Splashpacker Travel Blog 1 – nov 2017

Travel Blog Update: Canary Islands, Bristol, United Kingdom, Thailand.

My old blog website stopped somewhere in New Zealand

Instead of just putting informative travel posts, I would also like to go on with my travel blog! In the past I used to keep a diary on a Dutch website called ´waarbenjij.nu´. Maybe I can once day import those old blog posts from this website. I started this blog when I first left the Netherlands and went to Gran Canaria to do my Divemaster traineeship in 2006. I continued blogging here during my time working in the Dominican Republic, Mexico and on the Maldives. I also wrote about my travels to Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Sri Lanka en Bali. However, at some point in New Zealand I stopped blogging.

But soon there will be a book, ´Safety Stop´, about all those years!

Unfortunately, Australia and the Philippines never made it to that blog, but you can read my complete story soon in the book I´m recently writing called ´Safety Stop´. In this book, I also share how I lost my both parents of cancer and describe in detail my psychosis in the Philippines and Peru. Obviously, next to all the happy stories when I worked as a scuba diving instructor and worked all over the world! Also, I´m planning to write an article about my great dive- and island hopping experiences in the Philippines in 2012.

 

Ellis on Roatan Island in Honduras, pointing at a guy with ´Save Ellis´ on his t-shirt
Ellis on Roatan Island, Bay Islands, Honduras, 2009

 

So what´s up, 11 years after I left the Netherlands?

My home on the Canary Islands..

Right now, at the time of writing, I am in Phuket, Thailand. But first, I like to update you a bit about my recent past. After New Zealand, Australia and the Philippines, I turned back to Europe and somehow ended up on the Canary Islands, again! I consider this place more like my home then the Netherlands after I have been living there for so many years in the last decade. Although, I´m still not sure which island to consider my ´home´: Gran Canaria or Fuerteventura. But I guess that I do not need to decide now!

Living and working in Corralejo on Fuerteventura

Over the last 1,5 years, I have been working in a surf hostel in Corralejo on Fuerteventura. Well, ´working´ might be a big word, I was present during the evenings, did check-ins, was around for questions, helping guests and did a bit of cleaning. I was also living in the hostel and have had an amazingly great time there. I still recommend this place to everybody who likes to go to Corralejo and I´m pretty sure I will be back one day! Actually it was a time I came to stand still in my life, except of going to Peru which ended up being a complete disaster (softly speaking!).

My almost forgotten passion: Scuba Diving!

Then my travel fever started to rise again and I had a longing to pick up my almost forgotten passion: Scuba Diving! First, I thought I just miss scuba diving. So I started to help out a dive centre in Corralejo to refresh my skills as an instructor, but this didn’t last very long. I decided, if I would like to dive, why not go somewhere where the diving is a bit more interesting and less cold then the Atlantic Ocean?

The synchronicities in life, after making a decision

And exactly on the day that I decided this, my ex-colleague from the Dominican Republic in 2008, called me he has opened his own dive centre in Thailand. It’s funny how things can go in life because Manfred and I never kept in touch till I bumped into him on Malapascua Island, Philippines in 2012 and then we connected on Facebook. It also reminded me of that time when I decided to teach diving again but didn’t know exactly how.  In that week I found a company on the Maldives, offering me a job and the flight ticket and the BCD I needed so desperately came for free on my path through an old friend.

So, the decision was made to dive & travel again..

Manfred told me that he might even have a job for me, although he still needed to see how things go for him since he just bought the dive shop!  So my decision was made: I go to Thailand to dive again! He found a cheap room for me and told me to pick me up from the airport. This made me feel very comfortable after the drama in Peru. I was looking forward to diving and traveling again!

 

Scuba Diving La Restinga, El Hierro, Canary Islands
Scuba Diving El Hierro, Canary Islands

 

Saying goodbyes in Corralejo…

During my time working in the Sol y Mar Surf Hostel, I started to meet many new people and had a lot of fun with many repeating hostel guests. Some of them became good friends and I´m sure I will see them again someday. But also I became friends with the staff, my boss Rachel and colleagues Claire and Martha. So it was not easy to say goodbye, knowing that I don´t know when I see them again. We were close and were always there for each other in good and bad times! Also, my Argentinian friend Carolina, who was my housemate in Australia, on Gran Canaria and on Fuerteventura is one of my friends still living in Corralejo. But one thing we know: we keep meeting up, wherever that might be since this somehow always happens!

… and catching up with old friends in Corralejo!

I remember that people were calling me ´the catch-up girl´ when I was travelling on the Philippines in 2012 and accidentally met a lot of people I knew from before. In my last week in Corralejo, I was so happy to meet with my friend Alona who came to visit Corralejo! Alona and I were colleagues in the Dominican Republic for about 7 months. We became very good friends and almost sisters at this time when we worked together every day and spent a lot of time in the evenings with her husband and my boyfriend at that time. We saw each other again when we were both working on the Maldives in 2010, but that was just too short!

Remembering our good times in the Dominican Republic and the ´Russian style´ birthday party

This time, we actually had some time to catch up on our life stories so far but most of all to remember all of our good memories of the Dominican Republic. What a good, old-time was that! Our crazy but good boss, Thomas, took us out for beers almost every night and still we managed to run the dive centre every single day. I don´t know how we survived certain days, but we did it and it was so much fun! Also, I got to meet her new boyfriend and celebrate his birthday in a very dangerous Russian style: too many drinks, but good laughs! And in between saying goodbyes, I also saw some friends from the Netherlands again, from my hometown and my student time. Yes, the last month in Corralejo was full of catch-ups and memories. But then there was the time to leave and to start creating new memories!

 

Alona and Ellis, ex-colleagues from Dominican Republic
My friend Alona (left) and me (right), called ´Matrioska & Cheesehead on Dominican Republic

 

The never-ending challenge to pack for travelling and scuba diving

As always, it was a big challenge to pack my luggage and dive gear. This time it was even harder since I wasn’t sure if I was actually moving to one location for a complete season or, or travel more. So the challenge was to pack myself mobile but still take my diving equipment, which almost weights 20 kg. Although I´m not owning many things, I only have some boxes and bags stored at my sister´s, my aunty´s and one bag in the Sol y Mar now. But in the end, I was proud to fit all my personal stuff including clothes, cosmetics, etc into a small backpack which only weights 10 kg. A big sports bag on wheels contained my dive equipment. I´m ready to go!

If you have become curious about Corralejo, then you might like to read an article I wrote about 10 things to do in Corralejo. Click on this link!

From the Canary Islands via the Stonehenge to scuba diving in Thailand!

First: Bristol for the Hay House Writers Workshop… (turned out a bit different!)

I actually decided to do the ´Hay House Writer Workshop´ in Bristol, and that was my reason for going there in the first place. But like always, sometimes my plans change! And although sometimes I need a long time to make decisions, at other times I´m just impulsive and change them exactly at the moment. I decided I want to discover the area and, most of all, to see the Stonehenge! The Stonehenge is on my bucket list since a very long time now and I didn´t know it was so close to Bristol, till I actually got there. My weekend was very tightly planned, so if I was going to do the workshop, I didn’t have time for any other things. When I realised I could cancel free of charge, I just did it! Yes, I know I am still crazy at times. Whether it was actually my fear of publishing my book (and speaking my truth), the costs for the workshop, the Stonehenge or considering the fact that I just need to finish my book and don´t really need a workshop for that, I don´t know!

 

 

 

Stonehenge, U.K.
Ellis at Stonehenge, England, United Kingdom

 

Visiting the Stonehenge from Bristol

However, I never regret the cancellation of the Hay House workshop, because I had such a great time! I took the train to Salisbury and enjoyed the beautiful, green landscape during the trip! Sometimes it felt a bit like being in New Zealand again: so much greenery and sheep everywhere! But the difference from New Zealand to England is the beautiful, old houses and roman style buildings. This pace has a history to tell! I immersed myself back in time and imagined myself right into ´A Christmas Carol´ by Charles Dickens. After coming back from the Stonehenge I entered into a warm and cosy typical English pub to enjoy some food and warm up after almost suffering from hypothermia! But that was all worth it!

Bristol is a great destination with many things to do!

The next day I walked through Bristol city and also visited the city of Bath and the old roman bathhouse. I had the best weekend in a long time and I completely forgot I actually came for a workshop. I hope to find the time to write a travel writing article about Bristol with some useful information because I think it’s a great destination to visit for a weekend away for people living in the Netherlands or elsewhere in Europe. I can recommend staying in the Washington Guesthouse, for an affordable but comfortable, private accommodation with an amazing breakfast.

 

Birstol. England view frrom the train
View from train, green hills around Salisbury, United Kingdom

 

Victoria Rooms, Bristol, United Kingdom
Victoria Rooms, University of Bristol, England, UK

 

After a long flight to Phuket, I arrived without my luggage..

On Monday morning I took the National Express Bus at 04.30 am from Bristol to Heathrow Airport. I checked in for my flight to Phuket and after about 13 hours of flying, I had a stopover at Singapore Changi Airport, which also brought back pretty intense memories. My next flight was delayed; we were waiting to take off when we got told that we were waiting for the luggage. Even though we were waiting for the luggage, upon arriving in Phuket it appeared that the plane has taken off without any of our luggage. So I arrived in Phuket without any luggage. But I was fortunate to be picked up by a good old friend: Manfred! He was waiting for me with a chocolate croissant, a very warm welcome! Manfred showed me around Hat Nai Yang and dropped me off in my cosy room! In the afternoon my luggage got dropped off too so now I could chill out and relax!

After 1 week in Phuket, my friend from Singapore came to visit!

Right in my first week, my friend from Singapore, Davinia Wong, came to visit me. Together with a fellow female diver and the owner of the café next to the dive centre, we went on a ´ladies day trip´ around Phuket Island.

Phuket Sightseeing Tour
Phuket Old Town, ladies trip!

 

Many things to see on Phuket, ´the Crystal Mountain´ of Thailand!

Phuket is Thailand´s largest island taking up around 550 km2. The island is located at about 900 km south of Bangkok. The name of Phuket comes from the Malay word ´Bukit´, meaning the crystal mountain. Phuket still has some original tropical rainforest and so after our first stop at ´Wat Phra Thong´, the Golden Buddha Image Temple, we continued to the Khao Pra Taew Wildlife Reserve. It is said that the park is still home to wild boar and monkeys and contains the last of the island’s natural ecosystem. We stopped for a walk in Phuket old town before admiring Wat Chalong Temples Park and Big Buddha after that.

After seeing the touristy places, I appreciated my stay in quiet Nai Yang Beach!

After lunch, we went down for some more touristic places and beaches, making me appreciate my stay in Hat Nai Yang even more. I´m glad not to be staying in one of these overly touristic places. Before making our way back to Nai Yang Beach, we watched a beautiful sunset at the beach of Laguna. The next day we celebrated the birthday of Manfred with a big party and it was very nice to meet his wife from China.

 

Wat Chalong Temples on Phuket Island, Thailand
Wat Chalong Temples Park, Phuket, Thailand

 

 

White Big Buddha on Phuket Island
White Big Buddha, Phuket Island, Thailand

Then I entered into the writing flow, with some diving in between!

The following weeks up until now existed mainly of scuba diving and writing! Only twice I went out to have a beer with other people and all the other evenings, I have been writing non-stop and it just came automatically! I wrote the full story of my experience in Peru and started to create a Dutch website too! Scuba News has started to feature my articles about scuba diving and I´ve nearly finished 3 more blog articles: My experience of becoming a scuba diving instructor, the experience of working as a scuba diving instructor in different countries and how I gave up on my book and picked it up again.  And next to the writing and diving, I started to go to the gym, simply because it’s too hot outside to run.

The scuba diving around Hat Nai Yang Beach is amazing!

The diving is amazing! The corals are better than I expected and they attract a lot of fish life. I´ve seen a turtle, many octopuses, rays, morays, barracudas, scorpionfish, many nudibranchs and more macro life. Something else to tick off my ´underwater bucket list´ is the Seagrass Ghost Pipefish! There’s a nice wreck dive too and I wrote a full article about the diving in Hat Nai Yang, which is now also published on the Scuba News. You can read the full article by clicking here.

Khao Lak: the place where the tsunami hit in 2004

It appeared that Manfred didn’t really have a job for me, so I went to Khao Lak for a job interview. I couldn’t imagine what the place must have been when the tsunami hit it in 2004, knowing that this place was hit worst at that time. It turned out that I didn´t Khao Lak very much, mainly because there’s not really a centre and the beach is full of resorts, so everything is kind of happening on a double, high-speed, street. Please don´t take me wrong, some people love it, but it’s just not my style. I prefer a quiet beach or island life. Also, the job was for a full-time office job and I expected to be able to dive a bit more.

Great divers accommodation in Khao Lak

However, if you do go to Khoa Lak, I can recommend staying in the Monkey Dive Hostel. It’s a great place for divers and single travellers. The place is Thai-run, pretty new and very clean. They are funny fish- and dive decorations with interesting facts all over the place! And the people were super friendly. They can also, obviously, help you if you like to go scuba diving in Khao Lak. Click on this link if you like to book through booking.com, I´ll earn a small commission but you won´t pay extra. Thank you!

 

Ghost Pipe Fish during scuba diving Phuket, Thailand
Robust Ghost pipefish whilst diving Hat Nai Yang Beach

 

Catch up with my friends from the Netherlands in Thailand!

My last day in Nai Yang has begun. I will leave for Phuket town tomorrow to extend my visa for another month before hopping on the ferry to the island of Koh Lanta the day after that. One of my best friends from the Netherlands, Nicolle, is coming to travel Thailand together with her boyfriend Laurens, and hopefully, we can catch up somewhere!

Planning to do some more island hopping in the Andaman Sea!

My plan is to go from Koh Lanta to the Island of Koh Muk (Koh Mook) and then to Koh Lipe, even further south. I can see if I find an instructor job on one of these places but if not, then I continue to Malaysia! There’s a ferry going from Koh Lipe to Langkawi Island in Malaysia. I´m truly happy now because I do the three things I love the most in life: travel, scuba dive and write. I don´t miss the things I sometimes thought I was missing in Corralejo like having a home or a relationship. I believe even more now that we if we don´t create our own happiness by fulfilling what we feel inside, we start seeking it outside ourselves. But for me, it never worked that way and it will never work.

 

Scuba Dive Phuket, Nai Yang
Hat Nai Yang Scuba Diving

Thank you, merry Christmas and what to expect on Splashpacker?

Thank you or ´Vielen Dank´!!

A big thanks to Manfred for inviting me to Thailand so I did take that step to go again. And other big thanks to Silvia Gegenwart for some of the photos in this post and for great diving during and after our dive trips.

What´s next on Splashpacker?

Other articles you can expect of me are the ones I mentioned already, about my life as a diving instructor and about my island hopping adventure what is going to start now! If you like these travel blog updates,  you can click here for the second one!

Merry Christmas to all of you!

For now I like to wish everybody already a very merry Christmas and all the best for 2018. I won´t send any cards this year, so hopefully, this will do 🙂 I hope that all your wishes will be fulfilled in the new year. My feeling about 2018 is only good, good and good! If you like to read a little blog post about Christmas, inspired by my passed away parents, click here!

Safe travels, happy bubbles and enjoy whatever you are doing!

With Love,

Ellis

4 thoughts on “Splashpacker Travel Blog 1 – nov 2017”

  1. Hi Ellis, loved this next segment of your blog, your trip to stonehenge inspired us to go in November on our way to Cornwall. A lovely fresh dry crisp day taking in the incredible feat of construction of mammoth stones with limited technology. Thailand is also on our list of places to go now and we will refer back to your blog when we go. Keep enjoying life and have a fantastic Christmas and new year celebrations. 🙂

  2. Thank you so much Neil! It's always nice to hear your feedback, it makes me motivated to continue to write 🙂 If you go these places ask me anything, I'm happy to help! For you, Wendy and all your close ones a very merry Christmas and all the best for the new year too!!

  3. Hello would you mind letting me know which web host you’re working with? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different web browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most. Can you recommend a good hosting provider at a reasonable price? Thanks a lot, I appreciate it!

    1. Hi Glendora, Thank you for your message. This is actually funny because the previous comment said this website loads extremely slow, hahaha! I use Go Daddy and can recommend it for you. Happy Newyear!

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