Why Vilankulos is the most relaxing place in Mozambique

We entered Vilankulos around midday, one of the more popular tourist beach towns on the Mozambican coast. It was sunny and sandy, with lots of cars, lots of roundabouts and busy roadside markets. Vilankulos was bigger and more bohemian than Inhassaro, reminding me of a Mozambican Byron Bay. 

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The sad transformation of Ubud

OK, i’ll come clean straight away. I’ve seen Eat, Pray, Love. I need to admit this, because that’s the preconception of Ubud I had in my head when we travelled to inland Bali for a few days. This is where Julia Roberts did all her movie stuff, bike riding through jungle mountain roads and past sparkling vistas of brilliant green rice fields shielded by lush tropical backdrops.

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So we got there, and…wait a minute, where are all the rice terrace farms? I can see a lot of bars, and a lot of traffic, are you sure this isn’t Denpasar? We drove from Sanur to Ubud and all we saw were roadside art galleries selling paintings of the Buddha, roundabouts protected by huge weapon waving warrior statues, and silver merchants. For the whole 45 minute drive, just highway, and shops. Where were the rice terraces? Read more

Nusa Penida – what to do on Bali’s untouched island gem

The road was getting worse. I sat in the middle of the backseat, holding on to the headrests in front of me, trying not to wipe greasy smears of sweat on the arms of those next to me. Cindy sat to my right, holding on to the roof handle to stop herself from being launched up into the ceiling.

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A few nights on the banana pancake trail

The banana pancake trail: a nickname given to the popular tourist routes through South East Asia, where foreign influence has shaped that place to cater for foreign taste (ie. banana pancakes for breakfast in Asia!).

In June 2012, I had a little transit through Thailand, inbetween Vietnam and Myanmar. It was just four days; enter, visit the Myanmar embassy to apply for my Burmese visa, Exit. Cindy, who I was excited to see since we parted ways back in Borneo, was in Kuala Lumpur doing the exact same thing, and in a few days we were going to reunite. It felt strange to just ‘pop in and out’ of a country like that, especially one I’d never visited before, but I knew that I’d find time to explore Thailand properly later.

Doing as the Thai do
Doing as the Thai do

Applying for the visa was quite easy; read about it here.

So, with my visa being processed, 4 days to kill in Bangkok. What to do? Pad Thai. Cold beer. Relax. I followed Jeff’s advice, and tracked down a tiny family-run guesthouse called Apple Guesthouse not far from Khao San Road, the tourist centre of Bangkok.

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Khao San Road culture

What is this place, the infamous Khao San Road? And more importantly, why did you end up here, even if you didn’t mean to?dav

Basically, it’s everything that a party-oriented backpacker loves about Thailand, distilled and westernised and easily accessible. It has food, accommodation, and drinking, without the hassle of having to navigate the mighty urban labyrinth (and it is a labyrinth!) that is Bangkok. It’s a party street, without the red-light-districtness of Soi Cowboy.

You’ll be surrounded by travellers just like you. Most locals don’t come here; just those who work in the tourist trade. From anywhere on Khao San Road, you could turn a corner and run into a street food cart (most famously Pad Thai whipped up on the spot, and sliced fruit served with a skewer). Tuk-tuk drivers stalk passers-by with their eyes like vultures, asking to take you around, probing with that infuriating catch phrase of “hey you, where you go!?

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