This. Is Scotland.

I had been looking forward to this past weekend for over a month. Not only did this weekend mean it was almost my birthday, I was going to see what all the hype about Edinburgh was.

After witnessing Aberdeen’s hour of horror (between 5 and 6 a.m. Saturday morning), when all the people you see are either too drunk to make it home or still sleep drunk, I made my way to the bus station where I met my fellow city trippers. 3 Hours later, we were walking through the buzzing heart of Edinburgh.

I now can help the hype going for this beautiful city. Walking through the old part it’s like you stepped back in time with buildings like little castles and street performers gathering crowds of people. You can just feel the history and see the stories. This is what I imagined Scotland looked like.

In 2 days we saw almost every tourist attraction we wanted to see. The castle, the cathedral, how they weave kilts, Holyrood palace, a pub on Grassmarket, the Royal Mile, the Edinburgh Vaults, lots of Christmas decorations, lots of fancy warehouses, lots of amazing old architecture, many more things and of course the Christmas market.

MF - Edinburgh 1 MF - Gluhwein MF - Bagpipe MF - Edinburgh MF - Edinburgh castle MF - Kilt weaving MF - Little castle OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA MF - Old City

This is a city where I could see myself living one day. A city well worth visiting. A city I will help to keep the hype alive.

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Saying goodbye to my love Bali..

My feet are finally going to be on the move again. My time in Bali is up and the itch of moving on is growing each minute. I know I haven’t told you anything about the last month (!?) but my final few weeks didn’t go exactly as planned..

The week that was supposed to be my final week at my internship turned into a disaster when I got pretty ill over the weekend. High fever, muscle pain, headache etc. I finally decided to visit a doctor and what I was fearing became true.. I had dengue fever. Almost 6 months of perfect health and there it was, my worst nightmare.

I spend 3 days in the hospital and 5 nights at a friends house recovering and although I felt like crap then, I’m better, if not even better than before! So as my horoscope said yesterday, I’m packing my bags before the boredome sets in. In about 24 hours I will be in Thailand, with my best friend, doing what I love most: Travelling.

The best part for you, my dear followers, is that I will have lots and lots of stories once I get back home, which I will all share with you over time. Back to packing my backpack it is now and time to say goodbye to my love Bali.. I will miss you!

 

 

Another break from Bali: Gili Trawangan

I absolutely love being an intern in Bali, except for the intern part. It’s a well known fact that being an intern sucks and from what I’ve experienced so far I agree 100%. I don’t get paid,  have to do some pretty shitty jobs and my opinion is not really valued, but hey, I’m in freakin’ Bali! Which means I can have the best little holidays during the weekend.

Since my first little holiday in Yogyakarta, I was back in the rat race faster than I wished for so I booked me and my cousin (who has been traveling in Bali for the last 2 months) on the fast boat to Gili T. 3 Days 2 nights of total relaxing, getting my tan back and realizing where I am at the moment. Just think about it for a moment. I don’t want to make you jealous but in the western world, whenever you plan a long weekend break, most people can’t just hop to a little island where there are no motorized vehicles, white sandy beaches, clear blue water and sunshine to soak in. I can.

Now some of you may know that Gili T is known for their parties, mushrooms and weed but after waking up at 6 am, a bumpy 2 hour boat ride and lying on the beach the rest of the day we simply could not move that night. We were so tired that we decided to have an early night and wake up early to see the sunrise. My head must have been on holiday mode because I didn’t even think to set an alarm clock and realised we missed sunrise only after breakfast. We missed sunset that night and again missed sunrise the next morning..

Before the whole trip, I looked through my lonely planet on what to do on that cute little island. Rent a push bike and go around the island seemed to be the best way to see everything. We took our time and stopped whenever we wanted. I mean, when you see a place like this it just yells: “Stop here! Have a drink!” right? Even when we’ve been on the road for only 10 minutes..

Half way around the island (have I mentioned that you can push bike you way around the entire island in less than an hour?!) we stopped at what I first thought was a restaurant on the beach that happened to have sun beds and entirely empty. They welcomed us with open arms and we settled in for an afternoon of relaxing. It turned out to be quite a luxury resort but that didn’t keep us from coming back there the next day.

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The empty surroundings, the cool water, the heat of the sun and the right amount of breeze were the perfect mixture for a full day of sunbathing.

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Even though we didn’t do everything I wanted to do, at least we took the lazy tourist transport local transport to the resort our last day, snorkeled for a bit, did the push bike around the island and relaxed. We didn’t go to a party, see the turtle sanctuary, climbed the hill for sunset or sunrise or visited one of the other Gili islands and still it was the best weekend break.

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I’m one lucky intern.

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Sunset at Kuta Beach

After a full day of shopping all around Kuta, driving from shopping mall to local markets and  walking down all the main streets, I was tired and just wanted to sit down with a cold drink. What is a better place to do that than the cool shade of an umbrella, while watching the sunset on the beach?

During these sunset hours it seems like the beach transforms. From people soaking in the sun relaxing and surfers in the water to a busy hub I don’t know where to look with all the things going on. The local boys come out to play some football, the love couples walking along the shore and the sports fanatics doing their daily run. When you’re lucky you’ll see a ceremony of some sort with the accompanying traditional music. The more lazy people (including me!) huddle together at one of the beach bars for a sunset drink and the vendors zigzag through the crowd, hoping for a good selling day.

It was on that day full of shopping, when I placed my butt down on a chair not planning to get up anytime soon, that one of the beach bar boys asked me if I wanted to play a game of backgammon. The last time I played that I was on a holiday with my mom years ago but I was up for a challenge!

Living the Bali life, pretty nice right?!

Beep Beep! Tourist on the road

I arrived in Bali on February 7th, in the middle of the rainy season. My first few weeks were hot, humid and sticky and sometimes I just didn’t know what to do with myself because of the heat. The only good thing about that time of year was the low volume of tourists. Don’t get me wrong, there were still tourists around, just not so many as now.

With the high season on the threshold, the streets are filling up with traffic. Rows of big busses on the main streets, guys with their surfboards strapped to their motorbike weaving through the traffic and motor transport guys driving the tourists around. The beaches are getting more crowded together with the restaurants. Slowly the tourists are taking over Bali.

There is just one thing that I don’t seem to understand. Bali has been a tourist island for many, many years now. Each year the amount of foreign travellers arriving in Bali grows and the roads are becoming more and more crowded. How is it possible that there are still so many traffic jams in and around Kuta when Bali has so many years of experience with tourists, high seasons and traffic jams? Well, I think I found my answer to that today, when I was driving back to Kuta from Sanur.

There is this one big round about in Kuta where Sunset road, the Nusa Dua by pass and the road to Sanur come together. It is one big fury of cars, trucks, motorbikes and busses trying to get their right exit. It has traffic lights to control the traffic and to create some order in the chaos. Normally the traffic lights work fine and the traffic passes the round about without any problems. Today however, for some unknown reason, the police decided to step in and guide the traffic themselves. They stood there in the middle of the road, talking to each other on walky talkies, bossing the traffic around. What a nightmare. As it was our turn to go on the round about, one of the police officers decided the Nusa Dua by pass could go as well. It was one big mess of people honking their horns, shouting, near accidents, confusion, people going left, right, straight ahead and almost through each other.

This is not the first time that I have seen police taking over the work of traffic lights. I mean, there are not a lot of traffic lights around, but the ones that are there work fine and in general everybody listens to them. The problem arises as soon as the police step in and take over. Alright, maybe this is not the reason for the traffic jams, but I was just baffled by this situation today. Not only is it dangerous and confusing for the local people, I can only imagine being a freshly arrived tourist driving around in that mess!

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Beep Beep! Tourist on the road! 

A short break from Bali: Yogyakarta

After 3 months of living in Bali, I could not believe how excited I was to leave this little island! My trip to Yogyakarta came unexpected but very welcome. I was going to do some travelling again! Even though I’m living at the other side of the world I normally live in, consider this internship as travelling, I was quite happy to take a break from my routine in Bali.

The first 2 days I was touring with my supervisor and 2 VIP guests that we picked up from the airport. In those 2 days we have seen all the major tourism attractions in and around Yogya. From Borobudur and Prambanan to downtown Malioboro and local markets. I’ve seen it all. However when I travel, I try to find the “real” local life and hidden secrets. I try to find more than I looked up in preperation of my trip.

So for a change, I will try to tell you about a few things that I came across on this trip. I will spare you my stories of all the big attractions like Borobudur and Prambanan because there is enough information on the internet about that already. I will try to share some of my experiences in Yogyakarta about places that you can’t find that easily but is worth the visit! Keep in mind that I was only there for 3 days of which 2 days were fully planned with the popular attractions, which left me with only 1 rainy day to walk around by myself.

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Close to the Kraton palace is a local bird market. Don’t be fooled by the name, not only are there birds sold there, they sell from bugs meant as bird food to bats and monkeys and from little hamsters to puppies, cats and rabbits. It was incredible. I’ve never been to an animal market like that before so I was just walking around with my mouth wide open, amazed by the tiny cages, the noises of the animals and the animal selection available.

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Although Malioboro is a big attraction, it surprised me when I found out that the whole atmosphere changes at night. The souvenir vendors packed up their carts and made place for the street restaurants. Small low tables were placed along the side walk and everybody was sitting on the ground, socializing and eating. And not only at night is the food-scene different, outside the local market people sit on a stool in front of a food stall like it’s a bar.

The easiest way of transportation in Yogya is the becak. It looks like it is especially for the tourists but it is not! It really is used by the locals as a cheap way to get around. You will see a local person with bags of what not packed into the becak. I got stared and waved at whilst sitting in one as a western woman using this local transportation.

As much as Yogya is Indonesia, it is a whole different atmosphere and destination than Bali. I loved how the shy students from Jakarta followed me for 5 minutes before they found the courage to ask me for a photo. I loved how the local people stop you to make a little chat and how friendly they are without wanting anything from you but just that, a chat. I loved the roads filled with becaks. I loved the hint of Holland you still see in the architecture. I loved all the batik and souvenirs sold at Malioboro.

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But most of all, I loved the fact I tasted a bit of real travelling once again.