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Travel & Wanderlust

42 Days of Summer, Travel & Wanderlust

Welcome to 42 Days Of Summer

April 24, 2017

Welcome to 42 Days of Summer. This isn’t going to be my usual travel writing. I’m not going to be reviewing luxury villas or activities. I’m spending this six weeks I’ve given myself out of every day life checking out, and checking in. Being the laziest travel writer in the land, I didn’t organise anything for my trip to Bali this time. No articles are planned as yet but that may change in the next six weeks. No sponsored blog posts. No deals.

The only deal I’ve made was giving myself this time to just be and do whatever I like. The only structure I have is my freediving course which begins on Wednesday.  No doubt that will challenge me in many ways. As has been adjusting to being on my own. So I’m starting a new category for this type of adventure, where I’ll be reflecting on my 42 Days of Summer over the next six weeks. Sometime is alone. Sometime is with The Ginger Hunk.  I’ll be reflecting on how I am feeling, recovering from the past few years, freediving and exploring the time I have given myself for personal growth. There may be some travel writing, but only if I think it’s something really awesome and if it is something I want to share with you guys.

So, how about that?

Welcome to the adventure!

Much Love Ashleigh

Bali, Women with Purpose

Women With Purpose : Agata Bogusz

January 23, 2017

It’s been a while since my last Women With Purpose post, but it’s time and well overdue! After growing up spending summer by the lake or at the seaside Agata Bogusz was always destined for life in the water. But it wasn’t until a scuba trip in Egypt in 2008 that she discovered freediving by chance. The polish record holder is now based in Bali, with a mission to share the benefits of freediving with others (and through freediving, I’ve been lucky enough to meet her and now call her my friend as well as my coach.) Here is my interview with this lovely mermaid that was originally published in Travel Play Live Magazine in January.

Have you always loved the water?

I was always in the water from early childhood. My father was a member of a scuba-diving club and it was a tradition to go to with him to the pool on Wednesdays and Saturdays. On these days I was playing a lot in the water with my brother and father. We were always holding our breath, having fun and diving in the deeper part of the pool. I remember crossing my legs, and pretending I had a tail.

How did you discover freediving?

I started scuba diving around the age of 19 and loved it immediately. I did my level one, and level two, and then started technical diving, because I really wanted to go deep. Technical diving is decompression diving with different mixes of gasses, which allow you to stay longer and dive at a greater depth. I was training with the polish record holder in deep technical dives; he wanted to make me his partner. This journey brought me to Egypt to train for a month in the summer of 2008. During this trip, I met a guy who was freediving and did not have a buddy for his dives. He took me out for a session with him and I thought it was easy. In just a few sessions I got to 30 meters. He checked that it was the Polish National record and convinced me to train properly. Then I came back home to Poland and I trained for a month for a pool competition, and came second. This is when I was introduced to the polish freediving community. After a year of training in September 2009 I re-set three polish records in Dahab. Continue Reading…

Travel Tips, Vietnam

4 WAYS TO GIVE GUESTS A GREAT EXPERIENCE

January 16, 2017

I may be a travel writer, but I’m not a snob. I’ve stayed in all sorts of places over the years;  from 5-star hotels, to private villas and guesthouses. I recognise great service when I see it. What I’ve realised over years of travel is that all the frills and gold in the world can’t make up for poor service, or what is sometimes worse, over service.

Some beautiful hotels have been ruined for me, when I’ve found the service fake, or at the other extreme I’ve been left feeling like a pest when I’ve asked for help. On our recent trip to Vietnam in September, we were blown away by the customer service and friendly open attitude we received everywhere, from the tailor, to the cooking course, to the guide hosting our vespa tour. The stand out experience by far was our stay by the riverside at Hotel Royal Hoi An MGallery By Sofitel. I was left thinking about what made this hotel so different to others I have stayed at, (sometimes with similar amenities), and for me it comes down to the service.

Here are four things that I’ve deemed essential in creating a great guest experience:

1. Communicate Like A Real Human

There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re being served by a robot or hearing the same lines repeated to guests during a stay in a lovely hotel. I’m myself no matter what environment I’m in, so I like a friendly yet professional approach from staff. I want to feel like I’m being served by real people and personalities. I love hearing local stories, favourite restaurants and markets tips from staff (it’s how you find all the good stuff!) What I loved about the service at Hotel Royal is that the staff were not afraid to stop and chat with us during our stay, sharing stories about local festivals and snippets of their own family traditions. On a quiet night near the river bar, we even had a bit of fun with the bar staff making up cocktails being encouraged to try their new signature one – “Scent of Tra Que”, a refreshing mix of pennywort, lime, Midori and vanilla syrup, which went down a treat.

2. Take Care Of The Little Things

When you’re on holiday you don’t want to think about the details. Details are annoying. (Why think of details when you could be shopping, or cocktail sipping, or achieving some bucket list dream!) I was astounded that there were so many little things taken care of that we didn’t have to organise ourselves. Our tailored clothes were delivered straight to our room. The beds were turned down for us every night. Local pennywort juice was waiting for us on arrival, and on our early morning (5am) final departure, a breakfast box full of warm pastries was prepared for our journey to the airport. It was as if we were being sent off with love.

Continue Reading…

Reviews, Vietnam

Meow Review: Vietnam Vespa Adventures Hoi An & Saigon

October 18, 2016

This is possibly one of the best tour companies I have found on my travels. This post isn’t sponsored by the way. Just sharing as service. I found out about Vietnam & Cambodia Vespa Adventures via Twitter, which I mostly ignore usually. (Bad I know.) I tweeted said travel writer back and forth, after reading a fabulous review, and it was on my radar for our trip. My travelling companion (sister) was a little bit skeptical. No, we were not riding the bikes ourselves. No, we were not going to die. Yes they had insurance. All those TripAdvisor people could not be lying, surely? Absolutely not!

Tour 1: Country Side & Islands, Central Hoi An 

On arrival in Hoi An, we booked into The Country Side and Island Tour around central Hoi AnAfter  a morning meeting at Cafe Zoom (appropriately named) we met with our guide, and had a tea before setting out on a circle around Hoi An to see village life.

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Ready to roll in Hoi An!

Our first stop was a boatyard, where locals were making HUGE fishing boats, to order. This work is highly skilled in Vietnam, and the labourers get paid around $30 per day. No photo sorry, but my sister was astounded at the lack of occupational health & safety standards on the site, being married to a health and safety man. Saws and shit everywhere. Escaping unscathed, we then scooted of through the rice fields to a visit a family temple, where four generations of family meet every year during Tet, Vietnamese New Year. It is part of the tradition for all families to return from all over Vietnam every year, to learn about their ancestry.  We then stopped in at a weaving centre, before making rice paper ourselves (and eating it). Continue Reading…

Travel & Wanderlust

Webjet Voucher Winner Announced!

October 2, 2016

Thank you guys for all the great tips you added to my blog post – 8 ways to save on travel – there is some I will be stealing for sure!

The Ginger Hunk, who as you know if you follow my blog, due to injury is not working at the moment, was pleased to get his brain ticking over judging all your advice (with no help from me, promise).

The short list for the top travel tips included:

Jo from @You had us at hello 

“My top tip is leave your house immaculate. I’m talking fridge, freezer, laundry, bathroom – everything. It eases the sadness of the end of our holiday. Walking into your favourite space with all your favourite furnishings and favourite people is just THE BEST!! Then there’s no guilt flopping on the couch and reminiscing the fab holiday you just had.” Continue Reading…

Travel Tips

Webjet Giveaway & 8 Ways to Save on Travel

September 19, 2016

So…I’ve just been on holidays and we thought you should have one too!  I’ve partnered with the lovely folks over at Webjet to deliver this post and we have a $150 voucher to give away to the person who shares the best travel tip in the comments below.

But first, here are my top 8 ways to save on travel!

Travel out of peak season

This can’t always be avoided, as sometimes work determines when you take your holidays, but where ever you can, travel out of peak season. The Ginger Hunk and I often take holidays on the shoulder season, so in February, after Christmas Holidays, or November, just before school breaks up. Recently, we took a chance going to Vietnam in the ‘rainy’ season. Not only were our rooms upgraded, but the hotel was very quiet, and we were fussed over like celebrities. Yes it rained a little, but it never stopped us from doing anything, and we saved a fortune!

via GIPHY

Compare, compare and compare your flights

It’s never been easier to take matters into your own hand and be your own travel agent. Booking and comparing flights yourself directly will save you  a  tonne of money, and your itinerary does not have to be determined by affiliated airlines. Using a site such as Zuji, can allow you to search and compare flights and be your own boss. If the timing is right, you can save yourself a little extra dosh by looking out for specials. For example, if you book in the next four days, Zuji is offering an extra $25 off flights to NZ.  Continue Reading…