Travel Blog

A detailed personal account of my journeys travelling, working and exploring around the world.

Why I Love Pai, Thailand [16]

“Pai is a small town north of Chiang Mai, Thailand. There is so much to love about Pai, and I couldn‚Äôt fit all of the great things into only a few pages so I will just detail the things I personally loved about it while I was there…”

 

This post is exclusively featured on the popular travel site ‘Divergent Travellers’.

To view it click the link below:
http://www.divergenttravelers.com/why-i-love-pai-thailand/

 

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Amsterdam, Finishing My Money and Back to Sydney [15]

After saying goodbye to Italy, it was time for me to go to Amsterdam!1070024_10151536342756239_15828247_n

The first thing I noticed about Amsterdam was the complete lack of any hills, and the massive abundance of bicycles. I was staying with a local Dutch friend who I also stayed with in Australia and Nicola who’s house I was living in in Italy. I went to Amsterdam once before when I was 8 but I was pretty mesmerised by the prostitutes and the coffeeshops and I didn’t have any time to actually appreciate the city for what it really is. Amsterdam, as it turns out, is a city of contrast. On the one hand you have the Red Light District with prostitutes behind glass windows and coffeeshops selling magic mushrooms and marijuana on every corner. Then on the other hand you have beautiful canals, grand Victorian-style buildings and bike tracks that run through grassy fields overlooking a sprawling network of beautiful canals. So it really depends what you are looking for. Luckily for me I was able to experience both (minus the prostitutes) so that gave me a bit of an insight to how the city really was.

1012821_10151767574140149_1643689834_nEveryone rides bicycles in Amsterdam and more than 70% of journeys in Amsterdam are made on a bicycle! As a result there is a LOT less traffic as opposed to other bustling world cities, less noise, less pollution and an overall sense of calm. I also got a chance to go to Electronic Family Festival which was AWESOME and had lots of trance music which is always great. We also snuck into the Madam Tussauds wax museum (its pretty easy if you go through the back door) and avoided a 30 min queue and about 15 euros of charge. I’ve always been a good scabber in life and when I see an opportunity I take it! We got to see some cool people made of wax although some of them were questionable (such as Justin Beiber). We also got a chance to see some of the coffee shops which cover the streets and honestly the way that the Dutch government has handled the legalisation of weed is quite sensible. If people want to smoke it, then just let it be? It excels in almost every category over alcohol including death rate and there is no hangover either!

The rest of my time in Amsterdam consisted of trips to nice nature spots (including one amazing one with a lake called Bloomendal), cycling around the city, trying some of the local food which includes pastries and a crumbed tube thing called a kroket and of course a bit of partying too. Nightlife in Amsterdam is awesome and it just seems like everyone in that city goes out to get completely fucked up.

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Eventually however, the inevitable happened- my money ran out. The money only lasts so long, and when it runs out its time to rethink your

options. The way I saw it I had 2 main options 1. Get a job working in Europe and 2. Go back to Australia. In order to maintain myself I would of had to get a job, which would involve an extended period of time and effort in the already screwed European economy and I decided it was probably best that I came back to Australia for a few reasons, mainly also because I wanted to go to university and get started sooner rather than later, lest I be the guy getting a degree by the time i’m 30.

So back on the plane I went, and before I knew it I was back where I started a whole 10 months previously.

Well what do I have to say about this trip of a lifetime? I have learned a lot about myself, gained a whole lot of experience and perspective about the world around me, and most importantly had some amazing, awesome experiences. I mean a lot of people ask me what my trip was like and honestly I can’t just sum it up which is why it is all written down in these pages for you to make your own judgements.What does the future hold in store for me? Now that I am back in Sydney, I am planning on studying something in the humanities in university, and putting my travels on hold for a little while. I am thinking the next travel I will be doing will be on exchange, seeing as universities here offer exchange after the first or second year of study. I will always have a passion for travel however for now I feel I have to balance it with other things in my life too.

So this blog will be a little sparse for the time being, but I am planning on posting about some other travels I did when I was a bit younger- when I was 12 years old I sailed in a boat from England to Australia over the course of 1 year and 6 months crossing more than half of the world.

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Stay tuned, until next time ūüôā

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Puglia [14]

Sunday, 7 July 2013 

I have just returned from a 2 week holiday (within a holiday) in the sunny south of Italy.
Puglia is quite environmentally different from Bologna up north, and the people are quite different as well. After a crushing 8 hour drive and a 45 euro highway toll, we were finally granted a view of this Italian paradise that most of civilisation has seemed to have left alone.

The first thing you notice about Puglia is the smell. The air smells sweet, clean and fresh, and the soil is rich and red. The vegetation is also more Mediterranean with grapes, tomatoes, melons and figs being grown everywhere.

The houses are built out of stone with litt

le cones on top, and they are called ‘Trulli’. The thick stone walls keep the house naturally cool even in the heat of the Pugliese sun and in the valley we were staying in there is was a constant refreshing breeze.

The food of Puglia is fresh and delicious and includes such things as ‘Bombetta’ (little crumbed meat packages), mozarella and tomato pasta, and a little folded over pizza thing called Panzerotto. The towns are all really small, old and beautiful with twisting mazes of alleyways, tiny mysterious doors and dead-ends.

As far as the people are concerned, they can be considered the bogans/rednecks of Italy. They are fiercely passionate about their food, really loud, often fat and they close up shop to have a 5 hour siesta from midday, which I like the idea of but its also really inconvenient when you want to buy something.

We divided our time mostly between going out for delicious yet incredibly cheap meals, exploring the local towns, going to the beach, trying the local wines and chilling under the starry night sky. Most of the people we met were other holidaymakers from across Italy who are usually relatively well-off and own a small holiday house in Puglia and come down every year to get away from the city. We even went to a party in a massive villa made up of wealthy successful working Italians who were also taking an opportunity to get wasted on the free alcohol and enjoy the food. We also took some time to explore the many tiny abandoned Trulli from many years ago that were most likely built by nomadic people and then later simply left alone to stand the test of time.

So now what are my plans for the future? In the short term, I will be taking a flight on the 17th of July from Bologna to Amsterdam to attend a festival called Electronic Family with some friends, which features my favourite music in the world- Trance Music. I will also get a good chance to see some of Holland which I have heard is quite a pleasant, fun and forward-thinking country.And then comes the long-term strategy- initially I had planned to stay in Europe and find myself a travel job, save up some money and continue my travels. However getting a job and sustaining myself here
would take a lot of time and commitment especially considering the currently economic situation. I have realised that is probably time now for me to look more seriously at a future career and tertiary education if I want to facilitate any more future travel endeavours, as opposed to scraping by on odd jobs here and there. This will also bring more financial¬†stability, a sense of¬†purpose and direction in my life, and something to work towards! Not to mention meeting like-minded and interesting people, and increasing my future job prospects. I have learnt, especially with my time spent in Italy, that education is an important¬†privilege¬†entitled to only a lucky minority, and if given the opportunity it should be taken. And even that considered, I am lucky enough to come from a country not suffering overly as a result of the economic crisis. So taking that into consideration, it might finally be time for me to take a little break from travelling for a while, and pursue some new opportunities! And thats as far as I have gotten so far ūüôā

Small moments in life
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Monzuno, Sardinia, Bologna, Riccone, and beyond [13]

Monday, 10 June 2013

Well, I have been in Italy for about 3 months, and I have had a good taste of Bologna in this time.

Some Turkish people we met out one night

So what are some of the best things about Bologna? Well, first of all are the people. Bologna is home to the world’s first university, which means most of the town is basically made up of uni students. Italian people seem to be pretty passionate about things (especially food and politics), and half the time its impossible to tell whether they are having a friendly debate or an angry argument. I would say on the whole Italian’s are more educated and cultured than Australians, but can also be less laid back (a tradeoff I am not in favour of either). Italians are quite openly affectionate in their culture, but can also be somewhat outwardly reserved before you get to know them. People take their studying very seriously here, perhaps because the financial crisis has forced the standard of education higher and people are now competing with others who have a masters or even doctorate at the entry-level job market. As you can imagine most students here are living with their parents or friends, and struggling to survive financially amidst the times of economic turmoil, further¬†aggregated¬†by the corrupt politicians such as former¬†president¬†Bellisconi- who they are now trying to put in Jail.

Tortilinni Alla Panna- probably one of my all time favourite dishes

Defiantly worthy of a mention is the food here. Some of my favourites include Tortelinni con Fungi alla Panna (tortilinni with mushrooms and cream), Pizza (especially tomato with fresh rocket and cheese), Piadina with mozarella tomato and salami, not to mention all the amazing cheeses and fresh meats and

The city also looks pretty awesome with lots of¬†older¬†than-jesus buildings and things with so much history you wouldn’t¬†believe. The weather is also pretty good, but apparently it gets way too hot in the summer. Luckily I got here just as winter was finishing.
the AMAZING gelato. All the ingredients are fresh and fresh ingredients are so much in supply here that they are often cheaper then canned food!

Homemade Tortilinni
Meditating at Nicola’s house in Monzuno
So what have I been up to with my time here?
First I went with Nicola to a small scenic town called Monzuno where his parents own a little house.

There we spent our time walking around in the nature, meditating, sitting around the cozy little fire and making some awesome home-cooked meals. We also buried his cat who conveniently died when I arrived which is always good fun.

Travelling to Sardinia

Aside from Bologna, I also spent a week in Sardinia on my own. Sardinia is a small island off the south west coast of the boot (Italy). I bought a 30 euro tent from a sports shop, packed my things and got on the ferry. Sardinia is quite a beautiful island and I arrived at a place called Olbia and made my way more than 120 km south to a coast called Cala Luna. Every day had a similar routine- start my day off with a breakfast of some fruit from the supermarket and start walking. Usually I would explore a town along the way and spend the day there, and then I would get on a bus on the way to the next place. My challenge was to find a supermarket in the daytime so that I could eat, but luckily for me there was one in pretty much every town along the way. Then I would set up my tent on a beach somewhere, and sleep for the night. The challenge there was to not get seen by anyone seeing as it wasn’t strictly legal (which I guess is understandable because if EVERYONE did it then there would be tents everywhere). ¬†My trip in Sardinia ended up with a 3 hour bush trek with my 20kg pack which wasn’t exactly easy.

Nature in Sardinia
Camping in Sardinia
The town of Posada, Sardinia
A farmer let his baby goats out to walk around

We also went to visit a touristy place called Riccone where we ate Piadini (an amazing sandwhich style thing) and ate some amazing icecream (I had Nutella and white chocolate flavour) and admired the hordes of hot Italian women who were out for the night.

When I haven’t been travelling around I have been longboarding (skating) which is an¬†absolutely¬†amazing fun discovery, not to mention a fast and environmental way of getting around, going to the gym (i’m almost 67 kg now instead of 64 when I arrived), gorging myself on awesome food, and getting to know people in Bologna.

My time in Italy has been great, and I feel that I have grown a bit mentally and learnt some things about myself, especially with my time in Sardinia and Monzuno. Now my plans for the future are as follows- my friend Alex from Australia is coming to visit on the 22nd of June and then we are going to go together to meet another friend Paris in Amsterdam and go to a festival called Electronic Family. We then plan to perhaps travel around Europe a little bit, although to be honest my money is running really low so I will have to organise making some money soon. I think I would like to try working on a cruise ship as a Deckhand or Seaman (lol) and seeing as it is almost summer in Europe it would be the perfect opportunity! That is only really a vague plan though, but either way things happen I will have to get some kind of income in the near future. Luckily for me I have an English passport so I am legally allowed to work here!

So thats pretty much all the news up until now, I am not sure what the future holds but hopefully if I don’t leave¬†absolutely¬†EVERYTHING up to chance then I can get myself some kind of an income in the future and perhaps even get back to Australia one day!

ūüôā

I really love ice cream.
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Thailand to England to Italy [12]

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The sun setting over Chiang Mai

After saying goodbye to Bangkok and remembering the good times I had in my 5 months in Thailand, it was time for me to start my long horrible journey to England. First, I got a lift down to the bus station in Chiang Mai and got on my bus for an overnight trip to Bangkok. After a crappy sleep I spent the day with my friend Opal and a eccentric Dutch traveller from Brazil that I met on the bus in and looked at a few things like the awesome Temple of Dawn and a museum with baby fetuses’. Then I slept for a few hours and got on the 6pm plane headed to Mumbai, India. I spend 8 hours in Mumbai airport and after sleeping in a massage chair for a while and feeling really floppy when I awoke, I then got on my connecting flight to London. After arriving in London I then got a subway train to Dorset (which cost 53 pounds!) and finally arrived at my destination, where I would be staying with some family for a while.

Encombe house where I was staying in England

It was actually nice to be back in England again, all of the places brought back childhood memories of growing up. When I looked around London I remembered why I was glad I didn’t still live there though, the sky was constantly grey and the people were pale, moody and miserable. The girls were all carting around babies for housing benefits and half of the people look like they wouldn’t mind killing themselves or someone else. Heading out of London towards the countryside, England slowly became more¬†bearable.¬†There is a certain magical quality about the smell of the crisp English country air, and something very non-magical about the¬†arctic gales that make walking around a constant battle for survival. In England I was staying with some family who looked after an amazing huge English manor called Encombe House. The house and the valley were owned by some English millionaires, who also went hunting and shooting and drunk tea and wore stupid hats. I was glad to reunite with family that I had not seen in a long while, and was able to go and look at some nice nature around the area. I also went clay¬†pidgeon¬†shooting, which was REALLY fun and I was also good at it, hitting 8/10 moving traps two at a time. I also got a tattoo in memory of someone special, and after spending an eventful week in Dorset it was time to head over to Italy.

Clay Pidgeon shooting
The city of Bologna

I have been in Italy for 5 days now, and its just as good as expected. There are beautiful old red-brick houses, medieval churches, 1000 year old towers, tiny alleyways and well dressed people. The food is actually AMAZING too! If you think about a meal, it always relies on the quality of the ingredients, and the ingredients here are all varied, fresh, cheap and delicious. Pizza, pasta, cheese, herbs, tomato, salami, proscioutto, pastries, vegetables, bread, gelato, aperetivo and so much more are everywhere and pretty much every meal is an oral festivity.

Nicola has been showing me around Bologna, and he knows pretty much everyone in the city. A third of the city is taken up by a university, and as a result there are many young people everywhere, not to mention scores of beautiful charismatic and intelligent Italian girls. Everything here has a certain charm, maybe because of the novelty of being in a small Italian town and the locals are always interested to meet their first Australian person.

A typical laneway in Bologna

Everywhere I go in the world I see how different¬†societies function¬†and subsequent mindlessness manifesting in many different forms, and I think it is important to take note of them. It is usually expressed through flaws that have become¬†collectively¬†imprinted on people through their¬†culture’s¬†standards. In Italy it takes the form of other people’s expectations regarding social status, fashion, attitude, maturity, academic performance and other similar criteria. It is easy from the outset to see how these have become more than just a standard to live by, but a negative trait as well, and once absorbed in the culture it can be harder to see it from a point of detachment. Regardless of the culture however, there are nice people to be found everywhere and Italy is no exception.
It is sometimes a great relief to realise all of the things you do not know. You come to realise that the false beliefs you have built up in your lifetime are the only obstacle that stands between you and happiness.

Typical Italian sandwhich with Ricotta cheese

I have been maturing as a person and considering future possibilities as well as enjoying my time travelling. I have even made a schedule and to do list for things I want to do and achieve like starting to study and speak Italian every day, learning a brief overview of the history of the world, exercising, reading more books, and finding a career path, amongst other things.
For now I am just living with Nicola, chilling out, meeting the people who live here and exploring the city. I am planning on volunteering somewhere in Italy soon, perhaps down south or sardinia or sicily at some point, as well as spending summer somewhere nice and warm.

Lastly, an important thing that I have experienced recently is a breakthrough in understanding the truth of life, which comes in the form of awareness. From reading numerous spiritual texts, new-age psychology¬†and other things of that nature, I have come to realise that the underlying message from any true spiritual teacher points to awareness. If you keep your mind in a state of constant and complete awareness of the present moment, there will be no room for the ‘ego’ or ‘false self’ to slip in unnoticed. This is the most profound¬†realization¬†that I have recently had that has been able to lead me closer to living in a state of peace. It gives me immense hope for the future, and has opened up a world of positive¬†opportunities for me.

Until next time

Ciao for now ūüôā

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