A week in Cairns

Lagoon at Cairns

Following my first week in Australia, spent in Sydney with OzIntro, the next stop was Cairns.

Cairns is a city a regional city in the far north of Queensland, and is way hotter than Sydney during their winter period, so the whole of our OzIntro group flew up together to begin what was to be one crazy week!

For those of you who have been to Cairns before, you’ll know that the hostel Gilligans is party central, so the majority of the week was spent chilling out by the lagoon in the day and partying all night.

Gilligan's Hostel Cairns

Party central!

You can’t swim in the sea around Cairns, it’s apparently full of crocs, so Aussies being Aussies, built a massive lagoon and beach inland that is the place to chill out during the day. Backpackers and locals alike all flock there during the day to soak up the sun and have a swim.

The lagoon was probably the most visited site during my stay in Cairns, mainly due to being a bit hungover most days, but also they have some awesome free to use public barbecues. For only a few dollars, between our group we cooked up an epic feast!

The Lagoon at Cairns

The Lagoon at Cairns

I didn’t spend the whole time partying in Cairns though. I’d booked up lots of cool trips to do whilst in Sydney and a fair few of them were based in and around Cairns.

The first trip I did was scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, which was an incredible experience. The scuba diving freaked me out for the first few seconds but I soon got used to it, which is good as I’ve got my open water diving course to come at some point in the near future!

It’s hard to explain what the reef is like, it probably deserves a separate post, but once I edit all the video footage I took there, you’ll see it’s just like watching the film Finding Nemo (although I didn’t actually spot a clown fish!).

Snorkelling in Great Barrier Reef

Snorkelling fun!

I’d never been a big fan of snorkelling but doing it on the reef was on a whole new level compared to back home in the UK!

The other trip I did whilst in Cairns was bungee jumping at AJ Hackett.

I arrived to the trip a bit hungover from a party the night before, but once standing on the edge of the platform the adrenaline soon sorted that out and I managed to (unattractively) sling myself off the tower and down towards the pond below.

The jump was only 50 metres, I’ve done a bigger Canyon Swing in Switzerland but it was still a massive rush!

Bungee Jump Cairns

Woohooo!

At the end of the week our group split with some guys staying in Cairns to find work and myself and a few others headed down to Mission Beach, where I currently am now.

The WiFi here isn’t great but I’ll do my best to get some more posts up as it’s been a really awesome couple of days, including a very surreal day yesterday!

For the time being I’m going to be staying here at Mission Beach whilst I wait for farm work so that I can get my second year visa. I’m going to be working for accommodation to stem the flow of money out of my bank account but I hope to be on the farm in a couple of weeks.

-Craig

An open letter to close a life chapter…

An Empty Departures Hall In Terminal 1 Of Manchester Airport

To my family, friends, acquaintances, and people I’ve never met.

As I’m sat here in the airport, I have that feeling you feel when you first ride that roller-coaster you’ve been scared to ride for so long. The feeling is that of the unknown and it scares you but logically you know everything is (probably) going to be fine.

I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. A really long time and honestly, I didn’t know if I’d ever get to this point or that it would always remain a pipe dream, impossible to achieve through the cloak of a comfortable, “normal” life.

It’s funny, leaving home to go and travel long-term isn’t really anything unique these days. Lots of people do it, but for me it holds a special meaning, one that is hard to explain to other people, especially those who don’t really know me. Hell, I struggle to understand why it’s such a big deal to me myself.

All I know is that it is something I have to do and is finally happening after all those years of talking about it.

The manner in which it’s came about is something that I don’t think I’ll forget anytime soon. I’m not a religious person and I don’t really believe in fate, but my girlfriend breaking up with me and being made redundant all within the space of a few hours of each other a few weeks ago are both major factors in why I’m sat here today.

Naturally I’m sad about the former but glad we’ve had the chance to discuss things since and the latter, well I never saw it as a career for life anyway.

I’m quite an emotional person deep down, though I rarely show it and as such I find verbalising how I feel quite difficult. Having a blog and being able to write is very cathartic so I want to use this to say the following:

Mum & Dad – without your support and understanding over the years, I doubt any of this would be possible for me. I love you both very much and Mum please don’t worry so much, of all the crazy stuff I’ve done over the years, I’ve enjoyed every minute and still find a way to come back to annoy you ;)

Nikki –  keep working hard and achieving all the things you’ve set out to do over the years. I’m proud of you and wish you and Chris all the best for the future.

Nan – your independence and strength of character you show as you’ve reached your 90’s are a continued source of inspiration for me. I love you and I will see you again soon. (Mum you’ll have to relay this one as she asked me what the internet was the other day..haha!)

Courtenay – yeah you get a mention too..I love you to bits and appreciate your understanding of my dream. Take care of yourself and keep working on your plans to travel! P.s. you’ll always be a bozo!

The rest of my family – Even though we don’t see each other that much, you’re still my family and I wish you all the best with whatever you do. Take care and I’ll see you soon.

To my friends – Again we don’t see each other as much as we should but I appreciate that we all have our own lives now. It makes me happy to see you all doing so well and living your lives fully. I expect a beer or two when I’m back though! Take care of yourselves :)

And to everyone elseif you have a dream, no matter how significant you think it is, I implore you follow it and make it happen. You won’t regret it!

Yours sincerely,

-Craig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Packing for Australia: Pre-trip stress

Pre trip organisation

If there’s one thing I dislike about travel, it has to be all the arsing around you have to do before you go.

Of all the trips I’ve done in the past, they’ve never been more than a month in duration, so the pre-trip organisation usually boils down to sorting some travel insurance and notifying the bank that my card will be in use overseas so that they don’t mistake my spending abroad for an international card fraud scam. Everything else, well you can deal with it when you get back!

Not this trip though.

Australia pre-trip checklist

Trying to be organised!

Going away for an extended period of time is different. The student loan company for example, want to know some ridiculously specific information about my future travel plans and when I plan on coming back, whereas I on the other hand, don’t know what I’ll be doing past the first week in Oz, let alone in a few years time.

There’s also forms to fill in to claim all the tax I’ve paid this financial year back, something I’m not going to overlook as there’s at least a few good nights out worth due to come back to me!

I’ve also had to cancel my phone contract, my car insurance, my motorbike insurance and my gym membership. I still need to sell my car and my motorbike, though I’ve got the luxury of having my old man to do this on my behalf when I’m gone.

All these things are essential when planning on going away for long-term travel but I really wish they’d take care of themselves, leaving me just to worry about getting to the airport and what I’m going to drink first at the airport bar!

If there’s one silver lining in having to organise all this stuff before I go away it’s that it’s starting to make the whole situation feel real, which it hasn’t really for the past few weeks.

Most of my pre trip organisation is done now, bar a few minor things, which is good considering I leave the country in a few days. I do still have one challenge left though, and that’s deciding what’s coming with me in my rucksack!

Pre-trip packing

I hate packing!

-Craig

My week with OzIntro

Bondi Beach

Moving to a new country solo can be a daunting experience, even for the most seasoned of travellers.

Not having a clue where to start can cause a lot of unwanted stress and anxiety, luckily though, there’s a company based in Sydney that can help…Welcome to my week with OzIntro!

OzIntro is a company that sorts out all the essential stuff you need whilst backpacking in Australia, whilst you have an amazing week of new experiences with a bunch of new friends.

I’d met a few of the guys from my group on the Sunday that I arrived, but the official start date for our group was on Monday, where the whole group met each other officially (a few of us went out the night before so were a bit hungover)! Here’s what I got up to over the course of what’s been an eventful week…

Continue reading…

Essential guide to Thai bar girls

Thai bar girls

5 Simple Tips for a Positive Experience with the Bar Girls of Thailand

 

During my recent trip to Thailand, I experienced the ‘Beer Bars’ of Patpong and Bangla Road.  My experience of these bars along with the infamous Bar Girls was a positive one and I had a lot of fun!

Prior to my trip I read about the potential dangers of these places and also met people who had negative experiences.  Drawing on my experience of the Beer Bars and Bar Girls, I came up with these 5 simple tips to ensure that you have great time!

Know what you’re there for…

Whether you’re at the beer bar for a few social drinks with friends, to be entertained by the friendly bar girls or explicitly there for a ‘good time,’ make sure you’ve got a clear idea of what you’re there for.  The girls are experts at leading interactions meaning you could set out for a couple of drinks and end up with a lot more than you bargained for and also out of pocket! If you are there to meet a girl for short time* or long time** make sure you know the process before you get to the bar to avoid any surprises that may leave you with a negative experience.

Bangla Road Patong

One of the many fine establishments…

Understand you’re just another customer…

At the end of the day, like at any bar in your native country, you are ‘just another customer.’  The Thai people are well mannered and good natured in general and this is especially true in the tourism industry. The girls that work in the bars will be extremely friendly and flirty towards you in order to engage you on a personal level.  Whilst the sex trade in many tourist parts of Thailand is rife, don’t assume that the girls working in the bars are there for that reason.  Many of the girls that work in the bars are honest and hard working and can make a good living from tips.  Accept that the girls are there above all else to earn a living and try not to fall in love…

Bangla Road Patong

You’re not a female body inspector!

Be prepared to lose…

As mentioned before, the girls are experts at engaging you on a personal level.  One way they do this is by playing games with you.  Typical games include Connect 4, Jenga, Shut the Box and hammering a nail into a block of wood.  The girl will normally play you for a drink i.e. if you win the game she will buy you a drink and if you lose the game you must buy her a drink.  The drink you buy the girl is called a ‘lady drink’ and is around 150baht, which is much more expensive than a normal drink.  The girls make commission from these drinks and as such are extremely good at the games.  The whole time I was in Thailand, I never won one game of Connect 4.  Make sure you go into the bar with only money you’re willing to spend, as it’s highly likely you’ll lose the games!

Bar girls thailand

I lost. A lot!

Know when to leave…

When the drinks are flowing and you’re having fun playing games with the girls, time will fly and your funds will diminish!  Unless you’re there to meet a girl for the night, make sure you have an escape strategy.  The girls can be very persuasive and make it hard for you to leave, one girl literally hung off my arm as I walked away!  By having an escape strategy, you’ll leave the bar with a positive experience and have enough money to continue your adventure on into the night!

Have fun!

If you’ve got a clear idea of what you’re at the bar for, an idea of how much money you’re happy to spend and an escape strategy, the only thing left to do is have fun!  I had great fun playing Connect 4 against the bar girls, granted I sucked and lost every game but I knew how much I could afford to lose and knew when enough was enough!  If you follow the tips above then I’m certain you’ll also have a really positive experience with the bar girls of Thailand!

Bangla Road Patong

Above all, have fun!

*Short Time – Bars that offer ‘short time’ generally have a room in the back that the girl takes the customer to once the customer has paid the bar fine (a fee to cover the girls absence from the bar). The customer then pays the girl for her time and once finished the girl will go back to work.

**Long Time – Again the customer will pay the bar fine but instead of a room on the premises; the customer will take the girl back to their hotel.  Some hotels aren’t okay with this but many will charge the customer for an extra guest for the night.