in Australia in an English speaking country with the ability to cook for myself. I’ve booked possibly the cheapest Aussie hostel I’ve ever stayed in for my return to Brisbane so I’m hoping it won’t be too disgusting – I’m excited to have my phone working again and ring round some temp agencies whilst trying to find farmwork with my friend Kim. I’m honestly so scared for the future and it’s hard not knowing where you will be in a few days, a week or a year, but I finally have a plan in place and I know what I want. I want to get my second year visa and have the option to come back to Australia in the new year after spending a few months at home to see my family and sit in my favourite chair, with my cats and with my favourite mug filled with strong tea. 

It’s weird but I find it really odd when I imagine going home. Like yes I would love to go home, of course I would, but I’m not done yet. I miss my family, having my own personal space, clothes(!), not having to budget like a mad woman and just feeling as though I have my life together. I am so bored of wearing the same sweaty t-shirts and asking everyone I meet their name and where they’ve been. It’s silly but it’s tiring. 

Wanderlust Wednesday: Chiang MaiĀ 

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Welcome to Chiang Mai, a city north of Bangkok. Honestly I was way too scared to leave my hotel alone in Bangkok so Chiang Mai has been my first and only glimpse of Thailand. I was expecting shacks and run down buildings, no one to speak any English and technology to be few and far between. I’m pretty saddened that wifi is available pretty much everywhere, it’s actually easier to find internet access here than in Australia. The buildings are beautiful, too, with all the roads looking like a standard back street in pretty much any city. It’s so westernised that I don’t even feel like I’m abroad, which is sad. The locals all speak perfect English and are incredibly friendly, which is lovely but I feel so bad and too embarrassed to speak the basic Thai I’ve learnt. 

It is a beautiful city, but it’s changing. I would have loved to have visited maybe five years ago. Yesterday we met a lady who told us about an event that only happens once a year where the people of Chiang Mai walk to the temple the night before Big Buddha Day which is today. She encouraged us to go and we were all up for it until her friend said it starts at 6pm and you wouldn’t make it to the temple until 3am. I genuinely feel bad about not going, but I get tired even climbing to the third floor of our hostel so can you even imagine me on a 9 hour hike? Really?

The past two days we’ve spent exploring the old and new town, going to the night markets. Today we are doing a vegetarian cooking class which I’m so excited for because food is life, but to get there we are getting picked up by bike. Yes, bike – I’m scared but excited, the bikes here are insane. They drive like crazy over here and crossing the roads is an experience in itself. Tomorrow we’re heading to the waterpark which looks like Total Wipeout, you know, that TV programme you fantasised about going on as a kid. 

On Friday we head to Pai, via van for three hours which will be an experience. We’re staying at a circus school hostel and will be professional clowns in no time. 

Watch this space.

Liv on Tour: Melbourne > Adelaide > Melbourne

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Last Saturday I randomly stumbled into two girls I’d never met before who invited me on a road trip to Adelaide and back via The Great Ocean Road. Whilst this thought would of terrified me a few months back, I’ve learnt that with life comes spontaneous (sometimes mental) decisions and so there I was, in the back of the van with two total strangers camping in country campsites and waking up to the sound of kangaroos hopping. 

We started from Melbourne and made out way to the start of the B100, stopping off at various ‘tourist’ attractions along the way. The actual road was super short, I was slightly underwhelmed but the absolute highlight was at Kennet River where we watched a wild large koala move trees – it was so special to see as usually they tend to be little fluff balls up in the sky. It was also pretty cool to see the famous 12 Apostles, The Gibson Steps, London Bridge and a whole other bunch of rocks.

We camped at some beautiful spots, as someone who needs structure and to know exactly where I’m going and what I’m doing, I was surprised that it actually felt good to let go and never know where we would end up staying. Now I’m not going to lie, fitting three people in a camper van is absolute hell. Your limbs will ache from not being able to move, and you wake up with feet in your face and legs on your chest. But it’s all worth it, one night we were lucky enough to find a spot out in the sticks, I would tell you where but I honestly don’t have a clue, but you could see most of the Milky Way. In that moment I felt closer to home than I had in a very, very long time.

On day 5 we arrived in Adelaide which I personally think it beautiful in its own way. It reminds me of home and I guess that’s why I feel so comfortable there. But, that said, there’s not a whole lot to see there and I’m not too sure why the girls wanted to go there. I did my best to show them some of my favourite spots and we cooked up some dinners for the next days ahead. With an Eski full of great food, we set off to see the Grampians via Hahndorf. We stopped at The Lane Winery where you can taste 12 wines for $5(?!) but I got tea as I just really fancied it. We went to pay but they said it was free for us and to put it towards petrol. What a lad. 

Then we continued on our trip, heading towards The Grampians and seeing some wildlife. This was pretty disappointing if I’m honest, none of us are big hikers so the thought of climbing a mountain peak doesn’t appeal to me at all. We did all the usual tourist spots including The Balcony which is just as it sounds – tourists sit right on the end of a piece of rock sticking out thousands of feet above the forest. My stomach was literally churning as I watched a small Asian child climb to the end for a photo. It was horrific.

Then we were on our way to our campsite where the van broke down from a dead battery. We sat at an abandoned petrol station near Salt Creek (where the attempted murder of two backpackers had occurred the year previous). I flagged down a guy whilst waving our jump leads but he couldn’t locate the battery and of course, we had no idea. Luckily he was a contractor for mechanics and called one of his guys. We sat for what felt like an eternity, flinching at every sound of twigs snapping until the guy showed up an hour later. He was probably the cutest person ever. He jumped us, checked our oil (which was empty, opps) and told us we’d be safer waiting at the servo in Kingston SE for our breakdown cover. 

So we are sat waiting and get a knock on the window – he’d bought us two bottles of oil for free and wouldn’t take any money off us or anything (he was literally the kindest human ever and super cute, wish I’d gotten his number hahaha fml). He left his jump leads in the van, I assume to have an excuse to come get them after he’d done his food shopping in the main town, but alas it wasn’t to be and we along with his leads ended up camping in a creepy car service station that our breakdown cover lead us to. 

The next day we drove straight back to Melbourne which was pretty boring as by this point I think we all needed our own space (and a shower!) Am I glad I went? Yes absolutely, I never would of seen myself camping, not washing my hair for four days, and sharing a van with a huge spider. I like to think that anything that’s meant for you shall not pass you by – I was sick of living in the city and needed an adventure. 

Now I’m in St Kilda and today I went in a hippy shop and pulled out a guidance card which said “keep quiet and be still” so I sat by the sea for what felt like an eternity, and man, did I miss my own company. 

Now the countdown to Thailand with my favourite person can truly begin! 

East Coast Paradise

Australia 2017, Uncategorized

Hello from Tully, a beautiful small town located somewhere in between Townsville and Cairns. I’m currently in a hotel as our indigenous camp was cancelled, but there’s no complaints here – the hotel is Mt. Tyson and totally amazing compared to the 8 bed dirty dorms I’ve become accustomed to. My room is a single, with air con, a TV, fridge, kettle, toaster AND free wifi. 

I couldn’t even begin to tell you how completely breathtaking the past few weeks have been. I’ve had the time of my life and I’m super sad that my east coast adventure has nearly finished. Tomorrow I head to Cairns to begin my final week up north before flying to Adelaide to see our lovely family friends and then Melbourne.

The absolute highlight for me has been Fraser Island where our group quickly became a little family. We drove huge four wheel drives and camped for two nights. We saw the amazing Lake Mackenzie, another lake with those fish that eat your feet (I forget the name…) and my personal favourite Eli Creek where you float down a freezing fresh water stream in rubber rings. At night we would drink on the beach before heading to Winkies, which was a glorified tent with disco lights but so much fun when you’re off your face on goon. I’ve never seen so many stars as I did here. Then we got back to Rainbow Beach and my beautiful group surprised me on my birthday with cake and balloons at a cute pub.

Afterwards I went on an overnight train before hopping straight onto my boat around the Whitsundays. This is actually what I was most excited for when coming to Australia, but actually it felt pretty dull in comparison to Frasers. I think it’s all about the group you get and I didn’t really ‘click’ with many people on the boat but still had a great time snorkelling and exploring with the two of the funniest and friendliest people ever. 

Today I just came from Magnetic Island, which is a little Island off of Townsville. On day one we did the Fortz Walk and saw two wild koalas and watched the sunset from the top of an old war bunker which was absolutely terrifying to get to but worth it for the views over the rocks. On day two we rented what I can only describe as a death trap on wheels. After a terrifying start and nearly dying, we picked up a stray traveller and had the best day exploring the Island. We fed rock wallabies, went to a million different bays, cracked open a coconut and drank the milk before realising it was mouldy, and watched the sunset at West Point. Yesterday I held a koala and lots of lizards which was pretty cool, who knew lizards have the softest little bellies? I didn’t. 

How’s England, guys? 

Healing in Noosa

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I was told that after two days in Noosa I would want to leave, that there’s not much to do or see here and that it’s a tourist destination. I’ve been here 10 days so far, I spent 8 days in the most calming and peaceful hostel called Dolphins Beach Resort right next door to the beautiful Sunshine Beach. Before I arrived I was deflated and ready to book my flight home to the UK and this break was exactly what I needed. 

I was homesick and fed-up of constantly moving from A to B with no chance to settle or find my feet. I spent the best part of 8 days down at the beach with not a scrap of make-up on which for me is a big deal. I bought some goggles and chased the fish in the sea. I sat on the beach at night with a friend and stared up at the stars. I did the coastal walk twice, once with new friends and once on my own. I cooked myself healthy dinners every night. It has been really, really nice. 

Now I’m in Nomads which I’m told is the “party” hostel, but it’s actually pretty mellow …Maybe it depends on your room? Who knows, but my room looks out onto the hammocks which have quickly become my favourite hiding place. I have six more days here so I’m planning on doing the coastal walk two more times but in the opposite direction from Main Beach to Sunshine, especially since Sunshine is a beautiful quiet beach. 

I honestly never expected to like Noosa as much as I do. It feels like home for me, it’s a comfortable but busy seaside town with a similar chilled out vibe to Byron without the drugs and questionable souls. It’s a lot more family orientated which makes the area feel safer and I think that’s why I feel so comfortable and happy here. I’d love to come back and work here once I’m done travelling, but we shall see as who knows, maybe I’ll like Cairns more or maybe I’ll fall in love with Adelaide or Melbourne. 

The great thing about travelling is the freedom that comes with it. If you hate a place you can leave with no issue and if you love a place you can stay for as long as your budget will allow. I’m so happy I stopped in Noosa for longer than the usual 2 days as every single day I’m here I discover something new, I find new friends, I see new wildlife. I truly love it here – this is my happy place.

A Month Abroad

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Today marks one month since I got on my flight to Australia, but it honestly feels like I’ve been here for far longer. I couldn’t even begin to tell you all of the great things I’ve seen and done in such a short space of time. My life has been non-stop travelling and activities with no down-time to just be which I must admit gets a little hectic sometimes. 

Currently I’m in Brisbane and I love it, the high-rise offices overlooking the river gives me that same rush of excitement as being trampled in the London rush hour. The thing is, you cannot get a good office job as a backpacker. There is no work here, so tomorrow I’m heading to Noosa for two weeks. I have no accommodation, nothing. The travelling life makes me feel so uneasy and unsettled. I’ve always needed a strict routine and structure to my day, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t struggling with not having a 9-5 job and a stable home. It is hard packing up your bag every few days to move to a new city and attempt to find your feet all over again. 

What’s even harder than an unsettled life is feeling like you do not actually belong anywhere. When your best friends and family are half the world away and you only have dirty clothes and a towel to your name – it’s hard to know who you are and what you’re even doing here. I have some days where I feel like I’m on top of the world, from holding Milo the koala to camping out under the Milky Way; however some days like today I find myself sat on the river bank looking out onto Brisbane CBD and feeling like an insignificant dot in a crazy city. 
It’s hard to think about what I gave up to come out here. I had pretty much everything and I still was not content. I had a great paying job, a lovely rented home, a deposit for a house – I could buy anything I wanted because I could afford it and knew when all my next pay days were. When you’re travelling you literally have no idea when or even if you’ll get a job. It’s things like this that make me insanely anxious and unsure of what lies ahead. 

Tomorrow I’m quite literally throwing myself into the wind and seeing where I end up staying in Noosa. Wish me luck!