Some of you who have been following this blog for a while might remember in previous posts id mentioned I would be volunteering abroad this summer. This is something I got a little tasted of a few years ago when I volunteered in Greece for two weeks, however this year I was away for 8 weeks.

I love travelling and wanted to feel like I made a difference somewhere in my summer break so volunteering with Plan My Gap Year was the perfect option for me. I’d had my trips to Bali and Sri Lanka planned since this time last year but yet it still feels totally surreal now that I’ve been and gone to both of these places.

My first trip was to Bali where I stayed in Tabanan with the most amazing family who opened their home and let 70 volunteers come and stay there. They cooked for us and made sure we got safely to project and wherever else we wanted to travel too. Bali is somewhere I have always wanted to travel too, more so since my obsession with Eat, Pray, Love began a few years ago. I never expected myself to fall in love with a country as much as I did with Bali. I opted for the wildlife project during my stay in Bali mainly because I love animals and wanted a relatively stress free project which it was. It was a nice break and often didn’t feel like working as we fed animals, cleaned their cages and got to spend all of our time outdoors mostly just in awe of where we were and what we were doing. Everyones favourite animal here was definitely Balou the sun bear who was rescued from an owner who trained her to fake cry for money, so unfortunately she can never be released. We were all amazed that for a bear, an animal which we have always taught to be afraid of, that Balou was just like a slightly bigger friendly dog. There were so many travel opportunities in Bali as well so even after volunteering I managed to see so much of the country. It completely breaks my heart to see such a beautiful place effected by the earthquakes that are striking the Lombok area.

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My second trip was to Sri Lanka which I had really high expectations for given that I had just had possibly the best month of my life in Bali before. Here we weren’t staying in a family home but a rented out villa area with multiple sort of houses in the grounds, this already made things a bit segregated. My room over looked the river below and had the most amazing views. It was one of those moments where I was sat on the balcony reading my book and looked out at the view and just thought, wow I can’t believe this is my life. I worked at the turtle sanctuary here for the same reasons why I chose the previous project. I expected myself to get bored of this project after a while as it was a little repetitive and didn’t expect myself to stick the full month at it, however once I was there it was so much more fun than I originally anticipated. The highlight of this trip was definitely the long weekend I spent in the Maldives which really was breathtaking. Photos don’t even do the place justice with the crystal clear water and blue skies as far as the eye can see. It really was one of the highlights of the entire trip. I don’t think I appreciated my time in Sri Lanka as much as I should have – I spent a fair amount of time moaning and not really seeing how lucky I was to be there. However, there is only so many times where you can find ants, spiders and cockroaches in your bed and food before it starts to get to you.

I think volunteering abroad especially with companies like PMGY is probably one of the best ways you can spend a summer.

Despite minor hiccups and annoyances this will forever be cherished as one of the best summers of my life.

It’s an amazing way for people to travel, meet new people and experience life in another culture.

So thankful to have had these experiences,

Siobhan x