Author Archives: jesshallas
KOH PHANGAN: Half Moon Party, A Hospital Trip, Haad Salad Beach
In Koh Phangan we stayed in the best hostel of our trip so far – called Baan Tai Backpackers which was close to the Half Moon Party that we were going to on the Saturday night (Valentines Day). The owners Karen and Tristan were so friendly and welcoming; they would drink with us all in the evenings and have great tips about the island. It was a big step up from our hostel experiences in Koh Tao. The beds were really comfy and we stayed in a 6 bed female room with an ensuite. On the first night it was just Elle and I in the room so we had a much needed relaxing sleep after our previous night of hell in Koh Tao Backpackers.
The funny thing is though when the other room mates arrived one of the girls lent on the toilet on the first day and it fell over and broke! Unfortunately Koh Phangan was a slight fail for us… not because of the island itself, it was lovely but because of ourselves (mainly me haha).
Day Two: Half Moon Party
The second day we went to the markets in Thongsala. But first of all we stopped for a late breakfast at The Sweet Cafe and had a full English! Strangely when walking down the road we bumped into a German girl and her mum that had been staying in our first hostel: Lub. D in Bangkok! Considering we were so far away it was crazy to bump into someone again. Then we shopped in the markets for some neon tops for the Half Moon Party that night – mine was fluorescent green with a dream catcher print on it. I got it for 100 baht which is around £2… Not bad considering I will probably never wear it again.
Preparing for the Half Moon Party was really fun with the hostel hosting pre drinks and providing neon paint so we could decorate ourselves. However unfortunately I started to feel quite ill even though I’d had barely any to drink… My stomach hurt and I felt sick – I think all the different types of food was catching up on me which was really annoying as the day before Elle and I were saying how we’d been fine so far; completely jinxed it! Still we went to the Half Moon I just didn’t drink and was in quite a lot of pain the whole time. I was pretty gutted for myself and especially Elle because we didn’t get to experience it in the way we’d had liked to.
The Half Moon is in the middle of the jungle, and even though I felt ill I could still appreciate how cool it was! We ended up staying until about 3am which is longer than I thought I’d be able to last at least. The weirdest thing happened as we left the Half Moon Party; a guy asked me to take a picture of a massive group of people but as I was about to the whole group started chanting ‘Bournemouth’!! Elle and I were both like whattttttt we’re from Bournemouth too! Here we were in Koh Phangan and had bumped into a group of guys from our hometown! Elle really recognised one of them but I didn’t and a couple of days later she realised he worked at the same place as her – small world!
Day Three: Hospital Trip & Haad Salad Beach
Now… After our first night at Jizo’s hostel in Koh Tao I noticed my hand was itchy and I had started to get red bumps over it… Throughout the days in Koh Tao it spread over both my hands and began down my arms. I was worrying that maybe I’d caught something from the bed sheets seeing as it wasn’t the most clean hostel like at all… So I thought I’ll see how it goes and if it didn’t go away then I’d go to a pharmacy.
But by day 3 in Koh Phangan (by this point i’d had it for about 5 days) I woke up and when changing into my bikini saw that the rash was now on my stomach. It was a Sunday so we were unsure where to go but headed to First Western Hospital where we spent most of the day. I had to have a nurse do my blood pressure, weight etc then wait a bit longer before seeing a doctor. It was concluded I’d had an allergic reaction … I still have no idea what caused it but it’s probably just because I’m not used to this climate or being bitten by Mosquitos frequently.
The Doctor told me they would give me an antihistamine injection followed by anti histamine tables to take back with me. No biggy I thought after having several injections in my arm for travel vaccinations. UM no… I went into the emergency room where all the beds were with Elle sat in the waiting area. Turns out I needed three massive injections… They were thick long tubes with liquid in, two antihistamine and one anti-inflammatory; the staff saw my face and attempted to lighten the mood. Instead of injecting into my muscle it had to go in the inner arm where you get a blood test done. So they put a needle into my skin and from that attached each tube. Luckily it wasn’t as bad as the needles looked as they just had to do it very slowly so I barely felt a thing and the male nurse was talking to me at the same time. Then I just had to lie there for a good 20 minutes to relax! I felt like I was in an episode of Holby City! The female staff also loved both Elle and I as we are really pale (Some Thai women consider this attractive and want to lighten their skin) – they kept calling us beautiful and when I was lying on the bed they all came up to me putting their arms against mine. It was quite funny but surreal… As that certainly wouldn’t happen in a hospital in the UK. One Nurse even has pictures on her smartphone with Elle and I!!
KOH TAO: Aka Paradise Island
We left Bangkok to head to Koh Tao which took 9 hours on a night bus and ferry. All seemed like it would be a relaxing trip where we could get some sleep. Oh no no…. A drunk Australian guy got on our bus at last minute and started chanting ‘Get on the bus’ and ‘Put some fuckin tunes on’! Which was rather annoying to be honest when the rest of us clearly just wanted to relax along the journey. After a while though he did shut up; probably just fell asleep in the end, and overall the journey wasn’t too bad even though neither Elle or myself got much sleep.
Day One: Jizo’s Hostel & Sairee Beach
We arrived to our hostel around 10am the next day called ‘Jizo’s’ – very interesting name I know but the reviews on hostelworld and trip advisor were generally very positive. Now I don’t know what planet these backpackers were on when they wrote these reviews as the minute Elle and I walked into our teeny tiny room we were not so impressed to say the least! The worst part was the toilet/shower combo with barely any space between the toilet and shower, it was simply disgusting and from that moment on we decided we would spend as little time in the hostel as possible – literally just to sleep!
The one benefit of the hostel was that we were literally a few minutes walk from Sairee beach so we headed there in the afternoon. It was beautiful; the waters were clear and refreshing – I spent a good amount of time in the sea just taking in the amazing surroundings.
In the evening we had our first (of many) meals on the beach… The only downside was the amount of Mosquitos that appear in the evenings but regardless it was lovely. The plan was to head back to the hostel to sleep after dinner but we stumbled across The Sunset Beach and Pool bar which was playing cool music and had fire performers so we sat down on the mats on the sand and enjoyed a nice Chang beer (which is very cheap!). Overall our first day in Koh Tao was relaxing; it was nice to be out of a boiling hot capital city and onto a beautiful island.
Day Two: Nang Yuan & A Spontaneous Night Out
On our second day in Koh Tao we decided to do a day trip and take a Taxi boat to neighbouring island Nang Yuan. Once there we were able to walk up to a viewpoint where we could take in the stunning view of Koh Tao in the distance. It was pretty hot walking up and we were definitely sweaty once reaching the top but the view was very much worth it! In the afternoon we rented some snorkelling equipment; my first experience of proper snorkelling! It took a good five minutes or so to get used to it but once I was I really loved it! The whole breathing underwater situation felt weird, but gradually I forgot about it and got to see the most amazing rainbow fish, leopard print fish, starfish, and loads and loads of sea cucumbers.
Evening two on Koh Tao consisted of dinner on the beach again, I decided to try the Thai red curry with prawns but asked for it less spicy – it was still so hot! Very tasty though with really good prawns but I couldn’t eat it all as my mouth was on fire! Later in the evening we were joined by two travellers; one from Kent and the other the US; as they sat on the table next to us. We all chatted with some Chang beers, exchanging stories of our travels/planned travels.
Conveniently we had eaten at a restaurant near to the Sunset Party bar again so headed there; it was a bit later on so the beach was already busy with people dancing. I think there was a few times where I had to remind myself where I was; dancing on a beach in the Gulf of Thailand surrounded by travellers from all around the world – such an amazing but surreal feeling. We ended up meeting a lot of people; later in the night we met three guys from San Diego who were really funny so spent a lot of time chatting with them. Considering we hadn’t planned to go out properly Elle and I finished the night around 3am with our first experience of the amazing pancakes here! They have portable stalls attached to scooters around the island. I had banana with Nutella and peanut butter – so so nice!
Day Three: Sairee beach Palm Tree Searching and Koh Tao Backpackers
We loved Koh Tao however hated our hostel so opted to switch to one just around the corner on our third day called Koh Tao backpackers. It was pretty easy to get to and still very close to the beach.
As it was our last full day we headed back to Sairee beach for a day of amazing views again and went on the search for a specific Palm tree that our friend Matt told us to find. He had taken a picture on this exact Palm tree over a year before! It didn’t actually take long to find and we took plenty of pictures sat on it; even re-enacting his original pose. We also stumbled across a beach swing so took some of the classic photos that everyone has!
Koh Tao was amazing; it’s just a shame that the hostels let us down, but overall it was bearable because we were happy to spend all of our time out and about in the island. Koh Tao Backpackers hostel turned out to be bad also – cleanliness wise it was okay, but it was actually our room mates that let the side down for this hostel. There were three guys from Denmark and they were by far the worst people we had met – they were just inappropriate to the point we didn’t want to be around them. When we finally headed to bed though we had the night from hell! First of all the room was smelly and messy from the boys and the beds were extremely squeaky so you couldn’t even move an inch without making a racket! That wasn’t the worst of it though; an English guy also staying in our room had a night terror in the middle of the night and literally shouted and screamed… and then a few hours later I woke up to him sleep walking. He jumped out of his bed and attempted to open the door a few times and then finally got back in… Being half asleep this whole experience was so confusing but quite funny in hindsight when we talk about it now. We were knackered though and got up the next day to catch our ferry over to the next Island… Koh Phangan.
BANGKOK: The Beginning of Becoming True Backpackers
Leaving Dubai with our luggage and heading to Thailand felt great; the journey between the two was just around 6 hours. However within that 6 hours we experienced an hour and a half of pretty intense turbulence; I’ve never experienced such a long amount before. Even the cabin crew had to sit for the majority of it; but all in all we arrived to Bangkok in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Arriving at our hostel at 3am led to a very awkward entering of our room with the other 6 girls in there already asleep! However once we’d sorted our stuff out and found our way to free lockers we settled down for our first night in a hostel… Now the backpacking experience was definitely becoming real! The hostel was called Lub. D which in Thai means sleep well, and we sure did. It was such a nice hostel to start our trip; with a downstairs bar, a great shower room and really helpful staff!
Day 1: General laziness and eating lots of food
Day 1 was a tad of a struggle due to going to sleep at 3am and waking again between 8-9am… We wondered around the streets of Silom where our hostel was based. This was my first ever experience of Thailand and I have to say it felt far from my lifestyle back home. The hanging wires from the wooden poles, the variety of smells from the stalls upon stalls of street food, and interesting smells most probably coming from the drains. However all of these thing are what make you realise how big a world we live in and how our lifestyles across cultures vary drastically, there is much more to life than that of in the western world.
After strolling around the local area we settled down for lunch at The Mango Tree; we actually stayed there for a good few hours whilst experiencing our first day of the intense heat…
During the evening we went for dinner with another girl from our dorm who was from Paris… It was nice to sit down with someone we’ve never met before and just chat! In some sense Elle and I have said this reminded us of uni – where you are constantly meeting new people and hearing their stories. Jen had flew in that day also so we all headed back to the hostel for a pretty early night.
Day 2: The Grand Palace and Wat Pho
Elle had been to see The Grand Palace and Wat Pho previously but she was more than happy to go again so I could see it. The journey to the Palace was actually quite fun as we took the Sky train to a pier and from there took a tourist ferry up the river so we got to hear some interesting facts along the way.
First stop was The Grand Palace, which really is grand… It was so beautiful to see the amazing architecture with such bright and complicated patterns – definitely a work of art! Also at the Palace was the Emerald Buddha, very cool however you weren’t able to take pictures whilst in there. You had to sit with either your legs crossed or under your bum so that your feet were not the facing the Buddha. It kind of reminded me of my experience at the Sistine Chapel in Rome as you had to be quiet and respect the religious surroundings you were in. The whole room was extremely beautiful.
We spent about an hour and a half at The Grand Palace. You had to cover your legs and arms: the funny thing was that Elle and I thought we’d covered up enough – Elle wore a maxi dress and wrapped her scarf around her arms and I wore a maxi skirt with a top and scarf. BUT they told us just using a scarf wasn’t enough; I guess people could easily take it off so I understand from that point of view. SO we had to borrow clothes from the Palace; these blue shirts that looked ridiculous with our nicely put together outfits… They kind of reminded me of hospital scrubs, so we rocked that look for the time we were there!
Later we headed to Wat Pho; home to the massive and I mean massive golden reclining Buddha! I’ve never seen anything like it and I cannot imagine how or who made it because it was literally nearly the size of an aeroplane! Luckily we were able to take pictures of that. This concluded our cultural day out and we again took the ferry/ sky train combo back to our hostel.
In the evening we went to a really good German and Thai that restaurant called Gi’s in a place called Pat Phong which was in walking distance of our hostel. It was so funny as it was based in an area with loads of sex bars; so many Thai girls or ladyboys trying to get attention of western men walking by and even us! So many people tried to get us to go into the bars to watch interesting shows let’s put it that way, you could see girls dancing on the podiums in all of the bars. When at Gi’s we sat by the window; it was entertaining to watch the world go by and see all this taking place outside.
Onto the food though – Elle had German and I had Thai Green Curry, as trip advisor had stated the food was great, as well as the service; the German owner (named Gi) was very welcoming and accommodating and even gave us some advice for the islands.
Day 3: MBK & Final Day
We were leaving around 9pm to travel to Koh Tao by a night bus and ferry so checked out of our hostel first thing, stored our luggage there and then took the short sky train trip to a massive shopping centre called MBK.
This shopping centre was like nothing you would get in the UK, all the shops and stalls sold ‘brands’ and you can barter down the prices. My favourite part of them was the indoor markets. I love elephants so ended up buying elephant trousers and a top with elephants on as well; I obviously won’t be wearing them at the same time though!
Bangkok was an interesting place to be, a lot of people give mixed feedback about it. I’m glad I got to go but it was very hot being in a city with no pool or beaches so by the last day I was definitely looking forward to heading to the islands. We will be heading back to Bangkok a couple of days before we fly to Sydney. When we come back we are going to stay on the backpacker road called Ko San Road so we get to experience that part of Bangkok.
I began writing this as I was travelling on a night bus from Bangkok to Chumpon, from here we took a ferry over to Koh Tao. I’m very much looking forward to all the beautiful beaches that the islands in the Gulf of Thailand have to offer, this island hopping experience is going to be fun!
Emirates Flight Cancelled, Luggage Missing, DUBAI
Here it was… Finally the day where Elle and I would begin our travels… ‘Start the Adventure’, yet this adventure was not going to begin without a few problems at the start…
After waiting for our gate to open we finally saw the words on screen we had wanted to see all afternoon, ‘go to gate’ I proclaimed! Of which the girl sat next to me finished my sentence with ‘5, go to gate 5’. Personally the thought of flying can make me quite anxious so knowing I was on the way to the gate gave me a sense of relief… All the hanging about at airports gives me the time to worry. However, at this point Elle and I were totally unaware that this relief would soon be replaced by numerous days of stress.
Once at our gate we joined a massive queue which seemed to be going…nowhere! Eventually, at least half an hour later a fellow passenger walked past and revealed our flight was in fact cancelled due to a technical fault. Firstly of course that’s fair enough I would not want to get on any plane with some sort of fault, however the Emirates staff at Heathrow were simply diabolical; lacking any sense of customer service… I mean come on just a simple announcement to tell us the flight was cancelled & that we were queueing in order to be transferred onto a later flight isn’t that hard to do? Apparently so for Emirates.
So our adventure began with sitting on the floor in a queue for nearly four hours; only bonus was that they were handing out free drinks and snacks very occasionally.
3/4 hours later: FINALLY we’re front of the queue… BUT just our luck the air stewardess tells us we are the first people they cannot fit on as there were no more seats on later Emirates flights. Brilliant, by this point it was becoming a complete joke.
In the end we were transferred onto a Qantas flight to Sydney but stopping at Dubai, which meant literally nearly running to the gate to get on it so last minute.
But at least we were finally up in the air ready to enjoy our time in Dubai, blissfully unaware of the further drama that would follow.
We arrived to Dubai 9am, originally we were due to land 3am and therefore had booked that night in the hotel… Money wasted!
As we stood by the baggage belt for a good while doubt started to creep up in our minds which was confirmed when a man came up to us and a group of people that had also originally been on the cancelled flight to tell us that there were no more bags for Dubai. WHAT!
There we were in temperatures of 28 degrees and above with just a pair of leggings, a tshirt and a hoody… Great. This also took up more of our time we should have had in Dubai by filling out paperwork to report the bags missing. The staff at Dubai airport gave us the impression that our bags would get to us later that day, but actually we were without our luggage for the majority of our time in Dubai.
Dubai is Beautiful
On a more positive note, Dubai is amazing, I loved every moment of being there (minus the no clothes situation)! It is so hard to describe but I loved the general feel of the city. The buildings are so impressive and the Dubai Mall is incredibly huge with hundreds upon hundreds of shops, but also has the tourist entrance to the Burj Khalifa and the worlds largest aquarium inside!
Day 1: Dubai Mall & Fountain Displays
Because we had no clothes we decided to head to the Dubai Mall on our first afternoon; you could spend a whole day and more in this place it is that big!
From 6pm every evening there is a fountain display outside the mall every half an hour in front of the Burj Khalifa, it was spectacular! As well as the fountains, the Burj Khalifa behind looked absolutely stunning lit up in the dark.
Following this we went to a Chinese restaurant at the mall which had a balcony overlooking the displays; loud music would play and each time the display was different – it almost looked like the water was dancing!
The staff at the restaurant seemed to really like us, they gave us two lots of prawn crackers for free before we’d even got our mains, and to top it all off they gave us a free dessert which was different… But good! It was ice cream in the middle surrounded by a type of fried waffle.
The funniest part for me personally was when we left the balcony and walked through the restaurant to go they were playing the song ‘Good Riddance, Time of your life’ by Green Day. The reason it was funny was because earlier on in the night one of the waiters asked me what song my wrist tattoo was so I told him… I actually think they played it on purpose !!
Day 2: Mall of the Emirates & Aquarium
On our first full day in Dubai we still had no luggage despite being told we would have received it by this point… Grr! So again we basically had to spend most of the day inside.
Mall of the Emirates is another big shopping mall so Elle and I headed there first thing in the morning. Inside is the biggest indoor ski slope; Ski Dubai. It was really cool to watch from the window as there were also people doing ringoing and zorbing, and a Frozen themed area for children! We decided to eat at the St Moritz Cafe by the windows of ski Dubai but the freezing cold temperatures from inside meant we had to move away.
In the afternoon to went to Dubai Mall Aquarium tunnel and Underwater Zoo where we met the biggest crocodile ever called King Croc. My favourite part though was seeing all the crazy looking fish and most of all I loved the piranhas! I just find them so entertaining with their teeth; I even filmed one looking angry at me, kind of strange that of all the things we saw, they were my favourite.
Later in the evening we went to see the Burj Al Arab which is a hotel with restaurants designed to look like a ships sail. In the evening it is lit up and looks so impressive, as does next door; the wave hotel aka Jumeriah Beach Resort (very posh).
Day 3: Luggage arrives! Marina beach, The Palm, & Dubai Marina
On our final full day in Dubai our luggage FINALLY arrived!! 6am came when the phone next to my bed began ringing; it was reception telling me my bag was at last in Dubai! However unfortunately Elle’s wasn’t going to arrive until between 12-1pm. It turns out Elle’s luggage went to Sydney…& mine; well they didn’t know where mine was so I reckon it never left London.
Once we got ready and finally felt properly clean for the first time in days we headed down to Marina beach and soaked up some rays. Then we went on a bit of an adventure with a taxi driver who drove us on to the Palm so we could see the amazing buildings on it. It wasn’t what I expected… For some reason I just pictured sand everywhere when in fact it is just like the rest of Dubai with main roads and high buildings. Nevertheless very impressive.
Final day: Burj Khalifa, Fly to Bangkok!
Friday came and our flight to Bangkok was later that afternoon, however there was still one attraction left to do that cannot be missed in Dubai; going up the Burj Khalifa – the worlds tallest building! The lift speeds up to the viewpoint so quickly it is insane how fast it goes for the height you reach! Once you step out onto the outside viewing area you are surrounded by beautiful views of Dubai including in the far distance ‘The World’ islands – Dubai’s most recent construction project. Being above all the skyscrapers really makes you realise how tall the Burj Khalifa is.
I would really recommend visiting Dubai, everything about it is just astounding to see, and I will definitely be visiting again in the future… Hopefully next time with some clothes!
‘Would you do that if it was Daytime?’
Imagine, it’s midday you are walking down the street in a busy local Town/City minding your own business & suddenly a man grabs your bum, chest, legs?! Would this really happen? The chances are extremely slim. In fact if this had happened the likely outcome would be to phone the Police. So why is it that when the sun goes down and a few drinks have been consumed, it becomes acceptable and the norm?
On a recent weekend away in Cardiff visiting friends, we went out on the Friday and Saturday nights, both of which we received some form of verbal/physical annoyance from men. Now that I have moved back home and no longer live in a big City, I had forgotten what it was like to get this kind of ‘attention’, as going out at home usually consists of bars rather than massive clubs.
My ‘favourite’ incident or not so favourite in the literal sense of the word was on the Friday night; walking towards Welsh Club ready to enjoy a fun night with friends, three guys walked towards us one proclaiming the classic ‘wheyyyyyy’; I guess this was because we were all wearing skirts and our legs were out. Screaming words such as whey at us is 1) not flattering in any sense and 2) a massive turn off, so obviously we ignored them and probably gave them unimpressed looks. Their response? ‘Oh halloweens not for a couple of weeks love!’ Right so two minutes ago you were primarily objectifying us and now you are basically trying to say we look ugly, all because a simple ‘whey’ does not result in a pull for you. How lovely.
Saturday night walking along St Marys Street heading towards the taxi rank a man decided to walk along side us; ‘Well done you have really sexy legs’ one said to me. Thank you and all but I didn’t actually wear this dress for you, someone I don’t know, to approach me on the street and proclaim this. In some sense I guess it could be a compliment, but I don’t seek compliments from strangers, or anything else for that matter. The funny thing is he then went on to tell us ALL that we had sexy legs, obviously trying his luck, what did he expect the outcome to be? Oh actually that’s a silly question.
By the Saturday night in Cardiff I really had, had enough responding to one guy who had touched my friends chest as we walked past; ‘Would you do that if it was daytime?’ Yeah I would was his response, of course I cut him short with my reply – ‘actually the answer is no you would not’. And I’m entirely right, nobody (regardless of gender) would go up to another stranger in the day time and invade their personal space in this way.
As I said before I usually don’t experience this as often anymore, and going out two nights in a Capital City does not mean that every single guy is like that, however no matter where I am whether it’s in a big city or in a small bar, there will always be those guys that think it is acceptable to just grab you as you walk past. Just maybe think next time, I didn’t ask you to do that did I, so please don’t. I certainly would not go up to a stranger and touch them inappropriately, so why is it acceptable for you, a man, to do that to me?
Just because us girls like to dress up on a Saturday night does not mean we enjoy it when strangers give us this kind of ‘attention’.
I’m going to Travel the World…
As of 2nd February 2015, this will become my travel blog – writing those words does not even make it feel real. Though we booked our flights a few weeks ago, I don’t think it will sink in until the moment arrives, but words do not explain how excited I am. I am also extremely eager to combine my love of travel with my love of writing and hope you will all follow me along this journey via my blog. Through pictures and words I will portray the incredible experiences I am so lucky to encounter.
Some people may ask – Why travel? My answer to that question could be extremely long but I have a few important reasons why. Firstly, in modern day we have become so reliant on the internet and social media that we create our own social bubble that frankly restricts us from the rest of the the world, the next town down the road, or even the people actually around us. It is so easy to become wrapped up in our own lives that we forget the potential of further afield becoming narrow minded and therefore less open minded. I love seeing photographs on Instagram or Pinterest of a far of place – many leave you thinking ‘wow’, yet how do I know how that place really looks? What the ground feels like, the sounds, the smells, and what are the surroundings beyond the photograph? I simply don’t. This is one of my main reasons for travelling, I want to see the scenery that is beyond those photographs already captured by others, I want to be in that moment myself. If you have that wow moment, what is stopping you from going there yourself?
It is also easy for us to get comfortable where we live already because it is what we know and we are surrounded by people that know us well. I like the idea of taking myself out of comfort zones, meeting new people, and experiencing new worlds. Living out of a backpack for three and a half months will certainly put me way out of my comfort zone, it may be a struggle but I know the positives will outweigh any negatives. My emotions towards my adventure range from nervous, excited, apprehensive to thrilled, and I expect this rollercoaster of emotions will carry on throughout the journey. I am also so lucky to be sharing this experience with one of my best friends, and knowing we will have each other’s company throughout the adventure, makes the whole thing even more exciting.
Lastly, and probably the most important reason, is that – I want to travel for myself. I have just Graduated university, at 23 years of age finally my education and hard work is complete. Because of this I wanted a break; a post university gap year in some sense. Of course I am currently working full time in order to be able to travel but I know it has an end point and before I know it I will be on that first plane (we are getting a ridiculous amount of flights). It is something that I feel like I need to do, I want to experience cultures far beyond ours and I’m sure it will adjust my way of viewing life, and finally I am looking forward to seeing new places which will spark me to write creatively like I never have before.
Through the eyes of my blog, for three and a half months you will see my ever-changing life and world.
Painting ‘Slim’ as Unattractive
It was my first year of university during an English Language lecture that I witnessed one of the worst forms of discrimination against slimmer women. The male lecturer was talking about connotations of words, to which point he opened a slide on his PowerPoint presentation of tall runway models, and the word ‘skinny’ in large letters, he then asked us to feed back to him what kinds of connotations we associated with the word.
Many were negative, as expected, but a couple of students said a few positives. To my shock, the male lecturer immediately critically remarked these positive connotations stating that he personally associated the word with being unhealthy, and malnourished. Wow. How this was acceptable in front of an auditorium full of mainly young women I do not know. Such a sensitive subject that would have offended many in the room. It personally made me upset and angry; people described me as skinny and apparently according to my lecturer that meant I was unhealthy.
The past few years has seen the media celebrate womanly curves and the plus sizes. Personally I think this is fantastic, considering how the media usually relies on a vast amount of photo shopping, resulting in the creation of an unrealistic female. It is good that it has been recognised that a real woman is not necessarily what is seen in magazines or in music videos. All types of women with different body shapes should be appreciated and viewed as just as attractive as the next.
However, this celebration has also led (I personally feel) to putting down, the ‘skinny’ girls. I think the media and popular culture have slowly connoted ‘skinny’ as unattractive. I hate the word skinny – something I have been described as all my life. From friends, strangers, anyone who has an opinion really, that word has always been thrown at me.
It is as simple as this – I DO eat, so please do not tell me to go eat a burger. Yes – I go to the gym, not to lose weight but to be physically fit. My bone structure is small, I am petite, it’s just the way I am & I DO put on weight if I don’t take care of what I eat or exercise. In fact in my final year of university I put on a lot of weight in a short space of time, yes I did not get noticeably fat BUT I got cellulite, I felt unfit and I no longer fit into my clothes. So I changed this and lost it all, for myself, nobody else, not because I wanted to be ‘skinny’ but because I felt unfit and unhappy with how I was.
People obsess over the fact I go to the gym, more than I do myself; for some reason it is assumed that I go to lose weight, no, couldn’t be further from the truth. Here is the answer; I enjoy it, I want to be physically fit and as healthy as I possibly can be, it makes you feel good, it reduces stress and lessens my anxiety, I think it’s great for your mind as well as your body; it is mentally and physically stimulating.
With that said though, the stigma around slimmer women has increased dramatically over the past few years, mainly down to the attention the media has given it. Alongside this is celebrity endorsement, for example Meghan Trainor’s recently released song ‘All About that Bass’ is a prime example of popular culture making a joke about slimmer women whilst taking pride in curves. The question is why this positive message cannot be magnified via music, magazines, and film whilst not putting down other women in the meantime. It goes both ways, it hurts. The message should be that we are all different shapes and sizes, and that everyone is beautiful.
The lyrics in Trainor’s song include ‘Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size, She says, “boys like a little more booty to hold at night” you know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll’. The media and culture today make it acceptable to ridicule smaller woman with words such as ‘stick figure silicone Barbie doll’ in songs, yet if someone was to call a woman fat it’s horrible (which it is, don’t get me wrong, as said previous it works both ways). This song could have successfully renowned curves and been just as catchy and made just as much money, without undermining smaller women and making them feel unattractive.
My final point is that everyone is different and beautiful in their own way; the obsession with size needs to stop. We are all unique, we all want different things in life, and it is not necessary to compare ourselves to other people’s appearances for self fulfilment and pride.
What’s the big deal, Tinder?
First of all, I am not against Tinder, in fact I have it. For my friends and I it started off as one of those funny apps where you could all laugh at people that popped up whom we knew in real life. Take note of REAL LIFE; I will come back to this.
As my housemates and I were round the dining room table one evening we began discussing this app of which we’d heard resulted in interesting date stories for other friends. The conversation escalated and ended up with me being used as the Tinder guinea pig. We all gathered around my phone to swipe left and right at the many men in the surrounding area and gradually what started as ten minutes of swiping, turned into over an hour. Oh dear, this really was addictive, and entertaining, and exciting – all at the same time.
That is the thing with Tinder, it begins as a novelty, something you can use to find attractive men or women, and the excitement of whether the ‘really hot guy with amazing abs’ has liked you back also. Chances are though said guy will actually never speak to you, in fact he’s probably using the app for entertainment purposes also. This quite frankly is dissatisfying and gradually the novelty wears off. Are you actually using the app for a laugh or deep down are you hoping your perfect match may appear suddenly one day?
The people that do begin a conversation with you after the initial match are the ones that give you this hope. However a few messages into the conversation you probably realise that just because your shared interests involve liking bands, artists or even one of those pages on Facebook with names such as ‘If she doesn’t know who loves orange soda, she’s too young for you bro’ does not actually mean you are a match made in heaven.
As I said before I’m all up for using it for a bit of a laugh, and sometimes it does result in funny conversations. However I am yet to meet any one I have spoken to; my only offer for a date was to go to Spoons on a Friday night – hmm as lovely as that sounds, I think I’ll probably pass.
Looking at Tinder from a positive point of view, I do know people that are in relationships now who only met because of the app, which is great!
I’m entirely for the way in which social media is developing, I think sometimes we just need to put our phones down, and look at what is in front of us right now. I’m 23 next week, does it matter that I’m single? No, because I am completely happy. Instead of wondering if the next swipe is going to reveal a gorgeous person but also with an amazing personality, we should look around at what we already have in our own lives, in our REAL life. Value the friends and family you already have, and the faces you see on a daily basis.
Next time you’re in a bar talk to that girl or guy stood next to you, in a queue at a shop smile at those around you, be open and willing to meet new people. After all it is possible to meet new people in person, and not only through these apps. You could be ignoring something potentially amazing in front of your eyes whether it is a relationship or even just a fresh new friendship. It’s time to make more of an effort to communicate face to face, so we do not slip into a world where we hide behind our screens.
A thought to conclude on – a friend and I were discussing how in 40 years time; an app like Tinder could potentially become the predominant way in which people actually meet each other when seeking relationships, could you imagine that?
Sad Endings, New Beginnings
Who knew the sudden wave of emotion that would come with packing up, moving out and leaving university, for good? I did not that’s for sure. I can’t put my finger on why I felt so sad, after all so much had happened in those three years of living away from home; leaving with hundreds of memories which will definitely create an overwhelming nostalgia of university for the rest of my life.
Now I am not exactly much of a crier these days; however the day I had to hand in my keys of my student house was the day I began a new start as a well-established ‘crier’. As I hugged my house mates goodbye a surge of emotion came over my body, oh no I thought here it comes; the aching inside was coming out in teary form and I just could not stop. I cried and cried and cried on the train home. Luckily nobody asked me what was wrong – managing to cover up the embarrassing situation with my mega big sunnies. Yet still, this was a new experience for someone quite guarded and inclined to keep their feelings to themselves and here I was unable to stop this surge of sadness.
Yes I felt over dramatic, however the sad thing is, in that moment I realised how much everyone/everything meant to me in that City and how it would never be the same again. We would never all be in the same place at the same time; eating unhealthy food whilst watching Bake Off, or spontaneously going on a night out just because the contestants on The Chase had won (we had to celebrate for them, obviously). These are just the little examples of the humorous aspects of university life. Alongside this were also the milestones, passing year by year, and all the hard work along the way. After all we were all there to get ourselves a degree, and the cliché of becoming a much better and different person from the whole experience most definitely applied to myself.
On a positive note, I can confidently say I am proud, of what I have achieved and who I have become because of the life experiences and people I met along my journey of university life. The person I was when I first started university to the person I am today is so much different, happier, and content and I could not be more excited about the next stages of my life. Although this is a sad moment, where I’ve had to let go of essentially half of the lifestyle I’ve got comfortable living over the past three years, I understand that change in life is always good and causes individuals to push themselves further. I am going to fully embrace my graduate lifestyle; to all you recent graduates – massive congratulations and good luck, never forget to embrace all the little moments in life to the full.