Taman Negara Pulau Pinang

Hello everybody and welcome back to my blog!
Today, I will share with you my hiking experiences in Penang, Malaysia.
As you know from my last posts (click and click), I spent five days in Penang after I went to Langkawi.
I met a really nice girl from Holland and we decided to explore Penang’s National Park together, good decision.
Since you should be prepared for everything when you go hiking, we bought two huge bottles of water for each of us and also brought bananas and different kinds of street food to-go.
There is a very cheap bus in Penang, which will take you from the center of Georgetown to the National Park, the bus also stops at Batu Ferringhi. It took us about 10 minutes to get to the Park from the beach and the ticket is only about 1.40RM.
Having arrived at „Taman Negara Pulau Pinang“, you will have two hiking options: Turtle Beach and Monkey Beach. As other travelers told us that Monkey Beach is pretty busy, we decided to go to Turtle Beach and I do not regret it. It took us two and a half hours to get to the Beach and the hike was simply beautiful. You do not need to be super fit for it, but some good shoes are advisable! Be prepared to see a beautiful rainforest with lots of trees, palm trees and even waterfalls. Additionally, you won’t need a guide for this tour, since it is quite obvious where you have to go. I loved that we were able to walk on our own and were not part of a group of screaming tourists.

Around noon we had made it to Turtle Beach and seriously, there were just about five other people there. We walked down a long „bridge“ until we reached a small hut that was standing in the sea. We sat down for almost an hour, listened to the sea and relaxed.
In these moments I always try to appreciate the moment, to be aware of my surroundings and know how lucky I am to be there.

Unfortunately, it began to rain later and we went to a small beach house where we met locals and three travelers. It was amazing to see the rain in the middle of the see and realize that the clouds were about to move towards the mainland.
While the locals offered us hot tea, we sat around and talked to each other, we were stuck in a beach house on a lonely beach at the other side of a National Park.
Reminder: Be prepared for everything!

Normally you can take a boat from Turtle Beach to Monkey Beach, however the rain probably made it impossible for someone to pick us up.
Later we decided to walk to the Turtle Sanctuary, which I cannot recommend.
There are turtles in tanks without anything than water in it, very sad.
Since it was slowly getting darker, we decided to walk back, even though it was still raining. Actually, this was not the worst decision, since it was adventurous to walk through a rainforest while it was raining. We heard lots of animals and had to climb around in order to get over the floated paths.
You will have to be very cautious if you want to walk through a flooded jungle, as you might slip and hurt yourself.
After one and a half hour we finally arrived at the entrance with soaking wet trainers and clothes.

Looking back, it was an awesome adventure. I really hope that I will be able to do more hikes in tropical rainforests and experience more adventures like this one.

Would you like to go hiking in a jungle? Let me know in the comments!

xx, Sophie

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Batu Ferringhi, Penang – and what I’ve learned in two weeks of Solo Traveling

As you know from my Solo Traveling Post, I planned to go to Malaysia on my own. My first stop was Langkawi, two days later I went to Georgetown, Penang.
Although Georgetown is a really nice city with great food an amazing street art, I was not able to enjoy it as much as I wanted to.
Why? Because I did not give myself the time to settle in, to deal with my culture shock and to calm down.
I have always been very enthusiastic when I came to another country.
When I arrived in Langkawi I wanted to do everything at once and totally forgot to care for myself and to listen to my body.
Please do not get me wrong, I really enjoyed my time, but there were two days in Penang where I felt really lost, lonely and overwhelmed. Even though I have never suffered from homesickness before, I started to miss the people around me.
I met really nice people in Penang, but it just makes a big difference if you are traveling alone or with a friend.
These two days I was afraid to walk around alone.
Many people will talk to you in Malaysia, since they are really friendly. But it also happened to me that groups of men were asking me where I was staying and if I was traveling alone, which made me feel quite uncomfortable. I always answered that I am traveling with my boyfriend and smiled. Fortunately they just smiled back and said „Okay, good bye!“.

Do not get me wrong, I do not think that every stranger might be dangerous, but it is still very important to be cautious and do not take to many risks when you are alone.

The next thing that caused a little bit of trouble was transportation.
Personally I feel that it is so much easier to take busses, planes, taxis or an Uber with a friend. At the beginning it really scared me to do all these things on my own but you know what? I got out of my comfort zone and now I know that you can also just walk to a hostel and ask if they have a bed for you, I can take busses, planes, ferries and Ubers on my own because I got used to it.
You will learn to deal with new situations every day! The moment when you realize that you have spent a certain time completely on your own, that you met new people and went out with them and that nobody but you makes the decisions is simply amazing.
After a while you know how to negotiate and how to deal with weird taxi drivers. It is an adventure and you are doing this challenge completely on your own.
If you go on a trip on your own, you will not regret it! Embrace the moment, be aware what you are doing and what you have accomplished.

Additionally, traveling alone does not mean that you will be alone. I recently talked to a friend from the UK about this. People are not the same when they are traveling. They make friends within minutes and behave like they already know each other for years.
When I was in Penang at the beach, Anna from Langkawi texted me and gave me the number of a girl from Holland. We met in Penang and had a great time. She showed me that I do not have to me the highly organized girl from Germany, but that I should be more spontaneous and enjoy the moment. While I planned my whole trip, she just decides from day to day what she wants to do and where she wants to go, which is really cool.
Now I slightly regret that all my flights are already booked and that I will probably not be able to go to Vietnam or Myanmar this year, even though I would love to go there!
On my next trip to Asia, I will just book my long distance flights from Germany to Asia and back. This can save money and you can actually go wherever you want.

Anyway, after having explored Georgetown, I went to Batu Ferringhi, which is located at the beach. The beach in Penang is nice in general, but it also depends on the weather.
I can highly recommend watching the sunset there!
Hope you enjoy the pictures, my next post about Penang will be published very soon!

xx, Sophie

 

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Georgetown, Penang

As you may know from my last blogpost, Langkawi was great. However, it would not stop raining and I decided to continue my journey and take the Ferry to Penang.
Penang is an island in the south of Langkawi and its capital, Georgetown is connected to the mainland through a bridge.

On my third day, I went to the local taxi stand at Langkawi. I met three girls from Japan and we shared a taxi. I would really advice you to take an Uber in South East Asia, since it is way cheaper!
Anyway, the Japanese girls and I took a taxi that brought us to the ferry. I sat in the last row of the little bus and had to find out
that there were several holes in the roof and the rain poured down the seats. Many streets were flooded and it was hard to get through the humongous puddles. After we finally arrived at the harbor I checked in immediately and went to my seat in the ferry. The ferry was old and had two decks, there was not enough place for all the luggage, so we placed it in front of us. The monsoon was not over when the ferry started, the waves were very high and many people got sea sick. A guy who was obviously part of the staff went around and gave plastic bags to the people who got sick. I just tried to sleep but I felt like a was on a carousel.
After almost four hours of horror I finally arrived at Penang and took a taxi to my hostel.

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I stayed at the Ryokan Muntri Beauty Hostel in Georgetown, which was apparently really nice, although the walls were paper thin and the WiFi was not that good. The next morning I got to know my roommate, he is from Scotland and we did our laundry a couple of minutes from our hostel. I was really happy that I met him, since I felt a little bit lost in the hostel. While we were waiting for our laundry to be dry, we went to the “Purrfect Cat Café“ which is a place where you can have a coffee or smoothie and chill out with cute kittens and cats. You have to pay 13RM if you want to go upstairs where the cats are.

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We decided to go for it and we had to read a rule book, wash our hands and take off our shoes first. The rule book contained rules like don’t disturb sleeping cats, don’t feed them and treat them with respect etc. Although the plan was a little bit too small, the cats were treated well, as far as I could see. They probably got some of the cats from the streets, since there are many sick cats on the streets in Malaysia who lost their tail or cats who are starving.
At first, I thought it was a joke but I was really surprised when there were actual cats in the café.

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When we had our laundry done, we went down the street and I discovered the first temple, a Chinese temple apparently. You have to take your shoes off before visiting a temple by the way.

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We also just wandered around the streets and had a look at all the different houses and buildings.

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If you are interested in architecture and art, you will love Georgetown! We discovered so many beautiful buildings when we were exploring Georgetown by foot, I really wish I had taken some photos with my reflex camera.

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In the following picture, you can see the St. Georges Church, Georgetown is named after King George III.

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The next temple we saw was a Hindu temple. Unfortunately we were not able to go inside, since the people were queuing up inside the building and we assumed that it would take us a while to get in.

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Next stop was a huge mosque, they even had a canon in the garden.

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I can also highly recommend going to “Chew Jetty“ which is like China Town. There is a small wooden path with lots of little shops and food places at the sides. At the end of the path you will find yourself on a terrace, looking at the beautiful sea.
Unfortunately it was a little cloudy, even though, the view was amazing.

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After we had explored Georgetown a little bit, we were looking for a restaurant to have dinner.
On our way, we stumbled across a little fire show, maybe a lost backpacker who is saving money for his flight to go back home.

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Make sure to walk down the streets of Georgetown by night, when all the lanterns are turned on and people are selling bracelets, necklaces and other stuff on the streets.

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Georgetown is also very famous for its street art. You will find many beautiful wall paintings at the walls of random buildings in the city. This one was my favorite:

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If you have the chance to visit Georgetown, definitely go for a walk an explore the city!

Have a good week,
Sophie

 

Langkawi, Paradise On Earth

A week ago I started my solo trip to Malaysia. It took me 28 hours to get to the small island Langkawi which is located near the main coast of northwestern Malaysia.
Pulau Langkawi is the main island of an archipelago of around 100 small islands.

I arrived at the island in the evening and directly went to my hostel „Langkawi dormitorio“. I can highly recommend considering to stay there if you ever come to Langkawi, since the people are very nice, the rooms are clean, there is much space for your stuff and the location is great. There is even a rooftop bar on the house which you can visit and meet other travelers and locals.
That evening I already met really nice people, travelers from Perth Australia, South Africa and Ireland.

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The people I met have rented scooters and we went out for breakfast and had nice food at a small restaurant called „Smiling Buffalo“. This restaurant was great, they had different smoothies, Toast, Pancakes (the Mango Pancakes with coconut milk are amazing!) and fruit salads. I am very careful with fruit and only order fruit that you have to peel.
Always remember: Peel it, cook it or forget it!

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The view at the restaurant was stunning! 

After the girl and the boy from Perth left to Borneo in the morning, Anna (Ireland), Bianca (South Africa) and I went on our scooters and drove to a very very very nice beach at the top of the island, called „Tanjung Rhu Beach“. In the following two photos you can see our first stop, but we decided to drive a little further.

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Five minutes later we arrived at a little market where we saw a big a** lizard that was over a meter long. We also saw many monkeys on our way, they just stared at us and did not even move!
Well, we arrived at the market and I can highly recommend buying a coconut there, since they are delicious! We walked about two hundred meters at the beach and discovered this lonely beach:

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There were just some people who cleaned everything for a couple of minutes but when they left, we were alone and very happy! I cannot even describe how happy I was. The weather was really nice, which was a real surprise, since September is obviously not the best time to visit the east coast of Malaysia.

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So we just sat at the beach on our sarongs and enjoyed the loneliness, the sound of the waves and the sun.

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Unfortunately, Anna had to return her scooter in the afternoon, since she had to leave the following day. So she went back to the other side of the island and Bianca and I went to the Sky Cab and the Sky Bridge of Langkawi.

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As you can probably see, the weather was not as good as in the morning in the afternoon, but fortunately it was not raining. At the west coast of Langkawi, you will find something like an adventure park where you can buy a ticket for the Sky Cab, I think it was 55RM. You will find yourself in a glass gondola, driving up to a high mountain over the huge forest.

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There is a nice platform where you can look over the whole island, the view is stunning.
By the way, I took these photos with my mobile and none of these are edited!

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I really wish I had some pictures taken with my reflex camera, but I don’t feel comfortable taking my Nikon with me to the beach. But I made some nice videos with my GoPro which I still have to edit, hopefully I can upload some videos soon!

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At the top of the mountain there was the famous Sky Bridge. It was very windy but again, the view was amazing. It felt like I was almost able to touch the clouds which was apparently the case, since the mountain is really high.

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I love the green color of the forest
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The ocean. View from the Sky Bridge
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The cable car

After we went to these famous attractions of Langkawi, we went to a nice spot near Smiling Buffalo where we could see the sunset. If it is less cloudy, the sunsets in Langkawi will be very nice and colorful. You will probably be able to see amazing sunsets when the weather is nice and when it is not rain season.
The hostel we stayed in is located next to „Underwater World Langkawi“. Not far from the hostel, there is a restaurant which is open 24/7 where we had dinner twice. They offer really nice dishes and you can have diner there for only 12RM, which is very cheap to my mind.

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The next day, there was a monsoon. Nevertheless, Bianca and I went on a Jet Ski tour for 350RM for each of us. The waves were high but it was not very dangerous. It was kind of a private tour, since it was only us and two Malaysian boys who guided us. We were able to see amazing islands, jumped on the waves, enjoyed the speed of the Jet Skies and even went to a big lake in the middle of an island. After four and a half hours we came back, that was probably the biggest adrenalin rush I ever had. I caught many moments on my GoPro, hopefully I will soon be able to edit the videos and publish them here.

Make sure you always try to negotiate with Taxi Drivers, Water Sports people and of course on the market. Never exaggerate it but you should know that you are always paying more than the locals, which is fine for me.
I am really happy that I got to know Anna and Bianca, they are so nice and I really enjoyed my two days on Langkawi with these lovely people.

I hope you liked my little Langkawi tour post, let me know in the comments if you would like to stay on this beautiful island for a couple of days!

xx, Sophie

 

PS: 25RM equals ca. 5 EUR/ 6 USD/ 4.4 GBP

Airplane Thoughts

After five month of working and waiting, I am finally on my way to Kuala Lumpur, where I will start my little Solo Travel journey and later meet my friend in KL.
We will go surfing in Bali, exploring Thailand and later do some Work and Travel in Australia. As you can probably imagine, I am excited as hell. This blogpost is about my „Airplane Thoughts“ and my flight to Langkawi, an island in the north of Malaysia.

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Monday, 6:30am

I set my alarm last night in order to get up early because I want to say good bye to my brother. We have breakfast together, I am not hungry at all. He leaves at 7:00am we both cry but when he has to leave he just wipes his tears from his face smiles at me and takes the bus to school. He is such a tough cookie. I have a shower and go back to bed afterwards.

Monday, 9:30am

My mother wakes me up again and I am awfully tired. My muscles are sore and I could sleep for days. I finish my packing, we get in the car and drive to the Frankfurt Airport.
I slowly start to feel very sick. My head is aching, I feel queasy and my stomach hurts. My mother is laughing at me and tells me that this is just the excitement and that everything is going to be fine. To be honest, I was not excited at all the past few days. It all came very spontaneously.

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Monday, 12:45am

After we finally arrived at the airport I check in and say good bye to my parents. I also pass the security and wait at the gate for my flight.

Monday, 4:00pm

I finally get out of the plane, my flight had over 30minutes delay. I walk down the long hallways of London Heathrow and successfully pass the security. I have to admit that I am always worried when I go through the security zone, since I always forget electronic devices in my hand luggage. Very awkward. When I went to Texas I forgot my e-reader in my backpack and I had to empty my whole bag and they did various tests with my e-reader, that takes some time…
Another story, when I went to NYC, I accidentally wore a sweatshirt with small metal accessories on it. They treated my like a criminal.
Anyway, this is the reason why I am very happy that everything went right.
Additionally, I find out that they offer free non-sparkling water at the airport, so you do not have to buy expensive water and pay high money exchange fees.
I order a Starbucks but they do not have the size I want anymore, so they give me the larger size and charge me nothing for it. I wait at the seating area for my gate information and realise that I forgot to bring a travel adapter, very smart.

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Monday, 6:45pm

Still waiting for my gate to be published, I go to the Travel shop in the airport. I will definitely need a adapter for my chargers so I pick a worldwide adapter and pay 29,99£ (!!!!!) for it. Not cheap at all. My gate is still not published and I am looking for a shop to buy a bottle of water. I run down the hallway and wonder if one of these wheelchair assistants would let me sit in one of these chairs and bring me to my gate 😄

Furthermore, I feel a little uncomfortable in my sports pants, my running shoes and my huge sweater next to all these business people in their suits. However, I get to the point that I am a backpacker now and I decide that I have the right to wear sports clothes rather than business clothes, at least seven month in my life.

Monday, 7:00pm

Gate A10 c. I take the elevator to my gate and sit down. A flight attendant gives me a little feedback card with a link on it, she says everyone who gives feedback has the chance to win a special flight ticket. I kindly thank her and wonder how likely it is to win.

 

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Monday night

I can’t sleep. Fortunately there is a free seat next to me and I can put my stuff there.
After a couple of hours I finally fall asleep.
The flight was not that bad but I am very happy when we arrive at the airport. There is some trouble with the baggage, everything is different here and I have to take a train to get to the other part of the airport to grab my backpack.

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I have to take my next flight which is more difficult than expected. First of all I realise that I am at the wrong airport, luckily I find a french guy who has the same problem and we take the train to the other terminal. Then checking in, passing the security, waiting much longer than expected for my airplane, then I finally make it to Langkawi.

Well, it took me 28 hours to get to Langkawi, the flight was exhausting.
The pictures were taken in Germany, my brother took some photos of me again.

Stay tuned

xx, Sophie

Let the Cowboy rock – The Stockyards Championship

When I decided to go to Fort Worth, I was quite sure that I really wanted to go to a Rodeo, since we do not have anything similar in Germany.
Well, my host family made this dream come true and we went to the Stockyards Championship which is the only one year round rodeo in the world. The rodeo takes place every Friday and Saturday at 8:00pm at the historic Cowtown Coliseum.
If you are interested in the „Cowboy Life“, you will love the historic district in Fort Worth, as well as the Rodeo. Maybe you have watched this movie where a girl fell in love with a cowboy who had an accident and blablabla he wins the champoinship etc. etc. etc. endless love etc. – I had the impression, that Rodeos are exactly like that! I really loved it, especially because my host dad told me lost of things about it. I even wore real cowgirl boots and Levi’s shorts and a huge belt, I felt really texan.

Nevertheless, it is very controversial, if some rodeos treat their animals inappropriately. I have to admit that I am not really informed about animal rights concerning rodeos, some people say animals are tortured in order to become really aggressive during the show, other people say these prejudices are completely unrealistic. I came to the point that I think that buckling is a natural instinct, after the horse or the bull has bucked off the cowboy, they are brought back into the stable and get food and water. Consequently, one can argue that the buckling is conditioned and the animal associates buckling with food.
Personally, I am of the opinion that the Stockyards rodeo cannot afford criticism concerning animal cruelty, since the rodeo in Fort Worth is very popular.
To be honest, I don’t know, but I know that I enjoyed these two hours of my life because I enjoyed this „Texas feeling“.

What do you think about rodeos? Do you know anything about rodeos and would you go to the Stockyards Championship?

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Have a nice day,
Sophie

 

 

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Surf Camp Preparation & Travel related DIYs #2

When I was 7, I watched a movie about surfing. Since then, I always wanted to learn to surf. I already got my Wind-Surfing-License and went surfing in Turkey for two weeks twice. The header picture was taken in 2015 when I went to Turkey during the summer holidays.
However, my main goal was and still is to learn Surfriding without any sails or kites. Just me my board and the wave. This dream will come true in October, since I will spend a month in Indonesia, a three week Surf Camp will be included.

Today, I would like to talk about my Surf Camp preparation and also share with you my second Travel related DIY.
First of all, I pondered over a plan where every muscle will be trained effectively, in order to be in great shape when I will start surfing.
No, it is not about getting that „perfectly shaped bikini body“, it is about strength and endurance.
Consequently, I combined outdoor cardio with strength training at the gym.
I decided to give myself the opportunity to choose between swimming and running and I also split the training at the gym into „leg day“ and „upper body.“
Very simple but I got the most out of it.

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Since it is commonly known that anticipation is half the fun, I also followed this workout plan because it made me feel like I am already travelling at some point.
Of course the weight and the repetitions always depend on my physical condition but I always tell myself: „You already made it to the gym, now don’t waste the time – ROCK THIS WORKOUT!“

One week plan may look like this:

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This plan is my personal plan so you can adjust the weight and the reps. What I love about this plan that I do not have to go to the gym too often and do the same things. I also love switching between different types of cardio. Additionally, I can highly recommend to go swimming the day after an intense workout. Swimming relaxes my muscles and simply feels good!

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Anyway, you may have noticed that I included „Balance Board Training“ which leads me to my second Travel related DIY: A Balance Board for -you won’t believe it- balance training. Many surfers use this tool to be able to improve their balance and buy expensive Balance Boards. I really wanted to try this type of training but I did not want to spend over 100€ for it so I bought some stuff to craft my own board.

For the DIY Balance Board you need:

  • a piece of (birch-)wood 90x60x2,5-3cm (I prefer birchwood since it is solid wood)
  • two pieces of to support the board and to edge the area where the pipe rolls
  • a robust pipe with a diameter of ca. 10,5cm
  • an over-knee sock where you can put in the pipe in order to prevent the pipe from slipping
  • wood glue
  • a jigsaw
  • a normal saw
  • 10 screws that are not longer than 4,5cm (if your wood is 2,5cm thick)
  • a drill
  • a pencil
  • a tape measure
  • a yoga mat (optional)

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1. Decide what shape your board shall have and paint it on the wooden panel. I chose a fish board shape.

2. Use the jigsaw (CAREFULLY!! And read the instructions first!) to cut out the board. You can also use a normal saw but a jigsaw will save you a lot of time

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3. Measure the width of your board, is 50cm wide. Now you cut your pipe with a normal saw, it should be as long as the width of your board.

4. You can now put the pipe into your over-knee sock.

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5. Now you want to make sure that the board does not slip away when you step on the complete balance board. Consequently, we now cut two 5-7cm pieces of wood that are as long as the width of our board. (I hope you know what I mean, just scroll down to see what I mean)

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6. If you are happy with your wood pieces and your board you can use wood glue to glue the wood pieces to the underneath of your board. This step will make your construction more secure and robust.

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7. After the glue is dry, you can use a drill to fix your little „pipe barriers“. Make sure that the length of your screws is not longer than the thickness of your barriers and the board.

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If you want to, you can sandpaper the edges of your board in order to prevent scratches etc.. I would also recommend using a yoga mat and a bare or a chair to support yourself if you step on your board the first time. Please make sure that your muscles are warmed up to prevent injuries.
I am not a professional, I do not take any responsibility for your Balance Boards if you try this.
This DIY works for me, I am just sharing my ideas here. Please be careful if you try this, sine it can be very dangerous if you do not pay attention.

Although it may be a little hard at the beginning, Balance Board Training is very effective and you really get a surf feeling at some point.
It is also easy to use because at first it is just about standing on the board and preventing it from touching he ground, which is harder than it may seem.

Hopefully, you like this post and maybe you can incorporate parts of the workout into your workout routine. Please let me know what you think about this DIY and tell me if you have ever taken part in a Surf Camp.

Have a wonderful week,
Sophie

 

 

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