Travel Blog

Abby and I are travelling all around Asia, and we thought it'd be a shame not to write down some of what we're thinking and doing along the way.

Before we get into this, it's worth knowing the following: Myanmar has two names. Well, it has one name, but the British government don't recognise it under the name Myanmar, which most of the rest of the world knows it as, so they still call it Burma, which explains why most people at home have never heard of Myanmar. Myanmar's biggest city, and former Capital, Yangon is apparently also known as Rangoon. I honestly don't know why that is, and when I asked our taxi driver about why it's sometimes called Rangoon, he seemed like he'd never even heard the name (I've since Googled it to find out for myself, but didn't find an answer straight away, and it's nicer to try to find these things out from local people if you can anyway - I will get to the bottom of it!). For the sake of avoiding any issues, I'll stick with Yangon and Myanmar from now on.

Our first night in Myanmar turned out to be a really interesting one, and an opportunity for some cool photos. We're staying in Yangon to start with, and we didn't realise until we went out to get dinner and saw what was going on, but we're here right in the middle of the Tazaugdine light festival, which goes on for the next few days. The streets were closed to vehicles, and jammed full of people, market stalls, street food and fairground rides. Here are the photos...


Anyone who is friends with us on facebook should know by now that we got married yesterday. Some others reading this won't be facebook users, but hopefully we've already told you via another channel, or word has reached you through someone else. If not - exciting news! We got married! Anyway, here's a blog post about it, to give you a bit more background...

Having said goodbye to Dee, we spent a few days wondering around Saigon just soaking it all up. We both love this city, for reasons that are hard to explain but I'll give it a go. The people here are lovely. The locals find you as interesting and curious as you find them. The city buzzes all day and all night, and somehow it doesn't get old. It feels alive with all the people that are living there, rushing around (or not!) in the craziest rush hour traffic you'll ever see. People socialise, cook, eat, sleep, do business, laugh, cry, love and live their whole lives right there on the pavements. And they wear that wide Vietnamese grin while they're doing it. Ever seen someone taking a nap on their parked motorbike, perfectly horizontal? Been run down by motorised traffic on the pavement? Walked straight out into incoming traffic to cross the road? No? Go to Saigon! It's just such a great, energetic place, I miss it already.

For those of you who don't already know, Rich's mum Dee came out to meet us in Cambodia during her half term break from work. This week was so busy, and poor Dee must've gone home exhausted after her holiday! But we all loved it, and a quick tour around Cambodia with Dee beats taking it slowly any day. Here's a quick summary of what we got up to this week:

Getting back to Thailand really felt like arriving back home. From the abundance of 7-Eleven convenience shops (where everything is clearly priced!), to the cars driving on the right side of the road, to the usable pavements, to the English-language signs and friendliness of everyone we meet. Everything just works, it's so good! It's hard to explain, but there is a definite Western feel to most of Thailand, but with the added bonus of Eastern warmth and exciting colours and flavours everywhere you turn.

I thought I'd put up a really quick post summarising the journey so far - The map shows the countries we've visited this year.

Since Cambodia was next on our list of places to go, we knew we needed to head south, and because we were in Luang Prabang, if we went south through Laos, it'd have to be back through the places we'd just come from. So, we decided instead to head west into Thailand, first to Chiang Rai (where we are now), then Chiang Mai and Bangkok, before getting to Siem Reap.

Once we knew where we wanted to go, it was a case of deciding how to get there. The decision became easy as soon as we knew about the boat though.

This was recommended to us by Abby's dad (Thanks Chris!). We took a trip up to Kuang Si Waterfall, by flagging down a tuc-tuc outside our hotel. We'd originally wanted to hire a bike and get their on our own - it's generally a much better way to do things if you can, because you can do everything at your own pace. Unfortunately in Luang Prabang bike hire is about 3 times what you'd expect to pay elsewhere in S.E. Asia. At first we thought people were trying to rip us off, but it turns out it's because the government occasionally bans bike hire here, and so during the times that it's not banned, they have to charge more. Interestingly the reason it's sometimes banned is because a lot of the hire companies will take the spare key to your hotel, and steal the bike back off you, so it's their own fault... Anyway, we took a tuc-tuc.

After pulling up and paying 20,000 kip (about £1.60) each to get in, the first thing we came across was a sanctuary for bears rescued from the Chinese medicine industry, who kept them caged for their bile. The were quite a few bears, but they were a little shy (understandably), so I didn't get that many photos. Still, I'm happy with this one.

I'm really not a big fan of markets in general. It's the crowds and tight spaces mainly - I just don't like being bumped into constantly, and having to fight my way through to where I want to go. However, Abby keeps dragging me to them, and so I have had to find a way to like them. Thankfully I have - they're a great chance to take photos! Here are some that I took this evening at the night market in Luang Prabang, Laos.

My favourite photo from tonight was this one of a lady using her tablet. Life in Asia is different from at home in almost every way, however one thing thing remains constant everywhere you go - people are glued to the internet! There's so much going on around her, and she's got a stall to run (or a floor space, anyway) but she hardly ever looks up from the screen. Just like home!

I can't remember if I was even aware that Laos existed before we started planning this trip, but I'll definitely always remember my time here, and not just for the awful bus ride getting here (which is something I'd rather forget!).

I'd like to say the main reason I'll always remember Laos is because of the beautiful scenery, or the friendly people. Both of those are enough on their own, but the main thing I'll remember about Laos is what we learned about its tragic history.