Big Bad Quito

“You’ll get robbed” they said.
“Quito is a hell hole full of mugs, low life’s and degenerates.”
“You’ll be lucky to leave with both kidneys intact, let alone your laptop.”

Everyone seems to have an opinion about Quito, and it’s generally not pleasant. ‘The most dangerous place in South America’ had been bandied about while I was in Ecuador, and based on what I had heard, I was pleasantly surprised to get out alive.

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Melbourne as a Backpacker

This post is supposed to be about doing Melbourne, Australia (my home town) as a backpacker. I wanted to write something on how those of us with itchy feet who want to be travelling but can’t (work commitments, saving money etc) can still do the little things to get that ‘on the road’ feeling back, by seeing our cities through new eyes. I wanted to do all the things I would do as a backpacker, but never do as a resident. So I did the research, got the maps, charged the camera and was ready to hit the town when I realised that Melbourne, while a spectacular city to live in, just isn’t that great as a backpacker.

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Sex Tourism Around the World

Chances are if you’re browsing this website, you love to travel. The people we meet, the landscapes we see, the food and the history – it’s the reason we save our money and keep hitting the road – we search out and thrive on experiencing the new, the foreign and different. There’s nothing that gives us greater pleasure than falling in love with a city, learning about the culture not from the outside looking in, but from immersing ourselves as best we can into a city’s psyche.

But, contrary to our pursuits to learn and experience, some people don’t travel to satisfy their wanderlust, rather they have an agenda fraught with exploitation and manipulation.

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Difficulties Traveling as a Vegetarian

Last year I was visiting Beijing. For my last dinner before an early train trip to Mongolia in the morning I went out to small restaurant around the corner from my hotel. Chinese food is amazing, in no small part because of the creative titles given to their dishes. There was pimple soup, wonderous pork belly and explosion of tofu & spices to name a few. As a vegetarian, I opted for the later.

“I’ll just have the ‘explosion of tofu & spices’, there’s no meat in that dish is there?”

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Some Destinations Aren’t as Glorious as Advertised

I’m so sick of the travel section of most mainstream newspapers. The Saturday ‘Traveller’ section of my local paper is pretty much pages and pages of advertisements thinly disguised as destination reviews. I’ve noticed that it’s pretty rare to find a less than flattering review written journalists that travel as ‘guests’ of the tour groups, government tourism departments or airlines that they are writing about. They might point out one or two minor niggles but I’d say 95% of the content in those articles are absolutely glowing reviews of the service or company in question.

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How to be a Good CouchSurfing Host

Everyone seems to be jumping on the Couch Surfing Bandwagon at the moment. And why not, it’s a great concept. Travel around the world, staying for free and meeting some cool and interesting people at the same time. There’s plenty written about the etiquette of surfing someone’s couch, but not so much available on how to be a good host. Here’s some thoughts I’ve based around my experience of giving up my couch to globetrotters.

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Travel Gadgets – How Many is too Many?

A funny thing happened to me the other day.  I was looking at all my lovely tech toys that could accompany me on my trips – and then I started hyperventilating. It was a sensory overload – a freakout over the simple task of surfing the net, but the conundrum of  what do it on? laptop? iPhone? PC? Sometimes there’s such a thing as too much choice. It got me to thinking about technology and travel. I love my electronic gadgets, they’re better than children – they don’t talk back (unless you change the settings to do so) but really when you think about it, most of them are completely unnecessary for the global nomad.

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An In-Depth Look at Volunteering

You know that really warm feeling you get about yourself when you do something nice for someone else? What about that feeling of gluttony and selfishness you get when you’re in a foreign country sipping your 5th cocktail of the night, served by someone who earns less in a month than what you’re likely to spend before you go to bed?

Well, you can maximise the former and minimise (though not entirely eradicate) the latter. Try a spot of Voluntourim.

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The Untouristed Thailand

So you want to visit Thailand. That’s cool. It’s a great place to travel to. Got your guidebook yet? Have you noticed all those ‘Must see’ destinations, and the ‘Hidden Gems’?

Well guess what. They aren’t so hidden any more.

You can expect that “deserted beach with powder soft white sand and turquoise blue water” to be full of fat Australians with tribal tattoos drinking buckets of watered down expensive alcohol. That “charming little village with smiling locals and cheap phad thai” is now a backpacker slum bursting with tattoo parlors and crazy Germans on scooters, oh and those locals aren’t exactly smiling because of you, though they are pretty happy to see your baht.

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The Ethics of Traveling to Burma

A couple of weeks ago I found myself sitting on a beach in Vietnam, miffed that my year abroad was about to come to a crashing halt, and desperately trying to find one more place to visit in Asia before I would have to go back to work. I wanted somewhere a little off the touristy trail (so not Bali then) somewhere I hadn’t been before (there goes Laos), somewhere survivable on my pitiful backpackers budget (adios, Philippines) and of course somewhere I would find remotely interesting (sorry, Singapore).  So that left Myanmar (Or Burma, if you are imperially inclined).

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