United States of America · 231 Days · 246 Moments · March 2016

Anna Scott

Anna and Ian's world adventure

2 days ago

Day 2 of the Thakhek loop pm- after some noodle soup we set of in the sun in search of the "cool water springs" unfortunately we couldn't actually find them (we later found out that the bridge to them had collapsed!) but we were treated to amazing views of small lakes, grassy plains and limestone cliffs. We carried on further and stopped after about 20km at a small village for a drink. It was then another 40km to our village for the night near the Konglor cave. The road was straight and to either side was rice fields and limestone cliffs. We went though many villages where the children and adults waved and we had to wind through buffaloes, goats, chickens and goats. As the sun was setting behind the cliffs we decided it was one of our favourite drives of the trip!
Day 2 of the Thakhek loop am- last night there was a massive storm and it didn't let up this morning so we waited a little while but then had to just head out. We covered ourselves up and put our head down and got on with it. Luckily there were some beautiful views, statues in the rock on the side of the road and then the rain began to ease! By mid morning the sun was shining and we were able to enjoy the windy roads. We travelled about 50km and then stopped at the roadside for some lunch.

3 days ago

Day 1 of the Thaklek loop in Laos. We rode to the Budda cave 15km from Thakhek which involved a very very muddy road (a couple of slips, some very muddy legs/bikes and a lost shoe). We then rode up another bumpy road (but quickly abandoned the bikes and walked) to a lovely green lake but didn't have a swim as there was many locals fishing and bbqing (and offering us some kind of alcohol that we declined!). It was then about 55km to Mahaxai village where we had a lovely noodle soup for lunch. We carried on another 30 odd km past the Nam Thaun damn and along a beautiful windy road past a large lake. We arrived at our guest house in Tha Lang village at about 5pm. A brilliant first day to our adventure!

4 days ago

The morning started with a full exercise class in the room and then a hearty breakfast. We were looking forward to your VIP bus 🚌 which turned out to be a strange experience. It was a decent bus but we needed up round a table as there were no seats. I was sat under the speaker which played aggressive Asian action films then music for the whole trip. We arrived in Tha Khaek for some much needed beers 🍻 and started to plan our 4 day biking experience. The loop.

5 days ago

We decided to have a relaxed day in Vientiane rather than move further south. We hired bicycles and explored the river and some monuments including a temple covered in moss. We tried to visit the cope museum which is for rehabilitating people who have lost limbs in land mines but due to the big boating festival everything was closed. Because of the heat we decided the best course of action was to retreat in to the mall (not buying anything due to the the extortionate prices) and watch "girl on the train" at the cinema. A pleasant way to spend a hot afternoon with some snacks (not including the vacuum packed chicken feet). In the evening we avoided the larey locals and their many dangerously placed street fireworks and enjoyed some fresh noodles at a local restaurant. Tomorrow we will head south!

6 days ago

A good nights sleep 😴 was just what we needed....to lie by the pool for a bit. ☀️ a good mornings topping up the tan was followed by a walk down to the river to see Thailand (literally) and some of the boat festival. We found an amazing popup restaurant selling incredible food for only 15,000kip (£1.50). We returned later in the night to see some 💥 fireworks and many lanterns released into the river. Tomorrow we may rent a bike and go to the prosthetic limb centre which helps out all the people who come across the many mines and bombs that have been left.

7 days ago

Today we decided was the day for trying the infamous tubing. We were actually happily surprised that it definitely has calmed down since the minister for tourism got involved and closed down the illegal bars and dangerous rope swings. We floated down the river in our big tubes and stopped off at two bars for a couple of whiskies and a game of beer pong. Ian and Richard went down the zip line but Charlotte and I refrained!

9 days ago

Having had a few welcome drinks with Rich and Charlotte last night we treated ourselves to a lie in and decided that we wouldn't do the infamous tubing today. Instead we hired mopeds and explored the countryside around Vang Vieng. We swam in a blue lagoon and travelled through pretty villages and paddy fields. The roads were pretty bumpy and the somewhat short distance took all afternoon, especially as we had to take cover in a hut from a torrential downpour!
Having spoken to Ian I realised that I had a good 5 hours to kill before their bus got in. I checked in to the hotel and had a well needed shower. I then went for a wander around the little village/town of Vang Vieng. This pretty little village was once famous for "tubing" where drunken revellers would go down the (at times) dangerous river on inner tubes, stopping of to drink and jump on rope swings. Due to the increased number of deaths (many British and Australian idiots) the tourism board have cracked down on this and it is now a much more relaxed and sleepy affair. I sat on the river bank, read my book and watched the local rowing teams training. There was even a pretty hot air balloon floating by. Back in heaven...!
After landing in Bangkok at 9am I had a few hours to kill before my 8pm train so I promptly fell asleep on an airport chair. At 5pm I began my journey across the city using the subway. I picked up my ticket and boarded the train, staying in the women and children's only carriage. At about 9pm a lady came, made up our beds and put up our little curtains. I brushed my teeth, said goodnight to my old lady Thai friend and promptly fell asleep for the entire journey! We arrived in Nong Khai at 7am and I bought a ticket for the shuttle train over the border (passing through immigration at the station). At the station in Laos I filled in my visa forms and made friends with two girls to barter for a taxi in to town (Vientiane). I'd sussed out where the buses go from so went straight and paid cash to the driver to let me on. The journey to Vang Vieng took about 4hrs and when I arrived I headed for a wifi cafe to make contact with Ian (hoping he was on his way there!!)

10 days ago

I spent a lazy morning waiting for the bus 🚌 before being packed into a minivan of intense heat and discomfort. Terrible roads, frequent stops and little space were on the cards. However it was all worth it as met up with good travelling friends rich and Charlotte. After lots of catching up 🍻 we went to Luang Prabang's premier bowling ally to smash some pins. Unfortunately for Rich this was a bit too much and ended with a multicolour yawn 🌈. Tomorrow it's on to Vang Vieng where a very tired 😴 Anna Scott should be.

10 October 2016

This morning I awaited my fait with the cash machine. The bank said 1pm so I went hiking up to a look out. This was probably the sweatiest trek I've done in a while but produced some smashing views, if not a bit cloudy. I left my group to run down to check out the cash machine and it was fixed so I'm back in the game, I'm able to eat and drink again! 👍🏼 My plan now is to travel to Luang Prabang and meet some friends and then travel down to meet Anna with them for the infamous 'tubing' experience. Take a tube, travel down the river, get drunk, try not to die. Sounds fun.

9 October 2016

Attempted a lie in this morning but my body wouldn't let me with these early starts. Plus village life woke me up with a radio, tractor and roosters! Managed to watch some TV as wifi was decent 😂 and then a bus to Nong Khiaw. Note the long nails which made me feel slightly sick on the men. It's very beautiful here apart form the concrete bridge but links everything nicely together. Wanted to do a kayaking trip tomorrow but both cash machines are broke and so am I! Haven't enough money to actually get to my next destination so will have to see how things pan out tomorrow.

8 October 2016

Another day, another bus ride! Up early for the 7:30 to Vieng Thong 5 hours away. Visibility was down to 10ft but not sure the driver understood this. However the view was incredible once the cloud started to shift as we worked our way down. Very rural in this part and not many people on the road so that's probably why the driver threw it round the corners with gusto. I have found a nice guesthouse and went to find the "hot springs". The guidebook said they weren't good and I agree. They were scolding hot so you even put your finger in. Also they were filthy so probably would have got cholera 💀. On the way back some locals were having a party so I drank some beer with them 🍻. Not feeling especially well, think I may have malaria so going to get an early night and another bus tomorrow to Nong Khiaw. 👍🏼😂

7 October 2016

Isn't it fun problem solving! This morning I went to the tourism office to get bus times and sort my day out to the caves at Vieng Xai. With this information I went to the bus station by tuk tuk van thing (4km out of town), only to be told that those buses aren't accurate and I would struggle to return to Sam Neua. I decided that the best idea was a motorbike and although I had to walk back into town it was the beat decision as the views were awesome and I could take my time. Even had a proper Indian curry for lunch!! The caves were a sanctuary from the US bombing. Some 450 limestone caves containing hospitals, schools and barracks during the "secret war". The caves were fascinating. Take this: more bombs were dropped per head in tonnes than any other war. They calculated it equalled one plane load of bombs every 8 minutes for 24 hours a day for 9 years! (Sweat I'm turning socialist). Enough propaganda. Tomorrow early bus to Vieng Thong to split up the journey!

6 October 2016

Along the 9 hour bus ride I had one women spit out the window and then boomerang into my window onto me. One man fell asleep on me. One child poked me in the eye. One women throw up in front of me in a bag then throw it out the window, mercifully I had my window shut at this point. The border crossing was fairly simple and I managed to change some money before hand which eased the process. The scenery is fantastic on both sides (slightly better Laos side), however the roads deteriorated spectacularly in Laos. I finally arrived into Sam Neua picking a decent guesthouse that feels totally empty. Not too sure they are used to the old tourists here!
Anna has left me again! Party time 🎉. Being an adventurous person I fancied a more challenging border crossing than the simple "Gringo bus" to the capital Vientiane. Instead I took the 🚂 to Thanh Hoa, stayed overnight and woke up ridiculously early for the 8am bus to Sam Nuea in 🇱🇦Laos. As you can see the bus has wheels (it's only bonus) and along with piles of luggage and vegetation we set off.

3 October 2016

After arriving in Hanoi we set out for some chicken broth thingy, which Anna wasn't too happy about. Next day we collected the trainers that Anna had left behind in Nha Trang and took part in a walking tour (not done one of those in agggessss). Ended up in a spot called beer corner which we went back to later on for a few beers and spicy meal. Fortunately we didn't have to use the toilets 😷.
We were up early to catch the bus from Sapa to Lao Cai where we were getting the train from. We wandered to to the bus through Sapa and past the church. The journey took 1 hour and was very windy but with very good views! We got the train at 10.05am and arrived in Hanoi at 7.30pm so it was a long ride. Luckily we had soft seats which were pretty comfy and we were able to take lots of naps!

2 October 2016

During the afternoon we spent a lot of time playing; no they're not shy around us it's hard to get a minutes peace! We were sad to leave them all and had some sad goodbyes; the children giving us bunches of flowers they'd picked. At nightfall we shared a taxi up the valley (very slowly due to the very bad roads) and then spent the evening in Sa Pa. It's a nice little town with windy streets and brilliant views but is beginning to be over developed.
We woke to sunshine so after breakfast, and a quick play with all of the children, we went to explore the valley. We left in a group with a local guide, the local villages are Mong (unsure of spelling!) people and they speak a language closer to Chinese than Vietnamese. We walked through the valley and learned about their culture. We walked about 15km in total and the views were spectacular.

1 October 2016

We woke up to rain and a valley full of clouds so we spent the day playing with the local children and doing some drawing. As the parents were all working we basically baby sat all day (think they're pretty much left to fend for them selves). The community tends to just look after whoevers children are around at the time! We stayed around for the English lesson in the afternoon and pretty much ended up running it ourselves! We had a bit of drama at the beginning of the lesson when a local dad started shouting at some girls as they'd fallen out with his girl. It escalated slightly and he began throwing things, we quickly got a lot of crying children in to the home and locked the door whilst the parents shouted it out. Local village politics i think and there seems to be a lot of jealousy as the homestay is doing well and other locals are farmers. Later that afternoon the rain cleared and we went for a walk through the valley.

30 September 2016

We arrived in Sa Pa and were picked up by two motor taxi's to take us to our homestay about 7km away. The view on the way down the valley was stunning and the view from the homestay just as good. We had dinner with the family and played with the 4 puppies. In the afternoon we helped with the English lesson - children come from all the surrounding villages to the homestay for this free and extra class. It's mostly girls as the families want them to become tour guides whereas the boys will help on the farms. They ranged in age from 6-14 and were very keen to learn! The lessons are run by a volunteer who stays for about 2 months. We tried to give some advice on learning language but it seems the lessons here are very formal and they like to keep it that way!

29 September 2016

We had an horrendously bumpy night bus from Halong to Sa Pa. We always end up over the wheel so very bouncy. We arrived at a town on the Chinese border at 6.30am and then had to get a bus to Sa Pa. Needless to say we were very tired when we arrived and sat down for breakfast!

28 September 2016

When driving back to get the 4pm ferry we got a flat tyre, the locals were very helpful at pointing this out & I was soon on the back of a scooter along with dried fish & crabs; she was trying to feed me fish as we scootered along & had much delight in showing me off as we passed people! She exchanged me on to a mechanics bike halfway to the harbour & we went back to find Ian (3.20pm). The mechanic took one look at the inner tube & said we needed a new one, but he wanted to charge us 300,000. An argument followed as we couldn't afford to pay him & didn't want to be ripped off (3.30pm). We told him to just shove the old inner tube in & we'd go (3.45pm). I then hailed a pregnant local & got on her bike to stop the ferry going but she'd only take me as far as her house (fair enough!). Ian then came tootling through on the flat & I hopped on (3.55pm). We made it to the ferry by the skin of our teeth! Once we made it to the mainland we found some lovely locals who helped us fix it!
Exploring Ha Long bay: we decided to do the less touristy (and cheaper) option and got the ferry to one of the bay's biggest islands Cat Ba and then explored it by scooter. The ferry went through much of the bay so we got the best of both worlds! On the island we visited "hospital cave" a cave that the Viet Cong used as a bomb proof hospital during the war with the USA; we were there alone so it was a bit freaky!

27 September 2016

A quick stop off in Hanoi (made longer by the fact we arrived at the bus station and it was under construction- something the taxi driver hadn't know- and had to find another bus station) and we were back on a very long bus (only 4.5 but felt slooowwwww) to Ha long bay in the east. Ian wasn't impressed by the man sat next to us sneezing! We arrived in Ha long at 7pm and needed a good rest!
The night train from Hue to Hanoi! Choo choo! We were lucky that no one else joined us so we had a 4 birth cabin to ourselves! We left hue at 9.30pm and arrived in Hanoi at 12.30pm today. A nice change from a night bus! I've also joined the Asian population and invested in some comfy flip flop socks! 😂

26 September 2016

Today we explored the imperial citadel of Hue. Hue was the capital city from 1802 when the emperor Nguyen took over and he tried to unite the north and south of Vietnam. The empire went from strength to strength until the French exerted their power in the 1900's. The city was extensively bombed during the war with the USA in the Tet offensive but is slowly being restored to its former glory. We stopped at an amazing little restaurant on the street where the lady showed us a piece of paper with 2 options; we chose one of each and weren't disappointed! The freshest food and tasted amazing. When the bill came to 60,000 dong (£2) we tipped an extra 20,000 which she gave straight to her little girl who had been BBQing the pork for us. Such an amazing little find!

25 September 2016

Passing through beautiful rice fields on the way in to Hue.
Today we had a great day driving from Hoi An to Hue along the Hai Van pass. We started out buying some new trainers as I unfortunately left mine at the last hostel. The journey was approx 120km and the Hai Van pass goes up over the mountains; you may all remember it from Top Gear! The views were spectacular and the road fun to drive. We passed through lots of low cloud going over the top and then got caught in a very heavy rainstorm but that added to the fun and we soon dried out! It took us just under 6 hours with lots and lots of stops to take in the scenery and take photos.

24 September 2016

This afternoon we took a bicycle from our homestay and cycled to the beach; stopping off at another pretty pagoda on the way. Ian cycled and I sat on the back in the Vietnamese way! It was pretty comfortable and apart from some negotiating junctions to get out of the town was all very pretty countryside.
We spent the morning walking around the pretty streets of the old town of Hoi an. It's a beautiful pedestrianised little town with lots of old chinese/Japanese and French architecture. It's protected by UNESCO and was lucky to be avoided by bombs during the war with USA however it does flood every year to quite a height! We visited old houses, temples and pagodas but the heat finally got too much and we had to sit in the shade with a refreshing sugar cane juice.

23 September 2016

We had a long and uncomfortable journey on the bus up to Hoi an today but luckily it only took 5 hours rather than the expected 7. When we got to Hoi an we walked along to the old town (UNESCO heritage site) and wandered around the streets and along the river. The old town is pedestrianised so it's nice to not have to avoid lots of motorbikes as you walk. You have to pay 120,000dong to get in but the pass lasts for a few days so we can explore in the light tomorrow.

22 September 2016

We had a massive thunderstorm in the night and it was still raining this morning so we stayed at the hostel and did some more relaxing. Late morning it cleared up so we went for a small stroll (it's a tiny village) around, past the village well (and it's many pumps!) and saw the fishing harbour. We stopped off for some noodle soup and then sat in the sun doing more reading in the afternoon. In the evening we played pool again and spent a long time giving English lessons/speech therapy to the guys working at the hostel!

21 September 2016

A very relaxing day in Bai Xep. We only left the hostel beach area briefly for a stroll along the beach to watch the locals in their fishing boats 😍 I've finished a whole book and we played some pool!

20 September 2016

After a short 5 hour bus ride from Nha Trang we arrived on the side of the road where the driver informed us we needed to get off to get to Bai Xep. We walked down through the village and right at the well (as told by our instructions) and came upon our lovely little hostel on the beach - life's a beach - just in time for sunset and the family BBQ. Bai xep is a working fishing village and there are only 2 hostel where foreigners can stay so it's a lovely little rustic place with a lovely atmosphere.

19 September 2016

After 3 long days of driving we spent the day relaxing by the beach in Nha Trang. Nha Trang is a city in the centre of the east coast and is a popular holiday destination for Russians due to its proximity to their south by flight. There are many resorts and we had a nice day relaxing but we head out tomorrow to find quieter beaches up the coast. We topped the day with Ian having a nice cut throat shave!

17 September 2016

Day 3: We set off from the hotel at 8.30am after a better night sleep than the night before (no government speaker to tell us to wake up and go to work this time!) we had a long ride on the bikes (about 200km) but we stopped regularly, visiting coffee shops, a pepper plantation, a goat farm and stopping at a local farmers house for a lie down when the rain got too much (strange but many people were doing the same!) We arrived in the beach city of Nha Trang for sunset and the hour of free beer at our hostel!
Day 2: we set off at around 8.45am and drove along the lakeside. We saw elephants swimming in the lake and the local villagers were all out working hard to harvest the rice. They lay it along the road to dry and then quickly take it in if it starts to rain. The lake and paddy fields looked beautiful. We carried on riding for the morning and met our guides neice (leader of a local primary school), visited a pepper plantation and stopped for a chat with some friendly petrol station owners! We had lunch and then rode to a big waterfall and had a paddle/swim. We finished off in the biggest city of the central highlands where we will stay for the night.

16 September 2016

We arrived in a small village by Lak lake at about 5.45 and were very tired after the days riding. The lake looked beautiful in the evening light and we watched the local children playing in it before going to the traditional long house where we were going to stay. We had BBQ fish for dinner; the driver bought it from the market and and it was still alive so it was very fresh and tasted delicious!
Day 1 of our 3 day motorbike tour from Dalat to Nha Trang: we set off early (me on the back of our guides bike and Ian following on his own) we visited a temple for good luck and then spent the day winding through the central highlands stopping to look at different things on the way. We visited a weasel coffee farm (they pick the beans out of the poo once the weasel has eaten them and then process them- actually very nice!), a silk factory, flower farms, a weird market (where the locals loved covering me in caterpillars), a minority village, a floating village and stopped at many more places to take pictures of the beautiful countryside.

13 September 2016

Firstly, after I wrote our last entry we went for some dinner. Unfortunately on the way Anna was robbed of her bag by a bad bad man on a scooter who zoomed by and ripped it out of her grasp. It contained her phone so we spent the night sorting this out. In the morning Anna had to file a police report and then we could resume our day! Tunnels! The Cu Chi tunnels are a labyrinth of underground connecting tunnels used in the Vietnam war! Used by the Viet Cong they consisted of living quarters, kitchens, war rooms and supply routes. The tunnels were deadly effective and resulted in aggressive campaigns by the USA to bomb the hell out of them. On the other hand some of the traps the Viet Congs used were horrifying and life in that jungle must have been grim for both sides! The tunnels we went through were as tight squeeze but they'd actually been widened for us!! To cheer ourselves up we went for a Vietnamese Mexican (tasty) and booked a bus to leave our mixed feelings of Saigon behind!
Firstly, after I wrote our last entry we went for some dinner. Unfortunately on the way Anna was robbed of her bag by a bad bad man on a scooter who zoomed by and ripped it out of her grasp. It contained her phone so we spent the night sorting this out. In the morning Anna had to file a police report and then we could resume our day! Tunnels! The Cu Chi tunnels are a labyrinth of underground connecting tunnels used in the Vietnam war! Used by the Viet Cong they consisted of living quarters, kitchens, war rooms and supply routes. The tunnels were deadly effective and resulted in aggressive campaigns by the USA to bomb the hell out of them. On the other hand some of the traps the Viet Congs used were horrifying and life in that jungle must have been grim for both sides! The tunnels we went through were as tight squeeze but they'd actually been widened for us!! To cheer ourselves up we went for a Vietnamese Mexican (tasty) and booked a bus to leave our mixed feelings of Saigon behind!

12 September 2016

After waking up with a slight hangover 🍻 we embarked on a self guided walking tour of HCMC. We visited independence palace, Norte dam (yes Catholics in Asia) and the war museum (Americans are dirt bags). A lot was propaganda but they did some very shitty things and dropped more bombs in 14 months than the Allies dropped in the total of World War Two. The war lasted 8 years and is a stain on Americas history (Anna says I'm a communist now but neither of us can shake the images of the young children gunned down in innocence). Anywho after a quick nap we are back on it for some drinks and food with the lovely thought of going to some of the war tunnel the Vietnamese used....more to follow tomorrow. And probably more propaganda 👍🏼🇻🇳

11 September 2016

We left our lovely hut on the River in Can Tho at lunch time yesterday and boarded a very wet bus to Vinh long. The plan was to head to An Binh island for a couple of days to stay with a family. However because of the persistent rain we decided that staying on an island in a hut may not be the best idea and we quickly made the decision to board a bus up to Ho Chi Minh city; at least there there is stuff to do in the rain! We arrived in the evening and headed out in to the busy streets for some food straight away; we hadn't managed to find anything other than avocado shake in Vinh long! The streets in Ho Chi Minh are very busy and the pavements are not safe zones as bikes regularly charge down them as well! When crossing the road you must constantly look left/right as it is common that someone will be driving the wrong way down the road.

10 September 2016

After arriving in Can Tho We managed to find our "resort" and hastily signed up for a 5:30am start to the floating market. Cai Rang is the largest floating market in the Mekong Delta and was full of fruits and vegetables. Basically you motor around in a boat and get boarded almost by someone selling you noodles etc, brilliant fun! We then moved onto a noodle making factory before heading back feeling rather jaded! A quick relax then fuelled us up to find some more food. However after 2 hours of a basic circle we were left very sweaty, hungry and annoyed and just went home for food (I blame trip advisor and apple maps). Early to bed tonight for us 💤💤💤.

9 September 2016

After crossing the border in to Vietnam we said a sad goodbye to our friend Jack who we have spent the last 3 weeks with. He is heading straight to Ho Chi Minh city and we are going to explore the Mekong Delta. We boarded a very old rickety bus and had a very bumpy 6 hour ride before arriving in Can Tho. Although it was scary to look out of the front window because of the 1000's of motor bikes and the bus's honking horn, the views of the river and villages were good!

8 September 2016

Today we visited the abandoned hill station on Bokor mountain. Built by the French as a cool retreat in the 1920's it has since been abandoned several times and was used as shelter by Khmer Rouge fighters during the civil war. It is eerily foggy and windy at the top and felt very odd to explore the old buildings; the hotel still has rooms and bathrooms in it. The views from the top of Kampot and all the way to the sea are pretty good!

7 September 2016

After touring the farm we headed to the little beach town of Kep and their famous crab market. We ordered our crab from the shore and then paid a man to cook it on his stove. We accompanied the crab with stingray, mackerel and squid on a stick.
We arrived in the town of Kampot, near the Vietnam border yesterday. Today we hired bikes and visited a pepper farm. Kampot was once famous for its pepper but production was wiped out by the Khmer Rouge and then the Vietnam war. They began production again in 1993 and were awarde the world trade organisation's geographical indications status in 2010.

3 September 2016

A very fun few days on Koh Rong island! Unfortunately we had way too much fun and barely took any photos... But we had a lovely time staying on a beautiful beach in a cabin with friends.

31 August 2016

We went on a fishing adventure today! We were lucky that us and our friend Jack were the only ones so we had the boat to ourselves and were looked after by a 17yr old Cambodian guy and his 16yr old brother! The water was choppy as we left the beach but we sheltered in still waters just off a nearby island to fish. The guys started a BBQ on the boat and we used lines with octopus bate to catch. The fish went straight from the sea on to the BBQ so very fresh! Ian managed to catch 1 and I didn't get any 😢 but luckily Jack managed to catch 4 or we may have gone hungry!!

30 August 2016

It was cloudy in the morning so we took the opportunity of it being slightly cooler to walk all the way along Otres beach. Unfortunately they are doing building work on our road so the first part was pretty muddy! The cloud didn't stop us catching the sun though and we were soon sheltering back at the hostel. We played lots of pool in the afternoon and went to the rooftop in time for sunset that evening

29 August 2016

Sunset on Otres beach, Sihanoukville after a long bus journey down from Phnom Penh which consisted of torrential rain, driver/passenger arguments and child sick 😩! we arrived in the rain but it cleared up pretty quickly in time for us to walk along the beach.

28 August 2016

Round 1: it's kickboxing time. International rounds of Cambodia Vs Thailand. After a long journey to the stadium our tuk tuk driver found us some seats in the "foreigner area" which was ring side 👍🏼. So penned in with other travellers in heat close to the Suns core temperature we watched sweaty men kicking the crap out of each other. Anna enjoyed it and I loved it. It's brutal and best of all free! 👊🏼👍🏼
Once back in Phnom Penh we visited the Royal palace. The royal family still occupy part of it but there's but much else we can tell you about it as we refused to pay for a guide. Here are some pretty pictures of it though!

27 August 2016

In the afternoon we went back down to the forest and waited for the elephants to come for their bath; if they don't want to come they don't have to! We were lucky and 3 came down separately. We spent the time throwing water at them from buckets and scrubbing their skin to get rid of bacteria as this can lead to infection. They were all very cheeky and new exactly where to look for the bananas we had brought them; searching our bodies with their trunks! It was a brilliant experience to be in the river with them and one we will not forget. Once the elephants were ready to leave they wandered off on their own, sometimes causing us to have jump quickly out of the way in the river to clear a path!
We woke early after our uncomfortable nights sleep. The guide met us & explained some of the aims of the Mondulkiri project. The local rainforest has been reduced to approx 35% which has had a big impact on the population of elephants. In Cambodia there are few elephants left & locals work them hard; being reluctant to let them breed as they then cannot work for 5 yrs. The project aims to help the local tribes with education, healthcare & access to employment & aims to reduce the amount of deforestation by farmers & increase the population of elephants by breeding. There are currently 6 rescued elephants in the project, living in the forest with their "mahouts". It's an expensive business with the latest elephant costing $41,000 but they have all been saved from hard work & cruelty & put in to retirement. They roam their part of the forest freely & tourists are invited to see & interact with them but not ride them. We spent the morning feeding them bananas in the forest.

26 August 2016

Day 1 of the jungle trek: we set off from the lodge at 8.30am and met our guide at a local village; the Mondulkiri project, who we were staying with employ all local guides from the villages. He set us up with bamboo sticks and gave us our rice rations for the day. We walked through fields and had brilliant views across the valley, the guide pointed out the farmers crops as we went. The day was long and hot; walking 18km in total. We were glad of our sticks as when we entered the rain forest the ground was slippy from the recent rains. There were many steep slopes and we all had some spectacular falls on to our bums! We saw two waterfalls and settled by the smaller one for our lunch. I think we were lucky as only one of our group got bitten by a leech. We arrived at our camp at 5pm and immediately showered off and watched the sunset over the forest from the deck. The family cooked us rice and we settled in our hammocks for the (long) night with a Jungle soundtrack!

25 August 2016

We took a bus from Phnom Penh to Mondulkiri in the east of the country near the Vietnam border. The journey was long and uncomfortable but we saw lots of beautiful views and rustic villages. I ended up babysitting a young baby at a food stop whilst it's mum sold eggs on a stick! We were rewarded at the end of it by the beautiful views of the rainforest from our lodge.

24 August 2016

A rainy day in Phnom Penh so we visited the Russian market. There were many stalls and we treated ourselves to a pedicure (Ian's first he tells me! 😂)

23 August 2016

Today we had a somber day learning about Cambodia's past. We visited the notorious s21 prison (tuol sleng genocide museum) and the killing fields. A day of quiet reflection for all.

22 August 2016

Today we travelled from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh (the Cambodian capital) by mini bus. The journey was relatively painless with a stop for lunch - we refrained from the fried spiders that a lady was trying to sell and had noodles instead! In the evening we went to a food stall and sucked some crab meat. A simple day.

21 August 2016

We are still in Siem Reap but are all templed out. Today we did a lot of relaxing (both having full body massages in the morning) and then went on a food tour with a local Cambodian guy. We went to the market to try lots of fried stuff, traditional puddings and fruit. Ian really enjoyed the cows intestines (as you can tell from the photos! 😂)

20 August 2016

We were up at 4am for our trip to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat. We were treated to a beautiful sky so can probably say it was worth it! We spent the rest of the morning exploring the other temples in the complex. There were some very steep/precarious steps, It was hot and we were tired but there were some brilliant views!

18 August 2016

Today we caught a train to Batu caves, which are made of limestone and full of bats! After hiking steep steps full of aggressive monkeys (foreigners continue to feed them Coke and sweets and wonder why they are a bit crazy 🐒) we entered the Dark Cave for a guided tour. Saw lots of creepy crawly things (spiders, centipedes etc). This was followed by a curry and some fake merchandise purchasing ready to look stylish in Cambodia. 👜👛

17 August 2016

After a long day travelling on Tuesday we arrived in Kuala Lumpur late on Tuesday night. We were up on Wednesday to explore the city, going to the top of the KL tower and experiencing the skywalk and then watching the sunset behind the KL tower from a heli pad bar. The petronas towers then light up along with the rest of the city and its a beatiful view!

15 August 2016

Today we were up early to visit the highest point in Langkawi (mount Raya) with beautiful views and then spent the afternoon on one of Langkawi's less developed beaches 😍

14 August 2016

Exploring some of Langkawi's beaches 😍

13 August 2016

We are currently in Langkawi, an island north of Malaysia near the Thai border. After a morning of heavy down pours the weather suddenly cleared and we headed off to the cable cars to see the views of the island. The view was clear and then suddenly the clouds rolled in which was fun! We walked along the sky bridge through the clouds.

11 August 2016

We got the bus to Penang hill and the funicular train up the hill which stands at just over 800m and had good views over George town and the sea. When then explored the largest temple in Malaysia - Kek Lok Si

10 August 2016

We explored George Town, Penang on bicycles. George Town is an Unesco heritage site due to its old colonial architecture. We visited the harbour, the clan jetties (where Chinese families with the same name used to go and live when they arrived in Penang- they are all still lived in by the clans and maintained by the locals), wandered around China town and little india, and went on a treasure hunt of the over 80 street arts which George Town is famous for.

8 August 2016

Day 4: sadly it was time to say goodbye and make the journey south to Kota Kinabalu. The sun was shining so the views through the north of Borneo were breathtaking and we were treated to a glimpse of mount Kinabalu over the fields!

7 August 2016

Day 3: the sun was beginning to come out so we explored the local beaches. The winds were still blowing and there was an immense amount of rubbish about but we found a cute little beach bar being run by a retired Australian couple who are doing there best to keep their bit of beach clean.

6 August 2016

Day 2: the tail end of a Phillipines typhoon was making the sea too choppy to go out on and the skies were still grey so we walked up to the tip of Borneo. We were shocked by the amount of recyclable rubbish blown on to the beach by the storms so we spend an hour in the afternoon collecting rubbish! We were rewarded by a beer but it was probably the first bit of work we've done in 5 months!

5 August 2016

Day 1 of exploring the north tip of Borneo: we drove up from Kota Kinabalu (about 85 miles And taking about 7 hours with stops) and checked in to our environmentally jungle camp (Tampat Do Aman). We stayed in the long house and slept with the sounds of the jungle. The camp does lots for the local community including education and employment and the camp is completely environmentally friendly; complete with compost toilets and outdoor showers!

3 August 2016

Today we arrived in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the Sabah region of Malaysia. We are staying at a cool hostel with little pods instead of beds! We didn't manage to get much done after the flight but saw the beautiful sunset from the harbour and had some freshly cooked stingray and prawns from the rather smokey night food market!

2 August 2016

We were lucky last night and got told about the Kuching festival that was happening; we'd otherwise managed to miss it! It was full of happy people with lots of amazing food stalls, music and a carnival atmosphere (apart from a sudden and extreme downpour later on in the evening!)

1 August 2016

Today we visited the Semenggoh nature reserve in Kuching. We had to wait around for about an hour whilst the wardens called the Orangutans as it was pretty hot and they didn't seem to want to come out of the tree canopy but we were lucky enough that Richie came down in the end for some food! He is the dominate male in the group and asserts his authority with the other males. He has been at the lodge since he was rescued from captivity. The animals live in the wild and only really come to the lodge for food when it is hard to find in the trees; they kept warning us that sometimes none come down and people have to come back day after day in hope of spotting one!

31 July 2016

Today we arrived in Kuching, Borneo. We had a lazy afternoon and then headed out along the waterfront in the evening. We made a spontaneous decision and jumped on a river cruise to see some of the city sights and then ate at a really good hawkers market that specialised in sea food.

29 July 2016

We spent the last 3 nights in Singapore. It's a lovely clean city and we enjoyed walking around the tall buildings, visiting gardens on the bay with its brilliant tree/flower installations and eating lots of hawker foods in the food markets. We tried Stingray which is a speciality of Singapore and very nice, we stayed clear of the other speciality; fish head soup! We were lucky enough to stay with Ian's friends in their apartment.

26 July 2016

Yet more beautiful villages and beaches in Lombok 😍 will be sad to say goodbye to this amazing island tomorrow!
Today we travelled from Tetebatu to Kuta on the south coast of Lombok. We stopped off at a tile making business on the way to see how they made roof tiles! In the afternoon we wandered along the beach in Kuta. Another very pretty beach; this area is a lot less developed though and rustic bamboo buildings run along the coast with a few fishing villages.

25 July 2016

Today the son from our home stay (22years) took us out for a tour around Tetebatu. He wanted to practice his English and is hoping to start a touring company in the future. He took us on a walk through the rice paddies (explaining the process), to the local waterfall (which involved walking through some caves), to see local women weaving and then to see some bamboo handicrafts being made. We visited local villages and got to know the local people; one of which showed us around the local high school that he works at. This school is government funded, they can't always afford tables and chairs and the staff are low paid but he said he loves it! We also saw children playing football and the local fish in their baskets on the waterway. When they are grown the locals sell the fish.

24 July 2016

We arrived in Tetebatu at lunch time and spent the afternoon walking in the national park and discovering the Pengadangan waterfall. On the trip home we were lucky to finally have a clear view of Mount Rinjani over the rice fields! (it is usually covered in clouds).
We travelled from Senaru in the north of Lombok to Tetebatu via the Sembalun valley. We stopped off at the top of the mountain pass to see the spectacular views over the valley. There were lots of people enjoying the views and we were asked for many photos by the locals!

23 July 2016

In the afternoon we visited a traditional village and watched the women pounding rice with wooden poles. We also visited a wooden mosque in Baleq; this is where Wektu Telu originated (a Lombok religion which is a a mix off Islam and Hinduism). We then rode through the rice fields and had tea on the steps of our drivers porch and met the locals in his village.
In the morning we hired a guide to show us around the Senaru area. This included walking through the jungle to the two local waterfalls (luckily no monkey attacks this time!). The waterfalls are called Sendang Gile and Tiu Kelep and are both supplied by the water coming off the Rinjani mountain. The water was very cold!!

22 July 2016

We arrived in Senaru at lunch time and after a quick rest we walked through the jungle, along the water canals (narrowly missing being attacked by a family of silver monkeys!) to a the Sendang Gile waterfall. The water comes from the Rinjani volcano in central Lombok and is directed from the mountains along narrow canals to the rice fields and villages. The waterfall was full of locals who always remember to bring their shampoo and soap for a good wash!
A busy boat crossing from Gili Air to Lombok

21 July 2016

A beautiful sunset on the eve of our departure from Gili Air 😍

20 July 2016

Today we walked alllll the way around Gili air island. It's bigger than I thought having spent all of the time we were here before in bed!

19 July 2016

Back on Gili air and I have my appetite back! Freshly grilled squid, red snapper and cocktails!

18 July 2016

We're staying in a lovely garden bungalow on Gili Meno. We walked all the way around the beautiful island today; there are no cars/motorbikes on the island and people get around on foot, bicycles or horse drawn carts. We visited the turtle sanctuary where they are working to improve the population of turtles in the area by breeding and releasing them in to the sea when they are strong. We then spent time on the beach and took a dip in the beautiful blue sea. It's a hard life... The islands turn moody at the same time every day as the storm clouds come over the hills on nearby Lombok.

17 July 2016

We celebrated me feeling vaguely normal again by moving to Gili meno; the smallest of the 3 Gili islands. The small public boat took less than 30 minutes to reach the beach of the new island and we had a couple of hair raising minutes trying to jump off the boat on to the beach in the late afternoon waves but we made it safely!

16 July 2016

We have moved....onto another island! 🏝 Gili Air has been our home for two nights in a wonderful bamboo hut with the nicest locals who have looked after Anna while she has been feeling under the weather 🤒. As I'm a caring soul I went on a snorkelling trip with turtles which was amazing! 🐢🐢😂. Off to Gili Meno soon (another island) and then back to Air to fill in the gaps Anna missed!

14 July 2016

Our last day on Lembongan island. The sea looked even bluer today (if that's even possible!). We paid to spend it by a pool bar over looking the sea. Not too shabby for £4...

13 July 2016

Today we hired a bike and explored Nusa Lembongan. We visited: yellow bridge (the suspension bridge that connects Lembongan to its small neighbouring island Nusa Ceningan, dream beach, Devil's tear, sandy bay, mushroom bay and mangrove point (the northern top of the island) before watching the sunset from a pool bar on Jungut beach. We saw spectacular coastline, local villages, beautiful beaches, seaweed farms (75% of the local population are employed in the seaweed trade compared to just 5% in tourism) and an amazing sunset.

12 July 2016

We were up early (unfortunately so after a hard night with a bad bunk bed companion who jumped and jived making my bed shake all night! 😡) for our boat to Nusa Lembongan. Standard story: we left our bags at the hostel and went to the beautiful beach for the day! We couldn't afford sun beds on today's budget so we ended up throwing our towels down in the only shade we could find; the locals hut! (Probably much to their annoyance!) Feel over the jet lag now so maybe we'll try and do something active tomorrow!

11 July 2016

Today we arrive in Sanur; a quick stop over so that we can get the boat to Nusa Lembongan (an island to the east of Bali). We spent the day on the beach relaxing (again!)

10 July 2016

A day spent in Ubud relaxing by the hostel pool and then exploring on foot; we tried to wait until the heat had died down but still ended up sweating bucket loads in the humidity! We walked into town from our hostel up a ridge between the two rivers and found some pretty rice paddies where we could watch the workers in the Sunday afternoon sun.

9 July 2016

Today we hired a driver and visited Lake Beratan and the twin lakes on the way to Munduk in the central highlands of Bali. In the afternoon we visited Jatiluwih; a collection of beautiful rice terraces which has been given UNESCO heritage. Whilst there the heavens opened and we had to shelter from the thundering rain before returning to Ubud for the evening.

8 July 2016

We arrived in Ubud on Friday morning. In the afternoon we visited the monkey forest and some temples. In the evening we watched a traditional Balinese dance. It's very humid here!

7 July 2016

Today we walked 4 km along the Canggu beaches, past many temples, from Echo beach to Batubelig beach. We watched the sunset from a bar and then got an early dinner. We've had a relaxing few days fighting jet lag but tomorrow we're off to explore the real Bali!

5 July 2016

We were up at 3.30am for our flight from Bangkok to Bali. After checking in we went down to the beach for some food and another snooze. Jet lag is truly with us! We watched the sunset from the hostel rooftop and then early night for us.

2 July 2016

Welcome to Bangkok, Thailand and the 33 degree humidity. After leaving Brazil myself and Anna went out separate ways and I was left alone to explore the temples and Buddhist religion. A trip to Chatuchak Weekend Market, one of the largest in the world was filled with endless hours of roaming around taking in the spectacle (think eagle centre but hotter and more cramped). I also went out onto Khao San road which was full of drunk English people, so I thought I would join them. Jet lag however, has taken its toll and I have become an insomniac with no idea of time. Can't wait for Bali, but not looking forward to the early flight! ✈️🏯

29 June 2016

We went on a boat drip today with some friends and explored the islands and beaches around Arraial do Cabo (a town 3 hours north of Rio de Janeiro described as "Brazil's Caribbean). We visited white sandy beaches, watched whales migrating (!!!) and watched the sunset on the beach. Not a bad day!

27 June 2016

Second day sightseeing in Rio. We were taken round Santa Marta Favela (where Michael Jackson filmed "they don't care about us" in 1996) and then went up Christ the redeemer in the sun

26 June 2016

We spent our first day exploring Rio on a morning bike tour (24km) and the we walked down Copacabana beach and up Sugar loaf for some brilliant views.

23 June 2016

We spent the morning at São Bento waterfall and natural pool before we head off on 2 long buses to get back to Rio for the weekend

22 June 2016

We visited the national park today - Chapada dos veadeiros. There are 3 trails at the park and we took the one to Saltos waterfall. It included 3 waterfalls and swimming areas and was about 10km in total. We then visited Vale da Lua in the late afternoon. Unfortunately we had to move hostels as well and the new one is a way out of town; we've probably walked about 15km today. Time to cook a nice meal and go to bed!

21 June 2016

We arrived in Alto Paraiso at 2.30pm and found a hostel pretty easily. The area is famous for the Chapada dos Veadeiros national park - many waterfalls and lagoons. As we didn't have much time we caught a ride to a nearby waterfall - Cachoeira dos Cristais in the late afternoon sun. The views over the mountainside were beautiful!

20 June 2016

Once we'd found our hostel and checked in we hired the hostels fixy bikes for the day (very strange to get used to!) and set of exploring the famous architecture. Brasilia, made Brazil’s capital in 1960, is a planned city distinguished by its white, modern architecture, chiefly designed by Oscar Niemeyer. Laid out in the shape of an airplane, its “fuselage” is the Monumental Axis, 2 wide avenues flanking a massive park. In the “cockpit” is Praça dos Três Poderes, named for the 3 branches of government surrounding it. Apparently there was a competition to design the new capital and the airplane won - very strange! The afternoon was spent trying to navigate the confusing bike lanes which would abruptly end in an avenue of 6 lanes of traffic and massive high pavements that you couldn't get down before reappearing randomly further down the city - someone needs to sort them out!
Yesterday we took the 9.20am bus from Paraty to Rio. Waited in the bus station for 2 hours and got the overnight bus (19 hours) to Brasilia (the capital). The bus was empty so luckily we could spread out to sleep; but unfortunately it was one of throes bumpy buses that you have to keep your jaw at a certain angle or your teeth chatter in your mouth! 👍🏻we arrived safely this morning and are off out to explore!

18 June 2016

Today was cloudy but we had a nice walk over the headland to the next beach. It was still really pretty in the clouds!

17 June 2016

This afternoon we caught the local bus to Punha; where we walked through the forest to a waterfall (Tobogã). The Rock has been smoothed due to the water and is now used as a natural water slide! It plummets you in to the freezing cold water face first (especially if the Brazilian guy at the top pushes you and spins you! 😡)
Yesterday we arrived in Paraty. A small town 1 hour up the coast from Ubatuba, in Rio state. The streets are cobbled and dip in the middle as they flood every morning when the tide rises. We had breakfast on the beach.

16 June 2016

Today we hired bicycles to explore more beaches to the south of Ubatuba

15 June 2016

This afternoon we got the local bus up the coast to Prumirim in search of waterfalls and beaches. There are over 100 little beaches in the Ubatuba area. We didn't fancy going in the water at the falls or the sea as it felt/looked a bit cold but had a nice time sitting on the beach in the sun!
We spent the morning exploring the pretty little coastal town of Ubatuba in São Paulo state. Very happy to be back in the sunshine and on the beach!

14 June 2016

After an 18 hour bus ride from Foz do Iguaçu to São Paulo, a quick 2 hour stop off in the bus station and a further 5 hour bus we have arrived safely in Ubatuba and are ready for some chill time on the coast!!!

13 June 2016

Welcome to Brazil- we can no longer understand what people are saying! Today we saw Iguazu falls from the Brazilian side (Foz do Iguaçu). The view was just as spectacular and you could get a lot closer to the spray!

12 June 2016

The beyond beautiful Iguazu falls from the Argentinian side 😍 we spent the day observing in awe from several different levels; the throat, upper and lower. Despite the crowds it was still spectacular

11 June 2016

Unfortunately our sad goodbyes were rushed yesterday as there was airport strikes in Argentina so we had to quickly put Ben and Charlotte on a 20hour bus from Salta to Buenos Aires so they they could make their flight back to the UK! Feeling sad we decided to get quickly back to the sun and shortly after boarded our own 24hour bus to Iguazu in the North of the country whilst hoping that everything would go smoothly for them (or they'd learnt some Spanish whilst they'd been with us!). Luckily they made it safely to their flight and we are safely in Iguazu! We will miss them!!

9 June 2016

We have had a brilliant day horse riding with Sayta Ranch in Chicoana; about 1 hour south of Salta. We had breakfast and went out on a trail in the morning before coming back for a massive BBQ and red wine at lunch time. The owner of the ranch and his wife joined us and were hilarious! We then went out again in the afternoon; during the afternoon we saw many parakeets again like in Colombia! We had a small group and two lovely guides. The horses were well trained and knew exactly what they were doing/where they were going. Funnily they gave Ian the small horse but this turned out to be the little competitive one who always had to be going faster and at the front. Ironic that....

8 June 2016

We arrived in Salta city at about 7am after (what I think was) the worst night bus I've ever been on. We had small seats, very little leg room, little lean back, only small snacks and no blanket/pillow. For £70 I think that is very bad value, but we did make it to Salta in the north west of Argentina in one piece. We checked in to our hostel and had a lovely morning exploring the pretty streets, getting the cable car to the view point, making friends with approximately 257 small Argentinian children on a school trip who's main (only) phrases were "hello", "England" and "goodbye", walking back down approx 1000 steps and then having a beer and pizza (all in the sunshine!!) We then spent the afternoon following google maps 20 blocks up town to the lonely planet recommended, artisan market (maybe not the best idea when you saw the neighbourhoods we walked through but we made it to buy Evie a lovely lama present for 70p 😂(well worth the slight adrenaline rush I hope she'll agree!)

6 June 2016

We finally made on a bike tour in Mendoza! A sunny, Autumn day. We visited two wineries, one a family run who exports about 50,000 bottles a year (Pulmary wines) and the second a larger winery who exports approx 3,000,000 bottles a year to places including Sainsburys in England (Alta Vista). They all made Malbec and at £10 a bottle from the winery their cost would have been significantly more in the UK! We had a very interesting day learning about how it was made and the things to look for in the taste.

5 June 2016

Today we got the bus up to Cacheuta in the mountains and visited some hot springs. Very beautiful views from the springs and the surrounding mountains were snow capped.

3 June 2016

Second night bus from Córdoba to Mendoza 👍🏻
We got the bus from San Marcos Sirerra to the little town of La Cumbre to break up the journey to Córdoba and waste some time before the night bus. Unfortunately it was another drizzly day and the town was deserted (probably due to the season) but we had a lovely Italian meal (and a bottle of Malbec!) and had a walk up to the Christ Redentor in the rain. Get me back to the sun!

2 June 2016

An evening spent drinking red wine and bbqing ribs at our Cabana. One loyal dog remains!
We woke up to actual sunshine and had a lovely day walking around the "hippie town" of San Marcos Sierra. We probably walked 15km in total and made it up to the Mirador overlooking the town and to the Quilpo river; picking up stray dogs on the way. By the end of the day we had a pack of 4 and had some difficulty going in to a bar as they all tried to follow and sit under the table! The owner had to close the doors and throw water at them.

1 June 2016

We still don't know what was said between the kind lady and owner (all we understood was "yes there's 2 boys and 2 girls, they're English, they speak a little Spanish, no but they understand if you speak very slowly!") but she reassured us that someone would come if we waited by her shop, we waited and a kind old lady came to pick us up, we squashed in to her car and went back to the Cabanas, we were let in and ahh it was lovely however then they asked us to pay ... Apparently the price we had been quoted was for 2 people? After arguing for 5 minutes with the poor lady trying to translate over the phone the owner said we could have it for a reduced price, it was at this point that the kind lady poached us and said "I have my own cabanas that you can stay in for cheaper! We jumped at the chance and she packed us back in her car, we arrived at the cabanas and said straight away yes we will stay! What next? Corner shop and a magnum of red wine for £2 with a home cooked meal!! And breath.
... The bus driver then turns off the bus, walks down the aisle and in Spanish says ("Oi you foreigners it's your stop get off" (we guess!)), we were turfed off at a road junction in the middle of nowhere! After getting our bearings (and buying a pot of olives and bottle of wine as bribery!) we managed to understand from a man at his shop on the road that no he wouldn't be taking us in his pickup but yes there would be buses (maybe not before the sun sets but before 10pm...) we waited a little while on the side of the road and luckily a bus arrived 30 mins later, after a short ride and some Very friendly locals helping us out we arrived at our Cabanas (in the dark), we walked down the path, shouted, knocked on doors, phoned the numbers but nope there was no one there (hmmm what to do?), we started to walk along the road to the main town and found a little shop with a very friendly lady (and unfriendly dog) who phoned the owner, turns out there had been a communication problem ...
Wow what a day, probably the day with most things going wrong we've had! Ben and Charlotte commented "I thought this was just normal?" - nope, if it was I think we'd be home by now! 😂 a summary: We woke up in our stained beds and planned on eating breakfast at the awful hostel, not going to happen when we checked the cleanliness and offerings so we went out for a nice fruit salad (winner), left the hostel late due to our breakfast excursion and were told by the man at the hostel to walk 7 blocks to the local bus station, walked 10 blocks in the rain to be told that nope we were at the wrong bus station, walked another 4 blocks (in the rain) to be told nope we were at the wrong bus station, walked over the road and Yey the correct bus station! We bought our tickets and boarded the bus ("it'll take 3 hours"), were stuck in a massive gridlock for 45 minutes and moved about 1 mile, the bus then proceeded to stop at EVERY town on the way, 4 hours later the bus stops (no one moves) .....

31 May 2016

Ben and Charlotte trying to make their beds without touching the mattress stains! 😂can't complain for £4 a night...
A nice sunny day spent exploring Córdoba; Argentinas 2nd biggest city. We stopped here to break up the journey but are off to the countryside tomorrow!
After Ben and Charlotte's first night bus we arrived in Córdoba at 7am!

30 May 2016

Today we did lots more walking around Buenos Aires. We visited the Recoleta cemetery; a cemetery containing important/rich people from Argentina. The graves are huge and elaborate (and at times slightly freaky as you can see the coffins!). We then visited a famous book store within a theatre (named 2nd most beautiful book store in the world), the palace and walked around the cities parks before (of course) lots more steak and red wine!

29 May 2016

After a refuel (red wine and coffee!) We spent the afternoon wandering around the pretty Caminito/Boca area of Buenos Aires.
Despite Ben and Charlotte bringing the English weather with them, after we had purchased some umbrellas we still managed to have a morning sight seeing in Buenos Aires! We were lucky to have our friend Kari (Buenos Aires born and bred) to show us around.

27 May 2016

Today we took a colectivo (shared taxi that leaves when full) to Buena Vista a little town 2 hours from Santa Cruz. This is the main region for coffee growing in Bolivia. It is particularly touristy so we had a day with the locals! When we got there we had a lovely local coffee and 2 course Lunch for about £4.
We visited Hacienda El Cafetal; a project set up to support Bolivian coffee growers. It has accommodation, a cafe and provides tours of the plantations. Our success of the day: not only navigating the strange transport system from Santa Cruz to Buena Vista but also understanding (70%) of a coffee plantation tour in Spanish! We were taken around by a local and learned that the local collective of coffee plantations exports to mostly holland but also star bucks and Dowe egberts amongst other foreign clients. We also learned that Nescafé buy up all of the "bad beans" whilst the good ones all go for exportation. The man informed us that "Bolivians drink Nescafé" = "Mal (bad) coffee!" Now I know why I hate Nescafé so much - they get all of the rubbish beans from all over the world and create "nice coffee"?! We finished our tour with a brilliant view from the Mirador (I'm sure they have to fill out all sorts of health and safety forms for visitors to use it......)

26 May 2016

After a 13.5 hour bus ride we arrived in Santa Cruz for another religious festival (yay!); Corpus Cristi. Anna successfully navigated the city's bus system to get us to the Jardin Botanical where we saw x4 🐢, a 🐿, a 🦄 (Sloth) and many native Bolivians. Due to it being a national holiday we observed a large parade of people heading towards the main square for mass and were forced to have tea at Pappa Johns™ as the town centre was too busy (which is not as good as dominos according to Anna).
After asking two independent ladies in the bus station "que compania es Bueno para Santa Cruz?" (excellent pigeon Spanish we thought) we were recommended "el Mexicano". We arrived at the bus station at 5pm and were not impressed by the amount of buses that looked like they were falling apart. Fortunately after waiting 10 minutes our beautiful new bus pulled in and we sighed with relief! The bus was probably one of the most comfortable yet (despite the family of 3 on the chair behind me kicking me intermittently) with wide, reclining seats and lots of leg room. We also understood most of the Spanish film! Unfortunately despite the comfort, Bolivia's unpaved roads and tendency to overuse suspension meant that the13.5 hour journey was still like trying to sleep in a tumble dryer... On the back of a wagon, being pulled by excitable monkeys, over a road full of boulders.... At least we had an exciting stop at a strange service station (walls covered in naked women) to amuse us on the way!

25 May 2016

Pretty Sucre on Independence Day. We spent the day watching parades and lying in the main park.

24 May 2016

After what feels like weeks of travelling and being active/tours we managed to find a cafe that sold wine and beer over looking the city and spent a relaxing few hours watching the view in the sun 😍. A welcomed break before we get a night bus to Santa Cruz tomorrow eve! We're moving pretty quickly as we have VIP guests to meet in Buenos Aires on Saturday!
We arrived in Sucre at 6.30am. Luckily our hostel had two free beds so we were able to go to bed for a few hours. When we woke up we found out that tomorrow is a national holiday (Independence Day) and that Sucre as the city that declared independence (and what locals believe to be the true capital of Bolivia) was the epicentre of celebrations! We watched the parades and then later we saw the Bolivian president be welcomed (we had to ask who he was as we were stopped by military as we tried to get down the street to our laundry which was 5 minutes away from being locked away for the night!)

23 May 2016

We were lucky enough to watch the sun set over the salt flats. Some of the area was under shallow water so the mountains and Sunset reflected like a mirror. This was without doubt the most spectacularly beautiful sun set I have ever watched! Unluckily we got a flat tyre just as the sun went down (and the temperature plummeted) and stayed for longer than expected! Our 2nd night bus in a row (Ergh) wasn't until 10pm luckily! Off to Sucre and warmer climates.
After a long over night bus from La Paz we arrived at Uyuni at 7am. We arranged a tour of the Salt flats for 1 day. No need to say any more - the pictures speak for themselves! A truly amazing landscape and a brilliant day!!

22 May 2016

On Sunday we survived the most dangerous road in the world! We went with a brilliant tour company (ride on) and felt safe the entire way despite the sheer cliffs and narrow gravel roads. The road was named "death road" as it was once a main highway with buses and trucks passing on narrow cliffs; at one point a bus/Lorry left the road and fell down the cliff once every fortnight. 9 years ago a new road was opened and the "death road" is now primarily a tourist route with many mountain bikes travelling down it (although it is still open to traffic and some of the locals prefer it!) There are still fatalities (the most recent being a Bolivian man leaving the cliff on his bike 4 weeks ago - the tour company report he was tying to take selfies whilst riding) and we were told lots of scary stories as we went down (many corners are named after the nationality of the person who died there). But all in all it was a lot of fun, the views were spectacular and there are no new "England" corners!

21 May 2016

We were lucky (or unlucky depending how you look at it!) to arrive in La Paz for the biggest religious festival of the year - the festival of great power. This meant that he streets were extremely busy and that no tours were running but we were able to watch some spectacular processions, marching bands and dancers from 7am to late in the evening. Locals spend a lot of money on their costumes and believe that if they participate for 3 days in a row their sins will be forgiven.
Good morning La Paz!

20 May 2016