a hostel in Munich

Paul Noble Destination Courses, PressReader, and Jaktogo

Are you one of the 89% of Brits that cannot speak a foreign language? (by recent survey by TripAdvisor) I guess I wouldn’t completely blame you if your first language is English. If my mother tongue were spoken and learned by pretty much the entire world I probably would make little effort to learn other languages too.

But it happens that my first language is Indonesian. And I love learning languages! English is second nature to me now, though I still keep on learning. Japanese is a constant learning as well. In Asia Chinese is pretty much the language that is the most useful, and while I made some effort to learn Mandarin throughout the years, I found it to be an awfully difficult language to learn, from the tone to the magical characters. At one point I just had to admit defeat and accept that I would never ever speak proper Chinese in my life! (I can understand and say simple common phrases and insulting words. Good enough?)

When I got to Europe, I honestly thought that English was more than sufficient for me to get by. I was wrong! While for some countries people appreciate English therefore most people can speak it properly (Netherlands, Germany), some others don’t give a ****. I found this especially true for the big three: France, Spain, and Italy.

So it is understandable that Paul Noble’s Destination language courses start from those:

Paul Noble Destination FrenchPaul Noble Destination ItalianPaul Noble Destination Spanish

I was asked whether I’d like to review these. I’ve been wanting to learn more about these languages as I’m interested in all of them, but which one? What a dilemma!

A quick search showed me that Spanish is the most spoken language in the world out of the three (first I thought it might be French – but it’s actually quite down the ladder, somewhere in top 10). And I have previously learned Italian via other podcast (it’s italianpod101.com if you’re interested. I know the group doing it since I listen to their podcast sister japanesepod101.com and they’re pretty good). So I asked for Spanish and French courses at the end.

The language packs comprise two CDs and a short booklet (24 pages), perfect for easy listening while commuting or even during the flight or train ride to the destination. It’s also perfect for a taster of the language if like me you’re not sure which one you want to concentrate more on.

I’ve listened to the Spanish one and I wish I had done this before my road trip in Spain! I found Spanish to be easier than French. The pronunciation is easier and the people are much more forgiving, that at the end of the 17-day trip we felt like we already picked up a bit of Spanish – un té por favor.

The course is easy to follow as Paul builds up the sentences little by little and keeps going back to review previous materials. There’s almost no need to repeat and you can just keep going. Even if you forget a couple of things they will come up again later. I think he covers reasonable material in 150 minutes. It builds up your confidence a bit, which is better than going completely clueless.

Obviously you need more lessons if you want to learn more, and he has longer versions (13 hours) if you’re inclined. English seems to be a good base to learn Spanish, since there are similarities (I also found similarities between Spanish and Italian).

I’m going to listen to the French course after. Godknows how much the French take pride in their language. Being not completely ignorant doesn’t hurt!



PressReader is a newspaper-reading app, available on various platforms. I was asked to if I’d like to review it, so I gave it a whirl. I don’t do app review usually, but this seems like a great app for travelers (or anyone who’s away from home) who crave for news back home as it lets you download newspapers and magazines from over 100+ countries.

I had a quick browse and found that for example Australia has 165 papers available, Indonesia has 4, Japan 4, United Kingdom 167 papers, and the US 264. Quite a selection! You can either buy per paper or with a monthly subscription.

I am quite lazy in terms of following news (in a few occasions I heard breaking news in London from my mom in Jakarta), but for you all news-junkie out there PressReader could be the answer!


The last one is not a product review, as I don’t have it in my hand, but I thought this is hilarious!


It’s not a bag it’s a coat!

Everyone who has traveled with a plane before must know the pain of luggage restriction, from the number of carry-on bag to weight limit. You might go on a short trip but would like to carry all your stuff without checking in your luggage, or you might move country and would like to carry half your possession with you across the ocean (a tough lesson for me).

The worst case that I’ve been through was carrying at least three full bags, two on each shoulder and one in hand, and one wedding gown in my arm. ALONE. The woman standing at the gate to the plane looked at me with sympathy, telling me that I was carrying too much stuff. But I looked back with pleading look, please let me through! Bags, wedding dress and all. I can only imagine the spectacle that I was, but she let me go pretty soon. Not everyone would be this nice.

I promised myself after that not to be that ambitious in carrying stuff into the airplane ever again. You cannot imagine the level of stress I threw myself into. Really high, to say the least!

But even with normal level of carry-on luggage, airlines these days can be a real pain. Budget airlines in Europe in particular can be really ridiculous. One bag! Not even a tiny handbag allowed in addition to that ONE bag. You then have to push everything into that one bag, just to get through the gate.

Also, what’s with the 7kg limit? If I weigh 53 kg carrying a 12 kg bag, compared to the fat person next to me weighing 80 kg (actually that’s not even fat), how is it fair that I’m being punished for the overweight bag? We should all be weighed together, body weight and bag weight!

Anyway that’s a long way to say that Jaktogo seems to provide an interesting solution. Get a coat with big multiple pockets and stuff all your heaviest things in it! A coat does not count as a bag, and the worst case is that I’d be looking fat and ugly. Win win for everyone?

At first I thought Jaktogo was probably a joke. (Didn’t you smile when you saw it?) But it seems to be a real thing. I might get me one of those for my next trip. Hah!


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The Traveling Reader
I left home when I was 17 and never stop exploring the world since. Most days I'm a digital technician at one of the London's biggest visual effects studio. My alternate persona writes and travels and dreams of doing these as a living. I alternately call myself Indonesian or Australian whichever is more beneficial at the time, and I've been a Londoner since 2011.