I can hardly believe it’s time for another round up post, the months are still flying by. We’re now 10 months into our travels and as I’m writing this I’m sat in Starbucks in Hong Kong (exotic I know), watching the rain tipping down outside and trying to catch up on some admin. As it’s going live we’re in Manila, which is slightly more exotic but still fairly rainy.
It’s been a funny couple of months and this post has been tricker to write than usual. We’re fresh from spending 5 weeks in Thailand, a short break from travelling as we were pretty shattered and wanted a rest as well as to save some money for the next part of our trip. Whilst there were definitely a lot of positives to staying in one place for a while, overall we’re both glad to be on the move again. Our plan is still to get back to the UK early August and we’re keen to fit in as much as we possibly can before arriving home.
Since our last update we’ve had two weeks travelling in Japan, four weeks enjoying some healthy living in Phuket, a week in Bangkok, just under a week in Borneo – Malaysia and Brunei – and are currently midway through a quick two day stop over on Hong Kong. It’s been a mix of the familiar and the new – we’ve been to Thailand four times now, but enjoyed spending time on a couple of islands that were new to us and discovering some places in Bangkok that we hadn’t visited previously. Similarly, we’ve spent time in Malaysia but Malaysian Borneo was a completely different (and fantastic) kettle of fish. Brunei and Hong Kong have been completely new countries for us to visit and it’s been great to be in unknown territory again.
It’s been harder than usual to pick out our highs and lows from the last two months. I’m not entirely sure why. I think spending all that time in one place left us a little fatigued in a way – when you travel as fast as we like to do you’re kind of in a perpetual cycle of packing up and moving on and the momentum is always high, coming to a complete stop for a while was a bit of a shock to the system, leaving us almost lethargic and we’re just starting to get our usual energy levels back. We have had some good adventures though, so here are our best:
My ability to pick out specifics here has failed, as the entire country and everywhere we visited in Japan was just incredible. It was one of the countries we were most excited to visit right from the beginning, and boy, were we we right to be so excited. I’ve written more about our two weeks exploring Japan here, but in summary we loved the people, the temples, the food, the cities, just everything really! If we were ever to base ourselves abroad for a longer period of time, Japan would definitely be somewhere we’d consider staying.
A Visit From My Mum
After 8 months away, meeting my mum at the airport in Japan for her to join us on our travels was an awesome travel moment. I even made a sign to greet her! I’m very close to my family and it’s been weird to be away from them for so long, so having those two weeks to catch up was just the best. I’ve written before about being nervous about heading home and mum did a great job reassuring us that we can stay at hers as long as we need to until we’re sorted again. It’s amazing to know we’ve got such good support back home and makes the thought of going back a lot easier.
Relaxing in Phuket
I know I said we struggled to adjust to not travelling around but it was still great to relax and explore Phuket. It was probably our last choice of island to use as a base (except Samui as we’ve already been there), but we ended up there because it was crazy cheap and we needed to save as much money as possible. There are definitely parts of Phuket that are pretty grotty but we loved our apartment in the centre of the island, off the beaten track a little, and had four weeks of zipping around on our moped and exploring. A huge highlight of our time in Thailand was our trip to Koh Phi Phi, which we loved, and our subsequent boat trip to the beach from The Beach.
Day in Brunei
The shortest time we’ve been in anyone country we had an amazingly jetset day in Borneo where we flew into Brunei in the morning, spent the day there and flew back to Kota Kinabalu again in the evening. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this tiny, very rich, sharia law governed sultanate but it was a fascinating place to visit. The people we met in Brunei are the friendliest people we’ve met on all of our travels and we were basically celebrities for the day, with people stopping us all over to take pictures and have selfies with us. With that and the jet setting, I felt like a proper celebrity. Pretty cool. Big blog post on our adventures there coming soon!
Seeing Orangutans In Borneo
A bucket list item for so many people I feel like we were incredibly lucky to be able to do this. Especially as it was a last minute whim given we were unable to go to China as we’d planned. We bagged some cheap flights to Malaysian Borneo and had a fantastic time exploring the island and seeing the wildlife and jungle landscapes. Getting to see orangutans at the sanctuary in Sepilok was just breathtaking – it’s heart breaking that these amazing animals are still being poached, taken as pets and having their habitat destroyed. We watched them playing in the nurseries for hours – mesmerised by them really.
Planning our Komodo Island Trip
Bit of a strange inclusion as it’s not really a travel memory yet, but hear me out. We decided we would definitely visit the Komodo National Park on our trip to Indonesia and officially booked our flights. If this wasn’t exciting enough we were then offered an unbelievable opportunity to explore the islands as a result of this blog… can’t wait to share more with you all in a few weeks when we get there so watch this space!
Visa Drama in Thailand
I have a blog coming out on this as well but I think we may have been bribed when we tried to extend our visa in Thailand… we rocked up at the embassy, filled in all the forms only to be told that we needed some obscure paperwork we’d never heard of. Fast forward through 10 minutes of confusion and we were told not to worry, if we paid an extra sum they could give us our passport stamp and let us go on our way. Against all my better judgement we paid up for the sake of simplicity and went on our way. Our first ever bribe! If it was a bribe…
Visa Drama for China & Russia
This was pretty gutting as we were dead set on visiting China and had planned an awesome itinerary. Like Japan it was one of those places we were really excited to see so discovering we couldn’t make it was a real disappointment. I’d planned flights, was about to reserve accommodation and train tickets, only to find out the visa centre in Bangkok had changed the rules 5 days before and were no longer processing China visas for those in Thailand on a tourist visa.
I couldn’t get a response from the visa centre when I tried to check this so we decided it wasn’t worth the risk of paying out for non refundable flights and anything else needed for the visa application to find we weren’t able to get it processed. Perhaps we could have swung it but it didn’t seem like a good risk to take, especially when we’re on such a tight budget. We’ll definitely visit China but it’ll have to be in the future when we can get our visa in the U.K.
Discovering how expensive flights from India are and having no idea how we’re going to get to Europe and work our way home isn’t so fun either, as it turns out that for some reason it’s amazingly expensive to fly out of Delhi in July. No idea why but the cheapest flight in the right direction is to Dubai… which is still £200+ and from here we’ll have to find a cheap flight to Europe and try and make our way back to the UK as cheaply as we can. I’m all for buying a tuk tuk and trying to get back that way but Rob’s not so keen for some reason.
Rob’s Bad Cold
Guess who decided to include this one? While we were in Thailand Rob had a bad cold and it was a miserable week for all involved. Least said the better on that one but he is luckily fully recovered now!
Not As Many Adventures As Usual
As I’ve already mentioned we didn’t get up to as much as usual, so we are very excited to be on the move again and to see some new places. Thailand was great in its own way, but not as great as constantly being on the go and seeing amazing New countries.
Reading the travel advisories for some of the countries we plan to visit has been very depressing, as both the Philippines and Malaysian Borneo have a lot of very alarming advisories in place. We survived travelling around Sabah in Borneo without any issues and are have just touched down in Manila in the last 24 hours or so and whilst I wouldn’t say I’ve felt safe… it’s been okay so far.
So there you have it, our last two months of travelling in a nutshell. The next two will likely be our last of full time travel, so we plan to do as much as possible!
Next up is a couple of weeks in the Philippines where we’ll be spending time in Manila, Cebu and Bohol, before we head to Indonesia for some time in Bali for Rob’s 30th birthday and our exciting trip to the Komodo Islands. After that we’ll be travelling to Nepal (possibly via Singapore depending on cost), where we plan to do some trekking – probably not Base Camp as it’s not the best time of year for it although it is still a possibility.
Our next stop will be a week in Northern India where we want to visit Delhi, Jaipur and to see the Taj Mahal, before we fly probably to Dubai then potentially to Hungary or Romania from where we’ll make our way home.