Ness and I have always hungered to see the world but in our own separate lives circumstance has always prevented us for one reason or another. I mentioned to Ness one night in the pub that i planned to go traveling. Seeing an opportunity to fulfill her own dream she pledged to go with me. At this point, eye to eye, we realised nothing could stop us!
Ness is the perfect traveling companion for me, our souls sing a similar tune and we connect on many levels. I write this after being on the road for six weeks and not a cross word has passed between us. I am not sure how i would have fared at some points in India if it wasn't for Ness's support and encouragement. We are a perfect team, and the very best of friends.
I am responsible for the writing of this blog (hence why it often gets behind) but i always include excerpts from Ness's journal as well as my own and it is very much a joint effort. I hope you enjoy reading it.
There's a voice that keeps on calling me,
Down the road, that's where I'll always be.
Every stop I make, I make a new friend,
Can't stay for long, just turn around and I'm gone again.
Maybe tomorrow, I'll want to settle down,
Until tomorrow, I'll just keep moving on.
June 2nd 2010
Hoi An is a magical and timeless place that has preserved it's historic Old Town and port, earning it World Heritage status. Walking through Hoi An's narrow lanes feels like little has changed in over 300 years as mercifully all motorised traffic is prohibited. Old sailing vessels and fishing boats still dock at the quaint port with it's lantern lit Chinese bridges and bustling markets. Tourism is rife here but the character and beauty of the town is mostly unaffected by it's presence. Captivated by it's charm, we stay in Hoi An for a record eight nights. We spend most evenings by the river eating and drinking in the many cafes and restaurants watching reflections of myriad coloured lanterns play on the water while soaking up the unending carnival atmosphere of the streets. During the day ... read more
May 23rd 2010
Leaving Savannakhet we head East to the Vietnam border at Dansavanh armed with a visa and a fist full of USD. The border crossing was comparatively straight forward and we eagerly enter Vietnam with high spirits and high expectations of this evocative country. The bus drops us off in Hue not long after dusk where we team up with an American couple to catch a cab and find a cheap guesthouse. Hue is an impressive city mixing the high octane new Vietnam with an older Imperial Vietnam. The war torn Kinh Thanh citadel dominates the city center within huge moated walls while motorbikes swarm at it's feet. The Perfume River lazes through the middle of the city, it's banks marked by opulent royal tombs of past emperors, pagodas and temples alongside towering hotels and official ... read more
May 20th 2010
We arrive in Savannakhet at 4am on the 15th (my birthday) and find ourselves sitting on the side of the road waiting for the guesthouses to open their doors. As dawn sheds it's first light upon this new city we instantly get a good vibe for it despite our exhaustion. Monks in saffron robes collecting their morning alms breathe life in to the deserted streets and soon the city awakes around us. We enjoy our stay in Savannakhet tremendously! Finally we find a place which has retained it's character as the tour buses pass this unassuming city by and head south to the more popular 4000 Islands. We see only a handful of westerners during our stay and the local people are welcoming and friendly. With renewed high spirits we immediately rent a bike and start ... read more
May 17th 2010
Ness and I make it to Chiang Khong around 9pm and find a rudimentary guesthouse to stay the night. The next morning we cross the border in to Laos via the ferry (motorised canoe) and obtain visas from the immigration hut. From here we board a river slow-boat bound for Luang Prabang. Two days in less than comfortable conditions and a night in Pakbeng don't rob us of staggering mountain scenery or the languid serenity of riding down the mighty Mekong, the backbone of Southeast Asia. My journal does not adequately reflect this, but maybe the photos do. Luang Prabang is a pleasant town but disappointingly touristy. Here we have our first doubts about our supposed road less traveled and consider leaving the Mekong and our original plan and instead heading East to Vietnam. I think ... read more
May 4th 2010
We enjoyed our time in Krabi Province but it was draining time and money. Our plan is to eventually find the Laos border crossing at Chiang Khong far to the North, so to get us back on schedule we set our sights on Chiang Mai. We catch a local bus from Krabi town to the main bus station and then a coach to Surat Thani. From there we catch another local bus to Tha Kham and board a night train to Bangkok. We spend a day exploring what we can of this huge city before boarding another night train to Chiang Mai arriving at 10am the following morning. We stay in a cosy guest house within the old town walls where for breakfast and dinner the host serves us home cooked massaman curry which is absolutely ... read more
April 27th 2010
We arrive in Hat Yai via a night train from Kuala Lumpur and walk off in to town searching for inspiration and a quiet place to plan our next move. Before long we bump in to a Canadian and a German backpacker heading up to Phuket and decide to join them until we think of anything better.. At that point getting clear of Hat Yai (a miserable and bleak border town) before sunset was a priority. Half way to Phuket we decide against it and jump off the bus at Krabi and book in to a cheap guesthouse for the night. The next morning we board a ferry to Phi Phi Island and stay for three days before fleeing once again back to Krabi Town and the very same guesthouse. In total we stay in the ... read more
April 19th 2010
Kualar Lumpur - Muddy Confluence in the local tongue. If a muddy confluence it once was, it certainly isn't any more and has obviously come a long way! I have never seen such a clean and well organised city. The spaceport/airport is almost frightening in our culture shock and we duck in to a diner to order french fries and plan our next move. It becomes apparent that China Town has by far the cheapest guesthouses so we negotiate buses and sky trains and soon find an affordable but comfortable room overlooking the busy high street. Malaysia is far too expensive for our budget so we only stay three days before heading North on a train and crossing the Thai border. We soak up as much of the city in the time available to us and ... read more
April 16th 2010
From Om Beach we catch a Rickshaw to Gokarna, then a bus to Ankola, then another bus to Karwar, then a Rickshaw to Karwar Road Station (8 kms away) and finally board the 11pm train to Thiruvananthapuram (Trivadrum). 17hrs later we roll in to our destination, grab a bite to eat and catch a final rickshaw to the airport out of town. Unfortunately the airport was closed until morning so we sleep rough outside and await our 8am flight. At last we find ourselves travel-worn and exhausted on a plane to Kuala Lumpur. As we watch India fade beneath the wing it is with a sense of loss. India will stay in our hearts forever and we are sorry to leave her, but we must move on. New adventure in new lands awaits us but for ... read more
April 14th 2010
Alas, our time in India is drawing to a close. We think heading back to the coast and the main North/South railway will be the easiest and most cost effective way to get to Thiruvananthapuram by our deadline. Zack, Holly and Laura are heading West to Gokarna so we decide to share the road for a few days and book the same coach. Laura suggests a place called Om Beach and liking the sound of that, we follow. We arrive in the middle of the night and stumble down a rocky headland to make camp on the sand and sleep. Dawn reveals a picturesque bay of white sand and palm trees. A cordon of wild dogs that joined us in the darkness surround us while cows plod lasily through the surf. Yet the real magic of ... read more
April 11th 2010
The bus to Hampi is a sleeper and this is far more comfortable than the awful journey from Mumbai. After 18 hours on mountain roads we roll in to Hampi accompanied by an entourage of eager rickshaw drivers shouting up at the open windows promising cheap rides when we reach the town. Hampi is a crumbling ruin of a time long forgot with temples and other ancient buildings lining the huge thoroughfare in to town. Like many places in India the modern populace occupy the ruins and today this is still a thriving community, though the main if only commerce is tourism. Across once grand temple entrances hang the usual nicknackery and a host of touts and beggars eagerly await the daily bus full of business. We decide to stay on the other side of the ... read more