Jonathan Lax & Celina Goes

Around the World in 2 and 80 Days

Jonathan Lax & Celina Goes

A blog recording our travels from East Africa to India, South East Asia, the Antipodes, the Pacific and California...



Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City July 17th 2012

To cross the border into Vietnam we had to endure one final Cambodian bus journey. To our surprise the Cambodian leg of the journey went pretty smoothly, unfortunately the Vietnamese leg didn’t follow suit. After trying to trick us into paying for a yellow fever certificate we already had, we passed fairly quickly through the rather imposing Vietnamese border, the style of which made it clear that we were entering a communist country. However soon after boarding our bus, following a 2 hour wait at the border, it soon became clear that this was not the direct bus to Ho Chi Minh City (“HCMC”) that we had been promised and in fact the bus wasn’t even going to HCMC! If it wasn’t bad enough that the bus was stopping at every little town, village and side-street, ... read more
HCMC
HCMC
HCMC

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh May 23rd 2012

Another day, another journey, another crappy Cambodian bus! With broken AC, no open windows and of course another breakdown. The bus was so hot and stifling that it was a relief to step off it into the midday heat to wait for it to be fixed. We spent our first day in Cambodia's capital, wandering round the streets and visiting the National museum and Royal Palace and were relieved to find that it was a couple of degrees cooler here i.e. in the mid 30s rather than nearly 40C. The second day we drove out to the outskirts of the city to visit the Killing Fields, the site of 129 mass graves of over 9000 victims of the Khmer Rouge. This is just one of many similar sites spread throughout Cambodia. The site gave a very ... read more
Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap May 14th 2012

Our journey to Siem Reap was less eventful than our previous, other than the fact that our lift to the station didn’t materialise and so we almost missed our early morning bus. However, when we did get on board, we kind of wished we had missed it, as we were trapped in a hot bus with broken air conditioning and sealed windows all day. Things did pick up at sunset, when we changed buses and cruised the last few hours of the journey in cool style, in an actual VIP bus. Tired from our three day trek and the previous day’s long journey, we took a day off from sightseeing, and slowed down the pace with some light shopping, and a trip to the Children’s hospital, where we both decided to donate a pint of our ... read more
Siem Reap
Siem Reap
Siem Reap

Asia » Cambodia » East » Banlung May 10th 2012

Our journey from 4000 Islands started with an early morning boat ride to the mainland followed by a bus trip to the Laos/Cambodian border. We had heard that this border crossing could be a little difficult as it was common for immigration officials to demand ”fees” for stamping your passport and for other administrative tasks that are just part of their day job. At the time it seemed very important to ensure that we didn’t pay a dollar more than the official fee. However, in retrospect the small amounts of cash they were demanding were so insignificant they were barely worth thinking about especially taking into account that most Cambodian government employees only earn between $1-2 a day! Besides, this turned out to be the least of our frustrations that day. After a smooth border crossing ... read more
Banlung
Banlung
Banlung

Asia » Laos » West » Vientiane May 7th 2012

We travelled on with Sam and Matt to Vientiane, the capital. We had heard there wasn’t much going on there, and after spendingtwo days there we would have to agree. We spent our time, for a change, you guessed it, checking out temples and sites. The main street is reputedly modelled on France’s Champs Elysees with the Patouxi monument, at its end, inspired by the Arc de Triomphe, however, the similarities to Paris stop there. Before catching our night bus to 4000 Islands in the very south of Laos, we took a day trip to Buddha Park, about 27km from Vientiane. This is a collection of massive concrete sculptures of Hindu and Buddhist deities created by a self-proclaimed holy man as a means to spread his views on life and the cosmos. The sculptures were interesting, ... read more
Vientiane
Vientiane
Vientiane

Asia » Laos » West » Luang Prabang May 3rd 2012

We broke up our journey to Luang Prabang with an overnight stopover in Luang Namtha. Nothing much to report from there, other than that this was where we discovered the Laos baguette, perfectly crusty on the outside and soft in the middle bread, unlike the sweet stodgy stuff we’d had in Africa and India. God bless the French (influence)! Being a World Heritage site, Luang Prabang is a tad touristy, but also very picturesque and charming, with its pretty temples, cobblestone lanes and colonial architecture. It certainly worked its charm on us, as did its numerous bakeries tempting us with culinary delights, which we’d only seen in our dreams during our previous four and half months on the road. With bagels, cream cheese, seeded baguettes, real cheddar cheese, salami, mustard, muesli, and peanut butter cookies we ... read more
Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang

Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand » Chiang Rai April 29th 2012

Chiang Rai was our last stop in northern Thailand and our stay there had a few ups and a few downs. One of the downs was our very damp guesthouse room which came complete with mould on the bathroom ceiling. Another down was spending, what seemed like hours, getting lost and walking in circles in the heat, trying to find a temple on a hill to where the Rough Guide had beckoned us with the promise of a fine river view. However, when we eventually found it, the view was distinctly average, with no sign of the river. On the plus side we enjoyed perusing the stalls of the weekend night market, which had some pretty cool non-tourist-tat for sale, and also enjoyed food from the day market. The themed décor at Cabbages and Condoms kept ... read more
Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai

Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand » Um Phang April 24th 2012

After all the ruins and temples we decided that a big dose of the great outdoors was just what the doctor ordered. Keen to avoid the crowds of tourists heading to Chiang Mai we decided to step off the well-trodden backpacker route, and head out to the village of Umphang, in the west of Thailand, very close to the Burmese border. The only obstacle was a long minibus journey, followed by4 hours in the back of a songthaew (a pickup truck with benches in the back) on the cliff hugging and travel sickness inducing “Sky Highway” – 164 km and 1,219 bends! We sat crammed in (Cel) and hanging off the back (Jonny) with a varied mix of people from different tribes and ethnicities – and no other tourists in sight. The majority were Burmese refugees, ... read more
Umphang
Umphang
Umphang

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Ayutthaya April 3rd 2012

Unfortunately, on our journey to our next destination, we were accompanied by a group of backpackers who epitomised all of our worst fears about type of fellow travellers we would meet on our trip. We were subjected to 4 hours of them swearing, showing off about how many happy shakes and mushroom pizzas they had consumed and the amount of money they had spent on tattoos (one of them had spent over £600), and then complaining they were too broke to see any sights. When we arrived in Ayutthaya we breathed a sigh of relief when they got off at a hostel a few stops before us. Over the next day and another very early morning we set out on foot to explore the ancient capital and its temple ruins. The city was founded in 1351 ... read more
Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya

Asia » Thailand » Western Thailand » Kanchanaburi March 24th 2012

We started our journey through north Thailand leaving Bangkok from its Southern Bus Terminal and were introduced to the concept of a bus hostess, prancing down the aisle in her high heels handing out water and biscuits. Something National Express is definitely lacking! Our first stop was Kanchanaburi, home to the Bridge over the River Kwai, no longer made of wood, and has actually been destroyed twice since first being constructed. We decided the best way to see and experience the rickety railway was to take the train from Kanchanaburi over the bridge, through some fantastic scenery and the cliff hugging bends to Namtok. At Namtok we visited the Hellfire Pass Museum, a memorial museum and walking trail dedicated to the 100,000 workers who died building the Thai-Burma “Death Railway”, under the Japanese occupation during the ... read more
Kanchanaburi
Kanchanaburi
Kanchanaburi




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