Rest, relaxation and maybe just a few achy muscles 

Whilst in Cambodia we thought it might be about the right time in our trip to give our bodies and minds a bit of a relaxation overhaul and head for a yoga treat. Nine months in and with a majorly sore back from some pretty crappy hostel beds the last three days have been just what the doctor ordered you could say. 

At a younger age I was never particular keen on my mums passion for yoga and certainly didn’t share it, now having finally succumbed to joining her for a few classes after finishing uni 3years ago I have to say, I am definitely a convert. Travelling and not managing to fit as much yoga in as I would at home has been hard. We found Angkor Bodhi Tree yoga and meditation retreat via tripadvisor and we weren’t disappointed. It really did take us out of the hustle and bustle of Siem Reap and provided a home away from home! We had home cooked Khmer vegetarian meals cooked on site by the retreats chief and it was delicious, with lots of fresh exotic fruit for afters – heaven. The beds were super comfy and finally finally I had 3 nights of amazing uninterrupted deep sleep. Something generally unheard of in dorm rooms and hostels. Our dorm room at Bodhi Tree held all but the two of us so, I concluded we may as well consider it a private room for once. 

The 6 am wake up call from Bob wasn’t exactly easy, but the rigorous workout and activities of the day left us pretty ready for bed by the time we finished evening meditation so things all balanced out. A mixture of yoga, stretching, balancing (yes I managed to balance on a slack line, shock horror, as my coordination generally leaves me falling all over the place) and sitting in meditation definitely started to take it’s toll over three days but the ache was a good “I’ve worked out” ache for once. Fitness whilst travelling I’ve found is a pretty difficult one, not having the perseverance to go running around random towns and villages in SE Asia, my commitment in Sydney at New Year lasted all of 2 runs over the harbour bridge.

What was so lovely about our time at Bodhi was that as well as learning new tips and tricks for yoga, relaxation, stretching and meditation was that Siem Reap started to feel familiar, heightened I believe by the family feel of the communal dinners with the other guests and Bob making you feel at home. We found out about an International Film Festival and watched a film on the 1979s band Dr Feelgood. Turns out my dad was a fan even though me and Kat had never heard of them. We also spent time at a local free school. Oh my I now understand just how hard it is for people teaching English when they don’t speak the local language. But it was so worth it, thrust in front of a class with no clue what we were doing and just the book the students were working from in front of us, we just had to go with it and ad lib and draw on everything we thought we knew and not care how ridiculous we might look to the group of about 10 students, supposedly 9-12, not that half of them looked that, sitting in front of us. As we left all we could say was I wish we’d had more time to come back here.

These 3 days of yoga, films and English are truly what made the trip to Cambodia for me and the amazingly lovely people we met throughout the country. When it came time to leave Bodhi Tree I was quite literally almost in tears,not exactly uncommon for me, I’m the first to admit I’m an overly emotional person, but I think that shows how deeply I felt about this place in such a short space of time!

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The legend of Secret Pizza….

Anyone’s whose travelled away from home for a short while or a long while, I believe, at some point or another gets crazy cravings for food that is no longer readily available. This often leads you on a mad hunt to find something, anything, vaguely western that reminds you of home and isn’t noodles cooked in yet another way. Often these mad searches online through trip advisor or stopping to flick through every single menu going in a town leads you to something ultimately disappointing. Pizzas that have too much cheese, they’re practically solid with it (Malaysia), baked beans as part of a cooked breakfast that are actually baked green beans, not Heinz 😦 (India) and tomato soup, that yet again was definitely not Heinz (India and Vietnam). But sometimes, every so often you find a gem amongst all the great street food and restaurants that make up Asia.

Whilst travelling up Vietnam we were told about this restaurant in Luang Prabang, Laos, called Secret Pizza. Owned by an expat Italian called Andrea, it is essentially a brick oven in his garden that churns out thin crust truly authentic, amazingly tasty Italian Pizza. On the back of pretty much this information and the directions to get there being simply, ‘just ask a driver for Secret Pizza’ we decided that our mission before we left Laos was to find this place! And find it we did, cue lots of excitement!

After a few fruitless searches on the internet we realised that this place really is quite secret, there is no address for it anywhere online, it doesn’t appear on google maps (shock horror) and every blog mention you find tells you very little and is extremely frustrating. If you’ve found this post hoping to find out exactly where it is, I’m sorry I am about to be as unhelpful as everybody else! Turns out half the fun is in finding it and having been I still wouldn’t be able to tell you what the name of the road is anyway, as anyone familiar with Laos will know there isn’t a lot of obvious road signs around. But I do have a few tips to pass along that hopefully might smooth your way to finding and enjoying this great place:

1: it is only open Tuesdays and Fridays! Very important, don’t waste your journey.
2: you really do need to just ask a Tuk Tuk or motorbike rider for secret pizza. However, if he says, oh there are lots of pizza places, move on to another driver, the likelihood is he doesn’t really know what you’re on about. Make it clear you want SECRET PIZZA, the real place. I’m pretty sure one guy in the little cluster of drivers will know. The second guy we spoke with did. But it’s possibly always going to be a slight gamble.
3: when the Tuk Tuk/motorbike turns off the main road down a pretty dark side road (not quite an alley) don’t panic. We were a tad unsure at this point, but the restaurant is right down at the end waiting for you.
4: on reaching the end of the road you will find a lovely place for your evening meal, with a small sign on the side saying Secret Pizza.
5: Go inside and enjoy!

And that’s were the information ends, the rest you have to find out about and enjoy yourself. Don’t want to ruin any surprises! All I will say if you’re on a budget, it will cost you more than a standard Laos dinner, however if you’re craving a pizza, then this is the best I have had in a very very long time, was totally worth the cost and still miles cheaper than good pizza back home.

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Vegetarianism Abroad

As a vegetarian whenever i head off on holiday anywhere or to stay with friends I always get a little niggle of either am I going to find something I can/want/is nice to eat of I really don’t want to put anybody out by being the “oh I’m really sorry but I don’t eat meat” one. So when I decided to go travelling I was pretty intrigued and slightly worried about how easy I would find it to be vegetarian around the world. And surprisingly I have to say it’s not been too bad although it’s not always been the countries you’d expect to be easy/good for vegetarians.

Canada = short but sweet, very much a land of meat but tonnes to dig your teeth into if that’s not your thing! Great restaurant food, will often tell you if there’s meat in an option that looks veggie – I check quite a lot!! If your home cooking, stores do carry tofu and substitute options, but they can be a little pricey compared to the UK.

India/Nepal = very much a no brainer, so much veggie food that as long as you like curry it is impossible to go wrong! You can even get more than one version of a veggie burger from McDonald’s not that you should even consider that the amount of amazing food that’s on offer

Beijing/Hong Kong = not quite as easy but if you look hard enough you will find the noodles and the fried rice. If you like aubergine (or eggplant) this is also pretty common as a veg dish. However you may find at times items turning up in your dinner that you were pretty sure you didn’t read on the menu. Me and a friend got totally different meals hers came with pork, mine didn’t. The only item they had in common on arrival was tat bits that we think were supposed to be pork. So be prepared for a bit of scouting around. Food is tasty though!

Malaysia/Singapore = the best food I had in Malaysia was actually on Tioman Island, fresh, amazing, insanely cheap food. However I did order some noodles on the main land and checked they were meat free to be told yes and them arrive containing chicken. When we mentioned this the guy said chicken wasn’t meat, so make sure you 100% clarify what you don’t want. He was lovely about it and made me a new ‘animal free’ version! Singapore is home to a tonne of restaurant chains so you can usually find something decent. We ended up having a Cheese and Chocolate Buffett at the top of the Mariner Bay Sands so I’ve kind of forgotten about all other food there! P.S yes it was totally awesome!

New Zealand/Australia = New Zealand not bad, we did a lot of hostel cooking so mainly supermarket based where you can obviously find a tonne of things depending on your budget. Australia was expensive and unfortunately did not bowl me over in the food department. Fell way short of expectations! Veggie options are limited in restaurants and supermarkets. No tofu or substitute products found until we hit Brisbane and Sydney. McDonald’s will take meat out of a burger if you really want to eat there, Hungry jacks will actually offer you an ok fast food veggie burger.

Vietnam = has been going well until tonight when my veggie curry turned up with chicken in it and I stupidly thought it was fake meat, yes that’s how bad the chicken was. Kat had to taste it twice to try and help decide before we called the manager over, who did look horrified and was extremely apologetic when he realised. I’d been waiting for this to happen as I’d heard it could be tough in Asia but so far Vietnam has been a dream. Most restaurants have a page of vegetarian food so it’s so easy! This was a simple translation issue. If I was at home I’d have been so made. Here you can only shrug it off and laugh about it.

I have no idea what to expect from Laos, Thailand and Cambodia, all I can hope is for a lot more great options. I’ve been spoilt for great food, despite the few mishaps along the way, and really that’s all I could ask for. I’ve tried not to be too picky and difficult and I think only had the occasional food paddy because I’m not managing to eat anything healthy and meat free (listen up Australia!).

Beach Riding

I guess we can officially say we are now in the final run down to Christmas, however for the first time in my life it doesn’t feel like Christmas at all, a major downside of travelling in hot countries at this time of year. Tinsel, Christmas songs and snowflake decorations just don’t really work when the temperatures are a standard 28degrees plus. It’s even more bizarre when you look to buy Christmas cards and they’re all covered in snow, I was hoping for a nice Christmas on the beach scene. Apparently roast dinner isn’t your typical Christmas meal either, but there’s only a few days left until I can confirm that one or not.

As my lovely yummy malteaser calendar is telling me I only have 4 days left to go I decided yesterday to treat myself to an early Christmas present and tick another activity off my bucket list. As a horse fanatic the dream has always been to ride along the lovely white sandy beaches of Australia, so what better time than whilst we we were staying at Rainbow Beach, the location that fills the front cover of 101 Best Australian Beaches.

After a lovely morning sunbathing on the beach it was time to head back and dig out my jeans for the first time in a good few weeks and kit up for my afternoon ride. Black jeans certainly wouldn’t be my usual choice of attire here and my legs were baking. Arriving at the stables I filled in the obligatory paperwork and signed my life away before being introduced to my lovely horse for the afternoon, Cadbury, a thoroughbred, my favourite and turned out to be a true gentleman. We got through the dry sand without an mishaps, my guy being prone to sweet itch can have a tendency to role and once on the wet sand the fun commenced. So much fun being in the water and finally the rest of the group carried on and Helen, the manager, held us back so we could have a canter. After the first attempt feeling slightly odd, the saddles were a type I hadn’t come across before, a sort of mix between a European saddle and a western one, the second was a lot easier to settle and sit into. I was only gutted we couldn’t go for longer and I forgot to even go I’m the water. Guess I’ll just have to do it again!

Riding in Australia is an expensive activity, even more so when you want to head out on the beach, but it was nice to know talking to Helen and Andrew the owner of Rainbow Beach Rides that so much of what you are paying goes to spoiling the horses you are riding. Physiotherapy five times a year, dentists so many times a year, they are absolutely showered with love and attention, the way it should be!

If you’re ever in the Rainbow Beach area check our Rainbow Beach Hirse Rides!

HAPPY CHRISTMAS FROM ME AND CADBURY 🎅🎄⛄️🏇

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Reminiscing on India

Delhi to Kathmandu, India and Nepal

I have always been adverse to taking ‘tours’ or more realistically the idea of ‘package holidays’ as we call them in the UK. The all inclusive trips where you’re picked up and ferried around on a coach with a large number of other very much British tourists. When Kathryn and I were figuring out our trip we started to feel more and more that travelling India on our own may not be the easiest way to start our travels. And so after a lot of people’s advice, our own research and me sucking up the fact we were doing a ‘tour’ we booked a two week trip with STA starting in Delhi and ending in Kathmandu. Taking in Agra, Jaipur, Orchha, Varinassi, Lumbini, Chitwan and Pokhara in between. My god it has been whistle stop, but it has been amazing and definitely a fantastic way to see these two great countries, especially if you are looking for a mix of Urban and Rural.

Despite all the repeated lectures I got from people, both in the UK and Canada, about bag safety, looking after belongings, having a money belt or little money bag tucked away, if you are sensible and generally aware of your belongings you shouldn’t need to worry about too many extra safety gizmos. You will be I’m crowds at times, Indian cities are as expected crazy busy but no one in our group of 12 was targeted, not that it doesn’t happen; a lady leading a different group lost her bag, but she left it open and unattended in a train station. Kind of goes without saying of you make it easy they’re not going to just leave it there for you! Be prepared, take care, but don’t let people panic you!

India lived up to pretty much all expectations. It’s hectic, crazy, busy, cows fill the road, dogs run wild, rubbish is everywhere, poverty is not hidden away, it’s dirty, it’s smelly but oh my is it just buzzing with colour and life. It is a sensory overload! Be prepared to haggle and haggle hard. And learn to say NO. Something I think British people struggle with. By the time you leave you will feel like the rudest person in the world but if you give to every begger, young or old, girl or boy, you will be hounded and end up giving all your money away as you’ll generally struggle to have anything smaller than a 10 rupee note. Word of advice, take toilet paper in your rucksack at all times and hand sanitiser or wipes. And learn or practice squatting. Although western toilets do exist, outside of the hotels they become few and far between and when they do come up are usually in worse condition than some of the squats. Also Imodium tablets are a must. It happens to everyone, generally! Touchwood I got lucky, my luck will probably turn in another country though, and I never had to use mine, but some form of Delhi Belly caught I think most of our group. The tour does pass through a Malaria zone when you cross the India/Nepal border. I chose due to money, the tablet I’d bought for SEAsia and hence decided that I wasn’t going to bother taking it for the four days we were at risk. Probably not the cleverest idea, I spent the whole time hoping I didn’t get bitten and panicking that I might have contracted malaria, when a cold id caught suddenly got really bad. Fortunately the cold was just a cold type bug. Small perk of having a doctor on your tour to check you in front of the whole group and tell you despite how you feel, your temperature is still normal.

Our tour guide for the trip CP was excellent and I dread to think how we would have coped dealing with sleeper trains, rickshaw drivers, taxis and all the other hustle of India without him! His advice on getting around, places to go and added little events to the itinerary was fantastic. Also some great choices on where to eat. Some feel less Indian than others. If you really like truly authentic Indian food you may want to push a little as they will take you to restaurants they have good relationships with but who think because you’re western you can’t handle any spice at all, some dishes were definitely altered. Some of us finally convinced CP to take us to a really authentic street food cafe where he would go to eat and boy was it worth it for the experience! Anything I particular you want to do, see or buy just ask and your ‘chief experience officer’ will go out of there way to help you sort it, or at least ours did!

One last thing! Go with low expectaiotsn of the accomodation and then you’ll be generally surprised, none were really that bad at all. Just don’t expect western standards and go with an open mind. They all had normal toilets, I.e. No squats so that pretty much kept me happy!! And everyone we met running the hotels was so helpful. We did read some shocking reviews in advance of arriving in the hotels but like I said before they always trumped expectations.

I think for many India may be a bit of a ‘marmite’ country, you will love it or hate it, but it is definitely not to be missed!! On a side note, rural Nepal is beautiful!

Sometimes mistakes happen…and you learn to not always trust google!!

Whilst travelling New Zealand North Island we were joined by my boyfriend and a friend for two weeks of road tripping. Having already done a tone of research on prices etc we plumped for About New Zealand car rentals. The first test of our trip went smoothly, managing to get four people in the same place after 3 separate plane journeys. We got that one down. The next was a great night out in Auckland. I have no idea where we went or what it was called, all I know was I was very grateful they let me in without my passport (you can’t get into or buy alcohol in NZ with a foreign drivers licence it turns out). The next day turned into the day from hell.

We all woke up with some form of hangover, although i now believe that I actually may technically have still been drunk at breakfast, as I was far to happy. We were all pretty excited to be going to get our hire car and starting off on our NZ road trip, me and Kat especially as it meant we no longer had to lug our hefty rucksacks around. The night before I’d set out to find out where we picked our car up fro using the link in my confirmation email. Probably not the best idea when it was accompanied by a few drinks. I was mildly surprised when I discovered Google was sending us to the opposite side of Auckland, 30 minutes from our current accommodation. Assuming it must be right because I’d linked there from the email I set about searching for public transport routes to get to the destination shown on my map.

We waited half an hour for the bus in the morning, and forty minutes later, with a sinking feeling in my stomach, not just nausea from the night before, we got off the bus in very much a residential area (Kat dashed off the bus just in time to throw up on the side of the road) and no car rental agencies in sight. All of us were feeling pretty ropey by this point as the realisation dawned and another google confirmed we were now actually half an hour away from our car rental still and further away than when we had started. It was a city branch after all. So we bunked down on the opposite side of the road to await our dreaded return journey into Auckland. By this point I was desperate for the toilet and seriously considering knocking door to door to find somewhere, much to Christians possible disgust. Fortunately we had a very lovely bus driver who let me jump off at a Burger King for two minutes, panic over.

This time we got off the bus and found ourselves a five minute or so walk away from the rental, which was much more manageable. So we finally picked up our car and left Auckland 4 hours later than we had originally planned and didn’t make it to Cape Teinha in a day. Who needs a plan anyway?!

Holidaying not travelling…

The first five/six weeks of mine and Kats travels have been pretty damn hectic, we haven’t stopped, well barely, six countries I’m 6 weeks is no mean feat, especially when you chuck I’m all the flights, taxis and bus rides to try and keep us on budget. I’ve been kind of lazy and not had that much time for writing, or at least no time I’ve wanted to give over to writing, so here is a quick whistle stop tour of what we’ve fitted in do far:

One week in India, crazy chaotic and amazingly colourful – definitely a bucket list country!
One week in Nepal, beautiful, chilled and so the best place to go for the complete opposite of India.
One week in Hong Kong, brings you back to the western world with a bang, but allows you to keep a foot in Asia so to speak. I loved it!

Two weeks in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpa and learning to dive wiped us out so we decided to spend the rest of our time sitting by the sea, drinking cocktails and sunbathing. Which is where I’m writing from now. And it is most definitely the best way ever to do it. Fed up of the buses that are never on time (unless you’re leaving Kuala Lumpa, there they are actually pretty decent) we decided to skip going back to the west of Malaysia and do a small triangle of Mersing, Kota Tinggi and Desaru, before heading down to Johor Bahru to reach Singapore.

Mersing is pretty dire, it’s sole purpose and the only reason I would ever recommend going there is to reach Tioman Island, a total jungle island paradise. There are stunning islands I, sure all over the world but this being my first I think it will now hold a special place in my heart. I definitely now dig island life! Having had a small taste we didn’t want to leave so decided to carry on the chilled vibe that Malaysia was offering us by heading to Kota Tinggi.

Kota Tinggi brought us totally off any semblance of traveller/backpacker route. We went there solely for the waterfalls which were lovely! Like Mersing it’s a gateway to somewhere else for most holiday makers, Desaru beach resorts. We stayed in an alright hotel but with the most lovely staff who even ordered Pizza Hut for us. The 9 hour day of travelling had left us completely uninterested in looking for something even vaguely exotic!

Having also given up on waiting for buses that never showed, we decided to upgrade for our travel to Desaru and take a taxi, it cost us £5 each for a 45ish minute journey, something you’d never get back home in the UK. Our lovely taxi driver was again supplied bthe lovely staff of our previous hotel. And now we are staying, not quite in the lap of luxury but for us pretty well close enough. Right now is probably the closest we’ve been so far to peoples rose tinted glasses view of travelling. Sleeping, swimming, drinking and eating all under a glorious hot sun. I’m done with writing, off to enjoy more sun sea and sand. Oh yes!!!!

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An open ‘post’ to Hong Kong MTR

Our time in Hong Kong has gone really pretty smoothly, I don’t think I can bemoan anything about the country apart from the appearance of meat in my dinner when I think I’m ordering something that sounds completely vegetarian. However, this evening we got a bit of a, shock shall we say, whilst preparing for our early morning flight to Beijing. Turns out the airport express we’d already booked a return journey ticket for doesn’t run 24hrs a day or almost 24hrs a day as we had somehow manage to assume but actually stops from 00.50 until 5.50am. Cutting it a little tight for a 7.40am flight but being ever optimistic I thought well we can make that, it’ll be a rush but hey it’s doable. Another google later and it turns out the MTR line we need to use to get to the Airport Express line doesn’t start running until 6.13am and there went our hope of making it in time for our flight.

A few more googles later (how would we survive without google) we discover a taxi all the way to the airport is WAY out of our traveler budget, a taxi to the MTR to catch the 5.50am train 6x the price of going early and the bus, well we couldn’t even find a time table for that! So the only option we decided was 100% safe even if horrendously uncomfortable was to head to the airport at 11.30pm, 8 hours before our flight and bed down there for the night. Ever persons dream! Better start digging our travel pillows and sarongs out.

So my question MTR owners/timetablers/organisers, why on earth does the airport express start running after the first flights of the day have started when it’s sold as the best way to get to the airport? And two what’s te point in the connecting trains starting after the first airport train has left?!

I expect no answers to the above and am also fully aware that technically unless they ran 24hr service across all lines it’s not possible, I’m not sure we even have 24hr train lines to the airports in London, but right now were two very tired, soon to be very uncomfortable travellers who have to navigate Beijing in 10 hours time.

What we’ve learnt for the future, never assume anything and always always check your transport timetables, even if it is literally the night before you fly! I think we’d have died of panic if we’d realised when we got up in the morning! For anyone who stumbles across this and happens to be in Hong Kong soon here’s a link to the Airport Express/MTR timetable.

We have another MTR travel story but i think that’s for another time :). I’m off to enjoy unlimited free wifi, yay, and a not so comfy bench bed, see pictures below.

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“Oh hello hospital!”

Before every trip it’s strongly advised you purchase travel insurance and do some research around it. Leaving the UK for a period longer than 2/3 weeks I decided for once to try and do it properly rather than just opt for the cheapest going, which has always got me through summer holidays with the friends in Ibiza etc. I’ve never had to use it and stupidly assumed (or rather hoped) I wouldn’t have to for the whole year I was away. Unfortunately this was not to be the case!

After a lovely evening with friends, we were supposed to head rafting, we headed off for dinner instead. Having left my bike behind and despite not really wanting to ended up riding another persons instead. I should have stood my ground and walked, the restaurant was not even 5 minutes away, but instead within a few minutes of leaving my bike slid out on the Tarmac and I was shot over the handlebars. Not my most elegant moment. My bags went all over the place and I was in pain in a lot of places. Stupidly I decided I was alright to still go for dinner and drank through the pain. Arriving home at 11pm ish I found Lib and Greg still up and the realisation of how much pain I was actually in was setting in big time. With a tonne of ice on my elbow I decided to try and sleep with the caveat if it was no better in the morning I would say and go straight to get it checked.

The next morning I’d lost all movement in my arm and couldn’t support it’s weight on its own. So I rang my insurance company and told them I was going to the hospital blah blah blah, it was the biggest waste of time in the world despite being told in the paperwork that’s what to do. The guy just said to go and ring when I was there, that’s all well and good until I get there and the bulldog on reception says I. can’t go through until I’ve got a guarantee from the insurance company. So a number of phone calls later, no credit left, she decides she’s got enough info to allow me into A&E. Three hours later I’m released with a fractured elbow, intensive looking sling and a tonne of super strong meds, on and a cd of my 4 very painful X-rays, it’s almost like a tourist trip.

So far I haven’t heard anything from the insurance company or the hospital since leaving, but I’m sure if the decide I owe anything I will heat pretty fast, touch wood for now everything seems alright and my $1000+ bill won’t have to come out of my pocket. Makes me pretty thankful for the NHS even if I was seen and out in the same amount of time as you’re generally sat waiting in the UK. I almost had a heart attack on top of everything else when the receptionist said it would cost $700 to go through to A&E and about $300-400 for the doctor to then see me, without the cost for X-rays or medication etc. Thank god I opted for the £15 million hospital cover that’s all I can say.

Recent update to the above debacle, my parents received an invoice the other day relating to a patient that definitely was not me and addressed to a lady that definitely wasn’t them. Well done Jasper Hospital finance department! Maybe the NHS isn’t so bad after all?!

Shangrila: A remote, beautiful, imaginary place where life approaches perfection!

Thursday 24 – Saturday 26 July 3014

In an attempt to relax after dealing with the strain of sorting out Libby’s mums house, which was a hoarders paradise even after a huge weekend garage sale, we found 2 nights to head up to Shangrila, the families old back country cabin from 1929. It’s technically a ski cabin so out of use for much of the summer apart from for maintenance. We were joined for the trip by a friend from Edmonton, Wendy and her friend Cindy. It was a blast, they’re both hilarious, great ladies.

The hike in was pretty dismal, it rained nearly all the way, with snow, sleet and hail at the highest points and battering wind across the meadows. The total hike staring from Maligne Lake to the alpine meadow the cabin occupies is 14km, reaching highest elevation of 2,223m, coming up Little Shovel Pass we had the questionable luxury of some toilets, see pictures below. The hike in took us 5.5 hours with only the smallest of water stops, it’s not a hard hike as there’s a lot of switch backs so never any steep parts that feel like they are too much. The hardest part for me was towards the end of the hike coming down a slippy steep slope to the creek with one arm in a sling. In the end I had to relinquish my pack and accept my fate, I was going down on my bum and my beige trousers were going to be covered! When the cabin finally came into sight across the bog meadow it is safe to say we were all pretty relieved to see it, having set of late, partly due to me not knowing if my arm would be up to it, we stepped through the door at 8.30 pm.

I’ve always had a bit of a problem with toilets and my first trip to Shangrila with the family in 2009 didn’t help this. It was a complete outhouse shack. I was very excited to learn that they now had a $50,000 brand new toilet on site aptly named Shangraloo. You can imagine my disappointment when none of the keys we have will open the god dam lock! And the old outhouse is no longer in a useable state, so we have to resort to digging a latrine in the woods. I never for I’d manage it so being an utter toilet princess this was a huge achievement. I’m just going to have to go back once more to give this toilet a try out.

Hiking back out on Saturday we had a complete contrast in weather, it was beautiful. You could see for miles and the mountains were spectacular. The trail was popular and we bumped into a number of people we already knew and a very friendly Marmot. Sunbathing on the ridge with lunch and wine was almost the epitome of glamping.

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I almost managed to go the whole trip without any incident, but being me that was never going to be completely possible. After being so careful with my arm for three days I get back to the house and slip at the bottom of the stairs to my room, the dog Oz had decided to pee there whilst we were away. Oh my life. That’s another bruise to add to the collection.

For history of Shangrila, a back country ski cabin, or if you are interested in renting it for your own trip, please visit: http://www.malignelakeskiclub.ca