Egyptian Party, Cairo

Walking back from our Egypt Contiki Tour’s farewell dinner we all could hear this party, the music was loud and everyone sounded like they were all having a great time. We could see down this very dodgy looking alley way where the party was happening. There were lights and music and people dancing. Not knowing any Arabic I thought that i could not go down and have a look. One other guy in a group wanted to check out the party, so we decided that we would go. We brushed up on our hello’s and thankyou’s and walked over. Standing on the side and just watching for a little while. One of the young kids had seen us and invited us in. You see him in the video. We were greeted with open arms and even given chairs. We sat down and just watched the dancing and listened to the music. There was live music and even what appeared to be a TV news camera man filming the event. I asked the young boy if i could film on my iPhone and got a big smile and nod. It was an amazing experience to allowed into this celebration and an inside view on this culture. The people were very friendly and we felt safe. We said our thankyou’s and good bye’s and left. We were both pretty stoked about the entire experience and could not talking about it the next day at breakfast.

Egyptian Party, Cairo July 2012

Chaotic Cairo July 2012

When we finally landed in Cairo we were amazed at the chaos that is Cairo. It is in your face and non-stop. It is however all apart of this huge city and all a part of the experience. Here is a quick peak into the chaos, this short film is shot from the window of our hotel room at Victoria Hotel, Cairo, a few days before we headed off on our first ever Contiki tour.

Chaotic Cairo

To go or not to go? Solo Travel VS Group Travel

Tour group or Solo travel?

I always get asked if I prefer to, or is it better to travel alone or in tour groups. I never really seem to know how to answer the question. I find myself wondering the answer myself all the time? So here are my thoughts on the age old subject.

My travel partner, my love of my life and my best friend

My travel partner, my love of my life and my best friend

Firstly I normally travel with my wife but we don’t always do the same things, or spend every last second together. We are both travellers and we both enjoy different aspects of travel. On our last big trip we did both sides of the travel spectrum. We did the big group, party Contiki and Topdeck tours as well as travelling just the two of us. Along the way we met people who were travelling by themselves and some who were travelling by themselves but just happened to be on some of our group tours. Whilst travelling one of the things you do is ask how your fellow travellers are going? Where have they been? What have they seen? Who have they met? Etc etc etc…… It is always an interesting conversation and one of my favourite topics around the bar at the backpackers. It is a great way to get ideas or inside tips on other places you should see.
My own experiences do not say either way is better, neither do I lean towards one style of travel, just that both ways are just different. I certainly see the value of the solo experiences as well as the friendships you make in group travel.
I would say that it depends on:
• How much travel experience you have,
• Where you want to go,
• What you want to get out of it,
• Why you are travelling,
• And Budget,
You see if you are travelling for the 1st time it may be a good idea to start in a tour group. I say this because you have built in travel buddies, all your sites are in a package, all your transfers “Should” be organised. Sorry a little personal grip there, we have been stranded by a few pre-booked transfers over our time. Trying to figure out how to get to your accommodation, in a foreign country where they speak a foreign language and you have not previously sorted out how much it should cost and how to get there. Usually you are getting harassed by a trillion crazy foreign language speaking taxi drivers who you know are going to try and rip you off, is rather daunting.

Smiles all round.

Smiles all round.

Group tours are a great way of introducing yourself to travel, as well as a brilliant way to chat to the people that have been there done that already. These travellers are a wealth of knowledge and are usually more than happy to pass on their tips. Group travel is huge fun and that’s what it is about. When you travel in a group I find you tend get convinces to try some things that you would not normally do. This is a great way to have some pretty cool experiences that you might not normally have done if you are travelling by yourself. If you are a bit of “Club Rat” and like to party group travel is brilliant. You have drinking buddies already and maybe if you’re lucky some ne to take you home if you have a little too much to drink. Like a certain Kiwi on my Contiki on a night out in Istanbul. Even long delays crossing borders is better with groups, you have a bunch of mates to waste time with. We had a long hour delay crossing the border in Albania and somehow we ended in this bazaar photo.

What happens during an extended delay at the border on a group tour

What happens during an extended delay at the border on a group tour

Where do you want to go I think should play a big part in how you travel. For example when we were new to travel we did Egypt on a Contiki. For us this worked great as we had a tour manager who could speak the local language, who knew the little ins and outs that knowledge is priceless. But the major benefit is that you have the both the support of the group and the support of the tour manager. Having this in a country that is a little on the rough side is worth its weight in gold.
On the flip side are “safer” places like the UK, Germany etc. These places speak English enough and are relatively easy to get around by yourself. Travelling by yourself forces you to meet fellow travellers outside of your group, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, you get a lot more out of your time at that place. One of my most treasured memories was a night in Lithuania drinking, smoking Shisha, chatting around the kitchen table at our backpackers with a bunch of fellow solo travellers all night until one of us had to leave for his flight to Sweden.
You need to consider what you want to get out of your trip? Why are you doing this? Do you want to Party Hard? Do you want to see the tourist sites? Do you want to see the real country? Do you want to experience different cultures? Or are you going on a soul searching adventure?
If you want to Party, go on a group tour, if you want to see the “tourist sites”, group tours are pretty good for them. If you want to see the “real country” maybe solo travel is the correct option for you same as if you are a culture vulture and sole searcher.
Last but not lease is budget. “The Budget” any traveller knows there budget, be it an endless budget, lucky for some, or the tight as tight budget traveller. If you have a little bit of savings and a limited time frame for your travel the group tours would probably be the right move. If you are a budget traveller the solo option is a great way to do it on the cheap. You can do things like couch surf your way around, you can pick up last minute tickets and save a fortune on your travel. The Budget travellers I met on my travels have had some amazing stories to tell from the brilliant to the outright scary. This style of travel can be exciting but probably for the seasoned traveller.
I like to mix it up when I travel, depending on what I want out of that part of my journey. Good Luck with your choice of travel style and remember.
One Life, One Search.
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Whats in a Song, A Journey with Music:

I love music, like many others. Throughout my life music has always been a huge part of my life. It has been there when my dad passed away, it was there when I fell in love, it was there when I got married and it was all over the place on my recent backpacking adventure around the world. Since being back in the Land of Oz whenever I hear one of the songs from my adventure it takes me back to that amazing moment, it takes me back to that place where I had not care in the world, it takes me back to the spot where I was happy and carefree as well as where it was a sombre moment.

The Songs of my adventure that return time and time again to help me get through a tough time, just so I know when I pull through I can always look forward to my next adventure. These songs inspire me to create new amazing adventures be it only a weekend away or a new complete change of lifestyle choices.

A few of these little songs that graced my journey and a short story about them:

Frère Jacques: We were sailing in a Fellucca on the amazing Nile in Aswan, Egypt. These two local boys paddled up to us in there dugout canoe and started singing to us.

Niggers in Paris: Now excuse my language there. This song rocked throughout my 46 day Contiki tour from Paris to Amsterdam. I still get pumped whenever I hear this song. I once did “The Worm” on a table in a Paris nightclub and once on a dance floor in Paros, in the Greek Islands to this song.

Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen): This song was played in our couch after leaving Gallipoli. Gallipoli was a sombre moment and this song was a beautiful way to appreciate the moment. I always play this song now when I need to put things back into perspective.

Rob Longstaff’s Boogaloo: I met Rob whilst he was playing at one of the great open air markets in Berlin. I could hear an Aussie’s voice singing and playing an acoustic set. I wondered over to him and introduced myself. I brought a CD of him right then and later a record off iTunes. We were lucky enough to even have a song dedicated to us, The Beds are Burning, Midnight oil in an acoustic set.

Dislocated: Well anything to do with this Swedish Hardcore Band. I met one of the band’s members in a backpackers in Lithuania. A group of us stayed up all night, drinking Vodka, smoking shisha, listening to music from all over the world, talking about everyones crazing adventures. Since Patrik made it back to Sweden, the band have now released an EP called “DOWN”. I have been listening to it and remembering that great night with:          1 aussie, 1 Swed, 2 Americans, 2 Canadians, 1 Lithuanian, and 1 Italian, 2ltr 7.8% alcohol beer and Lithuanian Vodka.

Music was a huge part of my backpacking journey, it is a huge a part of journey through life and will always be there for me.

Mykombiandi head to Envirofest 2013.

Envirofest 2013 was held in one of the most beautiful places in Perth, Whiteman Park. Presented in conjunction with the Men of the Trees, Envirofest showcased a range of environmental concepts, issues and products. Entry was free and there was something for everyone including the kiddies with Free Face painting.

I absolutely loved walking around the festival checking out all the latest in sustainable options. The push towards our way of life is getting stronger, now that the options are getting more viable and easier to access information about how to make the better choices for our environment. The great number of stalls and the large range of products at the festival meant that anyone that made the trip out to Whiteman Park could leave with some great information.

I had a great chat with a lady from the Conservation Council of WA about renewable energy and possible options for WA. Check out their website for more info on what they are about.  I also enjoyed a very tasty muffin from Catering Green. All their muffins are made with free range eggs. I visited the Conservation Volunteers stall you can visit their website for information about becoming a volunteer here

As I said earlier on in the blog there was something for everyone and there was. I was lucky enough to meet the owner of Harris Organic Wines, Deb. Harris Organic wines is a small family business run by Duncan and Deborah Harris and is “Australian Certified Organic”. At Harris Organic Wines, they sell only at the cellar door and through the online wine shop. Kristy and I have been invited out to their winery for some tasting. I really look forward to catching up with Deb again and taking home some of their great tasting wines. Check out their website and here:

Throughout the day there were talks about the products on display, how to demos and plenty of people to talk about their great environmentally friendly options. I learnt how to run a worm farm, how to grow your own organic vegetables on your window sill and how important recycling is to our growing WA.

Check out the Envirofest 2013 website here for any information about the festival or any of the great exhibitors: