• Primates and pirates in Borneo

      “It will take us about an hour to travel to Turtle Island – unless we see any pirates, in which case we’ll have to go a little bit faster…” Hahaha, a pirate joke from our guide while we’re on a boat. Good one. Except, as we found out later, he wasn’t actually joking. We’d been in Borneo for less than a day and it was already shaping up to be quite the adventure. Borneo is one of those places where just the name alone plucks at the imagination and stirs up thoughts of intrepid exploits through dense, steamy jungles filled with all manner of exotic beasts. Yet, for some…

  • Welsh Patagonia: The pampas grass of home?

    I’ve always struggled with homesickness. You may think that’s strange for someone who willingly chose to leave behind all that’s familiar in the pursuit of strangeness, but both of my long trips overseas were blighted by what we Welsh call “hiraeth” or a longing for home. I’d had a tough time in Buenos Aires so I was looking forward to escaping to Argentina’s vast open spaces. My next port of call was Welsh Patagonia. Would spending time here cure my homesickness – or make it worse? My introduction to Welsh Patagonia didn’t come from history lessons or an article in a travel magazine. It came from a spoof noir novel…

  • Penguin spotting on Peninsula Valdes

    My rough route around Argentina was already taking me in the vicinity of Peninsula Valdes, although I was completely unaware of its existence until I started planning things in more detail. The peninsula – a few hours drive from the coastal town of Puerto Madryn – is a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its importance as a nature reserve. If you visit between May and December, you can go whale watching but you’re likely to see all sorts of incredible animals year-round. Although I wasn’t there at the right time of year to see whales, I was hoping I’d be just in time to see something I’d never seen…

  • Bonding over beer and chicken feet in Laos

    “We should all sing something! Let’s take turns to sing our favourite song”. Words that usually strike the fear into me but this time I thought it was a GREAT idea. Why? Because I was rolling, roaring drunk. Somehow a turbo-hike through the villages of northern Laos had turned into a lost afternoon drinking beer. It kind of reminded me of being back in uni – you know, where you plan to spend the day in the library but you end up down the pub instead? The difference here was the my drinking buddies weren’t an assortment of skiving students or even my fellow backpackers. They were a family from…

  • W15 Escape: A Sri Lankan escape from the rat race

      Sri Lanka was the first country I visited after I quit my job, my house and my life in London, and I’m sad to say that I probably didn’t do it justice. A two week dash through half of the country while trying to get my head around what the hell I had done was not exactly conducive to a fun time. But when we arrived on Sri Lanka’s sleepy, surfy south coast and checked into the gorgeous W15 Escape for a few days, I finally felt like things might just be ok. As a backpacker, you don’t often get to stay in luxurious hotels. Of course, there’s the…

  • Monk chat and the pursuit of happiness

    “I’m not religious but if I were then I would be Buddhist”. If I had a pound for every time I heard someone saying this then…well…let’s just say it would be one way to fund my travels! I do get where people are coming from though. Buddhism enjoys a rare position of privilege among world religions; a belief system that seems to be both inoffensive and, in some ways, desirable to a lot of people. For me, however, the interest in Buddhism comes less from a “spiritual” perspective and more from one that relates to my health. As someone who is so often immersed in a fug of depression and…

  • Searching for the past: Three historic bars in Ho Chi Minh City

      I really didn’t love Ho Chi Minh City. It was my first experience of Vietnam, a country I’d heard was a slow burner, so maybe I should have started somewhere that was less of a brick to the face. But I was sucked in by my romantic ideas of Saigon…a town full of history with a seedy, decadent underbelly. The reality was the polar opposite. Obviously things have moved on and the name change isn’t all that’s different about Saigon these days. Ho Chi Minh City is a sweaty, traffic-choked, ostensibly unwelcoming, modern metropolis. It’s deeply pedestrian-unfriendly which, for someone who likes to walk, was often frustrating to the…

  • Searching for wild elephants in Munnar

    Munnar is….tea and elephants! That’s quite a combination. Throw some extremely uncooperative weather into the mix and you have my trip to Munnar, in the Indian state of Kerala. If you’re visiting Cochin and want to do some sightseeing out of town, Munnar will likely be one of the prevailing options available to you. It’s definitely worth doing, even if the weather is somewhat unreliable. For a start, the landscape is completely different to Cochin. Based high in the Western Ghats, close to the border with Tamil Nadu, Munnar is surrounded by tessellated tea plantations, waterfalls and thickly forested mountains. Secondly, you have the opportunity to see something quite special:…

  • 6 unmissable bars in Kuala Lumpur

    To be honest, Kuala Lumpur was never on my extremely rough itinerary. But a combination of circumstances led to me spending an inordinate amount of time there. My first impressions were not favourable. I thought the city was ugly, traffic-choked, smoggy and sweaty. Over time, however, I grew to love it. It may not be an obviously lovely place, unlike other capital cities, but it has a vibe about it that keeps tugging at your sleeve saying “there’s more to me than meets the eye”. It helps that the bar scene is excellent, especially if you’re a total boozehound like me. From glitzy roof top establishments in among the soaring…

  • Travelling and leaving home: How not to do it

    I’m not generally a disorganised sort of person. I worked as a personal assistant for a good many years; a job where your organisation skills have to be top notch. And when it comes to travelling, I’ve always been borderline paranoid; making sure I have everything I need, leaving for the airport/train station super early just in case, triple checking that I’ve locked all the doors and windows…. Yet for some reason, when I planned my biggest travel adventure yet, organisation went right out of the unlocked window. Here’s how NOT to start your trip. Decide to move out and fly on the same day Because there’s nothing more stressful…