Dambulla: an Illustrated Guide to Sri Lanka’s Cave Temples

Dambulla temple is Sri Lanka’s best preserved cave temple complex, one of the country’s fantastic UNESCO world heritage sights. At the top of a tall hill, the caves are filled with incredible wall fresco paintings, images of past kings and queens, and many golden statues of the Buddha.

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Staying in a Traditional Japanese Ryokan in Izu

The dish that arrived on our table was met with confused feelings of fascination and disgust. Dressed in our yukata, sitting cross-legged under the low Japanese table, we’d enjoyed round after round of incredible food – thin, oily slices of beef that sizzled on a tabletop grill and melted in our mouths; chilled tofu with vegetables and pickles; grilled fish and crispy chicken karaage.

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Practical guide to quitting your job to travel

Quitting your job to travel for an extended time isn’t such a crazy thing to do these days. It’s a genuinely rewarding gap year that can be taken at any time, as long as you have the courage to do it, and the foresight to plan. If you’re reading this, then i’m assuming that the seed of travel is planted firmly in your brain. This article is aimed at first timers who already know their rough itinerary, and would love advice on what to do next.

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Getting distracted from blogging

So…i’ve been neglecting my blog.

I’ve had a little bit of an unofficial blogging hiatus since November, because of many distractions from other projects that i’ve been working on. I finally placed myself in French language classes through the Alliance Francaise in Sydney (which, by the way, I wholeheartedly recommend for you would-be multilinguists).

I started learning basics of French on the road about 2 years ago. Cindy taught me how to count to ten (and various important swear words), and i’ve been teaching myself with instructional books and podcasts ever since then. But the classroom eventually becomes necessary. I love learning a new language. I find to be very mentally stimulating, as if there are gears in my brain (un-used since school) which have had the dust swept off and are squeaking into life.

The main reason i’ve been distracted from blogging is due to the good news – i’m happy to say that i’m engaged! When I began my round-the-world backpacking journey, I never dreamed that i’d be meeting my future wife just 2 weeks in, by chance, in a tropical thunderstorm in a Bornean national park.

We both were backpackers when we met, hauling around our lumbering backpacks of clothes and cameras on our backs; then following the plan (or just by impulse), we followed each other around the world to whatever country seemed most enticing, without regard to budget or consequence; and when it was time to get jobs, we settled in and filled up bookshelves and worried about visas, the whole time daydreaming of ever more travel (snatching it where we could – a week in Bali here, a detour through Iceland there), and continuing our everlasting ‘honeymoon period’ which began back in Asia all that time ago.

Why no time for writing? We’ve been planning, designing, painting, Pinteresting and emailing to plan an entirely different kind of holiday – a Parisian wedding!

The trend of dental tourism

I had two wisdom teeth extracted yesterday. Ouch. I’m OK though. A few weeks ago, Cindy was given a quote for a dental procedure which had an astronomical price tag. So I contacted a dentist friend of mine for help, we had a second opinion, some last minute insurance luck, avoided the biggest costs, and emerged with healthy teeth. But then I thought of something. We are getting on a plane to Bali in 2 days, and the timing got me thinking – dental care is a lot cheaper in South East Asia, why not visit a dentist there??

Actually, this idea is quite popular! Save money, whilst getting a holiday in Thailand at the same time! Even with the flights and hotels factored in, the dental bill (sometimes 75% cheaper) makes the whole thing a huge saving. I met an English backpacker in Borneo who had done that exact thing. He had dental surgery done in Kuala Lumpur, instead of in Australia, and was completely happy with the results. In a country where the tap water is questionable, I was curious about the medical care. I asked him about the quality, and he said it was just like in England. In fact, ‘dental tourism’ is getting so popular now that there are travel companies set up specifically to organise it.

I’m sure that the dentists are just fine overseas. Obviously, they’re qualified – I don’t doubt that many of them even have Australian or other western degrees. Besides, places like Bangkok or KL are big cities with many wealthy inhabitants – the dental care would surely be on par. I suppose it’s just a matter of trust, feeling secure, and hoping nothing worse happens. If something goes wrong, you can have it sorted out at home, but if they mess up your teeth on holidays, you’re kinda screwed.

Have you ever gone overseas for dental care? I’d love to hear some stories!