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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 28 July 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 28 JULY 2018 15 FEATURE have the rest of my day to see new things, to truly live in the city I was visiting." VIETNAM BY MOTORBIKE Ellie chose to visit Vietnam first, knowing it is one of the best countries to ride across on a motorbike. "I've been riding motorcycles since I was 16, starting with a scooter and then gradually upgrading. Hence my desire to explore the country by motorbike. I believe it’s the future of work, and at the end of the day being an adult means you can get the job done, whether you do it at the office or remotely. "There is one popular route, with riders either descending from the north to the southern part of the country, or the opposite way, which is what I did. So, I started from Ho Chi Minh and went to Hanoi and even further up to the area bordering China." During the six-week trip she met like-minded people, whose soft spot for adventure led them to off the beaten track experiences. "I joined three riders, and while travelling we went by a village where a wedding celebration was on. We were invited to the feast and not allowed to leave the place till we had eaten and drunk with them." People's hospitality was one of the things that drew her attention while experiencing the local vibe in Vietnam. "They are just so warmhearted and kind, not necessarily in a sense of politeness as we understand it usually in the west with the use of courtesy words, like 'thank you' and 'please', but more so by making you feel welcome and being eager to help." For instance, she describes an incident where a friend's motorbike stopped running, leaving them in the middle of nowhere on a provincial route. "We were just sitting there, not knowing what to do, when a man driving a truck saw us and pulled over. He got us on the truck, all of us, including our bikes, and gave us a ride to the closest village where we could find a mechanic. He didn't accept money or anything in return." Japan also won Ellie's heart, for being as she says, "a unique planet on its own" with nature and especially people accounting for its immense beauty. "They are extremely friendly and nice, quiet people and somewhat solitary as you can easily observe. "They are also incredibly punctual; for example, you see that the trains are exactly on time, and in case of a delay, even a minor one, you straight away hear an announcement with an apology. Having grown up in Greece this is something I found surprising," she says laughing. READY FOR THE NEXT EPIC TRIP Born in Mytilene, Ellie moved to Melbourne after finishing a fine arts degree in Ioannina. She pursued postgraduate studies in graphic design and has since been working in the industry, specialising in user interface and user experience design. Her new home in Australia was also the place where her mother grew up, but following a seven-year stay, she has decided to go back to Greece, not to stay for good, but to pay a short visit to her family and then continue her travels – in Europe this time – while working for the same Melbourne-based company. In the near future, she also hopes to do a longer-term trip around Latin America. Settling down is obviously not among Ellie's plans at the moment, and this is no secret to her parents. "They have been stressed during my trip in Asia, but a kind of stress mixed with pride for their daughter. "They visited me while in Tokyo, and my dad – a sailor before retirement – would often exclaim 'like father like daughter'. His latest obsession is to travel to Vietnam with me and join me on the same route on the motorbike." The motorbike trip is also, she admits, one of her best experiences overall during her travels, yet at the same time she finds it hard to name a top three as "every single day and place was truly unique". "When you get to learn about a new culture, visit a new country, meet new people, you go back to that childhood feeling, when you would see something for the first time and started trying out different things to understand how it works. This is precisely the feeling that accounts for a thrilling experience." Hong Kong’s colourful buildings. A fish market in Vietnam. At the Vietnamese wedding celebrations where she was invited unexpectedly to participate with friends. Exploring Vietnam on a motorbike. At a temple in Bangkok, Thailand. Tokyo.
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