Friday, April 24, 2015

Week 7.2 | Masters & Waffles!

Donnerstag, 16 April 2015
(Something from week 7, but who is keeping track? That's right. No one. Except me.)


A class picture with Mr Edvin/Edwin from Physological Aspects of Consulting Seminar

Say hello to my coursemates from the IBC programme! Which I am not really taking part mostly but only taking a few of the seminars they offer. Despite being in Germany and so, I'm grateful they have English classes for the Master program. The other students knew each other well so I'm like the new kid on the block but despite that, they didn't shy away from me. They are super friendly, and they quickly took me in and naturally we became friends (in a few hours, hahaha). 

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Samstag, 18 April 2015

I LOVE PANCAKES!!!!

I've missed Kebab night because I was stuck in the campus for an assignment discussion and the next day, Alvaro and Marta invited me and Berit for pancakes. It's been awhile since I have had them but after that meal, I was so hooked. Ever since that day, I constantly have this craving for pancakes at any time of the day. I think about pancakes even when I'm super full. And I even made pancakes at home last few days just to satisfy my craving. Hahaha. Damn, the devil. How come yummy food are almost always unhealthy and make us fat? 
You know what? I went so crazy that I begin to search out pancakes recipe in Pinterest. HAHAHA. And look what I found...


Look at it and tell me... Do you see heaven now? 
The pictures itself made me had a foodgasm. 
Hopefully, I've done the same thing Alvaro the chef did to me, that is to ruin your diet. *Evil laugh* And now I think I'll go make some for myself and serve it with honey and butter. That's how I like it. Simple and absolutely scrumptious.  




Monday, April 20, 2015

My first experience with Couch-Surfing & Tips for Solo Female Travellers

Couch-surfing, I'm sure most of the young ones who likes to travel have heard of this term before. It is the new budget way to travel and of course to meet new people around the world while travelling. For me, honestly I'm using it to save money so I don't need to spend $$ on accommodation and also maybe to meet locals so I can learn different cultural experience or so. But mainly on saving money because I'm an Asian.

Now, recently, I think I've kind of stumble upon the ugly side of Couch-surfing. Frankly, I think I'm too naive as I thought that everyone on Couch-surfing are friendly and won't suggest some funny stuffs if you know what I mean. Or maybe I'm interpreting them in a wrong way. I might be biased when I'm writing my experience down, but I will be as detailed as possible so that you guys can explain or tell me that I'm looking things at the wrong way or something. Any type of insight is very appreciated so please, leave a comment about what you think. 

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My story

It was my first time using couch-surfing and I actually didn't know how the website really works. I ended up posting my Rome Trip publicly so that the other couch-surfers can see and offer to host me. In the mean time, I was also making request to three female hosts. But it turns out, all 3 of them didn't reply me. It is common for people to not reply if they don't feel uncomfortable so this is normal. Plus, I think it was kind of late for me to find accommodation because I only had like a week to find a host before my trip. It was kind of a rushed task. Then, a few hours after I post my public trip up, some people pm-ed me. Most of them said they can't host me but they offered to show me around. There is also one who even shared his blog which I think was extremely useful as he wrote many tips for travelers who are planning to walk around Rome. Then, two men offered to host me. Surprisingly, these two men only host females.  

At first, I accepted the offer from Remo, who was living quite far away from the city center. Then, Arturo offered me too, who was living nearer to the city center. You can click on their name to go to their profile and read them up. 
Remo only had a few reviews and I think he didn't understand much English because when I tried to chat with him, I was a bit confused by what he was saying. Arturo on the other hand, have a great amount of good reviews but also some negative reviews. I weigh my choice and I chose Arturo because of the location, his understanding of English language and also he has so many good reviews which I felt safer. But oh, but was I wrong.....

Okay, first up on my bad experience list. 

#1. Fake profile




So, as I mention there were a few people who pm-ed me but said they couldn't host me. This guy was the first to approach me after I post up my trip. At first we exchange messages on couch-surfing and he give me a brief intro of himself and suggested to add him on Facebook to chat. I was planning to just ignore him but I thought I'm being a bitch if I did that so fine, I added him on Facebook after considering for a day or two. I thought he would be decent because he have more friends than me on Facebook. After approving me, he send me a facebook message immediately. His replying speed was like.... lighting. Observe the chat below.


First of all, I thought he was a bit persistent on asking where I was living and where I was going. Then, I didn't know what "hook up" really means. I literally have to google the definition down so that I don't misinterpret the word. It is a very sensitive word. I mean I've never used the word before or have I heard it used on me in a question form before. 

Turns out, it has two meaning. 
  1. To hang out.
  2. To have casual sex.
Being the paranoid me as I thought the world is a very scary place, I assume it was definition #2. Seeing as he said he was "joking", I think I assume correctly. It was kind of smart of him too to use the word because he can pass off as definition #1 instead of #2 if the female is offended. -.-

I then decided to find more details about this guy on his couch surfing profile because I had to make sure, I didn't offend someone who is genuinely being polite. Turns out, this profile is a fake one. How did I know? Here's some proof.


I vaguely remember I saw only two reviews on the day he pm-ed me. Miraculously after a few days, the number of reviews rose from 2 to 7 right now.  Fishy..... And all the reviews are very recent, starting from March 2015. Okay, if you didn't dig deeper, you would think they are genuine reviews. But wait....

 

Sorry, all the reviewers have empty profiles. Conclusion, fake.

I've already reported this person but his profile is still online. I hope the admin will do something about these kind of people. 

You know, it's kind of stupid to use Couch-surfing as a platform to look for sex. I mean, there's Tinder and online dating websites. I've said this before on my Facebook but I will say it again. It's disgusting! Youngster nowadays, seriously, they can digustify and abuse any kind of social platforms even if there are platforms where they can be as dirty as they want. But no, they want to use Couch-surfing for hook-ups, brilliant. Sluts and manwhores. He was younger than me by the way. Maybe he is just in that age of "fooling around" but still.,,, Urgh. Westerners.

#2. Couch surfing alone as a female traveler/Taken advantage of

So, now, I will start telling you about my interesting and scary first experience with couch-surfing. This is going to be a long story but.. I feel I need to write out all the details to understand the situation better. For the long story short version, please look at the first image below.

After I accepted his offer, we chatted and we even befriended on Facebook. We then moved to Whatsapp. I was quite overwhelmed because he was very warm, too warm perhaps. I think he was flirting with me too because he was overusing the kissing and flower emoticons and he kept saying "I like you". This freaks me out actually, because I don't usually get that from anyone especially a stranger. LOL. Even with my boyfriend, he doesn't send me kissing emoticons for like once every hour or keep saying "I like you" before we were officially together. And this stranger... has the audacity to talk to me that way. I tried to be nice and understanding, so I ignored it and reply as nice as I could, trying very hard not to send any "signals" which he may misinterpreted. I don't want to piss him off either as I don't want to lose my couch. *cry laugh* Cheapskate.
I also posted the "fake couch-surfing" issue on my facebook too. He noticed it and he asked me what happened. I told him about issue No. 1 and then I also told him not to misunderstand my intentions too since he was sending so many kissing emoticons. I told him I was uncomfortable with him saying "he likes me" too much, it kind of freaks me out. BUT after that, he sent me his selfies. Not only one, but a few okay. He also demanded me to send my pictures to him which of course I told him I don't want to, because I don't feel comfortable sending personal pictures of me to a stranger whom I only start to chat with for like a day and I only send them to my boyfriend or my family ONLY. He was persistent and said it was okay for me to send them to him, I declined again and told him he can see me when we meet, so there is no need for pictures. Plus he had gone through my profile pictures in Facebook so I didn't think it was necessary to sent him any for identifying purpose.

The day arrived, I traveled to Rome. He offered to fetch me from the station after his work which I think was really nice of him. Before I met him, I was mentally prepared for the two air kisses on the cheek but I was not prepared for what he was doing. When we met, he gave me a full on kiss on my cheeks, like his mouth directly to my cheeks. My mistake, I did not research how Italians greet each other. It is still pretty vague to me as of now, as I read two kisses are done to friends (which I have no idea what kind of kisses that is, but I assume air kisses as the normal one) and for normal friends, it's just handshakes. Okay, I'll let it slide. He's an old man. Maybe I'll pretend to be his grandchildren or something.

Back to his home, he offered to cook dinner for both of us. He was living alone and has a pet dog. His house was full with pictures of himself and also his daughters (which I only knew on the second night when the other girl were asking him questions about the photos). I met his dog, a very attention-thirsty dog. I thought his fur was kind of annoying , because he was shedding all over the place. I was covered with his fur since I step into his house. Okay, Joey, don't be rude, it's his house and his dog, so just be grateful that he offered you a place to stay. You're a complete stranger to him but he let you sleep on his couch. Be grateful. We didn't have much to talk as I don't know what to say and I have less things to share with him. He was talking something really deep and I didn't understand most of it, some philosophy or something. He even told me he didn't like people treating his home as a BB inn. I wonder what he meant by that? He demands more from his couch-sufers? In terms of what?

Then things went really weird after dinner. At random moments, he keep touching my face and touching my nose. I didn't jerk away from him, he was too fast and I didn't saw that coming and I don't want to be rude. So, I just let it slide off... again. I just laughed it off awkwardly and I didn't object his actions. I realize this was my fault because I let him on and I should have stop him sooner. He then began to become more brave. When I was sitting crossed leg, he poked my feet sheepishly. I laughed it off again. Then, he decided to ask me for a photo shoot. He took pictures of me, it was so obvious that I look very uncomfortable in the pictures. He said I look awkward and ask me to try to relax so he could take good photos of me. I tried my best, to look normal and less afraid. I masked it with a laugh and I said I'll be more comfortable with the dog. Things went even weirder, I don't even know why I agreed to that. I played with the dog while he took pictures of me randomly. When the dog decided he had enough and just went away, Arturo ask me to lie down on the floor to get "better pictures". I was like.... wtf? I said I don't want to, it's weird, and laughed. He insisted. Okay, don't wanna be rude to this old man, lie down loh. So awkward, I just start laughing and sit back up and told him I can't do it. That moment, I regret my actions even more. Because I should have just be stern and told him I don't want to.

Here comes the weirdest part. Then we sat on the sofa, watching tv, suddenly he pulled me in with his arm around my shoulder and ask me to sleep on his shoulder. Surprised, I didn't lie on his shoulder of course. I told him it's not normal for me and I don't even do that to my brother. I prefer not to do that I told him. He then grab my feet and start massaging them. I jerk my legs from his hands but he grabbed them and told me to relax. He said he is a doctor and study about the human anatomy too so he knows how to massage people. I was so stiff, he can tell also, he keep asking me to relax. SO DAMN AWKWARD LAH WEH. Some more ask me if I want to go out or not, to the park at 10.30pm. I said okay because I don't want to be rude but then later, I told him I was tired and I just fake my sleep when he was massaging my feet. Hoping he would stop if I fell asleep. He did, eventually. But actually, I couldn't sleep the whole time, because I was afraid he might do something funny to me. After an hour or so, I dozed off and he went to his bedroom. Then I woke up to check my phone, he heard me and came out of his room then ask me to get up so he can open the sofa to become a bed for me. I was really blur that time. After we finished setting up the bed, suddenly he grabbed my face with both of his hand and then kiss me on my forehead and my cheeks and said goodnight. OKAY, TOO WARM. TOO WARM. Cilaka, take advantage of me while I was half-awake. This ah pek really something.

Then the next morning, I prepared myself to go out. And another weird thing happen. This set me off, and freaked me out the most. Ignoring the fact that he was in his underwear (at least he covered them with a blanket but he was walking around with them even when he have a guest in his house), he whatsapp me and asked me to go into his room..... I was in the living room. Okay fine, went in. Then he was really nice, he explained to me how to get to the Vatican City and gave me his house key. Then, when it was all over. He grab my face again, kiss my forehead and then... he pulled my face up and I know, he was going for the mouth this time. NO MORE, I will not let it slide off anymore! Not even for an old man! I tried to pull my face away from him and using my hands to push him but he grabbed my face tightly. I told him "Sorry, this is too much!". I don't know why I apologize, it's stupid, but I'm so used to saying "sorry" for no reason. Then he say okay, and laugh it off. But keep touching my face again.

I was pretty freaked out by then. I felt pretty stupid, why was I there. And I was even asking him if he want to go out with me, just to be nice but in my heart, I was praying he would say no. In the end, he say no, he wants to chill at home. Thank goodness! After I walked out, I felt really unsafe and uncomfortable. I didn't even enjoy my day because I was worrying about this issue. I even find a cafe for me to get wi-fi to call my boyfriend and told him everything. I even cried when I told him. Obviously I was terrified but I was holding it in. I even consulted Megan, my diving instructor who was an Italian. I asked her if this is normal, maybe it was an Italian culture, but turns out, it was not normal. She said I should tell him straight that I have a boyfriend and I don't like to be involved like that. Which I already told him I have a bf. I told Chia Ling too, and she gave me some really good advice. The best thing I can do that time was to be stern and strict on how I was to be treated. If I don't like being touched, I should stop him and not let things slide off. He did not respect me either because every time he tried to touch me and do something, he did not ask for my permission. He keep catching me off guard and touching me randomly and suddenly every time. That was my mistake. I let him on and he took advantage of me. I was also afraid that he might kick me out but in truth, I could have just booked a hostel and sleep there. It's not like I can't afford it. I don't know what I was thinking, being afraid of saving myself. I was really stupid.

I went back at around 7pm, because he said he had a plan or something. He also told me that there are two more girls who's coming to couchsurf the day before, but they did not reply him so I ended up sleeping alone for the first night. Luckily, they came on my second night there. Then, Arturo stop everything. No touching and kissing when the two girls were together with me. He did not even do that to the other girls too. I was relieved and I felt safer. The two girls were extremely friendly and I was really really glad they came. I felt like I was being rescued. He also cooked dinner again for all of us. He also asked us if we want to go out that night, it was very late too. The two girls (Tato and Ani) declined politely and said they were very tired because they were with their backpacks the whole day and they need rest. We can see that he was not really happy with our answers. We said "maybe tomorrow" but on the next day, we were out till 11pm because we had to wait really long for dinner and it was raining, so it was pretty hard to walk back and the public transportation was so confusing. When we went back, it turns out he whatsapp all of us, asking where we were. All of us didn't have internet so we only received them when we arrived at his house (connecting to his house's wifi). Suddenly he reply that "He need to talk to us". Okay, we knew it, he is going to kick us out but we hoped that it wasn't that night because it was raining and it was already 12am. Luckily he didn't, and yes, he told us he couldn't host us anymore  because he had to go to his mother's suddenly and ask us if we can find another place to stay. It's his house, of course we have to oblige no matter what. It's not like I want to stay there anyway, I was afraid of him. He then lock himself in the room without talking much.

It was kind of funny, because he was contradicting himself. On the first night I was there, he did tell me that he was not going to be around his house on weekends but he never told me that I can't sleep in his house when he was away. But that was when I was alone with him. I even assumed he was okay with me staying there without his presence because he didn't say anything about not being able to host me. Hah. So, I thought he is kicking us out because he couldn't take advantage of me anymore and he thought we were treating his house like an inn because we refused to go out with him late at night. That is what I think.

I know, it's his right. He can kick us out whenever he wants because it is his house. We have no right to complain that. This experience was very weird for me. I was actually happy when I was kicked out because I don't have to deal with this man and his feelings anymore. I never want to experience that again. Ever. I know I am also at fault because I was careless and was not careful enough and also, I wasn't stern enough, he thought I was joking when I said I was uncomfortable. I should have researched more first and not assume anything. No more couch-surfing alone at some weird guy's house who only host females for some reason.

I also left a review for him. I did this after I'm sure I'm out of Rome. To my defense, I did not show any negativity in front of him, so he did not know what was coming. This came as a shock to him I guess.

His couchsurfing profile: https://www.couchsurfing.com/people/arturo.darezzo
For those who are lazy to read all of the above, below is the tl;dr version.



And after my review, I guess he was shocked by my review and he was so mad, he kind of threatened me...

Messages sent to my Couch Surfing profile





He even whatsapp me and said I'm not honest, tried to threaten me with my pictures he took and said "He was joking". Oh right, just a harmful joke. Oh, touching me and kissing me, it's just a joke. No harm done. Oh, almost kissing my mouth, hahaha, a joke. Hehe, haha. Yeah, very funny. OF COURSE NOBODY EVER ADMITS THEY ARE MOLESTING SOMEONE

No. Not funny. It's creepy. And he knows it. Else, why did he apologize? And telling me that if I don't delete my review, he will post the pictures up. Wow, really? Post it up. Here, I'll help you. I'm even posting them up on my blog. And let me tell you, why I was looking so happy. He asked me to be comfortable and ask me to smile more, because in the other pictures, I look like shit and my face showing I was very scared and not comfortable. He showed it to me and yes, I agree. I do look like I was super afraid. Apparently, he decided to omit that picture off. The second picture, is the one he took when he asked me to lie down. As I don't want to be rude, fine, I lied down. Instead of posing like a prostitute, I decided to laugh it off and I'm even using my hands to cover up the shame of me doing what he asked. I lied down for like 10 secs and I can't take it anymore. If I don't explain myself I think you all will think I did it happily. In truth, I didn't. I just didn't know how to decline him and I'm just entertaining him. Main point, I don't want to be rude to my host, so I was being nice. Indirectly, I was being forced to do that. Now, I know, why he want to take pictures of me laughing happily because he wants to threaten me with them and show other people that I'm actually very happy when I was with him and my review is fake. 

**Update on 20 April**
He uploaded the pictures into his google album and post the link with his review of me in Couchsurfing. Why am I not surprised? I'm tired of this shit, I just want to move on and ignore him. That's what I'm going to do after publishing this post. I've been saving this post in my draft since I came back from Rome, and now after publishing my Rome trip post, I can finally post this up.
****

You know what? I will not be bullied and be afraid of you. If you want to post them up, please do. Why would I fake my review if I don't like my stay there? What would I gain from that? Nothing! He assumed I was pissed off because he can't host me for my last two nights. Come on, I was uncomfortable whenever I'm alone with him. If it's not for the other two girls, I wouldn't even be there anymore. I already plan to find hostel to stay if the girls did not stay there too. I was more than happy to sleep at a hostel rather than being alone with him. Honestly, I booked a female dorm after I was kicked out and I was happier than ever because I felt so comfortable. I don't have to worry about men molesting me and taking advantage of me because I was travelling alone. I don't want other female travelers to fell for his trap too. 



So what, you have 46 positive reviews? That doesn't mean you didn't try to take advantage of me. Most of the comments were using the term "we", so I think most of them were not travelling alone, therefore they were safe and he did not do something funny to them. I've also found this Vietnamese girl's comment of him. I guess she don't want to be rude, therefore the neutral review. As you can see, she said he showed more intimacy than usual for a host and a guest. She also thought that maybe it's just Italian hospitality. She was also in my shoes and I bet she was alone too. I don't know if she went through the same thing as me but she did not explain exactly what he did and like what I first thought, just let it slide.

Maybe many might pity him and felt like they owe him for providing a roof for them so they did not post a negative review for him. Sorry, not me. I'm very unlucky to be his victim, he is also unlucky because I've decided to leave him a negative review. You know what I think, when someone knows they did something wrong, they will want to show to people that they are harmless and act pitiful so that people don't blame them for what they did or do. This is what I thought. He wants me to think it's a joke so that I don't write bad things about what he did to me.

Now, I've learnt my lesson. I will not act nice anymore if they make me feel uncomfortable. This was my first time having this problem, that's why I didn't know how to deal with it. I realize I did many wrong things and I did not try to protect myself more than I should. I was constantly feeling afraid and also felt like I should not be rude to him although he took advantage of me. I was confused and very unstable, I was not thinking clearly on what I should do. I would like to thank my friends who listened to me and offered me advice because seriously, my mind was going haywire and I did not know what kind of approach I should use to stop him. I hope the others will learn from my mistake.  

#3. Inappropriate suggestions from hosts

I don't have any pictures to prove this. Although, I have received some inappropriate message with mixed meanings. I deleted the person's number and deleted my short chat with him, because it's disgusting.

Remember I said something about Remo, who offered to host me before Arturo? Yeah, after we were kicked out, me and the two other girls were asking other couch-surfers for help. I was ready to book a place for myself actually but Tato and Ani don't want to, so I decided to ask for the three of us. I contacted Remo again and asked if it is okay to host 3 person this time instead of one.
This is what he replied to me... and I was... like.. wtf..

Remo: So, one of you will be sleeping with me on my bed right? *wink & tongue out smiley face*

I showed the chat message to Tato and asked her if this is normal and did this happen to her before in Couch-Surfing. She said yes, and advice me to just ignore him. I declined him politely and deleted his number forever. He even replied me to inform him if we changed our mind. I'm not sure if he is trying to be funny or just joking around. But for me, at that point, that is not a joke. That is an inappropriate joke actually.

I booked myself a bed in a female hostel dorm the next morning, because I kept worrying about my accommodation. I have to know I have a place to stay else I will keep worrying and wouldn't be able to enjoy my day. I didn't want any more surprises so I thought it was the best to choose a female only dorm. I felt perfectly safe there.
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So, to sum things up, some heads up and advice for other (solo or not) female travelers.

Lesson learnt / Tips for solo female travelers:

  1. Read their profiles. Read the reviews. Make sure the reviewers are genuine!
  2. Research about the cultures so you know what to expect from them. Ask your friends who are from that country if you can! It is better to ask the locals rather than read them up on the internet. 
  3. Ask as many questions as you want to your host. You have your rights to do so.
  4. State your limitations first and be stern about it. Make your intentions clear!
  5. If you feel uncomfortable, bail out.
  6. Couch-surf with another friend, not alone. 
  7. Find a female host or a host with a family.
  8. Trust your feelings. Don't put yourself in a situation that you know you will regret. 
  9. Have a Plan B. Be prepared in a worst case scenario. At least do some research about which hostel you can take if you end up outside. Best take female only dorms.

Week 6 & 7 | Cut my hair

There's nothing much going on in my 6th and 7th week here. Well, not after coming back from Rome. I just cooped up in my room to filter, edit my pictures and blog about my trip. And also a lot of TV and movies too. 


I have also cut my hair. Have been thinking about cutting it for awhile because my long hair kept getting tangled and it's getting on my nerves. I've no problem in cutting my bangs but never tried cutting the back part. I always thought it's necessary to ask somebody else to cut it for me but now... I think I can manage by myself too if I want it short. Though it doesn't look perfect but oh well. Never try never know aye? I've actually cut it twice. I prefer the first attempt but those hair are gone now. *sobs*

I took a 3-day seminar for Managing people in Project last week. It was very interesting. Although most of the materials and content are... pretty obvious and common sense but it's difficult to apply in real life. The most important thing is to listen and understand but hell, it's the most difficult thing to do. I've also learned the sandwich technique and also the 3-to-1 approach for giving feedback. First of all, you need to highlight the positive points and slot in one "constructive criticism" in the middle, and end with another one or two positive points. Apparently, people respond better with this method because there are more positive things to focus on instead of the negative ones. I've also learnt that people are easily tempted with giving out their opinions instead of listening to others. Subconsciously, we try to instill our own beliefs into another person by asking a direct question instead of a raw and general one. For example, instead of asking "What do you think about that?", we ask "Do you think that is bad for you?". Get it? It's so hard to explain in words for me. Truth to be told, it's a damn challenge to change our way of saying and asking things.


I also got my shirt for Badische Meile happening next two week. I hope I can finish it because I've not been training for my run. I need to train, real bad. *cries*


And I'm doing something I love again. I left my crochet kit at home because I don't want to tempt myself in buying yarns so that I can save money. Well, you know what? I regret I did that. I shouldn't stop myself from doing the things I like. And now, I have these pretty yarns sitting on my desk because I'm doing something to be used in my group project with the girls from my Film Montage class. Yeah, I would not have guessed I'll be using my crochet skills in this class, so go figure! 
Sigh, money is always the issue. Well, it's actually not if we don't want them to be. In the end, it all boils down to what we belief and think.



I cooked carbonara the other day! I don't really cook pasta back at home because I thought it is a complicated thing to cook. But in reality, it's actually pretty easy to make a dish out of pasta, I'm the one who is making things difficult. I've been doing it the wrong way too. Thanks to Italian influence, I'm learning to cook them again! I'm actually very surprised by how easy and fast it is to make my dinner nowadays. 

I used to cook my spaghetti for half an hour and for a long time, I really thought that's the minimum time needed for them but no, I'm so wrong. Carbonara is so easy to make , and there's so many names for the other kind of sauce but I don't remember. My main point is though, I'm beginning to love them and currently I'm experimenting on other type of ways to eat them. Hahaha. I'm crazy for them at this moment. 

Okay, I'm mostly blabbering in this post today but heck, whatever. I'm done for today. I need rest and plenty of rest. Need to unscramble my brain too for something, I've been putting them off for a long time.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Tips for traveling around Rome, Italy

What is what?

What is Termini Station?
The mother of all transport station in Rome.

Credits to this website

Some Italian phrase that I mostly used are just Grazie, Si, No, Permesso, and Scusi. 

Internet

  1. Need to call? Want to use internet on your phone when you're out and about?You can only buy a sim card at the store itself. More info here.
  2. Wi-Fi can be found easily in restaurants and cafe. But in order to use it, you have to dine in (naturally).

Transportation/Navigation

  1. Buy bus tickets online or at the bus ticket booth. Terravision is a good website to buy your ticket online, it might be cheaper to buy online too as I bought mine for 5 or 6 Euro for one-way and 8 Euro for return ticket at the booth. If you decided to buy it at the booth, be prepared to queue up for the line. If you buy online, you can skip the line to change your receipt for the ticket at the booth.
  2. To use the public transport legally, you need to have a ticket before using the public transport there. 
  3. Public transport are confusing but it saves time (if it is far and not in walking distance). You can find the routes from the internet yourself but it will be very confusing. Instead, ask your hostel receptionist or the tourist information center as they know better and they can tell you which transport to take in order to get some where. 
  4. Get an offline map on your smartphone! I used Ulmon but I think there's plenty of offline map app out there.

For the budget/student traveler

  1. Always have your student card with you if you have them. Most of the museums has reduced rate for students. Some are even free for students in the faculty of art or architecture. 
  2. Do check on the opening hours of the places that you want to visit as some times, some are closed at some certain day and also some have free entrance at some certain day too. Example, free entry on every first Sunday of the month for Colosseum, Sant' Angelo Museum, and etc.  

Food

  1. For the best Gelato experience, find the shops that make their own gelato flavors! I recommend people to try the chocolate family (which has like 4-8 diff types, any one will do) and also the pistachio flavor. For the best Gelato experience, find the shops that make their own gelato flavors! I recommend people to try the chocolate family (which has like 4-8 diff types, any one will do) and also the pistachio flavor. 
  2. Restaurants which are famous are always full, so it is better to call them up and make a reservation so that you don't have to wait that long!
  3. If you want to be on the safe side and make sure you don't experience bad food in Rome, just google it up. I'm sure you'll find a lot on the internet. For me, I'm more about budget and I found these two websites helpful: 

Places of Interest

  • Campo de' Fiori. Best to come to the market from 7am - 1pm on Monday till Saturday. They sell fresh fruits and veges here. There are also a number of restaurants in this piazza. Avoid Sundays as the real market are close on this day. 
  • Vatican Museum. Do not be tempted to buy "skip the line" offers from people on the streets. They offer them at a much higher price!!! Instead, line up to go into the entrance of the Museum, go inside, pass the security check, and buy your ticket at the ticket booth indoor. 
  • The Colosseo have long lines constantly. It's best if you go to the Palatine Hill entrance to buy your ticket because there's not much people there. The ticket is like a three in one package, so with the same ticket you can go to Palatine Hill, Roman Forum and also the Colosseo.
  • You can skip the line to get into the Colosseo if you already have the ticket. Ignore the line, most of them are lining up to get the ticket. Just follow left.
  • If you want more out of your visits instead of just being there and taking pictures. I advise you to get a tour guide or better, get an audio tour (you can walk at your own pace and you don't have to squeeze in with the other tourists). Just so that you can learn more about the place that you're standing on. Knowledge is power and it wouldn't hurt to know more right? 
  • Visit the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain, and nearby areas at night! They look so much better without crowds. 
  • Trevi Fountain is still under restoration (posted this on 16 April 2015) and might be finished by Fall 2015 (or much later I guess).

Others

  • Remember to check the weather reading. If you know it is going to rain, bring an umbrella or a poncho with you. At least you know what to expect.
I hope this helps to my readers although it's not a very long and descriptive post. Plus, I'm sure there's a lot more post out there offering advices on Rome trips. These are just my personal opinions on things and I wished someone would told me about them beforehand. Finally, the most important part is don't stress and plan too much! I find just going with the flow and being in the moment works magic. Even though I planned a lot, I ended up not following them. Aite then, ciao!

Travelling Solo to Rome! | Part 2

Click here to read Part 1

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Sunday, 5 April 2015

It was raining all day long but we decided to go to the Colosseo. 

Tip!!! | Remember to check the weather reading. If you know it is going to rain, bring an umbrella with you. At least you know what to expect.

Had cheese noodles at La Taverna Dei Quaranta
And again, I travelled solo because I had to take lunch while the others said they will only have small snacks. I can't go on without solid food. No wonder the other girls were so skinny. Hahaha. We did plan to meet up at the entrance but I think we got lost and we didn't have any mean of communication so alone again, I was.

Entrance of The Palatine
Tip!!! | The Colosseo have long lines constantly. It's best if you go to the Palatine Hill entrance to buy your ticket because there's not much people there. The ticket is like a three in one package, so with the same ticket you can go to Palatine Hill, Roman Forum and also the Colosseo.
Free entry on first Sunday of the month!
Starting my walk in Palatine Hill. I easily spent like 2 hours here because there's no "route" you can take to have a whole tour of the place, therefore I got lost and I keep finding myself walking at same place over and over again. It reminds me of life some how. Deep.

Oh, the story behind the Palatine Hill was quite interesting. I only knew about it when I googled them just now. *shameful laugh*. According to ancient mythology, Palatine Hill was once a cave and it was where a she-wolf (lupa) saved Romulus and Remus (the twin brothers with royal blood in them). How Rome was named came from the story of these two brothers. Well, I just understand there's a lot of assassination. So, yeah...   



Then I went into Museo Palatino
I was genuinely fascinated because in my brain, I had so many questions. How did they do this? Where did they get these marble materials? Gosh, those details. Do they really look like that back in the days? How did they pin-point the details, I mean it's fine work. I want to learn sculpturing. When I get old, I'm going to make a human-sized marble sculpture and put it in my future home, maybe in the garden or something. 





I noticed that most of the sculptures are missing their noses. Why is that? What does that mean?

Miniatures!!

Going into the Roman Forum



There's tap water for drinking there but they taste like metal. Better stick to bottled mineral water.






When I thought everyone in the world knows how to take a picture, there's people who are constantly proving to me that I'm wrong. Sigh, I expect too much. Well, at least my face is in it and a part of the background is too.
Tip!!! | You can skip the line to get into the Colosseo if you already have the ticket. Ignore the line, most of them are lining up to get the ticket. Just follow left. 
I know you will think that it is rude to cut into the line even though there are many people lining up at the entrance but the fact is, I already have my ticket so actually, I don't have to line up for anything. Except I have to, because the entrance is so damn narrow. The staff didn't prove to be useful either but I bet they dealt with many stupid tourists who are asking the same stupid questions again and again that they don't even bother listening to your questions anymore and just said "Go to the entrance" which is an obvious thing to do. Of course, why didn't I thought of that? Well, yeah. You know what I did? I locate where the main entrance was, I didn't line up for it, I went straight to the front. Just go on in, nobody actually cares if you were lining up or cutting the line. Just make sure you look like you know what you're doing instead of looking all confused. I even asked the other people who were lining up in front, and the family was like "We don't know either, but it's okay, just squeeze in". 


Got the audio and video guide because I just thought it would be interesting to learn the stories of the Colosseo. Turns out, I did enjoyed them. I learnt some interesting facts about the place and something funny too. 
Tip!!! | If you want more out of your visits instead of just being there and taking pictures. I advise you to get a tour guide or better, get an audio tour (you can walk at your own pace and you don't have to squeeze in with the other tourists). Just so that you can learn more about the place that you're standing on. Knowledge is power and it wouldn't hurt to know more right? 
Did you know, there were actually fan clubs (which of course consist of girls) for the warriors and gladiators in the past? Everyone was into blood and violence those days, it is the main source of entertainment for them (the poor and the rich alikes), they even bet their money on fights. In fact, there are two main teams that people can bet on, the round shields or the rectangular shields. People aspire to be warriors to fight in the Colosseo even though they know somehow, some day, they are going to die in a horrible way (like getting beat up by some guy or getting their head bitten off by a tiger or something). Oh, thumbs up if you want to save the gladiator from dying or thumbs down if you want him to die. Random, I know. But whatever.

And now, I'm gonna spam you with a lot of pictures which almost looks the same. 


Standing on where the middle-class people used to stand way back then.








You can easily spend half a day in these three POIs. If it was sunny day, I would spend a longer time in there. Plus, I was worried about my bags which I left at some other hostel who charged us for putting our bags there and I need to check-in into my hostel. I could have checked in at 12am, it wouldn't even matter because I'm a worried worm, so at 5pm, I checked-in.


And you know what, I had Indian food at Kathmandu Restaurant, which was near my hostel. At first I was going to this Italian pizza place but it was closed, most probably because it was Easter day. So, I settled for curry. I didn't regret it. I miss having curry and rice! It was actually one of the best food I've had in Rome. 



drooling

Surprisingly, there were a lot of Korean there.


Of course, my day wouldn't be complete without having Gelato! This place was just around the block from the place where I was staying and it was super cheap. It only costed me 2 Euro for 3 scoops. The cream was abit too much for me though but the gelato, it's super. I even had this cute waiter to choose the flavor for me. He recommended rice and pistachio which I both liked. :D 



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I booked two nights at Ciak Hostel female dormitories (because I don't want any more surprised. No mixed dorms for me). I really recommend this place as well.. as you can see in the pictures, the place looks amazing and it was super comfortable and clean! I was staying at the Secret Garden dorm and the room has two beds and also a bunk bed as you can see. They even have a mini fridge in there and we have our own toilet for the four of us. Heater, air-cond, and even a hair-dryer too. It costed me 60+ Euro for two nights which was actually quite reasonable considering it was Easter and also the condition of the room is just out of my expectation. I can't stop singing praises for this place. 

Girls, you know where you can definitely stay now, you don't need to browse any further for available hostels. 

Okay, back to my story. Haha. I've got back into the hostel quite early, I think around 8pm or so. I didn't want to walk anymore so I decided to just chill in the room. Then, I met two really nice girls, Vivian and Cynthia from HK who were doing student exchange programs like me too! I also met their friend, Derrick who is also from HK. We talked a lot and we didn't even notice how quickly the time passed. Now, I have 3 friends from HK! The joy of travelling and meeting new people.

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Monday, 6 April 2015

And of course, free breakfast too. Really appreciate the microwave.

Our little breakfast dining area.
It was considered my last day in Rome, so I planned to go to areas which are farther away from the center. I was travelling together with Vivian, Cynthia and Derrick and I was the tour guide of the day. They are so easy-going and I am really lucky to met them, finally, I have companions for the days. Haha!


First stop, Villa Borghese garden. And I quote from the English people - "It's like I'm back in London".





There's a zoo there too! But of course, we did not go in.


A lake in the middle of the park.

Lunch at Pastifico

Cheap 4 Euro Pasta
Pastifico, I think is some kind of fast food pasta shop. Because there's no place for you to sit and eat. They only sell two kinds of pasta when we were there and they only open from 1pm to 2pm for lunch. Yes, only an hour. Many people were lining up actually but for me, it's.. well.. the food is not really that great. The pasta was undercooked but what do you expect for a 4 Euro meal aye?


Then, we found a random place where the stray cats go to and you can even adopt them. I was kind of amused when I saw the old lady who was taking care of the cats was asked a question by a tourist "Are these cats for sale?", then she was like "OH FOR GOD'S SAKE, NOOOOOOOOOOO. The cats here are not for sale. You can adopt them but you don't buy them. Dear lord. We're doing this for the cats' sake and not for profit". Some how I sense that she was offended by the number of times she calls for God. 

It was pretty interesting too because the cats actually goes to this shelter willingly because they know they can find food here so they don't wander around the streets. So, it's actually like a community home for the cats. And there were plenty of them there. 




Pyramid of Cestius
Apparently, this pyramid is a tomb for someone... I don't know who but you get my point.

On the Metro ride to EUR Palasport


The EUR Palasport is not very well-known to the typical tourist... I think. It's just a lake and it's mostly locals who goes there.......... I think (again).


A lot of people on the grass, just chilling, napping, and being all lovey dovey with their loved ones. 

Group selfie!


I love this view


Our next destination, Parco degli Acquedotti! We were even more surprised when we got here because there's a lot more people there too. People were again picnic-ing, chilling on the grass, even barbeque-ing, playing football and all that stuff. It was a very windy evening and it was very cold even though it was sunny. We planned to watch the sunset there but it got too cold, so we didn't wait for that to happen. 








Now, back to the city center for dinner! I brought our group to Taverna del Seminario (again). Some how the dinner wasn't as good as the lunch that I had there once. The portion was much smaller too. Wonder if they changed the cook or something for different time of the day.

Fried appetizer

Tried Suppli the first time. It's fried rice with cheese and tomato sauce. I liked it very much! Basically, I like anything with rice. Haha

Lamb with potatoes

Pizza
And ravioli which I didn't like. 
Oh, another con about travelling alone is that, you only can order a limited amount of food because there's nobody to share it with. *Cries* But not that night, we shared our food the Asian way so we tried all the foods! YAAAAAY! If you don't know yet, I'm a big foodie.

Night view of Piazza Navona
We also walked around to take pictures of the night sceneries around the city center. Seriously, this is one of the must thing to do. To experience Rome at night when there is no crowd and you can actually see the whole place. Better when it is empty! As you can see, I'm not a people person.


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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Time to go back
Didn't really do much that day because I didn't have time to go anywhere. I just wasted my time in lining up for the bus ticket and then just randomly find some snacks to eat before the bus came. Supplì supplì supplì supplì supplì~~~



Bought liquor for the first time at the airport. I don't really drink but I heard Limoncello is very famous is Italy so I figured I'll buy one back. Thanks to Derrick for saying something about this, else I wouldn't be buying it. I got to try out the drink too, it was okay I guess. It only cost me 12 Euro, so I figured "why not?".

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Fin.

And yes, the abrupt ending. That's my style.