travel

There is no wrong way to travel, yes I am talking to you travel snobs

I read a lot of travel blogs and travel websites and I noticed an alarming trend. Long-term travelers telling others how to travel. There is no right or wrong way as long as you’re being respectful to the locals and their culture. Below are some typical things you will come across when reading these annoying articles:

Step off the beaten track: This might be your idea of a perfect vacation but what works for one person does not work for the other. Some even go as for as to discourage you from visiting the Eiffel Tower when in Paris and the Taj Mahal when in India. I’m not saying there is no merit in stepping off the beaten track but if you’ve only got 2 weeks in a country and you’re not sure if you would be returning then checking out the major sights would be pretty high on my list. I might not have to time or money to come back anytime soon. Who travels all the way to Rome and then does not bother to go see the Colosseum?

Don’t book holiday package deals: I personally don’t believe in booking holiday packages or cruises but only because I happen to love the planning and organizing, to me that forms part of the whole travel experience. That does not mean I can look down on others who don’t want to go through the hassle of finding deals and booking everything themselves. The whole point of vacations away is to relax and sight-see and truthfully some people just have busy lives and do not have the time and energy to do all this grunt work. Yes, maybe you end up paying a little bit more and maybe you do get taken to a few tourist traps but if you’re still having fun what does it matter?

Real travelers stay in cheap hostels with only one backpack: Again we don’t all want to share a 10 bed dorm with dirty, smelly strangers (okay not all of them are dirty and smelly) who stumble in at 3am and noisily have sex in the bunk above yours. Hostels are great for meeting people I won’t dispute that but not all of us have this constant need to be surrounded by loads of new people. If you’re not a party person it’s perfectly fine to find a boutique hostel and get your own room or heck even book yourself into a 5 star hotel cos you know what, it’s your holiday and you can do whatever you like. Hostels also tend to have what I call one-uppers. They will always try to outdo you and have a better story to tell. Saw the leaning tower of Pisa in Italy? Well they sneaked in at the dead of night and bungee jumped off it, try not to get into travel story swapping situation with this type of traveler. It’s exhausting and seriously, getting diarrhea is not something to be proud of. It’s not rite of passage.

I merely scratched the surface but I am not in the mood to go into a full-out rant. Just remember that others don’t know what’s best for you, only you do. So spend your well-earned break how you see fit.

 

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travel

Visa hurdles should be an Olympic sport

I guess I also need to write the obligatory Olympics reference blog post, so here it is, albeit in a round about way and it will of course have nothing to do with sports.

In Thailand there are two main school holidays in the year:

  • October: one month, starting from around 1 October until 31 October
  • March/April: two months starting from approximately the beginning of March until the end of April.

This means that I will have some time to kill when I won’t be busy teaching – hello travel!

I had it all planned out actually – 2 glorious months in Italy, living with an Italian host family, eating Italian food, practising the language I have been learning for the past 2 years with a captive audience. La dolce vita, ad nauseam. So I emailed the agency and they replied and advised that the visa procedure is too complicated if you’re not a citizen of the following countries:  the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand. Shit! Shit! Shit! There goes that plan. I will just have to settle for a normal holiday in Italy at some stage in the future.

The thing is I really wanted to immerse myself into a different culture and this bit of bad news did not deter me. So I emailed back and asked if Jordan or Turkey would be viable options for a South African citizen for the conversation corps program. Jordan is also a complicated no go but Turkey would be possible as long as I am not planning on staying for longer than 3 months. All of this is making me wonder why it is so hard for the rest of the world to participate in these volunteer programs. So for now my 2 month cultural exchange is on hold and I will instead focus on Thailand which I am going to anyway.

However, sometimes I do wonder if the world really knows where South African is, I’m hoping the 2010 Soccer World shed some light on us. We are so hidden away and so far down south that this poor Canadian guy, whom I met whilst on holiday, thought South Africa is in Nigeria. Or people have this vague notion that it is somewhere in the South of Africa, not realising South Africa is a country all on its own. Maybe I should just stick to visa-free destinations for South Africans and by that I mean countries where you receive your visa stamp upon arrival and no jumping through hoops required. I found this interesting article online a while ago that gives South African citizens destination ideas of ‘visa-free’ countries. I can work my way through these countries instead before trying to figure out how to work around the 90 day Schengen Visa, so not all hope is lost.

For now I am literally counting down the days with just a few more months to go before I leave and I decided I’ll just spend March and April in Thailand and enjoy the Songkran festival which is apparently epic water fights of note.

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adventures, travel

Countries with scooters

Europe (France, Italy, Spain) and Asia (Thailand, China, Taiwan) are scooter friendly destinations – a good thing as these are all countries on my to-dotravel list.

As I am gaining confidence with every motorbike lesson (lovin’ those lazy eights) I have decided that I will definitely be hiring a scooter when I visit Thailand and Italy end of this year. I’m sure this will beat using public transport or walking and it definitely trumps being stuck in traffic in a car.

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travel

the travelling bucket list

Next year the plan is to go to Austria, Italy, Croatia and Montenegro all before heading to Thailand. Not sure how I am going to manage to survive another year at work (fondly referred to as the mind-numbing/soul-destroying void). So if you know of anyone who can bend the space/time continuum or just has a good ol fashion time machine wasting away in their garage point me in that direction. Hell I’d even settle for Marty Mcfly’s time travelling car to zap me back into the future. For now though all I can do is look at pictures of all the pretty places to keep me motivated.

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