Wendy Smyth

Willow

Wendy Smyth



My story so far....

2005: Left the UK and headed to New Zealand, spending a great year working in Wellington and travelling the country - vineyards, trekking , kayaking and more.

2006:When my working holiday visa expired I booked a ticket to Singapore and had an amazing 6 months in Asia - Orangutans in the Borneo rainforests, Tibetan plateaus and the ancient temples of Bagan and Angkor.

2006/07: Out of money but not quite ready to return to the UK I moved to Australia for 9 months or so, living in Sydney, travelling the East Coast and realising my career was never going to be a surfer.

2007: After over 2 and a half years away I headed back to the UK... stopping in Africa on the way home where I spent a great few months in Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa - I went on my first safari and couldn't get enough! How can you ever tire of seeing a Giraffe?!?!

2008/2009: After a year back in the UK I was off again for 15 months - first Africa, then India and finally South America from the far south of Patagonia up to Columbia

2014: It's been a while... and this time it's just a short trip... although that may yet change :-) I'm starting with 2 months in Nepal...



Asia » Nepal » Chitwan April 11th 2014

After 8 hours on a bumpy hot bus I arrived in Sauraha, an entry point to the jungle of Chitwan National Park in the lowlands of Nepal, to be greeted by a welcoming committee of 20 odd hotel touts all shouting and jostling in a bid to convince me to go to 'their' hotel. It was a sweltering 36 degrees which perhaps didn't help my decision making process but I was tired from the journey and couldn't face the walk from the bus station, which as ever was out of town, with my rucksack in the heat. So a deep breath and I headed straight for the mayhem. One guy who seemed quite genuine pointed out that there were no taxis which as I hadn't booked anywhere and didn't fancy the walk left me in a ... read more
having a break on the jungle walk
blooming on the river - pretty but in the raining season a growth explosion can block the river
Elephant bathing

Asia » Nepal » Bhaktapur April 8th 2014

"Yes, yes, yes I know, I'm a billy no mates and have no friends", is what I felt like saying after the 6th person in two hours spoke or gestured, combined usually with a look of concern or confusion, to ask whether I was on my own. I was beginning to get the feeling that in everyday Nepal, ie. outside of the tourist bubble I'd been living in, perhaps women didn't travel on their own.... I was staying in Bandipur, some three hours from Pokhara, having decided to take the scenic route back to Kathmandu. I'd finished my Annapurna trek with a day being shaken around (as much as is possible when there are four squished into a row) in the back of various jeeps as we travelled a road that was in parts more rock ... read more
Taumadhi Tol, Bhaktapur
View from the main street whilst eating an ice cream, Bandipur
Bhaktapur, early morning markets

Asia » Nepal » Annapurna » Annapurna Circuit April 4th 2014

The daily dilema of whether to get up and set off, hoping to find breakfast in the next village, or eat before leaving, usually whilst sat in several layers of clothes, teeth chattering over a cup of tea - such are the challenges faced when trekking! Initially I'd opted for the 'food now' option over the great unknown but at higher altitudes with the mornings cooler it was becoming less appealing. So on Day 5 I followed the Germans lead, whom I'd had serious breakfast envy of the previous day when I passed them sat in the sunshine tucking into porridge, and headed straight off. It meant I saw the first sun hitting the snowy peaks above and then, because the breakfast detour put me on a smaller path, went through Thanchok. Winding narrow stone lanes ... read more
Day 10 - walking in a snow globe
Day 12 - disappearing in the clouds
Day 5

Asia » Nepal » Annapurna March 26th 2014

As the taxi driver drove slowly passed the tourist bus station looking for my one to Pokhara it soon became apparent that this was less of a 'station' and more a street lined with bumper to bumper buses - I stopped counting at 25! The main differences with a 'tourist bus' seem to be that a) you get a seat, although as I and a few others discovered not necessarily the one you were expecting and b) you leave on time(ish), skipping the painfully slow curb crawling around town whilst the drivers side kick hangs out the door heckling everyone who passes until every seat is full.... in theory anyway! It was 6.30am and the 'bus station' was busy with passengers and vendors alike - men pushing bikes overladen with oranges and grapes, others with trays ... read more
Annapurna Day 4 - The road to Timang
Annapurna Day 2
Annapurna Day 4 - the view from the guest house

Asia » Nepal » Kathmandu March 9th 2014

"Would you like veggie or non-veg?", asked the air steward before each meal on my way to Nepal. Having previously been reduced to eating an air hostesses packed lunch or left starving because my preorded veggie meal had 'gone missing' I knew this was good omen for the rest of the trip, in terms of being able to eat at least. The rest of the flight was uneventful apart from a medical emergency with the call of 'is there's a doctor on board?' at which point I sat shrinking into my seat hoping they didn't check the passenger register and I wouldn't therefore have to explain that well, I wasn't that kind of doctor! I even managed to get three seats to myself, not that that meant i was able to sleep.. or at least not ... read more
Swayambhu
Kathmandu Old City
Old Palace, Durbar Square

South America » Peru » Lambayeque » Chiclayo October 3rd 2009

'Couldn't find a room in a hostel so I've checked into the Radisson....' OK so perhaps not the exact words of the text Shirley sent me but they're pretty close! At the time I was sat at a truck stop halfway through a 24 hour bus journey from Cusco to Lima and facing the usual dilemma of biscuits vs. crisps for breakfast, everything else on offer being, well, meat, meat, meat or.... i.e. not very veggie friendly. As she was only here for 3 weeks Shirley had taken the posh option and flown to Lima, leaving me to the much slower 'el cheapo' option which would get me there a day later. But it seemed she'd arrived to find the hostel room we'd booked not quite as advertised and after discovering that none of the others ... read more
The 'pyramids' at Tucume
Gold! And this was just the start...
Fountain spectacular, Lima

South America » Peru » Cusco » Machu Picchu October 1st 2009

The small friendly town of Ollantaytambo was easily my favourite stop along the Sacred Valley, with its impressive Inca fortress, stunning views and grid like Inca town planning it was a fascinating place to spend a day. The Inca Emperor Pachacuti built a town and ceremonial centre here when he conquered the region in the mid-15th century and the rebellion leader Manco Inca later retreated here in 1536 after his defeat by the Spanish at Sacsayhuaman. Francisco Pizarro's younger brother Hernando followed with his troops, determined to capture the rebel leader, but at Ollantaytambo they met fierce resistance; the Inca's forces showered them with arrows, spears and rocks before flooding the plains below the stronghold making it difficult for the Spanish horses to manoeuvre. Hernando ordered a hasty retreat and Ollantaytambo became the only place to ... read more
Along the streets of the Inca town of Ollantaytambo
The Incas also built at the top of Huayna Picchu
Steep terraces of Machu Picchu

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco » Cusco May 25th 2009

With just a few days to explore the historic city of Cuzco I discovered, rather controversially, that I didn't like it all that much! And yes I'm pretty certain that'll be the complete opposite view to everyone else who's ever been there. I found my disappointment compounded by the fact I'd looked forward to coming for so long, really ever since I'd visited the Mayan sites of Mexico and Guatemala in 1997 and discovered a love of pre-Colombian history. Perhaps I'd just seen so many unexpectedly fantastic places on this trip that it couldn't match up. There were a few things I did love though, like the two excellent vegetarian restaurants I discovered (I was in absolute heaven!!), but I guess that seems a little contradictory when I say it was the zillion foreign tourists along ... read more
The streets of Cusco
Santa Domingo
Cusco

South America » Peru » Puno » Lake Titicaca May 20th 2009

In keeping with the bad habit I fast seemed be developing (and seriously needed to lose!!) it was dark by the time we finally pulled into Puno bus station. OK so we hadn't helped ourselves by having a lazy morning, not leaving Arequipa until lunchtime for what I already knew from experience to be at least a 7hour journey, but on the upside at least this time I had company!!! We pretty much jumped straight in a taxi as soon as we arrived, picking a random hotel from the guidebook and heading straight there - we even managed to haggle the room rate, although perhaps not as well as we should have seeing as we later discovered we were the only guests! After a night when even I got cold (Puno sits at 3860m and with ... read more
Sunset at Amantani
Our rower
Uros islands

South America » Peru » Arequipa » Colca Canyon May 16th 2009

Having woken up early and with a sudden burst of enthusiasm I decided to see if I could make it to Arequipa (Peru) from where I was staying in Sorata, Bolivia, that same day - 14 hours, 5 buses, a rather uneventful border crossing later and we finally rounded a corner to see the lights of Arequipa brightening up the dark sky ahead. Of course we arrived late, just the 3 hours mind, not pulling into the bus station until 11pm. I hadn't booked anywhere to stay and neither the thought of spending a night in the bus station nor the idea of trying to find somewhere to stay at this hour was especially appealing. Fortunately though the Dutch guy (and only other gringo on the bus) who'd been sat next to me was rather more ... read more
Santa Catalina Convent
Arequipa
Walking down into the Colca Canyon




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