Top Travel stories and memories

Some of these are funny, others are scary, some just beautiful. But these are the moments that have stuck with me over the years. Mostly the reasons why I would do it all over again.

  • Being Kidnapped by Shirley the elephant and meeting that same elephant again pregnant with Milla many years later. Footage to back it up.. Here
  • Given a scorpion as a pet by the Nubian crew in the south of Egypt. We named her baby Jane and fed her fly wings but she died. Photo
  • Waking up to a sandviper at the end of your bed, thinking its plastic and trying to play with it.
  • Swimming in Crystal clear seas. Photo
  • Secretly keeping dessert mise as pets.
  • Listening to music while riding the waves at the bow of the boat. Photo
  • Being dropped of by camels in the desert and being left there for the night.
  • Sleeping under the starts for months.
  • Ending up in a remote village with stories about in breeding and child abuse and wanting to get away as quickly as possible.
  • Being woken up by monkeys throwing coconuts on your roof on a nightly base.
  • Having meals with the locals preferably without utensils.
  • Laying in a hammock on a beautiful beach as a paying job.
  • Counting satellites and shooting stars in the middle of the red sea.
  • Motorbike accidents happening faster than the wounds could heal.
  • Naked nightly swims in the ocean.
  • Jumping of a large boats roof while afraid of heights. Photo
  • Making a big bonfire with palm leaves on a deserted beach instead of a X mas tree on X mas eve. Photo
  • Diving with playful schooling hammerheads for 45 mins.
  • Seeing dolphins around you as far as the eye can see. Start crying – Try to hide it – And realise almost all your guests are sobbing because its the most beautiful thing ever.
  • Getting eaten by sandflies
  • Howling at thunderstorms in the middle of the ocean.
  • Having this picture taken. Photo
  • Sleeping in between hundreds of flying cockroaches because you have been robbed and its that or the street.
  • Swimming in waterfalls. Photo
  • Watching the most beautiful sunsets day after day after day. Photo
  • Being able to say that your home sank and mourn it like it was a person.
  • Making friends for life!

20 places to call home: #20

I should be doing something useful I feel. But the daughter is asleep and we are in a hotel so I can’t move or do anything without her waking up. So instead I think, reminisce and write. I know for a fact that I am very good at the first two, now lets see how that comes out in writing.

I counted the places I’ve lived.. And if I don’t add hotel rooms or short stays then this is the 20th home. Not bad for a 30 something. (I keep losing count ) Those 20 homes are without adding the place I called home most of all and that was little Frazer. Frazer was the love of my life other than my child and husband. To some people Frazer was just a boat but to me Frazer holds the memories to one of the greatest times of my life. Such a shame she took those memories with her to the bottom of the Red Sea. I think I cried more when we lost the boat then when I’ve lost certain people. Anyway Im drifting off. So I didn’t add Frazer cause well technically she is not a home.

What I did count is the houses I grew up in, the ones in Belgium and the one in England. The time I lived in Mallorca and so on.

In Egypt I had several I started off with the cheapest place at the end of Mashrabeya Street in Hurghada.. Back then It used to be 500le for a two bedroom without AC. Years later I moved up the scale and lived in Mastaba for a while.. Yes the one with the awesome view and a swimming pool. in-between I also had several “normal” apartments in Hadaba.  But the place I remember the most was a hut in Awlad Baraka Camp about 30 km south of Marsa Alam. Back then there was no telephone connection unless you walked up the hill and held your phone up really high and if you were lucky the connection could be strong enough to send of receive a message. There was no AC there wouldn’t be a point really to have AC in a hut as the hut had no window and no doors. There was only a carpet to keep the heat out and give you some kind of privacy. Electricity we didn’t have during the day as the generator wasn’t running then. No TV – No Internet.. But Oh my god how much did I love it there. It was a simple life. A bit of diving, a lot of sweating, a bit of reading and not much else. Some of my funniest memories were getting a baby scorpion for my Bday as a pet. They gave it to me in a matchbox and told me to feed it fly wing. If Baby Jane wouldn’t make it then I should never have kids.. Baby Jane died after two days and I cried my eyes out. The other animal involving memory is waking up thinking they put a plastic snake in our hut. You know one of these zigzag rolled up things. It was at the back of the bed on a pillow. So I walked over and bent over while I talked and waved some air to the snake. It didn’t move only to confirm what I thought. The boys just planted this plastic thing to scare me. Without the slightest worry I went for breakfast and told the story to one of the Nubian staff. Suddenly everyone jumped up and asked if there was still someone in the room. Before I could properly answer 10 of them were already up the hill with sticks and shouting how silly we Europeans were. In our hut they found my then boyfriend doing exactly the same as I did a few minutes before that. Talking to the snake, as any other normal person would do. We soon found out it was a sand viper and those are are pretty venomous. We kept shouting not to kill the poor thing but the snake had no luck. It’s bedouin believe that if they see a snake and don’t kill it it’s bad luck for all their family. From then on we would always be and probably still are the silly Europeans to them.

In between living abroad I also lived in normal cities like Antwerp, 3 of the 20 homes were there. One of them took a lot of blood sweat and tears as we rebuilt it from scratch with our own hands. Building stuff turns out to be very rewarding and it really adds to the homely feeling. No wonder that my daughter was born in that apartment only to figure out it wasn’t big enough with her in it. Because we weren’t quite dead yet after building the apartment and because it turns out to be an unhealthy addiction of some sort.  Well.. we decided to rebuilt a complete house. Ooooh the memories I’m still feeling physical pain just thinking about it.

Anyway there was also Thailand before all that building and I simply can’t leave Thailand out because even if I only had two homes there and even though some people might state a hut isn’t really a home. It really did feel like home to me. especially the last place I lived in on Koh Chang called Bai Lan Bay. We had the highest Treehouse on the hill. It was a pain climbing up those stairs every day in the tropical heat, but the view over the ocean was so worth it. As soon as the sun went down and you were still gasping your breath from yet another gobsmacking sunset. The bugs started to come out. There would be territorial wars happening on the outside of the mosquito net and that sort of replaced the television. At night while sleeping geckos would sneak up right next to your ear and do their “GECKOOOOO” call and if that didn’t wake you up then the thunderstorms or the monkeys throwing coconuts on your roof would. Maybe I never slept very solid during that time but I sure didn’t mind waking up to the sound of nature.  Ok before I get to floaty for most people to handle we better get to now.

So here we are in Dubai. After living in Belgium for almost 6 years I did it again. Although this time it’s a bit different. This time I followed my husband and I brought my daughter and I’m not diving to make a living. This time was the best planned moving abroad thing I ever did. We planned the big move for a year with is like 20 billion times longer then my other moving abroad stunts.  My husband came here over 3 months ago. And still for some reason we managed to move only today. Maybe move is even a big word as the house. That house that we didn’t find first, that house that was supposed to be finished a few weeks ago isn’t actually finished yet and is and will be for a while pretty empty. We were supposed to move into the house a few weeks ago when I first got here. That way we would have had a few weeks to settle in before going on our family vacation. But this morning they were still painting, taking out carpet, the cooker still needs to be fitted, the electric is not working, neither is the heater and I can go on for a little while. Will it kill us? No it won’t.. We just have to juggle a little bit harder. We are staying in a hotel a bit longer while we move most of our belongings in the evenings after my husband finishes work. Our belongings luckily isn’t that much yet. Except for clothes, office stuff, some toys and kitchen stuff we didn’t have a lot to move. We will however need some things when we get back from holiday so we bought an airbed, a cooker, a fridge, a washing machine and cleaning stuff. So on this big move that we carefully planned we will have to camp in a house that hopefully by the time we come back from will be finished. What are we taking with us from this moving to Dubai adventure? Mainly that planning is over rated, that like in Egypt Inshallah Bokra is a well used phrase and that we will enjoy our holiday even more. So maybe next time I’ll plan to make things go just as rough just to enjoy a holiday 🙂