Sinead Neylon Philippe Counet


Sinead Neylon Philippe Counet

Sinead and Philippe are going round the world (again!) but this time with a toddler in tow! Check out their travel stories and keep in touch!

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow May 18th 2010

Making our way as far as, and then through, the Moscow metro system was not as easy as you would think. After the ease of taking metros in post-Olympics, English friendly, Beijing and Expo crazy Shanghai, coming face to face with a wall full of Cyrillic characters, gave us quite a headache. Eventually Philippe located a Metro sign in the latin alphabet. Once there we managed to buy two tickets to the stop near our hostel and were pointed in the direction of our train by the kind ticket lady. As we descended into the depths of Moscow's underworld we gasped at our beautiful surroundings. The Moscow Metro Stations are works of art, being as they are, snapshots of another era. As we stepped off the escalator we were struck by the madness of there being ... read more
The Moscow Metro
Sinead on the Red Square
To the airport express

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar May 15th 2010

For many the idea of spending six days cooped up on a train seems ludicrous. For us, it seemed like a cool way to end our trip. What better a way to come to terms with ending our travels, than spending 130 hours inching ever closer to home. The Trans-Siberian train has featured in our travel plan ever since the beginning, so it is nice that we get to see it through. The day before we left Beijing we got word of the forthcoming British Airways strike. They have delightfully chosen to begin their strike on the very day that we are due to fly with them from Moscow to London Heathrow. This triggered a panic attack, and desperate working out of potential plan B, C and D. As it happens we had already been working ... read more
Last moments of freedom in Beijing Train Station
Our home for six days..
Sunset in the Gobi Desert

Asia » China » Beijing » Chaoyang district May 11th 2010

I remember when getting to Beijing seemed so far away that it barely registered in our plans and now suddenly here we are! It was dark when we queued for a taxi in Beijing South Railway station. We showed the driver Will's address in Chinese characters and he seemed happy enough with the information. When he started grumbling and driving up and down the same street, we decided to call Will for back-up and were very impressed when he rattled off some directions in Chinese, and the driver cheered up and did a U-turn. Will was waiting for us on the corner of his street. Seeing him, I couldn't imagine that it was six months since we last saw him in Auckland. He led us to his cool apartment on the 23rd floor, and we were ... read more
Tiannemen Square
Beijing by night from the 65th floor
Carving our Peking Duck

Asia » China » Shanghai » Hongkou April 28th 2010

Travelling from Xiamen to Shanghai felt longer than any of our previous trips. This was probably because we slept soon after boarding and then were awake for the length of the next day until we arrived at 11.30pm. You could really get used to travelling in soft sleeper class in this country. The key difference for me is the ability to shut the door for some peace and quiet, and block out the stream of men passing the door hacking up phlegm en route to the sinks. For the first 12hours or so we were joined in our cabin by a Chinese couple, whose only faux pas was to eat smelly fish snacks until well into the night. The next morning we were jolted awake at 7am by the loud radio that was streamed into every ... read more
Shanghai skyline
Little girl pointing at Philippe's hair
Tea house

Asia » China » Fujian » Xiamen April 26th 2010

After a pleasant few days in Hong Kong we made our way back to the mainland. When we reached the train station in Guangzhou we had about two hours to secure tickets to get to Xiamen that evening. Arriving in the ticket hall, our hearts dropped at the sight of the queues. In addition to the obvious wait that was ahead of us, we weren't even sure where to queue because absolutely none of the signs had an English translation or even Pinyan text that we could look up. We picked a short queue and when we got to the front we got yelled at by the salesperson, just before she pulled the blind down in front of her. When we eventually got to the front of another queue, we established that there were no more ... read more
Looking for dog in Guangzhou
Memorial in Xiamen

Asia » China » Qinghai » Xining April 19th 2010

In South America we discovered the joys of bus travel. In China it has definitely been the turn of the train. If you want to see a lot of country in a short space of time in relative comfort, take the train. I just hope you like pot noodles! In Lhasa train station we were at the head of the queue. Once the signal was given we marched after the main conductor and made our way to the eerily empty platform. The Lhasa train was more modern than the other trains we've been on and these trains are considered to be very prestigious. We even noticed people standing to attention as it passed by. As we settled in for 24 hours in the 6 berth hard sleeper cabin, we awaited the fifth and sixth passenger to ... read more
Some of the amazing views from the train
Yaks on the Tibetan Plateau
Picturesque every way you look!

Asia » China » Tibet » Lhasa April 13th 2010

Getting to Lhasa was supposed to take just under two hours on a Sichuan Airlines flight. The airline offer a free early morning pick up service which we availed off. This turned out to be a shared taxi driven by a strange Chinese man who spoke no English and randomly pulled in to wait around. We were in plenty of time for our flight, but were still feeling a bit ropey from the rice wine the previous evening. He eventually got us all to the airport on time, and once there we were delighted to see the departures board flash up in English. We found our check-in counter, dropped the luggage, walked to our gate and boarded our flight. It was all going so well. They even fed us breakfast on the way and we had ... read more
Landing in Lhasa
The landscape around Lhasa
With Leo in front of the Potala Palace

Asia » China » Sichuan » Chengdu April 9th 2010

After being met at the train station in Chengdu we were bundled into a taxi which took us to Mix's Hostel. We were quickly booked in, but informed that our bed wasn't ready yet as the sheets were still in the wash. They were happy however to let us dump our stuff in the room and chill out there. When the cleaner eventually arrived she didn't speak a word of English and had the endearing habit of just speaking her own native language louder in the hope that we would understand her. Needless to say, we didn't, but we left her to it and went downstairs to inquire about a tour to Lhasa. Getting into Tibet is just an expensive thing to do. After lots of research and many questions to the travel agent, we established ... read more
Sichuan Hot Pot
Enjoying the food
Mao Statue

Asia » China » Shaanxi » Xi'an April 2nd 2010

We had booked a hostel in Xi'an that promised us a free pick-up from the train station. So, following the crowd, we made our way out front to scan the crowd for a sign with our names on it. The train station was mobbed with people. It was difficult to spot anything, but after circling a few times we both concluded that there was nobody there to meet us. Right then. Thankfully, we had the hostel phone number handy and had managed to buy a travel SIM card when we arrived in Guangzhou. As Philippe tried his best to understand the broken English coming from the mobile phone, I took note of my first impressions of Xi'an. It was just full of people. Philippe had managed to ascertain that there had been a mix up and ... read more
The cosy hostel
Making our way around Xi'an
The bell tower

Asia » China » Guangdong » Guangzhou March 27th 2010

Firstly, thanks to all our followers who were lighting candles, crossing fingers and saying prayers, because we got our Russian visas! Once we found out the good news, we booked the final leg of our travels and will leave Beijing in the middle of May. From now until then we have over a month to discover China. So, armed with our visas, we secured train tickets to Guangzhou (pronounced Gwang-joe) across the border on Mainland China. By all accounts Guangzhou is not a nice place to stay overnight in, so we arranged our tickets so that we could arrive there and leave for Xi'an (Shee-ann) on the same day. Getting to Guangzhou Main Railway Station demanded a sense of humour. We left our hostel in Hong Kong early on Saturday morning. We caught the metro to ... read more
Following the mass of people to the train
It's the right train!
Try doing this with chopsticks!

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