Prague, Czech Republic (with some manky dorm occupants)

Prague is a beautiful city, with many sites to see including Charles Bridge with the gargoyles and market stalls, the Astronomical Clock, Prague Castle with the stained glass windows, St Vitus Cathedral, St Wenceslas Square and visiting a theatre for some classical music or ballet.  Stay classy as a backpacker and see a ballet in jeans and thongs!

But, like most European cities, Prague is not nice at 7am on a Sunday in the rain. We had travelled from Poland on an overnight train and arrived in Prague at around 6am. Weary from a night on the train and in need of a hot shower we made our way to our hostel (along with a fellow backpacker who hadn’t booked somewhere yet who shared our cabin on the overnight train). Of course we can’t check in at 7am! Especially in a less than 10 pounds hostel that looked like an office block transformed into some random dorms. So there we were, 3 dirty, hungry backpackers stomping around a dreary, sleepy wet Prague at 7am. Not fun.

Sometimes it pays to be cheap backpackers, sometimes it backfires on you. We managed to find something to eat and spent about 6 hours site seeing (getting more and more weary) before getting to check in around 2pm.

Our beds were in a dorm of ten, a room approx 4m square. I took one look at some of the clothing and expressed ‘we have some manky looking roommates’. My travel buddy didn’t seem to mind, seeing as we didn’t look too good ourselves. She was desperate for a nap, me a shower. I wandered down the office style hall to the communal showers. Afterwards I had that all too familiar task of trying to get dry and dressed in a shower cubicle where every surface is wet. Assuming we had the dorm to ourselves on a Monday at 2pm I decided to sneak back to our room in a towel to dry and get dressed there. You can imagine my surprise when I opened the door to find 4 twenty-something french lads. My travel buddy was sitting up in her bunk, awoken from her nap and looking quite annoyed. I shrieked, closed the door and ran back down to the shower to finish getting dressed. Talk about awkward.

Upon returning to the dorm, where my friend was even more annoyed, I found the French boys rolling the biggest joint I’d ever seen. They were literally about to light the thing when we asked ‘surely you’re not going to smoke that in here?’ They agreed to go and light up in the car park. After they left I did the ‘I told you we had manky roommates’ spiel, to which they then returned, high as the astronomical clock itself and decided to jump on the bunks and throw balls around.

Clearly we weren’t getting anymore nap time.

Disclaimer: I have never desired to be a cheap backpacker, give me a nice hotel any day. But seeing as I was being unpaid for 6 weeks whilst living in London I had no choice but to stretch the funds out while travelling and live on about 20 pounds a day! Oh god, the backpacker/dorm life is not for me!

Ta Prohm Temple, Cambodia

 

Part of the huge temple complex that is Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm is one of the most visited places, a beautiful temple, bound by massive roots of huge trees. It’s enchanting, ancient, eerie and peaceful all at the same time.

Made famous by Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Ta Prohm quickly was added to many intrepid traveller’s ‘to do’ list. In the late nineteenth century Ta Prohm was discovered by French archaeologists. They decided not to conduct a  restoration of the temple  due to the fact that giant trees were so merged with ancient walls that eventually they became whole. 

 

Little Beach, Bouddi National Park

I have been visiting Little Beach since I was born. Family members have a holiday house on the street leading to the 750m walk to the Beach. The house is affectionately named within the family as simply ‘little beach’. eg ‘when are we staying at little beach?’

It is a tiny beach (as the name suggests) and the walk through the forest to get there is splendid, rainforest, ferns, bird sounds, canopies and the distant crash of waves. Once at Little Beach you can explore the rock pools and beach rocks on each side or dabble in the water.

Its not the safest for swimming, hard core surfers often head out, but its great for splashing about on the shore and in the small creek that runs into the ocean, my childhood memories are full of those moments. In the 34 years I have been visiting Little Beach the topography has changed due to constant erosion of wind and surf- I seem to remember more sand as a child, though that could just be because I was a lot smaller then.

You’ll often find some campers down there as it is a popular little camp spot. It also marks the beginning of several great walks around Bouddi National Park, I remember doing the Bouddi Coastal Walk as a child with my dad, a strong memory of eating muesli bars on a headland comes to mind.

Getting There: Little beach is located about 90 minute drive from the Sydney CBD, but could take up to 2 hours in heavy traffic.

Look out for: The face in the cliff, the curved caves, cuttlefish galore