July 5th and The Day I Almost Died

Okay that may be being a little bit over dramatic. 

But seriously the beginning of the first day of the Camino makes you doubt every reason you have ever decided to go on this trek. 

The only thing that kept me through that first like 7 km was the fact that Billy had promised that there was a cafe at the top of the hill and I was dying for an espresso so it was this glimmer of hope of the horizon as we zig zagged up and down in this horrible fog which was great because it kept us cool because I kept thinking the end of the hill was near but when I got to the point past the fog where I could see I realized it was still going. 

But eventually after the climb that killed my legs. We ended up at this cafe and at this point it was like 8am because we had left at 6. But regardless Billy got a pint of beer.

Typical Brits

But at this time we had met Emily from New York and Rosie from Northern England. And we got something called a “tortilla” but it was really a quiche. And then Billy and I were talking about bananas because I really wanted one and I also thought it was hilarious the way the British accent sounds. 

Then Emily told us the most British sentence she ever heard was when this British girl took a bite of some cookie, didn’t like it, and declared “That’s not a proper jammy dodger” 

Which is my new favorite sentence ever. 

So naturally I’ve been saying it every 5 minutes to the chagrin of all the people that have been walking with me. Though I’m pretty sure they find me entertaining and not annoying. 
Though they all got on me last night for the word “fanny pack” because apparently fanny to the Brits means vagina so they all thought I was hilarious. And I’m the only American (because Emily has been living in Europe forever so she hardly counts) 

The end of the day was this truly tragic downhill and my baby toes got all smashed in and it was awful. Billy and I spent that leg of the trip with these two young Australians we met called Connor and Claudia. And after that ordeal we reached our accommodations which were in a fucking monestary castle

But it was classy as hell in there and right away Billy was like limping because his legs hurt so bad and I tired not to rub it in his face but I had told him to stretch. 

But then a group of us decided straight off to get beers because we deserved it and it turned into a great party despite the teasing I got as an American. We got the pilgrim meal which was just like pasta and some pork and French fries. So not really worth the 10 euros. Because that’s like more than 10 bucks and I can get a chipotle burrito bowl for less than that. Tho a Chipolte burrito bowl doesn’t come with wine so…tough decisions. 

And I went to bed so thirsty that I kept having dreams where I was trying to get water but no one would give any to me and I just kept yelling like “I just want water!” 

So a pretty good night all things considered. 

(This photo is from today but I decided to just add it anyway) 

Yes Mom, I Made It

Well…yes mom you were right! 

Because I’m in St. Jean and I even made a friend. I actually made a couple friends. And one of them is even Italian. 

I noticed a large group of backpackers waiting around the bus terminal area. So I decided better just see what they’re about which is how I ended up walking straight over to Billy from Oxford and Sam from the U.S. who were (no joke) having a conversation about Brierley–the author of the guidebook everyone has. Billy has the same but Sam had something different. 

After some confusion about where to go, the bus from Bayonne to St. Jean pulled up. I’m assuming that in the summer months they have a directbus because   there are so many tourists.

And I ended up sitting next to Rob from Wales, who is probably in his 50s or 60s and doing the walk for like the 3rd time to support his wife that has cancer and stuff. So he’s pretty much amazing. 

And he was telling me in the hour long ride (a beautiful countryside I might add) that he was hiking in Nepal during a civi war and civil was the word because these rebels March out of the jungle with AK-47s but all they want is money to support their cause. So Rob gives them money and then they give him a receipt so later when he’s trekking he can show the other rebels the receipt and be like “oh no we already paid for the cause” 

And so we arrive in St. Jean. And no one has any idea really where I go and so we’re all kind of following each other and this is when I meet Daniel the Italian who lived in California for a year and likes Kevin Hart. Becuase he has this idea of a hostel he wants to go to. So at this point I’m still with Sam, Billy, Rob, and Daniel. In addition to the crowds of pilgrims previously photographed. But we get stuck getting a pilgrims credentials and Daniel already had a credential and Sam has booked her hostel way in advance so she goes there and Billy from Oxford, Rob from Wales, and I get in line behind a bunch of Koreans who at taking forever because they have no idea what is going on and no one speaks English, let alone Korean 

But soon enough Billy, Rob and I get set up with Patrice. And keep in mind this “pilgrims office” is like a long folding table in the narrow room and 5 French (well Basque) people are behind the table dealing with pilgrim after pilgrim and explaining all these details which we then have explained to us by Patrice. 

Who is this small basque man who think he is hilarious and keeps blabbering and blabbering on in French to which is three English speakers are like “uh..” 


But he keeps giving us all this advice and we are not understanding a word of it and he’s cracking jokes but we’re just nodding and laughing and swear to god this whole process goes on for about a half and hour and we really aren’t getting anywhere. And finally we get our credentials and our stamps and Billy asks about the municipal hostel and they’re like “it’s full” and we’re like…”well fuck”. 

 So that’s how we ended up at Belari which Billy will say I decided but I strongly disagree because we got in there and they were like 30 euros and I was kind of like “ehh” but then Billy was like “I think everywhere else is full”. So we were like sure.

And then this perky-ass Southern woman comes and tells us about the hostels “quiet hours” and how if we want we can go up to the meditation house. Or we can write our intentions and add them to this thing. And Billy and I are just looking at each other like “what the fuck“. And she’s talking about finding your inner Camino and shit and were just cracking up. 

And then two women in the hotel were from Minnesota. And the one woman had just been in Malaysia! So I freaked out a little bit over that. 

After probably the best shower of my life I ended up wandering around the town with my new Italian friend Daniel who used to live in California so he loves all the things in America and I love all the things in Italy. Though he’s from the north and I’m from the south which means we have to be enemies.

And then (after being so freaking tired)  we had to play kindergarten games where we threw an imaginary ball to introduce ourselves and Billy and I are just cracking up because it’s such total bullshit. But finally we got food. And I fucking devoured it. And by then almost everything was totally closed so we couldn’t buy any food and we just wandered for a bit more and then I passed out because at that point I hadn’t had a proper nights sleep in what felt that days. 

Sorry, I Don’t Speak French

I made my first friend on the plane on the way to Biarritz (yes mom, you told me) but unfortunately I left my first friend shortly thereafter. 

It began in the Paris airport when I was approached by a friendly young French man (of course) named Oscar who was heading to Riga, Latvia. And he asked me where I was going and then if I was with the girl who I had sat down next to and I said “no” which prompted the necissary introduction to Ellen from Canada who lo and behold was on the same flight as me! 

Hold up this bus ride is beautiful so Imma come back to this blog post in a hot second.  

  And then “what seat are you?” “24E” “I’m 24F!” And that’s how I ended up spending 2 hours with Ellen from Canada and remembered that people are nice and that I am not in fact socially inept and I can carry on a conversation with a complete stranger.  

After a nice talk with Oscar from France who most definitely initially started talking to me because I’m beautiful. Typical. Me and Ellen boarded our plane. 

And I made my plane to Biarritz

Which I was worried about, but turned out to be totally no big deal. When I got there however…that’s when my plans became a great big nothing. 

But Ellen was going into Spain to work at this camp and this guy was supposed to come and pick her up! So after a little bit of waitin and wondering this guy shows up and I’m basically like “hey, she thought maybe you could help me get to St. Jean”

Let me clarify that there are two St. Jeans. There is St. Jean de Luz and St. Jean Pied de Port which is the right one. 

But that was way out of his way but he said he could drop me at some little town that was on a different Camino path…and then for a second I was gonna be like “yeah” and I even walked to the car with them like “yeah, I can do whatever” but then I started to get disappointed that I wasn’t going to St. Jean and I was like…wait nah I’ll just try to get to the right one. Who knows. 

So the I got on a bus to Bayonne which is nearby Biarritz and that was easy. And then I got to the train station and they had pilgrim tickets to the right St. Jean. So I bought me one of those.

And then I went in search of bathrooms but it turns out that in France they camouflage the bathrooms so they look like the wall! So after an embarrassing couple of minutes wandering around looking for bathrooms that are supposed to be right here! Someone just appears from a magic door and I’m like…oh that’s how it works. Also bathrooms in the France have an exit button and no door handles so if u can’t tell that it’s an exit button because it is labelled in French and you don’t speak French then you will have a momentary panic attack when you think you are trapped in a scary dark bathroom that everyone probably thinks is just a wall. 

The Not Official Camino Packing List

This packing list was brought to you in part by Old Navy



#packinglight #packingREALLYlight

And in truly Brenna-worthy style it is the day before I am leaving for the Camino and I have been packing for about 3 hours. Lucky for me, my mother has done this trip before and happened to have many of the things that I need, including a fancy light sleeping bag and the happy purple backpack that I will carry everything I need.

And the rule of this trip has been: 

Pack Light!

And that is the only rule! 

Everything must be practical, comfortable, necessary, but I also have to be able to toss anything at any given moment when I decide that it’s too heavy and not worth the pain on my back to lug around with me.

Oh boy!

So the (non) Official Camino Packing List of this gypsy gypsy traveller is as follows:

3 Shirts (2 tanks, 1 tshirt)
4 Bottoms (2 shorts, 1 pair of yoga pants, 1 pair of leggings)
1 Rain Jacket
3 Pairs of fancy hiking underwear (that I had to shell out $20 for each! Goodness gracious REI have some pity on the poor traveller)
2 Sports bras
1 8ft Towel (probably gonna be cut up later)
1 Hat
2 Knee braces (because I am an old woman obviously)
1 Pair of walking shoes (Salomon is the brand that I have chosen and they are bomb as hell)
1 Pair of good sandals (for drying my weary feet after a long day)
1 Day pack (that’s my little backpack that folds into itself until it’s practically nothing–this was one of my Christmas gifts because I’m a big traveling dork)
1 Passport
1 Camino Guide Book (John Brierley’s A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago)
1 Headlight (for when I decide to spontaneously go treasure hunting obviously)
1 Sleeping bag


For my smaller essentials I’m bringing

Sunscreen (because it’s going to be boiling hot lava in Spain)
Arnica (that would be homeopathy for soreness)
Bandaids, Neosporin, and Compeed (for the inevitable blisters)
Sleeping Pills (because of snoring)
Ear plugs (also because of snoring–not my own, other people’s)
Eye Mask
Leuko tape (for taping my bandaids to my feet)
Needle and thread (because what you do is bring pull the string through your blisters and then leave it in to drain out all the puss and shit–oh this is just so lovely)
Vaseline (to rub all over my feet. all the time. every day.)

I’m anticipating reaching the peak of my personal sexiness over the course of this trip. With pussing blisters, burnt skin, and smelly clothes that I’ve been sweating in for 40 freaking days. 

So where is my head?

To be honest,

It still hasn’t really dawned on me. I actually bought my ticket from Paris to Biarritz yesterday.

So the moral of the story is that my traveling mindset is just kind of like: well fuck it. It’s probably going to be fine.

Doesn’t this sound like the way I was thinking going into Malaysia? Don’t I keep telling myself “hey Brenna, why don’t you prepare for these trips where you are alone in a foreign country!

Because I guess I go through life with some sort of little belief that everything is going to be okay.

So why the Camino?

Because honestly I need a break. I’m 21 and at that point in my life where everything seems to be happening at once. Everyone seems to be going everywhere and nowhere all at the same time and sometimes it’s just like I’m in the middle of this maddening race and all I can think is

Where the hell am I going? 

So I’m not trying to expect perfection. I can’t let myself set my sights too high for this trip. But I need a little pause. I need to make friends with myself again.

So here goes nothing.

Estoy Lista. Probably. 

Malaysian Bound Page

So because I am continuing this blog with stories of my Camino experience, I put together all of my posts about Malaysia into a separate page called Malaysian Bound.

Right now, it doesn’t have any of the pictures…so I will probably have to go back and add all of those later.

The Journey Continues


After almost a year, loyal readers–

The Gypsy Life Continues!

My restless spirit could not quite make it a full year without another adventure. What can I say? I’m addicted to the energy in the world! And this time I am heading to—


I am setting off to complete the Camino De Santiago. 

For those why don’t know

The Camino de Santiago, also known by the English names Way of St. JamesSt. James’s WaySt. James’s PathSt. James’s TrailRoute of Santiago de Compostela,[1]and Road to Santiago,[2] is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes (most commonly theCamino Francés or French route) to the shrine of the apostleSt. James the Great in theCathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many take up this route as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth.

Thank you Wikipedia. 

So basically I will be walking anywhere from 10-18 miles everyday for 35 days! 

I am also going alone.

And to be honest…I am scared shitless. 

But also excited.

As my semester was drawing to a close, I wasn’t really feeling motivated to get any sort of new job or internship or anything. It was mostly likely a byproduct of the fact that Mercury has been in retrograde for the last month and as the very sensitive air sign that I am…it has been making it very hard for me to make decisions.

It was a crazy transition out of my semester abroad and back into my real life in California. And after a lot of crying…I’m pretty much over it, but there is something about just working and taking classes and going about this typical grind that really starts to wear on you. So I needed a break. Kind of like an escape, but basically some sort of trip where I can just…breathe. 

And so I will walk. I will walk until my feet are bleeding most likely, and who knows? Maybe I’ll even find some enlightenment or something.


This Is The Last One, Folks


I wrote a note and left it at KAB for the next group of people studying abroad and I think this will sound something like that. I came to Malaysia with absolutely no idea what to expect, no idea about Malaysia, and half a mind that this was going to be terrible. And it was hard. There were a lot of times that I felt frustrated and sad.

And it was one night when I was sitting on the roof and listing to Terese play ‘I Will Always Love You’ on the ukulele and I was looking at the stars and I started crying because I felt such amazing bliss. I know for a fact that I was meant to go to Malaysia. It was seriously magical. It’s amazing to feel like you are exactly where you are supposed to be and it’s terrifying to think that I’m going back to unknown.

But I rode and elephant, and saw a music festival, and got pulled over by Malaysian cops, and befriended a monk, and went parasailing, and hiked in a jungle, and rode a lot of buses, and learned some Malay, and made some amazing friends.

I’ve fallen in love with traveling and I’ve fallen in love with all of the places I have been. I love Malaysia for everything that is has been to me. I feel like a new person. New tattoo. New clothes. New patience. New outlook on life.

So folks, it’s been good, right? It’s been a long trek. I’ve written about nearly every single freaking detail of this long trip. Feels like ages ago I was stuck in Tokyo with Kara. It feels like ages ago I was taking that bus to Perhentian Islands. Feels like ages ago I was making my first trip to KL.

So to anyone who’s reading this now and anyone who’s been reading my blog the whole time: Thanks. Thanks for making my story something real. Thanks for saying you think I’m funny because sometimes I think I’m the only one who understands my sense of humor. Thanks for listening.

And if anyone that I’ve met on my travels is reading this. Thanks for making me into this. And to all the other internationals: Thanks for being my family. And thanks to the universe for knowing that I wasn’t supposed to go to Bangkok.

So there’s a lesson to be learned from all of this and I think it’s about how something that feels wrong in the beginning can end up being so amazingly right. And that feels like fate. It really feels like fate.


Terima Kasih Malaysia.

Until Next Time, World.

Last Stop: Australia

So we spent one night in KAB and actually got to meet up with Emily and Shawn because they were there for one night as well. And Ha Sang who was about to leave as well for more travelling on his own. And Baderol came for the night. He’s the Malaysian guy that Leigh and Vicky had met and he had made Emilie this seriously amazing knife with the head of a loon on the handle (cause she’s from Canada, obviously)

And we got some tea with him and then I decided that he should take my guitar, Big Red, for me because I wasn’t going to make the effort to bring it all the way back to the states when I had another great guitar at home. But Big Red was amazing and definitely cured some homesickness for me, and helped me write some good songs so cheers to Big Red!



So then we left KAB for the last time! So many tears were shed.

And we were off to Australia!

No more Asia for me and the change was immediate. Imagine being in a place where everyone speaks English and everything is at least 3 times the price. And you can safely drink the tap water!

And Lenny had booked us in the “party hostel” at Kings Cross and this was shitty because I was feeling sick!

Oh there was so much drama! 

In the airport I was feeling pretty shitty and had been sick and we were at the counter checking into our flight and I had literally just texted my mom a long list of my symptoms so she could give me a remedy when I got super dizzy and then I fainted! Of course I don’t remember it because the next thing I know I’m super disoriented and I just hear “Brenna! Brenna!” and then just like the movies, I open my eyes and Lenny’s face is right there except I like didn’t recognize him at first and he’s like “you fainted” and I’m like “What?” because that has literally never happened to me before in my whole life. And then I notice that there are a bunch of people around and they are all staring at me and some panicking chinese man is like “you were seizing” so I stand right up like “don’t worry I’m fine”

And I faint again! 

And then it’s the same thing and Lenny is like “you fainted again” and then he tells me not to stand up right away which was definitely a good idea. And there’s like a concerned crowd and the AirAsia guy had jumped over the counter. Which is all pretty embarrassing actually. And then I took it easy, but on the plane I felt I was gonna puke and like the whole wait staff got involved in making sure I was okay, which was also pretty embarrassing.

Long story short, it was not the best time to be in a party hostel.

So the first day we take a nap because neither of us slept on the flight and then we go out at night in search of the harbor. And we walk in the complete opposite direction. 

We much have gotten turned around or something, because when we eventually found where we were on the map we were a good 10 blocks in the completely wrong direction. But we got some good pizza which tasted especially good because we hadn’t had decent pizza in ages.

But the next day we made it to the Circle Quay. 


And I thought that the opera house wouldn’t be that exciting but I was wrong! And seeing it was actually incredible. I think that building has some really good energy because every time I saw it on this trip I got excited about it. And then right across it was the harbor bridge.


And so we hung around there for pretty much the whole day and we took a nap in this nice park. And then at night we wandered around for what felt like forever and got Lenny a steak.

We went back to the pier at night and it was super cold so we drank hot chocolate near a heater.


And then the next day we went to the zoo!


That’s a Red Panda!

I was so freaking excited, because those are my favorite animals. My spirit animal actually. And the whole zoo was really nice. It wasn’t like the usually commercially zoos filled with souvenir shops and swirly suckers (unfortunately about the later), but more just animals. And I saw a kangaroo and koala so I feel like I have been in Australia properly. And then I left the zoo feeling kind of like this:


Then the next night we went to Bondi Beach! Which I was excited about because I really love beaches.

So we didn’t want to pay for the stupid trains because it’s like more than 3 dollars to go only a few stops.  So we walked for a long time and then finally got on a bus after a little bit of struggle and made it safely to Bondi. I was missing riding buses anyway. Just kidding. 


And there were actually people out swimming and surfing in this maddening cold weather. But we didn’t swim because we are sane and instead sat and got all sandy because everyone enjoys that.

But I did get sushi and then we walked a long ways more and went back into the city to get dinner. And then at this point we had an established nightly tradition where we would buy some snacks at a grocery store and then bring them into this closed down shopping center because it was warm.

That night Lenny insisted we buy goon which is like really cheap boxed wine in Australia, so we did, and it was shit. As expected. 

Then, the next day Lenny’s mom and her friend Lisa came into Sydney and we met them and then we did the circle Quay and Opera House again with them, which was still cool the second time. And Lenny’s mom loves to tell stories just like Lenny does which was cute and she’s been reading this whole blog too, so yay for people reading my blog!

Love you Grandma!

She brought hidden valley ranch dressing with her and so me and Lenny ate pizza with ranch and felt like kings. It was a good night.

And the next day we went to Manly Beach because I had seen a pretty picture of it and decided that was a place I wanted to go. And it was awesome!


And there were like pine trees around there so we walked a bit around the bay. We really loved walking. The whole Sydney trip was just so much walking!

We got Thai food for dinner and neither Lenny or I were satisfied because obviously we had eaten thai food in Thailand and the comparison just isn’t there.

And then Lenny, his mom and Lisa had to catch a cab to the airport because they are continuing their international travels in Australia, New Zealand and more of Asia. And I had to say goodbye to Lenny, which still makes me really sad thinking about it. I mean, it was only like 4 hours ago. So now I have this nice hotel room that my dad got for me because I was sick and I need sleep before my long flight tomorrow.

The adventure ends tomorrow folks. And I’ll probably have some long summary post, but for now I’m watching Tarzan. And getting much needed sleep for my long flight!!


Brenna And Lenny Do India

This message brought to you by Air Asia, the cheapest airline in the world. 

So, in case you forgot, me and Lenny had found flight to Kochi, India for about 100USD round trip and we had gotten visas from KL after many back and forth trips to the India Visa place and they were sexy.


I had forgotten to add that as Lenny and I are leaving Bali we met up with Ha Sang who was supposed to meet us but never actually made it Gili and the three of us got on the same flight home. And then we get to KL and we only have like a few hours until we would be back in the airport to go to India and then we’re like screw it and we decide to take a cab back to KAB and get a night’s sleep in our own beds before we go.

So then we flew to Kochi! 

And it’s night so we get a cab to our homestay and are greeted by probably the cutest little Indian man ever and then we go right to sleep.

The first day we met our first our first Indian friend.


The first day we mostly just lay around and walk a bit around the Fort Kochi area. Lenny was feeling kind of sick so we had to take it easy for him and honestly the area was pretty small and so there wasn’t a lot for us to do. Though the Indian food was seriously incredible. IMG_3686

Lenny got addicted to the Paneer Butter Masala which is a dish with lots of yummy spices and some fried cheese. I got the variety of Indian dishes which were amazing.

Kochi was right on the coast and there was a beach and these Chinese fishing nets that they put out right in the water.

The second day we walked a long way to get to this recommended lunch place and then that night we went to this Kerala traditional indian show.


The first thing they did was demonstrate the way that the large indian man can move his eyes around and make crazy faces. Then they did this long dance to this music that sometimes sounded like noise and sometimes was really freaking loud. The whole thing was kind of chaos.

Then the next day we went on a houseboat cruise on the Kerala back waters and honestly I was so beautiful.


But the crazy part of it was that the boat didn’t have a motor and instead this small skinny indian man stuck a huge bamboo pole into the water and just pushed the whole boat with that. We actually went like 2 miles an hour through the canals and stuff, and honestly I fell asleep for the last leg of the trip.


And we stopped to see these lotus plants, and this paint-making place, and this rope-making place and we also got a seriously good Kerala lunch so the thing was awesome.

We also bought a lot of fruit and got these weird Indian fruits and there was one that I can’t remember the name of that tasted like toffee and looked like this:


The next day we got a lot of free tuk-tuk rides by agreeing to let them take us to shops on the way and then the shops would pay the drivers for taking tourists to their shops. We drove all around the city with that deal and saw some buddhist temples and ended up buying a couples things, so maybe it wasn’t exactly profitable. We also got to see this stellar view of the city.

That last night we did the coolest thing by watching this show of Indian Music and these were real indian players and the music was so beautiful. They had one man playing the drums and then another singing and it sounded awesome. I’ll have to find a way to post the way that it sounded. Honestly, it was probably me and Lenny’s favorite thing on the trip and I had wished that we had done more things like that.

Overall, honestly we were a little bored at some times, but it was cool that we got to go to India and seriously the food alone was worth the trip.

Yay for India! 

And then we went back from one last night in KAB!




Gili T: Paradise Island

We get up at the crack of dawn (okay, maybe it’s like 7am, but it feels like the crack of dawn to Sleepy Marge) and get a bus to the ferry. Then we take this freezing boat ride and Sarah and Terese break out their ukuleles and play this Malaysian song, but the kicker is that the Indonesian workers also know the song and so obviously a big sing-a-long ensues.


And so we get to Gili Trawangan, this is the island that Lenny has been diving on for the past week. There are no motor vehicles on the island. They do have these little horse-drawn carts but we aren’t classy enough to ride in those. The island is fully of surfers and bums. It’s awesome.

We find Lenny and then proceed to basically bum it for the remainder of the trip. Lenny has been managing to live on the island for about $2 a day. The island is beautiful, and although the sky is a bit cloudy while we are there, we still opt for lots on beach laying.

That first night we find a great live band playing at a reggae bar and then we go back to Lenny’s little bit of paradise by the ocean to camp out for the night.


The next day was Sarah’s Birthday! Well, not technically Sarah’s birthday, but the day before, except she was going to be leaving on her actual birthday so instead we chose to celebrate it the day before.

And we got some seriously delicious pasta for the occasion and we got her all that we could buy on Gili T which was just a post card and a little bracelet.


It was nice to have something to celebrate and not linger on the fact that this was the last time we would all be together! (*crying inside*). And after a beautiful night sleeping right next to the beach again, we had to say goodbye to Terese, Joske and Sarah. Terese was going back to stay in Bali, Joske was going to do Cambodia and Vietnam, and Sarah was hitting Australia before going home.

I definitely cried when they all left. My roomies! :((