Just a day in Bali Paradise…

Just a day in Bali Paradise…

I checked out of the swanky Sanur hotel and I heard a voice shout my name. It was Made (pronounced Mah-day). He was sitting in the lobby and stubbed out his cigarette and smiled at me. Something about his smile was so comforting. He was the kind of character that within minutes of his company I felt like I had known him my whole life, very familiar with kind eyes. He dressed casually in a t-shirt and jeans but still had an air of being presentable. He appeared to be in his 40s but I later learned he is only in his early 30s – perhaps life had trodden him down a little. I had met him prior to today as he is the Nephew of an old Balinese friend and he offered reliable transport. Today was different; today Made’s eyes were full of concern. It turned out his Father had a stroke and he needed to get him to the hospital urgently. I asked him why he didn’t cancel picking me up as I would have been happy to get a taxi. He looked stunned and quickly responded, “Nooo!” I also asked him why his father could not get an ambulance. Made told me that ambulances are not sent for ‘trivial’ things like strokes! Being an ambulance clinician myself in England, this really stunned me. A stroke is serious and is treated as a time critical incident in England, yet here in this Balinese paradise, over-swarmed by western tourists to the point that you could be in Sydney, an ambulance was saved for something more serious!! This highlighted even more how the healthcare service in England is abused by so many!! But also, how in the developing world, the idea of turning down paid work to take your urgently sick parent to hospital is impossible. My heart broke a little for Made.

I arrived back to the cosy hotel in Kuta that I have stayed in many times before over the past 7 years. The local shop owners recognise me. One in particular, a young lady called Putu always recognised me, even when I return pasty and white some years later. “Lou!” She shouts as I walk past her shop. Putu was always smiling, come rain or shine. She invited me into the back of her shop where a small child was screaming on a small dirty mattress. I joined Putu on the mattress and she explained to me that Olivia (her daughter; one of four!) was upset because their family friend had left to return to Australia. Putu went on to tell me how blessed and happy she was. I looked around the small cramped room that she lived in with a small mattress to share with four small children and I felt a pang of guilt. Putu was grateful and happy to have her shop and a roof over their heads. I couldn’t help but retrace the thoughts I have had over the past 2 years and all the difficulties I have faced which one would consider ‘first world problems’ and yet here was Putu who had next to nothing but she was so happy and always smiling. It really put things into perspective for me.

Soon after, I left Putu’s shop feeling a little dazed and strolled through the humid heat around the buzzing lanes of Kuta. I found a tailor shop filled with hard working local men working on sewing machines. I am a keen sewist and asked if I could watch them for a while. Within no time they had me working on a machine, for fun of course. However, the thick humid heat swelled in the room with a small dusty fan which may as well have not been there. Whilst I struggled to concentrate and work in that heat with sweat pouring from my entire body, the employees mostly had their shirts off and a cigarette hanging loosely from their lips, casually working away, cutting fabric, ironing, overlocking. I admired them so much. Naturally being a western white woman, lots of tourists walked past and giggled at the sight of me working in this shop filled with Indonesian men, but I didn’t mind. I actually got a glimpse of an insight into what life is like working in poverty-stricken Asia and I noticed that they don’t take ‘days off’, they will work 80 hours a week without a complaint if it pays the bills. This again gave me perspective on my life. Yes, my job is challenging, but I DO have days off and down time to put my feet up. I doubt very many do in Indonesia and similar countries. I stayed in the shop for several hours and found a new sympathy for the local businesses “harassing” tourists for business. Seeing things from the other side softened my heart.

I had been reading a book about he Bali bombings (The Paradise Guesthouse, Ellen Sussman – highly recommended) and felt an overpowering need to visit the memorial site. The book had made the incident feel so real to me, all those who lost their lives. I was pulled to the location of the bombings and stood for a while, staring at the plaque listing the full names of all those who lost their lives on that tragic day. For some reason, I couldn’t walk away until I had read the full names of all 202 people who passed away and tried to imagine a little something about their lives, be it local Indonesians or Portuguese solo travellers.

The rain started beating down, harsher than a power shower and I slinked off into the shelter of a local pub for a beer. What a day it had been! A real eye opener. It’s days like these that keep my desire to travel burning forever.

I later found out that Made’s father was treated for his stroke and is on the road to recovery, much to my happiness and relief!

Cuddle Your Globe

Jan 2017

How often should we travel?

Whilst some people’s idea of happiness is to get a mortgage and pay off their debts, enslaved to a full time job, this is the idea of hell to others. 

In an ideal world we should be travelling constantly. We were not designed to buy a house and never leave it. The world is impossibly large for a reason, to explore it.

So if, like me, you cannot afford to travel constantly, so have the home and a full time job and waste hours dreaming about travel… How often should we get away?

When I used to work in travel, a month would never pass that I wasn’t on a plane, and I loved it! Nowadays I am lucky if I get away more than once a year. And I don’t even have kids or a mortgage. 

So I decided to travel with work, set up a new life across the country and start a fresh. It’s great because there is a whole new part of the world to explore and it’s fresh and exciting all the time. Although, nothing quite beats getting a flight and travelling a new continent..

  

Book Review: Upgraded! How To Save Money And Fly In Luxury Using Avios Points– Are you one of the 99% who would love to fly Business Class but can’t afford it? This book is for you….

Book Review: Upgraded! How To Save Money And Fly In Luxury Using Avios Points– Are you one of the 99% who would love to fly Business Class but can’t afford it? This book is for you….

Avios Points

Despite having a very good knowledge of air miles schemes, I knew very little about Avios points when I picked up this book so I was intrigued to see what it had in store.

I often read blogs about how to snag free or cheap upgrades but in reality, most of them don’t work. I have tried every ‘trick in the book’ to get upgraded on flights and despite it working once or twice (mostly down to dumb luck), in reality an airline will not upgrade your seat for the simple reason that its clients who have handed over literally thousands of pounds to fly in Business / First class would not be very happy sitting next to someone who paid an economy fare… and Business class passengers are the last type of clientele they want to displease!

Without giving away too much of this book’s top secret tips, Avios appears to be the next best thing in snagging aviation discounts and from countless proven accounts, it actually works! The book talks you through in a step-by-step approach, all you need to know to gain Avios points to snatch discounted flights or upgrade your seat to a Premium cabin for a mere percentage of the going market rates.

The book explains – in some depth – exactly how and where to collect Avios points, and where to spend them and gives very honest accounts on what is beneficial to you, and what is not. It is very simple – if you commit yourself fully and put a little time and effort into the Avios scheme, you genuinely can fly for peanuts!

It is the first book I have seen of its kind which actually breaks down the travel ‘zones’ and how many points are required to fly to these destinations, in which cabin, and roughly the value of points to be collected in various places, including Tesco Clubcard points!! Who knew that?!

To summarise, if you fly with British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Air Malta, Flybe, Monarch, Air Auringy, Qatar or Finnair, for business or leisure travel, this book is an absolute must read for you if you want to save a lot of money and get cheaper flights, or if you want to see how the other half live and travel in luxury.

Having flown in Business / First class myself several times, I can say from experience that once you have experienced it, you will not want to fly Economy again. I have just set up my first Avios account already and you can do the same at https://www.avios.com/

To purchase your very own copy of this incredible book, ClickHere!

Happy Travels!

Cuddle Your Globe

Travel Blogger

New York City in a Nutshell

New York City in a Nutshell

One of the first thing that surprises me about New York is the size of it. Coming from London which is over 1,500 km2 and homes just over 8.5 million people, New York City is a measly (in comparison) 789 km2 and houses more residents at around 8.7 million. That’s 11,000 people per km2. Not accounting for the hoardes of tourists that flock to the city on the daily…!! You can actually rarely see the sky due to the vast amount of skyscrapers.

  
On arrival to the New York airports, prepare for severe interrogation from immigration. My officer actually asked me for the reason I broke up with an ex boyfriend I had travelled to New York with some five years previously. The only response I could give was, ‘he wasn’t a great egg..’

Whatever time of day or night it is, if you are near Times Square, daylight cannot be detected. At 10pm the skies are brighter than a summers afternoon.

You can’t smoke anywhere in the city! All bars and restaurants have made their outside areas (and within 25 ft) totally non smoking. You are not permitted to smoke in the parks. So if you’re a smoker, try to find a stoop or quiet sidewalk. This is not a bad thing!

The subway is gross. It’s cheaper than Londons equivalent – The Underground (which it actually copied the idea from), but you can tell. It’s quick and convenient, though.

Getting a taxi has become increasingly difficult during the summer months. One day, on fifth avenue in a desperate rush, I was actually reduced to tears and was bargaining with a New Yorker who was trying to get home so I could make it 15 blocks to an important meeting. If you can get the subway, do it!

If you’re in the world’s shittiest mood,  or ecstatically delirious, New York City just works. There is no inbetween.

7 Things British Holidaymakers ALWAYS do..

7 Things British Holidaymakers ALWAYS do..

1. Despite forking out a fortune for the trip, it is guaranteed the minute the plane doors open, Brits will immediately commence commenting and moaning about the heat.

2. Become incredibly tight fisted and stingey. Somewhere in the process of exhanging foreign rates into the good old British pound, we decide that everything is ‘too expensive.’ Even if in reality, it costs 5p. British are very quick to sync into what is ‘local value’ and categorically refuse to be ripped off!!!

3. Get burnt. This is usually on the last day of the trip, through fear of not seeing rays of sunlight for months to come. Naturally, we then complain about being burnt.

4. There is always an English man who rocks into the sauna and loudly shares his wit by shouting ‘it’s like a bloody sauna in here!’ We’ve heard it..

5. Gets flip-flop toe injuries. Us Brits don’t often get to wear flip-flops and the 8 hours a day of walking around in them always gives a nasty gash between big toe and second toe. Ouch!

6. Complain. If the flight is delayed, the hotel isn’t perfect, hell even if the curtains are a different shade than advertised, there will be hell to pay!

7. Love other Brits. It is a fact that the only time a Briton is pleased to see another Briton is when on holiday. It becomes a miraculous stroke of fate that took both families to the same resort…We become friends. We cry when they leave and promise to keep in touch. We don’t keep that promise.

  

That Flighty Feeling…

… Nothing compares to that feeling you get when you have booked the flights you have been pondering on for several weeks.

I just did it!

Next month, a week in New York City, followed by a trip to Bali and Singapore!

It’s been too long, international travel…

The stranger in a pub and his advice…

The stranger in a pub and his advice…

I love it when you meet a complete stranger and they say something to you…. A simple sentence that just falls from their lips like an old apple from a limp tree branch. But THAT sentence will stay with you forever. The stranger has no idea that their blaze alcohol fuelled babble with give you a piece of advice that will change your life forever.

I was sat in a bar one summers afternoon with a friend and we began chatting to a man who had flown back into the UK from Japan where he has been living for several years, teaching English. Due to our mutual love of exploring the other continents, the conversation drew in towards my favourite subject… ‘Travel’

At this point, I had never travelled alone before and was toying with the idea of booking a long haul solo trip to Asia and Australia for a few months. But! I was in a long term relationship. One that I thought was very happy at the time. I didn’t want to leave him for several months and I discussed this with the stranger.

What he said to me changed my life.

“In five years time, which will you regret more? Not going travelling or risking the relationship?”

Sure enough, five years have passed since that comment. I went travelling. The relationship didn’t last, and I can honestly look back with no regrets because I found my passion in life and I found myself.