Three Things Thursday; UAE top three

Happy 2017 readers! And with a short crimbo holiday under my belt to aid in the recovery from finally completing my studies (huzzah), I brought in the new year with three…

…fun things to do on a trip to the United Arab Emirates. More

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Three Things Thursday; ancient things of Oman

Q: What do you do if you’re a fast-developing oil economy with outrageously beautiful natural resources caught in a slowdown ?

A: Turn to tourism and hope you can successfully diversify in time to stop it all going down the pan.

Winter Is Coming. And in Oman this is time for great celebration. We can finally venture out of the house during daylight hours without the fear of being burned up like vampires. The Eid holiday at the start of September gave me an opportunity to take advantage of this and head through the Hajjar mountains and into the Interior for a couple of days. In my inimitable “explore-by-random-accident-rather-than-any-conspicuous-planning”style, what I encountered was glorious and wholly unexpected. Wonderful for me, problematic for the country unless it seeks to dramatically expand its capacity and infrastructure for tourism.

With few road signs and little in the way of a comprehensive guide to reaching and enjoying the best of Oman, I cobbled together a great couple of days’ of exploring. In the spirit of sharing, here are three…

… wonderful ancient sights in Oman. More

How to travel through the Balkans by bus

skopje-statue-wonderland

Let’s go!

Last month I wrote a dedicated guide to Albania on the same topic, because bus travel in Albania deserves a post all of its own. This month is a quick guide to the rest of my bus route through the Balkans. More

Stop all the the Locks!

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Love locks at Namsan

When did fences become a magnet for juvenile declarations of love? Is there a moment in recent history when a film depicted someone visiting a hardware store in search of the perfect vehicle for their declaration of undying devotion, coming across a padlock, and thinking, “At last! I’ve found the messenger I’ve been searching for! Now, where’s my damn engraving pen?”

Well apparently yes, there is. More

How to navigate the bus system in Albania

Or: an Ode to global Bus Travel

Chatting with some fellow travellers in the middle of my recent Istanbul to Zagreb ruins-and-beaches hop, I discovered how odd my choice of vehicle seemed to many others undertaking a similar trip. The idea of European train travel popularised by films such as Before Sunrise and enjoyed by countless students every summer revolved around railways and the (nowadays) phenomenally expensive Interrail ticket – or the even more expensive Eurail pass for non-European citizens.

The two women I was speaking to had hired a car for their journey. This is another popular choice, although if you’re travelling in a line rather than making a circuit fees for different pick-up and drop-off points kick in, and once you start to country-hop these can ramp up quite fast.

Nope, you can save your trains and cars. For me, the most economical and frankly most interesting way to travel a long distance relatively quickly is the humble public bus.

“But I can’t do that. I’m travelling through ten countries, none of which speak a language I’m familiar with!” I hear you cry.

Fear not, linguistically baffled traveller, for here follows my common sense guide on how to navigate any bus system, anywhere, but with particular reference to Albania.

Berat museum city

Berat ‘museum city’

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The red shoes – a tale of twelve countries

On starting work and getting to know new classes, a favourite game is two truths and a lie. Everyone has to think of two true (and preferably interesting) statements about themselves, and one lie, and their new classmates can ask questions to find out which statement is false. It’s a great icebreaker for the group and, if you do a demonstration as the teacher, the group gets to know a bit about you, too, which helps in building productive rapport.

Recently, Wonderboy played this game with a new class and included the statement, “I’ve been to eight countries this year” as one of his interesting facts. This threw the whole game out of order as no one in the room could believe such a thing could be true! In fact, even for me the last twelve months have involved an epic amount of travel. Travel all witnessed by a pair of cheap pumps which I bought this time last year, specifically to see me through the biking holiday I went on last June.

Here, from the perspective of the Red Shoes, is a photo record of my travel adventures, June 2015 to June 2016.

Red Shoes' first day out - Seoul

Red Shoes’ first day out – Seoul

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Run day Monday: Bosphorus 6km

Bebek run on the Bosphorus: 6km

Bosphorus 6km

Bosphorus 6km

Map courtesy of Mappedometer.com. Route 530118.

Continuing a theme of finding waterways to run along, this month I’m taking a cross-Balkan holiday and my first stop is the truly incomparable city of Istanbul*. What’s a girl to do but run along the iconic, historic, and fabulously beautiful Bosphorus?

I chose a 6km route along the upmarket area of Bebek.  The path becomes narrow and crowded away from the waterfront, so while villages like Bebek and neighbouring Arnavutköy are well set-up for runners, much of the rest of the coast road is just plain road running. If you’re in the mood for a short run with no hassle, a waterfront 6km is perfect here. More

How to travel through Central Vietnam by bus

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to end up with a spare six weeks on my hands in Vietnam on a single-entry visa, so what better to do than explore the country and travel slow?

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Of goats and forts

Fort view over Nizwa

Fort view over Nizwa

Everyone loves a goat. And surely every traveller enjoys a good fort, too. My recent travels have included both, together, in two different countries and very different parts of the world.
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Three Things Thursday; places to see in Da Lat

I recently got to spend an unexpected bonus six weeks travelling around Vietnam – o happy days – so this month I share with you three lovely places…

Da Lat market

Da Lat market

…you can visit in Da Lat, southern Vietnam.

The name Da Lat may ring unhappy bells for news followers. Several days after I was there in February the town hit international headlines for all the wrong reasons when a group of adventure-seekers encountered tragedy at a waterfall. This mountain idyll is a feature on the backpacker circuit of Vietnam because of its adventure sports opportunities, which include waterfall treks, zip lining and biking. Its mountain climate also makes it an attractive getaway for those based in HCMC, following in a long tradition set by the colonial French, who built their summer house getaways there.

Ensconced in the hilly Lam Dong province at 1500 metres, Da Lat is an 8 hour bus ride or one hour flight from Ho Chi Minh City. I picked up a $20 flight with JetStar, having read scare stories online about the bus journey. I later discovered that the people writing the scare stories were probably just unlucky as the bus journey is fine. Not being much of a one for adventure sports, I stuck to pootling around by rented pushbike, and found the town had plenty of more sedate sights to offer.

Thing 1 ~ the Crazy House More

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