Travel Update: Where am I going next?

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So today I had my final formal observation of my teacher training year! Relieved is an understatement. My final evidence bundles are ready to hand in on Wednesday. Just 4 and a bit weeks to go until I qualify – I can see the light out of this very long, dark tunnel.

At least I have so much look forward to: holidays that is – lots of them!

July 2017: Prague and Pembrokeshire, UK

Two days after I qualify (!) I am flying out to Prague for a few days with some of my old school friends. I’m glad to be squeezing some time in to explore a bit more of Europe this summer! If you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments.

Flash forward a day or two and I will be in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It started out as a nice, quiet weekend with just me and J. but then he came up with the idea of inviting all his old uni friends, so it’s quite the group who are going now. I’m glad some +1s are going otherwise it would have turned into a lads trip + me! Not so relaxing… It’s my first trip to South Wales and fingers crossed the weekend won’t be a wash-out! Although saying that, I am sure it will be.

August 2017: Peru, Chile, Bolivia

This trip has been so much more complicated to plan than South East Asia was, I just hope that it all works out. Stay tuned for a post later this week on 3 reasons why I am looking forward to returning to Peru.

October 2017: Madriiiiid

For my first October half term as an NQT teacher Spanish and French teacher, I have 5 days solo travel in Madrid booked. I’m being a good Languages teacher – I am going a Spanish-speaking country for professional development…

I am being constantly reminded that, “okay, so you’re finding your training year tough? Wait until your NQT year…” This is not filling me with much confidence, but I am one to focus on what I have to look forward to, to get me through.

I have my hostel and my flights sorted, nothing more. I spent 3 days there two years ago at the end of my Year Abroad and I regretted not going sooner, as I absolutely loved it! I’m looking forward to visiting the museums (finally), eating my favourite food and going to the Hamman Al-Andalus Baths again to chill out. It would be great to do a day trip somewhere new like Córdoba. I cannot bear to return to my Spanish home, Salamanca, for a day. The idea weighs heavy on my heart and fills me with too much nostalgia now I no longer live there.

Are you looking forward to any future travels this coming year? Let me know in the comments 🙂

Robyn

3 Year Blogiversary

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What was first only meant to be a way for me to document my year abroad, this blog has turned into something much bigger. Hundreds of posts and followers later, most of my site’s photo storage is used up and we’re still going!

Seeing the ‘three year anniversary’ of my blog pop up today as a notification was quite weird. Has it been that long? I guess it has.

Really, I am quite amazed by my commitment and perseverance in nurturing this blog along. Some months I post more, others I post less, but no matter what, the site is still plodding along and holds an integral part in all my adventures. I love sharing with the community and reading your blogs, which inspire me to continue to explore and to write.

So happy blogiversary to Robyn Bobbing Travel! Here’s to many more stories to share with you guys!

Also, from the pictures below, it seems I have changed so much in only a few years!

Earliest blog photo of me to one of the most recent:

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Peru 2013, feat. llama

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Japan, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angkor Temples, Cambodia: photos

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The Angkor Temples are a must for any visit to Cambodia. This is a photo post, but first, I would like to share two tips I would have liked to have been given before I went:

1.Wear sturdy shoes!

For some ridiculous reason, I chose to wear flip flops. Climbing up steep stone steps in monsoon rain + flip flops = bad idea. Trainers on the second day was much better.

2. Spend at least two days visiting the temples

It is not just Angkor Wat. Each temple is unique. We did two days, but would have done them differently in hindsight. Instead of getting a tuk tuk to see the main sights, hire a bike – it is much cheaper! Hire a tuk tuk to allow you to see many of the temples more further afield that are just as impressive.

We cycled the larger route instead (30km) which was long and painful. Whenever people in the tuk tuks raced past, they looking back at us in horror. We were mad! The heat, humidity, monsoon and cheap and uncomfortable bikes all made it for an unpleasant experience. We sank into chairs at the first restaurant we spotted on return to Siem Reap and devoured the best burgers we had ever eaten.

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South East Asia: 5 Reasons Why Vietnam was THE best

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Today I did something that I have been putting off since I came back from backpacking around South East Asia last month. I loaded up my camera and plugged the USB cable into my laptop, to find that I had 230 pictures to upload. Normally I am quite prompt with uploading photos from trips, but this time it didn’t come so easy; by resisting going through my photos, I managed for some time to shake off the feeling of nostalgia that always comes when I am in the UK for any lengthy period of time, away from the thrill of travelling.

Although I enjoyed my time immensely in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, each one of the three countries was so unique and diverse, with its own cultural norms and views towards backpackers. Truthfully, I was not expecting my experience to be so different each time I stepped across a border, but it made the trip all the more eye-opening. Without further ado, let me explain why Vietnam was my favourite part of the trip, and why you have to go!

1. The chaos. If you can cross a road in Hanoi or Saigon, you can cross a road anywhere in the world – fact. Every time you step off the pavement, there is always that worry of whether you will get to the other side. When you do make it though, it is a triumphant feeling, as you have lived to see another day, well, until the next road crossing that is… There is definitely a knack to crossing the road in Vietnam, and you can read countless articles and watch videos online to prepare before your trip – yes, this is a thing and I would recommend it! Not only is crossing the road exhilerating, but seeing a family of 5 or 6 sitting on a scooter made for two, with perhaps a large bag on there too. Seeing the ladies ride side-saddle when wearing dresses or skirts, one on each side of the scooter maybe. Seeing the kids hold onto the handle bars while standing, while their parents sit behind. It is a whole other world on the streets of Vietnam. Why pay thousands (or in Vietnamese Dong, millions) for a car to carry four when you can have a scooter that can do the same job, right?!

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Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

2. The pavements. These are reserved for: parking millions of scooters, driving scooters, pop-up shops and street-food vendors, sitting to eat your pho noodles, anything and everything, all except walking. More often than not, you have to walk in the street – no escape from the chaos that is the scooters.

3. The food. How could I talk about Vietnam without mentioning the food? Personally, the food here was the best of the trip, albeit quite (read: very) limiting for me as they eat so much pork, which I avoid. Yet it is so cheap, so you will never go hungry, whereas in Cambodia the local food lacks flavour and Western food hurts your wallet. In Thailand, be ready for spice as even when you ask for it to ‘not be too spicy,’ you will still have a generous helping of chillis on your plate, and if you’re anything like me, you may suffer a bit! On the first night in Hanoi, we were recommended to eat at a small restaurant. When we arrived, it was packed with locals but no travellers. We ordered our pho bo (beef noodle soup) for the equivelant f £1 and Coca Cola bottles for 20p and slurped up the best pho I have ever eaten, while sitting on the tiniest, most uncomfortable plastic stools you can possibly imagine.

4. The scenery. Get out of the bustling cities and see some of Vietnam’s spectacular natural beauty. With only two weeks in the country, it was not possible to go everywhere. We will defintely have to go back to see more. The major highlight for us was surprisingly not Ha Long Bay which is raved about online, but a day-trip to nearby Ninh Binh (a 2-hour drive south of Hanoi). Ninh Binh receives fewer tourists and therefore it gives you the sensation that you are going slightly off the beaten track. We caught a little slice of paradise while taking a leisurely boat-ride down the river to marvel at the rock formations, and cycling past the lush paddy fields.

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Ninh Binh

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Ha Long Bay

5. The locals. The Vietnamese are friendly and a smile and a few words in Vietnamese can go a long way. When we took the overnight trains between Hanoi-Da Nang and Da Nang-Ho Chi Minh City, the locals we met in our berth and along the train loved nothing more than to let us join in their coversations (albeit with difficulty), celebrations or meals, as it was quite rare for Westerners to walk up to the restaurant-car for dinner and pass the second and third-class carriages.

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Yet like with any trip, there were issues. We had so many people trying to scam us, to donate money to false causes, to harrassment with people trying to selling us things. Although we didn’t fall into any of their traps, and most of the time we laughed it off, the encounters remained unpleasant. The amount of locals and Chinese tourists who invited James to have group photos with their children, to the people doing selfies trying to get a glimpse of him in the background, just because he has red hair, was uncomfortable. Still, it is a reflection of the many tourists that take photos of local people without permission. The important thing is to remain aware, don’t make any rushed decisions and don’t take any photos of locals or they may just follow you down the road demanding money. It was painful watching tourists getting scammed that way.

Vietnam does not use tuk tuks like Cambodia or Thailand, but the question ‘tuk-tuk?  tuk-tuk?  tuk-tuk?  tuk-tuk?’ when we walked along the road every 5 or so meters, in places like Phom Penh, Siem Reap and Bangkok, does begin to have an annoying effect. Nevertheless, you have to bear in mind that this may be this person’s main source of income, which puts the situation into perspective.

Our overall experience of Vietnam was that it was very affordable for backpackers on a budget, the food was delicious, the country is welcoming to respectful travellers and that it is such a diverse country. With so many opportunities for things to do from North to South; golden beaches, to lush mountanous regions and huge bustling cities.

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Hoi An (Japanese Bridge)

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South East Asia: June-July 2016

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Preparation

Since booking this trip in November 2015, knowing that I will be backpacking around South East Asia for four weeks between my final university exams and Graduation with my boyfriend, has been the thing getting me through the cold Yorkshire winter and university assignments. Technically I have already been to Asia (Israel 2014), but I am looking forward to scratching off a completely new part of the world on my wall travel map this summer.

We have Qatar flights and accommodation booked in advance; although we will be backpacking, we have booked comfortable hotels which still only range between £5-12 pp/night. We decided we would rather do that than stay in some questionable lodgings. We booked them all through Booking.com, which has some good deals and also allows us to pay on arrival and get free last-minute cancellation if necessary. We also have a rough idea of what activities we are interested in doing while out there, thanks to so many hours of research.

The trip will last 29 days in total: 11 days in Vietnam, 7 days in Cambodia and 11 days in Thailand.

We were initially tempted by spending just 2 weeks in Vietnam, especially because until 1st July 2016, Vietnam has given a VISA waiver for British Nationals who stay 14 days or less – very tempting indeed. After Vietnam had been decided, since we were going to be in the region anyway and with more free time before we had to return to the UK, we thought why not add on Cambodia and Thailand as well – I particularly wanted to visit Angkor Wat and it is doubtful we will be able to return to the region soon after.

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Hanoi-Bangkok, planned route!

We will be working our way down from Hanoi in North Vietnam to Ho Chi Minh City in the South, with stops including Halong Bay, Ninh Binh (possibly) and Hoi An in between. We will then cross over the border to Cambodia and spend a few days in Phom Penh the capital, before catching a day bus to Siem Reap (Angkor Wat). We will then be flying to Northern Thailand to Chiang Mai (the overland border crossing looks a complete nightmare), before finally heading south to Kanchanaburi and finishing in Bangkok. Although we are visiting quite a few places, we have made sure to spend at least 3 days in each place – we have no intention of rushing about unnecessarily but still want to make the most of the trip.

Apart from splashing out on a flight between Siem Reap (Cambodia) and Chiang Mai (Thailand) to save travel time, we will doing the entire trip overland in sleeper trains, day buses and tuk tuk!

The things I am looking forward to the most are:

  • 3 Day 2 Night cruise in Halong Bay, North Vietnam
  • All the food!
  • Spending a few days visiting Angkor Wat, Cambodia
  • Elephant encounter with a reputable, cruelty free Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand (walk with elephants and wash them, no riding)

This week I managed to purchase a very affordable and practical 40Litre rucksack to take with me which has got me all excited about going. Minimalist skills will be in full force when I have to start packing!

Photo credits: [Featured image] [2]

 


Do you have any tips/suggestions for our trip?

I’m looking forward to taking lots of photos when I’m out there. Four months and counting!

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