I'M BACK - after travelling the world for seven months i am now safely back in the UK! I was supposed to be away for another few weeks but i decided to change my flights and come back a little bit early. It is nice to be back to a little bit of normality in the 'real world.'
The past few months i have had the time of my life - i have had so many amazing experiences, seen so many beautiful things, and met some of the best people ever! All i can say is that if you ever get the chance to go travelling then seize it with both hands and just go!
This marks the end of my second round the world trip and all i can say is that our world is such a wonderful place full of diversity and excitment - everyday i have seen and experienced so many new things that it is hard to process everything within my head. I will say that our world is actually a safe place (i didn't feel unsafe or threatened once) and that the different cultures and peoples who reside upon our planet are truly fascinating - i have learnt and understood more in the past few months than in my entire life.
Here is a rundown of my top ten favourite places/experiences of my trip:
10 - BANGKOK, THAILAND - This city marks a transit point for me, a city that i would end up returning too every few months. To me Bangkok is a bustling place where there is always something to see and do: Thai boxing, grand palace, market shopping, good food. Bangkok is an assult on the senses in every way imaginable but their is something addictive about the vibrancy of this city that never sleeps.
09 - LAOS - An amazing country with some of the friendliest people on the planet. The whole of Laos feels more like a small village community as opposed to an entire country. Laos is so untouched that you could dissapear and never ever be found again. The highlights were definately the chill out town of Vang Vieng or the mountain city of Luang Prabang with its amazing spirituality.
08 - HALONG BAY, VIETNAM - This is one of those natural wonders that you always see on televison and in photo books. Yet nothing can compare to the splendour of this place where thousands of limestone pinnacles rise out of the South China Sea. This is an awe-inspiring place that words can't sum up! Loved the scenery, the caves, and the swimming. Despite the rest of Vietnam being pretty average, this place is a must.
07 - RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - Surely the most beautiful city on earth, a wonderful mixture of tropical mountains and high-rise modernity. Nothing can prepare you for Rio - it is a place of natural beauty and severe danger. An atmosphere of kineticism and violence hangs in the air, but teh Brazilians are cool people always celebrating their culture and looking for an excuse to party. From the beaches of Ipanema to the statue of Christ The Redeemer, Rio is the place to see and be seen.
06 - THE KILLING FIELDS, CAMBODIA - The horror of Cambodia's genocidal past is probably the most impactful experience of my trip. Learning about a country in termoil and the massacre of thousands of innocents is a harrowing experience, but also one of great interest. To witness firsthand the killing fields and genocide museum is something that i can never forget!
05 - TEMPLES OF ANGKOR, CAMBODIA - The reason that any tourist visits Cambodia is to see this huge temple complex located in the jungle. Everybody talks about Angkor Wat as being the best but for me it was Bayon with its huge faces or the jungle covered Ta Promh. The amazing thing about these temples is how they were built and why? Angkor is a remarkable place.
04 - INDONESIA - Visiting Indonesia was a last minute decision and i am so glad that we visited. It is such a cultural place full of life and colour. The beaches are fantastic and it is the perfect tropical destination for relaxation - the untouched Gili islands being the best.
03 - VARANASI, INDIA - Varanasi is the holiest city in India, located on the river ganges. For me it was the most spiritual point of my journey and i got to learn a lot about Hinduism. Everything about India can be experienced in Varanasi from religious cremations to water ceremonies. There is always something going on in this maze-like city that feels like going back in time hundreds of years.
02 - HILL TRIBE TREKKING - My favourite experiences of my trip was trekking in Thailand, Burma, and Vietnam. Trekking gives you a chance to get to places innacessible to vehicles and general tourists. In doing so you get to experience another side of a country which is more untouched and 'real'. Trekking gives you remarkable views and a chance to interect with local tribespeople and learn about their culture and the way in which they live. Insightful and exhillirating!
01 - MYANMAR (BURMA) - For me a visit to Burma was the highlight of my entire trip. To visit a country which is seen by so few was truly amazing. I got to see a culture which is largely untouched by the outside world - from lake-dwelling tribes, to ancient temples, to mountains. The Burmese are the friendliest peopel and very hospitable, especially to a lone traveller like myself. The experience of this remarkable country will stay with me forever - a miraculous place...
Location: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Arrived in Brazil a few days ago and i must say that it is such an amazing place - Rio is definately the most beautiful city in the world! Arrived Rio late at night which was a slightly unnerving experience, because all you ever here about Brazil is how dangerous it is! Yet for me i have experienced nothing but friendliness and the odd gunshot sound - the police are absolutely everywhere so you really do feel protected.
Unfortunately for me the weather had been really crappy - overcast and raining since i arrived. Yet this hasnt stopped me from visiting the world famous Copacabana Beach which is just full of beautiful people! I also went up the sugarloaf mountain which gives beautful views out over Rios cityscape. Whilst this morning i visited the christ the redeemer statue high in the mounatains and tropical forests above Rio.
The brilliant thing about this city is its diversity and i definately reccomend for anyone to experience Rio at least once in their lives - truly magical!
Location: Rio De Janerio, Brazil
Today has been a crazy day! Last night in Santiago i got absolutely wasted and ended up still drunk on my flight into Brazil today! Arrived at the airport in Santiago to be told that my round the world ticket is no longer valid and that i needed to buy a new one - a bloody joke, especially when you cant understand everyone talking to you in Spanish! So the only way that i could board my flight was to buy a new ticket from Santiago to Rio - though the airline has said that i will get the money back once i confront my travel agent upon returning to the UK! The whole world has gone crazy today!!!
Location: Santiago, Chile
The remainder of my stay in Sydney was spent wondering around the markets and shopping malls - can you believe that they are all geared up for Christmas already, with huge pine trees lining the streets - the world has gone crazy!!
Other than that i visited the Sydney Wildlife world which was a display of Australias animals from the deadly redback spider to the frilled lizard and cute kangaroos. Though the deadly casawari bird was truly terrifying! I also visited the Sydney Aquarium which is a tranquil and relaxing place full of crocodiles, platypus and funky jellyfish - though the shark pool and finding nemo influenced great barrier reef exhibit were astounding!
Sydney is supposed to be a city that receives 300 days of sunshine a year - as it is the height of summer at the moment you would expect good weather, but for my entire stay it pissed it down constantly! Unfortunately this dashed my plans for partaking in a tandem skydive which left me more than a little dissapointed.
I got to hook up with my friend Rayni whom i met whilst travelling in Africa four years ago, and spent a few days at her house on the Northern beaches - the place which is known as summer bay on the famous soap opera Home And Away! We visited the cute beaches of Manly and the world famous beach of Bondi. Despite the weather i started to learn surfing and can now ride a wave standing up on the board all by myself which is cool! Though the constant worry of sharks was more than a little unnerving!
On the 7th November i took a plane over to South America - after spending twenty hours in the air i crossed the international date line and thus arrived in Chile on the morning of the 7th November. It was just like groundhog day having to re-live the same day twice! Santiago is in such a cool location high up in the Andes mountains - looking up through the skyscrapers you can see snow capped peaks towering high above you, which is an awesome sight. Santiago itself is a bit of a nothing city and is little more than urban sprawl, there is not to much to see and do but the parks are nice to chill in and the nightlife is good - especially getting drunk on cheap Chilean wine! Today i went up into the mountains on a cable car which gave remarkable views of the city down below! Tomorrow i am flying into Rio De Janeiro in Brazil which i am very excited about - it has always been my dream to visit Rio and i will soon be there. Brazil marks the final destination of my trip...
Location: Sydney, Australia
After leaving Bali we spent two days back in Thailand which were truly exaustive. The first day we went on a mad shopping spree to the huge weekend market, the MBK shopping centre, and the Kho San market - we brought lots of gifts for all of you. On Sunday we daytripped to Kanchanaburi province which is located in the western part of Thailand - here we visited the River Kwai and its historically famous bridge. We also checked out the Sai Yok waterfall which was a multi-tiered paradise located within dense tropical jungle. Yet our real reason for spending the our final day in Kanchanaburi was to visit the tiger temple, where monks have taken in a group of tigers and raised them in captivity. It was here that we got to walk around with the tigers and stroke them, which was both a terrifying and amazing experience. The whole park was very natural with groups of buffalo, boar, and peacocks romaing free and the tigers seemed to be happy in this temple environment!
Leaving Asia was a melancholic experience as i have spent over six months there so it was kinda like home - it is sad to think that i won't be returning to Asia soon, yet at the same time it is a treasured experience! The flight to Sydney was pretty awful and the immigration and quarantine procedures here are a complete joke - but we soon arrived at our chosen destination of Kings Cross. It was typical of us to pick the seediest destination in Sydney in which to base ourselves - lots of strip clubs and streets lined with prostitutes, but at least our room is nice!!
Spent our first day in Sydney doing the tourisity things such as vsiting the opera house and the world famous harbour - it is just as impressive as you see on the televison and photos, though the opera house itself is a bit cack! We walked across the harbour bridge to the other side of the water which was a fun but windy experience - the views back to the skyscraoers of the central business district were impressive. After this we strolled through the area known as the rocks which is where the first convicts in Australia were based! Our second day in Oz was spent visiting Taronga zoo and all of its exciting animal species - especially the Australian favourites of wombats, kangaroos, and koalas! We also visited the blue mountains which are a spectacular example of lush forest scenery - we trekked to the three sisters rock formation and just hung out in the quaint little town!
Today Lana left which has me more than sad - it has been a funny day really. But at least tomorrow i am meeting up with an old friend who lives in Sydney so that should be fun! It is a shame that i will only be in Oz for the total time of a week as i would love to see Uluru and the great barrier reef - but that will just have to wait until another trip! For now its onward to South America on Tuesday which should be exciting!!