Having cancelled our trip to Nepal due to concerns about trekking in monsoon season, we did have some worries about visiting India in June / July. I did tons of research and it looked like if we stuck to our planned two week north India itinerary we’d be more or less okay and even if it did rain, it wouldn’t be 24-7. The predictions turned out to be correct and in spite of a few showers we found that our destinations were fairly monsoon proof at this time of year.
Train travel in India has its ups and downs but generally speaking we were pretty impressed by the efficiency of it all. The trains might not be the most modern and aren’t always the cleanest, but they are the same or better than your average bus in South East Asia and offer a cost effective and pretty quick way of getting round the country.
Despite arriving in the city in torrential rain and being ripped off by our Uber driver, Jodphur turned out to be one of our favourite stops on our India itinerary. Known as the Blue City for its, uh, blue buildings, it’s one of the most photogenic places we visited.
Long famous for its tigers, India is a brilliant country to invest in a Safari experience like no other. We’ve previously taken safaris in Sri Lanka and South Africa, and the experience we had on our tiger safari in India was right up there with the best of them.
Ubud is the perfect place to relax in the countryside, explore beautiful temples, eat great food and go for walks in stunningly picturesque rice fields, while Canggu is an awesome destination for surfers and beach lovers. Bali has something for everyone and despite running around trying to fit in as much as possible there’s lots that we missed!
For once in our travels we decided to slow it down when we reached Indonesia. We were considering cramming in many more islands than we eventually managed, but I for one am glad we decided to minimise our two weeks in Indonesia as a couple of weeks isn’t really that long and sometimes it’s just nice to relax!. There is so much to see in Indonesia that you’d need a lifetime or at least many months to explore it anywhere near properly, but really who has that amount of time on their hands!
After the realisation that we weren’t going to make it to China on this trip, we decided that spending two days in Hong Kong would be the next best thing. Although it wouldn’t be quite the same, at least it would provide us with a little taster, and luckily we found that flights from here to the Philippines were pretty cheap which gave us an added incentive to add it to our itinerary.
As I write this we’re sitting in a little cafe in Labuan Bajo, it’s less than 24 hours since we finished our Komodo Island trip and we still can’t believe how incredible our time here has been. In the last three days we’ve trekked on remote islands in pursuit of Komodo dragons, snorkelled with giant Manta Rays and have just generally had three of the most perfect days of our travels so far.
Ten days is nowhere near long enough to see what the Philippines has to offer. I have to start this post with that disclaimer and to admit that after just a few days we were wishing we’d decided to stay and explore for at least a month!
We decided that we had time to spend a day in Manila, as we wanted to see at least some of the capital, and two islands. Initially we’d considered just one island but agreed in the end that we wanted to try and experience a few different places.
We approached our trip to Manila with a degree of trepidation, knowing that it can be a city that poses some challenges for visiting tourists. Many travellers either skip over the city all together by flying to Cebu or Kalibo, or choose to head straight from the airport onto another flight to the islands and beaches. We decided though that it would be a shame not to spend at least one day in Manila seeing what the city had to offer.
Despite a relative lack of coverage in the western media, most people are aware that the Philippines is experiencing some serious issues at the moment. In Manila it’s estimated that up to 8000 people have died as a result of the extra judicial killings designed to stamp out the city’s drug problems, whilst martial law has been declared in the Mindanao region due to terrorist activity.
One of the best things about visiting Borneo, apart from the amazing nature and wildlife of course, has to be the fact that it’s surprisingly cheap. Even tours are relatively inexpensive compared to many other popular tourist spots we’ve visited on our travels in Asia, making it easy to travel in Borneo on a budget.
As the capital of Malaysian Borneo, this is a larger city than Sandakan but still nothing to write home about. Whilst it looks a little scruffy on first appearance, we ended up feeling safer than expected and one of the real highlights here is the fantastic fresh seafood that you can find in most restaurants.
Brunei was never one of those countries that popped up on our ‘must see’ list. In fact, before we reached South East Asia I have to be honest and say I don’t think I’d ever even heard of it. When we decided to go to Borneo island, we realised it was just a 20 minute flight from where we were staying in Kota Kinabalu and well, it would have been rude not to visit really.
Arriving in the small city of Sandakan early evening we grabbed a taxi to our hostel and got checked in, ready to plan the next couple of days. We stayed at the Sandakan Sea View Backpacker Hostel and while there are a few hostels on this road I’d wholeheartedly recommend this one.
Money and time… wouldn’t we all love it if we had more of both. Sadly though, after ten months travelling we have only a few weeks until we need to think about heading home and our bank account has definitely seen better days. We’re not letting this hold us back too much though and our recent Borneo itinerary been a massive highlight of our trip.
We were thrilled when we walked into our hostel in Manila to find that they’d partnered with a local company to promote an all new food tour. As you can see from the blog on recent Fridays it’s been a while since we’ve done a food tour and we weren’t expecting to be able to join one in the Philippines.