When you travel the fundamental reason is to have fun. People say that they travel to experience the culture, learn new things, gain new experiences, see the world. These are all true but my main reason to travel is to let go and just.. Have.. Fun!
Wherever I have been I have connected with that place and they will all stay in my heart with their own memories. But if your not having fun then they can all be questioned – “what are you doing when your travelling? Are you not having fun?”
In some countries I had more fun messing around and living carefree than others where I was more worried about ticking off the bucket list, getting the best job, going to the best restaurants.
Appreciate. Live. Love. Have Fun.
Live the life you love and love the life you live. – Bob Marley
I hear the sounds of the birds bright and early in the morning, knowing that’s their love song makes my heart melt. The sight of an elderly couple still in their early stages of last acting like teenagers giggling whilst they have their midday tea.
The smell of the sea gives me goosebumps. I always get a sudden urge to jump straight in. I’m sure that I’m a mermaid underneath it all. I can feel it bursting inside me as I have no fear of depth but a great fear of shallow living.
Travel is a necessity, the buzz, the smells, the anxieties make everything painlessly scary. It’s the drug that keeps me addicted and holds no boundaries for me to explore dangerously. My soul is full of desire, desire to always keep on living. Living for the small moments that I will forever cherish. No one will understand however much I longingly want them to but all I can say is; “what is stopping you?”.
Yourself is the answer. We have this fear of change inside our heart and minds which flashes a murderous red with warning flags all around. How will you adapt? That’s what were born for. I get a tingling sensation from the bottom of my feet that sores straight up my spine and gives me ringing in my ears when I think about hoisting my bag and running along into the distance.
Give it a go. The worst that could happen is you return to your daily routine that you say you dislike so much.
“Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy, absentminded. Someone sober will worry about things going badly. Let the lover be.”
Back in February 2015 I was just starting to discover Laos in South East Asia. Myself and a crazy bunch of people left Northern Thailand to discover a place not majorly on the travel radar. It was never my intention to visit this place but when you travel most things aren’t planned which are the best!
We took a slow long tail boat down the Mekong River. Started in a small fishermans village just inside the border. We jumped aboard this massive boat with all different cultures. We had made friends with a Vietnamese family also on a scenic tour. We shared food, laughed and got laughed at. We sailed all day from 6am til sunset and arrived at what you might call a halfway village. The boat may take this route everyday and has somewhat been designed for travellers who visit. Small, quiet and definitely out of our comfort zones we grabbed an Indian and went to sleep.
Alarm bells ringing for the next full day of sailing, we were up at 4am. Booze as a main priority to stow in our polystyrene cool box. Everyone onboard knew who we were at this point. All stocked up it was time for breakfast in the basement of our hotel.
Thinking this place was somewhat strange and I was ready to leave at the first opportunity, I sat down waiting for my eggs. As the sun crept through the fog over the mountains I was amazed at the view before me. So quiet, mystical and still. I was surprised at the beauty of a not so clean river but in it’s beautiful natural surroundings. To think we were in the middle of nowhere and this was where only a handle of people lived was amazing.
A quick snap and we were away, with our Vietnamese admirers and cool box full to the brim.
To everyone that knows me well I have a soft spot for elephants. Something about their calmness and grace soothe me.
I first found my love for them when I visited Ayuttaya in Thailand in 2013. Unfortunately it was at a riding attraction. I was unaware of the abuse to these gentle giants and had probably accepted that chains were the answer to human safety. When we climbed aboard I could instantly sense the hostility between the Mahout and Giant. He was dressed in his entertainment clothes, hurrying us along, holding a spear like fork. I thought it may have been incase a situation happened, possibly fighting with another elephant. But I was wrong..
Our route was around a dirty, dusty roundabout walking inbetween cars and tuktuks. An elderly monk crossed the road infront of us and in the blink of an eye I heard a deep, echoed crack travel through my fingers that were admiring the elephants treelike skin. It was in fact, the Mahout. He had smashed this beautiful animal in the skull and he stood dormant.
I will never forget that feeling In my stomach, a responsible guilt. I swore to myself I would never ride an elephant again. I hate to think nearly 4 years on that beautiful giant is probably navigating the same roundabout, with the same evil spirit clambered on his moneymaker.
When I visited the second time round I wanted to do it properly. I visited an elephant sanctuary in the highest hills of Chiang Mai. An organised trip by my hostel. There wasn’t a chain, rope, chair or spear insight.
A Mahout has a choice. It’s a profession passed down in their family and the elephant remains with them for the rest of their life. Many do use this as an opportunity to make money, becoming greedy and putting their elephants through torture and ridiculing regimes. Forest logging and tourist attractions are the main ones. Dying from exhaustion and mistreatment.
The sanctuary I visited not only rescued the elephants but also the Mahout. Giving them a small fee to stay there and have their elephant provided for. Giving them a peaceful life. If you own an elephant in Thailand you have a bounty on your head. The baby boy below was worth 2.5million Baht, thats just under £55,000. A hell of a lot of money to not have protected.
The Sanctiary had just started and there was a handful of elephants within the family. We met them all, learnt their stories and how they rescued them. We met a 55 year old pregnant female who had been a forest logger for 30 years. Her eyes told everything.
On a brighter note, after we had met the family we had lunch over looking a beautiful waterfall. Then it was time to get mucky. We had a mud bath!
Mudfights and playtime. It was the best experience I have ever had (even if I was covered in poo!) to have the babies trumpeting with excitement and playing with us is something I will treasure forever. But obviously you can’t walk around dirty.. Time for a bath!
I was in my element and there was absolutely no pressure on these gentle giants to perform an act for us. I left the sanctuary exhilarated and emotional.
My message is to anyone looking for an experience of a lifetime or a photo opportunity to do your research. Respect yourself and your planet. These animals are to be remembered and cherished in a time of war, politics and money. You can do something to prove we aren’t all out to seek these things. Support what you believe in.
A tribute to the animal I love, a tattoo! It’s the least I could do!
Currently blasting through Thailand to the Malay border in one of those infamous minivans. Stevie Wonder in my ears, sunglasses on. Rays of sunshine teasing my skin through the palm trees. So relaxed in a culture that is always on fast forward.
I can easily say these moments are my most reflective as I watch the world zip by. So many hundreds of thoughts repeating, it’s nice to just take a second and…
A 16 hour journey sounds the worst thing but it’s just another day in the life of chasing paradise I suppose. Not all is lost, I could be at home longing for this excitement. The dream was to work like a dog to make it come true and it did.
Finally arriving in Thailand was like a dream come true. As two years previous I had only had a taster and of course every traveller gets itchy feet. It was like a breath of fresh air but within a familiar territory. Funnily enough I only had one major case of de ja vu from the previous trip and that was the arrival with my backpack on after 3 days travel straight from England to Koh Tao.
For those of you not so educated about Koh Tao, it’s the smallest island out of; itself, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. Its an island on the route of where every traveller goes in Thailand but only is it MY wonderland.
When I had finally reached my destination the islands exterior had changed somewhat but not it’s soul. Not the spirit that I fell in love with. I sighed thinking..
..I can carry on my love affair happily.
Being on my own has opened new doors both with my mind and experiences. I appreciate the sunset more, the people around me are stories to read and treasure. Merging into a family of people with their own uniqueness and special qualities who just ooze life is so refreshing. So many amazing people. No need for names in wonderland I became close with old and new friends. Some of who I had originally met on the island and became eternally connected with. I got to see them again and relive the old times and create new memories that I will never forget.
It’s not just a view with a bar to look out of or even a bar with a view to look at; it’s a whirlwind of escapism, a pure feeling of happiness. The sense of life when you walk through onto that open decking with the world at your feet and the sea in your face.
Aside from the view, Serenity holds special souls that I have had the pleasure of meeting and will forever cherish their presence. A family in which people come and go but we will forever remain brothers and sisters. I have been able to connect with myself here and it’s something that I needed to do.
I still to this day close my eyes and surround myself with the beautiful silence. No escaping, left alone to appreciate yourself and the world we live in. Below is only a handful of the people who were at the start of my journey.