Category Archives: Peculiarities

Magaluf party

The Time I explored the Magaluf Party Scene … and Regretted It

I recently read the BCM Planet Dance in Magaluf, Mallorca has been shut down because its owner has been thrown in jail. This brought me back to the time I was at a Magaluf party in 2015 – a memory that I prefer not to reminisce about.

One of my goals since I started this blog in 2014 was to visit the top 20 clubs in the world and write about them. So far, I’ve been to 12, including Fabric, Green Valley, and a myriad of Ibiza and Vegas nightclubs. I visited Mallorca at the tail end of the summer of 2015 with my Spanish friend Ismael. Therefore, BCM Planet Dance in Magaluf, Mallorca, #10 on the list, was on my to-do list – I had to check out the Magaluf party scene! Continue reading

Things that Surprised Me About Amsterdam Part 2 – Local’s Edition

I first wrote my list of 12 Surprising things about Amsterdam after visiting the city on a 3-day tourist trip in February, 2015. I ended up moving to Amsterdam later in the same year – getting an apartment, a job, and even a bicycle – the whole schebang of Dutch life. And so, here’s a new list of the good, bad, and the ugly of things that surprised me while living in the Amsterdam.

Dutch Houses

Every time I move to a new country, there are always basic living arrangements that are so different that I find to be very amusing and take some getting used to.

Staircases

They’re really steep, going up and down is like climbing a Mayan pyramid. When I go down, I hold onto the railing for my dear life in fear of tumbling down. And after drinking, the only way for me to get home is to go up the stairs on all fours. Continue reading

My “Date Gone Wrong” in Delft

At the end of last year, when I was searching for (yet another) apartment in Amsterdam, I got in touch with a Bulgarian guy Martin about subletting his apartment. I didn’t end up taking it, but we decided to keep in touch anyway via Facebook as he was also in the startup scene.

Throughout the next couple of months, I followed, virtually, his process of starting his own business, working as a digital nomad from the Canary Islands, and very actively posting inspirational writings and videos. Seemed like the type of person that I can relate to and would want to network with.

One of his posts that caught my attention was that he considers “his ability to make friends with anyone” to be his greatest life skill. So I was intrigued to know this and thought that he’s probably be a pretty cool guy.

Therefore, when he reached out to me after returning to the Netherlands, and asked if I want to visit Delft, where he lives, I decided to go and meet him in person on a Sunday.

My expectation was that I’d have a friendly meetup with a sociable and interesting person. In reality, it felt like a very awkward date with someone who seemed borderline like a creep. Continue reading

Eight Overused Words in Travel That I Never Want to Hear Again

Now that I am doing a Master in tourism, working in the travel industry, do a fair bit of copy-writing, and have friends visiting the city every couple weeks, I just live and breath tourism. When you enter a new industry, your vocabulary and daily lingo changes along with it. Back in my consulting days, the words that came out of my mouth were BS like “synergies”, “best practices”, “leverage”, “wordsmith”, “scalable”, “circle back”, “reach out”, and “follow up”. These words were used to the point that I would wince every time they are uttered (yet be guilty of using them). Now that my consulting days are long gone, I word vomit are a different set of BS.

… Okay, maybe I still use the phrase “follow up” strategically. It’s hard to shake old habits, you know.

I first realized I was a walking diarrhea of tourism clichés when my friend Kristen, visiting Spain for the first time from Boston, told me that she had never heard the adjective “typical” used so many times in a day. I really needed an intervention! Ever since then, I have been trying to purge these overused tourism lingo from my vocabulary… Continue reading

14 Unusual Reasons To Love Berlin

BERLIN IS THE COOLEST CITY I’VE EVER BEEN TO. My first time visiting the German capital was in May over a weekend, and I fell in love with it so I decided to spend a month in the city this July. The city is full of character and it’s a place where everyone can be themselves and feel like they belong – whether it is to get electric blue and pink hair (my Bla Bla Car hosts), be an a musician that performs with masks (my flatmate), or have a face tattoo (the Berghain bouncer).

So, of course, you see plenty of peculiar but endearing things walking about Berlin, because Berliners really don’t give a sh*t about what you think. Continue reading

8 Odd Things About Catalans

Every culture has its peculiarities, but let’s face it – there’s a point where the “culture” and “traditions” are just plain weird! Don’t get me wrong, I love living in Barcelona and all my Catalan friends, but seriously, they do some weird crap here! Speaking of sh*t, the first on my list is…

1. Obsession with Poop. Let’s start with the Caga Tio.

Happy caga tios Source: ihterrasa.wordpress.com

Happy caga tios Source: ihterrasa.wordpress.com

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Ten surprising things I learned in London

I had never been to the UK until last weekend. Even though I had chances to in the past, I was never very interested in visiting the country because I thought it’d be similar to America (after all, we all speak English and we were a British colony, right?). Boy was I wrong!!!

1. The British Accent: At the risk of sounding like an idiot… It was amazing to me that everyone I spoke to had a British accent. I felt like I was in Hogwarts. My mind was blown as I observed an Indian associate at Tesco speak with a Chinese client, both with a British accent!

2. British opinion on American accent: On the other hand, British men were telling me that the American accent sounds really exotic. Were they just trying to hit on me? My Asian-Canadian friend Joyce who lives in London confirms that men find Asian girls who speak with an American accent to be exotic. I suppose the accent-obsession works both ways. This ingenuous ad says it all…

Spotted at the Oxford Circus Tube Station. #EffectiveMarketing

Spotted at the Oxford Circus Tube Station. #EffectiveMarketing

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Calling a Taxi in Brazil and Safety Issues

Let me start out by saying that in my year being in Brazil, I have never run into safety issues or been in bad situations. This includes during the first few months where I would walk everywhere by myself, even at night – which I later learned was NOT recommended.

This applies to most Brazilian cities, especially the big ones like Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Salvador. In fact, the locals are often the most paranoid ones: hiding their car radios, driving two blocks in Liberdade to avoid walking (to me this is excessive as we could not find parking and had to walk two blocks anyway :p)… I know people who have been mugged, although no physical harm was done to them. Who am I to argue with the locals, so eventually I became kind of paranoid too. Things are OK during the day, but at night, please take a taxi!!

It is safe to hail a taxi on the street, but the Brazilians in-the-know use a taxi calling app, called Easy Taxi.

easytaxi

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Recommended Debit Card for international travel: Charles Schwab

This article is about the Charles Schwab Checking account, which I believe is available to US residents only.
First off, I believe that using a debit card is the best way to get/exchange money in a foreign country, and that for an American the Schwab checking account is of the best cards you can get as an international traveler. I’ve gone through a lot with my Schwab bank card after a year of international travel to 3 continents, and I feel that while it’s not perfect, I do recommend it with a few words of advice. Let me go through the Pros and Cautions (Cons) here:

PROS
Reimbursement of ATM fees: Banks US and beyond commonly charge$3-$10 on each transaction, and this depends on the ATM that you’re using. Schwab reimburses all these fees on the last day of the month, but see my word of caution below in the Cons section.
No exchange rate conversion fees: this is commonly 3% at other banks
– Usable at any ATM that accepts Visa
– No account maintenance fees
– Great exchange rate: bets all the exchange rates you can get at airports or banks. To be fair, other banks also will give you a great rate if you use your checking cards, but they will charge you an exchange rate conversion fee and ATM fee.
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Illegal border crossing to Paraguay

When I left Florianopolis, I took a 14 hour bus to Foz do Iguaçú not only to see the famous waterfalls, but also for my curiosity about the tri-country border. I had read on the internet that the Brazilian-Paraguayan border is delineated by a river which is crossed by a bridge called Ponte da Amizade. Every day, hundreds of thousands of pedestrians, cars, and trucks pass the bridge freely due to the MERCOSUR agreement. This is probably the most important spot for Brazilian trade. Anyway, I wanted to see Ciudad del Este, and the problem was that a $160 reciprocal visa fee was required for US citizens, and obviously I was not going to pay that for a day trip…

Consulting the internet, I learned that the border is barely controlled. This belief was further confirmed by my new Brazilian friend Wellen, who goes to medical school in Paraguay. I was still unsure about crossing over illegally, but with Wellen’s encouragement and offering to take me over I decided to do it.

The next morning, we got on a bus (a really crappy one I might add – you could tell which buses were from Paraguay and which were from Brazil by the way they looked) headed towards Ciudad del Este. A couple hundred meters before the bridge the traffic begins – Wellen says it is not uncommon to be in traffic for two hours to cross the narrow bridge that had one lane in each direction.

IMAG1611-001

Stealthy photo taking while we approached the border

I was really nervous as we approached the border, which unfortunately Wellen noticed and said loudly a couple times “Are you nervous?”… Me: “Shh there are other passengers in here!!”

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