All posts filed under: Rest of world

India Part 2: Varkala,Kerala

The car didn’t have locks – in hindsight this could have been reassuring if I wanted to escape, however at the time I was more concerned of people getting in. I had just arrived in India and was halfway through the car journey to my accommodation. The driver had stopped on a roadside somewhere and got out. Where he had gone, I wasn’t sure, but my mind didn’t hesitate to imagine the worst-case scenario. Believing he would return with a gang of men, I eyed the non-locking doors, sent a series of frantic texts to my boyfriend and prayed that I was just being my usual paranoid, dramatic self. Prayers answered – I was in ‘God’s Own Country’ after all – he returned alone, smiling and passed me a cup of warm chai. I guiltily berated myself for assuming the worst about him, yet it didn’t stop me from taking tiny sips from the tea – he still could have drugged it. My mother’s voice had officially taken over my brain. I tried to push …

Soul and Surf India

India Part 1: Soul and Surf

Just after ten o clock in the morning on the edge of a clifftop in Varkala, India, there’s a small group of people enjoying breakfast, swapping stories and coffee, sharing anecdotes and monkey jam, full of food and free of worries. Look quickly and you’d think this was a group of close friends, family even. Look closer and you’ll see it’s a mixed group; guests and staff, Europeans and Indians, surfers and yogis. Strangers yes, but Soul and Surf’s specialty lies in making strangers feel like friends and their resort like a home where everyone is welcome. It’s a rare thing with accommodation. In the balancing scale of atmosphere vs luxury, you can usually peg hostels weighing down the atmosphere side and hotels tipping the luxury side. Soul and Surf sits perfectly in the middle, balancing both with ease and a confidence that comes from 5 years of extremely happy guests and 5-star reviews (check out their Facebook and Tripadvisor). It’s this welcoming atmosphere that makes it a perfect place for solo travellers, especially first-time …

Bangkok – Khao San Road

Khao San Road: ‘the centre of the backpacking universe.’ – Alex Garland (Author of The Beach). Before leaving for Thailand, I had read much about Khao San Road, the backpackers sanctuary ‘where east meets west.’ Whilst pre-travel reading, I found that bloggers tended to have a strong reaction to Khao San, either loathing or loving it. We decided to head there as our first stop in Bangkok, believing the crowds of backpackers and western comforts (i.e McDonalds) would be a good way of easing us in – a toe in the water before throwing in our bodies. It turned out that the water we were testing was murky. If Thailand were to be a lake, then I imagine Khao San Road to be the cloudy bottom, overcrowded with inhabitants and grime left from passers-by. The hostel we were staying in was a 10 minute walk away, a route decorated with one-legged homeless men, a few dodgy-looking locals and several pungent smells – an introduction that tarnished our idea of Bangkok. Don’t get me wrong; I …

A Different Side to Koh Phangan

Party Island. When asking one backpacker what it was like, he stated he had seen things there that no man should ever have to see. Other answers we received were ‘crazy’, ‘messy’ and terrified looks that asked if we were ready for what was in store. Slightly nervous for what we were getting ourselves into, we left Koh Tao  where I found myself being sprayed with sick within seconds of reaching Koh Phangan. Extremely rocky boat x seasick boy x heavy wind = my splattered self. Hoping this wasn’t a forewarning of what to expect from my stay, we headed off to the Nomad House, a hostel known for being very social and ‘fun-loving.’ With 18 bed dorms and a warning on the site of not to stay if you don’t want to get involved with the partying, we showed up expecting lively lunacy. The hostel was empty. Having work done to the hostel meant that they were no longer taking bookings, and not only that but the entire part of that island was completely …