How to Island Hop in Fiji

Fiji invokes images of picture perfect white sandy beaches, azure blue water, and chilled Island vibes. If you get out of Nadi, this is definitely the case.

How to get to the Islands

There is really only one company you can use to physically get between the various Islands – Awesome Adventures. They run the only daily boat from the Port at Denanru through the Yasawa island group. You can buy a pass for this boat which covers all your transfers between the Islands for the duration of your stay.  There are other options if you want to stay at just a few Islands rather than hop between.  

They also offer a Combo pass which includes all your accommodation in either 1 or 2 coconut rated resorts. If you book a 1 coconut pass, your food is also included. In the 2 coconut resorts you often pay an additional meal plan of up to 130 FJD per person per night. On balance, the 1 coconut options are absolutely fine for backpackers on an budget.

Sounds Awesome Right?

In theory, you can book your next resort when you get on the boat. In practise, you should do it a few days in advance, no matter what they say on the boat or via email – especially in high season. We were there in low season and twice there was no availability on the island we wanted to go to.  In the end we starting asking the resorts to book, or phoning ourselves.

So, not actually that awesome.  Because Awesome charge quite a bit more than the resort would direct for accommodation. They also do, at least in our case very little for the extra they charge you.  It seems they also take quite a bit in commission from the properties.

So, our recommendation would be to book your accommodation options directly.  The properties see more of your money this way. Given that the 1 Coconut resorts are all Fijian owned and mainly ran by families this an only be a good thing. – this can usually be done via Facebook.

Things to note re 1 coconut properties: 

  • Electricity: Is not 24 x 7 and not always in your room. Where there is 24 x 7 electricity, it is often in a shared place. If you have electricity in your room or dorm it will be at set times of the day
  • Water: Despite the fact that Fiji has the tastiest water in the world, there is really a water shortage in the Islands. You should expect to buy water in the resorts and you should expect it to cost more than it does on the mainland, because of the freight costs to get it to the Islands. We paid 8FJD in one resort for a 1.5l bottle of water. If you are going for a few days, then it is feasible to buy water on the mainland and take it with you. If you are going for longer than 4 days I’m not sure it is worth the extra hassle. They do sell water on the boat for less than 5FJD though if you need to buy some and aren’t willing to pay the higher prices in the resorts.
  • Dry season: If you go in the middle of dry season you should expect there to be water restrictions for showers etc. But fear not, because there is always an enormous swimming pool next to the beach.
  • Bugs: I don’t mean ants, mosquitos, and flies. If you have an issue with them you really should just entirely avoid the tropics. But, I am terrified in an entirely irrational way of spiders. Even the tiny ones. Fiji has Huntsman and Tarantulas, and we encountered both in unacceptable sizes for someone has terrified of them as I am. They are not poisonous. They did not attack me in my sleep. Everything was fine

About the 1 Coconut resorts

We had a 21 day Combo pass which covers food, travel and accommodation in an double room for 20 nights. In hindsight, 2 weeks would have been more than enough so the first piece of advice we’d give anyone is don’t Island hop for more than 2 weeks.

We had the opportunity to use all of the 5 of the 6 resorts in that time.

Waya LaiLai Ecohaven

This is a property owned and run by the local village. The Bure are spacious, you get towels, a furnished balcony and a decent shower. The food is plentiful, and reasonably varied. The people are really friendly.

Plus, you can snorkel with white tip reef sharks from here for the princely sum of 60FJD

Nabua Lodge

This is the biggest 1 coconut resort in the Yasawas and holds up 80 guests. There is entertainment each evening, the bar is open until 10pm, or whenever you stop drinking. They run a large number of different activities each day and the food is really good.  The bures are comfortable and spacious.

White Sandy Beach Resort

The beach is nice, the Bures are reasonably well furnished, which a cute outside shower area in each. The people are really nice & make an effort to get people involved so it has more of a social atmosphere. But, the food was bland, and there wasn’t enough of it. One morning for breakfast they put out cereal, but no milk. One lunch was boiled rice and vegetable super noodles. If you are a foodie, this is not the place for you.

Gold Coast Inn

Set on a really windy beach, which is perfect when the sun is beating down. It is a really pretty resort. Small and very homely. There is no electricity in the rooms but there is 24 x 7 electricity in the main lounge. The bures are set above the beach so you have great views. The family who run this place are amazing. The food was the best we had. You can also walk across to the other side of the island and snorkel the famous blue lagoon for free. The owner even gave Steve a haircut whilst we were there. 

Long Beach Resort

Another family run resort – The people are really friendly. The food is really favourful. The bures are enormous. The kids are super cute. The reef around the back of the island is huge, and has great snorkelling which costs $15 each. It’s a very relaxed and chilled atmosphere but if the right group of people are staying it can be lively in the evenings as well.

Whichever of these Islands you go to, you can be assured of a warm Fijian welcome and the best hospitality you can imagine. Enjoy!

Swimming with Reef Sharks in Fiji

Swimming with Sharks sounds like a crazy thing to do right?  White Tip Reef Sharks are, well, friendly isn’t really the right word to use.  But they aren’t aggressive like the bigger, grumpy ones are.

Fiji has some of the most amazing reefs imaginable.  The water is crystal clear, and stunningly blue.  At Wayalailai in the Yasawa Islands you can swim with these Reef Sharks for 60 FJD.  Thats about £25.

Getting to the Yasawas from the mainland is pretty easy – Wayalailai is about 2 hours from the Mainland port.  Don’t book anything before you get to Fiji. There are loads of small companies that will get you to the Yasawas but they aren’t online.  Talk to locals and you’ll get a good deal.

Keep your arms inside the vehicle

It might sound obvious, but just because these aren’t man eating sharks doesn’t mean you can lower your guard.  They will tell you this, but its worth repeating.  If a shark comes near you, then cross your arms.  They do feed the sharks, and if said shark comes near you and sees an outstretched arm, it might take a little nibble.  Once the shark has gone past you, you can stroke it.  I definitely did not stroke the shark, but most other people did!

So basically try not to be shark bait. 

We’re still not sure how we feel about the whole feeding the shark thing, but it does kind of stop them from trying to eat you I guess.

As an aside, you can also dive with Bullsharks.  Only crazy people do this!!!

The Perfect Safari Day – our Guest Post on Hopping Feet

Check out our guest post for the very lovely people at Hopping Feet.  They are a travelling couple just like us.  The post is all about our amazing 1 day safari in Kruger National Park.  You don’t want to miss the photos that Steve took on that day. 

*external site

Interested in seeing more photos from Africa?  Happy to oblige!

How to Island Hop in Palawan, The Philippines

 

Island Hopping is big business in the Philippines. Every town in Palawan will offer you a range of day tours ranging from Lagoons to wreck snorkelling. Instead of giving you a whole low down on the different ones available (you can google that!) we thought an overview of key things to note and how to make the best choice would be more useful.

Some basics

Can you swim? I know, it sounds like a stupid question. We went on a Lagoon tour in El Nido – this is essentially get on boat, go to 4 lagoons, go to a beach. It’s not an activity that you should do if you can’t swim. Three girls joined who not only could not swim, but were absolutely petrified of water. They freaked out when in a foot of water. They even kept their life jackets on when we stopped at a beach for an entire hour. I have no clue why they put themselves through the stress

Big Lagoon - El Nido

Sea Sickness

The boats get pretty rocky if the water isn’t calm. If you get motion sickness, get some tablets. The pharmacies in the Philippines are often out of these, so take some with you just in case. Incidentally, the ones you can by in the Philippines tend to be for vertigo as well as seasickness & they work really really well so if you can get some, buy some!

The dreaded tourist fee/Environment tax

The Philippines are big fans of tourist fees. You will pay fees ranging for 50 to 200 pesos in each town – in Palawan alone we paid 5 environment taxes (El Nido, Sibaltan, Nacpan, Coron, Port Barton). Bear these in mind when it comes to budgeting.

Don't Book in Advance

There are many tour operators to choose from in each town. Do not book before you go – they are all much cheaper to book when you get there. In El Nido and Coron there are multiple Island hopping itineraries. Its often cheaper to book more than one island hoping tour through the same operator as they keep a record of you tourist fee payment & deduct this from the 2nd trip cost. Otherwise you can end up paying the fee twice. If you choose to book a second trip with a different company, make sure you get proof of your tourist fee payment.

Don’t pay over the odds

Viewpoint at Coron

Even the budget tours generally include pick up & a really decent lunch (if you like fish). Drop off is often not included, but transport is easy to arrange & often not necessary. Basically there is very little reason to pay a whole lot extra for the standard Island Hopping tours. They are all very similar. The more expensive ones often include Snorkel gear but you can rent this easily from your hostel for less. Alternatively if you plan to do a lot of snorkelling whilst in the Philippines buying your own before you arrive will doubtless save you money. Be aware that in Coron they often won’t let you out on the boat unless you have water shoes, so its definitely worth having your own.

Get off the beaten track & go private

If you stay in some of the smaller towns in Palawan they often do very reasonable private island hopping tours. These generally take you to islands which are not on the commercial itineraries. We took one in Sibaltan which was about 400 pesos (£7) more than a tour from El Nido town for 2 of us. We got to spend all day going to completely deserted islands. In Port Barton, we were on a tour with one other couple, and again, there was no one around on any of the Islands we visited. The trade off? Off the beaten track in the Philippines is REALLY off the beaten track. Power for a few hours at night, limited or no internet, and generally a hot, bumpy, dusty journey to get there. Always worth it though.

Tours we'd recommend

Sibaltan: We stayed at Bayog Beach Campsite & their private Island Hopping tour was such good value for money.

Port Barton: Harmony Haven Hostel do a fixed price Island Hopping tour which takes you to some of the lesser known islands.

El Nido  – Tour A – which covers most of the Lagoons is amazing

Coron – Reefs and Wrecks, if the weather is good.  You need decent visibility to see the wrecks in particular.

Check out more of our 30 Photos from the Philippines here

How to swim with Whale sharks in the Philippines

Many people will tell you that Oslob is the place to go if you want to be guaranteed a swim with Whale Sharks. They are right, but there is an environmental impact which we didn’t feel comfortable with.

It is well documented that they feed the Whale Sharks at Oslob. This encourages them to stay in the area all year long, ignoring their normal migratory paths. This in turn affects their mating patterns and could eventually lead to no more baby whale sharks. In short, if you actually care about the survival of this species, don’t go to Oslob.

Happily there is another option. In Donsol you can swim with Whale sharks throughout their migratory season of November to April/May. They aren’t fed. There are rules about how many boats can go out & how many can surround a whale shark at any time. There are still people who don’t think this is an ethical way of seeing them, so do your own research. The main concerns seem to be how many boats are in the water and how close to the Whale Sharks people get. All we can say is that they stuck to the rules rigidly on both times we ventured out.

You aren’t guaranteed to see them. In fact on our first attempt the only thing we saw was a shadow below us – which could have been anything. But on our second attempt we saw 5 up pretty close.

How to maximise your chances of seeing them.

  • Get yourself 6 people. You are going to end up in a boat for 6 & they don’t tend to leave until there are 6 of you, so get it all sorted beforehand. We didn’t on our 1st try & ended up being the last boat out.
  • Go in the morning session not the afternoon. You have a much better chance of seeing them then.
  • Go & register the day before. This saves you time in the morning. We spent 20 minutes just waiting for a form on our 1st We were done with all our admin within 5 minutes on our 2nd attempt.
  • Get there early – doors open at 7.30am. Get there are 7:15. Be the 1st in the queue.

Why all this emphasis on being first?

You want to be on one of the 1st boats out & this will help you achieve that. They put their best spotters on the boats going out early. This is how they get so many sightings. On our 1st try we had a terrible spotter who just looked for people jumping into the water. We were always last to a sighting. Because there is a limit to how many people can be in the water at any one time we always missed it. Conversely, on our 2nd attempt our spotter was awesome. We saw 2 Whale Sharks before any other boats had even left the harbour.

However you get there, where ever you stay, it will be totally worth it.  

Costs:

The boat costs 3500 pesos, which is about £60. This should be split between 6 of you. The Administration fee (also covers Environment Fee) is 300 pesos / £5 each – this covers you if you choose to go out again a second or third time. Snorkel gear hire is around 300 pesos/ £5 each. You will need fins as the Whale Sharks are really fast! There are life jackets on the boats if you need them.

Where to stay

The Woodland Beach Resort is less than a 5 minute walk from the Whale interaction centre. It has comfortable rooms & dorms. There is also a pool, and a bar. They serve fairly decent food at a reasonable price. You can book at www.agoda.com

How to get to Donsol

The nearest airport is Legaspi. You can then take a bus or taxi to Donsol. There is a Jeepney which goes once a day though we did not take this option. Buses stop before the last flight arrives. A taxi should cost no more than 1500 pesos & takes approximately 90 minutes. There is also an overnight bus from Manila though we did not take it. However It is by far the cheapest option if you have the time.

The Day we went to the Killing Fields

This blog has a slightly different tone to our usual posts. So apologies if you were coming here from some light relief from the daily grind.

There are some experiences when you travel which are empathetically not fun. They are harrowing, they are moving, they make you grateful to be alive, and they make you angry. We’ve been back and forth for a few weeks on whether to even publish this post, but not everyone is going to make to Cambodia to see this for themselves, and people still need to know.

 

This is the first of a couple of planned posts about Cambodia, and we don’t want anyone to come away with the impression that we didn’t like Cambodia.  In fact, it has been one of our favourite countries on this trip.  There is a lot to like.  The people are genuinely friendly, not pushy, and happy that you have made the effort to come to their country.

There are some truly stunning sights, not just in Angkor Wat, but elsewhere.  You can see the illusive Irrawaddy Dolphins here without spending 8 hours on a boat in the 4000 Islands of Laos. There is coffee, and its good.   Wine exists, and its passable.  There is cheese – and I don’t mean that fake cheese slice stuff – REAL cheese, and there is bread without sugar in it.  All these things make it a country we would rather live in than somewhere like Thailand or Malaysia.

But, Cambodia does have a dark history which we also spent some time understanding.  Its not appropriate to make comparisons; but having been to the Genocide museum in Rwanda we thought we knew what to expect from a day spent in the infamous Killing Fields of Cambodia, and S-21, the prison in Phnom Penh, which housed so many political prisoners during Pol Pots regime.  We were very wrong;

In brief

A brief history lesson for you all. In 1975, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge took power in Cambodia. Overnight they decided to turn the country into a completely agrarian society. Everyone in the towns and cities was sent to work in communes. Their property and belongings confiscated. Families were split up. Intellectuals, teachers, doctors & scientists were all rigorously persecuted. By the time an internal power struggle, and the Vietnamese army had ousted Pol Pot in 1979, nearly 3 million of the 8 million inhabitants of Cambodia were dead through violence and starvation. Unbelievably, Pol Pot would stay the recognised leader of Cambodia by the rest of the world, with a seat at the UN, for another 10 years after.

There are over 300 of Killing Fields in Cambodia, the most infamous is about 45 minutes outside of central Phnom Penh at Choeung Ek. This is the place where prisoners from S-21 prison who were sentenced to die were taken for execution. Often under a pretence of being moved to a better location. This place is filled with the remains of over 20,000 people. There are men, women & children, who either by design or accident, defied the regime and paid the ultimate price for it. There is a tree, where babies were killed, by swinging them against it.

And just when you think it can’t get any more grim, or make you any angrier, there is the central monument, where the skeletal remains of exhumed victims are held, and where people can pay their respects.   There are multiple levels, each one split into different groups of skulls based on age and how they were killed. These details somehow make it an altogether more harrowing experience.

Killing Tree
Inside the Monument
High School turned Prison

We didn’t think anything could be more upsetting than the Killing Fields, but we were wrong. In the afternoon, we visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide museum, which is housed at what was S-21 prison. Originally a school, this set of buildings was used by the Khmer Rouge to house approximately 17,000 political prisoners and undesirable elements.

Here rooms are filled with the photos of inmates. Taken when they arrived at the prison, their eyes filled with sadness, fear, anger, defiance, but mostly, nothing. Some torture rooms have been preserved , complete with blood stains to emphasis the brutality. This is not an ‘attraction’ to tick off your list, and it is not an easy place to visit. There is no sugar coating of the facts going on here.

But it wasn’t the walls filled with photos of inmates, or the very graphic description of torture that most affected us. Though it very definitely did affect us. It was the people we met. Our guide told us that his own father had been threatened with death on more than one occasion. He had somehow, miraculously, survived. He went on to explain that he had asked his father a few times how, but had never got an answer. We both came away thinking that no answer to that question would be a good one.

These are uncomfortable truths that people all over Cambodia face on a daily basis. He even admitted to seeing a therapist to help him deal with being there every day. There were also two of the 7 survivors of S-21 who spend their days at the site talking to visitors, and selling their own accounts. Imagine spending all day in a place you were once tortured, where your friends, and family died.

 

An Inconvenient Truth

The fact that nothing is sugar coated is in itself rather odd.  In Rwanda for example, school children are taken to the Genocide museums as part of the curriculum. This is part of a widespread education process to prevent such a situation every happening again. But in Cambodia, there is an added element of awkwardness for the ruling government.  This means that very few children every see these places.

Because the ruling government are the Khmer Rouge insurgency that toppled Pol Pot, with considerable help from the Vietnamese. They are, in effect, part of the group who did this to the Cambodia people. It seems they’d rather people didn’t know about that somewhat inconvenient truth.

The List of rules all inmates were required to follow.

Having spent time in both these places we began to look at Phnom Penh, and Cambodia in a slightly new light. It hadn’t escaped our notice that there were few people our own age around. Now we understood why. We were born at the height of the Khmer Rouge’s power. People our parents age were stuck in places like S-21 and dying in the fields from starvation, not having babies.

We are glad we took the time to see both these places, because it is important to go, and see what people are capable of, if we allow it. Its easy when you are travelling to have your rose tinted glasses on permanently. The reality is that very few places are perfect. Its also important to see how very different life could be, and it made us truly appreciate how fortunate we are, by a simple accident of birth to have avoided being victims of something like this.

 

Planning your trip

Entrance fees: The Killing Field Entrance Fee is $6 per person and includes an audio guide. The fee to go to Tuol Sleng Genocide museum is $3 plus $3 for the audio tour, or you can pay a guide to take you round. We paid our guide $10 and it was probably a little too much..

Getting there: Any Tuk Tuk driver will take you, and should charge no more than $15 to visit both. There are half day tours you can book on for the same price. They do not have the same flexibility to stay in either place for very long, or give yourself some time to assimilate what you’ve seen between stops

How to get around Thailand

Thailand is a pretty big place. But the good news is there are many ways of getting about.  One of the real joys of travelling long term is that you can take some of those longer, more budget friendly options. But there are pitfalls to many travel options that it is wise to avoid!

Between Cities/Islands

Planes:

They can be expensive, but sometimes you just have to do it. There are many many low cost carriers in Thailand. Air Asia, Bangkok Airways, and Thai Lion are the ones we have used. BUT, even if the cost of the flight itself is cheap, bear in mind that getting to or from either Bangkok airport to Khao San Road is going to involve a taxi.

If you are staying near a BTS or MRT station (more later) then getting from Suvarnabhumi Airport is a relatively simple and inexpensive process. But most Low cost airlines fly to Don Mueang Airport, which does not have a link to either the BTS or MRT. There is also the exorbitant cost of food etc at airports which can be mitigated somewhat by using other means of transport.

Trains:

For longer journey between cities, Trains are pretty cool. Thailand’s overnight train service is actually okay. Its not our favourite way of getting anywhere. However you do get a flat sleeper bunk, so with the aid of sleeping pill (distressingly easy to obtain in Thailand without prescription) you can get a fairly good night sleep. It’s slightly slower than the bus, but more comfortable. The 2nd class AC bunks are absolutely fine. Though always take extra clothing, and some food with you as the AC is brutal and the food on board is terrible and overpriced!.

Note that if you plan to go to the South of Thailand by train you still need to get a ferry or bus from Surat Thani to either the East or West. To Chiang Mai in the north, it’s a very straight forward 14 hour journey.

Buses

The overnight buses in Thailand are genuinely a thing of beauty.  This is the way most Thais get places. You just need to make sure you get the right kind. Tourists buses should be avoided  – see our post on why here.  VIP buses are the best as the seats are wider and there are less of them on the bus.

There are also Minivans which ply the shorter of the long distance route such as Chiang Mai to Pai, or over to Koh Lanta from Krabi.  These are a little cramped if you are over 5 ft tall, but they are serviceable and you’ll only be on them about 4 hours max.

Ferries

Ferries are your route to the Islands.  They come in various different forms but mainly they are big passenger ferries.  The catamarans are quicker, but more expensive.  They are all pretty comfortable.  You can even get your sunbathing on if you pick a eat up top, or get your sleep on if you pick one on a lower air conditioned deck.  Something for everyone abounds.

There are Island hopping passes you can buy but our experience of the Islands was that we loved a couple so much we went back. If you buy a pass up front then make sure it allows this.

Around Town

Songthaew

These are pick up trucks with 2 benches in the back. They are used on many of the islands as a means of getting about. You’ll also see them everywhere in Chiang Mai. They offer fixed price journeys – but make sure you check the price before you get in – there are a few who will try to over inflate the price on you. They are often the cheapest way to get around a town if you don’t want to ride a scooter.

Tuk Tuks

These come in various forms depending on the city but in principle they are all 3 wheeled, with either a side car or trailer for you and your stuff to sit on. InBangkok when you are asked if you want a taxi, this is what they mean. It doesn’t matter how far you are going, they start off asking for 400 baht. They don’t tend to like it when you try to negotiate. Which is why we rarely used them there.

Taxis

In Bangkok, and Chiang Mai, Grab and Uber are available and are pretty cost effective options. The metered taxis are less so because somehow, the meters don’t seem to work, and guess what? The price is always at least 400 baht. We walked 6km one night out of spite and stubbornness after 6 taxis in a row refused to use a meter. In Koh Samui there is a well run mafia in charge of the taxi services. This means no bartering and no Uber.

MRT and BTS

In Bangkok, the Underground (MRT) and Sky Train (BTS) are very safe, relatively inexpensive and comfortable ways of getting around the centre.  These should be your go to means of transport. They are Air conditioned, and not in the poor way the Northern Line is.  People are well mannered, in a way they definitely aren’t on the northern line.  Its is a wondrous public transport experience.

Scooters.

We have rarely used these for a number of reasons. Sarah tried riding one and hated it. Her hatred of driving one was only surpassed by her hatred of not being in control when she rode on the back of one. However, if you aren’t a control freak with terrible balance. These are not a bad way of getting around some places. Please do wear a helmet though, because the Thai police will give anything to get some cash out of you in the form of a fine. A fine that no one in authority will ever see – also, coincidently it seems to 400 baht.

 

How to cope with Homesickness on the road

After nearly 8 months away, i guess it was inevitable that homesickness would catch up with us.

We were in Siem Reap. All geared up for a day at Angkor Wat. Number 1 thing on my bucket list. Suddenly, I was crying over my morning coffee.

Maybe it was the facebook message from an ex colleague about Hendrinks glittery gin, which reminded me how much i missed her, and , in all honesty, gin.  Or the picture of our friends baby that will be 8 months old by the time we meet him. Perhas it was because whilst going round Angkor Wat the day before all I could think of was how much my mum, and father in law would have absolutely loved it, or how many photos my mother in law would have taken. Its possible it was that it was my youngest nieces birthday and i was not there, or that i suddenly realised i was going to miss one of my other nieces 18th birthday.

But I do know what set me off crying. A WhatsApp message with this photo

These are three of our best friends. People who were at our wedding in Jamaica. We spend Christmas with them and treat their kids like we do our nieces and nephews. These are people we have known for decades, and in the case of the baldy one on the left, Steve’s best man and someone who he has been friends since they were 4. The last photo of those three together included us at New Years, which was our last night in Britain before we left on this trip.  Now, they were having fun – WITHOUT US.

So how do you get past the homesickness? Its likely to hit you at some point and you can’t feel bad when it does. You do have to deal with it though.

Use Technology

This was the point I was reminded how small the world really is. Next thing I know, we’re on a WhatsApp call with said friends, trying to talk them into a festival next summer

There are very few places in the world where there isn’t any wifi. There are hundreds of apps which allow you call people no matter where you are.  WhatsApp, Viber, FB Messenger. Also, people will make an effort to keep up with you. My Grandad joined Facebook just to keep up with our trip. Set up a page so people can see what you’re up to. This also ensure that your main facebook page is not consumed with your trip photos etc and allows people to choose to see what you are up to!

I also find just dropping a WhatsApp to my sister & mum and an email to my Grandad helps me feel connected with home.

Snail Mail

Next was to send a current pic of us to the friends with the new baby, with instructions to show said picture to little Theo lots so he knew who we were and didn’t cry when he saw us in the flesh. Every baby in Cambodia has cried when I smile at them. It hurts my soul so I can’t have him scared of me too! Sending a physical picture from Cambodia to Southampton is a somewhat time consuming process without technology, but thankfully there are apps that you can use for this too. My favourite is Touchnote, which you can use to send postcards which feature your own pictures.  It doesn’t matter where you are, the postcards arrive in a few days and are at a really reasonable cost.  We have used these for birthday cards etc throughout our trip

Keep busy and try to stay positive

With operation get over home sickness in full affect off we went to Angkor Wat. Where we spent the day clambering around Tomb raider temples like Angelina Jolie with smaller lips and MUCH bigger hips.

Taking your mind off it is definitely one way to get over it. Do the stuff you really want to do. If it suddenly makes you think about how much someone you know at home would love it, remember they will probably be really pleased to hear about it from you. Who knows; you might inspire them to make the trip themselves.

Now is also one of those few times when you need to absolutely forget your budget if at all possible.  The last thing you need to be worrying about is can you afford to do something.  If your budget is super tight, think about staying in more sociable hostels  where you can always find someone to talk to.

Find familiar things

This one is very personal, and some might vehemently disagree. We find it helps to occasionally seek out familiar things. I can’t tell you how much better we both felt in Kenya when, after 6 months away, we saw recognisable brands in supermarkets or when we found a bar in Thailand that served was HP sauce.

And what could be more familiar than watching our beloved Spurs lose to bloody Chelsea? Even the annoying and unbelievably pissed Geordie behind us in the bar who knew nothing about football was strangely comforting.

Eat

Food is good no matter what the issue in my opinion. But this calls for specific food groups. Whenever we reach a new country we make a concerted effort to eat local. Its cheap, the food is awesome (the spicy Snake Steve had the other day being a very obvious exception to this), and it was one of the things we were most excited about when we started this trip. But sometimes, you just need a decent Burger and sometimes you need a meal which does not include rice. Fast food is your safest bet for familiarity. Obviously if you’re staying with a Hill tribe this will be a challenge but in most built up areas there is some kind of fast food available.  (One note – in this instance KFC is not your friend as it is entirely different in Asia and may make you end up missing home more!)

The Good News

On more than one occasion on this trip we have discussed how difficult it will be going back to the real world of jobs, responsibility and routine.  We know its going to be hard at first. But we were really worried it would continue to be hard in the long term. The fact we miss our friends and family also makes us realise that whilst it will be hard, there are things to go back for that will make the transition easier.

P.S. Sorry about the Baldy comment Andy – Love ya! x

 

Bloggers recognition award!

Bloggers recognition award!

We were very pleased to be nominated for the Bloggers Recognition Award by Travelerswhispers.com last month, and now its our turn to nominate 15 other bloggers whose work we like and want to highlight.

What is a blogger recognition award?

This award is passed from blogger to blogger, and is designed to highlight blogs which we find interesting, and that people have invested time in

The Blogger recognition rules:
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Nominate 15 other bloggers you want to pass this award to.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them, and provide the link to the post you created.

 

How our blog started

When we left the UK on our 1 year trip we started out simply wanting to keep our friends and family up to date with what we were doing.  Since then we’ve added in some new parts with travel advice, and also are using the site to showcase Steve’s photography

2 Bits of advice for other bloggers
  • Get your own domain name- but for goodness sake don’t fall into the trap we did and get it from the company who host your webpage because it will cost you to get out if you ever need to.
  • Check how your site looks on a mobile device.  Most people will read your blog on a mobile device, it needs to look good on a Smartphone or Tablet
Our nominations are:

Now its time for you guys to go and share the love.  Good luck!

 

 

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