My Weekend in Hossegor with JO&JOE

I had only been home for a few days after my 21-month around the world trip when I boarded yet another plane to join a press trip for the opening of JO&JOE in Hossegor. I could not say no to Accor Hotels and their latest brand launch. Firstly because I’m always hungry for new adventures and always on the hunt for fantastic locations and hotels for my fellow digital nomads and travellers for my global collection of connected homes (places where you can live, work and travel feeling at home and stay connected), second because travelling is always a great idea and I never say no to it!

So, I quickly packed my bag and off I went to explore and admire the new concept by  Accorhotel in collaboration with Quiksilver and Roxy.

As soon as my fellow bloggers and I landed in Biarritz, we were welcomed by the Accor Hotels team and a nice lux car that took us to a full immersion into surfboards manufacturing at Euroglass incredible facilities in Hossegor.

Euroglass was founded in 1990 to supply Quiksilver with premium surfboards and for the past 25 years, the team has worked extremely hard to produce top boards while innovating in style, design and materials. Euroglass’ boards are used by worldwide surfing champions all around the world and, being a surfing beginner myself, for me it was like being in a candy shop.

After this incredible visit, we were finally taken to explore JO&JOE open house.

What’s so special about JO&JOE?

Well, for a start, this is a very new concept of open house hotel which Accor had in mind. They wanted to create something for the millennials, which would represent them and make them feel welcome and free. But also which would be founded on three words: security, privacy and friendliness. To realize that they collaborated with specialist such as psychologist, doctors who could study the mindset of this generation which they wanted to reach.

This fantastic historic building is an open house that welcomes neighbours and travellers alike. It’s a cool, affordable and caring hostel but also a hotel and a home for some. It’s filled with a smart and irreverent design where you are invited to indulge in all sort of cocktails, live music and events.

The Jo&Joe home in Hossegor is the very first that Accor Hotel has opened in the world but they are planning on opening 15 in total over the next 3 years.

Since JO&JOE is a brand that goes beyond hospitality and travel but that aims to reach and mix the local community with travellers, the founders have also created a cool app (available both on the Apple Store and Google Play) where you can join events around you but also pay your hotel bills since the open house is cash-free – isn’t that a dream come true?

They have different types of rooms, shared and private. The shared rooms we’ll go up to 10 beds and the private rooms can be for 2 to 5 people.

All the rooms are incredibly spacious, bright, practical and with VERY comfortable bed. Each bed comes with built-in lights, fan, USB socket, plug and curtains for extra privacy.

Around the house there is lots of space to relax and chill: large sofas, hammocks, giant flamingos and long chairs, but if you are feeling active, you will also find a ping-pong table, a climbing wall, a slackline and yoga lessons too.

What to do in Hossegor?

Hossegor is a small french seaside town by the Atlantic, perfect for those who love the ocean and its waves. The village is full of cute little restaurants, bars, boutiques, shops and of course waves: Hossegor is the favourite French destination for surfers from all over the world and it has gained a glamourous spot among the best places to surf. Hossegor is also very good for other wet and dry activities (read more below). Basically, Hossegor is the perfect place to indulge in a sporty weekend or a chilled vacation.

Surf and SUP with Hossegor Surf Club

I might still have some salt in my hair since the last time I was surfing in Bali, but I am still very far from being a pro, so the lesson with the team of HSC was simply amazing and despite the short waves, we had loads of fun!

Dine at Heads Beach Brewing Company

My fellow bloggers and Instagrammers were spoiled with burgers from Heads, a gorgeous restaurant right on the beach in Hossegor where we had the opportunity to taste some delicious meat and veggie burgers obviously accompanied by french fries and local beer.

Lunch at Le Mango Tree

On Saturday morning, after yoga, breakfast and surfing, we had a gorgeous pic nic organised by the guys of the Le Mango Tree in a cute park along the river. It was not only beautiful and healthy but also very yummy!

Fat Biking

I had never tried those very cool bikes before, but going around Hossegor and the beach was such great fun!

For more inspirations and ideas about what to do in Hossegor, follow @hossegorofficiel on Instagram and don’t miss a thing and follow Jo&Joe on Facebook and Instagram!

Once again, it was amazing to meet other interesting fellow bloggers and travellers and the JO&JOE, Roxy & Quicksilver was probably the most  welcoming client I’ve met so far.

Kerstin 

Jorge

Patricia

Stephanie

Charlotte

Going home after a long time…

going home after long trip

I am going home after a long time

As you are reading this, I’m finally boarding the plane that will take me home to Italy. If I planned everything really well and there haven’t been any delays, in this exact moment, I should be taking off from Bangkok and toward Myanmar, India, UAE, Germany and eventually, home. I am finally sitting on board that same plane that I’ve already cancelled and postponed 3 times. It’s bittersweet, I’m still shit at saying goodbyes to old friends, new road friends and places, despite the millions I’ve already said in the last few months. But it is time.

I’ve finally accomplished all the things I wanted to do during this long solo journey and this chapter of my life is now completed. In the best way possible in fact. I could not ask for more since the main goal has been achieved. That is becoming a calmer, wiser, slower, finest, better version of myself. The world and its beautiful people have shaped that little, scared, lonely “girl” that was desperately crying at the airport in Istanbul in September 2015. That  girl does not exist anymore and she has been replaced by a stronger, fulfilled, empowered woman who loves herself and the world around. I can travel alone. I can travel alone for twenty months (and counting). And not only I can, I LOVE travelling solo! In fact travelling solo is THE BEST and nothing compares to it.

I am ready to go home also because I’ve managed to achieve my second, accidental goal. After so much struggle and hustle, doubts and failures, today and for the past few months, I am standing tall on the tiny successes of my location independent lifestyle and since it’s been exactly 12 months that I’ve been able to travel only with the income made on the road, I can finally call myself a real digital nomad and for thsis I stick a little invisible DN badge on my chest. YAY!! I made it. I freaking made it.

The journey has been incredible and so powerful and so amazing and especially humbling. The places and people I’ve met made me the person I am today. And I gotta be honest with you, I’m having a massive crush on me right now 😍. Like my first real self love in 32 years, mate.

As I have learnt so much about myself, I realised that I was more scared of the known than the unknown. I realised that the fear that normally entangles people to stay in normal lives was what boosted and fuelled my trip. Where others remain stuck in the intricated world of doubts, fears, insecurities, I took advantage of them and decided to shape new opportunities just for myself.

And I forgave myself. I realised that all the things I did, I said, I wanted were necessary. Every single little thing. Finally, I looked up to the mirror, deep into my big brown eyes  and while hugging my naked self, I said the words: “you are forgiven”. Because in life, sometimes, you can prepare yourself, but you cannot predict what life throws at you and you can’t blame yourself for wanting more, for having bigger dreams, expectations, love for life, for loving the unexpected more than the expected, for loving freedom more than boredom. You can just be you. And I can just be me.

And I am finally ready to go home 

In the past 20 months, I have had some of the most incredible experiences of my life, I have slept in the middle of  deserts, I climbed on top of mountains, volcanos and rocks, I’ve swum with turtles, dolphins, sea lions and clown fish, I have seen countless sunrises and sunsets, I have slept in 543875426043 hostels, campgrounds, luxury hotels and in my tiny tent on the side of many Aussie roads. I have been blessed by incredible people, my time was wasted by a couple of assholes too (hello, f***ing German mechanic in Cairns!!).

I’m scared but also excited for everything that lies in front of me during this Italian summer that I’ve been dreaming for a while. I am mentally getting ready to be overwhelmed with emotions, smells and tastes. I am already physically ready to welcome all those familiar hugs, kisses and strokes I’ve been missing for so long.

649 days.

20 months.

13 countries.

4 continents.

25 flights.

15 trains.

43 buses.

6 cars.

35 scooters.

3 bicycles.

1 camel.

Everything is exactly as it is meant to be

During all this time, I have planned little, the few plans I had were normally cancelled, postponed or changed. My return couldn’t have been any different. During my journey around the world, I always tried to get off the beaten track, often missing the must-see, must-dos, must-bes. Some days I was plain lazy, others too busy with work, others too sad to leave my bed, some days I was filled with such an intense joy that I thought my heart would explode. On this trip, I learnt what pure happiness means. I was blessed by it when I was staring at the Taj Mahal while the sun rose on the horizon and my incredible friend, Prabu took the beautiful photo that symbolises my trip.

I was overwhelmed with true joy when surfing for the first time in Sydney, but also when I was lying naked and alone on a beach in Western Australia or when I hiked the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand, danced the traditional dances in Fiji and Samoa, when I first tried Muay Thai in Chiang Mai, when I relaxed tubing in Laos, or while seeing my business blossom naturally and effortlessly after so many stops and failures. I was happy surfing again in Canggu, hugging a dear friend on top of the rice fields in Ubud, or while talking about love and commitment with a long-lasting stable couple or when I realised that perfect love does not exist and we are human with another favourite couple I am lucky to call my friends. And I was happy to discover that life is all this. It’s made of little, brief moments when everything is exactly as it’s meant to be and nothing, absolutely nothing, could be any better.

Because everything is already perfect. It is as it is meant to be.

SEO storyteller

Am I ready to go home?

Of course not. I thought I would by now, but the thing is that no one ever feels completely ready when the moment to board that last plane comes. Surely no one who has the bad habit of setting super high expectations for themselves. And I’m guilty of that, of course. Nobody feels as changed as they had planned to be when they firstly left home. Personally, I don’t know if I have truly changed or if my current conditions and mindset make me act as a different person to whom I was before. What I do know now, and I know it really well, is what freedom tastes like. And it tastes like sea water and honey, watermelon and chilli. And it tastes like Life.

During my journey, I also learnt the meaning of losing everything. Of feeling lost and really alone. Of not knowing who you are or what do you belong to. But the most important lesson of the entire trip was that Another Life is Possible. If you really lose everything, if you don’t have anything else to lose, then you gotta start all over and build something new, something amazing just for yourself. And believe that you can

I am scared. 

I know I’ve lived as much as I could. Not by ticking off things off of a list, I’ve only been to 13 countries in 20 months, but by embracing the people and the world around me. By letting it go under my skin, day by day, person by person.
I am not going home only after 20 months of travel around the world, I am going home exactly after 10 years of living abroad and away from my family and friends.

It’s freaking scary. It’s overwhelming and is frightening and exciting. As I walk down into the tunnel to the plane, there are thousands of emotion exploding inside me. While I was packing Frank (my big backpack), one more time, I had tears in my eyes. Today, I learnt to welcome all these emotions as I know they are all part of the journey, they are all part of life. And I also know that soon enough I will be going back to the other home I’ve created for myself. The one up there in the sky. Or on the road. Because I feel home everywhere. The world is my home. Because my home is everywhere and anywhere I have been. But also where I haven’t been yet.

They say home is where the heart is

But my heart is wild and free

So am I homeless or just heartless

Did I start this, did it start me

They say fear is for the brave

For cowards never stare it in the eye

So am I fearless to be fearful

Does it take courage to learn how to cry

So many winding roads

So many miles to go

(Passenger)

I am always gonna be fine

But as I went through security, as I got another exit stamp on my passport, as I am sitting on this plane, I feel stronger. Stronger than ever. Because the road taught me that I will be fine. I will be fine always and everywhere. Nothing can break me because nothing was fixed to start with. The truth is that not only I found myself. But I found that little, permanent home, just inside myself. The perfect place to rest after a long day, the cosy home I made for me only. In a world where nothing is permanent, constant, I learnt that I AM my own constant element in the equation of life.

Only me on both side of the equal sign. And it’s more than enough.

going home after a long time

Embrace Life as it comes

It’s impossible to know what might happen next. Or why. What this situation will bring to you. Or which way you will take when faced with a big decision. Why some things will be destroyed. What makes some other blossom, die or change. How people get sick, change or leave. How people can love you, make promises, break them, break your heart. Live without you. Forget you. It’s impossible to explain why children die while the sun still rises every morning. It is impossible to understand. But it is unavoidable.

It took me 5 years, 1 month and 2 days to become the person I dreamed to become. To fully transform the little girl I once was into the woman I imagined I could be. I aspired to be. I ought to be. It took so much out of me. It broke me into a million little pieces, but they say that sometimes you need to smash a crumbling house in order to build a stronger one. And so I did.

Set fire to your boats

I set fire to the boats of my safe life, I scratched my title and experiences, I chose freedom while fear, hustles and struggles were burning all around me. And I fell. Oh gosh, I fell so deep. I burnt myself too.

I felt more alone than ever. It was like I was the only person remained in the universe. But that was ok too. Because alone was what I needed. What I wanted and because by learning to be alone I became much stronger, so much wider, so much better.

I no longer beg for attention, for love. I no longer need love to fix me. The waves crashing on the beach, the birds singing, the clouds moving above my head, a familiar tune in the background, a smile of a stranger, my own smile. All of this are enough. They are more than enough, they are everything.

They are everything.

My life, my wonderful life, like all lives, so impermanent, so imperfect, so fragile, yet so powerful, so mesmerising, so scary. So remarkable. So mine.

going home after long time

Live life to the fullest.

Exit your comfort zone. Feel uncomfortable, feel scared. Do something on your own. Miss your friends. Feel lonely. Eat the food you’re not used to. Pack your backpack, sweat. Sleep on bunk beds. Sleep in the middle of the desert. Don’t sleep and party all night. Rise early. And feel strong, feel connected. Lose yourself. Lose everything. Just let it be. Breath. Look at a beautiful sunset on the other side of the world. And feel at home wherever you are. Feel that you are exactly where you need to be in this moment. Live in the present, forget the past, don’t stress about the future. They do not exist. Be. Here. Now.

Make it remarkable. 

So yes, after these last 20 months exploring the world, exploring myself, loving the world, loving myself, I am ready to go home. I am ready to go home after a long time.

 

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going home after a long time

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Dear Fellow Traveller, it’s ok to feel sad while travelling

sad while travelling

Two weeks ago, I was sitting on the longest teak bridge in the world in Mandalay, Myanmar where I had a deep and intense conversation with a friend who felt lost and sad while travelling. Last week, chilling and watching a sunset on a beach here in Canggu I had a similar conversation with another friend who was also overwhelmed by sadness as an early departure had to cut her trip short. I, personally, have cried more frequently in the past 19 months on the road than in my entire life.

What’s wrong with me?

Sadness while travelling can seem illegal and dishonest because you are not supposed to be sad while travelling. For a long time on this trip, I thought I was done. I thought I had to give up because sadness and depression had taken over the joy of altogether. I knew I was ruining my once-in-a-lifetime experience but the truth is that I will always thank my ex for that. My reaction, my heartbreak, my deep fall in the hole was simply normal and I cannot blame myself too much.

Being sad while travelling sucks. And it sucks, even more, when all the people around you think you have no right to be sad. But don’t worry, accept that strangers – but also some friends – have no clue about travelling long term and they are talking without any direct experience.

If you aren’t on a two-week holiday in Australia, Malaysia or Samoa, yes, you might want to push back any feeling of sadness for a later date. But when the road becomes your home, you are a digital nomad and your lifestyle is full-time travelling like mine, then life happens wherever you are. And emotions and feelings follow.

The world does not stop when you travel. Nor does life around you.

In the year and a half, since I have started travelling, several tragic events have happened in my family and life and I was alone at the other side of the world to cope with them. Often hugging myself to bed crying and without anyone to hold me tight. Two of my uncles died, my sister got diagnosed and cured of cancer, she also got a divorce, I got cheated on and dumped by my ex [all without a face-to-face meeting after a 4.5 yrs relationship WTF] and only a few days ago my 10-year old cousin died of brain tumour after 2.5 months since the diagnosis. [we are raising money for the hospice which took so much care of him in his last weeks; if you wish to donate click here].

If family tragedies and heartbreaks aren’t enough, there are also plenty of other things going bad on the road. As I was exploring from country to country, looking for something meaningful to keep me going, I lost my identity. Professionally and personally, I fell into a massive, black hole where I did not know who I was or wanted to be any longer. Facing myself in the mirror became a daily battle because my ego was crushed, my self-confidence smashed and my lack of self-esteem was overwhelming.

I always had so many expectations and goals for myself and suddenly, leaving my public role in society, my title and losing the only thing that kept me connected to my old self just crushed me. I was a lost traveller with no direction and no plans. During the same time, my freelance gigs went from bad to terrible and I soon started losing faith and confidence which were soon replaced by fear and anxiety. Slipping into depression again was certain and before I knew it…

I was stuck in muddy waters

sad while travelling

I had a motorbike accident which could have ended in a much worse way if I was distracted. The last time I checked, my ex – in the usual selfish style – was posting pictures of this new amazing “love” in OUR favourite London spots [WTF 2], completely crushing any sort of respect for me or what we had. Once again, proving what a heartless, calculating and lying narcissist I fell in love with (and wasted SO much time for! WTF3).

As that wasn’t enough, I also bumped into a few shitty clients who decided that I was going to work for them for free, a scam job offer, another client who cut our project (and budget) by 75%. Everything was falling apart. The little things I had built slowly and with so much effort were disappearing day by day. I fell apart.

I fell apart.

I had every right to be sad.

Yet I was still travelling.

And I kept travelling because that became my personal dimension, it is my home and the “place” where I can heal my soul. A year ago I wrote one of my most-read article “No, travelling did not solve my problems ” and today, 9 months later, I’m here to confirm what I wrote there.

No, travelling doesn’t solve problems.

Yes. It’s ok to feel sad while travelling.

Remember that EVERYONE eventually gets sad travelling. It’s unavoidable and probably necessary to get back up and enjoy the rest of the trip with renewed energy and joy because exactly like the roller coasters of life, without the downhill part and the following rise back up, your travel would just be flat and boring. So, I am not telling you to fall into depression, but to feel ok when sadness hits. You are going to be OK.

It is OK to feel sad while travelling, my friend. And you know why? It is important to remember that while we are quite egocentric human beings, the world around us does change. It isn’t static as we’d like to think. The conditions and the people around us take other, unexpected ways. Nothing is permanent. You, me and the world around us. Sadness included. So, when she comes to you next time at night, welcome her in bed, hold her tight, have a little cry together and in the morning dry your tears and tell her to go. Till next time.

The road is waiting. 

Digital Nomads Trail – Stay Connected at MAADS while in Cambodia

digital nomads cambodia

Are you another digital nomad thinking to skip Cambodia because you’ve heard that the wifi is s*%t?

Please rethink.

Like most of you know, since I’ve left my corporate job in London two years ago, I’ve been doing all sort of gigs and jobs to sustain my travels while slowly finding my little niche as a digital nomad and, more recently, entrepreneur. You can read more here where I answered the question that I get asked about 43925704375943 times a week.

Time has passed since I wrote that blog post and in the meantime, I’ve religiously decided to drop anything that wasn’t very profitable, long-term or aligned to my values. To cut the story short, I’ve slowly narrowed my scope to become a remote content creator, influencerSEO specialist and yes, start-up entreprenuer. Maybe a weird mix, but one that works extremely well for me, but especially for my clients.

Since I’ve achieved the official status of digital nomad I could no longer stay in remote places or hostels with crappy wi-fi. Being connected has become essential to me and that’s why in Cambodia, a country known to lack reliable wifi I decided to get in touch with MAADS. This is a little chain of stunning boutique hotels all around Cambodia. But the peculiar aspect of each and every hotel that belongs to MAADS is that they all offer impressive comfort for us, the vagabonding digital nomads.

Not only they are impressive structures that offer all sort of services you might need, you can also rely on FAST internet and comfortable working stations.

While I was in Cambodia, I had the unique opportunity to stay at two of their properties in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Guess what? Both times, I extended my stay and I was tempted to just lock myself in the room and move in. Forever.

ABOUT MAADS

All MAADS hotels have a distinctive identity and each remains true to its local architectural heritage, design and atmosphere. The founders, Marie and Alexis de Suremain, are the minds behind this string of hotels, restaurants and shops in Cambodia.

Nature has always been the inspiration behind all their projects starting from the opening of the first hotel in Phnom Penh, in 2006. To today, the founders and MAADS stand for responsible and sustainable tourism.

But MAADS is so much more than this. It’s also known for:

  • respecting and actively contributing to the destination by promoting local creativity and cultural activities
  • offering more than facilities, food and a bed. People choose MAADS to immerse themselves in a dream
  • being inspired and devoted to the natural environment.

 

TEMPLATION SIEM REAP – CAMBODIA – MAADS ASIA

The property

Minutes away from the spectacular Angkor Wat and located in a very quiet area of Siem Reap away from the tourists, Templation is a true oasis of calm, silence and beauty.

The hotel features Junior Suites, Pool Suites and Pool Villas as well as a RestaurantSpa & FitnessMain Pool and the shop Cambomania.

During our stay, Ale and I had the fantastic opportunity to be the first guests to attend a local cooking class lead by the Head Chef. Set in the gorgeous garden and filled with delicious spices and tastes it was one of the highlights of our stay.

Templation Gallery

 

DETAILS

Templation is north of the new Angkor Ticketing Center, closer to the entrance to the temples, and at 9 kms from Siem Reap International Airport, avoiding congested downtown Siem Reap. A 5mns drive will get you to Angkor Wat, the National Museum or the city centre. info@templation.asia  +855 (0)63 969 345  +855 (0)92 783 622  Rok Rak Street, Modul 3, Phum Sla Kram, Siem Reap, Cambodia

TEAHOUSE PHNOM PEHN – CAMBODIA – MAADS ASIA

The property

Inspired by Asia’s love and knowledge for tea, Tea House is one of Phnom Penh most peculiar hotels. The design combines classic Chinese details with the latest technology and facilities. Once you step inside, you will feel like entering a secret garden of quiet and peace right in the middle of Cambodia capital city. The perfect place to relax and get some work done.

The hotel features a Tea LoungePoolTea GardenRestaurantSpa and a Cambomania shop.

All the rooms are simple yet stylish and you can choose from two bedroom suite to our standard double for lone travellers or couples, all include free (fast) Wi-Fi and generous buffet breakfast.

Teahouse Gallery

DETAILS

TeaHouse: info@theteahouse.asia  +855 (0)23 212 789  #32, Street 242,  Phnom Penh, Cambodia

*

If you also would like to stay at Teahouse MAADS in Phnom Penh while exploring Cambodia, make sure to use the DIGINOMAADS code when booking so that you can enjoy a 10% discount and a free 30-minutes massage. [Long/medium arrangements also available]

 

Massive thank you to MAADS, Bernard Cohen and my favourite model Alessandra.

James Ferrux – from Joke Writer to Professional Poker Player

remarkable

After the successful first 10 interviews of the series of “They made it remarkable” in Italian and because of a growing demand to translate them to English, I’ve decided to switch to this language from now on and move the future interviews here.

Welcome.

 

*

 

JOB: Poker player and writer
LIFESTYLE: Digital nomad
SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook
AGE: 32
NATIONALITY: French

 

Where are you from?

I was born in France, raised in the Antilles, Cuba, Canada, Asia, and currently still growing in Morocco

Education?

I managed to stand it only until the end of high school. I started working when I was 18.

What did you do in your previous life?

I had many jobs but the last one was joke writer, comedian assistant and baby-sitter.

What do you do today?

I play poker, travel, still write for pleasure and baby-sit myself.

Why did you decide to take the jump?

I had reached a certain goal, an apartment in Paris, a fancy job for a famous TV network, I could buy all the sneakers I wanted each month, had finally that great DVD shelf I had always dreamt of, but I felt like Barbossa in Pirates of the Caribbean, I didn’t have taste for life anymore, an empty vessel… So I let myself hit rock bottom, I was like in a balloon that cannot stretch anymore, I felt I needed to get out, get some fresh air. When I realized I could get out I punctured my way out, I did it the quick and noisy way!

Did you need to study something new or go back to uni to change your life?

I felt I needed to change my perspective, to take some distance, flip the microscope the other way around. Let everything go, went to Asia for a while to figure out what I would miss, what would survive in me. I understood it was all shitty because of me so I needed to work on myself. I changed my energy, I was not resisting anymore so finally I was able to see and accept the opportunities to try something different. It all started with a “group therapy” kind of thing, where I learned to reposition my ego and then I went on reading, learning meditation, travelling, putting myself first and all that cool stuff…

make remarkable

Since you’ve changed direction, have you ever thought you made a mistake?

Yeah of course, mistakes are like drafts, experiences, tests, try-outs, warm-ups, it’s just a way to learn and improve… It’s what makes great bloopers in movies so they are indispensable. Trying not to beat myself too hard for each one I make is what changed. I repeat to myself the cheesy Zen line

“it’s okay not to be okay”

What were the hardest challenges and tough moments before and after the change?

The toughest if I can call it that is what is still going on today and what has always been, it’s feeling “forced” to explain and justify the way I live, the way I think to friends and relatives and all those who think they know me better than I do. “Why the heck did you leave the herd ??” I seem to read in their eyes. So it’s always the same 20 minutes small talk to finally hear them saying:

“oh you’re probably right, maybe I too should take control of my life and do what I want before I turn into compost…”

And then they go back to their predigested life and talk behind my back like I went completely rogue.

But who cares? I’m happy.

make remarkable

And the biggest satisfactions and achievements?

Becoming a profitable poker player like I planned 10 months ago, being able to leave France for good, living anywhere I want and pretty much doing whatever I want without owing shit to anybody. I am free.

Do you think your new lifestyle is sustainable in the long run?

I completely stopped projecting myself in hypothetical futures, I am right here, right now. Whether it’s poker or something else I’ve managed to make a living so far. You know the saying,

“The bird doesn’t fear the branch he’s lying on breaks, he trusts his wings”.

There’s always a way to make it.

Considering your new life: what is more important education or experience?

To me, education sounds with “educastration”. I wouldn’t trade my years travelling in different cultures, my adventures, my disappointments, my discoveries through experience for any certificate in the world. “Diploma is the deadly enemy of culture” said some famous French guy (Paul Valery).

How important was knowing other languages for your change?

Lucky for me I’ve always loved English and I learned Spanish in Cuba so that covers pretty much a lot. I understand it can be an issue if you can’t communicate, but don’t worry you’ll find a way.

remarkable

How has your life changed since you jumped off of that plane?

Actually, I’ve never taken so many planes since I left the old me. I love to play with my senses and change decor. Everything that happens now is the direct result of my actions, no one else to blame or to thank, that’s what changed.

What would you recommend to people who are hoping to pursue a similar career to yours?

Nothing, just listen to your heart, your guts or whichever organ you like to converse with and go for it.

“Listen to your heart, there’s nothing else you can do. I don’t know where you’re going and I don’t know why, but listen to your heart before you tell him goodbye” – Roxette

Have you read any books, listened to podcasts or watched movies/vlogs that have inspired you to exit the loop?

Yes, a few classics, Eat Pray Love, The Power of Now, The Four Agreements, Liberez votre cerveau by Idriss Aberkane, to learn thinking outside the box, and probably a list of 30 more mystic books that some fellow travellers keep adding titles to…

make remarkable

Would you say your life is remarkable* today?

YES. AND IT’S ONLY THE BEGINNING…

 

*remarkable: extraordinary, exceptional, amazing, astonishing, astounding, marvellous, wonderful, sensational, stunning, incredible, unbelievable, miraculous, phenomenal, prodigious. HAPPY. 

*


If you are also tired of your life and feel as there must be something more beyond what’s “normal”, join the 
Make It Remarkable revolution on Facebook where we share successes, failures, tips and practical info to leave the cage and CHANGE your life. Yes, Another Life is Possible.

*

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Malaysia won’t leave you speechless…

Malaysia is so much different from its neighbouring countries both on the north and the south. Landing in the dense, smoky urban jungle of Kuala Lumpur can be a massive shock, especially for me as I was coming from over a month spent on the pristine beaches and unspoilt natural beauty of Samoa and Fiji.

Malaysia isn’t beautiful – and this is the first time I say this of any country I’ve visited – sorry my dear Malaysian friends, no personal offence intended!

At the end of my Pacific wandering, I was looking for a place to meet up with my best friend and spend Christmas together. I shall be honest, Malaysia was our choice simply because for both of us (from Samoa and from Italy), it was the cheapest flying option.

Info about Malaysia

60% of the population in Malaysia is Muslim and you will find (and hear) mosques everywhere. But, you can also find temples too. Around 20 % of the population are Buddhist and Hindu.
Malayan is the language of the country and I recommend you learn a few words before heading there. It’s always nice to be able to say hello and thank you wherever you go.

Before heading to Malaysia

Currency

The local currency is Malaysian Ringgit and the current exchange is 1 USD = 4.46 Ringgits. Withdrawing money from  ATMs is easy and Malayan Bank doesn’t charge any commissions for foreign cards.

Safety

Malaysia is very safe. I’ve never felt at risk or in a dangerous situation while there. It’s like this in most of the countries in Southeast Asia I have been to.

How to get there

If you want to get by plane, there are many cheap flights companies coming from the countries around Southeast Asia. Air Asia offers good deals, especially flying to Kuala Lumpur. Check Skyscanner to make sure that you get the best fare if you are coming by plane.

You can also get to Malaysia overland from Thailand and Singapore. From Thailand, you can get there by train or bus.

Visa

Securing a visa for backpacking Malaysia isn’t going to be an issue. Most of the countries have free visa for 30/90 days to visit Malaysia. You just need to hold a passport with at least 6 months left, and you should get your stamp at the airport with no issue.

Weather

The weather in Malaysia is quite unpredictable and different from part to part. Peninsular Malaysia can be wet any time of the year even though the wet season officially lasts from November to March. The dry season is from April to October.

How to get wifi in Malaysia

Getting wifi in Malaysia is easy. You will find wifi almost everywhere. There are many places like malls, shops and bars where you will find wifi. And the connection is really good compared to a lot of countries in Southeast Asia.

Accommodation

Accommodation is very cheap in Malaysia. There are a lot of hostels where you can pay $4-5 for sleeping in a dorm and there are beach cottages for even less!

Below you will find my recommendations as always under the Dream section.

Kuala Lumpur

Initially, exhausted by 14 months of non-stop travelling, I spent almost three weeks in KL hosted by a dear Instagram friend from London who has relocated there with her husband. I lived the great life in her stunning apartment a stone’s throw from the Petronas Towers; I could actually see them while typing away on my Mac in her living room and while swimming from her awesome pool. Valeria totally spoiled me with her scrumptious and healthy lunches and I also managed to get back to the gym in the morning too. It was strange to finally settle back in the old home life and routine after so long on the road. It really felt strange to have a home, even if not mine, even if only for a short time. And it was amazing. Thank you, Vale! <3

The capital of Malaysia is a huge, messy, work-in-progress Asian city. Traffic jams are guaranteed every day and it’s far from being a pedestrian-friendly town. However, being the perfect shopping capital in South East Asia (after its bigger sister and architectural inspiration, Singapore), it’s a place worth a short visit (two or three days are enough).

Things to do in KL:

Petronas Towers and Marini’s on the 57

Sri Temple  

Batu Caves  

Brunch & Work at VCR

Get lost in The Rabbit Hole…. 

For some mysterious reasons, I have no pictures of this place even after spending several awesome nights there…I can’t tell you exactly where it is, but the Alice in Wonderland’s Rabbit Hole is here 🙂
Address: 16, Changkat Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Pulau Pangkor

After exploring KL, my best friend and I headed to the ocean for some well-deserved relax and beach time.

– Directions: take a bus from KL to Lumut and then the ferry from there.

 

Georgetown / Penang 

Georgetown is such a well-made cocktail of cultures, religions and history that my friend and I struggled to leave when it was time to catch our ferry north.

 

MUST – DOs in Georgetown: 

Upside Down Museum

Malaysia

Caffeinated break at Wheeler’s Coffee

Malaysia

Wander along Love Lane for some weird encounters…

Malaysia

Eat, Love and Eat. And Repeat 

Thanks to its Malayan, Chinese and Indian communities that gather to this peninsular country many centuries ago, here you can find incredible types of food that will never leave you hungry. Malaysia is truly foodies’ heaven and even the most sophisticated palates are going to find something new and delicious here.

malaysia

Dream at House of Journey

A cute, little hostel with an incredible vibe and staff. Minimal breakfast is included. Wi-Fi is weak but free.
 
Address: Pulau Pinang, 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia

After spending a few days in this little multicultural town, Fede and I got the ferry  to Langkawi 

Langkawi

Langkawi is the perfect place for relaxing that you can’t miss it when backpacking Malaysia. It’s a cheap place to buy alcohol and devices. And if you think about the usual party places of Thailand, Langkawi is not one of them. It’s a place for you to enjoy the beach during the day, and the quiet peace at night.

Do NOT Dream at Tubotel

I rarely leave bad reviews, but Tubotel really was a massive disappointment. The staff is poorly trained and far from friendly. Facilities are often dirty and despite they have and advertise having wi-fi, it is always turned off for some obscure reasons (even when politely requested…I work online!!!) The location is also inconvenient and next to the airport/port. No beach. We only stayed here because we made our booking at the very last second for NYE and it was one of the very few places available (we now know why!) The only plus of this place was the generous breakfast which was free and delicious.

Malaka

While backpacking Malaysia, Malaka or Malacca must be part of your itinerary. This old colonial town still retains the charm of the Portuguese influence and architecture. I loved this place maybe because it’s totally different from the other places in Malaysia.
friendship

Masjid Selat 

Work from 

Kaya Kaya Cafe

A very lovely cafe that serves excellent coffee and sumptuous meals. WiFi is quite good too.

Kaya Kaya cafe

Dream at 

Ringo’s Foyer Guest House
Address: Jalan Portugis, Kampung Dua, 75200, Malacca

The owner of this hostel is a character and full of life person who will take you to explore the town by bike and he’s always making sure the guests are having fun and are comfortable. The hostel is very nice and clean and in a OK position. I reccomend it ! 🙂

Directions: from Langkawi take the ferry to Kuala Perlis and from there catch an overnight bus to Melaka.

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Lost & Found in the Pacific (part 2) – Samoa

If in Fiji I got totally lost, Samoa is where I truly found myself again. My last post was all about my wild three weeks healing, flirting and finding a way to build my broken heart and shattered self-confidence, but it was only in the calm waters of Samoa that I really faced the sudden mess of my Life, the unsustainable pain, the shock of losing my chosen One. In Samoa, I had to move on and decide if I wanted to waste my last few months on the road crying over the spilled milk or face it, feel it and f**it.

Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional.
Murakami  

I decided to f**k it.

I landed in the capital of Apia after a brief flight from Nadi, where my driver greeted me for the long ride to my accommodation on the beach (see below for details). 

As he was driving, I was thinking about my recent memories of Fiji. I wandered, looking out of the window, if my next 10 days in Samoa would have been similar, but I had no expectations. I learnt to leave them behind. Nowadays, after sixteen months on the road, I travel without plans, ideas or programmes and I let the places and the people to amaze me.

All the time.
Everywhere.

This is for me is the purest way of travelling, where you explore for the pleasure of understanding, of being surprised, of letting the new country, city, people to take you by the storm. Anyway, as I was lost in my train of thoughts, we were taking the coastal route through an endless line-up of tiny villages, as most Samoans live along the coast. The villages were all extremely beautiful. Simple, but clean, with beautiful lush gardens and coconut plantations and natural forest. The road was winding and bumpy making the journey ever more interesting. People on the streets were coming back from work or school. In Samoa, most men wear the traditional lava-lava, a skirt that ends right below the knees, the kids are in their cute school uniforms while women have a more western look and traditional tattoos on their tights. There are tons of schools along the way, maybe as many churches, it seems. While we ride, we can see many family burial sites, prominently positioned in the front yard of the house, usually they are a pyramid type of tomb, sometimes single graves topped with a stone. There are no typical stores however, but little kiosks selling all sort of things. On the street, there are chickens, cows and stray dogs relaxing, sleeping or wandering. By the time we arrive at the destination, the sun was setting on the horizon and…

…and there is where Samoa hit me on the head.

samoa

I knew that there would be coconuts, sun, salt, and breathtaking natural beauty, but I did not know Samoa was a true untouched heaven, an incredibly stunning country lost – like I was – in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. What makes this tiny island country very special is the deep connection and love for the Fa’a Samoa, the Samoan way of living, so evocatively alive and deeply embedded in the people of this country which I immediately grasped on that first night.

Rarely you see so much unspoilt tropical beauty, very few hotels, no international supermarkets and the lack of hectic pace of modern life. The tiny South Pacific island nation of Samoa really is something incredible. I have seen a number of places in the world as you know, but Samoa truly is still unspoilt, wild and untouched as people had told me.  

WHEN TO GO:

Samoa is an incredibly beautiful place. It is not just the tropical flowers, the fresh air and the warmest people, it is the music, the dance, the sweet scents and the meaning of life which take a totally different perspective here.
Avoid the wet season from November to March but expect rain throughout the year. I was there in December. It rained every day for a little bit, but the peace of the low season is unbeatable.

samoa

SLEEP & DREAM AT:

Taufua Beach Fales – Lalomanu Beach, Upolu 

Incredible and wild home away from home for a week. This very laid back, far from fancy, family-run beach establishment of fales is paradise. Perfect if you want a quiet, chilled place to relax and go to bed rocked by the crashing waves. This was the perfect place to sooth my soul and heart: remote enough to ensure peace and quiet but at the same time with just the right number of guests and shows to keep you entertained.

Here, I slept in one of the traditional fale, an open cottage without walls, just a roof supported by pillars and beams, that in Samoa is often used to greet relatives and friends and sometimes, like in my case, even for sleeping.

Samoa

Samoan Outrigger Hotel – Apia, Upolu 

An exquisite boutique, family-run guesthouse with fale-style private bungalows set in a lush garden around a nice swimming pool. There are also normal hotel rooms in the main building. Complimentary breakfast.
Samoa

 

TOP 10 THINGS TO-DO IN SAMOA:

If hanging around the pool is not your thing (hello, traveller!), then consider renting a car (you can usually get the international licence on the spot through the rental company), and go about touring the island instead. Waterfalls, lagoons, diving and surfing spots, all make the trip worthwhile. Also: If you consider road tripping or backpacking in Samoa, be mindful that almost all land is in private hands, and that beaches are usually only accessible after paying a small fee to the local village.

1 To Sua Ocean Trench – Upolu

Magic is real! This is a giant swimming hole, thirty metres deep, filled with sea water and connected to the ocean by an underwater channel. You will need to climb down a very steep ladder in order to go for a swim.

To Sua is a “big hole” (this is the actual Samoan translation) that was created many, many years ago through volcanic activity making it one of the major attraction in Samoa (and a very Instagrammed sight too).

A swim in the To Sua Ocean Trench is unforgettable and this place was probably my favourite sight on the entire island.

 

Samoa te sua ocean trench

2 Fia Fia Night

Fia Fia is a tradition that you must experience while in Samoa. During the event, fire dancers, delicate female dancers, and super fit male dancers, songs and traditional food all come together to create a remarkable and memorable evening. Breadfruit, chicken, fish, fresh fruits, pork and taro are traditional foods, with kava being the traditional drink (like in Fiji).

Fia Fia Fia Fia

3 Lalomanu Beach

This is one of Samoa’s most pristine beaches, on the southeastern tip of Upolu. Here you can hire a beachside fale (I recommend Taufua Beach Fales), swim, snorkel, eat and soak up the sunshine. I was staying here for the first part of my holiday and many day trippers were coming to visit this gorgeous beach.

4 Robert Louis Stevenson House 

After Te-Sua Ocean Trench, this was probably my second favourite thing during my time in Samoa.

When Robert Louis Stevenson, the famous author of Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Wordsworth Classics), arrived in the South Pacific in 1889/90 he found a warm, tropical paradise filled with friendly people and he decided to settle here with his family. Stevenson had been struggling with the ill health of his lungs all his life and the climate in Samoa seemed perfect, so much better than his Scottland or his wife’s America. So he bought an estate in Valima, right outside Apia and moved in with his wife, her children from her first marriage and his mother.

The house is still in the exact same conditions as a century ago: there is a half-completed jigsaw upstairs which totally mesmerised me, there are dresses, combs and books and of course, the studio where Stevenson completed some of his best works, including Kidnappedand Catriona

A visit to this museum/house is a must-do while in Apia and if you haven’t already, buy a copy of one of  “Tusitala” (Stevenson’s Samoan nickname, which means the “Writer of Tales”) there.

5 Papapapaitai Falls

The Papapapaitai Falls is a beautiful sight and my pictures don’t give them justice. Just off the Cross Island Road you will find a small bay to stop and admire them. As far as I know, there is no direct access to the fall, but you can see them from here: an incredible water stream down into a deep gorge.

6 Papaseea Sliding Rocks

Another gorgeous place to explore and have fun with your friends. Papaseea Sliding Rock is located at Seesee in Faleata District about 15 minutes drive from Apia. The sliding rocks are divided into two waterfalls where you can swim and slide for some extra fun.

There are one 5 meter slide and three smaller ones at the base of the steps and it is an ideal place for cooling off on a hot day.

7 Namua and Nu’utele Islands 

The translucent lagoon around Lalumanu beach is beyond beautiful and thanks to its rich marine life, it is now a reserve that protects a magnitude of tropical fish species. From here, you can head off to Namua Island just a little further to the north where you can swim with the endangered green turtle or you can explore Nuutele Island and see the most magnificient seabird nesting grounds of the Pacific.

8 Sunday Mass

Samoan people love to joke, sing, dance but are serious about three things in life: God, family and food. With regards to the first, with a couple of friends I met on the Island, I decided to go to a Sunday mass to see what the fuss was all about. We understood nothing of the service, of course, but the calm, the peace, the voices and the singing brought peace to my messy head and restless heart. Sunday in Samoa is a day of rest in which everyone goes to church dressing immaculately in white

Sunday in Samoa is a day of rest in which everyone goes to church dressing immaculately in white. They were elegant and beautiful and their procession to church reminded me of old movies and photographs from another era. It was an incredible experience that I highly recommend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 Umu

While in Samoa, you must eat as much fresh fish and tropical fruit as possible. Also, make sure to try the Island fries made of taro and banana instead of potato. If you are lucky (like I was!!!) you will be invited to try the traditional Sunday lunch, the most important communal meal of the week (to’ana’i), with locals at their village.

The meal, which is cooked over the Samoan Umu, a traditional above the ground stone oven heated by glowing hot lava rocks normally features a whole pig, tons of different vegetables and coconut-based delicatessen. The food can be placed directly on the rocks, wrapped in banana leaves or in coconut fronds for cooking. Useless to say that we ate too much of all the delicious food that was offered to us by the incredibly generous and friendly people we’ve met.

10 Get a bus ride to the markets

Moving around Apia is simple and the city isn’t too big to walk everywhere. But, why walk when you can hop in one of the fun buses that populate the capital? Grab a map and board on a local crazy, brightly colourful bus. It’s cheap and it’s an incredible experience that you must try.

In Apia, the bus terminals are located next to the food market in Fugalei and also opposite the flea market at Savalalo. Apart from these two terminals, there are no designated bus stops, so you will need to wave down a bus (use your whole arm and keep your palm facing downwards) as it approaches and ask the driver which bus you need to catch. The seats are wooden benches, and if the bus becomes full, the locals will opt to sit on each others’ lap, rather than stand in the aisles. You will also be offered to sit on some strangers’ lap, so don’t be offended or scared and just embrace the Samoan way of living 🙂

The produce market in Apia is open every day of the week but is best from Monday to Saturday and it offers a dazzling array of fresh local produce. Go there for lunch and walk along the various stalls that serve some cooked Samoan favourites to nibble on and be amazed by the number of bananas, the taste of coconut and taro in all shapes and sizes.

If you are on a hunt for Samoa’s traditional, fine handicrafts like baskets, bags, sarong and more, then head to the Apia’s Flea Market on Beach Road (Monday to Saturday), which sell everything from colourful Samoan clothing to crafts.

samoa

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.
Henry David Thoreau

samoa, fiji airways, fiji

In the Fa’a Samoa philosophy, natural disasters like strong hurricanes or tsunamis are blessings, as they wipe away existing structures and the arrival of donations help replace the faulty roads, bridges, houses and electric lines with new ones. It is there, talking with the locals about the last tsunami, about the family that manages Taufua Beach Fales lost over 80% of their members and how a local teacher saved the lives of dozens of Australian pupils simply following her instinct from the wave, that I understood.

I understood that in life, sometimes we need to be hit by a massive, unexpected, tragic tsunami that will take us completely down, almost suffocating us, depriving us of oxygen and hope, and only there and then, on the edge of losing everything, we must find the reasons and the way back up. Where we can breathe again. And it is there, once again swimming in incredibly crystal clear waters that I promised myself that I would go through it.

I wouldn’t let myself drown.

I know that I can survive
I walked through fire to save my life

* Most pictures were taken with the new addition to my Olympus family: Olympus Tough TG-4 Camera – Red

Disclaimer: there are affiliate links above; if you use the links you will send a small commission my way which will help me maintaining this blog. Thank you and if you like this post, please share the love <3

 

 

Lost and Found in the South Pacific – Fiji: from honeymoon destination to singles’ paradise

Disclaimer


This is a personal, heavy and bittersweet post. I recommend you to stop here if you are not into failed relationships, cheating bastards and heartbreaking stories. I don’t often share my personal and most intimate stories here, but today I want to tell you one. Maybe because I still have some dust and detritus on my chest that I want to get rid of, or more likely because I want to tell you that it does get better. If you, like me, have been unlucky enough to fall in love with a selfish, dishonest, horrible person who broke your heart and torn your confidence apart, let me tell you, there is hope. There is always hope. I started writing this post almost two months ago when I was dancing with the devil who kidnapped my personality and self-confidence. I’m publishing this here now, from Chiang Mai, where my heart is healing, my mind is light and that person belongs to a past that I don’t ever want back. There is also loads of swearing and bad words below so readers should be older than…um… 15? Not sure, but if you mind offenses and bad words, then stop here 🙂 thank you and see you next week with my about Samoa! 

*

It’s precisely because of the pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive—or at least a partial sense of it.  ― Haruki Murakami

As you probably know, I got my heart broken (aka smashed, torn, ripped out and pierced) on November 4th (yes, today  exactly marks the 3rd anniversary, since that horrendous day when my insensitive ex decided to leave me over the phone at 15 thousands km of distance), while I was travelling around New Zealand as a guest of Pure New Zealand. The frick, after four and half years together, didn’t even had the balls to jump on a plane and tell me this in the face. No, the usual spineless human being let the message being carried on a freaking weird and long Whatsapp conversation that went on like this, while where I sobbed and begged, begged and sobbed:

 
I-still-love-you-SO-much.
I think about you every day.
When I have sex I think of you.
I imagine touching your skin and I can still recall exactly the smell of your skin. 
This new person is nothing compared to you. But.
But I wanna see what happen with this new fucking buddy because you are far and hard work for me.
And I am lazy. Fucking lazy.
 

WTF, right?

Redundant to say, that I spent my final weeks in New Zealand crying like a baby, barely eating and knocking myself to sleep with cheap bottles of horrible red wine and tons of sleeping pills passed on by a friend. I had awful thoughts. I had scary intentions. And I fell. Down, down, down that endless hole. Maybe you don’t know I also chopped my hair on a particularly drunken and freaking scary night in Franz Josef when I couldn’t stand my reflection in the mirror any longer.
Yes, my ex left me for someone else, which is the most humiliating and painful thing that can happen in life a relationship.

 

*Pro tip here: Ladies & Gentlemen, NEVER-EVER tell the person you are leaving behind that you fell in love with someone else.

 

NEVER.

 

Tell them you are confused, tell them you need time for yourself, tell them you might be gay, tell them you want to become a monk, tell a huge, fat, freaking lie. But. Do. Not. Ever. Say. There. Is. Someone. Else.

 

EVER.

 

As a last option, grab your balls and tell them you don’t love them anymore perhaps. Tell them your heart doesn’t beat the same way anymore. And yes, this is LESS painful and more bearable than been cheated on and being left behind like a bag of garbage or a used tissue.

Please. I beg you. Listen to me.

Do it for me and do it for the person you once loved/cared about.

Please.

So. I was saying that in New Zealand I was mentally and physically shattered and, at that point, dating other people was out of the question. The one and only goal was to stay afloat. AKA stay alive and nothing else. New Zealand is incredibly beautiful, but my eyes were constantly blurred with tears and the lush landscapes were filled with sad thoughts and intentions. New Zealand probably hosts the saddest memories of my life and it’s such a pity because it’s such a wonderful country. I make a promise here to you, to go back when I will be in love again, happy again to create new and remarkable memories. With someone better, someone stronger, someone worthy.

I had considered stopping my around-the-world-trip and book a very expensive flight to go home and beg my ex to love me.

One more time.

Just one more time.

But thankfully I have incredible friends and family and everyone said the prick should have run after me after all this time. And especially after ALL the chances I had already given the fucker to come back to me and the endless times I forgave already in the four and half years together.
The cheater was the one turning the back to me, not me. The lier should have run to the airport and book a very expensive flight to get me before I flew off.

But I did. I flew away.

Fiji – Expect the Unexpected

I’m not Beyonce or Angelina Jolie, but I did happen to have a few guys chasing me. For the entire time since we had been apart, in fact, I did have a few guys flying around me but I always waved them away as you would do with bees.

[I am allergic to bees BTW.]

But let’s be honest for once, I have no idea if the time on the road relaxed my London stressed and wrinkled forehead or if the tan made me more attractive because I never had so many guys running after me before. But I had a few in Fiji. More than a few actually, plenty in fact (I know my ex reads this blog so let the sucker suck a little.)

And yes, the pics below are a metaphor of the amount of human fish swimming around me in Fiji.

I have no idea why, but it was only in Fiji that, still inebriated by the incredible amount of alcohol and drugs my body had endured in the previous weeks, that I let go of all my principles, constraints and hopes.

I finally let go and life just started flowing back through my veins.

And in that moment, finally and for a while, I enjoyed being single. I have no idea how many flirts and salty kisses I had on those stunning, palm-fringed beaches, I don’t even know how many new flags I’ve added to my global collection (thanks Jon for the idea!)

What I can tell you is that Fiji is no longer a honeymoon destination, but a singles’ paradise.

Try to believe. If you are single, book your flight now and test it for yourself.

Fiji – Singles’ Paradise

Let me put this straight from start. Fiji is no longer a honeymoon destination, but quite the opposite, it’s Singles’ Paradise. Yeah, you read that right. And no, I did not know that before. And yes, I had so much fun indeed.

There, among the crystal blue waters and white, palm-fringed beaches is where I started healing my broken heart. Or maybe not, it’s just where I said F**K YOU and pressed the Pause button to my pain.

 “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” ― Haruki Murakami 

I didn’t know there was one, but it does exist and it’s like the fire exit when there is a building on fire.

I knew there was something strange right from the beginning. I knew that my time in Fiji was going to be extraordinary as I met my first friends right at the airport and ended up sleeping in a stranger’s room in the wrong hostel that first night. The next morning, I bumped into some New Zealand’s buddies on the ferry to my first destination and that’s it, as soon as I landed in Waya, my life was -positively- upside down. 

I don’t know how or why it happened, but suddenly I had more guys (and girls) swarming around me than in my entire lifetime. I have no clue of how that could be possible, again I am not Jessica Alba, I can only think it was a sign of the universe (or god if you believe), telling me that the world is full of hot, interesting, smart people and the one I had lost was just a tiny person unable to love. It was the universe talking to me and telling me:

Hey Sabs, look around. First, you are not alone; second: pick and choose who you like.

And so I did.


I picked and choose.

I picked and choose.

And had fun.

Loads of fun in fact.

I was a whole. Again.

No longer half of a broken One.

I was me.

And people loved me for who I was. They did no try to change me.

From day 1 to day 22 on the gorgeous Fiji islands, I had fun, fun, fun with the sexy travelers that like Robinson Crusoe were landing on my sunbed shore. And I don’t know why, but a female, married friend who’ve met on these stunning islands told me:

 

Sabri right now, you are like a magnet, it’s impossible to stay away from you.

 

At first, it didn’t make any sense to me at all. I didn’t think my self-chopped hairstyle was attractive, nor my mosquitos-bitten legs or my far from the perfect body. It was something else.

Not only in my sexy dates but, finally liberated by the weight of a failed relationship and moved away from the burden of a person who was flat, boring, old and dishonest, I blossomed in my social life too. I suddenly remembered who I was before changing and adapting to the bastard: my energy was back, my love for life too, my interest to meet new people and get to know them was finally part of me again. And I made many friends without feeling guilty or worrying about what the cheater would think.It was the energy of my internal fuck-you-process and the consequent sense of freedom that perspired from my persona.

I think.

I can only think of this, because man, I was as shocked as you are now.

And maybe this sounds like bragging, and maybe it is for once, but I had never had such a success ratio in my life. LOL! But this is life, ladies (and men) the moment you really are NOT ready to open your legs arms, men (and women) from all over the place start just falling right at your feet. And it’s like this, that night after night I was feeling better and stronger and wanted and desired than ever. No longer rejected. One empty person rejected me, the world still wanted me. I could stay. Just a bit longer.

Is there better cure than slutting around when your heart and ego are broken and the person you love dumps you FOR SOMEONE ELSE? 

Perhaps. I don’t know. But for me, for those three weeks, it was a god/universe-sent break from the lying-on-the-floor, face-buried-in-the-pillow crying healing process that I had been on for weeks in NZ. 

And of course, it wasn’t just the sex, the salty kisses or the summer romances. It was putting things into perspective.

It was stopping to admire the incredible beauty that was surrounding me, it was appreciating the lucky star that allowed me to be there (instead of being home begging a selfish-cheating-human-being to love me!!!).

It was just falling in love. With life again. In all its simplicity. And with some of the most extraordinary people I’ve met in my life. Friends, flirts and my old self, most of all. If one person in this world did not want me, it didn’t mean the world was rejecting me. It was just this, one, specific, extremely selfish and horrible human who rejected me and hurt me like no one else before in my life. 

People are sent to our lives to teach us things we need to learn about ourselves. – Mandy Hale.

My Fiji realization hit me there and then. I knew I was ready for all of the things I had feared up to that moment. I sobbed once more and I realised that I want to be happy. I acknowledged I deserved to be happy. I wanted all the things everyone wants. A stable, committed, strong, faithful person next to me. Nothing more, nothing else. And I was so shocked and also deeply relieved that I’d finally gotten there.

Life and Love were all around me.

Fiji – The little things that matter

And it was embracing the little things that soothed my broken soul, day after day. 

Running on the beach when the first lights of the day were peaking through the mountains. 

Breathing in and out with consciousness at my yoga classes looking into the endless ocean at dawn. 

The hysterical laughs with Theo, Jon, Charlie, Lou and Stuart. 

The amazement in front of the miracle of every single day starting in those gorgeous islands. 

Hiking up a mountain at sunrise under a torrential rain when I kept going anyway because it’s only when you reach the top that you can see the other side.



The hours spent meditating while chasing colorful fish in one of the best reefs I’ve seen in my life.  

The newly acquired (even if unwanted) freedom that being out of a relationship can bring to the mind. 

The infinite shades of blue and orange and red and yellow when the sun was sinking into the horizon.

The sand between the toes, the hair and everywhere else.

Getting lost in dark underwater caves with a bunch of strangers. 

Katie and Steve who told me that compromises are what make love last, and Sonia and Mike who revealed that “not sweating on the small things” was the secret sauce to their +40 years marriage.

Sam and Rosie, young, beautiful and in love.

It was admiring the beautiful and perfect bodies of the local rugby player on a hot Sunday afternoon surrounded by only locals. 

And the kids on top of tree supporting their favourite handball team.

It was the incredible connection with a Dutch guy over the span of 12 hrs.

It was Mina, from China, her beautiful tattoo and the selfie stick she gave me as a gift. 

It was the hugs with Kim and Laura.

It was kayaking with Irene and Joe.

It was learning to fish with a bunch of lovely girls and a cooler full of champagne and beer.

It was the flirts, the kisses, and the meaningless sex.

It was the drinking games and one wild night washed away by far too much gin &  tonic.

It was the lightness of no promises, no expectations and there was a taste of freedom and possibility.
Of what I could have. If I could only hold on to myself and no one else for a little bit longer. 

The local dances, songs and vibe. Their incredible culture and attitude to life. 

And, just like that, by the end of the third week, I was just free. Suddenly, emotionally and happily free.

And there I was on the last day, hoping to stay just a little bit longer. To allow me to add a few more memories to the load to take away with me.

Excited about the future and what it could hold for me. Excited about the countless options and possibilities. Excited about the people I had met and their stories. No longer thinking that that fraud was my One. It definitely wasn’t.

And Fiji taught me that I deserve someone who’s excited about me, who chooses me over everybody else. Every day. Someone who doesn’t need breaks from me, someone who isn’t scared of love, someone who doesn’t only take, but gives back too. Someone without commitment issues. Someone who isn’t damaged from the past and knows how to fight. Someone who believes in us.Not forever. But forever, for now

Vinaka Vaca Levu Fiji

There is where my new life began. These are the memories I will best remember from my months on the road. Where I blossomed again like a very late spring flower. Where, like a prisoner, I was finally freed after being caged for almost 5 years.

These are stories that take the highlight of this incredible journey.This is where I found my true self again. The person I want to be. The version of myself that belongs to me and suits me so well.

No more compromises, no more faking to be someone else. 

We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; 
and we travel next, to find ourselves.

 

Reading suggestion for your single holiday in Fiji:

Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed

The Power of Now, Eckart Tolle

 

All underwater pictures taken with my new baby Olympus

 

Note: there are affiliated links above. As usual, I only recommend products I have personally tried and loved. if you buy through the links above, a few pennies from your purchase come my way so that I can keep maintaining this blog <3

New Zealand: A Visual Journey around the South Island

No matter what you’ve already heard or read about New Zealand. It will amaze you. After travelling the North Island aboard my green big Kiwi Experience bus on behalf of 100% Pure New Zealand, it was time to catch the ferry to the South Island and I had great expectations since everybody I’ve met kept saying “Wait till you get south”. Let me tell you: they were right. If the north island is stunning, the south island is heaven to the eyes and, especially, the heart.

Snow-capped mountains, crystal turquoise lakes and rivers, incredible cliffs and white sandy beaches, gorgeous hikes, wild waves, adrenaline-filled jumps. New Zealand has it all and more.

Once again..sweet as.

Sometimes words are not necessary. Sometimes they are simply not enough to describe what the eyes can see and the heart can feel. This was surely the case for me when travelling the South Island of New Zealand. For this reason, I’ve decided to create a visual itinerary rather than a detailed one as I’ve done for the North Island. The links below the pictures will take you to the various accommodations and activities I have done during my time there. If, by the end of the gallery, you want to know more, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below or drop me an email.

Here’s a visual inspiration for your trip to the South Island.

If you wish to book your own Kiwi Experience bus, you should head here and make sure to tune for my second post about the South Island soon-ish! 😃 If you are interested in booking accommodation with Xbase / Nomads click here

 
 

Notes:
1 – I was a guest of New Zealand’s Tourist Board in collaboration with Kiwi Experience and the partners mentioned above.  All opinions are always – authentically and completely – my own. 

2 – There are affiliated links on this post – as you know travel writing is one of my many jobs, this means that if you book through the links above, a small % of your payment goes towards this blog and my further travels. 

Loved this post about New Zealand? Feel free to share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest

 

New Zealand – A step-by-step itinerary around the North Island

If you followed me for a while here, on my Instagram or my Facebook page, you know that I am not a big fan of organised tours and guided trips, but back in September, after 13 months travelling all around the world, I was quite exhausted of all the planning, researching AND driving, so when Kiwi Experience, the leading kiwi bus tour operator, invited me aboard their big green bus around Middle Earth, erm..New Zealand, I jumped at the opportunity and said “Sweet As!”  I chose the Rangi Pass which basically consisted of six weeks of being comfortably escorted to gorgeous places, planned routes, accommodations and activities sorted, leaving me all the time for enjoying, photographing, making new friends and taking in all.

 
Oh yeah, actually Sweet as. 

Auckland  

I love walking everywhere and be able to see everything at my own pace, but when you are extremely stretched with time, the Hop on hop off Explorer can be the best solution to make the most of the time at your disposal without rushing from place to place and missing out on things. With a very interesting and useful commentary, this is the best way to see all the big 14 attraction the city has to offer including the Sky City and Sky Tower, the cute Parnell Village, Auckland Waterfront and Mission Bay Beach and of course the stunning Auckland Museum.


Auckland museum 

A must see for visitors and locals where three expansive levels tell the entire story of New Zealand as well as the Maori and Pacific cultures which all merged on this unique country. In the Volcano section you can also experience a close-to-terrifying first-hand earthquake experience…. yup, it felt real. There is also a great Maori Cultural Performance every day at 11am, 12pm and 1.30pm. Not far from the museum, there are the wonderful Winter Gardens set right next to a duck pond and a natural spring (free of charge).

 

 

 

 

Must stop for breakfast or a coffee break here:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BLiAsxtAF4z/?taken-by=the_storyteller

When in Auckland dream at x Base 

Location. Location. Location. Right in the middle of Queens Street you have this huge hostel which, not only offer basic dorm accommodation, but also ensuite rooms so high up that you would feel like you can touch the sky (and the Sky Tower) with a finger. The hostel also offers a great Base Travel “agency” to book all your trips and excursions around New Zealand and beyond. And if you are here on a working holiday visa, you can also get tips and job interviews through their Job Search office.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BLf41cPDT7R/?taken-by=the_storyteller

or at Nomads

Another large hostel with plenty of floors and dorms to choose from. This, like all the other XBase/Nomads hostels, is also a party hostel. Don’t expect to have long, relaxed night sleep here (unless you book a private room and buy earplugs), but who’s here to sleep anyway?

* in all Nomads/Base hostels the Wi-Fi isn’t included and it’s 5 bucks for 24 hrs, not cool (but very common in New Zealand)


Bay Of Islands 

Face to face with the dolphins with ExploreGroup

Enjoy a day cruising around the 144 islands that make this stunning bay. Stop to admire pods of dolphins jumping and playing with the boat and enjoy an earthy lunch on a deserted island like a modern castaway.

 
Fly high with Kiwi Parasailing

For a different perspective of this gorgeous area mixed with a little bit of adrenaline, book your flight with Kiwi Parasailing in Paihia.

 

Dream at XBase

A very cute collection of low-raised dorms with that beach vibe. You have a small hot tub outside and a great bar with happy hour and a delicious bbq what else you need? Book here


Coromandel Peninsula

Hot Water Beach

Visit this nature’s wonder where you can soak in your own hot water pool right on the beach. Stay as long as you want, but definitely until sunset!

 

Walk to Cathedral Cove 

One of the best walks on the northern island where the landscape, with the green grass on the left and the ocean on the right, just fills your soul and lift your spirit.

Dream at Top 10 – Hot Water Beach

Top 10 Hot Water Beach was one of my favourite stay in the northern island as I managed to get an upgrade to one of the deluxe cabins – yup all by myself. My hut was extremely cute, clean, tidy and there was everything I needed (including a fridge, kettle, coffee and the most amazing mattress in whole New Zealand!)

 

 

 

 


Waitomo

This was one of the absolute highlights of my trip around the North island. Just imagine an afternoon spent abseiling down the seemingly bottomless depths of the Black Abyss (35m in total darkness!!), flying fox, climbing waterfalls and tubing in dark caves only illuminated by glowworms. This is what I call a must-do in New Zealand. If you feel a less extreme adventure, there are also other interesting options.

 


Rotorua

There is so much to do in Rotorua that at least a couple of nights at XBase are necessary. This is another cool place to spend some quality time especially in the large pool outside.

About 30km south of Rotorua, there is one of the largest and mystical geothermal areas in New Zealand. Waiotopu (Maori for “sacred waters”) has many colourful  hot springs as well as the Champagne Pool, the Artist’s Palette and the beautiful Primrose Terrace. If you are there in time, try and catch the Lady Knox Geyser at 10.15am daily.

 

 


Polynesian spa

After a long day walking around the wonders of Waiotopu, there is nothing better to relax and soak in the peace and the wonderful view from this gorgeous piece of paradise. Make sure to go there before sunset and just enjoy the peace and the warmth filling you from the inside.

Tamaki Maori Village

As mentioned above, I’m not a big fan of organised “cultural” experiences where you get to see artists performing ancient rituals and dances.
But my overnight stay at the Tamaki Maori Village was surely something different, where everything felt authentic and unstaged. A few lucky ones (those staying for the night) were welcomed by a great afternoon tea, we had the honour to play some of the traditional Maori games followed by a great feast at dinner in buffet style.
I was amazed by the haka dance and pleased to learn a few words in a song we all sang together at dinner. Book your experience at Tamaki if you wish to get a first understanding of the Maori culture and tradition.

 


Taupo

Taupo is one of the many beautiful kiwi towns sitting on the shore of a beautiful lake. At first sight, I knew Taupo was the place for me and in fact, I extended my stay an extra night at XBase. During my time there I did a couple of extreme activities. Firstly, throwing myself off at 47m attached to just what looks like a normal rope as my first-time bungy jumping with Taupo Bungy.

 

Secondly climbing up the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of the most exhilarating, incredible, beautiful walks of my entire life with Tongariro Expeditions.

 




 

 


Wellington

The tour of the North Island finishes off in Wellington also known as Windy-Welly where the museum Te-Papa offers the most interesting and interactive space I’ve ever seen as well as providing the most incredible experiences for children as well as taller children.  In Wellington, I also decided to spoil myself to an AMAZING pizza and I can swear by it (I can’t swear by many outside the Italian borders and this is one).

If you have time, make sure to grab a flat while or brunch at Caffe L’Affare and to catch the cable car to the Botanic Gardens. Also,  if you like me are wi-fi and books addicted, make sure to check the Wellington City Library (super fast and FREE wifi) and make sure to stop at Unity Books for a general browse or to pick up a new travel book for your journey. I, appropriately, bought Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide To Getting Lost, a witty, well-researched and fascinating investigation into loss and getting lost, that combines personal memories, philosophy, psychology and it will open up a world of new thoughts. The perfect companion for my trip around New Zealand (and the endless one  inside myself).

And again, best hostel in town is XBase, great location, fun staff and here again I was upgraded to a double room.  Sweet As.


More about KiwiExperience in New Zealand 

The buses offer all modern comfort and huge windows to admire the landscape outside. The drivers are all super-knowledgable and fun to hang out with. Especially Kyle and Fly were incredible and they went over and beyond their role to help us.

Ideal for:

+ first-time travellers with little experience of planning/researching and/or travel-exhausted people (like me) who want to be spoiled and escorted from place to place for once 😃

– young backpackers who are manly looking to party at night and have a great time meeting lots of new friends in New Zealand

– English-speaking travellers: all commentary and info are only in English so if you don’t have a fluent English you might end up missing your bus or most of the stuff going on

Possible improvements: 

– as an independent traveller and a photographer I suffered lots as we couldn’t stop to take pictures of the incredible landscape that were passing in front of our eyes from the bus’ window -> I would highly recommend much more photo stops, at the end most people come to New Zealand once in their lifetime!

– lots, lots, lots of paper to fill every day, that could easily be integrated by an extension in their nice app. The papers, despite the very old-style method, make everything smooth and easy ahead of arriving at your next destination

– the check-in process at Base needs big improvements. When the +50 disembark the bus and run to the check in desk it can take a good 45 minutes to finally get into your room. Same for checking out 😔

 
 

If you wish to book your own Kiwi Experience bus, you should head here and make sure to tune for my second post about the South Island soon-ish! 😃 If you are interested in booking accommodation with Xbase / Nomads click here

 
 

Notes:
1 – I was a guest of New Zealand’s Tourist Board in collaboration with Kiwi Experience and the partners mentioned above.  All opinions are always – authentically and completely – my own. 

2 – There are affiliated links on this post – as you know travel writing is one of my many jobs, this means that if you book through the links above, a small % of your payment goes towards this blog and my further travels. 

Loved this post about New Zealand? Feel free to share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest

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