My worst nightmare: A house

Some people work like crazy with fierce blood, sweat and tears to save up enough money to buy a house.  What is some peoples’ dream, is Teacake’s nightmare.  If I did bad stuff and the earth police told me I had to buy a house and live there forever, I would cry a river.  I would be like one of The Prisoner’s buddies, desperately holding hands with him as we tried to escape from the island and THAT white ball.

The Prisoner Rover White Ball

Don’t get me wrong… I adore slow travel.  I love to get as deep into a culture as possible to fully live, breathe, smell, taste and see it.  Give or take a year though and my feet are piping hot and gaining superhuman speed.  I need to get out of there. Once I’ve learnt everything I can and achieved everything I want to, it’s time to go.  If I was to buy a house, I’d feel extremely tied down and every morning would look like this:

Groundhog Day Repetition

For me, I need to keep shaking things up and keep myself on my toes.  A new place = a new challenge.  I don’t like to get too comfortable and be at that point where I ride to work on autopilot, not remembering how I got there or saw along the way.

Driving on autopilot

Since I’ve left home, I have lived in over 30 places.  I just can’t sit still and I love it. Every time I move, I find my new favourite restaurant, an unexplored park, a friendly drinking hole, locals who I’m gonna buy exotic fruits and plain old onions from.  It’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland playing over and over again but there’s always a new chapter.  Remember those Choose your own Adventure books? That’s my life and I thank the cosmos everyday for giving me such kick ass freedom to do that.

Labyrinth Directions

Some people may argue that I don’t know how to hold down a relationship, quit life too easily or once I meet the right one I won’t want to move.  I beg to differ.  If I meet Mr. Right, he’s not going to want a house or any mini Teacakes either and vroom vroom off into the sunset with me *fingers crossed and more on Teacake’s love life here*.

Moonrise Kingdom True Love

I love every place I go to but with the world being so fantastic and me unfortunately not having eternal life, there’s only so much a slow traveller can get round to in one lifetime. You may be in paradise but there’s another paradise around the corner too! You gotta go! 

If it came to the crunch, there’s only one house I would ever consider and that’s a tiny house.  One I can move wherever I want to go!  I found out about these about 5 years ago and they’ve steadily been bursting through into the public eye.  For hippies like Teacake, I think they’re the perfect compromise.  If you’re interested in learning more about them, have a lookie here.

Do you feel the same as Teacake or disagree wholeheartedly?  Express yourself below!

©Teacaketravels: Please do not copy and paste Teacake’s words into your own posts. If you want to take an excerpt of writing, please link it back.

Exploring pepsi’s last whispers in Cambodia

Back in May 2013, I was lucky enough to catch the last glimpses of the desolate, fizzy pop mecca of pepsi in Battambang.  When I arrived, a few men were carting off antique machinery and left me to it.  This super cool factory unfortunately got into the claws of the Khmer Rouge in 1975 and was promptly shut down.  It stood there firm in the ground until September 2013, until it was regrettably torn down with its fate sealed to be transformed into a water plant.  Read on to step inside a piece of history which has unfortunately crumbled and been swiftly thrown into Cambodian dust.

Rumour has it that a Vietnamese guy bought this iconic logo for $1500 at the point of demolition

Cambodia Battambang abandoned pepsi factory logo

Old school bottles, which if I had known were to be destroyed only a few months later, I would have rescued in true Teacake heroic fashion

Cambodia Battambang Pepsi Favtory Bottles

As I wormed my way inside, I slowly stepped through the shadows to emerge into this beautiful light-filled factory floor

Abandoned Pepsi Factory Cambodia Battambang

If only I was a magical pepsi factory machinery expert: I would love to know how this place originally looked.  Standing there and listening to the wind, imagining what once was, was nonetheless a pure pleasure within itself

581787_832079436219_883718513_n

Time moves on, all good things must come to an end, say goodbye to what once was and let in new beginnings

Cambodia Abandoned Pepsi Factory Doorway

As I stood admiring the nature breathing heavily against the metal gates, I began to hear growls in the distance.  The dogs had caught a whiff of Teacake’s chops and I swiftly exited running like a disorientated chicken.  I had been chased by dogs already in Thailand.  No one needs a repeat run of that.  But it did happen again the month after when I drove through a boarded up road in Vietnam.  More about that later…

Freaky Friday Food

My colleague said it was a dove. I think it’s a street pigeon. China does it again.

Bird Claw Food

©Teacaketravels: Please do not copy and paste Teacake’s words and images into your own posts. If you like an image or want to take an excerpt of writing, please link it back.

Once you’ve gone, there’s no turning back

Travel will change you forever.  Taking that brave step into the unknown world will blast you apart and the pieces will not go back together as originally assembled. Some parts of your unique jigsaw will be lost forever, other pieces will grow an extra arm or leg, some will expand, others will minimise and some will refuse to fit in even if they’re in the box.

Leaving home going travelleing

Here are some of the stark pieces in my jigsaw that have stood out to me over the last 5 years: the good, the bad and the ugly.  

1. This girl is waiting for no-one

I hate to admit it but if you can’t beat them in Asia (a strong focus on China here), you join them.  I’m going to get in that lift.  I’m going to get up that escalator.  I’m going to get in that underground carriage.  I’m going to get that bargain fruit that the local guy is selling on the street corner.  So, I’m going to push you, move you out of the way and not just wait.  You find that if you’re polite, wait, try and queue and allow others before you, you’ll fail.  It goes against every bone in my body when I think about it, but now I’m just like ‘B**tch, get out the way’.  People in China are known for lacking the manners Europeans value.  However, when in Rome…

2. I eat like no-one’s watching

I slurp everything, have bundles of noodles hanging out of my mouth, I sometimes talk with my mouth open, I eat spaghetti with chopsticks.  I once returned to London to go out for a fancy meal with friends and incidentally, ordered pretty much everything Asian I could.  As I finished the soup for my starter, I just picked the bowl right up, slurped down the remains and slammed it back down on the table.  My girlfriends just looked at me like I was a wild animal.  Taxi!

3. Understanding everything I hear makes me feel like I’m going mad

I remember the first time I got off the plane at Heathrow airport after living in South Korea for two and a half years.  I felt excruciatingly overwhelmed.  I could understand everything. Everything.  I knew everyone’s business, I knew what Aunt Margery was cooking for dinner, I knew where the hot guy standing behind me lived (bonus), I knew what petty stuff couples were arguing about.  Too. Much. Information.

4. I’m more American than I ever thought I would be

Motorway is highway, rubbish is trash/garbage, lift is elevator, getting pissed is kind of good in England, bad in America, Z is zeeee not zed.  I would never have dreamt of saying these things back in 2010 but most of my friends are American and they’ve slowly brainwashed me into a weird English/American hybrid. ‘Merica, f**k yeah!

5. I drive like a psycho

After three months of driving a motorbike in Vietnam, anything is possible.  Red light? Screw that.  Old lady in the road? I’ll just keep driving at 100 mph.  No motorbike suit? No problem.  No licence?  No problem.  Same goes for being a pedestrian.  Green light? Better walk and pray for my life at the same time.  Zebra crossing?  That’s gonna do nothing for your safety.  Nothing.  Seat belt in the car?  Don’t bother.  Overall, it’s utter chaos but somehow it works and comes together beautifully.

6. I feel like the most beautiful, clever, intriguing goddess on the planet

From walking the streets of London and zero heads being turned, to stepping out of my front door in Asia and being chased down the street, being a mini celebrity totally rocks. People love the blonde hair.  People stroke my arm hair in amazement.  I drink lots of Korean soju and grown men think I’m hard as nails.  I say ‘ni hao’ and I’m told how amazing my Mandarin is.  Suddenly I have a ‘small’ face and that’s gorgeous.  I can use chopsticks and that’s mindblowing…you go from zero to hero here and going from hero to zero is not what a lot of people want to experience.

7.  Britain is the best country in the world

You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.  Fresh running water? Britain’s got that. Beautiful green countryside?  Britain’s got that.  Beer, Sunday roasts, BBC News, a lovely hot cup of tea with milk, newspapers, Cadbury’s chocolate, pubs with fireplaces, seriously cute cottages, the Queen.  You realise how lovely everything is but once you’re back, you enjoy it for a couple of weeks and then just have to leave again.

Once you’ve gone, there’s no turning back.  

11 ways womens’ magazines make you travel like an idiot

As I’ve got older, the amount of times I’ve read womens’ magazines and tutted with an unpleasant concoction of frustration, disappointment and disdain has steadily increased. You just don’t need that crap in your life.  They make you feel fat, they name and shame your fellow female comrades and they encourage you to spend a hell of a lot of money on stuff to make yourself beautiful in this society, when already, you are totally rocking it girl.

Yesterday, I was pottering around in my housemate’s bathroom because hey, she was out and I wanted to sit in there because she has a nice bathroom.  Let’s hope she doesn’t see this…Nonetheless, I came across this diabolical article called 15 things we only do at airports.  11 out of the 15 are the worst travel behaviour I’ve ever read.

Womens magazine travel advice

If you do most of these things I’ll slap you round the face with a fish out of my handbag

I’m going to take you through this article piece by piece so that 1) You cannot make any of these money-wasting, life-sucking mistakes and 2) Instead be a totally amazing, kickass, savvy lady traveller who knows how to travel like a pro.

Let’s go! 

1) ‘Spend £120 on Duty Free’

No.  Don’t do that.  You do not need those cigarettes.  You do not need that alcohol. Don’t even think about buying that perfume.  Are you crazy?  You’re gonna be smelling of street food, sea salt, the forest and fresh air.  That’s the only odour you need. Britney and her newest perfume can go take a hike…literally.

2) ‘Pick up so many beach reads that you have to buy a new bag to carry them in’

What the hell?!  Backpackers who seriously read either use an e-reader or carry one book at a time, buying them second hand in local stores or swapping with fellow travellers. I’m getting riled up and we’re only on number 2.

3) ‘Have a pint at 8am with a full English breakfast’

OK Glamour magazine, I might just have to give you this one.  I’m British.  I get it.  A pint and a full English breakfast is solid gold to us.  If you’re off on your travels and not coming back for some time, you might just want to go out with a bang and eat some seriously good traditional grub because Asians have no idea what an English breakfast is. However, I have found some amazing beer in the Philippines that any English folk would happily get pissed on.

4) ‘Study the two-page language section of a guidebook’  

Fantastic.  The thought is there but you need to make much more of an effort than just knowing how to ask for beer.  ‘Hello / Please / Thank you / Yes / No / Do you have ………? / Where is the ……..? / How much is it? / Do you speak English?’ are some lovely things to know and the locals will appreciate you for trying.  Say these words with a smile and a kind personality and you’re winning.  If you want to study these languages for free check out: a) Busuu where you can study lots or just do their tailored travel course b) Duolingo for European languages or c) Memrise which is fantastic for visual learners and has more than 200 languages!

5) ‘Develop an irrational hatred of all parents, small children, large groups and stag dos’

If you’re going to go and seriously travel, you’re going to have to be a much better person than that.  You are going to be tested everyday with situations, people and places that make you feel uncomfortable, totally excited, out of your depth or beyond euphoria.  You need a calm, flexible and open-minded personality for this so if small children are getting on your nerves before you’ve even left the airport, turn right around and go back home.

6) ‘Buy miniature versions of every toiletry you’ve ever used’

Come on missy, you’re a backpacker.  Buy everything you need when you get to your first destination, when you need it, not all at once.  It’s gonna be cheaper and who wants to be carrying round a pharmacy with them?  Boots advantage card points are not the be all and end all.  Fact.

7) ‘Smile at everyone who is attractive’

Nice!  Finally something we can agree on!  It’s fantastic advice because if you’re travelling solo, you’re gonna have to have the confidence to put yourself out there and make friends.  Make friends with locals and you’ll have a unique travel experience ‘tourists’ will never get.  Make friends with other travellers and you’ll be there to support each other, share amazing experiences and learn other cool savvy travelling ideas and tips.

8) ‘Decide it’s not too late to get a pre-holiday self-tan’

Screw the tan.  It costs money that you could spend on an amazing day out in the Philippines instead and you can tell who’s faking it anyway.  Just tan the natural way but even some people can be against that.  Teacakes knows: read her crazy China tanning story here!

9) ‘Desperately look for packets of biscuits and muesli bars for the journey’

Nope.  That costs money.  Bring your own food if you’re taking a long journey and your own water bottle that you can take through security empty.  Fill  it up for free on the other side.  In fact, food shopping in supermarkets and cooking this stuff yourself in hostels or eating on the street is going to save you heaps of money once you’re travelling.  You’re going to get a way more local, authentic experience this way. Teacake has met some amazing people whilst eating on the street.

10) ‘Feel outraged that you didn’t get an upgrade at check-in’

I am by no means a luxury traveller.  As long as I get from A to B in one piece alive I couldn’t care less about whether I’m sipping on champagne.  Freebies are awesome though and I have been researching about how to travel like a princess with air miles etc.  I am no way near getting to first class yet though.  Me and the peasants are still sitting at the back and to be honest, that’s where the most fun people are anyway.  Do the same whilst travelling.  Hostels and homestays are going to give you a far more fulfilling experience than a white-walled, 5 star, lonely, sanitised hotel room.

11) ‘Load yourself up with three bikinis, two pairs of sparkly flip flops and a special beach tote’

No ladies! No! Follow teacake’s ultimate backpacker packing advice here and you’ll be travelling light as a feather and free as a bird.

12) ‘Suddenly realise that you have not bought mosquito repellent, sun cream, medication etc…’

Check back to point 6.

13) ‘Buy a massive tartan tin of shortbread from the tourist shop because you like the tin’ and 15) ‘Get waylaid in Dixons because you’re looking at fancy iPad cases’

I see so many shiny things that I want to buy but you have to keep a clear head.  Do I really need this?  How often am I going to use this?  Is this worth my travel money? Can I fit this in my backpack? Does Asia do a way cheaper fake version which is just as good?  If I desperately want this but can’t fit it in my backpack, do I have the time and money to send it home? You gotta stop and think folks.

14) Start to think that you will quit your job

Hurrah! You go girl! Do it! Glamour got another thing right (about time).

©Teacaketravels: Please do not copy and paste Teacake’s words and images into your own posts. If you like an image or want to take an excerpt of writing, please link it back.

What’s inside this abandoned island mansion?

You’re racing along the water, holding onto the wooden sides of the boat as the waves throw you back and forth.  The wind runs its slick fingers through your hair and the sun throws its glorious rays down upon you.  Everything feels amazing. You’re high on the undeniable beauty of Palawan and cannot wait to hop off onto your next island as you sail through El Nido’s infamous Tour C. Slowly your next destination emerges…What adventures await you here?

Approaching Matinloc Island

What lies within?

As you disembark, the mood begins to change.  The sun shines a little less brighter and the wind lingers through your hair strands a few seconds more.  Dare you enter the unfamiliar concrete structure before you?  Come on in if you’re feeling as brave as teacake thought she could be…

Matinloc Island Mansion

You step through the dark doorway and things start to get creepy but your curiosity pushes you forward…

Matinloc Island Mansion doorway

Go Teacake go go go…

Your feet crunch and munch the remains of what once was…demolished and left to rot…

Matinloc Island Mansion floor

You turn the corner and need to take a moment before you ascend the dark stairway but this is not the place to stop…

Matinloc Island Couch

You keep going, passing bathrooms you dare not enter, bedrooms you wouldn’t sleep in for a million dollars and eventually you reach the final floor…

Matinloc Island Bed

Someone must have been cosy in it at one point.  Time to get out of here and head into the gardens.  Let’s go!

Matinloc Island Statue

Someone’s been watching you but there’s even more eyes above the both of you, the sheep included

Matinloc Island Dome

Whoo! What a trip! Time to run back into the loving hands of the sun and discover that secret beach Matinloc Island has!

©Teacaketravels: Please do not copy and paste Teacake’s words and images into your own posts. If you like an image or want to take an excerpt of writing, please link it back.

To give or not to give?

Child begging for money

13 years old.  Wide-eyed, totally confused about my inner self and drenched in the blackest of the blackest goth attire because, hey, it’s the year 2000 and nu-metal has completely engulfed me.  Stomping forwards in my ruby-red cracked DMs with no real grace through the streets of London, Brixton, I’ve just pulled myself out of the darkest, sweat-inducing, beer-flowing walls of the Academy.  I’m high on the electrifying riffs of Slipknot and dizzy from all of the thrashing and mayhem.  I charge like a baby rhino towards the tube to return home, because my parents have warned me, people ‘are going to rob me for every penny’ here.  Head down, ploughing through, ascending the concrete station steps, nearly there then…

‘Hey! Yes you! Hello! All major credit cards accepted here! Visa, Mastercard, American Express, all cards are warmly welcomed’

People pass each other without any recognition everyday.  Everyone has an intricate, complicated, rich story about who they are and how they came to be.  Whether you choose to register others, is a decision made in a split second and then you’re gone…or you decide to open up your blinkers and halt.  The guy’s presence, his energy, his attitude, his sheer comical value: something within him grabbed hold of my blinkers and ripped them right off.

Propped up against the stairwell’s walls, this homeless guy and his dog are beaming with light and pulling me in.  Without any hesitation, I give him £10 from my newspaper round job.  The £10, a minute ago, I was protecting like the Queen’s jewels.

That was the first time I ever gave to someone begging for money and since then, countless people have asked me for that £10 again.

To give or not to give? 

On any given day, travellers are faced with the decision of whether they should stop and give money to the people who ask for it.  It’s everywhere, whether it be outside that pub in the middle of nowhere, in the craziest city or on the most beautiful beach.

Some people are blazingly obvious when they ask for money.  They’re crouched on the street, walking through the carriages of the subway holding signs, singing, parading their child around, or in one case I saw in China, using a megaphone to proclaim how much they need the money. Other ways are more subtle.  On tours, the guides have told me they’re not earning enough and need more.  Tricycle drivers in the Philippines have told me they cannot feed their families and to give them extra.  Cambodian children have tried to sell me postcards and bracelets then ask for more, saying their parents will beat them if they don’t bring home enough.

It’s a difficult situation and the angel and the devil on each of your shoulders can begin to get heated and battle it out with each other.

The angel

‘I have more money than them / I could do a good deed today / It’s just *** pounds / They look pretty goddamn hungry, tired, in need / This sucks, they need help / Be a nice person / They’re telling the truth / They’re genuine / My friend has just given them something so don’t look like a cheap-ass now, give them some money too’

The devil

‘Don’t get robbed blind / They’re connected with the mafia / They must be making loads of money / They have enough money in their pot, they don’t need mine / Do they think I’m that stupid? / Don’t fall for that one / I can’t believe they’re dragging their kid round like that /  They’re gonna spend it on drugs’

What should you do?

It’s a tough one to answer but here is what I think:

Don’t give them the money.  If they’re hungry, give them food (apart from the Cambodian milk scam which I sorely learnt about in Siem Reap!)  If they’re cold, give them some warm clothes.  Once you give them money, they’re gonna keep asking for it and that can bring on a lot of different problems.  Heard of people purposely being disabled in order to beg for money?  Not cool.  Heard of kids not going to school but begging instead?  Not cool.  It’s a never ending  viscous circle and I feel that as tourists, we need to think carefully about our impact on other cultures and the relationship that we have with locals.

To put things into perspective, here’s a cautionary tale about what happened to me in Coron Town in Palawan, Philippines.  All the kids I met wanted to hang out, play and practice their English.  They never asked for anything from me.  Then, one night, I was walking down the street and a young boy approached and said, ‘Give me money’. ‘What?’ I replied.  ‘Give me money’ he insisted.  My heart sank, because this is the start of something bad.  If one tourist gives that kid money, he’s going to keep asking and all of his mates are going to cotton onto the fact that they can do this too.  That is going to spread like wildfire and before you know it, everyone is asking and depending on you. Coron has been ticking along nicely so far, why disrupt that and turn it into something it shouldn’t be?

Do you agree with Teacake or is she completely wrong? Please share your ideas and comments below. 

©Teacaketravels: Please do not copy and paste Teacake’s words and images into your own posts. If you like an image or want to take an excerpt of writing, please link it back.

The secret sunset in El Nido Philippines

Sunsets should be for free but in El Nido, drivers will try and entice you to take a ride with them and see the ‘most beautiful’ sunset at a place called ‘Las Cabanas’. Trust me, you don’t need to go there.  Right around the corner is one the most soul fulfilling, emotionally charged, romantically sweet sunsets that you need in your life and I’m gonna tell you where it is and why it rocks.

1. There’s only one table

El nido sunset spot Corong Corong Beach

Lovebirds, you’re in luck!

2.  It has the cheapest beer in El Nido

El Nido Cheap Beach Beer

30 for a beer! Yes please!

3. No one else is there

El Nido Secret Sunset Corong Corong

It’s just you, your beer and your camera

4. The sunset is one of the best you’ll ever see

El nido sunset Corong Corong Beach

Two local fisherman heading out to grab some dinner

5. You can see all of the stars in the sky when you walk back home

Tell me the secret?

Head to Corong Corong Beach.  Keep walking past the fancy bars at the beginning of the stretch.  Keep walking until you see that lovely table waiting to be filled.  Hang with a couple of locals.  Enjoy.  

How I travelled Europe for free

Teacake has been very fortunate when it comes to finding work.  I’ve had some fantastic jobs, with great pay.  Every time, these jobs have enabled me to just keep on travelling and travelling and travelling.  

There’s one particular company I found in the UK which enabled me to travel around Europe, jumping from one unique place to the next, not entirely knowing where I was going to be from week to week.  That excitement and randomness was totally amazing and I ended up in places I would never have known if the company hadn’t sent me there.  If you want to teach and are a very flexible person, read on!

Tiny German villages rock

Tiny German villages rock

Who did you work for? What’s the deal?

English in Action are a super lovely company.  They provide intensive English project weeks for schools across Europe and some other parts of the world.  As a teacher, you’ll be sent to a different location every week, teach the course the school has chosen, have the whole weekend to yourself then hop on off to your next school. Contracts can last from 1 week to much longer if you’re a good teacher.

Fantastic perks of the jobs

  • Flights are paid for and you get a travel allowance to go from one contract to the next
  • You get free great accommodation every place you work
  • European schools start early and finish early! You’ll be finished by lunchtime and have the rest of the afternoon to explore your new location
  • You will work with different people every week and will meet some great characters
  • You’ll get paid on top of the free accommodation and travel allowance: most certainly enough to enjoy yourself and save a little bit

Where did you go in Europe with the job?

I had no control over where I was during the week but the weekends were totally mine. As long as I was ready and in my next workplace by Sunday night, I could travel through anywhere I wanted.  I ended up in some of the most beautiful parts of Austria, Poland and Germany. I got to hang out with the locals and discover different European cultures in a very unique way.  Sometimes I was in the middle of nowhere, teaching in the hills and countryside.  Sometimes I was in Vienna, Salzburg, Munich… surrounded by lavish architecture, quaint shopping streets and all the coffee and beer I could ever dream of.

The pure randomness and lottery-location style of the job made me a very happy lady.

What does the job require?

  1. Current UK or EU passport OR a current non-UK or EU passport with a valid UK work visa.
  2. Degree and TEFL Certificates

Need more advice about how to teach and travel?

Check out my ultimate teaching guide here.

How can I get in touch with English in Action?

Hop on over to their website here! They have all the information you need. Pop them an email and see what they have to say 🙂 Good luck, happy teaching, happy travels!

©Teacaketravels

Please do not copy and paste Teacake’s words and images into your own posts. If you like an image or want to take an excerpt of writing, please link it back. Thank you

Hello spring!

Teacake has been enjoying hiking in the mountains in China and oh boy, the flowers are coming out now! 

52 Spring in Huashan

Blushing

Mountain Tree

Mountain Tree

Yellow Bloom

Yellow Bloom

©Teacaketravels

Please do not copy and paste Teacake’s words and images into your own posts. If you like an image or want to take an excerpt of writing, please link it back. Thank you.