Here’s The Least Awkward Way To Make Friends While Travelling

Social Dining: The Least Awkward Way To Make Friends While Travelling

If you’ve watched enough TV shows, you’ll know that solitary confinement is one of the worst punishments a prison can dole out to its wayward captives. They were invented with the purpose of rehabilitating and disciplining prisoners who had stepped out of line.

23 hours a day spent staring at four walls, though, proved to be too much for inmates – or any human being, for that matter. Research conducted in 1951 studying the effects of such isolation nearly drove its subjects mad. Not one of the students, who stayed in “small chambers equipped with only a bed for an experiment on sensory deprivation,” could last more than seven days.

The initial plan had been to observe them for six weeks.

Here’s The Least Awkward Way To Make Friends While Travelling

Why can’t we stand isolation? Simply put, humans are social beings who are hardwired to be that way. The neocortex in our brains – which facilitates many social functions – is far larger than any other animal on this planet. We need to interact with others.

Understandably, it can be hard to reach out to and make friends with the locals while travelling. Where do you even begin? Simply walking up to locals at random won’t work, because they would likely be suspicious of your intentions.

Here’s The Least Awkward Way To Make Friends While Travelling

Thanks to the sharing economy, it is a lot easier to interact with locals without seeming shady.

Hop into an Uber, and you’ll get the undivided attention of your driver for the duration of your journey. Rent a room via Airbnb, and voila! you’ll have instant housemates. Book a dinner through BonAppetour, and you can have a taste of authentic local cuisine while making fast friends over a meal.

The tradition of eating together

Meet The Locals: How Social Dining Can Help You Make Friends When Travelling

Dining is inherently a social activity. In fact, the dinner table is traditionally known as a place of community. This is why the age-old tradition of family dining still exists today. It is a safe space where people let their guards down, recounting the day’s events and swapping old and new stories, and connecting with each other.

In her book Eating Together, Alice Julier says that “dining together can radically shift people’s perspectives: It reduces people’s perceptions of inequality, and diners tend to view those of different races, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds as more equal than they would in other social scenarios.”

[irp posts=”39″ name=”Foodie Guide: 5 Unique Dining Experiences in Italy”]

In short, the dining experience brings everyone to an equal footing as well. Regardless of whether you’re a lawyer, a teacher, or a driver, the simple act of sharing local foods with the person next to you goes a long way in forging friendships and long-lasting bonds.

As the saying goes: “the family that eats together, stays together.” We can just as well say that “friends that eat together, stay together.” This is why BonAppetour encourages travellers to eat with locals.

Making family and friends over a meal

Take travel blogger Ben, for example. Having moved to Barcelona from the UK in 2009, his experience dining at Chef Teresa’s home restaurant, Ben describes, left him “feeling like a local in a new country.”

Here’s The Least Awkward Way To Make Friends While Travelling

As Ben recounts his lunch experience, it almost feels like he’s with family:

We chatted jovially and sneaked pictures of Teresa and her friend Mirella cooking up a storm in the kitchen. She’d grab our attention from time to time to show us the ingredients of the paella and explain how she’d prepared them.

Teresa piled the paella onto our plates and sat down with us to eat, which again made it feel like a family celebration, and we simmered to a low rumble as we sat pulling the heads off the juicy fat prawns and scooping up the rice with chunks of pan con tomate (bread with tomato, garlic and olive oil).

There’s really nothing like home-cooked food that can warm stomach and hearts alike.

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Natalie, an American who fell in love with Rome, had a quieter but equally intimate time in Sandra’s home. A less “rowdy family celebration” and more “best friends bonding” experience:

While chatting about Rome, food, and passions, I was instructed to slice the fennel and chop the spring onions. As Sandra worked the pans, I stood side-by-side in her kitchen, preparing the fresh alici according to her instructions.

Here’s The Least Awkward Way To Make Friends While Travelling

Sounds exactly like what best friends would do on a laid-back Saturday evening.

And at the end of the day, that’s exactly what they were – new friends in a foreign country:

We headed out to her sweet Roman balcony and sat down, and toasted to new friends and good meals […] Being welcomed into Sandra’s home for a three-course feast was such a treat. It was the perfect re-entry into Rome, and I left thrilled to have connected to a new Rome foodie friend.

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Ready to eat with locals and make friends? Find a home restaurant in the city of your choice here now.

Travel in Singapore: Off The Beaten Path

Travel in Singapore: Off The Beaten Path

When you think about Singapore, you probably think of the array of skyscrapers, concrete roads lined with rows of trees. Being one of Asia’s most important business hubs, Singapore has many 5-star luxury hotels, restaurants and high-end shops on almost every corner, and many other tourist attractions that are bustling with people every day.

But this isn’t all that Singapore has to offer. After visiting said tourist spots, such as Sentosa, Universal Studios and Marina Bay Sands, there are many other places to go. Singapore is, after all, more than just urbanization.

1. Bukit Brown Cemetery 

source: photo courtesy of TripAdvisor

Located in the central area of Singapore, bordering Lornie Road and parts of the Pan-Island Expressway, Bukit Brown Cemetery (BBC) was the first Chinese municipal cemetery in colonial Singapore. It is a burial ground home to many of the first pioneers in Singapore, making it a historical attraction.

The government has, however, expressed the desire to pave a road though it to widen the expressway. Visit it when you still can (during the day, of course)!

2. Fort Canning Park

Located on a hill, Fort Canning was once called “Forbidden Hill,” for it was once the seat of royalty for the Malay rulers during the 1300’s. The Park was once the residence of colonial leaders and an important military base in World War II.

Its attractions include The Keramat, which is a sacred burial ground of an unknown Malay revered leader.

3. Bollywood Veggies, an organic farm

For a scrumptious yet healthy dining experience, head to Bollywood Veggies for a down-to-earth organic meal. Once you in the ten-acre organic farm, you feel that you’re no longer in Singapore. It’s a definite fresh change from all the restaurants of the city.

4. Pulau Ubin

Explore Pulau Ubin, a 1,000-hectare island that offers a glimpse of what Singapore used to be. It is home to Chek Jawa, one of Singapore’s richest ecosystems.

Go there a live a life of peace, away from the bustling streets.

5. Dining at home

Travel in Singapore: Off The Beaten Path

For a taste of home, try eating with locals in Singapore at their very own homes. Meet a local family, have a taste of authentic home-made food, and go back home having made some new friends while on a holiday!

Explore BonAppetour for a range of such dining options.

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best places to travel to in november

The Best Places To Travel To In November

As September bids us a fond farewell, we have November just around the corner bringing its own unique promise to different parts of the world. For some, it is the gift of a bountiful harvest, of greens turning to swirls of reds and golds, of balmy days giving way to cool crisp air. For others, it is the very opposite.

November is a great off-peak month to travel, with many flight and hotel deals abound. Right before the December holiday season and after the crowds of summer tourists have abated, you are more likely to be able to enjoy a place in relative peace.

Got some free time on your hands and find yourself browsing through travel guides? Well, check out this list of 5 awesome places to travel to in November to boost your wanderlust!

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1. South Korea

The land of Kimchi gets a vibrant makeover in the fall and has one of the most stunning fall foliage in Asia. Nature lovers are in for a visual treat when they take a hike up the mountains, or stroll through the Seoul Forest.

You don’t even have to break a sweat to participate in this feast for the eyes. Just wander down the streets of Seoul, tour the palaces or cycle around Nami Island, the trees will magnanimously bestow their fiery beauty upon you.

Foodies will fall hard for the autumnal specialties here. Blue crabs, jumbo shrimps and Gizzard Shad (a type of fish) are all in season, flavourful and nutritious. For dessert, the vitamin-packed persimmons are abundant in the fall and are enjoyed ripe, dried or in a fruit punch called Sujeonghwa.

November is an exciting time to be in Seoul. On the first Friday of November to the third Sunday of November, the annual Seoul Lantern Festival is held along the Cheonggyecheon Stream, lighting up the night with a rainbow of colours.

What: Seoul Lantern Festival 2016

When: 4 November – 20 November

Where: Cheonggyecheon Stream

Addicts of the fermented national dish Kimchi should make it a point to attend the Seoul Kimchi Festival where one can register to sign up for events such as kimchi making.

What: Seoul Kimchi Festival 2016

When: 4 November – 6 November

Where: Gwanghwamun Square, City Hall (Seoul Plaza) and Sejongno Park, Taepyeongno, Cheonggye Plaza

2. Thailand

While Thailand does not have 4 seasons, November is notably cooler and the peak holiday crowds have not hit yet. Most people probably head to Thailand for the delicious food and amazing shopping. In November, however, Thailand shines a little brighter than usual during the festival of lights.

Celebrated on the evening of the full moon on the 12th month in the Thai lunar calendar, Loi Krathong, which translates to “float a basket,” pays respects to the water spirits. During the festival, the waterways in Bangkok are illuminated with pinpoints of lights, dancing and flickering down the water. The Thais make a wish and float their krathongs made with banana leaves, candles and incense sticks, down the river or canal.

You can easily join in the fun and purchase a krathong from any roadside stall.

Chiang Mai celebrates the festival of lights slightly differently. Coinciding with Loi Krathong, the Yi Peng festival is celebrated there. Instead of floating lights down the water, candlelit sky lanterns are launched into the air, creating an enchanting fairytale spectacle.

What: Loi Krathong / Yi Peng

When: 14 November 2016 / 13 – 15 November 2016

Where: Nationwide / Chiang Mai

3. Tokyo, Japan

Pink cherry blossoms in spring, spiraling powder white snowflakes in winter, dazzling sunshine in summer and reddish gold foliage in autumn – Japan is beautiful through the seasons. Besides April (cherry blossom season), November is one of the best times to visit the land of the rising sun. The weather is lovely, the scenery splendid and the food irresistible (it’s snow-crab season!).

If you’re visiting Tokyo, don’t miss the Tori-No-Ichi, or Day of the Rooster, an annual traditional festival and fair held in shrines around Tokyo. The most famous fair is held at the Temple of Tori in Asakusa. It is held once every 12 days in November.

Experience the unique atmosphere of the fair and fill up on delicious Japanese street food as well. The streets come alive with open-air stalls selling lucky bamboo rakes, or kumade, decorated in items such as gold coins, silver and lucky cats. Kumades are seen as lucky charms for life and business, raking in good fortune and wealth for the owner.

What: Tori-No-Ichi (Day of the Rooster)

When: Nov 11 and Nov 23 2016

4. Australia

Thinking of leaving grey skies behind and spending your November someplace warmer? Australia is as good a place as any, with spring slowly making way for summer. Don’t bother wearing a belt, it’s Good Food Month in Australia, the country’s largest food festival. It is a national celebration of food where a host of food-related events take place.

Don’t miss the signature Night Noodle Market in Sydney and Melbourne where crowd-favourite restaurants take to the streets to form an Asian-style hawker night market. Ditch the wooly jumpers and pack in a good appetite!

What: Good Food Month

When: 1 – 30 Nov 2016

Where: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Adelaide

5. Italy

Savour the taste of la dolce vita (the sweet life) in Italy, the country who has bestowed the precious gift of its delectable cuisine upon the world. Apart from the usual staples of pasta, pizza and wine, bring your taste buds for a gastronomic adventure this November. Fall in Italy is the season of white truffle, olives and chestnuts.

Foodies visiting Italy in November should make it a point to visit a truffle fair in Northern Italy. The Fiera Internazionale del Tartufo Bianco d’Alba, or International Alba White Truffle Fair, is one of the biggest truffle fairs in Italy is held in Alba, the gourmet capital of the lush Langhe Valley. The aromatic heady scent of truffles will intoxicate you as you stroll around the fair, loading up with free samples of food and wine.

Truffles are expensive but bargains can be found at the fair with the right combination of a keen eye and patience.

What: International Alba White Truffle Fair

When: 8 October – 27 November 2016, Saturdays and Sundays 9am – 8pm

Admission: 3 Euros

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A Travel Blogger's Guide to Having Authentic Experiences Abroad

A Travel Blogger’s Guide to Having Authentic Experiences Abroad

You travel to experience a new culture, correct? Following the crowd of tourists as they go from their hotel room, to a cab, to the “must-see” destinations almost certainly ensures that you won’t experience the culture—you’ll experience a curated version of it. And after saving and spending your hard-earned money, the last thing you want to do is have regrets about what you did or didn’t see.

The best way to make the most of your trip is to have as authentic of an experience as possible. Luckily, it’s possible to see popular tourist spots and enjoy your destination like a local. Use the following tips to do exactly that on your next trip abroad.

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Don’t Bounce Around

Instead of spending just one day in each country or city you plan to visit, dedicate a few days, or even a week if possible. The more time you spend in one spot, the more you learn about the way locals live. This also gives you time to relax, rather than running from one museum to another to fit everything in one day.

My husband and I spent one week in Paris and this is where we had the most authentic experience. We got into our own little routine of living like a local: morning breakfast of chocolate croissants in our rental apartment, a walk to wherever we were off to that day, espresso at a café in the afternoon and either bought food for dinner on the way home or took the metro out to a small, quiet dinner. My memories from our time in Paris are nothing but blissful, and I believe this authentic experience has a lot to do with it.

If you can only squeeze in two days, spend one checking out the popular tourist stops and then spend the next strolling around, enjoying local parks and restaurants. Check a local event calendar to find events that day or music that night; heading to a local event ensures you’ll have a more authentic experience.

Get Hyper Local: Instead of taking a cab, always use public transportation. You’ll be able to observe locals going about their regular day and take cues from what they’re wearing and how they’re acting. I loved emulating the way women dressed in Paris; it was such a wonderful combination of casual and classy.

Learn the Lingo

Learning a whole new language may be out of the question—especially if you’re working full time, planning for the trip, and still trying to enjoy some semblance of social life. However, you don’t need to speak the language fluently before you go, just a few key phrases and slang terms can make it easier for you to blend and have an authentic experience in when you arrive to your destination.

When planning, research which language(s) are common in the area you’re traveling to. While we all know French is spoken in France, you may not know that it’s also spoken in 31 other countries, including many in Africa. It will only take a few minutes to look up the language and start practicing a few words and phrases.

Get Hyper Local: Check out this Conde Nast guide to slang in other countries so you can speak to people like a local. When my husband and I traveled through Europe, we’d always ask servers about the local slang so we could use it as we traveled around. In places like Paris, where locals are hesitant to speak English, even if they know it, this knowledge comes in handy.

Stay With Locals

AirBnB is an easy and safe way to stay with locals when traveling abroad. Instead of getting a hotel room by yourself, find a house with an open room. Many times, hosts offer to show people around if requested, and may even give a list of the restaurants and sites that locals love to frequent.

In Amsterdam, the host’s son happened to have a boat, and he offered to give us a personal canal tour (as opposed to taking one of the large—and packed—tour boats). The experience was exceptional, and one we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

If you don’t want to stay with a local, you can dine with one for a night instead. Use Bonappetour to browse for hosts in the area you’re visiting, book your “home dinner” and enjoy an authentic meal one night during your stay. Few opportunities allow for as authentic of an experience as this.

Get Hyper Local: Ask the person you’re staying with to take you out for a day and show you what they might do on a nice day off. While not all hosts will be interested in this, some will love the opportunity to show you what their hometown has to offer.

Having an authentic experience abroad is not only possible, it’s actually pretty easy. Use these tips to make the most of your trip and live like a local, if only for a few days.

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