Asia · 34 Days · 14 Moments · July 2018

A Parker’s Pilgrimage

25 August 2018

Day 6 in Vietnam, I took a train to Ninh Binh, 2 hours south of Hanoi which was a nice change from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, just a shame I was still feeling ill. I met Sam & Fred who I’d met at Halong Bay at the Trang An Nature House, a nice little homestay in the middle of nowhere and we were joined by Tom, their mate from Uni. We decided to hire some scooters to explore the local area and I ended up with the manual bike having never rode a motorbike before. After overcoming the initial fear we were suddenly very comfortable and spent the afternoon riding around Ninh Binh & Tam Coc. We also met Vince from Canada at the homestay and the next couple of days was spent exploring the Bai Dinh Pagoda, a massive complex of Buddhist temples which is home to the tallest Pagoda in Vietnam and an afternoon on the Trang An river going through caves with amazing scenery. We cut our stay in Ninh Binh on the third day and took a night bus to Phong Nha, 7 hours further south...

22 August 2018

Day 4 in Vietnam was a 7am start after getting to bed around 4:30 the night before to go on the Halong Bay hideaway Island tour. Two days, one night on an island in the middle of nowhere.. bliss! We finally made it to the boat on Cat Ba Island but only after the bus had broke down because it’d ran out of oil 🤷🏼‍♂️ We spent the afternoon playing drinking games on the boat and getting very pissed before arriving at the island to more drinks and a night of partying. The morning after we kayaked around the bay before heading back to Hanoi. Halong Bay was amazing and I met some really nice people but I came off the back of it full of cold and a sore throat. The effects of 4 days on the ale trail catching up with me! I had a chilled night with Jake from Donny in the hostel at Hanoi and a trip to the local Indian restaurant before starting my journey south down Vietnam...

19 August 2018

I arrived in Vietnam and made my way to the Central Backpackers Hostel in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. I dropped my bags off in the room and headed upstairs for free beer which was served 7-8pm.. took a seat at a table and asked the lad at the side of me where he was from.. ‘Donny’ in his broad Yorkshire accent. On to a winner! The nerves I had travelling to Vietnam alone quickly faded and we spent the next 2 hours talking football. I then spent the next 3 nights sampling the Hanoi nightlife hence the lack of photos and also met two good lads from Sheffield. It’s always nice when you hear a Yorkshire accent on the other side of the world! Also caught up with Wiggy and Jade and spent an afternoon at Wiggy’s flat. Hanoi is a crazy city, full of motorbikes and the odd scam here and there but I enjoyed it much more than Bangkok and would definitely visit again.

18 August 2018

Ahhh Singapore, what a city! We arrived early and dropped our bags at the hostel before jumping in a taxi to Universal Studios where we spent the whole day on a lack of sleep from the night before in KL. The rides and attractions were great though and Tom and Jess’ used express passes work a treat! In the evening we caught up with Tom and Jess for a few drinks (so expensive!) at Clarke Quay before calling it an early night. On the second day we went to the waterpark which was full of Chinese tourists and took ages to queue for the slides. The second evening was much better as we had a stroll around the Gardens by the Bay and watched an amazing light and water show in front of the world famous Marina Bay Sands hotel. Singapore is a refreshing change from the usual South East Asia experience. On the third day I left Nath for my solo trip to Vietnam...

15 August 2018

After Penang, we took a coach to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital. We arrived around 7:30pm on Wednesday evening so dropped our bags and took a taxi straight to Nando’s which was just as good as back home 😋 We then visited the iconic Petronas Twin Towers before meeting us with Tom & Jess for a drink in a nearby Irish Bar before heading to the main drinking street, Changkat Bukit Bintang, for a ‘steady one’. The ‘steady one’ turned out to be a heavy one with fairly expensive drinks and we rolled in at 04:30 and then ordered a McDonalds breakfast delivered to our room! Whilst in KL, we visited the Batu Caves and chilled out around the rooftop pool and bar on the top floor of our serviced apartment. Because McDonalds wasn’t enough, we also ordered a Nando’s delivered to our door. We ended our stay with another night out on Changkat Bukit Bintang before an early wake up call for our flight to Singapore 🇸🇬...

13 August 2018

We arrived in Penang to blistering heat, Malaysia in general is so much hotter than Thailand at this time of year. Our two night stay was in George Town, the capital of Penang which is known for its street art and amazing variety of food. We dropped our bags in the hostel and headed out to get our bearings but soon found ourselves sat in an Indian restaurant in Little India. Although the waiter laughed at us when we asked for the curries not to be too spicy, the food was amazing for just £3.60 each, so much so we returned the next day for our second fix 😋 Our hostel was on Love Lane which was a popular street at night with 8 or so small bars so we enjoyed a few drinks locally with some live music. Whilst in Penang we did our own street art tour on foot and went up Penang Hill which was rather disappointing but didn’t put a downer on our stay as we really enjoyed our time.

11 August 2018

Nath and I took a night bus from Phuket to Hat Yai in the south of Thailand before a mini van to the pier and a ferry to Langkawi, our first destination in Malaysia. The whole journey took 15 hours so we were exhausted by the time we arrived. We had a little wander onto the beach and found a nice bar right at the end of the beach but it wasn’t long before I was spark out on the bean bag. Nath carried on drinking and taking photos of me 😂 Langkawi was much more chilled than the Thai islands with fewer bars but it was nice to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Phuket. The next day we went on the Mangrove tour in the north of the island before heading to the Oriental Village to experience the cable car up the hill. The views were amazing! A short stay in Langkawi before we took a 3 hour ferry south to the island of Penang...

9 August 2018

We arrived in Phuket by ferry which again wasn’t the best experience. Five minutes in to the ride the waves were crashing into the windows so I took myself outside to the back of the ferry where I felt much safer. Tom and Jess soon followed as everyone was being sick inside and the crew quickly handed out life jackets to everyone. Not the most pleasant way to travel but that’s what you have to deal with at sea during the low season! Ah well, Phuket.. I haven’t really got much to say as we just found ourselves chilling in the day and then hitting Bangla Road at night which is a real eye opener to say the least. Phuket’s equivalent of Bangkok’s Khao San Road but with more spice! I’d booked to go on a trip with Tom & Jess but Jess was ill the night before so I went alone and enjoyed a day of quad biking, white water rafting, zip lining and the monkey temple. We also reunited with Nath & Heather as Heather was flying home from Phuket before me and Nath continued our journi into Malaysia...

4 August 2018

After an overnight stay in Koh Samui to meet back up with Tom & Jess, the three of us moved on to Koh Phi Phi over in the south west of Thailand. We had a 6am start to get to the ferry port but caught up on some lost sleep on the ferry ride before taking a 3 hour bus journey from the pier to Krabi for another 2 hour ferry to Phi Phi. Smoother ferry rides today thank god! We had the best three nights on Phi Phi meeting up with a couple of lads from Huddersfield and London and spent our time partying in the Irish bar, live music bar and Slinky’s. We also had a bamboo tattoo (trip memento) after a few too many beers and went on a day trip around the island to the monkey beach and snorkelling with tropical fish. Just before we left for Phuket we headed up to the viewpoint to catch a glimpse of the island from the highest peak which has breathtaking views, literally, once you’ve made it up several hundred steep steps and a uphill walk). Phi Phi never fails.. I’ll definitely be back ❤️

2 August 2018

We woke up on the 4th day in Koh Phangan to belting heat and Nath, Heather and I had booked a ferry to Koh Tao (Turtle Island), about a 90 minute ferry ride from Koh Phangan. Little did we know that a storm was brewing and as soon as we got to the ferry port it started hammering it down, we were absolutely soaked and the waves were getting bigger and bigger! 🌊 We got on the ferry not knowing what we were in for... 2-3 metre waves! I was scared stiff from start to finish, everyone was being sick and from the minute I sat down I wanted to get off. Lesson learnt: never take a ferry in a storm! We were so relieved to arrive in Koh Tao, albeit to shit weather so grabbed a beer to calm the nerves. The next two days were glorious, though, and we chilled on the beach for the most part watching the dogs in the sea. The nightlife on Koh Tao is really good, too, so we enjoyed a few beers and some live music at night. Next up, Koh Phi Phi 🏝 My favourite island!

30 July 2018

After Chiang Mai we had a long day travelling to Koh Samui, the first of the Thai islands! We arrived at 7pm but the locals were still celebrating a Buddhist holiday so no alcohol was being served until midnight, or so we thought till we stumbled upon an Irish bar who were willing to take the risk! 🍻 We spent one night in Samui before taking a ferry to Koh Phangan for the next day for the Full Moon Party where 20,000 people from all over the world flock to Haad Rinn beach to party all night until sunrise (if you make it) drinking buckets. If you know you know! The next day was spent around the pool as no one could muster any energy to move or do anything. Tom, Jess and I then went to Slip N Fly the next day which was such a laugh and a really good day apart from bruising my calf’s, back and side really bad from the contact with the water from so high! The journi continues in Koh Tao (Turtle Island)...

27 July 2018

Our last last day in Chiang Mai was spent visiting the Kerchor Elephant Eco Park in the jungle! We chose this particular sanctuary as they had a baby elephant who was only one year old (Boon Ma). We were welcomed by the man who owns the sanctuary with a cup of coffee and a fresh banana and quickly got changed into the traditional mahoot clothing and packed our bags with sugar cane and were each given a basket of bananas 🍌! There was Mum, Dad and baby elephant on the sanctuary who had free roam and were not riden which is one of the main reasons why we chose Kerchor. The experience is unforgettable, getting so up close to these gentle giants feeding, washing and bathing them and watching Boon Ma play in the mud. Visiting an ethical Elephant sanctuary is a must in Chiang Mai. We then spent the afternoon riding around the city on 🚲 and the little first aid kit my grandma put together worked a treat when Nath missed the pedal and decided to fall off t’push iron. The journi continues... ✌

26 July 2018

Day 4 | After a much needed lay in due to travelling yesterday we decided to try our hand at some traditional Thai recipes and booked onto a cooking class in Chiang Mai. A cultural city in the north of Thailand which is much more chilled than Bangkok. It’s winter season in Thailand so the weather here is around 26* with plenty of rain. We visited the Pra Nang Cooking School which opened last year and had good reviews online. After dodging the rush hour traffic we arrived at a local market for a guided tour to sample the Thai way of life and look at the ingredients we’d be using. We then moved onto the school and all cooked up our own Thai soup (so spicy 🌶), Pad Thai (a traditional stir fried noodle dish), Thai red curry, vegetable spring rolls and banana & coconut milk for dessert. The food was so tasty and we were absolutely stuffed by the end of the night, bit to death by mosquitos and dripping with sweat but it was such a good experience. Thai restaurant pending.... ⏳

25 July 2018

Just landed in Chiang Mai so thought I’d better crack on with my first post.. I touched down in Bangkok on Monday and being a tight Yorkshireman I took a taxi with a Canadian bloke to the hostel, he made the 1 hour ride quite enjoyable and paid for more than half the taxi. On to a winner! I dropped my bags off and sat around to wait for Nath, Tom and Jess! A visit to Bangkok isn’t complete without a trip to a rooftop bar so we headed to Above Eleven for a 360 View over the city and some expensive drinks.. worth it though! We spent the rest of the night on the main tourist road in Bangkok, Khao San Road - still as crazy as I remember! The next day was spent trying to scale a derelict tower block (a top 10 attraction in Bk apparently) but we were denied access so decided to take a boat ride on the Chao Prayah river and a walk around the Grand Palace. We ended our short stay in the capital with a trip to Nana Plaza for some drinks - an eye opener to say the least! Next up, Chiang Mai ✌️😄

22 July 2018