Self help

Helping Underprivileged Communities on Your Holiday

It’s a big world out there and being lucky enough to explore it is something you should take advantage of.

However, it’s important not to forget that for every person who’s in a position to spend a week, month or a year travelling, there is another who may never leave the village they were born in. There are underprivileged communities all around the world, whose warm spirit and generosity help complete countless travellers’ trips.

With this in mind, I think giving something back to the people you meet on your journey by doing volunteer work abroad is incredibly worthwhile and will only serve to make your adventure even more special.

Here are three countries where I believe you can make the greatest difference to the lives of the people you meet.


Cambodia is one of Asia’s true gems, but it has a dark history and the wounds left by its past are only just beginning to heal. This is a country relatively new to the traveller’s radar, but it’s fast becoming a must-visit stop, thanks to its rich beauty and fascinating culture.

With the aftershocks of the civil war and genocide still reverberating, there is so much good you can do here. Among the most worthwhile is to volunteer at one of the country’s orphanages, where you’ll be able to help teach these youngsters.

Assisting them in getting to grips with English will give them a real chance of escaping the poverty they grew up in. Of course, it’s not all serious – and there’s also plenty of opportunity to have fun. Help put a smile on these kids’ faces by organising activities like acting or team sports for them to enjoy.

“cambodia ankor vat”


Nestled within the Himalayas, Nepalis a mysterious country and also one of the world’s poorest. Becoming a republic in 2008, it’s a place that has attracted thrill seekers for years, as this is where you’ll find Mount Everest.

However, many of the people live in poverty – which is where you can help. There is a variety of community projects running across the country for you to choose from, whether you want to teach in schools or build houses.

Among your options are helping out at a school or orphanage, teaching English to the Buddhist monks at one of the monasteries or building day care and resource centres, along with extending existing community properties.

“nepal mountains”


Uganda is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa and if you’re on a tour of the continent you should stop here.

However, it’s also home to one of the highest populations of orphans in the world and while there are community projects established out here doing all they can to help, they need more volunteers.

Your time here will be greatly appreciated and you’ll be called upon to assist in a variety of ways, from making home visits at the houses of some of the poorest families to training the children – many of whom live on the streets – in basic skills.

There’s not always a lot of laughter among kids who are living without any parents, or who are nursing loved ones who have been struck down by the AIDS/HIV epidemic. Put a smile back on the faces of these young people by organising games for them to play and helping them to feel cared for again.


Sani’s Amazing Greek Getaway

Any holiday should be relaxing in itself, but it can’t hurt to choose a destination with the kind of atmosphere in which it’s difficult not to feel as laidback as possible. The Sani resort in Halkidiki, Greece is one such location – read on to find out why.

Beaches galore

Sani’s location on the coast of Greece’s Kassandra Peninsula means it is well-located for mile upon mile of both sandy and pebble beaches. The most convenient beach for you will depend on which hotel you stay at, although you can easily access Bousoulas Beach from wherever you’re staying.

This pine tree-lined Blue Flag beach has some great shallow waters that’ll be particularly safe if you’re taking the kids along on your break, and you can also indulge in water sports or an outdoor spa treatment or two here if you manage to get some alone time – the Babewatch service will see experienced child minders look after your kids for up to 30 minutes if you like, allowing you some time to relax on your own.

A few of the beaches here are exclusive to guests staying at particular hotels, like Sani Asterias Beach, which is only open to those with rooms at the Porto Sani Village and Sani Asterias hotels. Both kids and adults are welcome, with the Babewatch service also available here during the summer months. Elsewhere, the Sea You Beach is exclusive to guests at Porto Sani Village, and you can expect to have everything you need to keep little ones happy if you visit here.

Other beaches of note include the one at Sani Beach Club, as well as Ammos Beach and Sani Hill, so you have plenty of options when deciding which stretch of sand to head to in order to spend the whole day doing not much at all.


Laidback bars and restaurants

Sani is home to a wide range of bars and restaurants, so you should be able to find somewhere to relax in the evenings whatever your tastes. If you’re looking for some authentic Greek food, try the Alexis Taverna, Ouzerie or Psaroyannos Ouzerie. Fans of Asian food will be able to indulge their passion at the Sea You Up Restaurant, while Italian and other Mediterranean fare is served up at the Macaroni Italian Trattoria, Artemis Restaurant and The Veranda Restaurant, among other places.

Bar-wise, you’ll find many of the drinking venues at Sani are basically cocktail lounges, although there’s also a pool bar (Dolphins), a couple of beach bars and some coffee/snack bars that might be your best bet if you don’t want to get dressed up for evening drinks.

Gentle activities

Relaxing doesn’t always to involve lying prone by the pool, or propping up the bar in the evenings. There are many activities available in Sani that will let you thoroughly enjoy yourself in a way that’s not too strenuous. You could book yourself on to a birdwatching, wine or boat tour, set sail on a sunset cruise or learn the basics of archery – all pursuits that will probably provide a welcome diversion from simply doing nothing on the beach!

There are also several spas to choose from, so if you’re on a family holiday it could be an idea to take advantage of any child-minding services available at your hotel so you can treat yourself to a massage or a beauty treatment.

A couple of festivals take place at Sani each year, so it may be worth timing your trip to coincide with one of these for some extra entertainment. The Sani Festival features jazz, Greek and classical music performances by artists from around the world and takes place over July and August, while the Sani Gourmet event in May is likely to be a highlight for food lovers, as it offers the chance to sample food cooked by Michelin-starred chefs at some of the local restaurants.

Travel story

Unique Architectural Holiday Stays

Why stay in an identikit hotel when you could stay somewhere truly extraordinary on your next trip? A metallic barn balancing in mid-air? A wooden sphere suspended amongst the trees? A crazy Dali-esque tree-like structure? Or perhaps a house without walls, only screens and stained glass windows? You travel the world to discover new, exciting and exotic places – why shouldn’t you stay in one too? Book your flights, order some international travel insurance and jet off to one of these incredible holiday rentals…

The Balancing Barn – Suffolk, England

The multi-award-winning Balancing Barn, located a few miles inland from the beautiful Suffolk coast, dramatically cantilevers over a descending slope so that half of the building is in mid-air. This not only results in an exciting piece of architecture but fabulous views over the neighbouring nature reserve, lake and surrounding garden, helped by the huge full-height sliding picture windows. Roof lights and glass floor sections add to the feeling that you are part of the surrounding countryside and the reflective steel tiles on the exterior provide a mirror image of the outside space. A magnificent building in beautiful surroundings.

“The Balancing Barn – Suffolk, England”

The Onion House – Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

How can you have a house without walls? When it’s enclosed by screens and stained glass and located in the warm but breezy climate of Hawaii. Even the roof panels are translucent. Designed to make the most of its lush surroundings, the Onion House, so called because its two arching domes with overlapping panels are said to look like the layers of an onion, is nestled within a tropical paradise. Pools, fishponds and gorgeous gardens surround the unusual house and its high terrace enjoys spectacular views of the sea.

“The Onion House – Kailua-Kona, Hawaii”

Hang Nga Guesthouse – Da Lat, Vietnam

It’s not hard to see why this utterly unique guesthouse is popularly known as the ‘Crazy House’. Within a town populated by French colonial villas and modern concrete buildings, the Crazy House really does stand out. Described by many as a ‘fairy tale house’, it is like the love child of Salvador Dali and Walt Disney. Resembling a giant, warped old banyan tree, its complex, organic structure is dotted with sculptured aspects of nature, such as spider webs, animals, mushrooms, and caves. Each room has its own animal theme, including an ant room, kangaroo room, and tiger room and much of the furniture is handcrafted and built into the rooms. If you don’t fancy staying in the Crazy House, you could visit the museum instead.

“Hang Nga Guesthouse – Da Lat, Vietnam”

Free Spirit Spheres – Vancouver Island, Canada

Billed as ‘tree houses for adults’, Free Spirit Spheres are handcrafted wooden spheres suspended from a web of rope within five acres of Vancouver Island’s coastal rainforest. Each sphere is tethered to three trees and accessed by a spiral stairway and suspension bridge so you are truly suspended up in the treetops. The rooms are small but perfectly formed, with a double bed, sofa, microwave, fridge and sink and you get to be rocked to sleep each night as the sphere gently sways in the breeze. Bliss.


Goa’s Beachside Resorts

Goa offers much more than just beachside resorts, so if you’re looking for a destination where you can discover some culture and history, as well as stretch out on golden sands, this is the place for you!

There are lots of attractions to visit in north Goa in particular, as the state’s capital Panaji is situated here. In addition to interesting historical sites, there are a few museums worth having a look around. Here are a few places I think you should stop off at.

Goa State Museum

For a great introduction to the eclectic mix of cultures you’ll experience while visiting the region, head to the Goa State Museum – you’ll find it in the EDC Complex in the Patto area of Panaji. Wandering around its 12 galleries is an excellent way to learn more about the various religious groups that have influenced this corner of southern India, in addition to viewing some slightly more bizarre exhibits from the region’s past.

There are several Hindu and Jain statues on display, as well as relics from the period of Portuguese occupation. Intricately carved items of furniture, old coins and even antique lottery machines are among the things you can see. I think one of the nice things about exploring this museum is that you’re never quite sure what you’ll find around the next corner!

Old Goa

Around 9 km to the east of Panaji is Old Goa, the former state capital that is now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is littered with buildings constructed by the Portuguese settlers and is home to some astounding churches. The Se Cathedral is probably the most impressive of these, as it is the largest Christian place of worship in Goa and houses the Golden Bell.

The Archaeological Museum can also be found in the city, with its exhibitions on show in the convent of the church of St Francis of Assisi. Items dating back as far as the prehistoric era are among those you can view, as well as paintings, coins, sculptures, stamps and other objects from more recent years.

“Goa Shree Bhagavati”

Shree Bhagavati

Religion is a big part of India’s society, so it’d be a shame to leave Goa without visiting at least one of its Hindu temples. Around 28 km from Panaji is Shree Bhagavati, a colourful example of this type of place of worship. Its doors are flanked by two large sculptures of elephants and the temple itself is thought to be more than 500 years old. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting when one of the many festivals is on, you’ll be in for a treat as thousands of revellers gather at the temples – the atmosphere is amazing and it’s a wonderful experience.

“Savoi Spice Plantation”

Savoi Spice Plantation

If you can take an excursion from your north Goa hotel to the Savoi Spice Plantation, I’d strongly recommend it. This is one of the state’s oldest tropical plantations and a visit here will allow you to delve into Goa’s agricultural heritage. Situated around 25 km from Panaji, it was established by the Shetye family 200 years ago and is still going strong today. They grow a range of fruits and spices, including pineapples, jackfruits, cloves and nutmeg, with tourists given guided walking tours among the various plants. You’ll also be treated to traditional snacks and drinks, so this trip is an excellent way to sample some of Goa’s famous cuisine!


Interview with a Korean

“I’m sophomore at university and my major is English.
And about my dream, I wanna teach English and Chinese in the future because I’m pretty much into languages and my dream has always been teaching kids. 🙂 oh and I was in China for over 3 years and I just got back to Korea.”

what is more important to you than anything?

If you were a super hero, what would your super hero name be?
“Hmmmmmm….it’s not easy to answer..maybe Miss Sunday lol??” My super power would be…reading people’s mind and turning into anything or anyone I can be! wish I really could lol

On scale of one to five, how was your first kiss? Five is being amazing. And one being ridiculously terrible.
“It was one Lol”

What’s the worst thing a man could say to you?
“You are so fat! -_-

What do you want to change about the world?
“Hmmm, if I could change about the world, I’d eliminate ‘money’ and then make something like a credit system. The more good things,?like helping the poor, homeless animals or anything) you do the higher your credit level gets and when you buy something, you can use this credit instead of money xD
It’s fair to everyone this way, I think!”

Doesn’t that force people to do good deeds to survive?
“Yeah, but I dont think thats a problem, doing good things can never be bad :3 It might bring about social problems too but the problems wouldnt be as serious as the ones caused by money. This is just what i think =)”

if you have suggestions for questions to ask in future Random Interviews please leave them in the comments.


A Guide to Barcelona

Throughout the year thousands of tourists visit Barcelona. They come from all over the world to experience the wonderful atmosphere the city has to offer. So what is it about the heart of Catalonia, which has the people so excited? Here are the top 5 reasons to go and visit Barcelona.

Amazing architecture

When thinking about architecture in Barcelona, one name quickly springs to mind- Antoni Gaudi. He was a local architect that lived and created at the end of the 19th and at the beginning of 20th century. His work is the very reason why this place is identified as one of the most colorful and inspiring cities in Europe. His most famous projects are the Sagrada Familia cathedral, and Casa Battlo and Casa Mila.

For all the people that like to relax away from the crowds and the noise, the capital of Catalonia offers them beautiful and unforgettable parks. The world famous Park Guell (designed by Gaudi), with its famous 152m long mosaic bench and Park de la Ciutadella to name just a few.

“Casa Batllo, Barcelona, Antoni Gaudi”

Football attractions

This city is a home to one of the most famous football clubs in the world, FC Barcelona. Their stadium, Camp Nou, is one of the biggest in Europe, with a capacity of up to 98,772. There are two ways to visit the arena, one is to buy tickets for the match and the other is to purchase a tour when the stadium is empty, which also includes a visit to the FC Barcelona museum and a 3D cinema, where you can see a quick presentation on football.

“Camp Nou, FC Barcelona stadium”

Great cuisine

Barcelona is dominated by Catalan cuisine. It is based around ingredients found along the Mediterranean coast. Because Catalonia is one of the main producers of swine in Spain, you can find a lot of pork dishes here, as well as seafood- based recipes. The most famous dishes are paella, arros negre, pan con tomate and for desert crema catalana is a must.

“Paella, Catalan cuisine, Mediterranean copy”

Sandy beaches

Barcelona is located in a beautiful and sunny region of Costa Brava. After an exhaustive day of sightseeing you can spend your day at a sandy beach. Due to the high number of tourists however, the beaches there cannot be considered the cleanest. On the hot weekend days it is difficult to find some free space, but it still shouldn’t be a problem for those longing for the sun.

“Beach Barcelona”


The nightlife entertainment in Barcelona is known as one of the best in the world. The city is renowned for a large number of places to meet people from every corner of the world, with different religious beliefs and sexual orientation.The nightlife usually starts at midnight and the clubs are literally everywhere. Although the most popular music you will experience there is house, there are some places that play salsa, merengue, samba and others. Every year Barcelona plays host to the most famous bands and dj’s.


Maximizing Your Maldives Trip

Offering gorgeous scenery and balmy climes, the Maldives is a fantastic destination for a romantic break – or even your honeymoon. An archipelago of around 1,000 islands (across 26 atolls) in the Indian Ocean, the destination is also well known for its luxurious hotels. So, you’ve got all the basic ingredients of a brilliant romantic getaway – how do you make the most of it?

Choose your resort carefully

It may sound a tad obvious, but your accommodation will set the tone for your break, so it’s well worth taking the time to find something you and your partner both like the look of. There are plenty of fantastic resorts in the Maldives, so this shouldn’t be too difficult, but bear in mind there are some that cater to couples better than others.


Among them is LUX* Maldives, which covers the entire island of Dhidhoofinolhu in the South Ari Atoll. What makes this such a good spot for couples is that is has everything you could need, like a spa where you can indulge in relaxing treatments together, water sports (including a dive centre) and a great selection of land sports.

If you’re on your honeymoon, make sure you look out for any extras each resort might send your way (LUX* Maldives, for example, offers a gala dinner and wine) – it could sway your decision, so it’s a handy tiebreaker if you’re torn between two places!

“Maldives map”

Dine out in style

I think having some amazing meals out is an essential ingredient of romantic getaways – and the gorgeous setting of the Maldives really adds to the romantic atmosphere in virtually any eatery. Now, your options will vary depending on which resort you choose, but typically the most luxurious will offer a decent selection of international cuisine.

If you’re spending any time on Male (which you may well do before transferring to your resort by speedboat or seaplane), it’s worth dining out at Aioli. Sleek and sophisticated, this restaurant has a great atmosphere and serves up food from all over the world across its two dining rooms and scenic balcony.

Make the most of the natural environment

One of the best things about any holiday to the Maldives is that its islands are largely unspoilt – something helped by the law that limits each island to having just one resort. So, not only is each place naturally beautiful and well protected, but it is also never crowded.

Each island has fantastic white sand beaches, which will offer plenty of water sports. This means whether you fancy doing nothing more than taking a romantic stroll or you’d rather try something new, it’s easy to do so.

Discover the local marine life

Ok, this is fairly closely tied to the point above, but the Maldives is so famous for its amazing marine life that I think it deserves its own section. Plus, there’s not a lot more romantic than discovering the magic of the world under the sea together – however you decide to do it.

You see, the country might be particularly famous for scuba diving, but there’s plenty more ways to see some spectacular things. The top options (including diving) are:

• Take the Whale Submarine from Male. This isn’t actually a whale-watching trip, it’s a submarine that takes you down to the reef and gives you a chance to see the fish if you don’t fancy getting wet.
• Scuba diving. There’s a dive centre on every island, and some hotels even have their own private reef, so it really couldn’t be simpler to have a go – and the experience is well worth it. If you’re really into diving, take trips out to sites renowned for it, like Banana Reef in the North Male Atoll.
• Snorkel. Don’t fancy diving? Snorkelling’s great fun too, and the top of the reef at Banana Reef is a particularly good place to try it, though you can of course stick to the water at your chosen resort.

Japan Japan Customs

Tips for Stopping Discrimination in Japan

Assuming you speak English just because you are not Asian.

Why do you assume I speak English?
???????????? Nande eigo o hanasu to omotta?

Why do you think all white people speak English?
?????????????????????Nande hakujin minna eigo hanasu to omotteiru no?

(I know you don’t mean to be rude but…. ) not all white people speak english
(Kizutsukeru tsumori jya nai no ha wakatte iru no dakeredo…) hakujin minna eigo o hanasu wakedewanai

– Being complemented on your Japanese

But I only said 2 words!
???? ?? ????? demo futakoto shika ittenai?

But I barely said anything.
???????????Demo sonna ni ittenai.

You can judge language skills from only one word? You are a genius aren’t you!
????????????????????????????Tatta hitokoto de nihongo no reberu ga wakaru no? atama iin da ne!

Sorry to defy your expectations. (funny response, you might get a laugh)
????????Shitsurei itashimashita.

– A policeman asks to see your passport

Why? Did I do something wrong?
doshite? nanika machigatta koto shimashita ka?

Is it illegal to be white here?
???????????????? Hakunin ga koko ni iru no ha ihou desu ka?

Is it illegal to be black here?
????????????????Kokunin ga koko ni iru no ha ihou desu ka?

Please show me your badge
??????????????Keisatsu techou o misete kudasai.

Why did you stop ME?
?????????????Doshite watashi o tometta no?

– Being asked “can you use chopsticks?”

– Can you tie your own shoes?
???????????????Jibun de Kutsu himo musubemasu ka?

(Shoes) don’t come from Japan so it must be difficult for you.
??????????????????????????(Kutsu) ha nihon no mono jya nai kara sazou muzukashii koto deshou.

– Being Stared at

Don’t stare at me
???????Jiro jiro miruna

Can I help you with something?
?????????Nanika you desu ka?


Tips for Avoiding Visa Runs in Taiwan

There’s much room for improvement in the world’s processes of acquiring required visas. Why can’t I get a student visa while in Taiwan? And why is it possible to get the visa I need, “visitor visa,” if I were going to work in Taiwan, but not to study. Come on! Students are much less likely to have funds to afford “unnecessary” flights to somewhere you don’t necessarily want to go just to apply for a visa.

Anyhow, while doing my media internship in Tokyo, I applied to study at DanJiang University in Taipei, supposedly the best private university in Taiwan. Time passed, and it was soon time for me to take my flight to Taiwan and I still hadn’t received an email or any reply from the university.

So arrived at the university, and asked, “Hey, can you tell me if I was accepted here?”

I had to give my name and birthday, and they told me that, “yeah, you’ve been accepted, but we couldn’t send you the admission letter because you didn’t include the mail fee to send it.”

“I included everything this school’s website told me to! It didn’t mention a mail fee! Why wasn’t I even emailed about it so I could send it?”

The jolly lady behind the counter shrugged her shoulders, frowned, and offered me a probably genuine, “Sorry.”

At first, I just thought it was a harmless mistake, I could start classes in January and all would be forgiven. But then she informed me that, “you can’t apply for the student visa while in Taiwan, you’ll need to leave, apply, and come back. Sorry!”

At first I felt understandably annoyed, angry, even furious, but I buried those feelings and decided to try to get the visa anyway. I headed to Taiwan’s BOCA, Bureau of Consular Affairs and tried to apply for the visa. I filled out the application and took a number.

I half expected the inevitable failure, but often when people say, “you can’t apply for that visa here,” it usually just means that’s not the legal precedent but it’s still possible. Like when I got my work visa in Japan.

So my number is called and I sit down confidently, “Please give me a visa.”

This old lady tells me that I can’t apply for the visitor visa to study while in Taiwan and that’s just the way it is, though it would be possible if I was going to work in Taiwan. Ridiculous. I calmly explained that I understood but I at least wanted to know “why?”

“It’s just our government’s policy.” Yep, of course, people who understand the reasoning behind these policies wouldn’t work here. Only people who know how to enforce them.

I gave up on understanding and went to waste my hard earned cash on a flight out of here. Though i’ve heard it’s possible to get the visa while staying in Taiwan by sending my passport to a Taiwan consulate outside of Taiwan. But i’m not taking that kind of risk.

So I went to Lion Travel across from Zhongxiao fuxing Station and while discussing my ticket options with the lady there, I noticed a customer getting louder, and angrier across the room. Eventually she seriously went nuts. Yelling about how they changed some detail of her flight and stood in a corner repeatedly screaming, “how the hell can you do this!?” a manager tried to calm her down. Other customers stared in silence. And several employees looked increasingly uncomfortable. However, I Just smiled and enjoyed the show because I realized I wouldn’t see something like that in Japan, where everyone hides their negative emotions like some evil secret nobody must ever know actually exists.


A Review of Freakonomics

Studying economics is something that more and more people have decided to do, ever since the economical and financial crisis information have started to inundate the morning and evening news in 2008. Wanting to learn more about the way the economy is being sustained, maintained and helped all around the world might not be exactly school subjects that have posed any interest to you, but if you have started to be keen on them now, the book called “Freakonomics” written by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner could be certainly aiding you a great deal.

The book can still be found on bookshelves in book stores and even online copies are still available, and finding those places stating “the book can be found here” or “click here to download the Freaknomics book” could be also used. Getting back to the main topic of the book, which is helping regular folks with no economy degrees better grasp the concept of today’s economy and financial state, the popularity of the book is quite easy to see. With so many international money crisis and social instability occurring as we speak, there is no wonder a book that uses simple terms and also a straight forward analysis in order to turn traditional wisdom in its head is more than welcomed.

You should expect to read answers to some intriguing and at least strange questions such as why do drug dealers still leave with their mothers, or maybe even why are the best anti wrinkle creams best anti wrinkle creams so expensive. Do not expect to be reading any weight loss product info descriptions, inside the book, but do expect to find some crazy answers to crazier questions – the answer will all rely on simple economy and they will definitely change the way you used to think so far. Yes, you are very likely to still enjoy your favorite Italian food next time you decide to travel to Europe, but you might be more careful with the way you are going to be spending your money, all thanks to “Freakonomics”.

You should even expect to discover some clever cocktail party conversation starters inside Levitt’s and Dubner’s book. You might be stressed out because of the fact there are not a lot of methodology tips included in the book, and you might be having some trouble putting the things you learn into practice.

The bottom line is that the book has an intriguing narrative that comes to show the shows the relevance of the answers offered to peculiar questions, and it also uses simple and easy to understand economic analysis to offer these answers. Finally, know that Levitt and Dubner claim that “if morality is how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work.”