London - USA - China - Hong Kong 2018

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London • USA China • Hong Kong 2018

London • USA China • Hong Kong 2018

The trip march 23 - July 14, 2018

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us” Back at the end of 2017, my first ever job was coming to an end. Rather than apply for an extension or another role, I decided I wanted to step away from the office and go on an adventure. What followed was a lot of planning, a sad goodbye, and then the craziest few months of my life! I decided that I wanted to travel around the USA. Im half American and I love the country, so I wanted to see the iconic cities and landmarks. Hollywood, the Grand Canyon, and so much more. The initial idea was simple. I would head out to New York to visit my Dad, then spend a month or so going around the USA. I’d visit Florida, California, Nevada, and maybe a few other places. That simple idea got out of hand pretty fast! I kept adding more stops and fitting in new experiences all across the country. I would go to Chicago for my first concert, spend 2 weeks in Hawaii, go to the massive Electric Daisy Carnival music festival in Las Vegas, and I’d even go on a 3 week camping trip from California to Utah and everywhere in between! To complicate things further, my Dad invited me to go on a cruise to the Bahamas with him and my Step-Mum/Sister, and also invited me to go to with them to China to see my Step-Mums family. I couldn’t say no! Those two trips, on their own, would be trips of a lifetime. But to combine them with what I already had planned in the USA, it made for something quite extraordinary.

Flying from London was the cheapest option, so I would visit there for a few days first before flying to Chicago. From there, I’d fly down to New York to see my Dad, then go on the cruise to the Bahamas. After the cruise it was on to Hawaii, then back East to Los Angeles to go on the 3 week camping trip. Up next was Las Vegas, and then back to Los Angeles to see the city some more. After Los Angeles I headed to Washington DC, then New York, and then took off for China. From China, I went over to Hong Kong for a week before making my way back to London and then finally back home to Dunoon, Scotland.

In numbers

• 115 days • 3.8 months • 40,739 Miles • 1,336,991 steps • 6 countries • 10 USA states

• 13 flights (69 hours) • 16 trains (30 hours) • 15 boats (11 hours) • 9 hotels (18 nights) • 9 hostels (30 nights) • 2,565 pics / vids (347 GB)

leaving day Dunoon to Glasgow

I’d been on a couple of short trips in the past, but nothing of this magnitude, so I was a bit unsure on the packing. I opted to take a large bagpack over a suitcase, and tried to pack lightly. It worked well, however it was too heavy for my back, so I ended up using it as a duffel bag most of the time. After saying goodbye to my cat and taking some selfies in my very dirty mirror, it was time to head off!


The ferry to Gourock was smooth and scenic, but there was a bit of a panic on the other side. All Gourock to Glasgow trains were cancelled. Did not account for that. Thankfully, I managed to sneak onto the last train heading back to Glasgow Central for repair. Not only was it an express train (literally no stops on the way), but it was also free! Well, almost. I had to pay on exit, but it was discounted!

stop 1

london march 23 - 26, 2018

London is the largest city and capital of England, UK. It has a population of 8 million, making it the largest city in all of Western Europe, and it sits with New York as one of the most powerful financial centres in the world.

The hostels weren’t completely bad. They are great for meeting people and saving money, but I enjoy my privacy and alone time too much to care for them. Still, it allowed me to save money to put towards great experiences, so it was worth it!

I wasn’t really too interested in going to London. I mean it was the UK’s capital and all, and I’d never been before, but there was nothing there that I wanted to see enough to warrant the trip down.

While in London, I wanted to see some of the sights I’ve always heard about. Westminster, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, ect. I spent most of my time in the city walking around and checking all these places out, while also getting to grips with my new camera. A Sony RX100V I’d purchased the week earlier.

However, due to the size of Londons airports, I found that the flights of out there were so much cheaper than Glasgow or Edinburgh. Flying from Scotland to Chicago would actually cost me more than going down to London, staying for a few days, and then flying out from there.

I also decided to go up to the top of the Shard to get a nice scenic view of the city. I didn’t really have time to do much else. Although I was technically there for ‘4 days’, it was more like 2. One day was a late arrival, and another was an early flight out to Chicago.

I saw this as an opportunity to visit London for ‘free’, so I thought I’d open my horizons and go for it! I opted to get the train down from Glasgow as I love trains, and I already had enough flights planned.

I actually ended up liking London more than I thought I would! The history was interesting, the food was good, and it was generally a nice place to be! I’m sure I’ll be back again in the future.

The train ride was as nice as expected. I got into London quite late, and then took the Underground up to my hostel at Swiss Cottage. I found the Underground to be a great transport system. It was run well and easy to use, but it was so expensive! By far the most expensive of any city I went to on this trip. After I was done cursing about paying nearly £5 for a single tube ride, I was at my hostel. It was a 22 mixed bed dorm, and my first time in a hostel. I booked a lot of hostels on this trip, mainly because they were always 10x cheaper than a hotel. I thought I might like them.. but I was wrong. The dorms were noisy and uncomfortable, there was no privacy, and I didn’t feel safe leaving my belongings in them during the day.

In numbers

• 4 days • 1 hostel • 0 hotels

• 64,809 steps • 71 pictures (472 mB) • 27 videos (10 GB)

The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

Westminster Palace and Big Ben

The London Eye

English Breakfast!

The Shard Londons Best View

Standing at 310m tall, the Shard is London and Western Europes tallest building. Construction began in 2009, and finished in 2012, just in time for the Olympics. The building has 82 floors, most of which are offices, however floors 68-72 hold indoor and outdoor observation decks, giving incredible views of London. On a clear day you can see as far as 40 miles into the horizon!

I was debating on whether I wanted to go up during the day or at night, but I realized there was no time limit.. so why not both! I went up at 5pm and stayed through sunset. Sadly it was a pretty cloudy and gloomy day, but the views were still amazing! I especially loved seeing the curves of the River Thames and watching all the ships sail up and down it.

Tower Bridge Londons Defining Landmark

Originally opened in 1894, the Tower Bridge is one of Londons most iconic landmarks. The towers are 65m tall, and hold a number of different educational exhibits and viewpoints. It was originally built to ease traffic in the city, while still allowing for large ships to sail down the river. It is able to do this with its famous raising bascules! Nowadays, the bridge is raised around 850 times a year.

The thought of going into the bridge and walking along the glass walkway at the top was tempting, but I decided to skip on it. The view would have been a let down after the Shard anyways! Still, I did love looking at the bridge. I think it looks great, and it was my favourite part of London. I was even lucky enough to see it get raised one night as i was passing by!

Buckingham Palace Home of the Queen

Buckingham Palace has been the official residence of the British Monarch since 1837. The palace has 775 rooms, including 19 state rooms which are used to host guests. Queen Elizabeth II normally resides here, although she does visit Windsor Castle most weekends, and will to up to Balmoral Castle in Scotland during the summer. The Palace is a huge tourist attraction, especially with the

changing of the guard, which involves the replacement of the onsite Queens Guards accompanied with a marching band and parade. I was a bit skeptical of the guards and their funny hats. Their rifles aren’t loaded, and they seemed like just another tourist attraction. However, they are real soldiers, and there was a second presence of armed police at the palace, who’s guns were very loaded!

stop 2

Chicago march 26 - 29, 2018

Chicago is the largest city in the state of Illinois, USA. With a population of 2.7 million, it is the third largest city in the USA. Sitting on the banks of Lake Michigan, the ‘Windy City’ is known for it’s architecture, and the deep dish pizza! Chicago was another city that wasn’t in my original plans for the trip. I wasn’t opposed to visiting, but if I had to choose I would have gone to Boston or Miami instead. Originally, I planned to fly from London to Newark, and then go on the cruise with my Dad and his family. However, something I really wanted to do on this trip was go to my first ever concert. I couldn’t find anything good in the cities I was already visiting, but then I saw that Lorde was playing in Chicago a few days before I was planning to fly to Newark. Perfect! I decided I would go to that, beginning the trip few days earlier than planned so I could visit Chicago first before going down to Newark.

Personally, I found Chicago to be so much cleaner than New York. The public transport was also a big step up, and the river running through the middle of skyscrapers was really beautiful. I had around a day and a half to explore the city. On my first half day, I spent time walking around along the river, and even went on an architecture cruise to get a better insight of the buildings which towered over it. On my second day I went to Millennium Park, the Field museum, and out to the Adler Planetarium to see the city light up at night. I even had the famous deep dish pizza for dinner. It was delicious! Chicago was a great city to spend some time in and I really enjoyed my stay there. It’s no New York, but it is great in its own way. My flight to Newark left at 7am the next day, so I got to experience my first night sleeping in an airport. It wasn’t very comfortable.. but I had a cruise to look forward to which would make up for it!

It turned out to be a great decision, as the concert was fantastic, and Chicago was actually a really nice place to visit. The flight from London to Chicago was 9 hours long, and I was flying with ‘Norweigan Airlines’ for the first time. Despite being a budget airline, I found them to be fantastic! The levels of comfort and service was greater than most ‘premium’ airlines I’ve used. Chicago is always being compared to New York, and I could see why people make the comparison. They’re both massive cities full of towering skyscrapers, they’re relatively close to each other, both famous for their Pizza, and they even look similar.

In numbers

• 4 days • 1 hostel • 1 hotel

• 56,475 steps • 87 pictures (806 mB) • 47 videos (19 GB)


The Melodrama World Tour Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor, better known as ‘Lorde’, is a singer songwriter from Auckland, New Zealand. In 2013, she released ‘Royals’, which was a huge hit worldwide. The song was part of her debut album ‘Pure Heroine’ which went on to win 2 grammys! In 2017, she released her second album titled ‘Melodrama’. I’ve always loved Lorde’s music, so I was excited to see her perform live!

The concert was at the Allstate Arena, located right next to the airport, and about an hour outside of the city. I opted to stay at a hotel near the arena for my first 2 nights as it made sense, then head into the city to stay in a hostel after. The concert was brilliant! I was 8 rows from the front so I had a great view, although it was insanely loud! Nobody told me concerts would be loud!

Lorde, melodrama world tour

The Chicago River Where Man Changed Nature

The Chicago River is a series of small rivers and canals which run through Chicago, including straight through the centre of downtown. In 1885, a bad storm caused the sewage ways to overflow, spilling into the river beyond the acceptable rate. This was then carried to Lake Michigan, and poisoned Chicagos water supply, causing sickness and death in up to tens of thousands of residents.

To solve this issue, the city simply reversed the river, making it flow away from the lake and down towards the Mississippi River. This is the only time a river has ever been reversed, and it is still considered one of the greatest feats of modern engineering! I went on an architecture cruise of the river to learn a bit about the area, and also walked along the ‘River Walk’, a 3.4 mile riverside walkway.

Millenium Park Home of the Big Shiny Bean

Millennium Park is public park within the downtown Chicago area taking up 25 acres of land. It was opened in 2004 to celebrate the third millennium, and it quickly became one of the top tourist attractions in the city. There’s a number of different art pieces and gardens within the park, however the most iconic one, and arguably the most iconic symbol of Chicago, is the ‘Cloud Gate’, aka the bean.

The Cloud Gate weighs 100 tons, is made of nearly 200 stainless steel plates, and stands 33ft tall. It was designed by British artist Anish Kapoor after his entry was chosen as a winner of a competition. The metal surfaces make for some really neat reflections of the skyline, and you can even go underneath the Cloud Gate thanks to its archway for some really interesting reflections. (and selfies!)

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

The Tsavo Lions

The field museum Fuelling a Journey of Discovery

The Chicago Field Museum of Natural History has been open for nearly 100 years, and is one of the largest museums in the world. One of their main attractions is ‘Sue’, the most complete T-Rex fossil ever discovered. Sadly her exhibit was under repair so I only got to see the skull, but there was plenty more to see! What I found most interesting were the Man Eating Lions of Tsavo.


In 1898, during the construction of the African Kenya-Uganda Railway, two Lions tormented the construction workers. In the span of 9 months, they killed as many as 135 people. The Lions were eventually shot and killed by Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson, who then sold the skins and skulls to the Field Museum for $5,000. The events inspired the 1996 film ‘The Ghost and the Darkness’.

Chicago, adlers planetarium

stop 3

bahamas Cruise April 1 - 8, 2018

The Bahamas are an archipelago of 700 islands and islets. Located just South-East of Florida, the Bahamas are known for the mild climate, beautiful beaches, and sunny weather. It is popular with tourists, and a common cruise destination. I’d always wanted to go on a cruise! I actually almost did go on one a few months earlier. It would have been a cruise through the Norwegian Fjords, but I opted to go elsewhere instead. As nice as cruises look, they’re very expensive, and the prices are even more inflated for a solo traveller. But when my Dad invited me to join him and my Step Mum/Sister on a cruise to the Bahamas, I couldn’t say no! I don’t get to see them a whole lot so spending the time together would be nice, and I would finally get to see what a cruise is like. We would be going with Norwegian, on the Norwegian Breakaway. A gigantic ship which could carry close to 5,000 people. The ship was nearly as big as my hometown! There was a cinema, theatre, arcade, multiple restaurants/bars/cafes, a spa, shopping centres, swimming pools, and of course all of the guest rooms. I found it incredibly cool to be a part of this little city while floating out in the middle of the ocean. There was plenty to do on the ship, but nothing which interested me too much. Most of the time I was just taking in the views, walking around the ship, or at the 24/7 buffet! I did go see two theatre plays, which were really good. Once I arrived in Newark from Chicago, I had a couple of days at my Dads house to relax before we left for the cruise. It was only an hours drive to the ship, which left from New York City.

After sailing out past Ms Liberty, we were at sea for 2 days before arriving at our first stop at Cape Canaveral in Florida. I used the time to go visit the Kennedy Space Center. The next two days were spent in the Bahamas. One day at Great Stirrup Cay, and another day snorkeling near Nassau. After that, it was two and a half days at sea heading back to New York. I loved the cruise and was grateful for the experience, but I think it came at the wrong time. I’d only just began my trip and I was full of energy. If this had been near the end of my trip when I was feeling tired and worn out, I would have appreciated it so much more! If I were to go on another cruise in the future, it would probably be with a girlfriend. I found it to be very couple focused, and not something that is as enjoyable by yourself or with friends. Once it was over, I had a few more days at my Dads house before heading off to see another piece of paradise, Hawaii!

In numbers

• 8 days • 3 ports • 2 excursions

• 76,083 steps • 145 pictures (984 mB) • 39 videos (18 GB)

Leaving Port in New York!

The Norweigan Breakaway

Kennedy Space Center “Atlantis, Welcome Home”

The Kennedy Space Center is NASA’s space launch headquarters. It is located in Florida, about 1 hour East of Orlando. Many missions have been launched from the facility, the most famous of which was the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 which put the first men on the moon. Nowadays, Space-X launches unmanned rockets on a regular basis. There was even a launch the day before I arrived. So close!

My favorite part of the center was the Atlantis exhibit. You watched a movie about the shuttles history, and then as you saw it drifting in space, the screen rises and there it is in front of you. It’s hard to describe, but it was an unforgettable experience. We also got a glimpse of the gigantic Vehicular Assembly Building. For scale, the flag on the side of the building is larger than the statue of liberty!

The Rocket Garden

The Vehicular Assembly Building

Great Stirrup Cay Norwegians Private Island

The Great Stirrup Cay is a small island which is part of the ‘Berry Island’ chain in the Bahamas. In 1977, Norwegian purchased the island and built it up to be a private island paradise for their passengers. I thought the Island was great! There was dance competitions going on, a free buffet barbecue, a few different bars, and of course the clear water and sandy beaches you’d expect.

There were a few different excursions and activities available, but we decided not to do any of those. Instead we just went down to the beach, relaxed in the sun, and went in the ocean to do some snorkeling. It was my first time snorkeling and I struggled with it at first, but quickly got the hang of it! Trying to tell yourself that you’re allowed to breathe with your head underwater was tricky..


Its Better in the Bahamas Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas, and is also the largest city in the country. The city has a population of around 220,000, plus a never ending supply of cruise visitors. In the past, Nassau was a hot spot for pirates. The city was actually mainly occupied by pirates until 1718, at which point they were expelled and the Bahamas adopted the motto “Expulsis Piratis, Restituta Commercia” which

means, “Pirates Expelled, Commerce Restored”. While there, my Dad and I went on a snorkeling excursion. The water was so calm and clear, and there were so many fish! It was a great experience, and much less stressful than my previous try at snorkeling. We also had a walk around the city, which was full of colorful buildings, market stalls, and rum-happy locals.

stop 4

oahu April 11 - 21, 2018

Oahu is the third largest of the eight Hawaiian Islands, USA. Known as ‘The Gathering Place’, Oahu’s 950,000 population accounts for two thirds of Hawaii’s entire population, and its largest city, Honolulu, is also the state capital of Hawaii.

Being the most populated island, Oahu had great public transport. I was able to get the bus all around the island. It was cheap, had a lot of routes, and was easy to ride! I used it to head out of the city and do some hiking / snorkeling, and even went out to Kualoa Ranch where parts of Jurassic Park were filmed.

Hawaii was one of those places that I always wanted to visit, but it never seemed realistic. It’s on the complete other side of the world! 7,000 miles. With the exception of Australia and New Zealand, you almost cant get any further away from Scotland than Hawaii.

What I wanted to do most was hike the Haiku Stairs, or ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Its one of the most scenic hikes in the world, but due to some poor weather I sadly wasn’t able to get on it.

But, I was already going to California, and at that point it was only a measly 2,500 miles away. It was realistic, so I knew I had to go. I wasn’t really interested in the sunshine or beaches (although they definitely helped), what I was more interested in were the mountains, the wildlife, and the landscape. When I was a kid, I loved the Jurassic Park movies. It was a dream to visit the park one day. I especially loved the jagged mountains, the waterfalls, and the rich green rainforests. Obviously I can’t visit the park, but I can visit where it was filmed, Hawaii. Probably better to visit without all the murderous dinosaurs prowling about anyways! After I got back from the cruise, I had a few days at my Dads house, and then I flew from Newark to Honololu with a short layover in San Francisco. I decided to visit Oahu for 11 days, and then fly to the Island of Kauai afterwards for an additional 5 days. On Oahu I was staying in Honolulu. I was in a hostel for most of the time, but I also had a few days of hotels to get some rest. Both hotels had great views, however the hostel had a perfect location, being a 5 minute walk from Waikiki beach.

I was still able to have some excitement though. When I left my job earlier in the year, my colleagues gave me some dollars to spend on my trip. I wanted to use these for something great, and I decided to use them to go shark diving while I was on the island. Oahu was fantastic and I loved every minute there. I wasn’t able to do everything I wanted to do, such as see the Pearl Harbour Arizona Memorial, or Hike the Haiku Stairs, but I just see this as having some good reasons to go back.. which I definitely will do one day!

In numbers

• 11 days • 1 hostel • 2 hotels

• 130,518 steps • 144 pictures (1.4 GB) • 93 videos (33 GB)

Waikiki Beach, Honoululu

Hula Dancers at the Ala Moana Center

Makapu’u Lookout

View from the Hawaiian Monarch Hotel

View from the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel

Waikiki Friday night firework show

Honolulu & Diamond Head

Diamond Head Oahu’s Crown Jewel

Diamond Head, or known locally as ‘Leahi’, is an extinct volcano located just a few miles East of Honolulu. The peak is 230m high, and it was once used as a US Military base during World War 2. The trail up to the top is pretty simple. It’s only 1 mile long, however almost all of that is going uphill. Once you near the peak, you go through a long tunnel, and then you need to climb up 99 steps to

get into an old bunker. From there, it’s another 54 steps and you’ve made it to the peak! I wouldn’t describe the hike as easy, it was a little tough, but you almost feel unworthy of the views at the top for how little effort you had to put in to get to them. The views were incredible! You could see all of Honolulu and Waikiki, some mountains off in the distance, and of course, miles of ocean.

Honolulu, Diamond head Peak

Hanauma Bay Volcanic Snorkeling

Located on the east side of the island, Hanauma Bay is a nature preserve located within an old volcanic crater. The curved shape of the bay acts as a barrier from harsh ocean waves, and the shallow waters make it a safe place to swim. Best of all, there’s a coral reef in the bay which is home to over 400 types of fish, and other marine live such as Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. It’s very popular, and

at one point in time was getting 10,000 visitors a day! This has since been limited to 3,000 a day to protect the preserve. I actually came here on two separate days, as it was such a nice place to be. There was so many fish! I loved just floating above the reef and watching the fish go about their day. Sadly I didn’t see any turtles, but there was some local cats hanging about which made up for it.

koko head

1,048 Moments of Regret Similar to Diamond Head, Koko Head is another extinct volcano in eastern Oahu. Those two were actually formed at the same time as each other 300,000 years ago during a series of volcanic eruptions on the island. Standing at 368m tall, Koko Head was used by the US military in World War 2 as a pillbox. For easy access, they built a railroad all the way to the top! The trail to the top is only 0.4

miles long, but that is 0.4 miles straight up 1,048 steep steps. It is a brutal hike! My legs turned to jelly half way to the top, and I could barely walk by the time I was done. Around half way up, the railroad turns into a railroad bridge, and you need to hop across the planks with a 10ft drop below you. It was worth it though! The views from the top were great. You could even see Hanauma Bay!

Kualoa Ranch The Jurassic Valley

Kualoa Ranch is a 400 acre private nature reserve, cattle ranch, and film location on the North East side of Oahu. It was even a military airfield during World War 2! Some of the productions shot here include LOST, King Kong, Godzilla, and of course, Jurassic Park / World. The ranch offers movie site tours, in addition to a number of activities such as horse rides, ATV rides, and ziplining. It took an

hour on the bus to get there and it was a rainy day, but I was still excited to visit! I had two activities booked. An ATV tour of the ranch, and the movie site tour. The movie site tour was great and I got a fun picture with the famous log, but the ATV ride was even better. It was pouring of rain as I rode a ATV through Jurassic Valley. Like something out the movies, just, with less dinosaurs!

Shark diving An Experience of a Lifetime

When I was looking for stuff to do in Oahu, I stumbled upon One Ocean Diving, a company who will take you shark diving (more like snorkeling), with a twist of you not being in a cage.. just in the water with the sharks. Seemed crazy, but the more I thought about it, the more interesting it seemed.. and the next thing I knew I had a reservation. Uh oh! The company has done thousands of dives, and have a 100% safety record. Or so they assured us anyway! I was equal parts nervous and excited, but I knew it was going to be an unforgettable experience. We left their office from the north shore on a small boat and headed out for about 15 minutes before we reached the dive spot. On the way out they talked to us a bit about what to expect. We were told we’d probably mainly see Galapagos Sharks, but there was a small chance of seeing other sharks, such as a Great White. Regardless, what we had to do was just show dominance. Maintain eye contact with the sharks, and don’t turn your backs to them. Sharks do not see humans as prey, but if we act like pray, they can get confused and attack us. The waters were quite rough, which didn’t help the cause. I’m not a strong swimmer, and you know, sharks. Thankfully, there was a rope on the side of the boat we could hold onto, so I wouldn’t drown at least. When I got into the water and first looked down, it seemed pretty surreal. I’d never been in water that deep. It was really clear, but you couldn’t see the bottom. It was just nothing.. well, not completely nothing. There was about eight big, 9ft long Galapagos Sharks swimming around about 20 - 30ft below me! Time seemed to fly by in the water. I had my hand wrapped around the rope, and I was just focused on the sharks, not letting any sneak up on me. They were beautiful to watch! They were circling us for the entire 45 minutes we were in the water. There was 7 of us humans in the water, so the sharks wouldn’t come too close to such a large group. What I didn’t notice was that everyone else had started leaving as our time in the water was almost up. By the time i caught on, it was only me and the two instructors left in the water. I went to head back to the ladder, but my hand was stuck on the rope. It had gotten wrapped around 4 or 5 times and was too tight to get loose. I thought dying here would be inconvenient, I was barely even half way through my trip! So I relaxed myself, and started twirling my body around the rope to get my hand loose. I kept checking for incoming sharks after every twirl, and saw that they were getting noticeably closer. Some were coming within 10 ft of me now. As they outnumbered us, they were starting to get more confident and curious. Eventually I was able to get loose and get back onboard. It was pretty scary, but I don’t think I was ever in any real danger. One of the instructors in the water with me, Ocean Ramsey, is incredibly experienced in those environments. She’s not only swam with sharks, she’s actually ridden sharks. There’s a video of her holding the fin of a huge Great White Shark, gliding through the water with it. If there was anyone I’d want in the water with me, it was her! On the way back we saw some other companies doing dives nearby. It was funny to see them heading into the water in their big steel cages. It made us feel quite brave, we just did that same thing without the cage! Well, either we were brave, or they were just sensible. The whole event was an experience of a lifetime, and one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. It also taught me a lot about sharks. Although I’d probably not want to bump into one in the ocean, I would love to have another experience like this and swim with them again. They’ve got a bad reputation, but attacks are extremely rare. In 2017, sharks killed 5 humans worldwide. In the same time, humans killed 100,000,000 sharks. They’re going extinct, but thankfully companies like One Ocean Diving are trying to put a stop to it before it’s too late.

stop 5

kauai April 21 - 25, 2018

Kauai is the fourth largest of the eight Hawaiian Islands, USA. Known as ‘The Garden Island’, Kauai is the oldest of the Islands, and is covered in natural green beauty. The population is only 65,000, but it receives 1.4 million annual visitors. After my time on Oahu was up, I got on a flight to head over to Kauai for another few days in Hawaii! The flight was only 40 minutes long, and there was some great views of Honolulu and Diamond Head when taking off. Kauai was another island which was used as a film location for the Jurassic Park Movies. Oahu had the Jurassic Valley, but the entire island of Kauai genuinely felt like Jurassic Park! Visiting Kauai was a childhood dream coming true. I was particularly excited to get out and see the Napali Coast, which is a large section of coastline covered in jagged cliffs.

The only downside of Kauai is that due to the low population, the public transport isn’t great. They’ve got a bus system, but it’s not very good for tourists. It only goes between the airport and towns. Thankfully, I met someone at the hostel who I could tag along with. He was visiting from Portland, and renting a car. He asked if I wanted to join him some days, and I said sure! We ended up becoming good friends, and even met up again later in the year. I had three full days on Kauai. On the first day, I went on a cruise along the Napali Coast. On the second day, I went with my friend up to the Waimea Canyon, and we did a little bit hiking near the Kalalau Lookout. On the third day, I went on a scenic flight around the island in a small plane. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Kauai is the most beautiful place on earth. It’s certainly the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. It was such a great place to visit!

The week before I arrived, Kauai had some bad floods. A state of emergency was actually declared on the island. Thankfully, at least for me, the floods only really affected the North side of the Island. I was staying in the East of the Island, and nearly all the sights I wanted to see were at the West of the Island. The only thing I couldn’t do was hike the famous Kalalau trail, as landslides caused the trail to close. It’s actually still closed at the time of writing this in November 2018, and could be for months or even years to come. I wasn’t too upset about it though. I just saw it as having another good reason to re-visit Hawaii one day! Besides, I wanted to take it easy while on Kauai. After I left here, I was heading to Los Angeles for a three week long camping trip which I knew I’d need energy for.

In numbers

• 5 days • 1 hostel • 0 hotels

• 24,317 steps • 88 pictures (821 mb) • 56 videos (17.9 GB)

The Napali Coast Heaven on Earth

The Napali Coast is a state wilderness park on the Northwest side of Kauai. It spans 17 miles and is full of sharp ridges, massive cliffs, beautiful beaches, and even a few waterfalls. It is incredible, and should be classed as a wonder of the world. You can see the coast by land, sea, or air. The trail to see it by land was closed, so I opted to see it by both sea and air, although primarily via sea on a sunset

catamaran cruise. The 2 hour cruise was amazing and I was in awe the entire time. The cliffs were so big, and so beautiful! On the way back, we were joined by a pod of about 30 spinner dolphins. They were swimming alongside us for half an hour, and even jumping out to give us a show! There were even some whales and turtles nearby! The entire cruise experiance was amazing.

The Napali Coast

Waimea Canyon The Grand Canyon of the Pacific

The Waimea Canyon is 14 miles long, 1 mile wide, and 1,100m deep. Although not as big as the Grand Canyon, it is just as impressive. I actually visited the Grand Canyon a few weeks later, and I preferred Waimea Canyon. Although the scale of the Grand Canyon is absaloutely gigantic, I thought Waimea Canyon looked nicer with the greenery and water falls. I’d argue that the Waimea Canyon should

be Kauai’s second wonder of the world, along side the Napali Coast. It is incredible! There’s a road going along the canyon, suitably called Waimea Canyon Drive, which is full of great spots to stop at, and once you reach the end you’re at Kalalau Lookout. This gives a great view of the Kalalau Valley, and theres even a short (dangerous) trail to go down and get better views, which I excitedly did some of.

Kalalau Valley, Kalalau Lookout

Scenic Flight Sky High over Kauai

One of the best ways to see Kauai and the Napali Coast is by air. There’s a number of different companies offering both helicopter and small plane flights around the island. The helicopter gets closer, but for nice panoramic views the plane was better, so I went for that. The company I went with was ‘Wings over Kauai’. The pilot was friendly and knowledgeable, and he was even from Scotland!

We went around the island and even cut in a few times to see places like the Waimea Canyon. From a distance, we saw Manawaiopuna Falls, also known as ‘Jurassic Falls’ from the first movies opening scene. I loved seeing the Napali Coast again from another angle, although I did prefer it from sea. I’d never been in such a small plane before, but the flight was smooth, and it was a fun experience!

stop 6

Trekamerica tour April 27 - May 17, 2018

TrekAmerica is a tour company primarily operating in the USA. The company has been around for over 50 years, and offers a wide range of adventure tours targeted towards younger people who want to see North and South America. The USA has a lot of fantastic cities, however some of the best parts of the country come from the National Parks. Unfortunately, these are quite hard to get to. The USA has great public transport between and within cities, but it’s almost nonexistent for the national parks, so if you don’t have a car, you need to go on a tour. The idea of a tour sounded fun to me! I was doing nearly all of this trip by myself, so having some time to spend with others would be nice. I choose TrekAmerica because they had a wide range of tours, so it was easy to find one which fit into my schedule. The one I went for was the ‘Westerner 3’. It was a 21 day round trip tour departing from Los Angeles. It went to some places I knew I wanted to visit, such as Yosemite, San Francisco, and the Grand Canyon. But it also had a few places I’d not thought much about, such as Bryce Canyon, and San Diego. I was a bit nervous about the camping and social aspects, but it turned out great! Our tour leader was from Colorado, and was very experienced in the outdoors, which was comforting. On the tour there was me, and six others.. all girls. Two from England, two from the Netherlands, one from Austria, and one from Australia. It was a little awkward being the only guy, but it did mean I got my own tent and hotel room, which was nice! (Everyone else had to double up) We were all of a similar age and had common interests. We got on from the first minute we met, and became good friends.

Apart from a hostel in San Francisco and a hotel in Las Vegas, we were camping the whole time. It was actually nicer than I expected. All the campsites had showers, power outlets, and WIFI. Some even had laundry facilities, and sometimes even a small store! We had to buy ingredients and cook our own meals. I was a bit useless here as I can barely cook, but I tried to help where I could! We travelled in a small mini-van. It could hold 14 people, the maximum number of people who could be on the tour. There was only 8 of us, so it was pretty cosy in there! We had a lot of long drives, but they were some of my favorite parts. Just cruising along, listening to country music, and getting to stop at gas stations for snacks. The worst part about this trek was around a week into it. After seeing Californias Coast, San Francisco and Yosemite, I accidently deleted nearly all the videos and photos I took during that time. :(

In numbers

• 21 days • 1 hostel • 1 hotel • 11 campgrounds

• 390,021 steps • 4 USA States • 816 pictures (6.1 Gb) • 300 videos (77.6 GB)

In the van!

View from Babylon Courtyard Mall, Hollywood

The beginnings Preparing for an Adventure

After I flew into Los Angeles from Kauai, I gave myself a full day to prepare for the trek. I had to buy some stuff, such as a sleeping bag and pillow. I had a trip to Walmart, my favorite store, to buy some. Of course Walmart had them, and for about $5 each. Walmart has everything! The Trek began the next day at 7am, our meeting point was in a hotel lobby near LAX Airport. Some of the girls stayed in

A typical campsite

Our Van! Plus the storage container for food, supplies, and luggage

this hotel, but I was in a cheaper hotel nearby and just got an Uber there in the morning. It was nice getting to know everyone. We were all solo travellers looking to meet other people. We all wanted the same things out of this trip, and each had the same sense of adventure! After some paperwork and introductions, we headed off up along the California Coast after a quick stop in Hollywood!

Preparation of a typical meal

The California Coast TrekAmerica Stop 1

Californias Coast is 840 miles long, however we were just heading up the 380 mile span between Los Angeles and San Francisco. We spent two and a half days making the drive, with plenty of stops on the way! The two main highlights were Santa Barbara and Big Sur. Santa Barbara is a small seaside city two hours Northwest of Los Angeles. It was our first stop after leaving Los Angeles, so we had a

Santa Barbara Beach

nice little lunch on the beach, and then had a walk along the local pier. Our first nights camping were great. One of our campgrounds was on the side of a little stream, and it was a really nice spot. On the second day we went past Big Sur, a 70 mile span of coastline full of great viewpoints and massive cliffs. The Bixby Creek Bridge is also located there, which is a very pretty looking bridge.

Big Sur

Ice Cream Stop!!

It was hard being the only sane one!

Alcatraz Island

Lombard Street

The Painted Ladies

San Francisco TrekAmerica Stop 2

Known as the ‘City by the Bay’, San Francisco is Californias fourth largest city, and one of the nicest in the country. Along with the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the city is also known for Alcatraz Prison, and the cable cars running up and down the steep city streets. On arrival, we went straight to the biggest attraction, the Golden Gate Bridge! Standing at 221m tall and 1.7 miles long, it is gigantic! We had some time to walk along it, which brought great views of the cities bay. Afterwards, we went to our hostel where we would stay for the night. We had dinner at a little diner nearby. It was run by an Asian couple, and there was only two of them in there. Yet somehow, they had everything on their menu. All of it, all the food. Italian, Asian, American, Mexican, French. Hundreds of meals to choose from! We all got something different, ranging from Spaghetti to Burgers to Clam Chowder to Fried Rice. It was even all ready in 10 minutes. Like magic! The next morning we went out to Alcatraz. The Prison Island was active from 1934 - 1963, but for the last 45 years it has been a visitor centre. It was home to some of the most notorious criminals in American history, such as the infamous gangster Al Capone. Supposedly nobody ever escaped, however one attempt is up for debate. In 1962, three inmates used hand made tools to carve a tunnel in their cell walls, connecting to an air duct. They also carved replicate heads out of soap to leave in their beds and fool the guards as they made their escape. On July 11th, they made their move. They were able to climb through the air duct and out of a vent on the roof. They had a handmade raft which they then used to escape the island. The prison says they must have drowned and thus it wasn’t a successful escape, but I reckon they made it. Their plan was way too thought out for them to not have known how to reach the mainland. Whatever the outcome, it remains as one of the most intricate prison escapes in history. I loved Alcatraz and thought it was incredibly interesting. They had an audio tour, which was the best audio tour I’ve ever used. It explained things really well as it guided you around the prison. Later in the day, we explored the city some more. We saw the Canary Wharf Pier, Lombard Street, the Painted Ladies, and then finished the day at Bakers Beach. I thought the city was fantastic, and it was the only stop on the trek where I felt like we didn’t have enough time at. I’ll need to go back again some day to have a longer visit!

The Golden Gate Bridge from Bakers Beach

Yosemite National park TrekAmerica Stop 3

Yosemite National Park is located about three and a half hours East of San Francisco. It is over 1,000 square miles in size, but the most beautiful part of the park is within the 17 mile long Yosemite Valley. Inside the Valley is Yosemite Falls, the largest waterfall in North America. The beauty of Yosemite Valley is actually what led to the creation of the United States National Park System.

Before we reached Yosemite, we stopped to see some giant Sequoia Trees. They were huge! There was one so big you could literally drive through. The next day we went into Yosemite Valley. We stopped for pictures at the iconic Tunnel View viewpoint, and hiked some of the Upper Falls Trail. That was tough! I saw a lot of National Parks on this trek, but none of them blew me away like Yosemite did.

Upper Falls Trail

Yosemite Valley, tunnel view

Leaving Port Yosemite Falls in New York!

I was one of the less fit people in the group..

The Narrows

Zion National Park TrekAmerica Stop 4

After Yosemite we headed through the Eastern Sierra Mountains and all the way to Utah! The journey was over 500 miles long, and it involved some very long drives. It took us right through the desert, which I was excited about as it was my first time seeing one. Turns out deserts are hot! We were able to see just how hot when we had a rest stop at the worlds tallest thermometer. Around 31c / 89f!

Similar to Yosemite Valley, the main attraction of Zion is the 15 mile long Zion Canyon. While here, we did two hikes. The Narrows, which was a neat trail following a river down a narrow canyon, and Angels Landing, which is a famous hike due to just how dangerous it is. At parts, the trail is 2ft wide with 300m drops on either side. It was great! It was the most fun I’ve ever had on a hike.

Mojave National Preserve

Deer in Zion Canyon

Worlds Tallest Thermometer, Baker CA

Zion Canyon

Angels Landing

bryce canyon National park TrekAmerica Stop 5

After Zion we went on a short drive to the nearby Bryce Canyon. Although they’re relatively close to each other, the two parks are nothing alike! The main attraction of Bryce are the oddly shaped rock columns, which are called ‘Hoodoos’. They were formed from millions of years out of natural erosion, which is incredible, especially as one looks suspiciously like Queen Victoria. At the park, the

others went on a horse ride through the canyon, whereas I just had a hike through it. The horse ride did look like fun, but I already had plans to do something similar in a couple of weeks and wanted to save some money. Bryce was a funny looking place, but nice. Later in the night we had dinner at Ebenezers bar and grill. It was a traditional western meal with a country music show, which was fun!

The Queen Hoodoo


TrekAmerica Stop 6 Leaving Zion, we had a days worth of travelling to our next stop. The drive was pretty nice due to the desert scenery, and we had some neat stops along the way. One of the best was when we were driving through Capitol Reef National Park, and saw some 1000 year old Native American Petroglyphs carved into a wall. They kinda looked like aliens! Eventually, we arrived at our next stop, Moab. Moab is a small town of around 5,000 people in Eastern Utah. Despite the small size, it is a legendary location amongst thrill seekers and outdoor lovers. The town is right next to two national parks, Canyonlands and Arches, and we were lucky enough to see both! On arrival, some of us went on a sunset hummer tour of the Canyonlands National Park. It was pretty exciting with the steep climbs and drops! The next morning we went to Arches National Park to see the sunrise and then go for a hike. It was beautiful there, the rocks were smooth and easy to climb. It’s somewhere I’d love to spend a day at just hiking around and exploring! The park was also home to my favorite animal, the Mountain Lion. We never saw any, which was probably a good thing. When you encounter a Bear or a Wolf you get good advice, like ‘Play dead’ or ‘Shout at it’. With a Mountain Lion, it is just ‘Pray’ and ‘Fight like hell’. It was very hot there though. To cool down after the hike we had a drive up the nearby Mt Waas. There was still some snow up there and we ended up having a snowball fight, which was pretty strange considering we were in a desert 30 minutes earlier! We spotted some Mountain Lion paw prints in the snow, which was cool. Equally as cool, on the way back to camp we stopped to see some old dinosaur tracks!

Sunset Hummer Tour

Canyonlands National Park

Native American Petroglyphs

Arches National Park

Devils Garden

The Windows

The road up Mt Waas, looking back to Moab

Dinosaur Tracks!

Monument valley TrekAmerica Stop 7

On the 9th of May, my 23rd birthday, we left Moab and drove down to Monument Valley on the Utah / Arizona border. We were on the road for around two hours before stopping for lunch. We were somewhere near Moki Dugway, a little off road spot in the middle of nowhere next to some huge cliffs. It brought great views, so I went away for a little bit by myself to explore and take pictures. When I came back, everyone was gone... and then they all jamp out on me! It was a small surprise birthday party. They got me a card, plus some cupcakes and even chocolate milk! It was a very very nice treat. We then continued down to Monument Valley, stopping for photos on the way down. We even got to stop at the same spot Forrest Gump stopped running at in the movie. The views were amazing! Monument Valley is a Navajo Nation Tribal Park spanning 92,000 acres. The valley is full of gigantic sandstone buttes, some as tall as 300m! On arrival, we met up with a local Navajo tribesperson who would be our driver and guide. We went on a jeep tour through the valley, which was a really great experience. We got to learn about the valley, and even see a bit of how the Navajo live. Our guide was really friendly and full of information. He even sang us a couple of traditional songs, and taught us how to create some cool looking photos. We were going to be camping in the middle of the valley at the base of one of the large buttes, which I thought was just such a cool thing to do. We were treated to some very tasty Navajo Tacos for dinner, and then got to see a traditional dance and song around the fire. As it was my birthday, they called me up and gave me a birthday dance. It was a little awkward, but appreciated! They also gave me a present, a little locally made bracelet which is supposed to bring good health. I’ve worn it every day since! As night came in we set up our tents, but we left the tops off so that we could see the stars. There was no light pollution here, so you could see thousands upon thousands of stars. It was so nice to just lay on the ground and stargaze. A little creepy though, as before bed, out guide told us about the Skinwalkers. They’re essentially evil beings who can transform into any animal or human. They’re incredibly dangerous, and if you look into their eyes they can take your appearance, or even control what you do. Thankfully, we were also told that you’re safe on your birthday, so I slept like a baby while everyone else was on the lookout! The next morning we woke up to see a sunrise in the valley before heading off to our next destination. It was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had, and it’s going to be a very very very hard standard to live up to for my 24th birthday.

Our lunch stop!

Taking in the view before my birthday surprise

The Valley of the Gods, Utah

Run Forrest, Run!

Monument Valley

Using the force on our Navajo guide!

Monument Valley, John Ford Point

Horseshoe Bend

Grand Canyon National Park TrekAmerica Stop 8

From Monument Valley we went on to Lake Powell where we stayed the night. It was pretty uneventful, but I did see a Roadrunner! Surprisingly there was no Coyote chasing after him. The next day we were off to the Grand Canyon, having a stop at Horseshoe bend on the way. The Canyon is one of Americas defining landmarks, and is also one of the 7 wonders of the natural world. It is 277 miles long, 1,800m deep, and ranges from 4 - 18 miles wide! On arrival we were led to the Canyons edge with a blindfold on, taking it off to see the gigantic scale of the area for the first time. Not the best of ideas considering I almost walked off the edge, but a great introduction nonetheless. We also got to go on a helicopter ride over the Canyon, which was another once in a lifetime experience. We flew over a forest for a while, then the ground seemed to just open up beneath us as we entered the Canyon. It was my first time in a helicopter and it was so much fun! We also did a little bit of hiking, but not too much. It was pretty hot, and hiking at the Grand Canyon can be dangerous. It’s easy going down into the Canyon, but coming back up is 10x more difficult. If you’re not sensible you can get into a really bad situation. After our hike we walked along the rim for a while, then got some pizza and to enjoy while watching the sun set from a lookout. A great end to a great day.


Lake Powell

The Grand Canyon

Las Vegas TrekAmerica Stop 9

As we left the Grand Canyon we were leaving our last nature based stop on the trek. The remaining stops were cities, and first up was Las Vegas! We travelled along parts of the historic Route 66, and eventually reached our hotel, The Golden Nugget. It was located a bit away from the Vegas Strip, but it was like heaven after two weeks of camping. The hotel in the middle of Fremont Street, a lively street full of entertainment, casinos, and lights. It even had

huge LED screens as a roof! It was a great atmosphere. On the first night we went down to Fremont Street for a while and watched some of the live music acts. On the second day I wandered around the city by myself. Won some money, lost the money, and went to a buffet! Some of the others went to a show, but most were relaxing by the pool, re-covering from the previous night. It was a great change of pace from the weeks of hiking we had just been through.

Fremont Street

The Las Vegas Strip

The Fountains of Bellagio

California Condors!

San Diego TrekAmerica Stop 10

The drive from Las Vegas to San Diego was the second longest of the trek, it took 5 hours and covered 330 miles! San Diego is Californias second largest city, and is only 15 miles from the Mexican border. It’s not somewhere I was crazy about visiting, but it was a nice stop on the trek. We were back to camping, staying just outside of the city near the beach. On our first night we went down to the beach to see the sunset, which was beautiful. The next day was free

to do as we please, so I decided to go to the Zoo. Nobody else wanted to go, but I like Zoo’s, and it’s apparently the best in the world so I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity! One thing we weren’t able to see at the Grand Canyon was the California Condor. A native bird with a massive 10ft wingspan. But as a nice surprise, there were a couple of them at the Zoo! They were great to see in person. The Zoo was great, and I’d say it deserves its reputation.

The Ending

The End of an Adventure After San Diego we drove back up the California coast towards Los Angeles. Before going back to the hotel and officially ending the Trek, we had one last stop at Venice Beach. It was pretty nice there! Some entertaining street performers, lots of ice cream, and some funky shops to look around in. After that, it was back to the hotel. Some of the others were staying for another night before their flights the following day, however a couple of us were flying out that night, so we said our good-byes as we were waiting on the shuttle to the airport. The trek wasn’t always perfect, there were times when I got fed up being around people so much as I do like my alone time, but we were like a family for those three weeks. It kind of reminded me of how my life is at home with my four sisters! We all got so close to each other, so saying goodbye was hard, especially when you know that you may never see them again. We talked about doing a reunion one day, but that could be difficult to arrange. We all live in different parts of the world, and we’ll each have our own lives keeping us busy. I thought the whole trek was an amazing experience, and those three weeks were some of the best weeks of my life! Some of the locations we saw were incredible, my favorites being Yosemite, Zion, and Monument Valley. The fact that there was just so many of them in such a short distance of each other was crazy! There may not be anywhere on earth as beautiful, gigantic, and diverse as the Western USA. I mostly tend to travel alone, so being in a group like this brought lots of new experiences with it. While I love doing things on my own, it is a different kind of joy to be able to experience places so wonderful with friends by your side. The camping, cooking, and always on the go lifestyle was also great fun. It was chaotic though! I walked over 30,000 steps in a single day more than a few times. I originally booked this trek as a necessity just to see the national parks, but it turned out to be so much more than that! In the future, I’ll be looking to incorporate something like this into all my longer terms trips. I’d even like to do another one with TrekAmerica one day. There’s still places like Yellowstone and the Rocky Mountains to see, plus they also do treks in Alaska, Hawaii, and South America. While I was exhausted from this trek and semi-depressed from saying goodbye to everyone, there was no time to get caught up on it! This trek was over, but I was barely even half way through my trip. Next stop was back to somewhere I’d just visited a few days earlier, Las Vegas.

Freemont Street

The Las Vegas Strip

The Fountains of Bellagio

stop 7

Las vegas May 17 - 22, 2018

Las Vegas is largest city in the state of Nevada, USA. With a population of 0.6 million, it is the 28th largest city in the USA. The ‘Sin City’ is best known for the fabulous Las Vegas strip, full of lights, entertainment, and gigantic hotel-casinos.

festival in Vegas, which is essentially the American Tomorrowland.

In the 4.2 mile long Vegas Strip, there is over 100,000 hotel rooms, and another 50,000 in the rest of the city! Each hotel has their own unique theme and style, combining to create a magical feeling city.

EDC lasted three nights. As I didn’t get home til around 6am on those nights, I didn’t do much during the days. I had one free day, which I used for the horse ride. I never actually got time to explore the strip as planned, or see any shows, which I was sad about.

The city was founded by railroad workers and ranchers, and quickly grew to embrace the old Western love of freedom. When the rest of the country was cracking down on prostitution, crime, and gambling, Vegas was building on it and turning itself into ‘Sin City’.

It’s mostly got the same crowd size, same gigantic grounds, same artists, and same mystical theme. The main difference was just that EDC takes place primarily at night. I decided to go to it!

On the second night at EDC I lost my phone. It was a nightmare, but thankfully getting the shuttle back to my hotel was easy, and I had budgeted money for an emergency like this so I was able to buy a new phone and a new SIM card before I left for my next stop.

Some people love Vegas whereas others hate it. Personally, I love it! When I visited the week before I thought it was great. I’d always planned to visit for a few days on my own, so being able to visit it during the trek was just a sort of ‘warm up’.

Vegas was the one city on this trip which I left thinking ‘I really need to come back here soon!’. It was different from a typical city, but it was great in its own way and I barely saw any of it.

After the trek ended I flew from Los Angeles to Vegas for a late check in at my hotel. I was staying in the Excalibur Hotel & Casino, a massive hotel which looks like a Disney castle! It was right on the strip, whereas our hotel on the trek was up at Fremont Street.

In numbers

Apart from seeing the strip and having another short half day trip to Fremont Street, there were two main things I had planned in Vegas. The first was a sunset horse ride in the nearby desert, and the second was to attend a local music festival. I’d always seen videos of the Tomorrowland music festival in Belgium and thought it looked amazing! I’d always wanted to go to it. Then, I stumbled across the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) music

• 6 days • 0 hostels • 1 hotel

• 71,474 steps • 66 pictures (528 mb) • 114 videos (40.8 GB)

The Strip, seen from my outbound flight

New York-New York

The Luxor

My Hotel, The Excalibur

The Electric Daisy Carnival Under the Electric Sky

The Electric Daisy Carnival takes place in a few different places around the world, however the main event is always in Las Vegas. This would be the 22nd EDC, and my first time at a music festival. Walking in on the first day was overwhelming. It was huge! There were over 130,000 people in attendance, each night! It takes place at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, so most people get shuttles out there from the strip. Annoying, but It only took 45 minutes or so.

On my first night I was mostly just walking around and taking everything in. On the second night I got to see my favorite artist (Illenium) play, which was amazing, although I left shortly after as I’d lost my phone and was upset. On the third night I was at the front row of the main stage to see Zedd play, which was crazy! Overall I loved EDC, and hope to go be able to go again some day. Or maybe try Tomorrowland, as that’s a tad closer to home.


Saw myself on one of the after videos!

The Electric Daisy Carnival


Kinetic Field, the Main Stage

Horse Riding

Becoming a Cowgirl Cowboy for the day After a weekend of dance music, fireworks, and all nighters, the obvious route forward was to head out into the desert and go on a horse ride! I’ve always thought Cowboys were cool, just riding through the Wild West on their horse. I knew if I was ever in this part of the USA it was an experience I had to have. The company I went with was based in Red Rock Canyon, about 45 minutes outside of

Vegas. There weren’t actually any Cowboys, but instead a couple of Cowgirls. I’d never been on a horse before, so they helped show me the ropes. I got the hang of it quickly, but my horse, Riley, was a bit of a punk. Always trying to go off the trail and overtake everyone! But it was still a great experience. We rode through the sunset, and then had a nice BBQ dinner before heading back to the city.

stop 8

Los angeles May 22 - 27, 2018

Los Angeles is largest city in the state of California, USA. With a population of 4 million, it is the second largest city in the USA. The ‘City of Angels’ is best known for its iconic neighborhoods, such as Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Venice, and Compton.

Still, I had four and a half full days to explore LA, and was hoping to make the most of my time in the city. On my first day I had a walk around Hollywood Boulevard, then went up to the Griffith Observatory at night. On my second day I went out to Universal Studios. On the third day I hiked up to the famous Hollywood Sign.

Los Angeles is a gigantic city! It is spread out over 469 square miles. For comparisons sake, New York City, which has over twice the population, is only 302 square miles.

On my fourth day I mostly lazed around the hostel. The football team I support, Liverpool FC, had made it to the Champions League Final, the highest level a club team can play at and a huge achievement. The game taking place on this day, so I watched it from a nearby bar. It was a bit of a depressing experience.

The sheer size of LA can cause some difficulty in getting around, however they have a subway system which links all the popular tourist areas. I visited Downtown LA, Hollywood, and Santa Monica, all of which were easily accessible via the subway. Going from LA to Vegas to LA to Vegas to LA didn’t make much sense, but it was the only way I could make my schedule work with the dates of the TrekAmerica tour and the Electric Daisy Carnival.

On my last day I went to Downtown LA and Santa Monica Pier. I had plans of stuff to do, like renting a bike and cycling down to Venice Beach, but I was just too worn out to be bothered with it. Overall I did enjoy LA. I really wanted to see how it compared to Grand Theft Auto, and it was pretty much identical! I’d like to try visiting the city again one day and seeing it without being so tired.

I was staying in Hollywood, and my hostel was right on the Hollywood Boulevard. It was a brilliant location! Right next to the subway, and a stones throw away from places like the Wax Museum, the Chinese Theatre, and the studio of Jimmy Kimmel Live. I had a quick day trip to Downtown LA and Santa Monica, but nowhere else outside of the Hollywood area. I was tempted by Compton as some of my favorite musicians have came from there, but if I’ve learned anything from them, it is to not visit Compton! One thing I did notice while in LA was that I was exhausted, and I was homesick. It definitely impacted the remaining 7 weeks of my trip. I didn’t want to do as much, and I was always thinking of my rainy, miserable, cold little hometown and all its comforts.

In numbers

• 6 days • 1 hostel • 0 hotels

• 73,083 steps • 78 pictures (644 mb) • 62 videos (28.5 GB)

The Griffith Observatory

Santa Monica Pier

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Downtown LA

Hollywood Boulevard


Walking around Tinseltown Hollywood is a neighborhood of Los Angeles best known for its huge influence on the film and TV industries. Some of the greatest movies ever made have came from the area, and some of industries biggest stars live there. It is also seen as a gathering place, with movie premieres and the biggest award shows such as the Oscars always taking place on the Hollywood Boulevard red carpet.

One of the coolest things in Hollywood is the Walk of Fame. Along the sidewalk, there’s over 2,600 stars on the ground, each dedicated to a famous actor or someone who has had great influence on the film and TV industries. The most recent addition while I was there was Steve Irwin! I didn’t do too much in Hollywood, but I did enjoy walking up and down the walk of fame and seeing the sights.

Chinese IMAX Theatre

Babylon Courtyard Mall

Universal Studios The Entertainment Capital of LA

Universal Studios is a film studio and theme park located just a few miles north of Hollywood Boulevard. One of the most popular attractions at the park is the studio tour, which goes around various movie sets. I went on it, and it was brilliant! There were sets from so many different movies, although the highlight for me was when we were going past the set of Family Feud. We got to see some of the

The WaterWorld Show

The Bates Motel from Psycho

contestants getting ready and wished them luck, then Steve Harvey came out and said hello to us! He even waved at me! I’m sure it was to me, and not the 50 other people on the bus also waving at him. Definitely me. I saw the excellent WaterWorld Show, and of course went on the Jurassic Park ride and bought my new favorite hat! I even had a butter beer in Hogsmeade, which was surprisingly good.

The Walking Dead

Crash set from ‘War of the Worlds’




The Hollywood Sign An American Cultural Icon

The Hollywood Sign is probably the most recognizable part of Los Angeles. It stands 45ft tall, and was originally built in 1923. At first it spelled out ‘Hollywoodland’, intending to be an advertisement for local real estate, however it was later shortened to ‘Hollywood’ and has been maintained ever since. It is so iconic, I knew I wanted to get up close to it! The hike up was 1.4 miles long, and pretty easy.

The trail was a lot nicer than I was expecting, and it brought fantastic views of the city. I stayed through the sunset, and got to see the city completely light up below me! It was pitch black on the way back down, which was a little scary. I was convniced that I was being stalked by P-22, a Mountain Lion which lives in the area, but I survived! This hike was definitely the best thing I did in Los Angeles.

Los angeles, the Hollywood Sign

stop 9

washington dc May 28 - 30, 2018

Washington DC is the capital and political centre of the USA. Also known as the District of Columbia, the city is not located in any state, but it is a district of its own. It is the centre of the US government, and full of national monuments and museums. The most interesting part of Washington DC is the National Mall. This is a park, technically a national park, located just outside of Downtown DC. It is 2 miles long, 0.3 miles wide, and is completely lined with trees, national monuments, and free to enter museums! It also connects to the White House, home of the sitting US President, which is currently Donald Trump for some reason. Washington DC was my last stop on this part of the trip. After here, I was getting a train back to my Dads house in New Jersey to settle down for a few weeks. I still had plans to visit New York on a day trip or two, but my great American adventure was coming to an end. It was sad, although my body probably needed it!

I walked past the White House down towards the National Mall, and then rested on a bench across the street from the Washington Memorial. It was a nice spot to think about this great country and everything I’d seen in it over the last couple of months. After that, I rented a bike and cycled around the National Mall for a few hours before heading back to my hostel. It was a great experience, although it did mean I slept through most of the next day. I was able to see the Museum of American History, but only for 40 minutes before it shut. That night was the same, cycling around the National Mall at dark, exploring all the monuments and memorials. On my last day I stopped by the White House briefly, but I couldn’t stay for long as I had to catch a train. On the way to the station I saw my first car crash, which was neat! Less neat was when I lost my wallet on the train. I blame that on how tired I was. Thankfully I got it back a couple of weeks later, minus the $30 cash in it. I’d love to visit DC again one day, and see the city during the daytime!

If I was ‘tired’ in Los Angeles, then I was exhausted in Washington DC. My flight from LA got in at 7am on the 28th. So after an overnight flight, I couldn’t even check into my hostel for another 8 hours. I ended up just sleeping in the airport for a while, then headed to my hostel at noon for an early check in and a nap. The nap lasted longer than expected, and I ended up waking up around midnight. Rather than wait til the morning, I just decided I would head out for some food and to explore a little. It turned out to be a great idea. The city is safe, especially with all the guards around the political establishments. The only people I saw were armed police, and homeless people. It was a little weird to see a city this large be completely empty, even at night.

In numbers

• 3 days • 1 hostel • 0 hotels

• 39,603 steps • 39 pictures (271 mb) • 25 videos (9.6 GB)

The US Capitol Building

The White House

The Korean War Memorial

The Washington monument

“First in war, First in peace, First in the hearts of his countrymen� The Washington Monument is a 169m tall stone tower in the heart of the National Mall. It was constructed in the 1800s to honor George Washington, who was the first president of the United States. When it was officially completed in 1888, it was actually the tallest structure in the world! However it only held this title for 6 months, until the construction of the Eiffel Tower was complete.

The monument is the iconic symbol of the National Mall and Washington DC. Personally, I used it as a beacon to know where I was! The monument connected with 15th street, which headed straight up to the White House. From there I passed onto New York Avenue, which went straight to my hostel. Whenever I wanted to leave the National Mall, I looked for the monument. It was hard to miss!

The Lincoln Memorial A Monument to Americas Finest Leader

The Lincoln Memorial is located at the West end of the National Mall, directly across from the Washington Monument. It was created in 1922 to honor Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. Lincoln is best known for being President during the American Civil War of 1861. The war broke out because Lincoln wanted to abolish the slave trade, much to the disgust of the southern states.

After four years and 600,000 dead Americans, Lincoln and the Union eventually won the war, and outlawed slavery. Less than a week later, Lincoln was assassinated while at a local theatre show. He is widely regarded at the best president the country has ever had. When I visited the monument, it was completely empty. It was amazing to be alone with such a huge part of American history!

stop 10

new york city June 18 - 21, 2018

New York City is the largest city in the state of New York, USA. With a population of 8 million, it is also the largest city in the country. The ‘Big Apple’ is known for its many iconic attractions, such as the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and Central Park. After I got back from Washington DC, I had a three week rest before heading to NYC. Two of those weeks were spent at my Dads house in New Jersey, and the other was spent with my Grandparents in rural Pennsylvania. It was nice to be able to relax/sleep for a while! While I was at my Dads house, I went on a couple of day trips to NYC. Although this was just to apply for my Chinese visa, and then again to pickup the visa. I never got to see too much. I had planned to go on a few more day trips, but through all of my travelling I’d wrapped up quite a lot of reward points with my credit card, so I decided to use them to book a hostel for a couple of nights rather than travel back and forth. I even had enough for a third night in a nice hotel overlooking Central Park! New York City is made up of five boroughs, although when most people think of the city, they think of Manhattan. Manhattan is actually an Island, and within it there are five districts. The two I would be visiting were Midtown, and Downtown. Midtown Manhattan is located just to the South of Central Park. It contains Times Square, Broadway, the Empire State Building, The Rockefeller Centre, and Madison Square Garden. Downtown Manhattan is located at the very south of Island. It has the One World Trade Center, the 9/11 Memorial, Wall Street, the Brooklyn Bridge, and links to see the Statue of Liberty!

I’d been to New York before, quite a few times, but I always loved going back! It was the first ‘large’ city I ever saw, and it still blows me away every time I step off the train and walk into the streets. I planned to do some things which I’d already done before, such as see Times Square, and walk the High Line. But I also had some new experiences planned to make this visit to New York my best one yet! I would visit the MoMa, go up the Top of the Rock, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and best of all, I would fly across the city in a helicopter, something I’d always dreamed of doing! I visited a lot of cities on this trip, some of the biggest and most well known in the world, but none of them compared to New York. The greatest city in the whole world, New York, New York! After New York I had another day at my Dads house before we departed on the longest flight I’d ever been on. Leaving from JFK airport, we’d fly for 16 hours directly to Guangzhou, China.

In numbers

• 4 days • 1 hostel • 1 hotel

• 51,272 steps • 91 pictures (889 mb) • 74 videos (18.3 GB)

Midtown Manhattan The Core of the Big Apple

Both my hostel and hotel were located in Midtown Manhattan, so I had a lot of time to explore the area. One of the first things I did was visit the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa). It was interesting, especially the Starry Night by Van Gogh, although a lot of the art was a bit too wacky for my liking. I also walked the 1.5 mile long Highline, an old overground railway track which was turned into a

Times Square

little garden walkway. It was nice, but not very comfortable as the city was so hot. Around 88f / 31c, and full humidity. The heat was worse than the Mojave Desert or anywhere else I’d been on this trip! I got to see a mural of my favorite footballer, Mo Salah, and I also saw the city come alive at night. First from the advertisement filled Times Square, but also from across the river at Long Island City.

The Starry Night by Van Gogh, MoMa

Midtown as seen from Gantry Plaza State Park, Long Island City

The High Line

Central Park

top of the rock The Best Views of the Big City

The Top of The Rock is an observation deck at the top of the Rockafeller Centre. The building has 66 floors standing at 260m tall, on the top of which is the observation deck. When you’re in NYC, you’ve got three main observation decks to choose from. First is the Empire State building. Great, but you miss out on seeing the most beautiful building in the city... because you’re on top of it. The next

choice is the One World Observatory. The tallest and most modern of the observation decks, but it is indoors only, and you’re quite a distance away from Midtown. The third option is the Top of the Rock. You get a postcard worthy view of the Empire State Building, while also being able to see Central Park in all its glory. You can’t go wrong with any of them, but I think the Top of The Rock is best!

downtown Manhattan The Financial Capital of the World

Downtown Manhattan is home to the New York City Government, and the financial industry of Wall Street, one of the largest and most influential in the world. It is around 3 miles away from Midtown. In the past I just walked back and forth, but this time I was using the subway! It was smelly, confusing, and crowded. The worst system I’ve ever used. But it still beat walking! While in Downtown I

Downtown, seen from the Staten Island Ferry

walked across the 1 mile long Brooklyn Bridge, where I was a bad tourist and walked into a cyclist on the bike path. Nothing was hurt, except for my pride. I took a ride on the free Staten Island Ferry for great views of the Statue of Liberty, and I also visited the 9/11 Memorial, and the Westfield Mall right beside it. I had a Shake Shack there, which was so so so good, the best thing I ate this whole trip.

Brooklyn Bridge

The Westfield Mall

The 9/11 Memorial

One World Trade Center

helicopter flight

The Ultimate New York City Experience Something which has been on my bucket list for a while was to fly over NYC in a helicopter. It looked like a fantastic experience, although a bit too expensive. But then one of the companies I was looking at, FlyNyon, had a huge sale and it was suddenly less than half price! I decided to go for it. The flight left from Kearny in New Jersey. After a short introduction, we prepared to head off! The flight would last 30 minutes, going over Midtown, Downtown, and

Manhattan Skyline, seen from takeoff at Kearny, New Jersey

everywhere in between. The thing with FlyNyon is that their helicopters don’t actually have doors on them. A little scary, but it made things more fun! At one point, as we were hovering above the Empire State Building, the helicopter near enough flipped on its side. It was equal parts incredible and terrifying. Overall the flight was an amazing experience, and is up there with the Shark Diving in Oahu as one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done in my life.

stop 11

china June 24 - July 07, 2018

The Peoples Republic of China is a country located in Eastern Asia. With a population of 1.4 billion it is the most populous country in the world, and by land size, it is the fourth largest. It is known for the Great Wall of China, the Cuisine, Pandas, and Kung Fu!

People in Shixing seemed to be amazed by me! They’d always be waving and taking photos of me. I even had a group of little girls scream in excitement after I said hello to them. I felt like a celebrity! After Shixing we went back to Guangzhou for a few more days, before my family went back to the USA, and I went to Hong Kong.

My Step Mum had invited me a few years earlier to join her, my Step Sister, and my Dad on a visit to see her family in China, but I said no. I was nervous and didn’t really like stepping out my comfort zone. But I am different person now, so when she asked again, I said yes!

The culture took some getting used to, especially the toilets, but it wasn’t as different as I was expecting. The food was more of a challenge for me, especially as I can be a picky eater, but most of what I did try, especially the noodles, were very nice!

We would be visiting for two weeks, with the time split between three different locations. First was to my Step Mums house in Guangzhou, one of Chinas largest cities. Next was the a hiking trip in the mountains near Chenzhou, and lastly was a visit to see my Step Mums family in her hometown of Shixing.

The heat was definitely the worst part. It was around 92f / 33c every day, and the humidity was unbearable. But it is unavoidable, and one of the reasons you should never visit Asia in the summer!

They were all pretty unique experiences. Guangzhou was a gigantic city, over twice the size of London! We went on a full day tour of the city a few hours after we arrived from that brutally long flight. Wasn’t a fan of that, but it did fix the jet lag. The next day we headed off for the hiking trip. At the time, I had no idea it was a hiking trip. I was expecting a relaxing little scenic tour! But it was still nice. We stopped at lots of little museums and attractions along the way. It lasted three days and two nights. After that, we went to Shixing. This city, or ‘town’ by Chinese standards, was a very different experience from Guangzhou. While the larger cities in China are accustomed to western tourists with good signage and locals who speak some English, there was very little of that here. Thankfully I was with my Step Mum and her family, so they made sure I didn’t get lost, or eaten by a dragon.

Overall I really enjoyed the visit. It was the biggest step out of my cultural comfort zone I’d ever had, but the country is beautiful, and the Chinese people are incredibly friendly and welcoming! I definitely want to re-visit and see Northern China one day.

In numbers

• 14 days • 2 cities • 2 provinces

• 151,202 steps • 97 pictures (1.1 Gb) • 81 videos (19.7 GB)

Guangzhou The City of Rams

Located in the Guangdong Province of China, Guangzhou has a population of nearly 20 million, making it the countries third largest city. It is one of the major ports in country, with close links to Hong Kong and the South China Sea. One of the largest attractions is the Canton Tower. Completed in 2010, the tower is 604m tall, making it the largest in China and second largest in the world. At night, the

Huacheng Square

tower completely lights up full of colour. It is a beautiful sight! While on our tour of the city we took a trip up Yuexiu Mountain, on the top of which was the statue of the Five Rams. The legend is that 2,000 years ago, when the city was barren and the people starving, 5 immortals came to the city on Rams and taught people how to make rice, providing vast food and wealth for the city.

Xinghai Concert Hall

The Five Rams Statue, Yuexiu Mountain

Yuexiu Mountain

Canton Tower

Hiking Trip

Seeing the Beauty of China The first stop on our hiking trip was Dongjiang Lake. It has an area of 62 square miles, and is beautiful! While there we had a short hike near the lake. The area is full of waterfalls, mountains, and old Chinese architecture. In addition to the lake we saw some museums, including a strange one full of large rocks. It was interesting, but the staff kept trying to take pictures of me next to the rocks. For the two nights on this trip we were staying in hotels, very nice

Dongjiang Lake

hotels. They were great. Our next stop was to the Mangshan Mountain Range. While here I got some food poisoning, which was a shame because the mountains were so beautiful, but hiking when you’re ill is not enjoyable at all. After a terrifiying bus ride up half the mountain, we did some hiking. Near the top of the mountain we saw an ancient temple, which was really cool. When I think China, I think of those temples, so it was amazing to see one in person!

mangshan Mountains


A Look at Chinese Life Outside the Big Cities Located 170 miles north of Guangzhou, Shixing is a relatively small city by Chinese standards. When my Step Mum told me we were going to her hometown, I was expecting something like where I live in Scotland. A few thousand people and a small high street. In reality, it was a city of 70,000 people, full of skyscrapers! In Scotland it would be the 7th largest city in the country, but in China it doesn’t

The Village my Step Mum grew up in

even crack the top 100! It was nice though, the rivers and bridges were lined with LED lights which lit up with colours during the night. We had a visit to the genuinely small village where my Step Mum grew up, and also took a trip to the Mantang Kejia House, an old fort located at the base of some mountains. Visiting Shixing was a really unique experience Im sure most westeners dont get to have.

Mantang Kejia House

Chimelong safari park Birthplace of the Miracle Panda Triplets

Once we were back in Guangzhou, one of the things we did was visit Chimelong Safari Park / Zoo. It is the largest safari park in the world, and is regarded as one of the best. The park came to fame in 2014 when Panda triplets were born in the park! Named Meng Meng, Shuai Shuai and Ku Ku, the Pandas became an instant worldwide hit. Against the odds, all three of the Pandas survived infancy, and are now four years old! I was a bit skeptical of visiting.

I’d only recently been to San Diego Zoo, the best in the world. Anything else would be disappointing. But Chimelong was actually really good, I’d even say it was better than San Diego Zoo. There was a great range of rare animals, and they were all very active. They even had adorable Tiger Cubs! The animals looked healthy and were living in good conditions, which was nice to see as Chinese Zoos can have a pretty bad reputation for Animal welfare.

Riding the Cable Car

stop 12

hong kong July 07 - 13, 2018

Hong Kong is an autonomous territory located in Southern China. A British Colony until 1997, it is now technically part a part of China, although in most ways its own country. The ‘Worlds City’ is known for its beautiful skyline, and the always busy streets.

I had about five full days to explore before my nightmare journey home. In that time I got to ride the worlds longest escalator, see the skyline from Kowloon, watch a race at the Happy Valley Racecourse, and even see the new Jurassic World movie! However the highlights were going up to the Peak, and my visit to Lantau Island.

From Guangzhou I had three options. I could fly with my family back to New York, which was a bad idea as I left on day 90 of my 90 day tourist visa. I could fly to London and finish my trip, or I could use Guangzhou as a hub to visit somewhere else in Asia.

I was half optimistic Hong Kong would be cooler than mainland China, for some reason, but it wasn’t. Just as hot and humid. It was awful! Hong Kong actually has some fantastic hiking trails, but I didn’t do any of them because it was just too hot for it.

I decided to have one last stop before heading home, and the city that interested me most in Asia was Hong Kong. It was convenient, as Hong Kong was located just 70 miles South-East of Guangzhou.

Thankfully all the shops had air conditioning, with their doors left open to create nice air conditioned streets. There seemed to be about 500 malls in the city, and I was constantly finding myself stumbling inside of a new one just to cool down for a while!

I got the bullet train down to Shenzen, which was incredibly fast. They can go up to 200 mph! From there, I walked across the border into Hong Kong, and then got the subway into the city. Being a former British colony, getting into Hong Kong was easy. I needed a visa for China, but Hong Kong just let me walk right in! My phone went crazy when I reached the border. In China, the Great Firewall of China blocks a lot of the internet and social media platforms. But this isn’t the case in Hong Kong, so I was suddenly flooded with dozens of messages and notifications! It was great. Another good thing about Hong Kong is that English is an official language. All signage was easy to understand, and everyone spoke English. It was nice to be able to communicate with people again! My hostel was in Causeway Bay, a nice central location. I’d been warned that Hong Kong was expensive, but it was probably the cheapest city I visited on this trip! Everything was so affordable.

I enjoyed Hong Kong, and I’d love to visit again one day to do some hiking, but I was looking forward to leaving. This was my last stop before heading home, and I was very homesick, and very tired.

In numbers

• 7 days • 1 hostel • 0 hotels

• 96,122 steps • 115 pictures (1.1 Gb) • 78 videos (30.7 GB)

Hong Kong The Pearl of the Orient

Similar to Manhattan and New York, the city of Hong Kong is actually located on an island called ‘Hong Kong Island’. It is 30 square miles in size, and is full of small mountains, forests, and reservoirs. Across from Hong Kong is Kowloon, the second largest city in Hong Kong. Theres quite a lot to see and do over there, including a few markets and the Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower, however one of the best

Hong Kong during the nightly ‘Symphony of Lights’ laser show, as seen from Kowloon

A race at the Happy Valley Racetrack

reasons to go over is just to look back! You get a fantastic view of the skyline, which is one of the most beautiful in the world. Hong Kong has a population of 7 million, and is also the most visited city in the world, with 25 million tourists visiting annually. It gets pretty hectic during rush hour, especially when you try to take the subway. I smartly avoided this by never getting out of bed before 10am!

Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower, Kowloon

Victoria Peak Hong Kongs Iconic Viewpoint

The appropriately named ‘Peak’ is an area of Hong Kong located just behind the city on top of a mountain. It is the highest point of Hong Kong, with an elevation of 552m. At the top there’s a number of different look out points, and as it is Hong Kong, there’s also two malls! You can go up via bus, taxi, or tram. The tram is the most popular way, which was obvious. The lines for it were incredibly long.

The Lions Pavilion

Rather than wait two hours, I decided to get the bus. It was a nice and scenic ride all the way up. Once at the top, I walked along Lugard Road, a little path which goes along the hillside. The views were incredible! After, I went to the Lions Pavilion to see the iconic Peak view. It’s hard to put in to words what it is like being up there during dark, but it is one of the most amazing things you’ll ever see.

hong kong, the peak

Lantau Island Hong Kongs Largest Island

Located 10 miles West of Hong Kong Island, Lantau Island is home a a number of Hong Kongs top attractions. It holds Hong Kongs primary airport, Hong Kong Disneyland, and the Tian Tan Buddha, aka the ‘Big Buddha’, which is what I was going to see. Standing at 112ft tall, it is gigantic! It’s located at the top of a hill, which requires you to walk up 268 steps to reach it. That was a bit of a nightmare, especially in the Hong Kong heat, but it was well worth the effort!

Getting to the Buddha was a great experience in itself. To get there, you go on a cable car ride for 3.5 miles! It takes 25 minutes each way, and it is filled with great scenic views of Lantau Island. You even pass the airport, and get to see planes taking off, which I thought was pretty cool to see. Lantau is a very rural island, especially compared to Hong Kong Island. I would have liked to see more of the island, but I didn’t have much time. Maybe on another visit!

Going home Heading Back to Reality

The trip home was a brutal one. It lasted 55 hours, and took me through 4 countries on a 7,800 mile journey! I checked out of my hostel on the 12th of July at 10am, but my flight wasn’t until the 13th of July at 8am. It was too early in the morning to warrant getting another hostel for the night, as I’d need to leave for the airport at 3am anyways. So I decided to rough it out. I spent all day on the 12th exploring Hong Kong, mainly relaxing in the nice air conditioned malls. At night, I picked up my bags, and headed for the airport. After sleeping on a bench in the airport for a night, I left for Manila in the Philippines. It was only a 2 hour flight, but a 3 hour layover came with it. After that, it was a 13 hour flight to London Heathrow, on Friday the 13th of July. Thankfully I’m not superstitious! Once in London I headed to Euston Station to catch my train to Glasgow. It was the Caledonian Sleeper Train, and I paid a little extra for my own private room. I think I deserved it after how far I’d travelled to get there! The train ride was wonderful in every way. It was the comfiest bed I’d had in weeks, and it was also the first private room I’d had in a while. Plus, I love trains! It would make no sense, but I would love to live on a train. We left London at midnight, and arrived in Glasgow Central at 8am on the 14th of July. When I woke up in the train, around 7am, we were slowly moving through the Scottish Countryside. The sun was rising, and I could see familiar scenery out the window. It was beautiful, and one of the happiest moments of my trip. I was home! I’d seen a lot of great places on this trip, but Scotland remains to me as one of the most beautiful places on Earth. After we got into Glasgow, I made 2 hour trip back home, and then slept for about 4 weeks! The trip wasn’t perfect, there was quite a lot that went wrong. I lost my phone and my wallet, I got burnt out halfway through, and I didn’t get to do everything I had planned to do. But the good parts outweighed the bad parts, by so, so much. I got to check off so many bucket list items. I think I had at least 10 experiences of a lifetime, and I travelled around the world, even if I didn’t stop everywhere on the way round! Most of all, I had fun. It did cost a ton of money. But a lot of that was inheritance money, and I had no real use for it. It was just sitting there in my bank, losing value. I know that my Mum, who left me the money, would have wanted me to experience life and do something like this with it. She was always saying I should get out more, and I definitely got out! After I got back to Scotland, I had a couple of months to rest before starting a University Course, which should hopefully occupy me for the next few years. I could probably use a few years of rest after this any ways. Before I’d even arrived home I was planning for my next trip like this. It will be bigger, better, and I’ll see so much more of the world! It will probably take 5 years to save up for, but I already can’t wait for it. My advice to anyone reading this book full of jealousy and wanting to do the same thing is to just go for it! Set a savings target and then starting working towards it. Maybe skip the take away meals, get the bus over a car, bring your own lunch to work, ditch the expensive phone contract. Being able to save just £20 a week is over £1,000 a year. Flights to the USA or Asia are as low as £270 return, and hostels are £10 a night. It is possible! It is important to think about your future self, but it is more important to live your life while you still have it. None of us are guaranteed a tomorrow, and you would be a fool to postpone following your dreams with the idea that you can do it one day down the line. So go out there and see the world, be wild, and have fun. :)

“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all� - Hellen keller

London • Chicago • The Bahamas • Oahu • Kauai Western USA Tour • Las Vegas • Los Angeles Washington DC • New York City • China • Hong Kong