•Thursday, October 1, 2009 • 1 Comment
We have travelled to amazing places and made lots of great friends this year.
We are flying home tonight and looking forward to seeing everyone in Newcastle again.
We love Thailand so decided to spend our last month here.
Here are some of our best photos from our last month.
•Tuesday, September 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment
Flying into Kuala Lumpur (KL) from Vietnam its like a different world. We came into the city to a fanfare of fireworks and street parties. This was not to celebrate our arrival as you’d expect, but to commemorate 50 years of independence from the British.
During our 3 day stay we walked around the city gazing up at the skyscrapers. Its a far less frantic place than other SE Asian cities. However its mix of Malay, Indian, and Chinese and a population of 2 million makes it an interesting place to be.
Walking in Chinatown someone was mugged right in front of us. (bottom left hand corner).
The city has a very hi-tec feel. There are giant tv screens, a monorail, and advertising everywhere. In the ‘golden triangle’ skyscrapers and huge shopping malls dominate. In Chinatown and Little India there are open street markets and an edgier atmosphere. But the best thing about KL is when night falls and the city comes alive. At street level smells from stalls selling all kinds of asian food fill the air, and up above the skyscrapers illuminate the sky.
We took a trip up to the skybridge which connects the iconic Petronas Towers. I went there early in the morning to get tickets for that afternoon and while I was queuing Alain ‘Spiderman’ Robert was climbing up the outside. It was his third attempt at scaling the tower (without ropes) and he completed the 452m ascent to the top in 2 hours.
•Friday, August 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment
In Mui Ne we met these two Vietnamese guys called Hoa and Mr T. They run an ‘Easy Riders’ tour company. They take tourists around the countryside on the back of their motorcycles showing them the sites and explaining about life in Vietnam.
These guys were dead canny and expert riders. They showed us the local attractions around Mui Ne over two 1 day trips. Seeing the countryside from the back of a bike is the greatest way, and Lisa and I felt really safe with them. Even when we were picking our way through busy towns with motorcycles and lorries coming at us from all directions it was cool.
One of the highlights was when Mr T invited us back to his home by the beach for dinner. Mrs T cooked a local Vietnamese dish of marinated pork and chicken with rice noodles, and fresh fruit with a chilli dipping salt, delic!
Mui Ne is a lovely area with things like red and white sandunes best seen at sunrise, and busy fishing villages. Its very popular with Kite surfers who come here for the strong sea winds.
•Friday, August 21, 2009 • Leave a Comment
Arriving in Na Trang we could see immediately that it’s more developed (not that we took any pictures of this mind, just take our word for it) than anywhere else we have visited in Vietnam. The beach is lively with ‘sailing clubs’ serving cocktails and providing beach beds and umbrellas.
Across from the main beach is an ultra exclusive $2000pn resort. Called the Vinpearl and only accessible via a 3.3km long gondola stretching high above the sea from the mainland, we could only dream.
We decided on taking a boat tour of the nearby attractions. Our guide and skipper, Funky Monkey, encouraged us to drink, dance and dive off the roof of the boat into the sea below.
Still on the boat, a cracking buffet lunch of Vietnamese spring rolls and seafood was served. Funky and his crew produced a battered old drum kit and some guitars from somewhere. Making enough noise to drown us, and draw attention from the nearest island resort they sang songs (badly) and dragged some of the passengers (me) onstage for a sing along. Finally a floating bar was produced to keep us all sufficiently lubricated. Floating on rubber rings, being ply-ed with salty cocktails we met a great bunch of people.
It was a bad burn day but worth it.
•Wednesday, August 19, 2009 • 1 Comment
Hoi Ann is 30km south of China Beach.
It’s enchanting. There are some 500 tailors, streets strewn with lanterns, two beaches and loads of amazing restaurants – always the way to my heart!
With two weddings and I guess some job interviews (eeck!) awaiting us back in England we are having clothes made.
I’m getting two suits, shirts and ties. Lisa has a beautiful dress, jacket and pants.
They are costing us a fraction of what they would at home. And you can’t choose the colour of your pipping there.
In between fittings we’ve hung out at the beach or restaurants. It’s nice to walk around at night with the lanterns reflecting off the Thu Bon river.
Vietnam is rapidly becoming one of our favourites of the trip.
•Saturday, August 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment
Imagine a tin can on wheels, 20 yr old suspension, hard leather seats and SE Asia’s version of the Eurovision Song Contest playing at full blast. There you have our 22hr bus from Vientiane to Da Nang.
It was HELL. But sometimes you need to go through it to appreciate life. Our heaven was ‘China Beach’, our god was ‘Hoa’.
At Hoa’s Place he and his wife took us in a helped us recuperate. After our ordeal on the bus they welcomed us with a cold beer and a smile. At night they throw communal dinners with all their visitors sitting down and enjoying great homemade vietnamese food together. There is a great vibe here.
Hoa is a tiny vietnamese guy with a big character who speaks english with a unique american accent. He has had his little place on China beach since the early 90′s and now people come all over the world to stay here.
China beach itself is a gorgeous 30km stretch of white sand. This is where american soldiers were sent for r&r during the war.
We only originally planned to stay here for one night but have ended up staying for four!
At night after dinner and a few drinks with new friends we would go swimming in the moonlight. Its the first time I have swam amongst bioluminescent plankton. I can only describe it as swimming with stars.
•Monday, August 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment
For the last week we have been in Vientiane, capital of Laos. We came here to sort out visa’s for Vietnam and to allow Lisa to rest her ankle.
Being immobile we’ve not seen many sites. We have however been to many restaurants and have eaten some of the best food so far on our trip. You can find great local dishes, as well as very good and very cheap French, Indian, and Japanese food.
We bumped into our friends Matt and Jenny who we first met in Pai, and then randomly while floating down the river in Vang Vieng.
So feeling a little better, and desperate to get back on the road we are taking a night bus to Da Nang in Vietnam. It will take approximately 24hrs and we hope it won’t be too uncomfortable.
p.s of the sites we did see, here are pictures of Laos’s answer to the Arc de Triomphe and That Luang – this golden temple, the national symbol of Laos.