Sophie’s Five Countries through Instagram
While recently looking through my passport, I’ve suddenly realised I only have three empty pages left despite it not needing to be renewed until 2018. Being well aware that some countries won’t let you enter if you don’t have a certain number of empty pages is a little worrying… but it’s made me reflect on the past few years of traveling. My passport is a mini-memory book of all my destinations and has always been number one on my list of things to pack. However, number 2 has always been my iPhone. Sure, the passport is a necessity but my Instagram addiction needs to be attended to or I break out into cold withdrawal sweats, no matter which tropical climate I’m in. Also, the filters always make my images look way better than you could imagine.
So here are some little memories and snapshots of my most recent countries, courtesy of one of my best friends: the iPhone.
Full of beautiful natural landscapes, temples, statues, turquoise waters, sea turtles, stunning beaches… I went to a wide stretch of islands in Indonesia for two months and I covered Java, Bali (of course), Lombok and The Gili Islands. And my tan definitely nearly turned orange in this stretch of backpacking, which was quite interesting.
The temples were incredible, to say the least. The water palace in Bali had beautiful ornate stepping stones free-standing in giant ponds with enormous fat carp splashing around. Jumping from step-to-step was fun with a slight undertone of “I might fall in and get mobbed by hungry orange fish”.
Borobudur in Java was absolutely mind-blowing! Tiers and Tiers of Buddhas lined the walls of the temple and to watch dawn break over it was pretty unique. It went through all the colours of the rainbow before fully lighting up the historic temple in all its glory.
I’ve been to Malaysia a few times to visit my only remaining relative who stayed there despite all my family leaving there for either England or Australia. I always feel pretty comfortable over there; I don’t know if its because it is an easy country to travel around or it’s due to my heritage. However, seeing the tea-picking fields in the Cameron Highlands showed me a different perspective (and a colder experience) of the country where I had been used to seeing just beaches and Kuala Lumpur’s skyscrapers
We didn’t have time to climb Mount Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, nor did I really think that my fitness was entirely up for it… a bit demoralizing as my 16 year old cousin had climbed to the summit on a school trip. But another cousin kindly took us on a great road trip and we wound up the twisty roads, as high as we could get before the hiking tracks dominated. Jesus, the view was breath-taking.
Hilarious things for sale in the epic shopping malls of Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, were constant entertainment. My favourite was the “F Cup Cookie”. Interesting, but I wasn’t buying.
Yup, this is my home country, but I think I can count it as in the past 3 years I had only been home for roughly two months. I went home last month for a friends wedding and encountered the coldest and wettest may in history (cheers for that). The train journey down to Cornwall for the wedding was scenic and spooky in the wet dark weather. Plugged into my iPod, the 4 hour train passed by in an atmospheric blur.
But after so long in Australia, I found myself being slightly culture shocked: “O my God! Look how cute and small the roads are!”, “Awww look at those quaint cottages and cobbled streets” and “Dear Lord, these country lanes are pretty narrow aren’t they??”. Above all, I had missed the historical architecture of England, especially my home city: Bath.
It was great to see the old Bath Abbey where I had spent all my school Christmas services and had worked through my teen years in a silver jewellery shop next to it. Also, there was great buzzing excitement of the Olympic torch being passed through the city and on the one burning hot day I got to have, people had set up camp with Union Jack flags, Pimms and patriotic vibes to see the flaming torch pass by. God bless Great Britain!
The architecture was immense and beautiful, and it was the perfect city to see on bicycle… and to top it off, the weather was perfection and I got to catch-up with my old friend in her new German life.
It’s the most Westernized Asian country/city I have ever encountered. Old traditional beliefs and temples lie juxtaposed to Singapore’s massive developments of huge shopping malls and the Marina Bay Sands building, which is a world-class luxury casino and hotel. Pretty impressive and the infinity pool on the roof is guaranteed to have fantastic views.
It’s a pretty fun place to explore as a tourist: infinite shopping and a nightlife that is lit up like an adults alcoholic Disneyland. Clarkes Quay was full of neon lights, cocktail bars with hospital themes (Have a cocktail in an IV bag? Don’t mind if I do!)… it will exhaust you and your wallet…
So there you have some snapshots of some countries that have fascinated and excited me. It makes me so travel sick but luckily all I have to do is flick through my Instagram account and go through the catalogue of all my photos…
If you want to see more and see what I’m seeing (I update Instagram a lot. As I mentioned, I’m mildly addicted), then please follow me on @s_saint
And hey, since you’re on Instagram, follow @travelettes too and keep up-to-date with whatever is going on with the team! Happy snapping!