6 Reasons to Visit the West of Ireland

How the West was is Fun – 6 Reasons to Visit the West of Ireland

1. Shop Street, Galway City

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Romantic images of ‘The Magical Ireland’ aside, Shop Street in Galway really is the Diagon Alley of Irish muggledom (yes I did just use a fictional place as a means of comparison- what of it). This narrow, winding, and densely populated street is lined with everything from high street brand names to Eastern European market stalls (on a Saturday), buskers of every kind imaginable, and even several pubs where anything less than a 24-hour live-music céilí is classed as a ‘quiet day’. (Taaffe’s and Tigh Cóilí). The cobblestones have been known to cause several tipsy topples and are best navigated in comfortable, non-heeled shoes!

2. Cliffs of Moher

 I couldn’t have made this list without featuring probably the most recognisable chunk of land in the country down in the chinstrap of Ireland. The Cliffs of Moher are eerily parallel to sea-level and rise up out of the waves as steady and firm as a perfectly layered cake – green icing and all. On a good day, it’s windy. On a bad day, it’s downright perilous…But still very very pretty. Multiple outer layers recommended, and no filters necessary! #OneForInstagram

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3. The Aran Islands

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Ireland’s answer to the island-hopping backpacking jaunts of Thailand and SouthEast Asia, pack your kit bag and a couple of cans and catch the ferry out to Aran, for as satisfying a retreat as any pristine, sandy, ‘untouched’ beach in Indonesia could provide. You won’t find any coconuts, but rumour has it there’s a rock somewhere on Inis Meáin in the shape of Leonardo Di Caprio’s head….

           More on the Aran Islands here

4. Connemara

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From Spiddal, to Ros a Mhíl, to ‘lock-ins’ and incomprehensible local dialects (even some English speakers), Connemara really is an experience that most Irish people fail to appreciate completely. Stunningly barren landscapes roll into sudden clusters of habitation, the local pub the central hub of communication and shop attendants so charmingly Irish that they marvel at the foreign intrusion of ‘a mango, no less!’ onto the fruit shelves of the local grocers. Gaeilge is actively spoken here and resides as harmoniously alongside Bean an Tí (woman of the house) as the delicious home-baked goods in our tums after a windswept walk on the coral beach in Carraroe.

5. Lahinch

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Although we’re a far cry from Bali’s Batu Balong beach or the warm, attractive swells of more tropical climates, the West Coast of Ireland has been dubbed a surfer’s paradise and boasts several ideal spots such as Lahinch for a days’ floundering in the Wild Atlantic Sea. If you’re like me and fail fantastically at being tied to a large piece of polystyrene and fiberglass, numerous schools and lessons are available, Lahinch Surf Experience being among the most noted. Further up the West Coast, Mullaghmore in Sligo has even been featured in Lonely Planet’s ‘Best Spots to Catch a Big Wave’. No fear of the waves stealing your swimsuit here, as inch-thick wetsuits are a necessity, yet still might not protect from teeth-and bone-shattering temperatures – it’s gonna be COLD.

6. Regular Direct Buses to/from Dublin

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This is the clincher for many tourists to Dublin who may be interested in taking a trip West. Both Citylink and GoBus operate a non-stop hourly service leaving from Dublin Airport and the city, at extremely affordable prices. Comfy, efficient, and guaranteed to get you there within the 2 1/2 hours’ promised time.If you’re lucky you might even get a plug socket!

If that’s not enough to get you itching to explore the West of Ireland, check out these top budget Air B’n’B listings available now! 

Useful Links

Lahinch Surf Experience
Tig Cóilí
Taaffe’s Bar
The Cliffs of Moher
Aran Island Ferries
Trá an Dóilín Carraroe
Wild Atlantic Way
Citylink
Gobus

“Sean – ‘Nótions'”

Sceolán na mara
Ag léimt ar bhád
Ag glacadh na saoirse
Atá uainn ar fad

Ní suaimhneach nó stuamach,
Cuimhnítear a fhréamh,
An t-aer uilig lachtach,
Le focail nár thréig

Le teanga is tonnta,
Mór-thimpeall is tríd,
An t-aistear is faide,
Dá bfheicfid ariamh,

Céad bliain ar aghaidh
Is cuid eile le teacht
An sceolán a lean
Boladh beatha amach

Thar ‘oceans’, thar sáile,
‘Nós na nglúinte sin romhainn,
Ach ‘notions’ mar chúis leis,
An dúil faoi lánseol.

An dúchas níos dlúithe
Nuair nach mbrúitear é,
An nádúr i dtaisce,
Á chosaint ón gcé

Nach linne an t-uisce?
Nach linne an lae?
Cé eile a scaipfidh
An teanga, an scéal

Ná sceolán ar sheachran
Ar thalamh nár sheas
A leithéid ariamh ar
-ní bheidh sé ar ais.

A Few Thoughts..

Today I taught children how to lay still.
To focus on their breath.
To listen.
To sit with the twitching toes and knocking knees of mis-directed energy.

While I sat at the head of the class,
Mouth forming words I now possess like my curls;
Naturally, instinctively, intuitively,
Yet my brain wandered ever forwards, escaping the moment I presented to them.
The moment they are always seeking – to be older, to be taller, to grow up,
Came to pass even as they stretched overhead,
Token gigglers in the class silenced by a sudden enjoyment of what IS.

It doesn’t have to be enjoyment.
It doesn’t have to always be great.
Because life is not always great.
But AWARENESS.
With awareness……..

It all becomes relevant.

To create, is not to conjure a thing from nothing.
‘Nothing will come of nothing’ – and nothing ever did.
We can only seek understanding through what is already here.
It is to link, to compare, contrast, and NOTICE the similarities and differences of what is around us. To acknowledge our own ignorance.
To sit.
To listen.
To be.
Within all that is happening around us, as a result of all that was, and to use those experiences, those physical, mental, spiritual, linguistic, tangible and untangible objects to form a new reality
– the reality of which will only ever last a second.

Art, Language, and Yoga as Forms of Personal Expression

 

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They say that art calms the mind, and soothes the senses.

As someone who is regularly plagued by bouts of extreme and intense anxiety, coupled with irrational responses to everyday occurrences, I have truly found solace in writing; in expressing my thoughts and worries elsewhere before they get the opportunity to take over my life.

Writing especially I have found to benefit me extremely in this sense, yet also other art forms too – singing, practicing yoga, translating, doodling, creating anything…aside from the obvious enjoyment and productivity associated with these acts themselves, it’s comforting to realise that regular practice and engagement with them have massive health benefits too.

The calmness and ease I feel after writing or praciticing yoga for a short time, or expressing myself in some other way is what I imagine most people (and by most, I mean people who aren’t prone to anxiety or extremes of thought patterns) feel on a ‘good day’. A ‘good day’ being a day where they awake feeling relatively content with their lives; their job; the balance on their latest bank statement; an upcoming night out or short holiday planned to keep them ploughing on through the next workday. A good day is all I want. A mediocre day without stressing over what to eat for breakfast, how I should break up the day ahead, whether or not I’ve had a response from the latest job application I’ve submitted…

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When I was travelling I had many, many of these ‘good days’. So many in fact, that I’ve come to associate the very act of travelling with these feelings of contentment, understanding, and acceptance of the world around me. When I’m travelling, it’s not only MY world I’m accepting – the things and people I see on a day-to-day basis – it’s the ENTIRE world. It’s a level of acceptance and bliss it’s difficult to recall now as I sit alone in my parents’ house, the grey clouds of an Irish ‘Springtime’ taunting the pale skin that has only just begun to lose the thick spatter of freckles Asia provided as a thoughtful departing gift to remember her by.

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Language and Writing

People are quick to comment on SouthEast Asians’ calmness and politeness of character, something I have experienced first-hand and now seek to put into practice myself. Even the various languages and alphabets as they are written- the delegation of equal importance and respect to each line, component, and meaning of each letter in each and every word they speak and write is absolutely fascinating, and humbling in comparison to the almost careless way we seem to throw our words and thoughts around a lot of the time.

In taking the time to sit and write them out, we are treating our own minds with respect, our own thoughts, however frivolous they may be, are being given the time of day they deserve and not hushed away in the back of a wardrobe or the ‘junk drawer’. This can be achieved no matter what language we are writing in.

Yoga For Self-Awareness

 Sitting with a new language and attempting to fully understand new structures, words, functions, and patterns is similar to sitting with our own bodies and listening to our needs. We slowly become more and more in tune with them; understanding the unique functions, strengths, cycles, abilities and limitations, the positive and negative reactions to outside stimuli, the huge spectrum of potential and possibility for this ever-evolving life-form that we’ve been given to power through a ‘lifetime’ here.

I don’t pretend to claim a clear understanding of all things body and mind and language-related and the vague sort of tenacious connection that I am now more certain than ever is in existence between us all – I’m merely enjoying the process of exploring it. I’m not expecting to ever understand it all, because that would defeat the purpose of the journey and of the creative exploration of what we’ve been given to work with. I can only hope to maintain an enjoyment of this journey, to sit with it, associating words and symbols and ideologies with different concepts and ways of life and language; with physical movement and accepting my body through yoga being a medium through which this change can work – a way for me to continue exploring it.

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Ar Thóraíocht Taistil – Ho Chi Minus 1

****LEAGAN BÉARLA FAOI – ENGLISH VERSION BENEATH***

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An chéad rud a rith liom nuair a chuala mé an preabadh ísle, domhain i bfhad uaim is mé ag tógáil céime amach roimh éirí na gréine in Ho Chi Minh, ná go raibh an ‘oíche amach’ aréir nach raibh diúltaithe agam ach cúpla uair a chloig roimhe sin le mo chairde nua ón mbrú fós ar siúl. Bhí mé leath ag siúl go bhfeicfinn ag teacht ar ais iad leath-dallta timpeall an chúinne, nó ag léimt ó chúl ceann de na tacsaithe-moto nach molfainn d’aon turasóirí lena dtaitníonn a gcuid seilbhe luachmhara leo comh luath is a dúisíonn ceantar na mbackpackers in Saigon le titim na hoíche.

Is mé an leanacht liom ar an tslí aitheanta anois don pháirc láirneach, ag trasnú sráid Le Loi nach raibh ach ábhairín níos ciúine ansin ag 4 ar maidin is a bhíonn i rith an lae, bhí muintir na sráide gafa ag ‘glanadh’ deannaigh ó áit go háit ar an tsráid le scuaib fite, is iad ag réiteach le haghaidh trácht na maidine. Thug mé le fios nach cur isteach drochbheasach ón oíche roimh ré agus ‘Happy Hour’ ag leanacht ar aghaidh go ‘All Hours’, a bhí sa cheol leanúnach a chuala mé ag briseadh ‘suaimhneas’ na cathrach, ach a mhalairt san iomlán a bhí i gceist. Bhí orm athbhreathnú a dhéanamh sular thuig mé i gceart a bhí os mo chomhair – grúpa ollmhór d’mhná meanaoiseach Vítneamis i lár spás oscailte sa pháirc, gleasta in leggings agus tléinte ildáite, agus iad uilig ag gluaiseacht le chéile ar nós airm aisteach polyester, in am don chuisle leanúnach nár shíolraigh ó áit ar bith faoi leith go bfhaca mé – ní raibh sé fiú geal faoin am seo. Faoi dheireadh d’airigh mé go raibh cead agam stanadh a thabhairt ar ais do dhaoine a thugann dom iad comh minic sin anseo, mo chraiceann geal agus gruaig rua mar chúis grinn do go leor daoine áitiúla – tuigim go bhfuil mé aisteach, ach ní bhíonn mise ag déanamh aeróibicí sa pháirc ag a 4 ar maidin!!

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Bhí trácht cloiste agam ar an nós seo sa Chambóid, ach ní raibh sé feicthe agam ag tarlu go dtí seo, agus bhí sé deacair an gáire a sheachaint nuair a chonaic mé cúpla bean a bhí tar éis achar a chuir eatarthu fhéin agus an cuid eile sa lár, le casadh agus lubadh leo fhéin ar nós Sims ar an gcosán. Le firinne bhí mé ag iarraidh damhsa leo! Chuir sé an Hokey cokey i gcuimhne dom ón scoil sa Chambóid, ach amháin gur na céadta mná Vítneamis a bhí ann ag bogadh leo féin le púis orthu is iad i mbun cleachtadh coirpe na maidine seo roimh éirí na gréine agus an teas meanlae, seachas grúpa páistí. Is dóigh go dtugann na gluaiseachtaí rialta seo cead dóibh an bia friochta agus oiliúil sin a ithe gan mórán iarmhairtí freisin..
Aisteach.

Is dóigh gur mar gheall nach raibh mé ag súil leis is mé fós leath i mo choladh ag iompar chuile rud gur liom ar domhain faoi láthair a tháinig an oiread sin ionadh orm iad a fheiceáil ann, ach seans mhaith freisin gur mar gheall nach raibh mé tar éis an cathair a shiúl comh luath seo riamh, agus toisc gur ‘early riser’ mé fhéin ar aon chaoi, ghlac mé nár tharla aon rud sular éirigh mise – cé comh mícheart is a bhí mé!

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Thaitin Ho Chi Minh i bfhad níos fearr liom an uair seo, ach amháin an dorm le 18 duine eile sa mbrú buiséadach – ach ar $3 in aghaidh na hoíche, cé atá le gearán faoi? Cé nár éirí ro-mhaith liom roimhe sin mo bhealach a dhéanamh ann, an uair seo go tobann bhí mé go breá in ann na sráideanna a loingsiú go héasca le níos mó muiníne agus píosa cleachtadh taobh thiar dom. Thaitin an ‘World Food Festival’ liom a bhí ar siúl sa pháirc don deireadh seachtaine áirithe seo, thug sé neart deiseanna dom níos mó bia aisteach a thriail agus freisin tuilleadh nósanna aisteacha fheiceáil nach bhfuil mé cinnte a bheadh riamh in ann teacht i bhfeidhm anseo!12351388_10153218838373483_843405117_o

 

D’éirigh liom cúpla bronntanas Nollag Víteamise deirineach a fháil ( níl pictiúirí agam, mar….bronntanais!) le seisiúin crua ag stangaireacht in Aonach Ben Thien sa lár, agus d’fhág mé le tuilleadh ábhair ná mar a bhí ceannaithe agam riamh ar bheagáin airgid. Táim ag dul i dtaithí ar seo!

12348755_10153218958898483_772053028_nSílim freisin go bhfuil mé ag dul i dtaithí ar na nósanna bóithre atá acu…tá feabhas tagtha orm ag transú na bóithre gnóthacha leis na sruthanna gluaisrothair agus gluastáin beaga nach stopann le teada – nílim ag iarraidh ‘jinxáil’ a dhéanamh ar seo, ach tá feicthe agam go n-éiríonn níos fearr leat do chuid spáis fhéin a léiriú le beagán muiníne, seachas a bheith ag braith ar chomhghlacaithe nó turasóir eile an bealach a dhéanamh duit. Chuir mé le líne tráchta is mé fós mar lucht siúl – ag seasamh le gluaisrothar ar gach taobh díom, bhí orm fanacht go dtí gur chas na soilse glas chun leanacht ar aghaidh – chuile fhear (nó bean) dóibh fhéin a bhí ann, agus bhí orm léimt ar thaobh chuig an gcosán comh luath is a lean mo réamhthachta ar aghaidh.

Is mé ag scríobh anois táim i mo shuí in aerfort Changi, Singapore, go héasca an t-aerfort is fearr le cúpla uair a chloig (nó 28) a chaitheamh ar domhan. Táim ag súil leis an gcathair a fheiceáil anois i gceann píosa tar éis an cupáin caife Starbucks seo (an chéad ceann le beagnach 2 mhí!!), agus mar sin fágfaidh mé é seo anois go dtí go bhfaighim áit an ceallaire a luchtú!! Vietnamasté!

 

 

***********LEAGAN BÉARLA – ENGLISH VERSION ********* 

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My initial reaction to hearing a distant, low thumping beat as I stepped out into the 5am pre-dawn of Ho Chi Minh’s ever-chattering streets, was that the ‘night out’ with my new dorm-friends I had reluctantly declined merely hours beforehand had still not come to an end. Early-morning flight-jitters aside, I half expected to meet them stumbling in around the corner, or jumping off the back of otherwise ill-advised moto-taxis that prey on tipsy tourists once the nocturnal backpacker district of Saigon awakens with the dusk.

As I continued on the now familiar route to the central park-area and traversed the only slightly less chaotic dimly-lit Le Loi street as its’ occupants swept dust from one place to another with wicker brushes and geared up for another rush hour, it became clear that the music I was hearing was not in fact an intrusive occupation of an otherwise peaceful morning by the extension of a nightclubs’ ‘happy hour’ to All Hours, but frankly quite the opposite. I had to look twice before I could comprehend the abnormally large gathering of middle-aged Vietnamese women in a central clearing of the park, all dressed in leggings and coloured polyester tshirts and moving robotically in sync to a monotonous and crackling throbbing ‘beat’ that was coming from nowhere within my available line of vision – it was barely even beginning to get bright at this stage. I finally felt a sort of justification and permission to return the stares I am so regularly subjected to over here, my pale skin and ginger hair proving a source of great hilarity to many locals – I know I’m weird, but I don’t do aerobics in the park at 4.30am!!!12351274_10153217909993483_2020078173_n

I’d heard of such practices in Cambodia, but had yet to witness it actually occurring, and I found it hard to hide my amusement as I passed several women who had distanced themselves from the main congregation to thrust and wiggle by themselves to the ‘music’ in a Sim-like manner along the sidelines. I’m not going to lie – I kind of wanted to join in! It reminded me of doing the Hokey Cokey with the kids in the school in Cambodia, only this time it was hundreds of anonymous early-morning Saigonese women shaking and gesturing with frowned and scrunched up faces in what I can only assume is a regular exercise regime that both avoids the midday heat of the sun and also helps to burn off excess calories supplied by the inclusion of oil and grease to every single dish and meal.Bizarre.
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I think the fact that it appeared out of nowhere as I blearily trudged to the bus station with all my worldly possessions (or at least, everything I currently carry with me) was probably the main source of surprise, yet it may also have been due to the fact that this was the earliest I’ve ever roamed the streets of the city, and being accustomed to my name as an early riser had pretty much just assumed that nothing much happened before the hours I found myself outside. How very wrong I was!

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Ho Chi Minh this time around was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, despite the rather dodgy 18-person dorm room in the budget hostel – but for 3 dollars a night, who’s going to argue?! Previous navigation having not proven so beneficial, I all of a sudden found on my return that I knew where to go and had the confidence to somehow find the things I needed, and the timely occurrence of a World Food Festival in the central park during the day and evenings was a fantastic find when it came to securing cheap eats and yet more bizarre interactions with customs and trends that I’m really not sure will ever properly reach our side of the world…!

12348755_10153218958898483_772053028_nI managed to secure some final Vietnamese Christmas presents (no pictures, coz , yknow, PRESENTS) in my most intense haggling-session to date in the Ben Thian Market, and proudly left with more plunder for my money than I have ever before! I’m getting used to this!

I also think that since being alone I’ve become more accustomed to and adept at crossing the roads and incessant torrential flow of motorbikes and vehicles that do not stop or cater for pedestrians whatsoever in their narrow span of vision – I don’t want to jinx this, but I’ve found that in literally just asserting your space and striding with a bit of confidence instead of looking to a companion or fellow tourist to pave the way for you, I’ve had more success crossing the roads and have even found myself adding to a line of traffic as a pedestrian – locked in on four sides by motorbikes, I literally had to wait for the lights to go green before I could walk in any direction – it was literally every man (or woman) for themselves, and I quickly had to leap to one side as soon as my predecessors revved forwards.

 

As I write now I’m sitting in Singapore airport – easily the coolest place I’ve ever had to kill a few hours. Hopefully I’ll get to see a bit of the city as my flight onwards doesn’t leave until the early hours of tomorrow, so I’ll write a post on that as soon as I find a free plug socket….! Vietnamasté!!!

Ar Thóraíocht Taistil – Fánaíocht le Ho Chi Minh

***Leagan Béarla faoi (English Version below)***

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‘Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost…..”….Bhí mise!

Fánaíocht fánaíocht fánaíocht. ‘Sé an t-aon rud a dhéanaimse na laethanta seo. Níor thosaigh mé amach le plean faoi leith. Níl aon rud faoi leith bainte amach agam go fóill seachas meas níos láidre ar mo chuid scileanna loingseoireachta agus cumais féin, agus freisin an t-eolas go bhfuil mé go breá in ann aire a thabhairt dom fhéin agus mo bhealach a dhéanamh go dall (nó bodhar) trí chuinsí nach bhfuil leagtha amach go cinnte romham.

Tuigim go maith freisin agus airím na rudaí beaga sa bhaile – frása a usáidtear i bhfad ró-(Ho Chi) mhinic(!) ach faoi láthair comh fíor domsa gur féidir liom an t-aistear abhaile a shamhlú agus dinnéar na Nollag le fataí breá na hÉireann os mo chomhair a bhlaiseadh cheana féin – is i bhfad ó rís agus soy sauce a togadh mise! (#Notions)
Cairde réidh le casadh tar éis téacs scioptha i ndiaidh na hoibre; bia réidh le hollmhú sna cófraí; nósanna coitianta; ranganna íoga le freastal orthu agus coinní rialta nach bhfagann mórán le bheith buartha faoi ó thaobh athruithe gan fógairt; córas taistil a bhfeidhmníonn sách maith agus caighdean slándála nach dtugann cúis imní ar bith d’germaphobes ar nós mé fhéin…leanann an liosta ‘home comforts’ ar aghaidh. Ach fós, is láidre an maitheas ná an t-olc leis an gcineál taistil, slí bheatha féin-cruthaithe seo, agus mar sin is féidir liom glacadh leis níos fearr anois agus é a shlugadh siar, mar a deirfeá. Níos tábhachtaí ná haon rud eile anois ná gur féidir liom sult a bhaint as na ‘droch’ rudaí freisin, seachas díreach iad a fheiceáil mar gnéithe a bhfuil orm cur suas leo.

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Turtle Tower (yep, sin an t-ainm atá ar!) i lár Hoam Tiem Lake

 

Is príomhchathair Vítneam í Hanoi a bhfuil tréithe cosúla aici le roinnt príomhcathracha eile atá feicthe agam, sa chaoi is nach bhfuil an iomarca deacrachtaí ann í a thrasnú…tuigim go bhfagann an pictiúir atá in éineacht leis an bpóstáil seo a mhalairt le tuiscint, ach thug ár mbrú (Drift Backpackers’ Hostel) léarscáil dúinn (comh maith le bricfeásta agus beoir saor in aisce!) a bhí sonraithe go maith agus a chuir go mór lenár gcúpla lá ann. Níor chaith muid pingin ar iompar taistil an t-am uilig is muid ann, agus fós d’éirigh linn na pointí spéise is mó sa chathair a fheiceáil agus a aimsiú, ar nós Hoan Kiem Lake (Sword Lake), leis an Turtle Tower agus Huc Bridge a mhaireann ann ón Ming Dynasty, iarsmalann Ho Chi Minh, iarsmalann Staire, agus Airm Hanoi, agus Mausaleum Ho Chi Minh (sa phictiúir). D’éirigh linn teacht ar an ‘Bia Hoi’ san oíche freisin, le cúpla deoch ‘al fresco’ i measc na sluaite daoine áitiúla ag stanadh orainn ach ag baint sult as an oíche, muid uilig inár suí ar stólanna beaga plaisteacha ‘nós na cinn a bhí againn sa gháirdín sa bhaile is muid óg, a bhí mar dréimirí dúinn don doirteal sa leithris.

Theip orm teacht ar an studio íoga a chonaic mé ar líne, ach ní gan iarrachta ar mo thaobhse a tharla sé- chaith mé uair a chloig ar fánaíocht thart timpeall an cheannscríbe a leag Google Maps amach dom, ag cuartú in aisce an Zenith Yoga Café nach bhfuil ar an bhfód a thuilleadh, de réir dealraimh. Is ar éigin a d’éalaigh mé ó roinnt mná ag seastáin a bhí ag díol maisiúcháin Nollag bándearga, a d’iarr mé orthu go neamhurchóideach faoin áit – arís leis an bhfánaíocht – sular éirí mé as an iarracht le seacláid te a cheannach ar an mbealach ar ais – tá sé ag éirí fuar i Vítneam! Níor cheap mé ariamh go ndeirfinn na focail sin!

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Bhí roinnt cómhráite thar a bheith spéisiúla agam le grúpaí mic léinn a bhí beartaithe i hataí, cótaí agus geansaithe móra cíbe uair a thóg ár gcosa in aice an locha muid. D’iarr siad cead orainn go cúthaileach pictiúirí a glacadh linn, cómhráite a thaifead ar ghutháin chliste agus taibléidí, agus go bunúsach labhairt leo i mBéarla go nádúrtha faoi rud ar bith – faoinár mbaile fhéin, ár nósanna, tír, agus teanga. D’inis siad liom a gcuid freisin, agus dúirt siad go raibh siad thar a bheith buíoch as an t-am a thug miuid dóibh – ach le fírinne, ceann de na rudaí is spéisiúla le tamaill a bhí ann domsa comh maith! B’iontach spreagúil an díograis a bhí acu i dtaobh foghlaim teanga, agus bhí an cur chuige díreach ceart acu comh maith – labhairt go nádúrtha le cainteoirí dúchasacha, ar bhonn neamhfhoirimiúil…d’fhéadfaimis go leor a fhoghlaim uathu!

Bheadh lá nó dhó eile an chathair a thaisceáladh go deas, toisc gur laghdaigh an fhaitíos a bhí romhainn dul i mbun rudaí a chuartú nuair nach raibh muid cinnte cén treo le tabhairt faoi, ach san iomlán fós thaitin Hanoi liom i bhfad níos fearr go Ho Chi Minh (Saigon!). Chuir sé seo ionadh orm toisc gur Hanoi an phríomhchathair, ach b’fhéidir léiríonn an chaoi go bhfeidhmníonn sé agus an chaoi go bhfuil gach rud comh héasca le loingsiú go leor i bhfábhar an teideal seo. Tá sé fós ina cíortuathail, ach cíorthuathail faoi a thuilleadh smachta atá inti!

Mar fhocal scor, tá cuma melodramatic ar an abairt seo ach caithfear a rá go bhfuil rud eicínt thar a bheith teiripiútach ag baint leis an tuiscint a aimsiú go bhfuil tú go hiomlán caillte agus leat fhéin i gcathair iomlán éagsúil agus i bhfad ón bhaile, agus teacht ar an eolas go bhfuil tú in ann do bhealach a dhéanamh ar ais go háit nó sráid aitheanta faoi leith. Cé nach raibh muinín agat ionat fhéin in aon chor, is mothúcháin thar a bheith láidir é. Cinnte, tá go leor le rá faoin gcumas agus umhlaíocht a bhaineann le ceist a chuir i gcomhair treoireacha nuair nach bhfuil an léarscáil ag obair i gceart (ní mise atá ann, I swear!!) agus tá an dorchadas ag titim go scioptha timpeall ort. Fós is fearr liom an rogha seo a choinneál mar ‘Plan B’, ach sa chás seo, airím go láidir gur fearr i bhfad an modh ‘tástáil agus earraid’ a chuir i bhfeidhm is tú ag taistil thar aon rud eile.

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Ag mausoleum Ho Chi Minh é fhéin

 

 ************LEAGAN BÉARLA *** ENGLISH VERSION 

 

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‘Not All Those Who Wander are Lost..”..I fecking was though! 

Wander wander wander. It’s all I ever seem to do these days. I set out with no specific plans. I’ve achieved no specific sense of anything just yet other than a greater respect for my own capabilities and navigational skills, and also the knowledge that I am actually perfectly able of taking care of myself and finding my way blindly (or deafly) through a lot of seemingly impossible situations. Okay, so maybe I have learned something.

I’ve also come to really appreciate the little things at home – a phrase used all too often, but so true for me at this moment in time that I can vividly imagine Christmas dinner and fine Irish roasted potatoes on the table in front of me – it’s far from rice and curry I was rared! Friends ready to meet at the drop of a text message, food ready to prepare in the cupboard, routines, yoga classes to attend and regular plans that leave little to be apprehended regarding last minute changes, functioning transport systems, general cleanliness and standards of hygiene that give those with germophobic tendencies such as my own no reason to be sent into overdrive…the list goes on. But still, the good outweighs the bad in this kind of travelling, self-induced lifestyle, and as such I’ve also learned to better ‘suck it up’, for want of a better phrase, and most importantly of all enjoy it, instead of merely enduring.

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Hanoi is a city akin to several other capital cities I’ve visited in that it it is actually fairly managable to navigate…I know the initial picture and caption in this post suggests otherwise, but our hostel (Drift Backpackers’ Hostel) provided us with a map (along with free breakfast and beer!) which honestly made our few days there seem so much easier. We didn’t spend a dollar (or dong) on transport the entire stay, and still managed to find and see some of the main attractions the city has to offer, including the Turtle Tower and silver Pagoda, the night markets, History museum, Ho Chi Minh museum and mausoleum (pictured), Women’s museum, and Bia Hoi old quarter for several beverages ‘al fresco’ – seated at night along a crowded street on tiny plastic stools like the ones we used to have in the garden and use as stepladders to reach the sink in the loo at home.

Considering the streets all have actual names, instead of numbers which don’t match up to any neighbouring street or follow any sensible sequence of address or postal code (ahem, here’s looking at you Phnom Penh..!), we actually found ourselves not needing the map to find the more local places after a day or two!

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Hidden gems and doorways around every turn...

 

I failed to find the yoga studio I’d located online, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying or any failure on my part – I wandered the 100 metre area of where Google Maps had led me searching in vain for the non-existent Zenith yoga café, asked numerous people and even ended up almost buying some tacky pink Christmas decorations just to fend off a particularly pushy vendor lady whose shop I unwittingly wandered into on a whim – again with the wandering – before accepting defeat and buying a hot chocolate on my way back. It has actually begun to get cold in Vietnam. I never thought I’d say thse words!

Fascinating conversations were had with local students wrapped up in hats, coats and scarves who approached us nervously whenever we strayed near the lake, looking to record conversations with us in English, pose for photos, and mostly hoping to maintain a sensible conversation with a native speaker for more than a few minutes. Their dedication was frankly inspiring, and I thoroughly enjoyed talking to them and exchanging knowledge, traditions, and facts about our own countries that couldn’t have been shared otherwise. They also had the perfect way of approaching language learning, which was fascinating to see in practice – speaking naturally and informally to native speakers in a casual setting. We could learn a lot from them….

I would have liked a bit longer to explore the city as I felt once we got a grip on the basic layout of the place it became an awful lot less daunting to go searching for things without knowing exactly where they were, but in general I much preferred it to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)! This surprised me considering Hanoi is the capital, but maybe it’s functionality and general heightened sense of accessibility says a lot to support this choice. It’s still chaotic, but nowhere near the rat races of Ho Chi Minh!

It sounds fairly cheesy, but there is something extremely theraputic about getting completely lost in a strange city and managing to somehow find and guide yourself back to an area of relative familiarity, taking a chance at each turn and trusting basic instincts to lead you right again. Of course there’s also a lot to be said for being able to admit defeat and ask for directions once it starts getting dark and you can no longer see the street signs or map in front of you, but I like to think of this option always as Plan B – in this case, I feel trial and error is always the best way forwards.

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At the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh himself..!

 

 

Oibrigh. Sábháil. Taistil. Arís. – Work. Save. Travel. Repeat.

Gaeilge *Leagan Béarla faoi – English Version underneath*

 

Oibrigh. Sábháil. Taistil. Arís.

Bailigh milliúin Dong ar do bhealach thar ‘Go’ (an ATM), agus cuirfidh sé ar aghaidh thú leis an chéad cúpla céim eile a thógáil….

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Le coicís anuas is ar nós míreanna meara de laethanta, smaointí, pleananna agus droch-ghluaiseachtaí atá an aistear seo caite againn, cuid dóibh a d’oibrigh amach i gceart, cuid eile nach raibh comh maith sin. Cluiche boird mionsonraithe de bhusanna, brúanna, modhanna taistil agus ceannscríbeanna atá leagtha amach againn dúinn féin le haimsiú atá taobh thiar dúinn agus os ár gcomhair. De réir mar a buailtear chuile chéim ar an aistear, gach bus déanta in am, sráid aimsithe, agus lóistín sroichte, airím go bhfuil éacht suntasach bainte amach againn agus neamhspleachas cosúil le turas taisce a líonadh i gceart aimsithe dúinn féin. An difríocht a bhaineann leis anois ná go bhfuil duaiseanna éagsúla ag an deiridh – bricfeasta saor in aisce nó pionta fuar ag an lóistín, radharcanna difriúla agus cairde nua spéisiúla chuile lá.

Tá sé spreagúil. Tá sé scanrúil. Tá sé luachmhar mar thaithí saoil……tá sé réadúil. Tá treoireacha gairid cosúil le seo leagtha amach againn don chéad coicís eile – treoirlíonta gairid agus dáta le bheith in áiteanna faoi leith, ach teada anuas ar sin.

Chaith muid cúpla oíche i mbaile beag stairiúil agus traidisiúnta darbh ainm Hoi An le déanaí, agus cé go bhfuil sé ráite agam cheana is muid ag teacht ar áiteanna nua ar an mbealach, bhí an baile seo mar an stop ab ansa liom go dtí seo ar an turas. Ciúin agus socair i rith an lae, na himeachtaí is mó ag sioscadh ag an aonach sna seastáin ag na céanna, freastalaí ag úsáid a gcuid Béarla teoranta le turasóirí a mhealladh earraí baile a cheannach; ‘You buy somthing?” ‘Special price for you!”, ‘No pushing here! You buy!’ (go híorónta), agus turais rialta don abhainn ag fágáil ón gcé.

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Aonach – Market

 

Tar éis an leisciúileacht agus saol ciúin i Mui Ne, bhí neart le déanamh in Hoi An, agus bhain muid sult as an deis a bheith mar ‘turasóirí’ cearta arís. Tá clú agus cáil ar Hoi An mar gheall ar na tailliúirí traidisiúnta atá lonnaithe ann, ag dul siar thar na glúinte sna clainne a maireann os cionn na siopaí beaga ar fud an bhaile. Fuair mé sciorta breá fada táilliúrtha, a leithéid de ceann a bhí feicthe agam in Topshop sular fhág mé ar phraghas €90, i gcomhair $30. Bualadh beag sa bhuiséid a bhí ann fós, ach b’fhiú é nuair a smaoiním ar sin agus ar an gcaoi go bhfuil sé táilliúrtha dom go pearsanta i Vítneam – ar fhaitíos go bhfeicfinn ar éinne eile sa bhaile é!  Cé mhéad duine atá in ann é sin a rá?!! Is buatóirí muid uilig! (Seachas Topshop!)

Níor phleanáil mé an costas breise seo ach murach é airím go mbeadh cuid den espéiris Hoi An caillte agam, go háirithe nuair a d’aithin mé go raibh gach ceann de na cuairteoirí eile ar chas muid leo san oíche ag fanacht le ceirt eadaí a bhailiú an lá dar gcionn idir culaith, gúnaí, bútaisí agus eile. (Táim sách gafa le headaí ar aon chaoi agus mar sin bhí sé cineál dosheachanta go nglacfainn páirt!)

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Siopa Táilliúrtha ‘Mrs. Sa’ – Mrs. Sa’s Tailoring

ef42fbe1-7cb7-4ba9-83ec-a3e3de46fb04Cé go bhfuil sé níos ciúine i rith an lae, is san oíche a lastar tuirne na beatha in Hoi An, go litiriúil leis na soilse agus laindéir ildaite atá le feiceáil agus le ceannach ar thaobh na sráide agus in aice na habhainn. Le hísliú na gréine lastar na soilse agus coinnle ildáite ar foluain go séimh san uisce ar thaobh na gleoiteoga beaga, agus neart earraí le n-ithe ar díol ar na sráideanna anois idir pancóga, torthaí le siúcra agus uachtar reoite. B’fhéiríní álainn iad na radharcanna agus bolaithe do na céadfaí, ag leanacht leis na turasóirí go mall síos na sráide ag blaiseadh agus ag breathnú thart timpeall orthu le hiontas, ag caint is ag druidim i dtreo na bialainne agus tithe tábháirne. Níos fearr arís ná an teas – bhí muid go breá in ann do nuair nach raibh an ghrian ag síneadh anuas orainn go trom – ba leor gúna éadrom agus flip flops le píosa taiscéaladh a dhéanamh timpeall na soilse ag margadh na hoíche.

Bhí ‘Happy Hours’ á fhógairt acu ar chuile casadh, réimse leathan a thosaigh am ar bith idir a 11am agus 12pm, le díolacháin eile agus tuilleadh oibrithe ag brú á mbiachlár agus lascainí eile orainn don oíche ar fad. Neartaigh siad seo de réir is a laghdaigh na cúplaí níos sine agus clainne óga ar ais go na hóstáin agus lóistín níos costaisí ar thaobh na habhainn, ag fágáil an bealach don slua ‘backpackers’ níos óige, mar a cuirtear orthu, nach dtógann mórán le tuineadh isteach don ‘Tiger Tiger Bar’ nó ‘Funky c07f7792-0964-4773-898e-cc7d8e43a98eMonkey‘ ar an mbealach tar éis beoir ar $0.75 a fháil roimhe sin. D’éirigh lenár bhfiontar isteach don ‘Tiger Tiger Bar’ cairde nua ón nGearmáin, Sasana, ón mBeilg, agus ón Alban a fháil dúinn, a d’fhán linn ar turas ar aghaidh don chlub is oiriúnaí don chineál oíche neamh-phleanáilte a bhí tar éis titim amach-  an ‘Why Not Bar?’ 

Meascán de cheol a bhí le cloisteáil anseo ach arís b’fhiú an turas a thógáil isteach leis an éagsúlacht pearsantaí, náisiúntachtaí agus taisteálaí uilig ag iarraidh cairde nua a dhéanamh agus spraoi a bheith acu a bhlaiseadh.

D’éirigh liom áit a fháil sa chlub do dhaoine le ‘Moto-Exhaust pipe-Burns’, de réir mar a d’aimsigh muid go raibh an-cuid againn le gortaithe ar nós an ceann a fuair mise ar mo chos os cionn coicíse ó shin anois, uilig ag stáistí difriúla den phróiséas slánaithe agus mar ábhar spéise toisc go bhfuil siad comh héasca le fáil amach anseo nuair nach nglactar le bristí gearra mar bhaol is tú ag fáil gluaisrothair ar cíos. Oíche amach iontach a bhí ann ar aon chaoi, gan smál go dtí gur thosaigh an báisteach is muid ar an mbealach abhaile – le fírinne b’athrú deas a bhí ann ón ngrian.

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‘Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil”

Bhí foireann iontach cairdiúil ag obair sa mbrú inar fhán muid, Phuong Le Villa, a bhí suite go háisiúil agus go breá glan freisin. Bhí neart eolais acu maidir le turais agus modhanna taistil, agus 2 lachain gleoite a choinnigh súil amach ag an bhfáiltiú chuile oíche, a bhí muid an-mór le roimh dheireadh na cuairte!fc43a0c0-41f1-46b3-b1e7-1bceb0e1b325

Fuair muid rothair ar cíos freisin ar dollar amháin in aghaidh an lae le píosa fánaíochta a dhéanamh timpeall na sráideanna, ag seachaint na turais treoranta níos costaisí agus ag cuir dushlán romhainn fhéin in ionad teacht ar an trá mistéireach seo nach raibh fógartha go maith ar léarscáil ar bith. D’éirigh linn é a bhaint amach tamaill beag sular bhuail an teas láidir meanlae i gceart, rud a d’fhág an bealach abhaile oscailte tríd na páirceanna ríse agus droichid beaga, agus bhí orainn deifir a dhéanamh leis an ngrian nocht a sheachaint.

Fuair na céadfaí an lámh in uachtar orainn ar an oíche dheirineach nuair a thástáil muid cuid den bhia sráide – an rud ab ansa liomsa ná cáca beag déanta de fataí milse (sweet potato?), peanuts, agus coconut.

Bheadh Hoi An foirfe do saoire rómánsúil le seachtain a chaitheamh go ciúin i Vítneam, ach dúinne agus do go leor daoine óga eile ar labhair muid leo, ba leor cúpla oíche a chaitheamh ann, cé go raibh sé go hálainn. Ar deiridh, bhí brón orm an áit a fhágáil, ach ní comh brónach is a bhí mo sporrán tar éis cúpla lá a chaitheamh ag na margaí!

 

*********Leagan Béarla ******************

Work. Save. Travel. Repeat.

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Collect 1 Million Dong when you pass Go, (aka the ATM), and this will see you through to the next few rolls of the dice as you take the next uncertain leap forwards…
The past two weeks or so have been like an exciting jigsaw of days and ideas and trial and error plans that have often turned out to be the worst decisions, but at other times have pleasantly surprised us. It’s been a detailed board game of buses and hostels and modes of transport and destinations we’ve set out and reserved for ourselves to find and reach. As each step of the journey is ticked off and achieved, each bus made in time, street navigated, and budget accomodation located without too much struggle, there’s a sense of achievement and autonomy akin to successfully completing an Easter Egg or treasure hunt , only this time it’s real life and the prizes at the end are a free breakfast or cold beer at the hostel, and new incredible views and interesting accquaintences every day.It’s exciting. It’s nerve-wracking. It’s fulfilling…it’s living. The next two weeks have been planned out in a pretty similar way, a brief outline and a date to be in certain places by – but nothing further than that.

We spent a few nights in the stunningly dated and historical town of Hoi An, and although I’ve said it before on discovering new places, this town really has been my favourite stop off on our journey so far. Quiet and reserved during the day, the main activities chattering in the market stalls at the docks as the pushy vendors use their select phrases to entice Westerners to purchase many of their ‘homemade’ mass produced goods; ‘You buy something?’, ‘Special price for you!’, ‘No Pushing here! You Buy!’ (ironically), and regular river-tours departing from the docks.

dab8e589-3da8-4945-a011-39a4761e1dd5After the laid back laziness of Mui Ne, the sheer amount of things to do and see in Hoi An was amazing, and we went full throttle on the tourist clichés on our first evening and got sucked into having skirts made by one of Hoi An’s most renowned traditional tailors. It was a bit of a blow to the bank balance but definitely worth it when I consider the skirt I had made was modelled on one I’d seen in Topshop before leaving home that had retailed for about 90 euro, or something outrageous like that. I paid 30 dollars in Hoi An, it fits me to a tee and is also a uniquely crafted original piece that I won’t run the risk of seeing on someone else at home! Everyone’s a winner! (except for Topshop).

3b20fa6f-90bc-4aec-89b2-c34a931b7970It was an unplanned purchase, but considering everyone we encountered in the town seemed to have paid a visit to one of the many family-run tailors dotted here and there between the market stalls, be it for tailored suits, dresses, boots or otherwise, I would have felt like I’d missed out on a brilliant part of the experience had I not partaken (I also adore clothes and couldn’t say no, so I suppose it was inevitable really..!).

Although quieter during the day, the main walkways along the river and over the main bridge of Hoi An come alive as soon as the sun sets with an array of stunningly lit lanterns, floating candles, and even more stalls selling everything from pancakes to marinated and sugar-coated guave fruits. The sights and smells and easygoing flow of tourists wandering, tasting, talking and moving in the general direction of the restaurants and bars which line the streets is a real treat for the senses, especially considering the warm air means that even after nightfall a light Summer dress and sandles is perfect attire to explore the bright lights and pretty colours of the night markets.

751e4c36-8f17-4073-87fc-4fd5d62c867a‘Happy Hours’ abound on every corner, ranging from anywhere between 10am and midnight with specials and yet more pushy staff offering discounts and deals all day. These gain intensity once the older couples and families begin to drift sleepily back to their more expensive lodgings in the various higher end hotels, making way for the backpacker generation, easily persuaded after a few $0.75 beers to try the ‘Tiger Tiger Bar” or “Funky Monkey” along the mainstreet. Our venture to the Tiger Tiger Bar served as an introduction to some new Scottish, German, English and Belgian friends, who became out companions for the night and shared moto-taxis on to what is supposedly the most lively bar in town – the persuasively and aptly named ‘Why Not Bar?”. The music here was varied but it yet again pulled through with the wonderful mix of travellers and identities all willing to make new friends and have a good time.

I became a member of the ‘Moto-exhaust-burn Club”, as a shocking amount of fellow backpackers revealed similar burns to the one I received over 2 weeks ago now, all at varying stages of healing and the source of much disbelief at how easily obtained they are over here – uncovered exhaust pipes not proving successful partners when combined with short-legged trousers – another thing left unconsidered whilst travelling. It was honestly one of the best nights out I’ve had since coming to Asia and was only briefly tarnished by the rain on our way home – although it was welcome change to the heat we’d grown accustomed to.fc43a0c0-41f1-46b3-b1e7-1bceb0e1b325

 

Our accomodation Phuong Le Villa had incredibly friendly and helpful staff; as well as being brilliantly located and extremely clean they also offered a huge amount of information regarding tours and transportation, 2 cute fluffy ducklings keeping guard of the main recpetion area each evening, which proved popular amongst the international clientel.

We also rented rented bikes for a dollar a day and meandered around the streets, avoiding the more expensive guided tours and instead challenging ourselves one day to find the vaguely signposted beach (to be honest everything is quite vague here). We succeeded shortly before the midday heat properly hit, which meant the journey home through open rice paddy fields and over bridges was a rushed affair to limit our exposure to the naked sun.

One final trip into the town on the evening of our last day saw our senses get the better of us as we sampled some of the street food – a personal favourite and high point being the discovery of a sweet potato, coconut and peanut grilled patty-cake thing – yum!

Hoi An is honestly a dream destination for a chilled couply getaway – a few nights for us was enough, but if you were one of the many couples I observed jealously around the town with a slightly larger budget allowing for tours and more thorough exploring, I’m sure it may have proved a more fruitful experience. All in all I was sad to leave, and regret already the strain on my budget the market stalls and stunning colours everywhere have brought…!

Ar Thóraíocht Taistil – Ó Chonamara go Cambodia…go Vítneam

Ar Thóraíocht Taistil – Ó Chonamara go Cambodia…go Vítneam

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Níor cheap mé riamh go n-aireodh an baile uaim comh mór seo. Go háirithe toisc go bhfuil sé ráite agam cheana nach dtarlaíonn sé sin dom. De réir dealraimh, ní tharlaíonn sé sin do daoine is iad ag taistil na cruinne, pictiúirí ar Instagram agus Facebook ag léiriú na híomhanna is fearr, na buacphointí nach mhaireann ach ar luas lasrach le cúpla soicind agus iad glactha. Ní raibh tinneas baile orm ariamh is mé ar saoire nó in aon áit ar bith ar domhan, agus mar sin níor aithin mé an mothúcháin go dtí gur bhuail sé sa chluas mé – é sin ráite, ní raibh mé riamh as baile comh fada seo ach oiread.

Ní bualadh sa chluas a bhí ann go fisiciúil, dar ndóigh.

Is mé ag athrú busanna ó mhionbhus go bus codlata le taistil ó Hue go Hanoi ar chósta thoir Vítneam inné, chas fear liom agus dúirt sé comh giorraisc Gaelach is a thagann siad; ‘you’re not Irish, are you?’
Ar chúis éigin mhuscail rud eicínt i mo chroí an canúint so-aitheanta sin a chloisteáil, glór aithnidiúil agus an ghreann ghearrchúiseach céanna is atá ionam fhéin ag casadh le chéile faoi dheireadh, i dtír nach bhfeiceann ionann ach turasóirí ó Theas tagtha le hairgead a chaitheamh agus pictiúrí a glacadh. Seans mhaith go bhfuil beagan áibhéil i gceist agam leis an abairt sin, ach ag an bpointe seo bhí mé comh sásta casadh le duine muinteartha nár thug mé faoi dheireadh go raibh muid tar éis moill ollmhór a chuir ar an scuaine, agus go raibh an tiománaí ag béiceadh orainn deifir a dhéanamh (ar a laghad, sin a tháinig trasna leis na gothaí móra agus tuin glórach cainte a bhí aige).
Shocraigh muid fhéin inár suíocháin (nó ‘leapacha’, sa chás seo), agus dúirt muid go labhródh muid arís ar ball, ach ní sular bhain mé amach gur Ciarraíoch a bhí ann ar saoire lena chailín ar feadh míosa, agus gur mise an chéad Éireannach a bhí casta acu go dtí seo.
‘Cén chaoi a raibh a fhios agaibh?’
‘Do ghruaig, dar ndóigh.’
‘Ah’.
D’úirt mo mham i gcónaí liom gan dath nó díriúcháin buan a chuir i mo ghruaig, agus anois gabhaim bhuíochas leí agus le chuile rud a d’iarr sí. Comh buíoch lena raibh mé nuair a tháinig mé ar an leabhar sin ó Ross O’Carroll Kelly i mbrú sa Chambóid an mhí seo caite – an cineál greann sin a d’airigh mé uaim agus a bhí orm a mhíniú don chomhluadar Sasanach a bhí timpeall orm ag an am – ‘loike, Ó mo Dhia bhí sé focking thar barr!’

Bhí turas fada romhainn, 12 uair a chloig ar a laghad, agus na buncleapacha míchompordacha ag freastal ar riachtanaisí na ndaoine nach bhfuil cosa comh fada píleata is atá agam. Tháinig mé ar sheasamh sealadach a rinne chúis dom codladh eadrom a fháil ar feadh 20 nóimead ag an am, sular éalaigh an mothúcháin uilig ar thaobh mo láimhe deise, agus bhí orm malartú a dhéanamh chun go ndéanfar cothromaíocht ar an easpa mothúcháin a bhí ag leathnú amach ionam. Ní dúirt éinne riamh go mbeadh busanna codlata galánta!
B’fhéidir gurb iad na hÉireannaigh eile a chuir cumha don bhaile orm, nó seans gur an aimsir a bhí ann – b’iontach an rogha a bhí againn an lá áirithe seo a chaitheamh ag taistil, toisc nár stop an báisteach ón uair a d’éirigh muid ar maidin. Cíbe rud é, thit coladh aisteach orm leathbhealach tríd an turais, agus ar feadh tréimhse ní raibh mé cinnte an fíor-eachtraí nó brionglóidí a bhí ag tarlúint timpeall orm, mo chairde ón bhaile do mo leanúint trí ghoirt ríse glasa ar rothair agus muid uilig ag caitheamh hataí triontánacha déanta le tuí.
Ba dlisteanach na radharcanna a bhí ag imeacht timpeall orm nuair a dhúisigh mé, ach ní raibh tásc nó tuairisc ar mo chomhghleacaí ón mbrionglóid in éineacht liom. Bhí mé liom fhéin arís, na ‘Paddy Fields’ mar a cuirtear orthu ag imeacht timpeall orm do mo chrá lena n-ainm Gaelach agus dath uaine álainn taobh amuigh – sílfeá gur ar Citylink nó GoBus go Gaillimh a bhí mé ag pointe amháin, na scamaill agus páirceanna ag déanamh comhbhrón le mo chuimhní ón tsamhradh i gConamara de réir mar a d’imigh an ghrian ón spéir is dorchadas anabhaí na hÁise ag titim.

Chaill mé uair a chloig nó mar sin ag cuimhneamh siar ar an cúpla seachtain deireanach a bhí caite agam le daoine nár chas mé le riamh roimhe sin, daoine eile ar fánaíocht ón Astráil, ó Shasana, Meiriceá, an Ghearmáin, an Bheilg….lean an liosta ar aghaidh. Bhí cairde iontacha déanta agam, rudaí feicthe agam agus déanta agam nár smaoinigh mé riamh a bhí mar fhéidireachtaí dom; cén fáth mar sin go raibh cumha comh mór sin don bhaile tagtha gan choinne orm? An Ghaeilge i mo chloigeann a bhí curtha ar leathaobh le cúpla seachtain anuas ach amháin le sampla a thabhairt do ghrúpa ón Ísltír nár chreid go raibh a teanga féin ag Éireann ag pléascadh uaim anois gan smacht, is mé ag streachailt teacht ar leabhar nótaí nó laptop le mo chuid smaointe a scríobh síos agus cuid de mo theanga dhúchas a chloisteáil arís go scioptha– fiú má’s i mo chloigeann amháin a bhí sí.

Tugann an cineál seo taistil meas agus grá difriuil agat do do bhaile féin. Domsa, tá os cionn mí go leith caite agam anois amuigh ón bhaile agus cé go bhfuil mé anois i dtaithí ar an tslí beatha seo, an ‘backpacker culture’ mar a deirtear i measc na taistealaí óga eile anseo, tá rudaí ionam agus mar chuid de mo phearsa nach n-athróidh comh héasca sin. I measc cultúir comh éagsúil ó mo cheann fhéin tá sé éasca dearmad a dhéanamh ar na rudaí a cheanglaíonn mo chroí go hÉireann nuair nach bhfuil siad díreach os mo chomhair, na nithe beaga a tharlaíonns ó lá go lá nach féidir cuir síos nó cur amach ceart a dhéanamh orthu do daoine iasachta eile. Tá an ‘Late Late Toy Show’ ar siúl anocht, mar shampla. Déan iarracht an ceann sin a mhiniú don ghrúpa taistealaí óga ón Nua-Shéalainn a roinn mé seomra leo aréir. Go figure.
Nílim ag rá nach bhfuilim buíoch as an deis seo a fháil – cinnte, ‘sé ceann de na rudaí is fearr a tharla dom agus a rinne mé dom fhéin i mo shaol, agus molfainn d’éinne é, ach tagann chuile rud go pointe ina bhfuil ort céim siar a thógáil agus amharc a thógáil ar na rudaí a d’fhág tú i do dhiaidh. Tharla an nóiméad sin dom le linn an turas sin inné, agus sílim go bhfógraíonn sé an cineál rian leathbhealaigh atá buailte agam anois. Tá neart foghlamtha agam, neart feicthe. Ach tá fós bóthar fada le dhul agam go dtí go mbeidh mé ar an bhfód dúchais arís.

Is an bus ag leanacht ar aghaidh tríd na hoíche, is dóigh gur thit codladh orm arís ag pointe nó dhó, in ainneoin na bóithre baolacha agus síorghleo na caranna ag bualadh bonnáin ar a chéile gan chúis agus gan éifeacht seachas paisinéirí traochta agus uaigneach ón Iarthar a choinneál ina suí. Cé go raibh mé ag súil leis na radharcanna a fheiceáil ag an gceannscríbe, is an chéad chéim eile ar an tóraíocht taisce seo a bhaint amach, líon íomhanna ón bhaile agus ón Nollaig ach go háirithe mo chloigeann, agus ghlac mé le suaimhneas go bhfuil sé sin fós ag fanacht orm tar éis dom filleadh abhaile. Don nóiméad seo, a bheartaigh mé, níl ann ach cúpla seachtain fágtha, agus tá sé ar intinn agam an oiread is mó a bhaint astu siúd agus gur féidir liom.

Ó Chonamara go Cambodia – From Connemara to Cambodia

Ó Chonamara go Cambodia – Seachtain Amháin Le Dhul

(Leagan Béarla ar bhun- English version below)

Éadaí fós sna málaí a d’iompar mé trasna na tíre ar an turas deiridh le hiarnáil amach, iad ag stanadh orm ó chúinne an seomra, láithreacht déanta níos glórmhaire toisc go bhfuil níos lú ná coíscíse le dhul go n-imeoidh mé arís.
Ag an bpointe seo is dóigh go bhfuil an maisín níocháin faoi a thuilleadh bhrú ná mar atá mé fhéin, ag iarraidh dul i ngleic leis an lámhdeachais (turnover) seo agus cinnte a dhéanamh go bhfágfaidh mé le mála droma lán le héadaí úra le chaitheamh agus tuáillí breá glan is tirim.
Teastaíonn uaim dul tríd gach rud, rudaí le thabhairt a shocrú amach, rudaí le caitheamh. Ba cheart dom liosta dhéanamh, rudaí a sheacáil as an liosta sin, pacáil a dhéanamh uair amháin le feiceáil an dtéann gach rud isteach, agus gach rud a bhaint amach arís le stuif a bhogadh thart.

Ba cheart dom. Ach ar chúis éigin, níl mé ró-bhuartha faoi.
Mar tá a fhios agam go mbeidh sé uilig togha. Cé nár chaith mé an oiread seo ama as baile riamh le chéile ag aon am amháin – tá tréimhsí fada déanta agam i nGaillimh le seachtainí ar deireadh a chéile gan trácht ná smaoineamh a chaitheamh siar don bhaile – ach tá sé seo difriúil. 10 seachtain ag obair agus ag taistil in oirdheisceart na hÁise. Seans mhaith nach mbeidh mé ag iarraidh filleadh abhaile ariamh – ná bí buartha, a Mham, beidh mé sa bhaile don Nollaig, ach cá bhfios cén áit a dtógfaidh an taithí seo mé ina dhiaidh sin – agus táim oscailte le cíbe rud!
B’fhéidir nach bhfuil sé gearr go leor go fóill leis na sceirbe a bheith ag teacht isteach…ach ar bhealach éigin airím nach mbeidh siad ansin an uair seo. Airíonn sé uilig comh maith sin. Airíonn sé i gceart. Nílim buartha faoi na nithe beaga de; na rudaí nach gá bheith buartha faoi. An scaoll idir eitiltí leis an gceangal a dhéanamh i gceart, nó an bosca mór piollairí malaria a bheidh liom an t-am uilig, gan trácht ar na féidireachtaí a bheidh ann teacht i dteagmháil le roinnt galair eile.
Is cúis imní níos mó ar fad dom é go mbeidh mé nochtaithe ar fad – ag taistil liom féin go tír comh iasachta seo gan teagmháil láithreach ar bith nó lámh le greim a choinneál ar má tharlaíonn aon rud.

Ar bhealach eile táim níos mó ar bís ná mar a bhí mé riamh d’aon rud. Ag cur mé fhéin amach ansin mar seo – dúshlánach agus dánaíoch go leor, ach ag forbairt ar mo chuid sháiniúlachta agus neart fhéin ag an am céanna, mar ní bheidh deis ach a bheith ag súil amach dom fhéin. Mise a bheidhs ar thús cadhanaíochta do na geataí imeachta, don deasc ‘visas’, don t-ostán agus ar aghaidh don scoil gach lá ina dhiaidh sin. Mise a bheidhs freagrach as cé comh maith no holc a n-éiríonn liom ar an turas seo – agus seo an rud – ní fíor-rogha atá san ‘olc’ sin!!
Is follasach a rá go bhfuil idir meascán de mhothúcháin agam, ach ag an am céanna, creidim go láidir nach mbeidh riamh aon ‘am ceart’ le rud mar seo a dhéanamh. Beidh ‘risk factor’ de shaghas éigin i gcónaí ann, agus da mba rud é gur fhán muid uilig i gcónaí ar an ‘opportune moment’ glacadh le dúshláin nó athraithe móra, bheadh muid ag fanacht go deo!

Mar atá sé anois airím réidh, airím láidir agus go breá cumasach, ar bís le feiceáil cá dtógfaidh an turas seo mé, go fisiciúil agus go spioradálta. Laethanta caite ag breathnú in éad agus ardmheas ag post Kathryn Thomas ar ‘No Frontiers’ is mé i mo shuí le cóipleabhar mata thart, mé anois ag cothú leis an ‘wanderlust’ agus spreagadh chun taistil is mé in ann faoi dheireadh dul amach liom fhéin sa domhan. Nílim tosaithe ag pacáil go fóill, ach tá liosta intinne déanta agam de na nithe a bheidh uaim, nithe a bheadh áisiúil, nithe nach dteastaíonn uaim in aon chor, agus nithe a ndéanfaidh mé gach iarracht a thabhairt liom ar aon chaoi.
An cúis imní is mó atá agam i láthair na huaire ná ag oibriú amach cén chaoi mála droma, giotar, mata íoga agus laptop a thabhairt liom uilig ag aon am amháin tríd na haerfoirt éagsúla agus amchriosanna (time zones) le casadh le duine éigin ar an taobh eile – le fírinne, d’fhéadfainn cúraimí níos measa a bheith agam faoi láthair! Tá go maith.

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From Connemara to Cambodia – 1 Week to Go

Ironing out the creases on clothes that I have yet to unpack is a beckoning chore, the bags I’ve just lugged cross-country made all the more noticeable in the corner of the room due to the fact that there are less than two weeks to go until I leave again.

At this stage I’m fairly sure that the washing machine is more apprehensive than I am, being expected to accommodate this turnover and ensure that I leave fully equipped with a backpack full of fresh clothes to wear and clean, dry towels. I need to go through everything, to sort out what to bring, what to wear. I should make a list, tick things off, pack once to see if everything fits and unpack again to rearrange things.

I should. But for some reason I’m not that worried about it.

Because I know it’ll all be fine. Even though I’ve never been away from home for this long all in one go – I’ve done stints in Galway for weeks on end without even thinking about home – but this is different. 10 weeks of work and travel in South East Asia. Chances are I won’t ever want to come home – don’t worry, Mum, I’ll be home for Christmas, but God knows where the experience could take me after that – and I’m open to anything!

Maybe it’s not quite close enough to it yet for the anxieties to have crept in…but somehow I feel like they’re not going to be there this time. It all feels so fine. It feels right. I’m not worried about the small details of it; the unecessary things. The panic of making connection flights, or the large box of malaria tablets I’ll have to keep on my person like a passport at all times, or the possibilities of contracting some unknown foreign diseases.

I’m more concerned with the fact that I’ll be so exposed – travelling alone, to such a foreign country and with no immediate contact or hand to hold should something go wrong.

In another way I’m more excited than I ever have been for anything. Exposing oneself like this is simultaneously daring and challenging, yet also extremely character-building and exciting, because I’ll have no choice but to look out for myself. I’ll be the one leading the way to the departure gates, to the visa desk, to the hotel and subsequent school the next day. I’ll be the one responsible for how well or badly the trip goes, and here’s the rub – ‘badly’ is not even being considered a real option here!

I think it’s safe to say I’m experiencing a very mixed range of emotions, but at the same time, I’m a firm believer that there is never going to be a ‘right time’ for me to do any of this or for me to make it happen. There’s always going to be some sort of risk factor involved, and if we were to always wait around for the ‘opportune moment’ to come to undertake a big change or challenge, we’d be waiting around forever!

As it stands I feel ready, I feel strong and capable and excited to see where this trip takes me, both literally and spiritually. My days of ogling Kathryn Thomas’s job on ‘No Frontiers’ as I sat and finished maths homework that was due days beforehand are finally being given some food to grow and see what can be made of the wanderlust that frustrated me at not being allowed out into the world. I haven’t started packing yet, but I’ve made mental lists of things I’ll need to bring, things that would be handy, things I definitely don’t need to bring, and things I’m probably going to try to bring anyway.

My main concern at the moment is how I’m going to manage a backpack, guitar, yogamat and laptop all at once as I travel through the various airports and arrive in a confusion of timezones to be (hopefully) received at the other side – to be honest, there are worse worries I could be having right now! All is well.

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Cakes on the Corner of Camden

Leagan Gaeilge(Irish Version)
Foodswings Reviews – Cakes on the Corner of Camden 
I have a new favourite café in Dublin!
I’m not going to lie – I haven’t much of a notion how to go about this whole ‘food critic/restaurant review’ craic, but I sure as hell felt I had to say something about this place!
I get the impression that The Cake Café, just off Pleasant’s Place (even the name of the STREET is inviting) and also accessible through Daintree’s craft shop on Camden Street, is probably not such a well-kept secret as it would have been a short while ago before it’s inclusion on Dublin’s ‘Fab Food Trail’, and generally widespread word-of-mouth praise it’s gotten from everyone I know who recognises it.

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I arrived shortly before lunchtime and even then its’ cosy interior was bursting with life and the aroma of fresh Irish produce, homemade goods and an exciting freshly blended coffee that was leaving home in takeaway cups with the delightfully punny message ‘Cupán Will Ya??’ printed on them (I’d be lying if I said I’m not a fan of ‘The ol’ bitta’ Gwaeilga’”). Brian Dobson was sat in one corner sipping a coffee and looking slightly out of place while a few other well-to-do looking clientele in suits and blazers clustered around some of the rickety seats outdoors, & I noticed some wine glasses and attractive looking craft beers nestled amongst the freshly squeezed glasses of juice and mugs of tea.
My kinda’ place, I thought.
I trudged in with my yoga mat slung over one shoulder and a laptop in my bag, navigating my way through the tightly packed and populated little tables, looking for somewhere new to do a bit of work and hoping against hope I’d fit in with some of the other ‘foodies’ and lunchtime coffee-lovers who began arriving as the dainty little china-clock on the wall ticked closer to 1pm.
 When I say this place does everything, and does it well, I mean it. Divided into a ‘Breakfast’ and ‘Savoury’ section, with options of sides and of course the all-important ‘Cakes’ at the end, the menu itself as a whole is not extensive. As I sat and downed my coffee however, I couldn’t help but notice how mouth-wateringly tasty and also most importantly healthy everything that was being served to many clearly very regular customers looked.
The staff bustled around cheerfully, acknowledging some by name and others simply with a warm smile and gesture of the hand to an empty table. I gave in and asked for a menu, eventually deciding on the ‘Chorizo and Goats’ Cheese Salad with Homemade Brown Bread’, substituting the chorizo for chicken, and biting my tongue hoping I wouldn’t end up with food envy as the little girl beside me was served granola with natural yoghurt topped with peanut butter and banana. (The staff get bonus points for being so sound about this minor adjustment to my order).
While the child’s bowl of yoghurt and peanut-buttery goodness had me already pre-planning my breakfast for the following morning, the arrival of my meal sufficiently distracted me from thinking ahead so much, and I was forced back to the moment to devour this fantastic concoction of flavours, nourishment and colour which also scores triple bonus points for being super super healthy and satisfying.
I usually despise dates, but these ones were warm and gooey and complimented the rest of the ingredients incredibly well – I thought I was hilarious messaging a friend a picture of it and organising a ‘date’ there again next week.
unnamed-2Chicken, goats’ cheese, dates & beetroot salad with homemade brown bread’
Before I get too excited about the (fabulously yummy) Lunch and Breakfast menus, I must mention the cakes. It is, afterall, in the nature of a ‘Cake Café’ to serve cake. ‘The Cake Shop’ people (because what else would we call them) pride themselves on ‘making and delivering cakes to order within 24 hours’, and surely enough I witnessed a steady flow of orders and cake-for-money transactions over the counter taking place while I munched on my beautifully served lunch. Not only pre-ordered and entire cakes, of course, but slices, buns and tarts too. While the variety looked fabulous, and certainly everyone around me seemed extremely satisfied with their choice of tartlets, I actually didn’t taste any of the cakes that first day. I couldn’t decide, and after my decadent (and very satisfying) lunch, I simply didn’t feel the need to indulge. If the other food is anything to go by though, I thought, it’s definitely something I need to try soon.
Price was something I had been concerned about, given the seeming exclusivity of this oasis of nourishment, yet the quality of the food and the atmosphere of the place in general really sent any qualms I’d had flying with the iced butterflies which decorated some of the cupcakes. I lingered awhile after finishing my meal, observing mostly, but also succeeding in getting some work done – one thing I noted was that the eggs and also the roasted vegetables seemed to be very popular choices.
The fact that they serve wine, prosecco, and a selection of beers and cocktails really just put the icing on the cake (wouldn’t be a cake shop review without that sentence!) for this place, and I made a mental note to come back some evening for a tipple and some cake before heading out on Camden Street.

Returning the following day to grab a coffee and takeaway piece of lemon yoghurt cake (devine in it’s own right), I may have emitted a momentary ‘fangirl’ squeal of delight as I spotted Bressie on the opposite side of the café. Yep. Bressie. Fairly sure he caught me looking, too. Bressie likes cake. Therefore, I like cake. Don’t we all?!

If that’s not enough to persuade you to come to The Cake Café soon, I don’t know what is.
Yum!
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Useful Links:
 Dublin’s Fab Food Trails
@The Cake Café on Twitter
The Cake Café on Facebook
The Cake Café Online

LEAGAN GAEILGE