India – lost in translation?

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Travel brings many trials and tribulations, many of which can be attributed to language barriers.

Hand gestures and pointing only goes so far… especially when it comes to finding a toilet… awkward.

What we found in India is how detrimental ‘lost in translation’ situations can be – specifically when it comes to Trip Advisor reviews.

When reading reviews before going to India I picked several spots based on glowing reviews from happy travellers. What I failed to take into account was who was writing reviews… and what they are trying to say versus reality.

So for your viewing pleasure I’ve picked some reviews about places I ended up visiting that weren’t quite what they were made out to be:


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Translation: This review is about a bridge in Mumbai. I mean it’s a nice bridge… but it’s a bridge. I wasn’t excited.


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Translation: If you find peace and happiness in being stalked by hawkers, threatened, attacked by flying animals (these things are too big to be described as bugs) and eyed up by disease carrying stray dogs, then sure… you will find a shit load of peace and happiness and happiness here.


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Translation: “Good natured but persistent” is truly the most diplomatic description I’ve ever heard. This person must be a politician. I watched the hawkers here bully tourists and literally jump on the back of a moving vehicle to try and sell their shit, scaring the bejesus out of visitors.


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Translation: “Great shopping experience”, “For Sale” and “great demo” are interesting perceptions of this marble shop. After watching very talented craftsmen make marble art, we were locked in a room and forced to buy before we could leave. Then were told the owner is a mean alcoholic who is horrible to his staff… So in this case Great shopping experience = forced purchase from slave labour.


So friends, when it comes to Trip Advisor buyer beware… top tips:

  1. Look at where the reviewer comes from – perception is everything and people from different regions of the world to you may have different perceptions.
  2. People are welcome to have their own opinions – even if they are shit and wrong. Don’t take everyones opinion as gospel.

Ok that’s all for now… More actual tales from our actual trip to come soon. For now, rant over, thanks for listening 🙂

30 by 30 – What a ride!

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Well folks, pop the bottles, get out the streamers – it’s official (ok it was official about six months ago) I’ve done it – I’ve travelled to 30 different countries before my 30th birthday!!

When I set the goal five years ago it was in part a pipe dream and in part a way to continually give myself a goal to work towards that was purely fun related, not health, not career – just fun.

And shit I’ve had so much fun achieving it along the way. From seeing great sites like the Taj Mahal or Eiffel tower to being extreme like paragliding in Austria and… and… ok who am I kidding I’m NOT extreme.

Anyway it’s been amazing, and it’s not over… not by a long shot.

So what’s next? What’s my next goal, my next plan? I’m taking suggestions. Seriously – I want you to help me decide what I should do next… Do I double it before I’m 40? Aim to see all countries in the world? I’m game.

Anyway as you ponder, scroll down for my final list of 30 countries in alphabetical order. Looking at each name brings back so many exceptional memories and I’m itching to make some more.

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(My world scratch map – the gold countries I haven’t been to… it’s on my wall and I look at it longingly everyday)

 

1 America 16 Lichtenstein
2 Australia 17 Malaysia
3 Austria 18 Mexico
4 Cambodia 19 Monaco
5 China 20 Montenegro
6 Croatia 21 Netherlands
7 England 22 Scotland
8 France 23 Singapore
9 Germany 24 Spain
10 Greece 25 Switzerland
11 India 26 Thailand
12 Ireland 27 Turkey
13 Italy 28 UAE (Dubai)
14 Fiji 29 Vatican
15 Japan 30 Vietnam

Scooters, Skyscrapers & Shooting. Welcome to Ho Chi Minh

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As a wise man once said Vietnam is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.

Ok I’m paraphrasing, but it’s true.

One of the true charms of Vietnam is the constant surprise factor. After weeks in Vietnam visiting the beautiful Hoi An, the bustling Hanoi and the serene Halong Bay I thought Vietnam couldn’t have any more surprises in store. Then we landed in Ho Chi Minh.

It is undoubtedly the most developed city in Vietnam, boasting a financial district fully equipped with skyscrapers and (wait for it)… TOP SHOP! Then you head out of the city and get to experience first hand a history lesson like no other at the Cu Chi Tunnels.

It truly is amazing and there’s plenty to see and do. We didn’t have nearly enough time but still managed to jam a lot in. Here are a couple of must-do’s, can’t wait to go back some day and add to the list.

Planning your pilgrimage:


Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels

Yes it’s touristy but it’s a must do when in Ho Chi Minh. Book a day trip through your hotel and head out to see just a small fraction of the kilometres of narrow tunnels that so many Vietnamese functioned and fought out of for years. This trip will teach you more about the war than any history class. And the first hand experience crawling through the tunnels is one that will stick with you.

OH yeah and you can shoot an AK47… I’ve read from some reviews that this is offensive to those who fought and died in the war, but you know what, shut up. If the Vietnamese want to capitalize off a really shit situation by letting me shoot a gun, then good on them.

(Side note: Yep I have no gun skills as seen in the pic)


 

War Remnants Museum

War Remnants

I can’t warn you enough about how disturbing this museum is, but it’s a must do. The museum has hundreds of photographs and exhibitions telling the story of the true affect of the war.

Now I have to tell you this includes fetuses’ in jars that were affected by agent orange. This is 100% as awful as it sounds, but you know what? Look at it. They’ve put it on display to show you how bad things were (and for some still are) so take it in. Please don’t take photos, I mean you can, there’s no rule against it but come on, have some respect. Rant over.

(As you can see by my snap the only photo I took was outside…)


 

Bitexco Financial Tower

TowerIt’s really easy in a place like Ho Chi Minh to not really grasp the sheer size of the place. Well head up the tallest building in Ho Chi Minh and see just how wide spread the city is, it also gives you an idea of how much development is going on.

It’s a little more expensive than other activities in Ho Chi Minh, but in reality it’s costing you $15 instead of $2 that everything else is, so the bank isn’t broken.


 

Shop

At the Cho Ben Thanh Market. It’s full of watches, clothes, shoes, souveneirs etc. all genuine fakes of course. But it’s lots of fun and just remember to haggle, haggle and haggle some more. Or as a friend taught me, offer to pay one very low price for the item and a tip for the seller as that means they actually get some money to take home rather than giving money to the stall owner.


 

Wander

Ho Chi Minh buildingsAs per usual I recommend taking a good walk around the city. Make sure you stroll past the Saigon Opera House, the Post office and Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral. All amazing buildings and a reminder of the various influences the city has had over the years.


Eat

Beer Ho Chi MinhFor the first time in my Vietnam rambles I will tell you to go to an actual restaurant. That restaurant is 4p’s pizza – it is (wait for it) an Asian, Italian fusion restaurant (think Teryaki chicken pizza) and wholly hell it’s delicious. It sounds so wrong when you are in Vietnam to not eat Vietnamese but it’s worth detracting from the spring rolls for just one night. Trust me.

(Sorry no photos of 4P’s so instead you get a pic of another meal we had in Ho Chi Minh… yep there wasn’t just beer, although there was a lot of beer)


 

Alright that’s my reminiscing of Vietnam done for now… But i’ll be back. Mark my words. Love you Nam.

It’s been too long between drinks world… but I’m coming for ya!

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It’s been over 12 months since I have done any meaningful travel… and for someone that lives to travel that’s a lifetime.

In fact it’s why I’ve been so quiet on the blog front, I was having a no-travel tantrum. I couldn’t bring myself to write about seeing the world when the world seemed so far away from my apartment in Auckland.

HOWEVER it is now with great pleasure that I can say that as I write this just over two weeks remain between me and a trip to new countries, new cuisines and new cultures. Oh yeah, it feels good.

So where am I off to?

Well what started as a flippant discussion with friends about meeting up in Singapore for Formula 1 has led to a 3.5 week pilgrimage back to South East Asia and beyond.

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We are starting in Singapore for the mighty F1 (fully equipped with Bon Jovi for entertainment… WHOOP), then heading on to Malaysia (two flights with Malaysia Airlines… hmm) and then on to India.

Yes in true Nic travel form we are seeing a lot in a little and yes that probably means not doing enough in each area. But at this stage I’m still in what I call ‘taste test mode’ with the world, seeing as many new places as possible then figuring out where we want to spend more time.

So for now I’m in full planning mode, organising visas, insurance and itineraries and it’s reminded me of a few top tips for planning travel. Here are a few:

  • Always check if you need Visa’s. We got so caught up in life that we almost forgot to get our visa for India. Fortunately their eVisas make is super easy but it was a little ‘oh shit’ moment.
  • Insurance: Always get travel insurance and don’t necessarily go for the cheapest option. Look at your policy covers and pays out, one I looked at didn’t cover natural disasters for example, and with mother nature rearing her head more often than not recently that wasn’t an option for me. Also check how much will they pay out if you loose your luggage etc.. I know it’s the dull part of travel but read up people.
  • Do an itinerary double check: Usually when booking a big trip you do a lot of planning months before then forget what you booked. Go through, check that your flight dates marry up to your accommodation dates and how much luggage you’re allowed on flights. Nothing like trying to get on a flight with all your recently purchased goods only to find you’re either not allowed that much weight or you have to pay through the nose for the privilege.

Ok that’s all for now, I shall try to resume more regular Pilgrim with a Plan blogging and if it ends up being excited rants about my trip well you know what… #soznotsoz

Happy days!

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Hoi An – A Pleasant Surprise

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Surprises – they can be good and bad.

You come home to find your house burgled… bad surprise. You come home to find a present from your loved one… good surprise.

Hoi An Street

Our arrival to Hoi An was more like the latter… a surprise gift given to us on our journey through Vietnam.

This UNESCO World Heritage site has managed to capture and embody the charming elements of Vietnam’s diverse history. It has been a trade port and home to Japanese, French, Chinese and many other cultures – as such it really is a mixed bag of beauty, from cobbled streets to wooden bridges and vibrant colours of lanterns.

Lanterns

Oh and yes Hoi An is the place where you can get custom made clothing quickly and cheaply. There are stalls upon stalls of tailors who will literally take your measurements one day and have a suit/dress/jacket (WHATEVER YOU WANT) ready for you by the next day.

Charming town and great shopping? You can see why it’s a great surprise…. Get there. Now.

Planning your pilgrimage:


Walk the River

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  • Running through the centre of town is the river. During the day it’s a hive of activity with fisherman, travellers and locals alike. At night it really comes alive. Local kids sell candles in little containers that you float down the river for luck. Lanterns light up the streets. It’s bustling and a great vibe.
  • Please remember too (a local reminded us of this on our trip) the tourist dollar is their way to live, so yes they may seem intense when trying to sell you something but they have lived in poverty for too long. Buy their candle and float it down the river. It’s their livelihood.

Jack Trans Eco Tour – BMW Buffalo Cart

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  • This was by far the most interesting and fantastic thing we did in Vietnam
  • Jack Tran hires local guides, and uses local families to make his tours a true Vietnam experience.
  • As we rode along in a cart drawn by a buffalo, our tour host openly told us of how her family had gone from complete despair to a happy life with the help of the tourist dollar.
  • Bufalo tour 3The Buffalo took us to a farmers house – he had also struggled for years, not making enough money (or rice for that matter) to feed his family. To make matters worse while tending to his rice fields one day he stood on a live grenade which blew off his foot.
  • His daughter ran a day care out of his home, and the little Vietnamese kids were adorable. Our host told us that as a child she called white people ‘hello people’ as that’s what we say when we see them.
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  • What stood out for me on this tour was not the ride on the buffalo (yep you get to ride that bad boy) or the delicious rice the farmer cooked for us, or the beautiful scenery of Hoi An’s farm land… it was witnessing first hand how resilient the Vietnamese are and how despite their trials and tribulations they are still welcoming, smiling and happy. I love them.

Eat at Bale Well

Bale Well

  • Have you ever had the food sweats? Or been so full that you thought you might explode? Well you will experience this at Bale Well and all for under $10.
  • Bale Well is the Vietnamese answer to a smorgasbord. You sit down and the friendly staff feed you, and feed you, and when you thought you couldn’t fit in anymore they feed you again.
  • Salad, spring rolls, rice pancakes, 1000 types of meat (slight exaggeration) oh yes and ice cream for desert.
  • It’s beyond insane and you must do it if you go to Hoi An.

Thuan Tinh Island Food Tour

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  • This is the number one rated activity on Trip Advisor for Hoi An and deservedly so.
  • The tour takes you through the entire meal creation process from purchasing your food at the market, to cooking, to eating. The recipes are simple enough, for those like me who have no idea what they’re doing, but the class teaches you about authentic Vietnamese ingredients, keeping those real foodies happy.
  • Above all that you get to take a little trip in a woven basket boat (see pic) and you get a small insight into local life on your walk from the river to the venue, stopping at local homes to learn about grinding rice.
    Food tour 1

Shopping 

  • Ok shopaholics, sorry it took me so long to get here… Shopping in Hoi An.
  • Tip one: Before you go take pictures of what clothes you want the tailor to make.
  • Tip two: Make this your FIRST activity in Hoi An so to give the tailors as much time as possible to make your clothes.
  • Tip three: Cheaper options are in the market, there are stalls upon stalls of tailors in here and it’s quite intense. You can shop around, and there are some who don’t know what they’re doing. We used ‘Cloth Shop Number Forty One’… they really were on point.
  • Tip four: Be prepared for it not to be perfect – they do pretty well, but there might be a few bits that aren’t 100%.

  • SO there you have it. Hoi An in all it’s glory. There are also beaches, incredible beaches nearby that we never made it to, so the entertainment possibilities are endless. Happy travels 🙂

Vietnam Road Rules – Or Lack Thereof

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Ever wanted to know what it feels like to run with the bulls but haven’t made it to Spain? Try crossing the road in Vietnam instead.

Using the road in Vietnam in any capacity, whether it be as a pedestrian or a passenger in a car is both hideously frightening and highly entertaining at the same time. Some would even call it an adrenaline rush.

As you sit in the back of a van on a highway and see a car overtaking a bus who is overtaking a truck and all coming towards you, you wish you’d paid closer attention to your travel insurance policy.

It’s no joke either, in 2014 nearly 9000 people died in road accidents in Vietnam and almost 25,000 were injured. This is actually an improvement from the year before…

With that said, it’s just part of the experience and shouldn’t deter you from visiting or enjoying Vietnam, you’ll surprise yourself at how quickly you get used to the madness.

But to make sure you’re safe not sorry have a read through some of my road related tips…

Planning your road related pilgrimage:


 

Crossing the road

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You are putting your life in the hands of fate by crossing the road in Vietnam.

With cars, trucks and scooters coming at you from all angles it can be likened to an adult version of the school yard game bull rush, however those charging at you have engines powering them rather than nikes.

There are four simple steps to making it to the other side of the road. They are:

1) Look for a gap in the traffic: and by gap I mean when 20 vehicles are coming at you rather than 60

2) Step out on to the road with confidence: don’t hesitate, if a scooter driver sees you step out they’ll avoid, if you hesitate you are putting you and the scooter driver at risk.

3) Walk very slowly: it goes against all logic, but literally just slowly meander across the road. The vehicles will avoid you. If you move too erratically you’re not giving anyone a chance to avoid a collision.

4) Celebrate: you made it.

Just check out this video I took at an intersection in Ho Chi Minh.

 


The sites you will see

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The way people use scooters in Vietnam is similar to how you might use your car, ute or even truck and trailer for that matter.

They will literally pile anything and everything on their scooter and make it look like it ain’t no thing. What you are seeing above isn’t actually that shocking, yes the child doesn’t have a helmet, but hey she’s safely squeezed between mum and dad… right?

From cages of animals to 3m long pieces of wood, versatility is the middle name of scooters in nam.


Anything goes

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Yep that is a cow on a roundabout. Count your luck stars it’s not on the road… that’ll happen too.

The roads aren’t limited to vehicles, you may run into live stock and of course people selling things.


When in doubt: Do as the locals do

Vietnam Road Rules

As with anything while you’re travelling, if in doubt, do as the locals do.

If, like this lady, they walk along the side of the road, you walk along side the road. If they casually stroll out onto the road and into what looks like imminent death, head on out with them. They know what’s up.


In Nam it would appear there are no road rules, that’s not true, there are, but like everything else in Vietnam they are negotiable and come down to varied interpretation – good luck!

South East Asia – The place travellers dreams are made of

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With beers for under $1, food that your taste buds thank you for and something new to marvel at around every corner – South East Asia is the destination travellers dreams are made of.

After our travels around Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand last year I fell head over heels with the region. Someone told me before I left “you’ll love it, it gets under your skin” – that’s on point.

It may be third world, it may be hot and it may be manic but South East Asia is endearing. It’s my destination of choice and we will definitely be going back.

So on that note for the next month or two I’m dedicating Pilgrim with a Plan to South East Asia, and below is a bit of an overview as to why it should be on your list!

Why plan your South East Asia pilgrimage:


The people are welcoming

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(Kids in Cambodia – I know I’ve used this photo before, but I can’t help but use it again, so cute)

After travelling through Europe, S.E.A was a whole new kettle of fish, particularly in regards to the welcoming nature of the people.

In our experience the people are genuinely willing to help you, feed you, serve you or just have a yarn. Yes their economy is largely reliant on the tourist dollar and yes that helps, but there’s an unrivalled willingness to open their doors to you in a very genuine way. They want you there, they want to find out more about you AND let you understand more about them.


Getting off the beaten track is easy (and affordable)

Cambodia

(Remote floating village in Siem Reap – we didn’t go in rainy season… hence not floating)

One of the biggest catch phrases in the travel world is “getting off the beaten track”. Problem is it usually costs you two days travel and a whole lot of your budget to get off said track… not in South East Asia. Never have I visited countries where it’s so easy to get away from the tourist hot spots and into the eye opening every day lives of the people.

Take the above pic for example, this was taken at a floating village in Siem Reap. I think the locals could count on one hand how many times they’d seen a white person. The beauty of it all? It took us one hour and perhaps $20 to get out there. It was hands down the best part of my trip and I will write more about it in an upcoming blog post.


It’s cheap

Cheap food

(The man with a bottomless pit for a stomach is beaten)

Everything is dirt cheap in South East Asia, buying a beer for 20c is normal and paying $20 each for a room for a night will get you luxury, like free massage and cocktail on arrival type luxury.

A great example is the meal you can see in the pic above. This meal broke Eamon, just look at his face. It was a smorgasbord of epic proportions… the cost? Under $10.


The food is unbelievable

SEA food

(One of our best meals in Cambodia)

On that note, the food may be cheap, but it’s next level incredible. I’m salivating just looking at the above picture.

The thing with food in South East Asia is not just the taste – it’s the colours, the textures and the scents that make it what it is. They have the most incredible way of pulling together a meal that excites so many of your senses and whether you pay $1 on the side of the road or $10 in a restaurant your taste buds will thank you for it.


It suprises you

SEA suprise

(Truck tipped over in Cambodia while people ravage through the contents strewn on the roadside)

Just when you think you can’t see anything stranger you turn a new corner and something more bizarre smacks you in the face (hopefully not literally, but don’t rule it out).

South East Asia is wild, wierd and wonderful. It will shock, suprise and amaze you. Go with it. It makes for a great story back home.


The service is amazing

SEA service

(Standard welcome in any hotel in Nam)

You know when you go home and see your parents after a really long time and they’re super glad to see you and will do anything to make you feel comfortable? That’s the feeling you get every time you arrive at a hotel in South East Asia.

They’re welcoming, they make animals out of your towels and they’ll help you in any way they can, whether that’s booking a trip, making you a drink or just telling you about life in their world.

It’s fantastic.


If that hasn’t convinced you to put South East Asia on your ‘must-do’ list, well you’re a tough crowd, but as promised the next few months will be dedicated to my South East Asia experience.

Prepare for wanderlust travellers!

Humans of the world

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Part of the attraction of travel for me is meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.

You could call me nosy (many have) or you could call me curious, curious to see how others live, what puts a smile on their face and what their struggles are.

Over the years I’ve captured some pretty ace photos of people I’ve met around the world from street performers to children in remote villages of Cambodia, and as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Here’s a collection for your enjoyment:

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Jolly Germans playing a tune in a beer hall.

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A street performer makes sweet beats on makeshift drums in London.

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How the guards at Buckingham Palace can stay still for so long is beyond me.

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A train station in Tokyo, so many people but in orderly lines, organised chaos…

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A friendly lass pours me a Suntory Premium Malt at the museum in Kyoto.

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A belly dancer for the crowds enjoyment in Dubai.

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An amazing group of souls I met on my sail Croatia trip when travelling alone.

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There’s some trick to these involving a fake arm and a plank – regardless it’s amazing.

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The jolly gents who entertained the crowd waiting for buses after the ANZAC services at Gallipoli.

 

 

 

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A street performer and I in London.

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An army of dumpling makers at a Michelin Star restaurant in Hong Kong.

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This beautiful being poured us beer in Hanoi (at 20c a glass) for hours.

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This lovely lady has been affected by agent orange (check out her right hand). She and others affected now make and sell art to help them get by.

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Not a playstation in sight yet the kids are still having fun in Vietnam… Intriguing.

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Eamon with a hat seller in Hanoi – look at her face, she was bemused by us.

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Street vendors in Hanoi trying to keep cool.

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The cutest kids ever in a daycare in Hoi An. Love their different expressions.

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A Hoi An farmer showing us how they cook (note his foot – blown off by a land mine in his rice fields).

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Vietnam road safety 101: Don’t worry about a helmet for the child, just pop her in between mum and dad!

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A puppet DJ on the banks of the Thames in London.

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Children with gangster as moves performing in London.

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Amazing performers at a circus in Cambodia.

Mr Fisher taught us about absenth

Mr Fisher who taught us about Absinthe in Austria.




 

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And finally these adorably hilarious kids from a remote village in Cambodia – excited by seeing us white folk roaming their streets. Too cute!

Turn up, have fun, see sites – Tour Led Travel

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Travelling alone? Don’t really know where to start? Or just want to meet new like minded friends? I have the travel solution for you – tours!

There are so many benefits of joining a tour, including the fact they organise everything for you, you just have to turn up, have fun and see sites.

I’ve loved every tour I’ve done and as corny as it sounds, have met some life long friends.

Here’s a wee comparison of various tour companies I’ve used.

Planning your Pilgrimage:


Contiki

Contiki

Yes I’ve done Contiki, and I had a ball. I was about 22. Two friends and I booked a the European Escapade – 25 days, visiting 10 countries.

Pros:

√  You get a taster of a bunch of places – helping you decide where you might like to explore further.

√  You get to see so much with little personal planning effort.

√  It’s fun, I mean a bus full of 18-35 year olds = great time.

√  We were lucky and had a fantastic group who didn’t just want to get wasted all the time, so we had a ball.

Cons:

√  You are with the same 30 odd people for 25 days on a bus, if you don’t like them you’re going to have an average time.

√  You are on a bus with air con for 25 days – you will get sick with what’s known as the ‘Contiki Cough’… it’s inevitable.

√  You really do whip through places, I mean two nights in Rome, come on.


Travel talk

Where you sleep at Gallipoli… packed in like sardines. Beaut view though.

I took a tour with these guys to Gallipoli for ANZAC day.

This company is predominantly used by expats living in London so if you are just travelling the area and not living there you may struggle to find others doing the same.

Pros:

√  Easy to deal with, well organised

Cons:

√  The tour guide was BEYOND a creep, he cracked on to every single girl on the tour, it was inappropriate.


Intrepid Travel

Intrepid

I can’t speak highly enough of Intrepid travel, the Intrepid team (from the office staff to guides) are extremely helpful and the tour is right up my ally – organised but not so much that you have to schedule in a toilet break.

I jumped on an eight day tour from Rome to Amalfi (Italy) with these guys and had a ball.

Pros:

√  It’s not as prescriptive as Contiki, sure you are on a tour but that’s more to ensure you have someone to show you the way, someone to have dinner with at night, company if you want it. You can also spend a lot of time alone (if you want) which I love.

√  The tour guides are generally from the area or have extensive knowledge of the area, adding another element to the tour.

√  You take public transport to get around (aka no private coaches like Contiki) which is fun and shows you how to do it for when you’re on your own.

√  I found my group to be very like minded, mostly independent females who loved travel.

√  They only have 10 people max in a group, so you make some great friends.

Cons:

√  I was the youngest in my group by far (at 26), which was a pro and a con. I like an older crowd so it was fine for me but it could be a con for you.

√  The whole thing was a little laid back, a little more communication/organisation may have been appreciated but didn’t ruin the tour by any means.


Sail Croatia

Sail Croatia

I was apprehensive about doing Sail Croatia as I was a little fatter back then, lacked confidence and didn’t want to get drunk everyday on a boat with skinny tarts (that’s how I envisaged Sail Croatia).

What I ended up with was a group of the most fantastic people I’ve ever come across, mainly folk older than I and we had a ball!

We did end up drinking every day, but in a civilised (ok kind of civilised) way, and it was just beyond amazing.

Best part of the whole thing? You’re on a boat for a week, you don’t have to move your bags for a whole week. When you travel for extended periods, moving every few days, you’ll understand how incredible that is.

Now I can’t remember the exact tour group I booked with but it’s fairly irrelevant – look for the one that goes to the islands you want to go to (Hvar is a must) and for the length of time you want to go for.

If you don’t want to party but want a good time, here are my tips:

√  Book at the start of the season, the earlier the better as it is less likely to be a bunch of young annoying assholes.

√  Let the tour group know you want to have a relaxing time not a party time.

Also what you need to know:

√  You start a tab on the boat for your drinks which is semi dangerous as you have no idea how much you’re spending, but it’s fairly reasonably priced.

√  Take loads of books/load up your e-reader, there is plenty of sail time where you have nothing to do but sunbathe and read (it’s the good life).

√  On that note prepare to do nothing – it was a real change of pace for me, but it was fantastic.

√  Take a backpack – for day trips on the islands

√  Don’t be a dick – you’re on a boat with these people for a week.


Those were my tour experiences. I’ve done a bunch of day tours in various locations too and generally enjoyed them for the same reasons. While I love planning, taking a break from that and letting someone do it for you has it’s merits.

Have fun – and if you have any further questions please do get in touch.

 

Planning Pilgrimages – Some Top tips

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Wanderlust got too much? Need to get on a plane asap? I don’t blame you – best decision you’ll ever make in my rather bias opinion!

But once you know where you want to go then where do you start?

Great question! Here are some tips based on how I plan my pilgrimages.

Planning your pilgrimage:


sites to use and avoid√   I always start with a visit to TripAdvisor. That site is your one stop shop for information, but as per my previous post about reviewers, take every piece of advice on there with a grain of salt… some people just like to moan.

√   For accommodation I’m a booking.com girl through and through. However when you find a hotel you like for the price you like just check the hotels own website – sometimes they have even better deals!

√   For flights I used to use webjet.com, however they don’t list ALL airlines so I’ve started using farecompare.com instead.

For the most accurate result go to your search engine of choice (eg. Google) and type in where you want to fly in and to, it will give you all the options for that route. From there (and yep it’s annoying) compare the airlines through their own websites. It’s truly the only way you get a legitimate comparison. 


 

timing is everything

 

√   Check if there are any big events happening in the area you are visiting, and if you aren’t going to that event maybe book for another time as events mean less accommodation available and at higher prices.

√   Also obviously consider weather/political situation etc.. If there’s a cyclone warning and a political coup it’s probably best to avoid right?

 

 


do a practice run

 

√   I always do at least one round of fake bookings – seeing if I can get flights on the right days, accommodation on the right days etc., then I go back and book.

√   It helps to see if any of your flights/tours are going to mess up the rest of your plans.

√   Just ensure you write down/bookmark your bookings so you remember what you did.

 


pre travel must dos

 

√  Vaccinations and Visas are your two main ‘pre-travel must-dos’ – nothing worse than turning up somewhere and you don’t have the right documentation for a visa, or you get sick as hell!

√   Will you need vaccinations? Check here: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel

√   Will you need visas? Check here: https://www.visahq.com/visas.php

 


documents and dull stuff

 

√   Having all travel details on hand is hugely important when on the road. If you get in a cab and you can’t speak the same language being able to show the driver where you want to go is priceless. You also of course need to know where and when you need to be places.

√   I’m going to do a blog on travel apps that will help you with document control… however I actually kick it old school and (you guessed it) rock a good old fashioned spreadsheet… In there I put flight times/reference numbers/hotel address, contact number etc.. I even put on there all the things I want to do in each town/area… meaning all info is in one place.

If you want a copy of my spreadsheet I’d be happy to share. Just go to the contact me section and give me your email addy 🙂


So there are some of my top tips buf  if you have any please do share!

Happy travelling 🙂