Recommended Reads – January 7th

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My Bad

I must apologize up front for being so slack with these of late. You’ve perhaps noticed that I no longer refer to them as Friday’s Recommended Reads. Doing this once a week would kill me.

You bastards write too much!

Couple your prolific penmanship and the very busy Christmas and New Year’s season (which you’ll read about soon) and you’ve got a recipe for precious little reading and even less recommending.

But I’ve got a bumper crop of reads this week as a peace offering. I hope you’ll forgive me.

What’s Going On?

It’s been a hectic few weeks for this Aussie on the Road. It seems that even though I’m not really out on the road like I’d like to be, I’m still finding plenty of excuses to be busy.

I spent three very fun days back in my sleepy hometown of Ben Lomond to celebrate Christmas with my family before heading back to Sydney in time for my first New Year’s Eve in the city. My night featured fireworks, good times with my brothers, the crucial midnight kiss, and even a little short-lived romance.

Not a bad way to start 2012 by any stretch of the imagination. I’ll give you all the blow by blow to that evening real soon.

I’ve also been lucky enough to have been featured on two of my absolute favorite blogs. Amanda from A Dangerous Business recently interviewed me for her Thursday Traveler feature and I also had a guest post – 8 Things to Love About South Korea – featured on my pal Nomadic Samuel’s wonderful site.

I remember reading A Dangerous Business back when I first started the blog and wondering if I’d ever be quite as successful as Amanda. I’ve certainly not reached that level just yet, but it’s a bit of a nerdish thrill to see my words up on a site I respect so much.

Let it be known, the Aussie on the Road has tried guest posting and he’s got a taste for it. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you want a bit of this action on your site.

Oh, and a special note to Clairefrom Lakwatsera de Primera on their recent marriage to Charles! I was lucky enough to party with Claire, Charles, and Gaye earlier this year and had a great time.

korean kids fighting
My class turns on me!

Teacher! Teacher!

One last thing before I launch into a pretty epic selection of recommended reads for the week. I’ve recently returned to schooling in the form of a 120 hour TEFL certification through TEFL Online.

While I know that online accreditations such as this aren’t respected worldwide, I’m hoping that pairing it with my two previous years of ESL Teaching experience will put me in good stead for a potential teaching gig in Thailand, Cambodia, or Vietnam.

I’m one unit in and flying through it. Bring on South East Asia!

The Reads

I know why you’re all here. I’ll shut up and get to recommending.

Destination Reads

The Magic Carpet Fight by 1000 Fights

I recently stumbled across this wonderful blog when I participated in their adorable Mistletoe Moments competition. While I didn’t win (I was a runner up) I consider myself a winner for having found another great new blog to read.

This week’s entry focuses on the ups and downs and does and don’ts of exploring the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. I can honestly say visiting a market isn’t high on my list of priorities, but it doesn’t look half bad. Might just need to update the ol’ bucket list…

Australia Zoo: One of the Best in the World by Our Oyster

I was lucky enough to visit the late Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo when I was sixteen and even more fortunate to have met the man himself. To say that Steve Irwin was a warm and genuine guy doesn’t do him justice, and it’s great to hear that his wonderful zoo on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast still draws in a crowd and wins people over.

Written by the James half of Our Oyster, this one should give you added motivation to add the zoo to your Australian travel plans. Definitely beats Taronga in my mind.

How to Have Fun in Las Vegas without Gambling and Booze by A Dangerous Business

I had my own very fun, mostly sober visit to Las Vegas back in 2009 when I was on my six week tour of the United States and I’m actually a little bit proud to say that I’ve managed to hit all five of Amanda’s very savvy tips on how to enjoy Sin City without quite so much sin.

From seeing a show to just exploring some of the decadent casinos on the glitzy Strip, this is a great guide for those wanting to check Vegas off of their bucket lists without having to recreate images from the fall of Sodom.

Freezing in a Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia by Adventurous Kate

From the lights of Vegas and the bustling markets of Istanbul to the chilly skies over Turkey. Adventurous Kate lives out one of my many bucket list dreams by flying over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon.

Her pictures alone are worth a look. I am – as the kids say – “V Green Jelly”.

How I Ended up in Danakil Depression by Jack & Jill Travels

Visiting the hottest place on earth doesn’t sound like a recipe for good times, but Jack & Jill ventured into the dusty basin and came out with a firm appreciation of the stark beauty of the place.

I’ve got to say, having seen their photos and read their story, it looks like a very interesting place.

The Quest for the Puerto Princesa Underground River by Arctic Nomad

How on earth did I forget to add the stunning Puerto Princesa Underground River from my list of travel dreams? Especially when I’m day-dreaming about a life in South East Asia later this year.

The Arctic Nomad gives a great blow by blow of her trip to the river with lots of pictures to inspire your own travel fantasies.

Visiting a Korean Spa by Bucket List Nation

I never did make it to a jimjjilbang (spa) while in Korea and whenever I read about people’s cringe-worthy experiences at one, I really do regret not nutting up and baring all for my Korean brothers.

Just don’t expect any revealing photos from Kalyn, you dirty perverts.

19 Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2011 by Traveling Canucks

Looking for some travel inspiration? The hip cats at Traveling Canucks have compiled a list of nineteen exciting destinations as well as linking to a string of entries about each. It’s a recommended reads list with the very specific theme of awesome!

Nullarbor Traveler: Where the Journey is the Experience by C’est Christine

I first heard about the very cool Nullarbor Traveler when I interviewed Mel from The Mellyboo Project last year, and it was this interview that inspired Christine to get out and try the trek herself.

Two rave reviews from Mel and now Christine paint a bloody tempting picture. Go read and consider adding it to your next Australian journey.

5 Secret Sydney Beaches by Get in the Hot Spot

I’m a sucker for a good beach and the deliciously named Annabel Candy highlights five lesser known Sydney beaches that are worth checking out if you want a break from the press of bodies on Bondi, Coogee, or Manly.

While my personal favorite (the divine Shelly Beach in Manly) doesn’t rate a mention, there are five real winners here for those wanting some fun in the sun away from the tourists.

My Hometown is Better Than Yours by Rottin’ in Denmark

An ex of mine draw my attention to this very funny post. Laden with pictures of beautiful Seattle and served up with liberal lashings of humorous commentary, this one paints Seattle as the single greatest place in the world.

I laughed out loud several times.

Bald man in a funny hat
Rocking a hat on New Year's Eve in Sydney

Thought-Provoking Reads

So I Went Alone: The Beauty of Solo Travel by 25 Travels

I’m no stranger to traveling on my lonesome. Hell, I up and moved to South Korea on my own when I first got into this traveling gig. I’ve always enjoyed the experience, but hadn’t ever stopped to contemplate why.

Nelly over at 25 Travels talks about her recent solo travel experience as well as reflecting on why it’s such a unique and powerful way to see then world.

A Breakup Letter by What’s Dave Doing?

Dave’s a Kiwi living the dream and traveling around the world, and it looks like he’s finally decided to tell the big bad real world the bad news.

Oh, to someday write this letter myself.

There is No Tomorrow in Travel by Nomadic Matt

This week’s obligatory ‘get up off your ass and live life’ post comes from the blogging royalty that is Nomadic Matt. If you needed any extra motivation to get up and get out there, you’ll likely find this one a tonic for laziness.

543 New Goals for Your Bucket List: No More Excuses by Bucket List Journey

As if my 200+ items weren’t enough, Annette over at Bucket List Journey had to go and give me a whole lot of new ideas. Not cool!

If you’re looking for a few more things to daydream about, this is a pretty good place to start. A bit of a life experience shopping list to work from.

An American Prison Rape by Expat Chronicles

Colin may have closed his Bogota brothel tours, but there’s still a good dash of NSFW in this post about his friend’s experience in prison and observations he made on rape culture while in the joint.

It’s a really enjoyable read despite what might be seen as pretty confronting subject matter. I know I learned a few valuable things about what not to do should I ever end up in the joint.

Why I Hate Running & Still Ran a Half Marathon by GQ Trippin’

I fell a little bit in love with running when I first was first introduced to it via the Couch to 5k back in early 2009. While I’ve had some joy running the City 2 Surf here in Sydney, a half marathon is still eluding me.

Gerald doesn’t share my love for the art of running, but he explains here why he still went ahead and toughed out the grueling Big Sur half marathon in California.

11 Things to Take from 2011 by Man vs Clock

At the risk of making our bromance feel just a little suss, I think it’s safe to say that Man vs Clock has risen to the top of the pile when it comes to deciding upon my absolute favorite blog.

Anthony writes about self improvement, dealing with life’s setbacks, and battling negativity in his own life in a way that reminds me of the guy I am and gives me a bit of hope for someday being a happier, more well rounded person.

This post in particular is full of things that should put a smile on your face heading in to 2012.

Helpful Reads

How to Have Friends Everywhere by Cailin Travels

One of my absolute favorite things about traveling has been the wonderful people I’ve met and the lifelong friends I’ve been able to make. While I have commented in the past on how to make friends in hostels, Cailin goes one better and gives some helpful tips on how to maximize you’re enjoyment while traveling and ensure you’re never alone.

Unless, y’know, you want to be.

The Definitive Guide to Making Money from Your Travel Blog by Travelated

It’s by know means the most detailed or exhaustive guide I’ve found, but this post from Travelated is packed full of tips to help would be location independent bloggers make a little extra moolah from their blogs.

If that’s what you’re looking for, I’d also recommend Nomadic Matt’s eBook on the subject or looking at a project such as the very groovy Travel Blog Success.

Four SE Asian Scams to Watch by Heels & Wheels

With South East Asia firmly on my horizon, I read Bobbi Lee’s post about common scams in South East Asia (and how to avoid being suckered by them) with interest.

It almost makes you shake your head and marvel at the inventiveness and audacity of some people.

And you just know that Lauren from Neverending Footsteps would use brute force as her solution to all four of the dilemmas presented…
snickerdoodle cupcakes
The famous Snickerdoodle Cupcakes as baked by yours truly

Holiday Reads

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes by Brown Eyed Baker

I made these decadent beauties while I was home for Christmas and they were a real hit with my family and any friends who came by to visit. Combining my love of the cinnamon sweet Snickerdoodle cookies with the awesomeness that is a good cupcake – Snickerdoodle Cupcakes were off the charts delicious and surprisingly easy to make.

Not just a Christmas treat, but a damned fine addition to any Christmas Eve spread.

Surviving the Holiday Season Abroad: A First Timer’s Guide by The Mellyboo Project

The lovely Mel recently celebrated Christmas away from home much as I did in 2010 – doing Christmas in New Zealand. And having survived the experience, she’s put together some tips for other people spending their first Christmas away from home.

A very nice companion to my own piece on surviving Christmas away from home from a few weeks ago.

Desperately Seeking Santa by Man on the Lam

Celebrating Christmas away from home makes for an interesting experience and Raymond recounts his recent Christmas in Bangkok in typically irreverent fashion. Lots of pictures and funny captions. A light-hearted look at Christmas away from the familiar.

A Christmas Eve with a Difference: Moonlight Kayaking in Melbourne by Pack Your Passport

Oddly enough, I may well be doing the same tour (albeit not on Christmas) after winning an Urban Adventures voucher in last year’s World Nomads Blog Your Backyard competition.

But can you think of many more beautifully serene ways to usher in Christmas than paddling down the Yarra underneath the moonlight starry sky bordered by streetlight lit banks? Looks stunning.

2012: New Year’s in Sydney, Australia by Wayward Traveler

Having just spent my first New Year’s in Sydney, I read Annie’s post about her own New Year’s experience with a knowing smile. I guess I never quite realized what a big deal the Sydney New Year’s experience was until very recently, and Annie does it all justice with this wonderful post and some great photos.


In Case You Missed It…

That’s it for another week (month?) of Recommended Reads. But if you’re still thirsty for a little more reading, here’s what you’ve missed since the last installment.

Oh, and Happy New Year!

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