Everyone loves to, or at least dreams of travel, but did you know travel can actually be good for you? Sure, travel can have its downsides, delays, lost baggage and other stresses, but for the vast majority of the billions of people who travel every year, this is not the case. The vast majority of travellers whether travelling for business of pleasure have few stresses if any at all.
So why is travel beneficial to your health? Travel can boost your immune system. It sounds bizarre, but travel helps your body fight infection and illness. Travel acts like a probiotic because your body is exposed to so much. Exposure to the dirt and germs of other countries is good for you and builds up stronger antibodies inside you. This, in turn, boosts your immune system.
An expanded mind improves brain health. Travelling introduces your brain to new experiences. New people, new cultures and new sites, sounds and smells. Hearing a new language and challenging yourself to learn and speak it is just an added boost to brain health. Studies have shown that there is a definite increase in creativity, cultural awareness and growth in a person generally. Good brain health leads to emotional stability, and in many cases, a more fulfilled life.
Lessen heart disease and increases fitness. Some people who have stressful trips may disagree with this, but in general, travel reduces stress in a person and everyone knows that reduced stress is good for the heart. Studies have shown that people who travel at least once a year on vacation to rest are less likely to have a heart attack. Sure, a lot of travelling means being sat on a Boeing at 39,000 feet for hours on end, or could mean just lounging on the beach soaking up the sun. But travelling to new places encourages people to explore, and exploration means getting up and getting active. Travel can provide an opportunity to try new things such as an extreme sport or it may just be that you walk around the city you are in more than you would at home. Travel is, for many, about exploring and doing new things, of course, there will be days of rest but it is getting to see the sites and sounds that really makes travel special.
Healing places. Some people travel for healing or at least upliftment, and there are many places around the world where people go just for this. Spas, springs and places of energy relax or uplift the body and soul. There are energy points that some believe in, such as Stonehenge in the UK or the pyramids of Egypt. Only by travelling can you find these healing places. Don’t forget certain foods found in some countries offer many health benefits, sometimes it is just the fact the fruit, for example, is picked off the tree by you and its freshness is what makes it better
Travel is really good for you. Most people enjoy it and to really gain more out of the experience, a language makes things even better. Speaking the language of the country you are visiting will make you feel more at ease and you will relax. A language can also help you communicate with locals and perhaps find out an age-old remedy, health boosting food or habit that could change your life forever. However you look at it, there is nothing wrong whatsoever with travelling, so, go on, get out there, explore and be healthy.
Russia, once the iconic enemy of every Double O agent in England, the former arch enemy of the CIA and FBI with constant fear of a nuclear war breaking out at any moment and home of the feared KGB snooping around every corner, is now an open country that welcomes tourists and Moscow has even become an air travel hub for budget travellers looking for a cheap flight from Europe to the Far East. It is a country that has lifted its veil of secrecy and opened its cities and its countryside to tourists far and wide.
The country has a rich and diverse history along with a fascinating culture to be explored by the tourists. Evidence of the communist past can be found and is still felt among many people but the country has moved on and is continuing to do so. It’s a country where the familiar and perhaps more well-known history old regime still hide a country with a great deal to offer.
To get under the skin of Russia and walk more than just a few paces away from the Kremlin and Red Square having an understanding of the Russian language can open up a number of wonderful surprises or turn something simple into something special and memorable.
The simple act of drinking a vodka can become a memorable part of a trip, having the language can spark up a conversation and you will, of course, know that you must NEVER toast vodka with Na Zdorov’ye because it is actually a thank you for a meal not a toast associated with a drink.
But Russia is a country you will love, in fact, if anyone asks you what you think of Russia there is only one right answer and that is that you love the country – there is no other answer. Having the language will help you even explain why you love the country and what you love most. And because you have some control of the Russian Language you will also be able to explore the country a little deeper thus being able to describe what you have seen to others in Russian!
There are many historical buildings and places that somehow survived communism and World War II that are beckoning tourists to visit, from cathedrals to monuments and museums and marketplaces. As much as the tour guides of the many places to see will speak English and a host of other languages with the ability to converse in the Russian language your tour can become better and you as a tourist will receive a high level of respect, speaking Russian shows you love Russia and her people and in Russia that matters.
Russia has really opened her doors to the world, the country is becoming a tourist attraction in its own right and for those who want to go beyond the Moscow’s and St Petersburg’s of this world speaking the language will open up a host of smaller towns and villages, encouraging tourists to more than ask for directions but to get an understanding of the people, the country and the journey Russia is on, starting a love affair with an amazing country that will always love you back.
St Petersburg is one of my favourite cities - as many of you know my lovely husband is Russian and he has shown me his city through his eyes, which is why I might be slightly prejudiced!!
The first thing we do when we arrive in St Petersburg is walk through the city streets and reacquaint ourselves with the city. Many people don’t realise that St Petersburg is a city built on the delta of the River Neva (it is built on over 42 islands) and so is characterised by waterways and bridges. It is called Venice of the East, but in my opinion is more beautiful. To walk around the city and peer into courtyards can fill hours of time. Some buildings are spectacular, exuding history and some look like they are about to fall down. St Petersburg is a city full of contrasts. But the streets buzz with activity at all hours (especially during the summer months) and you can feel the energy pulsating in the air.
If you are in St Petersburg walk through the Mikhailovsky gardens towards the church on a summer’s day and then have a look through.
Another great thing to do in St Petersburg is to go on a boat trip around the canals. The canals in the city centre are the Moyka, Fontanka and Griboyedova. You can easily book a tour from the many sellers on Nevsky Prospekt but it is wise to ask what their itinerary is before paying. You will see a different side of the city on the water..
The Hermitage is another must. Even if you are not interested in museums and art galleries – it will impress you. I couldn’t believe that I was standing directly in front of a Rembrandt painting. No crowds, just me and Rembrandt. I have been to the Hermitage twice and still feel that I have only seen a small amount of this beautiful palace/art gallery. You can only absorb so much beauty in one sitting. My advice is to wear comfortable shoes and go wherever you feel.
During the summer months St Petersburg experiences White Nights (Mid-June to the end of July). During this time, the night is like twilight and it only gets dark for one or two hours. Stay up one night and watch the bridges open from 2.30am to 5am to let the big ships come into the harbour. It is a spectacular sight.
I look forward to hearing if you’ve been to St Petersburg and your thoughts about my favourite city……
Made up of over 13,000 islands of which just under half are inhabited, Indonesia is a fascinating country with its own wonders and local weirdness. It is a popular country to visit and Jakarta is a prominent business hub in Asia and, perhaps, the first weird thing about Indonesia is its name. Indonesia is actually Greek from the words Indos and nesos that literally mean “Indian Islands”
But what else makes Indonesia a wonderful place to visit?
Indonesia is home to the beautiful and serene Lake Toba that is the size of Singapore. In North Sumatra, Lake Toba is about 100km long and 30km wide and is a very popular tourist attraction. But don’t be too drawn into the beauty, the serenity and peace of the mountain lake hides a secret. Lake Toba is the largest Volcanic lake anywhere in the world. Like most countries in the world it is often not the country that is weird but the people and their traditions. Speaking to the locals in Indonesia will unearth some wonderful and strangely bizarre traditions, language always opens up a few hidden doors when traveling here are just a few.
Walking with the Dead. One of the weirdest Indonesian traditions is also among the creepiest anywhere in the world and is perhaps not one for those who are just a little bit sensitive. Tucked away among the mountains of Tana Toraja, the Toraja tribe have a bizarre ritual, a family reunion of sorts, that is said to bring blessings to those who take part. Every August, the Toraja tribe exhume the bodies of their long dead, and not so long dead, loved ones and relatives and spend some time with them. They dress and groom the corpses in new, clean clothes and then take them for a stroll around their village. If you are ever in the area in August and you see a man walking a dead person don’t be afraid, consider yourself lucky but remember these people are dead so even the most fluent Indonesian speaker won’t be able to communicate.
If the dead is just a little bit too much for you then why not head to Banten, West Java and watch, or try to watch the art of Debus. Debus is a rather freaky, dangerous and yet fascinating part of Martial Arts that is said to demonstrate the proof of invulnerability through faith in God.
Participants practice a variety of self-harming techniques such as slicing with knives, eating fire or broken glass and sticking needles in cheeks and other parts of the body. The idea is to walk away unharmed. Try speaking some Indonesian and you may find out some of the secrets.
Buffalo in the Streets. No death, near death or blood on this weird and wonderful tradition performed by farmers in Banyuwangi, East Java. No real buffalos are used in the wonderful Kebo Keboan Ritual that is performed with people dressed up as the main work animal for many farmers in appreciation of a good harvest. Buffalo are regarded in high esteem by local farmers as they plough their fields and play an important part in local farming this event honours them. The ritual of Kebo Keboan is a fun filled event, full of laughter with some of the “buffalo” going completely crazy in the streets after one or two too many drinks.
This handful of Indonesian wonders are part of the real Indonesia that not many tourists get to see. However, if you learn to speak Indonesian these and many more weird, wonderful and even hidden gems will come your way, simply because you can speak, listen and understand. After all, understanding other cultures is very much a reason why different places are visited.
Indonesia is a country made up of islands, over 13,000 of them to be precise, and it is a country that has so much to offer any traveller. Whether you are travelling for business or leisure, whether you plan to stay in one place or intend exploring some of the many islands it makes little difference and many tourists will not get much further into the country than any other tourist and that is a real pity.
As the largest country in the world made up entirely of islands, one would expect a great deal of diversity and indeed there is, but few people go further than the capital Jakarta or the island of Bali or Sumatra. Why is this? Firstly, Jakarta is for business and Bali and Sumatra are very much tourist destinations with beaches and tropical forests, like few places on earth. Also, to go beyond the conventional tourist and business hubs, the barrier of language becomes a problem, and that puts people off.
By learning to speak Indonesian, all 13,000 of it's islands open up and for anyone on an extended holiday or young people exploring the world, accommodation can be booked locally, often at a very good rate because you have some grasp of the language. Getting into the villages where the Indonesian people live, work and play becomes part of the experience. Just because you speak the language, you can now get to know the people and get under the skin of a truly amazing country.
Tour guides that will take you places of interest are always available in your native language but, with the language, you can begin to explore places and ask questions and discover what makes Indonesia tick. Talking to locals about a place or something that is happening allows you to see things in a whole new way, a way in which many will miss out on without language.
From Komodo Dragons and Orang-utans, speaking to a local in their mother tongue can create a whole new experience, making a trip to see these amazing wild animals very special indeed. Anyone can perhaps see these animals, but only a local will know the secrets to seeing them up close or seeing them where normal tourists cannot get to. Even food becomes better with language. With language, food itself can become an adventure and being able to ask for a dish with or without something more to your liking makes the exotically spiced or seriously fresh cuisine of Indonesia something you will never forget.
So, when you plan your trip to Indonesia why not take the opportunity to learn the language, instead of expecting everything to be done in your language. Step out and get under the covers of Indonesia and explore the many islands with greater confidence and showing respect the people you meet along the way. Language is the one thing you cannot pack into your suitcase but it is the one thing that will make your trip to Indonesia more enjoyable than you could ever imagine. Learn Indonesian at VLLC and expand your horizons.
Indonesia is an incredibly beautiful and downright amazing country that you will enjoy exploring. However, visiting Indonesia does require a bit of preparation. This is why we created a list with some of the best things you can do to prepare for your upcoming trip. Follow these great ideas, and you will be ready to visit one of the most interesting and downright beautiful places on our planet.
Get a VISA. In order to visit Indonesia, you will have to acquire a VISA on arrival. This costs around $35 and it will be valid for 30 days, and it will cover only a single entry. This is why you have to calculate your stay adequately so that you can avoid any extra costs. Also, if you fly out of an airport in Indonesia, you will also have to pay an airport tax, and that’s not included in the ticket prices.
Vaccines. While there are no specifics vaccine requirements, you may want to take a few just in case. Typhoid, Hepatitis as well as diphtheria vaccines are recommended. The reason why vaccines are helpful is because you will be around wildlife such as monkeys. You may even want to add the Rabies vaccine into the mix, just in case.
What about safety? Indonesia is a reasonably safe place for tourists. But just like any other region in the world, it does have its fair share of thieves. So, don’t withdraw a large amount of money. Make sure that you stay away from credit card frauds and avoid taking too many valuable items with you during your travels. Of course, you should avoid withdrawing large amounts of money, as this can grab the attention of prying eyes. You should always check with www.smartraveller.gov.au.
Transportation. Thankfully, transportation is inexpensive in Indonesia. You have public transportation, and then you also have becacks, ojeks and scooters. Trains are safe, but they can be a tad expensive, depending on the route you want to opt for.
Be patient. Indonesia is a country where you may encounter situations that require you to stay patient. It can take a bit of time to visit some important tourist attractions. But things always work out in the end. You just have to remember that exchanges and many services are not as faster as those in the US. Then again, the life as a whole is not as rampant as the one in the US, so it’s easy to see why you need patience.
Bargaining. Whenever you visit an Indonesian market, make sure that you try to bargain with the seller. Prices are flexible just about everywhere. There are locations like gas stations, shopping malls and convenience stores where prices are fixed. But aside from these and a few other locations, you are bound to get a good deal if you bargain for a better price.
Get some sunscreen, as sometimes the sun can be very hot in Indonesia. So, it’s crucial to take proper clothes and some protection against the sun. Sunscreen isn’t expensive here, and it can help save your skin!
These are some of the best trips that you can keep in mind during your trip to Indonesia. Visiting Indonesia can be an extraordinary experience, all you have to do is just to go ahead and enjoy it! But, of course, do keep in mind these great tips, as they will help take your travel experience to new heights!
The Angklung is a traditional musical instrument made out of from two bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo frame. The tubes are carved so that they have a resonant pitch when struck. The two bamboo tubes are tuned to octaves. To play this instrument, the base of the frame is held with one hand while the other hand shakes the instrument rapidly from side to side. This causes a rapidly repeating note of sound. The Angklung is originally from West Java in Indonesia and it has been used and played by the Sundanese since the ancient times.
In the Hindu period, and the era of the Kingdom of Sunda, the Angklung played an important part in ritual ceremonies. The ceremonies were inherent to Sundanese communities; in country and everyday living. As time has passed, the Angklung has received more International attention. Since then, Angklung has been used for educational 9 and entertainment purposes, such as Traditional music festivals and also are able to accompany Western music instruments in an orchestra.
In November year 2010, UNESCO designated Angklung as a Masterpiece of oral and intangable heritage of humanity. As part of this acknowledgement, UNESCO insisted that Indonesia preserve their heritage.
Actually in 2011, The Adelindo Angklung founders, Bapak Ferry and Ibu Yenny Chandra, established the Adelindo Angklung in Adelaide. They have been very busy entertaining in Adelaide and I had the opportunity of joining the Adelindo Angklung group. The group of angklung musicians which is made up of members from Adelaide Indonesian Senior citizens group (Lansia Group).
Our weekly schedule consists of rehearsal every Friday evening from 6 PM to 10PM at Bapak Ferry & Ibu Yenny Chandra’s home (Saung Angklung Golden Grove) and we are able to perform at schools; churches; Nursing homes and Multi Cultural Festivals around Adelaide. Last year (April 2nd, 2016), our group the Adelindo Angklung, played for the first International performance with an invitation to play angklung at the 6th Auckland Indonesian Festival in Auckland, New Zealand.
Our mission is to introduce and share one of Indonesia’s traditional musical instruments through the sound of the bamboo and we can inspire, share joy and create Harmony with the Nations.
Ratna has been an Indonesian Tutor with VLLC for many years.
If you have always dreamed of retiring in a foreign country, why not France? France offers an amazing mix of beautiful scenery, cultural sites and activities, red wine and plenty of other goings-on to keep you content and entertained in your later years when you earned the opportunity to enjoy your life. And while its true that you probably won't retire to France to save money, you may find that life in France offers you just what you are looking for.
There are so many unexpected wonders in France and if you can cope with not being in the centre of a city you may find you can afford even the most expensive city in France, Paris. Bordeaux, although once regarded as conservative, bourgeois and unforgivably dull city has undergone a dramatic revamp of the Quays and includes a great ne tramway system which totally improves the city and has instilled a fresh jeoux de vivre. Bordeaux is often referred to as "little Paris" as it has a similar architectural style and aesthetic. Of course, in Bordeaux, there is always the exceptional wines.
The French themselves have rated Lyon as one of the best places to live in France. It is three hours from the coast and yet has a plethora of delightful restaurants which is like a "Foodies heaven". It boasts some 2000 restaurants, 17 of which are Michelin starred. If you don't always like to dine out there are also many outdoor markets which host an exceptional variety and quality of fresh produce.
Rennes, Ille-et-Vilaine, Brittany. This vibrant city is a hub of culture, packed full of art galleries, museums and theatre's to entertain residents and visitors alike. The city is split into two parts, the old town and the new town which are separated by the beautiful Vilaine River. The old city is steeped in history with stunning architecture dating back to before the 18th century. The city is popular with ex-pats both old and young and with a thriving economy, there are many job opportunities available in the area.
Another suggestion which I read about on a AARP site was the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the Southwest. Languedoc-Roussillon includes Nîmes, with its Roman ruins; the bustling city of Montpellier; and the stylish town of Perpignan, with its shops and plazas. Once remote, the region is now just three hours from the bright lights of Paris via high-speed train to Montpellier. It is steeped in history, with medieval towns and castles, ancient olive trees and vineyards. Besides offering plentiful museums, festivals, and concerts, it is also a destination for the outdoor crowd, who hike in its rocky, picturesque hills and beachcomb along its lovely Mediterranean seashore.
Before you consider retiring in France is may be prudent to learn some French before you go. A lack of communication skills and the feelings of isolation that this brings are often stated as the main reason that expats return to their home country. Learning a little of the French language will really help you as you begin to integrate with your neighbourhood and get to grips with the local amenities. The French are very proud of their language, so the way to their heart really is through communicating with them in their own words. Most French people will be able to manage some English, but it’s not a good idea to assume that everyone understands it . You will manage to win enduring respect if you at least try to master the basics. It is really important to start taking steps to learn French, ideally before you get to France, and certainly once you are there. Being able to speak the language will pay enormous dividends; as well as making the difference to you staying permanently, it will also ensure you find it easier to understand the culture, deal with day to day authorities (such as the bank) and, most importantly, build friendships more easily. Communication is vital to us all; and taking French lessons at the outset will benefit you enormously as your life enfolds in France. Contact VLLC to start your French language course and fulfil your retirement dreams.
As far away as Australia, we have come to associate the 14th of July with the red, white and blue streamers of Bastille day. While we celebrate that French je ne sais quoi we have come to love, the French themselves celebrate their freedom and democracy in displays of fireworks, street parties, balls and military parades. But what are we actually celebrating?
La fête national – the national holiday we know as Bastille Day, has been celebrated since 1880, when it was proposed as a celebration of freedom and unity. However, the annual festivities not only celebrate the 1789 storming of the bastille for which Bastille day is most commonly known, but also the national unity that came with the 1790 federation.
The latter - la prise de la bastille - was a defining moment of the first of a string of revolutions which took place in France. La bastille was a Parisian state jail considered to represent the king’s power under his monarchy. For this reason, its destruction was both symbolic and logical, as it held arms needed for a revolution against the ancien régime – France’s old order. Under this regime, France’s population was separated and hierarchized into social classes : from the king – who held absolute power,to the clergy, the nobility… then the powerless masses. France’s pre 1789 monarchy thus produced extreme social, economic and political crises – and these are the conditions which the first revolution, and those which would follow, sought to ameliorate.
From the republics which ensued resulted the slogan we know so well; liberté, égalité, fraternité – freedom, equality and fraternity: a representation of revolutionary values which centre on democratic power, and the tenet that each individual is equal in the eyes of the law. So, aside from the excitement of festivities, how do these historic events affect us at VLLC? The republican desire for conformity and equality is reflected not only culturally, but linguistically – calls for homogenization saw the spread of a standard French language throughout all districts of France, most of which had previously spoken their own patois. Without the changes that followed the revolution, there’s a good chance our "French" would be much more varied, and sound incredibly different – the infamous bon voyage could have been the Alsatian Bù Voyage, or the Breton Beaj vat!
Eady McLaren, VLLC French Tutor
Whether you are a city lover, beach lover, skier or lover of the countryside France has it all, from arts and culture to fantastic food. France hits the jackpot! From the beaches of the South in Nice and Saint-Tropez to the vineyards and hop growing areas of Alsace in the North, France has something that appeals to everyone. While France has it all for many visitors, France is barely touched, let alone uncovered, because of one simple thing: French.
Fans of the hugely popular Only Fools and Horses will all know how the main character Del Boy used misplaced French phrases to make him sound impressive or to just get a point across, common phrases that really are not phrases such as “It’s Boeuf Bourguignon, as the French would say”. While people around the world, including the French, have laughed till they hurt at Del Boy’s use of French. It does nonetheless, speak volumes about the importance and even respect that the language has in getting to know France and the French people. Speaking French raises a person up in French society and shows considerable respect in a nation where respect is important.
Having more than a smattering of French makes a massive difference to any visit to the rich and diverse country. With language, a weekend in Paris becomes more than just a quick trip up the Eiffel Tower, a visit to Euro Disney and a brisk walk around Pompidou Centre or the Louvre following in the footsteps of each and every tourist. Language lifts the lid of, not just Paris, but the whole of France where small, family run restaurants can be happily visited without the worry of not being able to understand what is on the menu, or morning coffee can be shared in a pavement café, watching the world go by whilst deep in conversation with a true Parisian.
Knowing how to communicate in the French language opens up the French Culture and allows you to blend in to experience, not just a country, but a way of life. Iconic tourist attractions are seen with different eyes when you can converse in French and you can begin to understand why the people of France are so proud of what they have. Historic castles such as Le Puy-en-Velay in the South of France and the Chateau de Chenonceau, open up in a whole new way of being able to talk about and discuss the stories behind the walls in French. In their native language. Stories become more alive and you will, of course, discover little things that those without the ability to speak French would miss out on.
Even a walk in the Wine lands of France comes to life with French. Being able to discuss Red wine in Bordeaux with a local farmer and uncovering smaller wine estates that may be off the grid because you cannot speak French, turns wine tasting into a real French adventure. France has so much more to offer than just the Champs Elysees, Eiffel Tower, and Euro Disney and it can only truly be uncovered by being able to communicate in French.
For more information about learning French with VLLC contact us.
Travelling is an exciting opportunity which can be enhanced by learning the language before you go. This blog contains some interesting articles about language and travel.