“10 Reasons why you’ll want to visit the Philippines”

A South America vibe in Asia
Forget about temples! Forget about tuk-tuks! The Philippines has its authentic, abundance of islands not yet fallen  victim to foreign investors. People are Roman Catholic and the local form of transport is a Jeepney.

The Philippines is a former Spanish colony, just like a big part of South America. This gives the Philippines a unique feeling nowhere to be found elsewhere in Asia!

If you want a piece of paradise from a country thats not too over commercialised, where there’s not a western shop on every corner, no concrete jungle, if you are “temple” tired, the Philippines is the perfect place to kick back, relax or go on the biggest adventure of your life!

“YOU TOO WILL FALL IN LOVE WITH THE PHILIPPINES​“

Here’s why…

Coconut island, Palawan

 

San Vincente, Palawan

1 The people

The Filipinos are like Family they always seem happy and smiling, I’m still in touch with many Filipinos I met during my trips. They love to sing and dance whenever there is an occasion to celebrate. They’re faithful, kind and caring friends. To sum it up, I love them!

Siquijor Island
Waiting for the sunset, Siquijor Island

 

Malcapuya island, Coron, Palawan

2 Beaches and islands

The Philippine islands and beaches are…..

Heaven, stunning paradise. AmAzing! No lie.

White beach, Borocay
Watching the blue sails sailing out, towards the sunset over White beach in Borocay

White Beach in Borocay is constantly rated as one of the Top 10 beaches of the world. I wouldn’t say it’s the best one, but certainly the most famous one.
If you are beach obsessed like me and always on the hunt for white sandy beaches and turquoise crystal-clear waters, you’re in the right country. Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands (yes more islands than years you have on this planet). It’s not hard to find your dream beach or a pristine island all for yourself….

Malcapuya Island, Palawan
Bulogdos island, Palawan
Bulogdos island, Palawan

I’m just sad i’ll never have time to see them all! The Philippines is up there with some of the best beaches I’ve ever seen. The water is so blue and makes a beautiful contrast with the white sand. If you’re looking for postcard perfect getaway, just visit the Philippines.

Manila city lights
Sunset over Manila City

3 Shopping

Flying into Manila at night you can see all the big lights covering the giant shopping malls in Manila.

Filipinos are crazy about shopping but it’s also a way of family gathering for them and they’re obsessed with the air conditioning. Shopping in the Philippines can be quite a worthwhile experience. The country is known by many as a great handicraft centre. Manila has fantastic shopping opportunities. There are a lot of places to go and it all depends on what you intend to buy, and how much is your budget. I usually make Manila my last stop before coming home so I can get some pampering done. After island life I tend to look like a castaway –

Island life turns me into a castaway

 

Castaway

so getting my hair and nails done gets me ready for the real world. SM City North EDSA, located in Quezon City is the biggest mall in South East Asia, Boutiques, supermarkets, fashion outlets, restaurants of all kinds, coffee shops, movie theatres and 3D cinemas, Internet cafes, Spas, you will find everything there to entertain yourself for a whole day.

Cebu Shangri La Shopping Mall
Cebu Ayala Mall

We have nothing like this in the UK. If you are looking for something like a flea market, check out Greenhills Shopping Centre in San Juan, loads of stalls with DVDs, antiques, jewellery, pearls and of course cheap fake branded clothes.

Butterflies mating

 

 

Sea snake

4 Nature, Flora and Fauna

Tarzier

If you visit the Philippines you can encounter one of the smallest primates in the world. This little and very cute animal is called a Tarsier. They live on the island of Bohol you will find a Tarsier sanctuary where you can come face to face with this amazing little creature. Look at their eyes…
Philippines is home of a diverse range of birds, plants, animals and sea creatures. There are at least 400 coral species. From the giant Whale Shark (best seen in their nature habitat , North of the Philippines) to the world’s smallest fish (Pandaca pygmea), everything you can dream of is united in the beautiful islands of the Philippines.

Coral reef

Going back to the Whale Sharks that I mentioned before, we choose not to visit Oslob. Oslob is where you are guaranteed to see and swim with the Whale Sharks. Don’t get me wrong, we’d love to be able to experience these majestic animals in their up close and natural habitat. In fact, when we first started planning our Philippines trip, swimming with Whale Sharks was high on our bucket list. We had read and heard from various people that it’s more like a Zoo than an authentic nature exhibition. On a bus ride out of Coron Island we met a beautiful girl named Kiki. Kiki is a Freediving teacher on Camiguin Island. Kiki has a lot of knowledge about the Philippines and has a huge understanding on marine life. Kiki did not recommend visiting Oslob for Wale Sharks.

Dumb tourist who thinks its ok to touch the wild life

Picture an area no bigger than a football pitch, about 50 odd meters from the beach and full to the brim with boats and people snorkelling around. Just do a simple search on the net and amongst the amazing whale shark selfies you’ll see pictures of people touching and holding onto the animals.

 

More dumb tourists! Such disgusting behaviour

It’s crowded and you don’t seem to get long in the pit. Tour guides roll you in and out at a rate to keep up with the continual flow of boats arriving, while feeding the animals to keep them attracted. Inexperienced humans panicking whist kicking the Whale Sharks, these are real stories from tourists that took the trip. For me I felt confident I made the right decision, we didn’t want to fund such a place that tolerates this sort of behaviour. I know I will see these beautiful animals at some point in my life, in their natural habitat somewhere in the world.

Unpredictable weather in this tropical country

 

5 Weather and climate

The average yearly temperature is around 26.6°C. Coming from the UK during the winter time I really noticed how humid it was in the Philippines. The weather in the Philippines does not reach a point of extreme hot or extreme cold temperatures, so you can easily adapt to the tropical weather, so I found. I’ve always travelled to the Philippines during December and January time and found the weather to be good and bad. I’ve read the best time to go is between November and May as there is less chance of Typhoons and less rain fall. But this is a tropical country and the weather is very unpredictable, there often are typhoons that pass through the Philippines as it’s the main route up through to Taiwan. We experienced 3 Typhoons during one month. The good thing is even when it rains it’s still warm. Just remember to pack a good water proof jacket! Plus swimming in the beautiful ocean when the sky is pouring with rain is an experience in itself. Try putting on your mask, lie on your back and watch the rain drops fall onto your mask. The water is 30 degrees and the sun shines through the clouds it’s such a beautiful feeling.

6 Cheap alcohol

Besides being blessed with astonishing natural beauty, the Philippines also have very cheap booze. Whenever you order a Rum with juice, you can be sure to get a good mix as the juice might be more expensive than the Rum. A bottle of local rum will cost you around £1.50 A bottle of the local beer San Miguel won’t cost you more than 50p.

Napoli Caffe, Dette with her boyfriend, Rosario

 

 

Dette with us in Adamo restaurant

 

They have a beer called Red Horse, one of the Filipino women I met, Dette (such a beautiful, kind, caring woman) told me about this beer. It’s stronger than normal beer, I think she said it’s around 6.5vol in one bottle. Yes it will blow your mind!

Massage bed, getting ready for my 1 hour full body massage

 

7 Massage, relax and rejuvenate

Philippines is perfect for pampering yourself. I made it my goal to have a full body massage every other day. I achieved my goal, as little as £5 (for an hours’ full body massage) why not! I worked my way down the list of different type of massages and my favourite one was the Swedish oil massage. The body oil used is a mixture of coconut oil with their local eucalyptus and lemongrass.

8 No language barrier

English is the language of the government, and the preference for written communication, be it in school or business. You will never struggle to communicate. I always teach myself a few of the local words before any of my trips as I like to show I’m making an effort. But having around 90% of the population speak English you will be fine.

Jeepney

9 The colourful Jeepneys

It’s so fun! It’s cheap and it’s breezy, no need for AC! The Philippine jeepneys have become a cultural sign of the country. The U.S troops left old military jeeps back in WW2 and the Filipinos opened the back, added two benches, gave them a colourful and unique design. An average jeepney can carry 16 – 20 passengers, two up front next to the driver and 14 – 18 seated in the back facing each other on two benches. Your bags can be stored on the roof so be sure to cover your backpack with a rain cover for times like these. You will be surprised, how much a jeepney can carry and how cheap they are too! To get a sense of the place from the local’s perspective and to see how people interact, Jeepneys are a fantastic way to explore the country. So don’t forget to hop on one whenever you have the chance!

Tricycle

 

Few of us travelling on a tricycle

We also took a lot of rides in the tricycles. You will find them everywhere in the Philippines. Very convenient way to get around but very noisy. It’s basically a motorbike with a rusty casing attached where you and few others can sit. I don’t think I ever enjoyed a ride on one but used them literally all the time for pure convenience.

coming to the water surface
freediving at around 10 metres deep

Freediving with sardine run and sea turtle: Watch Me

10 Freediving

There are lots of beautiful places to explore in the Philippines for freediving. Just as it is for those sea gypsies, the Philippines is an ideal location to learn free diving thanks to its tight clustering of 7,000+ islands that protect and provide calm water and less current and waves.

I’ve put a short video together of my trip for you to enjoy.
Philippines fun Go on give me a Watch…… 

Picturesque location you’ll want to visit

Thinking of traveling somewhere with stunning beaches, away from the hustle and bustle?

You always tend to think of the Maldives when you picture that white sand and turquoise sea. How about if I told you, you can see just as beautiful beaches but for the fraction of the price… Yes this is possible.

The Maldives isn’t the only country that shares the Indian Ocean, another place I visited recently, also shares it too.

An island of the East Coast of Tanzania, named…

“ZANZIBAR”

I recently got back from an amazing trip to Zanzibar and I would like to give you an insight to this beautiful country.
I’m a beach addict, as you know from my previous blogs. I’m a sucker for white sand, turquoise sea, sun and sea life. So where can I go for my birthday in March? I wanted to travel somewhere that has the above criteria but I only have 10 nights to play with. I don’t want to spend most of that time travelling and there aren’t many countries near the UK that are hot during that time of year.


I did some research and decided on Zanzibar and here’s why…

When is the best time to visit Zanzibar?
Zanzibar sits just below the equator and has fairly constant temperatures all the year around, however it has two rainy seasons. There are two distinct rainy seasons; from the end of March to June and from the end of October to mid-December. From January to March it is hot and dry. June to October is warm and dry with colder evenings.

I started by searching for the cheapest and fastest route possible. Most flights had a connection, which is fine, but I wasn’t happy with a 10 hour stop in Nairobi. That would be a whole day gone from my trip. So I kept on searching, yippee! Found a return flight with one stop in Oman for just an hour duration. Excellent! Thank you Expedia!
Accommodation was the next thing on my list to sort out. I like to look through TripAdvisor rather than the direct company websites as this gives you a true insight of what the accommodation is really like. “Real reviews from real travellers”. I wanted a boutique lodge, something more personal and traditional. I’m not one for big resort type hotels. I came across a beautiful place called “Villa Kiva”.

Wow this is the one for me! Located on the North East coast of the island which means it is practically opposite the Mnemba Atoll. Perfect for my freediving trips. It was time to search for the cheapest deal. Once I was happy with the flights and accommodation I called up Expedia and gave them all the details I had put together. I had a very helpful advisor on the phone who ended up giving me a really good deal and even threw in breakfast. Perfect! Not bad for a total of £615 oh Yeah, that’s your flights, accommodation and breakfast.

Breakfast in the water front terrace

I wasn’t expecting Villa Kiva to be as comfortable as it was, let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised. The breakfast was put together superbly, a huge selection of fresh fruits, (you all know how obsessed I am with fruit) fresh pastries, hot food selection and more. All served at the water front terrace. It’s settings like this that makes your soul happy. There’s also a garden restaurant, with lush greenery and two small swimming pools. Here you can enjoy various types of pasta, soups or dumplings, many different kinds of fresh fish and octopus carpaccio. The fresh catch of the day was my favourite it was always delicious. I had a sea view room which was equipped with a ceiling fan, mosquito nets on the windows and around the bed, air conditioning and a fridge. All rooms have on suites and there’s Wi-Fi available in the whole facility.
Waking up to the view of the Indian Ocean is simply tranquil. This is what dreams are made of.

Beautiful Indian Ocean

I wanted to run away from the cold, the hustle and bustle of the city to a beautiful unspoilt place. I can truly say that Villa Kiva and Zanzibar itself has given me a real paradise with white beaches, warm waters, and an incredible sea. It’s an ideal destination for those who appreciate peace and quiet.
What can I do on Zanzibar Island?
The island is blessed with palm fringed beaches and stunning turquoise blue sea.

Beaches all to yourself

It is an idyllic place for anyone that enjoys water sports such as snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, fishing and sunset cruises. As you know I love to freedive and staying so close to the Mnemba Atoll was ideal. Away from the beach, there are a number of attractions on the island including the spice farms, the historic Stone Town with its markets and winding lanes which can be explored on foot. To the south, boat excursions are offered to see dolphins and there is a marine reserve. The old Prison Island offers a fascinating insight into the old slave trade, as this was once used by Arabic Traders as a confinement for slaves. If you have more time you can combine a safari with a stay on Zanzibar. Zanzibar is an ideal place to relax after you have enjoyed a safari in either Tanzania or Kenya. There are direct flights from some of the airstrips inside the National Parks and reserves. Zanzibar is blessed with a number of excellent reserves and has been at the forefront of conservation for a number of decades. I didn’t have time for a safari trip but hope to return to Zanzibar to check it out. Of course I will update my blog with what research I come up with.
Here are some useful things you should know about Zanzibar

Money
Tanzanian Shilling – can’t be obtained (easily) in the UK so it’s better to buy once you arrive. I changed my money as soon as I arrived at the airport. You can also use USD, I got a mix of both currencies.

Language
English is widely spoken but a few Swahili words are always well received. A few words I got by on were “Hujambo” (Hello) “Hakuna Matata” (no problem) “Asante sana” (thank you very much)

Visas
I was very confused when enquiring about a visa. There was no straight answer. Now that I have been it’s as simply as – Once you arrive in Zanzibar airport a visa can be obtained for 50 USD although I used my card to pay they do prefer cash. Tourist visas usually have a one month validity, unless you request a longer period. Zanzibar is part of the United Republic of Tanzania. Visas are required by almost all nationalities.

Airport tax
Again there was all different advice on this. I didn’t have to pay any airport tax there just wasn’t any payment needed for international flights. Simple!

What to wear
Women should carry a wrap to cover their legs in towns or villages as revealing clothes can cause offence especially in Zanzibar and other Muslim areas. On the beach, and within the confines of beach hotels, normal swimwear is acceptable but nudity is not.

Religion
Zanzibar is a Muslim community. The main religion is Islam (97%), followed by Christians and Hindus (3%), therefore, it is good practice to respect the culture and religion of the country, avoiding provocative costumes, topless and nude bathing. In addition, during the Ramadan period, the entrance to men and non-Muslim women in mosques is forbidden, as the consumption of food, drink and smoke in public.

Malaria
Malaria is endemic to the region, especially on the coast. It is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. I never play around with “Should I” or “Should I not” take medication”. I took some Malirone with me and took one tablet every day. You are advised to take preventative medication. Ask your doctor. Remember that mosquitoes are most active during the evening and night. Wear light coloured clothing – mosquitoes don’t like to be seen and use mosquito repellents.

I hope I have helped you with some of the basic information to keep you safe on your trip. If you have any further questions I’m more than happy to help, just leave a comment below.

I just wanted to end this blog by saying the people I met in Zanzibar were some of the kindest, friendliest and helpful people I have come across. Do try and use the local people for tours and excursions rather than the big foreign hotels. You can trust the locals, don’t be afraid. No one knows the island better than the locals do.

Thank you,
Until my next trip, stay happy and keep travelling…….
if I can do it

Beautiful inside and out

If I can do it – Winner of the Versatile Blogger Award!

Eeek!! I’m very excited and overwhelmed to be selected as the winner of the Versatile Blogger Award.

How amazing!! A humongous thank you to Teej and Sav who run muchadventuremanytravel.com
Ladies you have been so supportive to the travel blogging community. I love that about you. We all work so hard writing blogs, expressing our love for travel and encouraging others to see the world. Head over and check out their story – you will love it!

Teej & Sav website

As an unestablished travel blogger gaining traction as a blogger is very slow and very tough, this recognition is very encouraging for me. It makes me very happy to know my writing (about my most favourite thing to do in life), is motivating others.

Teej & Sav truly make a huge effort to support other travel bloggers so thank you very much.

Thank you @muchadventuremanytravel

So what exactly is the Versatile Blogger Award? It’s an online award given to new bloggers for encouragment and support, a fantastic way for the blogging community to motivate and push one another towards success. I for one am honoured and definitely feeling encouraged! Recipients of the the Versatile Blogger Award must be nominated by their peers. If you have been nominated here are the rules;

  • Write and publish a blog post thanking and linking back to the person who nominated you
  • In your post list seven random facts about yourself
  • Nominate up to 15 other blogs who you follow and believe deserve recognition

7 random facts about Natalie 

Content creator and founder of “If I can do it”

1. I’ve made some very embarrassing mistakes:

One I’ll never forget was reading the arrival flight time thinking it was the departure time. I had organised a trip to Egypt for a group of us (a short 10 night trip) “oh yeah we have plenty of time”, while we all eat our breakfast (the morning of the flight) I had one more look at the ticket… shit! It hits me, “guys we have missed our flight” as I ran out of the restaurant. So I tried everything to get us on the next flight, but there was no flights for a couple of nights. You can just imagine the look on their faces.  I felt so bad! Their 10 night trip turned into 7 nights. Sorry guys😬

Arrest me for my scatterbrain

2. I left home at 16 years of age

I left home when I was just 16 years old, I moved to a city called Cambridge away from London. I know this is a very young age to leave home but I was always very mature for my age and had to grow up fast. I started working/training for a Toni & Guy hairdressing franchise. This was the best decision I made after leaving school. I didn’t have the best grades to get into University. I really did struggle in school. Having a trade like this has helped me travel and earn money along the way.

Yep having views like this whilst cutting hair isn’t bad, “not bad at all”!

3. I’m only 5 foot small

So finding a comfortable backpack isn’t easy, my backpack is as long as me!

I got this

But being small also has its benefits, you’ll always have leg room on planes, trains and buses. You never have to crouch down to get through doorways and can easily float about in small spaces like, say, microscopic city apartments. People instinctively want to protect you, which makes asking for help with any physical task infinitely easier. Your height gives you a stand-in personality. You will look young forever. Kids will love you because they think you’re one of them. You’re always up front in group pictures.

You’ll always be able to fit your entire body underneath tiny throw blankets instead of having to cast out your feet to freeze in the open air

4. I have clown fish as pets

They’re home breed so don’t worry I didn’t take them out of the ocean. They’re so cute! I have one female and one male, named Mige & Modge (Maltese slang for crazy) As you know from my previous blogs I’m obsessed with the underwater world and I can stare into my tank for ages just mesmerising. Did you know clownfish are all born males and the dominant male of a group will turn female when the female of that group dies. Clownfish, also known as anemonefish, are sequential hermaphrodites that first develop into males.

Feeding time

5. Sometimes I cuss

I probably cuss a bit too much than I should, I hate that I do it but it just comes out. I am really trying hard to use different words in place of the cuss words. For example “shiitake mushrooms”, “shut the front door”, “bullspit”, “mothersmucker” and one of my favourites “I don’t give a Donald Duck”

6. I’m fruit obsessed

I love the colours, they’re so vibrant and the different textures in your mouth. Fruits rock.! They’re low in calories, high in nutrition, high in fiber, and most of them taste pretty good. I have to try the local fruit in every country I visit. Don’t get me started on fruit markets. I love them!

Yum 👅

7. My partner in crime

I have found my soul mate, we met 17 years ago. We can get through anything together, we make each other laugh all the time and we have been travelling the world together for the last 15 years.

I swear we spend most our lives in airports

And now for the nominations!…

The nominations for the Versatile Blogger Award are:

1. Angela Snyder littlelivesbig.com
2. Kayla Millhouse notsotrickytravel.com
3. Monique Satchell moniqueliveslife.com
4. Anna Fleming curlyvagabond.com
5. Samantha thetravelplug.net
6. Kayla Gallant travelingwithuc.com
7. Victoria thetallwanderer.com
8. Gretka Milkovic beachaddicted.com

How do you get to the Perhentian Islands?

Sunset over Kecil island

The name Perhentian means “stopping point” in Malay. This is because the islands became a staging point used by traders traveling from Malaysia to Bangkok. The two main islands are Pulau Perhentian Besar (“Big Perhentian Island”) and Pulau Perhentian Kecil (“Small Perhentian Island”).

Map of both islands

When to Visit the Perhentian Islands.

High season ends in mid-September and November brings in the powerful monsoons. The best time to visit is between March and November. We visited in March.

Wow beautiful Perhentian Islands (East Coast Malaysia)….
I had to do a lot of research … “How do I  get to the islands?” “Where to stay?” “Where to eat?”

We planned to stay for four weeks but found that two weeks, was enough. So we headed over to Langkawi (West side of Malaysia) for the remaining time.

If you are planning to visit the Perhentians, then let me share what I have learned to help you on your way…..

Pier on Kecil beach

Know Before You Go-
• You’ll pay a 5 RM National Park fee before reaching the islands, when you book your boat ticket in Kuala Besut.

• Wi-Fi can be slow and patchy on the islands. Just make the most of your surroundings.

• Bring supplies with you from the mainland. Drinks, snacks and toiletries are for sale in small shops on the beach and in the local village on Kecil but prices are high and selection is limited.

• Most of the locals on the islands are Muslim. You’ll only find alcohol for sale at selected resorts. Bring your own from the mainland

Great way to get around both islands and cheap too!

• Beware of sea lice bites! These microscopic jellyfish larvae can be present in the water if you’re on the islands in shoulder season. They feel like little stings or electric shocks while you’re in the water and can leave a nasty rash. Take some antihistamines (oral and topical) and be sure to wash and dry your swimsuit if you do get bitten. If it’s really bad I tend to wear a thin body wetsuit which also protects against sunburn.

Boat for 2!😁

By Flight-
Kuala Lumpur was the international airport I had to fly to from London. Internal flights – Fly with Malaysia Airline, Air Asia or Fireflyz from KL to either Kuala Terengganu or Kota Bharu (45minutes). I flew with AirAsia I mainly use this airline while travelling around Asia. I find their website very easy to navigate and it is very cheap. After you arrive at the airport, take either a bus or taxi to Kuala Besut jetty. We jumped into a taxi with another couple who was heading the same way and split the cost. The journey will take about 1½ hours from Kuala Terengganu airport/1 hour from Kota Bharu airport.

Just arrived on Kecil
Bubu Long Beach

Getting in from Kota Bharu-
There is a direct local bus service City Liner for RM 6 (£1.07) and takes 1.5hrs. It’s also easy to arrange a shared taxi ride like we did for around RM70.00 (£12.44) Virtually any guesthouse or hotel in Kota Bharu can organise this. You can also book the minivan from Kota Bharu to Kuala Besut. The fare is RM35.00 pp (£6.22).

On a mission to find a place to stay😎

Place to stay before getting boat transfer in Besut jetty-
There really isn’t a lot of choices. I stayed at T’Lodge. It was cheap, clean and I found it comfortable. It was for one night only, a place to rest my head and wasn’t far from Besut Jetty. You can book through Tripadvisor or bookng.com. I paid around £20 but that was for two of us so £10 each isn’t too bad. You probably could find cheaper places to stay if you were on a really tight budget but be prepared for a less comfortable stay.

View from T’Lodge

How To Get To The Islands-
Journey to the islands takes about 30 to 45 minutes by speed boat and one and half hours by slow boat. There are a number of boat operators in Kuala Besut offering boat services to Perhentian Island. The return boat ticket cost RM 60.00 (£10) per person for speed boat and RM40.00 (£7.14) per person for the slow boat.

Finally you’re there! Look at these views aren’t they amazing?!!

Long Beach
Boogie Boarding in Long Beach
Relaxing on Long Beach
Perhentian Kecil seen from Perhentian Besar

 

Places to stay on the islands-
We didn’t pre book any accommodation and looked for a place once we arrived.

Here are the places we came across on each island:
Kecil – Chalet at The World Café (outside shower) very expensive

Shari-la Island Resort (fridge, decent bathroom with lots of wood affect within the room)

Bubu long beach (sister of chalet at the world café but a lot cheaper)This is where I stayed and loved it. It’s right at the end of Long Beach. Very clean and comfortable. The rooms are quite small but had everything we needed. Ask to stay in the front rooms as they have beautiful views of the beach. You can pre book online with Agoda and other sites but it is a lot more expensive. I was able to negotiate a good price. (once I arrived) with the resort.

BesarTuna Bay Island Resort Mainland Office

Abdul’s Chalet (big rooms, bright bathroom)

Coral View Island Resort (Clean rooms, lots of wood affect)

Clear waters on Long Beach
View over Long Beach
After a snorkel why not chill

Places to eat –
Ewans Café – free Wi-Fi (Coral Bay), Blue and Yellow café isn’t great but it’s cheap (Long beach) Panorama does nice food and they play a movie in the evenings, good place to hang out.

Perhentian Besar
Perhentian Besar

Perhentian Island

Getting out – Kuala Besut – Kota Bharu
Shared taxi depart at 9am, 1pm and 5pm. City liner buses to the city centre of Kota Bharu leave at 7:30am, 9am, 10am, 11am, 12:30am, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5:30pm and at 6:30pm (RM 6 (£1.07)per person, takes about 90 mins. depending on traffic). You reach the bus station, when you head right from the jetty, across the little square at the public restrooms, go left after the “tour office”, then enter the small street to the right and at the end you will find the red and yellow painted bus stop.

Having trouble knowing what to pack? Check out my blog on Packing Tips

I hope this post has help you find your way to these beautiful islands 🌴 Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram

Our quest to freedive with wild dolphins on a budget

Kizimkazi

Hello everyone 🤗

So I just wanted to share my resent adventure with you all.

It has always been a dream of mine to spend time with dolphins in their natural habitat. I got to live this dream during my trip to Zanzibar.

I got talking to some local beach boys, close to where I was staying on Matemwe beach. They explained about different trips they offer.

Beach boys. Zidi (on your right side) was the main man, I booked all my trips through him.

One of the trips was to possibly see and swim with wild dolphins, well my eyes just lit up.

I got the price down to just $35 per person, that included our taxi to Kizimkazi (which was an hour drive each way from Matemwe), our boat hire with guide and a fruit lunch. This was just incredible.

We set out before sunrise for our long drive to Kizimkazi (South Zanzibar)

Beautiful sunrise in Matemwe

met up with our boat guide

Dolphins spotter

and and off we went to search for the dolphins. On our boat there was Ray, Gregg (we met Gregg during our stay) and I, which made it more personal.

The weather was terrible lots of rain and no signs of any dolphins. I was starting to think that we wasn’t going to see any dolphins today. But we persevered and I’m so happy that we did because it paid off.

Check these little beauties out. . .

I spoke to some other tourist once we got back on land, they had also done the same trip but they booked through their hotel. I was shocked when they told me how much they had paid for the exact same trip as we did. It was more than triple to what we had paid.

It just shows how much more money people are willing to pay when they don’t do the research.

I strongly advise that you use the local community people when booking your trips. You are getting the whole same experience for a lot less money and you are helping towards the local community. These people really have nothing and because they lack in a professional front people never trust them. They are so lovely and will look after you. We did a couple of local trips first to get to know the local boys and built up a good friendship before booking this amazing tour.

So next time you’re in a foreign place please be brave and give the locals a chance. Stop making the rich richer.

The lovely village boys and me

Journey to the Coral Triangle

Piaynemo, Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia

is home to some of the most beautiful islands on the planet. There’s spectacular snorkelling, diving, and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Although I would like to keep this magical place a secret it’s hard not to share!   

Isn’t it time you explored this secret place of paradise?

Pondoks at Papua Explorers

I feel truly blessed to have experienced such a place like Raja Ampat. Riding up in the boat to Papua Explorers made me so emotional, (yes I had tears in my eyes) looking at how stunning this place is. The Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat lies in the Coral Triangle, which stretches from The Philippines to Timor to Papua New Guinea, known as the most bio diverse marine habitat on earth.

I met a friend (Ross) in England who was a dive master in Raja Ampat. Ross talked about how amazing this place was and how you wouldn’t experience anything like it. I had never even heard of Raja Ampat before he spoke of it, it sounded so far away and difficult to get to. As he scanned through some of his pictures I couldn’t help but feel envious. Bright coloured corals that look like a Walt Disney animation, stunning islands like green mushrooms plotted around with the most beautiful bright turquoise colour water, flowing calmly  in between. I knew I just had to go and visit….

so the research began….

Firstly I had a look at some maps to plan my route. I knew I had to fly from England to Jakarta for my international flight but then I needed to get to the island of Sorong. How would I get to Sorong? I really did struggle but eventually found a very useful website. I got in touch with a very helpful man called Chris who helped me book my domestic flights. My route was: Jakarta – Makassar – Ambon – Sorong. I was so grateful for Chris’s help especially when the airline canceled my flight (twice) Chris always emailed me with updates and alternative times. He sorted all the problems.

It really is a long trip even after our international flight, two domestic flights you then have a boat waiting in Sorong to take you on a two hour boat ride to the island, of Papua Explorers. We left England on Monday and got to our destination on Wednesday. When I say it was worth it I honestly mean it from the bottom of my heart. Raja Ampat has such a peaceful vibe, it’s so untouched. During our boat ride to Papua Explorers I was so tired and had fallen asleep. I was woken up by one of the staff members, “come and look outside” I stumbled to the front of the boat. Wow! there was a pod of Dolphins all around us! I felt like I was dreaming. The ocean so calm even though it was heading towards sunset, the water was like a lake and all you could hear were these Dolphins playing. (Check them out in my video of Coral Triangle, Raja Ampat)

Finally we arrived in Papua Explorers Resort. We were greeted by a couple of the owners Tunc, Selen (genuinely love these people)

Tunc and his adorable wife Selen

and also Lynn, a freediving/Yoga Teacher  who led us to our water bungalow (Pondok no.8).

Lynn and I

 

Entrance to Pondok 8

Wow!! It was so beautiful!

Inside Pondok 8

Traditional Papuan style with the comfort of modern design features. The Pondoks are built by using local, natural materials collected from the surrounding villages.

Spacious veranda

 

The Pondoks have a spacious veranda with direct access to the sea. I love the way the staff are so kind to the environment and it really shows.

View from our pondok window

 

Our back garden

 

Our front veranda with a chill out hammock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are not divers so I was a bit worried about coming to Raja Ampat only for that reason. I soon realised I had nothing to worry about as there is so much to see and do as a snorkeler.
The diving and snorkelling in Raja Ampat is said to be among the best in the world with over 1,400 species of fish enjoying its reef. It’s often top of peoples scuba bucket lists!

Some of the colourful coral in Raja Ampat
House reef (stunning!)

We did do a free-diving course with the lovely Lynn, who I mentioned before. This was an amazing experience. To be able to control your breath hold and swim so freely with the marine life is out of this world. Lynn is such an inspiration, so calming and superb. I’m so grateful to have met her.  I have done scuba dives in the past and I did enjoy it but all the gear that divers use is not appealing to me. I found the bubbles from your regulator scare away the fish too. Being able to free-dive made me feel like a mermaid, I love getting up close and swimming along side the fish.

On my way down to the depths

I made friends with the fish on our house reef after leaping off my veranda several times a day to snorkel. My favourite were the clownfish hiding in the tentacles of an anemone.

Clown fish protecting their anemone

On day trips to neighboring islands it is rare to see another boat, let alone another traveler. You feel so special to be in such a beautiful place without the hustle and bustle of tourists. One of our trips allowed us to swim through huge caves. They had beams of light shining through that looked stunning. We would exit by duck diving under a rock into an aquamarine lagoon.

One of many caves

One of the dive managers, Hakim (awesome, lovely and so very professional) came with us on his day off.

Hakim, Dive Master/Manager

The family at Papua Explorers are so kind, knowledgeable and made us feel so welcome. Lovely Tari, (PE joint partner) would often sit with us during dinner and we would all talk about our day.

Tari and her wonderful daughter (on the right) next to Tari (left side) Selen’s mother and the gang

Above the ground exotic birds call to each other, just the most beautiful sounds. I wish I could wake up to these sounds every morning. Birds chirp in melodious choruses, they welcome the daybreak with a song befitting of angels, a song that rings with the joy of the new dawn. Gigantic colourful butterflies flutter by, and hermit crabs wondering along the sand.

Baby bright yellow butterflies

A visit to Arborek really is a must! The island is open to tourism with kids greeting visitors with traditional dances and a tour of the village.

Arborek Village, Raja Ampat

How Much Does It Cost To Visit Raja Ampat?

Prices will vary, but here’s a rough guide:

Return flights from Jakarta to Sorong: £200.
Taxi from Sorong Airport to Sorong Harbour: IDR 100,000 (£6.20) we got picked up by PE
Raja Ampat visitor permit fee for international visitors: IDR 1,000,000 (£62.64).
Express ferry tickets: IDR 130,000 (£8.14) for economy class or IDR 220,000 (£13.78) for a VIP ticket. We were picked up directly from Sorong by PE
Travel costs (excluding food & extra activities): £282.62 ($353 USD or IDR 4,622,228)

We stayed at Papua Explorers and absolutely LOVED it! I highly recommend this place.

I have put together a video of our adventure to Raja Ampat. Please check it out. Trying to cut down a months’ worth of action into just 16 minutes wasn’t easy.

Don’t forget to comment and follow

Enjoy…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My planning/packing tips for trips

My ruckcase and rucksack

Packing for a holiday can be difficult. Packing for a year can be near impossible. You’re constantly packing, unpacking, packing again, checking that you’ve got everything, then you realise you’ve forgotten your toothbrush. Get used to it. It will happen more than once. Try and make yourself a packing list. I like to lay all my items out on my bed and once I’m happy I have everything I need, then I will load up the backpack.


One thing to remember straight away – what you don’t pack, you buy. Many travellers just take the bare essentials, buying everything they need once they’re on the road. You need to work out a happy balance for you. Your backpack is your home. It’s your snail-shell. And much like a snails-shell you will take care of it and its contents, loving each and every item that is housed in your backpack.


A good weight for your backpack is between 10-12kg. Experiment before you go and pack your bag a couple of times to find out what fits where. After a while packing will become so automatic that you won’t even know when you’re doing it and you won’t need a packing list! That’s the theory anyway.
If it’s your first trip then you will want peace of mind, constant reassurance. Hopefully this packing list will give you that…

Get planning …

So it always comes down to, my fiancé picking a place for us to travel using Google Earth and for me to research and put together the itinerary.

The way I plan my trips:
• Firstly picking the destination
• Checking what the weather is like for the months of travel
• Finding out what the closes international airport is to the remote islands
• Searching for the cheapest international flight asap
• Researching (by scrolling through the net and through travel books) on how to get from the main airport to the remote islands. This might consist of internal flights and a few boat trips. Depending on how remote the island is
• Researching the culture, what vaccines are needed, are visas needed and the local currency
• I would look at the foreign exchange rate
• I would look at the main things to see within the area.
• I would look for the top 3 must see’s and do’s weather it’s trying a particular food or a hidden site
• I would check if certain places have specific requirements… so I really looked into the Vatican and one adviser on a website commented about having shoulders covered and knee length bottoms. This was not easy to find out but something I would later live to thank.
• I would make a plan b- meaning if I couldn’t get the bus how would I be able to get there
• If in a city does it have city tax
(Packing video)

Then finally jump up and down with excitement 😁

How I caught the travel bug

Hello my name is Natalie here is a little intro about me,
Go on give it a read……..
I am originally from the UK. A place called Burnt Oak which is a suburb on the outskirts of London.

When I left school I didn’t have a lot going for me living there. It’s not the nicest of places to live. Lots of babies having babies, youths hanging around the park drinking and smoking and not to mention the kid who robbed our house and being greeted by the smell of poo after he literally shit himself.
Heading to the park on a Friday night with friends really was the highlight for me.

I always had a feeling that I wanted something better for my life, myself and 5 other siblings were raised by a single mum.

I always watched my mother struggle to live a balanced life and this taught me how I didn’t want my life to be. I wanted the complete opposite to what she went through and still is going through in life. (more blogs to come about my very unique family)

I left home when I was just 16 years old, I moved to a city called Cambridge. Yes this is a very young age to leave home but I had to grow up fast. I started working/training for a Toni & Guy hairdressing franchise.

This was the best decision I made after leaving school. I didn’t have the best grades to get into University. I really did struggle in school and my mum never had time to help me at home. So when Toni & Guy Hairdressing offered me a placement as an assistant I was so excited.

I remember earning just £240 a month and most of that went on the room I was renting which may I add was riddled with damp! Yes it had mushrooms growing on the wall that every so often would blow out this weird smoke. Never the less I loved living in Cambridge and still do. For me it was a huge step forward getting out of the suburbs of London.

I ended up meeting a lot of different characters and made some lifelong friends. A friend of a friend was leaving Toni & Guy to open up her own Hair salon and asked me to join her. I worked there for a while but this didn’t plan out as well as I thought. During my time working for this new Hair Salon I dreamt of a new adventure and how I would love to go travel the world.

I always thought that you would need lots of money, that it was for rich kids on a gap year etc. One day I had an even more awful day than usual so I decided to hand my notice in. My boyfriend and I had a long chat and said let’s give this traveling thing a go….

We both saved for our tickets costing £1200 pp. This allowed a certain amount of miles and stops on the map. I remember going into StaTravel to book the trip and not really having any clue on exactly where we wanted to go. We never had any social network sites back then, so there wasn’t much influence. The travel advisor (who had just got back from traveling himself) was very enthusiastic. He gave us a lovely route to take as follows:

•Starting in South Australia for 3 months with a working permit •Over to New Zealand, where we lost our camera

 

 

 

 

 

•Next stop Fiji •Further east to Tonga
•Australia Brisbane for a road trip up the east coast to Cairns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

•Cairns to Bali •Singapore •Over land to Malaysia where we explored some islands west of Malaysia

 

•Last stop Thailand, where I trained in Muay Thai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the end of 2003 I had managed to save £3000 to take away with me (I know it’s not much but it worked!) my boyfriend had about £4000 saved again it wasn’t much but we still made it happen. We were so excited buying all our travel bits. I remember getting a huge back pack as I wanted to bring everything but the kitchen sink, after trying to put the back pack on and after picking myself up off the floor I soon realised that I needed a much smaller bag.

Now looking back, it’s crazy to think how much stuff you bring with you that you don’t need. (See my tips on what to pack) I had no idea that this trip would change my life for the better. This, year, long trip opened my eyes and made me fall in love ❤️with the world.

We don’t have a long time on this planet so try and see as much of it as you can.

After watching STA travel  put together our year trip I knew I could easily do this myself and that’s just what I did……

Coming soon…. Journey to the Coral Triangle

Hello world!

Welcome to my first ever blog page! I’m so excited to start spreading the travel bug. I am no photographer, i am not a model, do not expect to see perfectly writen poetry. I am an average every day, girl next door with an addiction to travel. Who wants to share pictures, videos and info about my travels. I hope to inspire you,  not to be afraid of doing it yourself, because “if i can do it”

I love to pick places to visit that are in the middle of nowhere just getting lost in an unknown land of beauty.

island of the east coast of Malaysia
beauty is in the eye of the beholder