Interesting Sites in Southern Israel

Known as the Holy Land by the practitioners of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Israel has been a focal point of many events throughout history. Join me as I visit some interesting sites in Southern Israel.

Thanks to Cathay Pacific Fanfares (weekly fare discounts) I had managed to snag myself a super cheap ticket for the carrier’s inaugural direct flight from Hong Kong to Tel Aviv. I was extraordinarily excited to be on the way to a place I’d heard so much about as a child. As the Holy Land for three major religions, Israel has always been a bit of a mystical fascination for me. My trip started off well when I had a whole row to myself on the plane. Being able to lay down on a 10 hour flight is awesome.

You may be aware that the mostly Muslim Palestinian Territories are currently occupied by Israel. Due to the issues between the two countries, everyone entering Israel gets thoroughly questioned. Apparently being a single female means that ‘thorough’ is taken to a whole new level. It’s uncomfortable and you get asked ridiculous questions. If you have stamps in your passport from countries with Muslim communities, like Indonesia and Malaysia, you get more questions. It’s a pain, but it’s just something you have to endure to be able to enter the country.

Interesting Sites in Southern Israel – Tel Aviv

Luckily, things get a whole lot nicer once you get out of the airport. The city was generally clean and beautiful.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Fountain in Tel Aviv

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Tel Aviv, but I found out almost instantly that it thinks of itself as the fun Israeli city.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Tel Aviv Plays

Judging by some of the things I saw while walking around, I would have to agree.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Funny Tshirts

I’d never thought of it as an artistic city, so it was surprising to see a fair amount of street art while walking around town. Who doesn’t love a bit of street art!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Street Art 1 K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Street Art 2

It seems that the contemporary art scene was alive and well in Tel Aviv.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Street Art 3 K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Street Art Sculpture

I was lucky to have some friends in Tel Aviv, that I’d met while travelling in India a few years beforehand. They took me along to a couple of underground performances. Art wasn’t the only thing happening around town. The annual Pride festival was also taking place.

Pride Festival

With the Pride festival going on, there were a lot of rainbow flags around town, both outside and inside.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Pride Flag on the Street K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Pride Flags in Market

As well as posters for current and upcoming events happening around the city.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Pride Festival Poster K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Pride Market Poster

It was a hot day and I had been walking for a while, so I decided to cool off in the Pride Market. I’m sure it was just a normal market with rainbow flags. Almost everything you could buy in the market came with a pride flag or two.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Mini Pride Flag

Including this strangely named, ridiculously large and slightly overpriced meal.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Bodybuilder Chicken K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Huge Meal

Interesting Sites in Southern Israel – Old Jaffa

There’s nothing like a walk into history after a satisfying meal, so I headed to Old Jaffa, the historical centre of the area. To be honest, it seems more commercial than historical these days. Although the narrow cobbled paths did have an old-timey feel to them, the buildings were mainly full of expensive seafood restaurants, galleries and souvenir shops.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Old Jaffa Clock Tower

The old Clock tower still stands and is quite impressive. It can be seen from many places within the old town, including Abrasha Park, above the old city. From Abrasha park, you can look over the city and out into the Mediterranean Sea. The park also contains the Wishing Bridge, complete with Zodiac sculptures along its railings. The idea being that you wish on your zodiac sign for your wish to come true.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel.

A walk over the bridge brings you closer to the ‘new town’ and more rainbows.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Pride Photo Frame

Then a walk through a tunnel brings you to a popular beach with modern Tel Aviv as its backdrop.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Tunnel to the Beach

Seems like a good place to relax for a bit, right?

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Beach in Tel Aviv

After an interesting few days in Tel Aviv, I headed to Northern Israel to discover its wonders. I’ll cover that trip in my next post. From the north, I made my way southeast to the Dead Sea.

Interesting Sites in Southern Israel – Kibbutz Ein Gedi on The Dead Sea

I had prearranged a stay in a Kibbutz called Ein Gedi near the Dead Sea. If you’ve never heard of a Kibbutz, it’s a collaborative community based on utopian and zionist ideals of equality. Basically, everyone contributes equally to the community and therefore shares everything that the community has. It’s quite amazing that so many of these mostly agricultural communities survived into the 21st century. Of course, some of them have moved with the times and now rely on manufacturing or tourism as their main source of income. Especially around the Dead Sea.

As I entered the Kibbutz, there were a few sculptures that gave a subtle nod to the community’s agrerian past. Obviously, a modern day Kibbutz looks much different to those of olden times. This one was like an oasis in a desert. You might know that the Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth, at around 420 metres below sea level. Ein Gedi is a little bit uphill from the ‘Sea’ where it is surrounded by desert mountains.

The Dead Sea

I had travelled all that way to see the Dead Sea, which isn’t actually a sea at all. It is in fact the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. Pretty much everyone that goes there, does so to float in the lake. The high salt content makes swimming a little difficult and dangerous. My host, Ran told me that spending longer than 15 minutes in the water was a bad idea.

Ran had taken me to a private beach on the shore of the Dead Sea that was owned by his Kibbutz. He had asked if I wanted to visit at night and that sounded amazing to me. The Israeli summer is hot and I’m not much of a beach person. We had the whole beach to ourselves and it was amazing to see the lights from Jordanian villages on the other side while floating under the stars!

What is Floating in the Dead Sea Like?

To be honest, it was kind of weird being in the lake. You feel it’s oddness as soon as you take your first steps into the water. It feels really weird between your toes. It also feels like the water is trying to push against you slightly as you go further into the lake. I could see why swimming wasn’t an option; it would take far too much energy. Floating in the lake was a rather odd sensation and I wasn’t too interested in staying in the water for too long.

As I exited the lake, I noticed that a thin film had developed on my skin that looked both greasy and dry at the same time. It’s very hard to explain and I rinsed it off as quickly as I could under a shower on the shore. Ran advised that it was important the rinse my swimming clothes straight away and wash them as soon as we got back to his place. Apparently the salinity of the water can destroy the fibres of some clothes if left for too long.

I’m glad that I was able to find out first hand what the lake is like and even if it’s a bit weird, I’d still recommend it.

Keep an eye out for upcoming articles in this series –
Northern Israel
Palestine
Cyprus
Canada

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The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau

K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Mini Waterfall on the Way to Ngardmau Waterfall

While most people have never heard of the Palau island chain in the Western Pacific Ocean, those that have probably know it for its diving. Palau is made up of nearly 350 islands, most of them uninhabited and untouched. These remote Micronesian islands are barely 1000 kilometres southeast of the Philippines, so you can imagine how beautiful they are. Join me on a whirlwind visit to the untouched pacific paradise of Palau and find out that the scenery isn’t all that’s beautiful about the place!

Planning a Trip to the Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau

I had a long weekend and wanted to go somewhere new that was close to home. That was a bit of a problem seeing as I had been to almost every country within a 5 hour flight from home. Except for Palau that is. This beautiful country is only served by 3 airlines, so it required a little more planning than my normal trips.

First I looked into taking a charter flight with Palau Pacific Airways from Hong Kong to Palau’s only international airport in Koror. The problem was that this charter only ran on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That meant I would’ve had to stay for one day longer than my holiday. Plus it was HK$5000 for a 4 hour flight. The budget traveller in me was horrified at that price. I’ve flown twice the distance for less than that before!

I also found flights from Incheon in South Korea and Taipei in Taiwan, but they also came with a huge price tag and only ran once or twice a week. It was almost time to give up. Until I found regular flights to Koror from Manila in the Philippines.

That Moment You Realise Your Only Option is an Airline With a Terrible Reputation

The fare was reasonable and even with a flight to Manila factored in, still came in at under half the price of the charter. The problem was that the flight was operated by United Airlines. At the time they had a terrible reputation from a couple of incidents on their flights in the US. As it was my last resort to get to Palau, I bought the ticket hoping that United Airlines operated differently in Asia. It seems that they do.

K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Manila to Koror Boarding Pass

Arriving in the Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau

As you can imagine, the Palau International Airport in Koror is rather small. Only 3 airlines, United Airlines from Manila, Asiana Airlines from Incheon and China Airlines from Taipei, serve the airport. Palau Asia Pacific Airways (PAPA), the 2019 replacement for Palau Pacific Airways which became defunct in 2018, also runs charter flights from Hong Kong and Macau.

K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Welcome to Palau

After alighting from the plane, I entered the second floor of the terminal building and had to walk downstairs to pass through immigration. When I received this form, I had a terrible feeling that things were going to take a long time.

K In Motion Travel Blog. Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Entry Card

I mean, do they really need to know my annual salary? For a weekend trip? Luckily, the officers were really friendly and barely even glanced at the form. That meant it was a rather quick and painless process.

Getting into Town

I had decided that I was going to walk the six kilometres into the town from the airport. I like walking and an hour of walking is not a big issue for me. I barely even made it to the road before a local picked me up and drove me into town.

His name was Lamz and he was a lovely man. When we got into town, he took me to the address of the place I had booked for the night, but it wasn’t there. It turned out that my accommodation was actually across the road, but the booking company had sent me the address for the admin building, which was of course empty in the early hours of the morning. Even though I had advised them of my arrival time. Besides that, I’m sure they would be aware of flight arrival times seeing as they run a guesthouse!

Settling in for the Night?

Lamz tried calling the phone number that I had for my accommodation, but there was no answer. He then searched the internet and found another number which also wasn’t answered. He then called some friends to see if they knew who ran the place. It was 3 am by that point, but nobody seemed to mind. He tried calling yet another number. Finally, someone answered and said that they would come and let me into my room at 8am, when they opened. Umm, okay.

Lamz offered to take me to his house to wait out the hours and rest a bit. I accepted, after I checked that I wouldn’t be in anyone’s way. When we got there, one of Lamz’s housemates was still awake and started trying to fatten me up with local food. I was pretty sleepy by that point so after a short chat Lamz showed me to a bed I could rest in for a while.

A New Day, A New Adventure

When I woke up, Lamz took me back to my accommodation where I was finally able to check in. Lamz said that he would take me to the airport for my departing flight the next day because he had a long weekend as well. He also offered to be my chauffeur and take me anywhere I wanted to go. I had already planned to meet someone that day, so he just took me to the pre-arranged meeting place. He also gave me his old phone to use to call him in case I needed help. What an amazing guy, right?!

Before heading to Palau, I’d gotten in contact with a lady named Yawen. She visited Palau once and loved it so much that she decided to go back there to live. I had planned to meet her at ‘the mall’. Koror is so small that everyone knows that ‘the mall’ means the WCTC Shopping centre. Yawen had been able to borrow her work van to drive me around for the day.

Driving in the Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau

There are a few quirky things about driving in Palau. Firstly, they drive righthand drive cars, mainly imported from Japan, on the righthand side of the road. While it felt super weird to be sitting on the ‘driver’s side’ as a passenger, it didn’t really feel unsafe as the maximum speed limit in Palau is 40km/h. Plus the roads are quite wide with great visibility.

K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Clear Road Ahead

Due to the size of the islands of Palau, there aren’t many roads. This is illustrated quite amusingly by the directions given by the Belau National Museum on their website.

“From the Palau Community College, follow the Belau National Museum signs uphill toward Koror Elementary School and continue beyond the school until you reach the museum”

If you don’t need to use street names in your directions then you obviously don’t have many streets, right?

Belau National Museum

Yawen thought that the museum might be an interesting place for me to see, so we headed there. It was unfortunately closed for the day. By mid afternoon! The gift shop was still open though. It had some interesting artifacts for sale.

K In Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Interesting Carving

You wouldn’t believe how many questions I had after seeing this. So many! But I figured it was better to just keep looking around. I eventually found this interesting sign that explains how the Palauan flag came to be.

K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Story of the Palau Flag

The gift shop lady had let us in as she was getting ready to close, so we got back on the road and headed towards a waterfall!

The Tallest Waterfall in The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau

As the tallest waterfall in not only Palau, but also Micronesia, the Ngardmau Waterfall is a bit of a local icon. The waterfall is named after the Palauan state in which it is located and has an interesting origin story. Local legend tells us that the waterfall was created by a spirit that took the form of an eel. The spirit laid down on a cliff and fell into a deep slumber that it couldn’t wake from. Its body became a river and its head became the waterfall.

K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. River on the Hike to Ngardmau Waterfall

Getting to the Ngardmau Waterfall

After paying the exhorbitant entry fee of US$10, you’ll pass an historic railway site.
K In Motion Travel Blog. Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau

Before heading down some stairs towards the river.
K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Start of the Trail to Ngardmau Waterfall

First, you’ll hit some rock pools.
K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Rock Pool 1 on the Hike to Ngardmau Waterfall K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Rock Pool 2 on the Hike to Ngardmau Waterfall

Then a mini waterfall.
K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Mini Waterfall on the Way to Ngardmau Waterfall

After that, the trail changes from wide and open to a thin risen boardwalk along the forest floor. Eventually, the boardwalk disappears and you’re walking on a narrow forest trail.
K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Forest Boardwalk on the Way to Ngardmau Waterfall K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Forest Trail on the Way to Ngardmau Waterfall

Then a losely formed trail of logs appears until you hit a bridge across the river.
K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Log Forest Trail on the Way to the Ngardmau Waterfall K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Bridge Before the Ngardmau Waterfall

That’s when you know you’ve finally made it.
K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Ngardmau Waterfall

The Ngardmau Waterfall is known for its rainbows. There was a rainbow clearly visible at the time I was there, but the camera didn’t see it so well. If you look really hard at the centre of the picture, you may be able to spot part of it.

K In Motion Travel Blog. Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau

Or perhaps you can see the little rainbow in the bottom lefthand corner of this one.

Back to Town

It was getting late and Yawen had to get the van back to her work, so after the little hike, we drove back to ‘the mall’ where I met Lamz.

K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Sunset on the Way Back

By the time we got there it was dark so Lamz just took me back to my accommodation. We chatted there for a while until it was time for bed. Lamz came back to pick me up the next day around my check out time. To my surprise, he had bought some food for me! He was worried that I hadn’t eaten enough and refused to take any money for it. Such a caring soul.

K In Motion Travel Blog. Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Palauan Flag

Lamz took me on a little drive around town then grabbed me a small Palauan flag for my collection, before taking me to the airport for my flight back home. If I didn’t think so before, I definitely would’ve left Palau thinking that islanders are the most awesome people in the world.

Check out other Oceania posts here

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Never heard of Palau? Well it's about time you did! Find out about this amazing little Western Pacific country and see why you need to visit! #oceania #pacific #islands #palau #budget #budgettravel #travel #paradise Check out Koror in the Western Pacific paradise of Palau, where the only thing that surpasses the natural beauty of the place is the kindness of it people! #oceania #palau #islands #paradise #budget #budgettravel #travel Enjoy a hiking adventure to Micronesia's tallest waterfall in the Western pacific paradise of Palau. #oceania #islands #palau #budget #budgettravel #travel See some of the natural wonders of the Western Pacific paradise of Palau and find out what makes it a amazing place to visit. #oceania #pacific #island #paradise #palau #budget #budgettravel #travel Looking for an untouched Pacific paradise to explore? Then check out Palau in the Western Pacific! #pacific #oceania #island #paradise #palau #budget #budgettravel #travel

A Scenic Cruise to Okinawa

Let’s talk about a part of Japan that not many people think of heading to; Okinawa. This lovely chain of islands to the south of the country are a little bit harder and expensive to access than some of the bigger cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. But they are most definitely worth it! Some of Okinawa’s islands are geographically closer to Taiwan than the main islands of Japan, so it made sense to take a scenic cruise to Okinawa.

I took this cruise several years ago with my father. We started our trip in Taiwan, where we boarded the Superstar Aquarius for a four day scenic cruise to Okinawa and back.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Superstar Aquarius at the Keelung Port.

Boarding the Ship for a Scenic Cruise to Okinawa

After waiting in the Keelung Port terminal building for what seemed like forever, staggered boarding started, based on allocated decks. My father and I were on a deck with windows, so we got to board relatively quickly. We showed our passports to the customer service agent to gain entry into the secured area, where we ran into a snag. The agent looked at our passports then asked us to wait a minute. What could’ve possibly been going on?

A few minutes later an excited staff member from the ship walked quickly toward us. She was the onboard Guest Services Co-ordinator. She asked us if we would like to sit at the captain’s table for the Captain’s Dinner to be held on the second night aboard the Superstar Aquarius. We were relieved that there wasn’t a problem and indicated that we would like that.

Once we’d passed through immigration, we were greeted by a band on the gangway to the ship, playing some welcoming tropical music.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Superstar Aquarius Welcome Band

Leaving Taiwan

Our departure day was actually quite dull and hazy, which was a bit of bummer. I had this idea in my head that pulling out of a port on a cruise should be done under a blazing tropical sun with people dancing on the deck. I was half right.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Staff Dancing on the deck of the Superstar Aquarius

Despite the haze, the view on departure was still kind of nice. There seems to be a few islands on the way out that look like mountains jutting straight out of the sea. This one is now called Casa de Kez. True story.

Once we lost sight of land, the sun started setting on the sea.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Sunset on the Sea

Getting to Know the Crew

We settled in then explored the ship a bit. I went to the customer service desk to ask a question for my dad and the Customer Services Co-ordinator I had met earlier was there. She told me that she was so happy to have English speakers on the ship. Obviously, as the cruise was leaving from Taiwan, most of the guests on board were from Taiwan or mainland China. That meant most didn’t speak English. Samantha, the Customer Service Co-ordinator, was Korean and didn’t speak any Mandarin. She was happy to have someone to talk to.

Samantha was in charge of finding people to sit at the captain’s table for each sailing. The captain and crew were all Swedish and didn’t speak Mandarin, so obviously they preferred to have English speakers at the table with them. This is why Samantha had asked us about sitting at the captain’s table during check in.

Eating Onboard A Scenic Cruise to Okinawa

After talking to Samantha for a while, it was dinner time so I headed to one of the onboard dining rooms. It was quite impressive and even had fruit with flowers carved into it.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Watermelon Carved With Flowers

Every meal was set out in a buffet style. We soon learnt that you needed to get there at the right time to be able to avoid the queue but still be able to get fresh food. That time definitely wasn’t at the beginning of the dinner service! We also had to make sure that we only got hungry during their meal service hours as meals outside those hours were not included in the cruise price.

Ishigaki – A Little Island With a Big Heart

We docked in the port of Ishigaki the next day and Japanese immigration officials completed their immigration checks onboard the ship. We were lucky to be in the first batch of people processed and excitedly made our way to shore.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Welcome to Ishigaki

I was excited to finally be back in Japan after 20 years. Okinawa was concurrently the Japan I remembered, whilst also being completely different. The narrow streets and multiple storey buildings I remembered from living in Kagoshima didn’t seem to be too prevalent in Okinawa. The vending machines on every street definitely were though.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Souvenir Shop in Ishigaki

We made our way to a cute little cafe kind of place. Once inside, I slowly spluttered out a grammatically dubious, “Do you speak English?”, in super rusty Japanese. The smiley, kind lady that had rushed to serve us indicated that she didn’t. Oh no, that meant I had to subject her to my Japanese. A language that I once spoke almost fluently, but hadn’t used in 20 years.

Language Struggles

I could hear myself slaughtering the language with almost every sentence that I spoke. Still, the kind lady told me that my Japanese was great. Even when I accidentally threw Cantonese words into the mix. She was also surprised that I could read the Japanese menu. The more I spoke, the more I remembered and got back into the flow of the language. It was at this point that the lady started throwing in a few English words here and there. It turns out that she did know a little bit of English, she just hadn’t been confident enough to use it in the beginning.

I asked the lady about the best way to get to Banna Park at the centre of the island. She told me that we could get a taxi and ask the driver to wait for us and bring us back down. I wasn’t confident in my ability to remember everything she had said, so she graciously wrote it down for me!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Note For Taxi Driver

If you know anything about Japanese writing, you can see that she went to the trouble of writing the base writing form, Hiragana, above the Kanji, just in case I couldn’t read them. As if writing the note in the first place wasn’t sweet enough, she had to go one level sweeter. This is one of the things I love about Japan!

Taxi Driver Turned Tour Guide

Our taxi driver was a lovely man who was enamored with the fact that he had a chance to speak Japanese with a non-Japanese speaker. He asked many questions on the way to the park. When we got to the car park near the park’s lookout, the taxi driver surprised us. He turned off his meter, got out of his taxi and became our guide!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. View From Banna Park Lookout on Ishigaki Island

When we got to the lookout, he pointed out some islands and gave me a bit of a history lesson about things that had happened in that particular part of the sea.

K in Motion Travel Blog. A Scenic Cruise to Okinawa.

Dad was a bit in the dark about what was going on but when I told him what was being said, he exclaimed, “This guy is great!”. He was right. Mr Taxi man had gone above and beyond, as most Japanese people do. My dad was starting to see why I loved Japan so much and beginning to love it himself.

A Dog With An Invitation on A Scenic Cruise to Okinawa

When we got back to our cabin, we found this little guy with our invitation to dine with the captain.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Dog With an Invitation

My dad was quite stoked about the idea of dining with the captain. We were two of four people invited to dine at the captain’s table. The other two were a mother and daughter from Singapore. They were also chosen for being from an English speaking country.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Captain's Dinner

Dining With the Captain and First Officer on A Scenic Cruise to Okinawa

The dinner was quite delicious and the atmosphere was very jovial. At one point, the ship staff were dancing around the buffet while catchy music played. My dad and the captain got talking and realised that they both shared a love for classic cars. It was pretty hard to shut them up after that.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Dining With the Captain and First Officer

Both the captain and the first officer told us that we were some of the better guests they’d had at the table, because normally there’s no conversation due to the language barrier. They did indicate that on most sailings they have to sit through uncomfortable silences because it’s ship policy that the crew dine with passengers.

The captain mentioned that they also do an exclusive bridge tour, by invitation only. Dad indicated his eagerness to see the control centre for the ship and the captain advised that he would see what he can do.

Nature in Naha

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Naha Port

The ship had docked in the Naha port very early in the morning. Due to the fact that we had cleared Japanese immigration the day before, we were able to just walk right off the ship with no waiting. We made our way to Elephant Rock. You can guess how it got that name, right?

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Elephant Rock in Naha

We then climbed to the top of the rock for another view.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. View From Elephant Rock

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Rocks in the Sea

Next, we hopped in a glass-bottomed boat to see what was going on under the crystal blue water. As you would expect, there were many fish.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Glass-Bottomed Boat in Ishigaki

Mihama American Village in Naha

The interesting thing about Naha is that it is home to an American naval base. Which makes it possibly the least Japanese place in Japan.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. American Town in Naha

All of the buildings were built in the American style. It really didn’t feel like we were in Japan anymore. This also made things a bit easier for dad, who was actually able to order his own snack because many people at the stores spoke English.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Mihama American Town in Naha

There was even a Sunset Beach.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Sunset Beach Naha

Another Day, Another Animal With An Invitation on A Scenic Cruise to Okinawa

Upon returning to our cabin from our day exploring Naha, there was an elephant on one of the beds. We wondered if this was a slight nod to the Elephant Rock that we had seen earlier in the day. This elephant came with an invitation for a bridge tour the next day.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travel in Taiwan. A Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Elephant With An Invitation.

We had figured that we would be with a group of people, but we soon found out that this was a very personal invitation, just for us! After our tour, the captain invited us into his private office. An office with a view of the whole bridge and much of the sea outside from its balcony. Dad and the captain chatted about their cars again and exchanged email addresses at the end. The captain made it clear that he wanted us to stay longer, but unfortunately he had to go back to work.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Scenic Cruise to Okinawa. Do What the Captain Says

Is a Cruise Worth It?

This cruise was a great first time experience for both me and my father. It’s not really my preferred way to travel, but dad enjoyed it so much that he declared that he needed to cruise more often. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to cruise again. But I am glad that I got to take him to a few new places before he passed.

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Travelling in Taiwan

Taiwan is known for many things. It was the first ‘China’ to hold a seat at the UN (1945-1971) and it has some of the best hiking in the world. You’ve also probably heard about its amazing street food and booming electronics industries. But mostly, it’s just a really cheap, cool place full of friendly and helpful people. I’ve visited many times. Here’s a little flashback to just one of the times I went travelling in Taiwan.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travel in Taiwan. Flying into Taiwan

A little Bit Of Background

Just to set the scene, in 2013 my father had been diagnosed with cancer and didn’t know how long he had, so he decided to travel to some new countries with me, against his doctor’s orders. Both my father and I wanted to go to Vietnam, but the doctor, who was eventually swayed on the ‘no travel’ order, advised that Vietnam was a no-no. We had to go to places with the medical equipment and know-how to deal with any issues that may arise. That meant about half of South East Asia was a no-go. East Asia was looking pretty good though.

Making a Plan For Travelling in Taiwan and Japan

I had been trying, unsuccessfully, for weeks to convince my dad that we should go to Japan. No matter how much I sang the praises of the country and it’s people, dad just was not as enthusiastic about it as I was. That was until I found an awesome deal in internet land. The deal included return flights from my home in Hong Kong, to Taipei in Taiwan, then a cruise from Taipei to Okinawa in Japan and back. Dad had never been on a cruise, so he was sold on that idea.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travel in Taiwan. Welcome to Taiwan

This was not my first visit to Taiwan, so I already knew how much of a wonderful place it was. Dad was also impressed. As he had stayed with me previously in China, he was using this as his basis for comparison. He noted that people seemed to be much more friendly and helpful in Taiwan than China. We had been stopped no less than two times when taking transport and asked if we needed help getting anywhere. Something that had definitely never happened to me in years of living in China.

Getting Ready to Cruise

As we had arrived in the afternoon and our cruise was due to depart the next morning, we decided to stay in Taipei New City 新北市, which was closer to the Keelung Port than Taipei. One thing I had noticed on previous visits to Taipei, was that everything gets eerily quiet around 10pm. No cars on the roads, no pedestrians on the footpaths. All that’s left open after that time are copious amounts of Family Mart and 7eleven convenience stores. This was amplified in Taipei New City, effectively making it a ghost town after 9pm. That was fine as we hadn’t planned on doing anything but having dinner and relaxing anyway.

The next morning, dad wanted to get to the port as early as possible as our boarding information said that we should be there two hours beforehand. We ended up sitting around in the small terminal building for a very long time before boarding.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Keelung Port

You can find out all about the cruise in my next post, A Scenic Cruise to Okinawa.

Returning to Taipei

We returned to Keelung after the 4 days on the cruise. This time we had decided to stay closer to the Taipei city centre as there were some things that we wanted to see there. The first of them being Taipei 101. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s the tallest building in Taiwan and the tenth tallest in the world.

Travelling in Taiwan – Taipei 101

I had already visited the Taipei 101 building on a previous visit to Taipei but my dad was eager to visit, so off we went. On the way, we came across some interesting sculptures and signs on the footpath.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travel in Taiwan. Art Installation K in Motion Travel Blog. Travel in Taiwan. Art Installation

As far as buildings go, Taipei 101 is quite an interesting one. When it was completed in 2004, it was the world’s tallest building. It held that title until the Burj Khalifa came along in 2010. As Taipei is in both an earthquake and typhoon (cyclone) zone, it was made to be strong, yet flexible. That means there’s a huge dampener in the middle of the building on the 89th floor that’s designed to absorb strong winds. It’s actually the largest wind dampener in the world!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travel in Taiwan. Taipei 101 Wind Dampener

Another cool thing about Taipei 101 is its lift, which takes you from the 5th to the 89th floor in 37 seconds. It was the fastest lift in the world for a little while. Let’s say there was some ear-popping going on during the ascent. I guess that’s why they dimmed the lights and made the ceiling of the lift look like the night sky.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travel in Taiwan. Taipei 101 Lift Ceiling

As it is one of the very few high rise buildings in the city, Taipei 101 is quite noticeable from almost anywhere in the city. That means you can see most of the city from the observation deck on the 89th floor. Unfortunately, you have no control over haze level during your visit.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Hazy Day View From Taipei 101 K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Hazy View From Taipei 101

I do think that it looks better at night though.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Night View From Taipei 101

Maokong Gondola 貓空纜車

Not far from the city centre in the Wenshan District is a cable car called the Maokong Gondola. I believe ‘mao kong’ translates directly as ‘sky cat’. I wondered if the fact that the gondola line starts at the Taipei Zoo had anything to do with the name. Until I realised that the service runs to a place that was renamed to Bakan (Japanese)/Maokong (Mandarin) during the Japanese occupation. It’s previous Hokkien name meant ‘cat surface’ due to the copious amount of civet sitings on the nearby mountain.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Maokong Cable Car

You can see Taipei 101 to the right as we first started moving away from the city. As we got further up the steep incline, the buildings started to almost blend into the hills.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. View From the Maokong Cable Car

The entire line for the Maokong Gondola is just over 4 kilometres long, but it’s very scenic. You can also use the Taipei Metro card to ride on it. These days it’s around NT$100 which is cheaper than public transport in some European cities.

Travelling in Taiwan – Window on China 小人國主題樂園

Now I’m a bit of a fan of theme parks. I guess I got that from my father because he tasked me with finding a theme park for us to visit while we were travelling in Taiwan. Dad had enjoyed Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park when he had visited a few years prior. We had also visited the Happy Valley Theme Park in Shenzhen and found it to be neither a valley, nor happy. That’s a whole other story for another post. Maybe. Point is, we weren’t really sure what to expect from Taiwan’s version of a theme park.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Window on China Mini Road K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Window on China Mini Airport

My first impression was cute. It’s no Disneyland, but the attention to detail was pretty amazing. I mean, look at the righthand side of the road where ‘people’ are dealing with an ‘accident’. Or the details of the airport. It put a smile on my face.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Window on China Taj Mahal K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Window on China American President

Then there were some famous landmarks from around the world. Probably the most entertaining part of the day at the park was the indigenous acrobatics show. These guys were amazing and seemed to be enjoying what they were doing.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Window on China Indigenous Acrobatics K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Window on China More Indigenous Acrobatics

Even when they had to play Fire Limbo.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Indigenous Acrobatic Fire Limbo

There really wasn’t much in the way of exciting rides though. In fact, they all looked like kids rides. That would make sense seeing as the Chinese name of the park is literally ‘Little Person National Theme Park’.

Final Thoughts on Travelling in Taiwan

As someone who speaks Mandarin, I’ve found it easy to travel in Taiwan every time I’ve been there. I suspect it may be a bit harder if you don’t speak Mandarin, but it does seem that people who do speak English will approach you to see if you need any help. I’d definitely recommend Taiwan as an easy to navigate, budget destination sure you bring you joy.

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Find out what makes Taiwan an amazing budget destination in East Asia. #taiwan #eastasia #budget #budgettravel #travel Check out what makes the East Asian island of Taiwan so awesome and why you need to put it on your bucket list right away! #taiwan #eastasia #scenery #budget #budgettravel #travel Are you looking for a friendly East Asian destination that's easy on the wallet? Look no further! #friendly #taiwan #eastasia #budget #budgettravel #travel Visit the scenically beautiful, budget friendly city of Taipei on the East Asian island of Taiwan. #budget #taiwan #taipei #budgettravel #travel See some of the things that the friendly city of Taipei in Taiwan had to offer, including its most famous building, Taipei 101. #taipei101 #taiwan #budget #budgettravel #travel Explore Taipei and it's cute little theme park, Window on China. #windowonchina #taipei #taiwan #budget #budgettravel #travel

How to Communicate Around the Globe Without Words

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words

Last week, we spoke about the top languages to help you travel the world. As helpful as these languages are, they will only help to facilitate communication with around 60% of people on Earth. When you are travelling through several countries that have different languages, it becomes almost impossible to learn phrases from every language. So what do you do when you hit an area where you can’t speak the language? You can do your best mime impression, or you can use symbols to communicate around the globe without words.

Universally Recognisable

Many symbols are universally recognised around the world. If you’ve been to Europe or Australia, you’ve probably seen Brown Tourist Signs somewhere. They are a set of over 90 uniform symbols to help tourists find places of interest. You’ve also probably seen a ‘No Smoking’ sign. Anyone, no matter what language they speak, knows what that one means. Whether they take note of it is another matter. It’s infuriating how many times I’ve seen people smoking right under/near no smoking signs in countries all around the world. Smoking is bad, mmmkay!

Communicate Around the Globe Without Words – Transport

Unless you plan on walking everywhere in a new country, you’re going to need to take transport at some point. But how can you find the train if you don’t know how to say train? Transport options can be very regionally specific. For example, places with islands are likely to have ferry services. Many regions do not have train services. Other regions have tourist transport options like cable cars, monorails and funiculars. Here we’ve included signs for the main types of transport you would encounter in most places.

Primary Transport

The most common forms of primary transport are planes, buses, trains and taxis. In many regions, notably Latin America and Africa, minivans and shared taxis/collectivos replace bus services. Some cities also have tram services and ferry services. Here we’ve provided symbols for all of these. If you want your own copy of these, you can click on the picture to download your own PDF and keep it on your phone to show people when you’re in a new place.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Primary Transport
Primary Transport Symbols

Alternative transport options involve some regional or touristy forms of transport. For instance, monorails, which are generally more of a gimmick than useful city transport. In many countries throughout Asia, Latin America and Africa, you can find Tuk Tuks, also known as Autos, Rickshaws and Kekehs depending on the region you’re in. Funiculars and Cable cars are more often than not found at touristy places. Especially when there are hills involved.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Alternative Transport
Alternative Transport Symbols

In some areas you can find water taxis in the form of Sampans, Gondolas and speedboats, among others. Sometimes, you just need to grab a bike and make your own way there.

Services

After you’ve sorted your transport, you might need to find out where certain services are. I guess the most important things that people look for when they first get to a new place are WiFi and ATMs. To be honest, if you just say the words ‘WiFi’ or ‘ATM’, people will know what you mean in most places. If they don’t, they’ll definitely know what these signs mean!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Services
Service Symbols

These symbols can also help you if you’re looking for a shopping centre, a library, toilets, a museum or a stadium/Sport Centre.

Communicate Around the Globe Without Words – Where are the Tourist Sites?

When you land in a new city, you’ll no doubt want to find out where the good tourist sites are. Or you might get lost on your way to the site and need to ask a local for directions. Of course, the best place to get information is a place where the staff are likely to speak English. This would be the nearest Tourist Information Centre. If that’s nowhere near, then give these symbols a go!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Sites
Site Symbols

We’ve covered the most visited tourist sites, including viewpoints/lookouts, churches, mosques, castles, city centres, UNESCO sites and information centres.

Accommodation

From experience, it can often be difficult to find your accommodation in a new place. Whether you’re trying to find some accommodations for the night, or you’ve already booked a hotel, motel, airbnb, hostel, homestead, yurt/ger or a tent, these symbols should help you get there.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Accommodation
Accommodation Symbols

If you’re lucky, someone at your accommodation might be able to speak English. More often than not in off-the-radar countries you can’t rely on that to be true.

Communicate Around the Globe Without Words – Entertainment Facilities

So you’ve got yourself settled in and you want to check out what’s happening in town. Where can you find yourself a meal or a good cup of tea or coffee? Or maybe you want something stronger, like a beer? We’ve got some symbols for that.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Entertainment
Entertainment Symbols

We’ve also got pictures for plays, movies, concerts and karaoke because that always seems like a good idea after a beer.

Communicate Around the Globe Without Words When Dining

Dining in foreign countries can be rather difficult if you have special dietary needs and cannot communicate them effectively. In fact, some would say it’s a nightmare. Especially if you have allergies. It’s no fun to carefully pick at your food, or just leave it uneaten because you’re scared of what could be in it.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Dining
Dining Symbols

That’s where these symbols come in. They should all be easily decipherable for anyone. We’ve covered common allergies like nuts, pepper and dairy. There’s even one for the vegetarians that can be used in conjuction with others for vegans, as well as a no sugar one for people on Keto. If you’re a Keto Vegan with nut and pepper allergies, just go ahead and use all of them!

Natural Sites

The best part of any trip is finding the natural gems in your destination, right? Whether it be waterfalls, desert canyons, tranquil lakes, snow-tipped mountains, meandering rivers, the beach or national parks, who doesn’t want to see it all?

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Nature
Nature Symbols

Once you make it to your natural paradise, What will you do? You can use our next set of symbols to find out what activities are available there!

Activities

If you’re someone who loves a bit of physical activity, you’re almost certainly always looking for your next thrill. You’ll love these symbols then. We’ve got you covered if you want to go hiking, ziplining and hang gliding. There are also some snow sports in there, or kayaking and swimming if you prefer being on or in the water.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Activities
Activity Symbols

Now, the last activity here is probably not for everyone, but at least with this symbol you won’t have to try to work out how to mime bungy jump without injuring yourself!!

Take the ‘Communicate Around the World Without Words’ Mini e-book With You!

Do you want your very own e-book to keep handy for use when you really need it in foreign lands? Then feel free to download our mini e-book, Communicate Around the World Without Words for all the symbols above in one place. We compiled it specifically to help you on your journey, so please, enjoy! :o)

Do you only want one of the above pages? No problem. Click on any of the pictures above to download the corresponding PDF. Let me know if you find it helpful! :o)

If you want to be inspired by some things that you can do and see around the world, check out the following posts

Amazingly Unique Adventures Around The World
Sunsets Around the World
Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World
Mesmerising Lakes Around the World

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Languages to Help You Travel the World

One of the major hurdles to travelling far and wide, for some people, is the language barrier. Of course, it can be daunting to travel to a new place and not be able to communicate effectively. To that end, you may be wondering what languages you should learn to help you communicate with the world. Read on as we discuss five languages to help you travel the world.

Languages to Help You Travel the World – Most Widely Spoken Language

First up we have English, the world’s most widely spoken language and Lingua Franca. You may be surprised to know that non-native English speakers outnumber native speakers three to one! It is spoken by about 20%, or over 1 billion of the Earth’s inhabitants. It is also one of two official languages in space! At the International Space Station, that is. This means that you may also be surprised by just how many countries you can travel through if you only know English.

World map percentage english speakers by country

Tourism has meant that English is widely spoken on all continents. You can guarantee that airports and hotel chains in all countries have workers that speak English. It also holds official status in the European Union as well as over 80 countries and territories around the world. Even creoles in some areas like Papua New Guinea and Sierra Leone often have enough lexical and grammatical similarities to English that they can be partially understood.

Most Widely Spoken Native Language

From the most widely spoken language, we’ll move on to the most widely spoken native language in the world. It gets that title because its 480 million native speakers are spread across four continents, thanks to the early conquistadors. Have you guessed what it is yet?

Detailed SVG map of the Hispanophone world

It’s the romance language of Spanish. The great thing about Spanish is that it is mutually intelligible with Italian and to a lesser extent, Portuguese (the sixth most spoken native language). So being able to speak Spanish could potentially allow communication with over 900 million people (including nearly 300 million Portuguese speakers and 70 million Italian speakers) across all six inhabited continents. It will definitely help you through Latin America as well!

Dialect Variances

One issue with Spanish being spread so widely around the world is that there are many different accents and regional variances. Similar to English. These differences generally don’t affect understanding though. People in Spain may find it slightly amusing when an obvious non-native speaker has a Latin American Spanish accent. The good news is that as an English speaker, you may find it relatively easy to learn Spanish. Spanish and English belong to different branches of the Indo-European language family tree, making them cousins of sorts. Here are some phrases to get you started. Useful Spanish Phrases PDF

K in Motion Travel Blog. Languages to Help You Travel the World. Spanish

Where is it Useful?

It is the majority language in over 20 Latin American countries as well as a couple of countries in Africa. I have also found it useful in Portuguese speaking countries like Guinea-Bissau in Africa. With some Spanish knowledge, you could conceivably communicate with around 900 million people in 35 countries, including Portuguese and Italian speaking countries. Aside from that, it’s actually a fun language to speak.

Languages to Help You Travel The World – Parlez vous Francais?

French is spoken natively on two continents and widely spoken as a second language on a third continent. The dialects and accents vary greatly across the three continents. French speakers from France say that they often have difficulty understanding French speakers from Canada and Africa. I’ve also heard French Canadians talk about how weird they found the African variety of French.

French Language Around the World Encyclopædia Britannica

No matter the region, the basics of the language are the same and all regional dialects are mutually intelligible. French is also a romance language, like Spanish, so it should, in theory, be relatively easy for English speakers to learn. Here are some phrases to get you started. Useful French Phrases PDF

K in Motion Travel Blog. Languages to Help You Travel the World. French

Where is it Useful?

Besides France and parts of Switzerland and Belgium, French is spoken natively in the Quebec province of Canada and bilingually in the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia provinces. It’s also spoken in the French Polynesia and New Caledonia territories in the South Pacific. Learning it would allow you to communicate with around 400 million people across 30 countries.

If you plan to travel through Western and Central Africa, then French will be very, very useful. Almost all the countries in that region have French as an official language. In fact, there are so many different languages in some African countries that locals even use French to communicate with each other! Imagine being from the same country but having to use a third language to communicate with your significant other!

Languages to Help You Travel The World – русский

When you think of world languages, Russian might not be the first that comes to mind as a multi-country language. Unless of course you’re over the age of 30 or were paying attention in your history classes and remember the old Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) or Soviet Union. The disbanding of the Union led to the establishment of 15 new states. All Russian speaking. Russian is also the second official language in space!

Although Cyrillic, the written alphabet for Russian, can look quite daunting, it’s not too difficult to pick up. After less than a week in Kazakhstan, I was able to recognise and sound out some common words and even understand some basic Russian questions. Here are some handy Russian phrases for you. Useful Russian Phrases PDF

K in Motion Travel Blog. Languages to Help You Travel the World. Russian

Where is it Useful?

Russian is fluently spoken in all of the 15 republics that emerged after the disbanding of the Soviet Union. That includes five Central Asian countries, three Caucasus countries, three Baltic countries, three Eastern European countries and one Central European country. There are also many Russian speakers in previously occupied countries, like Poland, Romania, Finland and Mongolia. That means you could reach nearly 300 million people in 20 countries by speaking Russian.

Most Spoken Native Language

Our last ‘language’ is Chinese. The idea of a Chinese language is actually a bit of a misnomer. Chinese, in itself, is not a language, but rather a collection of dialects, or arguably, languages. The most spoken of the ‘dialects’, because it is the enforced national language of China, is Mandarin or 普通话 (Common Speech). It has around 900 million native speakers. A similar version of the Mandarin dialect is also spoken in Taiwan, where it is referred to as national language or 國語, and Singapore where it is referred to as Chinese Language or 华语.

None of the Chinese dialects are mutually intelligible, which is why some argue that they are languages. Most speakers of more than one variety tend to agree that they are languages rather than dialects. Especially in the case of Cantonese, which has huge lexical and grammatical differences to Mandarin. It is even written differently and has its own characters used in conjunction with standard Traditional Chinese characters. You can see some of these differences for yourself below.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Languages to Help You Travel the World. Cantonese K in Motion Travel Blog. Languages to Help You Travel the World. Mandarin
Useful Cantonese Phrases PDF, Useful Mandarin Phrases PDF

Where is it Useful?

To be honest, Mandarin and Cantonese are really only useful if you plan to travel to China, Macau or Taiwan. As an aside, I’d highly recommend visiting Taiwan. It’s an amazing place. Other places with high numbers of Mandarin and Cantonese speakers, like Singapore and Hong Kong, for instance, also have English as an official language. But it can be fun to randomly converse in Cantonese with a Chinese store owner in Tonga. Or have a conversation in Mandarin with an old Chinese couple in Mauritania.

Special Mention – Arabic

Arabic is a beautiful Semitic language with a long history. Unlike most modern languages, it is written right to left, which is pretty cool. While it has slightly more native speakers than Russian and is spoken in more countries, it tends to exist in places where English and French are spoken due to colonisation. For instance, it is the main language in Egypt and Lebanon, but tourism and colonisation have ensured that English is prominent in Egypt and French and English are prominent in Lebanon. There is also a lot of variation in Arabic dialects, making it a difficult language to learn for general travel.

Despite the fact that it is easy to get by with French or English in most Arab speaking countries, I would still recommend learning a few Arabic phrases if you plan to travel to North Africa and West Asia.

Hello مرحبا marhabaan
Thankyou شكرا shukraan
No لا la, or la’a in some dialects
Please رجاء raja’

Which one of these languages would you like to learn? Or if you already speak one or more of them, what has been your experience travelling with them? Let us know by dropping a comment! :o)

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K in Motion Travel Blog. Languages to Help You Travel the World. Pin 5 K in Motion Travel Blog. Languages to Help You Travel the World. Pin 4 K in Motion Travel Blog. Languages to Help You Travel the World. Pin 3 Worried about being able to communicate with the locals in far-off lands? Then check out this list of languages to help you communicate with the world! #languages #traveltheworld #communicate #travel Worried about being able to communicate with the locals in far-off lands? Then check out this list of languages to help you communicate with the world! #languages #traveltheworld #communicate #travel

Mesmerising Lakes Around the World

Our world is full of natural wonders just waiting to be found. Possibly some of the most beautiful of all natural wonders are lakes. They can be found in all regions at both high and low altitudes. Lakes come in different sizes, shapes and colours. They are so diverse and we want to include as many types of lakes as we can. To that end, we’ll even include man-made lakes, if there’s something about them that makes you want to stare. We hope to delight you with some out-of-this-world colours too. We may not be able to offer you the calmness of standing near a lake, but we can certainly show you some beautiful scenes as we take a tour of mesmerising lakes around the world.

Mesmerising Lakes of Europe

Our first stop is Slovenia in Europe where the lakes are different colours depending on where they are. Lake Bled in the country’s capital captures your gaze with a dark green hue below its famous castle.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Mesmerising Lakes Around the World. Lake Bled in Slovenia

Then we have this striking little lake at a slightly higher altitude, where the whole scene gets a lot greener.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Mesmerising Lakes Around the World. Green Lake in Slovenia

As we continue up into the Slovenian Alps, the colour of the water changes to a crystal clear blue, due to glacial run-off. It’s also bloody cold in that water, even in summer!
K in Motion Travel Blog. Mesmerising Lakes Around the World. Glacial Lake in Slovenian Alps

Over to Croatia and the Plitvice National Park where things start to get a bit green again.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Mesmerising Lakes Around the World. Plitvice Lake, Croatia

Our last European lake is one I’m sure most people have heard off. It gave the world one of its biggest folk legends of the 20th century; Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. Despite the cheesy boat tours with sonar and underwater imaging equipment, they never did find ol’ Nessie in the deep waters of Loch Ness.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Mesmerising Lakes Around the World. Loch Ness, Inverness, Scotland

Mesmerising Lakes Around the World – Africa

Africa is vast with varied landscapes. It’s probably best known for its savannahs and the Sahara. But it is so much more than that. Would you believe the Sahara actually has some lakes? There are a few in Mali that are big enough to show up on the map! For now, I give you one of the small rock lakes at Paradise Valley near Agadir in Southern Morocco. An actual oasis in the desert.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Mesmerising Lakes Around the World. Paradise Valley, Morocco

We’ll move away from the Sahara now and into the West African country of Liberia for one of our coolest lakes. This little lake in Monrovia just kind of pops up out of nowhere. You could easily miss it if you stayed on the road. The rickety old wooden bridge to the homestead on a small island in the lake makes it feel very quaint. But the best part is the bar on its bank, where you can settle in for the sunset.
Mesmerising Lakes Around the World. Monrovia Liberia

Mesmerising Lakes of Oceania

Oceania may be one of the most interesting regions in the world as it’s about 70% water. So would you think it was strange if the first lake for the region was found in a desert? The expansive Simpson desert in Central Australia to be exact. This lake at Kings Canyon in the Watarrka National Park is aptly named The Garden of Eden.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Mesmerising Lakes Around the World. Kings Canyon Lake, Central Australia

Maybe you could do with a relaxing ride in a small boat on this green lake away from the desert in Eastern Australia?
K in Motion Travel Blog. Mesmerising Lakes Around the World. Lake in New South Wales, Australia

Mesmerising Lakes Around the World – Asia

It needs to be said that Asian lakes are something else. In fact, Asia has some surprises in store for you! Are you ready? Let’s start in South Asia in a wonderfully welcoming country not normally known for its natural wonders; Bangladesh. This is one of the green lakes of Birishiri.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Mesmerising Lakes Around the World. Green Lake in Birishiri Bangladesh