Donna and Neil

Donna and Neil

Donna and Neil

We saved for 3 years and then went Hoff to travel the world. Chris Columbus and Magellan eat your heart you reckon other people will have already discovered the places we are going to? You bet!

About Us

Neil, originally from Hartlepool, UK and Donna, originally from the Wirral, UK have known each other for 19 years. We bought a house, got cushy jobs in Nottingham and always had a passion to travel and see what more was out there in the big wide world (sounds corny or what?). The opportunity came when we were both made redundant and given nice redundancy packages and so we rented out the house and set off into the unknown.

If anyone has any questions or comments on our blogs please contact us through our blog.

Date we left the UK 29th September, 2006

Expected date of arrival back into UK The end of never....

Highlights of our trip so far

- Sitting under the stars drinking smuggled vodka and sprite on the top deck of a Chinese junk in Halong bay, Vietnam.
- Seeing the sun rise over Macchu Picchu, Peru and the clouds lift to reveal the Incas hidden city.
- Cruising on a slow boat in Laos and meeting some very good friends along the way.
- Staying in beach side cottages in Palawan, Philippines and wondering if paradise can get any better?
- Showing Donna's parents how to travel backpacker style in SE Asia...even with the pink and silver wheelie suitcases!

Lowlights of our trip so far

- Donna getting the squitz in the middle of the Inca Trail, Peru and running out of immodium.
- Getting kicked out of a hostel in Tupiza, Bolivia at 3am because we refused to be extorted for more money from the nasty owners!
- Travelling around the Philippines on a bus, boat, bus, taxi, trike, boat, bus combination whilst having very bad flu.
- Realising that Thailand was no longer the paradise we once thought it was.
- Getting stuck in typhoon after typhoon in the Philippines.

What we have learned from our travels so far...

- Asians love Karaoke or rather ....why doesn't the rest of the world enjoy Karaoke..after all what harm can there be?
- The less rules there are on the road the less accidents there seems to be
- Immodium should be carried on any journey over 1 hour.
- Transport cartels are rife in SE Asia...particularly around transportation hubs (airports, ports etc) so prepare to haggle like crazy in these places or follow the locals and see how they escape the hubs!
- Transport cartels are our number 1 HATE in SE Asia....GRRRRrrrrrr
- Package tourists are generally the enemy of many backpackers because they spend too much for the local market and out price backpackers and also the locals causing a nasty love/hate relationship of tourists versus locals.
- A good comparison of how good value a country is can be determined by the price of beer in a bar!
- Some hoteliers have no business sense whatsoever..they would rather a room be empty than give a discount in low season...WHY?
- If you cant ride a manual bike then getting around can sometimes be very difficult!
- Being on the road for a long time highlights who your true friends are back home.
- Cadbury's chocolate is not as good outside of the UK as it is inside the UK!
- You can never get bored lying on a beach everyday.
- Most of the beggars that will ask you for money are not as hard up as the poor people which don't ask for money. As a backpacker if we gave money to every beggar which asked us for money we would have been home 6 months ago!
- As a spending tourist or backpacker you are very welcome in most countries but you will never belong to that country and get the same respect as the don't expect it!
- You should try and keep the really good places to yourself and not write a travelblog about them as no doubt they will be ruined in no time at all. Does that mean we visited places we haven't wrote about on here? bet!
- Always back up your travel blog as sometimes server problems can result in you losing half of your blog entries.
- The scourge of reality tv has spread everywhere....

We'd like to ask you - based on the following - have we been in Asia too long?

1. We think squat toilets are great...the position makes the poo come out faster. But Neil can't read his book on a squat it's too difficult to balance (yes, he has tried!)
2. We now think why walk in a straight line when we can zigzag and stop dead randomly in front of people, thus making our walks more enjoyable and fun.
3. Why should we walk on the boring old pavement, we walk on the road giving a sense of adventure to any journey and it also gives Donna an opportunity to push some annoying moped drivers off their bikes
4. When a person tells us the price of something we immediately respond 'discount?' (we even did this in KFC once)
5. We *quite* like Westlife's new CD (?)
6. Neil likes to sing 80's love songs loudly to Donna (or anyone else around) whilst walking down the street!
7. If there is neon/flashing lights/loud music, we are drawn to the pretties like bees to honey
8. We don't queue any more
9. We don't hold doors open for people any more, we just let them slam shut in people's faces
10. We are happy to shoulder barge anyone in our way, particularly when getting to the front of a queue
11. We are mesmerised by TV in shop windows, karaoke places and fights in the street.
12. Opening an umbrella inside a shopping centre is no problem for us, it won't bring you bad never know when those fire sprinklers will go off!
13. We cross roads not caring if a car is heading for us at 40mph - he'll swerve you know! Green man means cross the road; red man means cross the road, no man means cross the road
14. We are not shocked at how bad toilets are - troughs and open cubicles are no problem for us!
15. We accept where there is a wall, there is wee...just hold your breath
16. We don't mind Asian's wanting their pictures taken with us...of course we'll charge a nominal fee
17. If a car almost hits us, Donna just thumps and dents the backside of the car...but we always remember to run if the driver gets out the car!
18. We treat all people who say hello to us with suspicion (they are probably trying to sell us something) and take a swing at them with our rucksacks if we feel so inclined.
19. We know how to say 'no I don't want any' in 17 different languages and dialects
20. We no longer look at long journeys in terms of hours spent travelling but rather how many food vendor and toilet stops we'll have and whether we'll have goats or chickens sat on our laps!
21. The first things we ask strangers we meet are - what is your name, how old are you, where are you from and how much do you earn without even thinking!
22. We no longer shut our eyes for fear of death on fast and furious taxi journeys...we quite like the adrenalin rush

We have now been travelling for...


Europe » United Kingdom » England » Cheshire » Chester May 25th 2015

Going against the flow away from the Three Queens We happened to be back on the Wirral on the last Bank Holiday weekend of May which was during the scheduled events for celebrating the 175th anniversary of the Cunard company . Part of these celebrations were the ‘Three Queens’ (Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria) Cunard ships in formation on the River Mersey for the first time in maritime history. Although we knew it would be an amazing sight, we made a calculated decision as we knew thousands of people were making their way to Liverpool and the Wirral to see this event and going against the flow, we went to the Roman city of Chester for the day. As we were driving along the M53 motorway, it confirmed our decision had been right ... read more
'The Rows'
Yum, roast company!
Yes please Mr Simms...sweeties for us!

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Merseyside » Liverpool May 22nd 2015

We decided that our next ‘holiday’ would be back in the UK to visit family. The last time we were back was 6 years ago, so we were a little apprehensive about what we might find! A Big Bird and a bit of a nightmare journey We were so very excited to be flying for the first time on the A380…aka Big Bird and Emirates was our airline of choice. Just our luck that it went wrong…our initial flight from Hong Kong was delayed by 6 hours, which meant we missed our connection in Dubai. Emirates were terrible with communication (i.e. all their staff disappeared!) and we found out about the delay when the departures board changed! We were given a princely HK$75 food voucher each (that’s £6.25!) to spend in either Starbucks or McDonalds and ... read more
Former White Star Line building
Food stalls, traditional pork
Innovative food truck and name!

Asia » Japan » Osaka » Osaka July 30th 2014

We hopped on the Shinkansen for our last bullet train in Japan, we had loved all our train journeys in the country and we were sad that the super-easy travelling was coming to an end! Our last stop was Japan’s third largest city…Osaka and we had just about 24 hours to see the city. Covered shopping streets, 808 bridges and some dodgy areas Although there wasn’t much we wanted to see in Osaka, we hit the ground running (mainly because we were hungry) and headed straight out to the Shinsaibashi covered shopping street to find some food…Donna only got a little bit snarky due to us walking around in circles (she’s like a bear with a sore head when she’s hungry!). We thankfully got food and had a browse around the shops, still marvelling at the ... read more
What? another covered shopping street?!
Pimp my bin truck

Asia » Japan » Hyogo » Kobe July 29th 2014

Travelling in Japan had made us a little bit soft…we decided to break an hour and a half journey and stay in an additional city before our last stop of Osaka. We were also a bit curious after what we had read about Kobe, mostly that it is a very European (it was one of the first places in Japan to be opened to foreign trade just before the Meiji Restoration) and is a ‘different’ city to others we experienced in Japan. Kobe is mostly famous for beef and the 1995 ‘Great Hanshin Earthquake’ which destroyed a huge part of the city. It’s easy to see why Kobe was devastated by the earthquake, just by looking at the pictures from our hotel room; Kobe is a long narrow city wedged between mountains and the sea but ... read more
Chinatown with lights
Stirring the rice
Kobe Motomachi covered shopping area

Asia » Japan » Hiroshima » Miyajima July 28th 2014

Up bright and early to shovel as much onigiri and other breakfast goodies as possible into us before our short journey outside Hiroshima city. As we were travelling across the city on the Hiroden (tram) towards Hiroden Nishi-Hiroshima terminus, Neil commented about the houses built into the hillsides he could see. Sadly, just over a month later, Hiroshima was hit with heavy rains and some of those houses we had seen had been destroyed by landslides. The day we were visiting Miyajima Island, however, was the hottest of 2014 and the heat was almost unbearable at 39 degrees! Officially, the island is actually named Itsukushima but because the island is so closely related to its key shrine (Itsukushima), it’s nickname is Miyajima which is Japanese for ‘shrine island’ and that’s what it’s more commonly known as. ... read more
Okonomiyaki restaurant
Us at the Torii gate
Omotesando Street, a bit busier this time

Asia » Japan » Hiroshima » Hiroshima July 27th 2014

We had an idea in our mind how Hiroshima would be and it was nothing like we expected. We had both learned about Hiroshima while we were at University, on very different courses. Neil on a Biomedical Science course, about the effects of radiation on the human body. Donna on an International Relations course, about the Second World War, its end in Asia and the post-war recovery of Japan. We have to say, this blog is quite a difficult one for us to write, in the same respect as writing about S21 prison or the Killing Fields (in Cambodia) was difficult. The only reason Hiroshima is known throughout the world is due to a very dark day of recent human history and the story around the ‘Little Boy’ bomb and the city, all of which is ... read more
The cenotaph with flower offerings
Paper cranes
Hiroshima street car (we know these as a tram!)

Asia » Japan » Kyoto July 26th 2014

So when we were planning our Japan trip we had a huge list of places but had to be quite ruthless when we were deciding what we could and couldn’t manage. One of the things on our list, a day trip to Nara was sacrificed so we could have more time in and around Kyoto. Our last blog was about the sights we saw in Kyoto centre and this one is about the little trips we made to the outskirts of Kyoto to see some interesting places. Taking invent-torii…Fushimin Inari Taisha Fushimi Inari is a shrine located to the south-east of Kyoto city; we hopped on the JR line (free again with our passes!) and 5 minutes later we were there. Fushimin Inari Taisha (taisha=shrine) is the most important Shinto shrine (and there are several thousands ... read more
Neil attempting to be a rickshaw runner :)
Train driver
Zen garden at Tenryu-ji

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto July 24th 2014

We were very excited about the next part of our trip, the historical Kyoto (again with a HUGE list of things and places we wanted to see!) and most importantly, our first experience of the Shinkansen (bullet train)! We had to catch our train from Tokyo station, we arrived early so we had time to grab some breakfast and stop off at a Circle K to spend the last little bit on our Suica cards on lunch for the train. We then had a hell of a job cashing in our Suica for the ¥500 (£2.87) deposit – we have put a note on this at the end of the blog! Shinkansen…faster than a speeding bullet? It was probably entirely obvious to everyone on the platform that this was our first Shinkansen journey…we were like kids ... read more
Kimono girlies
Geisha in San'nen-zaka
Shop in Nishiki market

Asia » Japan » Tochigi » Nikko July 21st 2014

Spending our first 5 days in Tokyo, we decided to allocate 2 of these days to sightseeing outside Tokyo itself and chose Nikko and Lake Kawaguchiko (for Mount Fuji). Part 1 – Nikko…UNESCO World Heritage site and lots of renovations! After stopping off at 7-11 to pick up some croissants and jam for the train ride, we headed to Asakusa station. We were a little disappointed that the better value World Heritage Pass had been discontinued, so had to buy a 2 Day Nikko Pass (issued by the Tobu Railway) which includes the round trip train journey and bus rides around Nikko. The lady in the ticket office spoke excellent English, gave us a whizz-bang guide to Nikko and said the next train was leaving in 3 minutes…off you go! Knowing how punctual Japanese trains are, ... read more
Stash your kid seat
Entrance to Toshu-gu shrine courtyard
Neil and the smallest people carrier ever!

Asia » Japan » Tokyo July 18th 2014

This trip to Japan almost never happened. Before our trip we had to renew our passports which involved sending them back to the UK and we only had a 6 week window for renewal before our visas were up! 2 days after we sent the passports off, news broke about huge delays in the UK Passport office. To cut a long (and very stressful) story short, thanks to a Member of Parliament in the UK we got our passports in the nick of time and had a chance to get excited for our trip! Japan has long been on our bucket list of places to visit and to put it mildly, we were very excited. We had a packed itinerary with lists as long as our 4 arms of what we wanted to see, experience and ... read more
Kanda street
Shinshoku (Shinto priest)
More cosplay girlies

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