This time last year I celebrated the holidays with my family in England knowing that there were just a few weeks left till my departure date and a new life on the road – I had no idea where I'd be in a year’s time. Now, here we are in Vietnam after our first Christmas on the road. As we prepare to see in the New Year we also reflect on how far we’ve travelled this year and how much we’ve learned in the process.
While we relished the chance to stop moving for a month and settle down in our Chiang Mai apartment, a couple of weeks into our stay we were starting to get itchy feet again. So, we decided it was time to get back on the road and take an overnight trip to a much-hyped destination: the hippy mountain town of Pai to eat, relax and explore the northern Thai scenery.
It’s nearing the end of the year and like most people, Andrew and I have been reflecting on what we’ve achieved in 2013 and looking forward to what 2014 holds. This year was very special for us because we finally got out on the road and started travelling full-time; since leaving the UK in March we’ve had the most incredible, extreme ten months of our lives – it’s been tougher yet more rewarding than we ever imagined it would be. Here’s a look back at the places we’ve visited in 2013 and what we loved about them.
After our first six months of non-stop travel we were utterly exhausted and desperate to put down our backpacks, settle in one place and recover for a month. So, in typical travel blogger fashion we headed to Chiang Mai, Thailand in search of some peace, decent wifi and delicious food. There’s no shortage of places to live in Chiang Mai, but the search for our ideal apartment still turned out to be more difficult than we’d anticipated – here’s how we managed to find our perfect pad.
We had a bit of a hectic return to Thailand due to last minute flight changes followed by a frantic few weeks travelling up and down the country with friends and family who came out to visit us. Nevertheless, we had a great time with our travel companions and squeezed a lot into our visit – here’s how much it cost us to travel around Thailand for two months.
After leaving the idyllic beaches in Koh Phangan, we hopped over to neighbouring Koh Tao with my friend Jo for more sunshine and sandy beaches as well as a snorkelling trip that rivalled our experience on the Great Barrier Reef – here’s what we got up to.
For most people, the Thai island Koh Phangan conjures up images of full moon parties, buckets of alcoholic concoctions and beaches crammed with drunken backpackers occasionally attempting stupid feats such as jumping over ropes of fire while inebriated. However, when we visited this summer we found a quiet, clean and peaceful haven – in fact, Koh Phangan turned out to be my favourite Thai island to date, here’s why.
One of the most tranquil places we’ve visited in Thailand so far is Erawan National Park; the highlight of which is a beautiful seven-tiered waterfall in the middle of the forest. We made several visits to Erawan with family and friends over the summer and it was a firm favourite - here are some of our best snaps of the spectacular Erawan waterfalls.
One of the best things about travel is that you get to discover history in a way you never could sat at home reading a book. Visiting a place, exploring its museums and walking its streets helps you understand how past events have shaped the culture and lives of the people who live there; in particular I find that seeing firsthand places scarred by war or tragedy makes history real in a way that mere pictures and words never can. I’ll never forget, for example, walking the eerie, earthquake-destroyed streets of Christchurch in New Zealand, exploring the ruins of Pompeii or reading the missing posters plastered around ground zero a few months after September 11th, when I was just 18 years old on a college trip.
As I sat on the balcony overlooking one of the bays on Koh Phi Phi, Thailand, I thought: this place is amazing; it’s paradise! Crystal clear waters bordered with soft and sandy beaches or incredible rock formations that look as if they have just appeared from hundreds of metres below sea level.