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2015 Travel Bucket List

15 Jan

Quick post to share with you some of the destinations I hope to travel to this year. It has always been my goal to visit 50 countries before my 30th birthday, which means I need to visit a minimum of 5 countries this year. Considering it’s January 15th and I have one ticked off already, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Being back this side of the globe (Europe, that is) I would like to make the most of cheap Ryanair flights so I have set myself a goal of visiting 1 new country every month for 12 months! I really want one of those trips to be to the states as I have so many friends I want to visit there. Ideally I want to go to Burning Man Festival this summer…but that depends if I can find people to go with and can get my hands on a ticket!

I plan to stay away from Asia this year, as I covered so much of it over the last 2 years. Time to look in a new direction, and make the most of the amazing destinations closer to home!

buck

On the list so far….

Czech Republic (Just spend the weekend in Prague!)

England (London mainly!)

Germany (Berlin for a Eurocamp Reunion)

Croatia (A lovely sun holiday)

Greece (More sun…lots of islands)

Iceland (direct flights from Ireland start this summer – yay!)

Denmark (Copenhagen to visit friends)

Sweden (plan to drive over form Denmark!)

Norway (hiking, lakes, glaciers…such beauty!)

South Africa (It has been 10 years since my last visit – my heart is still there!)

That leaves 2 countries yet to be decided…any good suggestions?

New Year’s Resolution: Stop Giving Up!

5 Jan

happy new year 2015.young man jumping and drawing 2015

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

- Albert Einstein -

Every year I make a list of new year’s resolutions, and at the end of every year I find myself looking back on that list and realising how little I accomplished. Not that I accomplished very little in general, I just failed to stick to and complete the list. I doubt I’m the only one who looks back at their list, sigh and then writes the same list again. So why are we still writing the same resolutions, when we already know the outcome? Isn’t it about time we all changed our thinking when it comes to new years resolutions?

We all vow to stop drinking, to stop being so lazy, to stop eating unhealthily, to stop using facebook, to stop smoking or to stop spending so much. Why do we always have to STOP doing things? Why do always vow to stop doing the same things at the beginning of each year? Maybe, just maybe, if we vowed to take on more things we wouldn’t have to feel bad about all those guilty pleasures.

This year I am not giving anything up. I am not quitting. I am not vowing to lose weight, to get fit or to stop drinking. If any of those things happen along this journey, happy days, but they will not be my new year’s goals.

So, what are my new year’s resolutions? What are YOUR new year’s resolutions? Maybe we cans share a few…

1. Make some new friends

This may seem like a strange one, as I’m sure most of us already have a pretty amazing circle of friends. However, I believe one can never have too many friends and if we don’t stay open to new friendships there are so many incredible people out there who we may never meet. Say YES to more nights out, to more road trips, to more last-minute flights. Talk to that person sitting next to you on the bus…you never know who they could turn out to be.

2. Ask more questions.

In order to expand your mind, it’s important to never stop asking questions. We need to stop asking google and start asking each other. Ask your parents, your best friend, your 94-year-old granny. There’s so much we don’t know yet thanks to the internet we now feel we are experts at everything. I feel in recent years I have lost my voice in a way, caring too much about what others think or if I’m asking a ‘stupid question’. Honestly, I think the internet has made  us more boring rather than more interesting.

3. Read more.

In a way, I think we could all do with reading more, and I’m not talking about scanning over your newsfeed on facebook or scrolling through endless, mindless buzzfeed pages. Put down your phone, your tablet, your laptop, and actually spend an hour each night in your own little digital detox. I think it will do wonders for the mind. (I stole this idea from Mark Zuckerberg, who has vowed to read a book every second week for the entire year. If one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs can make time to read, then so can I!)

4. Learn something new.

Be it a language, a musical instrument or a new sport…or maybe one of each. For years now I keep catching myself, and many others, saying ‘Oh I wish I knew another language,’ or ‘I wish I had learned how to play the guitar when I as younger but now I guess it’s too late.’ Too late?? I know we will be hitting the big 30 soon, but we’re hardly old aged pensioners. It’s never too late to make that leap. It’s never too late to learn something new. It could also be a great way for you to make new friends!

5. Eat a breakfast fit for a King.

If, like me, you really are disastrous at eating 3 healthy meals a day and snack on a ridiculous amount of junk food then this could be the way forward. Eating breakfast really sets you up for the day and helps you to start in on a positive note, Make TIME for breakfast. Stop hitting the snooze button, treat yourself to fresh fruit and yogurt or porridge or whatever takes your fancy really. You’ll start each and every day on a high note, have more energy and the bonus is it’s a great start to a healthier lifestyle.

6. Do things that make you happy.

For me, nothing puts a smile on my face like finding cheap flights…and then booking them. I don’t known if it’s an obsession or an addiction. Either way, it makes me happy and thus it’s something I will continue to do! For other people it’s going for a run in the morning, or going to the cinema or buying new shoes. Maybe it’s taking photographs, maybe it’s spending time with younger cousins or nieces and nephews. This year, try to find that one thing that makes you happier than anything else then spend as much time as you can doing that thing. It’s your life, it makes sense to make it a great one!

7. Love who you are.

This is a difficult one. We spend so much time comparing our lives to others, as if life is one big competition. We compare looks, we compare jobs, success, income, friend circles. We compare boyfriends and girlfriends and cars and handbags. We forget that everyone, and I mean everyone, has their own personal demons. We all have problems, issues, difficulties. The problem is no one ever shares the negativity and no one ever talks about it. Make 2015 the year that you really love yourself. Love your body, love your job, love your family and your friends. I know it might sound clichéd, but we really need to start seeing ourselves in a more positive light because at the end of the day, we’re all pretty darn awesome in our own ways.

8. Learn a party trick.

So many of my friends have very cool party tricks. I have none. I even know the party trick I wish to learn, I just need to make some time and find someone to help me learn how to do it. I am making a promise to myself that another year shall not pass until I have mastered a decent party trick. You should all give it a go too, I mean mastering a new skill – no matter how pointless – can increase your self-esteem, as well as earning you some serious social kudos next time you reveal it in public.

9. Learn how to live without your phone.

I’m not talking about a  365 day detox or throwing your new iphone out the window, I’m talking about learning to be a normal, responsive member of the human race for a few hours each day. When I was travelling in South East Asia this summer, I survived 2 months without a phone. It was only then that I realised how glued we are to our phones. Every bar, every restaurant, every beautiful beach side café was filled with young tanned backpackers updating their facebook statuses instead of actually enjoying the ‘paradise’ they were writing about. This year I vow to be more mindful when using my phone, especially in the company of others.

10. Make space for a mid year resolution

It’s a bit silly to plan a whole year during the first week of January, we need to leave some space for spontaneity!

Looking Back, Looking Forward

14 Jan

2013 flew by so fast I have hardly had time to sit time and sum it up. We are already nearly halfway through January 2014, I have barely had a chance to breath. Where did all those hours, days and weeks go?  What exactly happened and how far has 1 calendar year brought me? Or, as the truth may be, has it brought me anywhere new at all?! In this post I would like to do a quick review of “The Best of 2013″ and finish my setting out some goals for the year ahead.

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“The Best of 2013 – A Review”

 A fun-filled trip to Lanzarote with my buddy Ollie climbing volcanos, singing Karaoke and spying on albino crabs in an underground cave.

Graduating with a Master of Science in Humanitarian Action! (Even though a missed the ceremony, my new boss ensured I didn’t “miss the photo op!”

Competed in the Run-A-Muck Challenge with Toby and Sergei in freezing cold temperatures, over ditches and bogs, through muddy rivers and stacked hay bales!

 Visiting HOPE projects in Kolkata, India and achieving one of my life goals to participate in Holi Festival of Colours with the kids from HOPE’s children’s homes.

Flying to Bali to meet up with a good friend and traveling with her the Gili Islands, by far my favourite islands in Asia so far.

Making great friends and stuffing my face with some of the most delicious food in the world while exploring Mainland Malaysia and the beautiful islands off the East coast.

Moving back to South Korea and somehow making my second year in this confusing but exciting country better than the first, making beautiful and loving friends at every corner (of every bar!).

Spending 5 days on the island of Jeju off the South Coast of Korea in September for Korean Thanksgiving. BEST. DECISION. EVER.

Booking a last minute weekend break to Japan in October and exploring the mystical city of Kyoto.

Spending the Christmas vacation with a group of close friends traveling around Cambodia, a country that now has a  a firm place in my heart. (Blog posts about this eye-opening trip coming soon!)

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“2014 – What Lies Ahead”

I have made made personal goals for 2014, but in order to truly keep these “resolutions”, I know I must write them down and share them with others. That way, when I start slipping up, you can all remind me to get back on track!!

1. I will run a half marathon….before the end of March. 

2. If the first half marathon goes well, I must sign up to a second one.

3. I want to totally revamp this blog, but my own URL and post more regularly.

4. I will  start learning and speaking French again.

5. I will to go to 5 new countries.

6. I will travel home to Ireland….without flying.

7. I will get an article published in a Korean Magazine like Groove.

8. I will get an article published in The Irish Times, ‘Generation Emigration’ blog.

9. I will start getting back in contact with my friends back home and schedule regular skype dates.

10. I will finally reach my “ideal” weight. Not by your standards, or by some stupid magazine standards and certainly not my my dear mother’s standards. MY ideal weight, ideal for ME. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus

25 Aug

bug ethiopia

Sometimes you need to stop walking through life at such a fast pace, pause for a moment, and enjoy the little treasures that are right in front of you…treasures that are often only visible when you make the time to take a closer look.

I have many close up shots of beautiful and vibrantly colorful flowers and insects, but this is the only time that I managed to capture and focus both at the same time. A beautiful moment captured forever. 

Below are a few more of my favorite shots with background defocus. Enjoy! :)

focus nature

wild-flower

tea plantation bali

St Patricks Day….in Ireland!

8 Mar

Yes, Yes, I hear ya! An Irish person, living in Ireland, preaching about the awesomeness of St Patricks Day. How cliché!

But hold up a second, I have my reasons for being seriously over excited about St Paddys Day this year. On March 17th 2013, 9 short days from now, I will get to celebrate all thing Irish on my home stomping ground for the first time in FOUR YEARS!! That’s right, I have spent the last 3 years in a row abroad, and have celebrated Guinness, Leprechauns and ‘The Galway Girl’ in not 1, not 2, but 3 different continients.

 There is so much talk at the moment about emigration and how there is nothing left in Ireland for young graduates. It would seem while most of my generation have already emigrated, and many more are debating the move in the near future, I have strangely found myself back in Ireland, back in Cork, living at home and working locally. And dare I say…I’m loving it.

So while I look forward to St Patricks Day at home this year, 2013 – The year of The Gathering, I find myself reminscing about the last 3 Paddys Day spent abroad..spreading my love of all things Irish to the Ozzies, the Koreans and of the Dutch! The only thing that would make this year better would be if all my amazing friends that I made, loved and sadly had to leave whilst abroad could be here with me to join in the celebrations. Here’s to you….Slainte!

 

Paddys Day 2012 in Melbourne Australia with some awesome Couchsurfers!

Paddys Day 2010 in Melbourne Australia with some awesome Couchsurfers!

Teaching 'all things Irish' t my students in South Korea. Paddys Day 2011.

Teaching ‘all things Irish’ to my students in South Korea. Paddys Day 2011.

My students in Korea enjoying St Patrickd Day decorations!

My students in Korea enjoying St Patrickd Day decorations!

Cycling to the pub...only in Holland!!

Cycling to the pub…only in Holland!!

Spending Paddys day with my classmates from Brazil ans Sweden in an Irish pub in Holland!

Spending Paddys day with my classmates from Brazil ans Sweden in an Irish pub in Holland!

 

 

 

 

 

ONE FIT MUCKER!!

5 Mar

Guess what? I have set up a new blog by the brilliant name of ONE FIT MUCKER. Don’t worry…I’ll still be posting about my travels here, but posts about my new mission to get fit and have fun doing it will be posted on my new blog with lots of great photographs from each event.

The challenge : To participate in as many wild and wacky adventures before the end of 2013, with the goal of having as much fun as possible while increasing levels of fitness at the same time.

This will not be your average fitness blog.

This is not about running. Not about marathons. Not simpply about getting fit. It’s about getting down and dirty on crazy adventure courses, spending more time outdoors rather than in the pub (although there might be a bit of that too!) and strengthening friendships through day time excursions rather than night time sessions!

By the end of the year I’m going to be… ONE FIT MUCKER!! Check it out now.

one fit mucker banner

Money for Mud

21 Feb

RUNAMUCK CHALLENEGE
I’m delighted to say that I shall be putting my travelling shoes on again in March, on a journey of a lifetime to Kolkata, India.

India will be country number 36 for me…a tiny bit closer to my goal of traveling to 50 countries before I’m 30.

However before I go, I am determined to raise €1,500 for The Hope Foundation, a charity which does amazing work in Kolkata with street and slum children, giving them a brighter future. HOPE has so far helped over 30,000 children through education alone, and I want to be part of their amazing story.

SHOCKING FACT: There are currently over 250,000 street children living in Kolkata, living on the streets with no shelter from the elements, no one to care care for them or to protect them. HOPE works tirelessly to help these children through education programmes, healthcare, skills training and their 8 protection homes for young boys and girls.

To raise money for HOPE, I have signed up for the ‘RUNAMUCK CHALLENGE 2013′ which considering by shocking levls of fitness, is sure to be quite the challenge! If you would like to donate to this very worthy cause, and like to see me get absolutley battered and bruised and covered in mud from head to toe..then PLEASE DONATE HERE!

I will post photos here of both this event and my experiences in India, so you will be able to see exactly where your money is going and all the good it is doing!

Thanks for your support!
Janet xxx aka Journalist On The Run

Family Portraits

13 Feb

My sister celebrated her 30th birthday recently, and to celebrate my parents hosted an amazing party in our house…something we have not done in about 10 years. In fact the last time my sister had a birthday party at home, she was still in primary school and I believe I was scarily obsessed with barbie dolls that could ‘have babies’ with the push of a button! Safe to say it was quite some time ago!

One thing that really made the party special, was that we had a professional photographer on hand who took some really amazing photos of the party, capturing the smiles, the laughs and the overall mood perfectly. It was also the ideal opportunity for us as a family to have some family portraits shot, something we have never done before.

Here are some of my favourite photos from the night, with special thanks to Christian Haubold. Enjoy!

 

Family Portrait: Dad, Pam, Me and Mum.

Family Portrait: Dad, Pam, Me and Mum.

Sister Sister: Two generations of sisters.

Sister Sister: Two generations of sisters.

Sisters: Pam and I

Sisters: Pam and I

Recreating the past: Pam in a pose similar to her great, great (maybe another great I'm not sure..) grandmother!

Recreating the past: Pam in a pose similar to her great, great (maybe another great I’m not sure..) grandmother!

My TV Debut….in Georgia!

2 May

Just back from the most amazing trip of my life. Truly an eye opening experience. I met so many lovely people, learned more about Georgia than I know about my home country, tasted delicious Georgian wine, enough cheese bread to last me a life-time, had dinner with the Dutch Ambassador, walked along the border between Georgia and the breakaway state of Abkhazia, saw snow-capped mountains, swam in the Black Sea, and even featured on National News!

Trip report to follow, but first here’s a taster of my TV Debut on the Georgian News, following an interesting discussion in the Government buildings with the Minister of IDPs, Refugees and Accommodation about the IDP situation and durable housing solutions.


A Balloons Eye View

9 Apr

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that last Thursday I lost my amazing GoPro camera, after attaching it to 23 helium balloons, and watching in dismay after the wind snapped the rope and it floated high into the sky over county cork. (You can read about all the drama HERE.)

What you might not know is that I was stopping at nothing to get that camera back! I contacted the local radio station, and used the power of social media to get the word out to everyone in the area to keep an eye on the skies for a crazy contraption consisting of 23 balloons, a styrofoam mount and a tiny little camera!

On Good Friday I had an email from a girl I sister went to school with, Debbie Deane, saying her husband had found my camera in one of their fields, over 20km from my house! I was speechless. My parents did not know what was going on as I jumped up and down mouthing silently and pointing at the computer. We simply COULD NOT believe someone had found it. I jumped in my car and drove down to collect it, with a smile on my face that was not going to be leaving anytime soon.

I had a great laugh with Debbie and her husband as they told me about how they had been checking up on a sunburnt cow when they spotted the balloon in the field and went to investigate. They then went home, put the memory card in their computer and looked through the photos to see if they could recognize the owner but had no luck. Later, Debbie’s brother arrived, and recognized me straight away! An Easter Miracle!

When I arrived home I couldn’t wait to look at the photos and I was not disappointed! There were over 900 photos of the Cork country side, as the camera took a photo every 2 seconds on its crazy adventure in the sky. Next thing I knew I had National Newspapers contacting me, saying they wanted to publish the story! You can read the Irish Examiner article HERE, and the Irish Independent article HERE.

My friends could not believe my good luck and one remarked, “You come home for 1 week and you make the papers!” Life really is one big adventure. :)

Mapping the balloons journey from my house to Innishannon

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