Asia, Europe ·
248 Days ·
84 Moments ·
7 June 2018
Ever since Danni and I met, I have been telling her about the TT and how amazing it is. So as we set off from Luton I was quietly praying, for the plane to stay in the sky and some good weather on island. The weather was glorious, in fact it was so hot no one even noticed our tans, as bikers walked around topless looking like they'd spent the last week in the south of France.
Danni didn't have chance to catch her breath before she was on the back of a motorbike doing her first lap of the course. The next day she was watching the world famous purple helmets performing death defying stunts.
We took her to one of the fastest corners to watch for her first race which terrified her, but by her second race she was hooked buying her own TT t-shirt and fan girling when she spotted one of the winners at the grandstand.
The week was topped of watching the red arrows and drinking the night away at bushy beer tent as the sun set. By far my best TT yet and the perfect way to end to our travels
29 May 2018
After the girls left for their flight home it felt strange to be the last ones left in Asia with no one else around anymore. We collected our new white emergency passports from the visa office and felt a huge weight lifted knowing that we were definitely going to be able to make our flight in a few days. We spent our last few days revisiting our favourite restaurants in Hanoi and buying everything we could fit into our luggage.
On Tuesday the 29th of May, after 239 days and 10 countries it was finally time to head back the way we came.
We had (very difficultly) managed to keep the fact we were coming home a secret from Danni's parents so turning up on their doorstep that evening was very welcome surprise followed by shear panic at the realisation that our room was currently a storage space.
After 4 days catching up with Danni's family and FRANTICALY trying to get Danni some ID so that she could fly we headed to the airport once again, this time heading for the Isle of Man TT.
25 May 2018
As soon as we arrived back in Hanoi we headed straight for the British embassy to sort out our passports. After two visits, a trip to immigration control and £110 each we had our application for emergency passports processed and all we could do then was wait. Luckily Nicki and Elz landed the very next day and brought with them some well needed enthusiasm and excitement. The only thing we had left to do before we could fully relax and enjoy our last few weeks was sell the bike, so Izaak decided to stay behind to do this while I headed to Ha Long bay with the girls.
Our cruise consisted of kayaking, bike rides around Cat Ba, squid fishing, speed boats, spring roll making and a lot of karaoke. There was also lots of time for swimming but we chose not to get in the water after seeing the size of the jelly fish in the water...
After Ha long bay, we collected Izaak and headed to Tam Coc to show the girls the beautiful countryside.
15 May 2018
The first thing we had to do was get a police report. Without this we couldn't get emergency passports or claim on our insurance. What we forgot as we sat down in the local police station was that to be in that region of Vietnam you are required to have a permit which costs $10. Something we failed to get as we had been told by multiple people they are no longer required. The next hour was spent trying to convince 3 Vietnamese officers that the permit was conveniently in the lost bag also. Luckily they finally handed us a report and we ran out of their leaving Dong Van as early as possible the next day.
The next 20km of driving was what we had come all of this way to see. The Mai Pi Leng Pass; A ribbon of road that ran along the ridge of south East Asia's deepest valley.
That night after such an enjoyable ride in, the anguish of our loss finally faded away as we enjoyed the sunsetting over the mountains with a few beers and I gave Danni her first well overdue motor bike lesson.
14 May 2018
After 2 hard days driving we were happy to finally arrive in Ha Giang, a lovely little town and the start of the famous Ha Giang Loop which draws in large numbers of westerners who make the pilgrimage to drive on some of the best roads in Vientam. Although unlike us most people sensibly get a coach to the start.
That evening we were treated to a huge dance & music performance in the town centre as we had lucky arrived on the weekend of a cultural festival.
The roads conditions from there on were perfect and a stark comprise on those behind us. We were excited and optimistic that we had left our string of bad luck behind us as we sped through the mountains in the sun. This is when we looked down to realise the bag containing all of our most valued possessions had dropped off the bike. The next 4 hours consisted of frantically searching a 40km stretch of road. We arrived at our hotel that evening bagless, emotionally exhausted but determined to fix everything in the morning.
11 May 2018
After 1km the trail became undriveable and we had to turn back. However this wasn’t easy on the narrow path. With our front break almost out of action we nearly lost the bike over the edge of the valley as I lost my footing on the back break and we both held on desperately like a scene from the Italian job.
A very stressful hour later we were back on something that resembled a road again heading in what we thought might be the right direction. As we stopped to check the map our clutch cable then snapped!
Miles from the nearest village, lost and without any tools this is when we started to grow concerned until two local boys help us push the bike to their home. One phone call later and a van pulls up, gets out a spare Honda clutch cable and fits it for us there and then for £1.90
Back on the road we finally realised where we were and it wasn’t good. After a long and rocky decent, we eventually gave up and found a hotel in Coc Pai. 38km from where we started 8hrs ago. 2/2
‘Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail’
The journey from Sapa to Bac Ha was a leisurely 97km and apart from the fact the market we went to see wasn’t even on, we were in good spirits setting off for Ha Giang this morning.
Thus begun the chain of events that led to one of the worst day riding so far.
We hadn’t checked out route out as thoroughly as usual but we were confident our map wouldn’t steer us wrong. We were wrong. Despite only one road showing on the map we were heading miles in the wrong direction. After some local help we eventually ended up driving on some very bad roads to a rural hill top village were again we were shepherded down what can barely be described as a rocky path that clung to the edge of the valley. We were doubtful that this was the right way but with no other turnings and our only other option to go all the way back we reluctantly headed on. Danni jumped off and I tried my best to drive our heavily laden bike down the rocky trail ahead. 1/2
9 May 2018
We only had one day in Sapa so determined to make the most of it we headed out early. First stop, the local village of Cat Cat (apparently very touristy) within 20mins of walking there we were being chaperoned by two local women determined to sell us stuff. So we quickly scrapped that plan and headed for a mountain hike. Again within minutes we were being followed. Although this time by 3 puppies determined to follow us to the top. One by one they dropped off as their little legs grew tired. Danni’s heart broke as the last one faded and decided to carry the little guy all the way to the summit to see the view.
Next we headed to the village of Lao Chai where the views down through the valley were supposed to be the best. Normally people get a guide and hike but we didn’t have time for that so went to pick up our bike from the garage where she was receiving some well deserved TLC. Unaware that what lay ahead was some of the most difficult off-road riding of the entire trip. Poor bike!
8 May 2018
The road to Sa Pa.
Today's ride was one of our highlights from the last 3 months. Once again the sun came out and we set off early as we don't have any lights and we knew that we had a lot of distance to cover.
It's hard not to take the incredible views for granted when your driving through such continuously beautiful landscapes. Every time you stop you have to pinch yourself, stop thinking about how numb your bum is and realise how lucky you are to be driving though this untouched paradise.
It wasn't long before we had our first set back. The steep climbs and even steeper descents finally took their toll on the bike and her back brakes completely failed on us. In fact the roads put such strain on the bikes we had to replace a second pair before midday.
We wish we could have stopped more often to take it all in but my not so distant memory of driving on hilltop roads in the dark meant we pushed on.
Unfortunately our pictures don't even begin to do the views justice.
7 May 2018
Our route to Sa Pa took us west of Hanoi and before long we were climbing high up into the mountains.
Mai Chau was our first stop off and is small rural village that sits in a bed of green rice fields surrounded by mountains on all sides. The weather has been incredible so despite a 4 hour ride that morning we jumped straight onto bicycles and explored the small town until sunset.
We had a big 259km ride today but luckily the north keeps on delivering countless breathtaking views to keep us distracted. The roads are wonderful and you can really see the change in culture and customs happening right before your eyes.
The women wear bright block colour outfits with their hair in large buns on top of their heads they even have custom made helmets to fit the bun inside. Danni and I got a scare when we drove past a man dragging a 3m long snake behind his scooter which we had presumed until the last minuet was a length of pipe. We can't wait to see what else lies ahead of us.
5 May 2018
We had been told by a lady in Hanoi that Ninh Binh is the 'Ha Long Bay of the land,' and her description couldn't have been more accurate.
The last few days have consisted of exploring and climbing up through the limestone mountains to see the beautiful views from the top. During our first temple visit, an old local mute man appeared out of nowhere amongst the shrubbery, gesturing and grunting at us to follow him up the spikey limestone rocks to the top (not advisable in flip flops) Once there, he flew my sarong above his head and communicated a story to us using just jumps, flapping gestures and whistles before asking for money for his guidance. Being on the top of a steep mountain edge with a mentally unhinged local, we were in no place to refuse payment so quickly handed over some cash and made a hasty descent whilst the man ripped leaves off of plants for us to smell...
Tomorrow, we split from Owain and Jamie and head North towards Sa Pa, on our own again for the next 13 days.
3 May 2018
After Cat Ba we headed back to Hanoi to say goodbye to Chris and hello to our next guest, Ash Bov, who was flying in from his work in South Korea. As we had already done the touristy bits of Hanoi last month we decided to take things a little slower, enjoy some of our favourite restaurants again and discover a few new ones.
We rented a small traditional vietnamese house right in the middle of the old quarter which could only be accessed down a terrifyingly dark alleyway. The shower was in the kitchen? and for the second time this trip, Jamie ended up sleeping with someone else despite having his own room out of fear for our little haunted house.
The week was definitely our most indulgent yet, with way too much unhealthy food consumed and even more alcohol, so when it was time for Bov to leave we unanimously decided a detox was way overdue. Today after a breakfast of fruit, we started our tired bikes once again and headed 110 km south to Ninh Binh which so far looks beautiful. ☀️
24 April 2018
After 900km, one week from when we left Hue, despite all of the odds we miraculously arrived at Cat Ba ferry right on schedule. It had been a tough week all round and although we lost one bike along the way Jamie had already found a replacement and the main thing was that we had made it, and survived to tell the tale.
We were exhausted, but didn't have time to rest just yet as we had to make the most of the good weather with storms on their way. First we headed into the rainforest to hike up through the national park to experience the epic landscape from the top. The next day we headed out to explore Ha Long bay by kayak. The perfect chance to use my newly purchased fishing rod. Or so I thought, until it broke within seconds, regardless floating among the limestone islands was incredible. Finally today we managed to catch up on some well needed rest as we watched the forecast tropical thunderstorm roll into the bay whilst eating pancakes from the safety of a little cafe
20 April 2018
Chris and I escaped the rain in Hue, arriving in Hoi An where we ended up meeting one of Chris's childhood school friends and his tour group...
After spending the previous night having 'family dinner' and beers on the rooftop with our homestay family and guests, I'd hoped that was my socialising done for the month. Alas, as I sat in the 'Funky Monkey Bar' with the likes of Tinie Tempah blaring in my aged ears I gritted my teeth and reminded myself "19 year old me would have wanted this too."
Travelling a mere 20km to Da Nang is not so simple without your beloved motorbike, especially when you miss your bus as your homestay owner angrily tries to explain 'if I say your bus is picking you up at 2.30, I mean 1.15'...?
After an hour on a stinking sleeper bus that we managed to get on with our ticket, we checked into our hotel and sitting in the rooftop infinity pool, cocktail in hand, I can't help but feel very guilty that the rest of my team is having such a nightmare..sorry guys.
19 April 2018
Phong Nha is home to the largest cave in the world but at around $3000 to visit we opted for a smaller but equally as impressive one. We also zip lined across the river, swam into the cave, floated in the mud baths 1km inside and kayaked back badly.
Today, learning from our mistakes, we packed up early and carefully planned our route out of the mountains. The sun came out and the riding was a pleasure. Until our streak of bad luck caught up with us again. This time Jamie had a flat tire and once again we were in the middle of no where. Luckily a local helped us get his bike to a mechanic where we spent the next 6 hours. It turns out that the ride in the truck had done some more damage and this time it was the end for Jamie’s bike, as the fee the mechanic wanted for fixing it resulted in us pretending to go find an ATM but secretly and sadly saying goodbye. So it’s the end of day 4 on our own, we’ve managed 50km, down to 2 bikes and were in another bad motel in the middle of nowhere!
Our night in the motel was more like a night in a haunted house, with spiders bigger than your hands crawling the walls, dirty neon lights flickering in the hallway and the splutters of the old landlord keeping us awake at night. Jamie and Owain even slept in the same room for protection despite being given their own. Unfortunately for Jamie he had to wake up in that hell hole on his birthday. Determined to turn the day around we left as soon as possible but this was quickly broughth to a holt when my bike packed in almost immediately. Undeterred we didn’t let this dappen our spirits as we drank tea with a local old man watching my bike get fixed. Back on the road we soon arrived in Phong Nha our aim for the first day. The back drop of limestone hills was beautiful and we spent Jamie’s birthday cycling between the few local bars that scattered the beautiful farmland. Happy knowing that at least our bicycles wouldn’t break down on us. In fact they became easier to cycle with every beer.
18 April 2018
As the sun began to set we had just started to make our way up on to of the most remote stretches of road so far. Winding it’s way along the Loas border over jungle mountains. It was here that we realised the extent of how badly we had underestimated the remaining distance. After recalculation we discovered that we still had over 200km until our hotel. It was also then that it started raining.
We continued on knowing that we had come too far to turn back. Up in the hills the temperature dropped and a thick fog closed in reducing our speed to a snails pace. Teeth chattering, we nervously rode on through the pitch black with no other option. A break down now would have left us completely stranded with no other drivers passing us for hours. 3 hours later we have painfully slowly managed to make our way down and onto a main road where we manage to find the worlds scariest and dirtiest motel. Soaking wet, hungry but most of all relived, we tried to sleep in our creepy old rooms. 2/2
16 April 2018
With Chris landing in Hue, our new plan was for the boys and I to push on north with the bikes whilst Danni and Chris enjoy the sun in the south and take a more relaxed pace up to Cat Ba where we would all meet up but we had time for one night out first to welcome Chris to Vietnam. The next morning, feeling rather worse for ware, Danni and I had to say our good byes after over 6 months together.
Due to the night before we didn’t leave until nearly mid day and with a storm brewing and the infamous Ho Chi Minh trail ahead of us we didn’t have time for our usual stringent planning. Without Danni on the back we were also without our usual navigator.
The road was very steep and windy and provided some incredible views but we quickly realised we wouldn’t have time to enjoy them. After less than 50km Owain had broken down and by the time we got going again it was gone 2pm. We rode on undeterred and confident that we could always drive through the night if necessary.
11 April 2018
After 2 days in Da Nang it was finally the day Dad had been waiting for since he first booked to visit. The famous Hai Van Pass road, which would lead us all the way to Hue. Although the day was over cast the sun broke through and lit up the coastal road and surrounding jungle. It was our last proper day of traveling on the bikes with my parents and some how despite the endless things that could have gone wrong, everything went to plan. Well, except when Owain decided to throw himself down the road on his back after leaving it a little too late to break for a red light but miraculously the only thing broken was his guitar. Which to him was probably worse than bones.
In Hue we checked in to a very nice spa hotel and the sun came out. We spent our last few days exploring the nearby temples, citadel and watched the sun set over the beautiful river. Sadly the time finally came to say our goodbyes as we sent our guests home and we prepared for the next leg of our adventure north.
8 April 2018
Hoi An was HOT when we arrived so exploring the old town had to be cut short and cocktails consumed for hydration as our two winter broken Northern guests we're in serious danger of death by UV. Dad finally got to experience the Vietnamese roads when we headed out to My Son to visit the temples. After 2 nights, a few dangerously cheap local beers and some fantastic tacos we headed back to Da Nang where the weather took a turn for the worse. Luckily we had one of our best meals experiences, seafood pancake wraps, to take the parents to which more than made up for the rain.
The rain held off for our final day so we headed to the caves on marble mountains. We then foolishly tested our bikes to see if they could reach the top of one of the steepest jungle hill climbs so far. Quickly discovering that this might not have been our best idea as Owain resorted to pushing as his bellowed out smoke and we killed of a few more of our bikes remaining horses in our dwindling engine-power stable.
5 April 2018
Danni and I weren't nervous about the train journey to Da Nang, after our experience in Thailand we were excited to do it again even opting for the slower train tickets. This turned out to be a mistake. I'm not sure if it was the fact that this time we had to try fit 6 people into a cabin or the friendly cockroaches that decided to join us at bed time but the experience was definitely not as enjoyable. After 2/3 hours of restless sleep we were awoken by an incredible sunrise as the train made its way around the coast.
Our next issue was the bikes and bags as we didn't know if they would still be where we had parked them unlocked for the last week, or further yet, if they would even start. Thankfully they were right where we left them and as expected only 1 of 3 would start, however, by now we are well trained for this very situation and instantly sprung to our usual action stations. Within an hour all bikes were working and dad now had his own as we headed on to explore Hoi An.
3 April 2018
We landed in Hanoi on the 29th with two spare days before my parents arrived so we decided to use this time to scout out some of the best food and do a little shopping at the night market.
When mum and dad arrived on the Sunday we threw them straight in at the deep end, walking through the hectic and happening streets of central Hanoi as we took them for their first Vietnamese meal, a bowl of delicious beef noodle salad. 🍜
The next day the sun came out so we headed out around the city to see the sites followed by a well earned evening dinner of Bun Cha (one of the best Vietnamese meals we've found so far) at the exact same restaurant Obama ate at 4 years ago!
Today Danni took mum to be pampered at a local spa and then we all explored the famous Hanoi train street, where we got lost up the tracks and then discovered that there would be no train coming. Tomorrow we pack our bags and head to Da Nang on the sleeper train we will be reunited with our bikes and bags (hopefully!)
29 March 2018
We finally reached Da Nang on Monday, roughly half way up the country and the last stop off before we head to Hanoi to meet up with the parents. We changed our original plan of catching a 16hr train to Hanoi for a much more convenient and cheaper 1hr flight. With that sorted the next few days were our own to enjoy and as we were heading back to explore properly soon there was no pressure to rush around and see everything. Instead we took the time to indulge ourselves in a lot of food and a few activities to pass the time, including fishing, surfing and bowling. Where it must be put on record that Izaak scored a PB of 161
I will soon stop writing about every occasion our bikes breakdown as needless to say it happens a lot. However, our bike this time blew up its electrical coil. A lot of locals tried to unsuccessfully help and a little kid even came to translate for them. Izaak was left red faced however when congratulating him on his English only to discover he was an American tourist
26 March 2018
The little hostel we stumbled across was hidden away in a tiny town with roads barely wide enough to get our bikes down. We had the entire dorm to ourselves and with the beach only a stones throw away decided to take some R&R time and slow the pace down a little. We ate some fresh sea food, drank wine and cuddled the countless puppy's.
We still don't know what that little village was called but the next big town was Quy Nhon. We decided to take the bike and Jamie's scooter in for a check up as we are starting to develop a very wobbly wheel and Jamie's emits a death rattle every time it's stationary. After being told ours couldn't be fixed and Jamie's was fine we drove home. Only for Jamie's bike to give up on life all together, within 5 mins of leaving the mechanic, with a dramatic last bang.
After 4 days and Jamie's prayers to the engine gods answered we drove on, 200km to the My Lai museum to find out a little bit more about the war and the crimes of American soldiers.
20 March 2018
In Nha Trang we realised that we had been surrounded by some of the best street food in Asia but somehow kept ending up in bad or overpriced restaurants. We decided enough was enough. Owain took matters into his own hands turning to the Internet for guidance & by God did he deliver! Over the next few days we ate incredible bbq duck, fried pork wraps, juicy pork ribs and delicious seafood pancakes
Our bike finally gave up on us and decided to deliver a full frustrating day of different mechanical issues. Luckily Jamie and Owain were on hand to tow us back and forth from a friendly mechanic who fixed our front puncture, changed the oil and replace the spark plug and gasket head all for £3.80
The drive north from Nha Trang has produced some of the most beautiful views so far with turquoise waters and golden cliffs. We have just reached a small fishing town where our lovely room overlooks the tropical beach below and the storm that's closing in. I think we might relax here for a while. ?
15 March 2018
We didn't know what to expect on arriving in Da Lat with a lot of reviews writing it off due to the difficulty of getting there. Our bikes went through some punishment to reach the town but it was more than worth it!
In 3 days we visited a maze bar, explored its many waterfalls, rode roller coasters down through the Forrest and drank copious amounts of cheap vodka.
After we had a mechanic look at our bikes, shake his head and laugh we set of again, this time for the warmer weather of the east coast, Although, what we got was the coldest & wettest day driving so far as we descended down through thick cloud cover to Nha Trang.
We have a brilliant apartment here, which is handy for cleaning our wet clothes and also hides our increasingly embarrassing leaky bikes in the underground parking.
Today we recovered from the cold drive in by treating ourselves to a day at the mud baths and natural springs which left us all wrinkly and exhausted. It turns out relaxing is hard work.
11 March 2018
After a few days trekking around the national park, one oil change and the purchase of some emergency tools we packed our bags ready for what we had been told was an incredible 2 day drive through the the mountains to Da Lat.
After the hotel staff had to help Jamie start his bike, which is slowing starting to shake itself apart, we were just glad to make it to our accommodation in Gia Nghīa without any breakdowns. The town is relatively quiet so the site of 4 westerners on comically bad bikes turned a lot of heads that evening.
We knew that we would be on some beautiful roads the next day but they surpassed all of our expectations. The roads were smooth and empty and the views breathtaking. We pushed our poor bikes to the limit up some very steep climbs and even managed to stop at a waterfall on the way into the city.
Da Lat is 1,500m above sea level and a mad little hill top city. The only problem is, it 15 degrees up here. Which feels more like -15 to us. Tomorrow we buy coats!
7 March 2018
Breakdown Number 1.
After driving through the jungle on some incredible roads all of a sudden they disappeared and a dusty downhill littered with boulders took its place. This would be the first real test for our poor bikes and within minutes we had a fatality. Owain's Scooter, probably the bike in the best shape, cut out after hitting a boulder. Owain radioed through to us that he has a problem and we all stopped to help.
Unfortunately we were miles from anywhere, in fact Jamie had just uttered the famous last words "God I hope we don't break down here"
We jump started it down the bumpy hill but it quickly stopped again. We managed to get it down to a little refreshment hut and borrowed some tools from a lovely woman who fetched us some oil so we decided to top that up. Seeing as that was about the only thing we knew how to do, but no luck.
5 mins later the locals start turning up and within seconds have the bike running again, taking the credit for all of our hard work. Typical.
Our first day on the road was a short ride to Trang Bang where the infamous picture of the girl running naked from a napalm strike was taken. From here we visited the Chu Chi tunnels which we were used by the Vietcong. This was amazing if not a little claustrophobic but made a million times better by our tour guide who was basically Mr Chow from the hangover.
The next day we had our first long ride to a national park called Cat Tien. This was when we quickly discovered a lot about out bikes. It turns out that the 'fake' Honda win leaks oil at a slightly alarming rate and is so loud that you have to coast down hill just to give your ears a rest. Jamie's scooter sounds like a Scalextric and has the same top speed and Owain's backfires loudly as soon as he stops accelerating. Despite their many flaws the bikes flew through their first 100km and it wasn't until a very tricky off-road section in the middle of nowhere that we had our first mechanical issue...
5 March 2018
From the moment Danni discovered that our flight to HCM would be on a propeller plane she was NOT happy and spent the entire taxi ride to the airport asking questions about the plane to such alarming rate that she managed to scare even the most confident flyers in the group. This anxiety was heightened when the airport was fully evacuated just before departure. Despite the strong smell of hypochondria in the air, the journey was fine.
HCM is an awesome city and the perfect place to start any adventure. Everything is cheap and the people are so friendly and eager to help. After 2 days, a lot of walking around and some haggling we had 3 bikes (of unknown quality) This gave us 2 spare days for; visiting the war museum, drinking egg coffee and enjoy the buzz of the city.
Tomorrow we pick up our bikes from the garage of an Aussie guy who is servicing what we though was a reliable Honda. Turns out we bought a Supermalays with Honda stickers on it. Let's hope that's the only surprise! 🙈
27 February 2018
On the 27th we were joined by Jamie, who had luckily escaped the English winter by the skin of his teeth.
We then jumped straight onto a speedboat and headed for the tropical island of Koh Rong.
Our hotel was ideal as we were located on the 'classy' side of the island away from the riff raff but close enough to venture in and take advantage of the cheap drinks.
We spent most of our time relaxing and topping up our tans (or lack of in Jamie's case)
The island is still largely untouched with no roads or vehicles. Which is peaceful but deadly on your feet as you try to hike back through costal jungle after a few beers.
After the first night our feet weren't looking good and Izaak then decided to finish the job by kicking a log stump and taking off his nail. Which led to a few expletives and a lot of blood and hardly any mention of it since! 🙄
We were sad to leave but our visas had expired and Vietnam was calling us. Onwards to even cheaper beer, delicious food and two wheeled fu
25 February 2018
After a day in the capital we decided to get the train to Kampot. After a few drinks the night before and an impromptu open mic performance by Owain (at bar that wasn't even hosting an open mic night) we were all feeling a little worse for wear on the day of travel. Things weren't helped when Izaak lost the train tickets and had to try plead with the station staff to see if there was any chance they remembered us. They didn't, but Izaak eventually found the tickets screwed up into a ball in his pocket.
On our 1st day we headed to a number of caves where local kids offer to be your guide for a small fee. They then guide you into the dark depths of the cave whilst shouting 'SNAKE' and pointing at your feet along the way.
That evening we had to try out a recommended street food venue called Ciao, which serves incredible homemade Italian pasta and pizza.
On our final day we drove up into the beautiful hills of the National park and even managed to spot a huge hornbill just to top it of
20 February 2018
If your going to visit Angkor Watt it goes without saying that you have to get there in time to watch the sun rise. So we set our alarms of 4am and packed our bags ready.
We 'silently' left our room as 2 guys were just getting in for the night hopped on our scooter and headed for the temple. It wasn't long before we discovered that our scooter was eating petrol at an alarming rate and we might not have enough to get to the temple, however, we pushed on.
We arrived at the gate with 30mins to spare but discovered that you can only buy tickets at one gate which was 4km the other way. Time not on our side, we raced for the ticket office. In the rush Owain decided to gracefully fall off his scooter braking around a gravel corner.
Despite going the wrong way again, we found petrol,bought tickets and managed to make it just in time.
The first thing we did was get Owain blessed by a monk as he had only been in Asia for 2 days and already broken a pair of glasses and crashed a scooter.
19 February 2018
On Saturday morning Owain landed and was picked up in style on our scooter and instantly immersed into the crazy world of Asian driving. His friend Clair from the IOM also joined us for 4 days.
That night we set out in search of a famous Cambodian Karaoke bar. It was late by the time we finally found one only to discover that they all sing in private rooms. We didn't like being made to feel like our singing was a sordid act reserved only for the dark back rooms of a club so politely declined.
The next day we headed out to explore the surrounding area with temples and waterfalls on the agenda, however, it turns out that everything in the area is monopolised by the Angkor Wat company with extortionate prices. So after not seeing a number of places due to tickets we finally decided we would need to sneak in. We would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for a meddling security guard. We did manage to see the temple before we were asked to leave! It's the small victories!
14 February 2018
Everybody we've met seems to use coaches to get around here and then proceeds to tells us in depth how awful the experience is. Why don't more people hire their own transport and drive then?
It didn't take long for us to find out the answer. There is only one road that connects all of the main cities and it's a Wild West, dog eat dog, pot hole riddled, lorry crammed dusty death trap!
We made it to Battambang after 2 days. One of, what we discovered are, only 2 towns worth staying longer than a night in. It has a rustic charm with lots of nice little restaurants, although it wasn't long before we heard what is fast becoming Cambodia's catch phrase, 'There's not much to do here, it's more a place to chill out' 🙄
We did however manage; To visit the Killing caves, a harrowing left over from the genocide that took place in the 70's, watch over a million bats leave at sunset in unison and drink into the night with a local philanthropist and close friend of the deputy Prime minister.
9 February 2018
God it's good to have an engine again!
Within 2 days of arriving in Phnom Penh we had sold both bikes. One went to a lovely Australian lady who worked locally and the 2nd to a Spanish traveler who caught a 7 hour coach especially to meet us.
It was sad to see our bikes go after they had carried us so far but after the rain and the dust of last week we were just glad they made it in one piece.
It turns out there isn't a lot to do or see in the capital, and the traffic is that crazy that even being a pedestrian is dangerous, but that was fine with us as a few days rest was exactly what we needed.
Today,batteries recharged, we hired ourself a scooter for 2 weeks exploring the North.
Our bags are VERY big and strapping them to a scooter is a no easy feat. It's even harder when a large crowd of amused locals come out to watch and 'assist' you. I wish I knew the Cambodian for 'Please don't touch that I know what I'm doing'
Despite their help we were soon back on the dusty red roads.
3 February 2018
As we rolled towards our accommodation for the day,the road served up one last cruel hill. At this same moment a lorry tried to over take us! Exhausted and frustrated I waved it past, however, instead of the usual local truck driver a lovely lady stuck her head out of the window and beamed at us. I'm not sure what face Danni was pulling behind me as we climbed but it must have looked tired as the truck immediately stopped and the lady and her husband gestured for us to get in.
They drove us the rest of the way through the jungle and over countless hills. They had cut our journey to the capital in half and dropped us at the start of the final road into the city. A few people had warned us that this was a bad road and they weren't lying. With only two lanes and an orange dirt track either side it was the main route for trucks and horrible to ride on. That evening we decided not to risk our lives on it and catch a lift into the city. This was the best decision we ever made!
With two buyers lined up and waiting for us in Phnom Penh we had no time to bask in our accomplishment. We had to press on but had no idea what sort of roads lay ahead.
We quickly realised we might be in trouble as we left the town behind and found ourselves alone on a jungle road. As we passed warning signs for elephants the question 'Do they have tigers in Cambodia?' filled our minds.
All of a sudden the road took a turn. Up towards heaven. I checked the map to see how long this went on for. The answer was too long. We gritted our teeth and headed up in the beating sun worried about our water supplies . A Belgium man luckily stopped to give us fruit and water and let us know that we were a long way from the top!
It was easily one of the hardest days and the going was slow but we finally made it and we're able to enjoy the long ride down the other side. The joy was short lived however when we checked the map to find out that this was only one of many hills ahead of us...
1 February 2018
After leaving Pattaya we had 5 days riding ahead of us until the border. The last two of these days were a barren stretch of road taking us along the thinnest part of Thailand that runs between the Cambodian hills and the Indian Ocean. It was at this point that the heavens decided to open and with little to no shelter and time against us we had no choice but to ride on through. These were two of the worst days of cycling so far, with lorries speeding past and soaking us with muddy water as we struggled to see the road ahead.
Land border crossings into Cambodia are notorious for being difficult with various scams rife. As soon as we arrived we were subject to a bombardment of people trying to 'help us' with our visas, for a fee of course. We felt like we were back in Sri Lanka with no one able to give us a straight answer and multiple fees being requested. However, we are seasoned pros now and managed to make it through, without almost any over-paying, on into our 6th country!
29 January 2018
Unfortunately since leaving Ayutthaya we haven't stayed anywhere long enough to take any pictures.
We have however had some very traumatic experiences
Every blog we read warned 'Do not under any circumstances cycle into Bangkok' we took note of this and planned or route around the outskirts of the city accordingly.
Nowhere does it say 'Do not cycle directly past Bangkok International Airport' perhaps this is because they don't believe anyone would be stupid enough to do so. Those two days of cycling were very scary! We still have nightmares of trying to read a map whilst crossing 4 lanes of traffic as wagons hurtle past!
By the time we reached the east coast we were just thankful to be alive. It's a shame however that we ended up in Pattaya, a place where old men come for teen brides, scary Russians come to party and dreams come to die. 2 days therefore spent not leaving our apartment whilst carbo loading to the max and then on we cycled towards the boarder and eternal greatness!
21 January 2018
Saturday officially marked our 1000th km since jumping on the bikes 3 weeks ago and we reached it in style, rolling into Ayutthaya after covering 167km in one day and changing our first puncture.
"But Danni & Izaak, how could you possibly ride that far?" I hear you ask. "Well," Danni will tell you, "the secret lies in Show Tunes!" In particular Les Miserables. Although there were moments I felt that she was singing with such gusto that it may have been impeding her breathing. Never the less we reached our destination just as the sun was setting over the city; very happy and ready for a few days off two wheels.
The heat really got turned up a notch over the weekend so our trips out into the surrounding historical parks were cut short as we quickly retreated to our hotel to see out the day in the comfort of a hammock and some shade.
You need to be alert here as there are lots of elephants roaming about and their drivers seems to find it amusing to steer them right at you😅
16 January 2018
We left Sukothai on the 16th with 2 days of cycling planned; The 1st (70km) a nice easy day & the 2nd (130km) our biggest distance so far.
The 1st morning we took it easy, getting up late and grabbing a breakfast of milk toast, which is delicious! We even met a fellow cyclist who we could of talked to for hours.
As we ate we realised that today would be our first full day in the sun and wondered if we had made a mistake leaving so late.
Within an hour we had our first crash of the tour. Danni was down but not out. Reaching for her bottle she had caught her tire across a rope and been thrown to the road. Soon after, the Tarmac roads disappeared completely and we found ourself cycling off-road for the next 3hrs in unbearable heat. The fine dust from the roads slowly clogging our lungs. We arrived that evening dirty & exhausted.
The next day we made sure we were on the bikes by 7.30am and stuck to tarmac roads like glue. It was a LONG day of riding but we eventually arrived 🚴
14 January 2018
So today Izaak decided to singlehandedly pollute a UNESCO world heritage site. (One of only 5 places in Thailand legally protected for its cultural and historical significance)
This happened when Izaak decided he wanted to get a photo of one of the beautiful moats that surround the park. With turquoise water and lilies they are like something from a Monet paining. Izaak hops off his bike, resting it on a bin and climbs down the grass bank to get a closer shot.
All of a sudden there is a crash, as we turn to watch in slow motion as the large plastic bin which his bike has just pushed over rolls down the bank, spilling rubbish as it tumbles into the water bellow.
Izaak frantically tries to get the bin, which is now emptying its contents into the once pristine moat but in his panic to retrieve it before anyone sees, pulls it out bottom first emptying more waste out into the water.
Once returned to the top we quickly left ashamed never to return. Sorry David Attenborough ♻️
We couldn't check into the nice accommodation we'd booked for Danni's birthday until 2pm so celebrations were put on hold as she refused to celebrate her birthday in the budget accommodation we woke up in.
Come 2pm the party started, until a quick online search for any form of bar or pub found no results, It seemed as if we had booked ourselves into a detox centre. No problem! We've always been foodies anyway and prefer to celebrate with a tandoori starter than a tequila sunrise any day of the week so we decided to blow the budget on a 3 course meal. Oh wait, there's no high end restaurants either. So we set off on our bikes not knowing what to do.
It turns out there is the most beautiful little market that overlooks the lake and everyone sits to eat and watch the sunset. So we bought more delicious food than we could ever eat and sat on the grass for one of the most beautiful picnics ever. Then to top it all off Danni fed goats and Izaak shot guns at the fair.
13 January 2018
After leaving Phrae we had two more stops before we reached Dannis birthday accommodation. The first was Uttaradit 74km away.Head winds and hills made that day's ride one to forget, at one point Izaak was going that slowly he was convinced something was wrong with his bike and even got off to check in frustration. Lastly, Sukothai 87km away and the modern half of our final destination on the old side of town.
On arriving in the New Town, feeling a little too energetic for our own good after a days ride we decided to go explore a love heart shaped lake we had heard about. 1hr cycling later we arrived at the most disappointing temple (pic.3) nearly in tears at the thought of cycling back to our hotel.
The Old Town however did not disappoint. The sun came out as we arrived at what turned out to be one of favourite places so far. A beautiful UNESCO heritage site which is best explored by bicycle. Perfect for our tired legs to drift around slowly and relax into the slower pace of life.
9 January 2018
Eat, Phrae, Cycle
Just to keep you up to speed with Tour de Thailand:
2nd Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai (54km + 148km car)
3rd Chiang Rai - Chiang Khong (100km)
4th REST DAY - Laos Border Crossing
5th Chiang Khong - Theong (75km)
6th Theong - Phayao (102km)
7th Phayao - Song (88km)
8th Song - Phrae (45km)
9th REST DAY
So we are currently resting our tired legs in a beautiful town called Phrae. The journey South has been beautiful & eventful. Izaak thought he had a brain tumour after suffering a crippling headache which turned out to be caused by his helmet being too tight 🙄 We have seen 7 flattened snakes, cursed endless hills and drank way too much coffee. We even had to ask for our host to cook us a SECOND dinner after the first wasn't enough to to curb our bottomless cycling hunger.
However, mission cycle to the sun has been successful and now we can enjoy the well deserved rest, despite the local dogs who decided to attack us as soon as we arrived. Good job we have 2/3 rabies jabs
5 January 2018
We are starting to get good at this!
We slept like babies after arriving at the border. We had given ourselves the next day free to plan our onward route. One thing was set in stone:we had to leave Thailand as our visas expired the next day. However, where we went from there was a mystery as we knew very little about what lay ahead of us in Laos.
After scouring maps and reading lots of blogs our mind was made up. We didn't waste any time, got on our bikes and headed to the border that very day. Our first land border crossing! We passed Thai border control and onto a short bus over the Mekong river, filled out our arrival cards, passed through Laos border control, took a long deep breath of the fresh Laos air and turned straight back around and headed into Thailand with a fresh 30 days on our passport.
Turns out the hills in Laos are worse than here in Thailand. No thanks.
So today we packed our bags and headed 70kms south. With more time to stop for a coffe and enjoy the ride ☕️
3 January 2018
The Redemption (Day 2)
We woke up the next morning and immediately checked ourselves for injuries. Miraculously Izaak's back had loosened up and we both felt ok. We looked at the map and realised that despite being bested my the Thai mountains we had actually skipped a day ahead of our plan thanks to the lift.
We only had 100km left to the border and 2 days to do it in. We took the bikes to a local bike shop to get the breaks adjusted as they had taken a bit of a beating being loaded into the truck yesterday and by 10am we were back on the road!
We cautiously decided it was best to split the 100km into 2 days but by lunch we found ourselves 50km in and feeling good! The roads were a dream compared to what we had experienced on the first day and we flew over the one mountain pass of the route. Despite a few stroppy moments (Izaak hungry and Danni dropping her bike) we powered on though and arrived at the border by 5.30pm. Exhausted but ecstatic that we had made up for yesterday. 🎉
2 January 2018
Tour de Thailand (Day 1)
We set off knowing that to get to the border we had 4 days to ride 330kms
We decided that we should try to do as much distance as possible with fresh legs to give ourselves room for any unexpected issues. Our plan: 100km a day for the first 3 days.
We left Chiang Mai without any issues, the road was flat and the pace was good. Danni was quickly learning the ropes and starting to enjoy herself. Then 25km in we hit our first hill. It was a BIG one and we quickly learnt how heavy our bikes were. The hill didn't stop in fact we kept climbing for another 25km up 700m. At this point we HAD to stop. Izaak's back had seized completely and according to our map we were only half way. There was no way we could continue. So we decided to try hitch a ride. Luck was on our side and after a few minutes two missionary's stopped and drove us all the way to Chiang Ria (our destination for the end of day 2) Defeated and broken we fell asleep praying for no more hills. 😩
1 January 2018
On the morning of Izaak's birthday, Danni had secretly set herself an alarm for 6am, tip toed into the bathroom and locked herself inside to blow up balloons in silence (not easily done)
The day was spent mooching around Chiang Mai, which is the perfect place for just sitting back and doing nothing with it's endless coffee shops and bars.
We eventually found a beautiful restaurant where we planned to treat ourselves to a 3 course meal. However after a day of beer and a starter that could of fed an army it took us another hour to muster the hunger to order a main.
That night we filled a water bottle with Gin & Tonic and set off into the city to explore. We followed the growing plume of lanterns lighting up the sky and spent the countdown watching them being released on mass with locals shooting fireworks from tubes over our heads. We then stumbled into a garden party and danced the next 2 hours away.
Today has been spent hungover, preparing our bikes for tomorrow's 100km ride...
No more planes please.
We have to be out of Thailand by the 5th and starting to get frustrated by the cost of the different unappealing means of transport available we decided that we needed a change of pace. It was time for an adventure!
Izaak had been subtlety mentioning the possibility of touring Asia on bicycles for a few weeks already. Arriving in Chiang Mai to find endless bike shops and with the memory of another turbulent flight fresh in her mind, it was the final push Danni needed to give in and say "FINE"
The next day we had a plan. We gave ourselves a budget of what a plane ticket would have cost and set off to buy ourselves everything we needed to get to Laos on our own.
Danni was then instantly introduced to the fun of cycling though rush hour traffic to get out new bikes home. (See her 'I wish I'd never said yes' face)
Bikes safe and escape route planned it was time to relax and enjoy ourselves so we headed straight to climb a beautiful limestone waterfall!
24 December 2017
A Phuket Christmas
Since arriving at the Base Heights in Phuket we can say with pride that we haven't left the building unless it was to stock up on more food and alcohol. We would love to tell you about the turquoise waters and pristine beaches around us but we haven't seen a single bit of Phuket other than its rather lovely Tesco Extra.
After 3 months of being constantly on the move the last 5 days have been a well needed period of stationary self-indulgent nothingness.
Instead what we can say is this;
1) Danni has now watched Indiana Jones for the first time. (And thoroughly enjoyed it)
2) We have both earned our Cub Scout badges for cooking a full Christmas dinner with nothing but a hob and a microwave
3) 4L of Tesco's finest boxed wine doesn't last as long as you think it will.
4) Chocolate in Thailand is nothing like chocolate in England.
5) Pork gravely is an incredible substitute when Turkey is unattainable
3) No amount of cheese is too much cheese
21 December 2017
The day before we were due to leave Ko Lanta it just so happened that friends of Izaaks arrived. That evening we spent a very civilised night around the dinner table swapping stories and topping up on human contact.
The next morning at the crack of dawn we heading for our 1st boat. We had managed to arrange, with military precision, to be dropped at the Phi Phi island (where they filmed the beach) for 5 hours and then picked up again for the second leg of the trip to our final destination Phuket.
It was only an hour into the journey that we discovered it was actually a different island that they filmed on and we wouldn't have time to reach it. The disappointment was short lived mainly because the captain then tried to capsize the boat but secondly because of the beautiful Phi Phi islands approaching.
We crammed our day on the island and before we knew it were at our xmas flat in Phuket. Only one thing left to do. Buy food....all of the food.
18 December 2017
Haircuts and Brown Butts
Two things needed addressing now we were settled on a island with glorious sun and not much to do. 1) Izaak desperately needed a hair cut as he was resembling a sheep 2) we needed to top up our tans as we were no where near brown enough for 3 months in Asia.
We jumped on our bright pink scooter Izaak's fro hardly fitting into a helmet and went in search of someone with scissors. We found what I'm pretty sure was the only barber on the island. Izaak then tried to explain to him in depth the style and cut he wanted with various pictures and hand signals. To which he replied Yes and proceeded to cut the whole thing with uncapped clippers. Picture Rowan Atkinson wrapping the present in Love actually! He was incredible and gave izaak the best hair cut he has ever had!!
Head lighter we headed to the beach to address No.2 where izaak used his years of experience watching 'The Island' to build us a shelter to protect us from the windiest day in Ko Lanta history!
17 December 2017
From Krabi we took a mini van packed to the rafters down the coast to Ko Lanta. All was fine until we had to board a ferry to get to the island.
As we looked down out of the van window, at the ramp our driver was trying to use to board the boat we did have a moment of panic, frantically trying to figure out how we would escape this overfilled mini van when it inevitably fell into the sea.
Ko Lanta doesn't have much to do other than relax on beautiful beaches, however, top of its trip adviser rankings is an animal rescue centre and after Danni had read the words "Cat cuddling 9am - 5pm" we were walking there the next day.
I could feel the cold hard irony of queuing up with these hippy tourists to walk dogs and couldn't seem to get my parents words "we have to get up in the cold again this morning to walk YOUR dog" out of my head as I stood listening to girl with 6 cat tattoos give a talk about the centre. But then I met Joy and we frolicked on the beach and I forgot it all
13 December 2017
Sleeper trains are awesome. Sleeper train toilets are not awesome.
We were both genuinely very excited to take our first sleeper train after spending the day in a mall watching Murder on the Orient Express to pass time until departure.
However, when a steward presented us with a sticky plastic menu for over priced set meals we did start to think that the champagne on ice might not be on its way. Never the less the jorney was very enjoyable.
After our train it was a quick 2hr coach ride and we arrived at Krabi in the South - the perfect base to explore the area from.
Izaak went off to fetch us another bike and we set of exploring. In his wisdom he was persuaded to take a semi automatic with practically no breaks which led to lots of expletives along the way.
Tiger cave temple was our destination and with over 1,000 steps it was nearly our last. The trail up is like submitting Everest with hyperventilating tourists lining the path. Oh and we went to yet another food market.
11 December 2017
We decided to stay in Bangkok for a few extra days to truly do it justice, giving us the chance to visit Bangkok's wold famous Chinatown, on Monday, the one day of the week when they clean the streets so there are no street food vendors. 🙈
Our new hotel is also much closer allowing us to walk to all of the temples including Wat Pho which was stunning and our favourite attraction so far, Bangkok Hospital Snake Farm.
The snakes are kept to produce venom to be studied and help aid medical studies. We learnt a lot, but mostly that all of the 180 snakes they have can be found here in Thailand. Brilliant. Lucky they also taught us how to catch them or evade them. Which ever you prefer.
The snake handling show was incredible. The King Cobra they brought out was the scariest, most majestic thing you have ever seen. Unfortunately we didn't get a good picture because we were too busy hiding but Danni did get to hold a little one at the end. Izaak was excused as he had to take the photo..
9 December 2017
Bangkok Hat Trick
We spent an AGE in Bali looking for a room in Bangkok. The issue is that you either stay in hole in the centre or a nice place that might as well be in Cambodia its that far from anything.
We opted for the later however upon arrival realised we might have an issue as the public transport links here are scarce. This led us to explore every option available trying to find the cheapest & fastest route into the centre.
What Bangkok lacks in tube lines it makes up for in ridiculously cheap and tasty food around every corner. Don't ask how many meals we've eaten already.
On our doorstep is the coolest gypsy market full of quirky retro bars. Away from the main tourist area this gave us the chance to drink with locals and following their lead we ordered a BOTTLE of whiskey for £8 and sat listening to bands. Good food & cheap drinks, there was only one thing left we wanted to see to complete our BK hat trick and she strutted over for a chat right on que. 💅🏽
5 December 2017
To get back to Bali we had a LONG day of traveling ahead of us as we could no longer afford the luxury of a speed boat off the island. Next was a long drive down Lombok to the arduous 4 hour Bali ferry. There were much faster alternatives to get back but the scooter meant this was our only option.
That morning the sun was shining which we took for a good Oman and our lovely hotel hosts told us about a much faster coastal road to get down to the ferry.
The local boat from Gilli is cheap but only leaves once it's full so you can be waiting a long time. Fortunately it left 15mins after we arrived and only took 20mins rather than the hour we thought.
The drive down truly was beautiful and before we knew it we were on the ferry sailing along the calmest waters.You could have mistaken the sea for a lake.
We arrived at Bali port after only 2.5hrs. And then Izaak said the mortal words. "Everything's gone well today"
2hrs later we are still floating on the sea in the dark. Thanks Izaak
30 November 2017
The volcano finally affected us directly when Izaak's marathon was cancelled. Although he was gutted this gave us a chance to visit the Gilli islands we had heard so much about but previously not had time to see.
We swiftly packed our bags, drove through the rain to the north western tip of Lombok, parked up the bike and jumped onto a speed boat heading to Gilli T
What are the chances that on this TINY remote island we would both cross paths we people we knew from back home. It was time for us to learn how to socialise with other humans again.
One night out and with our daily budget spent 3 times over, we'd had more than enough human interaction to last us for another month. We spent the next morning snorkelling and chasing turtles alone.
Danni unfortunately found a wild snake in our room. Despite being a baby, Izaak claimed Steve Erwin would have left it alone and that he should get the hotel owner who was a little too over excited & not concerned enough for our liking.
25 November 2017
The Great Escape.
On Monday we decided that we had played chicken with this volcano long enough and headed for the ferry to Lombok. We must have been the only westerners to take a bike on the ferry for a long time as you need a licence and we received a lot of strange looks.
The ferry was a long 4 hrs on what smelt and looked very much like a Syrian refugee boat. We escaped the heat and smell onto the top deck which gave us chance to look back as we set sail, onto the erupting Mt Agung and the pods of dolphins that decided to swim alongside us.
Lombok is a lot less built up than Bali and today we decided to drive out into the green and see what we could stumble across.
The beaches here are pristine and we discovered some stunning views before we had to take shelter from the usual November mid day rain storm. Lucky for us Lombok has some stunning new resorts which are all but empty due to the season and our friend Mt Agung.
One mans volcano is another mans empty luxury resort
24 November 2017
Stress over and bike licence in hand we hit the road just begging the police to pull us over.
During the stress of the last week we also discovered that the reason Bali is a little quiet is because the largest volcano, Mt Agung, is due to erupt any day now...
"Well I think we need to go take a closer look. I know Jo would approve 😏"
Just to be on the safe side, Izaak took a dip in the holy water of Titre Empul. Danni forgot her costume so looks like the lavas going to get her.
As the cherry on the cake that has been our very up and down week, the police finally did pull us over. The look on the police officers face when Izaak handed him his full Indonesian licence made the whole week worth while. We drove off with very big smiles on our faces to the sound of the officers confused grumbling.
These smiles continued despite torrential rain and driving through flash flooding roads. It looks like the rainy season has finally caught up with us!
23 November 2017
It turns out that the favourite past time of the Bali Police is pulling over tourists and taking a quick bribe. So much so that you can expect to be pulled over 2-3 times a day
No problem we though as we knew that you could acquire a 30 day tourist permit down at the police station. Simple...
Attempt 1 (Fri) 1.5hrs in a taxi to the station. Station is closed.
Attempt 2 (Sat) 2 hours of filling out paperwork, queuing, getting medical checks and I'm told I need to complete a quick theory exam. No problem. Oh but it's in Indonesian and you have 30 questions to answer to 15 mins. FAIL "come back on Monday"
Attempt 3 (Mon) 1hr drive from new hotel to station whilst avoiding police. Queue up for 2hrs. Translator (Peris) is a no show, find a new translator. Bali internet crashes. "Go home come back to tomorrow"
Izaak gets food poisoning this evening.
Attempt 4 (Thur) Izaak somehow passes a theory and practical exam to obtain what turns out to be a full Indonesian bike licence expiring 2022!
19 November 2017
A lot has happened.
1st stop: Kuta (Bali's surfing Mecca)
1) Danni can drink again! 8hrs after celebrating this we were vowing never to drink again.
2) We learnt to surf with the locals. Our drunken escapades actually turned out to be very useful as we woke up with the number of a local surf instructor called Peris in our phones. It would turn out that although he was MUCH cheaper than all of the schools we were going to use, he was a slave driver and nearly drove Danni to a watery grave taking her out onto 8ft waves on her second day. Needless to say, Danni didn't return for her 3rd lesson.
Despite Kutas wonderful surfer side it is also unfortunately Australia's equivalent of Benidorm with large droves heading there for a cheap holiday. This drove us to look for an early exit as soon as we were surf ready. We quickly acquired a scooter and packed our bags for the more relaxed jungle village of Ubud. It would turn out that an unforeseen obstacle was about to ruin our plans...😔
12 November 2017
Singapore by Night
This city comes alive at night. After we ate our Michelin Star meal we headed back to the harbour as there was a live band playing that we had been watching warm up earlier. As we walked around the harbour we noticed people sat enjoying the view of the city. We left after not too long but noticed more and more people gathering in the same spot. After a while we decided something must be going on but had lost our seats and had to squeeze in at the corners. We sat and waited..and waited. With no idea what was coming.
The lake transformed into a stage of fountains, smoke and a bellowing symphony of music. It was truly one of the most beautiful things we have ever seen. We thought we might have witnessed a once in a life time event.
Turns out they do it 3 times a night, every night of the week..oh well Danni was happy and dragged us back twice again.
The gardens by the bay. What can you really say about them other than wow. Thank you Singapore.
Singapore by Day
Landing in Singapore airport on Saturday morning with a flight booked for Bali on Monday, we only had two days to experience all that Singapore has to offer. Challenge accepted!
First on the list, check into our first hostel of the entire trip which ironically is our most expensive. Poor Danni still suffering from the end of a stomach bug she picked up in Langkawi was running on fumes but there was no time for self pity, we had things to see!
With the majority of our budget gone on our hostel we knew the two days were going to have to be done on foot. 22hrs later and we have walked over 50km and seen everything from F1 tracks to the gravity defying Marina Sands Sky Garden. (Just google it!)
Meanwhile, despite only managing 3 spoonfuls of rice in the last 3 days Danni was determined to find and consume the £3 Michelin starred street food dish she had read about online and tick it off our list. Let's just say that she currently has it in her stomach...for now.
5 November 2017
Things come in 3s
On the day we left Penang the universe threw everything it had at us.
1) We had to walk through a monsoon
2) This rain caused a traffic jam so bad our taxi driver told us we wouldn't make our flight
3) We were given seats right at the back of the plane for the world scariest take off 😭
As our plane cleared through the clouds and over the approaching emerald islands of Langkawi we prayed our luck was changing..
When first booking our hotel it was hard to tell if it would be something from our dreams or nightmares. Upon arrival we were happy to find it was the prior, surrounded by monkeys, frogs and birds. We quickly extended our stay for the rest of the week only to be told the price had dropped by nearly half!
Food is our one true love, so to find "The best homemade pasta I've ever eaten" D.Sablone, was like hitting the jackpot especially when it's so cheap you can have 2 dinners in one night 😳
Oh and did we mention there's an iron man event on here this weeke
29 October 2017
Pit stop in Penang
It's exactly a month today since we left England and so far we have touched down in 3 different countries and covered 13K km by plane,train,tuck tuck,coach,boat and bus! I'm tired just thinking about it.
After our scooter adventure we spent a night from hell in one of the worst hotels so far and quickly found ourselves running out of momentum and energy so we decided needed a little bit of RnR to give us time to plan our next steps.
Danni found a wonderful Airbnb apartment for £23 a night which with our last muster of energy we walked to in the sweltering mid day heat carrying our 15kg backpacks just to save the £1 uber cost (picture Jesus carrying the cross)
Since then we have been recharging our batteries (figuratively and literally)
So after a few dips in the pool, and a whole lot of nothing much else. Our clothes are now clean,new flights are booked and we feel ready to hit the road again. Next stop Langkawi!
Trust me, we make this look easier than it is!
27 October 2017
Today we hired a scooter from the craziest Chinese man you've ever met. Like something from a comedy sketch, we first witnessed him as two customers left telling us that they have no idea what he's been drinking but that this guy was nuts. We tried to avoid him but every line of enquiry lead us back to the 'fat crazy Chinese man''. Returning the scooter we thought we might have issues getting back our deposit, however, he gladly returned the money and made us wait around to see £5000 he had stashed in an old bike, explaining that money wasn't important only happiness 🤔
Once again we got caught in a rain storm and had to take shelter in a cafe that looked like it hadn't served a dish in years. We decide to be brave and order something of the menu. What came out was an crushed ice served with sweetcorn, kidney beans and an upside down ice cream..
After our 'meal' we headed to Snake Temple;we had both presumed this was another religious Buddhist name, unfortunately we were very wrong..
26 October 2017
Caves, Coaches and Curried Mutton
We sadly had to say goodbye to KL yesterday but beforehand made a visit to Batu Caves. You don't have to pay to get in but they do ask that you carry a brick up the hundreds of steps for the builders waiting at the top. We did spot a dad carrying a buggy who definitely looked liked he would have rather paid.
The next day we headed to a super modern gym in KL, although, a little out of practise Izaak managed to drop a barbell onto his neck and choke himself out in front of the locals. After this embarrassment we bought coach tickets and headed 6hrs up Malaysia to Butterworth. On arrival it was only a quick ferry ride across to George Town, in Penang.
Penang was awarded one of the best places in the world for street food and we were very excited to receive a map with over 100 stalls locations on. Some how, Danni still managed to find the 1 place that served the dodgiest looking luke warm mutton korma you've ever seen. At least we have more to try!🍴
22 October 2017
Guinness on a Helipad
Tonight we decided to treat ourselves and go for drinks at Heli Lounge Bar. The bar only opens at 6pm as during the day it is an active helipad. It was one of the most stunning views so far. We nursed our drink for as long as possible (as they cost twice the price of dinner each) and watched the sun set over Kuala Lumpur skyline.
This was a well needed sit down as during the day Izaak had managed to walk us across what felt like the entire length of Malaysia in search of 'Little India' which we don't even know if we found or not. In the mid day heat. We felt like all the day was lacking was Bear Grylls to accompany us and help build a shelter from the sun. KL Extreme Survival.
As a reward for putting up with this Danni got to buy herself some trousers and a pair of knock off Birkenstock sandals. Turns out she's a stone cold haggler at heart. They ask for 120MYR she comes in with 20MYR and leaves with them begrudgingly taking 30MYR from her dusty purse.
21 October 2017
Street Food & Mystical Rivers
First of all, WE LOVE OUR HOTEL ROOM. It has aircon, a Japanese style bed and a TV on which Izaak can watch all of the premier league football at the end of the day. It's £12 a night and utter luxury compared to the rooms we had in Sri Lanka for the same price!
Secondly, WE LOVE THE FOOD HERE! We are located 2mins from China town which is full of street food venders serving all kinds of amazing dishes for pennies. Yesterday we got up and just tried a few random dishes, including something the resembled jelly textured porridge? And Danni's favourite Steamed Bums (Dim Sum) filled with BBQ pork, chicken or sweet custard ones.
Tonight Danni tried her best to order vegetable soup and ended up ordering 2 meals by mistake but when a dish only cost £1 you just smile and eat more.
During an evening walk we discovered a river behind our hotel called 'The river of life' that releases smoke onto the water and has an incredible fountain display set to music.
Touchdown in Malaysia!
We landed in Kuala Lumpur yesterday after a calm 3 hour flight on which any mention of Malaysian airlines between us was strictly prohibited.
We then took a bus into KL central on an air conditioned coach armed with a downloaded map of the city on our phones and multiple hotel options favourited. This time we came prepared, although we needed had bothered. Sri Lanka is so far removed from KL you wouldn't believe. The city is very modern and clean like something out of a video game with free shuttle buses and 34 degree heat.
The city has something for everyone, there's China Town where you can grab delicious street food and unbelievably good knock off designer clothes. Travel 5mins on the free bus and you arrive at an ultra modern designer shopping mall where Porsches line the streets that emulate New York.
We were scared the prices would go up but our room is cheep and food is even cheaper. Izaak is in love with KL so I think we could be here a while 😍
18 October 2017
We spent 4 very relaxed nights in Mirissa, with free breakfast every morning at the hotel followed by a day at the beach and finally Snapper and a beer watching the sun set at one of the many beach side restaurants.
After we had fully recharged our batteries we decided to pack our bags and head on further around the south coast to a fortified city called Galle. It was a pleasant 1hr bus ride away and it's beautiful Dutch architecture, clean streets and upmarket cafes and shops where a pleasant change of pace.
Galle feels like a cross between the streets of Cuba and Holland, with bright walls and classic cars on every street corner. There are some very upmarket hotels and restaurants mixed in with smaller local cafes. We used this as a chance to spend our days relaxing with a cup of tea planning the next step of our journey. Although plug sockets and wifi where nearly impossible to find.
Long story short, we are both now sat in Columbo airport with one way tickets to Kuala Lumpa.
16 October 2017
After lots of deliberating we finally decided that we couldn't justify the cost of a taxi down to the south coast (just so izaak could stop for the toilet upon request) and it was a good decision.
The buses here are driven like they are stolen which is great if you want to get anywhere quickly but very scary if like us you are sat opposite the open rear door, going around the vertical drops of mountain hairpins.
The buses don't really stop to let anyone on. They just slow down and you have to hope your fast enough to jump on. We did feel like we were part of a Speed remake.
Arriving in Marrissa after 6 hours we wandered around the very laid back surfer style roads in search of accomodation. We stuck lucky with a very cheap cabana right behind the beach front.
That evening when we stepped out on the the beach for the first time we looked at each other and said 'now this is what we've been waiting for!' a million miles from the misty hill side we left behind that morning.
13 October 2017
In other news, we were also stopped by the Sri Lankan police today. They signalled for us to pull over which we both knew was bad news as Danni had already read that the only reason they pull over tourists is to get money out of you as a bribe.
They asked for my driving licence which I had left at the hotel 🙈
I was then told that without my licence I would need to pay an on the spot fine of 2500LKR (£13).
Unfortunately, I don't speak very good English as I'm from the Isle of Man, I informed them gesturing to my T-shirt.
'What language do u speak? Do u not understand English?'
'I speak Manx and no sorry I don't understand, I have no money'
They tried telling me that I would need to drive with them to my hotel and get money. That they would keep the bike if I didn't pay.
However, despite my best efforts and warmest smile I never could quite grasp what they were trying to tell me.
In the end they begrudgingly sent us off with our 4000LRK safely tucked away in my back pocket ?
12 October 2017
What a difference a new hotel can make! We were on the verge of packing up and heading out of Ella after one day until we moved hotels and we are so glad we didn't as we have had some of the best days so far here.
On the second day, we climbed Little Adams Peak which looks across from the opposite side of the valley. We have walked through local tea plantations and all around this beautiful area. In fact we have clocked up 107km in the last week! That's an average of 19,000 steps a day for you Fitbiters.
Today we hired a scooter and headed out further afield to explore. We visited waterfalls and a cave with a hidden temple deep inside. Well ...we thought there was a temple inside, turns out the sign read Temple & Cave NOT Temple in Cave. Cue Danni and I nervously edging deeper and deeper into a terrifying cave, iPhone torches out with bats swooping overhead at 8am until we both chickened out and decided we had probably seen enough temples already anyway.
11 October 2017
Had to stand next a shifty looking local for the first hour of our jorney to Ella who offered us cigarettes, whiskey and a seat between his legs at the open door, whilst wearing (what turned out to be) a big afro wig?...no thanks.
Found seats for the remaining 5 hours and managed to sit back and enjoy the spectacular views of passing tea plantations whilst we dined on local pastries from the passing venders.
Arrived in a blanket of fog that often clings to the high mountainous town of Ella. Izaak had been left in charge of finding accommodation this time, which turned out to be what can only be described as a prison cell. After one night stay and a beautiful walk up to Ella rock to clear our minds we decided easily to check out asap and found a lovely new room 3 doors up the road for the same price (don't tell the old hosts, they think we left Ella for the south coast)
Ella is very chilled out with lots of bars, beanbags and hippies. Just the place we needed to relax and plan
9 October 2017
Today we decided to explore 'Lovers Walk' in Udawattekele Sanctuary. Upon arrival a man jumped out of a hut and told us that we must pay 682.25LKR to enter. We thought we were being scammed so lied and told him we didn't have any money and managed to wangle our way in for free. Turns out the price was right... But is only 30LKR for a local or in our case free if you pretend you don't have any money. " we will just walk to the end of the road and come back"
Hotel waiter told us about porcupines that cross the road at 7pm. Turns out he was lying as well. The HUGE thing didn't turn up till at least 7.07pm. Incredible!
The sunsets in Kandy are spectacular and the peanut butter and chocolate fried ice cream shop had Danni creating a trip adviser account 2 hours later just so she could rave about it.
Tomorrow we catch the 5 hr train to Ella.
8 October 2017
We have now spent 2 sunny days in Kandy at the Nature Walk Resort. On our first day we hiked up to the Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha statue which sits up on the tallest hill overlooking Kandy. Had to pay to get our shoes back at the end but it was worth it as we were able to climb right up to the Buddhas shoulders to see the stunning view down over the lake which is Kandys main attraction.
We've eaten some amazing food and are slowly managing to budget like true backpackers. Our best bargain yet was a take away lunchbox curry for 117LKR (57p). Its no M&S reduced section eclair but we thought Nando would still be proud.
7 October 2017
We got up nice and early today and said a slightly relieved goodbye to Columbo. We headed to the train station to try and buy tickets for the train to Kandy in the hilly province. We didn't know if we would be able to get on the train as we had been told the day before that it was fully booked, however, we think this was a ploy by the train stations travel company to try get us to book accommodation and tickets through them in advance. We are quickly discovering that a lot of things in SriLanka are put in place to try make tourists pay more. You need to be switched on and wary of anyone who seems to be too nice for their own good.
The train was straightforward and beautiful. It took 3 hrs to get to Kandy and cost us £2.90 each. Arriving in Kandy Danni picked a hotel out of the lonely planet (our bible) which turned out to be perfect. Cheap, stunning views and monkeys everywhere! Kandy is very beautiful and exactly what we needed. Tomorrow we explore!
5 October 2017
After a 13 hour sleep to overcome our jet lag, we visited the top of Colombo to look at the markets. We were walking to find some lunch when we ended up chatting to a man called Yohan. He told us that most places are closed today for The Full Moon Paya which happens once a month and offered to show us the Buddhist Temple where everyone would be. On the way, he showed us the biggest Mosque in Sri Lanka, a Catholic Church and an amazing brightly coloured Hindu temple. This Hindu temple was in the place worst affected by the tsunami.
When we got to the Buddhist temple, Yohan and another man gave us a complete tour and even got a Buddhist monk to bless us both and tie string around our wrists... We think we might be married now.
On the way home, we stopped for coconut water and before dropping Yohan home, we tried to give Yohan some money for touring us around all day but in the end we needed it to pay for our tuk tuk... Sorry Yohan.
4 October 2017
Severe jet lag today after arriving this morning at 4am. Explored a very humid Columbo after catching up on some well deserved rest. After a lot of walking around and some good food for lunch we jumped on our first tuck tuck of the trip. Also discovered an intense basket ball tournament going on down the road from our hotel!
3 October 2017
Just landed in Mumbai after a surprisingly pleasant first flight. We now have 2 hours to kill before our next flight onto SriLanka so grabbed a quick iced coffee. Danni's face dropped when I reminded her that we had instantly just consumed the two things we were told to stay away from in India (Milk & Ice). Cue hypochondria.