How to combine work and travel- our first workaway experience in Shizuoka, Japan

Before we started our trip we evaluated the different possibilities to do something “meaningful” while traveling. Why not get in contact with people to reach a common goal instead of as travellers ? One way was to apply for smaller jobs but in any case we had needed a working visa what is quite difficult to get in most of the countries. After some further research, Adelia found workaway.info. Here, the concept is to connect hosts with volunteers in order to exchange hospitality against support in form of cleaning services, language training, cooking, maintence, babysitting or other crazy tasks. We wrote to 3 potential hosts about 2 month before our arrival and ended up staying with 2 of them for 3 weeks in total.

It is so easy and much fun, let me tell you a little more about it!

Our first stay was in Shizuoka. We were invited to a cabin right next to a river, bamboo forests and- nothing else. For 1 week we woke up every morning with the sound of rushing water right next to our window and in return we worked 5 h/day. Without searching for a host, we hadn´t discovered this beautiful place. Okay, buying a train ticket for about 5000 Yen (45 €) to go to a station in the middle of nowhere felt strange! Not just once came the time where some “what-if-thoughts” crossed our minds:

What if nobody will pick us up?  What if they are strange people?  What if we have to work too hard?

But everything turned out even better than expected! We found ourselves sitting at the table after our long trip with 2 inspiring people that had to tell more travel stories than we had actually! Hila and Dai got to know each other in Nepal, they have already been travelling for years and now apreciate having people around from all parts of the world. They renovated an awesome traditional japanease house and now rent this place on airbnb so we were preparing their own house for winter (as the humidity is not that high anymore). We even changed the paper of their paper doors what was a real good transfer of knowledge as these doors are quite charactistic for japanease households- maybe we can use this experience one day for our own paper doors at home because they are beautiful and very precious.

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We got one day off and joined a traditional rocket festival that takes place every second year in Tamatori. We were invited to spend this festival with a japanease family… and were so warmly welcomed with beers, sake and most delicious food like fried squid balls, snail, pickled cucumbers and many other local culinary delights you can´t imagine! The japanease hospitality overwhelmed us because the people you see in the streets seem to often keep for themselves but being in an “inner circle” was like being pampered by friends. They wanted to know everything about us and were very very curious. We directly used our (still poor) japanease skills to talk a little bit about our stay and the villages competing against each other bilding bamboo rockets and ignite them every 20 minutes, followed by a poem every village preparaed. It was such a good time and we were so easily integrated and not treated as foreigners but as close aquaintances.

Shizuoka held a lot to explore for us, so I was very lucky to finally enjoy a good run after our stay in Indonesia where it was impossible due to the high temperatures and the bad streets. But we had to be very careful to not leave the regular way for just 1 meter because up there in the mountains we found the biggest spiders I have ever seen! One night there was even one walking inside our bedroom right next to us. But besides that we found many colorful butterflies, huge mantis and also snakes and there are so many different trees, flowers and of course the bamboo and the green tea plants growing what made this place reeally special and still mystic for us!

The last day we joined a tea ceremony. We thought we were prepared but unfortunately everything went wrong. The normal way is that the tea is prepared in a very special way, then it is served in an anounced order and in the end you return the dishes. First I didn´t pass the tea bowl to Adelia but immediately drank it… ui that´s bad karma for sure! Then we didn´t know whether to drink the tea in one slip or in many little ones… well I still don´t know and in the end we put the dishes away in the wrong corner so we completely screwed up and left a bad reputation about germans. I think somebody has to come back for good, maybe some of you can put this right for us?!

Saying goodbye was very bad again, we were sad to leave Dai and Hila and their beautiful natural paradise but hope to meet again one day! It is unthinkable what Japan held for us so far, I had never imagined to find a place so close but yet so far from German climate and cultural circumstances. I mean the japanease politeness was something I didn´t know so far and it surprised me. On the other side concerning the wheather, it reminds me pretty much of home in autumn because of the leaves´ changing color , the chilly evenings and the rain:o) Actually this stay was so calm and we even developed some kind of routine what was just what we needed after the first month of rushing days and crazy nights.

We look forward to our next stop at Kyoto and will soon share our next adventure with you!

 

 

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Eat, pray and love in Ubud

 

 

 

Ubud, this was the most recommended place in Bali. We were told by almost everybody that we should go there. And we did 🙂 We even thought: Why not taking a really nice ( but still affordable) hotel with swimmingpool… Why dont just have a really good time with the boys ( parviz, max and olli) at the end of their trip, my would still go one for a while 🙂
Ignas Bungalows was a great value for money, central ( just a few minutes to the palace and the monkey forest) and close to our favourite places like the cp lounge…or lets say it was only cp lounge cause we ended up there every evening…lets say by accident. We were always searching for, you know, museums and art gallerys or even some cultural stuff…but anyhow we lost our way …and there she was: cp lounge. But lets start from the beginning!

Get out your bucketlist, the first thing to do is visit the sacred monkey forest. Monkey forest road, thats were you find the monkey forest, obviously 🙂 once you get in you find yourself in the jungle. Surounded by extremly curious monkeys who just want your stuff, no matter what it is or even if they need it.
In the unlikely case not beeing attractiv (enough) for the monkeys you can buy bananas, rise up your banana and belive me it will take seconds till one of these monkeys sits on your shoulder. Because of love…!

Continue with the bucketlist by visiting one, two or all temples in and around Ubud. We booked a tour and our driver ( former english teacher) was the cutest guy we could get. We visited Goa Gajah and had a spiritual bath at the Tirta Empul Temple. For that you need to bring or at least to rent a sarong before entering the holy water. Balinese Hindus go there for a ritual purification which consists of a performance at each fountain. And there are many of them. They have all different meanings such as health, luck… . But be careful some fountains are for the death! Get yourself information before getting in.

The tour included also a brief stop at the Tegalalang rice terrace. Hearing “rice terrace” would cause goosebumps on my travelmates skin. Cause the day before i convinced Olli, Parviz and Max to go on a hike (recommended by a very popular guidebook) to see a rice terrace. It will take only two, maybe three hours i said. Starting highly motivated in the morning, we came back ….many,seriously too many hours, later. We were broken, like chopsticks. Exhausted. What happend to us? Where have we been? I still have no clue where we have been on that particular day. But there were no rice tarrace even close tu us. We must have got lost at some point. After many hours of hiking, taking twice a taxi to the rice fields (seriously, we took a cab there …how could we missed it?) we see: A stable, dirty trail, and it is so smelly. You smell pigs and you see pigs, small ones and huges ones. So thats the point you realize something went terribly wrong. We did end up at a backyard of a farmer which was holding pigs. Through this backyard and many others we kept walking, still with some hope in us, but however we came out at a 5 star hotel. Right next to this incredible infinity pool. Such lovely people this balinese, they didnt kicked us out, we must have looked like homeless people after so many hours of hiking. And still they let us enjoy the view.After we found the exit of this huge resort wo took a cab back home and went straight to cp lounge to get many bintangs.

Ok back to the tour. Rice terrace ckeck! On the way back our driver offered us a free tour to a Luwak coffee farm. As it was raining we accepted this offer with not much expectation to it. But what a great surprise: it was a really lovely tour and for free due to government support to this project. We got explained all about luwak coffee and were guided around. We had the chance to try small pots of all kind of coffee and tea ( red rice,black beans, ginger, ginseng, safran tea) this farm was offering,for free of course (even luwak coffee). Afterwards you have the chance to drink your own luwak coffee (50 t rupia for a cup) and buy something in the shop (apparently this farm found its best customer in oliver). So the whole day trip you can get for 150 t rupiah per person.
Last bucketlist check was watching a traditional dance at a temple. We’ve choosen the saraswati temple (80t rupiah) . Its a really nice location. And even we did not understand the whole story it still was a nice experience to make.

Back to cp lounge, this is a great place to stay. You can get live music, play billiard, just hang out in the huge garden and when the time is right you can go and dance in its own club. Thats why we felt attracted by this place. Onother good spot to hang out at night is ” laughing buddah”.
So there a many things to do in Ubud and i bet you can stay forever and you would keep discovering it 🙂 Thanks to Olli, Parviz and Max. I really had a great time with you guys and sorry for forcing you to go on this horrible hike! Next time we’ll find the rice terrace, for sure!

 

Adelia

How much does it cost to travel Indonesia?

First of all I have to admit: I could have done better. I could have saved more money on our first stop: Indonesia. As my boyfriend and other friends joined us on our trip for the first 17 days, our stay turned out to be a little bit more holiday rather than a low-budget travelling. I spent way to much money on food, accomondation (we did not stay in hostels) and of corse drinks. The average amount of money I allow myself to spend is 33 € a day.

 Thats what I left in Indonesia:

Days of stay: 27 days        Money I spent: 1015 €       Daily average: 37,6€

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Sightseeing: Temple Pura Luhur Uluwatu, private driver to Jimbaran beach, private driver to waterfalls close to Kuta, Lombok (Benang stokal/Benang kelambu), private snorkeling boat, Monkey forest Ubud, Tour to Tegalalang rice terrace, Luwak coffee farm, Pura Taman Saraswati, Goa Gajah, Tirta Empul Temple, Mount Bromo and Kawah Ijen tour.

Shopping: mostly snacks, sanitary items, sweets.

Nightlife: covers basically drinks in bars, liquids, and cigarettes.

Transportation: taxi, domestic flights, scooter/bike rentals.

Extras: covers laundry, souvenirs, tips and personal expenses (massage/spa)

Inside Indonesia

This is a list of our  discoveries based on our personal experience. Maybe there is also something in for your next trip?!

Seminyak
AirBnB Seminyak beach house
13 euro a night/person by occupation of 4 (there is space for 5) just have a look on the website you wont be disappointed.

Get a private driver and go to Uluwatu temple, Jimbaran and Padang padang beach. We paid for an entire day 500t rupiah.

Do not spend 1,5 Million rupiah for a dinner at Jimbaran beach. Yes the sunset is great, but you get better seafood everywhere else.

Kuta, Lombok
Surfers Inn, located directly in front of the beach, has a swimming pool and friendly staff. You pay 250t rupiah for a double room. Breakfast is included. They also rent motorbikes for 50t rupiah a day and organize tours. We paid 150 t/person rupiah for a daytrip to the waterfalls ( entrance fee is not included +65 t rupiah) and a dropoff at the harbour with boat tickets to Gili Air.
There are several warungs around the corner where you find good and cheap food. My favourite: try a tom yum soup for 35 t rupiah.

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The nice garden of Surfers Inn with its little cottages.

Gili Air
Inas Homestay was a great place we found by accident. The rooms appear to be for a honeymoon, with huge bathrooms and we had there by far the best breakfast in Indonesia (ink). It is run by a cute elderly woman. She also rents bikes for 60t rupiah ( you can find some for 50 t, but this ones are new). Rooms are available for 350t rupiah.

Sunset at ” the exile” bar/restaurant is a must-do. You ve got the famous Gili Air swing right in front of the bar. Drinks are not cheap but you will be paid off by the view.

 

Gili Trawangan
The nightmarket was the best. You get delicous and local  food for a few thousand rupiah. My favourite: dragonfruitjuice mixed with limejuice only 15t rupiah.

If you re travelling with a group you don´t need to join a snorkelingtour. Why dont you just rent the entire glasbottomboat for a few hours? We paid just 600 t rupiah for the whole boat, snorkeling equipment and a guide who helped us watching out for the turtels ( low season)

You want to go to Ubud? Try to get a cheap ticket with Sintex- boat. We paid 165 t rupiah per person. This price includes the fastboatticket and a bemo from padang bay to ubud.

Ubud
We stayed at Ignas bungalows (450 t rupiah) and the room was huge, washroom aswell. Breakfast is served to your room and the pool is great as it gets very hot sometimes.

Our favourite restaurant: biah biah, food is like indonesian tapas served in bananaleafs. You ll just order plane rice (5t ) and add the indonesian tapas as you like (7-13t). Wine is also very cheap, 32 t for a glas of rose.

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Canggu
A real homestay: Danis Homestay, its unbelievable cheap: 150t a night with shared bathroom. And you really see the family which is always so friendly and helpful. Before entering your own room you´ll pass the patio of the family which is used as an outdoor livingroom. You easily get in touch with this family. It has also a great location, you can walk within 15 min to the beach (old man’s)


Dandelion, is by far the best restaurant in town. It hast a garden where you will find rabbits all over the gras. The staff is very friendly and attentive, and even if you dont care about rabbits the food is worth it. Its not as expensive as it might be at first sight.

Restaurant PHO offers delicous vietnamese food. Ask for Hot Ginger (not for ginger tea!!!) and you get  a spicy ginger tea.

 

Kisses n Hugs Adelia

East Japan- Contrasts everywhere!

Let´s talk about expectations. Everybody probably has some, I guess?!

About the next day.
About the new album of Clueso.
About life
and oneself.

-But how about the expectation of places? I thought about this for the last days. My conclusion and agony is that actually nobody can be blamed if something doesn´t occur as hoped for but oneself.

When it comes to Japan I expected it to be different. Different from the cultures I got to know during the last years; different regarding food and eating customs. Different in the way of intersocial behaviours. Quite a burden- to encounter difference. After the first days in Japan, I am kind of ambivalent and overwhelmed about the new experiences and must admit that my preparation was poor.

Arriving in Tokyo, everything felt big and busy. The enormous buildings, the wide streets, the extended metro map and the large distances. Arriving in the hotel (Ikebukuro, Sakura hotel, 22 €/night), I found our room to be comparably tiny,  15 qm²- shared with 4 other girls.

The next day, we went to the government monument building to enjoy the great view about big, big Tokyo (for free).
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An elderly japanease took this picture- looking completely helpless and doing series of 400 pictures- after the third try it was just funny not being able to comunicate.

Adelia met  Yuma, an osakan, who just moved to Tokyo and spontaneously joined us on our sightseeing tour, such an open guy I thought to myself, lucky us that we met him! We visited the Yoyogi park, the Mejij shrine and Shibuya and it was always quite crowded in the streets but well-organized and calm and very save! Observing the citizens going their daily routine without watching me in the “ah a tourist”-way relaxed somehow as I felt like everything´s going its normal way.
In big contrast to Indonesia, nobody really shows interest in you by watching you ( eye contact is very seldom) or just talk to you out of nowhere. This reminded me of the experiences some of my friends told me after spending their first weeks in Germany- that people seamed uninterested and I laughed about myself: only here in Japan I truly understand the feeling of being “invisible” to others. A good example of this feeling for me is also that only few japanease are speaking English with you from the beginning. More likely you spend the first 2 (invisible)  minutes of a conversation listening to japanease and agreeing with “hai” (yes in japanease, no is not an option!) before you really start communicating to each other by your counterpart swiching to English  (actually often a quite good English but due to the shyness and the pursue of perfection it seams hard to start with a shaking pronounciation right away). I remembered Yuma with his open appearance  and again thought about the contrasts that I experienced so far.
The next day it was fish market-time! Tokyo has the biggest fishmarket halls in the world and we were there- unfortunately a little late at about 12pm and most of the halls were empty already. But that was okay as we already ate Sushi for the last 3 days… like addicts:oP so we skipped that day´s Sushi plans for the dinner! We continued our trip to the quarter of Chiyoda and found very traditional monuments right next to the state-of-the-art facades of Tokyios skyscrapers.
Then, after five days in Tokyo our railpass-time started. For 7 days and 260€ we are able to use many of the train connections throughout the whole country. We took the Shinkanzen for the first time, the famous super-express train and headed for Nikko up north. Staying in the Park Lodge Mountain view ( very recommendable!, about 30 €/night), we walked a trail about 3 hours from the waterfalls Ryuzu to Lake Yunoko and a public onsen (Senjogahara trail), and took a bath in the water of a natural hot spring.- just the right reward after that much walking! Especially at the temperature of maybe 15 degrees.
Here some impressions of Nikkos Tosho-gu temple:
Heading up north to Hokkaido/Hakodate, we even had temperatures of 10 degrees- why did we decide to go up north??, we asked ourselves after putting on all the warm clothes we have in our backpack, shaking, under 2 blankets. The wheather, the falling leaves and the light reminded me very much of home and I got a little homesick and sad for the first time. Especially also the changing wheather circumstances, the clash between metropole and countryside make it still hard to remember what the hell I was expecting to find here and I am disappointed about thinking in stereotypes sometimes. Eather way my expectations where so much exceeded and I still cannot capture all the feelings.
My conclusion about unfullfilled expectations is this: as long as others mainly influence these expectations, the disappointment if something fails seams bearable- for me it gets difficult if I play the only active part in the desired circumstance and something cannot be realized for example due to a bad preparation. Maybe this is why it was a challenge during the last days to deal with all the unexpected impressions.
… So for now I hope that I’ll be forgiven for my fauxpas by the japanease- I keep on learning and with the first experiences I feel more motivated now to get to know the rest of Japan:o)

In the next days we are heading towards Tokyo again to Kamakura, tha remaining area with mainly buddistic influences at the beach before we visit the Fuji and start our first of two jobs here in Japan.

Stay inspired by our journey!

Mella

Off the track: To travel also means…

Every time someone asks me why I want to do this trip I immediately know the answer and the conversation tend to end up in a monologue, muhaha. Certainly more difficult is the question if I´m not scared of travelling for one year, especially nowadays. What an interesting question actually. Setting the focus on “nowadays”, I argue that everything can also happen right next door in this very moment. Additionally, today the circumstances to travel many countries are so advanced that it is very easy to book flights (back home if absolutely necessary), arrange hotels, get information and meet other travellers in forums and stay in touch with friends and family. But, as you maybe also notice right now, I have a little problem with the “scary” side of travelling. What is it exacly, what should be scary, I asked myself sometimes before going to sleep.

After nearly 5 weeks, I found some answers for this question and also strategies to handle these challenges for me.

 

  1. Farewells Saying goodbye to family and closest friends felt like a sudden detoxication and I broke into sweat every time.  Without them, I sometimes feel soo lonely and  insecure because there is nobody who protects me when I feel weak, nobody who talks when I don´t feel like talking and nobody who makes me smile when I need a positive vibe. Without Adelia, I probably hadn´t decided to travel for one year and she is my sunshine of corse! But what starts to scare me is that I realized that there is not THE farewell. While travelling I appreciate every person I meet and feel comfortable with- maybe even more as if I meet german people at home with a similar backround that I have. Being out of my comfort zone, my perception of also most usual situations with others is sharpened and I get sad leaving  a city and its awesome people behind. And this is actually, what we will do during the next months: get to know people- and leave. Get to know more people… and leave. So this is my scary moment #1: saying goodbye every 2nd or 3rd week and leave really good people behind, with whom you just started to feel easy and  on the same level.
    Identifying what I like about the people (not everybody of course, but the special ones), may it be a trait, a strengh in behaviour or just a common interest, helps me to ease the sadness. Because then I try to also apply this feature on my further way and this makes me still feel close to the beautiful women and men I meet and I can still honor them this way!
  2. Chaos: Organizing stays for only 2-3 days at a time, spontaneously deciding routes, transports and other unforeseen human factors like the spoky guy in the metro at 2am can be stressful. Sometimes, things go very wrong and I am close to panic. Or in situations where I feel missunderstood or where I would really like to be happier but can´t I need a hidden escape for some minutes to gain new enery. Then, it is M-U-S-I-C that keeps me going! For me, there is no greater power than hearing my favourite songs, my running playlist or a song that reminds me of the people I love. Doing so, I can create my own world for some time where I can think and relax and recover and decide the next move. Or just sing a silly song out loud and feel relieved. Or just remember a good memory and feel energised by the emotion I felt in this moment. The same effect also comes along with running for me by the way but unfortunately I cannot run around for one hour in every difficult situation I experience. Haha, but I should try :oP
  3. Loneliness: Unless you don´t  hurry from one monument, museum or event to another, you have lots of time to think while travelling. Actually, this is so valuable and inspiring… but sometimes it can also lead to strange, isolated trains of thought. In addition, while entering a new city, I often feel lost the first days and wish for some familiar faces to appear in the crowd. Well, I dind´t figure out the perfect strategy yet and Adelia and I are a really good team:o)) but I can imagine that this will be more challenging in the upcoming months. What helps me in these situations is to open up to the people I meet. Revealing stories or emotions that I would normally not tell or that I feel a little weird about helps me to feel closer to my environment and to stay open for the new impressions. So I can only feel connected to new places by integrating the people around in this process… what lead again to #1 :-O

Okay, this is maybe not the answer, what people expect when asking about my fear of travelling. But, call me naive, I don´t want to spend too much time about what could happen- unless it happens. Probably then it will be the running-strategy ready to be applied I guess! But this is also, what travelling is about: making good and bad experiences but feel alive and let it happen!

This brings me to my closing monologue:o)

To get to know new places, habbits, behaviours and beliefs means a steady progress for me and my character.

So far, I could not experience the right balance between nature and human development in Germany what I need to figure out for me and hope to find on my way in the contries I visit. To see people living well-adjusted and frugually with what they have is my dream and I will search for that on our trip!

This is the biggest motivation I have to travel one year:o)

If you have any more strategies to fight the challenges while travelling, let me know!

Mella