Selamat Pagi!

Unfortunately there shall be no pictures accompanying this post because whilst in Ho Chi Minh City my handbag was cut off me by a gentleman (not so gentle) on a moped, who then promptly drove away with it. Let us all hope that his life improves to the point where he no longer has to traumatise tourists in this way, unfortunate bastard. Without my phone I was unable to take pictures and document the remainder of the trip, so you will have to settle with my well thought out words, good job I’m a writer.

After Vietnam I headed to Brunei, the self-proclaimed land of peace! It certainly is very quiet there but this by no means straightened out my learning curve…

10 things Brunei has taught me:

  1. Brunians love gold, they can and will paint anything and everything gold. Something I fully intend to apply to my own life.
  2. Watching monkey’s play in the wild is such a lovely, heart-warming experience. It also made me make funny noises – like the noises I make when I see kittens.
  3. The shopping in Brunei is ACE… and very sparkly.
  4. I’m really allergic to insect bites.
  5. Being a couple of feet away from a real live crocodile will make you want to sit on your hands.
  6. Air conditioning is a gift from the people, to the people, heat is a test from the heavens: who can stay awake the longest (I’m not a winner in this game).
  7. The South China Sea is very beautiful, especially when viewed from a cushioned sun-lounger.
  8. A successful politician either speaks without actually saying anything or just states the bleeding obvious.
  9. Very rich countries should really think about providing toilet paper in their public toilets. Really.
  10. Probably couldn’t live in a country where alcohol is banned for very long (I’m thinking around two weeks, max).

So that’s what I learned from Brunei but stay posted for a blog on what travelling in general has taught me, some say life is a stage, I think it’s class room – not that I learned all that much in school – I’m getting it all in now.

Xin Chao 2!

As promised, 10 more things that my trip to Vietnam has taught me! It’s been a slightly steeper learning curve this time…

  1. Vietnamese food knocks all other national dishes out of the park (or bowl, if you like).Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine
  2. You can actually sleep horizontally on a moped.
  3. Vietnamese sun works like four times faster than British sun, you can literally get quite a comprehensive tan in around two hours.Sunbathing in Ho Chi Minh City, the Nikko Saigon Hotel
  4. Wearing socks with flip-flops is a total thing.
  5. Toilets that wash your bits after you’ve wee’d (and other… euphemism) are the absolute bomb – and provide a somewhat hilariously pleasurable experience.Japanese toilets!
  6. 5* service will ruin you.
  7. If you can’t haggle, you’re nobody.
  8. Cocktails drunk out of a fruit taste way better than cocktails drunk out of a glass. Poolside, Hotel Nikko Saigon
  9. You kind of have to admire the skill it takes to cut a handbag off a person whilst driving a moped.
  10. Vietnamese policemen LOVE paperwork, but they actually don’t really like work at all, but they really love 1970s Japanese historic days of our lives-esque programmes, but they don’t like doing up their shirts from the bellybutton down. Understandable.

There is definitely still more to come! Also moving on to Brunei soon so there should be a lot of learning happening there too…about Sharia Law…yep.

10 more things I've learned from Vietnam

How To…

…Survive long haul flights!

Last week I arrived in the amazing Vietnamese city of Hanoi, after around 28 hours of travelling. We set off at 5am on Tuesday morning and arrived at the hotel at around 3pm on Wednesday afternoon…scrap that – around 34 hours of travelling (if I’ve got my maths right, which frankly is entirely unlikely).

Now I’ve only ever done one other long haul trip in my life, a nine-hour flight to Calgary, Canada. It was pretty bad, everyone told me that it would be completely fine because I’d have lots of movies to choose from and could sleep the rest of the time or make friends with fellow passengers, that sort of thing (it didn’t help that I was travelling entirely alone). However, when I got on the plane I quickly realised that I was on the EasyJet of long haul flights, with tiny TV screens, sporadically placed around the economy class cabin, during the entire trip they played three films, one of which was Harry Potter (seen, like a million times already), We Bought a Zoo (don’t watch it, Matt Damon how are the mighty Jason Bourne fallen) and one other film which must have been really bad because I have irrevocably scrapped it from my memory bank. All the films also looked like they had been bought by one of the flight attendants on a layover in Thailand at what I can only assume was a particularly dodgy pirate DVD market.

Up in smoke went my optimistic hopes for making new flight friends when I found that I was sat next to two hardcore mathematicians on their way to Calgary for some kind of clever but dull person conference. They spent 9 hours discussing a complicated equation involving the letter C. That’s NINE HOURS of in-depth debate and argument about what “C” was, and 9 hours of me refraining from telling them that it’s actually the letter at the beginning of a word that would perfectly describe them both. By the time I got off this flight I was a mumbling wreck. I met up with a bunch of people I’d be travelling to the hotel with and we made friends (finally) but then after I’d arrived at the hotel, had a shower and came down to dinner, they reintroduced themselves – yes ladies and gents, I’d looked so bad when I got off that plane that once I’d washed and put a little bit of makeup on I was genuinely unrecognisable from the sweaty, greasy, mumbling plane person they’d first met. And they say you can never have a second first impression.

So, understandably I was not looking forward to a 12 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur (followed by a three-hour flight to Hanoi) and was determined to be more prepared than the last time. So I’ve put together seven tips on long haul flying, to help anyone who finds themselves having to spend nearly two whole days in motion:

  1. Stretchy trousers! One must have stretchy trousers, I refer to mine as ‘yoga pants’, basically elasticated waist band floppy things that Chris bought me back from Indonesia (I know someone else who calls them “Poo Pants” – better name). When it was safe to do so I removed my belt (I listen to the safety announcements) I went to the toilet to change from jeans to freedom. It was ace.
  2. Fluffy socks! Flights are cold places and the blankets they give you are like bigger but shitter pashminas so pack a pair of bed socks in your hand luggage – cosy.Fluffy Flight Socks
  3. Snacks! I didn’t know this but (and I don’t know about other airlines) but from the time you step on a Malaysia Air flight they behave as if you’re already in the time zone of the plane’s destination. Which essentially meant that at what was British breakfast time I was being served dinner, and then what was around 12am British time I was served breakfast. This sort of thing just messes with your head as well as your stomach and can result in a good 10 hours without a second meal so I recommend buying many snacks in the airport and then just eat when you’re hungry and don’t ask any questions. Best way.
  4. Cosmetics! Apparently long haul flights are really bad for your skin. There are millions of YouTube videos about it so I did my research and did my best to adhere to the skin ritual I had learned, I had to make a few bits up because I couldn’t be bothered to buy any new products which essentially just resulted in me having a really slippy face for 12 hours, however, it was a pleasant distraction from the boredom of sitting in the same seat for that long.
  5. Don’t try to look glamorous! I’m one of those people still suffering from the hangover of glamorous air travel. Actually I’m not old enough to have properly experienced this so it’s like having a hangover without the good drunk bit firs (but whoever remembers the drunk bit anyway?). I tend to think that air travel is some sort of smart event and try to dress as such but I have now tried twice to look like a glamorous mystery woman of the world when getting off a long haul flight and twice I have failed most spectacularly. I think I’m just going to accept that I will always look as shiny and greasy as an oil slick and deal with it. Plus when you look around, everyone else looks a wee bit slick too so we’re all in the same boat (plane).Malaysia Airlines Blanket
  6. Don’t go alone! Travelling alone sucks, not seeing lovely things in far away countries but the actual getting to those countries. I literally could not have made it through 34 hours of traveling all by myself, which is actually something that Chris does all the time, for which I take my (hopefully soon to be a traditional, conical, rice-picking) hat off to him.
  7. Travel with some one who’s freakishly tall! Another great thing about Chris is that he’s deformed (6ft5), which resulted in us getting awesome seats with epic leg space.

Early morning coach to Heathrow!

So there you have it – ram your hand luggage with stretchy trousers, fluffy bed sock, snacks, shit loads of moisturiser and a really tall person (they probably won’t fit that well) and the whole thing turns itself into a random motion movie day. Go get travelling!

Xin Chao!

I haven’t travelled all that much in my life so far. I’ve been lucky enough to visit many places in Europe but I’ve only ventured off this fair continent once before, so when the opportunity to go to Vietnam sprung itself into my life path I sprang back! For me travel is all about widening your understanding and respect for other cultures and getting to see amazing sites. So far on my trip I’ve been visiting lots of museums and temples in an effort to get to know more about the history of this beautiful country and its people, which I have but I’ve also learned an awful lot of things I didn’t know just by looking out of my taxi window. Some pretty damn awesome things actually – others just a bit weird but it takes all to make a world!

So here are 10 things that Vietnam has taught me (so far):

  1. JetLag is a mysterious and cruel mistress.Suffering from jetlag!
  2. You don’t really need specific road lines, lanes or junctions if you’re driving a vehicle with a loud horn.
  3. Whoever invented the selfie stick must now be disgustingly rich and laughing from his own private island where he’s hired his very own full-time photographer to take photos of him instead of him having to look like a twat doing it himself.
  4. You can in fact cook an entire pig, trotters and all, on a street sewage drainage grate.
  5. Hi Chi Minh or ‘Uncle Ho’ as they call him is in fact the Don of Vietnam.Uncle Ho the father of Vietnam
  6. You should never, ever pay more than £4.50 for a top ‘made’ by Zara, or in fact £5.50 for their shoes.
  7. Buddhism appears to be a very joyous and peaceful religion and watching someone pray can be a very moving experience…until they try to sell you postcards.Buddhist temple in vietnam
  8. You can fit at least three cumquat trees on the back of a moped.
  9. Why even buy a car when you can also fit a family of four on a moped?
  10. Vietnamese women make epic Generals and soilders of war. Fact.Vietnamese war women

I’m not even nearly done yet, having just moved from traditional Hanoi to the huge and modern city of Ho Chi Minh, stay tuned for the next 10!

#FashionFridays!

Go long…haul!

Someone recently asked me what I was going to wear on a very long flight from a very cold British 5am to a nice warm Vietnamese afternoon, so I thought I’d #FashionFridays it!

How to dress for a long haul flight

This outfit can be summed up in one word – Layers.

I am obviously wearing a vest, I wear a vest every single day of the year but I’m also wearing like a silky top/t-shirt thing (technical term), with a fluffy jumper on top, a jacket on top of the fluffy jumper and big thick pashmina on top of that! Once inside the airport I removed the pashmina…

what to wear on long haul flights

…and once inside the plane I removed the jacket (and replaced the jeans with stretchy waistband yoga pants – it was a 12 hour flight)…

comfy plane pants

…and once inside the county I just had the silky top/t-shirt thing and my jacket although I have no picture of this because by this time I’d been travelling for a good 30 hours and was therefore not of mood or face for photos.

I am also of the opinion that anything is smart if it’s sparkly. Casual sneakers are transformed to perfectly acceptable restaurant shoes with the addition of glitter (and some velvet ribbon that I use instead of laces):

Sparkly travel sneakers!

All in all the layers thing worked out quite well and actually it wasn’t half as hot as Chris said it would be in Hanoi, apparently it will be in Ho Chi Minh – I’m reserving judgement, the  man made me pack shorts but everyone here is wearing puffa jackets! Lesson learned – never trust the men-folk.

I’d also like to point out that I know I look like a strange deformed pigmy in pictures no. 2 and 4, but this is only because Chris is taking it from his full height (he normally bends down to take photos of me). This is a little worrying as to him I must look like a pigmy all the time. What strange taste in women he has…