Melanie Russell

kiwi chick

Melanie Russell

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

I love travelling, and I love capturing these travels through blogs and photos for my friends and my family, anyone who is interested, and for me to reflect on when I need to.

My 1 year South America trip in 07/08 was probably the best year of my life. Travels through Europe, Africa, and Asia have also been amazing.

"What do we leave behind when we cross each frontier? Each moment seems split in two; melancholy for what was left behind and the excitement of entering a new land" - Che Guevara (Motorcycle Diaries)

Asia » China October 20th 2012

I recently returned from a three week trip in China. Visiting China was a significant milestone for me - being my 40th country visited. I travelled with two friends, from the UK (Dominique) and Ireland (Sinead), who I meet in Ecuador 5 years ago. I saw them again when I lived in London, but I haven’t seen them for 3 years. When I left London we made a pact that we would reunite in Asia somewhere, and somehow we managed to make it happen. We spent the first 2 weeks on a tour, and spent the third week going it alone. We began in Shanghai, but unfortunately the trip started at the beginning of “Golden Week” where everyone in China had a week’s leave to coincide with 2 national holidays. This meant that crowds were heavier ... read more
Shanghai by night
Wedding photos
Mini Soldier

Asia » Nepal January 24th 2012

After the intensity of India, I was ready for Nepal. From the moment I stepped off the plane, I knew Nepal was going to be different. Whilst I did like India, Nepal has a special something. Maybe it's the clean(er) air, the kind and friendly people, the snowcapped Himalayan backdrop or the numerous colourful prayer flags adorning every street. Maybe it's because everybody greets gives you with "Namaste" with a slight bow and hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointed upwards, in front of the chest. Roughly it translates to "I recognize your presence and existence in society and the universe". My friend Amy had returned back to New Zealand, and I ventured onto Nepal. I started in Kathmandu with a much needed shower, room service and sleep after my very long and stressful last ... read more
Prayer wheels
Monkey temple
Monkey temple

Asia » India January 14th 2012

I have always been fascinated by India - the culture, the religions, the people, the food, the literature, and of course Bollywood. So it seemed a natural choice for my next trip. I wasn't on a quest to find spiritual enlightenment, I just wanted to observe the beast that is India. My friend/flatmate Amy and I travelled around parts of Northern India for just over 2 weeks for a wee taste of India. There is still a lot more to see so we have no option but to back again. India was definitely a sensory overload and also a world of contradictions - is hard to convey this into words. There was lots to see - and there was always lots of colour (especially the beautiful saris), lots of interesting people and many cows; it was ... read more
India Gate
Lotus Temple

Asia » Malaysia » Sabah February 13th 2011

When I was in South America 3 years ago, I travelled with a guy who had celebrated his 30th at Machu Picchu after doing the Inca Trail. I thought that was such a great idea to be somewhere really cool and do something really different to mark a significant birthday. I vowed from that moment on that I would do the same. So, to mark my 30th birthday I decided to go to Sabah, which is on the northern tip of Borneo, Malaysia. Sabah is known as 'the Land Below the Wind' because geographically it is situated below the typhoon and monsoon belt. Sabah ticked most boxes on my “appropriate places to spend your 30th birthday criteria list”. 1) It’s been on my ‘top 5 places to visit’ list for a very long time; 2) I ... read more
Baby Orangutan
Orangutan hand
Yawning Orangutan

Africa » Zambia January 24th 2010

Zambia Leaving Malawi, we headed in Zambia. Our first stop was South Luangwa National Park where we did a morning and an evening game drive. There were lots of elephants in the park, as well as hippos, water buffalos, lions, crocodiles, impala, puku, waterbuck, and bushbucks. South Luangwa is one of the few national parks that allow night safaris. This means we were able to see animals that are normally hiding during the day. The highlight was seeing a leopard walking around searching for food whilst he was being followed by a hyena hoping to get any scraps of what the leopard might catch. After a brief trip to the capital Lusaka, we arrived in Livingstone where Victoria Falls are nearby. The Zambezi River plunges 100 metres down a mile wide chasm, creating one of the ... read more
Lizard eating an eel

Africa » Uganda January 24th 2010

As internet access in Africa was slow and unpredictable, I was unable to do a travel blog whilst on the road. So I am posting 2 blogs now that cover my 10 week overland trip with African Trails from Nairobi to Cape Town (split into Eastern and Southern Africa). Uganda The first week of the overland trip was pretty much just getting us from Nairobi to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in southwestern Uganda, to see the highly endangered Mountain Gorillas. 2009 happened to be the Year of the Gorilla, so it seemed fitting to be able to visit them then. Bwindi is home to almost half of the world's population of mountain gorillas, about 340 individuals, and they are threatened by poaching, loss of habitat, and disease. The rest of the gorillas are found in Rwanda and ... read more
Baby Gorilla

Africa » Kenya » Rift Valley Province » Kajiado October 25th 2009

In October, I spent 3 weeks volunteering in Kenya - teaching in a Maasai community school in the Kajiado Province with IVHQ/Fadhili Helpers. Internet access and speed in Africa was pretty average to say the least, so I have had to wait until I got back home to write my travel blogs and upload photos. My first weekend in Kenya was volunteering in an IDP (internally displaced people) camp - where people who were forced to flee their homes during the post election violence in Kenya in 2007, now live. I helped put up a fence and we donated food and clothes for them. We played with the children and the families told us their stories of how they were displaced and what there lives are like now. Many have very limited access to basic necessities, ... read more
The kitchen
The walk to school

Africa » Egypt June 3rd 2009

Egypt- the country that has been on the top of my "places to see" list since I started writing a list (since I was in primary school). Over time the list has changed a bit, but Egypt has always held it's top place. To explore Egypt, I did a 15 day budget tour with 23 others. The tour started in Cairo with a trip to the Egyptian Museum which has over 100,000 relics including the treasures found in King Tutankhamun's tomb. We then braved the 38°C heat to see the Pyramids and the Sphinx in Giza. The Pyramids were great to see because they are "the Great Pyramids" - the oldest (2560BC) and only surviving member of the ancient wonders of the world - but I'll be honest, they were not the highlight of the trip ... read more
Khufu's Pyramid
Egyptian boy

Africa » Morocco March 10th 2009

Having been a little idle on the travel blog front, I am finally posting a new instalment. Since being to Prague (my last post), I have moved to London and travelled a bit around England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and France. While these countries are beautiful and interesting, I didn't find the inspiration from these places to write a blog about them. But hoorah! I am now inspired and motivated to write a blog about the Kingdom of Morocco or al-Mamlaka al-Maġribiyya (in Arabic). My journey in Morocco is my first country (of many to come) in the African continent. What drew me to Morocco were similar reasons as to why I was drawn to Ecuador - the diversity displayed in a such a small country. In particular the ancient cities, the Sahara Desert, the Atlas Mountains, ... read more
Marrakech spices
Marrakech Square
Orange Tree

Europe » Czech Republic » Prague July 22nd 2008

I arrived into Dublin from New Zealand last Monday after a pretty grueling 34 hour journey resulting in jet lag, swollen legs, and in need of adjusting to a warmer temperature (and the accents!). I spent a few days looking around Dublin but I will post an Ireland blog later that will include my other explorations to come. It must seem odd, but only after a few days in Dublin, Alan and I decided to go on a "city break", as the locals call it, to Prague - the capital city of the Czech Republic. Not that I really needed a break from anything, but I wanted to see Prague and Alan was keen to get out of Ireland. We spent 3 days walking around and exploring Prague, which many have told me is the most ... read more
Astronomical Clock
Charles Bridge
Prague with castle in background

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