Monday, 31 January 2011

INDIA Cochin - ATM and SIM cards

If you need money on arrival at Cochin International airport there is an ATM.  As soon as you leave the arrivals hall there are two different bank booths directly across the road. The maximum we could draw in one transaction was Rs10000 but we could do a second transaction immediately after that. 

Checking around it seems Airtel have the best phone coverage throughout India.

We bought a SIM card for Rs 26 at one of their main offices.  We produced our passport for ID, Guesthouse receipt with address as proof of where we were staying and also needed a passport style photo.  Paperwork was easy and for Rs 222 we got 222 minutes of phone credit with no expiry.  Once you leave the state in which you bought the card you then pay roughly double to make calls and send SMS and also to receive a call but this applies to all the phone companies in India.  Even so with a base rate of Rs 1 for India text and Rs 5 for text to UK and Rs 1 a minute for calls even doubled up this is cheap 

Sunday, 30 January 2011

MALAYSIA Kuala Lumpur tips

If you are flying in to KL on an Air Asia flight you may have the opportunity of buying a Tune SIM card on board, if not you can buy one on arrival.  We found it had the cheapest rates, and good coverage and costs  RM5 including RM5 credit.

At the LCCT (low cost carrier terminal) it is really easy to get money from an ATM, in fact there is even one before you clear customs.

The terminal building houses many shops, restaurants and also offers free wi-fi.

Air Asia also have a booking desk and terminals for buying tickets up until 90 minutes before departure.

Getting in to KL is easy.  Head out of the terminal, turn left and follow the road around.  You will find the Air Asia buses at RM9 (RM6.50 booked on line) each way or a yellow bus company charging RM8 one way or RM14 return.  Both these buses take you to KL Sentral with a journey time of approx 1 hour 15 mins.

If you are doing a short overnight stay then Tune Hotel is just a short walk away but book early as the prices keep going up nearer to the date you want to book.

Alternatively go to KL Sentral, with the station behind you turn left and follow the road as it curves away from the building.  Directly opposite and on your right you will see My Hotel Sentral where a standard double with air-con etc was on special at RM108, just a little further and to the left is their Brickfields one with rooms at RM98 and this looked to be a quieter option.  We hear this is now cheaper than the YMCA. 

Still in the Brickfields area and just around the corner from the International Buddhist Temple there is a wonderful restaurant inside the Museum of Fine Arts.   Annalakshmi offer a lunch and evening vegetarian buffet and you pay what you wish. 

Thursday, 27 January 2011

FULL TIMING - Dealing with income and other affairs

FULL TIMING - Dealing with income and other affairs-

Over the years dealing with banking and mail has become so much easier because of the Internet and mobile phones.


If you don't already have one then set up one of the free E-mail accounts such as Google Mail Hotmail or Yahoo , these can be accessed anywhere in the world from any computer and once you are into your account the script comes up in your chosen language.

No matter what you do it is almost impossible to get rid of all snail mail so you will probably still need an address and someone to check the mail for you.  If you have a relative that has a

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

GENERAL TRAVEL - In sickness and in health

A question we are often asked is what happens if you get sick whilst travelling or what do you do about medical insuranc?

Fristly we rarely get sick in the normal sense but are more likely to have an accident.  I think that our low stress life leaves our body well able to cope with any minor problems.

Glen in South Africa awaiting an operation for a ruptured achilles tendon

Unless we are travelling in a place with reciprocal arrangements we buy travel insurance.

If you shop on line there are many companies offering back packer cover, this is normally much cheaper than

Sunday, 23 January 2011

GENERAL TRAVEL - Damage Limitation

Following our mugging we have been reviewing our security measures.  We always like to learn by our mistakes and maybe some of the new methods that we will adopt along with old ones will save others our miss fortune.

Stands to reason that if you carry as little as possible with you then you have less to lose.  We were carrying a lot more than we needed at the time of the incident, we only went out to buy a few groceries so a small amount of money was all that we needed.  As it happened my bag contained money, credit and debit card and camera and these could and should have been left at our accommodation. 

Friday, 21 January 2011

MOTORHOME Mishaps on the road

Many things can cause accidents to motorhomes .....


With a “C” class motorhome you have a few blind spots. Manoeuvring on a campground we managed to get tangled up in a basketball net that was fastened onto a tree. Another friend reversed into a tree and had a branch come right through the back wall of his motorhome so now has extra ventilation, the same fellow also managed to drive with his roof vents up and wreck them and broke his wing mirror when he hit a road sign! WHEN BACKING UP IT IS WORTH HAVING SOMEONE STOOD AT THE BACK TO CHECK FOR OBSTACLES

Driving along there are often things sticking out into the road, too high to be a problem for cars but a definite hazard to motorhomes. Don’t be misled by trucks ahead of you as many of them don’t care about their vehicles. Flag poles on lamp posts are a classic example and when pulling to the side of the road to park we managed to get our awning caught on one. Worse still Steve was convinced we had just bumped the kerb so began to reverse and caused the whole thing to rip off.

Other hazzards are at ground level such as sticking up tree stumps, a friend was unlucky enough to wrap his motorhome steps around one and totally wrecked them

Whilst some streets may be wide enough for the motorhome to pass the balconies often hang into the street space. Whilst trying to do a 3 point turn in a fairly wide street we managed to modify a balcony.

A friend drove down a narrow street in France and thought he was in luck as women began chasing after him shouting. In fact they were very angry as his air conditioner had caught their washing lines and they wanted their laundry back.

Driving through towns be aware of low hanging telegraph and other wires and if you come to a bridge with a height sign don’t be afraid to have your passenger get out and walk ahead to check the clearance. In Europe it is not uncommon for the sign to relate to just the centre of the tunnel and if the road has been re surfaced many times the clearance can be reduced considerably. If anyone is trying to guide you do make sure they are aware of things like the air conditioner on the roof as many people just look at the roof height. IF IN DOUBT GET OUT AND CHECK

Approach car parks slowly in case there is a height barrier. A car in France was heading into a car park and whilst the car itself had enough clearance the bikes on top did not. Having found a car park with no height barrier we drove in but pulled up quickly when we saw sparks flying. We had caught a sagging overhead electric cable, hadn’t felt any sort of electric shock but thought we had better get out of there in case we had broken the power supply to the whole town. Later that day we met another motorhomer and were recounting the story and he laughed and told us he was the one who originally caught the cable and left it sagging!


Motorhomes often have quite a long overhang which can cause problems on turns; you can easily take a whole bus queue out when cornering. Dips are also a problem and boarding ferries are one of our pet hates as the loaders don’t understand our situation. Trying to put as much weight as possible to the front of the vehicle and putting extra air in any air bags can help. Driving at an angle very slowly can also relieve the drag. We got completely stuck once but by using the ramps and replacing them in front of each other we managed to get enough lift to move off.

Hairpin bends

Driving down a steep hill with hairpin bends we came close to losing our motorhome. Our 5 ton American vehicle Charlie had an automatic gearbox. The hairpin bend was too tight and we had come to a stop near the drop off and needed to back up. The automatic gearbox would not hold us firm until we got moving in reverse. In the end it was a two man effort using the brake, hand brake and gearbox and revving up to get us backing up without sliding over the edge. ALWAYS COME TO A STOP A FEW FEET BACK FROM ANY DROPS OR OBSTACLES

Stopping distance

Our first motorhome was 3.5 tons but I reckon we had probably overloaded it. Following a truck we did not realise he was breaking as his lights were not working. The first thing we knew was that we were awfully close to a stopped vehicle. This was the point where Steve hit the brakes. Although our motorhome did not seem to be stopping we were beginning to wear our crockery and food out of the cupboards. We swerved round to avoid collision but quickly learnt that stopping a motorhome takes much longer than a car. LEAVE PLENTY OF SPACE BETWEEN THE VEHICLE IN FRONT AND DON’T OVERLOAD YOUR MOTORHOME


Ladies assure your husband that a bit of dented pride is cheaper than a dented motorhome and pursuade him to let you get out and guide him.


Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Travelling light - mens packing list

Men’s packing list
Steve uses a small carry on sized travel pack that can convert from a bag to a backpack.  It weighs 1.1kg.
This list has been used on a 7 month trip to South America covering all seasons, an Antarctic boat trip and a cruise. (Actually cheated a little as for the formal cruise Steve picked up a second hand jacket at a charity shop before boarding and left it with our cabin steward at the end)
We prefer to under pack and buy anything extra we really need rather than carry something we don’t use.
1 pair black lightweight walker/trainer style shoes
1 pair Crocs or reef sandals (can be worn with or without socks and also used in the water)
3 pairs black thin socks
3 pair’s underpants (make at least 1 pair boxer shorts)
1 T-shirt (can be layered with other things to create warmth)
2 cotton/polyester short sleeved shirts (mid colour checks are great for not showing the dirt and most of the ones in this fabric hardly crease even after a hand wash). Unlike cotton T-shirts these wash and dry very quickly, can look smart or casual and are also cooler to wear – plus they can be multi sex and worn by a female with the bottom knotted at the waist.
1 long sleeved shirt and tie to wear with it if needed
1 pair khaki chino style trousers (when ironed they make smart evening trousers but also look OK a little crumbled for everyday wear).  Worn when visiting cities they make you look less like a tourist than travel zip off trousers.
1 pair lightweight purpose made travelling zip off trousers (many now have 2 zips making trousers, ¾ pants and shorts)
1 pair long shorts with internal mesh (so they can also be used for swimming)
1 lightweight polar fleece jacket with good thermal qualities
1 cheap plastic poncho
1 thin but warm long sleeved jumper
1 cap
1 beanie style warm hat
1 pair warm gloves
2 sarongs (double up as towels, sheets etc)
To be used by both of us a small bag containing:-
Mosquito repellent
Travel clock
Universal sink plug
TIP - Make sure all the tops you pack look good with all the bottoms to increase the mix and match possibilities.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

MOTORHOME - Water saving tips

When free camping/boondocking/wild camping the thing that often makes people move is the need for fresh water.  The last thing you want to do when you are relaxing at the beach is to leave to get water.

Whilst eventually there is nothing you can do about this but there are many things you can do to make your water last longer.

Firstly if you are filling up your water and expect to be free camping for an extended period it makes sense to fill up any other containers you may have.

If it ever rains then try to collect the rainwater by putting buckets out at the point where it runs off the motorhome, we have been very surprised by the quantity we have collected by this method.

Baby wipes are very handy for wiping around the toilet, wiping work surfaces, cleaning very dirty hands,

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Travelling naturists needing INF cards

As travellers we are no longer members of a naturist club but still like to hold an INF card.

I know we can join CCBN or other organisations but we won't be around to receive the magazines etc.

A great solution is to join as friends of Wai-natur in New Zealand.  You can complete the application on line and at NZ$45 per couple for a year 1 July - 30 June the price is competitive.  Kay will even laminate and send the cards out to you.  Friends of Wai-natur are affiliated to the NZNF which is in turn affiliated to INF. The cards have that information on them.

We find that some naturist resorts insist you have an INF card whilst other offer a discount if you do so well worth having. 

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The indispensable cheap plastic poncho

We always travel with a couple of the really cheap £1 / or $1 plastic poncho's.

If you are backpacking they are often big enough to cover yourself and to keep your back pack dry.  You can also use a spare one to cover a trolley style bag.

At the beach put one under you towel or sarong to avoid problems from bugs or damp sand.  You can do the same to create a picnic rug on damp grass.  Move this up onto a table and you have a table cloth with plastic backing.

Travelling in an open air vehicle in the rain is also more pleasant with your poncho pulled over your legs to keep you dry.

If you are staying somewhere and the mattress is very dubious you can use the poncho as a plastic under sheet.

Cheap light and well worth having around in our opinion and I am sure you can think of many other uses.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

India visa application for a UK passport holder in Australia



The on line India visa agency tells you on the website how to apply for a visa HOWEVER the information there is only for Australian passport holders.

If you are applying and hold a British passport things are slightly different.

You can complete and application on line and have it sent out but due to our last visa fiasco we decided to front up in person - lucky we did as the info on the website information really only applies to Australian passport holders.

In Melbourne the offices are in the Docklands and very easy to find.  If haven't already got yourselves a free passport photo there is a booth there that charges $10 for a sheet of 4.

If you have a UK passport you must also produce a COPY OF YOUR AUSTRALIA VISA - there is an Internet cafe next door where you can print them but their prices are higher than normal. 

With the UK passport processing time is  10 TO 15 WORKING DAYS.  

The charge is $110 each and for an extra $8 (for 1 or 2 passports) you can have them returned to you by registered post.

You also get a number so you can track your application on line.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Remove white water marks on wood the easy way

We are just getting to the end of our house sitting and noticed that we had created a white mark on a wooden coffee table - think we must have put a tea bag on it.  I know we could just own up to it but first I thought I would check the Internet to see if there was an easy solution.

There is, just put put a cloth over the mark and run over this with a STEAM iron.  Within seconds the steam brought the mark out completely.  It is so effective you feel like looking round for other marks to use this method on!

I know in our RV / motorhome we had this white effect on the edges of the cupboard directly below the kitchen sink, probably water continuously being splashed there.  If you can get the water marks out then regular coating with oil should stop the problem recurring.  You would need to be sure you were dealing with proper wood rather than laminate before using this tactic and it may be a little trickier working on a cupboard door rather than a flat surface.  Let me know if you try it and it works please. 

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Some people like to pack the kitchen sink, I like to take my bed with me

Cheap plastic air mattress
I always travel with a cheap plastic air mattress, the type you buy in the dollar or pound stores.

As we only travel with carry on baggage it has come into use when we have had long delays at airports.  You can usually find a quiet corner and set up your bed using sarongs as sheets.

If the pillows in the hostel are not so good the mattress can be put across the bed to create pillows for a double bed, if the mattress is poor you can put this on top or underneath for added comfort.

On the beach it makes a comfortable bed to lie on and is great fun in the water.  In Florida we used ours to river raft in the hot springs saving the cost of hiring the tubes.

We find the extra weight is negligible compared to the many uses.  

Monday, 3 January 2011

We don't want to be smelly travellers

Mitchum unperfumed deodorant
When travelling in hot countries you are going to sweat.

Having tried many products on the market we find the best all rounder is  Mitchum unperfumed roll on.  It seems to perform better than the stick version, last longer, travels better and takes up less space.

The deodorant effect is brilliant (it says 48-hours but is certainly a good 24-hours), a small roll on lasts for ages and as it is unperfumed it does not attract mosquitoes.  There is no problems taking this in your carry on baggage for flights.

Whilst wearing cotton fabrics makes you sweat less we find that once you are sweating they take longer to dry out and are not as easy to wash and dry overnight as many of the light weight man made fibres.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

A luxurious bath whilst camping or RV motorhoming - and it keeps the kids happy too

If you car camping or motorhoming in an RV with kids there can be nothing better than them having some water to play.  Often you can camp by a river or lake but it is too deep or too fast flowing for them.

Take a small lightweight children's paddling pool with you and you can bucket water into it and give them a safe area.

In fact never mind the kids why not take one for the adults, add some cheap bubble bath for a truly cleansing experience.  Lets face it this is about as near as having a proper home bath that you are going to get!  Add a baked bean lunch for the jacuzzi effect !

You can even use any left over water for washing down the motorhome.