Life & Reflections

Monthly Life Update: October 2017

Oh, October.

Last month ended up being a pretty intense travel month. As some of you might remember me mentioning, Veeran and I decided to relocate to Thailand after 5 months of tavelling in Central America! I’m glad to report that everything went smoothly and we’re now settled into our own little apartment in Chiang Mai.

(And, oh my god, we’re both ridiculously excited to have a wardrobe again!)

But before I bore you all with my domestic matters, here’s what we got up to in October!

Where we’ve been

Guatemala

Antigua

The historic colonial city of Antigua is one of the most popular places to visit in Guatemala. We spent a week here in a gorgeous Air BnB MANSION which we had completely to ourselves. (Well, apart from the resident cat- not complaining!) Of course, though, that wasn’t the highlight of our trip to Antigua. Nope, watching one of the world’s most active volcanos erupting from the top of another volcano definitely took that biscuit! Thanks again to Old Town Outfitters for an amazing experience!

Acatenango

Aside from that, we spent most of our time hanging out in coffee shop offices. La Bella Vista Café was definitely the favourite and probably wins the award for best coffee shop office this year, so far! Despite the fact that Antigua is such a beautiful and photogenic place, we never did that much wandering around or even photo taking. We had the classic case of “we’re here all week” syndrome! Ooops, maybe next time!

Semuc Champey

The dreaded journey to Semuc Champey puts a lot of travellers off ever visiting. It took us 12 hours to get in and 12 hours to get out of. Is it worth it? I’d say so. Especially if you’re going to be transitting between Antigua and Flores anyway!

We did the classic Semuc Champey tour on one of our days. We went on a candlelit caving adventure (which I am far too claustrophobic to have actually enjoyed!), hiked to a viewpoint and then loitered around in the limestone pools. The other day, we spent lazing around in our hostel’s pool and tubing down the river. To be honest, 1 day was enough, though. Due to the current of the river, our tubing adventure was over in about 15 minutes. We didn’t really think it was worth the extra travel day.

Flores

Our main reason for visiting Flores was to see the famous Tikal ruins. Having visited three different ruin sites in Mexico, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of another one. (I am, afterall, a historical-site-a-phobe.) But, in the end, I was really glad that we decided to visit!

At the risk of sounding like a cliched travel writer, I have to report that Tikal was genuinely like another planet. There’s a reason why George Lucas chose it as a Star Wars location! Plus, there were next to no people there which was quite surprising given how popular it is.

Apparently, Flores is a gorgeous place with loads to see aside from Tikal but I was in hermit, get-work-done mode and never did much exploring.

Have I mentioned that October had #travelburnout written all over it?!

 Belize

Caye Caulker

After spending 2 months in Guatemala (which is kinda chilly and not too beachy), Caye Caulker was a very welcome destination! We spent a day snorkelling on a sail boat with Raggamuffins tours where we saw some of the most insane sealife. I’ve never seen anything like it in all the times that I’ve been snorkelling- it even topped our whale shark experience!

On the way back, we were treated to unlimited rum punch and the magic word was refill! If you’ve ever met a Scottish girl before, you’re probably thinking to yourself that we don’t exactly mix well with unlimited drinks. And you would be right! I was a complete liability- sitting in puddles and refusing to get up, falling off swings, falling every time I tried to get up. I could go on but I’m sure you get the jist. If not, I can show you some pics of my drunken injuries….  Thanks to Veeran for continuously putting up with my questionable behaviour!

Aside from this action packed day, we spent our time in Caye Caulker living by the island’s motto: Go Slow.  Oh, and eating lobster and drinking rum because both are bizarrely cheap in comparison to everything else.

Mexico

This one pic pretty much sums up our time in Mexico….

Bacalar Lagoon

We were both excited about getting back to Mexico. I had some serious ambitions of eating nothing but tacos al pastor, ceviche and micheladas while we were there. I was almost successful.

Since we’d been to Tulum, we decided to go somewhere a bit different on the Caribbean coast so we chose Bacalar Lagoon. Apart from being pretty and having some fun SUP, we didn’t think there was much to write home about. (but my Mexico expectations do sit quite high after the awesome time we spent there.)

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is somewhere I never planned to visit. I was a bit of a snob about it and didn’t really want to go somewhere that’s home to so many package holiday resorts. But, since we were flying out of Cancun, it was a convenient place to base ourselves. We got an Air BnB for a few days and spent most of our time catching up on work- just leaving the house to eat!

Belgium

Ghent & Bruges

I’m all about finding cheap flight routes and, since our schedule is flexible, I’m happy to spend an extra few days in another city if it’s the most economical option. For me, it’s a win-win situation- see another place and save money!

That’s how we ended up back in Belgium and I wasn’t complaining. I’ve visited the land of beer, chocolate, moules and frites 3 times before. Once by accident and twice on purpose. (It’s a long story but Ryanair is the culprit…)

It’s always nice to return to Europe. Even if it’s not The UK, I still feel a sense of being at home. Ghent and Bruges are both gorgeous cities- the kind of places that you don’t really need to do anything in. For me, I’m quite happy just walking around, enjoying the architecture (and stopping off for the occasional beer.)

France

Paris

I’ve visited Paris twice in my life; once when I was 2 (Eurodisney) and again when I was 6 (also for Eurodisney.) It’s fair to say that I was well overdue a trip to the city of love so it was pretty appropriate that I visited with Vee (awwwww.)

We only really had 1 full day but we did our best at fitting in all the big sights. I even spent 2 hours in The Louvre which was obviously not my choice of activity but I made the most of it by laughing at all the people squeezing in to photograph the Mona Lisa.

I honestly never expected to enjoy Paris that much but it really is the ultimate European city. I’m definitely not going to wait another 21 years for my next visit and hopefully it’ll be a more chilled out trip with more time to sit in cafes smoking vogues and drinking espressos.

Thailand

Bangkok

And, now, it’s time to collapse! As soon as we got to Thailand, we were both well in need of two things:

Street food. And a 20 hour sleep.

Just like in May, I never want to have another month of so much travel again. I probably sound ungrateful saying that but 3 continents in one month is far too much! Obviously, the only reason why we did so much travelling was because of transit but it was definitely overkill. We spent a full day in Bangkok just sleeping. It was well needed.

This was my first visit to Bangkok- a city infamous for being hated by a lot of travellers but I was a huge fan. My favourite highlights were the reclining Buddha, visiting Innis Free and discovering that there is now a cushion compact for tanned people (yyyaaaaaaasssss!) and eating an obscene amount of food in Chinatown. It really is such a cool city and I can’t wait for my next visit. Yes, mainly so I can go back to Innis Free (and buy the My Palette *hearteyesemoji*) but I’m sure I’ll do other things, too…..

Any Other News?

We got an Apartment

Not officially October news but feels weird not to update you all on a big life landmark. We got an apartment! We’re gonna be in Chiang Mai for the foreseeable future. We have keys. A fridge. All those big people things. And, we have absolutely no travel plans (until we need to leave the country on our visa run to Laos.)

We’re students again

So, there are a few options for people looking to stay long term in Thailand. You can border hop every few months, you can get a visa in your home country or you can get a student visa. We decided to go down the student visa route since we both would like to learn Thai anyway. Learning the language is important to us since we’re going to be living here so this just seemed like the ideal option.

(Plus, no travelling required!)

I took a well overdue trip to the hairdressers

While we were in Antigua, I found an awesome hairdresser whose reliable hands I put myself in. My hair was a riot from all the travelling and sun so I got myself a keratin, a honey blonde ombre and a good 4 inches off. A full month on and I’m still constantly stroking my hair and admiring how soft it is. I always recommend permanent straightening to travellers but keratin has knocked good old-fashioned Korean magic straight out the window!

New on the Blog

Spending

Since my travels were so fragmented last month, I really don’t think an update on this will help anyone. I plan to make some country guides for everywhere we’ve been but I’m not doing a monthly update.

What I’ve Been Reading

Finally got over my reading hump after a whole month of reading no books… this is mainly thanks to the two long haul flights that we took!

Pachinko

After reading so many books about North Korea this year, I wanted to read one about my old home. There’s actually not much literature about South Korea out there so when Adventurous Kate mentioned that this was the best book she’d read all year, I had to download it.

The book follows several generations of a Korean family who move to Japan during the occupation and documents the struggles that they experience there. At 600 pages and some challenging subject areas, it’s not exactly a walk in the park but I was still sad to put it down. It was a bit of a gem.

May I Have your Attention Please?

A pretty informative book about copywriting for anyone wanting to brush up on their skills!

How to be F*cking Awesome

As a girl with a mouth like a pirate, I’m naturally attracted to anything with a sweary word in it. This was a bit of a let down.

The main aim of the book is to give you a kick up the arse and help you start a business or do whatever you want to do with your life.To be honest, though, it taught me nothing new. It was full of unhelpful cliched information sugar-coated in swear words. I liked the premise and I found the author likeable but I was constantly cringing as I read it Maybe you’ll like it better than I did, though.

Plans for November

NONE! Do work. Eat everything. Make friends. Yoga. Go to coffee shops. Explore night markets. Sample lots of street food.

(The fact that this is the most excited I’ve been about anything all year is probably a good sign that it was time to stop travelling.)

Future for Wee Gypsy Girl

If any of you are wondering what this could mean for the future of Wee Gypsy Girl, to be honest, I’m going to have a lot more time to write about the travel experiences I’ve been having. Just because I’ve settled, doesn’t mean I’m going to stop moving. There’s so much of Thailand to see that I’ll have plenty to write about.

Plus, I’ve not even made a dent in the pile of writing I need to finish about this year’s trips. I’m looking forward to actually writing these articles from a table at a normal time of day rather than on a sleeper bus in the middle of the night.

I think it will be similar to when I was in Korea. More domestic travel. More tips about working and living overseas. And, a deeper understanding of the local culture.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Chiang Mai has in store for me (and my blog baby) and I hope that you’re all on board, too!

Until next month,

Nicole xx

Disclaimer: I was a guest of both Ragamuffins tours and Old Town Outfitters last month. While this post was not sponsored, other content about them was. As always, all opinions are my own.

 

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Michelle
    16th November 2017 at 3:38 am

    Love the unlimited rum story. We’ve all (well, most of us) have been there. Some of us, a few times 😉

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      17th November 2017 at 2:04 pm

      Haha thanks, Michelle! I think I’ve been there enough times to make up for the fortunate ones who’ve never been there at all!

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