How to survive phone snatching in South East Asia?

One fine evening in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, after dinner, my friend and myself were walking back to our hostel, near the beautiful riverfront. We got into the adjacent road, and I was checking Google maps, to find the route to our hostel. It was almost midnight, and the road mostly had locals sitting on the sidewalks, having a laugh over ice coffee, when suddenly I could feel a motorbiker literally scraping past me, and the pillion rider tried to snatch my phone away. But thanks to this small strap, the phone got stuck into my wrist, and they had to speed away without my phone. I was so relieved. Cities in South East Asia are notorious for phone snatching, and hence I am always ready to face them 😎 I use a faded colour cover, which gives it a shabby/cheap look, along with a hook stand, where the strap is tied. This strap doesn’t just save me from snatching, but whenever I am trying for a weird selfie on a boat or an edge of a cliff, it saves the phone from accidental dropping. The cover costs Rs 100 and the hook stand costs Rs 50, bought from a roadside shop in Calcutta. The strap was taken off from an old compact camera. So, a 150 INR ($2.5/£1.5) investment saved my prized OnePlus 5.
Please feel free to share with your friends. Safe travels!

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How to find cheap flights? Or a 99 pence ticket?

This guide will tell you how to find cheap flights. It will also uncover how I had managed to get a flight ticket from Brussels to Berlin for 0.99 GBP.

Sitting on the edge of the seat, you have been waiting for a holiday? You have just spotted THAT long weekend! Not sure where to go? What do you do? I have the solution!

Just head over to skyscanner.com

As shown in the screenshot below, in “From”, enter your country. Alternatively, if you are sure about your port of departure, enter your city. In the “To” space, leave it blank or type “everywhere”. You can enter a specific day to fly out, or choose a month of your choice and hit Search!

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You will get a list of countries, in ascending order of their cheapest destinations. Choose your preferred country and click on it (See below)

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For example, if you chose Germany, it will show you the list of German Airports, in ascending order of flight prices (see below). Choose your preferred destination.

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And finally, if you had not chosen a specific city in the “From” box, then you will be asked to choose your departure airport, again listed in ascending order, according to flight prices. It works great, if for example you are based in Newcastle, and you are getting cheaper flights from Manchester or Edinburgh, both of which are a short train ride away.

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This tool works like a charm, if you are a bit flexible with either your dates or destination. Kayak.com and Google flights also have this “everywhere” feature, but I tend to prefer the skyscanner one.

However, if you have made up about your mind regarding your destination, and are a bit flexible with dates, you should head over to Google Flights. Enter your port of departure and destination. When you select the dates, it shows you a nice calendar with the cheapest flight prices of each day (shown below). This is a great way to choose your travel dates.

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And of course, most cheap flights do not have cabin baggage included. Hence, you are better off flying with a small backpack and travelling light. Like I do, for all my travels, if you see the photo below. Ideally you should layer up. I will do a detailed post on baggage hacks, and how to beat the confusing baggage restrictions (and save a lot of money as well).

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I kind of use a mix of Skycanner and Google Flights, and hence, I got this! A flight for 99 Pence! But I paid 10 times my flight fare, to travel from Berlin airport to city centre! Okay… I know… This is INSANE!! But see the email below…

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This is my first ever blog post. Please try out the above mentioned methods and let me know what you thought about them, in the comments section. If you liked this post and it proved to be helpful, please do share with your friends as well. Awaiting your feedback and suggestions.

Happy travels and thank you for reading 🙂

Budget Iceland Trip for 250 GBP

Iceland for £250 or 22,000 INR.
My trip to Iceland was my costliest trip ever, at 250 GBP (according to my budgeting standards, as it’s 2 week’s worth of part time work). I spent £70 on return flights, £20 on hostel, £20 on food, £20 on local transport, £100 for day bus tour of Iceland countryside, which took me to the waterfalls, glacier and black beaches; it was worth every penny!

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Additionally, I spent another £20 for Newcastle to London return, including London Victoria to Gatwick airport return. Everything in Iceland is super expensive. Public transport from Airport to City Centre will cost you minimum £10 if you take the local bus, or £30 if you take one of the frequent company transfers. There is no public transportation to all the major sites of the countryside, and you have to opt for one of the tour operators, which starts from £80.

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Flights from London to Iceland costs normally £150 return, but only on these 2 days, I found it for half price, hence I did not have much flexibility. I spent 2 full days in Iceland, where 1st day when I landed in the morning, whole day I went around the capital city of Reykjavik, took the free walking tour, ate local food and roamed around the city.

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2nd day I took the day tour of Iceland Countryside, and managed to see quite a bit of everything ! Indeed it was terribly cold, at this time of the year, where the Sun rose at 10am and set at 4pm. Overall I was pleasantly surprised with the natural beauty of Iceland, as I did not expect to see so much. Am sure I will visit Iceland again, perhaps when I’ll be rich enough 😉 If you are planning to go there, don’t hesitate ! Just go ! You will not regret it !

 

How I landed up in Hong Kong without a Visa

One hell of an experience ! When I had booked my flights back in December, Indians did not require a prior Visa to come to Hong Kong. But suddenly, it was stopped and Pre Arrival registration was started, and I was perhaps among the 1st few, who’s PAR got rejected; perhaps because of the UK residential address, that I had that time. Not just me, I discovered that almost everyone’s PAR got rejected. I had to send all my documents by post to Hong Kong directly, as Chinese missions in India refused to entertain Hong Kong visa applications. The visa was thankfully approved in mid February, and the Visa label/sticker was being sent by post. But thanks to out great Indian Postal services, the sticker still did not reach my address in Kolkata. I had even arranged for the sticker to be posted to Vietnam, if it had reached before my flight to Hong Kong. But sadlyy luck was bad ! I managed to board my flight to Hong Kong, from Ho Chi Minh City, because I convinced them that I always had the option of using the HK airport ferry to Macau, where I don’t need to cross Hong Kong immigration, incase I am refused entry into Hong Kong. After landing in Hong Kong, I went to the passport control and told them about my situation, and they strictly told me that since I don’t have my visa label, I won’t be allowed in, and asked me to book a flight back to India right now, or go to Macau. Their view is that I shouldn’t have flown without my visa label. I requested them to speak to any senior person and look into my approved visa details. They literally threatened and warned me that if I go to a senior person, and my case was not satisfactory, I will be deported back to India immediately, and that will be the worst thing for my travel history. So, she asked me either go to Macau or book a flight back to India instead. The officer asked if I am ready for the risk of deportation, to which I was confident that there was no reason for them not allowing me in, especially when my visa has been already approved, just the label did not reach, and my passport is full of Visas and visit stamps. I was taken to a strange room, where after gruelling interrogation for an hour by 2 officers, they took all my details, saw my Facebook profile, and kept on asking me very strange and lame questions, such as why am I travelling alone, that too to so many countries; why did I choose Hong Kong and not Indonesia, etc etc. I simply love to travel! What’s my fault? After that they went on a huddle and said that this time they will allow me in and asked for another 190 HK$ and gave me a visa form to fill in again. And finally I am relieved and I will be able to spend my 23rd Birthday in Hong Kong 🙂 Undoubtedly the year of being 22, has been the most eventful year of my life, even till the last evening 🙂 I would not recommend others to take this risk please.
I guess my parents back home were more tensed about me, than me myself. Sorry for the agony Mom Dad ! #Relieved

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10 Days 10 Countries; Daydreamer’s Dream!

Newcastle > Dublin(Ireland) > Oslo(Norway) > Warsaw(Poland) > Stockholm(Sweden) > Helsinki(Finland) > Copenhagen(Denmark) > Brussels(Belgium) > Berlin(Germany) > Madrid(Spain) > Lisbon (Portugal) > London

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11 consecutive morning flights; slept in airports, ran from hostels at 3 am to catch the only night bus, to board 6 am flights. All I had, was a backpack, a passport and an iPod, along with my Moto G3 phone.

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After landing, rushed to the tourist info centres, got hold of a map & managed to go to each and every tourist attraction as well as visited local rowing clubs in all the places and finally crashed into the hostels at night, for a well deserved shower and a few hours of sleep. 

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Met some amazing people in hostels, airport queues, bus stations, etc. In quite a few places, people didnt speak english at all and google translate app came in really handy.
Spent a total of 150£ for flying 11 times, about 10€ per night for hostels, another 10€ per day for food and 10€ per day on unlimited transport pass. Had to carry 6 different currencies. Survived on less than 300€ in all. And yes, the flight price from Brussels to Berlin was just 0.99£.

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One day, randomly sat on skyscanner.com, inputted “From: Newcastle”, “Date: 20th June” and kept the “To” space blank, which showed the lowest priced flights on that day from Newcastle, and it was to Dublin, for about 7£. Repeated the same, this time “From: Dublin” and “Date: 21st June”, which showed Oslo to be the lowest. Repeated this, till I saw a cheap flight back to London from Lisbon. Other than a schengen visa, I had to apply for a separate Irish visa, and I had to face the most hilarious questions from the border control officer in Dublin airport. 

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Had to deal with flight delays and once, I got a text message the evening before that my next morning flight had been cancelled, had to rush to the airport, negotiated with the staff, had to do the gruelling task of convincing them that one flight cancellation can jeopardise my whole trip and finally managed to get myself rebooked on another airline for the same morning….
Countless memories ! Experience of a Lifetime !