Thursday, 14 November 2013

I'm not a lesbian, but...

I'm totally not into girls, like that, or anything, but a couple of the crewbies that have been on the boat recently got me thinking: one of the things that's really cool about having a boat load full of girls is that you have a boat load full of girls. Seriously, it's great. No boys. I've forgotten the last time I spent quality time hanging out with the ladies with not one iota of interest in having any guys join the party. I must have been around nine years old. Ok, maybe more like eleven. Actual quality time, ie. getting to know a female really well and nurturing a genuine relationship, not; 'let's go out and get drunk together because we work in the same office', or a once-a-year catch up session because we haven't seen each other in ages, darling. Being constantly surrounded by girls is so much fun, I'd completely forgotten. 
Honestly, I can't think of a single crew member that I wouldn't love to have back on the boat in a heartbeat. Ok, there might be a small difference between a mouse heartbeat and a human one, but still - I've really enjoyed meeting and knowing all of the lovely ladies we've had here. 

When was the last time you were in an all-girl environment? (Let's be honest, Brian counts as an old lady because he paints his nails, gossips like the rest of us, Mr 'I-don't-repeat-gossip,-so-you'll-have-to-listen-well-the-first-time' and has hair on his chin). I went to an all-girls school, and I think I'm pretty unusual in that. Although school was supposed to be a boy free environment, it never was. For sure, any drama that the cool kids at school had involved a boy, somewhere along the lines. For me, my boy free education changed as soon as I went home and met up with my family: three brothers, not including my dad (who's probably the most immature), innumerable cousins and whoever else was hanging around at whichever activity I was being ferried to. 
 
The reason that we all get along so well on the boat? Because we rock. (Boat...rock? Geddit?) Apologies, that was lame.

Seriously? It's just an idea, but maybe it's because we're all kind of the same, even though we're completely different - to be this far from home (like most of us are) you have to have a certain degree of adventuresome spirit; the strong desire to travel the world and the independence to make it happen. Plus an open mind for new experiences (definitely useful here!). That's where the similarities pretty much end. We represent a long list of personality traits - some of us are bold, others are shy, most are intelligent (I'm probably the exception to prove the rule) and not many are serious. Everyone who's been here has enjoyed having fun and has hopefully found a situation where they're able to do that. 


 And please answer me this: where else in the planet would you find this kind of solidarity between females? Typically when we think of our relationships with other women, it's the one at work we hate, drives us crazy or is stupidly incompetent. Maybe she's the one that we're secretly jealous of, although we'd definitely be the last to admit it. Perhaps we're paranoid that the unknown 'other' has an eye on our man? For whatever reason, girls have never got on so good as when they're on this boat. I suspect the biggest reason for this is because there is no competition. And therefore, no jealousy. Nobody is getting dressed up for a night out, so there's no desire to find the smallest thing you have in your wardrobe, or spend ages perfectly applying your makeup. 

The other thing is this: maybe because we know that we're living on a small space, we HAVE to get along. There's no point in being bitchy because, guess what? You're stuck with that person whether you like them from the beginning, or not. In general, I think that people who travel have given up the way of life that they might have led at home: like catty remarks and back stabbing. People who travel don't have time for that shit, because they're too busy doing cool stuff instead. 


On the boat we can be as weird as we like, and have fun with it too. No one is judging. Nobody is thinking: 'I'm not gonna have a solo dance party, butt naked, on the roof tonight in case some guy walks by and thinks I'm strange.'

Here's a list (in order) of all the wonderful women that have been on this boat and a very short description of why they're great.

Julie: Fantastic Latino temper, makes brilliant cocktails, is a great going-out buddy and always a laugh. PLUS a great dive buddy.
Anya: Sings like an angel, accompanied by a Ukelele. Seriously, the world needs this album. Plus your great party poses in every picture!
Rosie: Team GB! It's always fun to have another Brit, especially one that vigorously debates proper English usage with Americans. Good luck on the rest of your one man crusade! PS any mistakes were just a test for you! We had some good days and even better nights :-) 
Laura: Truly an inspiration to me that you can have your cake, eat it, travel the entire world before you're 30 and still be skinny. I wish I were even half as cool as you are.
Venus: Happy tea. What? More proud of your antics than I can even say ;-) Also playing 'computer music' at 8am...Err thanks!
Sandra: Can you just come back already so I can look at you in a bikini? 
Anna: Excellent bread/pizza making capabilities, good to chat with, incredible sleeping abilities (ok I know it was seasickness, but still, three days - WOW!)
Pelin: Belly dancing on a random boat full of Chinese tourists, ohmygosh!DOLPHINS!, talking love, boys, hair(!) and the magical coincidences of the Universe.
Mercedes: A super sexy, interesting French/Spanish businesswoman, always up for a drink, laugh and a seductive dance.
Kitty: I don't understand why you're not married yet. Thai cooking AND massage AND being super cute AND hilarious. Someone propose to this girl and give her some babies!
Hannah: So laid back, she's basically horizontal. Another super strong, inspirational lady who's already done so much and I'm sure - so many more interesting projects to do. 
Rachel: Resident whale expert extraordinaire, consistently suggests good movies to watch and generally one very hip lady. WITH A FIRE STICK!!!!!!
Bri: Great photographer with some interesting stories.
Renie: Super awesome diver, wish I'd learnt more and very useful around the boat!
Kate: Beautiful, funny, intelligent, friendly and energetic craziness (well I've got good taste in Besties) but very amusing co-ordination (no one is perfect, but Kate comes close).
Delina: Good 3D design skills (Thanks Jeff!) and a fantastic eye for a picture. Also a great translator (a thousand thanks for that miserable job!).
Ronnie: I love UNIcorns, UNI-uni-UNI-corns. I love them! They love me! They're so LOVELY! UnNNNNnicORNS! LAlalala-laaa U-NI-CORNS! Uni-UNI-uni-CORNS! i LOVE UniCORNS! 
Siem: The only person on this boat that's ever given me the physical beating I deserve. Although it's a bit dangerous at that age to be so violent! ;-) My most favourite older brother in the world.
Lo: A lady I have massive respect for, because you're just as sensible and down to earth as my mother. Plus, very good at riddles.
Emily: Pretty calm in a storm, as long as there's wifi in range! Also very brave/and/or/stupid - Enjoy Madagascar (you MUST be there by now!?)
Linda: What's not to like? A very wise and kindhearted lady, who is in such a cool place right now with her choices of everything.
Petrina: Dancing naked on the roof? I won't tell anyone if you don't!
Wanda: We didn't have you for long enough! Come back and tell me more about Canada!
Madara: Patience of a saint, poor Madara is in a situation which I know is incredibly uncomfortable for her...having to sit back and accept help from others instead of being able to give it. If only she realized we're only too happy to fulfill her needs. Best wishes for a painless recovery! :-)
Harpa: The coolest and most inspirational Icelandic person that's ever been on the boat. Even though you're the only one, you're supercool, incredibly interesting and so creative sometimes it hurts my head to follow your insightful thought processes.
Jof: I'm holding your batik to ransom until you come back to collect! Oh yes, you know it. Plus please come and make lots more delicious Philippino food :-)
Matilda: A very sleepy arts-and-crafts-angel who unfortunately suffered a severe head injury as a small child which explains much. But not everything. Unknowingly hilarious, very good company and a motivation to the rest of us!

I'm not a lesbian, but I love these girls!

Plus a quick shout-out to the three 'boy crew' we've had in this time:

David: A super help with the mechanical stuff when Brian's mechanics (his back) failed to do the job. Very interesting guy and quick to develop a 'bromance' with Brian.
Niall: A totally biased Key Lime Pie judge A great help in the kitchen, an excellent flutist (sorry parents) and such a sweet family guy it was a shame to take you away from the rest of the happy family tribe.
Alex: A quick learner (on the intricacies of 'girl talk'...hair and make up and other stuff) with a very funny sketch of Austin Powers and the downsides of living with Bieber hair.








Monday, 11 November 2013

3,400 miles on a motorbike

 Everyone is driving on the wrong side of the road here
I never thought I'd tell a story about the time I spent nearly three weeks solid sitting on the back of a motorbike, but that day is finally here. 53 hours of driving time, straight, each way, (and we didn't go straight). It seemed like an incredible idea before we left, and more amazing in hindsight, that we're still alive to tell the story. It's also easier to remember the trip fondly as time passes - I'm slowly forgetting how much pain I was in! 

My driver/boyfriend at the time, Dhevon, hails from a town near Jakarta, the messy capital of Indonesia. He lives in Labuan Bajo, which is where our trip originated. For some reason, it made sense to travel by motorbike the massive expanse of Indonesia - including nearly the entire length of Java, to get to his hometown in time for the festival of Idul Fitri - which is spelt differently depending on where you are - anyway, the festival at the end of Ramadhan, which is typically a big celebration with your friends and family, with lots to eat.  

Just about space for 2 people...
There were plenty of stops along the route - I joined the party from Lombok, while the boat was having fun at Gilli Air. One 20 minute ride took us from the Gillis to Lombok, and a 4 hour drive through the mountains of Lombok to the port on the other side. A five hour ferry ride took us to Padang Bai, on Bali (fast boats are available directly from the Gili Islands in less than 1 hour, but are unable to transport motorbikes). And then straight to Ubud, a beautiful spot that we enjoyed so much we spent a little longer than expected. 

Hanging out in Ubud was such a contrast after the dust and grime/sand of Labuan Bajo and Gilli Air - there are at least 4 Polo shops that we saw in town! Along with plenty of awesome eateries. There is a fantastic 'Padang' restaurant located on the main hill through town. Padang food is some of the best I've eaten in Indonesia, and although it is the specialty of one area (No prizes for guessing it's name: Padang) it can be found throughout the country and even internationally. 


Rolling rice fields of Bali
We spent an afternoon visiting the rice terraces, which is a beautiful valley with carefully sculpted narrow strips of clay for farming rice. There was also a drive to Kintamani where we saw Gunung Batur, along with the surrounding lake. Although we hadn't had enough of hanging out in the tourist-friendly Ubud area, or the delicious food, it was time to leave for the rest of our trip. 

Highlights of mine along the way: a totally wrecked, burnt out minibus, that had been mounted on a concrete plinth as a grim reminder to drivers to slow down before the sharp curve at the bottom of the steep mountainside road. Sorry, I wasn't quick enough with the camera to get a photo of that one! 
Meeting plenty of new friends and learning enough bahasa to understand the following conversation that we had with nearly everyone:

Stranger: Where are you going?
Dhevon:Jakarta
S: Where did you travel from??
D: Labuan Bajo, Flores! 
S: On a motorbike? Are you crazy?!
D: No. 
Me: My butt thinks 'yes!'

My next favourite stop was in Jogjakarta, which is the arts and crafts capital of Indonesia. I was in paradise! After studying the batik process very briefly way back in school, I decided it was high time I invested in a kompor or 'machine for melting wax' (whatever that's called in English). Plus the wax. And some tjantings. Plus material. Oh and then dye, when we got back in Bali...somehow I've managed to choose the least transportable hobby possible to take with me on the rest of my travels. 

Whilst doing my best to avoid getting back on the motorbike in Yogya, we did a couple of day trips - firstly to see the fantastic sunrise at Borobodur (a large Buddhist temple) which we arrived at in good time for the sunrise on top of the nearby hill. I've never seen such spectacular scenery - watching the first rays of light appear behind a smoking volcano and slowly lighting the valley before you, complete with tendrils of mist in the bottom of the valley with the highest parts of the temple poking out. It was inspirational.

 Also to Prambanan (a Hindu temple), the Royal Imogiri Cemetery which was interesting despite being mostly shut for the duration of Ramadan and inside the old walled Kraton, the inner city of Yogyakarta with Palaces, reception halls and the water castle spread out within it's gates. As well as a market or two, a batik factory (to learn my new craft) and some dancing on the street!

Leaving Yogya/Jodja/Djoja we decided to take the scenic route through the mountains and were happily surprised when we stumbled across Saturday night in a fairly small town - Magetan. This was one of those times when travelling without a plan really worked out. We ate dinner in a restaurant packed with Muslim families who were waiting to hear the call from the muezzin before they could begin eating. Wandering out into the square outside after eating we saw loads of young people hanging out - eating snacks from the many vendors, playing fairground games or hiring neon-lit bikes/vehicles to do a turn around the park with their friends. It was a great and completely unexpected night (that might have been why it was so much fun). Being the only bule around meant I was treated to a lot of stares and requests for photographs. One such example was a group of young girls who spoke excellent English. They asked for a photo with me, which I happily agreed to, before they admitted they had no camera so I'd have to use my own!


The temples at Prambanan
We stopped off at the village on the way to Jakarta for one night. Finishing our journey in Jakarta we relaxed, met old friends, hung out and tried not to offend anyone by eating on the streets during the day. A great day trip was Taman Mini - a sort of theme park with different sections where you could effectively travel the whole of Indonesia in a day. I especially enjoyed the cable car ride over the whole area, where we had a good overhead view of the central lake which has artificial islands in it, creating a large aerial map of Indonesia.

The family vehicle
A couple of days later, we rode back to the village in almost double the amount of time it had taken us to get there - Delina's dad told me it was one of the biggest annual migrations of people anywhere in the world, when around 9 million people leave the city to go back to their homes for the celebration. On the last day of Ramadhan I tried to see if I was able to fast for the entire day. Although I woke up at around 4am to eat before sunrise I caved at lunchtime! 

The day of Idul Fitri itself was very interesting to me, as was the village life in general. I'd done henna for Dhevon's sister, Maya, which meant that half of the girls in the village wanted some before I left. 

I learnt about the lovely traditions the Indonesians have when greeting people - if the person is older than you, you kiss their hand after you shake it. If you are not that close to the person, it's acceptable to shake their hand, then touch your hand to your heart. Also when giving/accepting anything you should grip your right elbow with your left hand to show politeness. 

 We started with a visit to the graveyard to pay our respects to the dead members of the family (everyone else started with a visit to the mosque first thing in the morning) which is a slow process to get there and back, because you have to greet everyone you meet on the road with a handshake/kiss (and working out who should get what is no mean feat when you don't have an example to follow!). On the way back home, you call on close members of your family (basically in this village everyone is family...some first cousins were getting married shortly after our visit). The village I went to had a predetermined order of age in which you should visit; the eldest being the first you should go and see. I should just mention that at every stop you are basically force-fed cake/sweets and made to drink tea or water. After the last month of not being allowed to offer visitors refreshments if they came to your home, the Muslims were desperate to make up for it. In some cases, this was not enough; many family members wanted to feed me too. I think I ate around 5 meals (with second and third helpings being pushed onto my plate) which were incredibly difficult to refuse.

After stuffing ourselves silly for two days we eventually had to make our departure - there were some fifty plus driving hours between ourselves and Bali. On the way back we managed to discover an incredible 80m waterfall almost by accident: we didn't quite make it back to our favourite spot of Magetan from Yogyakarta and asked in our hotel if there were any tourist attractions nearby. We decided to go first thing in the morning, before the next long days ride. There were several things you could do there, including tubing down the river for a bit, or take a zip wire across. It's interesting how cheap these things are when you find an area where all the tourists are locals. It cost less than $2 to go across on the zipwire, despite the presence of 6+ staff kitting you out with the harness, a helmet and all the rest of the safety precautions etc. Doing an activity like that in an equivalent location at home would doubtless cost an exorbitant amount of money. As the only foreigner in the area, everyone watched me and clapped when I finished, although I'm still not quite sure why. Dhevon also overheard some local ladies admiring my outfit (jeans and a t-shirt) because it was respectful to the local culture. It's nice to know people appreciate it when you show you are aware of their customs. 

It was a fantastic trip altogether. It was great to live with a family and get an insight into the Muslim way of life, which is something I really didn't understand too well before. Also it was nice to have the freedom of the bike (despite the sore butt) in that traffic times were majorly reduced, and it was possible to stop anywhere we wanted, unlike on a bus. Having said that, I was very glad to see the boat back in Labuan Bajo at the end of my trip!






  


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Meet my families

Back when my real family was cute!
A family is an interesting concept, with many different opinions as to what makes one. Aristotle argues that 'the family is the association established by nature for the supply of man's everyday wants.' It's a pretty cold definition which might be expected from someone who's been dead for 2.something millennia. The OED defines a family as 'a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit'. In my experience it's a collection of people you are very close to, but not necessarily biologically related to, usually sharing the same living area. They're generally difficult to live with and impossible not to have, especially when it's a bad time. 


I consider myself to be extremely fortunate. My biological family are literally the best I've ever had. Jokes aside, they're fantastic, and I wouldn't be who I am without their constant love, devotion and bundling. Not only do I have this brilliant group of tall people that are related to me by science, I've also inherited a few other families along the way.

A travelling family
With any type of travel, you will meet other travelers (excepting, possibly solo unassisted sailing, and travel outside our atmosphere...although nobody has convinced me yet that outside contact has not already happened out in space). In Asia, everyone and their grandmother wants to be your friend. Sometimes an abduction adoption can take mere minutes when your cab driver decides you really need to see this amazing local attraction/shop/restaurant - and other times it can be an experience that takes weeks, or months, but stays with you for years. Some of these situations can become just another part of a travellers' daily life - the woman sitting next to you at the station who is desperate to feed you and see you safely on the way to your destination, despite dangerous language barriers that somehow result in you eating roast snake in a disgusting local concoction that brings tears to your eyes but you bravely force down whilst hiding the tears by smiling blindly at everything around you. And of course, ending up staying with said woman overnight as you miss your transport while you're busy throwing up. The other types of experiences are the ones I want to write about - the families I'm part of, at home with, and welcomed into anytime I should return.  

I've been adopted throughout my travels, more times than I can mention. Firstly in Burma, where I lived with a family in Yangon, despite the fact that my family were risking trouble with their government for hosting me illegally. Apart from the fact that it's plainly ridiculous for the government to regulate the visitors you can and can't have in your private home, it makes me feel warm to know that people who barely knew me at the time were willing to have me, despite the potential dangers to their safety. I imagine the attraction for them was the same for me - a cultural exchange, where we could ask, observe and learn about each others' lifestyles. They took me to Naypidaw, to stay in a tiny village with no electricity, or vehicles where we actually got into trouble with the local police/immigration officials who did not want me to stay with the family. They (the ten officials present) all took notes, by candlelight, as me and my family were asked every ridiculous question under the sun, and then some. After 90 minutes of this ridiculous fa├žade, where they accused my lovely sister of taking me away from the other tourists for "mercenary" reasons (we suspect they don't allow home stays because it loses hotel tax money for the government) we were allowed to leave. I was escorted to an expensive hotel.

Eating with my brother and sister
Despite the problems we had I was so happy living in that simple Burmese home. To me it represented so much - the previously oppressed country had become free enough that I was able to be there. Not only that, but interacting with locals who mostly have never seen a Westerner before was an incredibly refreshing experience. Anywhere else on the tourist circuit of South East Asia - you step off the bus and the people who are hanging out to sell something spot you and make a beeline for you. In Burma, the people stopped pestering the locals just to stare at your white skin! They didn't even try to sell me any cigarettes. You can imagine what living with them was like - learning that my mother didn't believe me when I told them I had washed (Burmese people are so modest, that even when they are in a locked bathroom with four complete walls and a ceiling, they don't get naked to shower. They wear a longyi - something like a sarong - wrapped around their bodies which washes with them.) Every time I came out of the bathroom after a shower, my mother would expect to see wet clothes, which I always failed to produce. She would repeatedly ask me if I'd had my shower, even though I thought it was obvious because I'd just come out with wet hair and a damp towel. Eventually I had to resort to hand washing my clothes during my shower so she wouldn't keep asking. 

And of course, they wanted to know so much about my life in England - which team did I support, do my brothers look like One Direction and how much is a watermelon in England? Unfortuntely, I answered incorrectly, which meant that I had a 3.30am wake-up call to come and watch the live match between  'my team' and someone else - as if I know anything about football...naturally I declined and went back to sleep. I learnt how to cook some Burmese meals with my mother, got driven around by my father in his taxi (I also tried to drive the car...a right hand drive vehicle on the right hand side of the road which makes it a lot more complicated than normal driving) got taken to temples, parks, amusement arcades (my young brother) and had such a brilliant time with them that I nearly missed my flight out of the country.


Here on Furthur, the family is best summed up as,'...the place where the most ridiculous and least respectable things in the world go on.' (Ugo Betti). For sure, this is a more accurate definition of the times we share, as a unit on this boat. My Furthur family is growing at a crazy rate - in the last eight months on board I've seen over 30 crew members come and go - sometimes they come for a week after we pick them up in a bar - and sometimes it's arranged through FAC and they stay for three months. Always interesting people, they come from a variety of different backgrounds and jobs in their real lives; teachers, translators, biologists, midwives, doctors, whale researchers, massage therapists and entrepreneurs. One of the translators, Siem, from Holland, recently adopted me as a 'younger brother', which meant actual beatings every day...I let her win sometimes.


One of the full boats we've had - with some great crew
Interestingly, many people assume on first meeting us that Brian and I are actually related - and that he is my real dad. Brian usually responds 'I must be hiding an exceptionally tall [beautiful, smart, lovely] wife somewhere in London'. Although this isn't  technically true (Brian admits he would probably raise serial killers if he was responsible for a kids' upbringing) I feel that that's the most accurate description of our relationship.

My Thai family are very close to my heart. They took me in whilst I was teaching at the same school as Kru Koy, a lovely young mother, who lived on 'the farm' with her parents, her husband, her aunt and uncle, and all of the assorted children and employees (it's actually a shrimp farm with a restaurant attached). It took me about 2 seconds to love the kids - Monster (actually named 'Mulberry' in Thai), brothers Beem and BenTen, their cousins, Til and Milk - an 18year old student who became my very good friend. I spent so many happy evenings playing with kids at the farm after school. There was always something going on that they wanted me to join in - a festival, a party, a religious ceremony, a birthday or a day trip. I had a very emotional day when I left Chiang Rai - not only did I have to say goodbye to all my students and fellow teachers, but also my wonderful family at the farm. I'm not sure I've ever been so sad. Most of my best memories from my time in Chiang Rai involve this collection of people.


After a night/day trip to see the sunrise at Phu Chi Fa, a nearby mountain
These are only three examples of the families I have found myself part of during every day of my travels. My biggest wish is to be able to return the hospitality someday - whether my entire families can visit London or not (or anywhere else I might be living) I would love to be able to host as many of them as can make it, and take care of them as well as they've taken care of me.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Day trip for Dirty Girls

Recently we took a trip out to explore the natural beauty of the Kota Kinabalu area - we sailed out to Pulau Tige, the location of the first Survivor series. One of the attractions of this beautiful island is of course, the volcanic mud baths. Sorry if you were expecting something a bit more exciting based on the title...

 After walking along the excessively long dock where we'd left the dingy we met a group of Chinese who seemed to be heading in the same direction, with the help of a couple of local guides. We bravely entered the jungle first, and began the slightly uphill hike. Plenty of monkeys were jumping from tree to tree ahead of us. The Chinese were laughing and squealing at the monkey antics, or the bugs in the air. Wanda (on the boat just for two days) froze as a loud rustle came from the bushes.
'What was that?!'
Everyone stopped to listen and scan the area around us. The Chinese girls edged slightly closer. Everyone was thinking of all the scary animals hiding out in the jungles of Borneo.

Of course it was only a huge monitor lizard slowly ambling out from the bush and across the path. No reason to panic, then.

When we got there, the guide from the other group showed everyone how easy it was to slip into the mud  - and managed to make it look very graceful.

Our resident geologist identified the mud as 'clay with bits in'. The crewbie, Petrina, comes from the States (the part where they eat road kill for Christmas dinner - Minnesota).

Sitting in the mud was a peculiar sensation  - I've floated in the Dead Sea, but this was different. The mud is so dense that it's really hard to get your feet to touch the bottom (it was only a metre deep). Also the mud was so thick it didn't move much - you could lie back and be completely supported and have a nap if you wanted - you wouldn't move unless you intended to. Who needs memory foam?


While we were sitting there enjoying the very faint smell of sulphur we all had another scare as a large bubble of gas rose to the surface. There was a bit of a 'whodunnit' moment, until we figured out it was a natural part of the volcanic baths.

The only downside was the amount of stuff floating around in the mud - something would be touching your arm and you'd freak out that it was a leech/worm/creepy bug and then realize it was only a leaf! Eek. Mosquitoes were the only insect around (that I found!). We hung out there for a while - one of the guides kindly gave me a nice back massage and helped me rub the mud onto my face.

We made a less graceful exit, as the mud was incredibly slippery. It was safer to risk the unknown creepy crawlies on the ground rather than attempting to wear shoes for the walk back. It became slightly harder to maneuver as the mud began to dry and crack on our bodies. I felt like my face was frozen in a smile from laughing so much.

Me, Wanda and Petrina

At the beach we jumped into the sea and washed off the mud from our soft skin - an excellent spa day in a much more natural and beautiful environment!