Slacker!

I know I’ve been completely hopeless the last 6 months with blogging. I absolutely slacked off thinking “oh next week I’ll write something!” I started about 10 different posts and have them all saved and unfinished 😪. 

Fear not, now I have found renewed determination, after all I’m doing this for fun, so I am now in the process of editing all said unfinished posts and adding pictures. You will soon hear more from me. 

 

Much love!

Siobhan

Fresh produce in Can Tho

1kg bananas, 1 pineapple, 2 knobs of garlic and 6 tomatoes from my local market $1.50. Made a delicious red wine beef and vegetable stir fry!

Please help my friend!

Hello hello everyone!!

It has been a fair while since I posted anything, I went on a holiday home for over a month and time got away from me! Then something terrible happened. My very best friend in Vietnam was involved in a car accident and is so very lucky to be alive. I’ve started a fundraiser to assist them to pay all the hospital bills. I would be ever so grateful if you could share this on your own blogs or websites as I’m reaching out to the public for assistance. No donation is too small. Please visit Help Nga Recover to make a donation or read about the cause. 

Thank you so much for reading this and taking the time to share with your friends and followers. 

Much love, xoxo

Siobhan

Wanderluster for life..

Learning Vietnamese in Vietnam

I’ve lived in Vietnam now almost 6 months! I cannot believe how the time has flown.

I love the lifestyle here, I love my Vietnamese friends, I love my job and mostly I love the free time I have to work on my hobbies and do the things I love as I only work 16-20 hours a week.

About 3 weeks ago now I started taking Vietnamese lessons. I am learning from some friends FOC, and in return I help them with their English (they are studying for the TOEIC test).

Having lived here for 4 and a bit months before I started lessons I already knew bits and pieces of the language, for instance how to order most of my favourite foods, count to ten, say hello and thank you etc etc.

Now when I started official lessons, the first 3 went so well I felt like a pro, picking up the new words and phrases quite quickly. However by the 4th lesson things started to get difficult! My brain hurt trying to learn new words – the first 3 lessons were basically just learning what I already knew with some extensions.

I can say though after this mornings lesson, which was about my 8th or 9th lesson, that its still difficult trying to pronounce many of the sounds, however my brain no longer feels like its squished like a stress ball!! I finally feel like some new phrases are starting to (VERY SLOWLY) sink in!!

Hopefully in the next 6 months here I can get the basics of a conversation down!

Wish me luck 😀

until next time xoxox

Siobhan

Munich, Germany for Christmas

Just days before Christmas 2012 I went to Germany. I had been in 2009, however, I only saw a little of the countryside during the summer. This trip I went to experience the winter festivals and big city.

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When I arrived in Munich International Airport I took a shuttle bus into the city centre to the main terminal (where both trains and buses arrive and depart). I spent a little time here looking through the small christmas stalls and grabbing a city map before walking to my hotel – it was just 10 minutes or so walk. 

The moment I stepped out of the terminal in the fresh crisp winter air at dusk and felt the light snowflakes falling I was enchanted! Everything was so soft, gorgeous fairy lights hanging from every eave and little candles lining shop windowsills. The terminal exit overflowed with commuters heading home for the day. To the right were rows of tiny festive winter huts, serving German beer and mulled wine (Glühwein) to the endless amount of locals and a handful of tourists who were all out in the chilly night air, huddled together to keep warm. I stopped for a moment to listen to the merry banter while the heavenly smells of fresh gingerbread and Glühwein wafted around me. 

I arrived to my little cosy hotel just after 6pm and though I had travelled more than 20 hours and barely slept, nothing could keep the smile off my face as the excitement of the christmas season was all around me. I promptly dropped my backpack in my small room then ventured out once again in the happy streets. With a light dusting of snow and beautiful ornate lampposts lining the street, winter was surely a sight in Munich. My hotel was on a small hill and overlooked a large park, filled for as far as I could see with white tents covered in twinkling lights and baubles. 

I made my way through the throngs of people canvasing the streets, down into the sea of tents. From the streets I found the entryway easily enough thanks to a huge sign made of lights; Tollwood, the sign declared. This winter festival is held each year in the same park, Theresienwiese. 

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The stalls at the festival were amazing; featuring homemade christmas treats, handmade jewellery, clothing and beautiful ornaments. There was no shortage of food and drink tents to shelter from the weather and share a drink or 10 with the locals. 

I arrived back to my hotel that evening around 10pm and was out in the blink of an eye. I slept until around 230am when I found myself wide awake thanks to jet lag. As this was an insane time to go out I spent a few hours online talking to family and friends back in Australia. 

 

Day 2 in Munich I wandered through the streets, and took so many trains all over the city to see as many sights as I could! After checking out the museums, statues, parks, shopping areas and cafes drinking in the sights of the city I returned to my hotel for a quick afternoon nap. I spent the late afternoon at a beautiful restaurant overlooking the water then returned to my hotel after seeing The Hobbit at a tiny little antique cinema which played English films. 

The 3rd and final day in Germany I took a day trip to another city which I will post separately.

I can not wait to return to Germany one day soon and continue adventuring through this beautiful country.

 

Please comment, share and like 😀

Also, I would love to hear your feedback regarding what to do in Berlin, as I am yet to go there. If you have experienced the wonderful winter in Germany I would also love to hear about your experiences and highlights.

 

Until next time,

xoxo Siobhan.

 

 

College Student’s Guide to Cheap International Travel – Guest Post by KC Owens

I am honoured to provide my readers with my very first guest post here at Wanderlust.  This article was written by a fellow young traveller and I absolutely agree with the content. Please leave a comment if you like the post so I can be sure to pass along your kind words to the author.  Happy travelling xoxo Siobhan.

 

Between meeting deadlines for homework, working to pay tuition, other bills and applying for internships and jobs, being a college student can be pretty stressful at times. Fortunately, it’s also a time in life when most people aren’t tied down by jobs or family and are free to travel if they want to. Traveling can be expensive, especially if you’re looking to go international, but it’s definitely not out of reach for a college student who has the right knowledge and tools. There is no reason why a student cannot cruise through Europe on a cheap dime. Using the tips and tricks below, you can travel cost efficiently and make frequent getaways a great way to give yourself a break from the college grind.

 

What to Bring

To begin, you’ll want to travel light, especially if you plan to frequently move around and stay in a new hostel every night, but there are a few must-haves that you’ll be glad you brought with you. I try to travel with less than ten pounds in my backpack, so I have this down to a science. First, I searched Amazon and found a roomy backpack that was lightweight. Why just a backpack? You don’t want to be the obvious tourist walking around on a museum tour with a roller bag and a camera; that’s how you get mugged very quickly. Next, I invested in dry fit clothes. These are invaluable because they dry quickly if I get caught in the rain and I can easily wash them in a public sink anywhere I go and they will dry quickly. They’re also lightweight, don’t take up much space in the backpack and do not wrinkle easily. They’re great! I always pack at least one collared shirt and a nice pair of shoes, too, since a lot of clubs in Europe have a dress code. I was once asked to leave a club because my shoes were too “sporty,” so trust me when I say, bring some decent shoes, too. However, when I’m on the move, I’m always wearing some comfortable tennis shoes to avoid blisters and sore feet.

Besides clothing, I always make sure to pack a lock because most hostels offer lockers for you to keep your things in overnight or while you’re walking around the city. A secure ID wallet is also a must. I always keep mine on my body at all times. Losing your identification and credit cards, or having them stolen, can pose all kinds of problems when you’re in a foreign country. I use a wallet that zips, and I always keep it in a zipped pocket in my pants or shirt. You can also find travel wallets that hang around your neck and can be hidden underneath your shirt. I know these seem goofy and annoying if you’re buying things or paying for dinner, but I would rather do that than be pickpocketed on the train or in a busy market. This is not meant to scare anyone, just be aware that people do pickpocket tourists and mug them if they are leaving themselves wide open as a target.

 

Where to Sleep

Overnight plans are always the most important because many hostels close at 10:00 p.m. and can fill up quickly. You don’t have to stay in hostels, of course, but it’s really the most cost-effective plan for a first time traveler or college student. Most hostels I’ve stayed in were less than $40 per night. Many of them even offer student discounts on food and drink, which can help you save big time! Most of my meals were at cheap fast food places, markets or my own hostel because of the discount. If you’re at a good hostel, their food will be great and it can also give you some local flavor. Try to find places that have 24/7 check-in, since you never know what time you’ll arrive after a day of traveling. There’s nothing worse than being exhausted after traveling all day and being late to your check-in and finding yourself homeless for a night, despite already paying for a room. If there is one piece of advice any experienced backpacker could give anyone, it would be this: make sure you have a plan B, C and D. I use a great app called Hostelworld when I’m planning a trip and it’s really helpful in determining the best, cheapest and safest places to stay. It can also tell you which hostels have free Wi-Fi, which is nice if you want to send emails, blog about your travels or upload pictures to a Dropbox account in case your phone/camera is stolen or broken.

 

Financing Your Trips

If you work during the academic year and you’re able to save a bit of extra cash, that’s great. If you can’t do that, you’ll have to look into borrowing. Instead of borrowing as a loan (don’t do that), I did a little web research and according to Credit Card Insider, there was a travel credit card that I qualified for. I use it all the time at restaurants and small businesses overseas; it’s great because I can easily buy everything I need and then just make small monthly payments when I get back home so I don’t need cash up front before going on a trip wherever I decide to venture off to. The only time a credit card isn’t useful is if you’re at a produce market and some small, local pubs, which will usually require cash payments. I would not recommend having large quantities of cash on your body while roaming through different parts of the world. If you do happen to come across the wrong person, you don’t want to hand them hundreds of Euros. I would also highly suggest that you contact your bank before you leave for your trip and let them know you will be traveling, otherwise, they will suspect someone has stolen your card to buy food at McDonald’s in Paris and cancel it; thus, leaving you frustrated, hungry and trying to explain to the worker that you think it worked anyway.

 

 

KC Owens has written and submitted this article. KC is a college student who loves traveling, college life, fitness and a good survival kit. He enjoys studying different cultures, meeting new people and leaving his footprint somewhere most people only read about.

My (2 month Around the World) Holiday Budget.

This was my budget for a 2-month holiday. I would say it was a mid-range holiday as I spent some time in hostels where I spent next to nothing and the rest of my time in 4-5star hotels spending whatever I felt like.

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http://www.mapsofworld.com

I went over my budget, however, not by too much. When I found something extra I hadn’t planned for I used my backup money to do it, no regrets. It is my recommendation to always take more money than you budgeted, as a backup if needed (like I did! 🙂 ). I also highly advise you to always carry enough cash, then if in the event you have trouble with your ATM card, travel card or credit card, you won’t be stuck in a foreign country with no money.

My budget by country including the current exchange rates while I was travelling in December 2012/ January-February 2013 is below.

Argentina – 5 days: $70 per day           = $350AUD

Exchange rate: 1AUD= 4.89244ARS

Brazil – 15 days: $70 per day                           = $1050AUD

Exchange rate: 1AUD = 2.09507BRL

Peru – 9 days: $45 per day                    = $405AUD

Exchange rate: 1AUD = 2.66682PEN

Germany – 4 days: $85 per day                      = $340AUD

Exchange rate: 1AUD = 0.793484EUR

Poland – 8 days: $40 per day                 = $320AUD

Exchange rate: 1AUD = 3.25799PLN

Cuba – 4 days: $100 per day                          = $400AUD

Exchange rate: 1AUD = 1.0332CUC

Mexico – 8 days: $50 per day                 = $400AUD

Exchange rate: 1AUD = 13.334MXN

New York – 5 days: $100 per day           = $500AUD

Exchange rate 1AUD = 1.03USD

Total = $3765AUD

I took an extra $900AUD cash with me in my wallet (my backup money). For each currency I used, I carried 2 days worth in cash. All money I converted a few weeks before leaving Australia, as some currencies had to be ordered from the capital (I come from a small town).

There were a couple of currencies I could not get in Australia including Cuban Pesos (CUC) and Polish Zloty (PLN). In these cases I took my 2 days worth of cash in AUD so I could exchange the money in those countries upon arrival. The remaining money for my trip I loaded onto a multi-currency travel card. I chose the ANZ travel card, with up to 10 currencies available to load it was perfect for my trip.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me or leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!

Happy travelling, #no regrets

Xoxo

Siobhan.