Crossing borders: Poipet (Thailand-Cambodia and vice versa)

It took hours of consideration before I was brave enough to decide that I would do it, I would cross the border from Thailand to Cambodia over land. Whilst searching for information I had come across many horror stories: from simple scams and long lines to serious blackmailing, threats and robberies, plus the fact that getting your visa on arrival would be an enormous hassle that would eat away your time. None of this is true.

There are multiple ways to find your way into Cambodia over land, one cheaper than the other, but none of them dangerous or unacceptably difficult. Here is how I’ve done it:

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IMG-20150715-WA0002 Sleeping at Hua Lamphong Station – Bangkok

The adventure started off as a night spent at Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok. This is an unnecessary step in the process, but our train would leave at 5.55am and our couchsurfing adress was a fair while away from the station. Bangkok being such a vibrant city, we probably would not have had to worry about finding a taxi at such a time, but we decided to sleep at the station, just to be sure. The train leaves daily at 5.55am from Hua Lamphong Station (or at 1.40pm, but if you choose the latter one it is unsure if the border will still be open when you get there). Tickets can be bought at the station on the day of departure (earlier is not possible).

Be very careful with the (tour)bus!
Many tour companies claim to bring you directly to Siem Reap, prices range from 300 – 800 baht (€7.80 – €20,-) and tickets can often be bought at Khao San Road (but sometimes elsewhere at tourist offices). What seems too good to be true usually is. Keep in mind that these tickets are only sold in touristic areas, locals won’t use them, meaning that they are mostly meant to get money from tourists one way or another. Even if you managed to score a 300 baht ticket, your trip won’t costs you only 300 baht.

One of the issues is that Thai bus companies are not allowed to enter Cambodia, likewise, Cambodian buses are not allowed into Thailand. A “direct bus” is therefore your first rip-off. You will need to get off the bus at the Thai side of the border and hope that another (Cambodian) bus will pick you up on the other side. This often takes hours (if it comes at all). Additional scams involve, but are not limited to the fact that many buses stop at a restaurant or shop and won’t leave until everybody has purchased their (disgusting) food for a certain price or that the bus will not leave untill all seats are sold. Tourbuses are also well known for taking you to an illegit “visa office” to buy your visa at an overpriced rate. These offices are official looking, but not trustworthy!

Lastly, the worst rip-off is that the bus will stop somewhere in order for you to have something to eat (or they pretend to have a flat tyre, or another problem that requires you to get off the bus). Whilst you eat or whilst they “fix” the car, they actually have plenty of time to go through everbody’s bags and confiscate anything valuable you’re carrying. Don’t leave your belongings in the car under any circumstances.

Not all buses do all of this obviously, but none can take you directly for sure! Buses to Poipet instead of Siem Reap are useally better, but taking the train will most likely save you a lot of time, money and verbal fights.

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Train to Aranyaprathet

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Step two would be the train. When I saw what the train we would be going on looked liked I fell in love. The train looked like one that had ran away from a Charles Dickens story: old, windowless and incredibly nostalgic. Not to leave out any information, the train ticket is going to cost you 42 baht (€1,10) to travel all the 248km to Aranyaprathet. That is €0.004 per km, crazy isn’t it?

The train is an experience. After having boarded, the conductor instructed us to rearrange to a different seat several times, with no apparent reason. However, we ended up having two private benches for the two of us, so that was alright. The trains are made of wood, so don’t expect any comfort. You will spend six to eight hours on this train, at one point not being able to stop wiggling around, because you don’t know how to sit anymore. It is not so bad as it sounds at all, I liked the train and it was perfectly managable. I absolutely loved my nostalgic train ride.

The thing that people on planes miss out on is included in your valuable train ticket: amazing views of the country side and untouched farm villages. Moreover, the trains don’t have the horrific airconditioning that makes all the tourbuses feel like you ended up in a snowstorm rather than in tropical South-East Asia. If you are fond of luxury though, the train might not be for you.

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tuk-tuk to Poipet

Once arrived in Aranyaprathet, it is still a small distance to Poipet, where the border is. This is the part that some people might consider as “tricky”. The tuk-tuk drivers are all gathered around the station when you get off the train, they know where you want to go and they will overprice the ride, this is not unlike any other tuk-tuks in the country, so don’t let this put you off. A fair price for this ride should be 80-100 baht for the whole tuk-tuk. The two of us found two other people to share the ride with and the driver started off by charching us 100 baht per person. We bargained down to 30 per person, which is not too bad.

The next trick is about the visa. Obviously, your driver will have some friends around the corner that are happy to sell you a visa for twice the price as the official office at the border. Your driver will get a good comission for it and not be so dissapointed that you “only” paid 100 baht for the ride. This scam is not too expensive, but I’m sure you have better ways to spent an additional 40 US dollars and it is easy to avoid. Just tell the tuk-tuk driver that you already have an (e-)visa* and he’ll see no point in bringing you anywhere else and bring you to the border without a hassle. Also, think wisely, you don’t need a visa for Cambodia in order to leave Thailand, so make sure you pass the passport control first (get stamped out of Thailand) before looking for the actual office where you can get your visa. The visa is $30, nothing more. Don’t pay more.

*Why not get an actual e-visa? For me the reason was because the e-visa is valid for 30 days from the date you apply. Since I did not have wifi everywhere I could only apply a few days before actually entering Cambodia. That is a waste of days on your visa. An e-visa also costs $7 extra.

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Cambodian border – Poipet

And there it is… the entry to Cambodia. It has a miniature version of Angkor Wat on top, just like anything else remotely important in Cambodia. This is what you will see after having exited Thailand officially, this is also where you find immigration, on your righthand side (because in Cambodia you are supposed to drive on the right, as opposed to Thailand and other countries in the region).

As I mentioned before, the visa costs $30,- it is easiest to have this amount in cash in dollars. I was oblivious enough to think that border control would have an ATM accesible, but obviously this is not te case. It is Cambodia after all. I was lucky they let me pay in Thai baht, a price that equaled $34 dollars, but officially US dollars are the only way to go. Also make sure that you can provide a passport photo. Cambodia is very easygoing on visas, people from any nationality can get one on arrival! If everything is present the process won’t take more than 15 minutes.

After you’re done, you can finally enter throught that beautiful entrance port and next up the Cambodian passport control. Congratulations, you officially made it into Cambodia.

At the border and beyond it, massive casino-resorts wil be your only sight. During my trip I had no idea what a mini Las Vegas at the border would have to add to either of the countries economics. However, I recently learned that gambling in Thailand is illegal, the casino strip is just before Cambodian immigration, allowing Thai people to gamble in Cambodia without having to pass immagration. Who would have thought it, as the two nations still detest each other…

http://www.visitcambodia.nl

So unless you are a Thai looking to gamble, or a non-Thai having spent so long in Thailand that you have the urge to gamble at the border, you won’t want to stay in Poipet.

Now from here you have options. There is a free shuttle service bus that can bring you to the international transfer terminal. This bus is legit and it is only a short ride. The problem with it is that once at the international transfer terminal, you have nowhere to go. There are no ATMs, and the buses you can take from here only accept US dollars or the Cambodian riel. If you are stuck with Thai baht you are forced to change them at an unfavourable rate. Plus, I found the buses rather expensive. From the terminal, you can get a bus or minivan to either Siem Reap or Battambang. The buses to Siem Reap cost you $10 US dollars, which is not too bad for a 150km right, but I assume that there is a cheaper option that does not involve a minivan full of backpackers, as we got a cheaper ride on the way back from Siem Reap to the border as well.

The other problem with this bus from the international terminal is that it brings you to the outskirts of Siem Reap, not the city centre. They offer tuk-tuks to finish the right, but they will make you pay for those as well, making your seemingly $10 ticket more expensive. We got mad at the company and demanded to be taken for free, which happened in the end, but others still had to pay.

An alternative would be to look for a bus company in Poipet itself (before getting on the free shuttle to the internatioal terminal). I am not sure if you will find one, because I did it the international terminal way, but it is worth having a look around. Many Cambodians don’t have a car and they too need to get from the border around the country, but you don’t see them in the minivan. I am fairly positive that a local bus company should be present.

Cambodia to Thailand

If you are looking to cross the border the other way around, you can do the same thing vice versa: Take a bus from anywhere in Cambodia to the border, cross it, find a tuk-tuk to Aranyprathet where you wait for the train. Easy as.

There are a few things to remember about this though: first of all, the train from Aranyaprathet to Bangkok only goes twice a day. In this direction one at 6.40 in the morning, the other one around 1pm (check the train schedual at any station for exact times), you don’t want to miss the train or you’ll be stuck in Aranyaprathet, where there is not much to do and accomodation is rather expensive compared to Bangkok. For this exact reason, we decided to go for a more expensive tour bus, that would still save us money, because we could stay the night in Bangkok for so much cheaper.

Secondly, citizens of many nations can get a 30-day Thai visa when flying into Bangkok. Over land, almost all of these get a 15-day visa instead of 30 (except USA, UK, Germany, France, Canada, Italy & Japan). Of course your visa can be extended while in Thailand, but plan this carefully in your travel plans.

I assume this is all you need to know for a safe and rip-off-free border crossing at Poipet. Don’t let horror stories put you off and enjoy!

Tinder: Keep swiping.

No, the subject is not travel-related, although for me it turned out to be. However, I warned you that from time to time I might express my opinion or tell a story about other subjects that caught my attention. If you are not interested, just don’t read and patiently wait till the next update (:
Patience is a blessing.

I am not sure if I have many talents, and if I do I sure as hell I don’t like to brag about them. There are always people that are better than you. However, there is one particlar talent that I have and can be sure of that I must be in the top list of people who have this talent; getting distracted.

Distraction may not sound like a talent to you, and if it is, it’s not a very useful one. Both true and wrong. In everyday life, especially with my studies it can be an enormous pain in the ass to have an attention span of about 15 minutes, before either the ceiling or the mysterious scraps of thoughts that go through my head become more interesting. Despite that, getting distracted has gotten me where I am now. If I had a perfect focus I would not have ever experienced travelling the way I did now, maybe not at all. I would sure as hell not have stumbled upon the most wonderful experiences and people, sometimes by quite literally running into them (or a closed door, a tree, or a lantern post).

When learning for my exams this week, distraction hit soon enough. Facebook, eating something, making tea and replying to a text all come in a very unpractical ratio with actual studying. However, the distraction never seems to be enough. Updating my blog would be perfect, but I know that once I start on that I will accidentally spend hours instead of minutes, so I needed something different. This time it was…. Tinder.

Source: nobullying.com

Tinder is a rather controversial app that matches people by whether they like each others profile pic. If you both like each others photo, you’ll be able to send your “match” messages that will perhaps end up in a date. If the like was not mutual, the person will just disappear in the Tinder jungle, never to be seen again.

Some actual couples are known to have found their significant other via Tinder, however more often the app insinuates many sexual dates and a lot of dissapointment to those who expect more. Not so strange considering the app generates matches based on someones looks, not even that, more on someones photos (that could be photoshopped).

Personally I was not looking for sex or love or anything else that you can find on the app. I was mostly looking for distraction and driven by curiousity, so I started swiping. It didn’t take long before I had over 20 matches. Great, but what now? Less then a quarter of them had started an actual conversation. I tried starting one with another quarter and would leave the rest for now. 20 people is too many to chat with anyways, besides, I had exams to study for.

At first I was slightly dissapointed by the lack of actual text respoonses from people. Whether they’re on there to find their soulmate or to find someone to warm their bed for a night, communication is mostly appreciated. After a while this problem sorted itself out. The interesting people stayed at the top of the list, playing truth or dare, talking about common interests or complete bullshit. It turned out to be a lot of fun. I also met an Italian guy that was on a holiday in the Netherlands for a few days and was looking for someone to show him around, nothing more. Perfect opportunity for me to broaden my foreign network.

Unfortunately him and I didn’t get around to meeting each other, he would go back to Italy in two days, and I was too busy studying after all…

 

Remove this from your Bucket List, NOW

LarrissaHuggard

Plenty of my closest friends, family and Facebook friends have put up awesome pictures of their awesome holidays in the awesome continent of Asia. I myself have not got there yet and until this week one of the major things to do on my bucket list was ride and bathe an Elephant.

Now before you get defensive, it does look like an awesome and fun thing to do, because of course the Elephants are happy right, they’re tame so it means they were brought up this way, and everyone else has done it so it has to be fine! This sheep mentality of western tourists is to blame for the increasing amount of Asian elephants dying from over exhaustion, and maybe even depression.

An elepahnt that has died from exhaustion source: Twitter An elephant that has died from exhaustion source: Twitter

I’m going to keep it short, because I imagine that by now, some people have clicked off this…

View original post 547 more words

Home is where the heart is

Partly inspired by another blogger, partly inspired by the question raised what home means to me, why I have never really felt at home in my home country and where I would be living in another five to ten years, I thought it would be nice to discuss the debatable subject of home. When you’re backpacking, you’re not anywhere near your friends or family, but still most people abroad are having the time of their lives. This poses the question, when you’re out in the world, what is home to you?  I am really curious about what you think.

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The terrible state of my room

Since I started studying, I have been somewhat settled. I rent a room in a student house that I share with two other students. They are absolutely nice and fun and I feel relaxed at home. However, that itch to go out and about has never left me. So is this home? I guess it is now, but it couldn’t last long.

First of all, my room is a permanent mess, it has been like this since I was a child. Sometimes I can get it sorted and cleaned, but can only maintain it for a few days. Then it starts getting messier, and after a week it will have reached the state shown in the photo. I am not ashamed, I actually think that I found the reason behind this terror is that I don’t belong in a fixed place, it supplies the opportnity to own too much stuff.

If you look at it this way, I just sort of use whatever I have to store things. When this is a backpack, it forces you to make choices and think carefully about which posessions you really need. When you have a car, more stuff fits in, with the result that you will start to collect more stuff. Having an entire room for yourself supplies the opportunity to buy and keep all sorts of luxuries and things that you really don’t need to just scatter all over the place. Imagine what my house would look like if I owned one…. Perhaps this is a sign.
BackpackAnother thing that many people found and still find striking when I’m away, is my “improper” use of the word home. I use it just to refer to the place where I sleep, whether that is a room I rent for myself, a friends house, a tent or a hostel dorm room shared with 16 others doesn’t really matter, when I say I’m going home, I overall just mean that I’m going to go to the place I’m staying, although I can understand the confusion.

The above again proves how my vision of home is very easily adaptable, and I love it. It is funny how the places where I live for a longer period of time often feel less like home than short-term stays abroad. People seem to be nicer and happier around you whenever you’re in the happy environment of being abroad. I also find that in many countries, people are more friendly, open and welcoming than in the Netherlands, or perhaps even Western Europe. This is partly what makes me feel at home so easily, the open-heartedness of others. This and the fact that I don’t think much about the future, I live now, so I better make as much out of it as I can, partly by just seeing it all!

All rights to this picture are owned by Edward Dullard

What does all this mean for my definition of home? I think it can only mean that I haven’t found home yet and don’t know if I ever will. The roads are endless and so is my curiousity. The question of where I will settle in the future remains unanswered, until I have at least seen everything and maybe, maybe still then I might prefer to remain a rolling stone, roaming around the world, not even really looking for a place to go, but just exploring, enjoying.

Home might be about finding a community, a place where you belong and I haven’t really found that place yet, but at the same time I have. What has made me happy so far is changing environment and getting to know new people from time to time. My view obviously doesn’t apply to everyone, but I think many other travellers can familiarise.

Abstractly speaking, home is where the heart is and so to give a concrete answer to the question of where home is to me, I would say that my heart belongs to the world and therefore my home is on the road.

So, to stick with this controversial problem, please tell me what you think about the subject of home and where home is for you/what it means to you.

 

The Solo Experience

One of the most-heard questions and cheesy subjects on travel blogs is:
“Why would you decide to travel alone?”
The question often goes accompanied by arguments such as fear, solitude and boredom. However, quite the opposite is true and I couldn’t keep myself from sharing the readily-exploited subject with you, but for the first time from my point of view.

A few weeks ago, I met an Italian guy at Delft station (close to where I live). He had come here for an internship and I had spoken to him on facebook before, however he didn’t have anything planned for when he arrived. Many people would regard that as ignorant, naive or just plain stupid, but I can familiarise with reckless decisions and just going wherever the wind blows. I decided to pick him up from the station and we spent the entire afternoon wandering around the city in order to find him a how-to-Dutch starter-pack, consisting of a sim-card, a bicycle, an OV-chipcard and hutspot for dinner (a very Dutch dish of mashed potatoes with carrots and onion). With my action I wasn’t sleazily trying to score some karma points, but I just liked to help as well as that it was a great opportunity to get in touch with yet another person from another area.

However, the main reason why I loved to show this stranger around so much is because it reminded me of all the people who made my travels as awesome as they were, of all the people who owned a special place in my heart just by being there and the fantastic feeling I had to know that they were there for me and made each destination special. I would like everyone who goes places to be able to experience the same and this felt like a chance to give someone a small-scale refelection of the hospitality of locals. We still hang out.

Hutspot

Make friends
The reason why I wanted to tell you this story is because it goes to show how easy it initate contacts; locals and non-locals, in a foreign country. This phenomenon mainly occurs when you’re travelling by yourself. The need to ask for directions suddenly seems to increase when there is no one by yourself who you can discuss your assumptions with. You only have your own ideas and resoursces and you certainly don’t want to get lost in an unknown city and a foreign country on your own, so you need to socialise. Sometimes this results in a hurried “left-right-second street left” and a quick smile, but sometimes in a long-lasting friendship.

The exact same thing seems to happen when you’re on a long flight, where you can only spend so much of the time pretending to be asleep on your uncomfortable chair with nowhere to stretch your legs properly. When travelling in a group or with a friend or partner it is easy to start chatting about in your own language, play a game of cards or discuss your travel plans, whereas being by yourself sort of pushes you into conversation with the lucky passenger that you were designated to share your armrest with.
On my journey to Australia, I happened to meet my first true Aussie friend like this, who later introduced me to many more amazing people. I won’t go into too much detail about how we met, but it is quite interesting that the boy that you happen to sit next to on plane flying into Sydney, happens to live in the same city that you are heading to (and is a good three hours from Sydney) and even better that his girlfriend lives in the exact same street as where you will be situated. Perfect invitation for a party and perhaps a little too coincidental, considering the size of Australia…

This was not the first nor the last friend that I met as a result of being by myself and I could (and maybe will) fill an entire post describing all the striking situations in which I met new people that had an influence in my life. If not by accident, then social networks such as meet-up or couchsurfing are the way to go to find like-minded people in your area, but that’s not what this post is about. This is about why travelling solo is such a bless and meeting interesting people is only one of them.

No compromises
Choosing which road to go down is a second one. We all know that people are different. No matter how much you have in common with someone or how good friends you are with someone, there will be things that you will want to do differently and when you’re travelling together, you’ll have to compromise. Compromising is partly self-sacrificing, which is a social thing to do, but it’s the last thing you’ll want to do when you’re away on a lifetime trip. Imagine having spend year saving up money and even longer looking forward to be able to go out and live your dream, but one of the plans you made can’t happen in the way you had in mind, because your travel buddy had a different plan or perhaps not the ability, skills or certificate to join you on your adventure. You might be too short on time to do both and if you want to stay together, both of you might go home not fully satisfied, where you both could have done it all. This might seem a little selfish, and it is, but in some cases, there is no shame in that.

I have obviously had travel buddies and travelling with company is a relief sometimes, but overall I prefer the solo experience. There is an almost-certain probability that you will meet people on the way that will want to accompany you as far as your paths cross without any forced arrangements to stay together. People come and go, that what happens in life and that’s what happens on the road. It works perfectly fine, as it always has done, but nowadays, people are too scared of being alone.

Get to know yourself
Travelling for a year after high-school should be obligatory if it was up to me. Self-knowledge is valuable, not only in your personal life, but also in later business. Travelling in is an experience that changes lifes, views and… people. Seeing different places, different cultures and moreover being open to accept and experience them leads to a completely new view on the worlds. No matter how unlikely it sounds, but this might change you as a person, in a positive way. Knowledge about the world around you might give you some more knowledge about yourself and more tolerance to other people. It will at least make you think twice about what’s really important. And believe me, being prom queen isn’t.

Travelling alone especially will make you more aware of other people around you and their needs, because they need you and your advice as much as you need theirs. You’ll have to share a room and kitches with people (unless have the funds to pay for a private hotel room, but I would still recommend staying in a hostel dorm once, just for the experience. You might hate it, but at least you can say you’ve tried!). Having felt how it is to be alone in a different environment where you want to have fun and want to be accepted, you will realise how important it is to accept other people and help them out. Life is about giving and taking, not for your own good, but for making the world a better place.

Become independent
This goes mostly for young travellers, who are just leaving their safe parents house for the first time in their lifes. Travelling will force you to take care of yourself and will give you the advantage of becoming independent sooner than non-travellers the same age as you.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll instantly become a boring, responsible adult, quite the opposite, you’ll get to be a perhaps responsible, but mostly self-sufficient and open-minded youngster.

Source: http://www.traveljournals.net

Easy to fit in
No matter where in the world you have travelled, if you have tried to stay on a budget, the above picture can’t be anything new to you. The moment you walk into a hostel dorm room and need to figure out which bed in the sweaty room full of suitcases belongs to you. It happened to me once that there was no free bed at all in the room, the mistake of the hostel, they had accidentally overbooked the room. However, even if this isn’t the case, it is often still hard to figure out which bed is still empty, because all of the dorm rooms in the hostel are continously occupied and you can consider yourself lucky that you have even found that bed.

Imagine the same situation, but now being with two or maybe even more travellers. At certain times of the year places can get so crowded that it might not be possible to find two spots in the same hostel, let alone in the same room. If you’re determined to stay together, it often results in the need to find a more expensive and therefore quiter hostel. However those extra bucks spend could also have bought you a beer or another night’s dinner.

Again, the same phenomenon seems to happen in different situations. When participating in an organised tour, being alone can give you the advantage of being able to fill a lone spot in another tour group. If it’s a busy tour, going solo can save you a lot of waiting time, because you can blend in in almost any readily existing group.

Obviously, travelling solo can be a disadvantage at the same time. Some attractions require (at least) two or four people to participate. However, it is usually easy to find people to join you and to form a group of two or four. If not, you can often skip the line in order to help a group of five out when the groups need to be even. This way I got into most of the waterslides at wet ‘n wild at the Gold Coast within minutes, where people had to stand in line for hours!

Wet ‘n wild funnel slide. Source: en.wikipedia.org

Travel cheap
I already gave away a few aspects of it being cheaper to travel alone in the last paragraph. However, there is more than that. I especially noticed this when I started arranging my trip for July. Not often have I had to book a flight for two (or more) people before, but this time I was very excited. It was the middle of the freaking night and I was bored and hoped to find cheap flights and as a matter of fact I did (possibly because no one else in the area was looking for flights at that time). However, I had searched for solo flights and then had the brilliant idea to ask a nice, positively weird and rather impulsive girl to join me. And she did. I have already spoken about my excitement of having a travel buddy before, so I’ll leave that for now.

The thing is, that once I was looking for seats for two people, prices went up by €100- €150. Sad, but logical, as people on their own can fill up whatever random seat was still empty, while people travelling together will want to sit more or less at communication distance from each other at least. This is absolutely something to take into account. If you don’t mind being on seperate seats or in drastic cases seperate flights, you might want to book apart from each other in order to save a few bucks.

Fall in love
Last but not least, falling in love is easier to do on your own. Well, not really, because you need a second person to fall in love with, but I meant when travelling on your own. I could have treated this at the “making friends” bit, but decided that it would be nicer to give love the special place it deserves. Holiday crushes, vacation loves or foreign soulmates, they don’t usually last as a result of at least one of the partners is moving about. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a good time with someone special for as long as it lasts.

Falling in love is a wonderful feeling, although in the case of holiday crushes “love” might not be the right word. However, you will meet people that are at least highly interesting to you and when you’re alone, your accesible to speak to or you could just go out and speak to them. Whereas having a friend by your side who might have an opinion or require some more info about the person you are trying to hit on might slow you down.

Besides making you more insecure, you don’t want to leave your buddy hanging when you want to sneaky out for a spontaneous cheeky night out with your new lover. And tell me, is that really something you want to miss out on?

Source: http://www.femalefirst.co.uk

All in all, I am not trying to convince you of anything. Your trip is yours and the most important is that you should live it the way you want. When you’re travelling with your partner instead of a regular friend there will be no need to fall in love, which might change the perspective a bit. However, all the other reasons for travelling alone are still valid. Nevertheless, travelling together can be fun as well. Solo,- group- and buddytravelling might be something to alternate between. Whatever you choose, make sure that you do it for you and not because someone else says so.

However, next time before you’re about to ask someone why in the world they would want to travel alone, think before you speak and consider all these reasons. Besides, they have probably already heard the same question a million times all over again.

The Liebster Award (tag)

This is not going to be a usual blog article. I’m not sure if you are going to like it, but I do feel honoured to have been tagged by my blog-friend Masha and everything needs a try. It might be a nice opportuity for you to get to know me better. Masha is, like me, a Dutch girl with a blog. However, she writes in Dutch and she blogs about books where I blog about travelling. The idea is that she gave me a list with 11 questions to answer and I am actually supposed to think of 11 new ones and tag someone else to answer them. However, I am not sure if I know any bloggers who would like that, so I am just going to post the new questions here, without any tags and who-ever likes it can answer them.

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But before I start with that, I will answer the questions that I’ve been given. As Masha is a book-blogger, not all of them will be suitable for me to answer.

1. Which book will you never read?
Easy! “50 Shades of Grey.” There are so many more interesting, slightly erotic books around that actually have a good storyline and a main character with potential.

2. What was the last book that you purchased, just because you liked the cover.
I don’t think I ever did that.

3. Which country would you like to visit?
Now this is a question for me! Obviously, there is my bucket list, but to tell you something you don’t already know, I would like to visit both Guatemala and Nepal (even though they’re at different ends of the world).

4. Do you have quirks when you read a book?
Not anything that I can think off, except that I might look really concerned, but that’s not really a quirk, is it?

5. What is your favoriete snack?
It doesn’t take me long to think about this one. My favourite snack would absolutely be a “kaassoufflee”, you can wake me up at 4am for that. For the non-dutchies, a kaassoufflee is a deep-fried cheese snack. It is basically cheese, wrapped in puff pastry and covered in bread crumbs, then diep-fried. Sounds yummie doesn’t it? 😉 Picture below!

Source: http://www.pinterest.com

6. Summer or Winter?
Anyone who has followed my blog and journeys knows that I can not often be found in colder countries, and that I am quite fun of the lovely warm sun and its vitamines. This, added up to the fact that my birthday is in summer absolutely answers this question easily: SUMMER!

7. If you were only allowed to read books written by one author, which author would it be?
As I still haven’t found the time to pass more than the first half of the first book of the game of thrones series, I ‘m going to choose George R. R. Martin. At least I’ll have plenty of books to go.

8. How many hours of sleep do you get each night and how many would you like to get?
Being a student, I consider myself lucky when I get 7 hours of sleep. However, I still feel permanently tired and think I need a few more. 9 hours of sleep each night would be perfect. Even thinking about it makes me feel like I’m in Heaven.

9. What is your favourite non-book blog?
This question obviously is not directed towards me, because I hardly have the time to read (even though I enjoy reading). I am talking about reading books now, not blogs. I do have the time for the second form of reading (not really, but hey), because I like to be inspired by other people’s expierences. Three non-book blogs (they are all three travel blogs) that inspire me a lot are:

http://whereintheworldisnina.comJournalist on the run
http://wearewanderers.info/

10. if you wouldn’t be allowed to blog about books travelling anymore, what would you write about?
As you can see, I had to adjust this question to my situation in order not to cheat at the idea of the question. The fun bit is, if I had more time to read and wasn’t allowed to write about my travels, books would possibly be what I would be writing about. That, or lifestylein general, maybe combined with opinion articles about actualities.

11.What is your favourite TV show and TV serie and why?
Believe it or not, but this is by far the hardest question of the list. Why? I don’t own a TV and don’t feel the urge to waste my time watching contentless talk shows. For this reason I have no idea which TV show would be my favourite.

On the other hand, I do have a guilty pleasure concerning TV series: I am hooked to game of thrones and can’t wait till the 15th of April when the first episode of the new season will be released. No need for a television, I’ll watch on my laptop.

My 11 questions to you
This was the end of answering my questions. Thanks Masha for the tag. Now, it is up to you guys to answer my questions if you like:

1. Are you a city or a country person?
2. What is your all-time favourite song on a road-trip?
3. If you won 10000 euros that you had to spend withing a year, what would you do with it?
4. You have to leave for a different country tomorrow. What is the first place that would come into mind?
5. What is the best, most original place that you have ever been?
6. Budget or luxury traveller?
7. Adventure, beach or city-trip?
8. Snow or sun destination?
9. What is your favourite continent?
10. How many countries have you visited?
11. What is the weirdest experience that you’ve had abroad?

Hope you guys like this for a change. Enjoy (:

Shop till you drop

Being a student has its advantages. It means you can get discounts on the cinema, high teas, restaurants; basically all the things that you are not able to afford on a student budget anyway. However, there is a huge downside to being a student too. The main drawback is time. It always seems to fly when there is a deadline coming up or when you just want to sleep a little bit longer, but time ticks away slowly when you are waiting for a party to go to.

Source: businessconjunctions.com

I must say, I do not have these moments very often when time when time seems to go slow. Not that I don’t go to any parties, more that during my “waiting time” I am usually quite busy trying to finish other things. One exception to this time-never-seems-to-go-slow-for-me phenomenon is having to wait untill the end of the semester to be able to travel. And yes, we have a week off sometimes during the semester, but spending a week somewhere does not leave the same impression as spending a month or a year in another place, let alone trying to fly to a destination further than three hours away and being able to stay a week only. Nope, summer really is the only period of time that we can actually spend useful, in terms of travelling.

Wanderlust, unfortunately, does not just disappear in the meantime. I read an article that there is an actual gene that causes the desire to travel and can never sit still. With another major trip ahead it is even harder to concentrate on the real world, but luckily there is a cure: shopping!

Source: business.time.com

Shopping?! You may wonder. I used this exact line before, and I might use it ore often: I am not a fashion blogger. I am not a girl that saves up to spend ridiculous amounts of money and can talk about some meaningless vest for 40 mintes in a vlog. I can’t even remember the last time I went casual clothes shopping. Has probably been over a year again, but anyway, how can shopping be a cure then? Well here is a small selection of what I bought in the past few weeks:


My shoppings include a map, travel guide, teva sandals, canvas hiking shoes (tropic-proof) and a spork. This is called living towards your dream-trip. Even getting vaccinated for overseas-areas can be fun this way! (Okay, I’m weird, but you get the idea right?)

Overall, I hate spending money, but today I felt so happy after leaving the outdoor store I had just visited, complete with two filled shoeboxes. There were so many other other items that I would have bought if I hadn’t found the strength to retain myself. It is better to collect your stuff slowly, suitable for the trip you’re going to make and think and revise before you decide. Maps and travel guides obviously differ for each area, but clothes and moreover shoes are quite an important purchase. They may cost a few bucks, but I have learned over time that buying strong, decent shoes and clothing is absolutely worth the investment. The beauty of that is that quality-gear lasts long and you can just use it for your next trip, meaning that, when you don’t have to spend any money on shoes next time, you might be able to buy that long-wished scuba-diving watch. This is how your collection starts. And what you don’t have yet, you can possibly borrow. No need to go all geared up, just the basics are fine. Whether your a wandering student or a backpacker, our priortes are the same. Travel light and travel cheap, as we don’t have the funds to do anything else.

Like, share, click, comment

Dear readers, I haven’t been able to write in a while. Why? Well first of all, I was on a holiday, which indicates that I do have a lot to write about. That is actually true, only I haven’t had the time to put my stories up yet. I did have a great time, as a matter of fact it was the first time ever that I’ve been to a country that is colder than my own (three of them actually). Not that the Netherlands is an extreme case of cold weather, I just like my vitamin D. The lack of sunshine resulted into a nasty sickness that lasted for over a week. Not the best time to take out my laptop and write happy stories while having to run to the toilet every ten minutes.

Anyhow, I just deleted two complete paragraphs, because I was drifting off (again). What I did have time for when I was tucked nice and warm in bed, trying to sleep my fever off, was reading facebook. Reading many many useless articles, silly status updates and ridiculous “like and win” contests.

As there were moments where I felt good enough to write a few lines, but not an entire blog posts, I decided that I might as well spend my time being useless on the internet, rather than staring at my ceiling. This is where the facebook contests came in. Like, share, click, comment. Every company has its own way of advertising for their goods by means of online competitions and I never believed in it, but I guess it works for commercial purposes and we all know why. People join because they want to win, and obviously we do. When you see something on the internet that you have slight interest in, but would not buy yourself, you would still try to get it for free if you had the chance.

This is what happened to me while I was in bed sick. My internet scrolling beviour brought me to this:
colour-your-world-shirt-1024x1024
Yes. That is what you think it is, a colourable world-map on a T-shirt. I’ve had a plan to paint a world-map on my wall for ages. Same priciple as the shirt; colour all the countries you visited. Only problem with a wall-painting is that it is quite hard to take with you on a trip. That is exactly what I told the company “Travel Smart” when they wanted to know why you should win this shirt in exchange for a chance to actually win it. I told them that a shirt was so much easier to take travelling than a wall-painting and that this is important, because the people you meet on the way are important. With a shirt like this, they can sign it and you’ll have a permanent reminder of everybody who made your trip so special, because it would not have been without them.

Being sick and entering a facebook competetion because of boredom taught me that facebook competitions are not always bullshit. Travel Smart agreed with my entry and a week later…
1504975_855710467823649_5137391096767176555_n
….this is what I found in my mail. Perhaps if you want an item badly enough, your odds of winning it increase. Despite feeling terrible, my day was made and my view on facebook contests has possitively changed. Now it’s time to meet many more new friends in new countries. Where will you sign my shirt?