Category Archives: background info

One more sleep

I’m excited! This time tomorrow, I’ll be on the plane!

After purchasing over 300 € (£230) worth of medication, I feel ready to leave. Also because I can’t afford anymore expenses… This week I bought a travel towel that dries super quickly, a thin-but -warm fleece, long light cotton trousers that unzip into shorts, and my malarial tablets. I have been pondering whether to get some, but my super cool doctor decided for me. He says it’s worth the money, especially in the Northern parts of Thailand at the end of the wet season (October). I couldn’t agree more.

Here is now the official list of the contents of my backpack. I will keep you updated on what I use, send back, regret packing or obviously forgot. I have visited a lot of blogs, websites and forums over the last few months, to see what others were packing, so my list is now added to the mumble-jumble of the web and I hope it can help others planning trips like mine.

– 1 pair of jeans (old and rugged, ready to be left somewhere – I am told they can be annoying as they don’t dry fast enough! I love my jeans, so I’ll just see how it goes and dump them somewhere if not practical),
– 1 pair of light cotton trousers (that double up into shorts and make me look like an 1920s explorer)
– 1 fleece (for the flight, because it’s always freezing on planes and I don’t want to be cold during the night in Northern Thailand)
– 2 tshirts, 2 vest tops, 1 long-sleeved tshirt,
– 1 pair of shorts (for sleeping or sports),
– Enough underwear,
– Shoes: hiking, bright yellow trainers (yep, they’re coming with me), plastic flip-flops (that I can shower with if necessary),
– 1 pair of long-haul flight support tights (actually, still debating whether they’re worth the hassle. I actually won’t be flying all that much, and they’ll just end up being bulky. My vein-doctor says they are also handy during long bus, train or car rides),
– the oldest bikini in the world (desperately need to get a new one, after mine got badly discolorated due to an overenthusiastic pool owner scared of a potential algal bloom in his beloved swimming puddle),
– First Aid Kit (with anti-malarial for 2 months (approximately worth an arm and a leg), anti-diarrhoeal medication – for Dehli Belly and its local equivalent -, anti-constipation (for the extreme rice intake), antispamodics, antibiotics, mosquitoe repellent, motion sickness medication and everything needed for small cuts, bleeds and scratches)
– Toiletries: travel towel, toothbrush (with cover, thanks for the tip Harry), toothpaste, comb, mooncup, soap, small bottle shampoo (because I won’t need much), razor, Nivea all-over moisturizer (to smell like my Grandma), nail scissors, tweezers, earplugs,
– Random: photocopies of travel documents (actually it’s all electronic, so can’t lose them!), passport, driving license, CV (plus electronic copy of the above sent to myself by email), ziploc bags of varying sizes, small pocket knife, toothpicks, duct tape, charger for camera, digital alarm clock, ipod USB charger, 2 blank DVDs for burning photos, combination lock,
– Bolivian handbag my brother got me from his travels (actually a camera bag in disguise) with SLR camera and its protective scarf, change purse, ipod full of great music with new sturdy headphones,
– money belt: passport, cash, credit cards, SD cards.

So I think I’m ready. I haven’t packed my trusted backpack yet, but it doesn’t look like much when spread out on my bed at my parents’ house. Hopefully it should weigh less than 10kg, and ideally about 8kg. I had gone to India with 7kg at the beginning of the year, but I don’t think I’ll manage to beat that.

For now, I just need to make sure I get some sleep tonight, and play it cool, real cool.

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One week to go…

Seven days before I board the plane, anticipation is building. I have trouble realising what’s happening, but it’s slowly sinking in.

Maybe it helps to wake up in my parents’ house, say goodbye to my friends, party the night away this coming Saturday, or maybe what I really need is to land in Bangkok’s unpronouncable international airport terminal to make this whole adventure feel true.

Saying goodbye is one of those terrible processes. I am personally absolutely ridden with guilt, thanks to:
– my Grandma who truly believes I am abandoning her,
– my patients who attempt to make me believe I am irreplaceable,
– my Mum who thinks I am running some great danger when I am far away from her,
– the taxman who can’t imagine why anyone would abandon their “situation” and go to another country for a while (ok that guy doesn’t make me feel guilty, strictly speaking!!)

But thanks to all those who truly support me, my project and my short hair; I feel I can go guiltfree. Well a little guilt maybe, but hopefully I’ll feel better once I’m there and actually find what I’m looking for. (Actually, the people who know about the “technical” bits will tell those who care to listen that the more you find out, the less you know. And yes, I am totally aware that I will only find more questions. Bring it on.)

I have given about half my worldly possessions to a charity, I am taking time to pack my backpack optimally and taking the least amount of stuff possible, my hair is so short it hardly ever needs a wash… Yep I feel like I’m ready for the adventure.

The Big Project. Out in Seven days on a blog near you.

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Tickets

Yesterday, I went to pick up my tickets. The travel agent talked me through them. When and where. How and what. Confirm 72 hours before departure. Arrive early for check-in. She was so incredibly excited that it made me dizzy. I held on to the desk for some grounding, held my focus on a non moving object and breathed deeply while she babbled on. The other travel agents were looking our way, as her voice seemed to get higher and higher pitched, louder and louder. It seemed like she was the one going travelling!

I held them securely between my hands walking to the car. I sat with the engine running for a few minutes, waiting for my pounding heart to settle. I placed them on my lap for the way home. I delicately placed them on my desk at home. I unfolded carefully the pieces of paper. And there they were. Paris – London – Bangkok – Sydney – Singapore – Paris. With my name on them. Of course they’re electronic tickets, directly booked with my passport number, but still.

Suddenly it made it all real. I tried to slow my brain down as it started visualing what I had done. What I had achieved to get there. I worked hard, I saved harder. I’ve been going on about this to my friends for nearly 2 years now. I created a written version of the project a year ago. What I wanted to do, approximately where I wanted to go. Now my business is closing down this coming Saturday. My last football training is tonight. I am moving from my flat, away from my flatmates in a week. I am flying away from my friends and family in 2 weeks today.

Am I scared? Not yet. I am anxious? Not either. I am excited? You bet!

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Newsletter and RSS

For those who cannot deal with an RSS feed, feel free to join the e-mail newsletter. With a maximum of one mail a day, each day that I will update the blog. Feedblitz who is kindly doing this will not keep your email for any other purpose. Yipee. It’s been quite an experience making that little link appear actually. Much more difficult than expected.

Otherwise, when you know how, the RSS is easy to set up within your browser, or my clicking on “Entries RSS” which is located under the subtitle “Meta” on the right side of the page.

I personally like the newsletter better, as email will always be more reliable than RSS (especially for those accessing this on work computer)(I don’t encourage this kind of attitude, but I support it), therefore I will be personally “volunteering” email addresses to add to the Newsletter, of course you will be sent an email asking you whether you really do want to receive these updates. I will hardly get upset if you say no.

Hope you enjoy the read…

M

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The Big Project – making it happen

Once you have the ambition, the ideas and the project, all you need is love and… cash.

Once I graduated, found a job and moved back to Paris; my only thought was to keep putting money away. Sharing a flat, riding my bicycle everywhere and not eating at the restaurant more than 3 times a week was my masterplan (yep, the binge drinking replaced by eating good food, that’s what Paris does to you)

According to what I have read, budgetting can be very simple: £1000/1250€ per month and you’re sorted, once you’ve bought your long-haul flights. Countries where you’ll need less money (South East Asia, India) compared to where you’ll need more Australia) average out.

I’ve also had “fun” breaking it down to find out exactly how much I would need per country. This is where you need an Excel spreadsheet, a beer and a lot of spare time. I won’t bore you with the details, but basically it works out fine. What a relief.

Next up, planning where to go when. It’s not easy making sure you make the best of every place, travelling at the right period in the right place. I’ve chosen to leave in October for simple reasons, I could work the summer and make some money and give enough time for the guy I work with in Fontainebleau to find someone to take my place.

Actually, October/November/early December are good times to be in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. It will be mild, no rain and less European tourists than at other periods.
Then, Christmas in Australia. It has been my dream to be down under for Xmas, ever since Aunty Nan (who lives in the Blue Mountains, and I met when I was over in Australia back in 2001) described to me the feast she put on for her family, with the fresh fruit, the seafood, and going swimming when it just got too hot! I am also really happy that my parents will be joining be for Christmas and early January, so we’ll get to catch up, do touristy things and get on each others nerves 🙂

Once my parents have gone, I was initially thinking of going to the Northern Territory or Western Australia, but Lyne (who works on an Aboriginal community) tells me that January and February aren’t such good times to travel and stay there, as there is hurricane season… I am not sure what I’ll do yet, as there are other places I could go to (New Zealand?) flying from Australia for a couple of months, if it means making the most of the outback later.

And then it’s in a long time! But I am already thinking of where I’ll spend the later months, to avoid monsoon in SE Asia (and it’s many mosquitoes) but I hear that Fiji, Vanuatu, Micronesia, French Polynesia are all good places to be from May to October. So be it!

My plans are deliberately loose, my tickets are fully flexible at no cost, so I’ll just see what happens. Low cost companies are thriving, and despite rising fuel prices, it is still cheap to fly short distances.

Come what may.

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The Big Project – where to go?

Once I realised that researching osteopathy in other countries was a fantastic excuse for going off in the big wide world, I decided I should think about it in a little more detail than just purchasing a round-the-world ticket and getting off the plane wondering what I should be doing…

Initial research showed me that there were hands-on manual therapy in most (if not all) cultures of the world. Unfortunately, modern day medicine is slowly taking over the world, and erasing all these diverse ways of treating off the map. 
Moreover, many cultures are forgetting their own ancient healing methods in today’s city-orientated, impatient, buzzing new ways of life.  

Keeping to my initial idea of actually going around the world, I realised how difficult it would be to find these ancient techniques in certain parts of the world, especially being a foreign, white female. 

So I selected a few places, which particularly attracted me. Keeping the number down means I’ll spend several month in each country. 

INDIA: where it all comes from. Ayurveda is the most ancient form of Oriental Medicine, it is even the basis of Chinese Xi-Gong (and Tai-Chi)! It is a complete medicine, using plants/herbs, massage, physical exercice (Yoga), lifestyle advice and spiritual guidance. 

THAILAND: Hands-on, worldwide famous, non-erotic, therapeutic massage initially developed from traditional Indian Medicine. Using yoga poses, ayurvedic medicinal plants and stretches, it is highly effective prophylactic and symptomatic treatment for everyday aches and pains, as well as more serious pathologies. 

AUSTRALIA: Aboriginal people arrived in Australia about 50,000 years ago, and have since developed a very unique form of Medicine. It has no common roots with its Asian neighbours, and is actually closer to African way of life. Aboriginals believe that bad spirits cause sickness and disease. Both Medicine-Men and Women practice, using medicinal remedies, hands-on techniques or incantations. 

FIJI/VANUATU/MICRONESIA: The people living on small Pacific Islands have developed unique forms of their own medicine. Using locals plants and blending beliefs of surrounding cultures. For each ethnical group, there is a subtil blend of India, Thai, Chinese, and Japanese influences.

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The origin of the Big Project

Years after I first had a conversation with my brother, the “Big Project” is becoming a true story. 

I’ve always enjoyed travelling, because my biggest passion of all is talking. I love to chat, whether it be with my family and friends, random people on the street, on public transport, in airports, on the beach, on a football pitch. I love exchanging random thoughts, rants, even philosophical points of views on night buses! 

So when I realised that being an osteopath was about, amongst other things, mainly talking to many different people throughout the day, I knew it was a profession I would enjoy. I guess the first of many conversations with my brother was back in 2002, when I first started studying osteopathy and soft tissue techniques (otherwise known as massage).

At the time, I was hesitating between becoming France’s next national football team osteopath (and get by hands on Thierry Henry) or emigrating to New Zealand to practice there. I told my brother I would love to take some time off to travel the world, but I wouldn’t just want to be a tourist, or on a world-wide-binge-drinking-tour… and he suggested “well I’ve met guys who were going round the world to look for different types of drugs, so why don’t you go round the world learning different types of massages?” He’d just been back from a trip in Asia himself, and had benefitted from the locals’ techniques. 

What a fantastic idea! I started having a look round, where was what, continuing my studies in London, only to realise that as I enjoyed massage, osteopathy was really what I enjoyed most. I started some researching other forms of “osteopathy” in other countries, and realised that many medical philosophies were based on similar principles. Moreover, certain techniques seemed very similar (for those who know: METs, HVLATs especially) Now, it became clearer: I should travel the world seeking osteopathy-like techniques!!!!!

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