Where is Trinidad and Tobago for dummies (with no access to internet)

When people ask me where I’m from my first response is usually a dramatic sigh. “Not this again..” is what I’m almost always thinking. “This” being the endless double-takes, puzzled looks and assumptive questions guessing at where Trinidad and Tobago might be.

So you’ve met someone from the Caribbean, wait, some people don’t even know where that region is, so…let’s go with close to America. That gives a person a little more than “Somewhere on Earth, possibly Africa.” to go on. How else do I direct them geographically if no phone with data or wifi is available?

I use some sort of object like a napkin or a book or failing having any of these, my own palms. I have the person imagine North, Central and South America to the left of what I’m using. I ask them to imagine Central America as having a sort of “C” shape. I then say that the Caribbean, which has a lot of countries, is in the ocean a little further out from that “C” shape and that Trinidad and Tobago can be found all the way down, next to a country in South America called Venezuela.

It’s all well and good if the person speaks English. In the eventuality the person does not, I just say Mars. Why, because…….(I really wanted to write “YOLO” but I’m too dignified for that mess…)

 

 

Or am I?

 

 

YOLO.

Feminism in Korea: The Ultimate Tease!

Writing an article like this seems like a suicide mission, albeit I feel obliged to inform my fellow man. Now, don’t misunderstand. I don’t believe in hating in any shape or form, but there are times in my life where I have wished I was capable of such things. Usually, females were the cause of such emotions.

Generally, I have the philosophy of understanding conflicts rather than adding fuel to the fire by simply hating. At the same time, the injustice, the pain that I see is that men are suffering all over the world. No one seems have the slightest sympathies for men’s issues.

Okay, let’s get into it! Why was South Korea (RoK) such a shock to me?

Note: The above half of the article was written on 6th of September 2016, amidst a mini/personal crisis.

Since its been a good 2 weeks I have left South Korea for Thailand, I can reflect back on that time with little emotional influence on my writing.

So what happened? To be honest, South Korea mainly sucked for me. Why you ask? Well… the truth is I was alone. I felt like I was under attack by radical feminists as I read more into the history and social issues of South Korea. In fact, I had barely any interaction with the locals. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I walked for many kilometers and many hours, yet I failed to make eye contact with a single person. It was as if I was a ghost walking through a town. I was longing the days of being pushed around in the metro/subway systems in China.

Maybe it’s too soon for met to judge South Korea, but I would have to say though, it is a girl’s paradise/heaven. Especially if you love to shop. But be prepared, South Korea is not a budget country.

I will summarise by saying, if you’re a single guy, don’t go to South Korea on your own. You’ll end up returning back home depressed and hungover from all the flavored Soju. Also, I will take my Australian BBQ over Korean BBQ any day of the week :D. I think South Korea can potentially be really fun if you meet the following conditions: 1. You’re either traveling there as a group or you’re a girl. 2. Money is not an issue for you, you can shop as much as you’d like. 3. You’re a young person or have the mentality of one.

I don’t want to sound like an old geezer… but there is much better times to be had spending a lot less money.

Langkawi – Party paradise or just another tourist trap?

Legendary Langkawi

or at least that’s how it’s promoted by giant government sponsored billboards and tour agencies. Let me paint a picture for you. We came to Malaysia originally to look for jobs but seeing that there would be at least a week where all the schools would be closed we started looking around for a place to visit. The southern Perhentian islands or a trip Borneo were way over budget so were we able to narrow down our options to Pangkor island, Penang island and Langkawi island. After some research, we decided to go with Langkawi island as it frequently came up as a place where folks went to party on the beach and have fun dancing and partying which sounded pretty attractive to us.

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After 7 hours on a bus…we still look fabulous!

To get to Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur we decided to take a bus from the TBS (50RM each)and a ferry from Kuala Perlis (18RM each) to see more of the landscape. It was also half the cost of flying. Note that this isn’t always the case, sometimes local airlines Firefly and MalindoAir will have lower prices, even lower than the bus and ferry combo. The bus take between 7 and 8 hours to get from the TBS to Kuala Perlis and there aren’t any toilets on the buses. There will be a stop at one of the rest stations about halfway through your trip, but I would still advise not to drink too much fluids, just to be safe. Some buses have wifi and electrical outlets, but you should ask for those types of buses when buying your tickets.

After we got off the ferry at Kuah jetty in Langkawi we decided to walk to our lodge because of all the taxi drivers that were trying way too hard to get us to go with them – their behavior made us really suspicious hence the decision to walk.

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The Bougainvillea Inn. A lovely, quiet place to stay.

The Bougainvillea Inn is a nice, clean, budget property not too far from the jetty but it is pretty easy to miss the road leading to it at night. Langkawi has street lights, but they are not the best placed nor are the roads the best made for pedestrians. Still, it was a pretty cool experience getting lost (even with our heavy backpacks) and stopping for iced coffee and tea at a local food stall. We stayed there for three nights and were able to visit a few places on that side of the island, plus a nice night market.

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Zooming around the island on a scooter.

To get around Langkawi is not the easiest as there seems to be no public buses and taxis are expensive in Malaysia, but probably more so in Langkawi – I’d only heard this from our landlord at the Bougainvillea Inn, I can’t say for sure as we never took any. We did rent a scooter for 40Rm for the first day then 35Rm for four further days from an agency on the jetty. Later we found out that in the Pantai Cenang area one could rent a scooter for 30Rm. Oh well.

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Goddess of Mercy at the lucky temple in Langkawi

Some of places we were able to visit when we stayed in Kuah included the Lucky Temple, Tanjung Rhu private beach and the night market. We also had dinner one night at the famous Wonderland seafood restaurant. A quick note on the beaches in Langkawi – none of them have clear water! In the Andaman Sea there are very very few places on islands other than the main, easy to access ones, that have clear water! (There is a rumour of one beach near Datai bay that has clear water but we did not have time to visit it).

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Tanjung Rhu Private Beach

All that being said, the Tanjung Rhu private beach is nice and clean with calm waters, great for swimming and kayaking. To get there just take the route to the public beach. Once you see the public beach keep going straight, past the four seasons hotel and after about five minutes you’ll come to a fork in the road and a security booth with a guard booth. Approach the security booth, you will sign an agreement that you’re going to the private beach and not going to litter and cause a ruckus. Then just cotinue along the road and after another few minutes you’ll see the river on your left and the beach a little further up ahead on the right. The beach is open from 9am to 5pm everyday. You may even see monkeys on your way there or on your way back like we did!

After exploring Kuah we headed over to Pantai Cenang for a few nights. We stayed at a family freindly place called Pemandangan Indah Guest House for one night. There’s a nice garden and a fair view of the ocean as well. After we moved on to the Rainbow Lodge and Cafe. I have mixed feelings about this place – the people we met there are great, I was really happy to meet them all. However the room itself was a little bit of a trial for me as we booked the cheaper option of a fan-cooled room, with no hot water and a toilet that did not flush well. The sheets were a cool travel theme but they were old and were rough from having been in washing machines one to many times. The thing that probably got to me the worst was the wall, which was dirty from previous guests having wiped….stuff… (I assumed boogers, yuck) on them. Each room does come with it’s own sitting area outside with chairs and a little table and a hammock – those were big pluses as I love me a hammock 🙂

Pantai Cenang itself is not a terrible beach. There are a lot of people during the late afternoon so a better time to visit is during the night, after dinner and a few beers or cocktails. Be prepared to spend more for food and water than alochol. Alcohol isn’t taxed on Langkawai so it’s one of the more resonably priced things on the island and on the popular Pantai Cenang.

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Pantai Cenang at sunset


As for the parties on the beach – not so much organized as just you and a group of people you meet at a hostel or bump into at the beach just hanging out and having fun. I would recommend a night swim under a full moon, just go even if you went to the beach without your swimwear! The water is rougher around that time but it’s quite shallow and you can enjoy calmer water if you go a little further in, away from where the waves break. It’s truly romantic to be able to gaze at a full moon as you float on the ocean…better if you got good company ;).

Koh Lanta Animal Welfare – an animal lover’s haven.

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About a month ago, Mustafa and I visited the island of Koh Lanta, Thailand. While we were there we decided to visit the number one attraction on TripAdvisor – The Koh Lanta Animal Welfare.

What we found was an enchanting place where volunteers from around the world came to take care of sick dogs and cats for a few days or a few weeks at a time. We just spent a few hours there and it was hard for us to leave because the animals were all so friendly and lovable and in need of permanent homes.

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This lovely shelter is not only a temporary home for lost animals, it is also a sterilization center and the work that the vets and the rest of the staff do there is stupendous.

It really got me to thinking, what about those who have pets and need/want to travel? So far I’ve found a really great service for dogs for those in the UK and the Western European countries called DogBuddy.

12631486.jsonWhilst you go traveling and visiting awesome places like the Koh Lanta Animal Welfare, at least you’ll know that your dog or dogs is/are safe and very well cared for.

That being said, I also encourage you to check out the Koh Lanta Animal Welfare’s Facebook page, read up on their amazing history and the touching stories of their beautiful animals:

https://www.facebook.com/lantaanimalwelfare/

A weekend away – Xi’an Edition! (places to go for expats living in China)

In this series of posts I’ll be sharing some of my travels in China. To start things off I’ll be giving you my experience getting to Xi’an, the hotel I’d selected and visiting some of the attractions there including the fabulous Terracotta Army!

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1. Nanjing to Xi’an – train or airplane?

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Whilst it is possible to take trains the easiest and fastest way is to fly. The major pro to taking a train is that you get to have an enjoyable night ride where you can socialize and make new friends. Flying is a good option if you want to save on time or if the timing of the train departures clash with your work or personal schedule.

Whereas the Skyscanner app is useful for international flights, domestic carriers all have deals that are available on Ctrip. You can purchase your tickets online or call them directly. You can even visit them in person at their airport branch or at their office in Nanjing.

Flight duration: 2hrs        cost: between 600-800RMB

Train duration: 8hrs        cost: from 608-684RMB

2. Airport to Hotel – shuttle or taxi?

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There is an extensive and inexpensive (average 25RMB) shuttle bus system that can take you close to or even to your hotel, depending on where it is and what time your flight arrives. If you happen to miss the last shuttle bus then be prepared to fork out a bit extra to a taxi driver. Always remember to insist on their using the meter, though, or you will be paying way over what you should.

As a side note, the train station is located fairly close to the city center (3km from the Bell Tower Hotel) and all the major attractions, it is possible to catch cheap buses or even walk to where you need to get to if you wanted.

3. Where we stayed: pros and cons.

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We stayed at the old but lovely Bell Tower Hotel. The staff were extremely nice, and the location of the hotel is second to none in Xi’an. However, the hotel has been around for a long time and some of the rooms may look slightly run down. The view from the window, in my opinion, made up for the worn state of the room and facilities.  We had a direct, unrestricted, view of the beautiful Bell Tower of Xi’an, which is absolutely gorgeous at  night.

4. The Drum tower and Muslim food street.

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I would suggest visiting the Drum tower around eleven am or three pm as there are daily drumming shows put on for the public inside the tower. The entry fee is 35RMB for the Drum tower and if you wish you can purchase the tickets for the Bell Tower there as well. (As much as we admired the Bell Tower from the outside, we didn’t have enough time to visit it).

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The Muslim food street is right next to the Drum Tower so after visiting the tower many people head down the street in search of good food, souvenirs and the like. My favorite thing for a long while on that street was a spicy breaded and deep fried squid – there’s nothing quite like it on a cold night. Also, coated and fried bananas are really excellent, as well as all the noodle dishes you can lay your hands on – a Chinese friend once told me that noodle dishes from Xi’an are especially delicious, and they are!

3. The Wall and the Beilin Steles Museum.

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Now, it’s not the Great Wall of China, but it is a pretty nice wall to walk around or go on and have a stroll or a bicycle ride around. Every ancient Chinese city had it’s own wall, Nanjing has the remnants of one and so does Xi’an. Xi’an’s wall is the most intact due to fortifications and rebuilding of certain sections so a bicycle ride around it is a great sightseeing and a light, refreshing workout.

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The Steele museum is another one of my favorite attractions in Xi’an – it is a museum comprising ancient stone tablets which scholars used to record important academic and political works, poetry and even art. The stone tablets filled me with a sense of awe at their different sizes, engravings and ages. The surrounding courtyards are quiet, clean and very charming. A really relaxing getaway from the city bustle.

4. The Terracotta Army.

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This world famous attraction is quite far from the city and it takes about 40mins to an hour to get there by public bus. There will be many tours offered and taxi drivers will be shouting at you left and right but the best and cheapest way is to go to the bus depot and find bus 306, get on and sit down. Sooner or later the driver or the fare collector will come by and sell you the ticket for about 5-7RMB one way. The entrance to the warriors itself is about 90RMB and I would strongly advise not to accept any tour guides that try to convince you to hire them at the gates. Anything they can tell you will already be in your booklet or online…plus a lot of them just try to get their groups to buy things from the stores.

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There is a sort of standing, all-walls covered, cinema with the history of the Terracotta Army and how they were discovered on loop in one of the buildings, in English and Mandarin with English subtitles. It’s not long and it’s totally worth a visit after walking around and seeing all the cool excavation sites and what’s in them.

When you’re all done you can easily catch another 306 bus back into town, sometimes these buses will not be in the parking lot they dropped you off at by at but the roadside parked facing the direction to head back to the city center.

As a final note, I’d advise that you try to leave the site no later than 3 or 3:30pm as the traffic, by the time you get to the city, will become nightmarish if you leave after those times and you really don’t want to be stuck in traffic after a day of exploration!

If you have any questions at all about getting there, things to buy (or not buy!) or even getting around; I’d be super happy to help out! Post your comments and questions below!

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How I was scammed of 500 Baht!!!

Update!

We have recently received an email from Fozia, a person who is claiming to be this girls mother. Even though we have not been able to confirm her identity, she claims that her daughter was mentally ill and somehow did those things due to depression.

When we asked for compensation for the money her daughter scammed from us, she has replied with a threatening email stating that we will be sued. It doesn’t faze me, I can see why this girl would run away from home and act out against her parents. Besides, what kind of parents would leave such a “vulnerable” and “mentally ill” person all alone in a place like Thailand?

We urge anyone who has been scammed by this girl to come forward and demand compensation from her mother. It is not fair that kind and generous people like us are taken advantage of by rude and uncaring people like Maya and her mother Fazia.

Here is the IP address and email of Fazia, if anyone has any further information about either of them, please forward us a message in writing at the comment section below. Thank you.

IP: 92.110.175.238

Email: foz6aa@gmail.com

Scammers come in all shapes and sizes these days. It’s not the average looking guys that are chilling in their Tuk Tuks that you have to worry about. Have a look at the images/videos below, see if you can see a scammer anywhere!?

What’s that? You don’t see a scammer anywhere? Well be warned! This is what the average pro scammer looks like these days. Cute little things that will make up some story about how they have “lost their friends” and that they don’t “have enough money to stay at a hotel tonight”. She promises you that she’ll pay the next day through Facebook somehow.

Guess what happened when we frequented the same club a couple days later? Hmm… surely she’s not gutsy enough to come back to the same ol’ club to pull of the same scam? Is that what you think? Well you think wrong my friend. This devil in disguise has a good little scam going. We bumped into her again, and guess what? Yes… ah huh… indeed, she was pulling the scam on another couple of young girls, pretending to be lost and drunk. But, she sobered up and disappeared fairly quickly when she saw us.

She’s figured out a pretty smart scheme. You see, Zoe’s in Yellow (a club in Chiang Mai) is frequented by young tourists all the time. The thing is, she knows who the regulars are (since she’s a regular herself) and targets people she sees for the first time in the club (or atleast people who look like it’s their first time). Even if the people she has “borrowed” money from try to harrass her on her facebook page. She knows that most people will either be too drunk/lazy to follow up or they will move on to another city/country before they can collect.

I have to say, I didn’t see it coming. Like WOW! It’s pretty damn smart of her to come up with a scheme like this. I mean, she looks so innocent, don’t you guys think so?

Her name is: Maya Umnia Van Elk (from what I could investigate)

Her age is: 19, since her D.O.B is: May 25, 1997

Link to her Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010932362408

Violence in Pattaya, unacceptable behavior in Thailand.

Before you start reading about violence in Pattaya, have a quick look at this video:

As tourists, we travel from all around the world to visit Thailand. Now, there’s an unspoken common courtesy when you visit a new country (especially when it’s your first time). You need to show respect to the culture to whichever country you are visiting, you can’t just behave the same way you do back home. This French guy thinks he’s still in France, attacking / insulting / aggravating the motorbike taxi. From what I have gathered from the video and the blog that posted it, it’s a French guy using violence in Pattaya to solve his problems.

Be a smart tourist!

First of all, the first rule of using any services and/or product in a new place is to negotiate and agree to the cost. Heck, we even find out the cost and pre-pay sometimes (that’s only because we’ve become accustomed to this area). Never ever, use a service that you don’t the cost of. The very first few words that should be coming out of your mouth is “How much?”.

Violence in Pattaya

I personally feel like this French guy was in the wrong doing in this video. If you truly feel like someone is trying to scam you, you just walk away. Let them call the police and chase you up. The fact is, no scammer is going to call the police and most likely, they won’t get physical with you unless you get physical with them.

Violence in Pattaya (Thailand), it should not exist!

Thailand and Thai people treat their tourists really well, they don’t want to cause drama as we are such a big part of their economy. Having said that, they will do their best to take advantage of your situation. They do this but you can easily circumvent it. You just need to have some level of intelligence and you will be alright. On the other hand, being a brute is not welcome here. If you are a person that solves problems through violence, I repeat, violence in Pattaya or anywhere in Thailand is unacceptable and you are better off staying in your home country!