With the Olympics now underway and the competition for the coverted bronze, silver and gold medals hotting up, our friends at  lowcostholidays.com are carrying on that Olympic spirit and have started their own Blogger Relay competition for travel writers with the aim of creating a massive index of travel memories,  and stories and for some unknown reason they thought it would be a good idea to nominate my good self as a team captain … eek, no pressure then. #TEAMPURPLE #BloggerRelay


So to the competition.  From July 30th (today), team Captains (that would be me) will start their leg of the Blogger Relay race by sharing their top three memories of their favourite travel destinations and ranking them 1st, 2nd and 3rd,  before passing the Travel Baton on to a fellow blogger, who will then also list their top 3 travel memories.  They too will then pass the baton. The Team in the longest chain by the end of the competition all win the Blogger Relay! (And, more importantly, a prize!)

A Top Travel Judge panel consisting of Traveldudes, Global Grasshopper and Travel Chica, will also choose the best blog from ALL entries including my own and that blogger will win an iPad2, Digital SLR and Walking Boots!

So here we go, i’m running the first leg for TEAM PURPLEhopefully i’ll get us off to a good start …

3rd- Conquering Mt Doom in New Zealand (The Tongariro Crossing)

One ring to rule them all, one ring to bind them, one ring to rule them all and in the darkness … ok so i’m a geek and I love Lord of the Rings.  The Tongariro Crossing within the Tongariro national park, which included the location used by Peter Jackson for Mt Doom in the LOTR trilogy, was an epic 7 hour trek across a jaw dropping landscape which included snow capped mountains and turquoise sulpher lakes.  It takes the bronze medal in my relay entry.

I think we expreienced pretty much every weather condition possible bar hurricane whilst walking, climbing, plodding, falling, sliding and tumbling our way through the national park.  There was snow so we wrapped up, but then 10 minutes later the sun was beating down on us and we were stripping off the layers.  The crossing was a real test, but totally amazeballs at the same time.  Along parts of the crossing it felt like we’d somehow made our way through some kind of portal and onto another planet.

The bright spark I am, I decided that there would be no need to buy food in preparation for such a trek, I’d simply buy some at the non existant cafe or giftshop that was no where to be seen upon arrival at the national park.  To be honest this wasnt a conscious decision, I just didnt think at all.  My then girlfriend and I survived the mamoth 7 hour hike on one apple and a small packet of crisps between us (I think they were space raiders, pickled onion). This type of packing is not advised but we made it, and boy was it worth the effort.  What an accomplishment.

capture the colour green, tongariro crossing, new zealand

2nd – Roadtriping around the Irish coastline

In at number two and winner of my silver medal is simply driving around Ireland.  I’m one of those people that actually really enjoys driving, but I understand that diving at 2mph on a backed up M25 is nothing in comparison to driving winding country roads to places such as the Giants Causeway, Slieve Liege (highest sea cliffs in Europe), and Silver Strand beach in western Donegal.  Even wind and rain couldnt make a dent on our roadtrip around Ireland.  Fun driving, amazing scenary, good friends and a killer roadtrip mix tape made for an awesome week.

1st – Coaching my Sri Lanka school football team to victory

Travel and sport are my biggest passions in life (asides from the mrs obviously :-/) so its no surprise that my number 1, numero uno, my gold medal memory is a combo of the two.  I’d been coaching football (soccer) in Sri Lanka for about 4 weeks when the head sports coach at the Ja Ela primary school told me that the following day was to be a ‘big day’. The obvious ‘why’s that?’ question left my lips in reply and to my shock Tyron informed me that the next day we would be taking the students to a tournament in Colombo.  What?  Since when?? That all sounded great, but how was I supposed to take 20 odd students on a field trip when I can’t communicate with them in any way other than blowing on a budget plastic whistle? To say I was a tad nervous about the touroment was just a bit of an understatement, what if one of them ran off, what if we got lost?  Arse!

The next morning I arrived at school about 9am. I organised all the equipment and paperwork (none of which I could read or understand), and prepared myself to board the school bus, which turned out to be the local public bus, I should have known! After about an hour or so we reached the outskirts of Columbo and got off. Within the hour we were on the pitch and ready for our first game, my pulse was racing.  I needant of worried, the kids were brilliant and watching them play  from the sidelines I was overwhelmed with a feeling of pride as they put into practice pretty much everything i’d been trying to teach them for the past 4 weeks.  Did it work? … here’s a snippet from my diary, you decide.

Just after half time we were awarded a free kick, a serious chance. Sanjah lined up the kick only to blast it into the opposition’s defensive wall, but wait,  the ball then looped up into the air, it seemed an easy header the opposition defence, but they contrived to miss the ball completely. The ball eventually fell to one of our forwards, on the edge of the 6 yard box, and he struck the ball on the half volley, sending it looping over the opposition goalkeeper and into the far corner on the net, cue ecstatic, crazy white man jumping around on the touchline. I don’t think I taught him that one but I couldn’t care less; 1-0!

Some more of the Ja Ela team and I at the tourno, Sri Lanka

Me and a few of the school team at the tourno in Colombo

So there we have it, those are my top 3, my entries into the blogger relay compeition.  Now its time for me to pass the baton.  Running the second leg of this memory marathon i’m passing the baton to  … drum roll …

Vicky over at vickyflipfloptravels.com and @VickyFlipFlop … get a jog on Vic!

Do you fancy getting involved with TEAM PURPLE ?  Drop me an email and we’ll do our very best to get you a place in the relay.  neil@backpacksandbunkbeds(dot)co.uk