I want to ask you a question – ‘What’s on your bucket list?’
Do you even have a bucket list?
In fact what the heck is a bucket list??
The saying actually comes from an English term ‘to kick the bucket’ which is slang for ‘to die’ and it was then made into an international phenomenon with the film ‘The Bucket List’ with Morgan Freeman & Jack Nicholson. (Brilliant film and highly recommended).
I wrote my first bucket list (not actually knowing that’s what it was at the time), some 20 years ago. It was a huge list of all the things I would love to do in my life and included things like;
Cruise along the Nile (done in 2009)Have a ride in a Hot Air Balloon Ride (Done in 2016 – Bagan – Myanmar)Live by the Beach (Very close – but not there yet)Swim with Dolphins (Done on multiple occasions, most recent in Philippines with my daughter)Learn to fly a helicopter (Took lessons in 2009 but a long way from qualified)Watch the Epcot fireworks with the man of my dreams (Done – 2017)Host a party on a yacht (maybe my 50th in 4 years!)Visit the 7 wonders of the world (Not even sure what counts as 7 wonders anymore as there are so many versions, but the wonders I have seen, have included – The Pyramids, Great Barrier Reef, Grand Canyon, The Great Wall of China, The Colosseum in Rome and so many more amazing sights and experiences. So much more to see!)Scuba dive off the Great Barrier Reef (Done 2012)Have a flat stomach (Yes when I was about 15! LOL!)
Since then my list has evolved into dreamboards, goal apps, a goal journal etc, but nothing really changes from the fact it’s all simply lists of stuff I’d love to do / experience in my life.
A few years ago after seeing an amazing picture online of Bora Bora, I added that to my bucket list, honestly believing it was a pretty far fetched dream (it was well before I started my online adventure).
Le Meridien Hotel – Bora Bora
Last summer, I’m happy to say, that goal, dream, bucket list item was realized.
Not only that, we sailed around the amazing island on a 46ft Catamaran.
Not only that, the love of my life and my partner for 10 years, proposed to me while there!
You can’t get much better than that right!!!
(Just click on any photo below to see full size in a slideshow)
Our boat – Tautai IV!
Bora Bora!!!! A dream coming true…
Either Le Meridien or the Intercontinental, both equally as beautiful!
In front of the Conrad Hilton aboard our own floating hotel!
A view of the lagoon from the main island
Looking out at the beautiful lagoons & hotels from the hillside on the main island
Look at the colour of that water!
Nice day for a Kayak!
White sandy beach in Paradise anyone?
My daughter and I :)
Hotels at Sunset
The most beautiful colours!
No need to dive, snorkeling is just as good! :)
A ray, a black tip reef shark & a funny looking flat headed fish!
The crew of The Tautai IV!
Bye Bye beautiful Bora Bora, it’s been magical
Bora Bora Airport
Bora Bora from the air! See you next time…
So how did we manage to find ourselves sailing around Bora Bora on a 46ft Catamaran?
Well, as I’m sure you’re by now aware we live in Phuket and I have to admit we punch way above our weight as far as our friend circle goes!
So we just happen to know a fair few people who own nice boats, houses, islands that kind of thing. :)
Two of our best friends happen to be part of the Sunsail Yacht Ownership program – and one Sunday afternoon after a few beers on the beach we just invited ourselves along on their family holiday in the South Pacific.
Don’t get me wrong, it still wasn’t cheap, but a darn sight cheaper than trying to do it on our own.
So there were in fact 8 of us on the boat, which was a pretty tight squeeze, but thankfully we all got along famously (thanks in part to copious amounts of Hinano) and had a fabulous time.
I have to admit though, neither Rhett nor I are natural born sailors and found the trip over the open ocean from Raitea (where we picked up the boat) to Bora Bora quite challenging;
Once there though we went swimming with eagle rays & black tipped reef sharks, which was amazing, exhilarating and bloody scary all at the same time.
In fact there was a moment where it was just Rhett & I and he had counted 9 circling us. Next thing he saw were my fins frantically kicking me the hell out of there!
Hahaha! We know who he can count on in a dangerous situation!
At one point we were surrounded by about 8 or 9 pretty big black tipped reef sharks!
I was very excited to see a space station fly past the milky way several nights in a row due to the lack of light pollution out there in the pacific (unfortunately my camera couldn’t quite pick that up!)
The sky at night – I could see the milky way, a plethora of amazing stars & a space station fly past!
And a definite highlight was a night at Bloody Mary’s, a famous restaurant on the main island and frequented by many stars before us!
The Stars who have graced the doors of Bloody Mary’s on Bora Bora Island
More celebs – truly a star studded place!
Just my name to add on eh!? 😉
But of course the main wonderful event was Rhett asking me to marry him on the front of the boat as the sun rose over the main island. So romantic!
The sun rising on the morning Rhett asked me to marry him! :)
A selfie just after Rhett popped the question! :)
An amazing trip at a beautiful location which will live in my memory forever.
So the question is….
What’s on Your Bucket List?
Whilst I’m not a huge fan of ‘The Secret’ as I think it promotes the idea that you simply have to close your eyes and visualise what you want and all your dreams will come true. I do believe in the strength of your thoughts and desires in the universe.
It’s amazing how over the years the things I have really focused on and have been passionate about have eventually come to fruition.
-Raising my daughter overseas -Living in a hot country -Marrying a gorgeous big Aussie guy -Traveling the world -Running my business remotely
I could go on and perhaps I will in another post, but I urge you to write a bucket list if you don’t have one already or go back to an old one and revive it.
Mark the things that are really important to you in different colors or give them deadlines, create a picture board, write it out in priority order, it doesn’t really matter.
Just as long as you look at it often, dream vividly about all the things you’d love to do and in turn direct your focus and attention to doing (operative word) what you need to do to move you closer to your dreams!
It’s amazing how the universe works with you once you really have your mind set on something!
Thanks for reading have an awesome week and Make It Happen!
P.S. If you’d love to visit Bora Bora and are unsure how to go about it, I found some awesome blog posts you might enjoy reading;
A bit of an upmarket start to the entire trip which is nice.
6 days here and then onward to a B&B in the jungle at Sepilok, followed by another B&B close to where we’ll head out diving around the Sipadan Islands. (Hoping to catch a glimpse of a hammerhead or two!)
Unfortunately we are a bit of a way out from the centre of Kota Kinabalu, where all the mosques, markets & monuments are, but am sure we’ll venture into town for a day of exploration after a couple of days of enjoying the very pleasant surroundings here!
I don’t know about you, but I can only do a couple of days laying about not doing much before I get very itchy feet and need to get about seeing some of the country I’m in!
It’s only a short book, took about 90 minutes to read.
I loved the first 2 ‘books’ (the book is split into what he calls 3 books – in other words 3 sections, each one covering a slightly different theme).
The 3rd ‘book’ was a little too ‘divine’ for me, although I do agree that the universe works in mysterious ways.
I hate to say but the first book resonated the most with me only because I can relate to so much of it.
I’m knocking on 50’s door in a few short years and although I have lived and am living an amazing life, I have definitely fallen short on a few of my dreams and agree wholeheartedly that my own inner demons are to blame!
So how do we overcome our inner demons? Give the book a read and see what Steven Pressfield has to say about it.
In the meantime I’m off to read ‘Turning Pro’ his next non fiction creation. I’ll let you know how that goes.
It’s broadened my mind, opened my heart and has changed me as a person.
I have always been a positive & inclusive person with a desire to have an impact on the world.
But when you travel to distant lands, meeting & getting to know different cultures & belief systems, your understanding & acceptance of the differences within the human race grows, while your fear of the unknown fades.
In a world where so much hatred is born from fear and low tolerance levels for cultural differences, the fact that it’s becoming easier & cheaper to travel than ever before can only be a great thing!
We started coming to Phuket back in 2010 when we first left the UK.
The first trip was just a two week holiday on route to Australia.
It rained the entire time but I absolutely fell in love with the place.
The climate was amazing, the people so friendly with nothing being too much trouble, the food was to die for and the beaches, islands & sunsets were quite possibly the most beautiful I had ever seen!
Safe to say I was a big fan.
So at the end of 2011 we came back for a while, then a bit longer in 2012, bit longer 2013 etc etc. Until at the beginning of 2016 we decided to settle here until my daughter finished her IGCSE’s.
I ashamedly haven’t written much about the place since I have been here but I hope to change that over the coming months with a few Thai influenced posts sharing my experiences of this beautiful country.
For now here are the Top 10 Things I Love About Phuket;
1. Obvious one, but clearly the weather. A consistent 28 – 32 degrees year round, we have two seasons. Hot Season & Wet Season. Hot Season runs from around mid November through to mid April and Wet Season from mid April to mid November.
The best time to visit for the clearest waters and most beautiful sunsets is without doubt February / March – however it’s also the hottest time of the year. So for a slightly more temperate climate but still lovely to swim and visit the beaches – November / December (although it might still rain at night and sometime thorough the day if rainy season is a bit late).
A beautiful sunrise
2. The food! OMG. I love Thai food. Chicken & cashew nuts, vegetable fried rice, panang curry, massaman curry, fish in 3 flavor sauce. Wow the food here is ah-maz-ing. Probably covered in MSG and clearly plenty of sugar (which may be why I still have a weight problem – really Jo? You think???). But so so tasty!
Chicken & Cashew Nuts
3. The people. It’s called the land of smiles, because Thai people smile all the time. Don’t be fooled by the fact it’s one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, there are still plenty of people who live well below the breadline here and yet they’d give you their last bowl of rice if they thought you needed it.
They have changed a bit over the years. The western culture has seeped in via tourism and social media and with it comes an element of greed that wasn’t evident before, a decline in friendliness & happiness and a general suspicion of farangs (foreigners), but I’ve always found if you’re smiley and nice to them they will be smiley and nice right back atcha! 🙂
A local entrepreneur!
4. The beaches! I love the beaches here mainly because the water is so warm. Sometimes wading into the Andaman sea is like walking into a cool bath. Also at certain times of the year, the water is as crystal clear as an aquarium and you can see right to the bottom.
One of my favorite pastimes is wading out to see with a bottle of chang and sitting in the warm water with a nice cool beer. Oh yeeeeaaaaahhhh.
Enjoying the ocean! :)
5. Activities. Because of the weather there is so much more to do outside! Scuba diving, snorkeling, taking a long boat to the floating restaurants, zip lining, hiking, paddle boarding, visiting the elephant sanctuary, fireshows. Even though there are no live bands, west end shows, or a plethora of vegan restaurants, if you’re an outdoors type and love the ocean then this is the place for you!
Awesome fire show!
6. Talking about live bands and shows, we’re only an hour away from the thriving metropolis of Bangkok! An hour from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Vietnam, Cambodia, only 3 hours from Manila, Indonesia, Bangladesh. We are right in the centre of South East Asia and can fly pretty much anywhere and everywhere in the world without too much difficulty.
7. Beautiful temples, a big Buddha and the most amazing feeling of love and acceptance because of the main ‘religion’ Buddhism. Quite possibly one of the most peaceful belief systems in the world today, you can feel it in the culture over here and the way the people feel about their King. When we go to the cinema, before every film we have to stand while they play the Kings Anthem. At 8am every morning no matter where you are or what you’re doing (other than if you’re driving) if you hear the Kings Anthem over the radio you have to stop and stand still in respect.
It’s slowly dissipating over time, but the respect kids have for their elders, for each other, for possessions etc, is a beautiful thing to see and long may it last.
Local Vegetarian Festival
8. The hotels, bars & restaurants on the beaches. Sometimes I feel like we’re on holiday every other weekend. We can simply go to a nice little hotel on one of the beaches for a couple of nights, half an hour down the road from where we live and dine in the little shacks, sunbathe on the beach and watch the sunset with a cool beer in hand before walking barefoot back to our room for the night. We don’t have to fly anywhere for a beautiful and relaxing restful time away.
Relaxing beach time :)
9. I have to be honest and say I am enjoying the ex-pat lifestyle. I’ve made a great group of friends hailing from New Zealand, Australia, Philippines, America, UK, Germany, Russia, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, you name it I probably know someone from there.
I do a little daily radio show with a good friend of mine and have fully ensconced myself into the community. In fact as soon as I finish this post I’m off to a lunch at a friends house with a big group of ladies. The sun is shining, the weather is glorious and I’m hungry!
A day out on the beach!
10. Finally I have to say the fact that my 12 year old will grow up blind to religion or color. When she’s older she won’t see whether someone is Muslim or Catholic or Christian or Buddhist. She won’t see whether they’re white, black, brown or blue with yellow spots. She has a big group of friends from school who are every race & religion and she loves them for who they are. This is how she will grow up and view the world and I believe that is the best gift I could have given her.
Banya Literacy Center, where we regularly donate clothes / toys.
The act of traveling itself broadens the mind beyond recognition. The people, the cultures, the surroundings, the varying levels of living standards. I’ve always been an open minded person, but since traveling I have become more tolerant, more understanding, less fearful of that and those I don’t fully understand.
To travel is to see the world as it truly is and not just how it’s perceived to us in the media or on facebook.
I highly recommend travel itself and of course Phuket as a place to holiday, to explore and live in. We won’t stay here forever, but for right now this is home and I feel like the luckiest woman on the planet.
Traveling the world although amazing can also be quite lonely.
You work behind your computer on your own, you live a transient lifestyle moving from place to place and although you probably know a lot of people online, it doesn’t quite make up for the physical interaction of some good company.
In the last couple of years we’ve really made our base here in Phuket and last year I made a huge effort to get out into the community and make friends.
I say huge effort because it’s so easy to get caught up behind your computer and not get out and about and meet people.
It didn’t take long before I was part of a large and welcoming community of expats, some of whom have undoubtedly become lifelong friends.
No matter where I go now, I will make the effort quickly to network and meet people wherever I can.
On the 21st March 2016 (3 years ago Thursday!), I was on my first of many ‘Sisters on Tour’ trips with (clue is in the title), my sister.
We were doing a City tour including Bangkok, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo & Kuala Lumpur.
On this particular day we were visiting one of the great wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China which is indeed great!
But you can imagine my surprise when all of a sudden a group of youngsters came breezing passed me as I’m attempting to climb these huge stairs towards Watch Tower One.
Please note the surprise wasn’t that a group of youngsters breezed passed me, that’s quite believable given the fact I was super unfit, red faced and panting so hard I looked like I was about to have a heart attack!
No no, the surprise was that the main youngster in the middle of the group was Mark Zuckerburg. 😳
Yes THE Mark Zuckerburg, creator of Facebook Mark Zuckerburg.
In my surprise I turned to myself sister and rather loudly shouted, ‘Nat’! (My sisters name is Natalie). ‘It’s Mark Zuckerburg’!
She looked up and shouted back even louder ‘Are you sure, it looks like Chris Martin!’ At which Mark turned to us laughing and I was able to 100% confirm his identity.
Well, my goal that day had been to make it up to Watch Tower One and on seeing Mark & his entourage almost jogging up the stairs I took chase!
All the way up I was thinking, ‘oh my gosh, Mark Zuckerburg’, ‘what am I going to say to him’, (‘how many more steps’), ‘shall I just approach and say hey Mark, thanks for Facebook’ (‘am I going to make it to the top?’) or ‘hey Mark, you’re the source of my business’, (why can’t I breathe anymore) ‘or simply ‘hey buddy nice to meet you’, (I don’t care if it’s the queen of England up there, I can’t go another step!). 🥵
Finally I made it puffing & panting to the top and thankfully MZ was long gone into an area that said ‘no entry’.
I say thankfully as I really did look like I needed an air ambulance which frankly was quite embarrassing, so I sat down for a few minutes to recover and gain my composure.
When I got my breath back I had a little shifty about but all I could see was bushes, no track and nowhere to go! 🧐
I had no idea where they could have gone and presumed that somehow they had a secret invisible Zuckmobile hidden up beyond the Great Wall of china that whisked him away to a secret location.
However to my surprise as I turned to head back down the steps, he reappeared right beside me!
But instead of leaning over to shake his hand and say Hi. I stood, rooted to the spot completely speechless. 😳
I’m not sure if it was the altitude mixed with my still 150bpm heart rate which led to one of the most unlikely scenarios known to man – me speechless, but I couldn’t find a single word.
Instead I lifted my camera and took a quick shot as he walked past.
Then I believe I said something fairly banal to his entourage and then finally fired up my Periscope app to get some video footage!
Please find below a heavily chopped and edited version of what was originally a 30 minute Periscope which was mainly me puffing and panting as I chased Mark down and up the Great Wall of China.
I have cut out the part where I was given CPR (only joking). 😂
Before you go to watch the video though, can I just say, the Great Wall of China with or without Mark Zuckerburg is a site to behold and well worth a visit if you ever get the chance.
One of the highlights is the trip back down, where apparently Mark had gine down about half an hour before us!