Kris and Kate

Rat on the Road

Kris and Kate

It started in November 2006, when we quit our jobs, rented out our house, sold our belongings and set off in search of adventure in South East Asia.

Backpacking around SE Asia followed, along with working with elephants in Pattaya, a TEFL course in Thailand, teaching in Bangkok, Madrid, Bournemouth....

"Where next?" you might ask.

Well, the pull of the East was too great, so we hot-footed back to Thailand, and then onto Vietnam.

We spent a year teaching in a language centre in Haiphong in the North of Vietnam. Then we went searching for the bright lights of the big city and taught academic English in Ho Chi Minh City. Six months became three and a half years (as they do) when we decided it was time for a different experience. We gave Shanghai, China a go, but we didn't like the job, so we made a more drastic change, and came to Odessa, Ukraine.

Europe » Poland » Masovia » Warsaw August 16th 2014

Our fast modern train zipped us from Berlin, Germany, into next door Poland. In Warsaw we were treating ourselves - to the 5* Westin hotel. And very swanky it was too. The bathroom alone was bigger than our rooms in our next too destinations. Actually, we weren't actually pushing the budget with this one. Our lovely posh hotel room cost less than a room in a hostel. I think it was something to do with it being a Saturday in August in the business district. Less demand for rooms. When planning this trip, I booked all the accommodation and transport in advance, since we only had 12 days to get back to Odessa. I use usually, mainly because having booked so many hotel rooms for our weekends in Shanghai, I'm now a 'Genius' (their ... read more
Beautiful old buildings
Little restaurants in the Old Town
Street art in Warsaw

Europe » Germany » Berlin August 14th 2014

From Amsterdam we hopped on a train and headed into Germany. The next stop on the strip - Berlin! After a 6 hour train journey we disembarked into Berlin's immense train station. Yes, 'immense'. More like a shopping mall with trains really. We wandered up and down with our bags trying to find a metro train to Potsdamer Platz for quite a while before we relented and went to a woman in the information office.. ..who told us to get a bus instead. Which we did from outside. Once there, we took a short walk to our hotel - the Ibis Budget, not far from the main sites. Ich bin ein Berliner Our hotel was a short walk from remnants of the Berlin Wall and also Checkpoint Charlie which we went and visited as soon as ... read more
Checkpoint Charlie
The Holocaust Memorial
Currywurst #1

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam August 14th 2014

I love The Man in Seat 61..... ....Sometimes I just browse it, imagining all the places I could go by train. It goes without saying that the Trans-Siberian or Trans-Mongolian Express is on our bucket list; I'm just waiting for the opportunity to travel between Asia and Europe without having to carry our lives with us. So when we decided to take the job and move to Ukraine, I ended up surfing into Seat 61 while looking for anything I could find on Odessa. On the page was information on how to travel by train from London to Odessa. You could do it in three days. It was settled right about then. I wanted to do a real Seal 61 overland trip. We had time off in August when our school was closed and were going ... read more
Canals and tall buildings
Red light district
Cliche #1 - clogs

Europe » Ukraine » Odessa July 5th 2014

So we've been in Odessa for about five months now. We arrived to deep snow and a frozen sea, and now the sun has most definitely got his hat on, the beach bars and restaurants are open and buzzing and the city centre is packed with street bars. The situation the east of Ukraine remains violent with constant deadly clashes between the separatists and the government troops, but bar the tragic events of 2nd May, Odessa remains peaceful. Locals here of both sides seem genuinely horrified by what happened on 2nd May and just want to get on with enjoying the summer. But this is not to be a blog about politics. Not because we feel it is not important, but because it is not part of our day to day life here. We follow the ... read more
Grassland at the Spit

Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Sel├žuk May 4th 2014

Another belated blog...these were so easy to write when backpacking...but so much more difficult to get round to when you're on holiday or living and working in a country. Anyway, in May we had 10 days holiday from our jobs in Odessa. We had planned on travelling to Crimea....but I'm sure anyone reading this knows why we changed our plans. So, with friends living in Istanbul and further friends currently living in England, but on holiday in the country at the same time - we set off for a May break in Turkey!! And this is what happened.... Fast and convenient e-visas Istanbul is just a teeny flight from Odessa at just over an hour and we flew in with Turkish Airlines. On arrival we had to process our visas and despite having bought them online ... read more
View from our hotel room in Selcuk.
Fortress overlooking the town

Europe » Ukraine » Odessa April 6th 2014

Almost exactly two months ago, we moved here, to Odessa, a city in the south of Ukraine on the Black Sea. It's quite a small city, although the residential areas sprawl. Our school provided us with an apartment in an old courtyard near the centre. You can see our street on the Lonely Planet map of Odessa! We've never lived so close to the 'action' before. No longer do we have to deal with taxis home from the pub at night, trying to communicate our address to the driver and then watch like a hawk to check that he isn't driving us all around the houses (which means not falling asleep in the back) and then check he gives us the right change- we can now stagger back in 15 minutes! The centre is quite touristy ... read more
Opera house
Locks on Mother in Law bridge
A heart full of locks

Asia » China » Shanghai January 23rd 2014

The title of this blog will probably only make sense to anyone who went to school with Kris. Qibao (chibow) is another old water town, similar to Suzhou but much smaller. It has the advantage of being on Line 9 of the metro, so no high speed yet complicated train journey needed. It's now part of Shanghai, and seems to have been preserved purely for tourists so people advice not to go as it can be incredibly busy. However, as we said in the Suzhou blog, if you are going to explore China, you have to work around the tourists. We went on a cold Saturday in December and although the main food street was absolutely packed, the side streets were very quiet. The 'town' itself is a couple of main streets next to and crossing ... read more
meat kebabs
Tofu and chips
Little prawn things

Asia » China » Shanghai » Pudong January 14th 2014

After a mere four months living in Shanghai, it's time to move on again. The reasons for our departure are not going to be publicised on the internet but for any of you who gave us advice on moving here, it isn't because we don't like Shanghai or China. However, a new job awaits us in a whole new country and it's time to say goodbye to Shanghai. Here are your best bits...... motorbikes held together with sellotape..... brown furry dogs (are they poodles?)....... *hurrrrockkk......* (the noise and pregnant pause before someone spits in the street)....... several small toffee apples on sticks....... babies in split crotch trousers so they can pee on the floor...... brown furry dogs in clothes...... old people shoving you out of the way on the metro...... electric bikes silently appearing behind you ... read more
Motorbike held together with sellotape
Small toffee apples on sticks
Dog dressed as a pand

Asia » China » Zhejiang » Suzhou January 9th 2014

One of the surprising benefits of Shanghai is its efficient transport links. In Vietnam, the roads and railways are so poor that it takes an age to get anywhere. It's less than 80km from Saigon to Mui Ne, the nearest 'nice' beach resort, yet it takes over 5 hours by bus and a similar time by train to the nearest station - Phan Thiet. It's even about 3 hours by private car/taxi. Shanghai has a metro running in the city - now the biggest in the world apparently, and to many places in the suburbs and high speed rail links to the surrounding towns and cities. You can even travel the 1,500 km journey to Beijing in five hours. Can you imagine how long that would take on Vietnamese rail? Our first sightseeing trip out of ... read more
Suzhou canals
artisan streets

Asia » China » Shanghai January 8th 2014

Having spent the last 4 months in Shanghai, it seems an appropriate time to write a general blog on the city and how we found it. This isn't a chronological 'and then we went here and did this' blog. It's just a look at some characteristics of the city of Shanghai, both positive and negative, from the perspective of 2 English people who like wandering around cities in various countries. Look below and marvel at some of Shanghai's standout features. According to us.... 1. There are lots of people (and models of people) Shanghai is a big city. Like, really big. See the title of this blog for one estimate of the population - though these numbers vary depending on how you measure it, it gives you some idea as to the sheer numbers of people ... read more
Shanghai skyline by day
East Nanjing Road

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