Thursday, 29 April 2010

Backpacker Memoirs....Do you REALLY need to go??

Wednesday 6th January 2010

So I have been in Africa now for two months, I have travelled through Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zanzibar to name a few, and some things remain the same:

1. The children ALWAYS love you.
2. The Toilets are always TERRIBLE.
The latter I have noted comes in a few variations:

1. The Squat Toilet - If you are lucky you have toilet paper (unlikely) and a tap sticking out of the wall so you can wash your hands.

2. The Squat Toilet complete with a bucket of (dirty) water and a jug - So you can flush. Usually there is nowhere to wash your hands, so the alcohol gel is a must. (There is never any toilet paper.)

3. The Long Drop/Local Village Toilet: Usually a fly infested stinking hell hole of a thing.....No one ever sits down properly so "accidents" are and occupational hazard. If your Lucky its not actually a dug out hole in the ground but has some kind of tin can to hold up the sides...reducing the risk of actually falling in! Still a traumatic experience.

4. The Bush Toilet: This comes in two forms.
a) A hole dug in the ground in your camp for which you are then informed "The toilet is over there"

b) An Actual Bush -
If you can find one! Yes people I have actually had the unpleasant experience of doing a number one (and a number two) at the side of the road (Watched by local villagers....I'm sorry if I relieved myself on your farm land!) Thank God I will never see them again!

5. The Western Toilet:
My personal favourite and a great improvement on the rest. However, western toilets in Africa always come with some kind of design flaw. Usually the door, lock, sink or toilet are either absent of not fitted properly. You are lucky if the door doesn't close or lock, but you can actually sit on the toilet and hold the door closed at the same time. However, as I personally encountered there is a potential that you will actually fall off the toilet if you try to hold the door closed because it is not fixed to the floor!

6. The Shopping Centre Toilet:
Sounds good doesn't it? If you are lucky the walls between each toilet are not see through!

7. The Hotel Toilet: A rare and very exciting normal toilet! Yes, they actually do exist in Africa (though usually in Hotels) They have clean usually white toilets, with toilet paper, a toilet that is fixed to the floor with a lock that fits (oh and a door with hinges that are fixed to the door itself.) No insects, a sink, a hand dryer or hand towels and a mirror! Very exciting!
This rare occurrence which requires happy discussion by everyone in your group resulting in smiling faces for the rest of the day! A real treat!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Be Arsed...

Today I really should have gone to work, but I didn't....See since I got home I have been working for a temp agency, so I can pick and choose when and where I work, which is a bonus. Today though I decided to stay at home.

In an effort to have a more positive outlook on life, I have been taking tips from a book I have actually owned for about a year and haven't read called "Be Arsed" apparently it's "365 brilliant ideas for getting off your backside and living life to the full"

So I thought I would start with achievable things like Number 88 "Go through your wardrobe and throw away anything that is baggy and shapeless or too tight. Try on doubtful items and take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror. Does it flatter you? Any doubts, chuck it!" Hence the great spring clean commenced...

10 pairs on jeans, countless tops, 4 pairs of shoes, 7 hats, 5 bags and two bin bags later.....The spring clean was finished. Surprisingly it does work, I suddenly feel a sense of accomplishment and maybe even charitable, as I plan to take the old clothes to a charity shop.

A few months ago, I would have just thrown the clothes in the bin, but after seeing the poverty in the world and having experienced first hand people begging for the clothes off my back...I now appreciate what I have got and what others do not.

Maybe it's true what they say that "charity begins at home"...
All I know is that I will sleep better tonight.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Backpacker Memoirs.... First Entry.

As I lie on my bed something familiar catches my eye. Thrown on the floor like a used piece of junk. I loved it once. Honest.

I carried it all around the world, shared my deepest thoughts with it. I even removed it from my backpack on every flight and kept it in my hand luggage for fear that it would be lost forever. I wrote in it religiously, wherever in the world I was. All 13 countries.

It took 14 flights, 9 boats, 3 buses, 6 jeeps, one bike, one balloon and one very scary tuktuk. It survived three months of living in a tent, an invasion on ants, the animals of the Serengeti and a group of Gorilla's.
It is my travel journal and my friend.

So due to my considerable slack blogging while I was away (mainly because of my lack of a good Internet connection) I have decided to post extracts of my beloved travel journal on here for the world to see.

What follows is my firsy entry. My Backpacker Memoirs.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

The Unnecessary Song.....

I have a confession to make......
To those of you who know me well this will come as no surprise
but I LOVE Musicals. I love everything about them, the start when "they" (the beautiful people) set the scene in a tornado of music and lighting. I love the buzz of excitement during the interval, the big finish and the bow from the cast as they soak up the appreciation from the audience (while I cry).

My friends find it highly amusing that I cry at musical theatre, but I get so swept away with it a
ll and if truth be told I wish it was me up there....

Recently I went to visit a friend in London who shares my love of (as another friend puts it) "The unnecessary song". I stayed in London for a few days and before I knew it we commenced a musical marathon...

First came "Wicked" The untold story of the Witches of Oz" A must see for all the family. An amazing cast who are both funny and talented, a story of true friendship...Well worth the £22 for a West End ticket!

Next came Les Miserables....A true Andrew Lloyd Webber classic.

A spontaneous choice as we were supposed to get facials that day b
ut instead ended up in Leicester Square ticket booth flirting with the poor guy sat behind the counter. I have to tell you if you are planning a trip to the West around, we got tickets for £22 when our first price was £70 and our seats were great! When I say Les Mis is a classic. I do not lie! With its fantastic arrangement and its legendary songs like "I dreamed a dream" made famous by Susan Boyle. I was in musical haven. It is the tail of a man trying to keep a promise to a dying lady in the back drop of the French Revolution. A musical masterpiece!

Finally came "Love Never Dies" the latest offering from the Great Lloyd Webber. The sequel to the great "Phantom of the Opera" set 10 years on from the original in New York and if a dare to be controversial..a somewhat poor relation to the first. Despite the two title songs and the great voices of the cast. The story for me, doesn't hold much credence.

To be fair I'm pretty hard to please as Phantom holds a very special place in my heart being the first musical I ever watched. So when I try to write objectively about Love Never Dies, I fail miserably and here is why....

When I watched "The Phantom of the Opera" I was 10 years old. It was at the Manchester Opera House, my Mum and Nana had decided to take my older sister and I as a treat. I remember vividly being to small to see the stage and sitting on a booster seat. As the lights went down and the music boomed around the theatre, I was mesmerised and hooked for life!

Then came the final scene. I tried so hard not to cry, I felt the burn as
the lump in my throat tried to flight its way out. Then suddenly I wailed like the child I was....The whole theatre seemed to turn to stare at me. I was so embarrassed and hid my red face on my mum's lap, but the women just smiled at me with understanding.....I was allowed to cry they were not. From that day on a became a "Musical Junkie" and yes I can still sing you all the words!.......

Monday, 19 April 2010

New Beginnings...

So I have been back home for three weeks now and today decided it is probably time I update my blog.....I have been very slack lately because a) I have been crazy busy travelling b) When I got home I was crazy busy catching up with friends and finding a job.

Well to update you (whoever you are) After two months in Africa, I went to Asia. I loved Vietnam the people there were unbelievable and our boat trip around Halong Bay was amazing. It was so atmospheric the way the mist hugged the rocks, but when it cleared the water was turquoise blue.

Even though we had a month in Asia I still want to go back, there is just so much I didn't see and now I really want to teach English somewhere so I can actually be useful instead of some stupid tourist!

After Asia, I took the world's biggest plane to Oz....I met a friend there and stayed in her sister's flat overlooking Manley Beach in Sydney. Its just a different life there....all the outdoorsy activities seemed so alien to me being a girl from Manchester who spent 98% of the year being rained on! It was amazing to see that in Oz people get there sail boats out at the weekend and sail around the bay or picnic on the beach!

After Sydney (after failing to find a job and getting very stressed about it) I went to Melbourne where I spent a week riding the trams to various places until I decided to give up in the job hunting and spend the last few weeks and last bit of money enjoying myself but come home earlier than I planned....

So I flew to New Zealand (The best decision I made throughout the whole trip!) I loved it! I joined the Flying Kiwi tour bus and made some amazing friends while enjoying the amazing picture postcard scenery.

I was so proud of myself when I completed my first 20k hike.....Me, being a self confessed creature comforts type and surprisingly unfit! We swam with Dolphin's, went Whitewater Rafting, sang Bohemian Rhapsody badly, lived in tents (again) after I had already lived in a tent in Africa for 2 months! (Did I mention I'm not usually the outdoorsy type?!) and watched the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen......

What have I learnt during my travels?....That the world is an amazing place! That I have to make the most of my time while I'm here and that my passport should always be full of stamps from amazing places. That African people are ingenious and resourceful, that they want to provide for their families through hard work..not hand outs. That nature is marvelous and I should make more effort to see it and appreciate it.

That the people of Asia are some of the kindness people in the world and take great pleasure in making others happy. That I am far to hard on myself and care to much about what people think of me, that I spend far to much of my time doing things for others when they don't do things for me. That my family are the most amazing people in the world. That I should make positive changes to my life and that I should do what I love...I should sing more, learn a language, dance, be creative, be independent and be proactive. That I should take every opportunity that is available to me and that you make your own destiny.......

When I was in Auckland Airport on my last day I wondered around the shops trying to spend my last New Zealand dollars....I found a card that said "He who knows his destination and heads directly to it will get there quickly. He who knows his destination but takes the odd wrong turn along the way will still get there, but be wiser for the experience" So I spent my last dollars on that card. A New Beginning.
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