“Focus on the powerful, euphoric, magical, synchronistic, beautiful parts of life and the universe will keep giving them to you.”
For the duration of the two week trip I chose to leave my beloved SLR back in London while I scurried around with a younger model. In the spirit of total and complete honesty, this could have been a disaster.
Before boarding the plane, I had taken a single test photo with the SX60 and did not have the faintest . The decision to swap camera was based on two very simple ideas:
1) I wanted to swap between photo and video a lot on the trip and the SX60 looked like it was built for such a task,
2) I make a real habit out of taking an excess of bulky lenses on holiday and wanted to try something new.
As fate would have it, the little Canon Powershot SX60 was a pleasant surpise.
Canon Powershot SX60 – Review
– Significantly cheaper than a DSLR.
– Lighter and smaller than comparative models. I carried it around in a small backpack that fit all my daily essentials inside with no issue.
– 65x zoom that remains clear and detailed.
– Video. It takes less than 1 second to start to record HQ (720p) video from camera mode.
– Fast. It is incredibly responsive. From shutter speeds to controls and playbacks, there is no waiting period.
– The LCD screen flips out so you can view your shots from any angle.
– The 21mm ultra wide angle! In some cases, many people would consider this a pro but the angle distorts the edges of many scenes which means I always ended up zooming in or cropping edges in the post-editing process.
– Lack of control. This, of course, comes as a con only to aperture priority-loving control freaks who haven’t let their SLR leave their side since purchase day. (Me.)
– It really struggles with night time shots. I never use on-camera flash (creative preference) but the evening is one big black hole without it.
It’s not a swap for my SLR, but it is the best bridge camera I’ve laid hands on. If you want beautiful shots and video but don’t want to invest the time or money in professional photography, I would look no further than the SX60.
(Click here for more info – you can even claim £40 cashback from Canon this week!)
I have trouble being a ‘typical holidaygoer’. I find it very hard to ‘chill out’, as they say. While many people will rip through hazy romance novels in sun liungers, I read a book while jogging around the shallow end of a pool (I have the wet books to prove it). While even more people can casually wander in and out of the ocean between naps, I have to frolic in the sand with a camera in hand (I’ve done the blogs to prove it).
That is my issue. I cannot wholly ‘relax’ without something to keep my brain and body active.
Knowing the impossible would be expected of me on a remote beach holiday, I balanced the unfamiliar chil out by booking The Manfriend and I an adventure tour on our final day.
If there was one thing I was excited to bring my Canon* along for, this was it.
The Adventure Tour
Starting at the crack of dawn, we were welcomed into the day with a bit of an elephant mingle (where my poor Manfriend was volunteered by someone – ahem – to receive a sexy elephant massage). We then carried on to marvel at the insane intelligence of a few friendly weightlifting acrobat monkeys before heading a short walk away to watch a Thai boxing match.
For a break, our guide – Bo – took us to his outdoor kitchen to teach us how to make traditional som tam (papaya salad); praise the foodie heavens. It might be the best Thai dish there is (can anyone else smell a recipe blog?).
Before heading out of the area, we went for a short elephant ride with our lady elephant’s carer – a very sweet older man who made us jewellery from bamboo leaves and helped us feed the little (‘little’) lady from our bag of bananas.
As midday crept towards us, we jumped in a 4×4 and headed off for Na Muang waterfall. Avoiding the tourist traps and easier, paid routes, we took to the rocky descent like Mr and Mrs Tomb Raider, trekking to the cool waterfall like islanders. Then realising we were absolutely starving.
Hopping not into the 4×4 but now on top of the 4×4, we were hurdled towards the top of a jungled mountain (Pom Mountain) – stopping only for coconuts and congee – before safely placing our feet back on the ground above the Secret Buddha Garden.
The Garden – also known as Magic Garden – is a private Buddhist shrine and a magical combination of art, faith and nature.
Last stop? Koh Tan. Heading back towards Taling Ngam (where our hotel was situated), we stopped off at a nearby beach to board a long tail boat and zip over the the equally barren and beautiful island for a spot of snorkelling.
Major Ariel vibes. A Disney perfect day, altogether.
Watch it all in its full travel vlog glory, above!
I decided not to give a toss this year. I am just over five feet tall and my largest asset is the cultural word association to ‘Kim Kardashian’. I will never have the body of a swimsuit model.
I will, however, have a bikini body. For I have a body that wears bikinis. A body I feed healthy food, a body I exercise, and a body I am thankful for. By all sane conclusions, babes, that’s the most you’ll need to have a bikini body.
Remember, those models you’re sticking on your fridge make up less than one percent of the world’s population. They are winners of a genetic lottery and devote their entire livelihood to holding onto their ticket as long as they possibly can. When your boyfriend coos ‘You look like a Bond Girl!’ as you walk out onto a beautiful beach in Koh Samui, you simply forget to care.
You have a bikini body all your own. Be proud of it.
What I Wore:
Bikini – Heidi Klein
Hat – Reiss
I am all for authentic travel experiences. Sometimes at my own peril. I have both aged my lungs by ten years riding side-saddle through highways in Cambodia and had near-death experiences on cowboy ‘visa run’ busses.
This was wonderfully, wonderfully different.
For less than the cost of one-way airfare, The Manfriend and I purchased two return VIP bus tickets from Bangkok to Koh Samui. Included in the price? Snacks, juice, water, air con, seats that recline almost completely flat (with leg rests), on-board movies, a toilet, blankets, an authentic & fresh evening meal, and the company of 10-20 friendly Thai travellers.
I understand why people opt for air. Taking a flight is convenient, fast and familiar, while there is very little information kicking around about VIP bus routes.
That is why I’m writing this blog.
For government-run busses in Thailand, ‘VIP’ simply translates to ‘with amenities!’. There are a few kicking around at both main bus terminals (Mo Chit and the Southern terminal), but the one we chose left from Mo Chit. A few days prior, we had paid for our tickets through a purchase order at a local 7/11 so all we had to do on arrival at the terminal was pick up our tickets from the allocated window (there is plenty of help and translation around to quell ‘foreigner’ worries!).
After picking up a few nibbles (I will marry the person who brings Dunkin Donuts to the UK), we boarded our bus and set off for a surprisingly excellent 12 hour journey.
VIP bus to Koh Samui – The Facts:
– You set off in the early or late evening from both destinations. The bus is designed to be a ‘sleeper bus’.
– It is a genuinely comfortable sleep.
– Midway through the journey, you disembark for roughly twenty minutes at a rest stop. Here, you trade your bus ticket in for a delicious, at-table Thai meal (tapas style, shared with others) often bulked up by steamed rice or congee. You can also use the restrooms and buy snacks/general small items.
– For government busses, the price does not include the ferry ticket (but this only costs roughly 150 baht/£3 extra) whereas ‘all-inclusive’ tourist coaches will hike up the price dramatically.
– Drivers rarely speak fluent English, so go in with the notion that you will follow the actions of a few Thai people on the same bus if you’re unsure of what to do or where to go at the ferry terminals.
– At the Koh Samui bus terminal, head for the taxi busses (pictured below) with a Thai printout of your hotel’s address to barter the cheapest rates. Avoid the man shouting ‘Taxi! Taxi!’. In fact, avoid that man all over Thailand.
– The sunsets and sunrises over Koh Samui (which you should experience either way) are second to none.
My Koh Samui vlog – coming later this week – will spell everything out in more detail. Until then, don’t hesitate to tweet me any questions you may have!