Sapa, Northern Vietnam. The very words conjure images for me of green-yellow tiers of rice, towering peaks, buffaloes wallowing in mud pools, Hmong women in brightly-patterned headscarves and the smell of fresh alpine air. However, in the two years since we last visited Sapa, the town has transformed into a giant construction site. Diggers crowd the streets and the air is filled with dust and the sound of drilling and hammering. What’s more, during our visit last week, Sapa was cloaked in freezing fog so thick we couldn’t make out a single mountain view. The trip was a total travel fail.
Welcome to Vietnam,” says the khaki-uniformed soldier with a broad smile, while he casually shifts his slim black rifle from one shoulder to the other. He must have clocked the camera around Andrew's neck and assumed we're tourists, which I suppose we are now. Except, instead of coming to see a monument or museum, we're here to revisit our old home in Hanoi.
As time speeds on here in Chiang Mai, a slow itch is returning to my feet. It feels like an age since we got a real taste of adventure, so lately my thoughts have been occupied by our upcoming trip to Nepal and Sri Lanka. I can’t wait to hike in the Himalayas and explore UNESCO sites in Sri Lanka. That being said, I’m also slightly anxious about how our budget will cope when freelance work takes a back-seat to travel. With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look back at some of our cheapest and most expensive travel experiences over the last four years.
Fancy getting married on a white-sand beach surrounded by crystal waters? I’m sure that’s how most people imagine a Thai wedding, but Andrew and I decided to keep things much simpler. In fact, it took us just a few days of planning and less than £300 to tie the knot here in Chiang Mai. If you’re thinking of getting hitched in the Land of Smiles, here’s our step-by-step guide on how to get married in Thailand.
Work-wise, January has been a good month for me. In fact, for the first time since we left the UK in 2013, I’ve managed to make as much money as I used to in my full-time writing job in London. That’s great news for our travel fund and digital nomad goals, but I’m not getting too comfortable just yet. I know that freelancing can be a risky business and I’m still very much finding my feet. With that in mind, I thought I’d share eight things I’ve learned so far about working as a freelancer here in Thailand.
Last week Andrew and I got married in Thailand. We didn’t have a ceremony, exchange vows or change our names. There were no guests, rings or fancy outfits. Aside from telling our immediate family and some friends, we chose to keep the whole thing under wraps because to us, it wasn’t a big deal. In fact, marriage has never been part of our life plan, so why did we decide to tie the knot here in Thailand? Well, it all comes back to travel.
Do you long to teach English abroad but worry that you won’t find work because you’re a non native English teacher? Well, don’t despair. I get a lot of messages from aspiring teachers who aren’t native English speakers and here’s the good news: there are non native English teacher jobs to be found in Asia. In this post, Venkat Ganesh from India shares his story about teaching in Vietnam and gives some excellent advice about how to find TEFL jobs for non native speakers.
The cool mountain breeze was laced with the scent of pine trees. At the water’s edge, campers played music, pitched tents and put up deck chairs as black swans glided past. Somehow, we’d stumbled upon a slice of European summer during a Christmas break in Northern Thailand. Our road trip around the Mae Hong Son loop was full of surprises like this, from monks controlling drones to selfies with policemen and the twistiest roads we’ve ever navigated.