Skydiving over Abel Tasman, New Zealand

Our Cheapest and most Expensive Travel Experiences

As time speeds on here in Chiang Mai, a slow itch is returning to my feet. It feels like an age since we got a real taste of adventure, so lately my thoughts have been occupied by our upcoming trip to Nepal and Sri Lanka. I can’t wait to hike in the Himalayas and explore UNESCO sites in Sri Lanka. That being said, I’m also slightly anxious about how our budget will cope when freelance work takes a back-seat to travel. With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look back at some of our cheapest and most expensive travel experiences over the last four years. Continue reading

Buddha Statue in Mandalay, Burma

Lessons from Asia and Moving On

It feels strange to have finally left Asia after spending almost two years there. For us, travel has been inextricably linked with this part of the world. When I think of backpacking my mind conjures up images of long, cramped bus journeys and never-ending terraces of rice, gold-carpeted beaches and heaving cities full of motorbikes and street markets. I think of wading through soupy, humid air, the smell of citronella insect repellent, incense from temples, and spices from road-side food stalls; I hear beeping horns, crowing roosters, prayer calls and the lapping of the sea. Continue reading

Visa Stamps in Passports

Border Crossings and Bribes

One of the things we can’t quite get used to in Asia is the corruption which forms an ordinary part of everyday life here. From knock-off goods to rigged taxi meters and other tourist scams, travelling is a whole different ball game here compared to in regulation-crazy Europe. While we’re now resigned to the fact that we’ll be charged tourist prices everywhere we go, we’ve found that making overland border crossings in South-East Asia presents some of the most frustrating examples of corruption. Continue reading

Don Det Sunset, 4000 Islands, Laos Video

Six Weeks in Laos Video

After our three months in Thailand it was time to head across the Mekong into Laos. Altogether we spent about four weeks in the north visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site Luang Prabang, the mysterious Plain of Jars in Phonsavan, tubing in Vang Vieng, cycling around Luang Namtha and learning about the secret war in Laos. We later spent two weeks visiting the south of Laos where we saw the most popular three of the Four Thousand Islands, the unremarkable Pakse and motored around the waterfall-packed freshness of the Bolaven Plateau before returning to Thailand. Continue reading

Temple in Luang Prabang

Laos Travel Costs for Six Weeks

So far, Laos has been our cheapest country to travel in, costing nearly £5 less per day than its closest rival Indonesia. We spent 44 days travelling in Laos altogether; about four weeks during November in the north of the country and another two weeks during February in the south.  Overall, we had quite a chilled out and relaxed time in Laid-Back Laos, visiting plenty of waterfalls and temples and although the country is land-locked, we still managed to find time to see some islands! Here’s what we spent during our six-week stay in Laos. Continue reading

Tuk Tuk Driver in Laos

Laos Travel Tips: How to Get Around Laos

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. Continue reading

Beach on Don Det, Laos

Cycling and Stomach Aches on Four Thousand Islands

Just as we were about to abandon ship, the engine of our crowded longboat sputtered to life and we set off across the moss-coloured surface of the Mekong, skirting around tiny grass-topped mounds. In less than ten minutes we hit the shore of Don Det with a soft bump and disembarked, trudging up the sandbank onto the one dusty road that runs the circumference of the island.  We had arrived in Si Phan Don, also known as Four Thousand Islands, the area in southern Laos where the Mekong River is at its widest, surrounding hundreds of sandy islets and some larger inhabited islands. Continue reading

Bunker in the Vieng Xai Caves

Life Underground: Visiting the Vieng Xai Caves

Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a cave, surrounded by cold rock and the sound of bombs crashing just metres away from you? How would it feel to creep out after nightfall to farm and cook while your children studied in an underground school? Well, that’s exactly how thousands of people lived during the American bombing campaign in Laos – Andrew and I took a trip to the historic caves in the north of the country to learn more. Continue reading

Mysterious Plain of Jars, Laos

Discovering the Mysterious Plain of Jars

Thousands of heavy stone jars, up to three metres tall, litter the green and yellow plains of Xieng Khouang in Laos. They’ve been there for thousands of years, grouped together in clusters spread across 90 different sites, their purpose shrouded in mystery. For me they evoke images of Stonehenge, a cluster of ancient pillars assembled in a circular pattern, located back in England. Many people believe Stonehenge was built to serve as a clock or tool to calculate the arrival of solstice, while others think it was an ancient burial ground or important spiritual area.  Similar mysteries surround the Plain of Jars in Laos. Continue reading