‘Hello there! I’m Linh Ngo, a Vietnamese living in The Philippines. I’m currently working in finance for an American company. I have a passion for traveling and exploring, which was why I left my job as a banker of a big foreign bank in Vietnam in 2012 and relocated to Manila, the Philippines ever since. Traveling with a 3rd world passport is never being easy, but somehow full of excitement and experiment getting my tourist visa stick on.’ (Linh Ngo, founder of bylinhngo.com).
Linh created the blog Fernweh by Linh Ngo 4 years ago (Fernweh means having an itchy feed to foreign countries or craving for travel). She’s a brilliant and fascinating young girl I got the connection with over an online group for travel bloggers/female travelers. Despite her current location in the Philippines, Linh has been active with the female traveler scene in our country of origin – Vietnam. During her journey, she met and fell in love with a Malaysian Chinese man, who happens to be her husband now. He ends up as her travel buddy and ‘partner in crime’, said Linh. They went exploring several countries together for the sake of tasting local street-food, experiencing new cultures, trying traditional clothes from different parts of the world, and eventually making friends from all walks of life.
‘I travel to taste the life, to reach out the world, to make memory and to learn about people’. Linh’s journeys through 7 countries and 2 continents have been filled with memories – about the girl who helped her take a taxi in a foreign country whilst giving careful instruction to the cab driver to make sure she would be home safe, about all those beer parties with friends from different countries traveling the world just like her, about the guy who quit his office job and became a famous DJ in Tokyo nowadays.
‘Being a foreigner in China is a very extreme experience. Either u love it or hate it. Either u get treated like a goddess or like a stupid tourist. Either you are instantly a VIP and get a free table at the club that usually costs 2500 RMB (about 360 USD) with drinks, or you have to wait in the longest line because there are lots of other foreigners wanting to get the same perks.’, said Thaís Ribeiro – the author of ‘Good Vibes’.
This week I had the privilege to interview a fascinating Brazilian-American author to feature on my latest series about Female Travelers of Asia. I met her in Germany during my past 7-month Europe trip last year. Read on to find out more about her life adventure and wanderlust journey to come up with this book.
About the Author
Thaís Ribeiro was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1982. As a child, she moved to Florida and spent more than 20 years there. Since then, the travel bug really got her bitten. She has been lucky enough to travel quite extensively. Besides Brazil and America, she also lived in Spain, Romania, China and currently Germany.
One of her favorite experiences was working on a cruise ship, where she actually got paid to travel the world. Traveling, learning and teaching languages, singing, playing the clarinet, and writing are just some of her favorite things. After teaching English in small town named Zhangjiagang in China for about a year, she moved to Germany and is now living there – where she believes her routes set. Thais speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Galician and German fluently. Her great grandmother is Austrian, and her dad encouraged her to start picking up the language at a very early age.
About the book – ‘Good vibes’
The book was based on real-life stories of the three women who started off having a hard life and were able to turn things around. By writing ‘Good Vibes’, the author brought some more significant messages to her readers: ‘Everybody has made mistakes, everybody has hurt someone’s feelings and some people have done even worse but that doesn’t make them any less worthy of redemption then you. What it does mean is that they need some extra help to get to the point they need to be. What they need is a helping hand, kind words, and guidance. This is what everyone needs at some point or another and there’s nothing wrong with that, that’s normal! Take the time to see the good side of the people around you, but before you do that, take a good look in the mirror. But don’t just look at what’s on the outside…’
Thais also mentioned: ‘When I worked in customer service, my favorite stories to tell were the ones about the crazy bitchy angry customers, who just needed somebody to listen to them. Nobody has probably really listened to them because they could not get past the giant brick wall of “bitch”. After being treated badly so many times in life, they slowly built this wall around them as a defense mechanism. Then when somebody come around and actually listens to them, these walls fall down and the real person is able to come out. Some people are ready for that. Some are not. But I’m going to try to help if I can.’
Everybody needs a hand sometimes…and everybody can use some good vibes! Find her book on kindle here.
Cruising through Ha Long Bay UNESCO Heritage
A must-visit destination in Northern Vietnam is without double Halong Bay. You can choose a luxurious cruise, or book a day tour on the spot, both of which are great! You probably wont know where to start as Ha Long is too big and almost every travel agencies in Hanoi would try to sell you tours or party cruises. Just make sure not to miss out important spots such as Thien Cung Cave and Lan Ha Bay (close to Ha Long Bay, near Cat Ba Island). Kayaking is a must-do. Jumping from the cliff is possible, but optional.
Explore Cat Ba’s hundreds of dazzling Islands
Taking the boat ride in Ninh Binh through the caves and karsts
Trek through the rice terraces in Sapa
Riding the scooter or cycling around Hoi An
Grooving and working by the beach in Southern Vietnam
Having plenty of cafe options to work from remotely in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh
Everyone was wondering why I traveled alone in Asia
Hidden racism and discrimination
Dating and relationship
Put aside beauty and shopping
The story of Quest
Questival offers the whole 3-day package of diverse art – music – performance – workshop
The vibe of freedom and escape
Partying is definitely counts a big part!
Things to consider
Would you go for money or experiences when booking accommodation for your next Europe trip? Think twice – you can have it all here! Take a glance at some of the most unique, quality and affordable hostels in Europe below. After 7 months of nomading throughout the continent as a solo female, here are my top 7 hostel experiences for low-budget travelers who can now be thrilled to spend approximately 5 to 10 EUR per night in one of these selected places during low season.
Celica Art Hostel (Ljubljana, Slovenia) – No.1 hippest hostel in the world
Located not very far away from the historic centre of Ljubljana, in the city of Metelkova, the ex-prison Hostel Celica was rated by lonely planet as the No.1 hippest hostel in the world. Experience the night behind bars from 20 former prison cells. These are some of the most fantastic artworks in town, designed by 80 local an international artists who renovated the previously abandoned building and transformed it into a social centre for travelers nowadays. Celica is located in the underground hippy city of Metelkova – an alternative culture community with plenty of art gallery, artists studios, LGBT spaces, cultural organizations and clubs featuring different types of alternative music. Celica has a space for art exhibition and some thrilling underground areas, both of which I could entered for free.
Franz Ferdinand (Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina) – Yugoslavia history and art in one place
While strolling around the capital city of Bosnia & Herzegovina that survived the war 50 years ago and is now growing drastically as a top destination in the Balkans area, one must consider spending a night at Franz Ferdinand. This first and only boutique hostel of Sarajevo is known for its interior designed by young architects who transformed the Austro-Hungarian building into story-telling spaces. Nowadays, you can enjoy versatile art concepts through massive artworks on the walls that embed aspiring history of the country during the 1st World War.
Charlie Rockets Hostel (Bruges, Belgium) – bustling bar found in a classic movie theatre
In what used to be the biggest movie theatre in Bruges, Charlie Rockets Hostel is now one of the most trendy cafes and hostels with a very unique interior design that differs itself from other cafes and bars. The walls are wrapped artistically with newspapers, a massive chandelier along with various Christmas decorations are hung from the ceiling in the main lounge. This creates a colourful, yet medieval atmosphere for the hostel. Charlie Rocket has an indoor bar, a pool room with five tables and lively on-going atmosphere.
United Hostel Frankfurt (Germany) – impressive art and lightning
One of the most impressive things about United Hostel Frankfurt is their versatile collection of artworks, all of which were bought by the owner from a French artist, displayed throughout the whole building. Dont be surprised to find an Old English Theatre on the ground floor of United Hostel Frankfurt, just by the corner. Yes you have not read it wrong! This stunning theatre with a dazzling LED lightning system can hold up to over 100 people, hosting a wide range of events such as movie nights, live bands’ performances and discotheques.
Old Town Kotor (Kotor, Montenegro)
The most impressive, eye-catching feature about the Old Town Kotor is its interior design. From the moment you walk in, you will be immediately attracted to the stone walls, vintage looking furniture, antiques and typical classic artworks of Montenegro. Experience spending a night within old walls of Montenegro, enjoy delicious dinner and breakfast served only at 4 EUR in total, and the vibrant atmosphere of both premises ran by Old Town Kotor.
We-Bologna (Bologna, Italy) – a stunning modern hostel and residence
Built based on the concept of bringing guests and students to live together, We-Bologna is one of the newest accommodations in town. Is is run as both a hostel and a dormitory. The student-friendly environment is one of the things I liked the most about We-Bologna. With 250 beds located in a highly modern premise, We-Bologna did not cease to amaze me with its mini cinema room on the ground floor, a contemporary style study room, and the open-air green surroundings.
Urban Garden Hostel (Lisbon, Portugal) – my favourite of all
Among all of these unique experiences, my favourite of all was the night spent at Urban Garden Hostel in Lisbon. After leaving my couchsurfing host due to an unexpected incident, I changed my accommodation to the nearest hostel where I was warmly welcome with a free beer. And every guests can get a free check-in beer, yay for that! They serve free breakfast with pancake (not those typical boring cereals packages and bread with jam), and decent vegetarian dinner offered at only 3 EUR. Keep in mind that though Portugal is the place to be for foodies, it is not easy to find vegetarian dishes around!
This month is the most exciting time to plan your annual travel bucket list again. While most nomads are keen to backpack in Asia or go on a get-away trip in South America, I would stay in Germany for many reasons. After years of traveling in Europe and many months spent in Germany, I can say this country never get me bored with its rich history, diverse culture, splendid landscapes and fun people to hang out with. Thus I have created this concrete list of the top 10 things for all sorts of travellers must try here.
10. Adore the most visited cathedral in Germany
Cologne Cathedral, also known as the Kölner Dom, is probably the most famous and oldest building of Cologne. There are about 6 million visits to the Dom annually, making it the most visited cathedral in Germany. Cologne is also popular for its annual carnival taking place every February.
9. Walk through the Red Light District in Frankfurt
Known for its versatile cultures and lifestyles, Frankfurt is undoubtedly one of the most interesting city in Germany I ever visited. Right at the Station Quarter near the main station, there are many legal brothels, strip bars, sex shops, adult clubs, and pornographic cinemas. You will be surprised to find here not only prostitutes and drug dealers but bankers, students and rich people in the same neighbourhood. Photos are usually not allowed in this area.
8. Go on a shopping spree at the longest pedestrian street of Europe
The small city Heidelberg is not only famous for its gorgeous castle but also its longest shopping street in Europe. This traffic-free street offers an excellent location for the real pleasure of shopping at countless boutiques, speciality shops and chilling at various coffee shops and restaurants.
7. Party in Berlin
Berlin is one the most well-known cities in Germany for its intense and alternative clubbing culture. The city never seems to sleep. You can find here all sorts of places for a great night out: from the most erotic clubs like the Kitkat, gay bar like the Schwuz to indie places like the Comet Club. Berlin is also famous for the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall and the Checkpoint Charlie – a symbol of the Cold War dividing the East Berlin and West Berlin in the past.
6. Take a boat tour in Hamburg
If you love port cities and waterways, come to this town of the so-called Hamburgers! With its harbour being the heart of the city, Hamburg offers great views on Binnenalster and Speicherstadt, especially on sunny days as you can view the old small houses lying along the rivers. Remember to take a boat tour here to adore the sunset view, watching the small boats as they pass by.
5. Drink beer
As one of the best specialties in Germany is beer, dont miss out the weekly beer tasting night at your hostel. Check out Five Elements Hostel in Frankfurt – they usually organize beer tasting night, pasta night, pub-crawls, free walking tours and other events for guests. After few beers, you will be ready to explore the German nightlife and fall in love with it!
4. Try the second best kebap in Europe
The Turkish have originally brought their kebap to the multicultural Germany and created another version to suits the German taste. Hence nowadays you can find one of the best kebaps in Europe in Berlin. This is an awesome snack for after-parties, along with fries.
3. Experience Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest is so famous that every year this world’s largest beer festival draws over 6 million people around the world to come together to Munich. During these 16 days of celebration people put on their best Bavarian outfits, drink beer by litre since noon, eat traditional Bavarian food and listen to live bands performing at various tents while singing and dancing all day.
2. Go to a Christmas Market
The famous Christmas market is a worldwide tradition and a great excitement for both children and adults throughout Germany. The magic of German Christmas Markets attracts such a huge number of visitors that every December millions of travelers come to Germany to taste a cup of Gluhwein, enjoy Germany’s traditional food and experience the Christmas atmosphere that you can find nowhere else.
1. Visit a castle in the real-life fairy tale
Germany and especially Bavaria region is well-known for castles which are like in your dream fairy-tales. Some of the most famous ones is the Neuschwanstein Castle built by King Ludwig II in Schwangau and the Heidelberg Castle in Heidelberg city close to Frankfurt (about 1 hour by bus).
After 4 years of experiencing all the ups & downs of student life whilst traveling on and off around Europe, I was questioned by many friends about how I afforded time and money to travel every now and then. Thus I decided to write this post, realizing I was blessed to have such an amazing opportunity to travel to 17 European countries without spending so much.
My journey started when I decided to move from Vietnam to Finland to pursue business bachelor at the age of 18. Coming from a middle-class family, I had to save, work part-time and do my university study at the same time, especially in one of the most expensive countries in Scandinavia. Nevertheless, I took advantage of my 4-year Schengen visa and traveled as much as I could.
On 2011 I moved to Rovaniemi – the hometown of Santa Clause village located in the north of Finland, where snow, reindeer, and as low temperature as -20 degree is no surprise. Studying abroad while living far from home for the first time in a totally different culture was a huge shock and challenge for a young girl coming from a small country.
After few months, a classmate invited me to Italy together to explore the country, where spent 11 days somewhat one-third of the savings I brought to Finland for half a year of living. Though the cost was high, I enjoyed Italy so much and knew I had to travel more. Later on, I luckily figured out how to travel cheap so I can see more of Europe without cutting on my other expenses.
In 2013, I used some of the savings from my summer job to visit Estonia (Tallinn), Lithuania (Vilnius), Latvia (Riga) and Poland (Warsaw, Krakow). This trip was designed by a friend of mine who is a well-experienced traveler, thus we saved a lot by traveling by cruise, Eurolines Bus, and Baltic Airlines. We stayed overnight on boat, buses and at our friends in Warsaw to save the accommodation expense.
Fascinated by the gorgeous classic European architecture of Poland and how sweet Polish people are, I decided to go back there in summer 2014 for an internship with AIESEC – the world’s largest student organization. Working as a freelance blogger in Szczecin for SzczecinAloud enabled me to stay in a residence, eat in restaurants, and attend festivals for free. Here I’d travel to different parts of Poland and Germany (Berlin) with Polish train, buses, and airlines which offer 1-euro ticket sometimes.
The last autumn 2014, I decided to take another huge step of my student life and take the 6-month Erasmus Program in the Netherlands (Groningen), which changed my life completely and opened up my world with so many new connections with people from all over the world. Here I got supported with my home university’s Erasmus grant and worked also as a freelance blogger for GroningenLife, which helped me cover part of the expenses.
Like in Poland, it’s easy to travel within different cities of the Netherlands (Amsterdam, the Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Eindhoven, etc) with the 7-euro day ticket for a group of 10 people with NS train, which allow you to go to any part of the Netherlands within 24 hours. Here I started using Couch-surfing and Blablacar a lot to save, which I also did in Belgium (Brussels and Antwerp).
After 6 months in the Netherlands, I met amazing people from all over the world especially Germany, Spain, and France. This was why I decided to take another big challenge and designed a root to 6 different cities in 5 countries (Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic) in 2 weeks. In these places, I’d stay with friends, at hostels and move around with Ryanair, Norwegian, BlaBlacar and take free walking tours.
Through my journey, I’d worked as a volunteer, promoter, and freelancers on and off. I slowly developed different personal travel blogs, leading me to the marketing & freelance writing field which I never knew I’s enjoy this much. Since January 2015, I started working online for LittleLives – an education technology company based in Singapore. This work allowed me to travel after graduation to Greece, where I again couch-surfed in Crete & Athens.
The journey so far has been incredible, and I am looking forward to being seeing the rest of Europe before heading back to sweet home Asia!