Travel Confessions: SF consultant Denise Pulis
After teaching us how to cross the road in Vietnam without losing our cool, we decided to find out more about our talented Caulfield consultant and reputable travel blogger Denise Pulis and her travels. And turns out – she’s done quite a few.
Originally from the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta, where hot, humid, and sunny days are the norm for at least half the year, in 2009 Denise moved to Zurich, Switzerland where she perpetuated every cheese and chocolate stereotype known to man for two and a half years. After she found herself missing the sea and warmer winters she decided to head to Melbourne in April 2012 and has been working for Student Flights in Caulfield since June. Here she fills us in on some of her travelling highlights and tips.
I have been to 15 countries across 3 continents. At the beginning of this year, I spent almost 2 months in Vietnam. I stayed put in Hanoi for a month as I completed a training course, getting to meet and socialise with lots of locals who helped me understand the country better, then for the next 3 weeks I explored how the landscape, cityscape and culture changed as I made my way down south and visited Hue, Danang, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Mui Ne and Ho Chi Minh city, with a few days down in the Mekong Delta. I think I left a piece of my heart in Vietnam, with all its friendly people, good food and beautiful things.
Having lots of local friends there, I spent 1 month in South Korea, mostly in Seoul. Though not as popular as its neighbours, South Korea is a safe and relatively cheap place with lots of things to see and do, as well as amazing food. It’s a bit like Japan, only much cheaper.
While I am passionately in love with most of the European cities I’ve been to, Budapest holds a special place in my heart. It’s old and full of beautiful architecture, but it retains lots of raw elements which, because unpolished, give her a special kind of elegance.
I believe travel is more memorable and meaningful if you take the time to explore a place and understand it in depth. Because that’s how one shatters stereotypes and becomes a more tolerant human being. Because it’s cheaper to travel to fewer places and stay longer there if you’re on a budget. Because we often end up travelling at such a fast pace that we are left more tired and frustrated than when we left our tiring day-to-day jobs. Because there are enough places to visit, cultures to learn about and things to see to last us a lifetime, so what’s the rush of seeing it all in one trip?
Taking a tour is not chickening out, or giving up your independence. I used to be the kind of traveller who was dead set on doing it all on her own and I ended up wasting so much time struggling to get from A to B, having bad meals because I didn’t know what the best local places to eat were, and all in all not enjoying my trips as much as I could have because they were filled with frustrating moments. I also found some attractions underwhelming because I had no one to bring them alive for me and tell me about their fascinating stories. Even if you want to travel slowly, you can take day tours or short tours along the way and I can guarantee that you’ll have a better travel experience.
I can honestly say that I have photos I love from every single place I have visited. I travel with a small compact camera as I don’t like the idea of travelling with 2 kg of gear, and this is absolutely perfect to capture detail and unique travel moments while being very discreet.
One of my favourite overseas meals was a proper Korean Barbeque with local Soju and friends, by the end of which every bit of me smelt of grilled meat. Another was a crispy, delicious Vietnamese pancake eaten in Can Tho – I was touched when the local restaurant owner, seeing my confused look at the pile of fresh herbs, pancake and mince in front of me, proceeded to put a mouthful together for me with a big smile of on her face. She then handed me a small parcel of food made of around 10 different herb leaves, wrapped around crispy egg pancake and spicy minced meat, and it was one of the most heavenly things I’ve ever tasted.
My travel style is slow, in depth, not too focused on seeing the main sites if I have the opportunity to visit lesser known gems and VERY food-centred.
My next trip will be to Japan! I am thrilled to be finally visiting the country which has been at the top of my travel bucket list for years in April for 3 weeks.
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