Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Koh PhiPhi: The Best of.

Click on the map to zoom in
There is more to PhiPhi than just Pad Thai, buckets and drunken idiots. After weeks and weeks spent in PhiPhi I got to try quite a lot of places on the islands. Here are my top eateries, bars and activities!

Best Bakery:
 "PhiPhi Bakery", ok so it doesn't sound very original but it is as good as its lack of originality. And I'm french I know a whole lot about a good croissant. Before setting off for your day indulge in  awesome coconut bread or may be a vanilla donut.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Travel Playlist November

Yes it is that time again...The Travel Playlist! For you on the road to get some new ideas to feed for your iPod (or mp3 player of your choice should I say.) and for anyone to turn up the volume and have a little disco wherever you are!

VIDEO/SINGLE of the Month:
The Getaway Plan - The Reckoning.
I was very happy to hear that the band was reforming, and the promising new single is surely a sign of yet another quality album from the melbourne band. Loving lead singer Matt's vocals on the chorus.!

Having a bad day? Don't say "I hate everyone" (by say anything) you have probably some pals to bitch to about your day.

Thats for "Certain" (by set your goals)

And really if you "Love your friends, die laughing" (by man overboard)  So thats ok.

Then you'll realise, that these days are indeed the "Glory Days" (by sharks)

And there you go. You are "Back in the game" (by jamie t)

So pull some "Moves like Jagger" (maroon5)  and everything will be sweet.

That's it folks!

Monday, 31 October 2011

What's it like to work and live in Vang Vieng, Laos.

"Oh man, I nearly died in Vang Vieng, Thank god we only stayed for 3 days."
I heard that a lot. But now imagine staying there for way more than 3 days. More like 3 weeks. 
Now, I hear you "You just got drank everyday and the people that works there are just your typical stupid drunk backpackers that from doing nothing earn more than locals." Well yes. And absolutely not. 

How can you say no. Free food, free drinks, free accommodation. Backpacker heaven. Liver hell.

So me and my travel buddy (I quote from comments: "The cute redhead on your travel photos") got jobs at the restaurant/bar OhLaLa! . What is like to "work"in VangVieng? Here is our schedule:

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

To travel bloggers and others: On earth and things that scare me.

 Ok there, so before starting shooting comments informed or ignorant about how informed or ignorant I am and how patronizing of me, please let me make my point.

I'm not tree hugger. I don't fit with your stereotypical hippie, green, whatever you want to call it activist, environmental conscious people, I'm far from doing the maximum. But I was thinking. And here I write to my fellow travel bloggers, but any backpacker or travel enthusiasts really. Yes. I am talking about preventing our world to go to well, hell.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

The Best Tuk-Tuk driver in Siem Reap

Meet Cobra. No worries, this one won't bite you. But he will take you to all the best places in Siem Reap and has an endless knowledge of the city.

We met Cobra at the Garden Village guesthouse in Siem Reap. He took our friends to Angkor Wat. And f rom that blossomed a friendship. We asked him to take us to a tattoo place. "A good one".

Yes, we did the classic thing of getting a tattoo while backpacking. No it's no my name in thai/khmer/laos.

No, its not a buddhist prayer or a salamander.

Anyway. So there we are, driving in the back streets of Siem Reap, bumping along the road and getting splashed in the floods. We get to a small house. There we meet our tattoo artist, one of cobra's friend.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Living in Hong Kong: First month round-up.

So there it is. A month in crazy Hong Kong. And so far I think we are having a love-hate relationship, Hk and me.

A month and 3 days ago to be exact, I was leaving dream like PhiPhi island to start my life as a master student. Back to words like lecture, seminar and essays. I'm really passionate about my studies (a dignified way to say that yes I'm a massive geek/nerd/bookworm), so I did not mind it, even after the freedom of a year spent traveling around the world. I remembered fondly my years as a student in Kingston, the long hours in the library, the strong bond between students, the warmth of our local pubs after a long day studying, the sports teams etc... basically your regular english university life.

But I'm not in England anymore. And this has nothing to do with before.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

October Travel Playlist

I still have the summer feeling in my mind, so here is what kept me dancing through the Hong Kong streets:

Foster the people -Pumped up Kicks
Blink182-Up all night
The Descendents- Hope
Taking Back Sunday- Summer, man
SomethingALaMode- 5am
Dead Prez and WTF!?- Hip Hop Remix
Strange Talk- Climbing walls

Guilty pleasure of the month:
Sarah Bareilles - Gonna get over you

Click to watch the video!

Friday, 30 September 2011

Koh Phi Phi: Accommodations Review

Phi Phi. Turquoise water, sandy beach and hell of a good nightlife. But after a night fueled with Sang Som, you want a good place to rest your head on. Here are my picks.

Partying up with travelers and Jojo at Tara Inn
Room with fan - 500 baht (2 pax) 400baht (1pax) - negotiable if you are nice
Dorms - 200baht

If you are in PhiPhi to party, this is a good place to stay. First of all the owners are lovely. JoJo and Moon will always be there to help you out during your stay. The rooms are basic and clean, and if you have a problem it will be fixed up within a second. The location is ideal, right up at the start of the street leading to the main party beach. There is a shop right by it and a pharmacy to buy your bottle of water and your paracetamol for your hungover. In need of vitamin C? There is a fresh juice stall right by the reception.


Hello everyone,

The blogging is back on. Ish.

There is bits and bobs that still need fixing, but I hope you like it.
I chose to stay on blogger because I just don't have time to get on the full wordpress thing.
"But I've got a very busy life too, and I find the time!" Good for you! I don't!
So I decided to keep it nice and easy. Just a topic bar to get to articles easily, a travel picture link on the right and oh yeah, new blog posts.

Moving on! It's a new school year and it's been quite crazy so far. I moved to Hong Kong, started my MA and got into a million and half projects!

In 60 days on the clock, I'll be going onto my next adventure, becoming a dive master in Koh Phi Phi.
So stay tuned!

Thursday, 15 September 2011


Hey everyone.

I made it to Hong Kong and I had the best ever time in Thailand! I'm redoing the blog completely, so for the next few weeks its gonna be a bloody mess, but I'll be back veryyyy soon!!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Home and Away

I'm off! Hello backpack, beaches, buckets and fit Aussie backpackers. It's back on the road for me so I'll see you in a month yeah?

Might do a couple of updates while away but no laptop this time so no.

Bye Bye!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Travel Playlist July

Hey there. I nearly forgot about July's playlist! When it's my monthly favorite thing to do on this blog! So there you go.

Song of the month:
The Belligerents - Such a crime

Jamaica - I think I like U 2

Girls- Heartbreaker

Passion Pit- Sleepyhead (Borgore Remix)

Tubelord - I am azzerad

Battles- Ice cream

Girl Talk - Down for the Count

And probably one of my favorite tracks from the start of the year:
Adele - Rolling in The Deep (Jamie XX Shuffle)

And the guilty pleasure of the month:

Taylor Swift- Story of us

Friday, 15 July 2011

The Hostel Tales: How budget travelling can get you into the 4th dimension.

When you go travelling, the world is your oyster, you have no home and are free of all worries. Practically, you need a bed at night. Thank god for hostels ! But there is a bit of a trick there. See it’s an interesting reciepe (would I dare to say for disaster ?). Take a few travellers, some ready to paint the town red, some happy to read their lonely planet in bed after a hot cocoa. Then put them all together in the same room, more or less clean. Add a few (and more) drinks, hours of tiring journeys and different characters. Shake it all up. Here is your ready mix for some pretty special stories. I’m not going to lie, it mainly involves nakedness, alcohol and embarresent. But hey, that’s part of backpacking too isn’t it ?

« There is someone naked in my bed »
Working at reception in a hostel gets you to deal with interesting situations. One morning a backpacker asked me if it was possible to get some new sheets I replied for sure, but why ?
-Well, there was a naked woman in my bed. 
As I mentioned before you get very different people. Turned out that the naked woman had first of all visited the owner of the bed above and after some frolicking decided that in fact, it was far better to sleep in a fresh bed right there.
A pair of clean sheets later and 5 more complaints for « loud romantic noises » during night from the rest of the dorm, and everyone was fine.

The Excelsior, best hostel in Sydney - photo: Katie B.
«  I locked myself out of my room in tiny boxers » 
You thought it was great that your hostel had really nice bar to party. But how would you feel if you had to walk through it at 2am only wearing boxers ? Well. What if you just locked yourself out the room, went to the toilet and thought you would enjoyed  the dark corridors at night wearing nothing ? And what if  you finally realised that now you need to go down to reception to get a new key and therefore cross the entire hostel ? Always entertaining on a packed Saturday night.  Oh and don’t forget which room you are in.
Because there is CCTV. We can see you wandering naked through the hostel trying to figure out which door is yours.

« Why can’t I bring back prostitutes »
Sometimes it is not only a language barriers but serious mentality differences. No matter the nationality. But how do you explain to three drunk Polish backpackers that no, they can’t bring back prositutes. It went something like this:
- Why can’t they go with us ? We’ve paid for our beds and we’ve paid for her .
- Can’t have people who are not guests in the hostel. Safety policy. Especially for illegal paid sex.
- But it will be quick I only paid for an hour !
- No!
-Can we use the chill out room?
-The Toilets?

I could go on and on, but I think these three are fairly funny. So here is a few tips to get on with your dorm :
-Buy some pyjamas
-Stick to your own bed
-Keep your frolicking to a minimal noise. You know what, actually just don't.
-Don't bring back prostitutes.

Simple as. Enjoy your travels.

You can also find this article as a guest blog for my friends Cheap O Air! Check them out! Los Angeles Vacation packages

Friday, 8 July 2011

On a personal note...

Rachael, Liz and I. Waterfall in Koh Phangan.

I noticed that on every single travel blog, there was a little presentation of the blog owner. So I thought I'll do one of these post now.I will be short do not worry.

Ohlala, Qbar and Buck bar in Vang Vieng
So I'm french and part brazilian (I do not speak a word of portugese though. Shame). I'm 22years old soon to be 23. I grew up in Paris then I moved to London for about 4 years and during this time I did a BA Hons in Journalism with History of Art, Design and Film at Kingston University in Surrey. I love London with all my heart and I wish I could still live there. BUT. I went travelling with my best mate for 6months in Asia and Australia, ran out of money and came back to Paris to save up while working in a backpacker hostel. I also spent quite a bit of time living in Australia, in Sydney.

Trekking in Chiang Mai
 I always loved travelling. It's a family thing, there is only 3 members of our family in France and the rest is either in Hong Kong or New York.

I was lucky enough to travel quite a bit with my dad when I was younger and that soon became an addiction, which goes well with my other passion, journalism.

I'm now moving to Hong Kong to do an MA in Journalism.

Few facts about me:
-I've got a strange english accent which is a mixture between south london accent, australian, amercian and of course a hint of french, which result in people thinking I'm South African or Australian.

Buckets up! in Vang Vieng at Bar 3
 -I have moved every year since I'm thirteen, sometimes every 6months.

-I have a cat and dog.

-I'm a bit of an indie kid and nothing sounds better to me as a night out than a gig.

-I hate nightclubs such as Oceana, altough I'll dance to the same music in a beachbar anywhere in the world.

-While travelling I've been called "The Fish" because I can hold my breath under water for a longtime. Not because I drink like one.

-I have the biggest fear of snakes. Which amused my backpacker friends a lot when they killed a snake in Vang Vieng then tried to chase me with it, then took me to the Snake House in Cambodia where you eat on a snake pit. I know. Hilarious, right?

"Chilling" in Pattaya. Our worst stop in Thailand!
-I'm scared of heights but not bungee jumping. Go figure.

-I was a national and university champion in cheerleading with my uni squad Kingston Knights. By the way, yes, cheerleading IS a SPORT. I don't wave pompoms, I throw people in the air.

-I'm a pretty decent cook.

That's about it. If you got questions, go ahead.

OH and my next trip starts in 16days: London-Manchester-Bangkok-PhiPhi-Tao-Samui-Phangan-Bangkok-Doha-Back home.

Dining in Hong Kong

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Memories from Bangkok.

First ever night on KhaoSan Road.

Here is what I wrote on our second night in Bangkok, about a year ago, at the start of my "gap yah". It makes me smile. Clearly I had no idea I was on Kaoh San Road, about sex shows and how all that was "normal" haha. You live and learn, I guess.

"We are finally here. After an easy going 11 hours-flight, we landed in hot and sticky Bangkok. It was so good to taste the humid heat as soon as we stepped out of the airport....before getting in an icy cold taxi.
The traffic here is worst than the M25 at rush hour and at every corner you come close to hit a speedy tuktuk.

We are staying in a beautiful hotel in one of Bangkok busiest street. The smells of the food vendors in the damp weather is overwhelming but oh-so tempting. 24 hours bars, old women selling cheap silver jewelery or kids with a bunch of roses, all try to get the attention of the "fa-rangs" (foreigners) that we are.

After a much needed shower, we decided to find a typical place to feed our very hungry stomachs.
"Ped-Ped" I ask. (very spicy)
I think they underestimated me. I empty half of a bottle of tabasco on my pad see ew. Now that's better.

We then sat down with a few cold beers in the bar,if you can call it a bar set up in front of our hotel, furnished with few plastic chairs and tables. A quid a bottle.

In a street that offers a wide choice of hostels, you never far from another bunch of backpackers. We meet some Irish fellow globe trotters, who just like us, are on their first night out in Bangkok.
Bar after bars we discover the real Thai nightlife. The local whiskey is poured way too many times, but the company is good. I'll remember forever our tuktuk race through the empty streets, the very cheesy guitar singers, the stray cats everywhere. We end up in a bar that only on a gap year I would dare to enter. Let say I'll never look at ping pong the same way. Classic.

Today, we fought the harassing heat (well, it is 38 degrees) with a long boat ride along the Royal palace and trough the boat market. After a first taste of the architecture, the wild life, the smells, I am starting to think that yes, it is going to be amazing.

Next stop, Pattaya. Famous for it's seafood, nightlife and prostitutes. We'll keep you updated."

The glamour of Travelling, just like an A-lister

Jonny, I and Liz: First day in Bangkok

"I can't, we are jetting off to Bangkok in a few days, because you see you are doing a RTW trip...What do you mean you don't know what RTW means?"

Yes, travelling can make you sound ohsocool (or snobby, your pick) but it's not always all glitter, buckets and beaches to die for. In a post inspired by "Travel with a nine year old", here is a few of the moments you tell yourself: "Why, Oh, Why did I want to do this."

-Thinking you are going to a club (all was planned by the boys we were travelling with), ending up in a sex show with things flying out places they SHOULD NOT. OR EVEN BE CLOSE TO IT. EVER.

-Watching my best friend throwing up in the middle of nowhere on a 14hours visa run to Malaysia with a number of angry backpackers staring (including the driver) and waiting in the heat, because of course the A/C doesn't work. And while you really really want to help her, you cannot do anything, if only to engage with the backpackers "Soooo, where about have you been before?"

Looking over the Blue Mountains, Sydney
-It's falling on my rear end about 1000times while trekking in Thailand in spectacular manners. Turns out I'm not as agile as Lara Croft. Big disapointment there. I did have a long plait and short shorts.

-It's fracturing your arm in Laos and have no idea HOW? Blame it on the bucket.

-It's holding your best friend's hand at Vang Vieng Hospital while she gets a wound cleaned up facing the wall, trying to happily chat while you see a man arriving in the ER room with his body open in half. Just not to freak her out.

-It's crashing your bike in a massive sign that says "Come and see the monkeys closer". I did.
-The lovely sound of people shagging in the bed above mine, when I'm working at 7am.

-Trying not to fall on a monk in a crowded bus while balancing yourself on one foot because there is a whole on the floor of the bus where your second foot is supposed to stand. And not to forget that you are still holding onto your backpack. And that for 3 hours (kudos to Liz).

-It's running away not to be slap with a dead snake.

-It's being spiked with god knows what twice in four days in Koh Phi Phi (I was safely brought back to my room, just in case you were wandering about my safety, eh.)

And there is plenty more...

And to that I can add the loss of all kind of privacy, being walked on more than many times, getting used to sweat, dirt, cuts, mosquito bites, long waits, extra costs, 24h travel bug, being mugged, lost, drunk, depressed, happy. And you know what the best part is, I would not change a thing (A part maybe being mugged, not cool.) .

Where do I sign for round 2?

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

June Travel Playlist

Long time no blog post! I finally quit my job and that deserve a little bit of music!! There is also quite a few news, but I'll share all that in a different post.

This month I love:

Nicola Roberts- The beat of my drum

Good Shoes - Morden (Metronomy Remix)

Chiddy Band - Truth (ft Passion Pit)

Cults - Abducted

Aloe Blacc - I need a dollar

Baths - Lovely Bloodflow

Guilty pleasure of the month:

LMFAO - Party Rock Anthem

Have a good rest of the week guys

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Did you know...about Princess Juliana International Airport?

When you go travelling, or even just on holidays you expect at some point some kind of quiet time on a beautiful beach.  And you would think that a gorgeous caribbean beach should do the trick. Not if you end up at Maho beach near the Princess Juliana Airport.

Situated on the French/Dutch Island of Saint Martin, the beach is famous for its unusual plane sightings. The tarmac of the airport near by is so small that the planes will litterally knock off your beach hat. But you know that a picture is worth a thousand word so there you go. (Oh and by the way, although this looks quite impressive there is only one crash reported and not even on the beach. Which is quite good knowing that in 2007 the airport saw more than 103,000 aircraft movements.)

Friday, 3 June 2011

Where to drink in Paris: Stolly's

“No way am I staying at the hostel tonight. It’s been 3 nights in a row I need a change man!” That’s a something that I hear regularly in my hostel. We throw awesome parties at St christopher’s Inn and our midnight Jagertrain is always a hit but sometimes our dear backpackers like a change. So then they come up to the bar: ”Scuse me, do you know a good place to to have a drink?” Well yes I do. It’s my headquarters, the Stolly’s. Situated in the heart of the Marais, this bar is a little hidden jewel.
There you will find awesome rock music, cheap pints and hot barmen. Mind you, it’s tiny. Your student halls were probably bigger; however they also have a terrace outside.
The crowd? Hipsters, Americans, English, French, tourists, locals. Basically a nice mix.
And what do you drink there? Strong alcohol, my dears! Try their no soda Caiphirina or one of their Tabasco shots. Want to start slowly? Grab a cider.
Can I eat there? No , they don’t do food. However you can order some Californian rolls for 5euros from the sushi place opposite.
Overall awesome little bar, like there is not many left in Paris.
Tip: Befriend the barman and you could be staying for one hell of a lock in. Tested and approved.
See you there.

16 rue Cloche Perce
 75004 Paris
Metro: Hotel de Ville

Monday, 16 May 2011

Sunday, 15 May 2011

LaoLao - I feel fire burning

There is one thing I discovered in Laos apart from smiley people and that speaking french can get you discounts, the famous LaoLao. And as every dinner started by a shot of it (and finished by many) I wondered where that white alcohol (that tasted so differently from places to places and came into so many recycled bottles) actually came from. If you gonna burn your brain cells like there is no tomorrow, might as well read a bit about it before becoming blind from it.

First of all did you know that people from Laos are the heaviest drinkers in SEA? The Amy Winehouse of Asia has many rituals such as the traditional reception ceremony that involves quite a lot of drinking. Basically they make a mean alcohol and they are more than happy to share it with the backpacker by the litre.

So what was that in my bucket in Luang Prabang?
Well it was a rice whiskey. Depending on where you drunk it from it could have been a nicely made moonshine or some nail varnish drinking like experience made at the back of a shop. Although it seems to be the same word, it is actually two separate words when you can put the right pronunciation in. lao (falling down tone) means alcohol and Lao (rising sound) means, well, Laos. It is one of the symbol of the Laos pride and is often the second source of income for most of people (sell fruits by day, make whisky at night, wait for the tourist).
I really want to make some at home to remember these awesome hangovers from SEA and get all my friends in the same state I was in.
Sure my dear. Here is how to make it.
-Boil some rice (you should mesure the water needed with a buffalo horn)
-Let the cooked rice ferment for 5days in the open air until it turns into mash
Now the tricky part:
-Boil the mash in a copper kettle with a condenser tube so no steam escape at 150°F
-Filter the liquid that comes out of your condenser.
-Get the shot glasses out, you are done.

Liz and I, experiencing LaoLao Mai Tai bucket in VangVieng
I don’t feel like shooting it. Why should I do?
Make a cocktail!

Pygmy Slow Lorange
1/3 Lao Lao
1/3 Green tea
1/3 Orange squash/Juice
A dash of lime juice
Build/High Ball
Shake the lao lao, the green tea and squeeze a few bits of lime.
In a high ball glass, build your orange squash or juice at the bottom. Add some crushed ice. Use the strainer to slowly add the laolao and the green tea to create a nice layer. Garnish with mint and a slice of lime.

Oh and I nearly fogort; you can flavor it by adding some scorpions, bees, or snakes. Niceeee.

Monday, 25 April 2011

The April Travel Playlist

Canterbury-Sparks Will Fly "Baby I've been everywhere, and I'm not done yet"

Katy Perry- TGIF

Passion Pit-Sleepyhead

MSTRKRFT - Heartbreaker

Flight Facilities - Crave Ft Giselle

Fake Blood- I think I like it

Strange Talk- Climbing Walls

Jolie Chérie- Insomnie

And the guilty pleasure of the month
Black Eyed Peas - Just can't get enough

A sunny playlist for sunny places!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

A day in Newtown, Sydney

Forget the Sydney Opera bar,  Scubar, and the party buses driving you around Darling Harbor.
I’m taking you for a day out  to alternative and indie kids paradise, Newtown. Although only one station from Central, backpackers tend to miss this lively area.

Until my last trip to Australia, I have never been a backpacker in Sydney. I wasn’t really one this time around either as I was living at my friend’s place.
But although I enjoyed discovering that you can get “Thai style” buckets in some of the backpacker bars in the city and that party buses are actually quite fun, I am dearly in love with the Sydney I knew without fruit picking in mind.  

Here is my guide to a place often forgotten for the Bondi sunshine and lifeguards. So put away you boardies and pick your favorite pair of skinny jeans.
Newtown is amazing for food. Every time I went to Oz, I ended up piling on the pounds because I lived so close to so many delicious places.  I am actually slightly drooling when I think of it. Get me there now.
To start the day right, one of my favorite places for breakfast is Café Sophia on Erskenville Road. You have to try their banana raspberry melon smoothie with salmon and eggs benedicts or their French toasts. Actually try everything. Just go every morning for 4 months like I did.
For lunch, I would generally go for one of the many Thai restaurant on King’s Street, Newtown main road. Most of places are vegan/vegetarian and although I m neither vegan nor vegetarian, I did get a little bit addicted to fake duck, pak choi and rice $6 lunch boxes.

To walk off all this food, shop around!  Newtown has lot to offer when it comes to retail therapy, whether it’s one the many vintage stores or young designers’ outlets, you will find everything to replace your old Vang Vieng “In the tubing” vest.
Then head to the art gallery “Oh really?” on Enmore Road. Oh really? is a collective/magazine/gallery presenting the latest street artists around.  They regularly organize openings and you could find yourself having a beer with artist Ears while nodding to some breakbeat. Always nice. Check out what’s going on at

Then it’s time to wind down. Head down for a cold long neck at my favorite ever pub in Sydney, The Court House (“The Courtie”) on Australia Street.  Cheap drinks, a lovely beer garden decorated with fairy lights, a lively atmosphere and very important, a pool table. I can’t count how many good nights started there. Food is also nice, very affordable and the portions are massive.
If you are still hungry from your day then try the nachos to share. Then move on for some cocktails on the Zanzibar Roof. You will find a cosy terrace and the staff there is always lovely (and not too shabby looking either, just saying).
If the schooners have gone straight to your head, then it’s time to go and pull some shapes on the dance floor. I have to say this is not in Newtown.  On a Friday I’ll head to Mum at World Bar in Kings Cross to watch live music and listen to the latest indie-electro. Check the coming up MUM nights on MusicFeeds.  On any other night check out Sydney promoters and all around cool kids UPTOOUR HIPS  for the best nights in town (seriously).

And there you go,  I can assure you this will be hell of a good day. 

Now there is a lot more to discover by yourself in Newtown and around. But it would take way too long to tell you all about it and I have still things left to see myself. It’s alright; I’ll be back very soon. I’ll see you at The Courtie.
Ps: If you were still to be hungry on your way home, stop by Saray’s on Enmore Road for a pite (also called Laknore) ,a filled bread from Kosovo with lemon juice on it. Delicious.

Cafe Sofia: 7 Swanson St Erskineville NSW 2043
Oh Really? Gallery: 55 Enmore rd Newtown. Open Friday-Sunday 11am till 6pm.
The Court House: 202 Australia Street Newtown, 2042
World Bar: 24 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross
Saray: 18 Enmore Rd, Newtown, 2042

Written up for

Saturday, 23 April 2011

How to raise money for backpacking?

Wishing tree in Sydney's Botanical Gardens: another way to get some cash?

Strapped for cash, but dreaming of that trek on the Machu Pichu? Fear not! I am exactly the same. Therefore I am brainstorming to find new ways to raise money. Here is what I came up with and intend to try out.

1. Work / Moving home to mum and dad (when available)
What? W.O.R.K? No sorry I only do sunbathing. Right if that is your answer, well, good on you, you’ve got the cash already, so please scroll down to the next post or something. Right, moving on.
I have a job, so well this is my first source of savings.  And I moved back to mum and dad. Area covered.

2. Bake sale.
I can hear you giggle from here. Don’t mock the bake sale. Everyone loves a good cake. It asks minimum capital, it’s fun to do (fun to say!). I remember back at school, we would make a bundle from cookies and carrot cake to finance our school trips. I am going to intend to do that at my hostel on a sunny day just when exhausted backpackers will come back. But I am not that selfish, because I would feel bad to take all the money from backpackers to finance my buckets on a beach, I am going to choose a charity to split the profit with.

Classic but always good. Need a guitar, amplifiers or clothes? Ally’s own car boot sales online. I will post my shop up on this blog.

Easy job only a few hours at night/day, and quick way to make some cash (as long as you don’t spend it that night, happened before.)

Might as well use that journalism degree of mine. From pitching newstories about potatoes to going to rubbish gigs. I will be a word whore.

6.Insert Idea here.
I am all ears people, what is YOUR plan to get that cash flowing to get the extra mile?

To be continued....

Travel Updates!

Chilling on a prang in Ayutthaya

Right so I thought that, on this sunny day I would do a personal update on the travel project.

And there I am, all settled back in sunny (for the moment) Paris. I completed the first step of my challenge. I found a job. I wait tables.
Liz and I at Angkor Wat
Easy escape you will say. Fair enough, it is not the most glamorous job I could have got, but you know if it gets me back on the road, so be it. I work at St Christopher's Inn in the XIXe "arrondissement". It's a backpacker hostel. This time I get to be on the other side of the counter. And I kind of like it.
I found a TEFL for September. I read plenty of travelling books to get the inspiration up and I meet people that know some Vang Vieng friends. The atmosphere is fairly different from the crazy hotels I stayed at through the world but it's definetly good.

So there you go, one day after the other, I get closer to my goal. It's long and not that exciting but when I set foot on Koh Phangan for NYE I will enjoy it more than ever. I gave up a boyfriend, friends, a lovely flat in east London and a media job to fulfill my dream of going back travelling. Each "café au lait" served gets me an extra mile further on the road.

But I want to ask you backpackers, travellers, bloggers what are you ready to give up or what have you already gave up for travelling?

Friday, 8 April 2011

Places to eat in Paris (lunch/teatime/dinner)

Instead of talking about far away places out of my comfort zone, I am going to talk to you about my hometown: Beautiful Paris. So ok, I left Paris when I was 18 but 4 years on I still love it. I am now back in the city of romance and I thought I would share some of my favorite places.

There is one thing I really missed from France and it is the restaurants, the café sitting outside on a nice terrace. It’s cliché, I’ll give you that. But it’s a  fact. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good pub lunch. Be sure to find me on a Sunday curl up next to the fireplace of some nice public house somewhere in London. 

However I think I enjoy even more a French restaurant dinner, then walking through the streets of Paris at night, it’s got something magical.
 Enough with the cheap poetry and let’s get down to business.

Fillet d’entrecote avec sa fameuse sauce, pommes alumettes et sa salade aux noix / Rib eye with its famous sauce, French fries and walnut salad – Le Relais de l’Entrecote
20, rue Saint-Benoît, 6th Arrondissement Métro: St Germain des Prés (They have several locations but this is without a doubt my favorite.)

The first thing I eat every time I go back to Paris is a good Entrecote-frites (rib eye with French fries) and it had to be very very rare.
And if you want a French brasserie feeling, with a classic French dish, well, this is the place to do it. It is generally busy so try to drop by early. Try it with a good red wine, may be a Medoc Bordeaux. And enjoy stereotypical French culture.  And if you are still a bit peckish , L’entrecote proposes a large choice of desserts. Give the profiteroles a go. Real profiteroles, not Tesco ones with the weird white horrible cream in it.

Le macaron aux frambroises fraîches/ Fresh raspberry macaroon – Hotel Costes
239, rue Saint Honoré, 1er arrondissement  Métro : Opera /Palais Royal/Pyramides

Right for this place I must say, you need to put the flipflops away. Angelina Jolie is a regular and so is Kate Moss. Very hefty priced I hear you say. Well yes. Very much so. But you not only paying for your food (the pink crunchy and sticky shell, the soft-melting in your mouth cream, the fresh bursting with flavor raspberries) , you are paying for the beautiful restaurant with a charming courtyard, the impeccable service and the lovely feeling of treating yourself every now and then. And you know what, I eat a LOT of macaroons, and this one is definitely in my top two (the other one being a pistachio macaroons from Laduree as pistachio is my favorite flavor.). Also try their down to a notch mojito.  So ok you will drop 30 euros for a mojito and a dessert but you’ll enjoy every sip and every bite. But don’t lick the plate, it’s not quite the place.

Burritos, Fajitas, Nachos del Pollo – Mexi  & Co
10, Rue Dante, 5th arrondissement Métro: Maubert-Mutualite / St Michel

I love mexican food. I love it. Well, when I say Mexican food, I do mean mainstream Mexican food (because I know that people while come up to me and say “when I was in Mexico , actually it was…” Blah blah blah, I haven’t been there yet, so in the meantime, I will gorge myself on the Californian version).
Mexi & Co is a tiny, colorful restaurant in the heart of St Michel near the Quartier Latin. You’ll find a very nice selection of Mexican beers and the restaurant doubles as a grocery shop where you can load up in guacamole for your next fiesta.
Nothing to do with the Hotel Costes, here, you eat on the same table that your neighbors and help yourself for drinks in the fridge.  It’s a very simple menu and you can get a filling meal for 7euros.
Try their awesome pitchers of Margarita.
It is a perfect place to spice up your visit in Paris with a bunch of friends, before moving on to the many bars in the Quartier Latin.

This could be one of my favorite food day. Lunch at Le relais de l’entrecote, goûter (that’s how we call our afternoon snack. 'goo-té') at L’Hotel costes, then meeting friends at Mexi & Co. Not really diet kind of day, but you only live once. Go for a run along the Seine (the river in Paris "FYI") or in the Jardin des Tuileries  the next morning to burn it off.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Did you know...about Indian words in English?

The other day I was watching a documentary about India, and to my surprise I discovered that a lot of English words are actually from this country. Now you see English is not my first language (in case you haven’t noticed), therefore I did not know about it. So I decided to do some research, because it’s all nice and well to go out there and see the world, but it’s also good to see what the world gave us once we Europeans tried to conquer it all (well, you, native English people, me , a frenchie, it just gave me a cheaper visa to Laos).

Indian words (and I use the term Indian very loosely here has there is an insane amount of different languages and dialects and I am trying to keep it simple) have been slowly integrated into the English vocabulary for more than 400 years, after England started to shape their first Empire with private companies in India in late 16thcentury(and then you know, colonized the place, war, battles, trade, bigger British empire, crown reigned there from 1858-1947, but I am summing up there).

Thomas Babington Macualay, British poet and historian stated in 1835: “"It is, I believe, no exaggeration to say that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanskrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgements used at preparatory schools in England." This gentleman would be very disappointed to know that a few centuries later; the English language still uses freely so many words borrowed from the Indian languages. Author like Rudyard Kipling made some of these words and names very famous in “The Jungle book” (jungle meaning wilderness or forest).

Take for example Doolally (I do realize that it is slightly old fashioned) is from the town “Daolali” where the English soldiers in charge there got camp fever from boredom, therefore became doolally.

There are about 700 words in the Oxford dictionary borrowed from India. First of all it started with words that did not have any translation such as yoga, khaki or sari. It became included in the English language the same way that under the Old and Middle English period French and Latin words came into use. But India sounds so much exotic, doesn’t it?

There is nothing “doolally” about all this, even everyday words such like ginger or actually from India. Here are a few other words which take their roots in India; rather it is Tamil, Hindi, etc…
-Veranda is from the Tamil “verum” and “tharai” which means “open space”.
-Avatar which means reincarnation (I guess gamers do reincarnate themselves into a better warrior form)
-Pajamas “leg garment”
-Thug “thief, conman”
-Dungaree is from 17th century and was an Indian coarse made of cotton fabric, and it was named after the area of Bombay that makes the fabric “dungri”.
-Mango “maanga” comes from Malayalam, one of the languages spoke in southern India.
-Shampoo comes from Hindu “champo” or head massage.
-Punch (the drink) comes from the hindi “panch”  or five as the drink was made of 5 different ingredients alcohol, sugar, water, lemon and tea or spices.

I can’t put all 700 words in here, but I hope you liked that little snippet.
Now, who’s game for a ginger punch and some fresh mangos? Yeah? Cool. Wait for me in the veranda, I’ll just shampoo my hair and put my dungarees on.
Yes, I can do funny too.


Saturday, 2 April 2011

When paradise turns into hell part 2 :

If there is one thing I am scared of while travelling, it is to be sick. Not just a cough, I meant some obscure painful disease. I hate taking medicines or going to the hospital.  I did get sick a couple of times: once in Chiang Mai with the “24hours traveler bug” which means that now it is impossible for me to eat my favorite Thai dish Pad See Ew , and a chest infection in Laos. Nothing that sleep, water and anti biotics could not cure.
Kurt Steffens, 19, from Airlie Beach did not quite have it so easy.

 Kurt worked at Bucket bar for a while in Vang Vieng. Whoever has been there knows that this place is dangerous for your health and soul. But the Aussie traveler had to face much more than a bad hangover from tubing.

“I started off feeling sick while I was staying at Vang Vilay Guesthouse. After 5 days I had not eaten anything or gone to the toilet... I was dry reaching just for that moment of upheaval when my belly did not hurt, it was the most excruciating pain of my life,” he says.

Putting on a brave face and thinking it was only a bad stomach ache, he refused to go the hospital (And if you have been to Vang Vieng hospital, although staff is lovely, the premises need serious upgrade).

“After the 5th day I literally felt my appendix burst and was in even more pain. The lady who owns the hostel came and checked on me about an hour later and then took me down to the hospital on the back of her scooter.
“I got x-rays and they found out that my bowels had tied themselves in a knot and there was a litre of infected puss flowing round my stomach…That had caused my appendix to burst, so I had to get  both removed and stayed there for 2 days.”

After 2 days spent in “Hopital de Vang Vieng” as once upon a time France tried to make their mark on Laos, Kurt received the visit of an Australian doctor. He ordered straight away an ambulance to drive him all the way to Northern Thailand in Udon Thani.

I was in Intensive Care Unit for 5 days getting morphine every 2 hours because I was hurting so much. When they realised I wasn’t getting any better, they had to x-ray me again only to find out all my insides had turned septic!  They had to open me right up again and clean all my organs out!  Finally, three days after the operation I got out of ICU.
“Then the stitching got infected, so I had to lie perfectly still for a week in case of my insides literally fall out! When they stitched me up again, I had to be completely awake as any anesthetic would have interfered with my bowel recovery.”
If you were looking for the perfect diet, apparently Kurt had found out the hard way how to lose weight quicker than Jessica Simpson can say cheeseburger.
“I spent another 10 days in the hospital and lost 12 kilos. Then they just let me go. I had my backpack and I couldn’t carry it incase my belly split open so I had to get some friends I had met in Cambodia to come pick me up and travelled around with them for another 3 weeks  and they were carrying my bag… I couldn’t go swimming or anything physical and I had no abs muscles. 4 months later I am just back at work on light duties and still incredibly unfit.”
Although Kurt’s story would have stopped most of us from leaving the house ever again, the Aussie backpacker is ready for his next trip!
“I’m planning my next venture overseas. I’m not going to let a little bump in the road like that stop me haha!, “ he concludes.

 Photo: Liz Bell / Facebook

Thursday, 31 March 2011

When Paradise turns into Hell....Part 1

Travelling is probably the best thing for most of us. You barely have been away for a few days and already the best time of your life has rolled in and Facebook is flooded with pictures of you on a beautiful beach looking tan and healthy. But what happen when things go wrong. We all try to take care of ourselves while away, however sometimes you let your guard down for a minute and everything goes wrong.

In this miniseries of articles, I will tell the stories of several backpackers that had more than what they bargained for, whether it is caused by one too many buckets or whether they have simply been unlucky.

Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand - February 2011
Home of the famous Full Moon Party, Koh Pha Ngan is THE backpacker party destination. More than 30 000 people flock to the beach of Haad Rin for cheap buckets, jumping through ring of fires and mushroom shakes.

Pamela Wu, from Cerritas, California, was also looking forward to some serious partying on the famous beach. Although recently arrived in South East Asia, she wasn’t a rookie traveler after months spent backpacking in Australia. But the beach, bucket and banter combo did not quite go according to plan when she was victim of an attempt of rape.
“ I was with my Danish friend who is a boxer. And we went out with some of the Thai boxers that are locals,” she recalls.
Everything was fine and after a few drinks they headed back to their bungalows.
She says: “I said I needed to pee so the Thai guy said that he would show me where the toilet was. And since my Danish friend didn't need to pee, he just waited for me outside.”
But once she came out, her friend was nowhere to be seen and the Thai man was waiting for her.
“ ‘So are you going home to sleep?’ he asked and I said ‘Yes I am’ and he said, ‘ come sleep in my room.’ And I said ‘No..I'm going to go home and sleep in my room.’"
Before she had the time to do anything the man grabbed her and pulled her into his room.
“He picked me up and started to drag me to his room and I struggled to pull away from him. And then he tried to just pull me towards the room by my arms and I was pulling back. And then when I got loose, I ran for the door, but then he came behind me and tried to pick me up again. So I struggled with him for longer.”
“ I was thinking: I just need to get out.

“I managed to free myself and just ran out the door and looked back to make sure he wasn't following me. And then ran to my friend and buried my face in his shoulders and started to cry. He wanted to go fight the other boxer, but it just wasn't worth it.
“When I talked to some locals about it, they told 'He wanted boom boom with you, it's just boom boom'.Warn the other girls,” she concludes.

Pamela’s case is far from being isolated. It could be anyone so just look after yourself, you might be in paradise but the excess of travelling can have consequences and yes it could have happen anywhere but after all you are miles away from home.

In Koh PhiPhi I got spiked with what I believe was roofies or something and to be honest, it was probably my fault, I did not watch my bucket and was running around the beach. I was lucky as my best friend carried me home and looked after me while I was lying in the bed, where it was impossible for me to move a muscle. But anyone could have done anything I would have been just laying on the beach.
Thailand is trying to improve the safety of their visitors, with volunteer patrols on Haad Rin, and the government is trying to crack down on drugs and violence issues and the islands. However with a astonishing rise of the number of travelers visiting Thailand (from 4 million to 14 millions in the last decade) the police finds itself stretched to the limits. So remember, safety first.

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