What’s Next? | gunns_travels Update!

What’s Next? | gunns_travels Update!

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UPDATE: 

What’s that I hear you ask? Where to next!? Well, for those of you on board or following my journey already and anyone ready to join me in 2017 here is an update; I am currently getting prepared for my travel/move to SHANGHAI, CHINA! That’s right I am heading to China next and the bustling city of Shanghai. I completed my TEFL qualification last year, which if you are thinking about doing the same, read how I got mine here.

I knew that when I finished the first half of my travel plans to Nepal, India and Ghana I would want to continue but I had to find a way of making some money; savings only get you so far! So I went about getting things ready to be able to look for teaching jobs in other countries. This is the perfect solution for me right now as I get to continue to travel, earn money, try a new career and move to one of the most popular cities in the world!

I’m so excited to get there to explore, work a new job and try a different lifestyle! I’ve been wanting to go to China for years and have my camera and phrasebook ready to pack.

 

 

One of the questions I always get asked is: “How do you afford all this travel?”

The answer is simple really, I make it a priority. I don’t have endless savings and I’m not being funded by anyone other than myself. The thing is, if you’re passionate about something and you make it the focus, the priority then the rest is pretty simple. I work, I save and I don’t spend unnecessarily.

If someone asked me to choose between the newest phone or saving the money for a plane ticket – it’s a no brainer. And this can be applied to everything, not just travel. I get annoyed with people who complain that they can’t afford to do the thing they really would love to do or buy the thing they want; whilst they sip their £3 coffee and stare at their £40 a month phone…you can travel, or save for that dream home, car or whatever if you change your mindset first.

 

Another is: “How do you travel on your own?”

I get it, it is a scary thought, just going off somewhere on your own relying on no-one else but yourself. But it has been one of the best things I could have ever done for that exact reason. I overcame that fear and learnt to be independent, outgoing and confident – yeah that’s right you can ‘learn’ these skills by travelling on your own.

The best advice I could give for this is to just get out and do it. Make sure you research and have certain things planned beforehand if it is your first time travelling solo (flights, insurance, accommodation for the first few nights, general plan and contacts) but use the fear as fuel. If I’m completely honest and cliche, ‘you’ll never be alone anyway’ – because there are thousands of people you’ll meet out there doing the exact same thing, so get out and join them! You will go away on your own but end up having friends and family all over the world.

 

Another: “Don’t you get scared?”

And the answer is of course yes! I get scared about some of the places but it is part of the reason I love going. It makes you feel like you are actually living and alive – not a robot. I find the media and rumours all help to fuel the fear but really it’s never as bad as what you hear. There are obviously places to watch and be careful of but thats no reason to write them off completely. I always make sure I research before I go: from reading articles, to watching videos and collecting necessary contact details but never get put off from going somewhere.

 

Last one: “What’s your favourite place so far?”

This one is so difficult to answer because everywhere has been so different from the next. I never know what to say as some places have been more adventurous but others have been chilled and some have given me a home from home – what am I scoring it on if I am to name my favourite…

I guess a few notable (favourite) experiences so far have been:

  • Safari in Amboseli and seeing elephants in the wild
  • Riding through the desert for 3 days with nothing but 1 tour guide, 2 camels and endless starry skies (Shoutout to my camel Mr.Mogue)
  • Getting covered in colourful powders during Holi festival in India
  • Gaining 2 new families in Nepal and Ghana after living in host homes whilst volunteering
  • Skydiving over the great barrier reef in Oz
  • Selfies at the Taj Mahal!
  • Being a Team Leader for 8 months in Ghana on development projects

I could go on forever, I feel so fortunate to have had these experiences and hope to continue to add more & more. Experiences over possessions 100%!

I’ll be writing up about the preliminary process I had to go through – from my TEFL qualification, looking for jobs, interviews and securing a visa for China; along with all the requirements for the move very soon.

So right now I am getting paperwork ready, selling lots of my possessions and uploading content from my previous travels – there is still a lot of content to look forward to coming up, look out for it here!

If you would like to read about my travels so far you can of course find all posts here on the blog but here are a few quick links to some of the adventures I’ve had so far – come along with me and get inspired to go travel yourself 🙂

India @travelling_jackg updateIndia @travelling_jackg update

Ghana @travelling_jackg update

 

Continue to stay up to date on the journey by following my social links below,

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Life in Asamankese

Life in Asamankese

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So it’s been 4 months since I boarded the flight that would take me to my new home for the next 8 months, Ghana. When I cast my mind back to the first few days it seems bizarre to me that things like ‘Ghana time’ and ‘Obroni’ would become such a big part of daily life here.

I spent the first few weeks in team leader training, orientation in community and getting to know my counterpart – Hiki; a lady who knows her own mind, has a lot of passion and can stand up for herself. We instantly got along and I knew we’d become a dynamic duo to lead the team to the end.

Our teams of volunteers started arriving from early June and then we spent a few days training them all once again. It was intense long hours and already everyone was pretty drained. We finally made it to the end of the relentless flip-charts and later came to realise that nothing can prepare you for what happens in the field – not even conflict resolution technique no.14. We introduced everyone to their counterpart pairs and explained a bit more about Asamankese as well as the local partner F.L.O.W.E.R.

On the 12th of June we loaded our luggage onto the roof of the bus, said goodbye to the bathroom facilities of the hotel and started our bumpy journey to Asamankese.

Fast-forward the first few weeks in community where the teams were introduced to their new parents for the next 3 months and integration into the communities were underway. We were split into 3 communities around Asamankese the main town – Odjarde, Afranse and Oworam. The volunteers completed action research to identify issues that the people needed help with as well as get to know their surroundings and communities a lot better.

After a month our partner F.L.O.W.E.R came in to train the volunteers in livelihood skills – the main focus for cycle 3 was to teach bead making in purses, jewelry and hair pomade production. The volunteers would then train the community members in the hope that some of them might be able to make it a business or help to bring in extra income to support themselves.

One word that became integral to daily life was the loud shrill sound of ‘Obroni!’ everywhere you went. Obroni – meaning white person (but not in a racist way, more of an affectionate ‘notice me’) was something that was able to create an instant connection with a lot of the community members and if you spoke a few more words of Twi to them, then you’d instantly have made a new friend.

Having come from a place where everything was fast, efficient and strictly to schedules, it comes as no surprise that the introduction of ‘Ghana time’ had a massive impact on the team. It was a constant source of frustration and resistance throughout. Perhaps with hindsight something could be taken from the slower laid back approach to life; in the sense that if you turn up 10 minutes late the world won’t fall apart, but trying to tell this to frustrated emotional volunteers wasn’t the easiest.

A lesson that can be taken from living in a community and staying in a host home for a period of time is the sense of closeness. Everyone looks after one another and supports each other no matter what.You give the little you have and share it, you help one another get up and put each other in front of your own needs. The sense of community is something I’ve experienced many times before, but it always feels just as good each time you learn it again.

Life in community was upbeat, welcoming and a lot of fun, it came with its own challenges but overall it became like a second home or third maybe fourth; I’ve lost track of how many places I can call home now. I guess for me, now it’s the people that make somewhere home, not the physicalities of bricks and water.

I’m going to take a brief moment to give you an insight into a team leader’s daily life – of which can’t be narrowed down to a specific routine, as every day is like a lottery but here’s a few things that came our way during the course of the programme. Waking up somewhere between the hours of 5am – 6am to a message saying somebody is sick, wants to go home or wants more to do. This immediately creates a problem for your perfectly planned iteniary you did the night before, nevertheless adaptability comes into play. I’d go between communities, hospitals and the office to make sure everything ran as smooth as it could do. However challenging the programme was at times, the rewards far outweighed the problems. Getting to see a group of individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, ages and personalities grow and develop strong relationships to become a hardworking team, is the reward of having the perspective of the leader.

Coming back to here and now as I write this post. The volunteers have all departed back to their homes, reports have been written up and loose ends have been tied, I can’t help but reflect on the experiences and achievements we made as a team over the past few months. It takes a unique individual to decide to give up their own time and dedicate it to a cause. It is also an experience that not a lot of people realise will improve their own selves and developing a community is more of a secondary outcome to that.

I’m ending this experience with fond memories, lessons learnt and a team to be proud of. The bar is set high and I’m looking forward to what the next cycle can bring – even if it means I’ll be seeing my friends at the hospital once again.

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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.
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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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Jaisalmer Desert Safari

Jaisalmer Desert Safari

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Jaisalmer

One of my highlights from my trip to India has to be the incredible 3 day 3 nights desert safari through the Thar Desert in Jaisalmer. I booked through Jamin Desert Nomads where I was picked up from the bus stand by Jamin Khan the owner of the safari tour. I had been recommended him from a friend in Jaipur.

I was taken to the Saraswati Hotel where I was able to get a room and then sit down with a cup of chai with Jamin.

saraswati
400 rupees p/n (£4/$8) – Double room, en-suite, hot shower, wi-fi, rooftop restaurant

He told me about the desert safaris and why his was different. The main difference is that he takes you further, deeper in to the desert where theres more chance of wildlife and zero light pollution. This is because you are taken by jeep for at least 40 minutes into the heart of the desert before you even begin the camel ride; many of the other tour companies were offering camel rides straight from the city.

Jamin told me about himself and how he is from the desert and started the tours when he was 8. He self taught English by working with tourists and now has over 30 camels and riders working for him. He was a really cool, honest and genuine guy. In the evening he took me to his friends restaurant on the back of his motorbike and we watched the cricket world cup quarter-final India vs Australia.

I opted for the 3 days and 3 nights camel safari. I was taken by jeep for 40 minutes and got the chance to explore a ‘ghost village’ where there is a completely abandoned village in the middle of the desert. Stopped by a small oasis and then headed for the camel ride starting point. We met up with my camel rider who became my guide and good friend over the next few days. It was me, him and two camels for the duration.

We spent much of the first day travelling into the desert. Theres something peaceful about being surrounded by nothing but sand for miles. We stopped a few times at some desert villages, filled up on water and then found a beautiful little lunch spot under some shade. Another major plus about booking with Jamin Desert Nomads was that I was sent with fresh food, vegetables and fruit as well as a box of 12 x 1ltr bottled waters. Sujan my camel rider made up his desert kitchen and cooked some of the tastiest currys, deals and chapatis! Couldn’t fault the food, especially seeing as we were in the middle of the desert I was amazed at what he managed to come up with.

We made it to some massive sand dunes and watched the burning red sun set behind the dunes, just incredible.

My favourite part of the whole experience was definitely camping – I say camping loosely as we pretty much put a mat on the sand and had a blanket – and falling asleep underneath the clearest night sky I have ever seen with a million bright stars above, I even saw some shooting stars!

The next few days were a similar routine of breakfast (toast, jam, eggs, biscuits and tea), camel riding until midday, stopping for lunch (curry/daal, chapatis, chips, fruit and tea), camel riding in the afternoon once it had cooled down, making camp, having dinner (curry/daal, chapatis, chips and tea) and watching the sunset before falling asleep under the stars.

I’d really recommend looking up Jamin Desert Nomads if you’re planning on doing a desert safari when you visit Jaisalmer. Jamin is a really honest, helpful and friendly guy. Sujan is also a great camel rider/guide and the camels are looked after well.

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I’m currently posting more images from my trip, 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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Why I’m Choosing Travel Over A Career

Why I’m Choosing Travel Over A Career

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So, you’ve finished your studies and come to the beginning of your 20’s. You should get a ‘proper’ job now and start building your career right? It’s time to act like an adult… or so society tells us that it should play out like this. Get a job, find a partner, get married, get a mortgage, have a baby and so on. But what If I told you there are other options and paths YOU can take. You don’t have to complete these milestones or do them in the conventional order. I have realised that you don’t have to live your life in what you think is expected of you from what society tells us to do.

Travel over a career…

As a recent graduate I struggled with the idea of conforming to one role, one job and one way of thinking that I thought was expected of me. Ever since I was young I had this idea of life and life’s milestones that you should move towards and complete. Everybody has the same expectations, grading system, steps to take. Not many other options are exposed to you as you grow up. University was pushed heavily on my college and it made me feel like if I didn’t have a degree then it would be harder to go anywhere else further along the line.

I realise now that that could not be more wrong! There are so many other routes you can take that do not fit in with societies expectations and thats a good thing!

I have always loved to travel and experience new ways of thinking and living which is clear by the content on this blog and my ethos of a travel lifestyle. I tried to tame it by taking a few holidays here and there and taking a few months out to satisfy my desire to travel. This did the opposite and further ignited my passion to continue to explore. It made me realise that for me to find happiness in what I do, I need to find something that involves travelling within it.

I learnt way more and gained so much more experience from my travels than I have ever done reading a text book. Yeah studying gave me an in-depth knowledge about a particular field and on paper I can say I can do that but its not until you get into the ‘real’ world that you realise you have a whole lot more to learn, that studying can never teach you; you need that first hand experience with things. And travelling has been my greatest teacher so far.

I tried the corporate lifestyle for only 9 months before I decided that I needed to get out of it. I’d landed a junior design role that offered on the go training. Straight out of uni you’d think that this was the dream! I thought it was but I realised I was just doing what I thought was expected of me. I was stuck in a monotonous cycle of traffic jams, office desks and paperwork. I wasn’t living, just existing until the next pay check. This wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing, I wasn’t living up to my full potential slaving away at a desk 5 days a week with no real life at the weekends either.

I started to get really bogged down with it, not depressed, but I know if I had continued on then that’s the way it may have headed.

I decided enough was enough.
I took the leap and quit my job.

I guess I’m having a quarter-life crisis? But in a good way…

I had no back up plan or financial stability to fall back on. yikes. But I remember being so happy that I had escaped it so soon! I had taken control of my ship and I was set on battling the ocean waves. Maybe a little dramatic but the english literature student comes out in me sometimes. I was not about to settle for what was expected of me. I choose to get out find a part time retail job to tide me over for a few months while I concocted a plan. I was starting to feel happier, I got the chance to do some freelance design work and start putting in place the foundations for enabling me to travel and work. I studied a TEFL qualification, I trained for a half marathon to raise funds for my Nepali village, I was taking steps outside of my comfort zone. I was pushing myself.

Fast forward to the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016. I couldn’t have been happier to see that clock strike 12 on new years eve! I’d made it through and I am so ready for what this year will bring. I’m choosing travel over a career because I feel that whatever you do should make you happy; for me that is travel, for someone else it may be that corporate lifestyle. Whatever you do, do not settle for the comfortable option, whats expected and the ‘norm’. Grab the bull by the horns and live life. If you don’t do that then your just existing.

Why am I writing this? Because I want to encourage anyone who happens to read this that travel is awesome! I want to inspire you to grab that bag and book that flight because it WILL be one of the best things you ever do. Even if its just a short period of travelling or a lifelong passion like me. You’ll gain so much from the experience and learn so much that you just can’t do if you stay at home in your comfort bubble. I don’t want you to be afraid of travelling solo or put off by what you see in the media because the world is a much less scarier place than what it makes out; just use your common sense.

Travel over a career

So that’s why I’m choosing travel over a career.

More reasons to travel…

Travel for the VIEWS

Travel for the BONDS

Travel for the FESTIVALS

Travel for the GROWTH

 

 

 

 

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My Travel Goals 2016

My Travel Goals 2016

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My New Years Resolutions of 2015…

We are at the end of 2015 already! I can’t believe how quick this year has gone by, I swear every year it seems to go by quicker and quicker.

At the beginning of this year my main priority was to try and find something that would make me happy in my working life. I’ve struggled this year to really find something that satisfies that box but I have realised that my passion is travelling – so if I can try and make some kind of career that involves this in my life then I’m half way there. I’ve spent this past year building on myself personally through research, preparation and knowledge. I have thought about lots of different careers or paths that will incorporate travel in them and so have taken the necessary steps to create the foundations needed to pursue them.

Every year one of my resolutions is to be healthier (I mean everyone says that right?) and every year it never really happens. I think the problem is that I keep ending back in a place that I’m not 100% happy with and so fall into the same routines and habits. My hope, is that once I start making moves to change my entire lifestyle; that diet, exercise and general wellbeing will shift with it. I want to make every effort next year to tackle it.

I also wanted to get my site up and running and start blogging – which I am happy to say I have succeeded! There’s a lot more to be done and a lot of work ahead but I can at least say I have my online platform up and running for when I go away which I’m proud of! I also managed to get some freelance projects up and running this year which is exciting and adds to my expanding portfolio of work.

What’s happened in 2015?

Well, 2015 for me was a lot of changes and confusion. I was a recent graduate in January and a recently arrived traveller. I started the year going from job to job and ended it still switching jobs! I just couldn’t settle in any of the work I was doing, something was missing. I realised for me I find it hard staying in one place and extremely difficult working in an office environment. I felt like it was restricting my freedom, creativity and passion. So, October I made the decision to head back to a small shop job and concentrate on making travel my priority; whilst working part-time and trying to start up my website/blog. I continued to do some freelance design on the side along with my part-time hours and trying to create a reliable blogging schedule with a new post at least once a week.

I also made the decision to start studying for a TEFL qualification so I’d have an option to make money on my travels and also get some amazing experience teaching abroad.

So aside from working a part-time (full-time in retail for anyone who knows what working in a shop is like…overtime), creating a blogging platform, writing, freelance designing and studying for a TEFL. I thought i’d apply for a volunteering team leader role that would start next summer in one of 5 locations. Turns out that I got accepted onto that so now I’m going to be leaving for that as well next year!

The whole process was daunting at first and I had (still have times) where I think what am I doing!? Is this the right idea? Did I blow a good opportunity for another career path? But in the end I know that one thing makes me happy: travel. And not just going on a jolly somewhere, I mean real travel. Exploring, learning and meeting like-minded people like myself. I have always liked getting involved with projects and volunteering so this decision is th right one for me at this point in time.

What can you expect from this blog in the next year?

Well my travel goals 2016, are hopefully a lot of travelling! Tales of adventures and insights into different projects I’m working on whilst i’m on the road. I’ll be writing, reviewing, sharing, photographing and uploading anything that I come across on my travels throughout the year!

My rough plan for the next (few) years is firstly to head back to my village in Sipadol, Nepal next March for a few weeks to go and see the children and villagers. I’m so excited to head back there and see everyone over a year later. And with everything that happened with the earthquakes this year it’ll be great to see everyone is doing ok and help out with anything that they need. Re-building work has just started on the children’s home and the estimation is up to 6 months to get everything done so I should be able to lend a hand where possible!

I’ll pop back home after that for a week or so and then head for the volunteering team leader role; which if I get to choose will be heading to Dharmsala, India for 8 months! I’ll be a team leader that co-ordinates with other volunteers and community projects whilst I’m there. It should be a highly valuable experience and a tough challenge but I cannot wait!

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After 8 months as a team leader I’ll head over to China to do some teaching with my TEFL qualification! A chance for me to test the teaching waters and get the opportunity to live as a local. I’ve wanted to explore this part of the world for some time now so I can’t wait to take it all in and of course take a lot of photos! Another big challenge but a great experience and lots of cultural adventures and places to explore!

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My plan after that is to use the money that I earn as a teacher to do some more travelling around that part of the world, not much of a plan as of yet but I want to keep it fairly flexible and open to anything that  may come up – so a lot more of Asia to discover!

If I have anything left over I’d love to head over to Australia again but that is quite a few years away so anything could happen!

How can I follow the adventures?

I’m on lots of social media

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I really hope I can continue to upload content here and share all these experiences with you. So if you want to keep up with my travel goals 2016, then make sure you follow my social links and look out for posts every Tuesday (usually)!

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Travel Goals 2016

 

 

Namaste Jack Uncle | Travel Talk

Namaste Jack Uncle | Travel Talk

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“Namaste Jack Uncle” is what I would hear all the time on a daily basis. The kids here are among the happiest kids I’ve met and so content with so little. I was expecting it to be at least a week before they opened up to me and talked. Not at all, within the first few hours I had kids hanging from me like monkeys. I’ve gotten to know alot of them and kept finding myself anxiously waiting all day for the kids to come back from school so we could play and do chores!

the school run #nepal #ivhq2014 #chito

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get to wake up to this everyday #nepal #travels #nature

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so much red #shrine #nepal #temple #travelling

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I sought out a tatooist while I was there. I now have arms full of snakes, cats, a house and some mountains. Little rahul is quite the artist. We took the kids to the temple and had a picnic one of the days which was more of a mission than it may sound at first. I went into town with our host sister Saroza to stock up on momos (kind of nepali dumplings if you will – a favourite amongst the children and myself!), we then took a taxi up the mountain which sounds impressive but then if you throw in the fact that Nepal has no real ‘roads’ so the path up the mountain was a little rocky – an even more impressive feat for the taxi driver. As well as this we took huge speaker amps up so we could have music to dance too and marched 21 kids up a to the top of a mountain. It was well worth it and I think I was way more excited than the children! Over the duration of my stay we had various volunteers from different countries come stay and the orphanage was as busy as ever. I went to the old city of Bhaktapur and got the chance to see the Gai Jatra festival. Everyone dresses up and its a pretty great atmosphere. It was a hive of dancing and stick clapping. The old city is quite amazing with lots of old temples and architecture. It’s pretty impressive. Overtime I went down to the old city I felt a sense of ancient history and awe at the buildings around me.

Bhakatapur festival #temple #nepal #rammedro #partytime

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I also witnessed the birth of a baby calf on the farm. Just as we were leaving to go back one evening one of the mothers came shouting saying the gai (cow) was having a baby. We stayed and watched and it was incredible to see so close. We now have baby wally to add to the family. Just a typical day in the life of a volunteer.

Rohan and ‘wally’; the new addition to the fam #nepal #ivhq2014 #neckhug #baby #cow

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Time is flying! I have really settled into the nepali way of life and home now. The more comfortable im getting in my placement the more the days seem to be passing by quicker. I recently went to chitwan on safari where I met with the other volunteers from orientation, which was a great chance to catch up and see how everyones placements were going. The resort was really nice and we got to shower on top of an elephant! Then went on a canoe down the flooded river and an elephant safari. The weather held out for us and we only had one delay from a landslide on the way so pretty successful. More to come on my chitin safari adventure experience in another blog post!

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

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We threw a birthday party for all the kids as it was two of their birthdays. Myself and the other volunteers bought mangos, rice pudding, a cake and new school bags for all 20 kids which was great! We danced alot and at one point got taken to a random party in the village as they were celebrating a festival as well. I had no idea what we were doing at a villagers house to begin with. Then music came on and everyone started dancing,  it was me and two other volunteers who were the only foreign people and the rest were nepali villagers. No one really spoke good english but everyone was so excited to have us there. They laughed at my questionable dance moves which I don’t blame them for because they were terrible! They offered us some delicious foods and then we went back to carry on partying with the kids and other volunteers. It was so fun and random to party with the locals and a truly unique moment. Life in the village was pretty sweet and loved being with the kids.

Jdidi Roti machine #nepal #ivhq2014 #food #vscocam

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The Nepali fam #nepal #homefromhome #ivhq2014 #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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pre-roti rolling with pdidi #nepal #food #culture #vscocam

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

One man and his goats #IVHQ #nepal #goatherder #instagood

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

I also had the cool opportunity of experiencing the womens festival a day where women dress up, dance and fast for the whole day to pray for a good husband. In support of the females in the house I also fasted. It was a long day. The girls all looked grown up in thier best outfits and saris and we went to the temple to dance/me take photos. At one point jamona and bdidi pulled me in to dance. I felt like I was gonna be eaten alive by the women ‘praying for good husbands’ at the sight of a giant white man.

the girls getting ready for the womens #festival with #henna #nepal #ivhq2014

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today was all about the ladies #womens #festival #nepal #culture #dancing #demsaris

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

We got the paints out one of days which was great to see kids getting creative. The younger boys ishan, rahul and ashok decided to put paint all over their hands and then ran through the home to the bathroom. They dropped dollops of paint everywhere and tried to wash in the bathroom, which just resulted in blue stains and streaks. It was funny to watch until ashok filled a bucket of water to throw at the paint and got half of it over me. We all laughed as we cleaned up the blue mess. The whole time ishan telling me not to tell anyone.

no tell saroza, no riya, no rupak #nepal #ivhq #oops #blue #instavillagemission

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we unleashed arts & crafts today #nepal #ivhq2014 #instavillagemission #topstudent #moneyshot

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

Nepal is pretty awesome. Made even sweeter by my little bro rahul who pinky promised me with both hands everyday. Then kissed them both and says “friends forever uncle, yes”.

before the painting got out of control #nepal #ivhq #painting #art

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There were so many incredible moments during my stay with the Thapa family from aama (the grandmother/mother) cooking us delicious rice dishes every morning and evening but not being able to speak any english; which was interesting when she would keep piling more rice on our plates even if we were full up. I impressed everyone by learning the days of the week and numbers in nepali along with a few other nepali words and phrases which got me bonus points with the house mothers and aama. Going with Ashis one of the older boys every morning to sell the milk. Helping them all with their homework everyday and walking them to the bus stop for school; sometimes we’d get on the ‘smiley bus’ with them if were headed into town. Getting to know the house mothers, who on the most part don’t get as much attention as everyone else, so it was really great getting to know Jamuna, Maiya and Parabati; even if we had to act out most of our conversations due to language barriers – this made it all the more worthwhile!

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

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

Bumpy bus ride – nepali style #bus #nepal #travelling #asia #vscocam

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

The end of my trip was bitter sweet. I was super glad to get home and eat some home cooking but this was outweighed and overshadowed by the fact that I was leaving my new family behind. Half of me was now entwined with this small nepali village. I never expected to fall in love with an entire village and the kids. The kids I had been with everyday for 2 whole months, who I walked to the bus stop and stayed up with to help with their homework. The kids I had bonded with, I had to say goodbye too. I’d never felt such a heavy pull on my heart as I did the day I had to leave and get in the taxi to the airport. I was leaving behind new friends, a home and a new family.

As soon as I landed back in England I was happy but sad that it had come to an end. I lasted four months being back before I booked another flight back there. I’m heading back to my nepali family and I couldn’t be happier!

this view though #nepal #travelling #instavillagemission #incredible #colourspopping #mountains

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

big and small #nepal #ivhq #bestbuds #instavillagemission #hands

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

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Travel. Create, Be Nice!

 

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