Tag Archives: Travel

Six Flags adventure park, Texas

I love rollercoasters so I was completely up for visiting Six Flags over Texas in Arlington. We bought tickets online on the same day to avoid queuing up. The car park seemed pretty full when we were trying to find a spot, but luckily there were hardly any lines for the rides when we got in.

The rides were pretty awesome. I really enjoyed the Batman ride, Cat woman whip and the Superman ride. Even the ‘kiddy’ rides were pretty cool! Spinsanity was also great – except we got stuck for 10 minutes on the way down. Luckily we weren’t upside down so it wasn’t too bad!

It was a hot day, but there is plenty of shade and water fountains around. We bought a refillable drink which was handy to stay hydrated throughout the day. And the Aqua man water ride helped to keep us cool!

We were surprised when all the rides seem to stop at around 6pm… turned out there was a thunder storm looming and I guess lightning and high metal rides are not a good combination. It did start raining and there was plenty of lightning and thunder, at which point nearly everyone started to make their way towards the exits. I’m glad we managed to fit in loads of good rides before nature forced us to leave. I’d go back ūüôā

You can check out Six Flags over Texas by clicking here.


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How to travel on a budget

There are times when you have oodles of money to spend on a luxury trip.  Those are always great!

But there are also times when you really want to go somewhere, even though you feel like you can’t¬†really¬†afford it. ¬†Fear not. ¬†Where there’s a will, there’s a way! ¬†From my experience, travelling on a budget is still worth the experience. ¬†You might not be eating caviar everyday (who wants to do that anyway?) but you still get to visit somewhere interesting and build some great new memories.

The biggest costs for travelling tend to be for transport and accommodation, so if you want to save money, try to focus on these areas first.  Other costs like eating out do add up, but you can always try to find a balance of paying for nice meals and eating on the cheap.  This applies for touristy things to do as well.

Here are some tips to get you thinking:

  • Book early

From my experience, booking earlier has nearly always worked out cheaper. ¬†From flights to hotels, it’s easier to snag a deal in advance. ¬†I’d say at least three months in advance. ¬†Also, there is maximum holiday anticipation by booking early! ¬†It’s always nice to have a trip to look forward to.

  • Low cost airlines

These are great. ¬†The purpose is to get you from one place to another. ¬†There’s generally not much point in paying extra for that. ¬†Low cost airlines are good for travelling within Europe, and also intra-country like in the US. ¬†You can save a lot of money by travelling with Ryanair or Easyjet instead of British Airways.

You can save money on flights around the world with airlines like JetBlue Airways in the US and AirAsia in Asia.  You can view other airlines in this article about low-cost airlines.


  • Shop around for flights

Sometimes there is no low-cost option when you’re making a big trip, like from London to Thailand. ¬†But you might find some cheaper options if you’re willing to make a stop-over (these tend to be cheaper than direct flights) or be flexible with your dates.

If you’re making a big trip abroad that requires a stop-over, it can work out cheaper if you buy the two parts of the flight separately. ¬†For example, a friend of mine travelled from the US to Amsterdam with American Airlines, which required a stop in London. ¬†It worked out cheaper to buy the US-London ticket with AA + a separate ticket from London-Amsterdam with British Airways, compared to booking the whole US-London-Amsterdam combination directly through American Airlines. ¬†So she saved money by booking the two parts of her trip separately, without even looking at the low-cost airlines.

You may need to fly with a big airline to get you to the first country, then look for cheap flights on the shorter parts of your journey.

The best way to shop around like this is using a website like Sky Scanner that does the hard work for you. ¬†Try changing some of the dates around, and make sure you check the time in between flights. ¬†And make sure the agent they suggest is legitimate. ¬†I’ve seen what looked like a bargain but had never heard of the agent and their reviews weren’t good – so I chose a more expensive but safe option.

You can also use websites like Kayak and the regular online agents like Opodo, Expedia and Lastminute.com to shop around for flights. ¬†And the actual airline’s website!

Make sure you get the timings right if you book parts of your flight separately. ¬†You will need to allow extra time to collect your baggage and possibly go through security or check-in again. ¬†To avoid this hassle, see the next point…

  • Travel lightly – hand luggage only

There are lots of benefits to travelling lightly. ¬†You carry less stuff around, you’re forced to be minimalist and you don’t have to pay extra on some flights for checking luggage in. ¬†Low-cost airlines are notorious for charging extra if you want to check in luggage. ¬†Ryanair charges ¬£25/‚ā¨25 for adding a checked bag, which goes up to ¬£40/‚ā¨40 if you add it after booking your flight/at the airport.

No checked luggage is especially useful if you have booked more than one flight through different airlines – you won’t need to wait around at the baggage carousel to pick up your baggage before going to your next flight.

Even if you don’t have another flight lined up, not carrying a suitcase around on foreign public transport is like a breath of fresh air. ¬†Now, I can easily go away for up to five days with just a small rucksack – I used to take a suitcase with me!

And, if you are going to make maximum use of your hand luggage allowance on a flight, make sure your cabin bag is the right size.  Sometimes the maximum size varies from airline to airline, and you might be forced to pay to check in your case if it is too big.

See Ryanair’s new hand luggage allowance rules here.

  • If you fly a lot, remember to collect and use miles

So using airline miles isn’t my strength, but it’s something I keep meaning to make use of more! ¬†Many airlines have their own miles system and are associated with other airlines too. ¬†So you can have an account with American Airlines and still collect points when you travel with British Airways.

I have used my miles to buy a flight from Costa Rica to New York for about $40, and I have also managed to lose about 20,000 points because I didn’t make use of them in time. ¬†Oops.

  • You don’t have to fly

Depending on how big a trip you are planning, you may want to consider other options like coach, train or even ferry.  In Europe, there are options to take Eurostar between the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.  Returns can be as low as £60 (around US$80).

And remember, you don’t even have to go abroad to travel.


There’s probably a whole bunch of stuff you haven’t seen in your own country, so if you’re on a real budget, consider a trip to a city you haven’t visited before. ¬†Coaches can be really cheap in the US and in Europe. ¬†I’ve booked Megabus tickets for ¬£1 before from London to Manchester, you can’t go wrong for that price!

  • Accommodation

Comparison sites:¬†I recommend Trivago as a first stop to find accommodation. ¬†It’s a hotel comparison site that compares hundreds of venues across different agents for the best price. ¬†Mid-week stays tend to be cheaper.

Hostels:¬†I’ve only stayed in hostels a few times – mainly when I was travelling alone and really couldn’t justify the cost of a hotel room. ¬†Especially when it was literally for just a place to sleep as I planned to be out all day. ¬†It can be a good way to meet people – make sure you have your ‘friendly hat’ on and be prepared to expect the unexpected! ¬†I would recommend you check the reviews and the photos to make sure it is something you are happy with.

I’ve had a couple of great hostel stays including in Boston and Costa Rica. ¬†And they were much cheaper than hotels. ¬†There are often facilities to cook, saving you money when it comes to not having to eat out every day.

You can search for hostels at Hostel World, and sometimes they come up in the results on sites like Booking.com.

Airbnb:¬†I’ve heard mixed reviews about Airbnb although all of my experiences have been pretty good. ¬†It is generally cheaper than a hotel, but make sure you do some comparisons. ¬†It can be good if there’s a group of you as there are options to have an apartment where you can hang out and eat together in a homely setting. ¬†You also have the option of cooking.

My favourite Airbnb was staying on a houseboat in Amsterdam years ago.  It was much more fun than staying in a generic hotel room!

No frills hotels: ¬†I’m a really big fan of ‘budget hotels’ that are part of a chain. ¬†They tend to be simple, clean and you know what you’ll get! ¬†In the UK, I really like Travelodge and in Spain I found Ibis to be great.

  • Things to do

It can be easy to spend lots of money on fun things to do when you’re exploring somewhere new. ¬†I usually pick my favourites of the paid options, like shows or big tourist attractions, then make an effort to find free things. ¬†There are plenty of options, like visiting free museums, looking at markets and even free tours.

I’m a big fan of the Sandeman free walking tours. ¬†These usually last 2-3 hours and you pay a tip of your choice at the end. ¬†This usually works out cheaper than any fixed-price tour. ¬†They currently cover 19 cities around the world. ¬†So far I’ve been to the tours in London, Dublin, Berlin and Amsterdam.


  • Eating

I LOVE eating out. ¬†Especially when on holiday! ¬†But when you’re on a budget, it helps to plan out those meals a little bit. ¬†Instead of pigging out at the expensive hotel buffet every morning, think about going to a local supermarket to buy some croissants, biscuits or fruits to have for breakfast. ¬†If you have access to a fridge, then you can add milk and cereal to that list. ¬†This will go nicely with the tea and coffee that you (hopefully) already have in your room. ¬†And if there’s a kettle for that tea and coffee, then you might as well buy some pot noodles for the occasional meal or snack.

For lunches and dinners, I find it works to pick out a couple of places you really want to eat at (this should include national dishes/local food), then find cheap alternatives for the other meals. ¬†This includes cafe style restaurants and, god forbid, fast food. ¬†There’s nothing as exciting as having McDonalds in a different country! ¬†(FYI the McFlurry in Morocco is the best I’ve tried so far)

If you have cooking facilities where you’re staying, like in most hostels or Airbnb, then make the most of the opportunity to buy some ingredients from a supermarket and cook some meals.

I’m not saying eat like a pauper for the whole trip, just mix it up a little bit. ¬†Try the whole array from street food to top notch. ¬†You’ll save a lot of money compared to eating in ‘proper restaurants’ each time, and sometimes street food is the best.

You can also look at my travel tips by clicking here.

I hope this post has given you some ideas on how to travel on a budget.  Good luck with your travel plans!

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The mind-growing effect of living abroad

I’ve lived abroad a few times in my life. ¬†The first time was when I was 21 years old and worked in New York for a year as an intern. ¬†The second time, I went to live in Agadir, Morocco, for three months. ¬†And the most recent time was in Costa Rica for six months.

The locations and experiences were very different, but there was one thing they all had in common. ¬†The level of personal growth I experienced was phenomenal. ¬†I changed and grew in so many ways that I never would have experienced if I stayed settled and working in the UK. ¬†I’m grateful for all of these experiences that in some way shaped the person I am today.

Having lived in London already, the transition to New York was quite easy. ¬†Especially because everyone spoke English. ¬†Looking back, I realise the largest part of why this experience was so much fun was having a large group of intern friends who were just as curious and eager to explore and enjoy NY as I was. ¬†Having friends to share adventures with is a wonderful thing. ¬†I loved the buzz of life, and knowing my time was limited meant I made the effort to do as much as I could as quickly as possible. ¬†Having to start a new life in another country somehow made me very assertive. ¬†I wasn’t so worried about what others thought of me as before.

Morocco was a completely different experience. ¬†It felt very ‘foreign’. ¬†I didn’t understand any Arabic and I was forced to make use of my school French and develop my language skills. ¬†I enjoyed the hustle and bustle of a less modern world, like buying all of your fresh fruit and veg from a market stall, and appreciated how everyone took the time to relax. ¬†Agadir is based by the beach, a beautiful place, and it’s where I learned the importance of enjoying life, remembering to take things slowly once in a while and enjoy the beautiful views.

Costa Rica is a very beautiful country, and the experience of living there was nothing like what I expected. ¬†Funnily enough, it’s where I learned to enjoy relaxing at the beach properly with friends. ¬†I used to find sitting at the beach quite boring before, but I finally understood the joy of spending hours in and near the sea. ¬†I loved living in Quepos, a little village near Manuel Antonio on the coast, for six weeks. ¬†I adored being surrounded by tropical forests, humming birds and I even had a tear in my eye when I saw a flock of wild scarlet macaws near my home. ¬†It makes me feel so awful when I think of how these beautiful red parrots are only seen in cages around the world. ¬†Being immersed in nature was an amazing experience, as were the horrific thunderstorms I witnessed (from the balcony) in rainy season. ¬†Truly magnificent!

Moving to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, made me appreciate all the things I’d taken for granted about living in London. ¬†I kind of assumed that all capitals across the world were similar to London – international, full of work opportunities and great restaurants! ¬†It turns out that’s not the case. ¬†I found the language barrier to be a barrier in getting to know the locals, another reason to improve my Spanish skills. ¬†I also enjoyed the opportunity to visit rainforests, waterfalls, beaches and volcanoes around Costa Rica. ¬†One of the highlights was visiting Tortuguero and going kayaking for the first time… by myself… with a random dog that insisted on joining me! ¬†It was amazing and I loved ‘adventure dog’, he was awesome.

I learned a lot from my time living abroad.  Living somewhere is completely different to just visiting a place for a weekend or a week.  You get a different feel for the place and understanding of the culture.  I learned that people are kind and helpful, but most of all, I learned that I can rely on myself.  That gave me a lot of confidence in myself Рknowing that in a foreign situation you can and will always find a solution for what you need.

I also learned and realised that sometimes you can’t control everything. ¬†Things happen in life, and you just have to go with the flow. ¬†I learned to let go of a lot of my life expectations, and sometimes the distance from ‘home’ also helped me to accept and let go of the past. ¬†Making the effort to step away from your everyday life helps you to see life from a different perspective. ¬†Somehow, travelling and living abroad really helped me to grow spiritually and accept everyone and everything more than before.

Going to new places makes your senses come to life as you have to pay attention to everything around you. ¬†It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and experience different ways of living.

I’m grateful that I’ve had these opportunities to experience personal growth, and I’m aware that this kind of growth would have been very limited if I hadn’t travelled and lived abroad.

I realise that living abroad is usually a huge step, but I highly recommend it to anyone who is considering it.  Most people actively manage their career growth, but I think personal growth is just as important in life, if not more.


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Seven Jobs That Let You Live And Work Abroad (As Your Own Boss)

Article by Arianna O’Dell (2016)

Tired of the corporate rat race? You can do these jobs just as easily overseas while reporting only to yourself.


Right now, I‚Äôm sitting at a coffee shop in Bucharest, Romania, with my laptop and an Americano. For the past five months, I‚Äôve been traveling through Europe and the Middle East while simultaneously building a marketing agency‚Äč I can operate from anywhere in the world.

As many people are finding out, digital technology makes it easier than ever to work across borders. From Chiang Mai, Thailand, to Madrid, Spain, ‚Äúdigital nomad hubs‚ÄĚ are popping up across the globe.

Freelancers and entrepreneurs alike are coming together to work outside the confines of traditional offices. And as remote work becomes more a norm than an exception, we’re likely to see more independent workers congregate even in cities where big industries and corporations aren’t anchored.

People I meet on my travels often ask me how I‚Äôm supporting myself and whether they can do it, too, using their own skills and backgrounds. The road to happy self-employment isn‚Äôt always as smooth as the one to a steamy espresso in Spain, but I‚Äôm living proof that it can be done‚Äďand so are the other digital nomads I‚Äôve met who work in other fields.

Based on conversations with them and my own experience, here are seven professions you can pursue from just about anywhere.

If you’re passionate about social media or can’t get enough of launching pay­-per­-click campaigns, you don’t need a cubicle in an office tower to do that. Digital marketers (like me!) are finding the role lets us comfortably support ourselves from anywhere in the world.

‚ÄúA‚Äčs a digital media professional,‚ÄĚ Sharon Tseung tells me, ‚ÄúI‚Äôm currently managing e¬≠mail newsletters and paid ads for clients. I also blog about how to make money online while traveling.,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúWhen I realized the living freelance expenses abroad were far less than San Francisco rent, working overseas was a no¬≠-brainer.‚ÄĚ

With U.S. clients and Greek rent, Tseung has been able to fund her travels and embark on a full year (and counting) of remote work. From startups to Fortune 500 companies, there’s an array of companies that offer remote positions and are open to contracting freelance talent, particularly for marketing roles.

A PR pro knows that early-morning pitching can make or break an outreach campaign. For me, I found that working from the Middle East gave me a big advantage since it put my schedule six hours ahead of ÔŅľmy New York City clients.

In Tel Aviv, it was possible for me to build and execute media campaigns for clients based further west; all I needed was a stable Wi-Fi connection and an international clock. If you’re skilled in communications and can write a compelling press release, a career in public relations can be your golden ticket to a new adventure abroad.

The U.S. B‚Äčureau of Labor and Statistics‚Äč has projected that employment of web developers is set to increase 27% between 2014 and 2024, ‚Äúmuch faster than the average for all occupations.‚ÄĚ

Many employers have turned to remote options for these needs, making a freelance career in web development a more feasible and remunerative option for remote workers than it was even a few years ago. Companies including Amazon, Dell, and IBM allow some developers to work remotely or on a freelance basis. As technology demand rises, companies are always on the hunt for talented web developers, no matter where they may be based.

If you dream in Helvetica and know your way around Photoshop, a career in graphic design can help you bring in the necessary cash flow to live and travel abroad. Glassdoor puts the average graphic designer’s salary at $61,192 in New York City, about $10,000 higher than the national median pay for the role.

But you may be able to do quite a bit better when you don‚Äôt have an HR department to negotiate your earnings with‚Äďand what you do earn may go further overseas anyway than it would in Manhattan. And one recruiter recently told Fast Company that design opportunities are popping up in industries where they didn‚Äôt much exist before. ‚ÄúYou need a product that looks really good whether you are a software designer or a shoe manufacturer,‚ÄĚ she said, which could be putting talented‚Äďif nomadic‚Äďgraphic designers in higher demand.

Many digital nomads choose blogging as their revenue stream. Through paid sponsors, ads, and affiliates, it‚Äôs possible to generate thousands of dollars each year. Jason Wuerch, a content entrepreneur at Frugal for Less‚Äč, recently chose to move operations overseas after he realized it was possible to work on his company while spending half as much money on rent as he would have in Portland, Oregon.

‚ÄúMy love of Europe combined with a smart financial decision made moving to Romania the right choice,‚ÄĚ he told me. I can relate‚Äďit was a similar calculation that helped me make my own leap earlier this year. If you love writing but find that running a blog isn‚Äôt your calling, many writers find freelance work on platforms like UpWork, Fiverr, and others.

Got something to sell? You can probably sell it while working abroad, even if your target customers are back home. The U‚Äč.S. e-¬≠commerce sector grew 14.6%‚Äč in 2015, making it a ripe market for digital entrepreneurs. It depends on what you‚Äôre selling, of course, but all you may really need is a Wi-Fi connection and a distribution partner for fulfillment. (Even if you‚Äôre making a product that requires you to stay in one spot, production costs are still lower in many places overseas than they are domestically.)

With a few weeks‚Äô time and a touch of creativity, you can create your own digital business, whether it‚Äôs a line of jewelry, phone cases, or even kitchenware. And even if you aren‚Äôt producing your own goods and selling them online (which can require more of a full-fledged operation), creatives around the world are earning passive income and supporting their travels through sites like Etsy‚Äč and Zazzle.‚Äč

Over the past decade, video technology has given rise to education platforms like Udemy‚Äč and Skillshare. ‚ÄčEntrepreneurs can now create and sell a course on an unlimited number of topics.

Whether you’re a doctor, lawyer, or restaurant server, as long as you’ve got some kind of useful instruction to give, you can build a course that’s relevant to your industry and get paid to show others the ropes by video. And if you’re skilled at widely available tools like Final Cut Pro, a career in video production or e­-learning might be for you.

Derek Merdinyan of Video Igniter made the plunge into digital nomadism almost five years ago. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve done the calculations, and running my business remotely means I have lower overhead costs and can pass the savings on to my clients,‚ÄĚ he says.

Digital media is here to stay and, increasingly, a viable way of supporting yourself abroad in a range of industries. From public relations to graphic design, these cross-border career paths can help fund the expat life you’ve been dreaming of.

Arianna O’Dell is the founder of Airlink Marketing, a digital agency that helps hotels, restaurants, and travel destinations attract and retain clientele.

This article and any associated images were originally published here:

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A wonderful trip to Thailand – The North and Chiangmai tour

September 2016

In my mind, I was going to Asia for four or five months to travel around Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and any other countries in Asia I decided to add along the way.

In reality, a three week trip to Asia was much more convenient and affordable, and also a good compromise given I’d spent six months in Costa Rica and was wrapping up my travels.

The actual plan was to spend two weeks in Thailand and one in Malaysia. ¬†Thailand has been very high on my ‘to visit’ list, mainly because I love Thai food.

As I was travelling solo, I decided to join a tour for the first week followed by a week in Bangkok.  This post is about the first week with the tour.


Street markets

I had a look at various tours and settled on the Bangkok to Chiangmai Express tour with G Adventures. ¬†I hadn’t used this company before, but a couple of friends recommended them, the price was reasonable compared to other tours, there was no hill trekking or mandatory cycling (not my cup of tea) and I liked the varied itinerary that included multiple places, nice hotels, a floating raft house and an overnight train. ¬†Exciting!!

I arrived in Bangkok on a Monday morning in September, the same day the tour was starting.  Luckily I was able to check in early to the hotel after my 15 hour flight from London, so I had a few hours of sleep and woke up in time to have a wander around the area and grab something to eat before the introductory meeting in the evening.  The tour guide and our group of ten tourists seemed friendly enough.  We went out for dinner together and called it a night for an early start the next day.


Cooked rats

I should point out that September is the rainy season. ¬†In an ideal world, this trip would be in November during the best weather. ¬†However, having lived through a rainy season in Costa Rica, I know there are a lot of perks to rainy season. ¬†Flights are cheaper, there are fewer tourists around and the weather is generally cooler. ¬†After all, a bit of rain isn’t going to ruin my holiday! ¬†It did rain pretty much every day, but usually only once or twice for an hour or so in the late afternoon or evening.

The tour started in Bangkok and we worked our way north via private van and an overnight train.

Most of our travels were in air conditioned vans, which was great with our luggage in the hot and humid weather. ¬†We stopped at little cafe style restaurants for lunch and dinner that provided decent and cheap meals. ¬†For me, all of the food was amazing and delicious. I’m a fan of spice and it was hard not to find a flavoursome dish at every place. ¬†And I was thrilled that a meal usually cost less than 80 baht (¬£2 or $3).

We visited so many different places. In Bangkok we visited the Wat Pho giant Buddha.  Our guide explained a lot of history about every place we visited.





Bridge on the River Kwai

One of my favourite parts of the trip was the raft house. ¬†I had imagined we’d be staying in a wooden hut on stilts in the water. ¬†The raft house was actually a little white house-ship that was docked at the side of a lake. ¬†It was not luxurious, and it was definitely different. ¬†The real surprise was that a ¬†motor boat connected to the raft house and pulled the whole thing along the lake! ¬†We all sat on the deck and enjoyed the ride. ¬†We ‘parked’ along the lakeside on the mountainous side and the motor boat left us. ¬†This was our isolated stop until the morning. ¬†I hopped in a canoe with three new tourist friends and we paddled around a couple of bends. ¬†The views were amazing. ¬†Our canoe was precariously balanced with four of us, which added to the fun. I’m pleased to say there was no tipping over. ¬†Some of the others had a swim in the warm water before dinner, which was served at an open table and delivered to us by a motor boat. It was a quiet and relaxing evening, and I loved sleeping in a floating house!


A raft house being pulled along the lake


Beautiful morning views

There were a lot of beautiful temples and ruins on our agenda.  I liked the places we stayed at and breakfast was included everyday.  Sometimes we had time to explore on our own or relax.

The overnight train was an interesting experience, and one I was glad to have the guidance of our tour guide!

Another highlight was the cooking class that I signed up to in Chiangmai.  We visited a local market to buy fresh ingredients before going to the cooking school to make spring rolls, green curry, tom yum soup and pad thai.  I was really impressed by how easy it all seemed (of course it helped that the school pre-prepped a lot of things for us!). I actually feel I could make all of these dishes again.


Meat market


Cooking the best Tom Yum soup


Also in Chiangmai, some of us in the group went to a ladyboy cabaret show, which was a lot of fun. ¬†It consisted of beautiful ladyboys dressed in cabaret style outfits, feathers and all, performing dance routines to classic hits like ‘it’s raining men’. There was a great atmosphere and everything was in good jest.

The tour finished on a Sunday morning and I decided to stay an extra night in Chiangmai before heading back to Bangkok by train.  I had a great time at the Sunday night market which had a variety of items on sale and amazing food stalls.

In a country that feels so ‘foreign’ – different language, culture and food – the tour was a really nice and safe introduction to Thailand. I appreciated the good company and having someone to ‘hold my hand’ when going to restaurants, tourist sites and using tuktuks for the first time.

I did go on to spend another week in Bangkok which was really fun and felt like a breeze to get around on my own after a week with the tour.

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The Landmark Forum – NY

I decided to attend the three day Landmark Forum course (three and a bit days technically) while I was visiting New York.

Reviews have compared it to a ‘cult’, but I think anyone who has been through it will know that it’s not. It’s just the result of people having major life realisations over a period of just a few days – which makes it pretty exciting stuff so they keep going on about it!! ¬†I think the best description, having completed it, is a course in ‘life skills’.

I didn’t really know what to expect, and the decision to actually sign up was in the spur of the moment.

The whole course takes place in a large room with screens and whiteboards at the front and a speaker who leads throughout. The hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday are long: 9am Р10pm with a total of approximately 2.5 hours break per day.  On Tuesday evening we only needed to attend for a few hours.

I felt exhausted by the end of day 1, but strangely energised at the end of days 2 and 3. We learned SO much, more than I had ever expected. ¬†I learned about my own negative patterns with certain people, and as I thought about it longer I was able to spot more patterns with other people, issues that I hadn’t even been aware of. The course encourages you to accept responsibility for your part in negative situations or relationships, and make amends where possible. ¬†It also helps you to put the past in the past for all aspects in life and leave you free to move forward. ¬†It was wonderful to see people on the stage sharing their ‘breakthroughs’. One person called a parent they hadn’t spoken to in 15 years. Other people finally made their peace with horrible experiences from their childhood or adulthood. Relationships on the brink of breakdown were brought back together. ¬†(Sharing is completely optional, and apparently very therapeutic)

I learned a lot and I’m sure it will be having a positive impact on my life and how I deal with people and situations in future. ¬†I’m glad I went and it was a great lesson in self improvement that I won’t be forgetting any time soon!

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Costa Rica: San Jose, Monteverde, Volcan Poas and Manuel Antonio

It’s been a month since I moved to San Jose, and I have mixed feelings about it. ¬†It’s a loud and busy city. ¬†And it doesn’t help that I’ve been having stomach pains for the past two weeks, which is very unusual for me. ¬†The doctor tells me I have an inflamed colon! ¬†So I am taking medication and taking it easy. ¬†Unfortunately, it’s not helping how I feel about being in San Jose!

On the plus side, teaching has been going really well and I was pleased to have positive feedback from my students. ¬†I also had a friend come to visit me for a week – the perfect excuse to do some travelling in Costa Rica. ¬†That’s one thing that San Jose is great for – it is the travel hub for the country so pretty easy to get to anywhere.

Our first stop was Monteverde for a night, about four hours away by bus.  Monteverde is beautiful and famous for its cloud forests.  We stayed at Pension Santa Elena hostel, a no frills place.  In the afternoon we accidentally joined an adventure zip line tour.  My friend and I bailed after the practice lines as it was just too scary!  In the evening we went to the serpentorium for a guided tour which was really interesting.  They have a number of snakes and frogs that are native to Costa Rica.


Dinner was at the Tree House, a really lovely restaurant with a unique venue. ¬†There’s a tree in it.

The next day, we went to Selvatura Park for their hanging bridges in the cloud forest and the hummingbird garden.  This was definitely the highlight of the whole week of travel.  The bridges were high up in the trees and the views were outstanding.  I intend to go back!


We had lunch at a nice place called¬†Amy’s Restaurant before heading back to San Jose.

The next day, which happened to be Christmas day, we went on a tour of Volcan Poas, the Dakota Coffee estate and Sarchi Arts and Crafts.  The tour was really brilliant and I recommend it highly.  The volcano was covered in cloud when we arrived but fortunately cleared after 20 minutes for some spectacular views.


The Coffee tour was really interesting and full of information.  And the Arts and Crafts was really just a big shop full of tourist stuff, but still interesting to see.  It was great that they picked us up and dropped us back off at the hotel for the tour.

And finally we went to Manuel Antonio for one night.  It takes about four hours by bus from San Jose.  Most of the first day was spent at the beach, and the following day we went to Manuel Antonio Park.  We rolled up rather foolishly at 10am to find the queue was over an hour long.  The wise thing to do is turn up early Рsay 8am.  It was completely worth the wait and we hired a guide so actually got to see some animals like sloths, bats, frogs and monkeys.  We stayed at the Cabinas Maria Teresa, which was a really nice treat with air con and a lovely shower.

It was a great week of travelling in Costa Rica, and I’m looking forward to doing some more!


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One month since the move to Costa Rica

Playita sunset

Today marks one month since I arrived to Costa Rica, and it has been a great month. ¬†I have felt so many moments of active happiness and joy, where I catch myself thinking ‘wow, this is beautiful’ and smile to myself for being here. ¬†I have watched beautiful sunsets, swam in pristine oceans, hiked through forests, seen wild sloths, monkeys and iguanas, watched hummingbirds in my host family’s garden – in fact, there is a hummingbird teasing me right now as I have been trying to get a photo of one! ¬†They always disappear by the time my camera is in my hand.

That is just the natural beauty side of Costa Rica. ¬†I’ve also really been enjoying my TEFL course. ¬†It’s been challenging and interesting, and I’ve been enjoying teaching classes this week. ¬†I’ve met some wonderful people, teachers and students, who I have been fortunate enough to enjoy this adventure with.

I think I’m starting to miss London a bit, the convenience of so many places to go to and see. ¬†I do love Manuel Antonio and Quepos, with its beaches and nature on the doorstep, but I’m quite looking forward to heading back to the capital, San Jose. ¬†I have been offered an English teaching position with a school – I’m not sure if it’s quite the right one for me so I will send out a few more applications and see what happens.

I’m really looking forward to investigating more of this beautiful country…

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An update on the move to Costa Rica!


Two weeks after my arrival to Costa Rica – and I have to say that I’m starting to feel quite at home here!

I spent a lovely few days in San Jose at the Hotel Presidente http://www.hotel-presidente.com, which was a nice way to get over my jet lag (there is a six hour time difference from London).

I then took the 4 hour bus ride to Quepos near the west coast, where I was met by my host family.

Costa Rica is certainly very different to the UK. ¬†It’s a lot hotter and sunnier, and everything is in Spanish!

San Jose is quite a small capital (most are compared to London) but busy and lively enough.  Quepos, on the other hand, is a very small town surrounded by luscious greenery and lots of wildlife.  There are plenty of lizards and birds to be spotted in the trees.  I go to sleep to the soothing chirruping of bugs and wake up to a chorus of the local cockerels.


My host family is really nice.  I have my own room, get to practice Spanish at home and am fed fresh Costa Rican food everyday!

So far I’ve enjoyed two hikes through the rainforest. ¬†One was a trip to find a waterfall (unsuccessful), the other to visit a beautiful secluded bay that cannot be accessed by the public. ¬†That was a really tough physical trek for me! ¬†But completely worth it!


I also enjoyed a whale watching day trip to Uvita, which is 1.5 hours away by bus.  My group was very lucky to find a mama humpback whale with her baby within 20 minutes of leaving the shore.  And we saw a pod of dolphins too!  Our guide told us it was quite rare to see both on the same day.

My TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course started last week in Manuel Antonio, which is 15 minutes away by bus. ¬†I have a great teacher and lovely classmates. ¬†The course itself is a little intense, but I’m learning so much and think it is really beneficial. ¬†This evening I have been working on a lesson plan for a lesson that I will be teaching tomorrow! ¬†They have certainly thrown us in at the deep end – with a lot of help of course.

The pros:  change of lifestyle and scenery, adventure, meeting different people, sunshine, improving my Spanish, enjoying learning

The cons: Quepos is very humid (San Jose is cooler and drier), a lot of mosquitos

Overall, very good ūüôā and just the change I was looking for.

This weekend, I plan to visit the local market, go to Manuel Antonio wildlife park and veg out on the beach.

In the longer run, after my course is complete I will head back to San Jose to look for work.  Mainly because I prefer the climate, but also because there should be more work available there.  So far so good!

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A long weekend in Manchester

August 2015

I went to Manchester for the August bank holiday weekend, to visit a friend who moved there recently.  I have been to Manchester a couple of times before and always enjoyed it.


I booked my tickets on https://www.virgintrains.co.uk/ for a total of £40 return.  The train went from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly where my friend picked me up.  We had a little wander through town, I especially liked the Spinningfields area with its cool restaurants and bars.  We took an Uber taxi back to her place and chilled out.

In the evening, we went to a great restaurant called Red Chilli:



I really liked the food here.  The salt and pepper squid was nice and tasty (not chewy like at a lot of places) the dumplings were tasty, and my main dish of poached mutton in spicy sauce really tested my chilli spectrum!  I would have been happy to go back there.

mutton mushroom


We headed out to the Whitworth Art Gallery:


I hadn’t heard of this place before, but it is somewhere my friend had been meaning to check out and I was happy to give it a go. ¬†It is free to enter, and I was pleasantly surprised by the wide range of art they had on show, including clothes, photos, watercolour paintings and quite random displays.

art art 2

We also had lunch at the gallery’s cafe. ¬†My friend and I both had the soup with market salads and bread, which was very tasty. ¬†It’s a very nice little cafe, very bright and located amongst the trees of the outside park. ¬†Worth a visit.

In the afternoon, I caught up with another friend for drinks at the Joshua Brooks bar:

This place has a nice vibe.  It was a Sunday afternoon so pretty quiet, but there were some other groups there and the background music added some atmosphere.  A good place to catch up for drinks.

For dinner, I went to Bem Brasil on King Street:


This is a buffet style Brazilian restaurant where you can help yourself to a buffet of salads, and people come around with freshly grilled/barbecued meats for you to have as much as you want.  Good for carnivores.  Everything was tasty Рespecially their sangria!


The rest of the trip involved chilling out. ¬†On Monday we watched the ‘Adjustment Bureau’ on DVD and ordered some pizza. ¬†I took the 3.35pm Virgin train back to London, which was sadly delayed by 45 minutes – I’m going to figure out how to claim a reimbursement!

All in all, a good little trip to Manchester.


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