Tag Archives: Bangkok

My 2010 Travels

My. 2010 went by bloody quickly, didn’t it? I can’t believe it’s already a year ago that I was waking up on New Year’s Day on the lovely peaceful island of Gili Air in Indonesia after a rather large night of dancing on the beach with my mates Simon & Katie from back home.

2010 wasn’t a bad year at all as far as travelling concerned, as I got to see more countries than any year apart from 2009 (which made up the bulk of my round the world trip). So here’s what I got up to…

Indonesia
Me & Jackie the Orang Utan
After spending the new year in Gili Air, I made a quick stop back in Bali (where annoyingly I had both an iPod and my new shorts stolen) before flying off to the other end of the archipelago to the huge island of Sumatra to spend a couple of days chilling out on the shores of Lake Toba and then trekking through the jungle to see Orang Utans in Bukit Lawang – which was an absolutely incredible experience, getting to see such beautiful creatures close up.

Malaysia
Petronas Towers
I had a quick stop off in Kuala Lumpur, giving me enough time to see the Petronas Towers, watch Avatar in 3D (and wish I hadn’t bothered), do a bit of shopping and stuff myself full of amazing Malaysian food. I had planned to spend more time there in February, but my planned visit coincided with Chinese New Year and everything was booked up. So I shall have to return another time to see all the things I want to see.

The Philippines
Malapascua Philippines beach acrobatics
The Philippines were never on my original travel itinerary but thanks to an amazingly cheap sale over at Air Asia I decided it was too good an opportunity to miss, and I am so glad I did – it was my favourite country of all the ones I visited in 2010. So many incredible experiences, from trekking through the stunning rice terraces of Batad, seeing the hanging coffins and incredible cave system of Sagada, seeing the best beaches of my life in Palawan, seeing the adorable little Tarsiers in Bohol, diving with Thresher Sharks in Malapascua, and best of all, swimming with whale sharks in Donsol, the absolute highlight of my entire round the world trip. Words cannot describe quite how incredible the experience of swimming just inches away from those beautiful creatures.

Singapore
Little India Singapore
February saw me spending a week in Singapore, eating more great food, doing a fair bit of shopping, catching up with my best mate from school, and taking a well-earned break from hectic travelling by watching lots of the winter Olympics. If I’m honest, I’d have to say Singapore was my least favourite country of all the ones I visited in my round the world trip, but it was worth visiting to see an old friend and to chill out.

Thailand
Injured in Thailand
I had planned to spend a bit longer in Thailand enjoying the beaches and doing some diving…but walking through a plate-glass window on my second day put paid to that, and I still have the scars to remind me. But I did get two separate visits to Bangkok, which is rapidly becoming one of my favourite cities in the world.

Burma / Myanmar
Bagan
The plus side of my accident was it meant I had to make new travel plans – and gave me time to fit in an extra country. The two weeks I spent in Burma were incredible – it was a real adventure from start to finish, I saw some amazing sights (the temples of Bagan are probably the most impressive ruins I have seen anywhere – I reckon even better than Angkor, Machu Picchu or Tikal), and spent time with the best group of fellow travellers I met all year.

Cambodia
Bayon, Angkor, Cambodia
March saw one final stop before heading home to England, but I had just enough time to see Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Angkor, before chilling out on an incredible private island off the coast of Sihanoukville.

Back Home
Glastonbury
I flew back to a bitterly cold and wet London on March 29th but was soon rewarded with three months off enjoying a beautiful spring of unemployment and plenty of time to explore bits of London I’d never seen before, and quickly remembered why I love this city so much. Elsewhere during the year I managed visits to Newcastle for a mate’s birthday, Edinburgh for the festival, Somerset for my sunniest and best ever Glastonbury festival, and Lyme Regis in Dorset for a wedding. But there was no way I was going to spend the rest of the year just in the UK…

Croatia
Dubrovnik panorama
I celebrated the end of my year of travels and unemployment with a week in Croatia in June, travelling down the gorgeous Dalmatian coastline, gorging myself on Italian food, narrowly avoiding being speared by sea urchins, and trying to escape the constant drone of vuvuzelas blasting out of all the football bars.

Nicaragua
Volcan Telica, Leon, Nicaragua
My final trip of the year took me to Nicaragua, which was the perfect two-week holiday spot – I spent a bit of time on both Pacific and Caribbean coasts, climbed up four volcanoes, explored the stunning cities of Leon & Granada, and drank far too much delicious Flor de Caña rum.

You can see my favourite photos from my 2010 travels here. And here’s a map showing all the places I went to:

Not a bad year at all. Nine countries, Nine world heritage sites, nineteen islands, five national parks, and nearly four months of travel in total.

So what does 2011 have in store for travels? Hopefully I’ll be skiing in Switzerland in February, and I’m currently considering my first ever trip to Africa with a possible trip to Madagascar in April. I’m also thinking of spending next Christmas doing a bit of hiking in Patagonia. Other than that I’m sure I’ll find time to fit in some mini breaks in Europe too. I might even finally get round to blogging about Nicaragua and the rest of Croatia.

Happy New Year to anyone still reading, and I hope you all have lots of exciting travels in 2011.

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Top 10 Favourite Cities

If this wasn’t a travel blog, then London would easily top the list (even if not everyone loves it like I do). But it is, so here are my favourites from the rest of the world…

1. Berlin

Siegessäule (Victory Column, Berlin)

Siegessäule (Victory Column, Berlin)

It’s certainly not the most beautiful city on this list, nor does it have as long a history as others (although it’s certainly packed more than its fair share in over the years). But I adore the place, and for a long time thought I’d end up living there for a second time. I still might. The three years I lived there really turned me on to travel, and each time I go back i discover a bit more to love. It’s a constant theme for me that the people are one of the most important things for me in terms of how much I like a place – and I love the Berliners.

2. New York

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

Berlin may be my favourite but New York is the most exciting. Every time I go I feel the same surge of adrenaline that I got when I first moved to London. Everywhere you go you feel like you’re starring in your own movie.

3. Lisbon

No. 28 Tram, Lisbon

No. 28 Tram, Lisbon

It may be crumbling and a little shabby in places, it may be covered in graffiti, but it’s still stunning. Its location, tumbling down hills towards the River Tagus and the ocean, is perfect, and the buildings look beautiful covered in Azulejos. And the Barrio Alto is my favourite place in Europe to have a drink – the atmosphere as everyone fills the narrow cobbled streets outside the bars is incredible.

4. Madrid

Somehow it feels less overrun by tourists than Barcelona (which I also love), and I’m not sure why, as it’s got just as much to offer. The Prado & Reina Sofia are two of my favourite museums in the world.

5. Bangkok

“You come from London? Very big, and very busy, yes?” said my taxi driver last time I arrived in Bangkok. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Bangkok beats London hands down on both counts. That was the first thing that hit me when I first visited – it almost overpowered me with the scale and sheer energy of the place. I can’t wait to spend more time there next year, as it’s likely to be my last stop on my trip.

6. Istanbul

The fortune-telling bunnies of Istanbul

The fortune-telling bunnies of Istanbul

I’ve written a fair amount about Istanbul recently. I’d recommend it to anyone.

7. Vientiane

Joys food stall on the banks of the Mekong - best food in Vientiane

Joy's food stall on the banks of the Mekong - best food in Vientiane

Not the most obvious choice – many of the travellers in Laos found it dull, and just used it as a necessary stop on the way to or from Thailand, or further south in Laos. Which is one of the things I liked most about it – it must be a contender for the most laidback capital city in the world, everything seems to move at a very slow pace (if it moves at all), and it doesn’t have the UNESCO World Heritage status or as many crumbling colonial buildings as the much more popular Luang Prabang. All of these are part of its charm – it’s lack of tourist appeal keeps it feeling more Lao than most of the other big tourist spots, where it feels like the whole economy revolves around tourism (which it almost certainly does). If I was going to be a diplomat, I can see a posting to Vientiane being just the sort of one I’d like.

8. Sydney

There are two things that would make London almost perfect: better weather, and a beach. Sydney has them both, and the city has a great quality of life. Although after spending a while there, I don’t think I could live there – it feels a bit small after London!

9. Tokyo

Geoff joins the Harajuku girls

Geoff joins the Harajuku girls

I was only there for 36 hours on the way home from Sydney, but it was everything I’d hoped for. I’m a bit of a modern architecture junkie, so I was in heaven. Add in the insane pop culture, some sightseeing, great sushi and a little shopping, and it was the perfect day and a half.

10. Paris

What did we do before Eurostar? My most memorable trip was taking advantage of their £42 nightclubber fare (travel after 4pm, return before 1030am the next day) to have a night of dinner and then dancing. Best of all was the chance to wander down the Champs Elysees down to the Louvre at 5am, with only a couple of early morning joggers for company – having such a stunning place to yourself is truly incredible (and you have the train journey home for a much-needed sleep!)

And the biggest disappointment? Milan. The Duomo was covered in scaffolding, the weather was rubbish, the hotel terrible, and the locals unfriendly.