Welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast. My name is Ken.
And today we’re gonna talk about travelling.
It’s a great topic for discussion.
So, Ken, why do people travel?
Well, people travel for different reasons. Of course, it’s a way to break away from their daily routine and do something that’s different.
Yeah, and people need to disconnect from the pressure of being available by phone, email or social media.
Of course. You know, they cannot just think about their work all the time or their studies if they are students.
Yes, right. And people can visit their friends, their relatives who live in different countries.
That’s what I do sometimes with my friends who live in Kazakhstan where you come from. So whenever I go there, I always make sure that, you know, I meet my friends who, you know, I spent some time with when I was there for nearly 5 years.
Yeah, right. And also travelling is more educational than school or universities, yeah. You can’t read in books about different things which you can see in these countries.
You can read all you want, all the information, but it’s still a different thing to actually experience it for yourself. For example, if you want to go to the UK and then you can of course research a lot of things about the country, but it’s still different when you yourself get to go to the country itself and experience the culture.
Yes, right, and it will stay with you for longer time.
And it will serve us a good memory.
Yes, right. And also travelling is a good way to find a better weather.
Yes! Oh my god, especially here in Russia in Siberia, where winter is much longer. I’m sure that, you know, in wintertime a lot of people would like to go to warmer countries, specially in South-East Asia, Vietnam, Thailand, because they want to escape form this bitter cold winter.
Yes, right. Okay, and do you have to be rich to travel the world?
You know what? I don’t think that travelling is limited to rich people only. Especially nowadays there are many ways by which you can travel but you don’t have to spend a lot of money. One of them and, I’m sure, you know, our listeners here are familiar with it – we have a program called couchsurfing.
Yes, I’ve heard about it.
So, basically, the idea here is that you stay at someone’s flat or house for free, but they’re gonna… You will be provided with a room or maybe just a couch in the living room, and it’s of course absolutely free.
Or you can also avail or what we call WorkAway – it’s actually a program that I registered in when I stayed in Thailand for 30 days or, you know, one month. And I thought to myself at the time – it’s so expensive to stay in a hotel or a hostel for a whole month.
So I registered and subscribed to this particular website, and what I did was I worked as a volunteer in one hostel where I worked for, you know, 5 days a week but only half a day.
So what was my job – I welcomed guests to the hostel and I did some cleaning work, but not bad, because let me tell you – it was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had abroad.
Because, you know, staying in a hostel, you get to meet people form all over the world. I still remember meeting people from Spain, from Japan, form Brazil. And of course, my friends from Poland.
So you had a good opportunity.
Yes. And a good thing about it is that in exchange for what is called volunteer work, they provide free bed and breakfast.
What other tips can you share with them regarding, you know, travelling without having to spend a lot or maybe?
You can use transport which doesn’t cost a lot. Or also you can walk a lot and don’t use any transport at all.
Or, before your trip, as mentioned earlier, you can also have part-time jobs in preparation for your works, sorry, for your trip, so that you have enough money once you begin your trip.
Yeah, right. What problems can people come across when they’re travelling?
You know, that’s an interesting question because I’ve traveled to several countries, and, well, one of the problems I often have is with taxi drivers. Unfortunately, and by the way I’m not saying that all taxi drivers are, you know, dishonest, but at least in my experience some of them – they try to trick you by driving you to a different route so that…
To get more money from you.
Exactly! And sometimes it shocks me when I look at the taxi meter and Oh my god! This is too much! And sometimes I would ask the driver ‘Are we in the right route?’ and you know, they would just brush it off and say ‘No, this is another one, but you know…’. Ah, taxi drivers. Not all of them, not all of them just to be clear with that.
What about the problem that you can get lost?
Well, I’ve had some experience of getting lost. Cause I’m not so good at using, you know, navigation apps. But I wonder – have you ever got lost traveling somewhere or abroad?
No. No. I used offline map, and it was okay.
I guess, you know, because you’re an organized traveler, you plan ahead of time, unlike me. I just have a rough idea of what I want to do, but I don’t really write it down, or I’m not very systematic with everything.
No, I plan my journey very carefully.
Now, what other problems do you think people might have when they travel?
If you travel to another country and you can’t speak their language.
Oh my god, language barrier!
Before I share with you my experience – have you ever had any problems with the language, local language in any of the places you’ve been to?
No. I have been to Germany and the Czech Republic and I spoke English there.
What about the local people? I mean, how’s their English level?
They speak English, so it was okay.
Lucky you! You should go to countries where English is hardly spoken, and then let’s test your ability how to work out, you know, language barrier. So are you telling us then that you’ve never had any language barrier or any sort of problems with the language?
Tell us about your experience.
One particular experience that I remember was in Indonesia. I wanted to buy a pair of sandals, but then again, I didn’t know how to say it in their language, which is Bahasa Indonesia. The problem also is that not a lot of people in Indonesia can actually speak English.
And so I had to use my hands and just point. I want this, and then, you know, I wanted to know the price. So I just said – how much? And then I showed them the calculator on my phone, so that, you know, he’d understand that I was asking for the price. And well he just wrote the price that I had to pay.
And do you think that it’s necessary to learn some phrases, some words from local language?
Well, I don’t think it’s very necessary, but it would be nice to, you know, learn at least some basic phrases, because by doing so you are showing courtesy or like respect to the people of that country.
Besides that, by learning some basic phrases, you make those people feel good about you, so they tend to warm up to you, because wow, to their mind, they’ll think that, wow, he asserted some effort to really, you know, learn some phrases in my language. And therefore it makes them friendlier towards you.
By the way, did you try to learn any basic phrases when you were abroad?
Yeah, when I was in the Czech Republic, I learnt some phrases, but now I don’t remember them.
Oh, but you took the effort!
What about in Germany? Because you said that you’ve been to Germany,
No, in Germany I didn’t try to learn any words, because I was on the conference, and there were a lot of people in our group, and I didn’t need to communicate with other people.
What means of transport do you prefer for traveling?
You know, that’s an easy question. Of course, the plane! It’s the fastest! However, as much as I appreciate it, you know, because of its speed, the problem these days is that I’m starting to hate it.
Because of the very limited space. Don’t you feel uncomfortable? Like, when you sit on the plane, especially when you are on the middle seat. Oh my god, your movements are restricted, you are not able to sleep well. I just hate the feeling.
I have the problem. I can’t sleep on planes.
So, what do you do then when you can’t sleep?
I just try to watch TV, to watch films, maybe read something.
That must be, well, uncomfortable.
You feel very sleepy, but you just, for some reason, you just can’t. And you know, the thing about planes is that you’re also limited with the opportunity to stand up, to go to the toilet.
Even the aisle itself, it’s not like it’s very spacious that you can run around or just, you know, stand up and walk whenever you want to. It’s not… This is not a ship, this is not a train that you know, gives you the opportunity to somehow go to other, you know, parts of the vehicle. For the planes it’s, yeah, really, it’s very restrictive.
Yes, right. Do you remember your longest journey on the plane?
I think, that was in actually… I was supposed to go to the Philippines from Almaty, Kazakhstan, but it took me two days because my previous director – she made a mistake. She bought a ticket that only ended in Malaysia. So in total…
I told her that I’m not from Malaysia, I’m going back to the Philippines. Why do I have a ticket only for Malaysia? And so, you know, she had to buy a new one. But then again, even though the ticket from Almaty to Kuala Lumpur, it had a connecting flight, so I had to stop over at Abu Dhabi.
So I had to spend some time there before I catch my next flight. And then. Oh god, in total, including the waiting time for the connecting flights – two days. That was so… I was so mad, to be honest with you, I was just so mad. Imagine not sleeping for two days! That is… ugh!
It’s very tiring. Yeah, right. And how do you feel when the plane is taking off and landing?
I used to be very scared when I was young, because as a kid, I used to be afraid of heights. So. And whenever we flew, I wouldn’t want to sit next to the window, because I didn’t want to see, you know, going up and then I would understand how far we are from land.
So it always scared me. But nowadays, little by little, I’ve been trying to overcome this fear. And so, now I try to get a seat next to the window, or, of course, window seat, and just hold on to my seat tightly as I watch out of the window.
And telling myself- it’s okay, the plane is not gonna crash, everything is gonna be alright. But it took a while. But at least now I can probably say that I can do it, and I like to believe that I’m not as scared anymore as before.
Yeah. But to be honest, I love these moments, when plane takes off it means that your journey starts.
Oh my god! How I wish I could also think like that.
So, it’s the way to calm down. And it helps. So try to think the same way.
So in other words, you’re telling us, that you’ve never been scared of flying?
You’re not as pessimistic as I am. Because I am… You know, the funny thing is, as much as I’m scared of, you know, landing and taking off, but I’ve been watching a lot of air crash documentaries.
And the last time I flew, when I went to Moscow, god, imagine it in my mind. Oh my god, this lane is going to crash! What am I gonna do? And then all these videos that I saw. It was almost like a flashback because I would see vivid details of planes, you know, crashing, breaking a part mid-air.
Everything is in your head.
I know, it’s too crazy of me to be watching those, you know, documentaries when I’m actually a bit scared of flying.
Yeah, right. Okay, and let’s talk about luggage. How much luggage do you usually carry?
You know, as time goes by, I realize that it would be more convenient if you just travel with, you know, not a lot of things as much as possible. Maybe just one luggage, a carry-on bag or, you know, in my case a backpack.
I’m making sure that everything that I need is there. I don’t need to… I used to take with me one huge camera, but then again I thought to myself – anyway, I have a very good phone, and the resolution itself is high enough for me to take, you know, great photos. So for me that’s enough.
Yeah, right. And what are some things you always take with you on a trip?
Well, as I’ve said, just my smartphone, and of course, clothing items. The basic ones are jeans, maybe a pair or two pairs of shoes or sneakers, what else? Mostly t-shirts. I don’t take with me toiletries, because anyway, they are provided in a hotel or hostel.
My power bank, which is very important. And my vitamins and food supplements cause you know, I tend to become paranoid when I don’t take at least, you know, one tablet. I feel like my day is not complete.
Yeah, it’s very important for you.
What about you? What do you take with you?
I always take with me a hairdryer and an umbrella.
Have you every experienced going to, say, for example, one country, and then it rained?
So it paid off to bring with you an umbrella.
Yeah. And how long does it take you to pack your bag?
Before, you know, I would take a lot of time, because I wasn’t unsure, sorry, I wasn’t sure of which items to take with me. And then I wasn’t very organized, because I would just, you know, maybe I’ll need this, that, without really thinking if they are necessary or not. So…
I always make a list of all things which I need to take. And then maybe after some thinking, you cross out those things which you don’t need.
You do it so systematically, like you’re preparing for a lesson! Like a classroom, you know, lesson. But of course, we wonder, apart from the hair dryer, what else?
Umbrella. What other things do you take with you?
Usual things which all women need.
Oh, okay. All women essentially.
So how many bags or luggage do you take with you?
I try to take only one bag. But it will be full-packed.
And I can just imagine it must be heavy.
But when you travel, I’m just curious, do you travel alone mostly or with company?
No, with a company, yeah. I travel with my son or with my friends, not alone.
So you’ve never travelled alone?
would you ever consider travelling alone?
I have never thought about it. Okay. That’s a good idea, maybe.
Do you think you would manage if you were to travel alone? Or would you be worried?
Maybe. I will try in the future.
I hope so, because you know, at least once, just for experience, just to see how and what it feels like to travel by yourself.
Yeah, okay. Thank you. Okay. Have you ever met anyone interesting when traveling?
Well, mostly I travel alone, but you know, I’d like to share one experience of mine, It happened recently. It was my last trip was in Israel in Tel-Aviv. And to be honest, when I went there, I was kind of a… Not necessarily lonely, but it just, you know, felt… I felt like something was missing, because I couldn’t speak to anyone, discuss certain things.
Is it okay for you to start conversation with a stranger?
Well, I’m not a very shy person, I can easily start a conversation, Which I did. Speaking of which, when I was there in Israel, I met this guy because at first, I wanted to know the name of the river.
So I approached one man, because I thought he was a local, and then he, you know, he told me – no, I’m also a foreigner, I’m a tourist. Oh, I’m so sorry. Where are you from? And then he said that he’s from Hannover, Germany.
And the interesting thing is that from then on we travelled together, and I was so thankful. Because finally I had a photographer, I didn’t have to ask strangers in the street to take my photo. And I had somebody to talk with.
Yes, great. And do you keep in touch?
To this day I’m happy to say that we still keep in touch. In fact, almost every day on WhatsApp. And he wants to come here to Russia!
Yeah. I always refer to Russia as Mother Russia, and it’s so funny, because every time he talks about Russia, he always tells me – oh Ken, I want to visit you, I want to visit Mother Russia in December.
So you see, I’ve also promoted Russia! And now he’s keen on coming here. And I hope he’ll be able to.
Wait wait wait. I wanna ask you too! What about you? Is it easy for you to, what, to talk to strangers, for example, when you travel?
Actually, I usually don’t talk to strangers. But if it is necessary, I can.
Okay. I guess, part of the reason is that you are well-organized.
So you already have a list of activities and making friends with local people is part of the agenda.
Yeah, maybe, yes. What do you think of hitch-hiking? Have you ever tried?
Oh my god, you know, hitch-hiking for me is.. Okay, I do understand why people do that, because they don’t have any car, for example, so they don’t have a means to travel. As much as I understand that, but hitch-hiking, especially if we talk about, you know, some western countries, surprising.
In Russia it’s not very popular, yeah?
Surprisingly for example, in the US or Canada, because I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries. People have been killed.
I don’t wish to say this, but the truth is that some of them, for example, most of them are women. They are sexually assaulted and then, yeah, killed. And then their bodies are just left in some remote areas. And I don’t know…
I guess, you know, their respective governments should do something to address this problem. Because really, you have to. Well, later, after the show I’m gonna give you some links to understand better the problem of hitch-hiking and, you know, the deaths that are related to this. Maybe it’s.. I don’t know. You said that it’s not popular here.
Right. But do people do this?
So it’s not something that most people do.
Okay. Because even in my country in the Philippines.. I don’t think we do that, Maybe in some remote places, but I don’t think it’s a very common thing to do.
Do you know any good apps for travelling?
I only know some apps to get a taxi, grab, or… what else? Well, Yandex taxi here in Russia, or Uber. Oh! I know one, it’s.. Is that TripAdvisor? No no. Not here. I just… The thing is I hardly use apps, I just, you know, believe in my instincts. Like, okay, I’m gonna go to this place, to that place and just ask people around. Do you know any apps that will help travelers?
Okay, so we’ll use this as to move on to the next one.
Sorry guys, nothing to, you know…
So, how many countries have you visited?
Not a lot. In total at the moment I have been to 7 countries. Most of them in South-East Asia, so neighbors of the Philippines, such as Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, what else? What’s the other country? I forget the other one. And then..
and then I’ve been to Kazakhstan, in, of course, Central Asia. Here in Russia. And then the last one was in Israel. What about you?
I have been only to Germany and the Czech Republic, and Russia, because I’m from Kazakhstan.
And that’s all. And I have never been to Asian countries, and it was my dream. And I have planned to visit Turkey in May, but…
Yeah, because of the coronavirus.
Yes, right, yeah. Maybe in the future.
Speaking of Asian countries, so if you were to travel there, which countries would you be interested to visit?
Okay. What about somewhere in the East? It’s like, you know, I’m from one of the South-East Asian country, so.
Not Thailand? Philippines maybe? I don’t know.
A lot of people love Thailand exactly. They told different stories, that it’s very beautiful country and for relaxing. But maybe it will be the second country after Turkey.
So, okay, besides Turkey, what other countries would you like to visit?
I would like to visit Italy.
It’s a capital of fashion.
And it’s a beautiful country I think.
Absolutely. And they have a lot of places there that are worth visiting. Naples, Venice, Milan.
Yes, right. And what country would you like to visit?
Well, I’m also looking forward to going to Europe, specifically in Western Europe, namely France, Germany, Spain, and what else? Okay, at least those three countries. Why France? Because you know, as a young boy, when I was back in the Philippines, I always wanted to go to Paris.
I know it sounds very cliché, but I wanna see the Eiffel tower, and I wanna hear French language from French people. Because it’s one of the languages that, you know, I wanted to, you know, study when I was at university.
In fact, when I was, well, at university, I was choosing among three languages – Japanese, Korean, and French. French because I like the way, you know, the language sounds.
Is it an easy language to learn?
To be honest with you, I don’t know because I didn’t really choose it. Because I ended up studying Japanese. Because at the time it was more practical for me to learn it, because my mom, basically, my half-sister and my step-dad they live in Japan.
And so I thought I have better chances to use the language unlike French. To be honest, I don’t have any friends from France, so I don’t, you know, I thought, so what am I gonna use it for? So, and then Germany because I wanna visit my friend Daniel.
I just wanna see it for myself, and anyway, Germany is also rich in history, I’d like to see, you know, what they have to offer.
And then Spain – okay, I’m gonna sound, you know, cliché again. I wanna go to Barcelona, I wanna see, how do you call this church? This historical church? I forgot that. Okay, but I’m sure our listeners know that. Any other countries by the way besides Italy?
Yes, right. And do you think it’s possible to visit all countries in the world?
I’m not saying it is impossible but it would be very difficult, because you will need – let’s be honest, you will need money for that.
It’s not just money, you will need time as well. So, I think it’s possible but you need some funding. You need resources for that.
And also it depends on a person’s goal.
Maybe it’s important quantity or quality.
For me it’s more of quality.
Well, I guess it’s all the time that we have for today’s podcast. This has been BigAppleSchool podcast. Thanks for listening to our topic today which is about travelling. So, see you again.