Beg-packers are everywhere in the media at the moment. They’ve been around for a while, but a rise in numbers (and a rise in blatant insensitivity) are getting people really mad. So, what are beg-packers, why are they asking for money and are they wrong to do so?
Here are a few answers to those questions and my own personal opinion, which argues that beg-packing is pretty ridiculous, but it isn’t all bad (read first before you get angry at me too).
What are beg-packers?
Beg-packers are Western (majority white) tourists who are asking others to fund their travelling. Beg-packers are raising this money through crowdfunding websites such as fundmytravel.com, hawking postcards or busking on the street, and in some cases, just begging for money. Read more
Hey guys. So, I recently participated in the World Nomads Travel Writer Scholarship programme, where I wrote a piece on the theme ‘a place that is unfamiliar to me’. Devastatingly, I didn’t win the scholarship (next year, perhaps?), so here is my entry published here instead, entitled Chasing Home:
When I first arrived in Hong Kong, I described the city as a sensory overload.
Fresh durian and fermented bean curd in the steaming streets of Mong Kok. Strobing neon signs on Nathan Road. Soup noodles slipping from chopsticks held between clumsy fingers. The telltale salty tang of MSG. Tonal Chinese languages with staccato one-syllable words.
I loved it.
The longer I spent in the city, the more it felt like home. Weekends spent hiking in the New Territories or lapping up the sun on the trio of Tai Long Wan beaches. Evenings spent in TST or Central or Wan Chai, drinking overpriced cocktails in tiny bars or sitting on the waterfront with cheap beers from 7-Eleven.
Summers were coated in a thick layer of smothering humidity, while winters sparkled in red and gold, auspicious signs for the coming Lunar New Year. The sunlight was thick and creamy like milk tea in the day, then deep orange like the peel of a mandarin in the evening. Read more
Dictionary: A book or electronic resource that lists the words of a language (typically in alphabetical order) and gives their meaning. Inspired by a long (and sunny!) weekend in the home of Oxford University, here is a day in Oxford city as told through Oxford Dictionary definitions…
Muggle: A person who is not conversant with a particular activity or skill. Can often be found touristing around Harry Potter filming locations in Oxford.
1990s: from mug + -le; used in the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling to mean ‘a person without magical powers’.
‘she’s a muggle: no IT background, understanding, or aptitude at all’
Ashmolean Museum: A museum of art and antiquities in Oxford. It opened in 1683 and was the first public institution of its kind in England.
‘no, despite the empty tables you may not have a drink in the Ashmolean Museum Restaurant because of some vague excuse about an event or maybe allude to how it’s members only, but probably we’re just a bit snobby.’Read more
I feel as if spring has really snuck up on us this year. It’s officially time for people living in Britain (or anywhere temperate in the Northern Hemisphere) to come out of hibernation and start enjoying the extra hours of sunshine. And so, I have written this guide for spring foraging in the UK.
Despite living in a city, spring is palpable. It’s still light at 8pm, the warmth of the afternoon sun is beautiful but there’s enough of a morning chill to still need a scarf.
We’re very lucky in Cardiff, having so many large parks and green spaces to explore. Walking through the grounds of Cardiff Castle, Sophia Gardens or Bute Park, it’s so easy to forget you’re in the middle of a city. It’s difficult to hear the sound of the traffic through the birdsong and trees rustling in the breeze.
One of my favourite things about spring in Wales is that my favourite edible plants are sprouting up everywhere right now. I had no idea about edible plants until about four years ago, when I was introduced to foraging in the UK by a friend of mine. Read more
Making friends in a new place is always hard, whether it’s in the next town over or in a new country. Trust me, I’ve moved around a lot, but I’ve found the key thing when it comes to how to make friends in a new city is perseverance.
That’s right. You don’t need to be a social butterfly, you don’t need to know the local language and there is no magical secret to getting people to like you. You just need to persevere and hold strong to the fact that you will find your people. Everything takes time.
So, even if they sound super-obvious, here are the steps I follow to make friends in a new city or a new place. If you do them all and stick with it, then I guarantee that you will find your tribe:
How I Make Friends in a New City: Ask Around
Ask your friends, family, neighbours, your cousin’s goldfish, social media and the woman who runs the post office if they know anyone in the place you’re moving to. The world is big, but it is also small.
When I moved from the UK to Hong Kong, I was introduced to three separate people who were moving there at the same time as me. And that was before I even got on a plane. It’s the law of six degrees of separation, right? Everyone knows someone who knows someone. Read more
I have flown in and out of Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, a bazillion times, travelling to and from Hong Kong. However, for this flight back to the UK, I booked a long layover in Doha just so I could spend 24 hours in Qatar and finally see more than just the airport!
I’m not in any way sponsored by Qatar Airways (I wish I was), but they are genuinely one of the best airlines I’ve travelled with, hence why I’ve done it so often. They’re cheap, they fly where I need to go and their service is always of a high standard.
So, here is the story of my 24 hours in Qatar, how I made the most of a long layover in Doha and some travel advice for anyone looking to do the same:
24 Hours in Qatar: Hamad International Airport
The first couple of times I flew in and out of Hamad International Airport, it was nothing but a shack with a duty free section and nowhere to exchange money!
Now, the new fancy terminal is like a miniature city in itself. There’s so much to see and do in the airport alone that you could easily make the most of a long layover in Doha without venturing out into the city (and I have done that too).
Aside from the obvious restaurants and shopping, Hamad International Airport also has art galleries, lounge facilities (all-inclusive food/relaxation areas starting at US$55), an airport hotel and a spa that has massage packages and even a swimming pool! Read more
Hurrah! My #40days40blogs challenge meant I finally posted up all the details of my two months in Southeast Asia! Here’s a roundup of all the places I managed to squeeze into my two months solo and on a shoestring budget, including detailed itineraries, travel journal entries and more:
Two Months in Southeast Asia: Myanmar (Burma)
I started my two months in Southeast Asia with Myanmar, also known by its old colonial name, Burma (this confused some of the Brits back home so FYI).
This country is fascinating. I was intrigued by its history and the tragic stories of the governing military regime and the colonial wars.
Also, I personally found Burmese cities to be overwhelming, even for someone like me who had been living in Asia for five years. The traffic, the crowds, the business, the noise! It was chaotic, but beautiful. I really felt like I’d thrown myself into the deep end. Read more
“You’ve slept in a lot of beds,” one of my oldest and best friends said to me a few weeks ago. When I gasped in offence, he was quick to add, “I mean, travelling, of course!” That got me thinking about all the places I have stayed on my travels: some the best hostels in the world, the comfiest of pillows and… some of the worst places I have ever ‘slept’.
After five years of living in Asia, I have pretty much perfected the ability to sleep anywhere. But, there are still a few standout beds that (bed)spring to mind. Here are, in my humble opinion, some of the best hostels in the world and the places I’ve most enjoyed resting my head.
Oh, and a few of the worst, too:
Bad Bed – Noah’s Ark, Hong Kong
Did I ever tell you about the time I moved to Hong Kong and stayed for three weeks in a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark? A life-size replica of Noah’s Ark. How is that possible? Why is that possible? How could they possibly know it’s life-size? All very good questions that I have no answer for. Read more
The post-travel blues. I’ve definitely been wrestling with them these past few months. However, that’s all a little tied up with moving back to the UK after half a decade living abroad. Plus, there’s a little reverse culture shock thrown in there for good measure!
And so I asked the travel blogging community if they had ever experienced something similar. Here’s what Megan Roughley of Where My Travels Takes Me and Rosie Fluskey of Flying Fluskey had to say about the dreaded post-travel blues:
Megan Roughley – Where My Travels Take Me
After an adventure away from home for quite some time, your mind is racing with all of the memories you have recently made and all of the experiences that have changed you for the better. You are coming home a changed person. Read more
I’d witnessed Bagan sunsets in Myanmar, splashed around in the lagoons of Laos, buffed up on history in Cambodia and stuffed my face with Vietnamese delicacies in Saigon. I was, sadly, coming to the end of my big Southeast Asian backpacking trip, but at least I was going out on a high. It was time for an incredible two weeks in Bali.
After five years of living on the continent, this trip was something of a farewell to Asia. And my final two weeks in Bali were a farewell to that trip itself. After six weeks of sightseeing, I was ready to flop on a beach somewhere, stretch out with some yoga and relax with a cocktail in hand.
I had been trying to get to Bali for at least four of the past five years, specifically for the amazing surf and therefore surf schools. In my two weeks in Bali, I visited Legian, Kuta, Uluwatu, Nusa Dua, Lovina, Amed, Ubud and Canggu. I absolutely loved it, but unfortunately, luck just wasn’t on my side… Read more