A Travellerspoint blog


What to do on a bad hair day abroad?

“Does anyone know of a good hairdresser in Lima?” Someone had typed in on the Lonely Planet community web site. The request was followed up with “I’m really sorry for asking such a trivial question.”

I felt for her as I was in the same situation and didn’t think it was an inane question at all. I’d been travelling for over three months in Ecuador and Peru and my hair was beginning to look like an out of control shrub that needed a good clipping. The areas that I’d visited so far were known for their beauty in terms of scenery rather than salons and I too was getting a bit desperate for a cut and colour. Had she posted the plea a few weeks later I could have given her the name of a hairdresser in Lima who’d struck up a conversation with me on a bus. After exchanging pleasantries he gave me his card and proceeded to reel a list of things off that needed doing to my hair to restore it to its former blonde sleek state. He named a very reasonable price and declared that he would throw in a hair treatment for free. It was a bargain but unfortunately I had already booked my bus out of the city for the next day and had to pass. However, it did reinforce the fact that my hair was a mess. It must have been if a local hairdresser was so horrified by it that he had to pick me up on a bus and offer a haircut and free products. I needed to take action.

I’m sure the ladies reading this will understand when I say that going to a new hairdresser is always a trauma. I’ve had some shocking haircuts in the past including one that made me look like a boy. I was playing in a cricket sixes tournament at the time and the first sign that the haircut wasn’t working for me was when the barman called me “young man”. The second sign was when our win was reported in the local paper (my bowling confounded the batsmen so much that often they went LBW) and listed me as a Mr under the team picture. My partner had a similar thing happen to him many many years ago, has never been to a hairdresser since and cuts his own hair. Definitely an over-reaction but I decided rather than risk going to a hairdresser in a country that doesn’t understand the needs of a mousy blond, I would follow his example and do it myself. I bought some hair dye and borrowed his scissors. The dye worked a treat and the cut looked amazing – for a day then settled into a style reminiscent of a scarecrow. After that I decided just to touch up my hair colour every couple of months and leave the scissors alone.

Three months later when we were staying in Buenos Aires in Argentina I decided the time had come get a proper cut. I figured that if there was any where in South America that may be able to cope with my hair it was there. We were also heading for Thailand and some serious partying so I needed to look a little more presentable. I psyched myself up and booked myself in at a random hair salon. The owner was delightful and between my shocking Spanish, a lot of hand waving and pointing at pictures we reached an understanding of what was required. The day arrived, and after a couple of sedatives to keep me calm during the ordeal I set off for the appointment. The owner took it upon herself to cut my hair, I think the novelty of a foreigner in her salon was too hard to resist, and luckily for me one of the other customers spoke English and was happy to translate. Despite my fears she did a great job. Well the fringe took a little getting used to ……… and it was a little short, but then I always get a shock when I see my face after a cut!

Arriving back in Australia the first thing I did was to book an appointment with my usual hairdresser. Having warned him about abuse I had subjected my hair to over the last 13 months, he was, surprisingly, calm as I walked through the door. So now I’m am back to my blond, slightly messy style that is versatile for work and play. But you know what, on reflection I think I prefer my wild woman of the hills look – it was a lot less boring

Posted by travelhappiness 18:49 Archived in Argentina Tagged people travel humour hair dressers Comments (0)

What is a girl to do with only 20kg luggage allowance?

What to take on holiday – it’s a dilemma. With flight weight and baggage regulations’ tightening up it’s no longer possible to load yourself down with large amounts of hand luggage containing your heavy items or wear 6 layers of clothing to avoid airline penalties for going over the 20kg luggage allowance.

Asia doesn’t tend to be a problem as most of the time a bikini, sarong, shorts and few tee shirts is all you’re going to need. Hot weather helps of course as clothes dry within a day thus reducing the need to take multiples of different clothing. This means that there’ll be plenty of space left for packing presents and all the cheap clothing you bought (and which you’ll never wear once back your own country) for the return flight.
Because I’m a seven stone weakling, I can’t actually lift my backpack off the ground let alone carry it if it weighs more than 16kg. Therefore, I’ve become an expert at minimalist packing. Here’s a general idea of what I pack for hot countries.-

Trousers that can be converted into 3/4 lengths or shorts; clothes made out of silk – lightweight and durable; a long sleeved shirt (keeps the sun and mossies at bay); two sarongs - one for the beach and one for the bed; usual assortment of underwear – have considered going Commando but haven’t been that desperate yet; one pair of shorts and a few tee shirts; one bikini; a skirt – useful for temples (as is the long sleeved shirt); a little evening number – just in case; 1 dress; one warm top; one pacamac – in case of monsoon weather; 1 scarf/hat – prevent sunstroke; 1 pair of flip flops and sandals.

However, I’m still working on how to reduce the weight of the mossie net, travel books, contents of a beauty salon and the plethora of electrical gadgets such as computer, iPod, phone, camera, kindle, speakers, hairdryer and their respective chargers.
My enthusiasm for minimalism went awry when, after an extended period in Greece, I travelled to Quito in Ecuador where I discovered that apart from my thermal underwear I‘d only packed one tee shirt and a fleece. Not good, especially as it was about minus 1 at the time. Putting clothes on instead of taking them off to go to bed, I wrapped myself in my sleeping bag and spent a very miserable cold first night in the capital.

As a consequence of not packing any appropriate clothing for South America, by the end of my travels I had an eclectic range of clothing from the different countries I’d passed through. Alpaca jumpers from Ecuador, tee shirts and tops from Galapagos Islands, wool hats and gloves from Peru, trousers from Bolivia, hot pink shorts and bikinis from Brazil, a dress and sandals from Argentina. I travelled onto Asia afterwards and added to the collection. Silk dresses/tops/trousers from Vietnam. Sarongs/ shorts/sun dresses and cotton tops from Thailand.
I’m now the proud owner of an internationally designed wardrobe that fits into a rucksack weighing no more than 16kg including mosquito net, toiletries and large a medical kit. Well actually I did chuck the sleeping bag away in favour of a made to measure pair of silk knee length boots.

The total cost for this packing oversight? I’m not telling because you’ll all be using the “I forgot to pack my clothes” line as an excuse to go shopping – and it’s mine!

Posted by travelhappiness 18:48 Archived in Argentina Tagged travel shopping humour luggage allowance Comments (0)

The Cake Monster

travellng in South America

The one thing that I could rely on for sustenance whilst travelling in South America was cake. Consistent in quality and quantity throughout countries we visited, gateau’s, pies, tarts and tiramisu, were a safety net when other foods failed to satisfy in terms of appeal, variety and health. A selection of stomach parasites/bacteria coupled with stomach related altitude sickness made it impossible to eat anything heavier than an air filled Victoria sponge without getting sick. As my weight dropped dramatically to the point of a worrying resemblance to Skeletor I found cake was my salvation.

For those of you who have not experienced Altitude Sickness – it’s scary. There are a large amount of anecdotal tales of travellers going to bed with a migraine and dying in the night or experiencing ongoing bouts of diarehia and vomiting. My travelling companion suffered in the main from headaches and vomiting and the choice was to either head back down to sea level or take medication. He took the medication – which was not cheap but worked a treat. Being a bit of a tight arse he stopped taking the medication as soon as he felt better only to be struck down in locations where chemists were as rare as rocking horse shit. The worst moment had be crossing from Bolivia to Argentina when he decided that having run out of medication he would not need any more as Salta, our final destination, was at an altitude that he could cope with. What he didn’t take into his calculations was the 10 hours or so at altitude before we started to descend the alto-platino. Bus breakdown (2 hours), immigration delays (4 hours), bus delays and lunch (1 hour) protestors blocking the road (2 hours), army stop and search in Argentina (1 hour). He was so ill that I thought our final destination was going to be hospital.

We finally arrived in Salta at 10.30 pm, booked into a hostel and because he had started to feel better headed out for something to eat. We opted for cake with its restorative powers and shared the most amazing tiramisu I have ever eaten. Two large moist pieces, decorated with chocolate shavings and mini malteser balls, drizzled with white and dark chocolate sauce - heaven.

I can’t remember when we started to visit the cake shops more than once a day – maybe in Peru where we met a fellow cake and coffee lover or possibly in a country where the altitude wore us out and we needed regular drink and food breaks to recover. Whenever it was, at some stage I changed from a take it or leave it cake person to a cake fiend that needed at least one fix a day. Like a true addict I reasoned that this obsession would go away once I arrived in a country with clean water, good food and little or no altitude.
About a week ago I arrived in Australia and the first thing I did (after a good sleep) was visit a little bakery I know of and buy their supremely delicious, can eat more than two slices and not feel sick, chocolate mousse and pear cake. After all, as I pointed out to my friends whilst salivating over it, I need to put on weight

Posted by travelhappiness 18:39 Archived in Argentina Tagged people food travel humour health Comments (0)

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