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Filipino Friday : Bababa ba? Bababa

August 17, 2012
Pinoy sign

Welcome back to Filipino Fridays, a weekly session on my blog where I talk something about my home country, the Philippines.

This week, it’s all about making conversations in the Philippines. Look at the image below showing a common conversation:

Photo credits from Jay Cabrera

(*photo credits from Jay Cabrera on Facebook. )

Person 1: Bababa ba?
Person 2: Bababa.

Do you notice anything interesting about the phrase?

First of all, this is an actual conversation. Despite only using one syllable, it actually means a complete thought.

Well just to give you a bit of background, the conversation is in Filipino, the national language of the Philippines. The country’s official language is Filipino and English, with regional languages  such as Cebuano, Ilokano, Bicolano, Hiligaynon and Waray-waray as auxiliary languages. In total, the Philippines has more than 170 regional languages.

And together with 400 years of Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and American influence, our language had evolved into a melting pot of words. As an example of this influence, to say “How are you?”  is “Kamusta ka?” a derivation of the Spanish “Como esta?” and to say thank you is “Salamat” which is similar to Bahasa’s use of “Selamat”.

The Filipino language evolved into something unique – albeit weird in some cases. But don’t worry, we don’t babble monosyllabic phrases all the time. 🙂

The etymology of the words in this conversation is unknown. But to translate:

Person 1: Bababa ba? = is it (elevator) going down? 
Person 2: Bababa = it’s going down

Baba actually means down.

Here are some other “strange”  words:

  • Lalala (to worsen as like to being sick)
  • Bobobo (to become more stupid)
  • Nganganga (open someone’s mouth)
  • Kakasa (to nudge a gun)

For some real phrases:

  • You are pretty! –  Ang ganda mo!
  • I love you – Mahal kita
  • How much? – Magkano?
  •  Goodbye – Paalam

Well, the next time you meet a Filipino in an elevator – be sure to mention bababa ba

What other quirky words / phrases in your own language. Share them below!

 

About Filipino Friday: Every Friday, I’m going to showcase something unique about my home country , the Philippines. It can be a place, food, experience, custom or tradition that highlights what we our 7,107 islands can offer. I hope that through these posts – I can help bring awareness about the Philippines,  it’s beauty, hidden sites, quirkiness and diversity.

Are you a travel blogger? I’m inviting you to take part of Filipino Friday with me. All you need to do is post something about the Philippines every Friday. Contact me if you’re interested.

Travel Blog

The Blogger Rises Again

August 16, 2012
beach

Inspired by Batman/ Bruce Wayne climbing up the prison pit in the Dark Knight Rises (geek!), I decided that it’s time to rise from the ashes and keep the blog alive again – and with a self-made promise to keep it going.

The prequel, or the reason why I stopped blogging in the first place, will be in a blog post soon – so as not to have a ranting post as my first entry in weeks.

But while my blog had remained quiet for the past weeks, I actually kept on travelling and boy did I travel a lot.

And so as not to spoil everyone, here’s a short summary on what I’m doing in the past few months and the posts I expect to write in the next coming weeks.

Finished my 25-country goal

Stockholm, Sweden

Lisbon, Portugal

Yes, you heard it right, I finished my goal last June!

While the blog didn’t have any post (yet) to celebrate the culmination of the goal, I had my Facebook and Twitter updates with photos and status updates. I conquered a surprisingly snowy spring weekend in Sweden for my 24th and finally capping it off with weeklong tour of Portugal and a big celebration at Festas de Lisboa.

Thailand and my brief return to Asia

Bangkok, Thailand

And three weeks after I finished my 25travels goal in Portugal, I headed into backpacker’s mecca – Thailand. It was my first trip back to Asia after leaving the Philippines at the end of 2011.

We travelled for two weeks long across Thailand hitting the rowdy streets of Bangkok, then partying it “half-moon style” in the island of Koh Pha Ngan then to putting our adventure gear on in the northern hippie city of Chiang Mai. Lots of great stories for sure!

In London 2012

London 2012

 

And finally, just a couple of weeks ago, I witnessed history as I became part of the thousands who had made it to London 2012. With the Olympics happening only every four years and the games happening a mere three hours from here, I knew that I have to make this one. From getting tickets, to being at an actual game and to making London as one of my favourite cities to be in (and live in too) – it was short yet very memorable experience.

And of course, I will be writing about what will be the next journey for me after my 25-country goal while still continuing to write about finding the balance between travel and working full time. So be sure you refresh your RSS feed, follow me on twitter and facebook, cause the man on a mission is back on the road!

Europe

Getting in the Roomorama bandwagon in Paris

July 4, 2012
Roomorama

In my travels, I’ve done my share of sleeping in different types of places – hotels, hostels, couchsurfing beds, airports, tents – you name it, I’ve tried it.

And lately, I’ve seen travelers looking at short-term rentals as an option for their accommodation. It recently hit mainstream and thanks to Roomorama, who approached me recently to review one of their places, I had the opportunity to try it.

What makes Roomarama different?

Roomorama is an online platform for finding short-term room and apartment rentals when you travel. It offers accommodation option that gives you the opportunity to live like a local – something that often hotels and hostel dorms lack. Roomorama allows you to choose between getting your own apartment or a room rental in a shared apartment. I decided to go for the latter.

How does Roomorama work?

The roomorama process is simple, and it works like any other booking site. You type in your location, the dates you are going and the number of guest expected, and you will get a list of available options. You select and inquire on a couple you like and wait for your host to confirm availability. You take your pick on the ones that have confirmed and you book.

My personal experience was very easy, but because as I was paying with a credit card, I had to pass through an extra
step to confirm my credit card use and sign a docusign sheet to confirm my booking. I guess it’s an added security for meand for the host but I haven’t encountered it when booking for hostels and hotels online. It was a step that caused a bit of delay since I have wait to have access on a PC in order to confirm and I can’t do it on my mobile. It’s a small thing though.

Picking the right destination

Having a couple of travel plans these months, it was challenging to pick the right destination to work with Roomorama. I’ve had Sweden, Portugal, France and Thailand as my options. I chose Paris, where I was expected to stay for a night, to try it out.

Eiffel Tower

We know that Paris is notoriously known for very expensive, sometimes less-than-the-value, accommodation. I’ve been to Paris several times and stayed in a ritzy hotel in Champs-Elysees, a basement pretending to be a hotel room, and even a grey bench at Paris’ Orly airport – with the last two being disappointing experiences.

My Parisian Roomorama Experience

It’s always a pain to find accommodation in the city but thanks to Roomorama, I think I found the sweet spot.
I rented this room on a shared apartment in 11th arrondisement of Opera Bastille. The location is great with lots of stores, restaurants and access to public transport a short five-minute walk away.

Take the metro and you are 10 minutes away from the famous Parisian sites like the Tour Eiffel, the Louvre, Champs Elysses and Montmartre.

Roomorama - Paris

The room may cost 150€ to 200€ if you have the same room in a hotel, but through Roomorama, I got the room for half the price. Definitely on a Parisian summer, that is a budget score.

The room I got has a foldable yet comfortable sofa bed, a set of good books to read (that made me wish I could stay more), and wi-fi access. It also has huge windows that let natural light in.

Prior to coming, my Parisian host, Wilfried, took time to send me directions to his place, including some tips on interesting spots near his place. You rarely get treatment like that when you are booking a hotel or hostel. Staying with a local gives you the advantage of knowing the destination from a local point-of-view, which for a traveller is more enriching than the staple tourist activities.

My experience with Roomorama introduced me to the option of short-term rentals – and thanks to my short yet very interesting stay in Paris – I’ll definitely considering staying in one again!

Photos from Roomorama –  credits 

Big thanks to Roomorama.com for my accommodation in Paris. All opinions and views expressed in this post are my own.

Travel Blog

Hungry? Food treats to love in Hungary

May 2, 2012
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As the saying goes, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”

The same thoughts go for my travels as well. Sampling the local food is a surefire way to immerse into a new destination.

I’ve done a big share of that here in Brussels, sampling the Belgian culinary offers with dangerous consequences. 😉  But hey, it’s food, so who I am to say no?

My recent trip to Hungary had us going through the Budapest nightlife, getting the best out of the amazing ruin bars experience. But after every party, there is the usual appetite for some food.

Hungary is not really known for its culinary prowess but it’s not an excuse for a chow. Here are some of my favourites and in my opinion, the must-tries!

Langos

Lángos

This is the food to die for … and literally death looks imminent after finishing one langos. Why? Langos is made with deep-fried dough smothered with your choice of toppings. It’s like pizza but deep fried and gleaming with oil. Like our favourite Italian dish, it comes with various toppings like ham, cheese, garlic, yoghurt and cream but you can also order it without any toppings. The sour cream and cheese combination is the most popular.

Langos is best experienced after a long night out as it’s good for draining all the alcohol out of your body.

Pogacsa

Pagachel / Pogácsa

Moving on to healthier pastries, we have pogacsa. It’s a round pastry baked with cheese often mixed with the dough. The cheese makes it taste salty and sweet at the same time. It can also be baked with pork skin, cabbage and onions. It’s great for breakfast but can be consumed as a snack too.

Pogacsa is a popular and staple food in the country. They are so well-regarded that they even have festivals for it. And they have reasons for celebrating this sumptuous bread. Travellers in Hungarian stories are usually depicted carrying pogacsa when they go on their trip!

Retes

Hungarian sour cherry strudel

Retes is Hungarian’s answer to the German strudel (more like equivalent). It’s a pasty pie cooked with plums, strawberries, apples, cheese or chocolate as filling. It’s then topped with confectionery sugar.

One fun fact: Did you know that the round version of rétes was also known as “lie-in” rétes, because it was given to women who just had come from child birth. 😉

Kolbasz

Mangalica-Kolbasz

Kolbasz are better known the English-speaking world as “Hungarian smoked sausages”. They are often prepared with paprika, and eaten dried and in small pieces. Kolbasz is prepared depending on the region where it came from. Gyulai and Csabai are the two most famous ones. It’s my favourite food from the bunch – and has this special ingredient that makes you want to eat more (maybe it’s just me though).

Turo Rudi

Desire

Hungarians are so crazy for Turo Rudi’s that they even ran out of stock when we attempted to buy from one of their supermarkets (and it wasn’t even zombie apocalypse).

And what is there to go crazy for? Honestly, I don’t know.

Well, Turo Rudi is a chocolate candy filled with curd and can come in a variety of flavours. It literally translates to English “curd bar”. Doesn’t sound very appetizing though. But believe me this polka-dot packaged delight is a treat. 🙂

That’s it – I don’t think you’ll be rushing to Hungary anytime soon with this post. But with a good ruin bar nightlife, amazing sceneries and now good food, I don’t see any reason not to go! Bon appetit!

Images from helmsjan, 1yen, JuditK, robot-girl and Backpack foodie – under creative commons at the time of posting.

Have you sampled any of these Hungarian culinary treats? What are the other must try delicacies of Hungary? Share them below.

 

Travel Blog

Thoughts on Travel and that Country #25 Dream

April 26, 2012
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I came back from Sweden a week ago, and it’s country 24 on 25-country travel goal!

I experienced all the four seasons in one weekend but I still had a great time in Stockholm.  

But I’m not here to talk about my trip to Sweden (sorry readers, but I’ll keep it for other blog posts).

Stockholm, Sweden - Gondolen View

But while on top of the Gondolen view deck overlooking the Stockholm twilight,  I realised that my 25-country goal is soon coming to an end.

Rewind back to five years ago, I never thought that travel will play a large part of my young life. If I asked my 19-year old self then, “How I see myself five years from now?” – I can say “starting a career as a lawyer or a journalist” – a statement with no trace of travel aspirations.

I never thought I would travel as I had now. This 25 countries before I turn 25  goal is far-fetched and a goal reserved for globe-trotting travel journalists, National Geographic documentary filmmakers or young millionaires, but not for a Filipino guy who just graduated from university.

Jump shot - Paris

Society dictates that we must follow a normal pattern to life. It starts with graduating university, getting  job, growing a career and raising a family, then once you become successful, you may travel and see the world! 

My life started the same way but I made a choice. I am not waiting until the end to see the world.

I am still working on a full-time career, working at a 9-6 job and clocking in my timesheet everyday.

And still, I  travel and have no thoughts of stopping.  I’m happy to continue to have a balance of travel and work

But it didn’t come that easy. Working on a full-time job, the amount of holidays to map out and the money to pay for travel, made  it  difficult  to achieve my goal. But after three years and looking at my list, I feel that I accomplished a lot already.

And now, I am one country to go from achieving my list – and it feels great! And to help sort things out, here’s a simple Q&A just to explain my travel plans for country 25 and the destinations after that.

What will be Country 25?

To be honest with you, I am still open to options on where to go. All I know is that it’s in June – I am going to make it!

I’ve already have a few destinations in mind. Romania, Serbia, Portugal, Iceland and Norway are some of my choices to cap off my 25 country adventure.

How would I make my choice? It really boils down to the activities available in the country as well as my financial status. I have a little over a month to decide but regardless of the decision, I think it will be an epic trip!

What’s next for 25 travels?

Well, of course, obviously my website is named 25travels and have been built on the foundation of my 25-country challenge, it’s a question on what will I do next with my blog.

Just to assure you, I will keep on travel blogging and I’ll be keeping the name! But the idea of having 30travels lingers in my mind 😉

What will be my next goal? 25 countries in the next 25 years? Maybe. I have already something in mind, but I will keep it for now and announce it soon!

Amsterdam & Backpack

Where are your next travels after Country 25?

Finishing my 25-country goal doesn’t mean that I am stopping my travels. It’s motivating me more actually.

After visiting Country 25, I’m set to travel to Thailand in July for a two-week trip. 

I’ll be hitting the UK late summer to see the Paralympics with Neil of Backpacks and Bunkbeds (@packsandbunks) too. And definitely, I’m open to doing trips around Europe – Latvia, Lithuania, Switzerland and Estonia perhaps are on my list. And a possible return to Budapest (yes, again!), Prague and Berlin. I still have to hit Barcelona too!

These are just ideas – if you have destinations that you like to suggest –feel free to comment!

I think I’ll leave it to that – and as always you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Happy travels!

 

Travel Blog

Travel Blogger Feature: Euan & Rachel from Our Wee Trip

April 23, 2012
Enjoying Mojitos at the Lebua Sky Bar in Bangkok

It’s good to be back and interviewing  fellow travel bloggers again!

For this edition, I’m lucky to have Euan & Rachel of Our Wee Trip – the adventurous (and good looking) travel couple from Scotland. They left their jobs, packed their bags and set off to see the world! They’ve recently finished their Asian trip and are now travelling across Australia. They keep their blog regularly updated so be sure to follow their stories and adventures!

Our day with the elephants in Chiang Mai

Here’s my short interview with Rachel & Euan.

Names:Rachel Bielinska & Euan Black
Where are you from? We are both proud to be Scottish!
Website: www.ourweetrip.com
Twitter Handle: @OurWeeTrip
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/OurWeeTrip

 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

We’re a mid-twenties, Scottish couple who met at university – Euan’s a PR Pro and Social Media Geek, and Rachel’s a Marketing Graduate and Shopaholic. We realised last year we had a decision to make – settle down in Scotland, or pack up and see the world. Six months later and here we are, sitting doing this interview in a café in Laos. We definitely made the right decision!

Why did you decide to start a travel blog?

We both love to write and take photos, and Rachel worked in digital marketing for the last year so it just made a lot of sense – we thought we had the ingredients for a good travel blog!

It’s turned out to be a great decision – we’ve met loads of people, been given tonnes of advice by other bloggers and had a great fun maintaining it.

 

What’s the most challenging part of being a travel blogger?

Trying to pick the best photos to put on the blog! We’ve got literally thousands of shots we know our friends and family would love to see, but it takes so much time processing and uploading them. We’ll have to invite everyone round when we get back and have a slideshow marathon!

Enjoying Mojitos at the Lebua Sky Bar in Bangkok

Can you tell us about your first travel experience?

Rachel: I’ve been abroad every year since I was 2 when my Mum and Dad took me on my first holiday to Greece (the story goes that I was determined not to get on the plane!). I’ve travelled throughout Europe and the US but this trip is my first travel experience as a backpacker. I was nervous, but I’ve loved every second!

Euan: My first real travel experience (independent from my parents) came when I was 16 and went with a few friends to stay in Barcelona for a week. We had the time of our lives and it was at that point I caught the travel bug.

What’s your favourite destination and why?

Rachel: Italy. The scenery is just breathtaking and the food is amazing. I couldn’t eat pasta at home for a long time after my last trip to Lake Garda – it just didn’t even come close to the how it tasted in Italy.

Euan: Almost impossible to answer – I’ve visited so many amazing places! But Mauritius stands out, as does Croatia. I would recommend anyone travelling round Europe to stop off in Croatia. It’s a beautiful country and I reckon it will become really popular with travellers in the next few years.

If you can travel with a real or fictional character, who will you travel with and why?

Rachel: Euan – cheesy I know but I don’t know anyone else that would carry their own 90 litre rucksack on their back while also carrying my 70 litre rucksack on their front! It’s also nice having your own personal body guard to walk you to the toilet in the middle of the night when you are on a sleeper train or in a hostel with a shared bathroom!

Euan: I should really say Rachel now shouldn’t I?! How about Bear Grylls – the survival expert/adventurer. Some of the stuff he does is awesome and I’d love to travel like that for a while – living off the land.

On a dusty tuk-tuk ride in Phnom Penh

What’s your favourite travel quote (from a book, film, TV show etc)?

Rachel: “No road is long with good company” – Unknown

Euan: “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

If you have one flight ticket to go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where will you go?

Rachel: Krakow, Poland. My paternal grandfather was Polish and there is something special about Krakow. I find it so welcoming and comforting. It’s an amazing place to just sit in a cafe and watch the world go by.

Euan: A bit of a contentious answer, but I’m going to go for Bora Bora. It’s not really a ‘travellers’ destination, more like somewhere you go for a luxury holiday. But I don’t care – I could swim, snorkel, scuba, and fish…brilliant!

What is the strangest thing you have eaten, drank or experienced on your travels?

Rachel: I think you find something strange happens nearly every day when you’re travelling but I still can’t get over how publicly and loudly everyone belches in Asia!

Euan: On my first backpacking trip around Europe, I was at a club in Valencia, Spain and there was a gun fight…that was quite an experience.

Advice to fellow newbie travel bloggers?

Make sure you take advantage of travel time – we always make sure our netbooks are charged up while we are travelling so we can be productive during long waits at the airport or even during boat journeys!

ourweetrip

 

“Our Wee Trip details the adventures of us, a young Scottish couple, as we travel through Asia, New Zealand and Australia in search of exciting and ‘different’ experiences. We’ve scuba-dived in Thailand, fished for squid in Halong Bay, watched the sun come up over Angkor Wat, and had many many more amazing adventures we love sharing on our blog. There are also lots of great photos and videos!”

All photos in this post are Rachel and Euan’s property but are hosted on this blog’s flickr count. All rights remain with them.

Do you want to be interviewed on our next session of Talk with a Travel Newcomer? The only requirement of course is that you have to be a newbie travel blogger. Contact me if you’d like to be featured!

Travel Blog

Crazy Nights in the Ruin Bars of Budapest

April 18, 2012
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I always think that for a trip to be full there should be a balance of a busy sightseeing day and a bustling nightlife. Any trip is defined not just by the sights and monuments you see but also by the places where you hang out after and the people who you spend getting drunk at night with.

During my first trip to Budapest in 2009, I have missed out on the Budapest nightlife – and it somewhat made me think a lot about coming back.

Back then, my host and very good friend, Csenge, lived outside of Budapest, which meant that she can’t stay & drive at night.  It was a great trip, don’t get me wrong, as I have seen a lot of Budapest – but by the time we were leaving I felt that there was something missing.

Csendes - Budapest Ruin Bar - 25travels

I promised to return to Budapest the minute I left Hungary. But things didn’t work out that easily – and it took me two years to finally make it back! This time, experiencing the nightlife is at the top of my itinerary – and I didn’t fail on it.

Together with Roy of the Riding Dutchman – we made it to Budapest for a two day trip during the Easter break.

We were hosted by my very good Hungarian friend, Daniel, who I met and hosted in Brussels three years ago. It was a long overdue reunion, and I was happy that he’s available to show us the night life of Budapest. I know from all my talks during the past years that Daniel knows a lot about the coolest areas in Budapest – and he didn’t disappoint I may say. 🙂

Budapest nightlife is all about ruin bars.

Ruin bars are called “ruins” simply because they used to be old buildings, apartments etc.

Ruin bars, from the outside, looks similar to most doors in the Pest district. But inside, each ruin bar has a distinct personality that differentiates them from bars I normally see. The look reminded me a lot of a living room of a student flat.

It’s a mish-mash of random things, numerous rooms, blackboards as menu. The interior is decorated with stuff varying from torn-up sofas, dolls, posters, sewing machine tables, zippers on the roof. It was as if an artist decorated the walls and ceilings from things bought from the flea market.

Even if it was eclectic in the eye, it runs like any typical bar. And most of the bars even have free wi-fi (other bars owners, hope you’re reading this)

As good as our guide was, we manage to visit a lot of bars (a given). And here are just a sample of the ones we visited (more likely, the ones I remember. :p)

Trapez

Trapez - Budapest Ruin Bars - 25travels

It was our first stop for the day (day meaning around 2PM) after a visit and some shopping at Nagycsarnok (Great Market Hall) on Fővám Tér. Trapez is a popular student hangout since its location is close to Hungary’s Corvinus University. A big black board dominates the ground floor with posters and masks accentuating the bohemian feel of the place. Going up the creaky steps gets you into the main hall – which looks like the attic of a mountain cabin – with wooden beams and decorated with road signs, large paintings and other random oddities. 

We were there early in the afternoon and on a weekend, so there was no one except us so we didn’t see it in its full life. But it didn’t stop us from order a beer and a shot of palinka – an Eastern European spirit made with plum mixed with flavours such as peach and apricots.

Szimpla Kert

Szimpla Kert - Budapest Ruin Bars - 25travels

Szimpla Kert prides itself for being the first ruin bar in Budapest having been established in 2001. It has a large open courtyard, a dwarf on a swing and a Trabant, an old communist car, as one of the tables. Definitely, I understand why it remains to be one of the most popular ruin bars in Budapest among locals and tourists alike.

Again, we were there in the afternoon – so by far, there was hardly any happening – but Daniel assured me that this place gets busy at night. He explained that it had lost its bohemian touch, given its popularity with tourists, but it’s still worth a visit.

At Szimpla Kert, I had my first try of Froccs – a Hungarian wine spritzer made by mixing white wine and carbonated water. And there are varying names to each mix depending on the ratio of wine and water. Ratio varies from 1 to 1, to 9 parts wine to 1 part water. We got hosszúlépés – a spritzer with 1/3 wine, 2/3 water.  It’s worth a try definitely, but I think after spending two years in French Brussels – mixing wine with anything is a bit strange. But hey, in the Philippines – we used to add ice on our wine glasses – so screw it. 😛

Corvinteto

Corvinteto - Budapest Ruin Bar - 25travels

Fast forward to late at night after a couple of glasses of Belgian beers, glasses of 1euro Jim Beam whiskey, countless Hungarian beers and wines– we ended up in Corvinteto. Corvinteto stands at the topmost level of a department store. It’s known for its rooftop parties with a grand view of Pest but since it was freezing outside, the rooftop wasn’t open. But with a little help from its killer electro music and dynamic (and hot*) crowd, we continued to party until late at night.

Instant

Instant - Budapest Ruin Bar - 25travels

Instant - Budapest Ruin Bar - 25travels

After recovering from a long Saturday night and a Sunday afternoon spent sightseeing – we started Sunday night at Instant. The interior is more close to a flat party – complete with rooms, sofas, tables and people who you don’t know – rather than bar. There are two dance rooms (basement and on the first floor) offering two different kinds of music. At the centre is an interior courtyard with a guy with an owl as an head and a herd of stuffed rabbits (?).One room has sewing machines as tables and furniture glued in the ceiling. It’s pretty much as eclectic as it can be. Crowd is quite good but alcohol is pricier compared to other places.

Anker Klub

By the standards of a ruin bar, Anker seems to be less bohemian and eclectic as how I defined it. It is unique (for not being too unique) in a way that it’s a “real” bar with a great crowd of people.  Crowd is good, music was so-so and drinks are relatively cheap. And they have some Belgian beers on tap which I think is enough reason to include as a stop.

Csendes

Csendes - Budapest Ruin Bar - 25travels

Csendes is Daniel’s favourite bar and I guess I see how it became so.  It’s less of club but more of a place to sit-down and talk kind-of-place (Csendes actually mean silent in Hungarian ).

It still keeps within the description of a ruin bar with its strong ambiance and eclectic-designed roofs, floors, toilets, and ceilings. Ornaments of posters, old photos, and electric fans to a bathtub for a seat, complete the entire picture.  We spent a couple of hours at Csendes just trying to chill and talk together with a pint of Soproni (so far, the only Hungarian beer that I liked) before going back to Instant to complete the night.

I definitely do not regret coming to Hungary even for a short week-end. Every minute of our trip counts and I can say that Budapest definitely should pride itself for its amazing nightlife, cheap booze, amazing music atmosphere and friendly people.

Definitely, I think there’s more to ruin bars and Budapest from what I’ve seen – so maybe I’ll calendar in another date to come visit!

 

Have you been in Budapest? Have you visited any ruin bars? Share your advice and comments on the box below!

Travel Blog

Travel Blogger Feature: Will of My Spanish Adventure

March 29, 2012
english-teacer-london

My next interviewee is Will Peach of My Spanish Adventure.

Guys, this dude has great comedic flair and a talent for interesting banter over at twitter kingdom.  A definite must follow on twitter. And any great fan of Jack Kerouac deserves a space on this interview! You can follow his expat stories over at My Spanish Adventure and Travel Sex Life.

Here’s my short interview with Will Peach:

Will - My Spanish Adventure

Name: Will Peach
Where are you from? South England, but living in Spain
Website: gapdaemon.com, myspanishadventure.com, travelsexlife.com, vagabundomagazine.com
Twitter : willpeach
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/will.peach1

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m Will, a 26-year-old British guy, living in Granada, Spain. Here I work as a travel editor for the gap year travel site Gapdaemon and for the digital travel magazine Vagabundo. I bloody love learning Spanish (despite not being all that good yet) and track my progress along with talking about what to see and do on my Spanish travel blog My Spanish Adventure. I love Spanish omelets. I don’t eat meat. And I’ve got a lot of time for basking in the Spanish sun like a cold-blooded reptile.

Why did you decide to start a travel blog?

Well I’ve been blogging on and off really for the last ten years. I started travel blogging when I left the UK to live and work in Vietnam about four years ago. Back then I was just getting to grips with WordPress and back into the swing of blogging – I was actually working in print at the time for a travel magazine based in Ho Chi Minh City!

When I came back to London I started working for Gap Daemon, running their travel blog and chatting with other travellers around the globe. I decided to start up my own late last year after hitting the road once again and coming out to Spain!

What’s the most challenging part of being a travel blogger?

Dealing with all the female attention. I get knickers thrown at me everywhere I go.

On a more serious note I’d say it probably has to do with consistency. Sometimes you’ll have a ton of good ideas on what to write about and then other days you’re left desperately searching for inspiration!

Will - My Spanish Adventure

And then there’s the problem of discipline as well as sticking it out in the early days when nobody reads or cares about you. Boo hoo.

Can you tell us about your first travel experience?

I was lucky to have many travel experiences growing up as my family took vacations around the world. My first real independent one however, and the one I feel is most significant, was my study year abroad in the USA.

As an English exchange student at the University of Miami you’d probably expect I got in all sorts of trouble with those gutsy American dames. Nothing could be further from the truth however as I was still very shy and very much bewildered by the whole experience.

In terms of seeing the world however that’s what got me out there and lead me to the path I’m on now. Seeing America and living the culture was a fantastic experience that I’ll always take with me. Beer pong or no beer pong.

What’s your favourite destination and why?

I really love Southeast Asia mainly because I had the greatest two years of my life there living in Vietnam and travelling around neighbouring countries. The best thing I love about the area is its mix of the modern and traditional as well as the buzz that fills the air making all those big cities appear as if they are thriving with opportunity.

Another thing I loved of course were the people, who were always friendly and respectful and helped me out with a crap-load of things. The weather and the beaches aren’t too shabby either!

If you can travel with a real or fictional character, who will you travel with and why?

Ha I’m going to get lambasted for coming out with such a cliché but it would have to be my hero Jack Kerouac, author of the book that changed my life On The Road.

I probably couldn’t keep up with him in the drinking and womanizing stakes, but to travel the world while he comes up with poetic ways of describing even the most mundane things I can’t imagine being too unpleasant.

What’s your favourite travel quote (from a book, film, TV show etc)?

Again I’d have to turn to Jack and a quote I remember standing out for me, moving the hairs on the back of my neck as I read it, for the first time, as a lost twenty-one-year-old.

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road if life”.

It’s kind of astonishing how Word will highlight this as being grammatically inaccurate given just how iconic a phrase it is. Soon after reading this the road became my life and now, five years later, I still don’t want to stand still.

If you have one flight ticket to go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where will you go?

Brazil without a doubt. Or failing that anywhere in South America. It fascinates me so much and I can’t wait to go there, experience the sights, the people and the smells and hopefully put my Spanish (or Portuguese as might be the case) into action.

Will - My Spanish Adventure

I’d love to hang out and see Boca Juniors play, have a go at dancing the Tango, see the Rio Carnival, hang out in coffee shops and chat with locals. That’s the dream.

What is the strangest thing you have eaten, drank or experienced on your travels?

Being a vegetarian I tend to play it safe. I haven’t chomped on insects or duck foetuses or anything like that – don’t think I could hold it down either. I’ve drank a fair bit of snake wine in my time though, that’s pretty disgusting.

I remember almost puking up trying a bit of Durian too. Us Westerners can’t handle the smell. Putting that putrid mess into my mouth left me feeling like a little girl as tears welled up in my eyes –that feeling hits most days though you see.

Advice to fellow newbie travel bloggers

Great question and I’d say talk with as many travel bloggers as you can. Get really social, jump on Facebook, Twitter and other peoples blogs and help share their stuff. This karma will always come back to you in some way or another.

My Spanish adventure

“My Spanish blog is all about my life running around the country, learning the language and living cheaply. Gap Daemon is a brilliant resource for planning gap year travel and is full of handy guides and community advice. TravelSexLife is all about the naughtier side of travelling and talks openly about sex abroad. Vagabundo Magazine puts the spotlight on travellers all over the world and asks them to submit their work for inclusion in a quarterly digital magazine. I want to start more!”

All photos in this post are Will’s property but are hosted on this blog’s flickr count. All rights remain with Will!

Do you want to be interviewed on our next session of Talk with a Travel Newcomer? The only requirement of course is that you have to be a newbie travel blogger. Contact me if you’d like to be featured!

Travel Blog

Five ways of enjoying the Hong Kong skyline

March 12, 2012
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One of the things I look for when visiting an urban destination is the skyline. Paris, New York, and Singapore are just few of my favourite ones.

And after my short visit to Hong Kong last November, I’m adding its skyline on my list. I loved it so much that I spent an entire afternoon savouring the view.

And what I like about Hong Kong is that there are many ways to enjoy their awesome skyline. Here are my top picks on where it’s best to enjoy it:

Tsim Sha Tsui

The skyline of Hong Kong island can be seen beautifully and conveniently from the neighboring Kowloon and the Tsim Sha Tsui’s harbor is the most scenic place to enjoy a great view of the skyline.

Hong Kong Skyline - at day

And I spent almost an entire afternoon at the harbor walking around and enjoying the view.

For starters, walk along the Avenue of the Stars – equivalent to Hollywood’s walk of fame. And along the way, there are quirky statues that any cam-loving person will enjoy.

The most famous is the Bruce Lee statue , with both the statue and people posing for photos  attractions in their own right. I’m more of an observer and pretty much took photos of other people doing it – much more fun if you ask me.

Bruce Lee and Bruce Lee

And if you just want to sit down, there’s a bunch of cafes and restaurant along. I spent my afternoon mainly at the corner Starbucks – I got a great view and coffee at the same time. Nothing beats that!

Tsim Sha Tsui (at night)

Okay, but the awesomeness doesn’t stop in daylight. Stay a bit further to witness the skyline transform into a bright and colourful display. I tell you that at night is the best time to enjoy the skyline.

Hong Kong skyline - at night

And if you wait further until around 8PM – Hong Kong’s famous Symphony of Light starts – a light and laser display featuring 44 buildings on both sides of the harbour!  The best place to view it at the Avenue of Stars and on the ferries. It’s a tourist draw – but still worth seeing if you ask me.

Victoria Peak

Okay, if there’s one thing I regret most not doing is going to Victoria Peak.  It was on my list of things to do – but plans changed and weather as always, didn’t cooperate. Don’t make the same mistake as I did or else you’ll miss this amazing view.

The Star Ferry

Aside from being a convenient way to move from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon, the Star Ferry is also one of the good place to snap on some photos of the HK skyline. It takes a mere 15 minutes to cross to the other end – which is enough to look out and enjoy the view! It also costs a few Hong Kong dollars for a single ride – a definite treat if you ask me.

Hong Kong skyline - at night

Me and my friend Tina used this often simply because we can’t get enough of the view. 🙂

From downtown itself

The view of the skyline from afar is notable– but it’s also worth it to view the skyscrapers from bottom looking up. There’s the International Finance Centre buildings, which if you are geek like me, would know was where Batman in the Dark Knight jumped from tower 1 to tower 2.

There’s also the Bank of China tower – which looks like a bamboo shoot from afar.  Hong Kong has 19 of the 200 tallest buildings in the world. A pretty amazing feat if you ask me.

What’s the city that has  the best skyline for you? Share them on the comment box below!

Travel Blog

Travel Blogger Feature: Ed of Rexyedventures

February 28, 2012
ed

A bit late for the week but here’s my interview for the week with none other than Ed Rex of Rexyedventures! He’s one of my recent travel blogger friends and upon reading his blog I was impressed on his travel dedication and spirit. He’s also profoundly deaf but it’s not stopping him from going on a journey around the world this March. Ladies (and gentlemen), Ed is definitely a guy worth following!

Here’s my short interview of Ed

Ed - Rexyedventures 2

 

Name: Ed Rex
Where are you from? East Yorkshire, UK, the best place ever!
Website: http://rexyedventures.com
Twitter Handle: @rexyedventures
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/rexyedventures


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a profoundly deaf, tall, dark and handsome god who absolutely loves travelling and getting involved in new experiences. I’m an out and proud original Yorkshireman who never strays too far from a supply of Yorkshire Tea.

I’m famed throughout my mates for my love of silly hats, my incessant photo taking, being a massively busy social bee, cheesy chat up lines, and yes..okay a poser.

After several University degrees and several jobs, I’m currently working as an Environmental Technician in a Water Company but I’m jacking that in to go around the world. Woo woo!

Why did you decide to start a travel blog?

I realised I adored travelling and I was always recounting my experiences to friends, family and even random strangers on the bus! But I have too many stories to say and store in my head! So that’s why I decided to create a travel blog to:

  • Share the stories and experiences with other people
  • Learn how to run a blog and web design to avoid being like my parents who refuse to conform to the latest technology and keep relying on me to fix their computer issues. 
  • Also, meet absolutely amazing travel bloggers from around the world to share the love of travel!

What’s the most challenging part of being a travel blogger?

I think there’s 2 parts that are most challenging for me:

    • Learning about coding and website design. It’s all very well and interesting but sometimes I’m unsure if I am getting the best deal out it. Luckily, I have literally awesome travel blogger mates who know their stuff and are helping me decide what I want. Currently, I’m supported by WordPress but I’d quite like to use my own hosting. 
    • Keeping up with the content! I do so much at home and I always want to write about my experiences and I haven’t even left on my first RTW yet!

Ed - Rexyedventures

Can you tell us about your first travel experience?

Even though I have been on plenty of holidays with my family before, I would class my holiday with them to Malta as my first travel experience. Dad and a 16 year old of me, took the bus to Valletta to visit the city. It was great to mingle with the locals on that bus and just experience Maltese life in the city. However, my first travel moment has to be when we hired a car to go to the other island but the car doesn’t start unless I get out and push (with both parents inside, how unfair!). This happened when we were on the ferry going over to the other island of Malta and we were the first vehicle that had to get off! So pushing the car up a ramp to get on the island was truly an experience with all the locals shouting and beeping their horns at me from behind and the police hanging around just laughing at my attempts! I grinned. This was amazing!

What’s your favourite destination and why?

Without a doubt, Uganda. There’s so much to experience and see in this beautiful country. Safaris, white-water rafting on the River Nile, eat in the local restaurants, volunteer with children, build schools, and go trekking. Lend of a country!

If you can travel with a real or fictional character, who will you travel with and why?

If I had to, then it would be a much younger version of my dad. He had me when he was mid forties and beforehand, he was a very much accomplished climber and trekker and backpacker! He always tells me of his glory days in the Alps, in Switzerland, Austria, Norway and much of Africa. I wish I could have travelled with him then and as we get on so much now, we would have had a massive laugh! I’ll never forget the time he took me mountaineering when I was 7/8.

What’s your favourite travel quote (from a book, film, TV show etc)?

Can’t think of one from the top of my head but the quote from the Bucket List have me reciting this to everyone:

Never Pass Up a Bathroom, Never Waste a Hard On, Never let a Never Trust a Fart!
If you have one flight ticket to go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where will you go?

South Africa. I’ve heard so many great  things about this beautiful country. I’ve heard so many stories from my parents when they went there on business. I was enthralled when I was younger listening to my dad recounting the time he wrestled a lion in the wild…I now find this to be highly untrue! How gullible was I!
Ed - Rexyedventures

What is the strangest thing you have eaten, drank or experienced on your travels?

Eaten – There’s nothing I have eaten that I classify as strange. If it’s not strange to that local country then it’s not strange to me. But I do have to say that Celery is by far my strangest food. It doesn’t taste of anything. I don’t understand it. And I never will.

Drink – Spezi (Germany) I’ll never forget the day I glanced the menu at a German Restaurant and I spied this drink. Half fanta and half coke?! Why haven’t I tried this before?! I quickly ordered one and I can’t still figure out the taste…my brain was telling me fanta and my taste buds were telling me coke. Who knows?!
Experienced – During my freefall on my skydive, I was washed over with an eerie calm. I was enthralled by the curvature of the Earth and felt like I was top of the world. But I didn’t fell like I was falling…It was like being in a swimming pool!

Advice to fellow newbie travel bloggers

Always take up the challenges and experiences. You’ll regret it if you don’t. At least you tried it once so you could say that you didn’t enjoy it and won’t do it again. Me? I’ll always keep on doing new challenges and experiences as I missed out so much before because I was too shy and wouldn’t say boo to a goose..(hey…could that be a challenge…to say boo to a goose?!)

Rexyedventures

A Solo RTW digital travel expert blog seeing the world the Rex Way! Trying to push myself to the limit; always trying out new experiences; new challenges; and new customs all around the globe! Also, I’m trying to tell you that Britain is one of the best places to travel as a backpacker 🙂

 

All photos in this post are Ed’s property but are hosted on this blog’s flickr count. All rights remain with Ed!

Do you want to be interviewed on our next session of Talk with a Travel Newcomer? The only requirement of course is that you have to be a newbie travel blogger.  Contact me  if you’d like to be featured!

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