brutalist architecture.

Unmoved by this hostile breeze, I stand

immobile: like dull, lead drain pipes,

suffocating this caustic residence.

Never tipped

upside-down

by volatile gusts.

I am round, and heavy, and grey.

 

gray/grey

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reflecting on budget travels in europe

Travelling is something that enriches the soul: exploring new cultures, local delicacies, breathing fresh air, and even just getting lost in a new surrounding.

Travel need not be expensive. You will need to save up some money to physically reach your destination; but finding accommodation and healthy eats can be inexpensive if you research and plan your trip.

Last year, I took a long weekend in Denmark and in total, I spent under £200 over four days (three nights). Prior to that, I spent three days in Amsterdam (two nights) and spent £155 on accommodation (hotel) and return flights. 

Research

Firstly, you want to find the best deal possible. My number one tip: use Google Flightsmomondo and Skyscanner to find cheap flights.

Budget airlines such as Ryanair, EasyJet, and WhizzAir have many tickets on sale at a reasonable price and are ideal for short-haul flights. Note: these flights will generally only include a hand luggage allowance. If you can be flexible with the dates (especially midweek), you’re more likely to find a cheap deal. You can just browse all destinations and find one that is cost-effective and convenient.

If you’re travelling for a longer time frame, or visiting multiple cities/countries, you should take care to look for checked-luggage allowance.

Prepare

It’s also a good idea to set a spending limit and work to stick to it. Once you’ve paid the basics (flights and accommodation), you should set a budget for your daily spend on food and things to do.

Next, you will need to change up currency (if you can do this in advance, you can plan ahead to find the best exchange rate and make the most of your money). It might also be worth talking to any friends/family/co-workers that may have some of that currency that they will exchange you for a better rate. If you can agree a rate between you, you will save having to fork out on commission as well as helping someone shift unwanted currency.

Plan Ahead

In addition, I would recommend planning your journey to and from the airport and booking as far in advance as possible to get the best deals. This is something I didn’t do on my recent trip, and a single ticket from King’s Cross London to Luton Airport cost more than my return flight to Denmark.  If you can get a free lift, book a cheap coach or train ticket, do it ASAP because the prices increase nearer the day.

Also, once you know where you are staying, it is best to plan the route from your destination to your accommodation. Knowing which train or bus you need to take will result in a stress-free brain and be much cheaper than landing and thinking “oh well, may as well book a cab”. You’ll get to experience the city’s transport system as a local would which is much more satisfying.

Accommodation

The best way to find cheap accommodation is remind yourself that it is not necessarily about looks and aesthetic: think functionality, practicality, and value for money. Think about what you want most from the holiday: you could consider renting an apartment on sites like AirBnB. This works well if you’re travelling as a couple or group as you can split the cost for accommodation and food. The benefit of renting an apartment is access to a kitchen where you can whip up delicious meals for a fraction of restaurant prices.

If you’re a solo traveller, there are many inexpensive dorm rooms available in budget hostels. You’ll get to meet fellow travellers and some hostels have free breakfast. If you want to live like a local, you can couchsurf and stay on someone’s sofa/spare room free of charge. The majority of the hosts are extremely accommodating and go above and beyond with showing people around the area. If you’re visiting somewhere for a longer period of time, things like WWOOFingHelpX or workaway can offer bed and board in exchange for a few hours of work a day. In addition, you’ll ideally want to find somewhere to stay that has access to a kitchen, as this will be instrumental in slashing the cost of your trip.

 

 

the travel plans

I have changed my travel plans slightly.

I will fly back to the UK for one month in May, and then return back to Thailand – where I will stay in Bangkok for a few days. I will then catch a flight to Auckland from there, rather than spend a month or two in Thailand. Reasons for this include:

  1. it is cheaper to fly in June
  2. I can pack mostly a winter wardrobe – aka more city appropriate clothing
  3. I don’t have to worry about storing my stuff somewhere, as I wouldn’t want to lug around NZ clothing/items
  4. it is time to start the new chapter in my life
  5. the SE Asian adventure ends, the NZ one begins!

a loss that never was

we did not exist. still, i was alone. the lessons he taught me; they showed me the truth. he educated me in the art of loneliness – paving the way – there was no future for us.

we did not start and we did not end. never were we ever. and that was okay. warmth and a blush of red – what more could i have needed at the time?

such softness in you both that i could not look away; the same error i would repeat had you not firmly told me “no”. you are my two: you held the view that i was not strong enough to support. i acknowledge that we never could be because we are not better together, and that alone would be cause to sever.

thoughts of the day

  • i have booked a flight back to london in may to visit family & friends for one month before returning to thailand
  • there’s a lump in my throat that makes it hard to breathe and it is because you keep making me feel tense and afraid and not good enough. over and over again
  • i will then spend another month or two in south east asia before going to new zealand to live & work
  • you didn’t put in the effort, so i gave up on you. it shouldn’t come as a shock to you that i no longer want you in my life
  • i really love my bottle green jumper. it’s so lovely and snug
  • buy a new menstrual cup when i get back in the UK
  • tenderness and affection will always be feigned by you
  • stop and breathe
  • order new bank card with later expiry dates
  • extend and renew travel insurance
  • i am grateful for my friends. the ones who are actually supportive and there for me

walk more

I’m don’t know why I’m so lazy, but walking is the bare minimum exercise that I force myself to do on a daily basis. In Chiang Mai, the preferred mode of transport is definitely by scooter, but this beautiful city is so walkable, it stumps me why so few people walk. 

The route is not mapped out and your legs simply carry you. Inhaling deeply, your lungs fill to full capacity with air of a questionable quality, and you feel alive.

It’s a form of meditation: one foot in front of the other, getting lost in the deepest of thoughts, taking in all of your surroundings.

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Just brave the outside world and walk.

But. Sometimes I need to have an end goal – I need a measurable target to motivate myself to get off my ass.

Step Counting:

Getting hold of a step-counter (eg a fitbit or an app on your phone) can really help you achieve a daily step goal. Having your steps quantified can certainly help in seeing how much more you walk. I love being able to see how far I’ve walked and it makes me feel great knowing I haven’t just wasted time being idle indoors.

Geocaching:

Okay – so this requires using your phone (but hey, we live in a technological age, so why completely eschew our mobiles?) and also you will need a pen.

Once you’ve downloaded the app, it opens up your GPS and you walk to real life spaces. By a certain space, there is a secret hidden cache somewhere – these can vary from the size of a penlid to a large tupperware box – which you have to locate using your GPS location and the clues on the app. Once you locate the cache, you write your name & the date you found the cache, and you move on to the next one. Some of the larger caches contain little “treasures” which you can take and keep, and replace with an item for the next geocacher who comes along. I have found badges, foreign currency, and short poems in these little magical caches.

What is great about this is you get to see well-known routes with a fresh pair of eyes. In my local park alone there are a handful of geocaches hidden away in plain sight. It feels great to be sneaking around, trying to locate this little treasure! Not only does it give your walk purpose, it is also fun to be part of a secret community

Being Frugal:

I get a real kick out of not spending money on public transport whenever this is possible. I feel a sense of accomplishment if I walk a few miles to reach my destination whilst saving a bit of cash too. Not only do you no longer have to rely on dodgy transport-timetables, you can fall in love with your surroundings again. You really can miss so much if you are zooming underground on the tube or whizzing past in a bus.

 

Ingress:

Online gaming to get you out of the house? Yes please! 

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Anyway, so this app (it’s free by the way) is similar to Geocaching in the sense that it is GPS based. You need to be outside to play and the rules are simple:

  • Pick a team (Enlightened or Resistance)
  • Hack enemy & friendly portals to gain kit (XM bursters, resonators, and other “mods”. You will gain experience from this, so that you can level up quickly
  • Capture neutral portals for your team as well as attack enemy portals to neutralise them.
  • Link friendly portals via keys obtained from hacking to create fields to gain points

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

So what makes this game fun? You’re walking around, you get to walk (or run) to portals and battle against other players. The Ingress community is also very social, so you get to go to meet ups and interact with fellow players of the game.

This game is extremely absorbing: you really feel peeved if someone neutralises your portal and you feel euphoric when you attack an enemy portal and claim it as your own. There are a few more rules to the game, but I’ll leave you to discover them on your own.

Just as a final note though, Ingress also lets you see what distances you’ve covered. I’ve been playing on and off for a few months, and have walked over 250km.

ing

The creators of Ingress then went on to make Pokemon Go. Though the craze has died down a lot since it came out last year, but I occasionally crack out my phone and play these games to up my step count.