My FIRST life-change-iversary – the good, the bad and the unexpected

My very first life-change-iversary

*SPOILER ALERT* This is going to be a long post. It’s also likely to be my last post for a little while at least. If you make it through the next 3000 words, I’ll see you on the other side… Life-change-iversary, it’s a word. Right? And if it’s not, it should be. Because it’s been a year since I got on a plane and headed scared sh*tless boldly into a new life. Can’t see the end of the road yet I celebrated July 19th 2016 as the anniversary of the day I changed my life forever. Not just because it’s the date I left England, marking the culmination of months of planning and stress, but because ever since that day I have lived life in a whole new way: with uncertainty, with purpose, and with a whole lot of adventure in between the two ends of the spectrum. Needless to say, it’s been a big year. In the last 12 months I have had the privilege of living in four very different countries, of making new friends and trying new things, of taking myself from novice diver to instructor in the space of six months, and of slowly learning to accept the great unknown that my life now is. As I’ve gone along, I’ve tried to keep a fairly consistent record of the highs, the lows, and the surprises that have defined my experience which I look back on fondly as a sort of travel journal. So on this special anniversary
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Month #8 – the good, the bad and the unexpected

Month 8 - a round up, Ellie Anywhere

Location: Tioman Island, Malaysia The good The diving Diving was always going to feature right at the top of my priorities list when it came to choosing the next location to continue my great adventure. After experiencing one of the most pristine reefs the world has to offer in Roatan, Honduras, and delving into the prehistoric waters that teemed with sharks and turtles in Costa Rica, Malaysia had some large fins to fill. Fortunately, Pulau Tioman – the small island that straddles the Singapore-Malaysia border in the South China Sea – more than lives up to the high expectations I’m lucky enough to demand. After a couple of months during which I’ve spent more time in the water than out of it, I finally had the chance to let loose with my camera and capture just some of the treasures that this pocket of the ocean holds. I dedicated an entire post to my underwater discoveries, but I couldn’t resist sharing another snapshot of the beauty of diving in Tioman… The bad Early starts, long days and even longer nights Insomnia: it’s a bitch. Trying to explain the paradox that is an active mind that buzzes like neon while your body aches for silence, for sleep, is a mammoth task, so for now you’ll excuse me if that short summation suffices. It’s a battle I continue to fight. Or rather one that I find myself subjected to on an almost nightly basis, unwittingly and unwillingly caught in the cross fire between
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Diving in Tioman, Malaysia

Scuba diving in Pulau Tioman

South-East Asia is famed for its diving. From the whale sharks of Oslob in the Phillipines to the mantas and manatees of the Lembeh Straits in Indonesia, the discerning diver doesn’t have to look very far to find an embarrassment of underwater riches in this diverse and exotic continent. Not to be outdone by its notorious neighbours, Malaysia has long been recognised as a hotspot for exceptional diving; the jewel in its scuba crown – Sipadan in Malaysian Borneo – has been voted time and time again as the best diving location on the planet. But in all the hype that Borneo receives, it can be easy to overlook the small but perfectly formed island that you’ll have to fly over to reach the fecund waters of Sipadan, an island that holds an underwater secret all of its own – Pulau Tioman.
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The World is my Office – Will


In the latest ‘The World is my Office’ interview, I speak to Will who is working as a diving instructor on the beautiful island of Roatan, which I was lucky enough to call home for three months. Will, tell us a bit about yourself… I am a PADI Open Water SCUBA Instructor working on Roatan, a small island off the coast of Honduras in the Western Caribbean.  When I am not teaching or swimming with sea turtles, you will likely find me on the beach, unless it’s sunset in which case you will undoubtedly find me at Sun Downers with good company and a cold beer! How did you get into your line of work? Complete and utter detest of my former employment.  Prior to my Great Awakening, I was a Regional Sales Executive at a Fortune 500, selling telecommunication solutions into a base of new and existing customers.  After eight years and a few promotions, I simply could not escape from the idea that at (then) 31, retirement was a literally a lifetime away.  I wanted to experience life rather than simply exist in it and I knew I needed a drastic change.  So I did what any other rational person would do; sold my house, cars, and boat; rented a 10×10 storage unit for everything else; moved to Honduras and became a scuba instructor. How often do you travel with work, and where do you tend to go? Living and working in Honduras, I’d say that I’m permanently
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Malaysia Revisited – Part I, Airports

Malaysia Revisited - Airports

“Is this your first time in Malaysia?” “No, I actually spent a month travelling around the country when I was 18.” “Awesome, did you have a good time?” [thinks to self] “Now there’s a question, where the hell do I start…” Since setting foot back on Malaysian soil after nearly a decade, I’ve spent my first month fending off friendly curiosity about my previous Asian adventure. Now, a relatively clued-up twenty-something with a husband, a job and a fairly decent understanding of ‘who I am’, I couldn’t be much further away than the teenage girl who set forth on what would prove to be something of a pivotal trip ten years previously. At 18, with a few long years of schooling under my belt and another three years of academic slog stretching ahead of me in the shape of university, I was chomping at the bit to experience “proper travelling” for the first time. So when my boyfriend of the time suggested that I fly out to meet him at the end of his gap-year in an exotic, far-flung location, it seemed like the perfect time to get the stamp in my passport that I was craving. I don’t know what I imagined – I probably had some hazy vision of cocktails on the beach, skinny dipping in the sea and ‘finding myself’ – but I know for sure I didn’t get what I bargained for. In some ways I got so much more, and in others I lost out. I experienced highs that my
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Monkeys and mountains and more, oh my! Adventures in Arenal, Costa Rica

Visiting Arenal National Park, Costa Rica

Costa Rica. It’s an eco haven, famous the world over for its wildlife and boasting some of the most impressive natural biodiversity in the world. Holiday-makers, backpackers and researchers alike flock in their thousands to the national parks that give Costa Rica its sterling reputation as Central America’s eco-tourism hotspot. But after three months living in the built-up touristy beach town of Playas del Coco, I was starting to wonder whether Costa Rica was fully deserving of it’s place on the podium off all things ‘nature’.
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Month #7 – the good, the bad and the unexpected

Ellie Anywhere's monthly round-ups, Month 7

Location: Pulau Tioman, Malaysia The good Living in the paradise that is Tioman I’ve been lucky enough to see a fair few idyllic locations this planet has to offer. From Croatia to Costa Rica, Malta to Mexico, I’ve visited destinations which each boast stunning views and vistas, fascinating culture, and sunsets so beautiful they’ll break your heart a little bit. Each year, new ‘hot’ destinations are touted as the latest paradise and people the world over will drool over photos of immaculate beaches, captivating wildlife and ravishing rural landscapes. But, sadly, often the glossy travel mags fail to convey the whole picture; whilst showing one small if positively delectable slice of paradise, they’ll often neglect to reveal the bigger picture, the built-up, tourist-ridden cultural blackhole that hides just around the corner. Out of all the places that I’ve lived so far on this great adventure, beautiful though they are, I’ve yet to be treated to an example of a natural authenticity that is virtually unspoiled by the relentless steamrollering of consumerism and development. I’ve seen all too many times just what a behemoth tourist industry can be. So it came as a welcome surprise to set foot on a slice of paradise that really lives up to the legend. The fact that the Guardian have just included my front-doorstep in their list of the 50 best beaches in the world ain’t half bad either – I guess sometimes the glossy travel mags do get it right! The bad Tioman’s mini monsoon
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The legend of Tioman

The legend of Tioman island, Malaysia

A long time ago, when water cascaded off the edges of an earth as flat as coin and great monsters as big as glaciers ruled the seas, the East was a kingdom of promise and plenty. Mountain crevices would glint with the hint of diamonds as large as goose eggs, and molten gold ran through cracks in the seabed like oil; precious jewels, as ordinary as fallen leaves, lay scattered across the verdant hills like the million glittering eyes of an army of opulent insects. Within these lands, there lived a dragon princess called Tioman.
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The World is my Office – Julia


In this month’s The World is my Office interview, we hear from Julia, an accountant for Unilever who travelled away from her home in Germany many years ago, and hasn’t looked back since. Living and working in a foreign country, Julia shows that travel and a high-flying career can go firmly hand in hand. Since I first interviewed Julia, she has proven to everyone just how seriously she takes the travel aspect of her working life by moving to Unilever’s Mumbai office – now that’s what I call a global citizen… Julia, tell us a bit about yourself… I’m Julia, originally from Germany but have lived in various places across Europe over the last 10 years (and Australia for a bit). 5 years ago, I moved to London to start working and although I never wanted to stay longer than the London Olympics, I’m still here. In my free time, I try to enjoy all the amazing things London has to offer like theatre, sport events and restaurants. I also make sure I travel back to Germany regularly to see my family and friends and love to go on holiday – I usually try to go skiing in Europe in the winter and then a bigger trip abroad in the summer. How did you get into your line of work? I’m an accountant which might sound boring at first but I really like my job. I work for Unilever on the Tesco account, so work closely with our sales managers on
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Becoming a PADI diving instructor – Part II, the IE

Becoming a scuba diving instructor - the PADI IE

“IE stands for It’s Easy. It really is, you’ll breeze through it.” Everyone said it, everyone really seemed to mean it, but it did very little to untangle the tight knot of nerves that had taken up residence in the pit of my stomach over the two weeks building up the exam. Or rather exams. Because the PADI Instructor Exam (IE) is in fact a series of tests and practicals that determine whether you are capable of safely and effectively teaching others how to scuba dive.
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