2015 is shaping up to be a great year. The first half of it will be spent in Asia working out the last five months of our teaching contracts in Vietnam and then relaxing in Thailand for a month. After that another summer in the UK awaits followed by an autumn of road-tripping through America and a proper British Christmas, our first in two years. After that, my thoughts keep returning to Europe, a continent I’ve lived in almost my whole life but have barely explored.
It was late at night on a quiet Hanoi street (yes, such a thing does exist) and I was learning how to ride a motorbike. As I practised turning in the road Mr Nguyen, who’s renting me my slightly battered 125cc Yamaha for just £25 a month, advised me: “Make sure you use the horn so they know you are a bad driver!” The next comment was just as surprising:
Have you ever considered sleeping in a stranger’s house to save money while you travel? Well, that’s what I thought Couchsurfing was like until we tried it out in Taipei, Taiwan. Instead, thanks to our amazing host Jackie, we found out that Couchsurfing can be a great way to learn about a place from a local perspective, make new friends and exchange experiences.
Since Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) recommended that the tourism boycott of Burma be lifted in 2010, the number of people travelling to the country has steadily increased. However, the NLD urges tourists to boycott package tours and cruises as they benefit the ruling government rather than the local Burmese people; with that in mind, here are some tips on how to get around Burma independently.
How do you plan your trip to Burma? It isn’t as easy as heading to other nearby countries like Laos, Cambodia or Thailand. You can’t just cross overland into the country, you can’t just pick up a visa on arrival at the airport, you need all your money in crisp, unmarked US$ and you have to book your accommodation in advance, or so we thought. Burma travel planning is full-on! Read on to find out more.
Cambodia doesn’t have a wealth of options when it comes to tourist transport; there are no trains (other than the touristic bamboo train in Battambang) and flights are out of the question for budget travel. To get from city to city we had no choice but to use a mixture of buses. So read on to find out more about bus travel around Cambodia; expect breakdowns, bribes and bundles of air con! Here are our travel tips for Cambodia.
Although Vietnam isn’t quite as well travelled as some South-East Asian countries it still has a decent transport network. Throughout our month in Vietnam we travelled from Hanoi in the north all the way down the coast to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) before heading into Cambodia. While the clean fast trains were a joy to use, most of our bus journeys were typical of Asia - pretty hellish. If you’re planning to travel to Vietnam, check out our tips on how to get around the country.
Despite being so close to Thailand, Laos is a whole different animal when it comes to getting around. For a start, there are no trains in Laos, the roads are very often just dirt paths and most buses are rickety, old and crammed with locals, luggage and livestock. We had some of our worst journeys while travelling in Laos, here’s how we got around the country.
After our first six months of non-stop travel we were utterly exhausted and desperate to put down our backpacks, settle in one place and recover for a month. So, in typical travel blogger fashion we headed to Chiang Mai, Thailand in search of some peace, decent wifi and delicious food. There’s no shortage of places to live in Chiang Mai, but the search for our ideal apartment still turned out to be more difficult than we’d anticipated – here’s how we managed to find our perfect pad.