Worst Places On This Planet To Visit

worst-places-in-the-world

I asked Google what the opposite of a Bucket List was and it told be it’s called a ‘F*ck It’ list or a ‘Sh*t List’. Makes sense, as these places, these events, these activities are ones that made me swear (a lot) and made me wish I could just curl up in a ball a transport myself home. Because let’s me honest – travel isn’t always pretty. 

This is obviously, as always, quite personal. I don’t expect you all to agree with me, but I would love to hear what places you would never dream of returning to. The world ain’t perfect people.

 (Note – often times I absolutely love the people in the place I’m bashing, or I love the country as a whole, so don’t get too defensive. Just saying. )

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

– Anthony Bourdain –

Manila, Philippines.

Manila_Philippines

What an absolute Godforsaken city. I hated it the first time round, but decided I would give it a second chance around this time last year. That resulted in a trek through the slums next to the airport where we got mugged and my friend’s camera was stolen. We had literally been on Filipino soil for less than an hour when this happened. The hostel we stayed in wasn’t fit for pigs, it was horrifically disgusting. I won’t go on…it’s too painful.

Kalokol, Northern Kenya

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Don’t worry, it’s highly likely you have never heard of this tiny village located in the middle of the desert in Northern Kenya, and that’s probably a good thing. We ended up there and got totally scammed. Both Lonely Planet and the locals sort of crushed our dreams. It was once a booming fishing village (about 15 years ago) but over-fishing killed all the fish, so now there is virtually nothing left there.  We ended up almost getting eaten by crocodiles (no joke!), suffering from severe dehydration, and were left to find our way out of the desert by numerous locals who drove past us, whizzing across the sand in matatus, and laughing. Absolute nightmare of a place.

Gangnam, South Korea

plastic-surgery.si

If you haven’t heard the song, get off my blog as you must be from another planet. The affluent area of Seoul, made famous the world over by Psy and his crazy dancing, is actually a sad, sad place. Did you know 1 in every 5 women in Seoul have had plastic surgery? And it all happens in crazy places like Gangnam. These people, along with young, beautiful and super-rich kids party the weekend away in the clubs in this area paying scandalous prices for 1 drink. Oh and if you are a foreigner, expect to wait longer and get charged up to double. They will screw you right over. It’s also an area where street hawkers and local slum dwellers literally got driven off the streets, with absolutely no warning. It really is an awful, awful pocket of an otherwise pretty cool city. AVOID.

Kuta, Bali

871230-bintang-brigade

I’m a (mature) backpacker – Get Me Outta Here!!

Oh Kuta, how I loathe your very being. I saved for months to go to Bali. I dreamed, I saved, I googled, I was ready to be mesmerised. Then, I arrived in Kuta. WTF. The place is like Benidorm for Australians. People walking down the street half-naked, all wearing the same crappy t-shirts with major brand beer logos splattered across the front. Shop after shop of really shitty souvenirs. Clubs that charge for drinks at exorbitant prices and where if you are lucky you will just get robbed and if you’re unlucky you will get your drink spiked or worse. People selling all sorts of dodgy drugs on the streets, scary thugs hanging out on dark corners and drunk, teenage Aussie puking their guts up outside a McDonalds. This is NOT the Bali I dreamed about. I will for sure go back to Bali, but you could not pay me to go back to Kuta.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Brothel_Sign

Oh all the capital cities I have visited, this could well be the worst. I will never forget my first night in Addis Ababa, mainly because it was one of the worst nights of my life. I literally could not find a place to sleep. I had money, I had a taxi and we simply could not find a room at the inn. It was all a bit ironic really, considering it was nearing December 25th on the Ethiopian calendar (which is 7.5 years behind our calendar) and they were preparing to celebrate the millennium (it was 2007, my time!). In Ethiopia, it was ‘high season’. I guess that will teach me to research what calendar different countries use before I fly there.

I ended up staying in a brothel. I knew it was a brothel because it was pay by the hour. Me and my friend ended up being the only westerners, me the only non-prostitute. There were syringes all over the floor, used condoms and 2 rats ran out of the cupboard when I opened it. The “toilet” was half a door, and guys kept bursting in on me. They followed me to my room and peeked through the keyhole. They pushed the shitty, wooden window panes open from the outside and pushed their heads in through the window. Not one wink of sleep was had, not one thing was touched. We couldn’t leave because we didn’t trust leaving our luggage there so no dinner was eaten that night. Brilliant start to my 6 week backpacking trip…NOT.

Agadir, Morocco

camlels morocco

My Mum recently said she would not go back to Agadir even if someone paid her a million dollars. Personally I would go anywhere for that much money, but I certainly agree with her sentiment. Unless you want to get harassed until you can no longer bear it, unless you want to pay for an all-inclusive hotel but feel guilty about actually drinking any alcohol, unless you want to walk down a beach filled with (and I’m not exaggerating) 100,000 Moroccan Men and not one single woman, and unless you want to be sold for 100 camels to the highest bidder…I suggest you avoid travelling to Agadir, Morocco.

Nairobi, Kenya

Traffic-Nairobi-2-of-1

I used to think I hated Jo’burg in South Africa more than Nairobi, but having returned (alone) for the 3rd time recently I have decided I definitely hate Nairobi more. How some expats CHOOSE to live in such a such a dangerous city is beyond me. Forget walking around to see the sights, you WILL get mugged. Don’t even think of leaving your hotel/hostel after dark, at best you will get mugged or stabbed, at worst you will get raped. I once arrived on a night bus from Mombasa, that dropped us all off on some dodgy side street at 5am in the morning, only to be grabbed by two guys, harassed by taxi drivers, and then wrestled for my bag and all my possessions. I literally ran, in pouring, monsoon rain, in whatever direction my feet decided to take me. I ran into the first, shitty, hotel I found and begged for a room. There was no lock, so I moved my bed against the door and slept with one eye open while men continued to bang on my door throughout the night. Another ‘brothel’, no doubt. God I hate that city.

The Pyramids in Cairo, Egypt

Pizza-Hut-Window

What do you think of when you imagine the pyramids? One of the last remaining original 7 wonders of the world? Miraculous architectural achievements, in the middle of the Egyptian desert? Think what you like, the reality is pretty devastating. While I remain fascinated by the Pyramids themselves, the history, the myths, the human achievement, I absolutely detest what has happened right next to them. The Pyramids are in Cairo, one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Like they are literally right there in the middle of Cairo. Cairo, has in fact, grown almost the whole way around these magnificent buildings as the Egyptian government obviously doesn’t give a crap as long as they are still making money from stupid tourists. Guess what is right behind the Sphinx? A KFC!! A freaking Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. So go ahead and pay some corrupt police man to take some ‘clever positioned’ photos of you touching the Great Pyramid or you looking all arab sitting on a stupid camel, but don’t tell me it wasn’t, overall, a massive MASSIVE disappointment.

Phuket, Thailand

phuket-bangla-road-nightlife-patong

This one still baffles me as Phuket use to be on my BUCKET LIST and I always thought it would be pure dreamy. I arrived by long distance bus on a wet and humid day last August, and within about 2 hours I wanted to get the hell out. Granted, I was staying in Patong, but the fact that a place like that even exists disgusted me. Seeing 2 beautiful, 18-year-old Thai girls walking arm in arm with a fat, drunk, 65-year-old English chap was enough to make me vomit up last nights Pad Thai. The guys making that grotesque popping sound with their fingers and cheeks to advertise the ping-pong show (where old women shoot table tennis balls out of their…well you get it) was enough to send me running. The beach was far from idyll, their were russians absolutely everywhere, transport was awful and when I got a tuk tuk to the other, nicer side of the island I was totally ripped off. I don’t think I would ever go back to Phuket, and would recommend you pick a better, nicer Thai island to spend a few days on.

Follow:

Top 10 Unusual Travel Destinations for 2015

Kenya --- Maasai tribesmen jumping, Maasai Mara, Kenya --- Image by © Hugh Sitton/Corbis

After reading this great post by Elite Daily outlining ‘50 Unpredictable And Non-Clichéd Places To Travel To In Your 20s’, I thought I would write my own list of unusual travel destinations which I think you should check out. Not all of you though, don’t want these secret places getting too touristy now, do we?

Sometimes there are amazing, and quiet, hideaways waiting for you just around the corner from top tourist destinations. You don’t have to travel to Easter Island or West Africa just to get off the beaten track. Here are my Top 10 unusual travel destinations. Would love to hear what yours are!

10. Ssese Islands, Uganda.

While Uganda is far from the top of any Lonely Planet ‘Top Travel Destination’ list, it is slowly but surely growing as an interesting spot for people backpacking through East Africa or on some group truck trip down through the African continent.

The Ssese islands are a sort of unspoiled paradise smack bang in the middle of Lake Victoria, which in case you didn’t know, is the biggest tropical lake in the world! Think remote beaches, pineapple plantations, freshly caught fish for lunch and an unlimited supply of green, spiky-leafed plants that rhyme with bead. ;-) Just be careful of the Piranhas when swimming…

banda

9. Sapa, Northern Vietnam

Vietnam is now a popular spot for many adventurous travellers and is one of the most frequented destinations on the infamous ‘banana pancake trail’ around South East Asia. Sapa, which is a farming community in the far North of the country on the border with China, is a lot less busy than the rest of the country. The local H’mong people still live life the same way they probably did 50 or even 100 years ago. You can do a home-stay with these amazing people, after hiking for hours through the most stunning terraced rice fields and indulge in some of the most delicious traditional Vietnamese food which you will ever have the pleasure to eat.

sapa rice terraces

8. Inhambane, Mozambique

Think long white sandy beaches, hammocks, palm trees, fresh coconut cocktails and staying in rooms made of bamboo that line the beach. No jet-skis, no salespeople, no fancy restaurants at rip-off prices…this is true backpacker paradise. You can spend your days lying in a hammock reading a good book, or head out on a traditional boat for some snorkelling in some of the most undisturbed coral reefs in the world. The only trouble you’ll have when it come to Inhambane is actually getting there!

Rolas-Island

7. Bale Mountains, Ethiopia

Soooo not a lot of people know that you can actually go to Ethiopia on your vacation. Lot’s of people haven’t a clue how GREEN this country is, so full of trees and wildlife and mountains. People just think of poverty, sand and the desert. This does not describe Ethiopia. In fact tourist agencies in the country promote it as the land of ’13 months of sunshine ‘ (thanks to its’ bizarre calendar it has 13 months  in the calendar year and is 7.5 years behind the rest of the world!!)

The Bale mountains are unbelievably beautiful and you can organize a 1 week trek on horse back fairly easily on arrival. Meet medicine men, local children, learn about the medicinal properties of every plant and tree you pass, and pick what animal you would like killed and cooked for your dinner. A pretty amazing experience!

bale mountains

6. Slieve League, Ireland

Just because I travel a lot outside of Ireland doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the beauty this country has to offer. However, I do encourage tourists to get off the beaten track and to avoid tourist traps like Temple Bar, Kilkenny and even the Cliffs of Moher. Why not go somewhere where few tourists go, but will blow you away. For me one of these destinations is Slieve League in Donegal, famed for being Europe’s highest sea cliffs.

Following a walk along the unprotected cliff, you can drive to some of the nearby fishing villages for a nice pint (better than the Guinness storehouse!) and some delicious pub grub. I did a road trip around Donegal a few years ago and it was one of the best weekend trips I have ever done.

slieve-league-cliffs

5. Tbilisi, Georgia

Georgia (the country, not the state) is not very well known. In fact apart from the people I travelled there with, I have only met 2 or 3 people who have ever ventured there. Tbilisi, the country’s capital, is the most magical city. Arriving by night, all the old building around the city are beautifully lit up and it really gives the impression of a fairytale.

There are lots of great things to see and do in and around the city, but the real highlight is the people, the food and the oh -so-tasty Georgian wine! Everyone in Georgia makes their own wine and there is no shortage of it. The bread, the cheese and the wine will make you never want to leave. If you are lucky…you might even get to hear some locals singing a traditional Georgian folk song – now that is something you will never forget.

70224806

4. Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

For me, the Cameron Highlands sort of remind me of Vietnam, except instead of terraced rice fields, they are growing endless rows of tea leaves. Tours around this area are fascinating, learning about the history of the tea plantations were started, where all the tea goes, and learning about the medicinal properties of all the plants in the area.

There are some super relaxed hotels and nature hostels in the area, where you can easily waste away a few days listening to other travelers tales and reading some great books.

CV1

3. Zanzibar, Tanzania

For anyone who has traveled around East Africa, this won’t seem like much of an unusual destination, but for people who have never set foot on the African continent, they may not have heard of this absolute gem. Located off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar is both the ultimate honeymoon destination and the perfect backpacker getaway.

Start your visit in the historic stone town, where you can easily get lost down the winding, narrow streets filled with the smell of spices, and incense and delicious street food. After a day or two, make your way to the long, empty palm-tree lined beaches where you can learn to scuba dive, swim with turtles or dance the night away at one of East Africa’s best beach parties Zanzibar really is an incredible destination for your bucket list.

Stone-Town

2. Watamu, Kenya

Another gem in East Africa is this beautiful bay about half way up the Kenya coast, a few hours North of Mombassa. Famous for its crystal clear waters, excellent snorkelling and scuba diving sites and some pretty incredible forts and ancient ruins near by.

In recent years, it has become a popular package holiday destinations for many germans, but those areas and hotels can be avoided easily enough. My favourite thing about Watamu was hanging with some local beach boys who introduced me to ‘cow on a stick’ which is essentially pieces of beef barbecued on a grill on the side os a street then..you guessed it…put on a stick and sold for about 50 cent. So delicious!

kenya-mare_55wwq.T0

1. Jeju Island, South Korea

For Koreans, Jeju Island is the top vacation spot. For anyone who has never been to Korea, it’s probably a place you have never heard of! Compared to the rest of Korea, it is a tropical paradise. Compared to normal tropical destinations, it probably isn’t as breath taking but for what it lacks it palm trees, it makes up for in cliff walks, blue lagoons, waterfalls and weird and wonderful attractions.

The 5 days I spent on Jeju island was by far the highlight of my 2 years in South Korea. Days spents walking on the beautiful beaches, exploring parks full of life size penis statues and people re-enacting sex positions (!!), renting scooters and ATV’s, jumping into natural blue lagoons, swimming in waterfalls, walking in 2km long lava tunnels and seeing a UNESCO world heritage site – all on one tiny island!

jeju loveland penis

Follow:

Dream it. Wish it. Do it.

I have been fairly abysmal in updating my blog over the last year, but truth be told I have been too busy enjoying life. Not a bad excuse really, now is it?!

I sat down last night, having just sold my beautiful car, and thought about the future, and what lay ahead. You see, I have recently quit my job, sold my car, booked flights to Bali and Malaysia and accepted a job in South Korea starting in July.

I wasn’t happy about where I was and the direction my life was going, so I decided to change it. I dreamed about travelling more, about teaching, about working with children again…I wished I could leave the office job behind and head off on another adventure. Then I did it. I actually did it.

Some may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one….

All of these big decisions and dreams for the future got me thinking about the year gone by and I realized that the last 10 months have been the busiest in my life thus far. Simply jam packed with work, with study, with travel and with spending quality time with friends and loved ones, 10 months seem to have flown by in the blink of an eye.

Working full time while writing a masters thesis, and keeping up my reputation (and love) of being a party girl while continuing to work towards my goal of visiting 50 countries before I’m 30 made for ONE BUSY YEAR!!

So, what kept me so busy you ask??

Well here is a recap, in numbers, of 10 months in the life of Janet – 

Jobs : 2

  1. Manager of Language in Group Summer School
  2. PR and Media Coordinator for The Hope Foundation
Being PR coordinator lead to me being photographed in lots of newspapers!

Being PR coordinator lead to me being photographed in lots of newspapers!

Continents traveled : 3,  Countries visited: 5

  1. Europe (Ireland, England, Netherlands and the Canary Islands -Spain)
  2. Asia (India)
  3. Africa (Kenya)
Some of the Turkana that I met while doing research in Kenya

Some of the Turkana that I met while doing research in Kenya

Road Trips within Ireland: 6

  1. Two great trips to Baltimore, West Cork
  2. Girly weekend in Galway
  3. Adventure weekend in Kerry
  4. Adventure weekend in Meath
  5. Two weekends of partying in Dublin
Adventure weekend in Kerry - amazing fun!

Adventure weekend in Kerry – amazing fun!

Masters Thesis Completed : 1

  1. Title: The impact that water and sanitation hygiene projects in schools can have on the comprehensive security of a community. A case study of the Turkana region of Northern Kenya.
The day I submitted my Masters Thesis.

The day I submitted my Masters Thesis.

Masters Degrees completed: 1

  1. Master of Science in Humanitarian Action. (Sadly I will miss my graduation, but I have been awarded a 2.1)

Amazing Friends made : Countless!!

Great times, with great friends!

Great times, with great friends!

Thank you to everyone who made the last year so special.

You will always be apart of my life.

Feel free to come visit me, wherever it is that I end up, and don’t be afraid to LIVE YOUR DREAMS. Xx

Follow:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal

The only thing that can bring things back to life, and restore energy levels in this community, is clean water.

As long as there is water, these young kids can continue to grow, continue to learn, continue to live.

Follow:

Sand, Smiles and Sore Feet

Sorry I have been missing in action from my blog for a few months now, but I have been VERY busy and still am. I am working full-time for an amazing organization called ‘The Hope Foundation” and have also been working hard to get my Masters thesis finished. I also managed to fit in a weekend away in London and just under a month in Northern Kenya, doing field research.

Here are some photos I took while staying in the town of Lodwar, in Central Turkana, where temperatures reach up to 39’c on a daily basis, the climate is harsh and the landscape is desert like. Water is scarce, sanitation facilities are non existent and Life is all  about survival. When I have more time I will share with you my stories are heart ache, horror, compassion and hope, but for now here are some photos of the amazingly beautiful children I befriended on my journey.

Follow: