Ilha Grande

So if you’re coming to Rio state, Ilha Grande has defs got to be on your list. Using a transfer company called Green Toad, for a mere 4 hour trip you can take a van and boat from Rio to Ilha Grande, and the two places couldn’t be more different. Ilha Grande is this small (by South American standards) jungle island off the coast of Rio state, there are no cars, it’s low-key and you either walk or take a boat everywhere. It’s pretty good for cycling too. I booked last minute (as in an hour before) to pick up the 10am van, and by 3pm I had safely arrived at my hostel on the island. Staying in a place called Biergarten, (weird) I was sharing a room with a couple from London, no creaky top bunk without a ladder for me this time! 

Unfortunately the weather was crap. And it’s on these overcast rainy days that you realise that Brazil is all about the outdoors, there’s nothing to do inside, and I haven’t come here to shop! Making friends with a crew of people in the dorm below, soon we had a squad of international peeps ready to go out and take on the island.

At the bottom of our hostel there was a fantastic pay per kilo restaurant, typical of Brazilian cuisine. Basically, you load your plate up with as much as you like and then weigh and pay. Simples! My plate was immediately full of salad, vegetables and protein – I’ve had far too many carbs this holiday, and it was delicious. The great thing about paying per kilo means you can eat as much or as little as you like. Over the course of my Ilha Grande stint I ate 3 dinners at this restaurant, and the price I paid varied significantly from meal to meal. Girl gotta eat 😉 That night, we made caipirinhas in the hostel with some really cheap plonk and went to the only club on the island, Aquario. 

The next morning was a bit hazy (my mind not the weather) but after a lil lie in myself and another girl from Australia boarded a boat to Mendes Lopes – the best beach on the island. The sun was shining and the sea was calm, kinda. For 30R$ (£7) you can get a round trip to the drop off point, where you then hike for 20mins to the beach. Hiking with a fuzzy head isn’t great, especially when it’s steep uphill and downhill, although for my trouble we saw the cutest little monkeys in the trees. I thought about swiping one and putting it in my bag to take back to the flat in London. Soooo cuteee. Seriously had to resist. 

The beach was fantastic, really worth the treacherous hike, okay fine not treacherous but not for everyone. The sand was a delight, sooo soft but crunchy, I just wanted to roll around in it all day thinking about how great life is. We attempted to go for a swim, but with the strength of the waves I want having fun, it felt more like a battering. A few hours of this bliss was well overdue, especially in the wake of a hectic few days in Rio.

The boat ride back was interesting, for some bizarre reason we decided to sit at the front of the boat with a couple of other random ladies. The term “hold onto your hats” doesn’t cut it, more like hold onto your stuff, the seat, yourself and the person next to you. The waves were insane, we tossed and turned as if a heavy handed toddler was playing with a toy boat in the bath, and he be angry. At one point, the waves were coming sideways and all we could see was sea, the horizon had completely disappeared. Mental. Back on dry land I was still rocking side to side. Winning.

That night, guess what? We went out to the only nightclub on the Aquario and partied the night away…

So Lopes Mendes was soo nice I decided to go back the following day, this time with a larger group of folks. The weather was really sunny, like beautifullllllll. No clouds in the sky, hot but bearable, and that sand… Oh my. That sand! Amazing. The waves were calmer so I could swim, well not swim because the waves are still cray but they were fun waves. Ilha Grande is so beautiful, it really is. I’ve been told that Lopes Mendes is one of the top 10 beaches in Brazil, and it’s a huge country. If I didn’t have to go back to Rio to work I could quite happily chill on that beach for the rest of my trip. Heaven. We stayed there for the entire day, but with the sun setting early in Brazil because it’s winter, 5.30pm is a real shame. So by 4.30pm we were on a boat back to the harbour and back to the hostel to freshen up, go out for dinner and watch the Olympic opening ceremony! 

I wanted to watch it with Brazilian peeps who could tell me exactly what was going on, who iconic people were and whether they backed the Olympics or not. It’s a bone of contention here in Brazil, some people love the games and some people hate them. Corruption and a poor economy have meant that Rio state has had to borrow a lot of money from the federal government in order to pay for the games, the infrastructure and its workers. When I tell people I’m a volunteer, some people commend me, and some people laugh at me. I’m getting used to it. Having watched the first part of the opening ceremony last Sunday in the dress rehearsal I wasn’t so fussed about seeing the first part again, I was more interested to see Team GB in the athlete parade, the lighting of the torch and the speeches. I watched it in the bar at the bottom of our hostel and it was fab! I had a running commentary going on from the locals, translating what was going on at every moment. It’s such a big deal for this country, for this continent. 

After the opening ceremony (it went down well with my new friends) a few travellers went out with locals to a bar to dance and have a few beers. It was a great night, one that was poignant for Brazil and a night that I’ll never forget.

Saturday morning rolled around, today was the day of our epic boat trip. Having made friends with a guy in the bar the previous night who runs a boat company, I organised for 15 of us to hire a private speedboat to take us on a half island tour that included 2 lagoons, 2 beaches and snorkelling. We could bring our own food and drink too (beers beers beers!) so the trip worked out to 90R$ each (£21). It was amazing, we had the best weather you could ask for, not a single cloud in the sky. Apparently it’s winter?! The water was clear, sparkling in the sun against the lush greenery of the jungle island clusters. We went to blue lagoon and green lagoon, of the two I think blue lagoon was my favourite. There were loads of fish in the water, huge schools of them that I swam with. I’ve snorkelled quite a bit now in various countries, I mean it wasn’t the best but it was still pretty fantastic and I highly recommend. Ilha Grande is also fantastic for diving, but I’m yet to get my Padi certificate. Highlight for me was feeding fish bread under water and being completely surrounded as they swarmed to get the food. With the beers flowing, music pumping and continuos laughter, our boat was the place to be. Our trip lasted from 10.30 – 4.30pm and we all had epic tans by the end of it, and we were all firm friends. 

Back on dry land, after a shower and a lie down, I booked my transfer for the following morning back to Rio on the Sunday for 110R$ (£26). That night the group from the boat had our last night out together, making our own caipirinhas in the hostel and playing drinking games that I haven’t played since uni! We then moved to the harbour where there was a live samba band in the square where we danced the night away, before moving onto the beach where we saw in the morning sat around a fire. Ilha Grande, you have a special place in my heart for your beauty, your charm, your laid-back attitude and friendly locals. I hope to come back one day.

On to Rio where the work begins…


Rio (part 1)

So everything that could go wrong with my connecting flight situation from London to Rio did, but somehow I made it. The flight was 3.5 hours late leaving London, so I got into Miami an hour after my Rio flight “left”. Switching on my mobile I received the most wonderful automated voicemail saying my flight had been delayed 2 hours. Shazam. That left me 1 hour to get off the plane, go through immigration and security, argue with staff who said I couldn’t fly until Sunday, dodge Davis Cup captain Leon Smith, go to check in, take a train to a different terminal and run to the gate. Easy peasy right? Ha. Maybe I’ll try out for 100m sprints, or hurdles for the next Olympics, I’m kinda good, just sayin. There were 3 of us in the same position, it was like some weird game show where we were competing against each other to get to the plane first. Ironically one of the girls was from the bbc, it would be crap television. Regardless, the moment I sat my ass down on that seat, not even the lack of a television for the next 8 hours or the smell of suppressed farts could take the smile off my face. I was on my way to Rio mannnn!

Lots of famous people must have been on my flight, I had to use the side entrance when leaving the airport. Clearly they don’t know who I am. The blue airport bus from the airport is quick and easy to catch, I was prepared for the driver not to speak English so I showed him my booking confirmation for the hostel. Riding through the streets of central Rio, the streets were littered with heavily armed army officers, graffiti and building works. In parts it looked like they were still building the city, I’d like to say just the finishing touches but it was way more than that, with some streets looking more like quarries than roads.

After 45 mins or so the driver hollered at me to get off the bus. I had arrived in Copacabana. I found my way from the drop off point through the streets to Leme, where my hostel was. I had been warned that Babilonia hostel was up a hill in a favela, but I wasn’t prepared for the ascent at all. In blistering heat at 10.30 in the morning I had to fight my way up this huge hill with my backpack. Honestly there were parts that felt vertical, it was an ordeal. I felt completely safe in the favela, my only concern was that if I lost my balance, I’d fall backwards and roll back down the hill back where I came from! After 15 mins of climbing, I made it to the hostel dripping with sweat, jet lag and exasperation. I needed a shower and a lie down immediately. 

view from the hostel

That evening, I had managed to bag a ticket for the Olympic opening ceremony dress rehearsal. I walked along beautiful Copacabana beach and took the metro to Maracana stadium (btw walking down the hill is possibly worse than walking up it). Everything in Brazil takes forever. This is a life lesson I learned verrry quickly, and one that I can’t stand. After hours of walking around the stadium in circles, I managed to get my ticket from a fellow English volunteer. I then queued for over an hour in the worst queueing system I’ve ever experienced, to get into the home of Brazilian football. Once inside, armed with beer and crisps, I watched the dress rehearsal (it started over an hour late – we’re in Brazil dontcha know). The stadium itself is pretty phenomenal, not a bad seat in the house. The show was great, so different for me to watch the opening ceremony and not be in it! Damn those pangs of nostalgia. The world will understand much more about Brazil once the show goes out; the rich mix of Amazonian culture, Portuguese history, slavery and modern favela living is all fused together using clever graphics projected onto the floor, dancing and acrobatics. I left during the athletes parade, who know so many countries began with A and B? Jet lag, blisters, tiredness and hunger made me one grumpy chick, so it was back to the hostel (which took 1.5 hours) for an early night. 

Monday. My first full day in Rio, and there was nothing I wanted to do more than chill on the beach. The hostel is in Leme, next to Copacabana, the most easterly part of the strip. I decided to run from Leme, through Copacabana to Ipanema at most westerly point of the strip. It was about 4km or so, and my God was it one of the best run routes, despite the 34 degree heat, blinding sun and hoards of people. It was fantastic. Bikes/skateboarders and runners have their own designated lane to use and pedestrians are on the pavement. The buzz along Copacabana is fantastic. Everyone comes to the beach no matter who you are, where you come from or where you live. There’s so much activity, so many people running, skating, cycling with surfboards, old men walking round in tiny swim shorts, street sellers, you name it, it’s going on in Copacabana. It’s clean and safe and I love it there. I’m excited to spend more time there once I move to the apartment next week. Hot, sweaty and thirsty, I arrived in Ipanema where I met up with a French girl from the hostel. We lay down on the beach and I didn’t move for hours. No need to go to the bar, or go to a restaurant, there are enough street sellers with all different kinds of food and drink to keep you going all day, and that’s exactly what I did! Hello Mr. Queijo, a wonderful person who grills cheese covered in oregano right there in front of you on the beach. Heaven. Frango Empadas are my favourite, (chicken pastries). For 2R$ (50p) on the beach a man brings you these slightly warm. Delicious. I had 4, oops. After all the food and beer, I fell asleep in the beach and woke up with a little sunburn, typical. Now the afternoon, the sun was beginning to lower in the sky so we made the long walk back to the hostel, via a beach bar where I had some Brazilian chicken bites made with breadcrumbs and deep fried and my first Brazilian Caipirinha (delicious but deadly, more on this later).

grilled cheese skewer

A quick shower and change, we formed a group of 4, (3 Canadians, 1 French and a token Brit – me) and headed out on a “bar” crawl in search of beer. We went to one bar in the favela where we had Original beer (apparently it’s the good stuff?) and then hit a shop and sat on Copacabana promenade. In search of a party, there’s only one area in Brazil where you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a good time and that’s Lapa. We called an uber, and for £1.20 each the cab driver drove 20 or so mins to the party district. We ended up in a samba street party, buying beers and caipirinhas from street vendors. My god was the first passion fruit caipirinha strong, literally the strongest drink I’ve ever had. Well, apart from Everclear, but the fruit was fresh so it’s basically a smoothie? Soon we were dancing in the street to Forro and Salsa music, it was noisy and crowded and the toilets were horrendous but it was amazing, and it was a Monday! I will certainly be visiting Lapa again. 


Tuesday morning was difficult, caipirinha headaches are not ftw. Today was the day to pick up my uniform from Samba city, in the centre of the city, north of the hostel. After breakfast, I took the metro for £1 to central station then jumped in a cab to citidad do samba to the accreditation and uniform centre. Arriving around 11.30, I then spend the next 4 hours of my life in a queue. Like I said, everything in Brazil takes forever. You have to roll with the punches. Making friends with the Portuguese girl in front of me, we got through the dreadful queueing experience together. Getting the security pass was quick and easy but lead me into a false sense of security that the rest of the process would be quick too. This couldn’t have been further from the truth. Uniform took hours. Queue after queue after queue until finally I reached the changing rooms where we were assigned a fitter. Essentially we had to try on the uniform right there and then to get the right fit. Unfortunately, the woman brought me a pair of men’s small trousers to try on, although we didn’t realise this until the blood circulation in my thighs cut off, and I noticed excess material in the groin area. After uniform came shoes (which are green and I love them!) and all the accessories, hats, water bottle, bag, socks, you name it. Laden with a bag of goods, yellow uniform, green shoes and all, the Portuguese girl and I left the compound as fast as we could to try and make use of what was left of the day. 

awful photo

The group from the hostel had hiked to the top of Christ the Redeemer, so we formed a loose plan to meet them at the top. However when we arrived, the cloud cover was crazy, we couldn’t see Christ from the ground so there would be no view from the top, so we decided to leave it and went to Sugar Loaf instead. We attempted to catch a sunset, but again it was very cloudy. The cable car up to the first mountain was a lil scary as it swung in the wind but it gave spectacular views. The price is steep for Brazil too, £17 to go up but we could spend as much time there as we wanted (until 9pm!) We caught a glimpse of the sunset between the clouds and the view was magnificent. We took the second cable car up even higher through the clouds to the top of sugar loaf which was eerily quiet as the lights of the city started switching on as night fell. It’s absolutely beautiful, spectacular views of Copacabana, Leme and Botofogo and all of their beaches. We were up there with a Peruvian marathon runner and 2 US film crews and 2 rock climbers who we saw climbing up the face of sugar loaf in the cable car. It was too bloody cold up there for me in shorts and a tshirt, so I had to dip into my uniform bag and pull out the jacket to wear. As soon as I did this, the attention that came thereafter was ridiculous. People wanted to know who I was, where I was working, how I got into volunteering etc etc and Sara and I found ourselves talking to lots of different people against the backdrop of Southern Rio

Once we were back down on the ground, we took a bus from Botofogo through the tunnel to Copacabana where we met the group from the hostel for dinner at Cerventes. This little cramped restaurant is known for it’s steak sandwiches with pineapple, but as I hadn’t had a proper meal in Rio yet, (the snacks or “lanches” are soooo good) that I shared a mixed bbq platter (or churrasco) with sausage, steak, pork and chicken with rice, fries and this weird breadcrumb egg sprinkley stuff. The meal was delicious, especially washed down with two Brahma beers 💜 We bid farewell to Sara and headed back to the hostel. Rio, I’ll be back for tomorrow I head to Ilha Grande…

SJ xx

Prelude: The Olympics

So I should explain that I’m going to Rio to volunteer in the Olympic Games. Yeah mannnn! Having volunteered as a dancer in the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, I decided to keep an eye out to see if the Rio games wanted to recruit international volunteers, (which to my good fortune they did!) After completing a lengthy application form and going through a group interview on Skype, I received an offer to work in the tennis centre, I was over the moon. I booked my flights and arranged accommodation with best friend Candy and her friends, and by April 2016 I was booked and ready to go. Then the worst happened. 
One day in May, I suddenly was unable to log into my account in the volunteer portal. Terrified, I spoke to customer service who said that my account had been disabled but to sit tight for 72 hours and everything would come back. After 72 anxious hours, everything didn’t come back. I could log into my account, but my offer had vanished, and I was devastated. The next couple of months I spent battling with customer service to get my offer back, the just told me to wait and see. I never got it back. By early July I was resigned to accept the fact I’d be going to Rio on holiday and not to work. Winning! 

3 weeks before my flight, after a night out I received an email with a different offer to work in the Velodrome for the Press Tribunes, I guess better late than never right? Talk about last minute though, jeepers. 

So that’s what I’m doing, I leave 31st July 🚴🏼💪🏼🏅
SJ xx

Chiang Mai

Our flight left Krabi just passed 9am, so we were in Chiang Mai by 11.30am, winner! We were staying at the Royal Guest House just on the outer perimeter of the main city, about half way between the centre and the night bazaar. The hotel is costing all of £9 a night so it’s basic but it suits our needs – so much cheaper on the mainland than on the islands it seems. After a quick nap, it was a day of sightseeing and trying to understand what the hype is about Chiang Mai – why do people like it so much? It’s easy to see why. Situated in the north of Thailand it’s not as hot as down south (bonus) and the city is small so you can walk everywhere. No need to “splash out” on taxis and tuk tuks like in Bangkok. It’s calmer, far more chilled and relaxed than the capital and it’s right in jungle territory. We wandered around the various temples of the city centre, the main one being Wat Chedi Luang, an ancient temple right in the centre. We watched some monks chanting in one of the temples too which was pretty special. 

Chiang Mai is great for shopping, market stalls are even inside temple grounds! Amazing. The architecture is beautiful, and it’s a joy to meander the streets and take in an ancient culture.

If I thought the market in Krabi was big, the night bazaar in Chiang Mai is something else! The streets are packed with stalls selling everything a tourist could want, more massage places than you can shake a stick at, food stalls, restaurants, bars, (girly bars and go go bars included) and it’s rammed with tourists. I purchased the Buddha wall decoration I’ve had my eye on since I arrived and did some pretty good bartering to boot (still got ripped off though of course). Love Chiang Mai so far, only a shame that we could only afford 3 nights here…

Patara Elephant Camp. Amazing. End of. We opted for the half day rather than the full day, so we arrived about 2pm. It’s not nearly as hot up in the north in Chiang Mai as it is in Bangkok or down in Krabi so we were quite happy to spend a fair few hours in the sunshine with elephants. Lots of elephants. We rocked up about 45 mins outside the city to a little farm in the countryside where a mother and her 6 week old baby were playing with leaves and sugar cane. The most gorgeous baby elephant, born too small to reach it’s mother teat so it needed a little stepladder in the form of a wooden cuff around it’s ex-circus elephant mumma’s foot to reach. Adorable. He was a cheeky little thing too, running around the group causing all sorts of mischief. One of the group was in a wheelchair and the baby absolutely loved nibbling on the wheels, mistaking them for play things. The little bubba elephant even got on my other half’s back in a little piggy back come massage thing, covering him in dirt. Bless. 

  We moved over to another little family of elephants, the mum and her two kids, one 3.5 year old (teenager) and a 3.5 month baby. Cutes. I love the feel of elephant skin, it’s feels old and leathery but it’s covered in course black hairs that are quite therapeutic to run your hands through and quite exfoliating at the same time. After our little meet and greet we were driven to a separate part of the farm to meet the elephants we’d be hanging out with for the next few hours, pretending we’re elephant keepers for the day. I was introduced to this tall 28 year old lady elephant with a strange little green marking on her trunk (which came in really handy when distinguishing my elephant from all the others). After an introductory talk we went and made friends with our elephants and their handlers, by feeding them loads of food, (the elephants not the mahouts) loads of bananas and sugar cane. I mean if someone came over to me with a bowl full of food I’d be their friend too. Feeding an elephant is weird, they have big pink mouths and tongue that you put the food in/on, they then throw the food back further into their mouths to crunch it with their teeth. Sometimes they would take the food out of their mouth with their trunk to save it for later, often two or three pieces of food at a time! That is some skill. Trunks are amazingly flexible and strong and before I knew it I had a little baby elephant sneakily poking its trunk into my food bowl trying to steal bananas. Naughty!

After we had established friendships, it was time to speak to the elephants in Thai (I can’t remember any of the words apart from Dee Dee meaning “good elephant”) in preparation for a good clean. The first stage of cleaning was to beat the elephant (now lying on the floor) with leafy branches to brush off all the dirt and grime, bit like a homemade broom. You had to really give it some welly, my mahout kept telling me to hit the elephant harder but with my puny arms it turned into a bit of a workout. After dusting them down, next was bath time. This involved stripping down into your swimming costume then leading your elephant down to a pool at the bottom of a dusty hill and giving them a good scrub. Well it’s not easy leading an elephant anywhere, especially when you can’t remember any of the Thai commands, on top of the fact that there were elephants everywhere so it was kind of like a little elephant motorway and you really didn’t want one of those stepping on your foot.. Eventually we made it to the water and my mahout (which had taken a bit of a shine to me) led the elephant alongside a rocky cliff where he asked me to climb up the rock and then jump onto the elephants back. Jump onto an elephant? Sure no problem. Not. For a start there was a massive gap between my rock and the elephant and it was also a lot higher up than me, but after a few attempts I made it. Once on it’s back I then had to pivot round to sit facing it’s bum where the elephant then lowered itself onto its knees and the mahout chucked water onto its back so I could give it a good scrub with a brush usually reserved for washing horses. It’s a balancing act, I tell you, who knew all those years of horse riding would come in handy for bathing an elephant? I then turned round and scrubbed it’s head and neck, getting right down as low as I could without falling off, good workout for the old thighs. The mahout then climbed on behind me and the elephant stood up and we paraded around in the water for a photographer (which was definitely for the mahouts benefit and not mine). I slid off the elephant down the trunk and then put the elephant into an elephant “car wash” where all the elephants were lined up next to each other and we gave them a good soaking by chucking water all over them. Our final activity was a group photo with an elephant squirting water all over us. Hilarious, like being sprayed with a massive hose pipe! 

We went back up the hill to quickly dry off and don our ponchos ready to ride the elephants home. Getting up on an elephant when you don’t have the luxury of standing on a little cliff is hard hard work. You first step on the elephants foot which they then raise to get you higher up. You then have to grip onto its back (so basically nothing) and pull yourself up. I had 2 mahouts trying to lift me up by pushing my bum and the backs of my thighs to give me a boost. Proper Miranda moment. Once on the elephant, I sat on its neck at the back of its head and tucked my knees in behind its ears to hold on and away we went, in a line up the hill and out onto the road. That’s right, the road. Cars were driving round us, everyone had their cameras out, people were pulling over, you name it. So odd riding an elephant on tarmack, but it was a lot of fun, very calm and peaceful unless your elephant decides to try and eat everything in its path like some of them did! Our elephant ride was about half an hour or so all in all and I loved every second of it. I could quite easily have ridden off into the sunset on “Nelly” and said goodbye to my conventional life back home, I loved it that much. 

Patara Elephant Farm is ace and I thoroughly recommend reserving your spot early as places are very sort after. Armed with a dvd of photos and videos of our every move of the day, we were dropped back to the hotel. An amazing experience, and one not to be missed if you’re in Chiang Mai.

The final day was spent meandering around the city and the infamous Sunday market which really should not be missed, the food is amaze.

Can’t believe our adventure is nearly over…
SJ xx

Krabi Town

For 350 baht each (around £6.50) we booked 2 seats in a minibus that was going from Koh Lanta to Krabi Town via Lanta Noi on two car ferries (never been on a Thai car ferry before!) We were told the journey would take 2 hours if we had other passengers on board that were going to Krabi airport or 3 hours if we didn’t. Fortunately everyone was going the airport apart from us, but the journey definitely didn’t take 2 hours, it was more like 3 and a half but it was relatively pain free and the van dropped us directly to the hotel we had booked the day before so we didn’t have to lug our bags around anywhereWe booked Orange Tree House Hotel in Krabi town for the night, on the basis that when I typed ‘best place to stay Krabi’ this was the fourth hit and it cost £17 for a double room with brekky thrown in for free. Hotel was fine, clean and basic yet quite cosy, perfect for 1 night before our early flight to Chiang Mai the following day. 

After a couple of hours relaxing in the room we went out to see what sights Krabi Town had to offer, and unless I missed something, there’s not an awful lot there. It seems to be more of a drop-in place for those either going to or from the airport or as a base to get ferries to various islands around Krabi, Phi-Phi being the most popular one. We wandered down the river and up to a humongous new year night market (similar to the one we went to on New Years Eve in Koh Lanta) but it was honestly massive – probably the biggest market I’ve been to, and all indoors in what looked like an aircraft hanger. 

  After roaming around for a while and watching Thais play some really weird fun fair games for equally odd prizes (counterfeit cuddly toys, fans, electrical equipment you name it!) and going to a weird reptile show with women dressed as mermaids, we grabbed a beer and went back to the hotel.

Early flight tomorrow to Chiang Mai… 
Until then..
SJ xx

Koh Lanta

Our decision to stay on Koh Lanta was made a few weeks before we left for Thailand, based on the fact it wasn’t too far from mainland Krabi and it was off the beaten track in terms of numbers of tourists. Plus it looked lush. We pre-booked a boat from Ao Nang to Koh Lanta the day before, costing us 350 baht each one way (£6.50) for the ferry and hotel pick up. We went for breakfast at 8.30am and was ready for our prompt collection at 9.30am. Everything seemed to be running like clockwork, we were even running ahead of time! But once our little mini bus was full, that’s where the farce began. Conflicting information shared between passengers on the bus (all British) meant we had absolutely no idea what time the boat was leaving, where it was leaving from, or what time it would be arriving. This wasn’t a problem necessarily, but when it’s ridiculously hot outside you kinda want to know what the score is. After our minibus ride, we sat in a shop for 40 mins positively doing nada, before a pick up truck came to collect us to take us yet to another pier where we boarded the boat. The ferry was pretty big, but it was rammed full of tourists just like ourselves, to the point where it was overcrowded. I’ve seen boats on tv crossing over to Lesbos that looked the same. Regardless, we arrived in Koh Lanta safe and sound, we were dropped to our hotel Lanta Manda in a pick up truck that we arranged on the boat.  
Our hotel was fabulous, strike that, it wasn’t a hotel, it was a villa (minus a kitchen) with a pool outside our front door. Amazing. We knew we were going to like Koh Lanta. We hit the pool straight away, the perfect refreshment to the unnecessarily stressful journey from Krabi. After a few hours, it was coming up to sunset so we headed to Long Beach (about a 5min walk from the hotel) to check out the beach and watch the sun go down. Long Beach is beautiful, really beautiful. As the name suggests it’s a long sandy beach with lots of little restaurants and bars along it and little lanterns dotted here and there. The sunset was delightful, and shortly after it set, we ate a lovely dinner at a street food place on the beach, our first taste of Penang Curry and Thai Green Curry. Delicious. To round off the evening we went to a local night market back on the main road for Thai’s selling to other Thai’s. This is the Muslim part of the country, so the stalls were predominantly selling Islamic dress. There was also food for sale and Thai football kits, counterfeit goods galore and a funfair for kids. 
The following day we rented bicycles and cycled up to the north of the island to a town called Saladan where the boat from Krabi had dropped us off. Cycling in 33 degree heat isn’t for the faint hearted, but once you pick up a bit of speed, the wind in your hair is fabulous. The thing to do here is to rent motorbikes or scooters for the day, failing that then cycling is doable for the main road that runs alongside the beaches. Saladan is a lovely little tourist village that specialises in seafood restaurants on stilts over the water. Lush. We had dinner in one of these restaurants then cycled back to Long Beach.

The next day it was an 8.30am start for us, today we were kayaking. 1000 baht each included pick up and drop off from hotel, a half day boat trip and kayaking tour to a sea cave, refreshments and a trip to visit the monkeys in the mangroves. We were taken from our hotel up to a small longboat port on the eastern side of the island tucked inside the mangroves. The boat left Koh Lanta and went out into the sea for half an hour or so until we reached another island with huge cliffs, (great opportunity for tanning!) We got into our kayaks and clutching the underwater camera went went out along the cliffs in our little group to explore the rock faces and caves the island had to offer.

Have I mentioned that Thailand is beautiful? So are it’s waters, it’s cliffs and it’s caves. We took the kayak to shore inside a huge cave which was cool both in style and temperature, our world is a wonderful place. Were it not for the conveyor belt of tourists coming in and out it would have been even cooler. We kayaked back to the boat for refreshments and we set off back to Koh Lanta. Our final ‘stop’ was a little patch of mangroves near the pier where monkeys lived. This was a chance for tourists to ‘feed the monkeys’ essentially with the leftovers from our watermelon and pineapple refresher earlier. The monkeys went crazy for the white plastic bag contents, they could recognise it from the island and did not hesitate to jump straight into the boat to eat. More fool anyone that got in their way (I myself a victim when I accidentally got hit in the head by a swinging monkey!) Whilst it was cool to be so close to wild monkeys (maybe too close) it’s a shame that they have become domesticated by relying on passing tour boats for food. The monkeys were fighting each other for scraps and they all had cuts and grazes on their faces. 

We arrived back at the pier and back to our hotel Lanta Manda, where we spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool.

Unfortunately that night I came down with food poisoning. For all the travelling and food I’ve eaten, it’s never happened to me before and I got hit hard. Being the Marple that I am, my powers of deduction told me that it was a dodgy fruit shake I had a few hours earlier. The vomiting and diarrhoea wasn’t pleasant and kept me up through the night but by morning the vomming had passed (thank god) but it left me with zero taste buds and no appetite whatsoever (this has never happened to me before).

The next morning it was time to check out of Lanta Manda as our three nights were up, but we loved Koh Lanta so much we decided to stay on 2 more nights at Emerald Bay Bungalows on Klong Khong Beach. Our bungalow was almost on the beach, you could see the ocean from the bed (so amaze) and there was a massage place, a bar and restaurant within a 10 second walking distance. Sheer bliss. Unfortunately I was too ill to appreciate any of this on the first day, I couldn’t eat anything or even go outside as I felt so rough with food poisoning. Turns out this was a blessing in disguise though as for dinner, I found out Thailand make quite possibly, the best mashed potato in the world. Who knew?! 

  The next day was spent lying on the beach doing nothing but reading, tanning and swimming in the gorgeous water that felt more like a lake or a lagoon than a huge sea as there were no waves. Still unable to stomach Thai food, it was bland western food only for me, sadly. 

Klong Khong beach is amazing and if you go to Koh Lanta definitely visit or stay on this beach, it’s long and has gorgeous fine sand with opportunities for swimming and exploring the sea life in rock pools. The beach is lined with little hippy bars and restaurants made out of bamboo and old boats. Bliss.


That night we had a candlelit dinner on the beach of Thai chicken hot pan, rice and a Thai curry. We then sauntered on down the beach to a bar called Blue Bailey (sounds more like Bill Bailey) to watch a Thai Rastafarian rock cover band and fire dancers perform from the comfort of a couple of deckchairs in the sand under the beautiful starry sky. 

It was the perfect end to the perfect 5 nights in Koh Lanta, if we come back to Thailand, chances are we’ll find ourselves on Koh Lanta again, I highly recommend it….

Next stop Krabi town
SJ xx

Krabi: Ao Nang, Railay Beach, 4 Island Tour, New Years Eve

The aeroplane journey from Bangkok to Krabi is an hour. We were told this by 2 different tuk tuk drivers (so it must be true, see Bangkok post). The journey itself once up in the air was indeed 1 hour, but the paraphernalia of the airport both at Bangkok and Krabi was ridiculous so the journey was both long and unnecessarily stressful. By the time we reached Ao Nang Guest Home it was 8.30pm at night and pitch black, so we headed pretty much straight out to get food and drinks. 
We’re staying in Ao Nang which is made up of two beaches and serves as a direct link to all the surrounding islands in Krabi. Our guest home is conveniently in the middle of the two beaches and opposite a row of street food vendors operating off their motorbike. The food was delicious, a papaya salad and bbq’d chicken with spring rolls and tempura prawns, delightful. Street food is as cheap here as Bangkok which is a winner. After a couple of drinks, the day had taken it’s toll so it was back to the room for rest.

Day 1 in Krabi and it’s my birthday! That’s right, I survived the 27 club and I celebrated my 28th in style by sunbathing in Railay beach. Railay beach is a 10 min boat ride away from Ao Nang beach, costing 100 baht pax (£2), each way and its bliss. Railay beach is exactly like the photos on Instagram, calm turquoise water, longboats moored up on the shore, although it’s packed with tourists (and rightly so). The boat dropped us to Railay West (the best beach on the island) where we spent a fair few hours lazing around tanning, eating food and having a few beers. It’s hot, really hot, but the beach breeze makes it bearable and the sea is calm and warm, perfect for swimming and cooling off. Being the solar powered person that I am, needless to say I was in my absolute element. After a few hours, we decided to check out the eastern side of the island which is a short walk along a footpath that meanders through restaurants, bars and resorts. The eastern side is more of a boggy, muddy beach unsuitable for sunbathing, and is lined with trees and mangroves. There are huge cliffs and caves to explore, perfect if you’re into rock climbing. Due to the lack of beach immediately on your doorstep, this is the cheaper side of the island to stay on, but you’re still only 10 mins away from the glorious western side.

  Railay Beach can only be accessed by boat, it’s completely cut off by road so it would be tricky if you had a backpack or suitcase, but there are people everywhere to help you and resorts would take care of all the arrangements I’m sure.

The last boat back to Ao Nang was at 6pm (sun sets around 6.30pm) so we hot footed it back to the boat and back to Ao Nang to catch the breathtaking sunset from the beach. 

For my birthday dinner I wanted to try and find a really nice and restaurant. My other half came up trumps and found Lae Lang Grill which turned out to be only a few yards from our guesthouse but well off the beaten track.

The restaurant is up on top of a hill, so beware there are a lot of steps to get through! It’s well worth it, the view at the top was beautiful, looking down on Krabi and the sea in the distance. It was night fall by the time we got to the restaurant but I’d highly recommend booking for sunset, it must surely be their busiest time. We ordered cocktails and beer, starters and an Andaman seafood platter for main (picture to follow) and our entire bill came to £68. Mental. The food is delicious, the portions are generous, the service impeccable and the setting is cool and quirky, which the restaurant prides itself on, including a school of fish which are hung across the high ceiling. It was the perfect end to a perfect birthday in Thailand.

New Year’s Eve and we decided to go on a half day, 4 island longboat trip leaving from Ao Nang. The cost was 1200 baht each (£22) which included transfer from hotel, the boat trip itself, snorkel gear and a picnic on the beach. We had to pay 400 baht each (£7.50) once we arrived at one of the islands for a national park entrance fee. We were out on the boat by 9.30am heading towards the first paradise island, Tub island.

  At Tub island we got off the longtail and paddled along a sandbank between two islands. The island is beautiful but it’s rammed with tourists, especially at peak season. After 40 mins we were back on the boat heading towards Chicken Island which (aptly named) has a huge rock shaped like a Chicken. Donning our snorkel masks and grabbing the underwater camera, we jumped into the water and snorkelled around the coral reefs at the foot of the cliffs that lead up to the island. It’s not the best snorkelling in the world, but I think I’ve been spoilt. There were a couple of interesting reefs and different kinds of fish to see, and after 20mins we were pretty knackered. The water is really salty so floating isn’t difficult, but having done zero exercise since leaving London, 20 mins is by far enough.

Next stop was Poda island for lunch. Our captain set up a table and plastic crockery on the beach and poured steamed vegetables and curry into two big dishes creating a mini buffet. We were all starved by this point, so we were severely disappointed when it emerged that the rice had been forgotten! We had to wait a further 10 mins for the rice to arrive by boat before we could tuck in, starvin’ marvin. The next hour was spent lazing around on the pure white sand and splashing in the waves, it’s a tough life isn’t it?

Our final stop on the boat was Phra Nang Cave in Railay bay, which incidentally we tried to find the previous day but we ran out of time. This cave is also known to us as the Penis Cave. Nope, it’s not shaped like a penis, instead it’s filled with hundreds of phallic shaped wooden penises. Hundreds of them. In a shrine. It’s ridiculous. What was perhaps even more ridiculous was some of our party on the boat who were Thai were actually praying in the cave. Praying for what? God only knows. After a sufficient amount of giggling at the various penis cave anecdotes we came up with, we went for a final swim in the sea and then back to the boat for the last leg back to Ao Nang and back to the hotel.

New Years Eve night had fallen by the time we surfaced out of the guest house, pampered and preened with sea salty beach hair, both tanned and sunburnt. It had already been a pretty long and adventurous day so we wanted our NYE celebrations to be a chilled out affair. After a dinner of Ao Nang’s finest sushi, we headed down to Nappa Thara beach where we had seen posters of a beach party. Right at the far end of the beach we saw a stage had been erected with search lights chasing the few clouds in the sky and a low bass sound coming from it. Being the magpie I am, I hailed the stage at the end of the beach ‘Mecca’ and we set off toward the big shiny thing. This turned out to be the best decision. Before we knew it, we were in the middle of a huge street market on the side of the beach filled with Thai locals and Thai tourists out with their families for new year. There was all sorts going on, food (including grubs and cockroaches) drink, stalls selling everything but the kitchen sink, (actual poet) funfair, shooting games, illegal gambling, you name it. Prices were the cheapest we’d seen in Thailand since we arrived so we knew this wasn’t aimed at western tourists and we were 2 of a handful of white faces in the crowds. As we neared the end of the beach, a huge stage loomed toward us complete with a Thai pop singer on stage performing some seriously dodgy dance moves with her troupe and singing in a whiney/meowing kind of voice. Weird. We went to the shop to grab some beers (and Bacardi breezers for me – shameless I know) before we took a pew on the beach to watch the gig where thankfully that ‘singer’ had finished.

The next band that came on stage were a Thai rock band that sounded exactly like Incubus, to the point where we weren’t sure if the lead singer was Brandon Boyd himself who was now fluent in Thai and wearing a top hat, leather coat and goggles. It would be the perfect disguise. The whole thing felt like we were at Reading festival, but on a beach, in the dark, the breeze from the sea making the heat more tolerable, surrounded by Thai rockers with our own bevvys that cost the price of 1 beer back home. It was amazing. It was packed out. People were letting off fireworks left right and centre, holding them in their hands to let them off. No health and safety here – and it wasn’t even midnight yet! We made friends with the Thai teenage girls sat to our left and the older group of rockers to our right (one of whom had travelled from Koh Samui for the gig – so it must be good!). Everyone knew the words to all the songs. Once the band had finished, it was time for the new year countdown. Everyone was on their feet chanting 10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1 and once midnight struck, the entire sky lit up with fireworks. All along the beach and out to sea you could see fireworks everywhere. We were pretty much in the middle of them. A barge moored just off shore was the source of most of them, and they were beautiful. Weirdly, once the fireworks had finished, there was a mass exodus of people leaving to go home. It was bizarre! The beach went from packed one minute to empty the next. Our New Year’s Eve on the beach was understated, and we loved it. Such a good find and truly a night we’ll never forget.

Happy New Year to you all, hello 2016.. 
SJ xx


So I have a confession. It’s a big one… I’m no longer a solo traveller, I now have a partner in crime and it’s our first trip together. Eeeeep! is still a go, just I’ll be using words like ‘we’ and ‘us’ and stuff like that
Soooooo, Thailand! 
After a pretty long journey from Heathrow via Abu Dhabi we eventually landed at Bangkok. It’s really easy to get a cab from the airport to the city, and we paid all of 420 baht (or £8) for a 30 km journey (hellooo South East Asia!🤑)

We booked Siam Riverside Hotel in Banglamphu (old city) for 2 nights, which turned out to be a really good location, not only because it was on the River but also it’s close proximity to the old Khao San Road.

After checking in, it was about 10pm before we hit up Bangkok for dinner and drinks.

Thailand is cheap. A skewer of chicken from a street food vendor costs 10 baht, which is about 20p, and boy is it good. Pad thai? 50 baht (£1), so it was street food all the way on the first night, washed down with several large bottles of Chang at a restaurant/bar between the hotel and Khao San Road. 

Thailand is also hot, all the time, and Bangkok is stifling hot, especially at night. 

After a few hours, the jet lag and severe lack of sleep kicked in so it was back to the hotel for rest before the start of day 1 in Bangkok.
Breakfast was lush, really lush. Lovely to be sat in the hot sunshine at 8am alongside the river with a breakfast buffet, bliss. I really do recommend this hotel.

First thing we decided to do was get massages, I went for the foot massage which was a painful 30 minute experience which was more full body and leg than just feet. Highlights were rubbing a rolling pin type stick up and down the top of my foot and punching me in the heel. She then started on my shoulders, (serious value for money for all of £3) and further abused me by twisting me into all sorts of yoga poses and beating my back.
Feeling slightly violated, we set off with the intention of going to the Palace and Wat Pho, both a 20 minute walk from our hotel, however after 5 mins of walking, we were stopped by a Thai man who told us the palace was closed, that we were inappropriately dressed and instead we should go to a bunch of other places which were open. I spied a con, but with the heat beating down on us we didn’t feel to argue, so we jumped in his mates tuk tuk and off we went.

The other fun fact we learned was that it was both Governments day and Buddha day, meaning it was a public holiday (not that you could tell, it looked BAU to us), one of the benefits for us that tuk tuk drivers got free petrol from the government, which meant prices were even cheaper. For 40 baht this woman drove us around 4 different sites (less than £1), starting off with the magnificent giant Buddha at Wat Indrawihan (may have unintentionally insulted a few monks with PDA) and the lucky Buddhas of Wat Rachathiwas, (Wat = temple). We were told we had to check out a place called ‘Thai Fashions’ by our Thai fixer as well as by someone else we met at the temple. We were told it was somewhere we could buy clothes (which we were keen to do) and intrigued by the name, we set off, (after our tuk tuk had to be given a jump start by 5 burly Thai men). Turns out Thai Fashions was a tailor. Should you need a wedding dress or a new suit this is the place to go. Also turns out if the tuk tuk driver takes tourists there, they get a voucher for free petrol… the penny dropped. We’d been duped. We walked in, walked straight back out and went back on our merry way to our final stop, the Gold Mount.

Interestingly, we were told by our Thai fixer that it would only be open after 2pm, but it was 1pm and fully open… yet another lie we had been spun. Had the palace been open after all..? Probably. D’oh.

We climbed up the steps to the temple that sits on a huge mound in the middle of the city, the view from the top was fantastic, so nice to be up above the hustle and bustle and cramped streets of Bangkok. With the sun beating down, we could at last appreciate the huge size of the city, and the difference between the old city (Banglamphu where we were staying) and the new city and financial district of Sukhumvit road.

After the mound, we took a tuk tuk to Khao San Road (10 baht to go via Thai Fashions or 100 baht to go directly there, crazy! We went to Thai fashions..) for shopping and lunch. 

Khao San road is pretty cray. It’s essentially one street cordoned off to cars that’s full of bars, shops, restaurants and “massage” parlours. First stop was lunch, we ordered Tom Yam soup and chicken and cashew nut stir fry which were fantastic, totally going to learn how to make Tom Yam soup back home! We then hit the shops for some pants (£2) t-shirt (£2) a dress (£3) bikini (£5) and fake ray bans (£3) bartering on price all the way. After stopping for a beer we were fully fed and watered and shopped out so it was back to the hotel for a nap before hitting up the old town later that night. 

If Khao San road is cray during the day, it’s absolutely mental at night. We had a dinner of chicken massaman curry (mouth wateringly delicious) thai fish cakes, chicken wings and soft shell crab then hit up the bars. We found a cool little rooftop bar with a live band where we were able to look down on the chaos of drunk tourists below. Khao San is a bit like Magaluf but with the addition of streetfood, scorpion sellers and Thai prostitutes. Pure hedonism where “anything goes”. The crowd is similar to those is Maga, all “Lads Lads Lads”, vests and girls who can’t handle their drink, but boy was the bar we were in fun. The singer did a mean Noel Gallagher impression when singing “She’s Electric’ and the beer was cheap. We tottered back to the hotel around 3am ready for more sightseeing in Bangkok the following day and our flight down to Krabi.

After another delicious breakfast of eggs, pancakes and fruit, we checked out of our hotel, pre booked a cab to the airport then flagged down a tuk tuk to take us to the palace. We had a couple of hours spare for sightseeing and we were going to make the most of it. When we arrived at the palace, so many tuk tuk drivers tried to tell us the palace was closed to foreigners and only open to Chinese people because of new year… We decided to ignore them (more scamming!) and found the palace to be open to everyone, it was just rammed. We decided than rather queue for the Palace, we really wanted to see the reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. After a 15 minute walk around the palace walls, we arrived at Wat Pho which was possibly the biggest Buddha I’ve seen, rivalling the height and length of yesterday’s Wat Indrawihan and the Buddha at Sarnath in India I went to see back in April. The entire place was rammed with tourists, so in the end we decided to spend more time at Wat Pho and sack off the palace. 

After an hour of wandering around and taking in the spectacular architecture, we took a tuk tuk back to the hotel, jumped in the cab with our bags then headed to Don Mueng airport to catch our 4pm flight to Krabi…
Adios Bangkok, it’s been a blast and surpassed all my expectations, see you in a few weeks
SJ xx



Well here we are again, another trip to a country I’ve not been before: Sweden. After blagging my way through Fast Track security and necking a couple of complimentary drinks at duty free before 8am, I boarded the plane to Stockholm feeling slightly woozy but content and excited for my mini break. I should explain that one of my closest friends is getting married in the south of the country, so I tagged on an extra day to turn it into a little holiday. I mean, why not?
I’ve landed. I’m in Stockholm. And apparently I’m Swedish, well I look it anyway. Tourists have asked me for directions and anyone I’ve dealt with is surprised I don’t speak the lingo. I’ve been here like 2 hours and I’m practically a local. Pow. My reception here couldn’t be further opposite from what I experienced in India if I tried. Ironically I got a bit lost myself when trying to locate the hostel I’d booked near Vasagatan (Central Station) which couldn’t really have been easier to find, (sad fact is I still struggle with my lefts and rights).
Main Street in Stockholm
After checking in and dumping my stuff in the hostel (the hostel is epic by the way) I decided to take a boat out to the Archipelago Islands. I walked down to the port and jumped on a water taxi/ferry bound for Vaxholm and in true Sarah style found a sunny spot to top up my tan. This country is gorgeous, absolutely stunning, so green and fresh and a million miles away from grey and dull city life. After speaking with a German couple and being in complete awe of the gorgeous scenery that Sweden has to offer, I decided that rather than alighting at Vaxholm I would just stay on the boat to go straight back to Stockholm (I do love a boat ride and I was pushed for time.)
I moved location to sit in a sunnier spot whilst moored up at the dock, and it dawned on me that there was a slight possibility the boat I was on wasn’t going back the way it came, that it might be going deeper into the Islands. As I got off my seat to investigate, the boat started to pull away from the dock, too late. Sheepishly I walked toward the boat staff and they all started laughing. Explaining that I “forgot” to get off the boat as I was enjoying the scenery so much, the banter began. “No more boats back to Stockholm” they said, *insert moment of panic* then they fessed up they were kidding. After an announcement over the tannoy in Swedish (which was quite frankly unnecessary but all the remaining passengers had a right laugh) and a lot of walkie talkie action, they told me to get off the next stop which was essentially a jetty on a rock. The boat left me there and another (much larger) boat with a shed load of people on it pulled in with two rather dishy Swedes on the bow shouting instructions in Swedish at me from across the water. Stranded blonde tourist who can’t speak the language? How embarrassing. The massive boat pulled up alongside the patch of land I was on for me to literally jump on to it, which was first going to Voxholm and then Stockholm. Sheepishly I meandered through a ton of confused passengers to find a sunny spot at the back (of course) and decided to stay put and not get off ever again until I was at my final destination, or they forced me off. More embarrassingly one of the Swedes came to check on me before the boat left Vaxholm to make sure I hadn’t “forgotten” to get off again. Awkward. The boat ride back was relatively uneventful in comparison, apart from finding the Swedish version of Paul Chuckle (sans Barry), plenty of time to just take in the landscape and relax. God what am I like…? (Don’t answer that).
Old City
Back on dry land, I headed towards the Palace to do a bit of sightseeing, but being so late in the day at this point everything was unfortunately closed. Lucky for me Stockholm has a “Festival of Culture” on this weekend which essentially means free live music and beer.  Free live music + beer = a happy Sarah (she’d be even happier if the beer was free too) so I decided to head toward the nearest stage, conveniently adjacent to the Palace.
After a while I decided I should probably actually see some of the city before the evening set in, so I ventured into the old city and went for a long wander, meandering down little lanes and checking out potential dinner spots for the meal I had my heart set on. It’s a beautiful city, waterways and rivers everywhere. Living in London, I’m (fortunately) used to going on holiday to destinations cheaper than my beloved home town. This is not the case for Sweden (for the most part) and unfortunately being crap at maths doesn’t help either when it comes to the old exchange rate and working out whether a restaurant is expensive or not in comparison to the others around it. Meatballs. That’s all I could think out. Meatballs, as I wandered the streets with my calculator out. I ended up almost back where I started up in the main city before I decided to plonk myself down on a seat. The waitress kindly sat me in a corner (table for 1 please), I didn’t even need a menu. Meatballs. Meatballs. Meatballs (and a glass of tap water, tak! Oh and some creamed Dil potatoes please. Tak! ) They were DELICIOUS. Made from Elk and Reindeer, I had the most divine meatball dinner of my life, step aside Beef, there’s new Game in town. The meat was rich and succulent so only a few balls were required to fill me up, and they came with a side of Lingonberry sauce (mouth watering) and the most AMAZING creamed potatoes with Dil which I devoured in record time. The meal came to about £12 including tip so not too bad at all. Feeling insanely full and a little Viking-esque I trundled back to the hostel to see who was about for a night cap before leaving Stockholm to travel south to Tranas the following morning.
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As I said before, the hostel I stayed in was pretty epic. For £18 a night I had a decent bunk, locker for my bag, access to private shower/toilet cubicles, access to a SAUNA and it had it’s own cafe, kitchen, iMacs, and more communal spaces than you can shake a stick at, it was massive. The hostel didn’t have it’s own bar so I had to hit up the local 7/11 for some cans, which came in about £1.50 each for Carling. After sharing beers with a new friend from Madrid, I used the facilities then went to bed, ready for my 6am wake up call and 2 hour train journey south to Tranas.
Stockholm it was short but sweet but I really liked it, hopefully I’ll get to go back sometime and actually do some real exploring more off the beaten track (and by that I don’t mean being stranded on an island again!)
SJ xx

Pelekas Beach Bum

There are few things in life I love more than just lying on a beach in the sun with the sand between my toes listening to the waves, (the addition of a private bar tender bringing me cocktails and canapés could only better it.) Bliss. This was pretty much all I did for the day, (minus the waiter) other than getting a back and neck massage and reflexology from a Thai woman on my sunbed. Sheer bliss.

Well, I did also have a half hour conversation with a couple from Leeds – the man was wearing some seriously tight budgie smugglers so I forced myself to maintain eye contact the entire time. Literally, they left nothing to the imagination.

After 5 or so hours chilling on the beach and swimming in the sea, the boys and I went for a wander back to the smaller beach by the hostel where we bumped into our Australian friend. She took us round to another beach (which was an unofficial nudist beach but thankfully no one was there – I’d seen far too much that day already) where there was a natural spring on the cliff and therefore lots of mud. Yes, mud. We covered ourselves in the stuff from head to toe, our own natural mud spa to exfoliate the skin. Oddly, a man appeared who had climbed over rocks from the other side of the beach and was completely bewildered by what we were doing. We explained to him in pigeon English (he was Austrian) the benefits of our crazy behaviour and he soon joined in. Once the mud had dried we jumped into the sea to wash off, and no word of a lie, my skin felt super duper smooth. Bliss.

 As we were the only ones on the beach it felt like we had conquered our own little island, so naturally the boys went all tribal for a while and I headed back to the hostel to watch the sunset. What a lovely day of much needed pampering and pure chill out, such a shame that I have to go home tomorrow.

Corfu you have been amazing, our little unconventional family has been amazing, (my ridiculous mozzy bites have not been amazing) and I will miss you.
My next trip is Sweden in August so I’m staying put in London, for now…
SJ xx