Lake Geneva in Lausanne, Switzerland

A long weekend in Lausanne and Montreux, Switzerland

With a limited number of days off work in a year, I love to make the most of the bank holidays with prolonged weekends away. For the early May bank holiday last month, I decided to do exactly that, heading to Lausanne in Switzerland!

My close friend Morgane, who I lived with in Australia, is actually studying in Lausanne, a city in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. This brought up the perfect opportunity to visit a country I had never been to and to reunite with her and another friend I had met in Australia, Charlotte. It was nice because Switzerland has never particularly been a country that I’ve been desperate to visit (there are many other countries in Europe that are further top of my hit list) so heading over I felt relaxed, with no pressure or high expectations.

However, I would soon become utterly impressed with the stunning scenery of the place!

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My favourite spots in Sydney

As my time in Sydney and Australia slowly draws to a close, I’ve already started reflecting on my life here. All in all, it’s been an absolutely incredible and memorable year, full of wonderful highs as well as some heart-breaking lows (which usually involved me having to say goodbye to some of the amazing people I’ve met out here). I came to Sydney straight from travelling South-East Asia for 8 months, knackered from non-stop moving about and not entirely convinced that setting up in a city on the opposite side of the world from London, my home, was really a great idea. My friends I was travelling with were going back to England, and due to some health issues I had towards the end of my trip I wasn’t really in the mood to start afresh and make new friends.

Yet the opportunity was there, and I didn’t want to have any regrets so I swallowed my doubts and powered on. Turns out it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, I’ve met some really incredible people and my year here has been one of the best ever. And as I write this, I feel slightly sick to the stomach that soon I’ll be leaving this beautiful country.

Sydney has been my home in Australia for 10 months and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with it. The city is full of lively suburbs, incredible beaches and memorable spots that I will always hold close to my heart. Here are some that really stood out for me.

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Mount Bromo, Indonesia

Java, Indonesia: The top picks

Indonesia was one of my favourite countries travelling SE Asia, and that was mainly because there was so much to do and with so much variety. From delicious beaches to jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery, to action-packed activities, Indonesia seemed to have it all. And fortunately for us, we had a good chunk of time to spend exploring the culture-rich country. Java, home to the Country’s capital Jakarta, was a real treat to explore and we spent almost 2 weeks discovering every nook and crevice (well, not really, but it sure felt like it!).

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Perhentian kecil

Pristine paradise in the Perhentian islands

Our time spent in Malaysia consisted of visiting some really cool places, including the likes of the lush jungles of Taman Negara and the bustling atmospheric city of Kuala Lumpur. However, my favourite spot in Malaysia were the idyllic Perhentian Islands, hands down. Why was this, you may ask?

To put it quite simply, the small grouping of islands situated off the coast of Northeast Malaysia are absolute postcard perfect paradise.

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Sunset in Bagan

Two weeks in Myanmar: An itinerary

Whilst planning my Southeast Asia trip, I have to admit that the idea of visiting Myanmar hadn’t even crossed my mind. I didn’t really know much about the country and in all honesty, my initial perceptions of it was that it was quite dangerous for tourists to visit. Of course, I was completely wrong.

However as I became more familiar with travelling Southeast Asia and I met more and more travellers who could only sing Myanmar’s praises, I became increasingly keen to visit this country that sounded so fascinating, so intriguingly different to anywhere else I’d heard of. I had been told that now is prime time to visit, as it is one of the few countries in Southeast Asia that isn’t teeming with tourists, fast food outlets and commerciality. And being the curious little explorer that I am, I sure didn’t want to miss out!

I toyed with the idea for a while. It wasn’t originally part of my plan, so my time there would be limited, or I would have to sacrifice plans in other parts of Southeast Asia. As well as that, my friends weren’t willing to pay for the extra visa costs and flights to get there, and one downfall of the country being so uninterrupted by tourists meant that it would be harder to meet other backpackers.

But when did that stop me? With good timing, I made a plan to go with someone I had met back in Laos and we decided to go for 2 weeks. I usually spend about 3-4 weeks in each country in Southeast Asia, so I knew it would be a challenge to see everything I wanted in just 2 weeks. Here’s how we crammed it all in.

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Kampot's river

A one day itinerary of Kampot, Cambodia

Kampot, a charming riverside town in Southern Cambodia is a spot I wished we had longer to explore. Realising back in Sihanoukville that we would be limited on time for Kampot due to our visa for Vietnam starting imminently, my travel buddies and I decided to make a quick beeline for the quaint little city. We had one full day to make the most of our visit – here’s what we got up to.

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Koh Rong sunset

Koh Rong, Cambodia: Beach island paradise

Oh Koh Rong, where do I even start? This small Cambodian island is about an hour’s ferry ride away from Sihanoukville on the mainland, and after hearing great things from many other backpackers, me and my travel buddies had been keen to check out the island for a long time. And boy were we impressed!

Back mid-February, as our boat pulled into the docks of Koh Rong, it immediately became blindingly obvious that I’d be enjoying myself there. The water was a dazzling hue of aqua-blue, the sand looked luxuriously soft and white and the teeny-tiny shops and restaurants along the beachfront were buzzing with backpackers. But that was just the beginning.

Koh Rong beachfront
Not a bad first impression…

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Bats in Battambang

30 Million bats in Battambang?

Battambang, a city a couple of hours’ drive away from Siem Reap is a spot that is often left out from a typical traveller’s itinerary of Cambodia, overshadowed by the spotlight of the temples of Angkor and the bustle of Phnom Penh. However after reading up about it in my trusty lonely planet guide, I was pretty keen to at least spend one full day there to explore the town’s surroundings.

We hired a tuk-tuk driver for the day (only $18 between 6 of us!) and we did indeed have a great day out. There was certainly lots to do. We spent the day journeying on a bamboo train, exploring various different temples, wandering through a vineyard and visiting a former interrogating centre and killing caves. These were used by the Khmer rouge back in the 70s and although it was sad to see and learn about, it was also very interesting.

But it was something else that really for the first time during our trip honestly left me open mouthed. Bats leaving their cave for the night. Literally millions and millions of them!

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Si Phan Don's Four Thousand Islands

What is there to do in Four Thousand Islands?

After successfully completing the Laos Thakhek bike loop, some of the group decided to head down South for some chill time in Si Phan Don, more commonly known as ‘Four thousand islands’. We stayed on one of the more popular islands, Don Det, which is still a tiny little place very much backpacker orientated with a cool hippy vibe. We were there for four nights but again like in Pai in Northern Thailand, when I look back at our time spent there I struggle to pinpoint exactly what we got up to! It is very much a place to hammock-dwell with little planned. Many travellers we met said they had ended up spending a lot longer there than anticipated, simply enjoying the sunshine and having a chance to relax without rushing around doing activities and excursions.

So, what exactly did we do?

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