Month: December 2014
You never forget your first love. That right there is a fact. Those first awkward moments – the butterflies – the first silly arguments – the sweetness and excitement of it all. But that’s not what I want to talk about today.
I want to talk about first traveling loves. Those relationships I find can be equally as important – earth shaking and core shaking.
My first traveling romance began on Haad Rin beach in Koh Phangan on November 23rd 2007 I couldn’t forget that day if I tried. It was my first international adventure as an adult. We had been in Koh Samui for a few days we had our accommodation booked for months in advance. I’d convinced my friend that we could just jump on the ferry and make our way over to Koh Phangan and find some accommodation when we get there (back then you couldn’t book accommodation in koh phangan through a travel agent and all the hotel websites we looked at seemed pretty dodgy). I was so excited bout the idea of doing this – not knowing where we would stay and what we would do seemed all very romantic and exciting.
Once we arrived in koh phangan we trudged around with our backpacks looking for a hotel that didn’t look like someone was going to come and harvest our pre-pickled organs in the night – we eventually settled for a tiny little room above a seven eleven on Haad Rin beach. Not the most tranquil of areas but we were teenagers in search of a good party and wild adventures.
Once we had settled all our bags down we made our way to the beach for a cheap cocktail and some sunshine on our skin. The beach was packed – people were playing volleyball and ping pong on the sand – everyone was young and tanned and having a great time – it was everything we’d hoped for and more. We found a vacant patch of sand and settled our towels down – exhausted and grateful for the cocktails. There were a group of boys on the beach laughing together and taking turns to swim while someone watched the bags. We all got to talking – three of them were English and two of them were Danish. We chatted away and swam and when it was time to leave we arranged to meet up with them again that night.
Steph and I went to go get some food (I lost a bet and had to eat the hottest chilli I’ve ever eaten in my life) got prettied up and went out to experience the legendary Koh Phangan night life. We found the boys at a beach bar drinking buckets of cheap thai rum and coke. We sat on cheap plastic chairs smoking shi sha – laughed and joked together giggling through our language barriers and somewhere along the way we shared a kiss and my heart was a flutter.
We bonded more and more over the next few days and parted ways sweetly in Koh Phangan – knowing that we would see each other again in a few months.
He occupied my brain and my heart and I couldn’t evict him if I tried. He was my first traveling love all those years ago and will forever hold a special place in my wandering gypsy heart.
Fast forward to 2014 and we’re still in contact (as friends) and I even stayed with him on a recent trip to Copenhagen.
Tell me your love stories wanderlusters x
I find it endlessly interesting to find out what people love – what inspires them – drives them and what feels like home. Everyone has a wonderfully different way of experiencing the world. I recently asked Sydney based surf photographer John Respondek a few questions…
Jessica : How long have you been a surf photographer?
John: Umm… about 15 years now.
Jessica: What inspired you to pursue it as a career?
John: I have been a surfer since i was very young and then got into photography in high school… so it was just a natural progression to mix them up.
Jessica: What is it about surfing that you love the most?
John: Thats tough. There are some many good things. But just simply being around and in the the ocean is best. And then surfing in it is so thrilling.
Jessica: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
John: I couldn’t really say there’s one highlight. Just the ongoing fun travel adventures are all highlights.
Jessica: Who inspires you the most and why?
John: I really couldn’t say a couple of names that inspire me. Its always changing. It depends on where I am, who Im with, what I’m doing. Etc. I am inspired daily by different people for different things.
Jessica: What does home mean to you?
John: Home is the best. You really learn and appreciate that when you spend so much time on the road.
Jessica: Where is your favourite place in the world?
John: Australia is the best country in the world… but other than that I love Fiji and Indonesia. For hanging, surfing and shooting.
You can see more of Johns beautiful photography on instagram.
Who do you find inspiring wanderlusters? Let me know – I’d love to ask them a few questions too.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas apparently – but for me (being Australian) I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that it’s freezing cold and I’m wrapped up like a mummy for most of my waking hours.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas recently – mostly because it’s December but also because last weekend was my annual family Christmas party. 70 of my relatives head to a caravan park by the beach to wish each other merry Christmas, celebrate the silly season, play volleyball, tunnel ball, beer pong, announce the winner of supercoach, and see how Santa makes his entrance for 2014 (previous entrances have included fire trucks, speed boats, Harley Davidson’s, tractors… the list goes on!). The family Christmas party is hands down my favourite day of the year. My family are completely mad in such a loveable way – functionally dysfunctional and the most loving, caring, kind, hilarious people I’ve ever had the good fortune of knowing and it was the first time I’ve ever missed it.
This will be my second icy Christmas in the UK – last year I spent it with the Pleasance family up on the North Yorkshire moors in a very sweet little place called Fangdale Bec. It was all so foreign to me. I’d never experienced cold like that before. I was out walking with my friend and his beautiful little sister and their gorgeous little puppy uno and I saw one of the things that makes my inner child smile more than anything else in the whole wide world ; a giant puddle. I was wearing borrowed wellies (gumboots for my Australian readers) and a Barbour wax jacket (they took pity on me for not having any idea just how cold it gets up there – it’s practically north of the wall you know) with a big grin on my face i did a big run and jump in to the giant puddle. I was very surprised to find that it wasn’t actually a puddle – maybe it was at some stage in its life – but it now was just solid slippery ice. I fell and slid across the ice and then stumbled around like an awkward baby giraffe until I made my way to the edge and back on to solid ground in a giant fit of giggles. We took walks through the forest and up on the the seemingly endless moores – it was a little bit of magic.
Christmas Day was everything I thought a British Christmas should be. It was cold, we had hot cups of tea, two open fires and were all huddled around the Christmas tree handing out gifts one by one and watching them open them. I love buying Christmas presents – it makes me so happy to see someone enjoy a gift that I spent time (weeks) searching for. I bought Ell a vintage film camera and film, a hand pressed flower necklace in resin for his mum, a turquoise ring for his sweet little sister, and a selection of craft beer for his brother. With the exception of Ell I’d not met any of them before – so it was nice to see them open and enjoy their presents. We all are our fill of Christmas food – and I ate Yorkshire pudding for the first time. I am so grateful that they took me in to their home and let me spend Christmas with them.
This year I’ll be spending Christmas with my cousin Cazz, her husband and their three little girls at their home in East London. Spending the day with family including three little sugar filled devils will be fantastic! On Boxing Day we are going to see the local Panto too. Such fun!
Stay jolly wanderlusters – sending love and happy Christmas vibes to you all x