Once Upon A Time In Asia

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Once Upon A Time In Asia

I fancy an adventure...



Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona » Barcelona October 15th 2013

It’s 4.50am. C and I have just woken up. The black night skies are hanging heavy over Gatwick and there’s an early morning chill in the air. Our puppy has been dispatched to the flight cargo centre two hours earlier to prepare for his first trip at 35,000 feet. C dropped him off while I slept through (I really owe him one). I am the first to admit I am not a morning person, as anyone who has ever met me will know, but today I am absolutely buzzing, exhilarated and full of energy. Then again, it’s not every day you wake up and move to Barcelona. We dress quickly, pick up our suitcases and head from the airport hotel into the terminal. People are staggering bleary-eyed around the airport, seemingly stunned that they are awake ... read more
Good morning Barcelona

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London March 20th 2013

So that was it. As I write this, we have been back in London a couple of weeks and have snapped back into our normal lives. But what a truly unforgettable trip this was. From our very first night in Asia where we held hands and settled into our massage chairs in Ho Chi Minh City, to when we had our first taste of pho sat on tiny stools on the corner of a Ho Chi Minh street and breathed in the smells of Vietnam; when we first encountered the seedy, ridiculously OTT metropolis that is Bangkok, when we rode on the motorbike through Samui, had the best massage of my life (shimmery bum!) and dodged snakes falling from trees; when we saw in the New Year in Phnom Penh and visited the horror that is ... read more

Asia » Thailand » South-West Thailand » Ko Lanta March 18th 2013

Koh Lanta, 5-11 February Koh Ngai, 11-24 February Koh Samui, 24 February-4 March Bangkok, 4-5 March Koh Lanta was very relaxing and very beautiful. We spent the first few days just enjoying being settled in one place, wandering around Saladan where we were staying (the main dive and tourist site) and sampling fresh seafood caught just metres from where we ate. It was my birthday a couple of days after we arrived so we booked a boat trip out around the islands. The day began with an early morning drive from the north of the island right down to to the boat port on the east coast near to the Old Town. As we drove, it got more and more green and lush, the jungle ferns got bigger, the undergrowth around us more dense and the ... read more
Sunset from the reggae bar on Koh Lanta
Birthday boat trip
Our first sight of Koh Ngai

Asia » Laos » West » Vientiane March 16th 2013

Overnight train from Vientiane to Bangkok, 4-5 February I've always loved the idea of overnight trains. The whole idea of waking up with the world rushing by and travelling through exotic lands while you sleep reminds me a bit of a fairytale. The last (and only) overnight train I've taken was in Egypt where my friend J and I were ridiculously excited about every little thing, from the train conductor's hat to the belly dancer who came to the 'entertainment' carriage. This time I was just as excited, perhaps even more so to see the look on C's face, my princess of a boyfriend who loves a bit of a luxury. First of all, he couldn't fit into our cabin. He was too tall for the door frame so had to do a comical, John Cleese-style ... read more

Asia » Laos » West » Luang Prabang March 3rd 2013

Luang Prabang (continued) 31–3 February Vientiane, 3–4 February Our first full day in Luang Prabang saw us riding round on the motorbike to try and find a new hotel. Ours was absolutely filthy and the worst place we had stayed in the whole trip (when you end up cleaning your teeth on the balcony as the bathroom is too dirty, you know it may be best to move on). After we found a lovely little guesthouse in the centre of town, we had breakfast in a French bakery (one of many scattered around the area) and settled down at an outside table to do some good old-fashioned people-watching. But it was strange. We just did not like the town and couldn't feel any sort of connection towards it. It no longer felt like we were in ... read more
LP streets
On the way up
Up on the hill

Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand » Chiang Mai March 3rd 2013

Chiang Mai, 28–31 January Luang Prabang, 31 January–3 February Chiang Mai is one of those places that conjures up all sorts of images in my mind – thick jungle, elephants treading over muddy rivers and an exotic wonderland. In reality, when C and I arrived we were greeted by a very drab, very grey city that did not seem to live up to any of our expectations or, indeed, anything we had heard about it before. We headed out from our guesthouse (at £16 a night, we had a balcony, hot water and a gorgeous room - I love a bargain) into the warm, humid afternoon to explore the town. We wandered through the gateway in the Old City walls as we figured this would be the prettiest part of the city, at which point it ... read more
Mealtime in Laos
No prostates please!
Thou shalt...

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan March 1st 2013

Bagan, 21-25 January The next morning, we decided to take the other mode of transport in Bagan that seems to be very popular - the bicycle. I haven't ridden a bike since I was about ten and C since he was 15 (which, weirdly, was at the same time) but, consistent with popular saying, it turned out to be easy. The only time I have attempted to ride in the past few years was when I went to visit my friend in Copenhagen and on a very hungover January morning, we decided it would be a great idea to cycle to the beach. Turns out hangover plus freezing temperatures and a bicycle do not mix so that was that. Bagan, on the other hand, may be the most perfect place in the world to cycle. On ... read more
A tight squeeze
Pagoda in the sunset
The long walk home

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan February 28th 2013

Bagan, 21-25 January The sun was setting as we landed at Nyaung U airport, Bagan. It says a lot about how unspoilt Burma is that the airport at one of its main tourist attractions is so tiny there are not even any baggage carousels and the entire departure lounge consists of two small-ish rooms. Our flight from Inle Lake had travelled via Mandalay – as there are so many flights every day in Burma and distances between destinations are very short, it's common to take indirect flights and just wait on the tarmac for 15 minutes while people get on and off before setting off again. It was in this way that we ended up taking the shortest flight of the trip, and indeed my entire life - the entire journey from Mandalay to Bagan including ... read more
Anniversary fondue and wine
Ancient Buddha
One of 3000!

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Inle Lake February 11th 2013

Inle Lake, 17-21 January We had got serious boat fever the day before so we were awake very early on our second day in Inle Lake. We ate breakfast on the verandah and watched the lake wake up with us. The early morning fog slowly ebbed away and this time, with the knowledge of what lay beyond the mist, it was even more magical. Our boat driver picked us up at 9am and we sailed across the lake again, this time headed for a monastery. It was popularly known as the ‘Jumping Cat Monastery,’ because a monk had taught the resident cats to jump through hoops for the amusement of tourists. But our driver informed us it was no longer referred to in this way as the cats didn’t jump anymore. “Why not?” we asked. “The ... read more
Fishing in the mist
Jumping cat monastery
Betel seller in the market

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Inle Lake February 10th 2013

Inle Lake, 17-21 January We landed at Heho Airport in Inle Lake from Yangon after my very first flight in a propeller plane. I had made the mistake of reading many nightmare stories about planes crashing in Burma as their internal aircraft is not approved by international safety standards due to sanctions. However, after C reassuring me ("you wouldn't not drive on the M25 because of a crash") it was all good again and soon after taking off from Yangon, I was completely transfixed by the views of the country below us as it transformed from sparse, flat, green expanse into rice and paddy fields dotted by pagodas into a towering mountain range (still dotted by pagodas). I have never seen a country with quite so many pagodas in my life. Heho airport was, without doubt, ... read more
Breakfast on our balcony
The lake wakes up
Waterway to the lake




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