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.
One of the things we love most about Chiang Mai is all the delicious food that’s on offer. There are literally thousands of restaurants in Chiang Mai as well as cafes, pubs and bakeries. That's not to mention the night markets and street food. What’s more, the city caters to all kinds of diets with restaurants specialising in vegetarian, vegan, raw or gluten-free food. Here are our top picks of Chiang Mai restaurants in the Old City area.
It’s been almost 10 months since we arrived in Vietnam and during that time Hanoi has become a home of sorts; a crazy, chaotic, often frustrating one, but a home all the same. This week we dismantled our lives here and closed the door on this chapter of our adventure.
Now that the summer weather is kicking in the temperature regularly exceeds 40 degrees in Hanoi. Within seconds of venturing outside the sun scolds your bare skin and wading through the thick, soupy air exhausts you in a matter of minutes. We were keen to escape the city heat and spend some of our final days in Vietnam up in the cool of the mountains in Sapa.
Our time in Vietnam is drawing to a close; we have just two and a half weeks left in the country and  it feels like time is speeding up. This is our last week of teaching and we're struggling to fit in all the last-minute tasks we need to complete; packing up our apartment, sorting out finances, planning for the weeks ahead and saying our goodbyes. We’re also trying to squeeze in trips to places we haven’t had time to visit over the hectic school year; this past weekend we finally made it to the stunning country getaway, Mai Chau.
After finally completing the school year in Vietnam we are itching to dive into the excitement and trepidation of travel again; of new places, plans and ideas. In fact, we’ve plunged straight in, fleeing Hanoi by night train on the very day we completed our final classes and now we look forward to months of new adventures. There will be a huge difference in the next stage of our journey though, we’re saying goodbye to the often hellish bus and train trips we’ve been used to in Asia and travelling by rental car through America and Europe instead.
We’d been sat on the bus for an hour, yet we still hadn’t left the station. The sun was heating up the inside of the vehicle in sync with my rising temper and the beat of the awful music blasting us at full volume. We’d been waiting months for this holiday, this precious escape from the city into the countryside, and we couldn’t even make it out of the bus station in Hanoi.