Here are just some of the stories I will be blogging about over the next few months – these are about my recent 5 weeks travelling in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Taiwan, but there will also be other blogs about New Zealand and travel tips too.
In no particular order here are some of my planned blogs:
Water puppets in Hanoi
Angkor Wat for my 2nd time
the Lantern Village
my fav noodle stand in Taipei
staying in a mansion that many locals will not go near
travel and food
what does Visa on arrival really mean?
Hong Kong and protests (FIRST ONE – in a day or two – as current)
travelling by train
a circus in Siam Reap
a train is scarily close
health issues when travelling
postcards and post offices are alive and well in parts of the world
money and borders
. . . and many more 🙂
If you want to follow along on my travels here are your choices if how to.
How do you decide who to follow on Instagram or other such media?
When I have someone follow me, and Instagram suggests I follow them back, I have a quick look at their photos and almost instantly make a decision – are these photos I want to see or not?
Life is too short to engage with photos that don’t interest me for many reasons. It may sound judgemental, but it’s nothing to do with the person posting, making a judgement as to how I want to spend my time. So, here are the photos I do like to see.
Travel photos that show the culture that person is exploring; travel photos that are natural – that is, no filters or colour enhancers – I want to see what your eyes saw – not a camera adjustment! Selfies, or photos of you, doing yoga or muscle poses, (for example) in exotic places – for me that does not make it a travel photo. It is self-promotion, and although I’m sure many people love to see them, it’s just not my cup of tea.
I don’t follow Instagram pages that have numerous quotes, sayings, homilies, and the stream. If I see one or 2 that’s fine, but not screeds of them.
If they are family photos and I don’t know you, I’m not interested.
What a curmudgeonly old woman I sound, but one of the beauties of life is that you don’t have to, and I don’t have to, follow or please everybody by posting the photos they want to see. We all take and post the photos we want to post
So what photos do you like to see,
What ones don’t you want to see
Or, do you just follow everybody if they are following you?
It’s not about right or wrong, it’s just about our taste – or lack of taste you might think 🙂
I’m looking forward to hearing how you choose who to follow or not on Instagram, Facebook, or any other social – let’s face it, each of our opinions is totally valid. Is that old adage says, one man’s meat is another man’s poison – or your junk is my treasure.
How do you make contact with locals? Or maybe you prefer not to, or don’t care?
I first noticed the use of mobile phones separating people from the places they were travelling in on a train in Thailand. A young British couple, were both on their phones were talking to different people back in their homeland. I found it amazing that they weren’t even looking out the window at the beautiful scenery.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with keeping in contact with friends and family every now and then – however, it also means you are not living in the now, in the present moment – the very place where life happens.
I guess I’m biased because when I travel, I very rarely contact home – I ‘m always working on the premise that no news is good news :-).
That being so, I’ve noticed in my city, Wellington, New Zealand, that it is harder to engage with locals when you are using a phone to guide you around the streets. Sure, Google Maps does sort of show you the way, but you get no interaction with the people in the area you are visiting.
Perhaps this doesn’t bother you, but for me, travelling is all about the people I meet; the questions I ask them; the directions I get from them, and knowledge about their lives.
We Kiwi, are considered pretty friendly and when we approach you on the street, especially if you’re looking at a map, we are not trying to sell you anything or take you to our cousins’ shop for instance – we are just trying to be helpful and friendly and help give you a 100% pure Kiwi experience.
(Note: ‘one hundred per cent pure’ was never intended to be about our environment – like everywhere else we too have environmental problems. The hundred per cent pure was to ensure all tourists got a genuine Kiwi experience and holiday. Sadly, this was not how it was understood overseas. Even New Zealanders now claim we are being false in our ‘advertising.’ As an older kiwi – who was travel writing when it was coined – many years ago. I’m very clear about its original intentions – one of the advantages of age 🙂 )
I frequently ask, ‘can I help you’ of those who look like tourists and are gazing at their phone or a map.
So, many especially those new into New Zealand I suspect, almost jump back in horror at being spoken to. ‘Oh no, what does she want!? Will she rip me off?’ I see it in their faces. Happily, at least 50% of them value me answering their questions and often thank me for being ‘helpful.’ And hopefully, that little interaction contributes to them enjoying their time in New Zealand and having 100% pure Kiwi experience, and knowing most of us are kind, caring and really want to help – for no reason but to be helpful!
So next time you pull out a phone to find your way from A to B just pause, look around, is there a local to ask instead?
This works from Alaska to Turkey, from Thailand to New Zealand. It’s the brief connections and a smile or a laugh with a local that can make your day. Don’t let technology separate you from the very people in the country you wanted to visit.
Packing for both business and pleasure is often seen as difficult – I solve the problem by using different packing cells for the 2 different parts. One for business, one for leisure.
One or 2 items may belong both bags, in this instance, it’s a white T-shirt that, once the 5-day business meeting is over, it will be moved into my leisure cell for the month-long exploration in SE Asia at cheap and cheerful destinations and accommodations.
My travel is in Southeast Asia, so will have the extreme heat of July and August, and I suspect, the over-cold meeting rooms in the hotel. This just seems to be what they do in Asia – overcompensating for the heat.
I’m taking 2 pieces of luggage, my trusty red suitcase in the hold, and a daypack no. The suitcase will be left behind in Hong Kong with all my business stuff in it, while the backpack will be my luggage for Taiwan, Cambodia, and Vietnam. My red suitcase will be about 10kg max. (22 lb) while my backpack will be under the regulation 7kg. (15lb). What
It’s always a treat to just have carry-on luggage when travelling – no waiting at the luggage carousel for my red case to appear. I will also use my backpack as my carry-on luggage when I leave New Zealand for Hong Kong. It will contain vital business papers, my camera and tablet, as well as medication, Kobo e-reader and phone.
So what are in those cells? Two trouser suits – a white one with 2 tops to wear with it, and a yellow one with the white T-shirt. So over the 5 days of work, I have 3 different outfits, so one will be repeated, and if I decide to, I could wear my black travel trousers with one of the tops. One pair of black shoes will accompany them all :-).
All these will remain in HK storage when I leave for Vietnam, Cambodia then onto Taiwan, before returning to Hong Kong for a couple of days and pick up my red suitcase, and go home to New Zealand’s late winter weather – and where my daughter will meet me at the airport with a warm coat 🙂
My red leisure cell contains a long sundress, a loose pair of trousers, 3 tops and my trusty Teva’s while the blue one has underwear, swimming costume, and nightwear. So that’s how I pack for a combined trip that is both official and laid-back – very different needs clothes-wise
I hope this helps you keep your clothes to the minimum -after all, we don’t have to dress to impress when we’re on holiday, you will, mostly, see a person only once, so even if you are in the same clothes daily, most of them would not even notice. We, humans, are pretty self-centred and concentrate on ourselves.
An umbrella lowers my temperature as I struggled up a hill in Cambodia. People struggling with the heatwaves in Europe right now would benefit from an umbrella too.
Here is an excerpt from my book, Naked in Budapest travels with a passionate nomad, which explains how I learnt to always carry an umbrella in hot places.
See, others carry them too … being out of the sun lowers my temperature by about ten degrees it feels
for rain too in The Netherlands
Cochin, Kerala, India
‘You go ahead. I can’t walk up here. It’s too steep, too hot.’
‘Yes you can. We’re nearly there. You will love the waterfall.’
‘We have waterfalls in New Zealand; I’ll give this one a miss.’
‘Come on. You can get up here. Just around the next corner is the last steep bit – you can make it. Just take it a step at a time. We’re in no hurry,’ Rob tells me.
‘No, I’ll sit here in the shade and wait for you all to come back down. I won’t go away from the track.’
‘Here, I’ve got an umbrella, use that, it will reduce the heat for you.’
‘I don’t have the bloody energy to hold a damn umbrella.’
‘Well you walk and I’ll hold it,’ says Rob and step by slow step I get up the mountain, feeling like a cross between a missionary with her servant and a stupid, overweight, unfit, old fool.
I’m the first to fall into the cool water – my T-shirt, shorts and sandals are off in seconds and in my underwear, I’m wallowing like the buffalo. Later, back in the boat, we make a list of the 20 different creatures we’ve seen: leeches are not on the list. The others return to Sihanoukville leaving me in this small village to find a bed for the night.
Next day I’m the only foreigner in the taxi when I travel through the mountains towards Thailand. We get pushed through sticky orange clay and cross four rivers by ferry and at each one, I’m the centre of attention – few westerners have used this road that opened two months ago: no one in the taxi speaks English.
Waterproof and dust proof bags are often essential
How to run away from home & reinvent yourself by travelling: a personal recipe
Start as a child with a love of reading. For me, this involved hiding under the blankets reading of far-away places that created a desire for travel: I was Anne Frank in her Amsterdam attic; and, I was Heidi on the mountains of Switzerland: I was the hero between the covers of every book!
Add listening to far away, static-crackling voices in languages I didn’t understand on my brother’s crystal radio, and dream of exploring those lives! An idea, the yeast of a dream, began bubbling below the surface of my conciseness. The first, most basic ingredients for my developing recipe were lined up on the kitchen bench of my mind.
Cover and leave that bowl of imagination to infiltrate through life’s ups and downs, keep reading, keep dreaming until life and circumstances add more ingredients. These extra components are where your individuality, situation, and conditions, add to the recipe and finally, the end result! (NOTE: Unlike many recipes, this one is totally tailored to your individual circumstances.)
My extra ingredients included: the deaths of my 20-year old son and my 35yr old husband, recovery from alcoholism, and, after too many birthdays, I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up!
Perhaps I could play catch-up with the traditional Kiwi penchant for travel. That germ of an idea, like all living things, divides and multiplies as it sits on the sometimes-messy kitchen bench of my mind.
Now, add more ingredients so you too can reinvent yourself – mine were:
Travel for a year
Make no plans or bookings, just travel
On returning, after a year, I added:
Two years of work & saving
A short writing course
Have an article about canoeing down the Zambesi published
Sell more travel stories; add those dollars to my travel fund
Buy another international airline ticket
Travel for another year in different countries
Publish a book about your travels
This recipe is never finished yet you can cook it, eat it, and share it daily. The flavours and textures change frequently – depending on if you have used the high heat of Thailand or the coolness of a northern hemisphere winter, and, of course, your choice of spices.
So, if you too want to run away from home or reinvent yourself, pick your ingredients from the lists above, add your own, use your imagination, mix well, and as ‘they’ whoever they are, say, “the world’s your oyster.”
Many of my peers are afraid of electric scooters on our city streets – or rather, the footpaths. As someone who lives in the inner city, in fact, at the top of Cuba Street, Wellington, or as I call it the funky part of town, I’m used to skateboards, rollerblades, electric skateboards and many others sharing the footpath with me – as well as on Cuba Street itself.
For me the rule is very simple, if they are behind me, ignore the noise of a skateboard or such like speeding towards me – I just stay on my trajectory and trust that they will avoid me. So far, that’s what’s happened. I’ve had no near misses, I just stay on the left as I know if I try and get out of their way they will have no idea where the or which way I (or YOU) are going to move and you are likely to be hit or have a near miss.
As my daughter reminded me, it’s like skiing, it’s the skier that is behind you that has to avoid you, not the other way round. E scooters are the same. You just keep going about your business, staying on the left – as we always should – not walking 3 abreast, and all will be well.
Will there be accidents? Of course, there will be but if you adhere to staying on your own trajectory chances are you will not be involved.
Will the E scooter riders obey all the rules – of course not! Only yesterday I saw 2 teenage girls riding, wobbling, one of the orange uber ones (Jump) does everybody parked them considerately – hell no! Common sense is not very common and many scooters are parked at a 45° angle or more from the curb -creating a real hazard for those who are sight impaired. If you are a scooter rider reading this, please think of those people who are likely to trip over your toy.
Most E scooter riders are considerate and value being able to get around the city speedily. sometimes on footpaths sometimes on the road. sadly many do not use a helmet – this may change, just as skiers have. We do have to get the cars off the roads, and scooters are part of the solution AND we do need more people on public transport and we will just have to be considerate of each other
Have I ridden an E scooter – no – but who knows, it could be one of the ‘yets’ in my life. I’m very aware I’m way more risk-averse since I broke my arm on a walk out to Red Rocks in the seal colony in Wellington. ( if I did I would use the pink Flamingo as it’s a New Zealand company)
So, watch this space, but don’t hold your breath :):)
Are you a slow traveller? What is slow travel? I’m sure it means different things to different people.
For me, slow travel means pacing my travel, not having every moment accounted for, and therefore leaving time for the unexpected. The unknown and the unplanned for. Leaving time to sit in the coffee shop and watch how locals live and interact.
For me, the difference is about the difference between being a tourist and being a traveller. I like to think I’m a traveller. It means going to a country but only visiting one small region, not rushing around so you can take off everything on the must-see or must-do lists. I like to create my own list with lots of gaps 🙂
So are you a slow traveller? Tell me, what does it mean to you? I do understand people taking tours, but I guess I’m selfish and self-centred and really just want to leave when I want to leave, to stay longer when I want to – or to jump on a bus and get the hell out of somewhere. 🙂
In particular, I want to have an early breakfast and get out exploring not waiting for other people to wake up have their breakfast and then join a bus group. It is easy to see why most of my travels have been solo 🙂