Baan Ton Mai Treehouse Cafe

Diary of a Scuba Instructor on holiday in Klong Muang, Krabi

Today is the last full day that Mum and I have in Thailand…

For breakfast, we took a little drive out to Baan Ton Mai Cafe which was a lovely treehouse style restaurant between Ao Nang and Klong Muang.

It was definitely worth the visit for the incredible work that had gone into the place, but sadly the food was nothing to write home about. I was also pretty disappointed that such a natural looking restaurant served its drinks in plastic cups…

Disappointed that all drinks were served in plastic cups at Baan Ton Mai Cafe, Krabi

We then drove out to another part of Klong Muang beach for a dip in the sea and some beachside relaxation. I may have taken in a bit too much sun, between the bathing and the motorbike rides, but at least I got an Instagram worthy shot out of it.

Dive Into Travelling Instagram

We flew from Krabi to Bangkok this evening and have an overnight stay in a nearby hotel before our flight to London tomorrow morning. It’s going to be a long and boring day of travel, but tomorrow night’s update will be coming to your from the other side of the world!


song of the day: Matthew Halsall – Cherry Blossom
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#DailyBeachClean

Diary of a Scuba Instructor on holiday in Klong Muang, Krabi

Klong Muang is a lovely little coastal town situated about 10km north of Ao Nang, Krabi. It came on the back of a recommendation from Karen, the lovely lady who runs Silver Cliff Resort, where we stayed near Khao Sok National Park.


The morning started with a gorgeous breakfast at Cafe 8.98 where mum and I had a pricey, but delicious feast. It definitely lived up to the high expectations and recommendation from Elle (thanks!).


We hopped on our rented scooter from Mr Kord and proceeded to take several wrong turns on our scenic route, before finally stopping at Pan Beach. It was tucked at the back of a resort and initially I was worried we might be trespassing to get to it, but as long as you buy a drink from their bar you’re good to go!

I sat around for half an hour and listened to some music, but when mum returned from a short walk on the beach to tell me that there’s litter everywhere, I couldn’t help myself. I had to take a long walk up the beach to pick up everything I could manage.

The most important rule of land cleaning is to log your data.

We could spend every day of our lives picking up litter, but if we never document what we’re collecting, then the manufacturers of these products will never be held to account. It’s vitally important that the information is documented so that legislation can be implemented – on the back of data collation – to cease production of these products and plastics in the first place.

Daily Beach Clean Instagram post on Pan Beach, Klong Muang, Krabi

Based on my experience today, I formed a new mission.

I want it to be natural for people who spend time at the beach to take a short walk together to collect and document any litter they can.

We have so many dedicated teams of people doing this on a monthly or weekly basis around the world. Perhaps we could all work together to do it, daily? There are people sitting on beaches literally every single day, we just need to encourage this behaviour to become more commonplace!

Exhausted after a solo beach clean, but definitely satisfied!

#DailyBeachClean has a Facebook Page, Facebook Group & Instagram presence.

Please consider supporting at least one platform by liking, sharing or tagging yourself with a picture of your efforts.

Thank you!


song of the day: Radiohead – Everything In Its Right Place
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Bamboo Cooking at Khao Sok National Park

Diary of a Scuba Instructor on holiday in Khao Sok National Park

Today will go down in history as one of coolest days of my life. Thank you to Anitsak ‘Nit’ Chanyu for sharing your unparalleled knowledge and expertise with us.


Nit met us at our accommodation at Silver Cliff Resort and drove us in to the National Park, where we began our 2 hour trek through the jungle. From the outset, he was sharing his extensive knowledge of all things in nature, from giant stick insects in the first tree we came to, to the edible leaves we were going to consume later for dinner.

We began our trek on the main route but soon veered off the beaten track, alongside rivers and along winding, gnarled root paths. After about an hour and a half, we were now following the meandering riverside and eventually stopped to set up camp.

Nit retrieved some bamboo from which he carved cups, stirrers, dishes and cooking utensils, before preparing our dinner over a the fire. I helped him fold the rice into banana leaves and tuck it in to bamboo shoots filled with water, ready for cooking. We sourced our freshwater for cooking and washed all of our hand carved bamboo utensils in the river beside us.

The dinner itself was incredibly tasty. Spinach, mushrooms and garlic in a sweet and tangy sauce, alongside a coconut soup with leaves we’d picked during the hike. Dessert followed with fresh pineapple, little biscuits and tea and coffee. We completely stuffed our faces.

The sun set while we were preparing dinner and we used our head torches to hike back, spotting all kinds of amazing wildlife on our way. It was an outstanding experience and Nit had unrivalled knowledge of wilderness survival and nature conservation, particularly in Khao Sok. We were so lucky to have him as our guide. If you think you want to share this experience, Nit is the man to ask for.


Tomorrow we journey down to Krabi and Ao Nang to spend a couple of days relaxing by the beach!

Dive Into Travelling Instagram picture of a lizard on a night trek in Khao Sok National Park

song of the day: Doc Watson – Deep River Blues
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Sarana Bungalows – Koh Phangan | The Top Ten

Planning your stay on Koh Phangan?

Stunning views from our beachfront bungalow, Koh Phangan

If you’re contemplating where to stay on the island, here’s why you should check out Sarana Bungalows to kick back and enjoy some of the best vibes in paradise!

Use this handy navigation list to jump to any section!

  1. Beautiful Bungalows
  2. Beach, Ocean & Infinity Pool
  3. Food & Drink
  4. Scooter Hire & Transport
  5. Things To Do
  6. Social Life
  7. Sustainability & #SmallChange
  8. Massage
  9. Yoga
  10. Sunset Views

Please note that Sarana Bungalows is Adults Only accommodation.
Although some of this stay was complimentary, all views and opinions are genuine and my own.

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Beautiful Bungalows

We had the joy of staying in one of the 4-bed beachfront bungalows. Our room had a lovely dock with a hammock, floor cushions and a perfect view across the water to Koh Samui. At night, it was a marvel to watch all the lights twinkling beautifully on our neighbouring island.

Sarana offer a variety of rooms to suit a range of budgets – twins, triples, quads and a dorm room – and they’re more than happy to accommodate groups!

Idyllic picture of our room at Sarana Bungalows

Conveniently, when you arrive and check in, you are assigned a tab number. This comes in super handy during your stay at Sarana Bungalows – all of your food, drinks, taxis, and more can be assigned to your tab and you can pay the bill at the end, using cash or card. If you are like me and want to track what you’re spending, just pop into the reception and they’ll let you know what your tab’s sitting at!


Beach, Ocean & Infinity Pool

Not only is there an idyllic beach right on your doorstep, but it leads you directly into the sea! No more wandering around with sand in places it doesn’t belong – you can get yourself back to your room, shower and be sitting with a cocktail in hand mere minutes after your dip in the ocean!

Game for some beach volleyball at Sarana Bungalows?

There’s a tree-swing, a beach volleyball court and I spotted some folks kite-surfing that I’m sure it would be easy to arrange – just have a word at reception to find out more!

Beach volleyball on the edge of the ocean.
Picture from Sarana Bungalows Facebook Page

Perhaps the sea isn’t always your thing?

No fear – there’s a stunning swimming pool with sun loungers all around for you to cool off and relax to your heart’s content.


Food & Drink

The Veggie Delight at Sarana Bungalows – 160thb

There’s a fantastic menu to choose from, at super reasonable prices! With plenty of vegetarian options of both Western & Thai food, cocktails, smoothies and drinks promos to die for – there’s something for everyone to enjoy at any time of day!

Check out my Instagram for a world of scuba diving and travel related beauties!

Dive Into Travelling Instagram Post about Smoothie Bowls at Sarana Bungalows

Scooter Hire & Transport

It’s super easy to get hooked up with a scooter at Sarana Bungalows. Simply jump into reception from 9am – 6pm for a scooter to be delivered a few minutes later. It’s 250thb for a 24 hour hire and there may be discounts for longer rental periods.

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If you prefer to take a taxi, just ask at reception and they will happily book one for you. It’s 100thb per person for a ride to most places on the island and they’ll let you know otherwise. Bear this in mind if you’re grabbing a taxi from the ferry – they might try to charge you more!


Things To Do

The folks at Sarana Bungalows are so helpful and there are a million and one leaflets on things to do around the island at reception, along with an amazing wall map guide! From scuba diving to full-moon parties, beaches to bars and restaurants, they’ve got you covered.

Weekly Activities Board at Sarana Bungalows

They also host a bunch of fun on-site activities for you to get involved in so be sure to check their weekly chalk-board for updates!

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Social Life

Sarana Bungalows is the kind of place that you can find your own space, peace and quiet when you want it. It’s also the type of place that facilitates friendships with ease. There’s a shared dining area where you’re sure to meet people from all over the world. There are lounging spots, a yoga temple and pool area where folks like to chill out – and don’t forget the beach, sea, and volleyball area!

Having a great time in the Sarana Bungalows infinity pool!

In the evening, there are often group tours heading out to the bars and clubs and, once you’ve found some friends, it’s almost too easy to join in! Koh-Phangan is renowned for its full- and half-moon parties and the team at Sarana really know how to do it in style.


Sustainability & #SmallChange

Sarana Bungalows really do care about the environment – and they encourage you to do the same! From bamboo straws to reusable wash bags, they’ve done their best to find sustainable solutions for everyday needs.

They’re also active beach-cleaning angels! Check out my guide to beach, land and reef cleaning and see how easy it is to play your part in changing our world for the better!

Sarana Bungalows Instagram post about their beach clean!

Into the bargain, there are free water refills near the bar, so remember to bring your reusable bottles. If you forget, don’t fret! They’ve got metal 1 litre bottles for sale at reception along with sustainable tote bags, bamboo toothbrushes and other wonderful, world-changing goodies!


Massage

Sarana Bungalows Instagram post about their massage services.

With 2 beautiful, beachfront massage huts, you’d be crazy to miss out! There’s nothing quite like getting a full body massage with the sound of the waves beside you, a cool breeze rolling by.

Sarana Bungalows skilled masseuses at work

Just think – that could be you!


Yoga

As if Sarana Bungalows wasn’t zen enough, they even host regular classes in the yoga temple, surrounded by lush greenery. Yoga mats and face towels are provided to make life super easy.

Yoga class in the Sarana Bungalows yoga temple

Our class was led by Instructor Elena, a true goddess at work!

Sarana Bungalows Yoga Instructor Elena’s Instagram Profile

Please don’t worry if you’ve never done yoga before – the classes are tailored to all levels and you should always be gentle with yourself. Remember to breathe, relax, and enjoy!


Sunset Views

What island paradise would be complete without breathtaking sunset views?

Sarana Bungalows Instagram post about their incredible sunset!

Sarana Bungalows offers these in abundance, but no matter how great these photos are, you’ve really got to experience a sunset like this with your own eyes!

Sunset over Sarana Bungalows

Sarana Bungalows is just the same – this haven on Koh Phangan needs to be seen to be truly appreciated.

Sunset at Sarana Bungalows

If you’re interested in booking a stay at Sarana Bungalows, drop them a message on their Facebook page or get in touch with me right here.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading top ten reasons to stay at Sarana Bungalows. If you agree, please share this post, like my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram. Your support is hugely appreciated – thank you!

The Grand Andaman Club Visa Run | Koh Tao to Myanmar

Andaman Visa Run:
from start to finish

Are you a backpacker or a digital nomad? Perhaps you’re planning a long break to do your Divemaster Course on the stunning island of Koh Tao?

You’ll probably need to make a visa run at some point!

The Andaman Club Visa Run is a fast, cheap & easy way to renew your visa.

Here’s everything you need to know about this land-based trip to Myanmar!

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Initially, I went into Island Travel which is located on the Down Road, between Cafe Del Sol and Pura Vida.

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I took my passport along and booked the 2500thb run which leaves Koh Tao on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. You depart Koh Tao in the morning, the visa is updated in the afternoon, and you return to Koh Tao on the night boat, arriving the next day.

THINGS YOU WILL NEED ON THE VISA RUN:

  • 3 booking slips which you receive from Island Travel in an envelope
  • your passport
  • Sources of entertainment – it’s about 18 hours of travel with not a lot else going on
  • Snacks and water & some dinner money (cheaper than buying onboard/at terminals)
  • a jumper or blanket (air conditioning can get very cold)
  • a change of clothes & toiletries
  • sleeping tablets/motion-sickness tablets if you’re susceptible
  • Recommended cash of 20000thb or evidence of a ticket out of Thailand

HOW IT WORKS:

Step 1
Lomprayah Ferry from Koh Tao to Chumphon
– 2 hours –

  • Show up 30 minutes earlier than the ferry departure time so you can exchange your booking slip for your ferry ticket without rushing. It can be very busy.
  • Get in line to board the ferry & put your sticker on. There are 2 boats and the stewards will make sure you don’t get on the wrong one if they can clearly see where you’re going.
  • Find yourself a nice place to chill – I recommend the VIP room on the upper deck. It’s only 100thb for the whole journey, there are wall sockets, bigger seats and less people.

Step 2
Bus from Chumphon to Andaman Sea
– 2.5 hours –

  • Keep walking straight through the Chumphon ferry port to where there are minibuses parked & ask for Andaman Club, someone will be sure to get you to the right bus.
  • Board the bus and buckle up for the ride.
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Step 3
Speedboat to Grand Andaman Hotel, Pulo Ru
– 0.5 hours –

  • When you arrive at the Thai Port, go into the office to the departures window for processing.
  • Follow the stewards who will guide you to the speedboat or use these handy signs!
  • When you arrive in Myanmar, mind the monkeys on the beach and protect your passport!
  • Process at the arrivals desk in Myanmar. They will keep your passport and issue you a photocopy

Step 4
The Grand Andaman Hotel
– 1 hour –

  • A minibus will take you to the Grand Andaman Hotel. There’s a duty free lounge and an in-house Casino!
  • You spend less than an hour here and if you’re not lined up for the bus they will send someone in with a bell to find you!

The Return Leg:

  • The minibus will drop you back at the Myanmar desk for you to collect your passport
  • Back on the speedboat
  • Back to Thai Immigration office
  • Re-enter Thailand
  • Back in the minivan to Chumphon – arrive around 7pm.

You now have a couple of hours to spend in Chumphon where you can pick up lots of essentials at decent prices. There are shopping malls, fast food restaurants, clothes stalls and loads of street vendors to check out!

  • 9pm: back in the minivan which will take you to the night ferry
  • When you check in they will assign a bed for you
  • Settle in for a good night’s sleep!
  • Arrive back on Koh Tao around 6am
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That’s it for the Andaman Club Visa Run!

Check here for updated rules regarding land-border entry limits from the Thai Embassy.

I hope you found this guide to the Andaman Visa Run useful. If you did, please share this post, like my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram. Your support is hugely appreciated – thank you!

Back on Koh Tao for another stunning sunset!

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Become a PADI Divemaster | Thailand 2020

How to become a PADI Divemaster
Koh Tao

No matter where you want to go to do your DM course, here’s a quick guide on what it takes to get there!


If you still need a little push in the right direction, check out 10 of the best things about scuba diving!


Divemaster Prerequisites

Before you begin your PADI Divemaster Course, you’ll need to:

  • be 18 years old
  • have a doctor’s medical statement of fitness, signed within 12 months
  • be certified as a PADI Rescue Diver
  • have an Emergency First Response (or similar first aid) certification within 24 months – if you’re a medical professional, you’re sorted
  • have 40 logged dives
  • have at least 1 month to complete it (though I’d recommend taking 2+).

A lot of dive centres can work out a package price for you if you’ve still got a few courses or dives to get under your belt before you start.

If you book your DM Course here, you get to DIVE FOR FREE the whole way through! It’s the best way to gain experience and get your numbers up!


Where should you do your Divemaster course?

It’s a big world out there! Consider…

  • country, continent & culture
  • visa restrictions
  • living costs
  • political stability
  • local dive laws
  • weather & dive conditions
  • work opportunities
  • social lifestyle

What about the dive centre?

I’ve got experience with Simple Life Divers on Koh Tao, Thailand. I’m more than happy to answer any questions you have!

There are many dive centres & schools out there, and they all have different ratings. I’m still learning about these but if ‘5 Star’ is in the title, I think you’re in with a pretty safe bet!

Take into account…

  • customer reviews
  • certification numbers
  • DMT turnover
  • course, materials & fee costs
  • location
  • pool/boat facilities
  • accommodation
  • perks – free diving/future discounts

but most importantly…

  • will there be whale sharks!?


What’s in the PADI Divemaster Course?

The PADI Divemaster Course can be completed in as little as 3 weeks, though I would recommend taking around 3 months.

Becoming a Divemaster is a commitment. You’re dedicating your time, money & energy to developing your knowledge and skills to a professional standard. You’ll want to get the most out of every component of the course so that you can become the best possible version of yourself!

The main components…

  • Knowledge Reviews 1-7 in the Divemaster manual & Exam 1
  • Knowledge Reviews 8-9 & Exam 2
  • Learn how to use RDP tables and the eRDPml
  • Complete skills circuits and demonstration workshops
  • Map a dive site
  • Exercises in Search and Recovery & Deep Diving
  • Shadow Divemasters and Instructors as they teach courses and lead fun-divers
  • Present boat/dive briefings
  • Conduct a scuba review
  • Conduct diver rescue simulations
  • Complete the swim exercises:
    • 400m swim
    • 800m swim with mask, snorkel & fins – no use of arms
    • 100m tired diver tow in full scuba kit
    • 13 minute tread water + 2 minute tread with arms elevated

Fun-dive for free all the way through your DM course when you book with us!

Get in touch!


PADI Fees and Professional Dive Insurance

If you want work as a DM you will need to pay your PADI fees to achieve ‘active’ status. Check if this is included in your DM course cost.

Depending on where you are in the world, you might also need professional insurance. It is not compulsory in every country, but it’s a smart idea to have it incase anything goes wrong with you or your students.

If you are an EU citizen (the UK is still included at this time) I would recommend Aqua-Med for professional dive insurance. Check out their website for more information!

If you book your insurance through this link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to yourself, and I would be very grateful for your support.

I only recommend products & services which I value and have used myself.



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First days on Koh Tao | The Top Ten

Hey guys!

Finally getting round to updating you on what’s been happening on Koh Tao, in the gulf of Thailand! I’ve packed a lot into my time here already so I’m going to keep it concise is with The Top Ten. I hope you enjoy!


1. Simple Life Divers

Some of our simple life family from
September 2019

Simple – without a doubt – hits the top spot. This is the dive school and centre which has supported me through my Emergency First Response (EFR), Rescue and Divemaster Training courses (so far). They’re professional, friendly and extremely helpful – I couldn’t recommend them more. Do you want to discover scuba diving? If you have any questions, please get in touch right here.

2. Yang’s Restaurant

Woop woop! I don’t know where I would be without Yang’s! These guys have fed and watered not just me, but all of my colleagues from pretty much the moment we set foot on the island. A bit of an institution; the portion sizes are generous and prices are cheap. With Thai, Western and pan-Asian options, it’s my all-round winner for anybody looking for good food on a budget.

3. Koh Tao For Sale

A Facebook group has been set up with island hoppers in mind, and I love it for the sustainability aspect. Pretty much everything can be saved from landfill – I actually bought peanut butter, pesto and a half bottle of shampoo for way less than they cost in the shops. From clothes to scooters, home-furnishings to dive kits and accessories, you can pick up literally anything under the sun from your neighbours on Koh Tao.

4. Zest Cafe

The veggie breakfast comes with a glass of fresh fruit juice and a tea or coffee – 150thb

What a find! Zest is a reasonably priced coffee shop and sandwich bar with a wonderful selection of vegan/veggie/gluten free options and a high standard for every dish. Paninis, bagels, baguettes and fresh salads are just a few of the options available on their extensive menu. I’m loyal to their little cafe on the Up Road in Mae Haad, but I’ll be sure to check out the larger venue at the bottom of Sairee ASAP.

5. Koh Tao Cinema

Koh Tao Cinema is located in The Hacienda – right beside the crazy golf course, pool tables and sports bar. This dinky little room hosts a projector and eight large sofas. One cinema ticket is 50thb, but you can then use it towards buying a drink or food at the bar. The cinema shows a variety of films from new releases to kids shows, advertised on a daily basis via their Facebook page. If there is something specific you want to see, you can message them directly. So far, they’ve presented The Big Lebowski and a private screening of Chasing Coral – for folks at Simple Life – at my request!

6. Shakes

Coconut shakes from Bambam restaurant in Mae Haad – 50thb each

Available everywhere on Koh Tao, a shake a day keeps the hunger away. Available in a wide variety of flavours and freshly made, they’re ideal to cool down and energise between meals. There are fruit smoothies, milkshakes, lassies (blended with yoghurt) and iced coffees to choose from. I’m particularly fond of banana and peanut, though the coconut shakes are great for re-hydrating and also super tasty! Just let them know if you want a little less sugar in yours – they’re automatically made with a generous amount.

7. The Queen’s Cabaret

The costumes, jewellery, makeup and hair are absolutely incredible

A right of passage in Thailand, the ladyboy cabaret show is a must see, more than once! On Koh Tao the show starts every night at 10.20pm at the far end of Sairee. There is no ticket price to enter but you do have to buy at least one drink in the venue. Soft drinks start at 150thb and alcoholic drinks are around 250thb, which contributes to the cost of the show. Dancing, singing and acting are a big part of the performance, with a little bit of audience participation thrown in. Guaranteed to make everyone smile!

8. Pancakes

Pong and his pancakes – located outside the 7-11 at the top of the Up Road

A bit of an obsession of mine… There are portable pancake vendors dotted all over the island. Quite like crepes, with savoury or sweet varieties, there are any number of fillings available to satisfy your on-the-spot craving. I’m a huge fan of the banana and nutella one, topped with a drizzle of condensed milk which takes it to a whole other level of delicious.

9. Electrolytes

Electrolyte sachets are available for 8 – 10thb individually or buy a box of 50, bringing them down to about 4thb a piece

Hail hail electrolytes! The tap water on Koh Tao is not safe for drinking, so it’s bottled water all round. You can order large vats of water to be delivered to your home, or buy bottles at shops around the island… But it’s important to know that all of this water is straight H2O. The treatment process removes everything, including the salts, sugars, and minerals which contribute to healthy body and brain functions. Queue ELECTROLYTES! Returning many of the necessary nutrients to the water, these sachets of dissolvable goodness promote focus and keep light-headedness at bay.

10. La Pizzeria

The margherita pizza – 170thb & the funghi – 200thb

I know pizza is a big thing all over the world, so I didn’t think I would struggle to find some. I did, however, expect to struggle to find good pizza. Coming from Glasgow and our incredible Paesano pizzerias, I have high standards which are hard to meet. La Pizzeria makes a strong effort. With a huge variety of toppings, calzones and delicious starters, the authentic Italian sourced ingredients and the best garlic mayo out are just a few reasons why I love this place. They also deliver on the island if you message their Facebook page, and if you collect 10 pizza box vouchers you get a free margherita, or 170thb off a pizza of your choice. Brilliant – more pizza!


Well that just about sums up my top ten stand out experiences of Koh Tao so far! Look out for the upcoming posts which go into a bit more detail about each of these features. If you have any questions about diving, Koh Tao, travel, or anything else, please drop me a message on my contact page, I would love to hear from you!


Thanks for reading!
Please check out my Instagram for more inspiring content.
Likes and shares are always welcome!

Chasing Coral

I spent my most recent Monday public holiday doing a variety of bits and bobs around the house, in an attempt to organise my move to Thailand this September.

I’m heading there to pursue a career in SCUBA diving by learning to be a dive instructor, but I’ll say more about that later.

For now, I just want to share a clip from the best thing I’ve done today… Which was watch the spectacular documentary called Chasing Coral which is available on Netflix.

I stumbled across this film today while looking for some background watching material. It’s fairer to say that this film became the focal point and my chores fell into the background.

If you’re looking for something beautiful to watch – this is it.

Impact Video taken from the official Chasing Coral website

You can take a look around the official website here: https://www.chasingcoral.com/

Thank you for taking the time to read my first blog post. There will be much more to come in the future, from music to travelling, from adventure sports to sustainability. Please sign up to the mailing list and stay tuned!