This Is Why We Love Village Hopping

Village hopping near mountain northen India

What Is Village Hopping?

Village hopping is an excellent way to discover small villages and get more insight into local life. You might wonder, what exactly is village hopping? And what are the benefits of trying it out?

Village hopping means to discover villages for a shorter period, from a few hours to a few days. Sometimes it includes visiting several places during one day. It is a way to get a glimpse of local life but also a way to get some adventure.

Being Spontaneous While Doing Village Hopping

True adventure while traveling includes being flexible, spontaneous and let curiosity guide you. When doing so, you will meet interesting people, see new places and create memorable days. Village hopping offers it all, with the unique charm, closeness to nature, and local life. It doesn’t have to be a small village, suburbs or the outskirt of a city can also have a smalltown vibe.

These places can often be found in the more remote end stations on metro lines or buses. It is a refreshing feeling to step out of the bus and having a fixed plan on where to go. A fun and exciting way to explore a new area is to follow your gut feeling or go after visual clues. Some example of visual clues can be a mountain, a walking path or a house that looks interesting. If you spot something you are curious about, let that be your direction. During your way look at things you find interesting, notice small details. In most cases this approach is safe, but be aware of where you are in and the current situation. Not all countries have the same security and if not village hopping is better to avoid.

Interact With Locals and Learn About the Culture

Smiling is a universal language, most people respond and smile back. Being kind can open up for conversations, making new friends and get closer to the culture.

From earlier travels, village hopping has led us to amazing experiences. Some of them are making new friends, sharing a cup of tea and learn about local plants. This lets us see coffee plants, black pepper trees, and pineapple plants in the backyard of new friends.

We have also joined many different local festivals, for example, the women’s day in Laos, when a few local women invited us to join their celebration. It all happened because we got curious, followed the sound of music and then found their place. We didn’t talk much since we didn’t share a common language, but for sure it was fun to dance and laugh together. Meeting people like this helps to stay humble, feeling connected, and increase tolerance. Our cultures and beliefs can be different, but in the end, we all want to be safe, happy and have a good time.

Get Some Perspective by Slowing Down

Village hopping is not only about connecting with people. Sometimes, it can be about getting a bit of perspective, a place to think or connect with nature. Spending time in green areas and slow down helps to bring harmony into life, making it easier to be in the present moment and enjoy life. I like to find a sit under a tree, strolling around or go to a local café and observe daily life.

 

Village Hopping Is for Everyone

This travel approach is for everyone to apply, no matter your age, travel experience or language skills. There are many adventures waiting ahead or you! By being spontaneous, open and trying something new is a great way to invite adventure into your life.

How To Behave in Singapore

 

Singapore is known for restrictions and fees on behaviors that are not allowed like jaywalking, bringing a durian (fruit) to hotel or metro, chewing a gum or drinking water in the metro and lots more.
In January 2016 they seem to have a campaign on how to behave on the metro and created cute and funny characters, here are two of them, HushHushHanna and BagDownBenny:)

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How To Escape Big Cities And Discover Suburbs

Escape Big Cities - outskirt of Kawachinagano

Escape Big Cities- rice terraces at Kawachinagano

Why Many Ends Up In Bigger Cities

We often end up wanting to escape big cities when things got to hectic and we need some peace. Our travels in Japan has to lead us to some of the major cities that many travelers also ends up in. Travelling between bigger cities are both easier and less expensive. And that’s why this phenomenon happens, ending up in large cities.

Escape big cities and discover suburbs

Time in metropolitan cities, with heavy traffic, crowded spaces, make us crave for calm. We often miss the smalltown charm of simpleness and originality. We found that a great trick while being in a bigger city is to discover suburbs on the outskirt. Suburbs often offers peaceful surroundings, with a slower speed and plenty of nature. One of the best things about suburbs are the surprises and finding some hidden gems.

A day discovering the outskirt of Kawachinagano

Kawachinagano in the end of a metro line in Osaka gave us the most memorable day during our stay in Japan. Arriving and walking around was so exciting, in the air, you could feel like anything could happen. We went to a supermarket and sat and drank some tea with two senior citizens. The atmosphere made us feel welcome and curious at the same time. We had long discussions, even though neither of us understands the other part. It was a mix of Japanese and body language. The ladies spoke in Japanese, but since we didn’t understand, we used body language instead. Even though we didn’t understand so much, we still were a great time and shared lots of smiles and laugher. Some of our favorite gems in Kawachinagano are a 300 years old tree, a traditional sake brewery and a hill with a fantastic view.
 
What’s your favorite part of discovering suburbs?
What surroundings are you longing to explore?

To Avoid Or Not

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The Swedish Island, Koh Lanta

Me and Chris traveled to Thailand for the first time two years ago, during that time we tried our best to avoid other Swedes. We choose a destinations that we knew where more popular among Thai people and had less Swedes.

The reason was that we wanted get to know more about the local culture and meeting people which is easier in a less touristic spot.

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Our second time Thailand was, the opposite. We traveled into the one of the most popular destinations. Our reason was that we wanted a place close to Malaysia with good and reliable Internet for work.
We choose Koh Lanta that among Swedes also is know as “The Swedish Island”. The Island has a Swedish school and many Swedes has moved here and love to travel to this island.

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Trying Out The 72-Hour Visa-Free Transit In China

Long Time Since Our Last Visit

It had been two years since I and Chris visited China last time. We needed some space after traveling mostly in China and spend some time in between discovering other countries. Each time I have entered China I have had different emotions and experiences around it. For example, first time was the romance, second time was more of the reality check  and the third time I started to see the bad sides. After that I felt I needed a break and discover other countries for a while.

Problems Faced When Entering China

Now, two years later we thought it was perfect to try the short 72-Hours Transit Visa during our travels in Asia. At first there was  a bit problem to enter the country. Since we had forgotten to print out our next flight we had no prof of transit flight. And we didn’t have it online and couldn’t get any wifi. Anyhow, we were able to solve it with some help. If we hadn’t forgotten to print the ticket it would have worked very smoothly.

Space Helped Us See What We Missed In China

When coming back, Iunderstood how much I had missed some sides of China. There are so many things I like: my friends, the awesome food, and all the contrasts. We ate lots of dinners, stayed with our friends and their family. It was warm feelings coming back seeing all again. During our time we also discovered old areas  that was going to be demolished and could document it. Like always in China we also made sure to get lot´s of time in the parks. The parks are really bursting with life. There are flying kites, people dancing, singing, playing an instrument, painting, drinking tea, playing games and lots more. The garden is like the living room!
I can totally Imagine stop over with the 72 hour visa again. To be be honest, now I really long for a longer period again. It would be amazing to spend some more time in the province Yunnan and a month of two in Shanghai hanging out with friends.

If You In Travel Asia, Don’t Miss China

For us this visa-free stay was perfect and I can Imagine that it will give lots of fantastic experiences for other travelers too.  China has so much to offer, it is worth traveling just for the food itself. There are plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans too. If doing things right, the 72 Hours Transit Visa is really smooth.
Why not make a visit to China on your next trip to Asia?

 

Hokkien New Years Celebration

So far we celebrated Chinese New Year every year since we become a couple. We celebrated in China, Kazakhstan, Sweden and now also in Malaysia.

Our celebration here, especially in Georgetown, has been to learn lots more about the Hokkien celebration and traditions. Most Hokkien people come from Fujian, Taiwan and there are also many here in Malaysia especially in Georgetown. We been lucky and been here during the start of Hokkien New Years and also meet quite a many Hokkien to talk about their tradition, culture and celebrations. Yesterday was the last day of the celebration of the New Year, also a day for many fireworks, performance and also the day when single women though oranges with the wishes for future love:).

Here are some pics we took during Hokkien New Years celebration in Georgetown

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“Little India” around the world

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Most people know that there exist many different Chinatowns around the world, for example in USA, Australia, Singapore and the list can go on.
Something that surprised me and Chris was there is also something similar called
”Little India”.
We choose to travel to both Singapore and Malaysia just because it is very diverse and multicultural countries. Even since I meet Chris I have wanted to introduce him to Indian culture and the aspects I like about the country. Now, I don’t have too, little India speaks for itself with Indian music streaming out of the speakers, Indian vegetarian food around almost each corner and the colorful clothes, dresses, flowers and temples that surround the areas. It really feels like being in India for a short period of time and this is the perfect introduction to the country.
Until now, we have been to three different Little India, in Singapore, KL, and Georgetown, Malaysia. I thought it would be interesting to share some photos and thoughts of these experiences.
Singapore

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This little India is very picturesque-.. and beautiful! The buildings have in general a good condition, are well preserved, and painted in strong and colorful colors. There are many Indian shops, cafes, restaurants. It is very easy to just sit down and order an Indian tea. The area is quite big and when walking around there, we mainly saw Indian people. We got the impression that it’s more common that Chinese people hang out in China town and Indian in Little India and so on. Still, a lovely place and bust of life and colors!

 

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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Our conclusion and impression for KL itself were that it felt a bit hard to get an overview of
the city and that is also true for little India. It was not a very defined area like in Singapore and the buildings were not that colorful or well kept but it definitely had its charm.
We found an Indian cinema and bought tickets and saw a movie called… about Indian female kickboxers. It was an interesting experience, we felt the honor is a bit different but like in other Indian movies it was a lot of drama, feelings, dancing and a happy ending.
In KL little India, we also had the amazing Indian food we wrote about before and met some really nice people.
Georgetown, Malaysia

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Celebrating a Building’s Birthday With the Bai People of China

Sometimes you just want to indulge in good old sweet memories and today we feel just like that. So here we are in our hotel in Kuala Lumpur reminiscing away for an hour or two. Recently, we talked a lot about China which lead us back to this specific endearing memory. This is an old one but a good one from back when we were traveling in Yunnan province in China.

We had cycled around the villages in Yunnan, not too far from the wonderful city of Dali, we stumbled upon a lovely village full of Bai people. This day turned out to be a very special one, in fact this day was the one year old birthday of someones home, and the local villagers couldn’t wait to invite two laowai’s who barely could understand any Chinese at the time. (Nor could we speak their dialects!)
Nevermind the language barrier, they made us stay all day and we just precious this memory so much so we thought of sharing a glance. Enjoy the song of joy!

Pros & Cons In Singapore

Pros and Cons of Singapore:

We have stayed in Singapore for about a week now and are heading to Malaysia tomorrow. We thought of sharing our opinions of pros and cons before we leave. Here we go:)

PROS:
Very multicultural country
This is the county is truly diverse in cultures. Everywhere you can see and hear people speak different languages and there is good collaboration too. So far it seems very peaceful between the different races and multiculturism also seem to be pretty deep in the national consciousness.  There is also places where people from one country dominate and have more stores, restaurants, and items from their country, for example, Little India, Arab Street, China Town. There are much more like Indonesian, Thai, Vietnam, Philippines and so on. There is even a stop called Holland Village although it’s maybe not that much to see. We don’t travel to Singapore to experience Western culture but we really love and get inspired of the multicultural in this country.

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Tasty food 
Singapore is a food paradise and the prices lots higher than some other Asian countries but it’s still OK. Most times we paid between 4-6 Euro for 2 meals. There is also soo many kinds of choose between and the food hygiene is quite high. There is food from many different Asian countries here, we especially like and found vegetarian food in Indian, Indonesian och Chinese food.

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Green and modern
Singapore feels like a futuristic Country, probably the most so by the places we been so far. It feels more modern in a holistic level then Dubai. There are lots of modern skyscrapers but they often also includes lots of green plants and gardens. We feel stunned by the views and cool parks like Garden by the bay. Awesome that they choose to have this big park next to the water and not only buildings.

Values nature
Like we mentioned before, there are many parks everywhere in the city and there are also trying to do their best to find people from littering. There are many hidden gems in the city and this reminds us a bit about Madrid which is also a really green city in our opinion.

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Low crime rate
Because of high fees for doing things against the law, there is a very low crime rate and we felt very secure.

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Peaceful, no stress, running or pushy sellers
My big difference compared to many places in China this is a place where you don’t feel stress at all. People are not rushing, rather walking more slowly, no yelling from shareholders who tries to sell you things. Less stressful doesn’t mean it’s not crowded, though. We noticed that it was lots and lots of people out during Friday and there are probably other days too.

 

 

CONS:
Too many rules
OMG, this is the country of too many rules. Even though rules and fines keep crime rate low there is a way to many rules. People even buy souvenirs about all the rules.
For example, you are not allowed to chew a gum, not drink or eat at metro, not look strange, not sing in public or disturb people, not walk where there is no crossroad. For us it was really hard to keep up with no drinking (even water) on metros and no jaywalking. Its really difficult to cross streets when there is not so many crossings around. There is also a death penalty for people who use drugs. Not that we do take drugs or even would like to but it still feels kind of harsh that they may kill people for not that severe crimes.

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More expensive than most other Asian countries
There are more expensive like Brunei but still it is quite expensive to stay here for a longer period and everything costs even though all in not expensive. There are possibilities to get around without too much money but to truly experience this country it still costs. Of course, a hyper-modern and developed country comes with a price.
Very hot and humid humid 
Since Singapore is almost on the equator there is a really warm and humid climate here. We felt really exhausted by walking for a few hours. We have experienced more heat before though, in Thailand during Songkran 2013. Compared to that this is still OK and possible to walk within.

 

Final thoughts:
We really liked Singapore, like A LOT! Since we mostly heard about all the roules but not that much about the colorful city with lots of culture and things to discover we where positive surprised and defently want to come back another time.

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Refugees Volunteering Resources

I’ve had it! I can’t stand reading anymore! Do you feel the same? Here is an ongoing list of activities in Europe for refugees. Together we can unite Europe, the world and humanity. Everyone can do something. Please help me add activities!

SWEDEN
-Become a volunteer for Individuell Människohjälp (IM), donate etc . Click here

-Search for specific volunteering oppertunities. Click here

NETHERLANDS
-Offer your to host a family in your house, and/ or practical things like filling in forms, showing and explaining things about your town, the Netherlands, or just having a coffee.

-Host a Refugee until they get a new home assigned. Click here

-Drop off a backpack with goodies and toys for kids from 0-12 years old in Amsterdam, The Hague, Laren, Zwolle, Rotterdam. Click here

-You want to do something. Donate stuff, your spare room or your skills by filling in a form here and hopefully they can connect you to the right people. Click here

GERMANY
-Have a refugee as your flatmate, they will find a way to pay for the rent: minimum 3 months, if rent is financed by public offices (if you choose to), then minimum stay 6 months. Click here

-Here is a website that provides an interactive map with links to projects all over Germany.
Click here

-Help a refugee with translations (think forms, explaining processes etc). Click here

UK
Lobbying at your local council, Welcome newly arrived refugees with orientation Mentoring refugees to help with integration and accessing public services, Offering housing or hosting refugees. Click here

SPAIN
Madrid:
-Translators in Madrid get in touch with SErvicio de Traductores e Intérpretes (SETI). Uliana Stefanova Tel: 915 232 596.

All over spain:
-This post keeps being updated on local initiatives. Click here

INTERNATIONAL
-You have kids or are a teacher and don’t know how to explain what is going on? Get the UNHCR’s toolkit.

Photo Credit Kai Stachowiak.