Saturday, September 5, 2015

Cancun, Mexico!!!

Me at Chichen Itza. The temple of kukulkan (coo-coo-khan). They don't allow tourist
to climb up the stairs anymore. Do check out this video on more information.


Visiting Cancun, Mexico was one of the best international trips I've taken in a long time! There's so much to see and do in Cancun, that there's no possible way you can cover it all in one trip.



Cathedral of San Gervasio located in Valladolid, Yuc, Mexico


First, it's easy to navigate throughout Cancun, especially if you're on the hotel strip. There's no need for you to rent a car while you're there. Instead you can take the city buses. They run 24/7 and they typically stop in-front of the nearest hotels. The bus you should take are the R1 Hotel Zone bus will cost $1.00 USD per person, the other buses will cost about $0.50 USD per person. Not bad.

This gentleman making a shaved iced treat. Tasted like condensed sweet milk with coconut.


In Cancun, they accept U.S. cash, however you'll receive your change in pesos, so prepare for that.

If you're not comfortable taking cash with you on vacation, which I suggest that you do, they accept credit cards. Remember before you go on your trip to contact your credit card company and place a travel notification on it based on the dates you're visiting. Also find out how much your foreign transaction fees are. If it is expense, then I would suggest finding another credit card/ bank card that has 0 foreign transaction fees.

Second, be prepared to provide tips for just about everything! lol. So you'll definitely want to bring cash.

When visiting Cancun, do not miss out on Cenote!

Third. Be ready to bargain prices, never go with the first price. Take a look at the item and consider what you would pay in the US/country of origin.
While on our way to Chichen Itza/Cenote they took our pics and placed them on tequila bottles.
 No they're not free, but cool to see.





Fourth, when shopping for souvenirs it's easy to want to go to the tourist areas during excursions, but things are cheaper if you go downtown to Mercado (market translated in English) 23 or 28. M23 and shops here and there, but M28 has more to offer. Including restaurants.






Mr. Habaner can found at Mercado 28. Great food!



They sang for us.


Fifth, I know many people are worried about language barrier in Mexico. You don't have to worry about that as most of the people of Cancun can speak English, however it wouldn't hurt to go back to your basic Spanish 101. Hola! ?Cuanto' cuesta? Adios! Gracias! ?Donde'?  etc.(forgive the spelling)


Lastly, don't forget to relax, should you visit...relax and enjoy yourself! take it all in. Don't try to do too many excursions, you really can't cover it all and many of them are all day events. I'll definitely visit Cancun, Mexico again in the future. Till then Adios!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Special guest Ingrid shares what it's like to live in Saudi Arabia!

It is with great pleasure to introduce to you all, Ingrid who hails from Baltimore, Maryland! Ingrid and I met in South Korea back in 2012 and have kept in touch since then. She has visited many but her latest adventure has landed her in Saudi Arabia where she has been living for a year. In this interview, Ingrid shares her experience living in the country. 



What got you into wanting to travel?
I used to move around a lot when I was young and visited different states and countries.  It was mainly my Dad who inspired me to travel because of his war stories.  He used to be a sergeant in the army in World War II and he would tell me different countries he traveled to.  He met so many people, he would talk about the different foods, different clothing, different religions and the way of life.  It was interesting to listen to some of his stories before he passed away. I’ve always wanted to travel and see the beauty of what God has done throughout the world. 

What countries have you visited?
I used to live in Canada.  I visited Mexico, Haiti, South Korea, Japan, China, Israel, Saudi Arabia and more to come!



 You and I both worked in South Korea as English/Missionary Teachers.  What made you decide to teach English in South Korea?
I met a woman at Andrews University and she was in the Seminary Program.  We bumped into each other since I haven’t seen her for a long time so, she told me she was a Missionary in South Korea.  I then inquired more about her experience in South Korea and I prayed about it then God told me to go….lol…


Many people believe traveling is a luxury for the rich and famous.  How have you been able to travel affordably?
The beauty of being an ESL instructor overseas is that you have many benefits.  I was able to pay off my debts quicker than if I were to work in the U.S. because the salary of the jobs here in the U.S. was low.  I wouldn’t have to worry about paying rent, paying electric bills, car payments, etc….  I would get health insurance, housing is paid for, and sometimes wouldn’t worry about transportation.  I would get a stipend per month, pay off my school loans for example then save a few dollars so I can travel to different countries.


What tips would you give those who are interested in living abroad?
Do your research about the country first and ask questions to some teachers who have been to that country.  Do your research about the classes that are needed to teach overseas.  If you want to be an ESL teacher, you may need to take a TEFL course or a CELTA course.  I would advise them to research the country and find out their requirements for the teachers overseas.  Learn as much as you can then save some money for traveling etc….  Some places may not pay for your plane ticket.  You can research about some benefits that are offered like health insurance, plane tickets, vacation pay, holiday pay, if transportation is included, Dental insurance, and salary.
I would also try to find people who had experienced traveling abroad and ask them their experiences.


      


 What drew you to live in Saudi Arabia?
I made a trip to Israel and prayed at the wailing wall.  Strangely enough, it was the Lord’s will to go to the Middle East.  I wanted to go to Dubai but, somehow….I kept getting responses from Saudi Arabia.  I did my research about Saudi Arabia then, prayed more about it.  It was his will and it took me a few months to figure out my purpose but, now I understand it was to continue to spread the Good News.  I can get a chance to learn more about the Arabian culture and I can teach them about my beliefs and culture.  I always wanted to experience what it’s like to live in a hot country also…lol…

What is it like as a black woman living in Saudi Arabia?
As a black woman, it’s fairly easy to blend in since we are minorities like them but, there are also some other things we may face since we are in their country.  All the women have to follow the rules in their country.  For example, the dress code….  As a black woman, sometimes you can be mistaken because there are some dark Arabs in their country.  Sometimes the dark Arabs and the light Arabs are treated a little differently.
I’m not sure why but, among the students you can tell how the dark Arabs are being treated compared to the light Arabs.  For example, the light Arabs are treated with respect.  My experience so far haven’t been any issues in their country except I was mistaken probably as an Arab.  One time I forgot to cover my head with a scarf at the mall and I didn’t think it was an issue because there were some white women that didn’t cover their heads.  I think I got called on because they probably didn’t know that I was a foreigner.  No matter what….all the women have to cover themselves because it is the rules in the country.  Interestingly, the Arab people are pretty nice.  They’re very friendly once you get to know them.

 What is it like Teaching English (or another subject) in Saudi Arabia?
The students are pretty smart.  They are more laid back than the students in South Korea.  The students tend to be more relaxed but less ambitious because their lives are pretty much laid out for them.  For example, the women are taught to go to school but later get married.  The women are taught to get married and be submissive to the husband to stay home. They can choose to get jobs but, are limited.  For example, at one point, women were not allowed to become lawyers.  They can be nurses, teachers, administrators, etc…. but, they’re working on little by little for women to become doctors, lawyers….etc….  Slowly it’s beginning to happen to have women lawyers.

What are some social interactions that men and women have in Saudi Arabia?

The women are to be respected so that’s why they cover themselves.  Women are to dress modestly, for safety and for society.   The women who are married are escorted by their husbands because the women are to be submissive. It’s rare that I see women and men hold hands and kiss in public.  It’s not allowed because there are families present and it is a matter of respect in front of them.  It’s also considered unacceptable according to Muslim beliefs.   The men and women cannot mix because men have a tendency to look at women in a physical sense.  This is why the women are covered in black so their physical features are not shown.  Men tend to fantasize and picture women physicality.  To prevent rape or any disrespect to women, men and women are not allowed to mix especially if they’re not married.  It’s also in the Quaran what are the roles for the women and roles for the men.



What are some stereotypes of the Saudi Arabia/the Middle East that you may have had, but has since changed?
The biggest stereotype is the people in the Middle East are Terrorists.  Everyone is not a terrorist.  Some people think once they hear the word Muslim….they are automatically a terrorist.  From my experience….the Arabs are beautiful people once you get to know them.  When you learn a little more about their beliefs as Muslims, you realize they are very peaceful people.  In the Quaran, they are taught to not kill, steal, or commit adultery and their punishment is pretty harsh.  It explains why it’s pretty peaceful out there.  One other stereotype is the way women are being called oppressed.  They are not oppressed and they love their country.  They are very big in family values out there.

What are some things you want people to know about the Saudi Arabia Middle East that may be misconstrued by the media?
People need to know that the Saudi Arabia /Middle East people are not all terrorists.  The Muslims are not all terrorists.  The media always show the bad side but, they need to show the good side.  For example, it’s peaceful, the people are friendly, they are very laid back, they pray five times a day which keeps them focused on God and they are open to foreigners in their country.

For those who are interested in living Saudi Arabia/Middle East what are some helpful tips you can provide?
1.      Be mindful that you’re in their country and it is the Islamic area so you must respect their rules.  For example, the men wear thobes while the women must cover themselves head to toe wearing their abayas.
2.      They have prayer time so, everything shuts down so you need to respect prayer time.
3.      Women should be aware not to travel alone at night because it’s for safety.  Women are not allowed to drive so they must use cab service and travel in groups.
4.      You’re not allowed to bring a bible there. You’re in their Islamic country.
5.      There are no movie theaters out there. 
6.      When you go to a restaurant for example, men and women are separated.  Families have their own section.
7.      On a good note, there are fun things to do like shopping, eating at restaurants, bowling, and indoor parties.  It’s pretty peaceful there.
8.      Research about the countries in the Middle East before you travel there because their cultures are pretty different.  You need to prepare for what is acceptable in their country out of respect and to follow their rules.  It will give you a chance to see if this is a country you would like to travel to.  If you don’t like their rules, don’t go….lol…

 Since living in Saudi Arabia have you visited any of the neighboring countries?
I visited places in Saudi Arabia such as, Jeddah and Riyadh(the capital).  I will be visiting Dammam in Saudi Arabia, Oman, and hopefully Dubai.  I think I’m going to try Egypt also.  I visited Turkey already and it was beautiful!


 For those interested in traveling what tips would you provide for them?
One tip is to definitely do your research about the country you’re interested to travel to. What is allowed and what is considered legit?  What clothing can you wear?  What types of food do they have?  What language do they speak? What religion is being followed there?  How to travel? Do they have buses or trains? What’s the weather like out there? Are the people friendly?  What are some interesting things to do out there?  Where are some fun places to go?  What requirements are needed?  Do you need a visa?  Do you need a passport?  Where can you live or stay?  Etc…..

Before I went to Saudi Arabia…I spoke to someone who went to Saudi and she gave me some insights about the country.  I would speak to someone who had gone to the country that you’re interested in then interview them.  Ask what are some pros and cons about living in that country.


Thanks Ingrid for sharing your experience in Saudi Arabia and the tips you provided! For everyone else the world is out there for you to experience! If you're dream is to travel whether for a couple of days, weeks, months, or years get those plans started and live out your travel dream!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

New Orleans, LA #NOLA

Hey everyone, if you happen to follow me on twitter you'd probably know that I went on a trip to New Orleans, LA. It was a lot of fun and was accompanied by a good friend of mine. This is one of the many spots I've always wanted to visit and I'm so glad that I took the time out to do so. From the food, the people, the music, and all the sight seeing we did, we had a blast! I never thought I could fall in love with a city the way I did with NOLA. Had me and my friend plotting to find jobs down there (lol). Hopefully these pictures will convince you to travel to NOLA! Enjoy!
Heading to NOLA!!

Chimes Restaurant, Baton Rouge

Gumbo



Jambalaya


I love this because it's so true!

Beignet

St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square


Louis Armstrong Park



This place is on Frenchmen street. The band we heard was Musical Expression check
out the link. Don't leave NOLA without checking them out!They're awesome!

Best breakfast spot! They also serve lunch and dinner




I took this photo when we left NOLA. You can see the Superdome the big white circle

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It's Been a While

Hi Everyone,

I know you must be wondering where I am. Currently I'm working on some personal things, but I haven't forgotten this blog. Thank you to all who are still reading or use this blog as your point of reference for traveling!  I'll be doing a few posting this summer. Till then keep traveling! The world was meant to be explored!

Jamerican Queen

Monday, December 29, 2014

Traveling is not just for the Rich!



I can't reiterate this more than I can. There is still the belief that the traveling is only for the elite and those who have quick access to disposable money. If you want to travel, you can! It just takes planning, saving, and finding great deals.

My first advice is forget about getting a fancy hotel. That will cut your cost by 50% besides you're not flying to stay in a hotel all day, you're there to get sleep, take a quick shower, and maybe watch a little cable. In addition you don't even have to consider a hotel at all. Now you can rent a room/an apartment/ or even an entire home. Here are some great links to help you save up for that vacation or destination you dream of!

Place to stay

AirBnB

Local host provide housing for a fee in the location that you are interested in staying. Read the host's accommodations, rules & regulations, and reviews of the host.

Couch Surfing

Local host provide free accommodation. Some might have a fee. Read the host's accommodations, rules & regulations, and reviews of the host.

Check the Motels

If you're not comfortable staying someone's place, that's fine, you can definitely find great motels that clean, have great reviews, and have affordable rates.


Flights

If you haven't already sign up for alerts either from your favorite airline or from one of these sites.

Cheaptickets

Airfare Watch Dog

Flight Deal

Priceline

Kayak

There are many was you can save for your dream vacation. This list is only the beginning and with flights and the competitive accommodations out there, you're sure to find something affordable!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

5 Reasons Why You should visit Puerto Rico-Guest post by Nolja!

Hey everyone please welcome a good friend of mine whom I met overseas while living in South Korea Nolja. She just recently visited Puerto Rico and wants to share why you should visit Puerto Rico! Take a look and get ready to be inspired!! - Jamerican Queen





My definition of a great vacation is simple: it’s one that makes you smile every time you think about it – long after you’ve returned to life and business as usual. While I’m on vacation, I am not thinking about work, home, or any other obligations. When I return home I’m not suffering from anxiety because I racked up a bill “enjoying my vacation”. Puerto Rico fulfilled my great vacation requirements and as such I recommend this destination to anyone looking to get away for a few days (or weeks). Here are 5 reasons why you should visit Puerto Rico:   

  1. NO PASSPORT? NO PROBLEM.

So, you don’t have a passport? You need to get one immediately. But while you’re working on getting your passport or renewing your passport, all you need to get to Puerto Rico is a US federal or state-issued photo ID (e.g. a driver’s license).

2. It’s Cheap.
a.    Flights are DIRT CHEAP.
One of my handsdown favorite airlines for domestic travel is Southwest Airlines. I also fly Southwest Airlines to the Caribbean because they have great sales to Mexico and the Caribbean. Although my flight to Puerto Rico was free, Southwest Airlines has flights to Puerto Rico from $152.00 each way and as an added bonus “BAGS FLY FREE”. 

b.    Car rental is DIRT CHEAP.
I paid $6.00/day with Alamo Car Rental. You can’t beat that with a baseball bat. WARNING: I would strongly recommend getting the EZ Pass with your car rental. It saves you from tickets, time and unncessary stress (this is experience talking).

c.    Accommodation is DIRT CHEAP.
I tried something new this time around. I was brave enough to try AirBNB to book my accommodations in Puerto Rico. At $50.00/night, I was staying in a studio condominum enjoying a fantastic view of the beautiful ocean at sunrise. CAUTION: Pay careful attention to the reviews when you are booking your accommodation and ASK QUESTIONS! I ended up switching from the dorm-style apartment to the private studio – I couldn’t have asked for more.

d.    Food is DIRT CHEAP.
Vegetarians rejoice! You have many options in Puerto Rico and there is an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. Meat eaters you can also rejoice, there is something to tantilize every appetite. 




3.    There are many interesting outdoor activities/attractions. 



      3. Location. Location. UbicaciĆ³n
San Juan was called the gateway to Caribbean by its original Spanish conquerers and it truly is. From San Juan I was able to take a quick day trip to St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. 


 4It’s Safe.
Yes, you can use your phone in Puerto Rico. T-Mobile has great connectivity there.
Yes, you can get access to WIFI at just about every hotel and many fast food restaurants.


Yes, you can go out at night just use common sense.
But no place is perfect right? Yes, some homeless man will try to rip you off. Yes, there will be a lot of homeless people begging money at seemingly every traffic stop. No, you are under no obligation to pay any of them but they will appreciate a $1 if you give it to them.





Even after five days in Puerto Rico I had not scraped the proverbial iceberg. Will I go back? You bet I will!


You can follow Nolja on twitter @29for29