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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Travel. Create, Be Nice!

 

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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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.

1.11.5 1.4 1.3 1.2

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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Travel. Create. Be Nice!

Travel Update – What Plane Are You On Now?

Travel Update – What Plane Are You On Now?

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Hello & Namaste!

A quick travel update to let you know what I’m doing, where I am and what’s next! I have just finished the first part of my travelling plans for 2016 with Nepal and India. Can’t believe I can add these to my travel history!

NEPAL

I re-visited my Nepali family & village which was an incredible trip being able to head back again to see them all. Most importantly it was good to see how relief efforts are going and to deliver the sponsored fundraising money! The homes are looking good and should be finished within a few months so they will be able to move out of the tarpaulin tents and back into their home.

For everyones continued support and donations – a BIG warm thank you from me & the children of Bhakatpaur Orphan Home. This is what we can achieve when we work together! I had such a great time with them all in Nepal and there will be more detailed blog posts coming up as well a few new projects I’m working on, so stay tuned!

INDIA

India is hard to sum up in one word. Unreal. Crazy. Beautiful. Chaotic. Awesome. It was everything I wanted from a trip to India and more. I met so many amazing people, experienced such diverse places and got a real taste of the culture. Although my time was short I managed to cram in so much and again I will be writing up some more detailed posts on my trip, along with reviews and some pretty epic photos! For now enjoy some of these…

GHANA

As you may know I am volunteering with VSO at the end of May in Ghana. I’m back in the UK for a few days to sort some things out for visas & work permits. However I am flying to Portugal for a week to soak up some sunshine & do some exploring! I’ll then come back for a Team Leader training weekend where I’ll find more out about my projects & meet some of my team hopefully!

You can still donate to my fundraising page and anything is very much appreciated – you’ll also be able to see the projects your money is going towards too!

https://www.justgiving.com/Jack-Gunns1

That’ll bring me to the beginning of May – where I have 3 weeks before I depart for my VSO program. I currently have some travel plans being arranged for that time and I’ll update as soon as I get confirmation, which is very exciting!

I also wanted to take a moment to just consider everything. I feel super grateful that I am able to have these experiences – I have created a lot of them for myself with dedication, handwork & persistence. But it just shows how you can completely change your lifestyle if you truly want to. This time last year I was in an office not enjoying it all, I took the steps to change that.

“If you want something badly enough. You’ll make it a priority.”

Stop dreaming and start doing.

Keep up to date by following my social channels,

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Travel. Create. Be Nice!

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

 

 

 

 

If you’d like to keep up with my adventures and get social;

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How To Get The Most Out Of A Volunteering Trip

How To Get The Most Out Of A Volunteering Trip

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Hello and welcome to 2016! I love the new year as its a chance to make a fresh start and plan loads of new stuff! There is a lot coming up this year in this blog so stay tuned for more adventures and travel stories. For now here’s my Top Tips on ‘How To Get The Most Out Of A Volunteering Trip!’ Why not do something great this year and give something back, Enjoy!

Volunteering is one of the best ways you can get the opportunity to interact with locals and help make a positive impact on your travels. Once you’ve got your destination and project it’s time to get prepared for your life changing trip! If you haven’t chosen yet then read my review of my experience with IVHQ for some inspiration! I’ll give my advice on how best to prepare for it and what to expect to gain from embarking on a volunteering project.

Pre-Departure

  1. Before you go research. Research everything you can find through blog posts, articles, videos and reviews of the place your staying at and what it has to offer along with all the possible problem areas to look out for.
  2. Get your visas sorted! It’s something that is often overlooked in the planning process but it is a vital part to be able to enter the country: find out where you need one for, for how long, the price, how long it takes to get approved approx. before you go, wether you’ll need to renew it if your staying longer than the ‘normal’ amount of time ( for example visas for Australia are free to apply for online as a tourist for up to a month, after that you’ll need to renew it or get a different visa category) 
  3. Check what/if you need vaccinations for the place your staying at, a great resource is fitfortravel also make an appointment to see your local travel nurse to make sure your covered.
  4. Collect all contact numbers for in country support and out of country support. i.e. support officer, government, host-family, immigration office, airport, taxis, family. 
  5. Get your travel insurance sorted. I would definitely recommend getting some cover especially if your heading to more rural, high risk areas. Also if your planning on taking valuables such as cameras/laptops then get them covered just in case! 
  6. Try and find out if the host-family/project your involved need any resources that you could take out with you to help. 
  7. Look into setting up a fundraising page for your trip – also look at doing some sponsored races, events or collections to help raise some money for your chosen project. I use www.gofundme.com 
  8. Make at least 4 copies of all your documents (passport, money cards, project info, visas, vaccinations, contacts, travel insurance) Give a copy to someone at home, keep one copy in your bag, give another copy to a program coordinator if you have one. This is a great way to make sure you always have someone with a back up of all your important info if anything happens. Its also a good idea to create a new folder in your email account and store all this digitally as well so you can access it via a computer if needs be or you need to email a document. 
  9. Change a small amount ( enough for a couple of nights stay in a hotel/food) into the destinations currency just in case your unable to get your money travel card up and running straight away – tip. check this works before you even leave for the airport in an atm in your own country so you can check everything in order. 
  10. Give your parents/guradian a list of all possible numbers/ emails they may need whilst your away or in case of emergency 
  11. Check social media for any links to your chosen project and see if there is anyway you can make contact with any other volunteers before you go. It’ll help you introduce yourself before you have even left and probably calm your nerves or get you more excited about your chosen project! Social media is such a powerful tool these days which you can take full advantage of before you trip! 
  12. Find out the basic phrases and vocabulary in the local language ( hello, goodbye, please, thank you) before you go to give yourself a head start in greeting and interacting with locals – tip learning the numbers 1-10 is also quite useful!! 

Now all the important stuff is planned and sorted, you can focus on packing!

13. Pack what clothes you want to take. Now unpack it and take half of them out, you won’t need that much! If you get stuck whilst your out there, you can usually pick up a few new t-shirts cheap or just hand wash them!

14. Include practical items such as a hand torch, head torch, batteries, swiss army knife (multitool), plastic bags, padlocks, universal plug adapter.tip take a throw away camera, no need for charging and great fun as a surprise to wait and see what the snaps look like when you come back!

15. Pack some medication i.e. paracetamol, ibuprofen, dehydration tablets, water-purifying tablets, insect repellent.

Once you bag is packed your ready to take to the airport!

Fast-forward the nervous, excited and sleepless flight to your volunteering project.

It’s overwhelming, especially if this is your first experience abroad or in a developing country. Just remember your here for a short amount of time and you will be heading home so make the most of the time you have. Take in as much as possible from the sights, smells, people, lifestyle, language and culture. Be open and accepting that you’re in a different country with different values/views to your own. They may not be what you are used but be respectful and embrace it.

Be Open

Be Respectful

Throw Yourself Into It!

Enjoy your experience of a lifetime and thanks to your well planned pre-departure you know everything is in place, so your able to just enjoy it and help out! Make sure you write down and take loads of photographs to remember your trip by!

Lastly my biggest tip for getting the most out of your volunteering experience or any experience is to just open yourself to it fully. Embrace every opportunity to learn and discover something your not used to, everything that challenges you helps you to grow.

Happy travels!

If you’d like to see what A Day in the Life of a Volunteer is like or Teaching in Kenya then check out my experiences!

If you’d like to keep up with my adventures and get social;

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Travel. Create, Be Nice!

 

Festivals Around the World

Festivals Around the World

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With Christmas 11 days away! I thought I’d talk about some of the different festivals around the world. Celebrating events is something that every culture anywhere can relate to wether its religious beliefs, a landmark in time or spiritual. There are so many I want to experience on my travels that I wanted to write a ‘festival bucket list’. Here are 10 of the Festivals I definitely want to experience in my lifetime!

 

  1. Holi Festival in India/Nepal

Holi is a spring festival, also known as the festival of colours or the festival of love. It is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities outside Asia.”

http://s1.dmcdn.net/BRwTo/1280x720-5IP.jpg - Festivals Around the World

2. Chinese New Year in China

“Chinese New Year is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the lunisolar Chinese calendar. It is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. Celebrations traditionally run from the eve to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first calendar month, making it one of the longest celebrated festivals. The first day of the New Year falls on some day between 21 January and 20 February.”

http://i.huffpost.com/gen/2414662/images/o-CHINESE-NEW-YEAR-LANTERNS-facebook.jpg - Festivals Around the World

3. Up Helly Aa Fire Festival in Scotland

“Up Helly Aa refers to any of a variety of fire festivals held in Shetland, in Scotland, annually in the middle of winter to mark the end of the yule season. The festival involves a procession of up to a thousand guizers in Lerwick and considerably lower numbers in the more rural festivals, formed into squads who march through the town or village in a variety of themed costumes.”

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02466/viking-boat-1_2466272k.jpg - Festivals Around the World

4. The Carnival of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil

“The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is a world famous festival held before Lent every year and considered the biggest carnival in the world with two million people per day on the streets. The first festivals of Rio date back to 1723.”

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02841/rio-carnival--danc_2841261k.jpg - Festivals Around the World

5. Mardi Gras, New Orleans in USA

Mardi Gras is an annual Carnival celebration in the Southeast United States in New Orleans, LA.

The Carnival season, a variation of the traditional manner of preparing for the start of the Christian liturgical season of Lent, starts after Twelfth Night, on Epiphany (January 6). It is a season of parades, balls (some of them masquerade balls), and king cake parties. It has traditionally been part of the winter social season; which at one time was when parties for Southern Society women, débutante balls, were arranged.”

http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Components/Slideshows/_production/ss-130212-mardi-gras/ss-130213-mardi-gras-01.jpg - Festivals Around the World

6. Pingxi Lantern Festival in Taiwan

“The Taiwan Lantern Festival is an annual event hosted by the Tourism Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in Taiwan to celebrate the Lantern Festival.”

http://www.emlii.com/images/article/2014/02/52f056650e542.jpeg - Festivals Around the World

7. Songkran Water Festival in Thailand

“The Songkran festival meaning transformation or change. It coincides with the rising of Aries on the astrological chart, the New Year of many calendars of South and Southeast Asia. The festive occasion is in keeping with the Buddhist/Hindu solar calendar.”

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01871/Ayutthaya-elephant_1871481i.jpg - Festivals Around the World

8. Festival of the Sun in Peru

“The Inti Raymi (“Festival of the Sun”) is a religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the god Inti, one of the most venerated deities in Inca religion. It was the celebration of the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year in terms of the time between sunrise and sunset and the Inca New Year. In territories south of the equator the gregorian months of June and July are winter months.”

http://www.machupicchutravel.com/images/masts/inca-festival_masthead.jpg - Festivals Around the World

9. Diwali Festival of Lights in Nepal

“‘Deepavali (or Diwali, the “festival of lights”) is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn (northern hemisphere) or spring (southern hemisphere) every year. Diwali is one of the largest and brightest festivals in India. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.”

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02397/girl-light_2397286k.jpg - Festivals Around the World

10. Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico

Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and acknowledged around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.”

http://i4.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article6734220.ece/ALTERNATES/s615b/Estrella-Stephanie-Sigman-and-Bond-Daniel-Craig-in-the-crowds-of-El-Dia-de-los-Muertos-procession.jpg - Festivals Around the World

Looking at all those festivals around the world just makes me want to book tickets now and go experience those places!

 

Chitwan Safari at the Eden Jungle Resort | Travel Talk

Chitwan Safari at the Eden Jungle Resort | Travel Talk

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Whilst in Nepal I made sure I got to visit one of the regions famous national parks in Chitwan. Located in the southern part of Nepal, Chitwan is about 6-7 hours travel from central Kathmandu via tourist bus. I would recommend travelling in a tourist bus as you get your own seat, water and toilet breaks; the driving is also ‘slightly’ safer as there are less people in them compared to one of the local buses.

I went on a 2 night 3 day safari tour at the Eden Jungle Resort which cost around £59 ($90) which I thought was super cheap for what you get!

Eden Jungle Resort
Eden Jungle Resort

The bus journey from Kathmandu was incredibly long and we got stopped a few times due to small landslides (which are very common throughout Nepal before you worry) along the way. Bring some food, a book and some water; maybe pack some travel sickness tablets just in case. You do stop off a few times for toilet breaks and at local cafes so there are opportunities to get food along the way, however always keep in mind in Nepal that the food may not be what you are used and ‘nepali belly’ much like ‘delhi belly’ is quite common amongst travellers. Be smart about food choices, I pretty much stuck to rice and momos!

Once I arrived at Chitwan we were picked up and taken to our home for the next few days. We were greeted with smiling friendly faces – as you get anywhere in Nepal – and briefed on the iteniary. We were taken to our rooms and were able to have a quick freshen up before heading out on a tour of the resort. The rooms are fairly basic but sufficient for what you need, its not luxury but does the job. You are provided with beds, a ceiling fan, nets and a bathroom; consisting of a western toilet, sink and shower.

We immediately went for a tour around where they kept the elephants and shown around the grounds. We were lucky enough to see one of the famous one horned rhinos bathing in a stream in the first 20 minutes of being there! They showed us the river which at the time was overflowing due to it being the monsoon season. We were able to watch the sunset and then head back for a cold everest beer!

Elephant HairdoOne-Horned Rhino

Later that evening after a buffet style dinner we were driven to the nearby Tharu village where we were treated to some traditional tribal stick dancing. This was a great atmosphere and interesting to see the tribes cultural heritage. Afterwards we headed back to our resort to get some well earned rest after the days travelling but not before we squeezed in a few more everest beers!

The next day we had an early breakfast (breakfast and dinner are included at the resort) and went down to the river where we got into canoes down the river. There are opportunities to spot gharial crocodile, various birds and monkeys. We got out further down the river and went for a short walk through some local villages. Unfortunately when I was there we were not able to go over to the elephant breeding center to see the baby elephants as the river was so high we could not cross safely, however you are usually able to see them up close.

During the afternoon we had some free time so went into the local village to have a look for some souvenirs and to grab a quick lunch. Lunch turned into nearly 2 hours waiting, always remember your on nepali time haha

chitwan 1
You’ll get used to seeing elephants just walking around the village!

We headed back to the resort to quickly freshen up by taking a shower…with an elephant. A pretty cool experience but definitely came out smelling a lot more worse than I wen into it! I made a quick purchase of one of the resort t-shirts and went for another shower minus the elephant.

the best way to shower in nepal! #elephant #powershower #nepal #travels

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

Hatti are awesome #elephant #nepal #travelling #closeup #vscocam A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

Next we jumped into a jeep and travelled over to the forest where we were then able to go on an elephant safari. It was a really cool way to see the reserve and some of the animals including deer, rhino and monkeys; left me feeling a bit achey in my legs though! During the Chitwan Safari you have a well experienced guide who spots all the animals a mile off through trees and bushes. When you get off at the end theres usually children selling bananas for a few rupees to feed the elephants with make sure you buy a few to reward them for all the walking they just did.

Elephant EyesElephant Safari

Deer Ears

can’t get enough of these guys #elephant #nepal #travelling #safari A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

legit jungle book #chitwan #jungle #safari #nepal #travelling #vscocam

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

For the evening we went our for dinner to make the most of some of the western food that is available here before heading back to our homestay placements. Grabbed yet another couple of everest beers – my favourite if you couldn’t tell by now – before heading to bed to get some rest and digest the days elephant antics.

Early morning wake up call for some bird watching and breakfast and then back onto the tourist buses to head back to Kathmandu.

Chitwan is a great few days away activity whilst travelling around exploring Nepal. I’d head there between october-march to really get the most out of the experience the temperature isn’t too bad at around 25°C, the best months for viewing game is late january-march as the grass is cut shorter improving disability. Check out Lonely Planets essential guide for your trip.

If you’d like to see more of my travel photos from Nepal or my other photography then check my social links!

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