Tag Archives: travel

Travelling With a Vagina – The Grim Truth (and Why You Shouldn’t Let It Stop You)

We’ve been reading loads of travel blogs lately, and one of our favourites is the lovely Danie at likeridingabicycle – she’s hilarious, ballsy and shares our love for bright hair colours, hitchiking and random adventures (so, you know…this isn’t a slight on her at all, merely a counter-opinion) – but this post about female travel safety struck a chord with both of us.

Firstly, we agree with the overall sentiment (and pretty much all points 3-6 but Susan has some small issues with 3 and 4 too) – women SHOULDN’T BE AFRAID of travelling alone or otherwise because of men, however it is a sad fact that there are dangers to women that don’t apply to men on the same scale (not to negate the fact that men are assaulted by women too and same sex assault occurs, but this post is speaking about our experiences as women from men). Still, the threat of being sexually assaulted SHOULDN’T STOP YOU FROM GOING ANYWHERE. The same way as you shouldn’t let the fear of being mugged stop you – these things happen everywhere including your home town (so location isn’t even a variable in this equation) but as a woman generally on this planet in this time, there are dangers that you must be aware of. Like we say – don’t live in FEAR, just be aware that the rules are sadly sometimes different for you.

So here’s where it gets grim (we usually prefer to keep this blog cheerful and upbeat, but bear with us – it will get to a positive ending we promise!). Both of us are rape survivors (we knew each other for years before this, it’s not the thing that brought us together) . For both of us it happened in our hometown, minutes from where we lived and for both of us the perpetrator wasn’t anyone we knew – it was a random bloke prowling the streets at night. While we can’t say that the ordeal hasn’t changed us in some way, if anything it has resulted in us both being MORE willing to take risks, talk to more strangers, and to visit places that your everyday person might label “dangerous” (see our first hitchhiking adventure doing Glastonbury on not one pound, where all of our friends tried to stop us and we lied to our families about it as they were so worried but we felt protected by “lightening doesn’t strike 3 times man!” and it really was spectacular and supported our faith in humanity (even though we did get wanked on in a privet in Swindon, see Ride #2 in the former link, we just found that the most hilarious thing ever and didn’t feel even slightly unsafe)). We’re both determined that one horrible experience and a couple of horrible people won’t spoil the world for us, nor will it spoil us for the world. We refuse to be scared -we will NEVER be scared! Even at the time, what both of us felt was ANGER and not fear. Anger that someone felt so entitled to take it upon themselves to hurt and violate us without any provocation.

Which leads us back on to the post in question and point number 1:

Read on for point number one…

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Strange Things We Always Take Travelling With Us

“Oh, they are little things …tiny things, like drawing pins, midges wings, and dew drops, wasp plops, a grass leaf, babies’ handkerchiefs, and these little walking sticks” -Mulligan and O’Hare

We are very good light packers. Honestly, we are! We travel for three weeks at a time with only a little rucksack (rather than a “proper” backpack) that we can take on planes as hand-luggage, yet we do seem to always bring some weird and wonderful things with us that may seem to be neither use nor ornament to most sane and practically minded people.

1.A USB Stick With an Emergency Copy of Xanadu

Susan loves Xanadu. I mean she LOVES Xanadu. Jill has never seen Xanadu. Therefore there is always an emergency Xanadu for that one golden night in a hotel where we have nothing better to do than order room service and watch Xanadu. This hasn’t happened yet, as strangely enough we always find good craic and interesting things to do, but Susan lives in hope! This has also lead to hilarity when crossing the Turkmenistan – Uzbekistan border and they insisted on looking through all the files on our laptop and phones, and were very interested in what covert espionage we had on the USB. “It’s just XANADU MAN!”.

Xanadu
You all should go and watch Xanadu RIGHT NOW.

2. An Emergency Beard

You never know when you might need a beard. Like when you want to dress up as a medieval Georgian man and the photography shop doesn’t have an in-house selection of beards.

Georgians
Lord and Lady Muck

3. Mandible

Susan’s rock-hard fighting luchador alter-ego, we first met Mandible in Mexico over several street Margaritas and he’s been tagging along for our adventures ever since, stepping in whenever there is any rock-hard fighting, downing shots of dubious local speciality boozes or having wees behind piles of rubble to be done and saving Susan from the ordeal.

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Mandible enjoying the fairground in David, Panama

4. A Kindle Copy of “Abducted and Forced to Give Milk” and Other Hilarious Crap Erotica Only Available on E-book.

It breaks up a long bus journey, is a good ice-breaker and will usually result in parents whose children are kicking the back of your chair on a flight reeling in their child when you start reading it aloud.

5. At Least One Cup

Because everyone needs  a nice sturdy plastic cup to have their breakfast lager bottom in!

SAMSUNG
2 Girls ZERO functioning cups!

 

 

 

 

We were only 8 hours from Warm Dublin, only 1 day away from Africaaaa – Dublin to Abu Dhabi

Ready to tick off year 1 of the 5 year plan (the travel one, not “Don’t get pecked by a kestrel”, which is also the 10 year plan), your 2 girls firstly need to get in 1 country. Fortunately for Susan the big big t big big initial flight was from her hometown of Dublin, so she got to have a relaxing preparatory night (read: running around like a lunatic trying to finish off work, get her hair done – thank heavens for having an amazing live in hair stylist, oh and packing would be a good idea) while Jill had to dash straight from work to the airport (and was very pleased with herself having managed to actually get on the right plane this time, so we’re 1 up already on the previous year’s progress!).

Come Fly with us…

To All The Dogs We’ve Loved Before…

One of the few drawbacks of travelling from place to place (especially at the speed that we do) is that it often you fall so in love with a place and its people that it breaks your heart when you have to move on. The big killer for us though is the gorgeous stray dogs we meet on our adventures that we would love to let tag along for more of our travels, or in some cases Susan has actually started looking into the logistics of organising to adopt them and take them home to Ireland! Here are the top dogs that stole our hearts (and most likely some of our dinners):

1. Nob Island  (Utila, Honduras 2013)

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Nob Island nobbling about with us on our pub crawl.

We met little Nob Island shortly after we got off the boat from La Ceiba to Utila. We had no accommodation booked but had decided on a hostel that unfortunately was closed when we got there. As we spent a bit of time outside knocking on all the doors/windows trying to get someone’s attention (it was the middle of the day), we entertained ourselves petting a lovely little stray scamp that was hanging around in the street. As we gave up and decided to find somewhere else, little Nob Island (named after our nickname for Utila – because our trip there unfortunately collided with US Spring Break, and it was therefore full of Spring Break nobs) followed us.  She was our road companion for pretty much the whole day (us having resorted to the usual “we’ll go and have a beer and assess the situation” that usually happens when we haven’t found anywhere to stay), exploring the island and stopping off at various bars, sharing our nibbles and ordering her a bowl of water wherever we went. Susan was completely besotted, and was using anywhere with wifi to Google how to transport a dog from Honduras to Ireland.  Eventually we decided on the apt sounding Hotel Margarita and went back to relieve ourselves of our backpacks, but on arrival the owner (the commanding Miss Carmen), took aversion to our little furry friend and chased her away with a broomstick. We understood her not wanting a flea-ridden stray dog in her nice clean rooms, but she could have just slept on the bench outside and there was NO NEED to hit her with a stick! It almost made us leave the hotel we were so annoyed. Despite much searching we never saw little Nob Island again and it breaks our hearts to this day. We do console ourselves with the fact that, lovely though Susan’s apartment in Dublin is (and right next to the park!) she would only have been disappointed when she was used to a beautiful Caribbean island.

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Nob Island enjoying her foraged chicken on the beautiful beach in Utila.

2. Giant Mini Kiev Island Police Station (Kiev, Ukraine 2014)

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Is it a dog? Is it a bear? It’s Giant Mini Kiev Island Police Station!

Touch more dogs this way…

Weakly, not Weekly Roundup (aka “Why We Are Utterly Shit Travel Bloggers”)

“Even if we don’t manage any proper blog posts, we can still do a weekly roundup just saying what we’ve been up to!” Us, last month.

Guess what? Our last “weekly” roundup was a month ago. We’re shit and we know we are. Here are our shameful excuses:

1.We’re busy

So so busy! We both work full time in quite challenging jobs, both of which have seen the shit hit the fan recently so the last few weeks have been mainly work, sleep and the remainder just trying to chill out or trying to maintain our dying social lives. Usually we can manage a little bit of multi-tasking, working on blog posts via email and doing the odd tweet while at work but there has literally been NO RESPITE recently. Jill is also studying for exams in June, has no time to herself and only gin and tonic is holding her back from hiding in a hedge on an industrial estate, boffing gas and sharpening twigs instead of going to work.

2. Unlike TLC, we are too proud to beg!

Our stats are pretty shit, and while we do try and engage people and promote our blog (via Facebook and Twitter), we don’t want to be shoving it down people’s throats and re-posting the same old links day in, day out. We probably just need to get over our inherent British politeness and just get among it!

Our weekend in Preston was quite amazing anyway, although we didn’t do any of the things we had planned (like the owl sanctuary) due to having some great craic in the hotel bar on the Friday night (after post-work drinks with our friend John* in Manchester en route) and ended up staying up until stupid o’clock getting very, very drunk. Saturday saw us dragging ourselves out for a mender and getting as far as the dodgy little old man pub at the end of the street where there was a bit of a shindig going on for St George’s Day involving a buffet (no quiche unfortunately – we were both mad for a bit of quiche that day!) and karaoke. We spent the afternoon there talking shit to the regulars (who we thought were old men, but turned out were actually the same age as us – tough paper round! And asking if they could hook us up with their quiche dealer) and singing Queen in the beer garden before heading out to the lovely Moka (recommended by a lovely lady we got talking to in the street) for delicious fish pie, vegetarian tapas and amazing mango cheesecake, washed down with a bottle of prosecco  (not “prosecutor” -auto-correct!). *Don’t tell John’s wife.

The Bluetones gig (at 53 Degrees) was amazing as always, once we finally managed to locate the entrance to the venue (after an awkward moment accidentally going in the stage door and nearly walking in on the band’s dressing room). There was an added bonus when we headed to The Ferret across the road after the gig, as the support band Miracle Glass Company (cheeky Scottish boys with super catchy tunes) were doing a set there, so of course we had a chat with them and bought them tequila. After being chucked out of there so the staff could enjoy a nice relaxing lock in, we found ourselves in Warehouse (an alternative club with three floors of different music) before retiring to the hotel to find the bar was shut (which was probably for the best) and went to bed.

After a nice lie in on the Sunday, we ended up getting our train to Manchester much later than planned as a) we were having great craic with the staff at the hotel over brunch and boozes b) Susan’s flight wasn’t until 10pm, so Jill had decided to get a later train anyway c). THEN the train from Preston to Manchester was cancelled/delayed and d). The Pickwick Papers. We did finally manage to get some quiche from Tesco at Piccadilly Station though, so all was well.

PrestonQuiche
Yay! Finally the quiche location unit comes through.

In other news WE GOT GLASTONBURY TICKETS IN THE RESALE!!!!!!  We’ll see you sexy cats there!

How not to get pecked by a kestrel – The Five Year Plan…

Since we’ve already had this year’s trip planned since the middle of last year (as it was supposed to happen this March but couldn’t due to Nissan being unable to function without Jill for 3 weeks during that month and would have ended up making underpants instead of cars), we’ve been stuck in a weird kind of limbo this last few months – stuck between having to wait several months for this year’s trip, and not having to plan next year’s trip. Obviously our trajectory proposing fingers were getting itchy, so we’d already planned 2017’s trip during our “idle moments” (i.e. procrastinating when we’re supposed to be doing other things).

Susan’s creation of our world map this weekend has provoked the same “Oh shit! Look at all those places WE HAVEN’T BEEN YET!” reaction in both of us, so we’ve come up with the following Five Year Plan  (all our usual around 3-week length trips unless something miraculous happens in between now and then i.e. Jill’s work realising the business won’t fall apart without her if she’s away for longer than that):

October 2016- “Bottom Right Africa”

Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania (and Zanzibar), Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland

This trip is pretty much all planned (a proper detailed itinerary and the usual route map to follow in the coming months), so we’re just filling in the blanks in the accommodation column and getting flights  and safaris booked at the moment. And getting far too excited and impatient!

PingeandWangInTheMist
Gorillas in the pissed

2017 – “North South America”

French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador (and Galapagos!)

This one is also pretty much planned, which happened during March when we consoled ourselves over not being in Africa when we should have been, by planning the next adventure! It has a good mixture of waterfalls, jungles, beaches, cities and cloud forests – which as every school kid knows, are the main food groups.

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And more volcano touching!

2018 – “Trans-Mongolian Train with Added Bonuses” (need to think off a more catchy name for this one methinks)

Russia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, More Russia, Mongolia, China and hopefully…BONUS NORTH KOREA!

Firstly, how bloody expensive has the Trans-Mongolian got these days? We were looking about 5 years ago and it was around £200 one way, second class but now you’re looking at £555 for the same ticket! That’s some inflation!  Secondly, we’ve stuck Abkhazia and South Ossetia in there as we are dying to get the Life Achievement that is “Visiting All Former Soviet Breakaway States” and due to logistical/us being retarded with visas issues we unfortunately had to miss them out while visiting Georgia last year. We’re having a few stops along the trans-Mongolian route, in dubious Siberian Russia and Mongolia, and also a side trip down to Kazakhstan, before we get to Beijing. And THEN hopefully we can get a guided tour to North Korea for a few days (you can only go there when accompanied by an official guide, whom you can do nothing, not even leave your hotel, without!) if Jill can manage to avoid having unkempt hair or she won’t get in (yes that is one of the regulations “No ripped jeans, sandals or unkempt hair”. As Jill’s travelling hair looks like a bag of ferrets have been dead on it for a few months, this may be the highest logistical challenge we have yet had to face).

DniprTrain
Vodka fuelled train journeys win at everything

2019 – “Far East Far East”

China (continued), South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, possibly more TBC

The jury is still out on this one, as we had decided on it earlier but Susan is now gagging for more Africa here instead. Jill has never been to the Far East and is desperate to go on this trip so we’ll see what we end up agreeing on!

2020 – “Left South South America”

Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina with added Antarctia jaunt (probably King George Island)

The main highlight of this trip for us will be ALL THE WINES! And Susan wanted to spend her 40th in Antarctica but we ended up at the (amazing) Gates of Hell in Turkmenistan instead, so it feels only right that for Jill’s 40th (2020) we should go there! For Susan’s 50th she is determined to go to the moon.

Albania
We already have our Antarctica clothing sorted.

2021 – “West Far East and the Himalayas”

Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan and maybe Iran

This was literally decided five minutes ago-

Jill: What can we do in 2021? A five year plan sounds better than a four year plan…

Susan: Aye it does. Maybe we will want to go to India by then.

Weekly Roundup 10-04-16

This week, Pinge and Wanglions, we have been busy little bees buzzing around the social media hive and making sweet networking honey! We’re really trying to up our game on the blog front and boost our following a bit – for all we love our little gang of friends and family who make up our loyal tribe on Facebook, we need to start casting our net a bit wider and interact more with other travel bloggers and the internet at large!  We’ve been delving deeper into WordPress as well as trying to get to grips with Twitter – we’ve had an account for ages, but have posted next to nothing on it apart from sharing our blog updates – and have twat our tits off for the last few days and are rather starting to enjoy it.  Not enjoying it though, is Jill’s boss who cannot grasp that she is trying to multi-task her day job with blog promotion duties and is constantly giving her the evils when catching her looking at her phone. Selfish is what is!

TwittesScreen
Come laugh at @PingeAndWang not knowing how to use Twatter!

Enough of this twatter! Give us the skinny…

Craic commandos, flabbergasting hospitality and animal touching abounds in the mountain wilderness – Tblisi to Mestia, Georgia

Jill was happy we’d managed an early (ish of 2am) the previous night but Susan was still of the opinion we should have gone to a tittie bar (even though we’d seen plenty in the bath house earlier that day) when we were rudely awoken by the dustmen at about 8am on the Wednesday morning, as we’d ordered a taxi for 9ish to take us into Tblisi city centre where we would be picked up in a minibus (at the statue of St George next to Rustaveli metro) and taken to Vanilla Sky’s little airstrip outside of town for our terribly commercial flight on a 2 person plane up to the mountain village of Mestia in the Svaneti region of Georgia. Susan was convinced we had tons of time and had snoozed the alarm which lead to Jill getting very anxious and impatient, convinced we were going to miss the flight and she’d had just about enough of missing flights this trip, thank you very much. It was a good 20-30 minutes in the taxi from the hotel to the city centre, and then the taxi driver drove straight past Rustaveli and had to double back around the one way system, so we were starting to really panic! We had been told to look for a “white Mercedes Sprinter” and were relieved to find loads of them waiting near the statue when we finally got there. Unfortunately NONE of them were our Vanilla Sky minibus and one of the taxi drivers told us we had just missed it, so we jumped in and told him to catch up with it! We ended up getting there in good time for the flight still thankfully, the weather was decent so the flight was going ahead and and we flopped ourselves down in the comfy chairs in the waiting room, swigged some breakfast beer and petted the two resident airport toy poodles that were mincing about being adorable. Seriously, take note Ryanair – Our research has shown that customers find the whole airport experience a lot less stressful if you provide them with poodles to touch!

We bonded over poodle touching and breakfast beer with Liz and Andy, a lovely couple (both journalists from That London but living in Ankara in Turkey and you can read Liz’s very interesting blog here) around our age who were also going to Mestia and were soon to become our new BFFs while we were there. After a short wait we boarded the tiny 15 seater turbo prop plane, which was too small even to stand up straight in. The pilot told the four big burly (and seemingly quite drunk) Russian blokes in front of us to sit at the front of the plane, we assume for ballast, but this didn’t stop them from trying to walk around and get into the cockpit/chair at the front once we’d taken off. It was too loud in the plane to really talk, but we attempted to continue our conversation with Liz and Andy by yelling over the sound of the engine and the drunk Russians, who were also shouting at each other. Top plane camaraderie achieved!

Come fly with us come fly come fly away…

Beasts, Beers and Babushka scrubs – Tbilisi, Georgia, Day 2

Thank Parmaynu for huge orthopaedic mattresses and Thai ladies with their business men massages as for once we woke up all refreshed after a much needed (after barely any sleep on the night train from Yerevan before) night’s sleep splattsed out in a nice comfy bed. We spent it wisely by pottering about our living room having breakfast beers and watching rubbish Russian music channels while getting ready. Today we were off out to properly explore Tbilisi – we liked what we’d seen of it the previous day but didn’t really have much of a chance to enjoy it as we were busy trying to sort out our plane tickets, but today we had no obligations and no plans other than to explore at our own pace and chill out in the sun on some nice terraces.

We got the metro to Rustaveli station, which looked to be the central hub for the city, and promptly found a little kiosk with tables and chairs outside in the sun and had a couple of beers there while looking at our map and deciding where to go next.

The old town seemed like the best bet, and there seemed to be loads of little bars and restaurants with terraces so we headed for there. On the way we passed so many amazing souvenir shops and street stalls – along with the usual fridge magnets and snow globes-type tourist tat, there were some great drinking horns, swords, daggers and ornate goblets that were pretty reasonably priced! Susan got some nice jewellery for presents and made a mental note of our favourite horn/dagger/goblet shops so we could come back later and pick up some good stuff to take home.

Follow us down the winding roads…

Attempting to be Pen Pals with Mr. Richard Madeley

A surprising element of our trip through the Stans was a burgeoning correspondence with Mr. Richard Madeley, of Richard and Judy television fame. He’d been contacted by our amazing friend Aaron, whom for Susan’s 40th had sent out beautifully hand written letters with blank birthday cards to lots of her favourite celebrities (plus a few random ones, and ones she hates) to fill out and send to her with their well wishes. As well as sending back his card with a nice personal message (although Aaron had at this point ran out of 40th cards and told him Susan was 50!), Mr. Richard Madeley also went to the effort of calling up to say Happy Birthday in person! To our utter dismay we were in the wilds of Nukus, Uzbekistan at the time and had no phone signal so we didn’t get to speak to him and the voicemail didn’t even kick in, so he sent a lovely email instead:

“Dear Susan

Firstly, happy 50th, although as you are currently adrift in the wastes of the desert you may not receive this for some time. Or, indeed, ever, if your goat’s bladder of water runs short. However, we live in confidence and hope.
Assuming your survival, I thought I might just add to your developing appreciation of The Pickwick Papers. Here’s an extract I just know you will like.

“Oh, she dotes on poetry, sir. She ADORES it … she has produced some delightful pieces herself, sir. You may have met with her ‘Ode to an Expiring Frog, sir?’

Now that’s writing.
Lots of love on your 50th, Susan. You have some very nice friends.
Best wishes,

Richard Madeley. xx”

What a total gentleman and all round amazing human being he is! So having some time to ourselves on the night train from Yerevan, Armenia to Tbilisi, Georgia we thought it was about time to reply and try to become life long friends with the wonderful Mr. Richard Madeley, as well as send him some snaps of Jill’s fabulous new sausage skin fake tan and Susan weeing into The Gates of Hell:

Dear Mr. Richard Madeley…