Tag Archives: dreams

Challenges and Changes – What’s Going On?

The Butterfly Editions Cable Bay - 1Oh hey there! How's it going? Good, I hope.

I guess its about time for a little update. If you have still been popping by, you might have noticed that I haven’t been hanging around here lately.

Where on earth am I? What happened? What's going on?

I really didn’t expect to ever have to write a post like this, and to be honest, I’ve been putting it off tremendously. But, I feel like these words simply have to come out before I can carry on.

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When you last heard from me, Alan and I were happily exploring Cambodia - then all of a sudden I seem to have fallen off the blogging radar. I haven’t posted on my blog, have barely looked at my Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and all those things we seem to think are so important - but that I’ve quickly come to realise at a time like this they are right at the very bottom of my priorities…and actually make me feel worse.

I had to return home for health reasons, requiring an unexpected and fairly major surgery. By the time I arrived home I remember saying that I’d cried so much that I’d literally run out of tears. I think most of the tears are for my travel dream, that now feels like its been shattered into a million pieces just out of my reach.

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I left my spirit in Asia. Thats the best way I’ve been able to describe how I feel right now.

I gave up so much to follow this dream and I guess I just feel cheated. I gave up a stable job, a decent income and my comfortable home to chase this dream I’d had for as long as I can remember - and to have returned this much earlier than planned feels like...failure.

Deep down, I know that I’m very lucky. I could have had long-term health implications. I could have had no “home” to return to. For goodness sake, I travelled through Asia for more than six months - a continent where many will never leave their own village, let alone their country. I’m indescribably privileged to be able to consider travel as an option, not to mention be freely on the move constantly for as long as Alan and I did.

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I’ve taken a long break from my blog. The honest truth? It's been too upsetting for me to reflect on our travels, too difficult to write these words, too many tears escaping every time my mind revisits my incomplete travels.

However, it's time to carry on with what I started. I'm digging deep into my dreams, adapting my plans, moving onwards and upwards. There are plenty of posts to come here on the Butterfly Editions, along with some exciting changes over the next few months.

So, there's the simplified version of the story. For the time being, Alan and I are living in my hometown of Nelson, New Zealand. It hasn’t been an easy few months, and I’m still not quite finished dealing with what happened yet. Fake it till you make it, right? But hey, we all get there in the end, don’t we!

Some life changes look negative and painful on the surface, but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new and beautiful to emerge.

- Eckhart Tolle

For those of you that continue to follow along with my journey - thank you. I sure hope you stick around for whats to come!

Christie xx



Six Months of Travel: The Numbers

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WOW. Today marks exactly six months since Alan and I packed up our little home in Christchurch, New Zealand, prepared to spend all our savings (eek!), and set off to travel through Asia. In many ways it feels like we have been gone for so long, though in other ways it feels like just yesterday that we left.

As this six month milestone whizzes by, I'm feeling reflective on whats changed in my life over the past half year. It's been an absolute whirlwind - I have learnt a lot about the world, about myself, my values, my hopes and dreams, about the kind of life I want to lead. In many ways I have gained a lot of clarity, but in other ways I'm more confused than ever.

Especially travelling in Asia where many people live on so little, it makes you question a lot about humanity, your morals and what you truly need in order to be happy. I'm not going to get into that today, though - I'll stew that one up and get all deep and meaningful on you another time!

I love a good list (who doesn't?) so I thought it might be interesting to reflect on the past six months of travel with a list of the numbers. Ready? Here we go!

Days on the road: 182  (exactly 26 weeks!)

Countries visited: 7

Beds slept in: 41

Flights: 8

Inter-city busses: 30. Including 2 overnight busses, we've managed to avoid more than that!

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Waiting at the bus station in Pangandaran for our bus to Jakarta

Local busses: too many to count!

Cheating taxi drivers: 1 (though let's be honest, probably more that we didn't realise!)

Scooters hired: 10

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Exploring Kep, Cambodia

Inter-city trains: 4

Metro/subway/MRT rides: dozens!

Boat trips: 18

Arguments between Alan and I: 1,000+

Dentists visited: 1 (Alan)

Bouts of food poisoning: just 1 so far! (me)

Crickets consumed: 2 for me and 4 for Alan...yep, I'm talking about the insects!

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Yes, there's a cricket in my mouth. Mildly terrifying.

Theme parks visited: 2 - Universal Studios in Singapore and Vinpearl Island in Vietnam.

Jandals (flip-flops) replaced: 1 pair each.

Mango smoothies consumed: A fair estimate would be 100 each...

Dollars spent: Let's just say my savings are looking a little dry...take a look at my country budget breakdowns if you want to do the maths for yourself.

Tears cried: Enough. Most notably during week 1 of Muay Thai training in Thailand, and when I realised that I completely sucked at surfing that day in Pangandaran, Indonesia.

Panic/stress meltdowns: Christie - approximately 1,000. Alan - zero (how is he so damn chilled out?).

Where we stayed the longest time: Koh Samui, Thailand, where we trained Muay Thai for one month.

Where we stayed the shortest time: Probolinggo, Indonesia, where we arrived at 3am in the morning to experience the Mount Bromo sunrise and left later that afternoon.

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Incredible views from Mount Bromo

Three Highlights:

1. Canyoning in Dalat, Vietnam. And zooming down waterslides on Vinpearl Island in Vietnam. And slow mornings in Hoi An, Vietnam. Let's just say Vietnam in general, okay? I love Vietnam.

2. Attending my friends' wedding in Huangshi, China.

3. Learning the art of Muay Thai on Koh Samui, Thailand.

But also because three is far too few: Splurging at Universal Studios Singapore. Playing with puppies in Ubud, Bali. Relaxing in waterfalls on Langkawi, Malaysia. And SO many more!

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Vinpearl Waterpark in Nha Trang, Vietnam. Best. Day. Ever.

Three Lowlights

1. Packing. I swear it gets worse and worse every single time.

2. Being tricked into eating dried rat (yep, rat) in Da Lat, Vietnam, only to be told afterwards what it actually was! Though admittedly, until I was told it was rat I was nodding and thinking this wouldn't be too bad mixed in with a bit of rice...

3. The biggest lowlight of them all? Realising that this can't last forever.


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Muay Thai Training in Thailand: Helpful and Inspiring Links for Beginners

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This post is for the Muay Thai beginners and newbies that are interested in embarking on your own journey of Muay Thai training in Thailand. In my quest for information myself, I discovered some excellent resources that I recommend you read before you go.

Before I went to Superpro Samui to spend a month Muay Thai training in Thailand, I knew absolutely NOTHING about Muay Thai. Zilch. Zero. Nada.

I'd never watched a Muay Thai fight in my life. I didn't know that Muay Thai is nicknamed the sport of eight limbs (fists, elbows, knees and kicking). I didn't know how freaking tough it would be to do two hours of training in a day, let alone the days where we committed to four hours training. I didn't know how much I would learn so quickly. I didn't really think about it as learning a new skill, I thought of it more as a fitness bootcamp. I didn't know I'd even enjoy Muay Thai, let alone find it interesting to watch and read about!

After my first class and realising I was way out of my comfort zone, it quickly became my mission to learn as much as possible about this intriguing form of martial art as I could. I found SO much inspiring and helpful information, that I am happily sharing in this post to inspire and help you!

You can read all my posts about Muay Thai training in Thailand at the following links:


Miss Roxy Balboa

Miss Roxy Balboa, a former Pro Muay Thai Fighter come Muay Thai Coach, has so many helpful posts focussed towards beginners to the sport. Some of my favourites are...

20 Tips for Muay Thai Newbies - a must read!

I Just Started Muay Thai & My (Blank) Hurts. Is This Normal? - talks about all different kinds of injuries/pain/bruising etc you may experience (I sure did!) and what to do about it.

Muay Thai Sparring: It's okay not to want to get punched in the face - because I don't want to get punched in the face, please.


Under The Ropes

Emma is an English fighter working in Bangkok and training out of Master Toddy's Gym. She writes lots of interesting articles on her blog and I also follow her Facebook page. My favourite posts are as follows, but you can easily get lost in her blog for hours!

Muay Thai Documentaries and TV Shows - The Directory - since coming across this directory I've watched heaps of these, its worth bookmarking!

Three Years of Living and Training at Master Toddy's - will your story be similar to Emma's?

Does Fighting Change You?

Emma also has a directory of Female Muay Thai Blogs and Websites that may have some further helpful information, insights and resources for you!


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A team of contributors write this blog, each chronicling their own journeys and insights into the world of Muay Thai training in Thailand.

Guidelines for Training in Thailand's Muay Thai Gyms - extensive advice to not only help you manage physically, but also adapt to ensure you are being culturally sensitive during your training.

Interested in Training Muay Thai in Thailand? Some Things to Consider Before You Go, followed by part 2: What Can You Really Handle? - A must read series before you go, with all the right questions to ask yourself. Ensure you know why you are going, what you want to get out of your Muay Thai experience, and that you are going to the right place.


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An American fighter in Thailand, on her blog Sylvie chronicles her journey to 100 fights in Thailand (a goal to which she is currently very close!). In addition to fight recaps, Sylvie covers a range of Muay Thai topics that are very interesting to read.

How Do You Know When You're Ready To Fight? - I'm not personally interested in being a fighter, but for those of you that are? Read this.

15 New Techniques That Will Improve Your Muay Thai - a post with tonnes of videos Sylvie has made that are worth a watch, you'll certainly learn a thing or two!

The Myth of Overtraining - Endurance, Physical and Mental for Muay Thai - There's no doubt that Muay Thai is intense training (let along Sylvia's training schedule, which is super full on!). This post covers a lot of information that will inspire you to push yourself through the pain.

I hope this post helps you with some inspiration and information to kick-start your Muay Thai training in Thailand. Let me know in the comments if you have any further helpful links to add!


Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this post. Don’t forget to follow me on BloglovinInstagram & Twitter to stay up to date with The Butterfly Editions!



5 Destinations I’d Love to Revisit

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As part of the Booked.net - Top Destinations to Go There promotion, I've been invited to share five of my favourite destinations that I've been before and would love to revisit. I thought this was going to be easy, but as I reminisced over wonderful travel memories, narrowing down my favourites proved to be quite the challenge!

Don't stress guys, it sure was tough but I managed to reduce it down to my top 5...in no particular order - that would be way too hard to decide!

1. Palawan, the Philippines

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Palawan, a province in the west of the Philippines, probably didn't know what had hit it when four of us on a girl's trip explored the region for three weeks a couple of years back. We spent our days island-hopping from one pristine beach to the next, and danced the nights away drinking copious amounts of pineapple juice with local coconut rum. Throw in a bit of music on the beach and a midnight swim or two, and you have the recipe for what might be the most perfect girls' trip ever. We need to plan a reunion, asap!

2. Langkawi, Malaysia

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Even though I was on this beautiful island just a mere few weeks ago, I'm already thinking about when I will revisit Langkawi. To me, Langkawi was paradise! Perfect beaches, incredible waterfalls, easy roads for scootering around but rugged enough that you feel like you're truly discovering the island. We spent nine glorious nights there and I can't even begin to explain how sad I was to leave. Langkawi is the kind of place that you lose track of time in the best way possible, I've never felt so relaxed in my life as I was there.

3. Tortuguero, Costa Rica

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It takes a long time to get to Tortuguero village, a tiny and remote township on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast. This peaceful part of the world has no cars, let alone roads, so you get around by boat and foot. Tortuguero was a wonderful place to recharge, with serene landscapes, lush jungle and plenty of wildlife. As the name suggests, Tortuguero is known for the beach on one side of the village where thousands of sea turtles visit to lay their eggs every year. Unfortunately we were there at the wrong time of year to have much chance of seeing turtles, so I'd love to revisit Tortuguero to see the baby turtles waddling down the beach!

4. India

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India had me captivated since I first ever visited when I was 14, spending a week in Mumbai with my family. I've already revisited as an adult when I backpacked through the country with some friends and my brother two years ago. Despite spending nearly two months there and loving it, I'm desperate to go back again (and I'm sure again and again after that!). India is such an enormous country that I still feel as though I've barely scratched the surface - I'm yet to visit Hampi, Darjeeling, Pondicherry, much of Goa, the list goes on! India is on our travel radar next year, and I can't wait!

5. Milford Sound, New Zealand

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Before I visited earlier this year, I had never been to Milford Sound! As one of New Zealand's most popular tourist destinations I was more than excited to visit, and was certainly not disappointed - Milford Sound is stunning! We visited on a wet April day, though Milford Sound is one of those wonderful places where its better to visit when its raining, as the waterfalls become even more impressive. Mind you, its not hard to get to Milford on a rainy day as it is one of the rainiest places on earth! Such a spectacular and serene landscape, I need to get back to convince myself this place is real - its that beautiful.


I'm nominating the following five travel bloggers to share their top five destinations they would love to return to - can't wait to see where you pick! Petra & Shaun of The Global Couple, Leanne of Broke in the Big Smoke, Greg & Katy of Our Dream Adventure, Alissa of The Living Spree, Sara of Big World, Small Me.

Click here for more info on this promotion.

I'd love to know - where have you visited that you would love to return to?


Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this post. Don’t forget to follow me on BloglovinInstagram & Twitter to stay up to date with The Butterfly Editions!



Break the Budget: Splurging at Universal Studios Singapore!

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We arrived into Singapore with just one thing on our minds. Universal Studios!

Though theme parks are not typically in the realms of budget travel (especially when you’re trying to spend less than NZD$50 each a day!), we couldn’t get the idea of Universal Studios out of our heads, so decided to roll with it and treat Singapore as a splurge. YOLO, right?

To backtrack a little, and provide some explanation, Singapore was not even part of our itinerary when we began roughly planning our route before leaving New Zealand. With the reputation of being expensive and sucking the money out of backpackers (spoiler alert: yup, it did!), we booked our flight from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur thinking we would simply dip down into Malacca before heading up into the northern half of Malaysia for 6 weeks, skipping Singapore altogether.

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But seriously, who'd want to miss this?!

I don’t recall if it was Alan or I who first mentioned it, but I do remember us being rather delirious on one of our mega Indonesian bus journeys when the idea to visit Universal Studios in Singapore sprouted. As we are both actually children at heart, it was an idea that was very hard to get out of our heads, and it became one of our hot topics of conversation. Needless to say, we were quick to justify that if we came in $500 under budget for our month in Indonesia we would treat ourselves to a few days in Singapore, and a day or two at Universal Studios.

Of course, after making that decision there was no stopping us coming in well under budget in Indonesia (Indonesia is such a cheap country we barely had to try). We ultimately came in more than $600 (!) under budget and unable to think about much else than rollercoasters, we excitedly raced through Kuala Lumpur and Malacca in just seven nights before boarding our bus to Singapore.

Wow, it was one comfy and spacious bus. We were almost disappointed the journey was only five hours long!

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The bus stopped in Malaysia’s southern-most city, Johor Bahru, where we switched onto a different, though similar, bus for the last leg of the journey - crossing the bridge into Singapore, checking through immigration and being dropped off at the final stop.

Our hotel was about 3km walk from where the bus dropped us off, so we loaded our packs onto our backs and trudged along the footpath. Despite it being dark (around 7pm), it was still hot and sticky - I was glad it wasn’t any further!

Tip: Make sure you know exactly where you’re being dropped off within Singapore, as there are many, many busses running from Malaysia into Singapore every day, dropping off at all different points over the city. We made sure to book a bus that would drop us closest to out hotel so that we could walk, instead of wasting money on a taxi ($$$). Before you leave, google map the walking directions from there to your hotel, and take a few screenshots. We were so glad we did this!

In our attempts to treat ourselves while we were in Singapore, though without going overboard and completely breaking the bank, we decided to forgo hostel beds (which range about NZD$20-$30 a night per person) and book a mid-range hotel in a less-touristy area. We booked Hotel Orchid 81 in Geylang, which is known to be Singapore’s red-light district - this didn’t bother us as we never felt unsafe (despite the building next to our hotel being named “Happy House”), and actually the area felt quite lively. Especially important to us, it was less than 10 minutes walk to the nearest MRT line, Kallang, connecting us to the entire city. Hotel Orchid 81 cost us NZD$72 per night (for two), which in our opinion was definitely worth the small amount more than booking two hostel beds.

This hotel was just what we needed after a couple of rather average guesthouses in Kuala Lumpur and Malacca, and we basked in the freedom of having our very own bathroom, hot water, returning to a freshly housekept room every day, and a fridge plus tea and coffee-making facilities. But best of all: our room had a WINDOW! For the first time in what felt like forever we were able to enjoy breakfast in bed (porridge, fruit and yoghurt!) and see the world outside. A couple of times it rained and we spent entire mornings in bed with endless cups of coffee, skyping home. It was a nice way to slow down for a few hours.

But I digress! We weren’t in Singapore to drink coffee and stay in bed - we were there for Universal Studios, right?

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On our first day we were up early and took the MRT to HarbourFront, where we walked (if I’m truthful it was more like speed-walked, we were that excited!) across the boardwalk to Sentosa Island where Universal Studios is located.

Despite arriving just as Universal Studios opened for the day, the queue was ginormous and we sweltered as we slowly weaved our way to the front. As we reached the ticket counter to purchase a two-day pass, we were kindly informed that a season pass (valid for six whole months!) was actually cheaper than buying a two day pass (only SGD$98 vs $118). Within minutes we were proud holders of season passes and swiped our way into the park for the first of many days of fun!

I’ll let the pictures take it from here…

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We stayed in Singapore 5 nights/4 days and ended up visiting Universal Studios three times, during which we bounded around like crazy kids with endless excitement. After spending our first full day there, we had already done just about all of the rides at least once, but we went back a couple more times to do our favourite rides many more times and see the shows (Waterworld! Puss in Boots!).

It also just happened, coincidentally, to be the beginning of the fourth annual Halloween Horror Nights while we were there, so we may have dropped an extra $50 on that. Halloween Horror Nights is an after hours event that runs on select nights through the month of October, and is essentially a number of creepy haunted house setups, well-makeupped actors, and spooky/scary/frightening shows & scenarios that are made to make you scream. Alan may deny it, but we definitely both got plenty of frights that night!

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A few tips for Universal Studios Singapore:

  • Evenings are best for shorter queues. The park is open until 7pm, but most families leave around 5pm when their kids start to get tired and hungry. After our first day there we would have spent multiple hours queueing. On our second day we decided to go at about 4pm in the afternoon, after spending the rest of the day doing some sightseeing in Singapore. We probably did just about the same amount of rides in both sessions! In the evening we did our favourite ride, The Mummy Returns, about three times in a row without any queue, followed by the Jurassic Park ride twice in a row. There was no queue at all so we were able to stay on our raft and go around for a second time, just the two of us!
  • Don’t take much stuff (hence all my photos being taken on an iPhone rather than my DSLR!). On the Mummy Returns ride you aren’t allowed to carry anything loose (no handbags, sunglasses, etc) as its a roller coaster in the pitch black so if something drops or falls out of a pocket there’s no getting it back! There are lockers nearby which are free for a certain length of time (45 mins I think?) but after that they become extortionately expensive.
  • You can drink tap water in Singapore, and there are tons of water fountains located around the park and in the queueing areas, so you don’t need to worry about lugging around a water bottle with you.

Despite going back to Universal Studios three times in the course of four days (it was the reason for our trip there, after all) and managing a couple of luxurious morning lie-ins, we did get out and explore a few other areas of Singapore.

I loved wandering Singapore’s Botanic Gardens - in fact I liked them even more so than Kuala Lumpur’s. This may have been because there were friendly turtles - and lots of them!!

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You can’t visit Singapore without at least one picture of the luxurious Marina Bay Sands…perhaps one day this will be our idea of a luxury hotel, but for now I’m perfectly happy so long as I've got air-con and a window!

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In Singapore we certainly managed to eat a lot! Between greasy (but delicious!) burgers, fries and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at Universal Studios, we enjoyed plenty of mouth-watering Chinese food.

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Though we didn’t go as far as trying the fresh frog porridge that was advertised everywhere we looked in Geylang (I couldn’t bring myself to photograph the poor wee froggies in tanks outside some of the restaurants, unknowingly waiting to be hand-picked for lunch…), we did find some other delicacies that we aren’t lucky enough to have in New Zealand...ohmygosh this chocolate blew my mind!

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Looking back, I’m so glad we decided to splurge a little on these few days in Singapore. Admittedly, Universal Studios Singapore isn’t the most exciting theme park - many of the rides seem more targeted towards children - but we still had such a fantastic time and spent the majority of our time there with beaming smiles on our faces.

On our final morning we were up early and on the very first MRT of the day to Changi Airport, where we decided to make one final splurge on a flight to Kota Bahru (which would get us there in little over two hours instead of two days of train travel!). From there we were headed directly to the Perhentian Islands, known by many to be paradise. But I’m not so sure…stay tuned to hear my thoughts on these tropical islands!

Are you a fellow theme park lover? What's your favourite theme park that you've visited?


Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this post. Don’t forget to follow me on BloglovinInstagram & Twitter to stay up to date with The Butterfly Editions!



Muay Thai Training in Thailand: Week 1

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Friday marked one week since we arrived at Superpro Samui, so I thought I'd write a bit of a recap of the first week of my Muay Thai training in Thailand, and share a few things about Muay Thai that are swirling around in my mind.

These thoughts are in no particular order and are possible very random - my brain and body are tired from being used so much over the past week... it has been one heck of a learning curve, thats for sure!

  • Muay Thai training is much, much harder than I anticipated it was going to be. I have a new found respect for those who train as hard as this!
  • The structure of the class is essentially 20-30 minutes warm up (skipping rope or a run - normally I run up the hill behind us, the view from the top is worth the run, plus skipping sucks!), hand wraps on, warm up drills, shadow boxing, gloves on, drills on the punching bags, 4x 3 minute rounds in the ring with a trainer, more drills on the punching bag, gloves and wraps off, ab work, cool down drills and some stretches. Indispersed with push ups throughout. This goes for two hours with just a few minutes break here and there to guzzle some water. Did I mention it was 32 degrees celsius yesterday? Phew!

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  • In the first class, I felt way, way out of my comfort zone and completely overwhelmed. I’d never done anything like this in my life, so apparently I didn’t even know how to throw a punch correctly! I was constantly being told by the trainers to shift my position, go faster, harder, etc. Not to mention I was the only female AND only beginner in the class! At some points I wondered if I would be able to stick it out the whole month. The second class was slightly better, as I was more prepared as to what to expect. By the third class I was finishing with an exhausted smile on my face and its been onwards and upwards from there.
  • Females are always made to be right up the front! This made my initial class even more overwhelming, as I had expected to be able to stand at the back and copy the person in front of me (and also kind of hide the fact that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing from the trainers). I’m used to being up the front now, though, in fact surprisingly I quite like it!

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Looking up - a moment's respite from the warm-up run. I can't really complain, can I?

  • There is so much to remember: jab, punch, hook, uppercut, side kick, front kick, knee, elbow, spinning elbow…etc, in forever changing combinations. Its like learning a dance routine when you don’t know how to dance!
  • Muay Thai is the hardest workout I have ever done! I used to do pump and spin class at the gym plus run up Rapaki (a giant hill in Christchurch, New Zealand) twice a week. In my uni days I was a fairly speedy half-marathoner. However, I’ve never dripped in sweat quite like after two hours of Muay Thai. It is so hard but so good!
  • Each training I guzzle at least one 1.5 litre water bottle. SO THIRSTY. We find ourselves topping up our water supply almost every day, luckily Tescos up the road sells cheap 6-packs of water (but we can’t fit more than one pack on our scooter at a time).

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Strange to be supermarket shopping in Thailand!

  • Despite not sparring, I’m covered in bruises. Both shins, both knees, right elbow, right thigh, right forearm - how did I even get that many? Alan looked over at me the other day and said he could count eight bruises just from where he was standing. Two of the knuckles on my left hand are raw and slowly healing. Alan has been kicking all his life (Taekwondo) so his shins are really hardened to the impact, whereas my body is still just trying to figure out what on earth I’m putting it through!

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  • One thing that has changed for me already is my goals, and my reasons for being here. Before we arrived I figured Muay Thai would be a great workout for a month, I’d get some of my fitness back that I’d lost after a couple of months eating my way around Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, and maybe even be able to rock some abs in my bikini (in my dreams!).
  • Sure, I still want those things, but now I want to achieve SO much more than that! I want get more confident in my footwork and perfect my left kick, I want to punch harder and faster, I want to get through my rounds in the ring without becoming breathless, I want to prove myself to the trainers and not look like a wuss, I want to not struggle when we’re made to drop to the floor for pushups (which happens way too often during class!) and I also want to be able to run up the hill before class without stopping for a breather. Achievable? We'll see!

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  • Having a comfortable room makes such a difference! We’d booked a simple double room but after some issues with the water pump, we were super thankful to be upgraded to an apartment room which is so nice! Alan and I have been living in close quarters for months so its wonderful to have a bit of extra space, a dining table, being able to prepare some of our own food, and just relax after a hard training session. Of course the palm tree view out one window and the pool just a few steps out the door, helps too.

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My blogging perch on a rainy morning. Even more beautiful on a sunny day!

  • I can see how Muay Thai becomes addictive! I feel like I've discovered a new world...I go to bed reading Muay Thai blogs and watching Muay Thai videos on Youtube...is this normal?

Have you ever tried Muay Thai? Is Muay Thai training in Thailand something you would consider doing?

Read about the rest of my Muay Thai experiences here: Week 2Week 3 & Week 4.


Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this post. Don’t forget to follow me on BloglovinInstagram & Twitter to stay up to date with The Butterfly Editions!



My ABCs of Travel

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We’ve arrived in Thailand, and after spending a few days beaching (yes, I’m sure thats a word!), eating copious amounts of delicious Thai food and celebrating Alan’s birthday, we have arrived in our home for the next month. A home which is very, very far out of my comfort zone - Superpro Samui, a Muay Thai gym on the tropical island of Koh Samui.

We are just two days in and my body is screaming at me! Aches, pains, bruises and bleeding knuckles seem to be becoming the norm. Between training sessions, I’ll be working hard to update the blog with stories from our six-week journey through Malaysia and Singapore, along with my personal experiences, reflections and learnings from this upcoming month of intense Muay Thai training. Stay tuned!

However, today (Sunday) is our one day per week of no training, and I’m in the mood to write something a bit different. I’ve seen the ABC’s of travel floating around on some of my favourite travel blogs and thought I would join in with a little reminiscing on my own travel experiences. I hope you enjoy!

A / Age you went on your first international trip?

I am blessed with parents that love to travel, and had my first passport at the ripe age of three. I first went to Australia’s Sunshine Coast at that age, and Fiji when I was four, but because I was so young unfortunately I don’t have very many memories from these trips. When I was seven years old I was lucky enough to travel to Singapore and Malaysia on a family holiday - two countries I have spent time in again recently, and will be writing about soon!

B / Best foreign beer you’ve had and where?

My favourite beer of all time has to be Belgium's Leffe Blond, despite the fact that I haven't yet travelled to the country itself to drink it. I usually drink my beloved Leffe Blond at my local Belgian bar, accompanied by a compulsory pot of steaming mussels and fries.

Best foreign beer in the budget category has got to be Vietnam’s Bia Hoy (Fresh Beer). I recall evenings spent chugging multiple glasses of this delicious liquid in picturesque Hoi An a couple of years ago. At less than NZ 40c a glass, it can’t be beat!

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About three dollars worth of Bia Hoy - winning!

C / Cuisine. Favourite?

You know what, I ask myself this question every single day, and my verdict is that its got to be a tie between Thai and Italian. I could possibly narrow it down even further and say its a tie between Pad Thai and Spaghetti Bolognese (how predictable am I!), but I won’t go quite that far. Do any other cuisines even come close to being as delicious?

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Eating pasta in Yogyakarta - coz it rhymes, right?

D / Destinations. Favourite and least favourite? Why?

Favourite: Oh gosh, there are so many incredible places in this world, how am I going to choose? I’m yet to write about it on the blog, but I recently spent 9 blissful days in Malaysia’s beautiful Langkawi island, and I’m fairly certain it was paradise! Other frontrunners for the favourite destinations accolade are Ubud (Bali), Hoi An (Vietnam) and El Nido (Philippines).

Least Favourite: Surprisingly, I seem to be the type of person who likes the places others don’t, or at least find something to love about them. I’ve heard negative opinions on many, many places I’ve been, so often I’m naturally surprised when I get there and love it! Probably my least favourite destination I’ve visited recently would be Jakarta, we got ripped off by a taxi driver, had the smallest room possible, and didn’t have long enough there to figure out the city.

E / Event you’ve experienced abroad that made you say “WOW!”?

Hand’s down, my answer to this is the annual Uttarayan Kite Festival in Ahmedabad, in India’s state of Gujarat. I spent a week in Gujarat with my brother in January 2013 and we were fortunate enough to be in Ahmedabad over the time of Uttarayan. I wasn’t expecting much, but it turned out to be blow-my-mind incredible!

By day, the clear blue skies were filled with thousands upon thousands of colourful kites, the rooftops of every building as far as the eye could see brimming with smiling people. My brother and I were taken wonderful care of by a local couchsurfing host and were treated like royalty all day, hanging out on rooftops with his family and friends, indulging in Indian sweets and snacks, and being shown how to kite fight (i.e. cut other peoples kite strings with your own)! I wasn’t much good at that, though I did a splendid job of eating the aforementioned snacks.

My highlight of the whole festival was the evening on the second day, where everybody (and I mean everybody in this city of more than 3.5 million people!) released lanterns into the air. The sky was filled with hundreds of thousands of lanterns drifting up into the sky and flickering into the distance. It was probably the most spectacular sight I’ve ever seen.

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My photos don't even begin to do it justice, there were kites for miles!

F / Favourite mode of transportation?

The most fun I’ve ever had on public transport was riding on the roof of a jeepney in the Philippines. We rode the couple of hours from Sabang back to Puerto Princesa, on the island of Palawan. The only worry was that we had to be sure to duck our heads every time we saw power lines dangling from one side of the road to the other, to avoid any nasty accidents!

G / Greatest feeling while travelling?

Travelling creates so many great feelings that is is very difficult to narrow it down to just one! Possibly my favourite feeling would be that anticipation of exploring when I very first arrive somewhere new - I like to get my bearings as quickly as I possibly can. The feeling of arriving somewhere new is made 10x better when you check into your accommodation and realise its much nicer than you were expecting! That makes for one happy Christie.

H / Hottest place you’ve ever travelled to?

Arizona, USA - it was 110 degrees fahrenheit in the shade (more than 43 celsius!). In fact that whole holiday was hot! When we were kids, my brother and I had the extraordinary fortune of winning a family trip from little New Zealand to Disneyland, California. My parents had the foresight to extend our holiday and we spent a phenomenal couple of weeks road-tripping around USA’s South-western states. I recall it being so hot at Disneyland there were multiple visitors fainting!

I / Incredible service you’ve experienced and where?

While in Costa Rica, we stayed for a few nights in a guesthouse in Heredia, within the country’s Central Valley. Their service was fantastic, collecting us from the airport late at night, dropping us off in the early hours of the morning, helping us to organise transport, serving tasty breakfasts every morning, the list goes on. The best part was that everything was always with a friendly, genuine smile. The guesthouse was Vista Los Volcanes and I’d highly recommend it. I don’t think incredible service has to be restricted to 5-star hotels!

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Playing with frogs in Costa Rica

J / Journey that took the longest?

New Zealand is a long way from anywhere, so most journeys tend to take a long time! By air, my longest journey would be from my hometown of Nelson, New Zealand, to Madrid, Spain. Two places that are on the exact opposite side of the world to each other, and I did the whole journey in one go - as a solo 17-year-old, might I add! Nelson - Auckland - Singapore - Frankfurt - Madrid —> the journey took 36 hours if I remember correctly.

By land, my longest journey would be the series of busses I recently took in Indonesia between Lovina, Bali and Yogyakarta, Java. I blogged about that mega-journey here!

K / Keepsake from your travels?

I don’t buy a lot when I’m travelling. I prefer to spend my money on experiences and take photos as my keepsakes. Especially when I’m travelling long-term, like I am currently, I don’t want to carry anything extra on my back that I don’t need!

L / Let-down sight. Where and why?

I have no regrets from any of my travels - ever, but possibly my best answer for this question is India’s majestic Taj Mahal. Don’t get me wrong, the Taj Mahal itself was not a let-down, in fact it was more beautiful in real life than I could have ever imagined! The let down was the weather - it was so foggy that we could barely see a couple of metres in front of us, let alone the Taj Mahal itself. It was such a disappointment to leave Agra without truly seeing the Taj in all its glory. Luckily, I had a few days on my own in Delhi a few days later, so I took another trip back to see it, with more luck that time - phew!

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Taj Mahal attempt #1

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And attempt #2, a few days later. Oh it is there, after all!

M / Moment where you fell in love with travelling?

I don’t think I ever had a choice about whether or not I would love travelling, I’m positive its an inherited trait! Both of my parents love travelling the world, as did both sets of their parents. I'm sure I fell in love with travelling before I even knew what it was, as a kid I loved poring through photo albums and hearing mum and dad tell stories of their travels.

Though, its safe to say that if I hadn’t already, I definitely picked up the travel bug when I travelled to Singapore and Malaysia at the age of seven. It was my first foray into Asia, into eating restaurant food other than chicken nuggets and chips, into an unknown language and my first memories of learning about a lifestyle so different from my life back home.

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Exploring markets and catching the travel bug in Malaysia

N / Nicest hotel you’ve ever stayed in?

Last year one of my best friends and I had a girls’ long weekend away together in Auckland and stayed at The Langham, one of Auckland’s fanciest hotels, for four glorious nights! We splurged on the buffet breakfast, eating ourselves silly with something like four courses each, and spent much of our days lazing beside the rooftop pool and enjoying the spa’s facilities. It was a total dream and while I don’t tend to travel at that expense when I’m travelling internationally, The Langham was absolutely worth every penny!

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Lounging poolside at The Langham, Auckland

O / Obsession. What are you obsessed with taking photos of while travelling?

I’m a pretty amateur photographer, and sometimes I’m too lazy to lug my camera around with me. But, when I do bring it I tend to snap photos of everything and anything! I’m currently working on trying to take more photos that tell a story and capture moments - rather than just the standard tourist shots, i.e. Alan in front of this, me in front of that.

P / Passport stamps. How many and from where?

I think I’m currently on my fifth passport, though only from old ones expiring, not from filling the entire passport up! My current passport has stamps from Costa Rica, USA, Vietnam, the Philippines, India, Thailand (twice), Indonesia, Malaysia (twice) and Singapore.

It also has an Australia stamp that has been stamped over with a bold “Stamped in error”! Fortunately that is not as exciting/scary as it sounds, we simply had some incorrect transit instructions when we checked right through in Dallas, so had to rewind our way back through security in Brisbane. Oops!

Q / Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where?

Not an attraction so much as a quirky experience, when I was in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, a couple of years ago, one night we had a few drinks and hit up one of the local clubs, Tiki Bar. Being just about the only foreigners there, we were called up to dance on stage (to Gangam Style, of course!) multiple times throughout the night, we were bought a bucket of beers by an old dude who claimed to be the town’s Mayor, and later were invited backstage for a ‘meet and greet’ with the band!

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Rubbing shoulders with celebs...apparently the band was quite famous in SEA?

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It was one wild night! Jollibees' fries were essential as we made our way back to our guesthouse early the next morning.

R / Really frightening. One place you’ve visited where you felt unsafe or uneasy?

Despite feeling safe the majority of my two months in India last year, there were a couple of unfortunate exceptions. One uneasy moment happened to be at the Kite Market, the night before Uttarayan (Gujarat’s annual Kite Festival I mentioned earlier). This was the most chocca-block market I have ever seen, and there were very few females. Gujarat is not a heavily-touristed state either, so to be foreign and to be female is apparently quite a sight at the Kite Market. I was there with a couchsurfing group made up of a few girls and a few guys, so the guys of our group sort of surrounded us to keep us safe from inevitable gropes and stares. Lets just say a few prying hands still managed to slip through and attempted boob/bum grabs. It wasn’t my favourite experience.

S / Splurge. Something you have no problem spending money on while travelling?

As a general rule, I’m happy to splurge on memorable and/or once in a lifetime experiences. I value experiences more than things and have no problem spending a few extra dollars on something that I’m going to remember forever!

Uh, apparently I also don’t mind splurging on bowls of pasta, either.

T / Touristy thing you’ve done?

Despite preferring to call myself a traveller, rather than a tourist, I have done plenty of ‘touristy’ things everywhere I’ve been, and will continue to do so!

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One of the many touristy things I've done, a Junk Boat cruise in Halong Bay, Vietnam. Loved it!

U / Unforgettable travel memory?

Oh, so many! One particular memory that sparks in my mind is a few years ago when Mum, Dad and I travelled to Japan to visit my brother who was living and studying in Tokyo at the time. We spent a white Christmas (which is very unusual for us in New Zealand as Christmas for us falls at the height of summer!) in Nagano and when we sat down in a restaurant to have lunch on Christmas Day, Mum pulled out four Christmas crackers from her handbag. We sat their happily munching away on our soba noodles, wearing our colourful paper crowns, sharing the silly christmas cracker jokes. Later that day we purchased a “Christmas cake” which, rather than your typical dense fruitcake, turned out to be a heavily frosted chocolate sponge cake. A deliciously non-traditional family Christmas!

V / Visas. How many and for where?

I’ve had tourist visas for Vietnam, India (twice), Thailand (twice, I’m currently on my second 60-day visa) and a transit visa for the US when I spent a few days in Dallas en route to Costa Rica in May - I think thats all? I’m too lazy to grab my passport and check. We Kiwi’s are very lucky that we don’t need pre-organised visas for many countries.

When we head to Bangkok in a month or so I have to get a tourist visa for China, here's hoping that isn’t going to be too difficult!

W / Wine. Best glass while travelling?

My love for wine is another trait that I’m sure is genetic, which is currently a problem for me since I am travelling through Asia, the land of cheap beer! Luckily I also love beer, right?

While in France with my family a few years back, I took a tour of the Mumm Champagne factory, which ended with some tastings. Surely nothing beats drinking champagne, in Champagne itself!

But of course, I have to be a little bias and mention my favourite wine in the whole world - Neudorf Maggie’s Block Pinot Gris. Grown on my parents’ section just outside of Nelson, New Zealand and named after my mum!

X / eXcellent view and where from?

Though I could think of hundreds, the first excellent view that sprang to mind is this one from the other day, in Langkawi, Malaysia. We took the cable car to one of Langkawi's popular viewing platforms, where we lucked out with a magnificent day (sometimes it can be a little cloudy). I love this view towards Thailand’s islands. Seriously, have you ever seen sea and sky so blue? It looks like they are just about merging into one!

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So many perfect hues of blue

Y / Years spent travelling?

Honestly, I think this question is silly. Travelling is not a competition! In my opinion it is not important how long you have been travelling for, the important thing is that if travel makes you happy - do it!

Z / Zealous sports fans and where?

I’ve never seen anything like Auckland’s Queen Street after the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup in 2011. At the time I was living in Auckland, in a small inner-city apartment across the road from The Cloud, which was where much of the action was at. We had a whole lot of friends over to watch the final and like much of the rest of Auckland, ran out onto the streets after the AB’s won, jumping for joy and hugging everyone around us. I’m not even a very big rugby fan, but the patriotism took over that night - it was awesome!

Auckland's Queen Street post RWC victory!

Auckland's Queen Street post RWC victory!

I'd love to know your ABCs of travel - share them with me in the comments below!


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Crushing my Surfing Dreams in Pangandaran, Indonesia

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Pangandaran was originally on our Java itinerary as a mere night’s stopover on the way to Batu Karas, but after staying a night and realising that Pangandaran had everything we were looking for, we decided to extend our stay and enjoy the three nights we had up our sleeve in one spot.

“Everything’ I was looking for was simply a beach with surfing lessons, suitable for beginners, and thats more or less what I got.

I’d been hanging out to learn how to surf since the beginning of the year, when we started planning for our trip to Costa Rica in May. Unfortunately, while we were there my back was injured in a particular tandem waterslide incident and I was unable to fulfil my dreams of becoming a pro surfer. When my back improved and we made our plans to visit Bali my surfing dreams re-emerged, only to be quashed again after arriving in Kuta and watching approximately a million people leaning how to surf right in front of me, constantly falling off their boards.

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There was no way I was making a fool of myself learning to surf in front of this many people. Nuh-uh. A quick consult in my trusty Lonely Planet pointed me to Java’s southern beaches for more secluded surf and also significantly cheaper lessons, and thus Pangandaran became part of our route.

Pangandaran is an interesting place. Its a town on a small peninsular, with ocean on either side and a national park at one end.

On one side the ocean laps a nice beach. I say ‘nice’ because thats what it is. Look, its really nothing special compared to Bali’s spectacular beaches. But its nice enough and certainly adequate for what a beach should provide.

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On the other side the ocean meets a rocky wall, infested with rats, fish guts and rubbish. This is the working side of the beach, where the fishermen come into harbour and fish are laid out to be sold or to dry. It certainly smells like it, thats for sure!

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There were some activities on this side of the peninsular, like banana boating, but, uh, that didn’t appeal to us too much given the fishy odour and amount of rotting litter everywhere. There were seafood restaurants on this side of town, but unfortunately these too didn’t appeal.

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I don’t paint the most beautiful picture of Pangandaran, but its actually a very pleasant destination for a relaxing few days. Pangandaran is quite a touristy beach but interestingly much more so with local tourists rather than foreigners. It is a popular place for apartment-dwellers from Jakarta or other nearby big cities for a weekend getaway.

Pangandaran was relatively quiet when we were there, yet at night the small town seemed to come alive. There were tandem bikes (I’m not sure our relationship could handle a tandem bike situation?) - not just doubles, but triples, quadruples and I’m sure I saw even longer ones coasting by. Surely not particularly safe to ride in the dark at night with no helmets and no lights but hey, it’s Indonesia, so we saw a lot of that. Even more spectacular were the quadracycles decorated entirely with neon lights - it was a common sight to see a big group of happy Indonesian tourists cycling around on their blindingly bright, family-sized bike, around singing songs at the top of their lungs.

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But thats right, we were there for the surf, weren’t we! It cost a mere pittance compared to Kuta, we basically had the waves to ourselves, and our own personal instructor each. Shame my instructor couldn’t speak any English or I perhaps would have known what I was doing wrong and would have been able to stand up after what felt like a million failed attempts! Meanwhile, Alan was coasting into shore time and time again while I continuously stumbled and plunged into the sea. After a short break that included a few tears, a bottle of water and some encouragement, I bravely made my way back into the surf and managed to not only stand up but ride a few waves right into shore! Ending on a high, I momentously decided to give up on my dream of becoming a pro surfer then and there.

But I can always be cheered up by kittens! This kitten at our guesthouse became particularly fond of us and often wandered into our room unannounced or pounced and clawed for pats while we were trying to eat our breakfast.

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We considered visiting the small national park and one lazy afternoon we did wander down to the entrance, but were put off entering by the terrifying monkeys outside, and knew that there would only be more monkeys inside! We didn't deem them unsafe until some local boys were walking past and a monkey jumped down and bounded towards them, the boys screamed and tore off in the opposite direction, and the scavenging monkey stole the kids' drinks. If even the locals were scared of them, surely I was allowed to be! We went and ate ice cream instead.

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While I did truly enjoy our time in Pangandaran, it is one of those places that I’m not sure I’ll ever visit again. It was quite a detour off the path of our travels so meant at least 10 extra hours on a bus than if we hadn’t gone there (it took us about 8 hours squished on a minibus from Yogyakarta to Pangandaran with chickens pooping at our feet, then another 10 hours bus ride from Pangandaran to Jakarta). I tried to convince Alan I was considering we have a destination wedding there - I could totally see all of our family riding around singing at the top of their voices on neon-lit bikes! He knows me too well to fall for that one.

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Sharing our bus stations with the chickens, waiting for our ride to Jakarta

Pangandaran was nice - if you’re in the area and craving beach time it will serve you well! But if you're looking for an immaculate beach and that clear, 'I'm in a tropical paradise' kind of water, it might not be Pangandaran you’re after.

Have you visited Pangandaran? Ever ridden a tandem bike?


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Long-Term Travel – How I’m Feeling

I have a giant list of post ideas for my little blog, and sat down this afternoon with the intention of working through just that, but with our long-term travel adventure looming my brain has other ideas and this candid snapshot of thoughts came out instead!

Our adventure begins in about three weeks time, so it has been a hectic few weeks of organisation, finishing up projects at work, and managing to sell most of our stuff - and as to be expected not all has gone smoothly and easily. Last night was the first night I have slept for 8 hours in a looong time, and man, it felt good!

The best way I can describe my brain at the moment is like a blender on the pulse function - a mixture of feelings all whizzed up together in go-go-go mode! Every now and then though, I find myself completely calm with this content feeling that everything is going to work out fine. Which it will, of course, but there is plenty to do before then! My mind is playing tricks on me and it is all rather confusing!

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I thought it might be a good practice to write down what's on my mind now so that hopefully, in a year or so, I can look back and laugh/reminisce about the silly things I was worried about at the time. Here goes my random brain dump...

I'm going to miss this place, and everybody that comes with it. I seem to have this problem that the minute I feel comfortable somewhere I have this urge to shake it up and do something outside my comfort zone. I love change, but it also terrifies me. I'm going to miss my perfect little house, my car (I had to say goodbye to it yesterday), my family, my friends, earning money, my part-time dog...at least I don't have to say goodbye to Alan!

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Going to miss playing with this guy in our backyard!

What if I don't like travelling? I've backpacked for 3 months through Asia before, but never any longer than that. And I talk about travelling ALL the time. Will we come crawling back with our tails between our legs after just a month or so? Gosh, I hope not.

Will we get our to-do lists done before we go? I sure hope so! Aaaah brain overload, so much to do.

I am so excited to own hardly anything. We have sold SO much stuff. Our cars, all of our whiteware, furniture, plus lots of clothes and nick-nacky things. And it feels good! I'm worried about when we come back (will we come back?) how we will afford to buy the things we need, but for now it feels wonderful, and I am inspired to live a more minimalistic life. Hopefully this mindset lasts!

Everybody else is starting to spend money on responsible things, and I'm about to splurge my entire savings on travel. My Facebook feed is filled with friends buying homes, getting married, having babies, buying new pets, engagement rings and new cars. These are all things I want, but not just yet. Should I want that right now? Am I going to regret spending all of this money on adventuring through the unknown rather than a downpayment on a mortgage? Gosh, that sounds so serious. I'm confident in our decision to travel and I'm positive that we won't regret it - but my Facebook feed certainly doesn't agree with me!

I'm proud of how I've retrained myself in regards to my money. I used to never have a second thought about spending a day at the mall and purchasing essentially a new wardrobe, buying a takeaway coffee at the office each morning, or spending $10 or more on my lunch nearly every single day. Since January this year when I began saving for our holiday to Costa Rica, I have been so strict on myself when it comes to money. I haven't bought new clothes in months, nor a coffee, nor lunch. I pack my lunch every single day. I drink coffee that is provided for free in our staffroom. And I repeat outfits often. So what? I've managed to save a truckload of money! In this process I have also become great at budgeting, become a lot closer to my money and understand my financial position a lot better including my gigantic student loan and Kiwisaver.

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Can't wait for views like this, and warm temperatures!

I'm dying of anticipation! I'm eager to board that plane and turn all of my travel dreams into reality. This long-term trip has been in the back of my mind for more than 10 years, and I'm SO excited that the timing has finally fallen into place. We have a very basic plan, and I just can't wait to see how our adventures evolve as we discover new opportunities, meet new people, and become comfortable with life on the road.

Have you ever set off for a long-term adventure? What were your thoughts going into it?


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This is your Life

Its the weekend!

Check out this amazing and video of the Holstee Manifesto. A wonderfully inspiring watch to kick your weekend off on the right foot.

 

This is your life! So get out there and do what you love this weekend, and forever.


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