26 things I’ve learnt in 25 years

As the end of my Quarter Quell is fast approaching, and I enter not only my 26th year but also officially my mid to late twenties, I thought I should take some time to reflect and look back on some of the things I’ve learnt/some things that I would have told my younger self.

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House Party Essentials

This weekend one of my fave people had a little shin dig at her place, everyone had a fab time, drank too much and felt very fragile the next day. So it got me thinking, what exactly do you need to create the perfect house party? Well i compiled a little list for you all, most of which are very self explanatory, but you never know, they might not be things you would have thought of!

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SwingersLDN

Pop-up’s in and around London are hardly difficult to come by. All promising something different a new. So when i heard about SwingersLDN its safe to say i was pleasantly surprised. It actually is something totally new! A nine hole golf course in the heart of Shoreditch with a full bar and somewhere you can grab food…….sounds like a dream night out!

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Birthday celebrations and lunch at Jackson and Rye

As i mentioned before, last week was my lovely friend Chloe’s birthday. So on Saturday we headed to Richmond for afternoon tea, or at least that was the plan. The birthday girl, my self, Simona, Sarah and baby Ivy all trotted up to the Tea Box, only to very quickly be turned away as they had no space. We were all a little disappointed but didn’t let it dampen our spirits, we were celebrating after all, one crumby little tea room wouldn’t ruin our day! So we headed to the river in search of somewhere warm and cosy for a late lunch instead. Sarah spotted Jackson and Rye which set just a little bit back from the river and we all decided this was a great choice.

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Dry January

I, like I’m sure most of you did, attempted dry January. It didn’t go well! I lasted all of two days before being taken to Proud Cabaret in the City, where i polished off a bottle of wine to myself and proceeded to embarrassingly dance on stage! But thats another story! So i then attempted dry january sunday-thursday. This has gone a little better! I’ve so far managed to resist temptation for mid week cocktails, which anyone that knows me will know is pretty good going for me!

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Dalat and some familiar faces

We got to the bus tired and grumpy after our terrible nights sleep. As we were getting on the bus we noticed sol and Alex, the couple we had met back in Laos. It was lovely bumping into them again so we sat with them on the bus and caught up on what they had been up to since we’d last seen them. We were happy to hear they were heading to dalat too as we didn’t know much about it and figured it would be nice to have another couple to hang out with.

We arrived a couple of hours later and as neither of us had any where booked to stay we decided to try a place called villa pink house that we’d both heard of. As we were getting off the bus we also got chatting to another young english couple called Harry and Sophie. They didn’t have anywhere booked either so they tagged along. After a bit of a walk we arrived, only to discover that they were fully booked. Apparently it was some sort of Vietnamese national holiday so everywhere was really busy we were told. The guys decided to go off in search of somewhere while the girls stayed with the bags. After a good hour the boys still weren’t back so I gave charlie and ring to find out what was going on. Apparently they had been into tones of different hotels and every single one was full! We decided to try a place called villa cam ly. It was a little far out but the taxis were so cheap none of us minded.

We got there and we’re greeted by ben the owner, a young Vietnamese guy who was so lovely. He told us that sadly he didn’t have any rooms either, but he did have an attic we could use for the night and tomorrow he would have rooms for us. Now when he said attic, I was picturing some dusty, dark, spider ridden room with now windows, but no, it was quite the opposite! It was a huge open light space with lovely clean wooden flooring and really cool paintings on the walls, it even had its own bathroom! Plus he said he’d only charge us $20 between all 6 of us so it was crazy cheap! We all thought it was a good idea so we took our stuff up while ben made us all free tea!

After we had settled in we decided to head down to crazy house, a place I’d heard about. It’s hard to describe crazy house as it doesn’t really have a function from what we could see. Basically it’s this mad place that an architect designed and built. Effectively I guess it’s supposed to be a hotel as you can stay there if you want, but mainly people just go to see it as the architecture is so crazy. I shall put up some pictures below so you can get a better idea! We wondered through the many tunnels and crazy walk ways for about an hour before heading out to get some dinner. Charlie had found some place online called “news and new art cafe” so we headed there.

It was a pretty small little cafe that had some amazing art work on the walls. We ordered a huge selection of food and it was all AMAZING!! I had the beef noodles and if was to die for!! After we had all finished stuffing our faces the owner/artist came over to our table and told us he wanted to paint us all a picture. He brought out his easel and a load of ink and started painting with his fingers. It was only then that we realised everything in the gallery had been done using just his fingers! We were all very impressed and waited patiently for our pictures. Some of the pictures were certainly better than others, but on the whole they were great, and it was a lovely little momentum for each of us!

When we left we decided to have a wonder around the HUGE night market that was on. There was tones of different foods as well a general nick nacks to buy. we wondered round for about 40mins but no one brought anything. When we got back to bens it was still pretty early so we all sat up chatting when ben came up and have us two free bottles of vodka and said “let’s party!” We had a great night sat up in our little attic with ben and his friend.

The next day we had all signed up for bens secret bike tour. Dalat is know for its easy rider tours, however everyone is warned that it’s hard to find a good one that isn’t just a rip off. So when ben told us about his secret tour we thought it was perfect! We left at about 9:30am after our breakfast. We had a bike per couple and it was a beautiful drive up through the mountains. Our first stop was at a cricket farm. They had these huge big tubs full of old dead leafs that were covered in crickets. Apparently if you sell them you can make quite a lot of money as the Vietnamese people love to eat them as snacks! And before we know it ben has sat us down with a big plate full and is offering them around. As you can imagine I did NOT eat one, but charlie did, apparently they tasted a bit like crisps!! Once we had finished cooing over the little puppy that was there we headed off to our next stop, a local market.

The market sold everything from clothes to live ducks! It was a real sensory over load. We all had a wonder round in ore of everything you could get in this one tinny space, but no one braved buying anything! Once we had finished we went over to a silk factory. Here we saw the whole process from start to finish of how silk is made and how it is then turned into sheets of fabric, dyed and then sold. It was very interesting to see all the different steps that have to take place. Next we stopped at a really cute little place for lunch where we had really good fried rice with beef, chicken or pork.

When everyone had finished we crossed over the road to elephant waterfall. Now since charlie and I have been away we have seen a fair few waterfalls and I can safely say this wasn’t the most beautiful but it was the biggest. It was HUGE! We were all taking photos when ben said, come on, follow me. All of a sudden we were climbing down a very unsteady treed area. When we got to the bottom we were all amazed to see we were sort of half way down the waterfall but also half inside it. It’s very hard to explain, but it was amazing! There was a clearing that you could walk over to where you could see all the waterfall crashing down. It was so cool, the sort of thing you would never see of you had gone by yourself. We climbed back up again and went to have a look at the beautiful temple close to the waterfall.

Our final stop was at a coffee plantation where they grow loads of different kinds of coffee, including the famous weasel coffee! We got to see the weasels as well as seeing the weasel coffee in its different states! It was quite gross! Sol and Alex tried a cup as it was only a couple of pounds, the cheapest you’ll find it anywhere, but charlie and I decided not to bother as we don’t like normal coffee let alone coffee that’s made out of weasel poo!

We drove back into town and stopped off at an amazing bakery that the boys had found while wondering around looking at hotels. We stocked up on goodies for the bus journey the next day. When we got back we were all pretty tired so we decided to have a quick nap before heading out for dinner. Alex had read about a place that was supposed to do really good food and had live music so we headed down there, however when we arrived it was dead, we were the only people in there an there was no live music, so we decided to give it a miss. We ended up at the place across the road. We were all sat down about to order when some crazy American/Vietnamese lady who didn’t even work there offered to help us order. It was a nice gesture and we figured she could communicate better than we could, but as soon as we started saying what we wanted she would shout out “what!? You can get that at home, get something else, something different” so we all ended up changing our orders and having a very odd meal with this lady who was very happy to over share all her information including the fact that she was, and I quite “an international player with a passport!” Yes she was mental!

Anyway, when we had finished our crazy meal we headed back to bens as we all had an early bus the next day down to ho chi min so we wanted to get an early night. We had such a great time at bens, he’s such a lovely guy, if anyone is ever passing through dalat they should definitely stay at bens, you’ll be garenteed a good time!

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Nah trang and reunion part 2!

After a very bumpy night bus, we arrived in Nah trang super early! Rosy, Ella, Emma, Miles and Henna had already been there for a day, so we headed to mojzo inn where they were staying. When we arrived the guy on reception was clearly expecting us as the others had obviously mentioned it, while we were checking in he went up and woke them all up to let them know we were here!! Barring it mind it was 6am! We felt very bad, but luckily everyone went back to sleep!

Charlie and I couldn’t check into our dorm until midday so we chilled out in the lounge area until it was time for breakfast. We had great pancakes and an omelette while we waited for the others to wake up for a second time! Once everyone had eaten we decided to head to the mud spa that I’d heard about. We all got changed and were picked up by an elongated golf buggy!

When we arrived we were taken straight to our bud bath. As there were 7 of us we were given the biggest bath. As they started filling it with mud we were taken over to the first mineral shower area which was a huge circle with tones of shower heads at the top. Once we were all soaked we were taken back to our bud bath. One by one we gradually got in. The mud was lovely and warm and also much thinner than we were all expecting! It didn’t really stick to you in the way you would imagine, it was far more watery. We all covered ourselves in the mud and took a variety of funny pictures on rosys water proof camera before getting out to shower off. The next part was like a big grown up mineral water park. The area that you go to to wash off all the mud was full of jets pointing out all over the place! There was one that looked like a big fountain with jets shooting up from the floor, one that was like a walkway with jets shooting at you from both sides and one fairly normal looking shower one. As we didn’t know the difference we decided to try them all!

Once we were all dried off we claimed some sun bed by the pool and went to get lunch. The food was actually pretty good and the portions were HUGE! When everyone had eating so much they felt sick we went to go lie in the sun like big beached whales! After a few hours we headed back to get showered properly and changed for our big night out!

We went for dinner at a roof top bar type place, the food really wasn’t that great, but Ella and I both enjoyed ours! Next we went to a bar with the craziest promoter lady ever!! She came running out into the street to hug us all before forcing us into her bar! We had one drink there before slying off so we didn’t get stopped! Next we went to a place called red apple as the others had been there the night before and said it was really busy, however when we turned up we were the only people there! But it was happy hour and they were doing two for one on sprits so we stayed. After Emma and miles had played their game of pool we decided to move on again. We ended up at a place round the corner from where we ate which was much more lively.

We stayed here and had quite a few drinks, had a dance and generally enjoyed ourselves until charlie decided he was hungry so the two of us as well as Emma went in search of some food. We found a little shack selling some sort of German sausage and got one of those before going back and attempting to sleep, while the girl and guy in the bed above me went at it like rabbits all night.

The next day charlie and I wanted to go to vinpearl which is vietnams version of disney land, minus the Disney characters! The others had already been the day before so they went to the beach instead. Charlie and I got a cab to the cable cart that takes you across to vinpearl island……yes it’s on it’s own island! As soon as we got off we jump straight onto the only “roller coaster” they had there. It was a bit like the flying fish at Thorpe park only shorter! Then we headed straight over to the water park section as the others had told us this was the best part. We dropped off our stuff and headed to the first slide. We went down and all the Vietnamese were laughing at charlie because he made such a big splash when we came down!! We went on pretty much every water slide they had and spent a good two hours there before realising it was almost 3pm already and we hadn’t had any lunch yet! So we got dry and went in hunt for food. Sadly vinpearl was very limited with there food selection. There was either a big “fancy” restaurant or lotto which is effectively a shit version of burger king and we had already been warned not to go there. So we found a random food stall that did the classic Vietnamese dish “chicken nuggets and chips!” I probably should have mentioned before that Nah trang is FULL of russians. I’m not quite sure why, we havant really come across many Russians elsewhere in Vietnam, but for some reason they obviously love Nah trang.

Anyway, after we’d had our delightful lunch we decided to cue for the lugging style ride next. Well I say cue, it was more like an elbowing match until we got into a space where people couldn’t really push in front of us any more! After cueing for about an hour we finally got to the front. The cart that you sit in was similar to lugging in that you have a leaver that you lift to make you go and lift further to break. It was on a raised track that gave you a beautiful view of Nah trang. The idea is to go down it fast, hence it being in a theme park, however you are slightly limited by how fast you can go by the person in front of you as there is no way of over taking. Sadly I had some granny in front of me who clearly thought this was more of a scenic view than a ride as she was breaking at every given opportunity. We got to the end a little pissed off that we had cued so long for it to be ruined by someone woman who had pushed in front of us!

We went back up to the main entrance area just to catch the end of the parade before jumping back on the cable cart to go back. The others were leaving that night so we wanted to make it back in time to say goodbye to them. Once we’d said our fair wells, charlie and I headed to a place called lanterns for dinner. It was a really cute little restaurant with no ceiling, covered in lanterns. We had the most amazing dinner there, we both tried their yellow curry as it was recommended and it was sooooooo good!!

When we were finished we went back to the hostel to pack up all our stuff and get an early night as we had a 6am bus to catch, however this didn’t quite go to plan due to the assholes in our room who came it shouting at 3am and then deliberately carried on when they saw we were trying to sleep. Then more of them came in at 4am, again being as loud as they possibly could. It’s safe to say both charlie and I were fuming and very happy to turn on all the lights and slam the door when we left at 6am!

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Lake Taupo and River Valley

The next morning we were due to head off to lake Taupo, however our bus driver did a stop at a sulphur hot pools area first and those who didnt want to go we’re able to roam around rotorua a bit longer.

Charlie and I decided against the hot pools as they were so hot you weren’t actually able to bath in them, and it was quite expensive so instead we went to grab some breakfast at a place called the fat dog. They did the most amazing food and the portions were HUGE! I ordered a hot chocolate which genuinely came in a bowl!

Once we had set off after breakfast we only made one stop as the drive to Taupo was the shortest one on the whole bus route. We stopped at a place called hooker falls which was a stunning waterfall. After a few quick photos we jumped back on the bus and drove into Taupo.

As charlie and I had booked somewhere different for us to stay we dropped the rest of the group off first before heading to our hostel. The majority of our group had also decided to do there skydive that afternoon so we headed straight over to wish them all good luck and see them being carted off in the limo!

Once they had gone there was a small group of us left that decided to head down to the natural hot springs that you were able to swim in as they actually flowed down and joined with the river that forms hooker falls. After a quick taxi ride we arrived and jumped straight in.

The water, at first glance, just looked like part of the river, and it wasn’t until you got in that you realised how hot it was. There were different areas that were hotter than others but most of the time you could just mix it with the cold water from the wider part of the river and it felt just like a bath. There were a few other people down there too who had all brought beers with them so we all decided that we should bring the rest of our group down the next day with some beers as we all enjoyed it so much, plus it was free!!

Once we had all turned into wrinkly prunes we headed back to our hostle to get showered and changed and wait for the skydivers to return. Once they were back and we heard how amazing there skydive was we all decided to have a big night out to celebrate, so charlie an I headed over to their hostle and ended up dancing the night away!

As Taupo was so lovely we got to spend and extra day here and as everyone was feeling a little worse for wear we decided to have a chilled one. We grabbed some lunch and some of the boys thought it would be a good idea to go fishing on the lake, but after minor research we discovered that it would be far too expensive, so we settled on just sunbathing by the lake instead.

On our way down there the boys all spotted a golfing game. There was a hole out in the middle of the lake and if you managed to get a whole in one you won $10,000 so of course try all had a go, sadly none of them won, although a couple actually got it on the green which was an achievement in itself!

We finally pulled the boys away and got to an area by the lake that we could all lie down on, dispite it being a hill and no one being that comfy, we got settled and chilled there for most the afternoon. Also as we were laying by a lake there was no real sand just stones, so we settled for the itchy grass instead. After an hour or so we decided the grass was too much so charlie and i pitched the idea of taking some beers to the hot springs instead. Dispite everyone still being a little hung over the general consensus was this was a good idea, so we headed to the liquor store and jumped in a cab.

The afternoon was spent almost exactly the same as the day before only this time it included drinking! Once we had all had enough it was dinner time and then get ready for round two as two more kiwi buses had also arrived into Taupo that day so we were told it was going to be a big night! And it sure was, esepcially for charlie who decided to get completely inialated and ended up eating 2 big macs. I decided to make friends with the poor lady trying to surve him and so she let us try out a brand new burger which wasn’t going to be available for another 3days! We felt very privalidged!

As you can imagine the next morning, having to get up for the bus was no fun for a very hung over mr Lucas and due to his struggles we almost missed the bus. Luckily I managed to convince our bus driver flea that he was just coming and not trying to stop himself from being sick, so we got on and started the drive to river valley.

After a stop for a 2hour walk, which I declined, we arrived at river valley. It was a lovely place that reminded me slightly of the farm stay in aus. It was in the middle of no where and I’m pretty sure our bus were the only people staying there. But we all grabbed our places in the “orgy dorm” which was where the majority of us were staying. It was a big room with a single bunk bed that took up half the room, as both the bottom and top bunks could fit 10 people each! So it was like one big sleep over!

That night we also had paid for a huge roast dinner which was amazing! There was tones of food and was great value for money. As there was not a huge amount to do at river valley, we all decided to try and have a night off from drinking, however this didn’t go quite as planned. 10 bottles of red wine later there was singing, guitar playing and Caroline falling over while simply standing up!!

The next morning a few of the group went white water rafting, but charlie and I had decided against it as due to the drought the water lever was super low so we didn’t think it would be as good. Apparently that wasn’t the case and the people that went had the best time. We spent the morning chilling out before having to do the huge treck back up the hill to get back to the bus and head down to see our friend Nathan in Wellington!

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