Exploring Beijing! Forbidden City, The Great Wall and Peking Duck

Exploring Beijing! Forbidden City, The Great Wall and Peking Duck

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A long weekend getaway to Beijing was one of the best few days of my travel experience here in China. I have always wanted to visit this busy, ancient and cultured city. I finally got the chance when I decided to head there for a long weekend break, here’s how and what I did when I visited the Chinese capital.

I flew using an online travel service Ctrip, a popular all in one flight/train/tour/hotel search engine. Ctrip has it’s own easy to use and efficient app for anyone traveling around Asia. I booked very last minute flights at between 700-800Rmb each way. As I decided to fly incredibly last minute it’s always a gamble as to whether you are able to get the best price but i was pretty happy with what I paid, especially as it’s a popular time to visit!

I also booked my accommodation as I was waiting at the airport to depart, through Ctrip and stayed at The Sanlitun Inn located 10 minutes walk outside of Sanlitun main area and 10 minutes away from line 2 subway stop Dashitiao. I found it had what I needed and I stayed in one of the budget rooms with bed and bathroom for 200rmb per night. It was all I wanted as I didn’t plan to spend much time in the room. I also got A/C which was a plus!

I would always encourage people to ‘plan as they go‘ it’s the best way and comes with less frustration. I’d also say make sure you have an idea of what you want to see from a weekend trip, as you do have to think about the timing. I knew I wanted to see The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, eat Peking Duck and obviously walk The Great Wall! With this in mind, anything else I managed to see and do was a bonus!

I arrived on the Saturday afternoon, checked in and instantly made my way to the Subway to head over to Tienanmen Square. The subway is easy and efficient to use, download this app to make your trip effortless when it comes to getting around the city.

You can also make use of these bike sharing apps Ofo and Mobike for an easy way to get around and see the streets from your bicycle seat.

Day 2 and my first full day of exploring. Sunday I headed out early, around 6:30am to head towards my first checkpoint: The infamous Forbidden City! Getting up at this time also allows you to catch a glimpse of early Beijingers lives. The elderly usually gather to take part in dancing, taichi and games at this time. You’ll see morning commuters and catch an authentic insight into daily life of the people here. I paid 60rmb per person in peak times to enter The Forbidden City but off peak is 30rmb pp. I spent a couple of hours walking around the compound which is huge. You can’t possibly cover all of it in a weekend trip unless you dedicate a huge amount of time, which I didn’t have. I streamlined straight through to the end and made my way up through Zhongshan Park (10rmb per ticket) to get a view of Beijing from above, which if your lucky weather wise, is amazing!

Beijing really helped remind me of why I choose to come and explore China 👌🏻 #beijingtrip

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Once I’d taken in the incredible view I headed over towards the Temple of Heaven at subway stop Tiantandongmen . I grabbed some lunch before I entered the park and then made my way to my next checkpoint: The Temple of Heaven – 35rmb entry ticket.

#chinesedesign #chineseart

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The stunning UNESCO world heritage site ‘The Temple of Heaven’ 🙏 #templelife #beijingcity

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I finished around mid afternoon so still had plenty if time to fit in some other unplanned things! I enjoyed just walking round parts if the city taking in the atmosphere and sights. In the evening I ventured over to Sanlitun shopping area, an expat hub which had tones of malls, shops and restaurants as well as clubs and bars. My mission though, was Peking Duck. We found a small bar that served roast duck. For half a duck I paid 170 Rmb which is a little pricey but when in Beijing…

P.s. It was definitely worth it!

For my last full day I had planned one thing and one thing only. The Great Wall of China! I had found a tour via another blogger – a private hire car service which you can read more about here. I was short on time and was willing to pay a little more to make sure I got to the wall smoothly and easily. I visited the Mutianyu section of the Wall, as I wanted a little less of a touristy experience and I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I have done in my travel experiences. It seems to get mixed reviews but I had dreamt of visiting the iconic wall since I even thought about visiting different countries. It’s one of the main things I wanted to make sure I saw during my China adventures and I was left in awe. We headed there early around 7:15am and I was on the wall by 8:30am. Just in time to catch the sun coming up behind the mountains, creating a misty cloud around the wall in the distance. Truly a spectacular sight!

#greatwallofchina #mountainscape

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#greatwallofchina #traveltribe

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We were finished by 12:00pm, I took a toboggan down to the bottom of the wall and headed back to Beijing. I asked if I could be dropped of at Sichahuai and my driver was more than happy to help. As I had only planned one thing on this day, the rest was all unplanned and a bonus!

I explored Beijing’s famous Hutong districts. A collection of very old streets as buildings untouched by modern development as they are located around the centre of the city. Some great photo opportunities and chances to imagine the locals daily life years ago.

I managed to visit Beijing’s drum tower which served as the central time keeping for the citizens back in the day. I paid 20rmb but you can buy a combo ticket for 30rmb to visit the drum as bell towers located opposite each other. They have regular drum performances throughout the day and is definitely worth a visit if your looking for something extra to do during your stay.

The evening I spent eating duck and lots of street food over at Wangfujing and taking some night time snaps.

Walking around the very busy commercial street of Wangfujing in #Beijing taking in the bustling atmosphere #nightphotography

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My last half day to explore and I decided to head to Beihai park to visit the Buddhist White Dagoba there and experience a little nature before I left. I paid 10rmb for the park ticket and 10rmb to enter the Dagoba. A charming little(well very big) park that offers old temples, traditional architecture, boating, dancing, singing and a huge white Buddhist Dagoba located in the middle of the lake. I also paid 10rmb to ride on one of the ferries one way taking people across to the Island. The perfect way to spend my last few hours.

I caught a flight in the evening back to Shanghai and was left feeling completely in awe of this great city. True, cultured, authentic China that I had always dreamt of seeing. I learnt that the Chinese people love steps, stone and squares! If you haven’t  thought about heading to Beijing, I’d thoroughly recommend it!

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30 Bucket List Things To Do Before 30

30 Bucket List Things To Do Before 30

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I thought I’d write up some incredible experiences to have in travelling – specifically around Asia as I’ll be heading there for the next few years. Have a read and enjoy some of these bucket items that will have your wanderlust on overdrive! I’ve previously made a ‘30 Bucket List Travel Goals‘ if you want to go and check that out! I thought I would make another now as I have completed some of the previous goals. I want to create a list that is realistic; now that I’m 25! 5 years to tick as many of these as I can, but also the rest of my life, 30 is just a good starting point 😉

This is also a good way to reflect on some of the amazing opportunities I have already experienced in the last few years. A lot have been unplanned (which is the best way). It just shows that if you put your mind to something and prioritise what you want from life; then making a list like this doesn’t seem so unobtainable as it first might seem…

A few notable ones have been: Holi festival in India, camel riding in the desert, meditating on a mountain, leading a team in Ghana, re-visiting my village in Nepal, running a half-marathon, rum on a pirate ship, seeing elephants in the wild again, visiting the Taj Mahal and so many more!

Here they are, 30 Bucket List things to do;

  1. Complete 1 year teaching abroad
  2. Walk along The Great Wall of China

    The Great Wall of China
    credit: wiki
  3. Celebrate Chinese New year in China

    Chinese New Year
    credit: lonely planet
  4. Island hopping in the Philippines

    Island hopping philippines
    credit: lonely planet
  5. See a wild tiger
  6. Ride on a boat down the Mekong River
  7. Have visited 30 different countries (10/30)
  8. See Panda Bears

    Panda bucket list
    credit: nat geo
  9. Learn a martial art
  10. Learn to cook a Chinese dish
  11. Take part in the Lantern Festival
  12. Live abroad for more than a 1 year
  13. Sunrise at Angkor Wat in Cambodia
  14. Ride in a hot air balloon hot air balloon bucket list
  15. See Orang-utans in Borneo
  16. Shop at the Bangkok floating markets
  17. Visit Myanmars Bagan temples
  18. Travel to Indonesia

    indonesia pinterest image for bucket list
    credit: pinterest link clickable
  19. Take a cruise around Ha Long Bay
  20. Travel south India

    credit: lonely planet
    credit: lonely planet
  21. Get another tattoo
  22. Continue to write and document!
  23. Head back to Nepal
  24. Head to a spa in Bali
  25. Swim in a waterfall
  26. Visit Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
  27. Go paddle boarding
  28. Huang pu River in Shanghai
  29. See the Terracotta army
  30. Travel to Sri Lanka

    sri lanka
    credit: Huffington Post

Hopefully I can achieve a lot of these ideas in the next 5 years or so, especially as I’m heading over to Shanghai to teach for year! When I write these lists it is never as ‘I must do these or I won’t be happy’. I write them for inspiration and to give some kind of direction. If I manage to tick even a handful of these things off before I get to 30 then I’ll be so grateful! What’s on your bucket list or things to do in 2017?

Share the ideas to inspire each other to keep experiencing new things and adventures!

Follow along my journey and get some inspiration from my social channels below 🙂

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30 Bucket List ideas before 30

India Highlights | GoPro Hero 3+

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Loving my new GoPro Hero 3+ for capturing EPIC moments like these from India! Still learning how to use and edit it better, so hopefully the travel videos keep getting better and better!

All about creating great memories, awesome content and inspiring wanderlust!

I loved travelling the traditional India and northern parts. I’m hoping to head back there to explore the south of India and also all the pockets I missed. I only had just over a month to explore, so I think I did well with cramming all this into it! Next time I’d love to go back for a good few months. If you’ve been or have any recommendations please get in contact! And if you live there, feel free to message me, always better seeing a country with the locals!

Check out my Nepal highlights reel shot on my GoPro Hero 3+ and make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel for more travel related content.

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The Pink City Of Jaipur & Holi Festival

The Pink City Of Jaipur & Holi Festival

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Jaipur

I stepped out of the train station in Jaipur and was immediately hit by a wall of tuk tuk drivers wanting to take me here, there and everywhere. I took a breath and went to the side to figure out what I wanted to do, I had made no plans from here on so I was completely making it up as I went – which was overwhelming at first but within seconds I just went with it. I was approached by a young guy who spoke pretty good english so I opted to go with him and just said to him take me to the nearest hostel.

I knew he’d probably take me to one of the most expensive places as they usually get a cut of the price for taking business to them but I went with it and he actually ended up taking me to a really nice place which wasn’t too bad. I stayed at the Vashnavi Hotel which cost me 1000 rupees (£10/$15) per night for a double, air conditioned, ensuite and breakfast room – I needed this after my experience in Delhi haha

I booked to go with the driver, Mosim for the rest of my stay. He took me to lots of the tourist hotspots and we became good friends over the days I was in Jaipur. He invited me to his village over 3 hours away from the city where I got to attend a family wedding. It was insane! There were hundreds of people dancing in the street with the groom following behind on horseback; fireworks were being let off, there was a giant speaker system on the back of a cart and everyone was throwing money in the air.

As well as meeting his distant relatives I was also invited for dinner, cooked by his mother and grandmother; a delicious authentic Indian meal of chicken masala, daal, rice, chapatis and curd.

I got to see a lot of sights in Jaipur which included: Amber Fort, Pink City, City Palace, Jal Mahal, Hawa Mahal, Royal Albert Museum, Monkey Temple, Shopping bazaars, elephant village & more. I’ll go into more detail about some of these in later posts for anyone who’s curious about my experiences.

Holi Festival

I had also timed my trip to India with the celebration of Holi! A festival that I had always wanted to experience in India and I was so happy I got to get the real feel of the celebrations. The night before Holi there were bonfires being lit all over Jaipur and all you could see was columns of black smoke shooting up all over above the city. Hundreds of people lined the streets walking between each fire to make offerings. Once the bonfires had reduced to simmering ash piles everyone went in to take some back to their homes. The bonfire is symbolic of the victory of good over evil and of the fire that burned Holika.
1.61.71.8

The next day the famous coloured powders washed the streets of Jaipur symbolising the new beginnings, banishing of evil and the start of Spring & the New Year.

 

I’m currently posting more images from my trip before I head to Ghana at the end of the month, follow the adventure on my social links!

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Nepal Highlights | GoPro Hero 3+

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Nepal GoPro

My return to one of my favourite countries with some of my favourite people; the beautiful, Nepal!

I’d never used a GoPro before so I appreciate I need to work on some of my shooting skills but I’m pretty pleased with my first try! I edited it in the Gopro Studio and iMovie. Overall I was really impressed with how the GoPro  captures the footage and the quality.

I used a Gopro pole and housing case which were great but came with some downsides. The housing compromised the sound quality which is Ok if you just want to capture footage. If you’re looking to use it to capture sounds I’d recommend buying an external sound recorder. The pole was great in capturing different perspectives. i would of liked to make the camera more steady though so if you have any recommendations of what to use then drop me a comment below!

I’m currently posting more images from my trip, follow the adventure on my social links!

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Indian Adventure Begins | Delhi Madness & Taj Mahal!

Indian Adventure Begins | Delhi Madness & Taj Mahal!

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Delhi

Delhi hit me like a smack in the face – metaphorically speaking of course. A cultural explosion of sights, smells, buildings and people – so many people. I landed in Delhi and made my way to my hostel that I had booked, which was the only part of my entire trip I had pre-planned. My trip was going to be more of a ‘winging it‘ kind of travel – which in my opinion is the best way to explore! Here’s what I got up to in Delhi and some things to watch out for if your planning a trip there:

Delhi Metro

Delhi has a metro system that runs all over the city from new to old Delhi. You can buy a railcard that you top up with money as and when you need to (much like oyster cards in London do). I paid 100 rupees (£1/$2) and I got 50 rupees credit out of that, they had a deal where if you topped up 50 you got another 50, so I had plenty to travel around Delhi for the day. Once I had this I found it no problem navigating my way around the city. But New Delhi is a whole different ball game to Old Delhi, brace yourself. I intended to go from where I was staying in New Delhi right into the heart of Old to visit some of the sights and the famous Chandi Chowk shopping bazaar. I had to change half way and it was at this point that things started to get a little bit more…intense.

metrocarddelhi

My Top Tips for the metro:

  1. Take as little with you as possible – don’t carry bags if you can help it and just keep personal items to a minimum, it’s not worth it. Luckily I had no bad experiences but I met so many travellers that had been pick pocketed or had just misplaced there bag somewhere along the way. One guy even had his passport stolen because he was carrying it in a bag with him.
  2. Know where you are going – locate a map or ask someone before you even venture on a train.
  3. Make sure your cards topped up enough – just saves hassle or confusion when your fighting to get out of the barriers each side.
  4. When the metro train doors open…disreguard any manners you may have and don’t be offended. There’s no being courteous or polite here, your only mission is to make sure you get on. It will be squashed. It will be uncomfortable. I was half pushed underneath a train because I was too slow and busy letting someone else on; sheer panic enveloped me as I heard the beeping for the doors to close!
  5. Definitely purchase a metro card (oyster like card) its way easier and saves you a lot of grief than keep having to buy individual tickets.

Now you’ve mastered the metro you can start getting stuck in with some sightseeing!

I visited the famous Chandi Chowk shopping bazaar and hired a tuk tuk driver to show me around some of the famous spots. He took me to some spice, tea and fabric markets. His name was Shrikan and he navigated the chaotic ‘roads’ and alleyways of Delhi to give me the best views of the old bazaars.

I also explored The Red Fort, Quitab Minar, Akshardham and Delhi Gate.

As I only had a few days in Delhi I tried to squeeze in as much as possible but there is so much more to see and do. I barely scratched the surface! For me a few days in Delhi was enough, I wanted to head somewhere with a little more space haha You can’t visit India though without experiencing the capital! A must for the bucket list and I’m glad I experienced the beautiful chaos.

Agra

Another absolute must is visiting the city of Agra not too far from Delhi to see the incredible iconic Taj Mahal! I stood and looked at it for a good ten minutes in complete awe before I could start actually taking pictures. I spent half the day just soaking up the awesome-ness of it and reminding myself where I was. I couldn’t believe I’d made it to such a famous landmark, big tick off my travel bucket list!

*side note* there are a lot of tourists as with anything as popular as this. I’d recommend getting there super early or at the end of the day. Timing it with sunrise or sunset can also give you some incredible photos! I went early in the morning as soon as it opened and it was very peaceful it got busy pretty quick though, early bird catches the best view of the Taj!

I’m currently posting more images from my trip before I head to Ghana at the end of the month, follow the adventure on my social links!

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Swayumbhunath Temple Nepal

Swayumbhunath Temple Nepal

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Swayumbhunath – ‘The Monkey Temple’

It’s clear if you follow me or have read previous blog posts that I LOVE Nepal. I also love visiting the various temples you’ll find at every corner or hilltop if you venture around the country. My favourite though, is Swayumbhunath, a Buddhist temple and Unesco World Heritage Site nicknamed ‘The Monkey Temple’ sits atop a hill in the Kathmandu valley. From the first time I visited this spectacular structure I loved it and would strongly recommend giving it a visit if you ever plan on visiting Nepal and Kathmandu. Adorned with hundreds of coloured prayer flags and mischievous little monkeys the temple offers some awesome views of the surrounding city and mountains. The temples jumble of Buddhist and Hindu iconography make Swayumbhunath one of the most fascinating religious temples to see.

The mix of local souvenir sellers, religious devotees and spiritual offerings happening all around make visiting Swayumbhunath a great place to experience. People spin the prayer wheels around at the base; within each one the equivalent of chanting the ‘om’ prayer sits inside – to create a flow of good energy as they walk clockwise around the gleaming white stupa. All the while the sound of calm, ominous chanting is played which gives being there a kind of magical feeling; if you manage to go there on a sunny day then the whole place feels like walking in a dream with the light reflecting off the whitewashed stones.

I visited the stupa in March 2016 a year after the April 2015 Earthquakes and the stupa is still standing proud with some maintenance work going on but the structure still intact; many of the smaller temples surrounding it have been reduced to rubble.

Please enjoy some photographs I shot at the temple from my last visit!

 

Prayer Flags

Turning the Wheels

EYES

Om Prayer Wheels

Wheels

Pigeons on Stupa

Renovation Work 3

Renovation Work 2

Monkey at Sway 2

Flags With A View 2

Candle Prayers

Monkey Temple

Praying Statue

Renovation Work 1

Monk Meets Monkey

1000+ Hundred Flags

Buddha in Stupa

Monkey See

Prayer Wheels

Gliding

Staue at the Stupa

Sway

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What To Pack For Nepal

What To Pack For Nepal

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Ok, so you’ve made the brilliant decision to travel to Nepal! Nice one, you won’t be disappointed by the natural beauty and kindness you’re about to experience. But you want to be prepared right? So here’s a guide on essentials items I’d consider packing before you head off on your trip! (This is as much of a guide to help you as it is to help me, as I’m currently also packing to head to Nepal, see you there!)

First off we’re gonna start with the sensible essentials to make sure your fully prepared for any instances you may experience whilst out there.

 

 Medical stuff

De-hydration tablets – these are vital as you’ll probably have access to a lot less water when your travelling around Nepal. You can buy bottled water and always make sure the top is sealed but its better to be prepared in case you do start experiencing dehydration symptoms.

Water Purification tablets – always handy to have in case you have no choice but to drink water from a river or rainfall whilst travelling or trekking. These make the water safer to drink if you leave them in a sealed bottle for an hour or so depending on tablet requirements.

First aid kit – never travel without a small one.

Wet wipes – again an essential travel item!

Depending on season – suncream – I made the mistake of not taking suncream out in the summer months and I got burnt on my face so badly! haha make sure you take a little if your sensitive to the sunlight like me.

Diarrhoea tablets – I went through packets of these. You do not want to experience this whilst trekking. It’s not a great situation. Nepali much like the infamous delhi belly can occur due to the change up in dietary lifestyle you may experience when travelling through Nepal. I’d recommend avoiding all ‘western’ options and just eat nepali cuisine as the western equivalents often made me sick.

Hand Sanitiser

Small basic medical needle set – just in case you end up in a medical situation where you need one of these. The medical facilities are obviously not as advanced and I find its always good to be able to use your own set of clean needles for your own peace of mind.

 

 Clothing

All clothing items are pretty cheap to buy in country and most trekking stuff you can buy there too. This can save money, time space and allow you to have less luggage to carry on the way there.

Summer

A few T-shirts – also pretty cheap to buy in country if you want to travel a little lighter

Shorts

Linen trousers

Sunglasses

Slip on shoes – good to pack as they are easy to take on and off if entering houses/buildings that do not allow you wear shoes inside

Winter

Wolly Hat

Thermals

Gloves

Socks

Trekking

Hiking boots

Thick socks

Waterproof jacket

Thermal jacket

Neck warmer

 

 Useful

Torch – Nepal experiences frequent loss of power so its always good to have one of these at hand

Batteries – again batteries can be more reliable than the electricity.

Swiss army knife or multitool

Re-fillable bottle – I have a small bottle that folds down in an accordion style which is great as I can pack it away small and use it with the water purification tablets if I need to.

Ear plugs

Head torch

Multiple passport photos – you’ll need these if your trekking to get passes

Travel card and some US dollars – US Dollars are accepted in most places in Nepal, you can use other currencies like GBP or AUS but most prefer dollars or NPR (Nepali Rupees) I found it was handy to have some dollars.

Camera – of course!

Power charger/external pack – good to charge phones/cameras if you are not able to access electricity due to power cut

Bag waterproof cover – monsoon season

Basic mobile phone unlocked – so you can purchase a sim whilst out there and use this whilst in country. To get a Nepali sim card you must have passport photos and copies of your passport to purchase one ( I found there was more security when I got a sim card out than there was walking through the airport, they even took my fingerprint!

 

Right, bags packed so head to the airport and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime! Nepal is beautiful and you’ll be fully prepared for any circumstance you come across now so enjoy!

Be sure to follow my adventures on my social media links and keep an eye out for some youtube content coming this way from my upcoming trip to Nepal.

Happy travels and #positivevibes

Pre-Travel Thoughts For Nepal

Pre-Travel Thoughts For Nepal

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It’s nearly time to head back to my village in Nepal! I’m super super psyched to return and see all those smiling faces. I visited and stayed in Nepal in 2014 for 2 and half months and it was honestly one of the best experiences I have ever had! Its been over a year since I left and I made the decision to head back and visit.

Unfortunately I was supposed to fly out in 2015 but due to the terrible earthquakes last April I was unable to go. I decided to delay my flight until this coming March 2016 and use the time I had to raise funds for re-building. I took on the challenge of a half marathon and managed to round up a £1000 worth of sponsorship which I’m really grateful for and proud of.

IMG_0029

 

Its a few weeks till I go now and I have mixture of anxiousness, excitement and energy. I can’t wait to see everyone but the situation is going to be a lot different to my previous stay out there. I know from speaking to them and other volunteers that they are still smiling and positive about the situation but it will be a shock to see it first hand.

I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into helping them with whatever I can. They have finally got enough funds to start the re-build of the orphanage and I’m no builder but I’m ready to load up some baskets and carry cement around on my back with them! I cannot wait to see the children and find out how they are all doing with school and take them out a few gifts and surprises to lift their spirits as well.

Nepal is going to be a very different state to what I saw previously. They are currently not in the best political situation (but they never really were…) and the fuel crisis is another major pressure on the small landlocked country. Causing fuel shortages and limited accessibility and transport around the country.

However I’m still positive about the trip out there and the reunion I’ll have with everyone in the village! I’m hoping to vlog (for the first time on my youtube channel! say whatttt) some of the time I’m there to give you an insight into what’s happening and what I’m doing.

Stay tuned and up to date with all the details of my trip by following my social media links or subscribing to my brand new channel 🙂

A Day in the Life of a Nepal Volunteer

A Day in the Life of a Nepal Volunteer

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If you’ve not considered visiting the stunning country of Nepal then I’d strongly recommend looking into it. I’d never even thought about visiting here until I came across a volunteering program that was running in Nepal. I’ll be honest and say one of the biggest things that did it was the fact it was so affordable, I had recently graduated from uni and was a skint student with not a lot to my name but a strong desire to head off travelling. I really liked the idea of volunteering and doing a home stay as I had done some teaching abroad but never a home stay. It was a terrifying thought when I was booking it all but I thought why not?

Fast forward to the end of July. Now picture this, I had just travelled around the east coast of Australia for a month and had landed in Nepal after 32 hours of travelling via Dubai, Delhi and finally arriving in Kathmandu. I was extremely sleep deprived and in for the biggest culture shock I hadn’t prepared myself for. I went with it and I had the most incredible experience. I got placed in the most beautiful little village in Sipadol in Bhakatpur and the next two months couldn’t have been better.

For any of you thinking wow I’d love to do some volunteering but I don’t know if I’d be any help or Nepal seems a bit too ‘out of my comfort zone‘” I would say to you that Nepal surprised me and completely changed my view on travelling and outlook on life. You can do a lot of good and really create true lasting friendships with the people you meet. I still speak to all my volunteer friends and everyone at the orphanage and I”m heading back very soon! The media makes things look way scarier than they actually are, of course always be sensible and do your research but Nepal connected me with the most friendliest people I’ve ever encountered!

Anyway, I could waffle on about how great it all was forever but for anyone wanting an insight into what exactly a ‘typical‘ (I use this in the loosest sense as you never know if you’ll be invited to some strangers house for tea, end up doing a dance in festival time with loads of Nepali villagers, watch a cow give birth or smoke Shisha in a local shoe shop – all of these events actually happened, no day is dull while your volunteering) day was like whilst volunteering then here you go! 

Volunteering Timetable

5:00am It’s time to wake up, open those eyes wide and Jump out of bed with a spring in your step… Well it was more like peeling the eyelids back and dragging yourself down the rocky path to the orphanage but after a few days you get over it and then you can’t get down there quick enough!

A room with a view #nepal #travelling #view #instadaily

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

5:30am Meditation. It’s time to channel those inner energies and create good karma. The kids used to all be up and ready sitting crossed legged whilst chanting by the time I used to get there. They also sing there national anthem everyday which was pretty cute to watch.   6:00am It’s never too early to do some chores and have a quick clean up of the bedrooms before school.

“Feed the birds” #nepal #ivhq2014 #birds #instagood A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

6:00am – 7:00am This is free time to spend with the kids to play games, have a chat, do the girls hair and if your musically gifted (I’m not) then some of the volunteers teach guitar lessons. I started going with Ashis one of the older boys to take the milk down to sell. It’s pretty cool to see and they have a way of measuring how good the milk is in exchange for rupees.

Sushil & Ashis, 2 of the best guys you’ll meet 👌 #nepal #bros #smiles

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Jammin’ time with Rohan! #drums #nepal #ivhq2014 #travels #thebiggestsmile A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

7:00am is breakfast time, cue chaos, absolute chaos. The kids all rush in to grab their plates and the volunteers man the rice and dhal creating a conveyer belt of food for each child. Throughout breakfast you’ll just hear the munching of rice with the occasional ‘more rice uncle’ ‘more curry’ ‘paniiiii’ (water)

7:30 – 8:00am It’s time to get ready for school. Everyone takes their positions outside the house as each child bursts through the front doors for shoes to be put on, lunchboxes to pack and hands to hold (everyone wants to hold your hand on the way to school) you’ll end up with two arms full of swinging kids as you manoeuvre down the slippery ‘path’ with each one handing you flowers. Don’t forget to get blessed with a tika on the way, one of the kids will get it done for you! It’s probably one of my favourite parts of the day! So many laughs! As you wave goodbye to all the kids shouting from the smiley bus you instantly cannot wait for them to be running back down the path to come home.

#blessed #tb #peace #tika 🙏✌️

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

#morningwalks #schoolrun #countingthedays #nepal ✌️ A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

9:00am Now it’s time to fill your belly a with a delicious breakfast cooked by aama. Rice, dhal and sometimes an occasional potato will be your main diet for your stay. There were times I never wanted to see rice again but overall I loved aamas cooking and whenever she made rotis I could have jumped for joy and sung from the treetops.

9:30am – 10:00am Freetime is something you’ll welcome after the hectic morning you’ve just had, have a rest but not for too long…

10:00am -12:00am Get back over to the house and help out your didis (older sisters/ the house mothers) there’s goats to graze, cows to clean out, house to clean, grass to cut, grass to carry and clothes to wash. Some of the best moments were getting to know and bond with the didis whilst helping out. It’s the best way to learn some of the language and get a real feel for a Nepali way of life. The mothers were outstanding and taught me a lot about being strong, kind and hardworking. You also get to make a fool out of yourself and have a laugh at your grass cutting technique or cow milking motions.

Hajur baii #nepal #ivhq2014 #aseko #instavillagemission #laugh

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working the field, planting them crops #nepal #travels #instavillagemission #farming #colourspopping A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

Pdidi grass cutting #nepal #travels #farmlife #instavillagemission #vscocam

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

12:00am Fried rice time! This doesn’t sound that exciting but when you’ve had a limited food diet and worked up an appetite in the fields this is the best thing. Fried rice, chilli, garlic and egg lovingly cooked by the house mothers.   1:00pm – 3:00pm is Freetime and can be spent helping out, reading a book or heading into the old town to do some shopping. I used to love heading down to the fruit sellers and bringing back delicious mangos and bananas for the kids and volunteers!

down at the fruit stalls #nepal #travelling #instavillagemission #vscocam A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

The kids love mangos just a little bit #nepal #ivhq2014 #smile #vscocam

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3:00pm The kids are back! Sometimes if you’ve gone down into town you can time it to catch the bus back up with the kids which always goes down well as you see the big grins walking towards you from the school gates and everyone wants to sit next to you on the bus!

it’s been a long day at school #sleepy #busride #puttinginthehours #nepal A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

4:00pm Time to go down to the stream and wash the school clothes/ mess about in the water soaking the volunteer (me) and getting soap everywhere! Even the dullest activities are made fun by the kids, they have such a zest for life and never seem to be down, it’s really inspiring.

the only time i loved doing the washing 👌#happy #nepal #travels #tb A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

Surfsoaping #surfer #nepal #ivhq #instavillagemission

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

5:00pm Time to help with homework – this translates to – trying to get everyone to stop throwing there books around and sit quietly, when I say everyone I pretty much mean the boys haha the girls were pretty good at getting on with it. You pretty much hold the fort until the actual teacher comes and then you can let him do what he’s good at and get the children studying.

6:00pm Time to milk the cows and have a quick milk tea with the didis and take the rest of the milk back to the house for aama. Now it’s time for dinner and more rice and dhal bhat with a charades game with aama to explain what happened in the day (aama spoke little English but we still connected through lots of actions and facial expressions which she seemed to find hilarious)

7:00pm – 8:00pm is chill time with your other volunteers and time to pick out that perfect Instagram picture you can post and hashtag your heart away for friends and family back home!

9:00pm Bed. Sleep. You’ll be meditating in a few hours time and doing it all over again!

So there you have it, a typical day in the life of a volunteer in Nepal based on my experience. No day is the same and weekends are even more intense as the kids don’t have school on a Saturday! I used to love Saturdays and chilling with the kids, grazing the goats and going to watch the boys play football!

Go volunteer! I’m sure/I know you’ll have the BEST time!

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Travel. Create, Be Nice!

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