By rights I should be blogging this post from the UK, after catching our flight home from India 13 days ago… I’m actually writing from a Hello Kitty themed train in Taiwan. We’re heading from Hualien city back to Taipei ready to catch our flight to Tokyo where hopefully we’ll be able to catch some cherry blossoms. Even more exciting is the fact that my mum is flying out to meet us there for a couple of weeks in Japan and as I haven’t seen her for 8 months I’m stupidly excited!
I’m now writing from a bullet train in Japan, 5 days into our visit as I was too lazy after drafting this post to get it sorted and set live, so it’s a little late.
So really, everything is going pretty swimmingly. It’s not all perfect but we love that we’ve extended our trip and continue to have an amazing time. We both have steady work for the moment – Rob doing some web development and me working on a big writing project for a digital agency back home – and are finally getting the hang of balancing work and sightseeing. We’ve added some awesome places to our itinerary that we wouldn’t otherwise have seen, including Myanmar, Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia amongst others. We’ve even started budgeting a bit more effectively and tracking what we spend so it’s feasible for us to keep traveling and seeing what we want to see.
In my last less travel related post I mentioned that we were going to move our flights home to mid July, but we had a little change of plan when it turned out it was going to cost £160 each and decided a more sensible option was to cancel them. We’re still planning to head to India for June / July time and will work our way onwards from there until we arrive home. I think I feel a European road trip coming on, but we’ll see…
For now we have our time in Japan to look forward to, one of the countries we were the most excited to visit and are absolutely buzzing to explore. After this we are heading to Thailand for 5 weeks where we plan to find an apartment and work, get in shape, plan some adventures and enjoy some sunshine. It has tipped it down in Taiwan and is forecast much the same for Japan so nice weather will be much overdue by then! Next up is China, providing we can get our visas sorted in Bangkok, possibly Hong Kong and Bali for a couple of weeks timed with Rob’s 30th. It’s going to be an awesome couple of months all being well and I can’t wait to update you in the next reflections post.
What’s happened since the last one where we were celebrating 6 months on the road? So much! Since then we’ve spent time in 6 countries – Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan, all of which have been amazing. So as usual onto our highlights and lowlights from the last 2 months…
Laos being so unexpectedly beautiful and amazing. We didn’t really know what to expect and had only initially planned to stay a few days. It was almost more of a box ticking exercise much as I hate to admit it – if we were in South East Asia we may as well make sure we pop into Laos while we’re there. We spent 10 days in Laos in the end and loved every second. The country is so so beautiful, the people are lovely, we met some awesome fellow travellers and just generally had an incredible time there. It’s one of the most stunning countries we’ve been to.
A small but important one was discovering egg coffee in Vietnam. It is so delicious! We must have been drinking 2-3 cups per day and just couldn’t get enough. Is there anywhere else in the world that does egg coffee? I seriously hope so.
Visiting Taiwan has also been brilliant. I try to pick more specific highlights in these posts but it’s hard when you enjoy everywhere in a country so much. We’ve seen giant pandas, been on some amazing hikes, explored the craziness of Taiwanese cities and eaten some of the best street food we’ve had this whole trip. Another one where I wasn’t sure what to expect but I had high hopes and for once they weren’t disappointed!
Being able to treat ourselves to some decent hotels has been pretty good. Rather than sticking with cheap and cheerful hostels we took advantage of places in Thailand and Vietnam being so cheap and stayed in some really nice hotels for just £15-£20 per night. It makes such a difference to stay in large comfortable rooms with amazing bathrooms and plentiful hot water!
Motorbiking the Hai Van Pass in Vietnam was one of our favourite days in the last two months. It helps enormously that Rob has experience riding motorbikes back home but I never thought I’d be brave enough to get on the back of a bike with him, let alone out here where you hear so many horror stories. I was pretty nervous but it was such a fun day and the scenery was incredible – another one that lived up to expectations!
Getting sick 🙁 we both got ill in Malaysia and were struck down with colds which left us feeling pretty crappy. We were due to have a week of relaxing anyway but then burned the candle at both ends like normal and went sightseeing every day, meaning it took us far longer to recover than it should have. I also had really bad stomach issues in Vietnam which meant for almost 2 weeks I was feeling terrible and had no energy.
Mosquitos! Not the biggest problem in the world but we’ve both been bloody destroyed by mozzies in loads of countries since touching down in Asia. Northern Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia were particularly horrendous and we’re trying hard to avoid ending up with scars all over our legs like you see on so many travellers. Apparently in Malaysia they call them 5 cent legs or 10 cent legs because of all the little circular white scars that are dotted over people’s legs!
Vietnam not living up to our expectations was pretty disappointing. I think I’m going to write a longer post about this but we had really high hopes as we love South East Asia in general and thought Vietnam would be one of our favourite countries. We met some fab people and did some amazing things but I just didn’t gel with the place as expected. I felt like most people were out to rip us off and it just wasn’t as awesome as I thought it would be.
The worst journey in the world ever… and many other crappy bus journeys. The buses here are so much worse than in South America and I can’t wait until we don’t need to take anymore!
Homesickness has set in a little more over the last few weeks and whilst we don’t plan to go home anytime soon it’s something we’re going to need to deal with or get used to. It’s been bad in Taiwan as even though the country is amazing and one of our favourites, we’ve never been somewhere we’ve felt quite so foreign… not being able to read any street signs, not understanding any of the language and seeing barely another traveller has been really different. It’s not just missing people back home but also the kind of fear in the back of your mind about what it’s going to be like when we get home. We go through waves of nervousness about whether things will work out ok when we get back and what we want to do etc which I’m sure are completely normal but still not the most pleasant of feelings.
So that’s the last two months from us, it’s passed by so quickly as it always does but when I look back I can’t believe how much we’ve managed to pack in. We love travelling quickly, and it’s amazing to see so many new countries, but are definitely looking forward to a month in one place for the first time since leaving home! Next update should be around 21st May, hopefully we’ll be in China so I’m not sure whether we’ll be able to post or not but will try and get something live.