Jasper National Park

It was time for the real roadtrip to begin! Time to take a nice leisurely 4 hour drive up the Icefields Parkway, supposedly one of the most scenic roads in North America. We were keen to see how it compared with Pacific Route 1 in California which we drove during our USA Roadtrip in 2014 which was pretty darn amazing.

The first stop off was to Lake Peyto however as we passed the Lake Louise area and headed more North it began to snow… Hmm this is cute, how fun! By the time we reached the car park for Lake Peyto however, there was a moderate dusting of snow everywhere! Despite the inappropriate footwear we decided to try the little uphill hike anyway. Ignoring the people slipping and sliding on their way back down I was too excited that I felt like I was in Narnia! 



The views over the lake and glacier were a bit misty but the water was still the typical Alberta blue 💙 

The snow was still falling on our way back down and I now had more sympathy for the the people struggling earlier. Ali was the first to fall straight on his butt 😂 which was funny until I remembered he was wearing the backpack full of cameras! Then we reached a steep slope covered in ice which had a gathering of people stuck at the top. Not wanting to live there for the rest of winter, I took the bushy area to the side whilst yelling at Ali to keep low (whilst he was pole dancing around a tree 😂) he has a long way to fall being that tall! I thought I was bossing it doing a sort of forward crab walk on my hands and feet leaning backwards…. until my foot slipped and I slid all the way down on my butt whilst gathering snow, mud and leaves up nails trying to brake… yeah so Canada is fun! 

I’ve heard the drive is so scenic and beautiful that you can spend all day stopping at each view point to take pictures and stand in awe of snow capped mountains, forests and rivers. We however, could see barely anything. Really beautiful so glad we came! 

From here there really was no point stopping at any other view points and there was absolutely nothing to view. The snow was getting heavier and visibility getting worse as the roads were winding steeply up and down mountains with sheer drops just feet from me…ok this isn’t fun anymore. When we finally reached just outside of Jasper hours later, there were lots of cars parked up looking at some huge caribou or elk or something but I was just desperate to get to our accommodation so I could have a small meltdown!

Our accommodation in Jasper was a little bedsit type place in someone’s basement (it was cute, not murdery like it sounds) the host lady confirmed snow like this in September is unheard of and they were not expecting it at all, phew were not unprepared idiots after all!
Unfortunately due to the weather our 2 days we’re fairly limited and relatively uneventful. Our attempt to visit Maligne Lake was short lived as the road had been closed due to the snow. We then attempted Maligne Canyon but after trying to park in the chaotic snowy car park for about 20 minutes I promptly stepped out of the car and directly into an ice cold slushy snow puddle up to my ankles… wearing flyknit trainers 😒 a further 20 minutes of drying my socks, shoes and feet in the car we decided to call it quits. We did discover Lake Patricia and Pyramid Lake on our way home but again the views were pretty limited due to the very low cloud, I wonder how beautiful this looks on a clear day? 


After meeting Jasper the Bear, the rest of our time was mainly spent drinking steins of beer at the Jasper Brewing Company whilst watching trains we will never be able to afford to ride on, such as the Rocky Mountaineer, roll past.

Or drinking coffee and eating the famous Bear Paws at Jasper’s Bear’s Paw bakery! Both of these are a must visit!
It’s been a strange few days, not what I expected at all and even though I can’t help but feel we missed out a bit I’m still glad we made the journey up here. It’s not an adventure if everything goes to plan is it! I just pray the way back down is a little more pretty.

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As it’s world mental health day….. Balance!

It’s taken almost 30 years but I think Ive almost got a grasp on myself!
As far back as I can remember I just loop like a broken record over and over again. It goes like this: dark places > seeking help > waiting lists > even darker places > self destruction > self distraction; things that make me happy (and basically to escape my own head) > half arsed, too late help being offered > turning help away as I “don’t feel I need it anymore” > something, which can be tiny as fuck, plummeting me right back to the beginning…. aaand repeat!
We go round and round and nothing ever changes, I make promises I know I can never keep, (sure I’ve eaten, sure I promise I’ll never hurt myself ever again…. you know the ones!) and me always convincing myself it’s different this time! And I swear I believe it. 
HOWEVER! 👆🏻I think I’m finally learning how to work with myself rather than against myself, which within ITSelf is a fucking revelation!! And I shit you not, it’s what they’ve been saying all along 😒

What they say: Exercise! – I cannot even begin to tell you how important this is to me remaining (somewhat) sane

What they say: Be kinder to yourself! -literally fake it til you make it; be proud of the tiny things, let the mistakes go

What they say: Get enough sleep! – I am a toddler, if I don’t get enough sleep I am prone to have a complete meltdown at the slightest thing whilst simultaneously refusing all bribes for me to stop

What they say: Get more fresh air! – the air in my brain is like miracle gas
What they say: Drink more water! – I actually feel cleaner and fresher 😂

What they say: Eat healthier! – I full on crave green things when I’ve eaten too much processed crap

What they say: Gratitude! – I have a happy box (what an excellent gift for a sad person! 😘) where I write and post all the happy positive shit that happens in my day

What they say: Try yoga! – Ive only ever dabbled, but being naturally hella flexible I’m starting to really love rocking up and being able to do something completely new to me whilst some yogis struggle

What they say: Try mindfulness/meditation! – this is one Ive struggled to adopt the most, its hard, but I am finally getting there. Start small just a few minutes of calm breathing, it’s a start
Ive been told to do all these things at least 8 million times, by parents, teachers, employers, partners, friends and medical professionals, but I SHALL NOT do something if I am told to. Even once. I am my own person and I have my own brain thank you…. I’ve since discovered all these really great things which really help, who knew!
Basically it’s about building up and up. Use tiny victories like answering the telephone, going to the supermarket alone and not crying on a Sunday night, to move forward. Build upwards until it’s huge victories like, waving and going up to collect a raffle prize in front of hundreds of people or standing up and reading a tiny presentation in front your board of directors or even going alone to a new gym class you’ve never done before AND ADMITTING IT WHEN THEY ASK!!! Own that shit and be proud, even when no one acknowledges what you’ve just done cause it’s not for them it’s for us and our building! And if you call someone the wrong name or get tongue tied on the phone or trip over or mess up and make a tit of yourself, forget about it! I no longer have the time or energy to let the tiniest thing make me have to beat myself up for about a decade and make all the buildingness fall down. 
Take the pieces and build them skywards ❤✌🏻

Banff National Park

We left Calgary bright and early to head for Banff, as soon as the mountains started to appear in the horizon I got SO excited! It’s crazy how quickly the landscape changes from flat to mountainous. 
We actually decided to stay in Canmore, just 20 minutes South of Banff town as it was a little more affordable and I would definitely do this again as the roads are so big and clear it was really no bother to travel that little bit further. We couldn’t check into our motel until the afternoon so we headed straight to Lake Louise! As predicted the car park was full, as was the overflow… so we had to go to the overflow, overflow located at Lake Louise ski resort which was kinda cool cause you still get a free shuttle but they also have a ski lift up to see Lake Louise from a distance, although it’s a shame it wasn’t a clearer day (there were also supposedly bears, but nope!)


Ok so Lake Louise is actually as blue as the photos! It’s so pretty and it really wasn’t as totally rammed as I expected. Though I guess that’s the perks of going mid September and not mid summer. We had first day fever so paid the $100 to take a canoe out straight away! They insisted we took our bags on too so I was convinced we’d capsize, drown and lose all our valuables (ever the pessimist) but it was so cool and we even saw an avalanche (which made me paddle so fast as I had all the visions of tidal waves and ending up on the roof of the Fairmont Hotel) but shockingly, we survived!

The following day we headed to Moraine Lake. Again we made a feeble attempt to park in the actual car park knowing full well it would be full (get there early folks) before successfully making the overflow this time and we even got to ride on big yellow school buses, win! I’m a huge fan of this free parking and free shuttle malarkey and due to it being Canada’s 150th birthday all their National Parks are free ALL YEAR! 


Turns out Moraine Lake is my new favourite place in the world ❤️ it was even less busy here and you can climb all up the rocks at one end for amazing views, it seems the higher you get the bluer the water, it was just incredible! I want to live there forever. It was pretty chilly so we had hot soup to warm us up before taking a stroll all along the lake it was just soooo pretty ❤️

It didn’t take long for another cable car to present itself. Why?! Luckily we were sat with a nice couple from England who told us of their continued travels on to the Rocky Mountaineer (omg how rich?!) which hugely distracted me from the fact I was dangling from a piece of string in a heavy box, I was super grateful 😊 

We were a’top Sulphur Mountain and surprisingly (to everyone but us) it was snowing! There’s a really cool walkway through the trees and up to the Weather and Cosmic Ray Station where scientists used to stay and carry out their studies. The views are amazing over the mountains, downtown Banff and Lake Minnewanka (<— lol) though it was bloody FREEZING! We did not pack for this.

Johnston Canyon was another thing on the Banff bucket list so we made sure to take the little 3k hike through Johnston Creek to the lower falls and on to upper Johnston falls before our time was up. It was pretty busy but the bridges and walkways, although they kinda ruin the views a little, provide a pathway and views we wouldn’t otherwise be able to witness without climbing gear. You can’t have it both ways! I got pretty warm on the way up, bizarre that just a few hours before we were shivering in the snow!u

There are so many places to stop off and do and see and take pictures of in Banff, I could stay for weeks. It is definitely one of my favourite places in the world already. So far so good!

The Canadian Roadtrip begins! First destination, Calgary

Just a 9 hour hop from London gets you to Calgary. Nice and easy as long as you’re not sat behind some inconsiderate moron who insists on reclining her seat back as far as possible, from the second the seatbelt sign is switched off, despite it being a day flight AND sitting upright most of the flight anyway. This situation can also be made worse by flying with WestJet who had the absolute GENUIS idea of removing all tv screens from their planes so you can “conveniently” log in to their entertainment system on your own device! Cool, try to watch a film on a laptop that can only open 45 degrees due to the aforementioned inconsiderate moron, WestJet, TRY IT.
Anyway, Calgary began with being promptly ripped off by the rental car company for all the add on insurance, cause they used there magical salesman powers on me when I was as tired and just wanted to go to bed, that shit never flies with me so they did good. Well done.

We did however get this absolute beast of a “car” 😂 absolutely hilarious, a full on fluorescent blue, detachable roof, detachable doored Jeep Wrangler Sahara. Amazing. 

As a WWE fan (and host of The PWP podcast) my boyfriend insisted we visit the Hart House where generations of wrestling folk have grown up and trained apparently. I was just thinking yep, I could definitely live in a house like this 😍

After ramming coffee down my throat we went in search of food and found a sports bar which just so happened to be running an art class…. wtf?! Everyone sat with their drinks, canvases and easels as a lady with a mic explained a step by step guide on how to paint an abstract multi coloured elephant. Where the hell has this artistic drinking activity been my whole life?! I think I’m going to like it here 😊

Koh Lanta and Koh Samui

After leaving the luxuries of Railay Beach we were running out of time to get to our Koh Pha Ngan accommodation which we booked about 6 months in advance. As we knew we wanted to spend a good few days in Samui before this, we made the decision to skip The Phi Phi islands and head straight to Koh Lanta (It’s one of my regrets but what can ya do)

Koh Lanta is a very relaxed island, although we had just hit the beginning of quiet season so this didn’t help. There wasn’t a lot going on at all and when I got excited there was a beach yoga place I was sad to learn it had closed for quiet season THE DAY BEFORE ☹ We stayed in a hostel called Lemonade which had the unique feature of hospital bays in the dorms…. Never seen that before!img_0716

We decided to spend our only full day visiting the Koh Lanta animal welfare centre, as Vicky is obsessed with puppys and I’m all for charity work and lending a hand! Opened in 2005, they aim to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome cats and dogs from all over Koh Lanta, saving them from homelessness and abuse. We had a tour and took some doggies for a walk, although our one, Buddy, wanted to go back to the shelter immediately and refused to walk in any other direction, so that was short lived! There was a little blind puppy who was so cute, but I had to convince Vicky she cannot adopt them all!

The following morning we were up early to catch our long ass bus across the main land to Koh Samui and as predicted, our laundry didn’t seem to be anywhere in sight. 2 days before as we arrived, the hostel owners promised our laundry would be ready in time for our departure, but I saw her face drop and panic set in when I asked for it. Great.  The fun thing about handing your sweaty smalls over to a hostel/host (around this part of the world anyway) is you have absolutely no idea where it’s going, how it shall be washed or when it shall return to you, if at all. Sometimes its washed in a washing machine on site or at a local laundrette facility and sometimes it’s taken away and washed by hand in a river by someone’s great grandma, either way it is NEVER in the time period agreed!

The hostel lady made a few frantic phone calls and as the bus pulled up in the rain full of people ready to leave the island, so did a man on a moped with our washing at his feet. PHEW!

The remainder of the 24 odd hour journey went by in a haze of waiting in random bus stations, waiting in random travel agencies and sometimes actually moving! Boats, 7-11 toasties and some gobby little English lass screaming and shouting at the bus driver every time he beeped his horn cause she was “TRYING TO F’IN SLEEP HERE” bless, she must be new!

When we finally stepped off the boat in Samui, we had to then step on to and off about 3 other boats before reaching the jetty… that’s one way of docking I guess. I was adamant we were not paying one of the overpriced taxi drivers and dug my heels in…. until all the other passengers were gone and the drivers weren’t budging on price. We then paid loads and had just lost ½ hour of our lives, my bad. We did get lovely ceiling tissues as part of our overpriced taxi experience though, still winning!

Samui was much more commercial and pricey that anywhere we’d been, there’s an actual airport and holiday folk here. Chaweng beach was actually pretty awesome, despite the how busy and commercial it is. We found  a beach bar which was part of a report where you could use the sun loungers if you spent a certain amount, which despite prices we were not used to was completely worth it for the comfort of not getting sandy, having a umbrella and use of the amazing 5 star spa type toilets!IMG_4928

Here is where Vicky and I tried our first escape room J I love puzzles and solving things and my boyfriend has done a few around Europe on lads holidays so I’ve wanted to do one ever since! Escapade Samui has 2 rooms we chose “Taken” which started off pretty terribly, turns out I panic under pressure who knew! we needed a few hints and I almost cut the wrong wire do disarm the bomb and but we managed to get out with just 2 minutes remaining! We were instantly addicted and returned a few days later to try “Framed” which involved a beach and metal detector like the actual Crystal Maze! We got out with just over 10 minutes remaining, pros already! I’d definitely recommend.

The absolute BEST thing to do in Koh Samui though is the Thai Experience! Rated as the number one thing to do on trip advisor we were really keen to try it out, but a little bit wary on the price. At around £40 (wayyyy more than my daily budget to also includ accommodation) we were hesitant, but we are so glad we went! So basically the Thai Experience is a closed door restaurant and upon arrival everyone is given a pin to mark where they come from on their large world map on the wall, I love maps (way more than is normal) and it was really cool to see how many people from all over the world had been already.IMG_4985

As we sat in our aprons and chef hats we didn’t really know what to expect but we were taught all sorts about Thai culture from the host and brought all kinds of delicious Thai food to try, learning how to order your preferred level of spice in Thai too! Along with the delicious food, a lot of the experience is aimed at interaction with the other guests. This is the exact kind of thing I think we’d both usually avoid as socially awkard weirdos but it pushed us to actually speak and socialise which was great, cause I think we kinda needed that push! We were sat next to a lovely Chinese couple and 4 girls from the USA and opposite a couple of girls on their honeymoon, one of which was from only about 30 minutes from where I live, small world! We learnt how to make different cocktails, drank plenty, and continued through all the many courses of deliciousness. It was such a fun night and I left rather merry and content that this is my amazing life and I am just so grateful to be here ❤13921117_10153753367597681_6663407818953667767_nIMG_4986IMG_4987

On our last night in Koh Samui we had our first experience of fire dancers at Lamai beach, a small hint of what’s to come, it’s time for Koh Pha Ngan and the full moon…. Am I really ready for this?!IMG_4944

 

30 by 30

So the dreaded 30 is less than a year away, and I’m trying extremely hard not to panic or overreact in any way to this inevitable event. I do however tend to have a total meltdown around every birthday ranging from a few days to the whole month of June, so really there’s not much hope!

As I’m going to make it to such a milestone careerless, unmarried and childless (1 or 2 of these could actually be considered a victory) I feel the need to set myself far more fun goals! 

So, along with a million other life/bucket list goals Im working my way through I’m also aiming for 30 countries by the time I’m 30. I’m currently at 26 according to my app “Been” though as I write this I’m on a train from Hungary to Slovakia so it could be 27 by now!

I’m on target to complete this by the dreaded day however a difference in opinion regarding other countries within the UK and places such as The Vatican actually counting, I think I should probs aim for 33-35 just to play it safe?!

Krabi

We’re back in Thailand! It only took a million hours on a night bus up and over via Bangkok, but by far the easiest border crossing. The ticket included a $5 fee for the bus man to take all our passports, get them stamped and return them to us. Why can’t it always be this way??

Krabi began with not enough research, I searched Krabi on Hostel World, found Pak-Up Hostel and its good reviews and booked. It was pretty cool and themed like a school so each dorm was a different subject, however……this was Krabi Town, not the amazing beaches I had pictured. Instant fail.

We’d already booked 2 nights and there really wasn’t much around so we chilled and slept a lot. Krabi town didnt come without its own adventures though. We were led astray by a mixed race Thai/British gay guy who owned a bar near our hostel. We were his only customers and he fed us many, many cocktails and shots whilst we played endless games of jenga amd connect 4, this is mainly why we ended up sleeping a lot. It also brought me the fun experience of a strange man trying to climb into my bed in the middle of the night.  As I felt the bed shake from someone climbing up the ladder to my bunk I did wonder if I should automatically scream RAPE! as loud as I could, but instead I just sternly said “THIS IS MY BED!” into the darkness and a very apologetic guy fled the room! All the dorms were the same lay out so I forgave him for presumably just getting the wrong door.

Turns out you can only reach Railay by boat as it’s a peninsular surrounded by cliffs (why have I become so lazy at researching?) We bought our tickets and waited. Many, maaaaaaany people came along and boarded their little boats and left while we waited… We went for a coffee in a café over the road and waited some more. I will never understand how anything works here. We FINALLY boarded a little traditional long tail boat that you see in the Typical Krabi photos about 2 hours later. The boat was tiny with pretty coloured ribbons and sat about 8 people. The trip to Railay took about 30 mins and there were pretty views of the coast.

West Railay beach is the main beach, however, if you stay at East Railay beach the hotel prices are cheaper and its only a 5 minute walk to the West 😊 As it had been a few days of not much and this is a proper holiday destination with mainly posh hotels (for the standards we were used to anyway) we treated ourselves to an actual hotel for the night! There was a pool and a bath and separate shower and everything! 

We took a walk over to West and had a beach day, I felt like I was on actual holiday, it was amazing! The prices are definitely not Asia prices which kinda sucks but we are in resort land so it’s to be expected. 

I saw a girl I used to work with which was random as fuck, well I heard her first, and actually couldn’t believe my eyes (or ears) I didn’t go speak to her though, cause she was with about 10 family members and I’m a socially awkward weirdo.

We were caught in the heaviest rain I’ve EVER witnessed on the way back so decided to buy munch and just have a lazy movie night, I really am starting to miss the home comforts now.

The following day, rather than moving on to Koh Phi Phi we decided to stay one more night, it’s not even been 24 hours here and we were enjoying the lazy life! Rather than stay in the same place we checked into a slightly nicer hotel a few doors down and were upgraded to some sort of honeymoon suite with a jacuzzi tub in the bedroom and THE softest pillows in the world! How romantic. The pool had hard plastic lilo things and swim up rooms (if you’d didn’t get upgraded 💁🏼) and we spent the whole day soaking up some more sun, seeing as I can actually handle it now!

Vicky enjoyed the wrong lunch after waiting about an hour and a half in the restaurant so we thought we’d skip the restaurant and go for room service for dinner later that night. We waited an hour to share a small over priced margarita pizza, that turned up in the form of a margarita cocktail. Vicky could not handle the awkwardness of the sweet Thai man holding a tray with a single tiny drink at the door and just left him standing there! I then had to send it away and ask for a pizza, again! More fails. But more cozy nights in our squishy bed with it’s amazing pillows!

Time to plan the next leg. Time is going so fast now 😭