An Online Blog will never beat a Local.

An Online Blog will never beat a Local.

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned while being a semi-professional gadabout, is to get out of the comfort zone and ask a local.

I don’t mean asking for directions, I’m referring to plucking up the courage to ask people who live in your destination to tell you where the “best place for (insert what you’re looking for here) is”.

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Asian adventure!

Asian adventure!

Singapore - Image taken from Minmax travel
Singapore – Image taken from Minmax travel

I’m packing my bags and heading to Asia!

Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and maybe even a cheeky trip to Bangkok are all on the cards so I would love your help to create a list of things to try whilst I am over there!

When I went to Vietnam I created “The Hungry List” with a number of things to look out for on my travels, so let’s add to this?

So far I’ve been requested to try:

  • Sea Turtle
  • Balut Egg (covered this in Vietnam as Hot Vit Lon)
  • Dog Meat
  • Pig Fallopian tubes (ick ick ick!)
  • Stinky fermented tofu
  • Elephant poo coffee (anything like Weasel Poo coffee?)
  • Durian
  • Frog legs
  • Pig Blood Cake

So keep em coming and I’ll update the list as we go!

By the way… I don’t just eat strange foods (well strange to us in Australia!) I actually would love to know what foods I simply must try that are really delicious!

I am already drooling over Kaya Toast for breakfast mmm.

Stay tuned this Friday 28th June I try out Alpaca as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine festival roast collection! I think it will taste like sheep or goat?

Mmm Alpaca
Mmm Alpaca
Travel Buddies…

Travel Buddies…

Ever travelled OS with your mum?

Neither have I…

Not that I don’t think it would be a great chance to share experiences and plenty of people do it. My mother and I have a fantastic relationship, but when people go on holiday 9 times out of 10 they don’t mention their Mum or Dad as their travelling partner.

So I put the question out there…

“Who do you think the best people to travel with are? And why?”

I received a mixed bag of responses fired back to me, so here’s a wee little list of pros and cons utilising the most popular responses…

Friends

We had a fantastic trip!

This one I’ve done a couple of times. The first time was for a few months around Europe with a long time friend. Everyone said we’d kill each other within 3 days as we had a very volatile relationship at home…

We had the time of our lives, I think we fought once over the fact that I flushed the toilet in her face while she was spewing (sorry mum) but that was about it! We couldn’t have been more congenial to each other on that trip…

PROS:

  • You have someone to share your experiences with
  • You don’t have to share a bed… or sexual activity (unless you want to!)
  • There is less risk of “breaking up” and not being able to look at photos again
  • You can share the cost of accommodation with them
  • Safety in numbers!

CONS:

  • Your friend might snore and you didn’t know it
  • They may not always want to do what you want to do
  • Their annoying little habits may be hard to ignore
  • You may have to listen to their “night noises” if they bring someone back to the room :/

Partners

The romantic places are best for partners…

Since I’ve only done this once, I’m no expert! Though I must admit its fun to share the experience with someone you’re romantically linked to!

In Thailand I kept proposing to my travel friend at romantic locations (see pic). She kept saying no… I wonder why? 🙂

PROS:

  • You can forgive the little things (hopefully!)
  • Romantic experiences can be shared and reflected upon
  • It may solidify your relationship
  • It gives you a chance to see how your partner handles themself in a tricky situation (also a con!)
  • They will look after you if you get sick

CONS:

  • It could highlight reasons why you shouldn’t be together
  • Relationship tension can happen if you don’t give each other any space
  • You could realise you don’t enjoy the same activities (not necessarily a con)
  • You could break up and have the memories turn sour afterwards

Alone

Please look after this bear…

This one is one of my favourites, though it can be difficult if you aren’t a confident traveller or an outgoing personality.

I’ll never forget the arrogant man who tried to tell me “A woman shouldn’t eat dinner alone” when I took myself to dinner on a solo holiday to Noosa… apparently I shouldn’t have come down from my hotel room and shown my face if I was unaccompanied!

PROS:

  • You can do whatever the hell you want, when you want
  • A fight can’t be started with someone who isn’t there…
  • New friends are super easy to make if you’re willing!
  • It’s easier to get onto packed transport when you only need 1 ticket

CONS:

  • You can get lonely and homesick
  • It can cost you more, especially if you aren’t sharing accommodation
  • You have to carry EVERYTHING yourself!
  • It may not be as safe

I have left family out for a few reasons… A: I have little experience in this area and B: Hi Mum!!! (I’m only kidding!) 🙂

There are about a billion other things you could add to each list and a bunch of other scenarios I haven’t mentioned so…

Who do you travel with?

Are you allergic?

Are you allergic?

Milk, egg, peanut, fish, shellfish, wheat, nuts from trees and soya…

Then there are dermatitus, eczema, psoriasis and hayfever… the list goes on!

I certainly don’t recall too many kids on the playground at school when I was little who couldn’t eat pretty much whatever they liked or touch anything they wanted, other than one poor kid who blew up like a blowfish when someone threw some peanuts at him.

Then again he may have been choking on the nut rather than having an anaphylactic fit… the details are vague…

It seems we’re becoming more and more allergic to things that once seemed part of the everyday.

I say we, because I’m including me in this sentence…

Once upon a time I could eat whatever the hell I wanted and put whatever skin creams full of perfumes and pathogens on my skin whenever I liked, until one day when I was about 24 I used some skin cleanser that turned my face into a bubbling lava pit of blisters (yes it was as sexy as it sounds) and I started to “react” to certain creams.

About a year later, I’d gotten on top of the skin issues by using non-fragranced and PH neutral products to wash, moisturise and beautify myself, then I discovered I’m lactose intolerant.

I’d always assumed being gassy and bloated by dairy products was a normal part of consuming them, apparently not.

I now come to a familiar cross-roads in my life prior to going to Vietnam, a malarial risk country.

The question is “to take the antimalarials?”

The chemical structure of DEET

I have been informed (by a travel specialist doc…. FANCY!) I should be ok if I cover myself in DEET laden insect repellant… aside from the fact that I’m pretty much allergic or “react” to most insect repellents, there are many reasons I don’t really want to take the antimalarials…

  1. They can make you sun-sensitive… CMON I’m already a pasty ranga, I don’t need to be ANY more sun sensitive
  2. They cause yeast infections… ew
  3. They negate the Pill…
  4. Nausea and vomiting

…and a whole bunch of other, albeit rare side effects that are pretty gross… I’m talking about Doxycycline by the way, one of the only antimalarials that the pesky mozzies aren’t resistant to yet, and the most commonly used of the bunch.

So tell me? Are there any good sensitive insect repellents out there that DO contain DEET?

Do I put up, shut up and take the malarials? 

Gin and Tonics could be the answer! Tonic water contains Quinine – which has anti-malarial properties… so I could just get rip-snortingly drunk each day… the Quinine can fight off the malaria and the alcohol could fight off the stomach bugs (as discussed in “don’t trust a ham sandwich“)…

UPDATE! – Thanks Mum 🙂 Apparently you can get a safe for sensitive skin insect repellant containing “Picaridin” instead of DEET… huzzah! OFF is the only brand I can seem to find in Australia that has it.

Don’t trust a ham sandwich…

Don’t trust a ham sandwich…

The root of all evil

There are a few things i’ve learned about unsafe food so far on my travels that will hopefully assist me and my stomach in the future…

Imagine for a moment… you’ve woken up in the idyllic setting of a Railay Beach resort in Thailand, keen to get around doing some rock climbing, or scuba diving or generally hang out on the beach… you wake up 1/2 an hour before you have to so that you can gulp down 2 imodium with water and lie there fingers crossed that they take hold for the next few hours… you know at this stage that if you stand up at any point, you will be calling god from the porcelain telephone all morning or worse things will come from the other end… you know this because this is the same routine you have had to endure for the past week…

… all because of a ham sandwich… a last-minute… “yeah whatever, that will do…” ham sandwich…

The kitchens of Thailand, as a general rule don’t really follow the same strict refrigeration rules and regulations we have come to enjoy in Australia, and their preparation procedures can sometimes leave a lot to be desired as well. I know you’re probably thinking “duh, of course! Why would you even eat a ham sandwich over there?” and my answer would be… 

“Yes… I’m an idiot” I didn’t think… I thought I’d be ok… and I let my concentration lapse. 

Even though losing 11kgs in 2 weeks might seem a blessing to some, getting dysentery whilst overseas (I’m lucky it wasn’t worse and my imodium x buscopan concoction worked) isn’t for the faint hearted and can leave you incredibly weak, incredibly tired and it incredibly f*cks up your trip… So here’s a list of things to consider food wise (more so in S.E Asia) to hopefully help others avoid my messy fate: 

  • Don’t drink the water…
  • See above… ice = water… don’t drink that either
  • See above above… Shakes (i.e. Mango Lassi or any Lassi etc.) = water
  • If you are going to drink the water, buy those purifying tablets (even though they taste like crap)
  • Boiling water first also works a treat
  • Bottled water = OK 🙂
  • Don’t drink the shower water and use bottled water to brush your teeth
  • Avoid Cold meat platters, cheese platters
  • Avoid unpasteurized dairy products (check the labels)
  • Eat where lots of people eat… never eat from a street vendor with no-one there
  • Eat what you can see has been or is being freshly cooked
  • Wash your hands before you eat… there is always poo on them apparently
  • Make sure the water you wash your hands with is “safe water”
  •  Check that the cutlery is not too filthy… cutlery sometimes = hands
  • Beware of raw meats, runny eggs and fruit you haven’t peeled yourself
  • Edit from wordpress comment: Avoid shellfish as the refrigeration temps are all over the place (Thanks Misty!)
  • And the best of the best tip… Alcohol and spice is everything nice! They both contain goodies that kill germs… while this isn’t a foolproof remedy I can recommend this option!

So there you have it… if there are any other suggestions or home remedies to prevent against or cure getting food poisoning I’d love to hear them!