Riding the Road to Dalat.

 

 

Vietnam is beautifully diverse country full of stunning natural wonders and adventures just waiting to happen and there is no better way to see this county than on a motorbike – or so I’ve heard. Since touching down in Saigon a little over 12 months ago, I have hardly left the city, and as much as I love her chaotic energy, recently I’ve been craving nature and fresh air and a little peace from the never-ending noise.  I decided to get away from the hustle on bustle for a week and hit the road on my first solo, motorbike trip, riding from Saigon to Dalat via Cat Tien National Park.

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Time to put my new bike to the test

Before this trip, my motorbike experience has been limited to puttering around Saigon on an ancient scooter with a cheap, plastic helmet on my head. Seeing as I was going such a long way, a friend lent me a proper helmet.

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The morning I left I stood next to my bike, packed and ready to go, fiddling with the strap of the helmet unable to figure it out, before giving up and Googling –

“How to do up a motorcyle helmet”

Once I got that sorted, away I went. As I rode further from Saigon, the country-side opened up and I wound my way through bright green rice paddies, rolling hills and small towns. I found myself falling into a relaxed and easy rhythym of riding and taking it all in when suddenly, “SNAP”, “BANG”.

 

 

 

Shit! One of the straps holding my all stuff broke and both my bags went flying 50 metres down the road. I pulled over and ran back to get them, my helmet still on and my head wobbling around, making me look like one of those bobble-head dolls.

I packed things back on as best I could and drove carefully until I got to a garage. I tried to indicate to the man working there that I needed to buy another strap by pointing at the one I already had and rubbing my fingers together in way to indicate, ‘money’. The poor fella just looked really confused at the foreign lady pointing at her bags and making weird hand signals.

I tried my smattering of Vietnamese –

“I want”, “I need”… but we got nowhere. Then I tried-

“Mua”, the Vietnamese word for, “buy”.

“Mua!” he said.

“Yes, yes, mua, mua”, I said and I think we were both a little bit chuffed about finally having a communication breakthrough.

The petrol station man pointed to a small shop, then he walked to the edge of the road and started to shout towards it. I didn’t understand any of what he was saying, but I am guessing it was the Vietnamese version of –

“Sheryl. Sher-yl. I have a lady here that needs an occy-strap. I’m sending her over”.

I bought two, just in case another broke, re-strapped my bags, tried not to think about what state my laptop might now be in and continued on. I was headed for Cat Tien National Park and according to Googlemaps it’s a drive that should less than four hours. I seemed to fall into some motorbike time-space vortex though, where Googlemaps would say I was 95km away, I’d drive for an hour and then I’d still be 82km away.

I was starting to get a little tired and over it when I heard a, “thud”, and thought my bags had fallen down again. I quickly stopped and looked at the road around me but my bags weren’t there. I had no idea what the noise had been, but not only were my bags not on the ground, they weren’t on my bike either. I looked back at the long empty road stretching out behind me and, heart pounding, I turned the bike around.

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      No bags to be seen!

I felt sick as I wondered just how far back had my bags fallen off the bike? Laptop, cash, all my clothes, my passport – everything was in those bags and now they were gone.

Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fucksticks fuck, I was in a bit of a panic.

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As I started to drive I heard some scraping noise and thought,

“Oh my God, what now?! Is something wrong with the bike?”

A Vietnamese fella drove past and started pointing, and it was then I realised my bags had fallen off my bike but they were still held on by the strap and I was dragging them along the road.

I pulled over and this time I strapped those babies on like my life depended on it. Vietnamese people are absolute legends when it comes to transporting things by motorbike, so I guess I still have a lot to learn.

554bb4d96da811d154adfd51-750-562See, this guy knows how its done.

Exhausted, I finally arrived at Green Bamboo Lodge in Cat Tien National Park, where I made myself at home in my bamboo hut by the river.

 

 

After an evening here spent drinking rice wine with some Vietnamese guys, I was up early to head off again, hoping it wouldn’t take me quite as long to get to Dalat as it had taken me to get to Cat Tien. The scenery from Saigon to Cat Tien  had ranged from the dull to the pretty and pleasant, but once I was out of Cat Tien and on the road to Dalat, the landscape became increasingly jaw-dropping.

 

 

The smooth road wound and weaved through jungle covered mountains, vast coffee plantations and remote villages. Every turn seemed to offer another sweeping view of lush green valleys dotted with distant homes and farms and it was such a joyous feeling of freedom to be out alone on the road with barely any other cars or bikes around.

 

 

 

Stopped for a coffee on an isolated farm and met this happy boy. He showed me his picture book and we had a running race (he won!)

I wasn’t too far out of Dalat when I checked the fuel gauge. I still had a bit under half a tank and seeing as getting fuel is a bit of a pain in the arse – I have to unload my bags to open the seat to get to the tank, I decided to wait until I got to town so I could leave my bags at the hotel and it would be a bit easier.

I was only about 15km out of town on a windy narrow road, looking forward to giving my bum a break when I looked at my petrol gauge and saw it was now very much in the red zone. How could this be? It hadn’t been that long ago that I’d had over a quarter of a tank, had it?

“Oh God. Please, please, please can a petrol station appear!”

I was in big trouble if I ran out of fuel. The road was narrow and winding and if I had to pull over there really wasn’t a lot of space to avoid a truck or bus that might come flying around the corner. I had all my bags, so trying to hitch-hike into town to get petrol, and get back again, especially when I don’t speak Vietnamese, was going to be almost impossible. Pushing my bike 15km through a mountainous road wasn’t really going to happen either. I realised that if the bike wasn’t going to make it, I was up shit creek.

“It’s okay. It’s in the red zone but it’s not on empty”, I tried to reassure myself. “I’m not that far away. 12km, 10km, okay now 9km, I’m going to make it”.

I looked at the fuel gauge again and my heart rate went up as I saw it was now it was right on empty and I was still around 7km out of town. I incredibly anxious the entire time and I don’t think I have ever felt such joy and relief at the site of a petrol station when I finally came upon one. I could have kissed the bowser.

Travelling by motorbike is both exhausting and exhilarating and this trip already has me hooked. Day-dreaming of big adventures, I’ve checked if I can ride from Vietnam to India, (I can’t. Border crossings at some countries make it almost impossible), but this is definitely going to be the first of many.

Riding the Backroads

To Market, to Market.

I am not a shopper. 90% of my wardrobe is hand-me-downs from my friends and if it wasn’t for that I’d probably get around in a rotation of three outfits. It is only my intense love for food that gets me grocery shopping each week and going on a, “shopping holiday”, is probably what they’ll make me do on holidays in hell.

I don’t mind shopping at my local market though. We have outdoor markets in Australia, but it’s totally different to the markets in Saigon. Australian outdoor markets tend to have handcrafts and fancy cheeses made from organic milk from the highlands of Lithuania and expensive  dips from the Blue Mountains- most markets are not really a place for the weekly grocery shop. Living here though, I barely have to go to the supermarket at all. I’d much rather shop at the outdoor market than walk around Woolworths listening to an elevator version of Taylor Swift and getting hit in the leg with someone’s trolley. Here I’ll just get hit in the leg by someone’s motorbike.

 

 

In the markets here you’ll find almost everything you could ever need. Looking for a raw frog? We got it. Fruit and veg you have never seen and don’t know what do do with? Also here. Undies? I no longer buy my undies anywhere else.

The other morning I headed to the market, list in hand, wanting to buy some fresh fish for a curry, but the only fish I have ever bought looks like this-

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and when I went to the market and saw this-

 

 

I had no idea what to do. So, I did what any independent woman in her late-30s, living abroad would do. I called my Mum.

“Mum, I want to buy a fish for a curry but I am at the market and there are just whole fish. What should I do? Do you think I can cut it up myself?”

“Just pick a fish and cut it up with the bones, it’ll give flavour. Don’t try and fillet it yourself it’s not something you can learn on Youtube. And watch out for small bones”.

“How do I know which fish to get?”

“Just get a fat looking fish. But watch the bones, don’t choke on a  small fish bone!’

I am 37 years old and my mumma is telling me to watch out for bones when I eat a piece of fish. No matter how old you are, your Mum is always your Mum!

I picked out a fish that looked nice enough, not that I really know how they are supposed to look. Then when I got home I decided NOT to take my mothers advice and that I would try to learn how to fillet a fish from Youtube.

So this happened.

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“Just cut around the spine”, said Youtube fella,  “and look, look how easy this lovely fillet just comes away”.

No sir, as you can see, a lovely fillet did not just, “come away”.

Anyway, this poor bastard ended up as a fish curry that I padded out with prawns and tofu due to a lack of actual fish, and it was bloody delicious.

Do you live somewhere with outdoor food markets? Have you ever tried to teach yourself something with Youtube only to have it turn to shit?

An early mid-life crisis – From Sydney to Saigon.

How I went from working as baby health nurse in Sydney to an English teacher in Vietnam.

 It began with a sort of early mid-life crisis.

At the beginning of 2018, I was 35 years old, living in Sydney and feeling like something just wasn’t right. Nothing was particularly awful about my life. I had my health, I had a pleasant enough job that paid alright and I am lucky to have wonderful friends and family. Sure, I was single, but I was out there dating, which was fun most of the time. And when it wasn’t fun, at least it was funny. But something wasn’t right.

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I have a cousin in Vietnam and I kept seeing photos of his come up on my Facebook. It looked like he was having a good time, so I sent him a message to find out a bit more. The decision to pick up and move to Saigon followed an exchange over Facebook that went a bit like this-

“Hey cuz, how is Vietnam? I am getting bored with my life in Sydney and feel like a change”.

“It’s great. You should move here”.

“Righto then, see you in a month”.

I handed in my notice at work, booked a one-way ticket to Saigon, then embarked on the special kind of hell known as, “selling your things on Gumtree”.

Do you enjoy receiving messages from strangers who will bargain with you over the cost of an old chair only to disappear into the ether once you agree on a price with them? Do you like getting ridiculous requests from entitled twats who think because they are buying something second hand for $10 from you, you should drive across the city to deliver it to them personally? If this sounds like you, then you too should try selling your goods online.

Anyway.

Moving to Vietnam, I had absolutely no idea what to expect and even less of an idea of what I was going to do next if it didn’t work out. Back in 2012, I went for a two week holiday to Vietnam with some mates. My main memory of Saigon is of partying all night only to come back to the hostel and throw up in a bin.

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Here I am in Halong Bay in 2012, oblivious to the fact that I was going to be calling Vietnam home 6 years later.

From the moment I arrived, it didn’t take long for this city to draw me in with its chaotic energy.  Saigon might not be the prettiest city in the world, but it’s vibrant streets heave with life. Food stalls spill onto the pavements, traffic is bedlam, the nightlife can be wild and the heat is exhausting. This city is at once captivating and maddening but the warmth of the people and the food culture by far and away makes up for any faults.

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Off to work we go.

 

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Dinner and beers with friends.

 

In just decades Saigon has gone from being one of the poorest places in the world to a boomtown where sky-scrapers are going up at a rapid pace. Change is in the air and maybe in 5 or 10 or 15 years, increasing gentrification will take away some of the city’s untamed charms, but right now, it’s a place that feels like anything can happen, and there is no place I’d rather be.

 

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eating outside

Food is basically my main hobby here.

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Never in a million years did I think I’d wind up working as a teacher in Vietnam, but here I am.

Moving to another country isn’t without its challenges and for me the biggest one has been the language. When I first arrived, I was sure I was going to learn to speak Vietnamese no worries. After all, I’d previously learnt to speak Spanish. Sort of.

Learning Vietnamese though is a whole different kettle of pho. The smattering I have learnt is usually met with that Vietnamese hand wiggle gesture or a shake of the head.

Out to dinner one night,, I tried to order a beer. The Vietnamese word for beer is ‘bia’, so surely this one at least wasn’t going to be too difficult.

“Bia”, I said smiling at one of the staff.

He looked at me.

“Bia”. I tried again. “Beeee-a. Biiiiia. Bi-ah.” I tried some variations on pronunciation while making a ‘drink’ hand gesture, only to be met with a look something like this-

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He walked off and came back and handed me a glass of some kind of green juice.

“No, no”, I said. “Bia”.

A Vietnamese person sitting close by me said something which I can only assume was along the lines of, “she’s asking for a bia”.

The man laughed, “Ha ha ha oh, bia!” he said.

Suffice to say I don’t think I will be having deep and meaningful conversations in Vietnamese any time soon, but I am taking classes and trying.

The last 10 months have been a wild ride and while it hasn’t always been perfect, it has been pretty wonderful, so I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere any time soon.

 

Some Stuff I Learned Working on a Farm in Paradise.

This view was my introduction to Ometepe, the volcano island paradise rising out of a lake in Nicaragua. This place was my home for a couple of weeks while I volunteered on a small organic farm.  I’ve written about this kind of work before, and it’s a pretty sweet way to travel.

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The location might have been mesmerising, but some of the work was bloody tough.

Shovelling rocks is hard!

It was pretty rustic.

Sharing a meal after a busy morning.

Our kitchen, note the duckie hanging out on the right.

beds

Hey, a bed’s a bed right?

But after a hard mornings work, we could head up for a beer in this pool.

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When you travel, every new place teaches you something. Here are a few things I have learned from working on a farm in the tropics.

1. Roosters do not shut the f*** up. Roosters love to crow at 4.30am. Roosters love to have a crow-off where one starts and they all join in, and just keep on going. How does so much noise come out of such a small beak?

2. When a dog kills a chicken, the results aren’t pretty.

3. Cooking together, with ingredients you’ve gathered from your own garden and sitting down and sharing a meal, is a pretty sweet way to live.

4. There are a lot of insects that like to bite you.

5. There are plenty of plants that like to sting you.

6. Lifting heavy shit in the tropical heat is a bit shit.

7. Beers by the pool taste extra delish after a morning lifting heavy shit in the heat.

8. If you aren’t careful about covering food, chickens will come and eat it, then take a poo on the table just for good measure.

9. When you are standing under a tree looking up at the monkeys, there is a fair chance they will piss on you, (didn’t happen to me but saw it happen).

10. If you are travelling for a while and have a bit of time, you should volunteer on a farm some time. It’s actually is quite wonderful.

Just to finish off, here are a few more photos of the farm and the beautiful surrounding area.

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Ten Travellers You’re Bound to Meet on The Road.

You’ve booked your ticket, packed your backpack and highlighted all the important bits in your Lonely Planet.

This is it. The big one.

You are going on that big round the world trip.

Here’s a preview of ten travellers you are bound to meet out there on the road.

1. The Massive Tight-Arse Traveller.

Not to be confused with the budget traveller, the massive tight-arse traveller can be found complaining loudly and frequently about having to pay to use the toilet. Because the world owes them a free, clean toilet at all times. They never tip, ever, and will walk 2km in the heat to save 5c off the cost of a bottle of water. They consider places that charge tourists one entrance fee and locals another, lower fee, to be the biggest injustice known to mankind. This is despite earning many times what the locals earn and the fact that if locals were made to pay the tourist price, many of them would be unable to visit

Catch-phrase: “It’s not the money, it’s the principle.”

2. The Super-Traveller Traveller

This traveller has travelling down to a fine art. They have a sixth-sense for finding the best and cheapest food in any given location. Their sense of direction is so freakishly accurate you start to wonder if they have had Google Maps implanted into their brain. That back-pack they are carrying is half the size of yours, yet they are travelling twice as long and have everything they need. They are chatting away with locals while you are still struggling to remember the word for ‘thank-you.’ When you ask them how long they have been learning the local language for, they’ll reply.

“Ever since I arrived.”

They arrived in the country last week.

Real Super-Travellers are born, not made. You can learn from them, but you’ll never quite get there

3. The Selfie Traveller

This traveller does not go overseas to meet interesting people or experience new cultures. The main aim of this traveller’s trip is to head to beautiful and iconic locations, turn their back to them and take a photo of their head in front of them. The Selfie Traveller does not really care what such places look like, as long as they look good standing in front of them.Their enjoyment of any given trip is measured by the amount of Facebook likes and Instagram followers they collected along the way

4. The Glam Traveller

While you have tomato sauce stains on your shirt, dirt under your fingernails and a sweat mustache, the Glam-Traveller looks like they just stepped out of a magazine. Not only do they have glossy hair and nice teeth, they also appear not to sweat, while everyone else around them is wringing out their pit patches. Spend a bit of time with a Glam Traveller though, and you’ll see they spend no more time on grooming than you do. They just wake up looking like that, and stay looking like that, all day.

Take heart. Glam Travellers are a rare breed. The rest of us look like shit too.

5.  The Everyone’s Mate Traveller

Within half an hour of checking into a hostel The Everyone’s Mate Traveller knows all the staff and most of the guests by name and has organised a beer-pong tournament. Everyone’s Mate can walk into bar alone, knowing no-one, and leave with invitations from seven different groups of people to come travel with them.

Everyone’s Mate mangles the local language, but hey have a crack at it with such charm that they can be found laughing and joking with locals everywhere they go.

6. The Born-Again Hippie Traveller

This person works in either a bank or for an insurance company at home. Whilst on their big overseas trip, they somehow got invited to a Rainbow Gathering, had an epiphany and decided what they are really meant to be is a ‘free spirit’. Now they walk around barefoot, draped in colourful scarfs, clutching a copy of Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth.” The Born-Again Hippie Traveller likes to use words like ‘energy’ , ‘vibe’ and ‘fully’.

They will hug you even when you don’t feel like a hug.

They recently paid $30 for a Finnish backpacker to dreadlock their hair.

One day soon, their money will run out, they’ll go home, cut of their dreads, return to work and those rainbow fisherman pants they’ve been wearing for a month without washing will gather dust in their Dad’s garage.

7. The Know-it-all Traveller

The Know-it-all Traveller fancies themselves a Super- Traveller (see 2.) but in reality, is nothing of the sort. They take great pleasure in topping any story you might have however they fail to realise the difference between telling a good travel tale and boring everyone shitless with a long-winded saga. The Know-it-all Traveller tends to have a loud voice and can be found at hostel bars, interrupting conversations and giving out unwanted advice with a patronising tone.

Learning a language? You are doing it wrong and they know a better way.

Going somewhere? Ha! They have already been and you are going at the wrong time of year.

Just had lunch? Nobody eats there any more. They know a much better restaurant, ’cause, they are just good at this travelling thing.

When they tell you they paid $14 for a taxi from the airport and you only paid $11, smile inwardly but don’t say a word

8. The Party-Animal Traveller

The Party-animal traveller views the world as just one giant, global pub-crawl. Sure they like to see all those sights that everyone talks about, as long as those sights can be seen from the window of the bar. They rate a destination based mostly on how cheap the beer is and how lax the drug laws are.

Your most memorable nights away will feature a party-animal traveller.

Spend too much time with them and you’ll find yourself in a situation where you are bribing a police man.

They should be your first point of call for advice on which local beer is best.

9. The “I’m not a tourist I’m a traveller” Traveller

This traveller considers themselves a true ‘traveller’ and loves to fire the question, “Are you a tourist or a traveller?” at every person they meet.

You’ll stumble over your words,

“Ummm, well, this trip I am backpacking on my own, but last year I went to an all-inclusive resort in Fiji for Mum’s 50th birthday so ummm I’m not sure.”

No one else around really knows (or cares) what exactly it is that differentiates a ‘tourist’ from a ‘traveller’ but this traveller is determined to put everyone they meet into one of two categories. Beware if they decide you fall into the ‘tourist’ category. You will be shunned.

10. Why is this person travelling? Traveller.

This traveller hates all things foreign. They pride themselves on only having eaten western-style meals since leaving home, avoiding all that weird, foreign food all together. After making zero effort to learn even a few words of the local language, they will go through their trip with a constant feeling of irritation that the local people “barely know a word of English”. They will huff and puff about how such crowded buses would never be allowed where they are from and rave on about the fact that where they are from is cleaner, better ran, more organised and generally superior in every way.

Despite all this, they insist that they love to travel and already have their next destination planned.

Have you come across any of these people while travelling, or do you see a bit of some of them in yourself? Are there any others you’d like to add?

How Not To Catch A Cab In San Jose.

There are towns and cities in this world that I have visited and just instantly fallen in love with. Places that have left me feeling like, “Wow, I could see myself living here for a while.”

San Jose, Costa Rica was not one of those places.

Simone and I arrived there after a week working on a farm in the jungle, to meet up with our friends Amy and Cathy.

Here we are, all together!

Here we are, all together!

I’d already heard that there wasn’t much to see or do in San Jose and the couple of days we had there did nothing to change my mind. We’d only really gone there at all because that’s where the girls flew into and we were all happy to be getting out of the city and heading to the Caribbean Coast.

Walking out of the hostel, loaded with bags, one of the hostel staff members asked me, “taxi?”

“Yes please” I said.

Conveniently, waiting right out the front of the hostel, was a cab with a smiley, jolly driver. The hostel guy and the taxi driver had a quick chat then our taxi man started loading our bags into the cab. We four girls squeezed in and away we went. As we drove away I realised we hadn’t agreed on a price first. Rookie mistake.

I tried asking him how much, but he said something about clocks and drew circles on his hand. I had no idea what that was about so I gave up.

“Dammit”, I thought. “Now he is probably going to overcharge us, like ask for $10 instead of $4 ho hum.”

Our driver was all smiling and friendly. He asked us where we were going. When we told him Puerto Viajo, he recommended us many things.

“I recommend you keep pass-a-port close, like baby”

“I recommend you looking, no talking blah, blah to people at terminal”

“Keep money close, no in big bag, many dangerous peoples at bus terminal.”

“Here, see” he rolled up his sock and showed me an old scar, “for iphone, at bus terminal” then he made his fingers into a gun shape and said, “bang, bang”.

“No ATM near Caribbean, I recommend you get money now”

I sort of had doubts. No ATMs in a popular tourist are in 2015…… really? But I guess we don’t want to get stuck without money. He pulled up at an ATM and we all got out and withdrew a wad of cash. The moment we got back into the cab and started driving, my heart sank.

I suddenly just knew he was lying about there being no banks in the Caribbean.  Now he knew we all had a few hundred dollars cash on us. I looked around the cab to see if his taxi licence was displayed anywhere, and saw none. My heart sunk a little further.

He got on his mobile and started talking in a low voice to someone.

“It’s going to be OK.” I told myself, but I felt a little bit sick.

He pulled up in some random area nowhere near the bus station and told us we had to walk a block to the bus terminal and that he couldn’t drive up that way.

He then asked for a fare of 68,000 colones, or, around $160.

“That can’t be right” I thought. I figured he must mean 6,800 colones, a rip-off for sure but I was happy to pay the equivalent of $16 or $17 to get away from him. I handed him a 10,000 note, expecting change.

He shook his fat head.

He drove forward a little.

I asked him to write it down, that I didn’t understand.

68,000.

“That can’t be possible” I said.

“Si, possible”

He drove forward some more and the smile was gone.

He got back on his mobile phone. My heart rate went right up.

He then dropped the price to around 35,000.

I tried to argue some more but I was getting really scared, he kept driving forward, further from the busy street. Mr Happy Cabby was now Mr Pissed Off and Mr. Pissed off had us trapped and wanted his money now. I was waiting for his mates to pull up at any moment.

In the end he reluctantly lowered his price to 20,000. He gave me this look, as though I was ripping him off. A look that said, “the fare is $160 but I guess I’ll just take $50 because what more can I do you selfish woman”

I shoved the money at him as he kept driving along. “Stop, stop” I said, feeling a little panicky wondering where on earth he was going to take us.

He pulled up on the corner of Shady-As Rd and Shithole St in Downtown Ghettosville, then drove off.

There we were, with all our bags, our passports, our electronics and hundreds and hundreds of dollars in cash between us in some dodgy-arse part of San Jose.

There were groups of sketchy looking dudes huddled around on the corner, staring.

“Hey Lady,” one called out.

One started walking towards us.

Another looked at us and made some hissing sound.

Every single shop on the street was boarded up. I can’t speak for the others, but I was shitting myself. Up ahead was a busy looking street full of cars and people, “If we can just get there without getting stabbed” I thought, “we will be ok”.

After the longest hundred metre walk of my life, we made it to the busy street and my heart rate slowed just slightly. A young guy asked us where we were headed, and he was very nice and helpful. We were still a fair way from the bus terminal and he advised us not to walk because it was dangerous so we reluctantly got into another cab – this time agreeing on a price first. Our new driver took us to the bus station, without a drama, for 2,000 colones, or around 4 or 5 dollars.

I don’t like to think about how much worse it could have been, but it’s all behind us now and we are chilling in the Caribbean paradise of Puerto Viajo.

 

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Adventures in France

I am in Northern Spain with a girl I met working on a farm in France. Her name is Ida and she is like a Swedish Brandy – for those of you who don’t know Brandy is my crazy wonderful bestie. We had plans to travel to Portugal together to go to Boom music festival, but it has sold out. Ida bought her ticket in January so she is going to go, and I am now trying to come up with a plan B (and trying not to cry with disappointment).

I have been without Internet for awhile, so I am a bit behind with the blog. Anyway,  here are some more stories from my time in France.

I loved Paris – apparently France lets people have working holiday visas up until the age of 35, so I am thinking of moving there and delaying adulthood a little bit longer.

I did a lot of the typical tourist stuff-

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This Mona Lisa sheila better be worth it!

This Mona Lisa sheila better be worth it!

I waited in line, in the rain, for over two hours to get into The Lourve, but I am glad I went.

The main attraction of course, is The Mona Lisa. There was, as there apparently always is, a crowd of people pushing there way to the front to see her. Most people were more interested in taking a photo of the Mona Lisa and a selfie in front of The Mona Lisa, rather than just having a good look at the worlds most famous painting.

While I waited all I could hear was,

“Oh my god, what is taking so long?”

“Come on people, just take your photo and move.”

“It’s those Asians, they are taking so long! Hurry up Asians!”

“Asians can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em”

“Who says you can’t live without ’em?”

“Oh gawd hurry, I need my selfie!!!!!!”

Really? Rude and racist, what a charming combination.

Imagine if The Lourve banned cameras and you had to actually just walk around and enjoy yourself?

I did take a few photos though.

room

 

My favourite part of Paris was the Montmartre area, where the Sacre-Coeure is located.

I accidentally deleted some photos, so here is one I borrowed from the internet.

I accidentally deleted some photos, so here is one I borrowed from the internet.

 

As I was walking through the streets of Montmarte, a French man started talking to me. He seemed nice enough and I thought it might be fun to chat with a local so I agreed to have a wine with him. We ended up getting a bottle and drinking it in the park.

Unfortunately, this is not the beginning of a Paris love story.

We sat and talked and within about 20 minutes he decided I was “beautiful, wonderful Oh Mon Cherie!”

He grabbed my hand in his.

“Oh my bizzarre  hair girl.”

I sort of smiled awkwardly and gently pulled my hand away. He was a nice enough bloke, but I had no interest in being his ‘bizzarre hair girl.” I drank some more wine and shoved some cheese in my mouth so he wouldn’t think of kissing me. I tried to think of a polite excuse to leave.

“Oh I want to know you,”

Oh, want to leave.

When he grabbed my arm and kissed it like Gomez Adams would Morticia, it was time for me to go.

Despite that experience, I could have stayed in Paris a lot longer, but my bank account said otherwise.

I headed south to a town called Montlucon. Thinking it might be fun to stay with a local, I hit up a few people on Couchsurfing. One lady got back to me to let me know I could stay at her place, she wasn’t actually going to be there, but no worries, the front door is unlocked.

I arrived at 9 0’clock at night and felt a bit like a burglar as I let myself into her empty flat. It was a bit weird and I was nervous to touch anything, but very kind of her to give me a place to stay for the night.

From Montlucon I headed to a little farm called Rapato and hung out with these people,

Some of the great people I met in Rapato

Some of the great people I met in Rapato

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My home for 11

Life on Rapato is a whole other story so it’ll have to wait for another blog post.