We are Laura and Dom, we are both orginaly from Bristol in the UK and currently teaching English in Iida, Japan; and loving it!
We have had some amazing adventures, in 2005 we spent ten weeks in South America seeing a snapshot of Brazil, Boliva and a little bit of Peru. We then popped to Spain for 6 weeks, Slovenia for 2 1/2 and then we popped to Poland for Laura's 21st birthday. Then I think we went to Amsterdam, but can't really remember! One day we'll get around to writing up these trips.
We've just finished 5 months in SE Asia, having been to Malaysia, Borneo, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and a couple of places in Thailand. So now we are finally settled down in beautiful Iida in Nagano prefecture, Japan! We are both teaching english in junior high schools and elementary schools and loving every second of it!
We will blog when we have a chance, but our lives have been turned upside down and we are busy all the time...and loving it!
JAPAN START DATE: 1st April 2009
RETURN DATE: Who knows!!! (never seems to be a possibility!)
April 2nd 2009
So we made it to Japan in just about one piece! Surprisingly our flights were all on time and our baggage made it with us so we just had to survive one night in Tokyo before heading down to our new home of Iida. We attempted to sleep in the airport but at 11pm it started to close, and we were forced to make a quick exit. We caught a train into Tokyo which took over an hour. We eventually stopped at ‘B-girl’ hotel, yes the name should have given it away but we were too tired to care and wandered into this love hotel to check in. A love hotel is a hotel aimed at ‘sweethearts’ rather than travelers, but after 10pm they let you check in for a whole night at a reduced price. ... read more
March 28th 2009
So, not including local transport, at least... 9 hours on trains 20 hours on boats 37 hours on planes 346 hours on buses 51 different beds 72 different towns 12 pages of each of our passports 143 days 429 meals 2 broken backpacks far too many beers and a big bag of money later ...and we're in Japan, working in local elementary schools. And that's the end of it. No more backside and soul destroying night-buses, no more nights in bus stations or 24 hour KFCs waiting for connections, no more haggling for everything, no more expensive internet cafes, no more scorching weather and drenching humidity, no more going into 7/11 for 10 minutes just to cool off under the air-con, no more constant hassling for ping-pong shows, tuk-tuks or moto-taxis, marijuana or sexy ladies, no ... read more
March 17th 2009
Okay so we were a bit unfair to Thailand and thought it was all party-animal beaches and whores. Sure there are hookers everywhere, and tons of old (sometimes very old) white guys with uncomfortable looking 'partners', but Chaing Mai is a world away from Bangkok. There's so much more character and realism about the place. And so much to do that we need little sub-headings in this one! Rafting It's also an adventure sport capital! We promptly signed up for some white-water rafting and hit the river. Our string of good luck continued as we were presented with a little kayak instead of a big raft (all the girls in skimpy bikinis got the rafts). It was so much more fun than the rafting looked! The water was quite low so the river was pretty rocky ... read more
March 6th 2009
The bloody staff cancelled our bloody booking! We said we'd be in the office 'first thing'. Dom went there at 7.30 and they were closed, so went back at 8.10 and was apparently 10 minutes late and the bookings had been given to other people! What the hell? So anyway we had to wait till the next day, which wasn't so bad. Hoi Xiay, the town on the Thai border spelt differently on every signpost, doesn't really have much going for it apart from a few nice restaurants and the opportunity for resting from a bus journey that was supposed to be 12 hours and turned out to be 16. It was a bad bus, but after Myanmar it was no problem! Dom got to finish his Japanese MP3 course on the way, which he was ... read more
March 2nd 2009
Oh my god have we died and gone to hell? What on earth is this place? I guess no-one elses guidebook says "Please do not walk around in bikinis or with your shirt off because it is offensive to the culture and religion of your host country". Vang Vieng was like Ibiza or Magaluf or some other tourist hellhole of synthetic drugs and vodka red-bull vomiting tossers. What kind of disrespectful A holes treat a country like their own lack of self-respect? God damn, 'let's get a bus out of here now' was a very real thought on arrival. Jesus! Bars line the streets of the small town with 24/7 Friends on the TV, or 24/7 Simpsons or Family Guy, or Nicolas Cage films or something else. Okay well we did enjoy sitting down and eating ... read more
February 28th 2009
So, what to do with about two weeks left before our flights to Japan and inevitable entry into the world of work next month? Being in Bangkok, it was clear that whatever it was, it had to not be in Bangkok. After briefly deciding to go back to Cambodia, we bought a guide book to Laos and went there instead! Now, Laos has a reputation for being very very cheap and very very awesome. Imagine our shock at arriving in Vientiane to find one of the most developed cities so far, and double rooms starting at around 10 dollars! After much stressing and searching for a decent room for a decent price, we checked into a complete dive for 11 bucks and watched ladybird-sized bedbugs resist our efforts to kill them and their families. The cracked ... read more
February 20th 2009
Well here's our last blog from Myanmar. I'll try not to taint it with the anger I feel at the firing range here (Laos) being closed. Buses in the North of Myanmar take a great many hours to travel very short distances. Hence why the trip from Mandalay to Bagan took all day. Oh well, at least it wasn't as horrible and windy as the one from Inle to Mandalay. All the buses are crappy old Japanese bangers with rips and tears everywhere. On the plus side, we no longer have a fear of any bus ride anywhere else in the world. However long, however bumpy, however smelly - bring it on! We stayed in a nice little hotel called New Heaven (forget the old heaven!), where we first met the encountered the wet douche of ... read more
February 12th 2009
Mandalay is a harmless city with a fantastic chapatti stand (one chapatti and veggie curry is less than 35p). We were there few a couple of days and took the boat to nearby Mingun, where what would have been the largest pagoda in the world stands uncompleted and cracked (from the big earthquake in 1975 which seems to have damaged everything in Myanmar). The boat left at 9am, and we were on it after a brief argument with a highly suspicious guy claiming to be the owner. Turns out he was, but he needs to work on his people skills. The trip was only about 30 minutes but it was nice to see the Ayeyarwady river. The 'guidebook' goes on and on about week long trips down it, but what we would do for that long ... read more
February 6th 2009
Waking up at 6.45 wouldn't have been so bad if Kalaw wasn't so cold! Breakfast was served in the top floor hall with beautiful panoramic views - a good thing about Myanmar is the quality of the hotels. There are government standards (and prices) which have to be kept to, which means that 90% of the beds are better than 90% of beds anywhere else in SE Asia, and breakfast is always included, if a little bit bland (always bananas, eggs and toast with no option of local food). After paying and meeting our guide we set off along the dusty path towards Inle Lake. Day 1. Began wrapped up warmly in 3 layers and bobble hats. But by 9.30 we had stripped down to the bare essentials and generous amounts of factor 50! We walked ... read more
January 30th 2009
Well at the end of our Myanmar trip we have mixed feelings. There have been some great times, but most of the 'highlights' were big letdowns. Especially with the awful, excruciatingly long, 'bus' journeys. Anyway... After our adventures in Yangon we headed to what would turn out to be one of the actual highlights of our trip. With Anders and Pauline, and our new friend Kris we got the bus to Bago. A 3-hour pickup ride. It's amazing how many peop,e can fit 'in' a pickup. Apparently 8 can hang off the back, but women can't sit on the roof. Comfort doesn't exist. Children, animals, luggage, dried fish (that %^$ing smell will haunt my dreams) and just about everything else crowds around you. Though we've never experienced quite so well behaved children on any journeys elsewhere ... read more