Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Piece of Parisian Luck

Paris, photo by Mahalia T.
Perhaps as a disclaimer I should start off by admitting that I am an idiot.

To set the scene:

I was staying in Paris for a week in April of 2009 with my Aunt during my travels. An Australian friend, who was living in Germany that year, was in Paris for the weekend. On this night of nights, we explored some clubs and bars and then tried to find our way home in the pouring rain while a drunk man harassed us. He followed us until my friend told him rather directly to leave us alone.

“What’s wrong with you, Lia?” She asked. “You just stood there and didn’t stand up for yourself. That’s not like you.”

It wasn’t. I felt out of it.

We got a cab to my Aunt’s house, where my friend could then walk on to her hostel. Outside my Aunt’s block of apartments a few guys were hanging around. They started talking to us and I was excited by the opportunity to put my poor French into use.

My friend, bewildered, spoke German until she was too fed up and left. I stayed a while longer, talking to the guys. Other guys walked past; apparently everyone knew each other and so I was introduced to each newcomer with a kiss and sometimes a hug.

Eventually, I managed to break away and I entered my Aunt’s apartment. Then it hit me. Terrified, I plunged my hand into my side bag: nothing.

My wallet and passport were missing. I was overwhelmed; I was going to London in a few days! What could I possibly do?

I figured I had two choices: go to my Aunt’s or go outside. I opted for the latter.

I marched back out defiantly. I had paid for the cab so I knew I had had my wallet until then. I scoured the street but to no avail. I burst into tears and the clouds joined me in my misery. I saw the two guys who had first approached us (let’s call them Pierre and Jean) still standing around. I told them what had happened in broken French and English. They could offer no help, they told me. “Go home to your Aunt and call the Embassy in the morning”.

“But I need my passport!” I stressed.

Some men returning home noticed me bawling and inquired. I relayed the situation. “We don’t trust the guys you met,” they told me. “They probably took it.” They had a chat to the guys but came back empty-handed. “Whoever took it isn’t going to give it back to you. Go home, call the Embassy.”

No, I would not. I was not going to miss my plane to London! I thought that if I stayed there and showed how desperate I was the thief would take pity on me.

And two hours later, they did. Pierre and Jean said they’d “chat” to their friends and see if they could get back my passport. Pierre left and Jean told me he was fighting the others on my behalf. As if.

Pierre then returned, brandishing my stolen items. I had lost 25 euros and my passport was sodden but I couldn’t keep a smile off my face.

I said it was time to go home. “What? No kiss for the hero?” Said Pierre. Jean asked Pierre if he could give us five minutes alone. I pushed them both away and told them to get lost.

I was finally my strong self again.

Later, I realised how lucky I’d been. I was in a foreign city, in a rough neighbourhood; a lone girl with a bunch of strange guys. Someone was watching over me that night.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dress It Up!

Ever felt out of place when in a foreign country?

Did people look at you strangely?

Did they point, laugh, or even spit on you?

If you've ever experienced any sort of discrimination while travelling, perhaps it was due to poor dressing.

Here are some tips on how to dress in certain countries ...

Thanks to the wonderful musicians:
- Ethnomite Pux: www.myspace.com/ethnomitepux
- The Kyoto Connection: www.thekyotoconnection.com
- Kevin Macleod: www.incompetech.com
- Peter John Ross

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Our Adventures in Melbourne

Here's what we got up to the first time we ever put our ten travelling tips into practise...

An Informal Guide to Melbourne

It's the question I'm sure we've all been asking ourselves: "What is there to do in that city Melbourne, right down south in Australia?"

Well, now you have an answer!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Melbourne Vs. Sydney

In the spirit of the Sydney/Melbourne rivalry…

During our Melbourne getaway, we asked quite a few people which city they preferred: Melbourne or Sydney. The response was inevitably Melbourne. At first, I was pitching my tent with this camp too, until …

Back in Sydney, I went to see Antony play at the Sydney Opera House with my Mum. Before he came on stage, we amused ourselves by observing the demographic of the audience. His followers range from conservatively-dressed regular couples to potentials for The Rocky Horror Show. Perhaps it was the divine singing, or the glass of champagne I’d consumed during intermission, but something in me clicked.

I love Sydney.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Melbourne too. I think it’s a wonderful city: alive, vibrant, interesting and devoted to the arts. Very much my type of place.

However, after having seen a whole heap of cities last year, Sydney still strikes me as being one of the most tolerant and accepting.

The city’s teeming with variety. Everyone can be anyone. Of course there’s peer pressure here and undoubtedly you’ll run across the dime-a-dozen girls who look as though one girl cloned herself 11 times, but, if you have the desire you can wear what you want to wear. You can be who you want to be.

Those of us missing the European touch can hang out in suburbs such as Glebe or Erko. On a hot day, you can head to the beach. Good Asian food is always available just outside of Chinatown. To see superficial Sydney just visit Darling Harbour.

And Melbourne will never have the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

I related all of this the other day to a German friend who I’d met in Sydney. “Finally!” She cried. “Finally you understand what a great city you live in!”

To watch our videos on Melbourne, go here:
Shorter version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_JZm3ORDSY
Longer version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuTusbCf0ks

Ten Travel Tips

"Ten humourous tips for travelling anywhere..."

The first of our vlog series, this video outlines our ten primary tips which advise travellers on how to have a great trip, no matter where you're going.

We devised these tips based on our own travelling experiences.

This year we will visit a range of Australian destinations, documenting the adventures these tips inspire. We will also upload various other videos offering travel advice and relationship strategies amongst other things.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Myrah and Mahalia's Travel Adventures

'Myrah and Mahalia's Travel Adventures' details the travel adventures of the MnMTravellers, two girls who consider themselves very clever to have concealed their true identities under the guise of 'Myrah' and 'Mahalia'. Of course, their physical appearance is no secret.

The duo decided to document their travel adventures when, after realising that people often laughed at them, that "we wanted to get more people laughing at us, so why not go digital?" This year they will travel around Australia, offering advice and tips (not always just on travelling) along the way. Their love for travelling, their wisdom and their innate ability to make fools of themselves provide the perfect basis for their vlog.

Our talented vloggers have devised 10 tips which will ensure a wonderful travelling holiday, no matter where or when one is. Myrah and Mahalia film the adventures that these tips inspire during their travels throughout the world. They also make a number of complementary videos which offer advice on certain aspects of life.

The MnMTravellers consider themselves travel experts; Myrah having lived in three countries and travelled extensively through Australasia with her parents and Mahalia having travelled on her own for 10 months through Europe, Africa and North America. "Our best source of knowledge is our love for travelling," says Myrah.

Popularity - The MnMTravellers are very proud to announce a new addition to their fan club, The MnMGroupies. The fanbase total now stands at 4. Myrah's mother is President.