The Bustle of Hanoi

 The bustle of Hanoi

Until the eleventh day I did not see streets wrapped in total blackness. Unearthly silence followed me to where taxi buses depart for airport. Even women street vendors have not spoken to each other. Quietly they lied piles of bananas and pineapples on heavy bicycles, getting prepared for another busy day in which they’ll need to earn enough Vietnamese Dongs to feed their families on the outskirts of Vietnam’s capital.

Good morning Vietnam

Despite the deep sleep in which the Old Quarter was in, it seemed as if the sun rose above the Hoem Lake intentionally, to throw its first rays on joggers, speed walkers and Tai Chi performers. At five in the morning even encouraged city rats came out to seek for food and most shocking, motorbikes drove without a single beep.

More and more people began to appear on the streets, opening their shops, pulling plastic chairs on the sidewalks and preparing their businesses for tourists.

Life in all its rawness was about to unravel on the streets of Hanoi.

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Life in a paradise (Koh Phangan)

Life in a paradise

White powdery sand. Ocean breeze and palm leaf swaying in a tropical sun, whispering shhhhhhh! It was a place my eyes have never seen before. A paradise. Time didn’t matter, mornings were for sleeping and nights for wildness. 

“Come, I will introduce to the island life” – said Edi, my American friend whom I met in Bangkok when we were both at the beginning of our journeys.

So I came.

An unexpected home base

In a place where I least expected a homely atmosphere began to grow in me. Not only that I got an island home beneath the starry sky, but I learned how to drive a scooter. I swam among the fishes in turquoise water. I ate dozen of mangoes, met real hippies and practiced yoga. After a week I could recognize smiling faces on the streets. I adopted an island cat and gave her Croatian name.

Welcome to Koh Phangan sign

Situated in the Southern Gulf of Thailand, Koh Phangan is part of the group of islands that make up the Samui Archipelagos. Tourists have started to discover the island in the 1980’s. It is close to Koh Samui and Koh Tao. It’s a home to 20 temples and only one KFC.

Edi barely got me off his couch… Finally I left after one month, seduced by the lure of this magical tropical paradise.

But, let’s go from the beginning.

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Vietnamese black iced, please

Vietnamese black iced, please

“They have black coffee, yogurt coffee, egg coffee! It’s so delicious, I am staying here forever! “– I wrote to my friend in Bangkok who has a cafe within his home stay. 
“Egg coffee? Ewww!”– he replied.
“It’s really delicious and not some new age thing. Locals drink it! “– I tried to convince him.
“OK, can you bring me some?”

 

As a sworn tea lover, I decided to write a story about the Vietnamese coffee, for which I converted into a coffee worshiper.

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14 Baht Adventure

14 baht adventure

Standing at the Hua Lamphong train station early in the morning, covered in sweat and tired of the night drive from Chiang Mai, we just wanted to escape the big city. Steff told Jazz and me about the place outside of Bangkok where you can get Sak Yant aka bamboo tattoo from a monk. The city’s name: Nakhom Pathom. 1,30 hour ride. 3rd class. 14 baht ticket fare.

“Let’s have an adventure! Let’s go where tourists don’t go! ” -Steff was excited.

We looked at each other and got on a local train. Not that we had anything else in mind so let’s  have an adventure for 14 baht.

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Into the Jungle (Pai)

Into the jungle

Pai is a getaway. Pai is wild, yet it smells like home.

“Pai. You have to go to Pai. Don’t miss Pai.”
As soon as I arrived in Chiang Mai, other travelers  started telling me the same – go to Pai! I never even heard of  this small town, nestled in the hills of Mae Hong Son province in northern Thailand.
It was only a three hour ride from Chiang Mai so I bought the ticket.  The ride itself felt liberating. Golden light peeking through the glass of the mini van… Driving through the perfect jungle scenery. Bananas. Only bananas and the mountain roads.

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4 Hour Flight Layover in Moscow

4 Hour Flight Layover in Moscow

I love airports.

People usually hate airports because of long layovers.  All the waiting and boredom and walking up and down can drive you crazy. I actually very much enjoyed my 4 hour flight layover at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow. Vodka everywhere, interesting people and lots of different gates exits where you can sit and watch people leave.

Though I was in the ‘transit area’ for tourists without visa, and it felt as a ghetto, I loved the feeling of being “just” a number.  In airports everything is safe and scheduled until you step your foot into a plane. Then it’s showtime.

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Istanbul, I hear your music

Istanbul header

How can I love more there than here? How can I feel foreign more as mine?Oh, but I can. Istanbul. Istanbul. Have we met before? A long time ago? Because, you got me.

Taksim square and Istiklal Caddesi

I arrived before they wounded you. The bus driver left us with simple: „Welcome to Istanbul“, and my first thought was: I am so lost. In the middle of a huge roundabout I saw people going in one direction – Istiklal street.
It is more than just a caddesi. Peppered with pedestrians, housing a huge variety of shops, Istiklal is more like a song. It can be loud and stressful or whispering silently. The message is same in both ways: FEEL. COME ALIVE. GET INSPIRED.

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Magic of the Ruin Pubs

Magic of the ruin pubs

Inside the streets of the Jewish quarter in Budapest lies a new wave of entertainment. If you see an abandoned building with charming décor, contemporary art and live music – you found them.

 Ruin pubs

I haven’t heard of them until I went to Budapest for the fourth time. Browsing through the city map, it was time to explore the old Jewish quarter (district VII). And while I’m already enchanted by the Jewish history, architecture and music, ruin pubs were new to me.

When Fogasház takes over

Crumbling buildings and perky, yet quaint and fusty atmosphere, unique cafés and pieces of history on every corner – it makes my heart tingle whenever I’m close to something Jewish (without being Jewish myself. Funny, I know).
And then I stumbled upon them. Especially one – Fogasház. I visited a place I couldn’t believe it exists.

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