holiday

Elephant No. 39 – Corsica, France

I’m currently on a family holiday in the south of France: we spent one week in Montpellier, and now we have one week in the beautiful, mountainous island of Corsica before heading home. Unfortunately the search for elephants has been very unsuccessful and the best specimen so far has been this bright yellow cover decorated with several small red elephants that Clara and I found on a rock. We had to try and snap a picture of it before the family that owned it noticed, but unfortunately I think they must have seen us as they then gave us a very strange look as we went past! Whoops…  (more…)

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Why Uzbekistan?!? Travelling the Silk Road in Central Asia

When I told friends that I would be travelling to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan this summer, I was met with a faces showing emotions ranging from confusion to surprise to bafflement and comments along the lines of “like in Borat?” (no, that’s Kazakhstan!). More often than not it was simply blank faces that stared back at me – where the hell is Uzbekistan and why on earth would I want to go there? This post is an attempt to explain why I would count our two weeks in Uzbekistan as one of my most successful trips, and why it’s an amazing place to travel to!  (more…)

An unexpected trip to Thailand

What do you do when the country you are visiting is unexpectedly clothed in a thick cloud of smog? Before visiting Malaysia, “haze” was not a common word in my vocabulary, but it has become one I have had to use far too often in the past couple of weeks, as most conversations with Malaysians – when not discussing the corruption of Najib – have revolved around this horrible, horrible haze. I have been to cities before with bad air pollution (cough, cough Beijing) but had never experienced this quantity of smog ever before. In KL, we bought tickets to go up the tall Menara tower, for views over the city – but could not see past the nearest skyscraper: everything else just blended into a brown dusty mist. When we went out into the countryside to the Cameron Highlands, the haze followed: walks through the mossy forest were interrupted by coughing fits and shortness of breath, while the vistas over the rolling hills of tea plantations were ruined by the fact you couldn’t see further than a few metres. It wasn’t until we reached Georgetown in Penang that our patience finally ran out: the news was filled with stories of how many Malaysian schools had been closed because of the haze, and citizens were advised to stay indoors as much as possible. Nice as our heritage-style guesthouse was, having to stay inside for the remainder of our Malaysian trip did not much appeal. Alex had been away for a week and a half and had yet to see the sun – when we looked up, there was no blue, no cloud, just an unending expanse of grey – and I was getting tired of constantly feeling like we were walking behind a car exhaust.  (more…)

Setting off again

I have recently started to plan my next trip away, and I am very excited about it! I’m flying into Beijing on the 4th July and am planning to spend six months in that area of the world – starting in Beijing, making my way down to Hong Kong through July and August with one of my closest friends, Katy, and then into Thailand and down through South East Asia (after Katy has gone home) with Alex. So far I’ve booked a flight out to Beijing and not much else – I’m not sure yet when I’ll want to fly back to England, or even from which country! It would be amazing to get all the way down to Australia, but I would rather take things at a slow pace and explore some places in detail than to feel pressed into making a certain flight home. (more…)

Barcelona – the optimum travel destination?

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I’m just on my way back from a wonderful four days in Barcelona. I may have written recently that I had no upcoming travel plans, but there were particular reasons for why I was keeping this Barcelona trip under wraps, and in any case, I find that a city break is very different from a month’s backpacking, which is what I haven’t been able to do in a very long time (bring on next summer)!

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