Carbon Footprints…

One thing you learn to accept as an aid worker is that you are never going to have a small, or especially environmentally-friendly carbon footprint. There are just too many flights involved! Not only do I travel to far-flung and exotic places for work, and then generally want to take holidays around the general area of wherever you happen to be, but I also have family in the UK and Australia that I try to visit once in a while, and a lot of friends having fabulous destination weddings at the moment in places like Canada and France! I think 2015 might turn out to be a record-breaking year for me in terms of flights and travel, as I look back at everywhere I have been this year, and am simultaneously busy planning both work trips and holidays for the coming months. I’ve decided to map it out compared to last year, which was also quite travel-heavy….

2014: I can’t remember how many internal flights I did in the Philippines, but if I had to guess I’d say

  • Tacloban – Cebu – Tacloban x 3?
  • Tacloban – Manila – Tacloban x 3?
  • February/March: Tacloban – Cebu – Sydney – Perth – Cebu – Tacloban
  • May: Tacloban – Manila – London – Manila – Tacloban
  • July: Manila – Phuket – Manila
  • November: Tacloban – Manila – London
  • December: London – Sulaymaniyah (Iraq)

Total countries visited in 2014: 5 (Philippines, UK, Australia, Thailand, Iraq)


  • February: Erbil – Amman – Erbil
  • May: Erbil – London – Vancouver – London – Erbil,
  • July: Sulaymaniyah – London
  • August: London – Geneva – London
  • September: London – Madrid – London
  • December: London – Bangkok – Phuket – Chiang Mai – Bangkok – Sydney – Melbourne – Sydney – Bangkok – London

Total countries visited in 2015: 8 (Iraq, Jordan, UK, Canada, Switzerland, Spain, Australia, Thailand)

Phew! What a lot of travelling!

It’s annoying me that I’ve only just thought of signing up for some frequent flyer air miles! Ah well, better late than never…

Back to the grindstone

Friday 13th April 2007

Hey guys,

Well, I’m back in Kuwait again, but had a fantastic holiday!! The last two days on Phi Phi were great (although that bad prawn returned to haunt me after all – not so much a bad prawn as downright evil, frankly!!).
I was a bit ill for a couple of days, and shan’t be eating seafood for a while (if ever), but it was still lovely!!

Betty and Bryn really enjoyed their romantic night alone, and the last two days were really great.
Then we went up to Bangkok for a night and a day, which was nowhere near long enough, but we only had a week off school, so what can you do?
We went to an amazing bar called Vertigo, which was on the roof of a hotel on the 60th floor. It was completely open air with no roof at all and had AMAZING views of the city, as well as Appletinis (my new favourite drink by the way!!). We managed to get to the Grand Palace before heading to the airport, which was pretty special too.

It was a very long and tiring journey back, and I arrived at my flat at 3.30am to discover the power was out and my living room was flooded. It turns out Kuwait has had freak storms all week, torrential rain, hail and sandstorms, most of which ended up in a muddy puddle under my sofa! Apparently there’s a gap at the bottom of the door to the balcony from the living room, and while it usually lets in a bit of dust now and then, this time the balcony filled up with water and it just poured into my front room!!
The water heater shorted out rather spectacularly after that with a flash and a bang, and the water on the kitchen floor apparently wasn’t from another flood, but my defrosted freezer, becasue the power had been out!!

So, I’m very tired, and sooooo don’t want to go to work tomorrow, but I’ve mopped, shopped and re-frosted my freezer, and am about to hit the hay. I don’t think I’ve ever come back down to earth from a holiday with such a decisive bump – reality really hit me in the face!!

lots of love,
Sleepy Maya

(I can hear thunder outside again, better start blocking up the door!)

The Kuwaiti towers at night

Kuwait at night

Mais al Ghanim – our favourite Lebanese restaurant

Dust storm

Chillin’ on Ko Phi Phi…

Tuesday 10th April 2007
Hello everyone!!
I’m in Thailand in holiday and it’s pretty awesome so far!!
The journey was long, but uneventful, and after a night in Phuket we arrived on Phi Phi Don, the larger of the two Phi Phi islands.

Ko Phi Phi

Yes. That is a shark net.

It is STUNNING here, although it’s also rammed with tourists of a distinctly chav-esque quality. We’ve been having a competition to see who can spot the most dreadful tattoos, but unfortunately there were too many and we had to admit defeat!
There a large number of social stereotypes here, charicaturing themselves like crazy. From the leathery-skinned hippies with dreadlocks and sarongs to the “lads on holiday” groups apparently vying for the honour of most sunburnt and most nasty tattoos cup. The bars here are a tad grim, with some of the nastiest toilets known to man and a lot of older men with their 20-something Thai brides.
However, the beaches are fantastic, the sea is almost too warm and the views are unbeatable. We took a boat trip around Phi Phi Ley, did some snorkelling and I saw some foot long rainbow fish literally about 2 feet from me!! We also went to Maya Beach, which is most famous for being the set for the movie “The Beach”, and is, of course, the most beautiful beach I’ve even seen in my life! It was really fantastic, but after about half an hour of snorkelling the big cruise boats started to arrive and floods of tourists filled up the beach. My advice to anyone going there is go early and avoid the crowds!!
The food here is incredible, I love Thai food anyway, but it’s especially good here (obviously) and Bryn is planning to take a cooking class tomorrow. Naturally the drinking is also one of my favourite things, and we managed to find a random Italian/Thai restaurant that serves delicious spring rolls and Italian white wine by the caraffe!! Suffice to say we now eat there almost every night!!
Tonight I have returned to Phuket to meet up with a friend from school, Paul, who happens to be in the neighbourhood, and also to give Betty and Bryn a bit of privacy (we’re sharing a room together to save money, but I think we’re starting to see a bit too much of each other, so I thought they could do with a romantic night alone).

As for me, I’m off to shower and get ready for a night out with Paul, although I’m slightly nervous that the funny-tasting prawn in my curry earlier may come back to haunt me later!!

Wish me luck!!
lots of love and green curries,
Tanned Maya
p.s. – It’s now the next morning, as I didn’t have time to send this yesterday. Last night was fun and you’ll be pleased to hear the dodgy prawn did not in fact ruin my night (I found gin and tonic settled my stomach oddly enough! Long live Gin and all it’s medicinal properties!)
I am back on Phi Phi for our last two days before heading to Bangkok and then home.

My lovely toes!

p.p.s. – Oh, and by the way, you’ll be equally pleased to know that despite my fears to the contrary, I have not yet been attacked, bitten or fatally wounded by any sharks, jellyfish, fish in general or shady-looking seaweed.
Although there’s still two more days……………..
hee hee