A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: jayandmat2015

6) Cambodia

Cambodia

Cambodia was absolutely my favourite and there is no doubt in my mind that I will return in the future. There is still so much to see, to find out. It is not lush, nor green. It is brown and dusty and parts are so filthy that I had flash backs of India. I couldn't quite put my finger on exactly what it was, there was just something about it that I loved. It gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling in my belly. The people were the most friendly of all South East Asia and we didn't encounter anybody who was rude, even the bus drivers and conductors were lovely and no one seemed to have an ulterior motive. The hawkers and tuk tuk drivers were polite and mostly unobtrusive too. I felt safe and calm everywhere and even in the bigger cities it felt laid back and less busy than cities in other countries. The way the Cambodian People have dealt with and bounced back from their heartbreaking past and the atrocities inflicted on them by the Khmer Rouge, just made me love them even more.
Read about this here.
Few of the places we visited made me gasp in wonder and amazement, but collectively they all added up to a wonderful experience. When I left Cambodia I left a little piece of my heart.

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Ha Tien/Kep border crossing from Vietnam to Cambodia

Friday 24th April - Day 132 - Kep

Today we left Phu Quoc by ferry, spent a few hours in Ha Tien and then crossed the border into Cambodia. The scenery although beautiful (think wooden houses on stilts and traditional farming) is blighted by rubbish everywhere. In India we just got used to the rubbish and the dirt but as we've travelled South East Asia it's got cleaner, Vietnam the cleanest of all. Then to see again this inability to deal with plastic, it shocked me all over again. We are staying at Botanica Guesthouse in Kep for three nights. It's perfect and it has a pool so Mat has nothing to dislike thus far.

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The famous Kep Crab!

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Lovely views over Kep

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Tasty salad at Botanica Guesthouse

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Botanica Guesthouse

Tuesday 28th April - Day 135 - Kampot/Sihanoukville

Kep really grew on me. It was quiet and had a real seaside town feel and we spent time riding around the countryside just looking at things and enjoying being there. There wasn't very much to do so I didn't feel too guilty for lounging around by the pool some days.
On the third day I got sick with a bloated belly and nausea again. We got a local bus to Kampot which luckily was less than an hour away and I threw up as soon as we got to our guesthouse. I was shivery and achey and I had to send Mat out on a bicycle in a thunderstorm to get me some painkillers and when he got back he was absolutely drenched. He looked so sweet and I was so grateful I just burst into tears. So Kampot was a write off.
Then we went to Sihanoukville which was a bit of a laid back party town with just as much party as we can manage these days. We had dinner at a pizza place but then I felt sick again so we went back to the guesthouse. I should never have boasted about how healthy I felt in India because since Laos I've felt pretty sicky on and off. We're on Ko Rong Samloem now. At one time it would have been absolute paradise where you wouldn't see another soul for miles, but again with everywhere in South East Asia there's development all over the island. It didn't used to have electricity or running water and still doesn't have wifi or hot water so it's still pretty basic. The sea is clear and calm and the sand is super white but probably still not as nice as Sao Beach on Phu Quoc Island, though it's definitely one of my favourite places we've been. It's Cameo and Rob's wedding today so it's a good job I don't have wifi or I'd be crying my eyes out all day and liking every single picture that goes up.

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Another frog picture

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Best scooter we had all trip. We'd been given some right shite prior to this, with no wing mirrors, broken speedometers, broken petrol gauge, brakes not working, could barely get up hills etc

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Love it when your pano shot makes you look like Nigel from The Wild Thornberry's

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Carrot, orange and ginger smoothie

Saturday 2nd May - Day 140 - Siem Reap

We're in Siem Reap now. We got the night bus from Phnom Penh and ended up next to the bogs again so the smell kept waking me up, but other than that it might have been the best sleeper we've been on yet. As far as big touristy cities go, I quite like Siem Reap. It's not too busy and even the infamous Pub Street isn't that offensive.
Mat's Dad, James has come out to see us for 4 days. He's pretty much a genius, read about this HERE. On the first day we visited the Temples of Angkor. We got there at 05:30 to watch the sunrise and then did a 1 day tour which was more than enough. It was about 38 degrees, really busy and if I'm honest, I don't have a huge interest in ancient architecture so I spent the whole day uncomfortably hot and dare I say it, found it a bit underwhelming. I feel like an absolute uncultured heathen saying that. I'll probably put half of my disinterest down to the heat though because it just saps all your energy and your enthusiasm for anything except sitting on your arse drinking cold water.
We also went to the 'Phare Circus' which was awesome, and then yesterday we visited a museum all about Angkor, which I think Mat enjoyed even less than the National Museum of Bangkok. We just can't seem to get overly excited about 'this man built this building in year X....' We prefer museums about people, things they did and their experiences. Other than that we've been at James' hotel and it is stunning! I had it in my head that James was going to want to rough it but this is about as far away from roughing it as you can get. Naturally we've booked ourselves a night there too because this far into our trip we definitely have the money to be blowing on swanky hotels....
I think the Khmer People are the friendliest yet. Despite all the tragedy of the rule of the Khmer Rouge, they seem determined to make their country great again and they are just so smiley, I love it here.

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First bath in 5 months

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James' hotel - Tresor D'Angkor

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Our cottage

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One minute it was blazing sun, the next a massive storm hit

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We had to cycle back to our hotel in the storm and we'd never seen lightning like it before! It hit the ground about 20 metres in front of us at one point

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Pool area at Tresor

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Lady weaving scarves at Siem Reap Night Market

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Mat's black pudding ice cream bleurghhh

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The most interesting thing at the Angkor Museum

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Passing the time at the museum by mostly pissing about

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Mat and his Dad at Angkor Wat

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This is the Temple of Ta Prohm which was used as a location in the film Tomb Raider

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Mat and James watching comedy in the pool. They kept chuckling every few minutes, proper made me smile :-)

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Sunrise at Angkor Wat

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Phare Circus. All performers in Phare The Cambodian Circus learn their skills through Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS), an Association providing arts education in Battambang, Cambodia. Young people from the streets, orphanages and struggling families in the community come to PPS to learn, express and heal themselves through the arts.
PPS formed 20 years ago by 9 children and their art teacher when they returned home from a refugee camp after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. As survivors of the war, empowered by the creative self-expression learned through their art-making, the group wanted to share this gift of the arts with the underprivileged children of Battambang

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They founded an art school and a public school quickly followed to offer free education. A music school and theatre school were next, and finally, the circus school. Today more than 1,200 pupils attend the public school daily and 500 attend the alternative schools.
In 2013 Phare Performing Social Enterprise (PPSE) was founded in Siem Reap to offer visitors and locals alike Phare The Cambodian Circus. This offers PPS students and graduates somewhere to hone their skills and a place to earn a living wage. Operating in Siem Reap for over a year now, we hope to soon be making enough money to increase their artist’s compensation and generate real revenue to support ongoing PPS social and educational programming

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Aw

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Pre circus pizza

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Don't be a slag, grab a snag!

Wednesday 6th May - Phnom Penh

Visited the Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields yesterday. There really are no words to explain or describe what happened to these poor people and I've thought about it constantly since we came to Cambodia. If you want to know more about these specific places, please read about it HERE.
We're in Battambang now for 2 nights. It's a bit scruffy but there aren't too many tourists which is nice.
I've fallen a little bit in love with Cambodia. Do you remember that advert about the soup that felt like a hug? It was a fluffy, purple, monster thing that snuggled you as you ate your soup? That's what Cambodia feels like to me. I think it's a combination of the people, the fact that even though the cities are busy, they're not too busy, and perhaps my determination to live every minute because we only have a few weeks left of our trip. I started to cry in the tuk tuk earlier. I was emotional about the Killing Fields anyway, but it started to dawn on me how much I don't want to go back to real life, especially when I don't even know if I have a job to come back to now. So it'll be real life, but even shittier. I started thinking about what I could do for work in Cambodia to help people in some way, but I wouldn't even know where to start.

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Rooftop pool and bar at our hotel in Phnom Penh

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Views from the rooftop

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I shit you not, this kid was about 10

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Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

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This is us with Bou Meng. He was one of only a handful of survivors from Tuol Sleng Prison where people were imprisoned and tortured before being executed at Choeung Ek Killing Fields under the horrific rule of the Khmer Rouge

Friday 10th May - Battambang

Yesterday we visited the Bamboo Train which was pretty cool. at the end of the track you stop, the driver dismantles the train and has a fag while the locals drag you in to their shops and mither you until you buy something you don't want. The little girls are so sweet that you can't say no, but then if you buy from one, the others get in a grump. One little girl wished me 'no good luck' when I wouldn't buy any bracelets from her because I had already bought three from one girl and three from another. Cute.
Later on we went to see the bat cave. As the sun sets a gazillion bats fly out of this cave. It's absolutely incredible to see but we had to cut our visit short because the sky clouded over. One thing we've learnt out here is that it can go from blistering sun to torrential rain and the scariest of storms in a matter of minutes. We set off back to the hotel but before we'd even got half way, the sky ahead of us cracked with lightning and the heavens opened. We were on a scooter, riding into the rain which was like millions of needles on our skin. It was so heavy that Mat couldn't see to drive and we were drenched within seconds and so scared that we had no choice but to pull over. Luckily there was a stall at the side of the road owned by a lovely Khmer family who ushered us in, sat us down and then tried to stop their stall blowing away. Within minutes they'd tied it all down, scooped up their grilled bush rats and motioned for us to come to their house with them. One guy helped Mat drag the scooter through the mud while the lady slipped off my shoes for me and half dragged, half carried me down a steep, slippery slope. Then when we were under the shelter, she washed my flip flops off before I could tell her it didn't matter. The thunder was so loud that every time it rumbled, they would all cover their ears, squeeze their eyes shut and drop to the floor in terror. they asked us to sleep over a couple of times which was so sweet but all I could think about was a hot shower and a comfy bed. We politely declined and forced them to take a few dollars for helping us which they refused to take until Mat left it on a chair and ran away. The rain finally eased up enough for us to ride back into town but it was still pretty scary with the lightning cracking in front of us. We made it back without injury and we're just packing our bags to go back to Thailand tomorrow.

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This photo just doesn't do the storm justice at all!

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The family trying to stop their stall blowing away

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Called "norry" by the locals, the bamboo train is a unique and creative form of transport. It consists of a small motorcycle engine-powered bamboo platform that rides on the railway tracks picking up and dropping off passengers, cargo, animals and motorcycles along the way. When it meets another bamboo train coming the other way the least laden train can be disassembled and taken off the rails in a minute or two allowing the other to pass. It is then reassembled and the journey can continue. The rail tracks are in a pretty poor shape and there are very few "normal" trains operating these days. Virtually all visitors to Battambang have a go on the bamboo train - it is an unforgettable experience and best done in the early evening when the sun isn't so high. Catch it while you can as plans are afoot to upgrade the line and introduce a more conventional train service - Copyright bambuhotel.com

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Locals at the end of the track who were happy enough to pose for a picture, probably because we'd just bought 2 drinks, 2 vests and a gazillion bracelets

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Our driver

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Bears only, soz

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Bats!

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Delux Villa in Battambang. Think the temp was about 40 degrees on this day

Saturday 9th May

Looks like the storm followed us to Ko Chang! Gutted. it is definitely our favourite Thai island though. It's covered in jungle and the beaches are beautiful. Plus its coming into low season now and its quiet so I'm looking forward to a relaxing week before we head over to Corfu for Nat and Damon's wedding. What a perfect way to end our trip.

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Wakey wakey, eggs and bakey!

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The most measly piece of bacon ever seen

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Downpour

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Ten minutes after the downpour

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Another frog

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This cat did not give a shit

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Beautiful scenes on Ko Chang Island

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Cringey scooter selfie

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Mat getting a tattoo. Can of coke for when he almost passes out and needs some sugar

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Bua from Gu Bay Ink

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My map of Cambodia tattoo. Yes I know it looks a bit like a guinea pig...

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Mat's tattoo

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Massaman curry at Paul's Restaurant

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Long beach

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Getting giddy on our last few days in Bangkok

Posted by jayandmat2015 10:15 Archived in Cambodia Tagged cambodia kampot phnom_penh siem_reap sihanoukville kep battambang ko_rong_samloem Comments (0)

5) Vietnam

Vietnam

Vietnam was unbelievable, it became our favourite very quickly. I honestly feel like we didn't waste a single minute here. We packed even more into our already tight itinerary and not even a moment felt like a chore. The contrast between the hectic cities and slow pace of the country was incredible. We went from calm to busy and back again, so never felt burnt out. We felt euphoric for a month. Even before we had got off the plane we'd been befriended by a Vietnamese lady and when we got lost in Hanoi we were helped immediately without them wanting anything in return. It was refreshing to feel so looked after and because I felt so comfortable, I pushed myself to do things I never thought I could. We were lucky to be able to share lots of this country with Sinéad and Barry who we met on the Halong Bay boat trip. The only downside for me was the food. I really struggled to get anything tasty and vegetarian because vegetarianism is almost unheard of in Vietnamese culture. Pretty much if it moves, they eat it. Mat loved beautiful Hoi An the most, with its charming, crumbly buildings and winding streets. Cycling around on our battered, old bicycles in the sunshine, I felt like we should have been in a holiday brochure. Sapa in North Vietnam was my favourite. What I thought I would like the most before I came travelling was being on a beach, having the sun on my face, palm trees swaying around me, a swanky hotel. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely do like those things, but for some reason Sapa just touched my heart. It rained constantly for the whole time we were there, I was freezing and we were in a hostel. Maybe it was because it was such a stark contrast to the previous four months and I was ready for something different. Maybe it was because it hadn't originally been on our itinerary, I didn't know what to expect and it took me by surprise. I used to hate surprises until this trip!

Monday 23rd March - Day 101 - Sapa

Sapa, WOW! Chess got us a room with an amazing view at the hostel, it's unbelievable. You can watch the mist clear and then creep in again, swallowing up the valley and the mountains. The weather's pretty rubbish, it's like rainy England but it's nice to be able to breathe for a while and I've dug out my favourite snuggly joggers from the depths of my backpack. The hostel's ace, I feel like we're at a ski lodge. The flight from Laos was fine, it was only 40 minutes but it was either that or a 24 hour bus ride which is commonly known throughout South East Asia as 'the bus journey from hell.' We got a bus from the airport to Hanoi which is MENTAL, then hung around the hostel where we were getting our sleeper bus to Sapa from. The seats weren't allocated on this sleeper, so there were a tense few moments where everyone pretended not to be bothered about that and we all put on our nonchalant face. Then came the mad stampede as soon as the door opened. We managed to get beds next to each other and I slept fine although they were very different to what we'd been used to in Laos. We awoke in a bus station at 6am to find lots of local *Hmong ladies peering in at us which was a bit unnerving but pretty comical! As we got off the bus they tried to get us to commit to going to their village with them but there was no chance I was going to do that without speaking to Chess first.

  • Hmong are an ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. Hmong are also one of the sub-groups of the Miao ethnicity in southern China. Hmong groups began a gradual southward migration in the 18th century due to political unrest and to find more arable land. Vietnamese Hmong women continuing to wear 'traditional' clothing tend to source much of their clothing as 'ready to wear' cotton (as against traditional hemp) from markets, though some add embroidery as a personal touch. In Sapa, now with a 'standardised' clothing look, Black Hmong sub-groups have differentiated themselves by adopting different headwear; those with a large comb embedded in their long hair (but without a hat) call themselves Tao, those with a pillbox hat name themselves Giay, and those with a checked headscarf are Yao. For many, such as Flower Hmong, the heavily beaded skirts and jackets are manufactured in China.

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The sleeper bus from Hanoi to Sapa. Three rows of two high bunk beds with nowhere to put your daypack, far too short for most Westerners and doesn't recline enough at all. Still, I can sleep anywhere!

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Chess pretending to be busy

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The view from our room

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Sapa lake

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Sapa Mist

Tuesday 24th March - Day 102 - Sapa

Just got back from a day trek with the Hmong. We were going to go with the hostel which was about $75 dollars each but there was no one else booked on it and I wasn't convinced about staying over at their house, especially as the weather was so bad. The only good thing about the Sapa weather was that it was so cold our drinking water stayed at a great temperature. Chess had a Hmong lady friend called Susu who she arranged to collect us from the hostel. We could walk to her village which Chess told us was five minutes away and then spend the day with them, experiencing their village life and sampling their food all for $10 each. When we met Susu, she told us 'Susu too many poo poo' (diarrhoea!) and that we would be well looked after by her sister Summi instead. Summi was a sweet little thing that spoke excellent English. They improve their English through conversing with tourists as a large part of their income comes from us. Turns out their village wasn't five minutes away, it was a four hour trek. Thanks Chess. I couldn't have been any more inappropriately dressed in trainer socks, my vans, leggings and a small hoody. Luckily we'd bought thin, plastic ponchos half an hour earlier because the rain was borderline torrential for most of the four hours. We trekked up a mountain, around it and then down for a while, passing three villages before we got to Summi's house. We were soaked and freezing and upon reflection I am definitely glad we didn't stay the night! Summi's family cooked us a lovely lunch of tofu curry, rice, noodles and veggie spring rolls and then we looked at some photo's from around the village as it was too wet and slippy to be traipsing around any longer. We looked at some of their homemade handicrafts and I bought two little bags and a purse because I'm fed up of carrying our money around in a plastic bag. There's always that moment in situations like this where you worry that you will be pressured or feel obliged to buy some of their things, politely decline and then the mood will be soured. Luckily they were things I wanted. After lunch, Summi walked us further down the mountain to wait for our motorbike taxi's to take us back to our hostel. Now there have been some hairy moments travelling up until now, reckless drivers, dangerous mountain roads etc. But if I'd have known that the next 20 minutes would be spent thinking I was going to die, I would have insisted she got us a taxi, no matter the cost. 20 minutes is a long time to think you are going to die. The bike sped off with me on the back clinging on for dear life. Think about a road you have seen in really bad condition. Times that by about a million and you're not even close to what he was driving us over. I'd have had a hard time walking along it in walking boots. Add some torrential rain, a foot of mud, hairpin bends with no barriers, a drop of 1000 feet to the left, on coming traffic with no lights, fog so thick you can barely see your hand in front of your face and your motorbike taxi driver driving at a gazillion mph. I was so scared I couldn't even squeak out a protest. When we reached Sapa, I got off the bike and I could barely stand. I was almost positive I'd filled my pants. The moment that I saw Mat's little face, frozen with terror appear over the hill on the back of the other bike, was the happiest day of my life so far.

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Teeeeeeny Summi our Hmong guide

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Summi's house. There wasn't much furniture but it was so clean

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Mat drinking Vietnamese Green Tea in Summi's indoor sandals

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Delicious lunch of tofu and noodles in broth, steamed rice and veggie spring rolls. Probably some of the best Vietnamese food we had

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Mat's soggy little face about 3 hours into our trek

Monday 30th March - Day 108 - Hanoi/Halong Bay/Hué

Love Hanoi. It's absolutely crazy. Bikes and scooters everywhere, we're getting better at crossing roads though. Well Mat is, I just let him drag me around. Don't think I could have spent longer than three nights here though, it's exhausting! We visited the Women's Museum, Hoa Lo Prison, Hoan Kiem Lake and just wandered around on the first day. The next day we did a Hanoi Street Food Tour which was pretty good. For Mat anyway, I mostly ended up with egg done every which way. Yawn. Then we went to the Water Puppet Theatre show which was good to experience but I couldn't have watched anymore than 50 minutes. You can tell that the performers get bored of doing it every single night cos they'll just have a chat between themselves mid performance.
The next day we set off on our overnight trip to *Halong Bay. This was the trip we were advised to spend a bit more on or we could end up on a rat infested ship with a cockroach infested room. We decided on A Class Cruises and weren't disappointed. The room was great and the scenery breathtaking and we met a lovely couple called Sinéad and Barry from Ireland.
We're in Hué now after getting the 14 hour sleeper bus from Hanoi. At about 6am the flush on the toilet broke and so the toilet overflowed, flooding the toilet floor and filling the bus with an almighty stench. I couldn't believe people were still using it and then walking back down the bus with their pissy socks. 12 hours is a long time to go without using the facilities but somehow I managed.
Our hotel room for the night is a bit like a prison cell, it doesn't even have a window but tomorrow the owner said we can change rooms tomorrow to one with a window AND a double bed, score! It's only £6 a night though and the owner is so lovely.

  • Hạ Long Bay (literally: "descending dragon bay") is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a popular travel destination, in Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. The evolution of the karst in this bay has taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate. The geo-diversity of the environment in the area has created biodiversity, including a tropical evergreen biosystem, oceanic and sea shore biosystem. Hạ Long Bay is home to 14 endemic floral species and 60 endemic faunal species.

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Hanoi. I could have spent hours wandering around the streets in the old quarter

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At night, everyone sits outside on the streets on little plastic chairs drinking locally brewed beer

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Locally brewed beer, Beer HOI. You have to say the the word 'hoi' with a rising intonation (think Jools Holland introducing bands... Radio.....HEAD!) If you say it wrong, we were told it would mean smelly beer. The beer is brewed fresh every day and contains no chemicals or preservatives and costs the equivalent of 15p for a glass

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The Women's Museum. This Museum is dedicated to the Vietnamese Women. More than 1000 materials, photos and objects displayed in the permanent exhibition show the role the Vietnamese women played in the History and currently play in Arts and in the Family life. The museum also organizes thematic exhibitions to show changes and development of the contemporary society

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Hoa Lo Prison. Hỏa Lò Prison was a prison used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners, and later by North Vietnam for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. The prison was demolished during the 1990s, though the gatehouse remains as a museum

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Miss Moon our Hanoi Steet Food Tour Guide. She was SO cute

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Some of the food we sampled

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Nothing too crazy. No water bugs or owt. Mostly just oodles of noodles

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Tour Group

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This is a Vietnamese coffee with raw egg. You know what, it's probably not even that bad but I just couldn't get over the fact it had raw egg in it. Plus the cup smelt a bit funny so I couldn't manage it

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Water Puppet Theatre. Water puppetry is a tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. Today's Vietnamese water puppetry is a unique variation on the ancient Asian puppet tradition. The puppets are made out of wood and then lacquered. The shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A large rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers, who are normally hidden behind a screen, to control them. Thus the puppets appear to be moving over the water. When the rice fields would flood, the villagers would entertain each other using this form of puppet play

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Our boat

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The dining room

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Our cabin

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Beautiful Halong Bay

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Kayaking around the floating village

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Sunset at Halong Bay

Thursday 2nd April - Day 110 - Hué/Hoi An

Had an unbelievable couple of days. We met up with Sinéad and Barry in Hué who we met on the cruise in Halong Bay. Over dinner one night we discussed all the options for scootering to Hoi An via the *Hai Van Pass. Would we ride ourselves or on the back of an Easy a Ride guide? Would I even be able to ride a scooter after my little incident in Pai? Had Uncle Tom prepared me enough? My cautious, sensible side came out straight away when we discussed not doing it through a tour. What if there was an accident? How would we get to hospital? WHAT IF WE GOT LOST??? We decided that we would take some scooters out to a coastal road so we could practice then decide what to do. I was absolutely blown away by Sinéad's confidence and ability to ride a scooter immediately. I shouldn't have been really, sometimes I forget that not everyone is as useless as me. I felt ok practicing on the back roads but still hadn't felt confident enough to ride on a main road with traffic. In the end we decided to do it ourselves, 4 scooters, no guide, 200km of unknown terrain. I dunno what's happened to me as I've got older, I've become less willing to take risks and put myself out of my comfort zone, quite sad really. I hate that things that wouldn't have fazed me at 18 now scare the life out of me. I woke up at 6am on the day of travel and burst into tears and dry wretched for a while. I even considered riding all the way on the back of Mat's scooter but pulled myself together at the last minute. Riding out of the city at 7:30am was hard. It was a busy main road and very intense but once we'd navigated out of the city and onto the coastal road I loosened up a bit and even started to enjoy myself. The other guys were absolutely fine which made me even more determined not be a wet lettuce. We saw some unbelievable scenery and rural Vietnamese life. Villages, graveyards, temples, the greenest rice paddies I have ever seen. The ride along the Hai Van Pass was pretty quiet and at that point I felt absolute, total contentment. However that soon gave way to absolute, total panic as we entered the city of Da Nang. If I'd have known beforehand what we would be riding through there is no way I'd have had the guts to do it, so it's a good job we didn't know. Most crossings and junctions aren't traffic lighted in Vietnam so you have about 1000 vehicles from 4 directions all coming at each other. Trying to keep together as a group was impossible, plus they drive on the right over here so there was that to think about too. We all adopted the 'beep & go' mentality like everyone else and somehow we all made it to Hoi An alive.
Within five minutes of being in Hoi An, we've decided that we should extend our stay. I am so excited to be here, our homestay is gorgeous and I can't wait to get out and explore. Mat's eager to rent scooters as soon as possible but I need to recover first!

  • The Hải Vân Pass crosses over a spur of the Trường Sơn (Annamite) Range that emerges from the west and juts into the South China Sea, forming the Hải Vân Peninsula and the adjoining Son Tra Island. The pass, which once formed the boundary between the kingdoms of Đại Việt and Champa, also forms a boundary between the climates of northern and southern Vietnam, sheltering the city of Da Nang from the "Chinese winds" that blow in from the northwest. During the winter months (November–March), for instance, weather on the north side of the pass might be wet and cold, while the south side might be warm and dry. The pass is renowned for its scenic beauty. Presenter Jeremy Clarkson, host of the BBC motoring programme Top Gear, featured the pass during the show's 2008 Vietnam Special, calling the road "a deserted ribbon of perfection—one of the best coast roads in the world.

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Rice paddies and villages on the coastal road out of Hué

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House made out of straw

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A beautiful village temple

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A beach we stopped off at for breakfast on the way to the pass

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Scooter selfie

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The Hai Van Pass

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This is when I actually started to enjoy myself a bit and stopped being so scared of my scooter

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'Everybody smile like I just told a hilarious joke'

Tuesday 7th April - Day 115 - Hoi An/Nha Trang

Spent a fantastic 5 nights in Hoi An. It's very touristy, reminded me of Galle in Sri Lanka in that respect but a lovely little town nonetheless. An Bang beach was nice and one day we visited Marble Mountain with Sinéad and Barry. Other than that we mostly relaxed and spent time eating in the old quarter. Mat had a suit made. I was dubious at first, especially as it was $200 but he looks so amazing I almost shed a tear.
We got the sleeper bus to Nha Trang last night. I'd changed my mind about coming here because I'd heard bad things but we've had to use it as a stop off on the way to Dalat. It seems ok, we've got a beach but no culture and it caters predominantly for Russian holiday makers. The temp in Dalat at the moment is 22 degrees which will be a nice break from the heat and humidity of the coast.

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Thu Bon River in Hoi An

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Japanese Pagoda Bridge built by Japanese craftsmen who were part of a large community of Japanese merchants in Hoi An in the 17th Century

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There were lanterns everywhere and when it was dark the streets looked beautiful

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One of many gorgeous little shops

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Mat putting a lantern into the river for good luck and probably killing some fish too

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The cave at Marble Mountain

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Marble Mountain is a cluster of five marble and limestone hills located in Ngu Hanh Son ward, south of Da Nang city in Vietnam. The five 'mountains' are named after the five elements; Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire) and Tho (earth). All of the mountains have cave entrances and numerous tunnels, and it is possible to climb to the summit of one of the peaks. Several buddhist sanctuaries can also be found within the mountains, making this a famous tourist destinatioN

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Fishing boats at An Bang beach

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Mat's friend at the beach. She absolutely loved him!

Tuesday 16th April - Day 124 - Dalat

I'm writing this at the ferry port in Rach Gia. Mat thinks it's one of the most brutal places he's been so far. I don't think its so bad although some guy has just tried to scam us. We're pretty wise to it now though so he gave up fairly quickly.
In Dalat we had the best time canyoning. This involved trekking through the jungle , abseiling down waterfalls, jumping off cliffs and swimming fully clothed down rivers. It was pretty scary but loads of fun. We tried to hire scooters here but apparently the Police have tightened up on foreigners riding them because of accidents. Supposedly you can only ride a motorised vehicle if you have a Vietnamese driving licence. You can only apply for one of these if you have a minimum of 3 months Visa. As a British passport holder I'm pretty sure you can only get a 30 day a tourist visa. Stupid. Instead we did a 1 day car tour with an Easy Rider who promised to show us 'the real Vietnam." He was a bit weird and we'd seen more of the real Vietnam riding about ourselves.

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Canyoning!

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Our Canyoning instructors from Highland Sport Travel in Dalat. These guys were amazing!

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Hằng Nga guesthouse, popularly known as the “Crazy House" is an unconventional building designed and constructed by Vietnamese architect Đặng Việt Nga. Described as a “fairy tale house”, the building’s overall design resembles a giant tree, incorporating sculptured design elements representing natural forms such as animals, mushrooms, spider webs and caves

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Everybody tucking into their delicious meat dishes on the tour and I got brought a plate of stir fried cabbage. Seriously, it's like they punish you for not eating meat or fish out here

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But it was ok because I'd just been put off eating any kind of food for the rest of my life after seeing this. Snakes are widely believed to possess medicinal qualities and the wine is often advertised to cure everything from farsightedness to hair loss, as well as to increase sexual performance. In Vietnam, snake wine is widely believed by some individuals to improve health and virility. A similar drink is made with geckos or sea horses rather than snakes. Snake wine, due to its high alcohol percentage, is traditionally drunk in short glasses. Braver drinkers may eat certain parts of the snake such as the gall bladder, the eyeballs and stomach. There's also a bird, feathers and all in the one on the left. The shop owner told me they are put in alive. DISGUSTING

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A lady making scarves and sarongs. I was straight in and out of this shop with a brusque 'no thank you' whereas Sinéad is really nice and got talked into buying more stuff. Often it works in my favour to have such a scowly face and frosty demeanour

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Elephant Falls

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A villagers house

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With its year-round cool weather, Da Lat supplies temperate agriculture products for all over Vietnam, for example: cabbage and cauliflower. Its flower industry produces two typical flowers: hydrangea and golden everlasting. The confectionery industry offers a wide range of mứt, a kind of fruit preserve made from strawberry, mulberry, sweet potato, and rose

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Flower farm

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Pagoda

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Construction worker breaking down rocks with a hammer. They do this all day in the hot sun

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Fish stall. Gets a bit whiffy when it's sat there in the heat all day

Wednesday 17th April - Day 125 - Ho Chi Minh City/Can Tho

After Dalat we took a bus to Ho Chi Minh City. For me it was too busy to be overly enjoyable. I was exhausted with having to think about not getting killed by people riding on the pavement or worrying about having my bag snatched (Saigon is notorious for this) We visited the War Remnants Museum. It was insightful and brutal but I'm never sure how much is fact or propaganda in any museum I've visited anywhere. There were tourists posing next to the tanks and planes. Sticking their tongues out, grinning and giving thumbs up and peace signs. It just didn't sit right with me... 'Look how much fun I'm having with these machines that killed thousands of Vietnamese people...' After that we went to see the Cu Chi Tunnels. At best this was an average trip. Our guide talked us through in explicit detail all the traps the Viet Cong used to 'kill American Soldier,' his face full of glee. After that treat, there was a shooting range for tourists which continued to glamourise the war and showed us how cool and exciting it was to fire a gun. I sat down and ate my ice cream with the sound of gunfire ringing in my ears.
I was glad to be out of HCMC but as we drove into Can Tho, it looked like another scruffy, busy town. I was wrong, and we've spent a nice two nights there with Sinéad and Barry. One morning we did a trip along the Mekong to see the sunrise and the floating markets. It was really interesting and our guide was adorable. I asked her a few questions about communism and the North/South divide which she assured me was still there. I'd been wanting to get a locals opinion about the politics of the country since we arrived in Vietnam, but this was the first time anyone's English had been good enough, because I'm a lazy Brit that doesn't speak Vietnamese.
Last night we had leaving drinks with Sinéad and Barry as we've parted ways today. It's ben so much fun travelling with them and we're already planning our trip to Ireland in the summer. I'm excited to be spending our last days in Vietnam on Phu Quoc Island. I'm expecting big things. Deserted beaches of fine white sand and turquoise waters. I've been known to be wrong though.

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A chopper at The War Remnants Museum

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A tank at The War Remnants Museum

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The tunnels of Củ Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Củ Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Củ Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, and were the Viet Cong's base of operations for the Tết Offensive in 1968. The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped to counter the growing American military effort

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I was ambushed by the guide with a camera coming out of the tunnels here

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Tried to get a picture of the scooter madness in Ho Chi Minh City but it doesn't do it justice at all. This city is best experienced yourself to fully understand how insane it is

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Caught in a torrential downpour. I love rain, Mat's not convinced

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Floating Villages in Can Tho

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Our Captain

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This is how the markets advertise their goods so that everyone can see them

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The market starts in the early hours of the morning so it was winding down by the time we got there at 6am

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Our boat and wonderful guide

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Barry, Sinéad and me

Monday 20th April - Day 128 - Phu Quoc Island

Phu Quoc was mostly beautiful. Our hotel was on the east of the island so away from the busy town of Duong Dong. But close to Sao beach. We'd heard about rubbish being all over the beaches of Phu Quoc so we had low expectations. However, the sand was white and powdery and the sea the clearest, most beautiful turquoise colour. There was very little rubbish and the worst thing we had to contend with were the local builders staring every time they had a break. No biggie, we're used to being blatantly stared at and ridiculed by Vietnamese locals by now! Our hotel was only 2 months old and they were constructing a resort behind it. Mat got electrocuted on the bathroom light on the day we arrived, so they let us use the resort pool which they had barely finished. I reckon they they felt guilty. Again, local builders gawping, but whatever. We got a scooter and headed along the western coastal road one day. We passed lovely little villages with ramshackle houses along deserted beaches. Then we got to the thing that will ultimately spoil this little island. Development. Miles and miles of monstrous resorts being built on top of people's homes. There will be nothing charming and traditional about Phu Quoc in 10 years I guarantee it. Absolute tragedy.

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Behind our hotel there was a country road leading to a pagoda and a small beach. One morning we got up to watch the sunrise. It was a bit cloudy but the beach was deserted and it was so calm, I loved it

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Phu Quoc Prison was built in 1949-1950 by the French colonists and then later by the U.S. led Southern Vietnamese puppet regime. to jail those considered especially dangerous to the colonist government. Many of the high ranking leaders of Vietnam were detained here. It is ranked a special historical relic of national importance by the government of Vietnam. The prison was closed after the country united and just opened for visitors later

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Red Cross team visited Phu Quoc Prison in 1969 and 1972. They found that there had been savage and systematic torture of prisoners of war for a long time. They found traces of corporal punishments against prisoners of war like electrical shock and food deprivation

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Beautiful Sao Beach. This was probably our favourite beach in all our travels

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The water was the clearest I have ever seen

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Pool area at Kinh Bac Hotel

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Ride along the dusty back roads looking for somewhere to have a beer and watch the sunset

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This is one of the things I will miss the most

Miscellaneous photos

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Alas, we didn't get one of these

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I love you too

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You're not a real traveller unless you've got loads of douchey bracelets

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This is Mat eating noodles

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This is a guy in Hué who is deaf and can't speak and who communicates by sign language to all his customers. He owns a restaurant and cooks awesome food and gives everyone a free bottle opener. Si and Vicki got one when they went to Vietnam so Mat dragged us a million miles across the city for one

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Vietnam/Cambodia border crossing

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Egg Mud Bath in Nha Trang

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Posted by jayandmat2015 17:18 Archived in Vietnam Tagged vietnam sapa saigon hanoi hue dalat hoi an ho_chi_minh_city phu_quoc nha_trang can_tho hai_van_pass Comments (0)

4) Laos

Laos

We are so torn when it comes to how we feel about Laos. The long boat ride was brilliant and we loved Luang Prabang. The time we spent in Kasi with Uncle Tom was unbelievable and the Lao landscape and scenery was some of the most beautiful I have ever seen in my life. But as we went South we were less charmed by the country and we felt the people were less friendly, no doubt jaded by the types of tourists we ourselves try to avoid. I would never go back to Vang Vieng, nor would I recommend it to anyone looking for a nice place to visit. The capital Vientiane was fine. Just a city with no surprises nice or otherwise. 4000 Islands, namely Don Det, was such a disappointment. Now we love nature and getting back to basics, but everyone on that island needs to contribute to cleaning it up. If I could sum it up in one word it would be 'spoiled.' It probably used to be very beautiful. It is no surprise that I got sick on Don Det because I feel that basic hygiene is lacking around the island. If you are set on visiting 4000 Islands, skip Don Det and choose Don Khong or Don Khon. I am grateful to Laos for the friends we made, but it is not a country we will be rushing back to.

Day 84 - Thursday 5th March - Pakbeng/Luang Prabang

The process of crossing the border from Thailand happened quickly and without incident and then we were in Huay Xai in Laos. We boarded a boat to begin our 2 day slow boat journey down the Mekong River. I popped a travel sickness tablet just before the boat set off so I mostly slept and took some pictures of the beautiful scenery when I woke up. I should probably add that it's not my intention to be missing out on all these amazing scenes, I just can't risk feeling like I did on the way to Pai and these bloody things knock me out!
We had an overnight stay in the village of Pakbeng. Upon first impressions it was a bit like a scene from the film Silent Hill, especially after sunset. We'd read loads of bad reviews about the guesthouses here. Because everybody who takes the slow boat has no choice but to stop here, we'd read that the service was non existent, the food terrible and that there were frequent robbings from guesthouse rooms. We did some research and booked ahead at a place called DP's. It cost a little more but was really nice and had dinner and breakfast included and the shower was great, which is apparently uncommon in Laos. We had a drink with Inti and Gabby then got an early night. The next morning we boarded the boat early and got a better seat with a table. We ended up sitting with travel companions Kat from Canada and Rich from Canterbury. We spent the morning getting to know each other, chatting and playing cards. Early afternoon, a houseboat went past and it was HUGE. This created a MASSIVE wave that washed over the side of the boat and soaked everyone on the left from head to toe (this was mostly us) For a split second we all just sat looking at each other, water dripping off our playing cards and noses and then the boat sprang into action. People's bags were all over the floor with their electricals in, mobiles were on the tables, money in pockets. Some poor guy was working on his laptop when it hit. Nobody was hurt however and we were lucky that neither of our phones had been out at that time. Half the boat stripped off and we hung all our clothes up to dry. Don't think the laptop made it though.
After another full day on the boat we docked and travelled to Luang Prabang with Kat and Rich. Over the next couple of days we hung out with them and Sam Hopkins who had made his way over from Vietnam. Last night Mat and I went for dinner with Kat, Rich, Inti and Gabby. They had a DIY BBQ thing which was pretty cool and I sat and ate my vegetable rice (no seafood!) After that we went to a cool bar called Utopia but didn't have a late one because Laos has a curfew of 23:30. Rich has gone South to Vang Vieng today, Kat goes there tomorrow and Inti and Gabby go North. We have a bus in the morning to a little village called Ban Na before we start our two day motorbike lessons and tour.

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Getting on the slow boat in Laos

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Scenes of the River Mekong

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What is better than a beer in the sun, on a boat, with friends?

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Trying to dry our clothes after the wave hit

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Welcome to Pakbeng! Just kidding....

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Kuang Si Falls - Luang Prabang. You can swim in the pools although the water is freezing!

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Mat, Sam, Inti and Gabby

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Sam, Kat, Rich and Mat

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Mat sticking his finger up as usual

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*Photograph by Inti Herteleer*

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Rich, Sam and Mat

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*Photograph by Inti Herteleer*

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*Photograph by Inti Herteleer*

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BBQ

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Luang Prabang Markets

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Sam and Mat at Mount Phousi

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Mount Phousi sunset - Luang Prabang

Day 85 - Friday 6th March - Ban Na

We've just been dumped at an intersection by the bus driver and had to trek 3km in the blistering sun through little villages IN FLIPFLOPS to get to our guesthouse. It's in the middle of nowhere and is the only guesthouse for miles. The walk was really beautiful though and the villagers all called hello to us as we passed. Our guesthouse is a hut full of spiders with an icy trickle for a shower, no fan or a/c, very authentic. *Flashpackers my arse. Mat's just chilling in his hammock overlooking the river and chatting with the only other people in the guesthouse, who are also in their hammocks. It's all very relaxing! There is a French-Canadian couple with their son and a Hawaiian/American couple with their two children. All the kids are being schooled by the parents whilst they're on the road. These children tear arse around shoeless, playing in the river, making rafts, catching frogs, experiencing real life and culture everywhere they go. They are absolutely fearless and I have no doubt that all of them will grow up to be amazing people.

  • Flashpackers - Flashpacking is a neologism used to refer to affluent backpackers. Whereas backpacking is traditionally associated with budget travel and destinations that are relatively cheap, flashpacking has an association of more disposable income while traveling and has been defined simply as backpacking with a bigger budget (This is what Kat labelled us!)

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The beginning of our trek to Nola's Guesthouse

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Beautiful scenes of rice and vegetable paddies

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A lady fishing

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Nola's Guesthouse

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The family's kitchen where we cooked ourselves breakfast

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Icy trickle

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Ammock

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Our wooden hut at Nola's

Day 86 - Saturday 7th March - Kasi Town

We've had an absolutely surreal day today. Right now I'm in our room at Uncle Tom's Guesthouse, listening to Mat and Tom in the bar singing Al Green's 'Let's get it on' on karaoke. I've never felt so far out of my comfort zone and far away from home and I absolutely love it. We left Nola's Guesthouse today in a flagged down car full of Lao people who absolutely pissed themselves at our 'Sa bai dee!' We paid the driver 20000Kip to drop us at the intersection. From there the intention was to hitch hike so we flagged down a pick up truck and tried to explain where we needed to be. Somehow we managed to get there using only 3 phrases. Sa bai dee! (Hello) khop chai (thank you) and han ping pet (BBQ duck house)
We're doing a two day dirt bike course with Uncle Tom. He's a lovely Welsh guy that teaches idiots like me to ride a motorbike. I've gone from riding a scooter into a ditch to riding an enduro bike with gears around. It's way more complex than twist and go but Mat's absolutely nailing it. He's been riding Gary (small bike) on the road today while I've been Tom's passenger. But then Mat rode the big yellow bike (called Red) around the paddock this afternoon which means if I do well tomorrow, I can take Gary onto a road and Mat can ride Red.

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The filthy truck we hitch hiked in

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Uncle Tom, what a guy!

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Mat and his finger again

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Me taking it all very seriously

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This is right before I set off and immediately stalled it

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We drove through some beautiful Lao villages

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Mat and Tom doing Karaoke

Day 87 - Sunday 8th March - Vang Vieng

As we left Tom and got in the tuk tuk to the bus station, Mat said 'I feel really sad leaving him' and I started to cry and Mat was welling up too. Tom was one of the most fantastic people we have ever have had the pleasure of spending time with and we felt like we were leaving our best friend. I can imagine that everyone who has to say goodbye to him feels like this. We've said goodbye to a lot of people over the last few months but this was easily the hardest and we'd only known him 2 days!
We got to Vang Vieng and had a wander round, what a shit hole.
Here is a really well written article that sums up Vang Vieng perfectly http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/apr/07/vang-vieng-laos-party-town
Thank god we've only got 2 nights here. We went for a drink and some dinner but I had a really bad allergic reaction to something so we cancelled our order and left. I was fine this morning so we decided to go tubing. Now don't get me wrong, back in the day, Mat and I liked a party, but we're knocking on 30 now and we're a bit over 'happy pizza's.' However, we couldn't really come to Vang Vieng and not do the very thing it's famous for. So what happened that day, is that I think we smashed the record for 'tubing completed in the fastest time in dry season' and 'least amount of alcoholic drinks consumed whilst tubing.' We hopped in our tuk tuk with loads of rough, awful British people, talking about getting effed up and doing mushrooms and we just cringed and died. We got in the river and immediately heard the thump thump of terrible music from the first bar. As we neared it, people were shouting for us to stop so we could get our first beers of the day. We just ignored them and carried on and this happened at all the next bars as we floated by. They must have thought we were super boring, but if getting drunk at 11am with a load of douchebags on a smelly river with the loudest music ever, makes me boring, then I absolutely am. Oh god I've turned into my parents.
In summary, I enjoyed looking at the stunning scenery while floating down a river with my bottle of water. I didn't enjoy my arse dragging on rocks due to the low water level though. It must have been absolutely brutal before they shut down most of the bars. Another good thing about doing it so early and fast, was that there no other awful tubers about. My personal opinion, don't bother tubing, get a kayak instead.

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Best part about tubing were the amazing views

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Worst part about tubing was everything else

Day 93 - Saturday 14th March - Vientiane

Vientiane was fine, didn't need three nights though and it was the hottest place we'd been so far. So glad we had a/c or we'd have never left our room knowing we didn't have some respite rom the heat to come back to. One day we walked the city and looked at wats, one day we spent at a public pool with Sam Hopkins and another day we visited the *COPE Centre which was very hard to see but also very enlightening.
We're on 4000 Islands at the moment and considering all the effort it took to get here I'm not sure it was worth it yet. Stupidly, I booked us a room without a/c. No amount of tears and pleading and playing the asthma card got us a refund to enable us to move hotels. So it looks like we're stuck in this hot box for the next five nights. We've just had breakfast in a scruffy little eatery where there was a huge cockroach being devoured by a million ants under our table. The waitress scooped it up, binned it and then served us our food. Then we listened to a guy behind us proclaiming loudly about the ants in his baguette which I wish I hadn't heard. How does that joke go...?
'Waiter, waiter! There's an ant in my food,'
'Well don't wave it about or everyone will want one,'
So then there was a mad rush to the kitchen for ant infested baguettes.
Then the guy started talking about how one of the girls had got drunk and done a shit in the street in Vang Vieng. After they'd finished that delightful conversation, one of them decided he was going to jump into the river from the cafe window until the waitress cottoned on and stopped him. No wonder the locals are frosty towards tourists here. What I've found whilst travelling is that most tourists are douchebags and deserve ants in their baguettes. Every night after the bars close, the travellers head to the 'beach' and build a fire and sit around it. The firewood is collected from anywhere people can get it from. I watched people carrying wood from the island and dumping it on the fire. A few minutes later, a local would be carrying it back with a resigned, dejected look on their face because it had been a piece of their fence, or house or shop. Tomorrow we're hiring bikes and getting away from this part of the island!

  • COPE Centre - COPE was created in response to the need to provide UXO survivors with the care and support they required, namely by way of orthotic and prosthetic devices.

COPE is now a local not-for-profit organisation that works in partnership with the Centre of Medical Rehabilitation (CMR) and provincial rehabilitation centres to provide access to both orthotic/prosthetic devices and rehabilitation services, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy and paediatric services to people with disabilities.

In the Vietnam/America War, over 270 million cluster submunitions were dropped on Laos by America to destroy the Ho Chi Minh Trail and supply routes to Northern Vietnam. One-third of the bombs failed to detonate on impact and have since claimed an average of 500 lives a year. Only 1% of Laos has so far been cleared of these bombs. It is absolutely heartbreaking. I would urge you to read into this, before we got to Laos we had little understanding of the Vietnam/American War, it really opened our eyes.

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Unexploded bombs that were safely detonated and are now on display at the COPE Visitor Centre in Luang Prabang

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Prosthetics used by people injured by UXO's now on display at COPE Visitor Centre in Vientiane

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A Wat in Vientiane

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Statues of Buddha

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The Victory Gate - Vientiane. War monument dedicated to this who fought in the struggle for independence from France

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Nightmarket

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Mat at Joma Café. This café gives 2% of every sale to charitable organisations in the local community. They also work with NGO's to provide job training and employment opportunities to disadvantaged people and victims of human rights abuse. Plus they did great food and coffee

Day 98 - Thursday 19th March - 4000 Islands

If I had any advice to people visiting 4000 Islands it would be to:-
A) Get somewhere with aircon so you don't die of heat exposure
B) Don't stay on Don Det or at least stay at the South end of the island away from the main strip and,
C) Don't eat anything for the entire time you are there
We rode to Don Khon to see the waterfalls and it's loads nicer. It also has a beautiful beach although you're not allowed to swim because of currents. If it hadn't have been for Kat and Rich staying on Don Det I wouldn't have stayed there a moment longer than I had to. We spent one day at a really nice pool on the South of the island. I was feeling great and then I ate my lunch. As soon as I put my fork down, my stomach ballooned and I felt horrendous and I knew we had to get out of there. Now I've done in depth courses about food safety and the causes of food poisoning because of my job so I know the timescales of the onset of symptoms, so I'm not saying it was that. BUT, something in that food instantly disagreed with me. The next 18 hours were spent in a haze of green diarrhoea and spicy lentil vomit. I have never felt so ill in my life, made a million times worse by our 38degree room and our impending, inevitably unbearable boat and bus ride the next day.
I chowed down on an Imodium before the boat and it got me through the journey. I was so relieved to be leaving as we sailed away from the rubbish strewn, fire scorched 'beach' and grim, depressing main strip of Don Det.
We're in Pakse now in our air conditioned room, mentally preparing ourselves for our sleeper bus back to Vientiane tonight. On our sleeper bus on the way down we were right at the front, directly opposite the 'toilet' (although that might be useful this time.) It meant that we could smell shit all night and people were grabbing Mat's legs to steady themselves whilst exiting the toilet as the bus swerved about. Also, because the driver had brought his 20 mates with him for the trip and he kept picking up more people, we ended up with half of Laos sat at the foot of our already cramped bed. Then the driver turned the a/c off and it was stiflingly hot until an angry American lady stormed down to the front and made him turn it back on again, giving Mat's leg a quick grab for good measure on the way back to her bed. The driver retaliated by singing loudly for the next 10 hours.
Our first two weeks in Laos were great, but now we're ready to leave. I think because we had such an amazing time at Uncle Tom's, everything that followed has been mostly disappointing.

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The view from Baba's Guesthouse

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Cycling over the Mekong

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Absolutely love this face!

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Waterfalls on Don Khong

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This cat was the nicest thing about Don Det

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Cycling around Don Khong

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The boat outta there!

Miscellaneous photos

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This is a coffee made strong with condensed milk in the bottom and usually found in Vietnam. They were pretty hit and miss throughout most of South East Asia but I had this one in Luang Prabang and it was absolutely perfect

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These were squishy coconut rice pancakes from a street food vendor and were unbelievably tasty. Kat made us try them one night and then we had them every day in Luang Prabang after that

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Here she is making them, then she puts them in a little banana leaf cup

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Tuk tuks in Vientiane. Mat says he didn't filter this but I'm not convinced!

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How about this fake grass on top of the toilet though?

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Squished up in our sleeper bed travelling from Pakse back up North to Vientiane to catch our flight to Vietnam. They still do the peace sign when they pose for pictures over here so think that's why I keep doing it!

Posted by jayandmat2015 10:58 Archived in Laos Tagged laos vientiane luang_prabang pakbeng 4000_islands pakse vang_vieng slow_boat uncle_tom Comments (0)

3) Thailand

Thailand

Thailand was so easy to get around that it was hard not to feel at ease there and I have never seen so many naturally beautiful people in one place before. Not a pair of baggy jeans in sight! Also because pretty much anything goes in Thailand, my tattoos and piercings didn't set me apart from anyone else and no one batted an eyelid at me which was a nice change. I know, I know... I've brought it on myself, yawn. The Islands we visited in the South were fine, but full of holiday makers so prices were inflated and offered little culture. The North was very beautiful and I wish we could have stayed a bit longer in Pai, but by the time we left Thailand I was definitely ready to move on. It was nice to relax, but I felt a bit guilty on the days we did nothing but go to the beach. Thailand just didn't make me feel things the way that India did.

Day 51 - Sat 31st January - Bangkok

I really, really like Bangkok! It does stink though. We had some street food in Khao San Road last night. It was a hot, tasty pad thai and a lot cheaper than a sit down meal. It's all cooked in front of you so you know it's not sitting around cooling down. Probably shouldn't say this but I can't believe I haven't been ill yet. At home I can't even have a Bridge Balti without feeling sick and getting the shits for the next 2 days, but I've felt super duper whilst travelling! Khao San Road is crazy. Lights, music, cocktails and crispy scorpions everywhere. Definitely not our thing but a great experience just wandering around looking at everything. We've booked a bicycle tour of Bangkok for later today which should be interesting seeing as I can barely ride one.

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Khao San Road - The stuff that nightmares are made of

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Pad Thai Street Vendor

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Pad Thai

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Get all your deep fried bugs here

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Tarantualas, scorpions...

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Bangkok Railway Station

Day 56 - Tuesday 5th February - Bangkok/Koh Samui

'Matthew Haigh - Sucking the fun out of museums and king of being underwhelmed by history!' We visited the National Museum of Bangkok which was great and Matthew behaved himself so he got an ice cream for being a good boy.
Then it turned out I wasn't a natural cyclist either! Although to say I haven't been on a bike in about 20 years I did alright in the end. The tour was ace, loads of back alleys and through little neighbourhoods that we would never have seen otherwise. The next day we took a night train to Surat Thani. It was ok, I managed to sleep on the lower bunk a bit but Mat struggled on the top as it was smaller and the light was shining in. Serves him right for demanding the upper bunk when we booked it. After the train we got a coach to the ferry port and then a ferry to Koh Samui and then a mini bus to our hostel. We've got a private room which is probably more expensive than a proper hotel and it's fairly average. We're trying to work out what to do next but there's so much choice and information that we can't decide!

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Some photo's from the National Museum of Bangkok

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Here's Mat, pretending to be interested in this display. We were only ten minutes in here

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Cycling Tour through the streets of Bangkok

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Me feeling sick on the ferry across the river

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Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The Buddha measures 46 metres long and is covered in gold leaf. Wat Pho, the temple complex where the Buddha is housed, is one of the largest and oldest Wat's in Bangkok and is home to more than 1000 images of Buddha

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Sleeper train from Bangkok to Surat Thani

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Mat's tiny top bunk

Day 58 - Thursday 7th February - Koh Samui

We ended up getting a scooter and going to Chaweng beach. The beach itself was really nice, but crowded and the restaurants were expensive. Mat did ace to say he'd never ridden a scooter before and we only had 1 hairy moment when he headed for a ditch wobbling all over the place. I thought we were goners! Although we were probably only going about 20mph the whole journey so we'd have been ok. We must have looked ridiculous. And don't worry Mums and Dads, we both had helmets on! Chaweng was pretty gross at night, reminded me of the Acca and smelled like it too. Loads of tourists. Top heavy, muscly guys who had neglected to do any kind of leg work since they started in the gym. Fisherman's Village in Bophut was nice though, they did a night market one day where Mat managed to buy a guitar. He's played it every day since so I can't really complain too much. Ko Samui overall is overrated and I wouldn't come back.

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Chaweng at night

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Chaweng beach. Nice sand but really crowded

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Mat's soup was nice though

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Cocktails in Bophut Fisherman's Village

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Bophut Beach

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Mat's new guitar

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Another day another burger for Mat. I paid the equivalent of £6 for a fried egg sandwich here...

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Ko Samui ferry and ferry port. Not a bad journey actually. I've heard people say the journey is really uncomfortable but I just slept through it all like I usually do

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Day 61 - Tuesday 10th February - Ko Lanta

Absolutely love Ko Lanta. The beach is beautiful, the sand fine and white and the sea calm. I love our hotel, in fact it might even be my favourite of our trip so far. The wind has blown millions of baby jellyfish on to the shore :( They look like little squishy diamonds. It freaked Mat out and he won't go in the sea now. I went in to cool down but I could feel them all over my skin and it felt weird so I got out. Although I didn't get stung and there were still people swimming.
I'm writing this sat on our balcony at dusk with a beer and thinking about how lucky we are to be able to travel like we have. I can't help feeling annoyed at myself for not doing this sooner and thinking about all the money I've pissed away in pubs in Halifax on average nights out. Anyway I'm here now. We've booked a Thai cooking class for tomorrow night which should be amazing. It's quite expensive but we're allowing ourselves one big thing we really want to do in every place we visit and then just spending our other days on the beach. We're going to Phuket in a few days time and we've got a hotel with a pool because Mat hates sand and he's fed up of constantly finding it everywhere. I'm compiling a mental list of all the things Mat hates since we came out here. Some of them are totally acceptable, such as 'Not having a pocket in my swim shorts' but lots of them are directly related to travelling such as 'the sun' and 'the sea...'

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Ferry from Krabi to Ko Lanta

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Despite not looking very happy here the journey was fairly comfortable and fast

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Mat's legs

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Long Beach, Ko Lanta

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Room with a view at Hotel Dreamy Casa

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Thai reggae band. These guys were amazing

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Tofu red curry and brown rice from our favourite Ko Lanta restaurant, Irie

Day 65 - Saturday 14th February - Rawai, Phuket

The Time for Lime cooking class was awesome! Really enjoyed our time in Ko Lanta overall. The beach was probably my favourite after Tangalle. I feel like we should be getting out and about a bit more but tours cost quite a lot out here, although we've just booked a snorkelling tour to Phi Phi. It wasn't cheap but should be good and I've never done any snorkelling before really. Not sure how Mat's gonna cope in the open water though (because he hates open water. And seaweed. And sharks) We weren't having any luck getting on a privately owned boat trip because we'd left it so late and we thought we were gonna end up squashed onto a dangerous speedboat like sardines and rushed around all the islands. Luckily a French company called La Moët came through for us and their boat looks really cool. I'm not sure about Phuket. We're staying in Rawai which is supposedly one of the least touristy places on the island. We went for a walk on the main strip last night and tbf it was a bit grim. Empty bars with tiny Thai girls and boys with even tinier clothes on trying to get people in. It all felt a bit tragic really.

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Time for Lime Cooking Class

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The profits from Time for Lime all go to Lanta Animal Welfare. This was founded by Junie Kovacs who has been cooking and teaching Thai food for 20 years in Europe and Asia. Although it was expensive, we wanted to contribute to this worthwhile cause

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Mat's fish cakes and chicken stir fry

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My veggie versions with sweet potato and tofu

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Mat's coconut and lime soup

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My coconut and lime soup. The term 'Time for Lime' comes from the time that the lime is added to the dishes. The dish must be taken off the heat and lime added just before serving to ensure it keeps the limey flavour and doesn't turn bitter. I learnt loads in this class!

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Mat in the pool at our Hotel in Rawai, Miracle House. We really felt like we were on holiday here

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JC

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TOWEL ELEPHANTS!

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Pool area

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BUNNIES

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Valentine's Day in Rawai 2015. This rose was given to me by a café, not Mat

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Me being silly in a shop with a bear hat on. This shop was mental, we had no idea what anything was and we almost ended up with dog clippers for Mat's beard instead of a beard trimmer

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Watering can milk dispenser

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Awesome pizza from Modena in Rawai

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Me teaching a little French girl to play pool. I was absolutely steaming at this point and thought I was proper good chatting away in French. I bet I was talking absolute bollocks at her. Cringe!

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Drunks. I do have other clothes than this dress I swear

Day 71 - Friday 20th February - Phi Phi Islands

Absolutely loved the boat ride. It was a big, beautiful wooden thing with loads of space to sunbathe and relax and there weren't too many people on it. We had yummy food on and off all day. We saw the beach where the film 'The Beach' was filmed (worst sentence ever written that) and it was absolutely packed with tourists so I'm glad we only saw it from afar. Then we jumped off the side into some really choppy waters to snorkel. I inhaled loads of sea water, was struggling with my life jacket and my mask was steamed up. I was annoyed at myself for not being able to do something so simple! After lunch we went to a different spot, I ditched the life jacket and managed a proper snorkel, it was absolutely unbelievable down there. Mat was fine until he saw a ginormous sea slug and then he got out because he hates ginormous sea slugs. I can see why people get hooked on diving.

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MV Champagne Boat by La Moët. It is a converted fishing boat and took years of hard work to establish both the boat and the company. It is owned and run by Lotta and her crew

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Mat definitely not posing here

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Beautiful scenery around Phi Phi

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Snorkelling in the amazing, clear waters

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Day 72 - Saturday 21st February - Chiang Mai

We spent the rest of Rawai mostly by the pool and then we got a flight up to Chiang Mai. It was either a 2 hour flight or a bus, an overnight train, all day in Bangkok, followed by another train and a few tuk tuks, all the for the same price but 24 hours. Even Mat could see we had to get the plane, which then turned out to be the worst plane journey of his life, plus he hates planes... https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KnTA9PULLTc There was so much turbulence and because it was a tiny plane you could feel every bump. At one point he was drip white, sweating from everywhere and grabbing at the chair in front. Poor love!
Anyway, Chiang Mai is really cool. I've ticked about 4 temples off my list so far and Mat even seemed to enjoy them all. We cycled around town all day and then visited an insect museum. The owner Dr. Rampa, is an expert in the insect world and did so much for the discovery of insects that she has mosquitos named after her. We're trying to stay in cheaper accommodation to save some money and this guesthouse is a bit dingy really, but at £8 a night you get what you pay for and the owners are lovely.

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Phu Wiang Guesthouse where we stayed in Chiang Mai

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Me looking massive with the owners

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This was the first time I trimmed Mat's beard. I got so fed up of trailing around looking for a beard trimmer that I said I'd do it if we could find some scissors. Was I any good? Well he's clean shaven now

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Insect Museum

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Some pictures from our day of temple sightseeing. I'm annoyed at myself for not making a note of which one was which

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We were lucky enough to stumble upon a parade celebrating Chinese New Year

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Out and about in Chiang Mai. Mat looking all templed out

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Sneaky finger

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Amazing breakfast. Brown rice porridge with coconut milk, cashews, raisins, cinnamon and honey

Day 74 - Monday 23rd February - Pai

So after the worst bus journey of my life ever, we finally arrived in Pai. I swear I was so travel sick I thought I was going to die. When we finally got off the mini bus I could barely walk and I cried. Lucky that Pai was worth it! We've spent 2 days with Mat scooting us around and he's really good and I feel safe. But me, not so good, more on that later! So we visited Pai Canyon and Temple on the Hill and the Chinese Village which was a bit weird. Then we spent a few hours at a freezing cold pool called Fluid pool I think. We were going to go to the Hot Springs today but Mat's too hungover because we were out watching footy last night. Connor the owner of Oasis Pai where we were staying, had warned us about the dogs if we were walking back late at night. He said they're territorial but if you just stamp your foot they'll run off. So as we were walking back, a bit tipsy, this dog ran into the road in front of us and starting barking. Mat said 'don't run, don't run cos it'll just run after you.' So we started to try and walk past it, giving it a wide berth but the little bugger was coming towards me still bloody barking and Mat's just trying to walk briskly past it. I stamped my foot at it which had zero effect, at this point I started to panic slightly and sped up because it was gaining on me. Mat held up his arm blocking my escape saying 'Don't run! It can sense your fear!' So because he wouldn't let me past, by now I'm his human shield and I just thought, 'balls to this, I'm off!' and started trying to run. Mat was still blocking me though and I ended up tripping over my feet and his and started to fall head first into a massive cooking pot balanced on a table at the side of the street. I have no idea how I managed not to knock myself unconscious and to stay on my feet, but this dog must have thought 'what a pair of douchebags' and it just wandered off disinterested after that. Anyway it was a tiny dog.
Also, it turns out I can't ride a scooter either. Mat keeps telling people I drove it into a ditch and fell off but here's what actually happened.... I wanted to have a go because I knew that we were going to have to ride in Vietnam and it wasn't fair for Mat to keep carrying me around. Plus I wanted to get to Uncle Tom's Dirt Bike Tours in Laos with a bit of experience under my belt. Anyway I hopped on down a quiet dirt road and Mat explained the basics. Left lever for brake, right lever for brake, right handle for accelerating. Easy. I drove down the road slowly, I drove back slowly.
'Great, you can do it! Enough now!' Said Mat. But I just wanted one more go. I set off back down the road slowly and as I tried to brake with my right hand it turns out I hadn't turned the gas off and HOLEY MOLEY I WAS ACCELERATING INSTEAD OF BRAKING! I veered off to the left towards a tree, onto a patch of grass (not a ditch) at the side of the road, dropped the scooter and jumped off to the right. Mat said he saw my head go down behind a parked car and all he could think about was the scooter. Cheers. So I was fine, the scooter was fine, Mat was a bit annoyed. Luckily he managed to scoop it up and get it back on the road before the nosy neighbours started to ask us what had happened. Nothing to see here. No drama. On the downside, my confidence was absolutely shattered and the thought of getting on anything else with an engine was filling me with dread.
We're just packing for an early trip to Chiang Rai tomorrow. I'm feeling sick just thinking about that journey.

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Mat loved his pink scooter

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Scooting about

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Bleurgh!

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Scoot scoot

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Pai Canyon. Apparently there is a trek through the canyon but we couldn't see a clear track and there were massive drops everywhere. Being so clumsy we decided not to risk it

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Love Strawberry, Pai. This was a café/strawberry farm which sold the strawberries in every way you could imagine. We got a smoothie and had a mess about on the giant strawberries

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Temple on the hill

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Mat at the bottom of the hill because he doesn't like hills

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Memorial Bridge. This bridge was built in 1942 by the Japanese to transport weapons and provisions to Myanmar (Burma) during WWII

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An actual pork sauasage

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If only I'd seen this!

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This kid was so cute!

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This is the Chinese Village which was set up for tourists to come and see how the Chinese lived. It was very odd and not worth the journey

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YUP

Day 83 - Wednesday 4th March - Chiang Rai/Chiang Khong

So we left Pai, drove all the way back to Chiang Mai, changed bus and went to Chiang Rai. I popped an antihistamine and an anti travel sickness tablet and plonked myself up next to the driver. I was asleep in about 5 minutes, woke up briefly for a cup of tea at the half way stop, then went back to sleep. We got on the next bus at Chiang Mai and I jumped in the front seat again and left Mat chatting to a couple called Nicola and Jessie so I didn't feel too bad about continually deserting him. I slept for another three hours and no travel sickness in sight.
Chiang Rai was pretty cool, probably didn't need three nights there tbf. We got a scooter for a day and Mat scooted us about everywhere. We went to see The White Temple, Khun Korn Waterfall and then a Culture Park. This park was so surreal because it was massive and we were the only ones there! It is dedicated to the Lanna culture with displays, exhibitions and pavilions and a big, beautiful lake.
From Chiang Rai we got a bus to the border town of Chiang Khong ready to cross into Laos the following day. The bus was hot and packed and we were so uncomfortable from starting our anti malarials. You know when you put drugs in your body and you're not sure if you feel weird because of them or you just feel weird and you're blaming them? Well anyway, Mat got a bit panicky because his body went numb but he managed to calm himself down eventually. I was worried I was gonna have to shout 'STOP THE BUS!' And we'd end up in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no water because Mat had guzzled every last drop during his episode. Since then I've had a bit of numbness in my arms and pins and needles too, so we're putting it down to the tablets. I hate taking this rubbish.
Chiang Khong was a lovely little town. The hotel was idyllic and overlooked the Mekong River with Laos on the other side. In the morning I sat on the balcony and watched the Alms Giving Cermony which is where the locals offer food to the Buddhist Monks. It was on a much smaller scale than what happens in Luang Prabang in Laos but was still nice to see, although I think it's become a bit of a tourist spectacle. There was one man with a massive camera, jumping about everywhere and clicking in everyone's face.
We got picked up from our hotel with another couple, Inti and Gabriella. These guys had so much about them I was a bit in awe! Inti is from Belgium originally, speaks Flemmish, Spanish and English and is a software developer. Gabby has just finished her PHD in something so awesome my brain couldn't grasp it and so promptly forgot. She is from Chile and speaks Spanish, Portuguese and English. Their grasp on the English language far outweighed mine and Mat's combined.
I'm ready to leave Thailand now and see what Laos is all about.

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The White Temple or Wat Rong Khun. It was built in 1997 and is a contemporary, unconventional, privately owned temple which is free to the public

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Khun Korn waterfall. The waterfall itself isn't anything special really but the walk to get to it was pretty nice

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Chiang Rai night market

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Mae Fah Luang Art & Culture Park

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Old clock tower

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Actually had a manicure!

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View of the Mekong River and Laos from our balcony

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Alms giving ceremony

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Found a tasty Mexican restaurant

Miscellaneous photo's

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Mat's new vest

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Happy toast in bangkok

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Mat gave the tuk tuk driver his hat, he was so chuffed!

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<3

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Posted by jayandmat2015 08:43 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok ko_lanta chiang_mai phuket ko pai chiang_rai _samui chiang_khong Comments (0)

2) Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

I like Sri Lanka. It's kind of an upmarket India where people have mostly learnt to put their rubbish in the bin and not on the floor. It also seems that more people have at least something, whereas in India a lot of people have absolutely nothing, giving it a really sad air. There is still staring but it usually turns into a smile and a hello. Although it's renowned for its amazing greenery and tea plantations, I felt that Kerala had the edge. It was just greener and more lush. What I did love about Sri Lanka was that everywhere had a different feel to it. Colombo was different to Nuwara Eliya which was different to Kandy which was different to Ella. Then the places in the south were all different too. The highlight of Sri Lanka for me was Udawalawe National Park where we got to see a herd of elephants bathing in a water hole. After all the animals in chains we had (unintentially) seen, this was an amazing sight, we were so lucky. I probably wouldn't come back to Sri Lanka, but only because I feel like we've seen most of what it has to offer, but I would recommend it for anyone who wants to do more than lay on a beach for a week.

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Day 40 - Tuesday 20th January - Colombo/Kandy/Nuwara Eliya/Ella

Colombo was nice in the area where we stayed, clean and modern with nice places to eat and drink but descended into the usual hawker/tuk tuk chaos in the opposite direction. Kandy was much the same with a nice lake and an important temple. In the temple, without even being asked, we got put with a guide we didn't understand who had no teeth and stank, who then ripped us off. Nuwara Eliya looked like the weirdest and loveliest place. They call it little England although it reminded me more of Austria because of the mountains and architecture. We just passed through it as it was mainly just walking to do there. We're in Ella at the moment, a small hippie town with mainly just walks and views again. We're on our way to Tangalle this morning to finish Sri Lanka off with a week of beaches which I'm really looking forward to.

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Really nice pub in Colombo

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This is Vista House where we stayed in Kandy for 2 nights. It was owned by the loveliest couple. Our bedroom was amazing

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This is where they served us our breakfast of home made Sri Lankan fish balls and sweet pancakes

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This is The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy. It is a Buddhist Temple which houses the relic of the tooth of Buddha. It is believed that whoever holds the tooth holds the governance of the country

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This is Kandy War Cemetary. It was one of the most beautiful and well kept cemeteries I have ever seen. Many of the men buried here died defending Sri Lanka from the Japanese in WWII. The men were a range of nationalities; Sri Lankan, East African, Indian, Canadian, Italian, British and a Frenchman

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This is Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy. It was huge with loads of green stuff to see and monkeys everywhere

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Big bendy trees

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Shrubbery the colours of the Sri Lankan flag

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View over Lake Kandy

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This is Ruwan our driver for Central Sri Lanka, he was hilarious!

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This is the Scooby Gang just popping out to check out some views

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Nuwara Eliya and Gregory Lake

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Our cabana in Ella

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This is Udawalawe National Park. We were going to visit Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage but had heard some bad things and instead our hotel in Colombo recommended here. I am so glad we listened to them. There were no guarantees of seeing elephants with it being a national park and it was expensive, but we were so lucky and it was 100% worth it

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I was so happy to see wild elephants out of chains here that I think I nearly shed a tear at this point

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Loved watching them having a bath. There are some tiny ones in there somewhere, so cute!

Day 41 - Wednesday 21st January - Tangalle

Arrived at Lonely Beach Resort at about 6pm last night. It looked almost deserted and it was gloomy and the humidity was about 89%. I was having that feeling again and doubting my decision. Mat can sense now when I'm not fully happy with a place and he starts to look around quickly for positives like 'Well at least there's only 100 mozzies per square foot here' or 'it looks like we probably might have hot water in this place' or 'I doubt it'll smell this bad tomorrow....' Etc etc. That night we spent about half an hour working up the courage to deal with a MASSIVE cockroach and then another half an hour actually dealing with it. It had run out from behind the toilet while I was having a wee and made it onto my foof before I spotted the bugger! I went absolutely mental, making noises I'd never ever made before, jumping around with my undies still around my ankles and obviously Mat thought it was hilarious. When that was sorted I went to brush my teeth, leaned in to the mirror and almost put my nose on a lizard. It was fairly small though so we let him stay. Anyway, we woke up today and the sun was hot and amazing with not a cloud in the sky and we had a nice breakfast and actually I am totally in love with this beach. We are sharing maybe 5km of sand with about 10 other people. Tbh there's not much to do and it's meant that Mat and I actually have to talk to each other a bit, but it's one of the loveliest places I've ever seen.

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Lonely Beach Resort

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The view of the lagoon from our balcony

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An arty farty picture of me on the balcony

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No one for miles on Tangalle Beach that day. Absolutely perfect

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After Lonely Beach we moved across the lagoon to Eagles Nest Cabanas which was lovely too

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Day 45 - Sunday 25th January - Unawatuna/Galle

Arghhhh my body kills. We've had surfing lessons these last couple of days with Bandula's Surf School and I've never felt aches like this. I'm definitely not a natural. I can barely walk in a straight line sober without falling over or tripping over my feet so I'm not sure why I thought I'd be able to balance on a surf board! I was pretty rubbish the first day and started the second day off badly too. At one point I got so frustrated that I had to take a 2 minute time out where I stormed out of the sea, on to the beach and sat and sulked. I let myself cry a couple of angry tears from each eye then pulled myself together and marched my board back into the sea. No one noticed anyway as my face had been pretty much submerged since the beginning of the lesson. What made it worse was that Mat was better than me and I knew it would only be a matter of time before his stupid face pointed it out. I wish we could carry on surfing but we're not in Sri Lanka long enough and apparently the surf's not great in Thailand. So next we've got 2 days in Unawatuna and then 2 days in Galle where I'll try and actually see some sights instead of laying on a beach and feeding my face. After that we're off to Thailand where I'll be mostly laying on a beach and feeding my face.

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Paddle paddle paddle paddle

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Chicken wing

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Lizard leg

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UP!

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Robin Hood

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I was so burnt afterwards!

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This is Lara's Place in Unawatuna. It was lovely and the food cooked by Lara's Mum was the best food we had in Sri Lanka

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View from our balcony

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This is the best pizza I have ever had in my life from Marco Ristorante Italiano - Unawatuna

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This is Galle, it was so pretty. It is a fortified city originally built by the Dutch in 1663 but handed over to the English in 1796 after the surrender of Colombo. It was clean and neat with little streets full of interesting shops. It had a super relaxed feel to it and we enjoyed it even though it was so obviously engineered for tourists to experience Sri Lanka without actually experiencing the real Sri Lanka at all

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Small beach

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This is the Old Dutch Hospital that was established to look after the health of the staff serving under the Dutch East India Company. It is now home to some nice restaurants and bars

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Galle Lighthouse

Miscellaneous photo's

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Mat was so desperate to watch the Liverpool game that he dropped a million hints to the owner of our guesthouse until he offered to let us use the TV in his own living area. By about 4:30am I'd lost the will to live

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I like this picture of Mat's face

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Mat's burger from Rocket Burger. It's #1 of 138 restaurants in Galle on trip advisor

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Me looking like a turtle waiting for the train from Galle to Colombo

Up next.... Thailand

Posted by jayandmat2015 07:44 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged sri_lanka colombo kandy ella tangalle galle unawatuna nuwara_eliya Comments (1)

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