Bright, Beautiful Bali ❤️

To say I was looking forward to fresh air, less rubbish, a beach, blue skies and sun that actually gives you a bronze glow, would be the understatement of the century. With my flight being delayed by 5hours in India, I was anxious I wouldn’t be able to make my connecting flight in Singapore. With a bit of fast paced walking and determination I made my flight on time and I was on my way to beautiful Bali! It seemed as if the universe was against me ever making it to the beach as once I arrived in the airport I had to wait a further 4 hours for my pick up to get me to my hostel as the president was in town so the roads were chocka with traffic!

My late night drive through the streets of southern Bali made me think of Thailand. Same road layouts, very narrow, scooters everywhere with medium honking and footpaths seeming non existent. As I looked out my window I saw steak and pork houses everywhere. I was glad I wasn’t staying in this part of the island haha. We cut through a few car parks where an old man would be waiting at the end to collect the toll, which I found amusing, good on him for sourcing money from people cheating the roads! A quick nap made the ride extremely short and I arrived at my hostel in the beautiful beachside town of Canggu at about 11pm. So it was a bit of relaxing, watching a film in the common room before heading to bed. 

Canggu has such a surfer, laid back, beachy vibe to it, exactly what I was looking for! So many Australian tourists, I could’ve convinced myself I wasn’t in Bali at all. I started the day off with a very long walk in the humid heat as I took a wrong turn and ended up finding the beach an hour later (should’ve been a short 20min walk to the beach). I ticked off one of my ‘must-go-to’ cafes as I grabbed a smoothie bowl from ‘Nalu bowls’ and ate it on the beach. It was so delish! So good to have fresh fruit and granola! Once I’d found a sun lounger and an umbrella for a small $2 I pulled out my book, began to soak in the sun and the hours flitted by.




My hostel pool:


Resident hostel dog:


I met two lovely ladies who were staying at my hostel (2 Aussies from Brisbane) and managed to drag them along to another one of my must-eats! It was called the Shady Shack and I devoured one of the nicest burgers of my life. It’s amazing to just walk around and see ‘vegan’ advertised everywhere! And open a menu and literally take an hour to decide because you can eat everything on the menu! 

Yom!:


The next few days in Canggu consisted of sun bathing, great food, cards, ice cream, locals fishing in drains (heavy rain we had one afternoon must’ve brought some fish in from the sea?), reading and swimming!

A cute side street: 


More delish food purchases:





The two girls I befriended at the hostel happened to be going to Ubud the same day as me which was perfect for splitting the taxi fare! Ubud looked so lush, green and tropical as we drove through rice fields and jungles. The hostel I was staying at was so cute, it was run by a Balinese family, called Joker Hostel. It was right in the middle of town which was ideal for exploring. There was a cinema up the road, Paradiso Cinema, and boasted to be the first organic, vegan cinema. I wandered up for an evening screening of Monsters Inc. it was so cute! Once you purchase your ticket, for a cheap $5, you can then use the ticket to put towards $5 worth of food from the vegan cafe in the theatre! It was a perfect evening reclining in a cinema surrounded by lovely food. 

Joker hostel hangout area:




The next morning I, along with the same two girls from my previous hostel, woke up at a rather early hour of 1:30am. I was off to do a climb up the active volcano of Mt Batur. It started off a pretty gradual climb along the sand and rocks but then took a nasty turn about halfway. I looked up and could see little lights dotted up this vertical slope and knew that was signaling what was to come. Eventually I arrived at the top, drenched in sweat and shaky legged, at about 5:30. The sun began to emerge from behind another near volcano (Mt Agung) at around 6 and it was magical. It was amazing being up so high, above the clouds (1700m to be exact). I got quite a few photos as the sun began to rise you never know when the best lighting will be. 
There were so many cheeky monkeys hovering around the top of the mountain, praying on peoples breakfast’s. they would climb all over you while you’re siting there, having a snack enjoying the sunrise. One walked over my lap when another came and attacked it, so happy I caught the whole thing on film as the monkeys face was pretty priceless, although at the time the whole situation was rather terrifying. 

What a view!:



When Monkeys attack (I reccomend watching multiple times to see the expression on his face): 


Later in the afternoon, after a brief power nap, we hired a driver to take us to some locations we fancied viewing around the area. We ended up with this lovely, funny, charismatic Balinese man, after bartering on the street for a good 15minetes to settle on a decent price of $40 for the afternoon. First stop was Nung Nung waterfall, about an hour away. It was less touristy then other waterfalls in the area and I think the rain may have also contributed to its less popular status. The rain seems to be like clockwork here, every afternoon it decides to rain, every day. It was another long walk down many stairs to reach the bottom of the valley and see it in all it’s glory. After passing one smaller one, which I thought was it, we turned the corner and there it was! So much water cascading over this cliff it was insane, so much pressure belting down on the river below. 


We stopped at a quiet place where there was a lake and a wee temple in the middle, this was a bonus stop for us that the driver threw in. 


The elephant cave ( Goa Gajah) was another impressive sight. The name is pretty self explanatory but was built for meditation purposes and worship. Here I also encountered the resident holy man and was blessed by him. Holy water was thrown as he mumbled some words and rice was placed on foreheads. He was everything I thought a holy man would be, old and small with a slight hint of craziness about him. 



Pura Tirta Empul was last on the list. It was a place where you could go and bathe in the holy water that steamed from the many fountains into a pool. The complex also had various temples and places of worship as well so many fish! I’d noticed that a lot of their trees have a tartan cloth wrapped around. Apparently it’s believed trees have great spirit so the cloth helps to protect/contain the spirit within the tree. 




This was such a long day. Starting from 1:30am, it was definitely the most jam packed day so far! 

The next few days in my new found home of Ubud were filled with monkeys, fire dancing, ALOT of gelato, groovy cafes, early morning rises to wander the neon green rice feilds, renting bikes and getting saturated and browsing through the mayhem of the markets. When it came time to leave I really could have stayed longer in this culture rich, jungle, vegan paradise 💕💕💕 

The classic Campuan ridge walk:



Glorious rice fields:


A really awesome floating cafe nestled amoungst the fields:



Ice cream!:


Another cafe I found on a walk through the fields:



The cafe overlooks the fields, with locals farming the rice.

My house(stel) in Udaipur…

My house(stel) in Udaipur…

This weekend I, along with two other girls, decided to venture to the beautiful city of Udaipur. It is known as the Venice of India and it’s easy to see why. The city surrounds a beautiful lake, with cobbled stone alleys lined with various clothing dangling from the walls. Scooters trail hot on your heels as you try to move out of the way of an on coming car that clearly cannot squeeze down this tight street. It felt like I was more in a European city in Italy or Rome rather than polluted, cow infested, dirt paved, India. 


Sipping coconuts by the lake:


The hostel we were staying at was so unique (Bunk yard hostel highly reccomend, only $7 a night!)There was a music genre allocated to every room. We stayed in the jazz room, so saxophones, old fashioned speakers and portraits of famous jazz artists decorated the room. There was a nice chill, backpacker feel to the place which was a nice change. The hostel was right in the thick of it all. Only minetes away from the cities most popular tourists attractions like the temple, city palace and many gats (small areas where you can sit by the lake). 


The beautiful stairwell inside the hostel:


After coming from working at the orphanage on Friday straight to Udaipur (a 7hr long car journey) we were pretty knackered so opted for sleep as oppose to mixing in with the clear socialising happening just outside our door. The next day it was up at a decent time, as we really only had one full day to spend here as we had to be back by Sunday evening. We visited the temple just down the road, wandered through stall after stall of the same things, visited the city palace (the grounds were beautiful but the palace itself was nothing too impressive just the same old story, looking around a royal families residence. It was also an extra few dollars to be allowed to take photos so don’t expect to see any!) Udaipur also seemed to be the most savvy when it comes to health foods and vegan places, of course I sniffed them out in a second, so that was another plus to the city!

Vegan pancakes in India whaaaat?:


The evening was the best part of the day. We booked a cruise around the lake for sunset. There is a fancy hotel acting as the centre piece of the lake and you can see the whole of the city from the lake as well as nice views of the palace (suck on that extra few dollars for pictures! Turns out their on my camera though woops) not to mention the sunset was magical from the boat. We were ocompanied by a local who was searching for his drone that had crashed somewhere in the lake, poor thing was searching for a while but don’t think he found it.




Oh hi there attractive low angle selfie:

During the following week after volunteering one of the other volunteers (also vegan) and I started working through the few vegan places Jaipur has to offer (which is 2 decent ones, Anokhi cafe and Tapri tea bar) which was delish! So nice to have some fresh veggies and raw deserts! Had missed it so much! Falafel pita pocket and a banana cheesecake sure put a smile on my dile. 

I mean:


My volunteering days in India are coming to a close and I am dreading the day I have to leave! I know it will break one girl in particular’s little heart. Super excited for some fresh air, sand and a beach though! Bali here I come!!!

Roaming Around Jaipur 

Roaming Around Jaipur 

Considering I had been in Jaipur for more than 3 weeks, it was about time I did some actual sight seeing in this horn honking, cow walking bussle of a city. One of the girls and I decided to take a trip to a few of the forts in town. Nahargarh fort, Amer fort and Jal mahal. Jal Mahal was our first stop as it was on the way and a quick hop out take your pics and get back in. It’s essentially a palace in the middle of a lake which looks so majestic, the flocks of birds that fly around it also add to this effect. 

JAL Mahal (queue bird(s) in the background):


A windy ride up the side of a mountain brought us to Amer  fort. Rickshaws lined the roads, waiting to cart tourists to their next destination. The fort sat beautifully perched on the side of the hill. It’s brick structure showcasing mans dominace over the mountain. It’s a bit of a walk to get to the main entrance of the fort, a cobbled stone path carries you up to its gates. Women selling jewellery, men selling shoes and children selling Bracelets greet you along the way. The way in which we looked around and studied the fort lacked any historical merit. This could be due to the fact we refused to pay for a guide or that it turns out Amer fort is excellent grounds for hide and seek! It was like a maze, so many areas to explore, so many dead ends, it was great! It was excellent for escaping eager selfie getters. On one occasion when we were approached for yet another photo, we turned the tables and cheekily asked for 100rupees ($2) if they wanted a precious photo. The man wipped out his wallet and present the bill. I couldn’t believe it, even got it all on camera. That had us laughing for a while! On the way back down I got myself some braclets from the kids. They started with a price of 800rupee ($16) for three. Clearly they thought I was an ignorant tourist. After walking nearly all the way back down with them at my side they eventually agreed on 200rupee ($4). Yes. Rose: 1 Cheeky kids:0. This may have given me more confidence to haggle with a man a few more steps down for a wooden, hand crafted ornament. He started at $20 and after about 15minetes I got him down to $4. Nearing the last 5 minetes I didn’t even really want it anymore but he was trying so hard and it was such a fun game. 

Amer fort, about halfway there:


Story of my life:


Beautiful view inside the fort (the gardens weren’t so bad either ;):


A cool lit room inside the fort:


After a short ice tea rest at ‘The Stag’ it was time to board another rickshaw and make our way up another windy road for a sunset view at Nahargarh fort. This fort was significantly smaller and not an intimidating brick structure. The views from the rooftop were incredible! Looking down on Jaipur was unreal. So much happening, so many houses in such a small area. Kites soared high in the sky, manned by kids nestled in between the dense housing. It was so quiet up there, no rickshaws honking, no people shouting or dogs barking, so peaceful.(That was until the signal for the monks to begin their prayer sounded from the city below. It sounded like a loud moan of dogs drowning, it seemed like it went on forever).

I mean, wow:



I also visited the Monkey temple (which turned out to be a different ‘monkey temple’ to the one some of the girls had already been to, but I guess when you tell the tuk tuk driver to take you to ‘the monkey temple’ there are probably many temples that have monkeys). There were quite a few monkeys, all waiting and climbing the walls leading up to the temple. Some cradling babies, others bearing teeth at one another while some opened packets of nuts to feast on. 


On the way to another attraction, Hawa Mahal, I drove my first Tuk Tuk, conquering the hectic roads of India! With the girls squealing in the back I didn’t have much support as I squeezed the accelerator and hesitantly moved the steering wheel. (It was short lived and rest assured everyone left the vehicle without a scratch). Hawa Mahal was another place that was a quick stop. The palace was right on the edge of a busy road. It’s pink windows looking down on the passers by. The palace was built in such a way so that the women could watch the festivals and what not from their rooms while no one could see in. 

Hawa Mahal: 


City palace is also another one of Jaipurs top attractions, and don’t I know it! It seemed as if every western tourist in Jaipur was at city palace. I never see any westerners in Jaipur here is where they must have been hiding. The palace was nice, not overly impressive perhaps my experience of it was also dulled by the fact I brought a ring that was on the higher price end but turned out to be fake silver. 

With the news of the earthquake in NZ, the following night I experienced one for myself. It was about 4:30am when I woke to my head shaking and thought it had been a dream and dismissed it as such. The next morning from speaking amoungst ourselves and the news headlines, there was an earthquake in Delhi (about 5hrs from Jaipur) not huge, no major damage. It sounds like back at home it will take months to repair the damage. 

Taj and Tigers

Eager to cross off one of the seven wonders of the world, I packed my bags for the weekend and hit the road. Agra was a 5hr drive away so it was headphones in. Soon Ed Sheehan, Arctic Monkeys and Broods were providing a narrative to the still surprising and ever-changing landscape of India. After a dangerous free for all buffet, houses on the side of the road constructed out of 100% cow manure, 10485478 staring eyes and the completion of yet another book, we made it to a beautiful hotel. I’m talking roof top restaurant, a television with english channels, complementary buffet breakfast, strong wifi in ALL areas, hot water, it was bliss. That afternoon we checked out Agra fort. About 70% of it was closed for preservation and also because it is still used by the government. Regardless, it was a beautiful fort. Walls tinged with red skirted the cute gardens with the most greenery I’d seen in a while. Such detailed inscriptions and carvings lit up the marbled walls. On a clear day you can see the Taj Mahal but the haze was so thick you barely got a good view looking down on the town of Agra, I don’t think the festivities of Diwali had helped with the already present haze.

Selfie at Agra fort:


  The Taj! Hoping to get a clear/non-fog-ruining photo of the infamous palace we opted to go later on in the morning. The Taj was basically our neighbour, a quick 5 minute walk down the street and there it was, well after going through about 3 gates and a security check complete with even a bag scanner! Now, I have obviously seen countless photos of the Taj Mahal, but standing there is another story. Despite the hefty amount of other tourists crowding the area, all wanting the best photo, the Taj Mahal was incredible. The entire structure is made of marble! I mean, Imagine how time consuming and hard it would be to chisel all the artwork. It took a total of 11 years to construct with even a few fatalities, due to the lack of protection from the gasses and toxins within the marble. The enormity of it was insane! 73 metres of pure marble. The classic bench where princess Diana sat was constantly swarmed by people eager to get the same picture. We managed to get a few good ones in areas that were slightly off the most popular areas. The palace was built by Shah Jahan for his late wife as a symbol of his love. He was a great believer in everything being symmetrical. The palace is exactly symmetrical, even down to two Mosks placed exactly on either side. He was even planning on building a replica of the Taj just across the river, in order to satisfy this symmetrical system. Wandering around its grounds I was in awe. So much detail, so much thought had gone into this masterpiece. It was sad to see that some tourists had taken advantage of being so close to the artwork and had stolen some of the jewels that were set in the marble. As a result we were told a few areas of the Taj will soon be closed to the public.

Detailed marble work:


 

Once back in Jaipur a few of us settled down to watch Slumdog Millionaire. Now more than ever this movie was so relatable, such a great film. I’ve checked out one of the malls here in Jaipur and It was so great to be in such a western building, with western shops and fixed prices! it’s funny the things you miss. Earlier this week the Prime Minister gave us a lovely surprise overnight by declaring 500 rupee notes and 1000 notes a no longer legal tender. Perfect. Here I was thinking I was so prepared by exchanging all my money in NZ, before I came. Now here I was with about 20,000 rupees, all in 1000 notes that were invaluable. It is such an ordeal trying to exchange your old money for new. The queues last for days with hundreds gathered outside every bank in town. I understand why the government has done this and why so suddenly ( to deal with the amount of counter fitting that goes on ) but I feel like the way India’s systems are set up and the current situation of it’s people, was not fit or prepared to handle this. On attempting to get money we were faced with guards with guns outside the bank but were escorted to the front of the queue like honoured guests, only to be informed we could only exchange 1000 rupees ($20) as they were low on money. On the same day this was announced Trump also won the presidency so it’s safe to say it was a grim day world wide.

After getting my first Henna design it was time for another adventure! This weekend it was off to a tiger safari. Ranthambore was just a mere 5hrs away. The place we stayed at was more of a resort. The grounds were gorgeous, lots of places to spread out on the grass and read (I tested it), another buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner and even a performance huddled round a fire with hot chai. We checked out the fort for the afternoon and captured the sunset with some photo shoot ready pics. We set out at 7am in our jeep and made our way to the game reserve. As tigers are nocturnal we were hoping to catch a glimpse before they settled in for a sleep. Climbing up the hills in a jeep on a rocky, unpaved road was extremely bumpy. We saw some Antelope, peacocks, deer and birds. unfortunately it was a tiger-less tiger safari for us but the views and selfies we got were pretty great. It was frustrating to hear from a couple staying at the same place as us who entered the park at a different gate saw Tigers, Leopards and crocodiles! Thats just the luck of the draw though, have to be in the right place at the right time. 

What I wish I saw (from the couples camera):

This was terrifying but the view was so breathtaking: 


Sad news from home about the earthquake! Thoughts with everyone xxx

 

Rajasthan 

It was off to a somewhat stressful start as I swooped down onto the runway and entered the tiny airport of Jaipur. After making a friend on the plane I was quite oblivious to my surroundings and probably should have been scouting for my driver instead of being involved in an in depth conversation. In a flash I was spitted out of the arrival hall and into the heat of the desert as 100 or so eyes glared back at me, some holding signs others shouting “Taxi!” And many others just taking a good look at the one white lady with blonde hair that just came from no where. 

Once I eventually tracked down a helpful security guard that was willing to let me borrow his phone I found my driver. We zig zagged through dirty roads and continuous beeps for about 40 minetes before I arrived at my new home for the next month! To say that my senses were overwhelmed by India would be an understatement (see previous blog for an in depth description haha). The guest house where the volunteers are housed is lovely. From what I had seen coming from the airport my hopes were not set too high. We have 3 floors all to ourselves consisting of a lounging area/eating area, TV, wifi, roof top terreace, kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms. It’s situated on a rather busy street though so horns are buzzing throughout the day. 

View from the rooftop:


At the moment there’s about 10 of us in the house which means we have a good amount of space. There are 5 of us working at the orphanage (more on that later) and 5 working at the street kids school. All from various countries, Canada, Australia, England and Spain. It turns out I arrived at the perfect time as Diwali was to start in the evening. It was incredible! We stood on our roof top and watch the sky around us, stretching for miles, illuminate with various colours and flashes. Kids played in the street below, some extremely young, lighting fire works and then running away before a car would veer out of the way. We had some ourselves, huge ones that fell on us once we had lit them. No health and safety whatsoever. We went down onto the street at one point and rolled out this huge wheel of fireworks that looked like a spike trap police lay out on the road to stop a criminal. It was like being on the frontline of a war. Sparks darting off in every direction, some flicking at our legs as we faced away. I thought to myself, I wonder how many casualties dewali brings? Babies were being held 2 metres or so next to a giant firework, kids danced and stood upon spinning fireworks on the ground. It was crazy. Buildings were covered in blankets of light, as fairy lights dangled from windows. 



We also partook in the religious aspect of dewali. For about 2 hours, in the ground floor of our house, the owners had a prayer ceremony. We were told it was only a 10-15 minete thing that ended up lasting a tad longer. Lots of chanting and repeating what the priest would say, throwing Mari golds over the Ganesh (the Hindu elephant) and covering yourself with the light from a flame. At the end we each got blessed and had bracelets tied around our wrists and a dot on our forehead as well as some Indian sweets.

The next day it was off to Pushka! I would be travelling for a further week before starting my placement. Pushka is beautiful. There is a large lake that sits in the centre of the city. It is a holy place and you must remove footwear be in the possession of no alcohol or non-veg food (which I thought was awesome!) and various other non-holy things. We visited the markets where we wondered for hours on end and I brought a ring and some delish street food, a falafel burger for $1! I noticed something about Indian culture that I never knew. Of course I have nothing against this whatsoever but it caught me off guard at first but the men hold hands. And it’s not what it would mean in the western world, it is not considered gay but more of a friendship/protection action. Now I was the one staring. At first I thought they must be gay and thought it was strange how open they were about it in such a heavily religious country but then reaslised every man was doing it, young, old. 

The sign at Pushka:


Speaking of religion, we came across a man on the street who was talking to us about his marriage. He was only about 21 but was explaining to us about how when he was 10 his parents came home one day and said they’d found who he was to marry. He obviously didn’t think much about it at the time but when he was 17 his wedding day came. He had to break up with his girlfriend at the time to marry this stranger. It was sad, he was telling us he doesn’t want kids but if he did he would never arrange their marriage for them. I couldn’t even imagine being set up and having no control over who I was to marry. This is how it is with their culture and I assume the children just accept and most even embrace arranged marriages but it saddens me that those who do not wish for it don’t have a choice. Aside from seeing all the poverty on the streets and realising how lucky I was with all my materialistic things and even basic needs, I think this was the first instance where I realsised I was extremely lucky to come from a country and culture that empowered women and the freedom I have that enables me to dictate my own life. 
After the usual few million photographs on random people’s phones, we left the markets and settled in for a night at a hotel with beautiful grounds and architecture. Driving to Jaisemer, a long 8hr car ride, was on the agenda for the following day. It was a drive that showcased Rajasthan’s barren desert that stretched beyond the horizon, cows that roamed the middle of the roads, camels that walked the sand dunes, villages that seemed all the same, and the great uneven and bumpy structure of its roads. Once we arrived in Jaisemer it was with great excitement that I realised our hotel was just across the road from a fair, Ferris wheel’s and all! That excitement soon fizzled when the power went out twice which resulted in all the rides stopping mid air. So it was straight to bed. 

Hotel in Pushka:


We visited Galdisar lake for sunrise (which was so peaceful and picturesque) then onto Jaisemer fort and it’s markets within. I really enjoyed this fort. The view was spectacular, all of Jaisemer was in view. The markets and residents within the fort also addded another element. I brought a few books from a quaint book store nestled in between the cobble stone alleys. The man who owned the store couldn’t speak and was such a gentle soul. We then went to this beautiful building just down the road from the fort but there were so many tourists inside I felt like a rat in a maze with a million other rats and had to escape. There we were ushered to our car by some children begging, singing frere Jacques and banging on our windows, insisting we spare some change. It’s so confronting when the kids or just beggars in general come up and tap on your window. At many of the toll roads or traffic lights, anywhere you have to stop there are kids singing or men with monkeys on a chain or selling toys outside your window. 

Beautiful Galdisar lake:



Jaisemer fort and markets:



View from the top:



That night we were really in the desert. It was amazing, we slept under the stars with the camels and our blankets. I’d never seen so many stars. I saw 3 shooting stars and battled with my eyes to stay open for as long as possible to gaze up at the best bedroom ceiling ever. 




Jodhpur was next, After a lunch of ‘green salad’ that ended up being just tomato and red onion, I’ve quickly learnt that that is their interpretation of salad everywhere. More markets with a very sarcastic merchant and an authentic Indian tea and spice shop saw me spend probably more money than I probably should have. 

We scaled Mehrangarh fort before heading back to Jaipur. I’m also learning that forts here are like what temples are to Thailand, exist in an excessive amount which end up looking the same very quickly. But with this fort I had an audio guide which made for a more interesting wander as I could learn about the background of it more. My favourite part was the meditation room and of course the stunning architecture. As with any place swarmed with tourists we were asked to take pictures on multiple occasions but now have learnt that we do have the right to refuse! Driving back I noticed the women do everything in their saris. Traffic wardens, farmers, all at work in their sari! Parents also place charcoal under their children’s eyes which makes them look as if they’re wearing eyeliner. I’m not sure what the aim of this is? But it looks So funny having a little baby wearing eyeliner.

Mehrangarh fort:

Much love, Rose xxx 

Music,mosquitoes and markets.

Music,mosquitoes and markets.

Near death experiences, Elephant mud slides, many mosquito bites, late night elephant city wandering, groovy music, night markets and great people conclude my full week antics.

The scariest moment in my journey so far would have to be the other night. I was going about my usual nightly routine when I realised I was locked in the toilet. Now I know this doesn’t sound like the end of the world but at the time I was wishing, “please don’t let this be the way it ends”. Once I was aware I had forced the lock too far, jammed it and therefore couldn’t open it, I banged on the door for about 5mins (felt like 5hrs) shouting helplessly. Mind you the toilet is outside the house so NO ONE heard me. There was no window to crawl out of and the walls were high, no gaps at the bottom or top. So I did what I had to do. I pulled the door as hard as I could, my legs helping me with the leverage. The lock pinged off, flinging me in the eye in the process but I was free and alive! (The door wasn’t in such great shape and the screws and lock were totally unhinged) when I got back to the main room and made my announcement, to my dismay no one even noticed I was gone, to be fair I was only gone for probably 10mins but it was the longest 10mins of my life. 

With that ordeal behind me, the next day I headed off to the school to teach again, this time with mainly the younger kids. Shapes and nature was on the learning agenda. We tried to think of creative, enjoyable ways to teach the kids. So for teaching them about nature we drew a landscape on the board and labeled it with various features, ocean, flowers, cloud, sun etc then got them to copy and colour the picture. We also played multiple memory games to get them to cement and recognise the vocab. They were again extremely well behaved and respectful. One of the girls, Champoo (who is pictured in the photo 2nd to the left), was the cuties kid I’ve ever seen, I just wanted to put her in my pocket and take her home!

Back in surin, Amidst the constant pur of zigzagging scooters, eager tuk tuk drivers and bright lights we spot an elephant. It’s late at night, in the centre of town, accompanied by two boys holding bags of bamboo. This is no place for an elephant. This is exactly what my work here is aiming to prevent, the touting of elephants to tourists in order to gain money. Now this is the saddest, confused and most frustrated elephant I’ve seen. I mean this is bustling city life and the poor thing is beging dragged from place to place, in this concrete jungle letting out sighs and angry roars as it goes. It’s so heartbreaking to see, when I passed it was hard not to take it’s trunk that delicately brushed my shoulder and take him back to the village, a safe haven. I just had to remind myself I am doing the best I can for this cause, the greater cause. 

On a lighter note, the other day it was pouring with rain, like really pouring. It went on for a few hours. Considering the village is constructed of predominantly mud roads this made for a challenging walk to the river to bathe the elephants. Just before we reached the river there is a slight slope that was now converted into a mud slide. A few of the elephants, the small and the large, dropped their back legs and proceeded to slide down the bank, catapulting their enormous bodies forward as their chubby legs folded underneath and tummys skimmed along the mud. It was so joyful. One of my favourite moments so far, I wish I got some photos!! You can only imagine. It even looked as if they were enjoying it just as much as I enjoyed watching it. 

When the weekend rolled around it was straight to Sawadee! It was an extra special occasion as two of the Volunteers, Were leaving us on Saturday as well as it being one of the staffs’ birthday. I love these people. It is like a real big, diverse family ❤️. I’ve been teaching them great kiwi terms that I use unknowingly until they stop me mid sentence to ask, ” what are jandals?, what do you mean by Dairy?, Rubbish bin?, capsicum? 100s and 1000s? Gum boots? And you throw them for fun?”. Most of them I had no idea were called any different haha. 

Enjoying one of my favourite drinks at sawasdee:


Cheers!,One of my favourite nights in surin, we danced and laughed the night away:

This weekend I also ventured to the surin night market. Here I experienced the best spring rolls ever, so fresh and coated in a peanut/sweet chilli sauce, brought some more bananas, of course, as well as some sweet corn that wasn’t so sweet. I attempted to give a banana to one of the stray dogs but he wasn’t having any of it, obviously didn’t  share my love for bananas. One of the real annoying things about Thailand is there are hardly any public rubbish bins. I’m surprised there isn’t more litter in the streets. So I had to cart around my trash as I downed the delish night market food. 
Yummy Bananas at the surin night market:

Something cool: the music taste of most Thai people is totally not what I thought. They listen to a lot of alt j, sticky fingers, arctic monkeys, Bon iver etc, it’s so groovy! 👌✌️Also, in quite a few of the restaurants here I’ve seen ‘New Zealand oysters or muscles’ advertised on the menu, it’s a nice little reminder of home ❤️

A few of my favourite pics from the week:

Yeah, elephants Poop. A lot:


The gang, taking a quick break to pose for a photo of course:


Me in the water with the elephants:


Planting bamboo for hungry mouths:

Veganism?

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I am uber excited as this year is my last year at high school and although it is march and I am pretty much over it I am determined to make this year a better year then last. How will i do this you may ask? well, I am making a conscious effort to put myself out there more and take advantage of all opportunities given to me. I am going on the voyage, the spirit of New Zealand in June for 10 days which will be exciting and something totally different to anything i have done before. Also with my lifestyle. Over the past few years I have grown an interest in healthy foods and making healthier choices and what not and observing various lifestyles through instagram,youtube etc. There have been some crazy ways of living based off diet and exercise. I have discovered Freelee the banana girl who is vegan and eats 30 bananas a day! Eseenna Oneil who is such an inspirtaion, she is vegan too and People who eat just raw diets as well as Vegetarins, peskitarins, vegans etc. From observing these different ways of life and how it effects them and looking into the health benifits of them and also the negatives of living in these ways I have shaped my own opinion on food and exercise. And I have decided this year that for a month I will go Vegan and see what it is like and if i wish to adapt it as a lifestyle.

I have been brought up on having meat as part of my every day life. I have always had a soft spot for animals but never really questioned where and how this meat came to be on my dinner plate. On hearing many speeches and investigating the conditions imposed on these animals it is horrific. I discovered that veganism may be an option to not enforce this crulety inflicted on these animals.I also believe veganism comes with many health benefits. I am excited to try something new and experiment. As this is a drastic change in my life, although only just for a month, I have conducted alot of research in order to become vegan in a healthy way. Nutrition is extremely important to be and the last thing i want to do is eat wrong and not nourish my body with the right amounts of nutrients. This book “vegan for life” is amazing and literally gives you all the knowledge you need in order to be a healthy vegan. Of course i have not limited my sources to this one book as it may be biased but many websites are extremely helpful too as well as the vegan community on instagram and various social networks. The hardest part for me is definitely convincing my parents that it is a good idea which is why i am providing them with a list on how i will reach my nutritional needs whilst being vegan.

Here are a few links to the videos i watched which are very confronting and intriguing, they helped me reach my decision on veganism.

here is Essena 🙂
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCOT5oNCUGCgyuAVntA8iog

Have a Lovely day! xxxx