Staying true to the name of my blog, I am as adverse to change as any Taurus! I thought that was a trait that mainly fell with a sub set of people. The minority. Wrong. Most people struggle with change! Breaking […]
Month: October 2018
The brutal truth is that scams are something you need to be aware of in SE Asia – particularly if you are sporting a fanny pack, branded outdoor clothing and you’re sweating buckets because you are obviously not from a land where it’s 1000 degrees […]
Apps have become the saving grace of our lives. Seriously, how people travelled before google maps I will NEVER know!
Even though there are the go to travel apps for every country, there seem to be country or region specific apps too that can go unnoticed until you spend a prolonged amount of time there and some annoyingly knowledgeable expat or backpacker clues you in.
I’m here to save you that conversation with the arrogant backpacker (or at least you can put them in their place with your travel savvy knowledge).
Here are the apps that have made life sweet and easy in Hanoi so far!
This is the most popular transport app in Vietnam. You’ll be able to spot a motorbike driver in the famous green jacket and helmet from pretty much anywhere in the major cities and they will be readily available in the smaller cities too.
The app works in a very similar way to Uber, and I have found that I have never had to wait longer than 5 minutes for a bike or car to turn up.
I would hugely recommend topping up the ‘GrabPay’ wallet with money from your home bank account because all trips are much cheaper and it saves you carrying excessive cash around.
Enjoy getting across the whole city for $3!
Download it here.
This is in a remote area of Hanoi and there are tonnes of bikes ready for pick up!
This is your grab wallet – you top up from a bank account from anywhere in the world and then no cash is needed
Even if you are doing a drive by travel experience, you might still want to go to take away app installed.
If you’re tired or unwell, getting a creature comfort take away can be heavenly. And the take away variety does not disappoint! You can order anything from Korean, to vegetarian to pizza and burgers.
The different search options make it super easy to use and find what you want based on what they serve or how close the restaurant is.
The only downside I can think of is that some of the menus are in Vietnamese so you might need to spend some time translating to work out what is about to turn up at the door step. Or just take a risk! Some of the best meals (and worst) I have ordered have been from choosing random Vietnamese dishes!
Download it here.
And it’s not just for food! Look at all the things you can hunt down in the city
Cốc Cốc Map
An alternative to Google maps, this app has lots of cool and convenient search features. From ATMs, to night life, to pokestops, there’s a search option for everything!
And then of course you can find directions of how to get there 🙂
Download it here.
SO many things to discover in the big cities here
Triposo is the one stop shop to making your travel itinerary. Even though it is free there are some pretty extensive options to find what you want.
The app includes major landmarks, national parks, tours and daytrip information.
After having a look for Vietnam, everything I found seemed pretty accurate and worth having a look through as the options are almost guaranteed to contain something that floats your travel boat!
Download it here.
Yep. Triposo pretty much has you covered.
Google Translate (offline)
This is an essential. Although it can only be used for shorter phrases, google translate can be a life saver in those awkward moments when you really need to communicate but the language barrier is real.
A lot of the children here can speak a very basic level of English, but it is unusual to come across an adult who can understand what you are trying to ask for. So in times of desperate communication, having the option to download a language and use it offline is super helpful.
Download it here.
This pretty much sums up what I use translate for. All the fruit juice!
Well this is a personal favourite of mine. The app uses the current exchange rate for every currency, and you can add all the currencies you are using throughout your trip to directly compare them.
It also has a calculator so you can do some quick maths… quite handy when you’re haggling at the markets!
Download it here.
You choose which currencies show on your main page
One for all the veggies and vegans out there! I’m not a vegetarian but I much prefer veggie options and it can help you avoid food poisoning for longer if you are plant based as much as possible.
Happy cow shows you all the best vegetarian, vegan and veggie option places (and meat eating restaurants) if you wish in the area.
Using this I found the most amazing vegan banh mi restaurant that served us 2 banh mi, ‘pillow donuts’ and 2 portions of spring rolls for £2. It was divine.
Download it here.
It’s not just for veggies! But it does cost £4 to download. Totally worth it.
Finally, this one is for those of you that plan on living and working in Vietnam. Timo is a bank run by VP bank, one of the most popular banks in Vietnam.
The app is super easy to use and it is a very straightforward way to keep on top of your money.
It is for domestic use only, but it is easier than using a revolut or home bank card as everywhere will accept it.
They also have a space called ‘the hangout’ where you can go and speak to employees and ask questions, but its also a working space and you can order drinks! AND the first drink is free! Quite cool for a bank, right?
Download it here.
The easy to use app makes Timo one of the most popular new banks in Vietnam
There are also the go to apps that I haven’t mentioned such as Google maps and Maps.me. Be sure to download those too before you set off!
Any other useful apps I would love to hear about them! Who doesn’t want more info to arm yourself against the know it all backpacker 😛
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Tam Dao is the perfect day trip (or overnight stay) from Hanoi if you want gorgeous scenery, amazing traditional food and an experience that isn’t overrun by tourists. A mountainous village covered in idyllic forest and a hiking trail that leads to a natural […]
Hanoi’s night markets are a great place to test your negotiation and haggling techniques!
With a labyrinth of streets where each road is dedicated to a particular item, you are truly spoilt for choice and bound to find any commodity you are searching for.
Unfortunately I am a natural born people pleaser and introvert (until you get to know me). So haggling is the LAST thing I thought I would want to do.
Especially when the market owner knows how to pull every heart string. I am SURE someone I bought from recently pretended to be heavily pregnant…
But I think I am starting to get the hang of it. And it’s actually pretty fun!
I mean, I know the stuff you buy isn’t legit, and is still probably overpriced even after you pull the best haggling moves. But actually, what you can buy at a market can be surprisingly nice, can be good quality, and does the job.
Since being here Josh and I have swept the markets for all sorts of things you kind of need but can’t fit in to a backpack and carry on. Electronics, clothes, shoes, backpacks. You name it, the markets have it.
So I set to the night markets for the first time like a dear in the headlights, where I was asked to pay £40 for a cheap Hershel’s knock off backpack. Aaaaaand I was about to do the deal until Josh told me I was being a doofus. Annoyingly he was right, and I proceeded to watch him haggle them down to £8. £8 from £40!
I now use this everyday and it hasn’t let me down!
Determined to be once bitten, twice shy I went in for the kill with a cute pair of sliders with dragon fruits on them.
£12… I think not.
I went in with my first offer
As I wiped the nervous sweat off my brow.
“Nooooooo, best price – £8”
Okay now at this point I considered this a victory. Until I saw ‘the look’ from Josh across the shop. Gulp.
Serious heart palpitations at this point.
“Okay okay. For you only, £6”
Now at this point I felt sick, so I took the deal and ran.
They’re cute but OMG they hurt like hell
I walked around in my new sliders like I was some sort of Queen. The world unknowing of my triumph.
Since then I have realised that £6 for a pair of sliders is pretty poo and you can definitely do much better!
So here is my list of the do’s and don’ts of the markets. Go grab yourselves some bargains!
**Market haggling Do’s**
*DO be confident and go in low with your first offer. They will laugh it off and counter off but you’ve made it known you ain’t no prissy.
*DO laugh and joke with the sales person. If they like you they are more likely to play the game.
*DO act as if you like the product, but not as if you NEED it. They will pick up on that and be less likely to budge on price.
*DO know what your limit is with the price, and stick to it. If they are reluctant to give it to you at that price then start walking away… it might give them that final nudge.
These were £8 from £24, and super comfy!
**Market haggling Don’ts**
*DON’T be rude or disrespectful. I mean, if they are asking for £50 don’t offer them a quid… that’s just really insulting and at the end of the day they have to make a living.
*DON’T accept the first offer they give you. That’s what I nearly did, and I found out how ripped off I was about to be.
*DON’T BUY SO MUCH STUFF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT. I am a victim of not living by this rule.
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If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard/read someone say ‘travel changes you’… It’s boring and in a lot of ways completely untrue. So many of the defining features of my personality will not change because I’ve opened myself up to […]
I believe self care is THE most important thing we should practice.
Everything from the standard bubble baths and pedicures, to educating yourself and investing time in to hobbies and interests.
After all, how can we offer the best of ourselves to our family, friends or careers when we are burnt out and not living as the best versions of ourselves?
Being honest, is self care something we honestly think of as a priority? Especially when life takes it’s toll and busyness starts to run the show?
Self care is NOT to be mistaken for selfishness – we all too often think of putting ourselves first and setting healthy boundaries as a negative thing. Sometimes rude even.
But my experiences of when I have been at my lowest and most unhealthy in body and mind were when I failed to assert these healthy boundaries. When I failed to be conscious about the state of my overall well being over everyone else’s.
Since freeing up time in my schedule I have brought room in my life to start to shift the focus back to me and practice self care more actively in my life.
Heaven knows I am no expert… I am the biggest people pleaser out there! But I thought it would be helpful and healthy to share my favourite self care practices that you can do even when on a budget!
My favourite 20 self care practices
I put this one first for a reason. Education in invaluable, and you will always learn something from a book. What can be healthier for the mind than exercising the imagination with a good adventure story? Or to read someone’s mistakes in business/love/life so you never have to make them in your own?
2) Having a long hot bath (bath bomb optional)
Yeah I did include the cliche… because it really does have surprising health benefits. From lowering blood pressure to aiding sleep, the physiological and mental benefits of being in hot water shouldn’t go a miss.
3) Do your nails
What’s that? Another cliche you say? Yes! I included this one because I am not at all ‘girly’ by any sense of the word and often avoid make up and the like whenever I can, but painting your nails takes a level of concentration that I have found to clear my mind. And the added plus of improving your manual dexterity by using your non dominant hand to paint the other… I weirdly enjoy that challenge every time.
Speaking of needing something to clear the mind, meditation couldn’t be a better choice. There are a million YouTube videos out there that walk you through the basics of meditation and it certainly eases that ‘trapped by routine’ feel I often got in the UK. Best thing is that it’s free and only takes 10 minutes!
5) Shape your eyebrows
Like I say, I am in no way a girl’s girl but taking pride in my appearance has 100% helped me gain confidence. A little part of that was regularly making the effort to pluck my eyebrows. I unashamedly spend a little time admiring my artistry after I am done too, if they look remotely similar. Abstract art, perhaps.
6) Ask someone for a massage
This is much more than relaxing your muscles. It is a good method to connect and spend quality time with someone you care about. It’s also pretty hard to be distracted by technology in this setting. You might have a genuine piece of someone’s time, and that’s invaluable!
7) Say ‘no’ when appropriate
This is the most important lesson I’ve ever had to learn. Pleasing other people has nearly killed me. But actually saying no when I can’t or don’t want to do something without always giving justification or excuses is liberating, and puts you back in the driver’s seat of your own life. I mean, where else would you want to be?
8) Journal about your day
Our feelings and thoughts are so fleeting sometimes that it’s easy to forget how something made you feel. This can have a damaging effect when something rings a little alarm bell, but you shrug it off and never think about it again. I found that I kept shrugging off these natural warning signs and eventually people trod all over my personal boundaries because I didn’t assert them when necessary. Journalling reminds you of your feelings and helps you to consciously decide when to assert your boundaries in the future.
9) Start a new hobby
I have never been musically gifted, but I’ve taken my first steps to learning guitar. And giving something a go that’s new is exciting and challenging, and to me that is what self care is all about. I also had a conversation with someone who started dungeons and dragons since they moved here and they were so full of passion it inspired me to pick up a hobby too. If that’s not a good enough reason to practice self care then I don’t know what is!
10) Write a physical bucket list
There must be thousands of things we have thought ‘cool, I want to do that!’ but never actually got around to doing. Probably because we forgot we ever wanted to do it. Why not make a physical list full of every big and small thing we want to do, and then you can work on making it actionable. Fleeting thoughts are not the best way to action our desires.
You’d think exercise solved all problems as it is mentioned as a prevention and treatment for almost any ailment out there. But it turns out the Science checks out. Exercise releases endorphins which make you happy – and that’s part of the goal of self care right?
12) Eat a healthy meal
I am in no way saying you must diet and stick to it. I often find that is more stress than it is good for you! But having the conscious thought to have just one meal full of goodness and nutrients can give you a boost in energy and I know deep down you feel super proud of the decision. That feeling means you are more likely to do it again 😀
13) Make a list of things you are good at
TED talk lesson – how long would we have to list things we love before we say ourselves?
Deep right? But also so true! We are incredibly blessed to live the lives we do no matter what your current situation, so show some appreciation for what you have been gifted with!
It feels super weird doing that for the first time but no one will ever see it! It is for your eyes only, so allow yourself to let some barriers down.
14) Put on a face mask
These cost pennies but the raw organic ones are actually really good for your skin, especially ones containing Aloe Vera. Worth the 50p!
15) Ask for help with something you have been struggling with
Reaching out for any social connection is challenging, but even more so when you are talking about something that makes you uncomfortable. Putting it in to practice a little at a time and having a support network of people who really understand you is invaluable.
16) Watch a TV show that you find funny
Friends is my go to – even after watching each episode a gazillion times! What better way to forget about the whirlpool of thoughts you carry around all day than to laugh them off! Not once have I watched an episode of friends and felt worse after. The episode where Ross wears leather pants to his date… gets me every time.
17) Spend some time in nature
Nature is calming and has been shown to reduce stress levels massively. The air is fresh and clean and it is sometimes the very much needed peace in a crazy busy world.
18) Connect with a friend
Reaching out for normal social connection can be exceptionally hard, especially in a time with social anxiety is sky rocketing. As someone who suffers from social anxiety a fair bit, I can say that forcing yourself to just try that bit of human interaction with someone you implicitly trust is more than worth it. It might not feel like it at the time, but exposure to forming that network of trust is without a doubt of long term benefit.
19) Go to bed early
Poor sleep hygiene I have realised can make a crazy big difference to my mood. I struggle to see how anyone can perform at their best without a good 7-8 hours sleep! Even if you don’t think you need it, getting an early night and letting yourself wake up without the alarm the next day will show you just how much sleep your body needs.
20) Think of 5 things you are grateful for
From living in Asia I have been shocked at how ungrateful we are for the ease of life we have in the West. On our busiest days the last thing you want to do is spill out how much you love the world, but it is healthy to check in and gain a bit of perspective. It might make that office politics issue that’s been snowballing in your head all day not seem quite that bad anymore.
Whether you are a fellow expat or stuck in the 9-5, any one of these can give you that moment of peace and rest from the chaos that is life!
I know that there are a million self care techniques out there and I would love to hear some of your favourites
Maybe try just one of these today and put the focus back on you!
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