Welcome to our travel blog!
After almost ten years of rat-racing around in London, we have decided to ditch, well.... everything, to go explore the world. Having suitably begun our trip in the cradle of the world - Africa, our 15 month journey will see us hiking mountains in Peru, jungle trekking in Bolivia, wine tasting in Argentina, desert roaming in Chile, and beach bumming in Brazil.... after that, it's on to Bangkok, the gateway to South East Asia which we will explore for five months before heading to our final destination, Australia.
To our friends - please feel free to add feedback / comments at will, as we'd love to hear from you as we go...
Matt & Nina
July 15th 2011
(M) After bidding a very sad farewell to Lombok, the time had come to enter the very last leg of our epic journey - to Flores, one of the country’s eastern-most islands. In the end we decided to take overland public transport via the island of Sumbawa, which consisted of a gruelling 36-hour bus-ferry-overnight bus-ferry combination. So we gritted our teeth and mentally prepared ourselves for our last uncomfortable journey, backpacker style. The journey itself was pretty uneventful although we did make friends with two awesome couples from Spain and Argentina, and needless to say we had lots to talk about! Their company and deck of Uno cards went along way to passing the time, and the final nine hour ferry journey in the glorious sunshine, cruising past some of the country’s most idyllic scenery, was ... read more
June 30th 2011
(N) The crossing from Bali to the Gilis left us shaken & stirred. So when our pubescent captain announced the arrival at the first of the three Gili Islands, Gili Trawangan, I didn’t care that it wasn’t the island of our choice – I just wanted to get the hell off. In the dark, we were ferried to the mainland in the standard wooden nutshell and experienced a second near-capsize as a large wave crashed into our boat, drenching us and our backpacks to the bones. The boat guy – another teenager – giggled and I had to stop myself from strangling him when he declared “No take boat from Bali in full moon - waves very biiiiiiig!” When we made landfall, I fell to my knees and kissed the ground to the rhythm of the ... read more
May 29th 2011
(M) Indonesia being so huge, we had to fly from Medan to Yogyakarta, which is half way across Java, the next island along the archipelago. We'd decided to skip the capital Jakarta, another Asian megacity of circa 20 million people along with the full package of smog blanket and end-to-end traffic jams... it was the last thing we needed. While Lake Toba ended up being less than remarkable, the journey to the airport to catch our flight was quite the opposite. Having caught the first possible ferry to the mainland at 7.30am on the promise of an instant transfer, we then had to hang around until nearly nine o’clock before they eventually set off. By this time our stress levels were near stratospheric - our flight (followed by the only connecting one of the day) was ... read more
May 15th 2011
(N) A little while ago, we packed our bags and headed to Heathrow to board a flight to Nairobi, full of excitement about our planned epic journey around the globe. Our bank accounts were healthy, our batteries charged, and our minds incredulous of the prospect of having 15 months of freedom and adventures. We thought it would never end. But somehow – it crept up suddenly – we are now in the very last destination of our world trip. How did this happen? Nobody knows. But here we are. Perhaps in anticipation of not wanting to end our trip, we applied for a two month Indonesian visa in Kuala Lumpur. Indonesia is huge and we didn’t want to rush things but soak up and savour every last bit of travel freedom. We flew from KL to ... read more
May 15th 2011
(M) Mulu was pleasant. We met some nice people, learnt a fair bit about conservation, and did some nice walks. But wild jungles or an epic experience, it was not. Flying into Kuching we were encouraged by seeing a long snake-like river running through expansive mangroves on its way to the sea, and thought perhaps Kuching might prove to be a touch more exciting. So we did our utmost to make the most of our time there, and did manage a few great adventures although it has to be said that the main reason we enjoyed Kuching was our hostel called Nomad. The hostel was extremely well decked out, comfortable and run by an Iban guy called Chris with some help from a few of his awesome friends. It was also very centrally located, so we ... read more
May 15th 2011
(N) Janoush, a German guy we met, described Malaysia as the “Schwaben of Asia” – orderly, perfectly pleasant, dull. It was a harsh judgment, but one not entirely without truth. I have strong opinions about every country we have visited so far but when people ask me about Malaysia, I struggle for an answer. “Malaysia... hmmm...” Unfortunately the same goes for Borneo. We anticipated wild landscape, charming villages and provincial towns with heaps of character but instead found fully developed cities geared up to systematically lighten the pockets of tourists. And in place of the epic jungle Borneo is famous for, we found palm oil plantations, neatly arranged in a grid, as far as the eye could see. It was shocking. A conservationist we met told us later that they were struggling to get some 20 ... read more
April 15th 2011
(M) After a one night stopover in Bangkok we boarded a plane for Manila, the sprawling capital city with a population of 20 million. Given the Philippines is made up of some 7,000 different tropical islands, you wonder why just under a quarter of its people decide to live in the same place, the physical appeal of which is difficult to find. But like any great city, it’s less about the place and more about the people, and I can now see the attraction... Because unbeknown to us at the time, our remarkable introduction to the Filipino people was to set the tone for the rest of our incredible three week stay. Day 1 in Manila consisted of running around frantically trying to book ferries and internal flights – with airline websites crashing with alarming regularity ... read more
March 25th 2011
(N) After bidding a fond farewell to Bodhi Villa, the four of us jumped on a bus to Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s main beach town, Party Central and a firm fixture on the South East Asia backpacker trail. We skipped it and took a boat from there to Koh Rong, a tropical island three choppy hours by boat away. Matt and I weren’t in particular need of beach time but Jamie and Lisa were – they hadn’t been at the sea for months and had two months of tough travelling in India ahead of them – and we figured it would be a great end to our time together. And it was. We shared a nice bungalow on a hill overlooking the beach, swam during the day, listened to music and chatted away in the evening. We also ... read more
March 10th 2011
(N) Aaahhh, Cambodia... I love Cambodia. Matt loves Cambodia. I cannot imagine how anybody could not love Cambodia. It is a beautiful country, less unspoilt than, say, the north of Laos, but incredibly touching and real. Poverty is omnipresent and harsh, but Cambodia’s people are continuously smiling. Seemingly no matter what hardships are presented to them or what conditions they live in, they are overwhelmingly and sincerely lovely. I am not the only one to have developed a deep admiration and love for the Cambodian people. This is proven by the countless NGOs operating in the country and the charity-funded schools and drinking water wells that are staple features of any rural town or village. After the closure of the country’s brutal chapter that was the Khmer Rouge, a lot of people came to Cambodia to ... read more
March 2nd 2011
(M) After four indulgent days in Hoi An we reluctantly caught a bus down to Da Lat, famed in backpacking circles not so much for its scenery as for it being the home of the Easy Riders, a group of war veterans who do tours of the country on the back of their motorcycles, and whom we were seeking out for the next leg of our Vietnamese adventure. After the debacle of our cross-border bus journey into Vietnam, we were pleasantly surprised that the bus that pulled up to take us on the 16-hour overnight journey actually was the sleeper bus that we had paid for. Amazing. And having managed to secure two adjacent seats at the back of the bus, having had rock bottom expectations the bus journey in the end could even be described ... read more