You can buy an iphone, or you can buy an experience

Ok. So, it’s done. I can stop changing my mind now. Those of you who actually know me or live around me have probably heard a handful of different, non-related summer-holiday destinations spilling from my mouth in the past couple of years: wildlife volunteering in Sri Lanka, journalism in Israel, seeing old friends in Canada or meeting new ones in Cambodia. You probably stopped believing that I was actually gonna go anywhere, but it is decided now. If you had 600 euros, would you buy an Iphone, so you can take these kind of photos…
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or would you buy an experience, so you can take these kind of photos…
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I was bored last night, so I booked a flight. I booked a flight to Thailand, because it was 250 euro cheaper to fly to Bangkok than to fly to Phnom Penh for some reason. We’ll landcross the border to Cambiodia, It will be fun, the hassle is part of the experience isn’t it?

You might have noticed that I said “we” and I did. I actaully do have a travel buddy this trip. I was absolutely thrilled, because I am not used to people having the guts to actually accept my offer to show them around the world and I am therefore not used to having a travel buddy on my out of Europe trips. I mean, obviously I have had plenty of travel mates, but I would always meet them along the way. Like the time that I burst into a hostel in Katoomba, Australia around 9.30pm. Having just returned from a trip to the Jenolan caves, my clothes were all sweaty and my hair was dirty. I had also never been to this hostel before, so there were no familiar faces. I decided to place myself in the middle of the common room, in order to have the attention of all the people who were just lounging there, checking there phones. If anyone was interested in hiking the ruined castle track with me. Tomorrow. We’d leave at dawn.

This tactic amazingly seems to work all the time, but I’m drifting off. The point is that this time, I will have a full-on travel buddy. One of my study mates. People ususally get all excited untill the moment comes when it comes to the point of booking, so I was rather surprised when this girl did not retreat the moment I asked her for money to pay for the ticket. It is also her first time out of Europe, in Asia, during monsoon season. Oh well, I’ll take care of her.

Having someone to travel with and to talk to is a great thing! However, it has its downfalls too. For example, a solo ticket would have been a lot cheaper, as you can fill up a single empty seat. The other disadvantage is, that having someone to communicate with might make you reluctant to meet other, solo travellers. However, I am determined to not let that happen. Meeting foreign travellers and sharing experiences is part of the fun!

Have you been to Cambodia (during monsoon season), do you have experience crossing the Thai/Cambodian border? Do you have any advice on places to go and places to avoid (this time of year) or do are you planning to travel the same area around the same time? Don’t hestitate to contact me.

Under the Weather

As people are people and one of the characteristics is people is to have an opinion, I’m sure you will have an opinion of this too. People either love it or hate it: dietary supplements.

Being a person, I had an opinion about these too. Not a very strong one actually, but I was never a huge fan of protein powders or diet shakes. Let’s face it, those are dietary supplements too. It seemed to me that these were mostly used by pumped up gym addicts and the barbie dolls they seem to attract. The people who think they need miracle foods to get their bodies healthy and, most important too them, looking tight. I never believed that any kind of pill or powder could be as good for your body as a healthy diet, combined with regular exercise. However, last weekend things changed.

My reasonably healthy diet, consisting of varied (mostly home-cooked) foods, including, but not limited too veggies, grains, proteins and two pieces of fruit per day, combined with daily exercise and at least 8 hours of sleep per night was not enough to keep me safe from a terrible cold that seems to have many people in its grip this time of the year. It started with a runny nose that I tried to “cure” by one of those “granny-knows tips” to get rid of a cold. The idea was to put half an onion next to your bed when sleeping to help you breath. Honestly, I’ve lain in bed fighting for air half the night and woke up (if you can call it waking when you haven’t really been sleeping) with a fever. My body was defeated by whatever virus was teasing it. Damn.

I realised that I had no panadol or other painkillers whatsoever and Monday really was not a day that I could afford to be sick, there was so much to do! The only thing I could think of was running to the chemist to buy some panadol (a box of 50 for €0.99, I have been on a slight overdose to keep myself going since).

The rate at wish I consume Panadol probably doesn’t entertain many of you, however the thing is, when I was on my Panadol-shopping-run, I laid eyes on an advertisement for dietary supplements. Not the protein or diet ones, but the vitamin ones. 2 + 1 free. Should I? It couldn’t possibly hurt to try. However, I had no knowledge or whatsoever on which ones I should take.

About half an hour of reading the information on different bottles I stood outside with a box containing 50 Panadols and three bottles of vitamin supplements: Iron (since I am a vegetarian), Vitamin C (seemed logical) and Calcium. I have no idea what I was thinking when I bought the calcium ones, what is my body going to use a boost of that for?

After some online research, I went back to the chemist to buy multivitamin supplements with a high dose of vitamin D. A vitamin that our skin can form with the help of sunlight (of which there is not much in winter).

I took my pills (carefull to not overdo it. One of each per day, max) and had a lot of sleep for a night. The result was shocking! Today, one day after the whole circus had started, the fever went down. I am still not feeling a 100%, but I am not feeling as weak as I was.

You might think of this as a coincidence, but everytime in life when I get sick, I get really, really sick. This was a small miracle for me absolutely changed my views on dietary supplements. Maybe, magic in a bottle or a jar does exist.

What is your must-try advice for surviving  a cold/the flu?

Impression of Primark

First things first, I am not a fashion blogger and never will be. I am not even in the slightest bit interested in fashion. Not that I am an absolute slob who wears the same jeans and sweater every day all over again, I do sort of have a sense of looking alright and I do like to buy new clothes every then and again, but there is no way that you can call that fashion.

The reason why I am writing about Primark is because today was my first visit to Primark the Hague and it was shocking. The store has been open since the 9th of December if I’m right, so there was nothing new to discover at this point. However this was my first time in Primark, not even specifically this one, but any Primark ever. Oh the signs of a fashion criminal. (For those of you who are not familar with Primark, it is an Irish clothing retailer, now operating in most of Europe. Even more so, massive shops have been popping up pretty much everywhere lately).

If you copy all the people in this picture and paste all of them in the same picture times ten, and realise that this is not even 10% of the size of the shop, that more or less sums up what you can expect from Primark. The store is massive and chaotic. I had only heard people speak about this store before, I knew it is huge and sells cheap clothes, but I had never expected a big building block filled with clothes as far as the eye can reach. However, the people in it are even worse and there are many of them. If you thought there were many pieces of clothing and other fashion items in this store, you should watch the people (this is obligatory anyway, you can not not look at them). The amount of people in a primark is equal to at least twice the amount of items in there and they are all hungry for the latetst fashion at the cheapest prices, focussed only on their prize, snatched away from other customers, not moving an inch when you politely ask if you could pass.

What I was in Primark for was not even to go clothes shopping. I just needed some yoga blocks, that I knew they were selling at the sports department. Expecting the worst, I made sure I had an hour to find the right section, shove people out of the way to clear my path, search for the right item and pay. Suprisingly, all but the last step were done in about half an hour, so I still had another 30 minutes to discover the secrets of primark.

Desperately holding onto my yoga blocks (they were the last ones, I did not want a more experienced primark hunter to snatch them from me) I thought that I might as well pretend to be here for the same thing everyone else was here. I should find an item to try on. The new weapens in my hands made it easier to find my way through the store and the pyjama section took my attention. Whatever your opinion about primark, no one can deny that there pyjamas are awesome. Pyjamas and onesies in all the styles you could think of! (That’s not me in the picture, but I just wanted to share the amazingness of the onesie!)

Alright, onesies are brilliant, but I already have a unicorn one and I am trying not to spend too much money on stuff I don’t really need. So I moved on before my weakness would set in. What I found next to the pyjama section was logically the lingerie section. Interesting. With my A-cup, that I am not embarrased about, it can be hard to find a bra that fits well, without flattening out my already flat chest even further, so I started looking through the incredible assortiment of different bras. This is where primark definetely let me down. It was as if there was no such thing as an A-cup. The shelves were dominated by a double D. Whenever I did manae to find an A-cup, it would be one of those maximise ones. A bra with a pillow to make up for the lack of boobs. Who would want such a thing? Apparrently most girls these days want to create an illusion. I will probably get back to that in another post.

Anyway, as my time was ticking away I found the one and only A-cup bra that was not a maximise one and clutched it to my chest, while still cuddling the yoga blocks, and made my way to the fitting room. Another surprise awaited me. This was not the long line, I wouldn’t have expected anything else, it was the way the staff sorted out your products. There were only certain ones that you could take into the fitting rooms with you, only products that you could and were allowed to try on.  Yoga blocks are obviously not one of them, so they were put in a bag with number, corresponding to the number I got, awaiting my return.

Alright then. Yoga blocks are not very helpful in a fitting room anyway, so they can just sit in the bag for now. But the staff wasn’t done yet, not before they took the knickers (matching the bra) off me as well. Hygiene and such. Okay. But. The man in front of me was not allowed to try his shirts, because they would not be to get it back into the packaging. Apparently there was a try-on model where he found the shirts. Up the stairs. Far away from the fitting rooms. If het wanted to try the shirt on, he should try to find that and then return… to the end of the long line.

My bra didn’t fit and the time was ticking, so I took what I came there for and once again awaited my turn in line. Primark to me was not just a shop, it was an experience. Good for a bargain-hunter with too much time on his or her hands and who is ready to take on a fight for a certain item in their size. No-go for a difficult bra-size, but scored points on the pyjama section. Apart from that specific section, not a place I would want to spend to much time. And don’t even begin about the working conditions of the 8-year old girl in Ghana that made Primark possible…

Nice to meet you

Going places, experiencing cultures, meeting people. All awesome, all exciting. I’m still human though, not a walking, talking, travelling robot with an objective view on things. My view will shadow through all the pages and posts, but as wordpress is meant for actual blogging I thought I should add one page that is a little more personal than all the others. One that I can personally spam full of bullcrap, non-travel-related-adventures, thoughts, disappointments, surprises, reviews, excitement, opinions, recipes and whatever else I feel I could possibly share with the world.

For a first post a little profile might be appropriate, so you know whose words you’re reading.

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Name: Kirsten
Age: 20
Occupation: Student Mining Engineering, part-time homework tutor, blogger, full-time weird lady
Likes to: travel, read, write, hang out with awesome people, play guitar, sports
Lives: in the Netherlands
Best place to have been so far: Outback Australia
High up on the to-go list: South-America
Afraid of: Spiders, jellyfish (says a girl who would happily chop a snake in halves).
Dietry requirements: Veggie
Strange habits: there’s a whole list I can put up here, but a tendency to try to eat all types of food before they’re cooked is definetely one of them.
A small selection of life goals: Motorcycle license, go bungeejumping, skydive certificate, colour all the fields on the map, get my degree, move to Australia, volunteer work.
Motto: Freedom, follow your dreams and most of all, don’t let anyone ever stop you to do whatever the hell you want to do.
If you were to be a kitchen device, which one would it be: Blender, obviously. Being continously shaken, twisted and blended ought to be an excuse for pretty much anything, right?

My introduction for now. Any requests? Let me know.

Cheers