Do It Like The Locals – this is how….

We seem to get lucky with this quite a lot. I’m not sure whether we’re good, or have a knack, or it just comes with travel experience, but we sure as hell get lucky. You haven’t travelled if you just stayed in your hotel, you haven’t visited a country if you sat by the pool and ate shit, oh sorry, ” international cuisine “. All inclusive? No thank you. Instead of “hungry travellers” we nearly called this blog, “notapoolinsight.com”

So our aim is always to meet the local people, eat their food, drink their beers, find their bars, understand their history, learn their culture, put money in their pockets instead of into the pockets of invisible corporates. And yeah we get lucky. Like eating in the jungle home of Mangala and his family (see the “about” page), like stumbling upon an entire village partying in the Turkish mountains and joining in (it was a young boy’s circumcision party!), like getting blind drunk in a backstreet Greek bar while the locals sang like pissed uncles at a wedding. And so many great bars, terrific meals, and cheap, authentic food, we’ve long since lost count of how many free drinks we’ve been given.

How do you get this lucky? Well. Here’s our tips…..

Research first. Read their customs, learn etiquette, avoid offending. Know how to behave in that country. Learn where the tourist areas are so you know what to avoid.

Talk to your host. Backpacking takes you into small hotels, pensions, people’s homes, apartments, shacks, whatever. You find your bed through the host, your new landlord. Tell him or her what you want to find and they will help you find it. Ask!

Look and listen. Watch for noisy bars, listen for chatter in the local language, look for music. Look down alleys and back streets.

Communicate. Smile when you speak. Make eye contact. Learn at least a few words in the local language. Just a few mispronounced words makes people smile. At least know how to order a beer. You might want to know the word for “room” too!

Talk to strangers in bars. Ask for directions. Start conversations in shops. Stop being British!!

Don’t show off. Be careful not to offend with jewellery, cameras, expensive stuff. Respect the local way.

Ask bar owners about other bars. Ask restaurant owners about other restaurants.

Above all, genuinely – that’s genuinely- be interested in learning about people, and lives.

Well, that’s our way, anyway. Or at least it’s how we start. It’s what you travel for. Surely.

Malaysia 14 days away

This time in two weeks we’ll be on the Heathrow runway with our next adventure ahead of us. We can’t wait to sample that Kuala Lumpur street food, and all the culinary delights after that. So it’s a few days in KL, then the tropical rain forest where we aim to do the treetop canopy walk; over to the east coast, a night in Mersing then the ferry over to Tioman Island where we live for a week in a shack on the beach. That is, simply, going to be paradise. We finish at Singapore after a ferry back and a long bus ride.

If only we could do this all the time. Retirement is starting to beckon…

London – Part 2

So Saturday night was just about as good as it gets. We absolutely love London; we travel the World but totally love the fact that one of the greatest cities on the planet is just 90 minutes train ride away. The St Pancras railway station building is nothing short of magnificent, probably architect Gilbert Scott’s greatest creation and the country’s best example of Gothic architecture; these days it houses surely England’s most majestic bar. We enjoy some very expensive cocktails, silly money but you have to say it’s worth every penny just to be there. On from there to the Darwin Brasserie and the Sky Garden, 35 floors up in the “Walkie-Talkie” building, good food, good service, utterly magnificent views across London’s night scene. Great evening, great weekend, love everything we’ve done, literally everything, all in the great company of Andy (Michaela’s brother) and his lovely wife Claire.

Sunday sees a wander through London’s green spaces, not so green after this long hot and oh-so-non-English summer. Parched parks, barren dust bowl ground, but we’ve loved the weather. We English don’t get many summers like this!

But what we always have is London; wonderful, vibrant, passionate, entertaining and inclusive city that it is. We love our country, we are very proud of London. Great, great city.

London weekend

Here in London to enjoy, on our own doorstep, one of the World’s greatest cities and one of which every English person should be proud. So Friday night is a couple of Soho pubs and Chinatown; Saturday a trip to the absolutely wonderful and educational Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, such a great museum so cleverly presented, followed by a ride on the Mail Rail. Not done the Mail Rail? Go and do it and find out about one of London’s secrets. Great fun. London in the sun. Love it. Saturday night next…