Lamu Island: part 2

On our second day in Lamu we took a traditional dhow boat trip to neighbouring Manda island. As a tourist, you are offered boat trips approximately every 2 minutes as you walk along the Lamu foreshore so eventually we cracked. The boat operators were pretty desperate given the huge lack of tourists because of the impending election.

Despite lots of competition we ended up with a pretty lacklustre crew, I seem to have bad luck with boat trips! We were overcharged at the end of the trip and had to wait around at the start of the day for them to be ready, standard stuff. It was still a fun day though and it was pretty magical to be sailing between small Kenyan islands.

Waiting on the foreshore for our crew to (finally) be ready to go

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The new way I pack for travelling

On a rooftop in Lamu, Kenya

Black jeans, black & white striped t shirts and converse trainers. This was pretty much the uniform for my last big trip. I had obsessed so much over packing a monotone wardrobe so everything went together that I completely forgot about that thing called ‘colour’. Then somewhere on the road between Montana and new Mexico, I realised that dressing exclusively in dreary tones was doing nothing for my mood, let alone my travel snaps.

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Lamu Island: part 1

My sister booked our entire East Africa trip. I want to get it out there early that I can take exactly zero credit for the great time we had! Andy and I literally just turned up and enjoyed the heck out of our five week vacation. So while I had an idea of what the safari and some of our destinations might be like, many places were a complete surprise.

The first big surprise was the island of Lamu in Kenya. Lamu Old Town is one of the oldest Swahili settlements in East Africa. The old port there was founded by Arab traders around the 14th century and so the place looks like something out of Aladdin.

We stayed in the most incredible AirBnb. It was all white washed walls, ornately carved wooden doors, heavy carpets (the non magical kind), traditional Swahili furniture and lush plants. To get there we had to wind through tiny alleyways, passing donkeys, women selling fruit, cats and kids playing in tiny courtyards. I don’t think I’ve ever been so enchanted by a place and I’m frustrated the photos don’t seem to do it justice.

Looking up from the courtyard in our AirBnb

The view from our bed into the room

The sitting room at our AirBnb

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Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi was the first stop on our five week East African adventure. We flew with Qatar Airways from Melbourne to Doha and then Doha to Nairobi. Before leaving I had researched whether or not you can obtain the East African visa (for Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda) on arrival and couldn’t find any reliable information. So I’d like to state that at September 16, 2017 you CAN get the EAC visa on arrival! It costs $US100 and you need cash. Just in case you ever need that information!

After getting our visas we purchased pre paid SIM cards at the airport, ordered an Uber and drove through reasonable traffic to Beth and Grant’s apartment in Westlands. Beth and Grant are friend’s of my sister’s. My sister lives in Rwanda and has many lovely (conventiently located!) mates across East Africa. After over 24 hours of travel it was lovely to arrive in their beautiful apartment, shower, be fed delicious risotto and hop into bed!

The next morning Beth and Grant were delivering a huge bundle of bread donated from a fancy bakery to a facility for homeless boys, so we joined them. A lot of the boys left home and came to Nairobi looking for work or to be less of a burden on their families. They were all very sweet and introduced themselves in between lining up for loaves of artisanal sourdough and french pastries. One kid did an adorable happy dance after receiving a chocolate eclair. They welcomed us into their dormitory which was an eye opening and important experience. It was very rough but I was glad these guys had a place to sleep. After hanging out for a bit and patting cute stray puppies we left.

After having a very grounding, check-your-privilege kind of experience it was a bit jarring to head straight to a tourist hot spot. But off we went to the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage where young, sick, injured and orphaned elephants are looked after and rehabilitated. It was pretty damn cute!

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Packing for my holiday

I’ve got sunscreen, mosquito repellent, a rain coat, a swimsuit, and a Panama hat that will inevitably end up squished. I’ve got leg coverings in all forms including long leggings, short leggings, shorts, culottes and trousers. I’ve got white tops and I’ve got black tops. Do I need two kinds of runners and hiking boots? Do I need more dresses? Is six pairs of novelty oversized earrings too many?

These are the questions I’ve been asking myself all week as I pack for my East African adventure. We fly out on Friday! How do you decide what to pack for vacations?

Check out my 8 essential items for long term travel and 10 tips for looking good while travelling.

Illustration by Mari Andrew

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A drive from Melbourne: Mount Buffalo

Back in 2015, before our Big Trip, I remember feeling extremely burdened by the familiar. I drove down the same streets to the same office every day. I knew where all my usual groceries sat in the store and would traipse almost the exact same path, weaving through the aisles, to buy them as I did the time before and the time before that. I really longed for newness and to refresh my eyes with an unfamiliar scene, even something as mundane as a new place to buy bread.

Part of the problem was I lived somewhere pretty small and it was hard to drastically change things up. Now that I live in a big city, I can explore new neighbourhoods and shops, but it’s easy to fall back into a routine that eventually becomes stale.

I think it’s important to keep exploring the unfamiliar, even if it’s inconvenient. An easy way to do this is a weekend drive. Not long ago Andy and I spent a couple of hours exploring Mount Buffalo in Victoria, about 3.5 hours from Melbourne.

It was beautiful and cold and the mountain air felt so cleansing to breathe in.

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Friday Fun

TGIF my friends. SO glad it’s the weekend. Especially since I no longer work from 5:30am on Saturdays! Absolutely life changing. What do you have planned for the weekend? I’m going to prepare for our East Africa trip which is just two weeks away, go to a housewarming party and make dad breakfast for Father’s Day.

Here are some fun links for your Friday:

Someone has started a hilarious Tumblr called That Blue Off-The-Shoulder Dress from Zara (yes, that one I’m wearing in the photo above!). It documents the many, many times you see women getting around in the dress. The captions are on point.

Taylor Swift’s new tune has been out for a week now and I already know all the words. Have you seen the video? I’ve read so many articles on all the hidden meanings within it from the name written on the tombstone to the single dollar bill in the bathtub. Here are 13 things you might have missed

I am so intrigued and tempted by the simplicity of Tiny Houses. We drove right near this amazing one in California on our USA road trip.

I found a new blog through this post ‘Things That Helped‘ (when the writers’ father passed away) and I’m hooked, I plan to binge read it this weekend.

This list has me drooling.

Listening to this will instantly cheer you up (I was driving to work and suddenly burst into happy tears at THE moment).

Speaking of being cheered up, sometimes there’s just nothing you can physically do and that’s OK… Some VIPs in my life are going through a hard time right now and I want to let them know I’m thinking of them xx

Have a great weekend.

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What’s the best thing you’ve ever done?

Wistfully staring into a Greek Islands sunset, August 2016

I turned 29 a little over a week ago and already I feel like I’m hurtling at breakneck speed towards 30. So lately I’ve been thinking if I should do one of those ’30 before 30′ bucket lists. The only problem is I can’t think of 30 things I’d like to achieve or do and really, why should 30 be a cut off date?! I feel like we focus so much on the things we’d like to do and the places we want to go, we rarely pause to think about what we have achieved.

A few weeks ago I caught up with a wonderful friend from my exchange student days. As we reflected on our semester of exploring Viennese castles, scoring ridiculously good opera seats and partying far too much, we both agreed that doing a university semester abroad was one of the best things we’d ever done.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but there are things in my life that I just know were the right thing to do. That despite the risk, the financial or emotional cost, turned out to be some of the best things I’ve ever done.

Things like leaving Melbourne to move almost 3000 kilometres to Kalgoorlie; a small mining town on the edge of the West Australian desert. That place was my home for three and a half years, it gave me lifelong friends, valuable work experiences, bizarre and amazing life moments. Oh, and my relationship with Andy! This experience completely challenged and changed my perspective and I know I’m better for it.

Quitting my job and selling most of my possessions to travel the world for 16 months is an obvious best. When I sit at my desk at work, with photos from the trip plastered all over my cubicle, I still can’t quite believe Andy and I pulled it off. That we went so many places and had so many experiences.

Going back to uni after my poorly executed ‘gap year’ (read: year of boring office work and two internships) was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I’ve picked fairly grandiose examples but the small or intangible things count. I love that I’ve maintained such amazing relationships with both my parents and my siblings. I’m proud that at one point in my life, I got really damn good at making cheesecakes.

While it might seem self indulgent to sit and think about all your wins, it sure is a nice break from constantly looking forward.

So what’s the best thing you’ve ever done?

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12 things you’ll know if you’ve done a USA road trip

‘Right on red’ is genius

In the States, if it’s safe to do so you can turn right if you’re stopped at a red light. It’s kind of the equivalent of having slip lanes to turn left in Australia but you can do it at every traffic light or intersection unless there’s a sign saying not to. It saves waiting for no reason when the way is clear to turn. Love it!

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Would you date someone shorter than you?

Taylor Swift presents a VMA to Bruno Mars onstage during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for MTV)

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine was showing me her Tinder matches. Hunched over her phone, we poured over the photos, attempting to gauge the height of her potential suitors by comparing them to nearby landmarks and other people in the photo. She didn’t want to agree to a date, only to show up and see someone shorter in stature. Not long after that, over drinks with a group of ladies the conversation turned to online dating and the height thing came up again “I would never date a guy shorter than me!” came the responses.

I understand where some women get their height obsession from. The heteronormative world view has long told us men should be tall and strong and women should be dainty and take up as little space as possible. As a tall woman, I’ve definitely had moments of feeling ungainly. But literally, only moments! I often forget I tower over some of my friends, realising only if we happen to be stood next to each other in front of a reflective surface. “Wow! You only come up to my shoulder!” style.

I’ve never minded being taller than a romantic partner. It’s just not really a thing for me. Andy and I are exactly the same height, so when I wear heels I’m always taller. It makes me feel statuesque.

When I was a teenager my dad’s girlfriend at the time made some random comment about supermodels always being taller than their boyfriends. “You think a man with Elle Macpherson on his arm would mind being shorter?!” she remarked. I have done zero research in the field of supermodels and their height relative to their romantic partner’s (female, male or otherwise). But this always stuck with me; that tallness in women is glamorous. Sure she meant in the context of being attractive to men which is fraught with other issues but I’m sticking to the take home message of not stressing over height. It’s impossible to make yourself shorter without some fairly hideous slouching, which is frankly unacceptable. Shoulders back, heads high ladies.

Would you date someone shorter than you?

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