The smell of SoCal…

New year and new us, so what better way to kick off the new year than to do it extra large in the states. Let me tell you this, it is not cheap to get to the states from Singapore, no sir. The best way to get the best price, and to fly with a semi-reputable airline was to connect. In Doha. Traveling the opposite way back around where we came from. Only one airline carrier travelled across the Pacific and that was United, so with recent events, no thanks, also too expensive. So with Qatar Airways* it was, they got us to India in comfort so we trusted them to get us to America.

* Although it has to be said, careful when booking with them abroad and online, I had to perform and fill out rigorous security checks because they thought my card was fraudulent, as I was booking from an area that was ‘red flagged’. Which happened to contain Thailand, it was infuriating, and so badly done that I had to ring them from Bangkok and run up a bill of over 80 quid, just for them to tell me I was already cleared. Seriously, what a fucking pain that was!

Anyways, so this connection was son unbelievable awkward, and long, we actually ended up losing almost 2 full days in Singapore because of it. It left a the morning, and we travelled 28 hours, including a 6 hour connection in Doha, Yeh I know… ‘Twas grand though, although the second 16 hour flight really took it out of us.

So going back 11 times zones, and a total travel time of over 28 hours we had arrived in sunny, but hazy LA.

This is where our hostel, Samesun* was located, right on the infamous Windward Avenue straight down onto the epicenter of the Venice Beach Boardwalk. From the dope-ass panoramic you can see exactly where it was at. We literallycouldn’t be in a better area, it was straight up awesome. Was we stepped out of the taxi it was around 2 o’clock on the same day that we had left, sorta trippy, we had gone through so many time zones we may have well gone back in time, it a shame we didn’t actually travel for that amount of time. So settling into our shithole, sorry I mean our hostel, we were beyond tired, so what better way to relax then head out onto the boardwalk for a nice relaxing stroll!

It was then we saw, felt and smelt the good SoCal vibes. The sweet sweet green filled the air, the place was alive with floods of people from every corner of the planet, all embracing the laid-back Venice lifestyle.

We felt like home. It a sort of strange crazy sense…

It was certainly an experience, humans from every single walk of life meshed here, from the hundreds of homeless stoned and sun-worn beyond repair, to the drunken frat boys shouting at each other, the surfers and skaters blaring rock and hip-hop music while throwing the onlookers sideways glances, to the posers and fakers with plumped lips and even faker boyfriends, maxed-out bodybuilders walking topless and flexing. It truly a sight to be seen. I think on the first day we were just so tired, but all this just passed us by unnoticed, it wasn’t until after a good 10 hour sleep did we really begin to soak in the lifestyle, and get uplifted by the constant smog of kush the hugged the area on a daily basis ( keep in mind marijuana was legalized not just 3 days ago… ) so it just became the good smell of Cali. Although we just assumed it smelled like this all the time.

Samesun Venice* without spoiling my entry too much, this place is a bit of a shithole… like really. I’ll be honest, if your by yourself and only need a bed than this place is ok. But it’s horrendously expensive, waayyy too much for what you get, and you get the bare-essentials, really you can’t get a better location, this is literally the best you can get, buuuuut, keep in mind you can get bikes everywhere so it’s up to you, you can check out the website if you like!

We had a truly awesome week here, but for the first 3 days here, I personally felt a bit off, and I really couldn’t explain it… it drove me insane, it was so fuckin frustrating, and even looking back now it annoys me. I just feel a bit disjointed, and out of sorts, somewhat like I had felt earlier this year when my anxiety was kicking my ass. I just couldn’t put my finger on it, and it was annoying the shit of Sarah too. If I could explain it I would, and the type of person I am needs an explanation, and I just can’t give one, or even look for a solution. You’d think the most chill, laid-back and awesomely high place on the planet would be enough, but no, my stupidness was closing me off, and driving me into insanity. So to Sarah I was sorry, even looking back it still annoys me, but we had another 4 days to sort it of which we did.

We both woke up at the same like the 4th day and looked at each other, we both had a similar fed-up exhausted look on our faces. We were fuckin sick of this place, and neither of us had said anything to another, because we were both just putting up with it for each other. But it got a bit too much, and we booked into somewhere else. Not before long, ie. 1 hour later, we were checking into another hotel instead, the Inn at Venice Beach*. It was so awesome.

But why you ask? This is why:

  • Our room literally vibrated, like literally, it made constant noises and vibrated all day and night, apparently due to the restaurant 2 floors below us
  • Our window didn’t close, it wasn’t that cold out, but it wasn’t warm either, and every morning it was really foggy, and had a constant stream into our room
  • The bed was tiny, it was a double although it would had constituted being a large single
  • The carpet was so shit, it felt like it was wet all the time, it’s hard to describe, it feels like it hadn’t changed in years,
  • There was only 4 bathrooms, 2 on each floor, for like 60 plus guests, come on lads,
  • The staff were just too cool, to really care for anything, or do anything, or help, or even say hi

I think it was those reasons that made us hate the place, but we were just too considerate to say it to each other. So we actually got a refund, and ended up getting the other place for the same price, so basically we didn’t spend any money at all. As soon as we arrived, it was so so much better, so much fact that my haze completely lifted and I began to feel myself again. Not to mention they had Fuitloops!

Anyway enough of that, here are some more awesome pictures!

* Inn at Venice Beach, this place I think is still the nicest place we have stayed, you can book them here!

Over our week of awesomeness in LA, we got bikes most days, and just hung out down in the beach, or on the piers, the skatepark, or even just walking around. We also explored all the areas surrounding Venice, and we also learned that in fact, this city is huge, and we were staying in one of the many Burroughs. We were staying at Venice Beach, and we moved to an area called Wapa, still Venice, but it’s own independent area. Our new area was at the intersection of Washington and Pacific Avenue, it had a little Starbucks, loads of great restaurants, the original Arbor surf and skate shop, and where the owner had his studio ( the dream job ).

We went to Santa Monica a few times also, and loved that place. Although a tiny bit pretentious, just a small bit, but still very cool. It’s also the birthplace of modern day skateboarding, and we also got to see the original Zephyr Surf Shop, although closed a few years ago, it’s now been converted in a coffee roasters and Café called Dogtown Coffee*. They made a mean coffee and croissant, although sad to never see the shop that started it all, it was still awesome just to be where all the greats would have been.

*Dogtown Coffe, defo worth a stop, their website!

I was being hipster that day and for some reason only had the Fuji Insta, also it was too busy that morning to take pics inside, and I was embarrassed.

Cycling is by far the best way to get around all these areas, there is even a track that runs from Wapa to Santa Monica and beyond, but we didn’t go further than that. We also went inland, to the canal district, which is claimed to be by far the most beautiful area, but all of the areas were amazing in the own right, and all widely different. We also headed down to Marina del Rey, but that area, although has a cool marina, is the most fake area in all of LA, so we just moved on, back to the smokers haven, and back to insanity.

One morning, we made the half an hour trip to downtown LA, which was nice, but not as nice as you think. The building were incredible, we even made a stop into the Last Ever Bookshop, which contrary to popular belief, the people that worked there were rude, and total bellends, kinda annoying but, ah well. We even wandered into Skidrow, which I don’t need to talk about, but is really sad to see so many people struggling and homeless. But it was nearing lunchtime, and we weren’t sure where to go, until we found the cool Grand Central Market* a totally awesome farmers market, with independent food vendors that has literally every type of food anyone could possibly want. We had some dope bagels from Wexler’s Deli, worth it, but if you pay a visit, explore a bit more, we were just hungry and just hopped on what stood out to us most.

* Grand central market website for more info…

After wondering Downtown, we stopped into the most hipster place upmarket place called IlCaffé, it was actaully reasonably priced, but was so arty-farty, even though we were in the art district, it was ok. So we decided what to do, and one of the place recommended to us was The Grove, so grabbing an Uber we headed out there, and as soon as we arrived we saw ANTM contestant Nyle DiMarco, who Sarah lost her shit over, and I was like ‘oh’. Nah pretty cool, but before we left we saw one of our favs Emma Roberts, just casually walk by us, but obviously wouldn’t stop her, she was there to ‘treat herself’.

Following some more chilling and beach bumming, it was time to see the real LA, or rather the fake face it shows to the world, so we booked the Rasta Bus*, for a Day in LA. Instead of boring you with all the deets, I will just say it would be totally worth it, if it wasn’t absolutely fucking miserable. Seriously the people we talked to, including our bus driver, had never seen anything as bad for this time of year, it just doesn’t happen. It was so annoying, it did hinder us in a way, but we still had an amazing time, and we still got to see all the great sights.

Drenched.

Cold.

Grey.

But, oh well.

*This is the tour recommended to us, as all the people are locals, and is a local company born and bred, check the out here!

so with this came the end of our dope-ass trip to LA, and it’s Burroughs, and even then, we barely scratched the surface, even if at all. There is so much more culture and awesomeness in their street, we just didn’t have enough time to really explore it all. So just as typically did on our entire trip and would only happen to us, our last day and the we left was pure sunshine… But alas, wouldn’t have changes anything, our trip was amazing, although we could’ve done without the hostel.

So onto our next stop, a sweet 9 hour Greyhound ride to San Francisco, which in our fashion, ended up being 3 hours late. Typical, but until next time!

Awesome travels,

James & Sarah 🇺🇸🤙😎

When it rains, it Singapores…

That was all Sarah, and by far the best tittle of anything else written in the English language… ever.

The day finally came, and time literally couldn’t had gone quicker up to that point, I am finally going back to Singapore, even if it is 2 decades later. Not much had changed at first glance, except a lot. Much more hotels, and gardens, and transport, they even went through 2 different sets of money. So I really didn’t really miss that much. Catching a flight with Singapore Airlines*, which as always was second to none, as to be expected. Flying into the night, we arrived around midnight, and although it was night and raining, you don’t get used to that humidity, and the fact that it was 20 degrees, didn’t help either.

Grabbing a taxi, we flew out, and it was such a welcome surprise to see the roads organized, and everything so modern and clean, not saying that we didn’t like the ‘rawness’ of the places we visited but it is a nice change. We left the airport it was dry, but 15 minutes down the road and we were in monsoon rain, and quickly ran into our hostel, so far so good. Check in was lovely and welcoming, and when we got our room we got a little surprise…

*Singapore Airlines, just the best airline ever, Book Here!

We knew it was a capsule hostel, but we didn’t think it was a ‘capsule’ hostel. The room, was the perfect size, it obviously could be bigger, but literally couldn’t be any smaller. It was called The Pod Capsule Hostel*, and would be the best option to stay in Singapore for New Years, and after experiencing it ( in our own special way ) it should be on everyone’s bucket list. We got our serious sleep on, and had an awesome at that.

The following day, and being New Years Eve Eve, we did what we did best, and literally hit the city by foot and went exploring. Although quite hard to gauge the weather, so we brought jackets, but wore shorts and flip-flops, which was a great idea, as it just rained so much, but inconsistently. So we wandered, and got lost, but amazingly lost in the mass of skyscrapers, extensive shopping malls and overlapping foot bridges. All overlapped and intertwined with nature, with tropical plants and birds roaming the city. It’s truly incredible.

The pod is super safe and super clean, but is a tad small, but still amazing, and in a perfect spot, you can book online!

Emerging from the modernistic maze, we found ourselves down in the bay, and staring in awe at the towering blocks, and incredible architecture that surrounded the bay. I could on and on about this place, but I think the easiest is to illustrate with some of awesome photography.

From exploring around the bay we went down into the cultural quarter, and wandered around some more, soaked through the bone, but it didn’t matter, this city was just too amazing. We took the long walk back to our hostel, and literally fell into the room, dripping wet but it didn’t matter because you gotta love Singapore. We grabbed some local food from around the corner and hit the hay… hard.

Walking up in a daze and it was finally New Years Eve, and seriously couldn’t believe that it was here. But the weather was still on and off, and we still didn’t have an idea what we were going to for the countdown, and in the spirit of having no plan we went back exploring. We headed straight for the Singapore Flyer, and there was even a minimal queue, so we were up above the city in no time, and the pictures speak for themselves…

After our exhilarating tours of the skies, we were hungry so we wanted to stop by an iconic staplefold of Singapore, the infamous Raffles Hotel. But absolute disaster struck as we realized it was surrounded by hoarding. It was closed, or at least half of it was and under maintenance, we couldn’t have our late lunch and champagne and look for the fabled tiger roaming the grounds. So we had a moment and we had to gracefully move on…

Before we got to our hostel to diagnose a plan, a piece of awesome street-art caught my eye off the side of Arab Street, and upon following we found an incredible laid back, hippie street, parallel with it, Haji Lane, stopping into a super cool café Juice Bar, we got talking to the owner and she informed us that there was going to be a street party there all night, and we looked at each other, this could be fun? We could head down to the harbor for the final countdown and back to Street! After our amazing drinks and treats, we heading back to the hostel to freshen up for the countdown, but when we arrived we found another intriguing activity, the hostel had left a little New Years kit on our bed, with hats, clappers, poppers, and streamers. But on top of that, we would get to go to our roof and watch the fireworks!

This would now be our plan, although Singapore had another idea, to just ruin it, with a shit-fuck-ton of rain, and it didn’t let up, all night.

So we went to Haji Lane. Upon arrival everything was in full swing; Dj was on blaring the latest tunes, the smoke machine was cloaking everything in an ominous haze, while brightly colored floods light the incredible street art layered the walls. We decided to get some awesome Mexican food in Piedra Nebra, amazballs, and halfway through our delicious meal and revelry, the weather stepped in and did it’s worst, right while we were eating, so we had to move and share a table with another couple inside the packed restaurant, it only added to the fun.

After our delicious fill, we decided to stick around anyway, wading through the monsoon, towards the bar where we had stopped earlier on, of which the owner was glad to see us back, probably due to it being not as busy as they hoped, but we had a few hours to go, so we chilled on the couch, ate chip and dip, and downed cocktails.

It was perfect 😌

Btw, did I forgot to mention that we got a sweet deal on a Fuji Insta-film camera, so we went super hipster from new-Years on…As it edged nearer to midnight we headed back through the torrential rain and joined our fellow hostelers, and it was then when we received other bad news… We couldn’t go onto the roof, the rain unfortunately made it inaccessible, so a bit of a bummer, but we were in the same boat as everybody else, so we just celebrated it our way, and to be honest…

It was perfect, so here’s to 2018!< em>Super hipster right, but seriously dope pictures!<<<<<<<<<<<<
tta the way, we still had so much to do in this amazing city. One thing we cannot miss and that is the Night Safari*, in the infamous Singapore Zoo, and holy shit it was awesome. I could go on and on about how good it was, and the animals we saw but I would be going on for so long, all I wanna say is, all the money goes to a great cause and the animals genuinely look comfortable in their surroundings. Not to mention they were literally feet from the bus, and when we went on the walking trails, we got to interact closer, the best ( in my opinion ) was the bat house. It was hilarious, and still a bit scary, they were huge. The cheetahs were cool too, and lions, ooh the rhinos, and and the slow loris… it was awesome!

But also just to come clean, I tried taking photos, but there is no flash photography, naturally, so I used still on my GoPro, but that didn’t work, so you’ll just have to do with the website!< em>< em>We were amongst the last to leave the zoo, and we were so hyped from all the animals, we really didn’t want to go home, so what do you do on New Year’s Day at 11.30 at night?

That’s right, you go to a park. We grabbed a taxi and headed down to Gardens by the Bay, as we wouldn’t have enough time to go the following day, also more monsoons were forecasted to hit the city the following days. So we headed down to the bay, arriving at midnight we stared up in awe as we were greeted by towering neon trees, of which blended nature and technology. It was great being there that late, it was quiet, peaceful, there wasn’t much people there if any, and the sky was beginning to clear ( sort of ) so we walked around for almost 2 hours, taking pictures and chatting it the deafening silence of one of the most busy and modern cities in the world. Also I took some of my favorite picture, of which are awesome if I do say so myself.

< img src=”https://itsjustanothertravelblog.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/7516834976_img_2260.jpg&#8221; class=”size-full wp-image-902″ height=”4000″ width=”6000″>< img src=”https://itsjustanothertravelblog.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/7516834976_img_2277-1.jpg&#8221; class=”size-full wp-image-906″ height=”4000″ width=”u< img src=”https://itsjustanothertravelblog.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/7516834976_img_2319-2.jpg&#8221; class=”wp-image-913 size-full” height=”4000″ width=”6000″><<
Yeh, it was fairly awesome, and seriously, like weirdly quiet just a couple of random people, but all playing Pokémon Go.

Our last day, was literally torrential rain all day, so we relaxed, had a look around the local shops and then went to an awesome restaurant called Big Poppas, that does awesome burgers and shakes, and it had such a cool vibe, so cool in fact no one spoke to each other, just stared at the phones and took pictures of their food and themselves, like Jesus fuckin Christ it was bad, but anyways, dope nonetheless.

So… where to now. We really can’t believe it, we have Finnish our unbelievable time in south-east Asia. It was a long time coming, and 3 months had literally passed in the blink of an eye. Even now while I am typing this, I can’t believe how much we have encapsulated, and all the awesome experiences, whether bad or good, have all come out in the end. So we are so grateful for everything that had happened, and so humbled by all the amazing people we have met along the way! You know who you are if your reading this, we have memories that we are never ever, ever going to forget.

So here’s to a new year, a new us ( officially engaged, like wow ) and to making even more memories and having awesome adventures, so 2018, nite the pillow were coming in hot, but a quick stop in the states first!

Thanks for reading, happy travels and stay tuned for more!

James & Sarah 🇺🇸🤙😎

Baskin Robbins always finds out…

Using the infamous 12go.asia, we booked an overnight trip on the Saigon Golden Train, from Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh City. The roomette was big, and was actually quite comfortable, but, they are 4 berth and we had to share with another couple, but smart me I booked both the lower ones, so the had to chill on the top. In fairness they were quite friendly and also just slept the whole way, so no bother.

We boarded the train about 7 and we arrived in Ho Chi Minh around 4, so it really wasn’t bad at all, once you went to sleep, or rather tried to, but we were abruptly awoken by the Ho Chi Minh memorial song blaring really early in the morning when we pulled into the station. Blurry eyed and still half asleep, we wondered out into the quiet heat of the city, not really sure what taxi was legit or not, we almost got conned by some absolute stranger, but Sarah had her wits about her and steered us towards a uniformed driver. But even then he stank of drink and had a smoke precariously balanced in the side of his mouth, how it didn’t fall, I don’t know, and he didn’t speak a lick of English, but we got there… somehow.

Upon stepping out, sweaty and exhausted we were dropped onto the most infamous street in the city for clubs, bars, and other deviances, Bui Vien Street, we didn’t know this at the time, but we were surrounded by passed out locals, gurning travelers and jacked up club reps. It wasn’t that welcoming, but in fairness we were told the city was a lot more loose and relaxed, but seriously… it didn’t help that as soon as our taxi left us, some fellow traveler ran up to us shouting some guys on a moped just stole a girls purse… so thanks for that, feel real safe. But just around the corner was our hotel, Eden Garden*, it was up from the street, behind closed doors and had security snoozin’ outside of it, so grand.

Given the time, and it leading up to New Years, the hotel was full and wouldn’t have our room ready until someone checked out, in about 6 hours.

So we just had to wait, trying to sleep on the couch, not really working, but at least once the sun rose, we could wonder outside and the street looked completely different than it did at night, totally different, it actually looked inviting! But anyways, as it turned out mix up of booking, usual shit we were accustom to, we were moved, 2 building down to Eden Garden II, which was the nicer of the two in fairness, and we upgraded to the top floor ( thank fuck as there was a club on the ground ), and they assured us that this one had a window… phew, thanks, i wasn’t sure if I had paid the extra. So we finally settled in around 10-ish, showered, snoozed, and went out to make the best of our overnight stay!

*Eden Garden: it’s ok, the staff made it better, if you want to check it out, here the website!

Apologies for the potatoes, I was just snapping stuff with my phone.

Starting our exploration of the city, we were brightly eyes and bushy tailed but starving and we found literally the best place ever, called the Saigon Burger joint*, which is just so dope we actually went twice! And we were only there for 2 days. It was just so good! So we walked around, went to Independence Palace, But was actually closed so we just enjoyed looking around, and basking in the humidity, through city parks and weaving in and out of traffic, and around amazing street art and tall buildings. Then we came across the War Remnants Museum**, which we ended up spending the rest of the day there.

*Saigon Burger Joint, is an absolute must when going to the city ( in my opinion ) you can check them out on TripAdvisor

It was a fascinating insight into the horrors and completely unwarranted not to mention unnecessary Vietnamese war. To be fair I will keep personal views out of this post but in fairness to the museum, it is completely unbiased and a real in depth look into both sides of the war. Even in the Agent Orange section, although horrific still gave information on both sides affected by the chemical. But it does seem that one side was reimbursed more than the other, but that’s for another day. It is such an interesting look into the history, and it has numerous original propaganda posters, as well as American vehicles. Well worth a trip, and is only 6 dollars admission.

**You can read all about the museum here and if you would like to know the truth behind the worst war in history, you can look here…

Following our enlightenment, we wandered back through the city, basque group in the humidity, little did we know it would be the last we would experience of the real heat. Getting late in the evening, we were beginning to get hungry, wandering through the neon lit parks, we came across the Diamond Centre and inside, was an Old Navy, where we got some winter sale items to get ready for the cold weather, and also a absolute gem of a restaurant, Pepper Lunch, and absolute bomb of a restaurant, hidden down in the corner of one of the largest food courts I have ever seen, it was more so the smell of cooking steak that drew us in, and was one of the most delicious meals I have eaten, except for the Saigon Burger Joint, well… I’m not sure actually.

Grabbing a quick cab, we headed back to our hotel, grabbing a quick Baskin Robbins on the way back, you just can’t hide from Baskin Robbins… yum.

Our only night in the city, went fairly shit to be honest, the street was loud, our air con broke and leaked, so we had to switch it off, and then had to move the bed, but in fairness, we only paid $30 so we couldn’t really complain, and they upgraded us and checked us in super early. But with the prospects of next stop, it didn’t really matter, because we were just too excited.

Our following day, we just relaxed in the lovely winter heat and humidity on the balcony of Starbucks, and was just perfect. We chilled, had flavored coffees, and beverages, treats, and I got to finish my book. Awesome, we got to just watch the world go by 3 stories below us. Before the end of the day, we had to make a stop into the infamous Saigon Skateshop*, and then back to Saigon Burger Joint.

*Saigon Skateshop, make sure to stop in for a chat or a skate with the awesome bros that run this place, they are on Facebook!

So with full bellies, and high spirits, we headed off to the airport to put an unfortunate end to a totally unbelievably awesome time in Vietnam. We are really going to miss it, and have some of the best memories. I just can’t believe how quickly it went by, and now is at an end. We are so humble we got to meet such amazing people and experienced and saw some incredible things, not to mention eat some unbelievable food.

So here’s to the next adventure and a new year, stay awesome!

Sarah & James

ngày nghỉ vui vẻ

What other way than to spend our Christmas than in 5-star resort and spa in Nha Trang, and although people had the same reaction, why Nha Trang? We were actually staying outside the city, which we were assured wasn’t that great ( the city that is ), but after a few trips into town we found out that is indeed false. It’s really the same as any other city, and it boasts a fairly impressive and beautiful beach, but unfortunately our resorts was better. Following the recent events of the typhoons and storms that were hitting central Vietnam, we were a bit skeptical, and it didn’t let up while we were there, but… in saying that we got soaked, other days blown away, and then sun-burnt. It was a funny week for weather, but none the less still unbelievably breathtaking in our resort. We were staying in The Anam Villas*, south of Nha Trang. It’s alright if we treat ourselves once in a while, and why not for Christmas?

The Anam Villas: seriously the best way to spend the Holiday season, and we couldn’t recommend it any more, you can check them out here!

I know, look at this shit, dope right? 😎

< em>We also had our own beach… 🤙😎

We couldn’t have spent the Christmas any better, although really considering it our trip is somewhat of a holiday itself, so it’s a holiday, within a holiday… holiday. All our days were spent lounging, relaxing, watching movies, binging Netflix, swimming, and we even got to sunbathe, for like 2 days, so 2 out of 7 ain’t that bad. But it was bad, as we completely underestimated the power of the sun and literally got burnt to a crisp, this was at least 2 days before Christmas so we had enough recovery time, before dressing up nice for celebrations.

On the great day of the burn, I went for a stroll down the beach, and naturally brought my camera to shoot why Nha Trang is so famous, but I was actaully taken aback by how filthy it is, I thought about doing a little insta-gallery of ‘The hazards of tourism’ ( catchy ain’t it…), but I forgot, naturally, hence why I am typing this and I am sitting in a hotel in Seattle, trying to finally catch up on all the entries, but alas, I’ll just make up excuses later. But seriously it’s actually really sad to see the state of the shores, which they actually clean where the resorts meet the beach, not to mention the amount of homeless people living on the beach, it really puts you back to reality. But alas…

When Christmas Day, let alone Eve came around, it’s so scary how quickly time has flown in. Just looking back through all the pictures, we have literally done so much, it’s just incredible, and genuinely wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t lose the most amazing person in the world, which is obviously not what I would ever want, but she is taking care of us, and miss her every day, love you Mum, and miss you every day, especially around this time of year. Hope your enjoying this as much as we are.

So the day finally came and our hotel went above and beyond, on Christmas Eve, we had cookies, mulled wine, fabulous buffet, and even the hotel staff created a choir and sang all the holiday favorites, it was just amazing, and was such a nice touch, to be honest they absolutely nailed it!

How staged is that photo, it’s was taken by an drunk single Canadian woman who hates Christmas ( I know, who hates Christmas… ) and the hack of us, I had to add it in. We had such an amazing time and really couldn’t have spent it anywhere else. But it has to be said, we wish it didn’t have to rain so bad on Christmas Day, if you saw from our Instagram story, it absolutely poured down. But it made it better, sitting in, watching terrible movies, playing an amazing game* on the iPad till finish, just literally laying in bed the whole time, best day ever.

We played the game Inside, from the same team that brought the game Limbo, seriously you have to play this game, it’s sickly addictive, and beautifully bizarre.

Between our days lounging and swimming, and doing nothing we took trips into Nha Trang, and to put it bluntly, the city is good for shopping and eating, but mostly shopping. ( Not to mention, extremely Russian ). We also got KFC a couple of times, because for 1 it’s delicious, but also The Anam, is amazing, but sooo expensive, so we did need to save a few bucks, we also picked up loads of ramen, it’s cheap and delicious.

So going back to the shopping, we thought Hoi An was good for fake good, that was until we arrived here, outside of the main shopping centers, and Rip Curl ( might have picked up a thing or two from here… ) they literally had shops that sold, what we thought were fakes, but were so ultimately legit, which we can only assume by the tags were factory defects or alternatives. Here are some of the shops to look out for, they are the most il-legit we found:

  1. Yeah1shop; This shop is so fuckin dope, it is pretty much all the street wear you will ever need, it has literally every urban brand in clothes and not to mention their show collection, so so awesome, and so so cheap, Sarah 2 pairs of Sam Smith Adidas’, for about 20 quid, and I got a Supreme jacket for about 5 euro… Yeh
  2. Shamdi.vn; Want some of the legit gym and active wear around, like her stock is so good, I’m pretty sure is the real deal, everything is so cheap.
  3. Shoe Store; this is located down the street from Pizza Hut ( this is shit btw, we went on the day we were leaving ), their stock here I am pretty sure is real, but are all defects, or alternative styles, we got hats, clothes and shoes here, including amazing retro vans.

So with this, our best best stop, as well as Christmas 2017 has come to a close, and in case you didn’t see our post on Instagram, hope you had an incredible Christmas as well as an awesome holiday season.

Until the next entry, a over night stay on a train, and then a super cool stopover in Ho Chi Minh City. Take it awesome,

Sarah & James 🤙🎅

Down by the river…

So we were heading south, to the historic towns of Hoi An, Hué and also De Nang. We flew again with Vietjet Air* which is still a good reliable airline. It was a short trip south but it was made an absolute pleasure by the courteous and polite airline staff. We flew into De Nang, which in a nice airport currently in the process of being modernized, as the rest of the city. Which we soon found out, De Nang nice but unless your staying in a resort of some kind, there isn’t that much to do, mostly shopping and going to the theme park Sun World, which was just too tacky for our liking, so we were staying in The historic town of Hoi An and looking back, we wouldn’t have stayed anywhere else!

That legroom doe! 👏

Originally we were going to stay in Paddy’s Irish Hostel just for the laughs, and the hostels so far had been ok, so another one wouldn’t hurt?

That was until we were just checking in a day before we were due to arrive, and realized that recent reviews said otherwise, and the fact that it was a party hostel, so we kinda changed our mind. Also judging by the recent floods that we were hitting the central region of Vietnam, we couldn’t really risk it if the hostel was shit. So we said fuck it and decided to book a nice 3-star hotel on the river bank outside the town. Little did we know that we had booked it on cyber-Monday, and we ended up getting it cheaper than what we were paying for the hostel. It was the Lantana Riverside Boutique Hotel**, and it was absolutely exceptional. But more on that later!

we were apprehensive as to what the weather was going to be like, but out of our 8 amazing days spent here I think there was about 3 that was generally bad, the rest was either sunny or just pleasantly cloudy, but still just as cold as were in Hanoi. But if you look at that panoramic from outside our balcony ( I know right… ). The other pic was our room, super cute!

Settling in we decided to head straight into Hoi An Ancient Town, which looking back is probably our favorite town to date. It was just, breathtaking. It was such a delight just being there, it was relaxed, quaint, understated, and not to mention historic. It had literally everything that any one would need as well as every traveler, a farmers market on the river front, loads of restaurants and cafés, boutique shops, art galleries, and not to mention the numerous tailors and leather merchants. I only realized typing this up that there is literally so much in the little town, I am bound to leave so much out! So apologies.

* Vietjet Air: Still one of the best we’ve flown, and spag-bol was included! You can book online here!** Lantana Riverside Boutique Hotel: What can I say about this place, other than its amazing! We were the only guests for about 2 days, and they were so happy to meet us because we were from Ireland and were staying for so long. Even the general manager was there to greet us upon our arrival, all the staff were amazing, the facilities were great, the pool was ice cold. Everything you would want in a hotel, seriously this is like the cutest place, check them out for sure…Here are just a few of the amazing pictures took while roaming the streets of the town, as with every single city and town that we had the pleasure of visiting, this place was no exception, just go exploring and get lost taking every side alley and tiny street, will lead you to something amazing, and different. I could literally type about the beauty of this town. If you do decide to visit just remember that it is UNESCO protected, so it’s a good idea to buy tickets, because each of the the sights you choose to visit, representatives will ask you for a ticket ( especially if you look like a tourist, which we did ). You get 6 tickets for 200,000 dong, which really isn’t that expensive, but really worth it, if your interested in maintaining this world heritage site.

Instead of going on and on about how awesome this town is, here is a few things you should consider visiting or doing while your there:

  • Morning Glory: This is one of the best restaurants in the town, it’s the best local food you will probably have in Vietnam. They also have an amazing cookery course you can book here!
  • The Hoi An Roastery: Amazing coffee, although their egg coffee takes some getting used to as they use just the yolk, but their normals coffees and cakes are awesome, and they are always open, so nice to sit back and relax, there is also a few of them so you can have a breather no matter where you are.
  • Coco Box: This is a bit like the roastery but they do food, and the food is super fresh, and super delish.
  • Good Morning Vietnam: I know… how they can use that name, I have no idea, but it’s a dope-ass Italian, and they do thin base stone-baked pizzas are the best.
  • ¡Hola Tacos!: A Mexican in Vietnam, a gamble I know, but one that pays off, it’s fuckin awesome, we went twice, wish we went more, make sure to have a tamarind limeade.
  • Artbox: For if you want to get some awesome gifts, but don’t want some tacky crap, they’re all hand made, and won’t break the bank, they also have a Café and a bookshop.
  • Gingko: A cool local Vietnamese brand.
  • Mio: She was a little tailor that we chose among the dozens that hounded us everyday, I got an awesome shirt, and Sarah got a beautiful dress made and I think altogether it cost about 1.1 million dong, that’s really not that bad tbh.

Another thing to remember is that Hoi An, is known for the fakes, or rather, we thought they were fakes, but the quality of the products, was fairly unbelievable, it was hard to call them fakes, but I’ll just warn you now, that you might reconsider bringing so much stuff with you to here, as you can just buy it all here, at a fraction of the price, if you want some tips on haggling, read this, I did and it worked for me!

Although I just mentioned a lot of food places and shops, but everything is preserved in the town, there is museums, shows, temples, trade house, markets, there is so much to do and see in this almost just don’t want to go anywhere else!

< em>< em>That above picture, we got absolutely grafted by this awesome old woman, we literally had no idea what was going on, next thing we knew we were posing with this 4ft, 78 year old woman snapping pics, and we had paid her and her friend 100k each and had a full bunch of plantains, and a pineapple, one good memory though! 😂

Another incredible part of our stay here was our exploration of the surrounding areas, which was almost untouched, apart from the roads that we on. So we got bikes from our hotel and hit the backroads, which was through coconut groves, locally built houses, rice paddies, waterways, and snakes ( of which Sarah claimed to have seen, but I didn’t, still debatable… ) I cannot recommend this enough! We did this with the bikes that we rented from the hotel, but you can get bikes from mostly anywhere and you can get them from about 2 dollars a day! I would recommend it, the area to aim for is Camh Thanh, it is just beautiful!

Finally came the day when we were going to do our trip Hué, and judging by these pictures above, it would be lovely, but naturally it wasn’t… At all. We almost turned around at the start because it was just so so shitty and our tour guide, who was actually sick added to the decision. But, in the end it was worth it, and believe it or not, it actually ended up being a nice day after all. The tour encompassed a few stops, to Marble Mountain, this included a stop to a stone carving factory ( where I got myself a little jade Buddha). Oyster bay, which is where the weather started to turn, as we got soaked on marble mountain… The amazing Kings Palace, in the Centre of Hué, which is actually a city, it’s incredible, we could have spent over a day here, it was also sad but interesting to learn of the struggle against the US here, but the great people of Vietnam triumphed. The Royal Pagoda, which also had a sad history, and finally the King’s Tomb, although a French Puppet and the most unpopular king in Vietnamese history, it still was incredible to see.

There is numerous different tours and packages, and ours was booked through our hotel, so I am not sure what the link would be but you check TripAdvisor!But it doesn’t end there, here is some more…And some more… It is only looking back did we realize how much we actually got up too while we were here! I also took a trip up to De Nang, to see the new Star Wars ( which imo is the best of the new versions… just sayin ). The city is ok, but really isn’t that much to do, it’s just a modern city as I said be before, unless your into resorts and theme parks, we totally immersed ourselves into the culture, so you’ll never experience anything like you will in Hoi An. Before drawing this unbelievable entry to a close, I have to mention our absolute favorite place in Hoi An, the most awesome restaurant, with the most amazing family running it, we literally sat in there and chatted with them for hours, we would have gone 4 times, but once they were closed, so we just had to do with 3. It was amazing, it’s was called Café Tuan, and no trip to Hoi An, would be complete without it, also they have puppies, nuff said!

So that’s it for Hoi An, apologies for not keeping up with these, but the holiday season keeps us busy, well not really, we were just too busy relaxing and traveling as we are currently in LA. But you’ll have to stay tuned to find out what we get up to next. But anyway belated Happy Holidays, next up is Christmas in Nha Trang! Until next time, stay awesome!

James & Sarah 🤙🎅⛈🐉

Baby, it’s cold outside…

Our fabulous time in Cambodia has come a close, and just as quickly as it began, it has ended. We are very thankful to everyone we met and had the pleasure of dealing with and the optimism of the people is really inspiring after their tragedy. We most definitely will return.

Catching a late flight with Vietjet Airways*, we were pleasantly surprised of their excellent service as well as their courtesy, especially for a budget airline, it was quite impressive. Don’t worry though, we had spaghetti bolognese included, so we didn’t starve. From speaking to numerous backpackers and travelers alike we had super high hopes for Vietnam, the only thing clouding our expectations was the recent storms that have hit the country all along the coast. Especially in the places we have on our trip, but through the drip down of information, the Vietnamese people are quite resourceful and are coping well.

But upon our arrival, we were a little underprepared as well as underdressed, seeing all the airport staff wrapped up in scarfs and clothes, taking that first step from the plane became evident…

It was fuckin freezin…

In all fairness it wasn’t that cold, still a nice mild 18 degrees, but in comparison to our steering 35 that we had consistanly up to now, it was a shock. We had little more than a light jumper, one of which was the consistency of a diner napkin, something had to be done. We were staying in The Tomodachi House**, in the Centre of the subtly name ‘old quarter’. It was only the day after that we realized we were indeed, yet again in the super trendy and trendy area of Hanoi, I have to admit it at this stage, I am a bit of a hipster. Our street wasn’t accessible by car, and was a infamous street for local food, both street and sit-down. It was here that we also found our favorite spot, Xofa, as well as Note Café, hopefully your following my Instagram *** and you’ll see the amazing places in more detail.

Our view from outside our guesthouse 🍃⛈🤙😎

Some nice panoramic from near the city lakes

Without going into too much information in the places we visited, you can check out our Instagram to see more!

  • * You can book Vietjet Air on their website located here!
  • ** Our hostel was The Tomodachi House, a Japanese inspired guesthouse, with wonderful staff and location, you can check them out on their website!
  • *** In case you don’t already already follow our Instagram, shame on you, but here is our page @itsjustanothertravelblog

So with the gloomy weather in Han Oi, we had to sort something out swiftly, just cus we felt freezing, luckily for us we found an awesome Old Navy* hidden in a local shopping Centre, an absolute savior, got hooked up with jeans, socks, the works, and on our way back, happened accross a Vans* shop, and got even more decked out with awesome threads, which as it came more apparent, they were needed, the weather didn’t really improve, even as I am sitting here in the sunny beach destination of Nha Trang, windy and rainy, perfect to reflect this time of year at home!

*Old navy: Located in the Vincom Centre, and the Vans store on South Hang Bong Street

So with our awesome day of exploring, of which we only had 3 in Han Oi, we hit the hay, knowing what we had in store for us tomorrow, a full day trip to Halong Bay, or as we cam to learn from our amazing tour guide, the Bay of the Descending Dragon. Pretty awesome right. So instead of boring you with all the unnecessary information, and running out of descriptive adjectives, here is a breakdown of what we did with Awesome Tour Vietnam, the name alone made me book without even looking at what they do, they Tour was amazing, and our tour guide was even more awesome, her name was Thanh ( sincere apologies if misspelt )

I would honestly recommend this tour company to anyone wishing to visit Han Oi as they do a whole lot more than what we did, and if it was half as good as ours, it would be incredible, you can find more info on their Website!8.00 – 11.15: Meet Our guide Thanh, get into a luxury bus, and make the 3 hour journey to Halong Bay, stopping an hour in for some relief and snacks,11.15 – 12.30: Get our tickets and find our boats, amidst the hoards of tourists, it was just us and another family in ours, so it was nice and relaxing. Lunch gets served as soon as we leave the dock, it was a fresh seafood bonanza, and was absolutely delicious,

  • 12.30m – 1.30: Take in the beauty of the bay, and get some great info, arrive at our first destination, a floating village, from there we hop in a bamboo boat and brought, through caves and amazing scenery,
  • 1.30 – 2.30: We weave our way through limestone stack to our next destination, which is the Thien Cung or the ‘Heavens Gate Cave’. A walk through some stunning, and massive caves,
  • 2.30 – 4.30: Slowly making our way through the bay, seeing more iconic sights along the way, dock and head back to the bus.

4.30 – 7.30: Sleep our way back to the city, worn out from an awesome day on the high seas! Our final day in Han Oi, we spent exploring, as well as a trip to Hao Lo Prison ‘Hanoi Hilton’, and Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. Our trip to the Prison, was interesting, informative as well as harrowing, it is truly incredible how much the people of a lot of the south East Asian countries have endured through the many years of foreign domination, civil war as well as genocide. Learning of these terrible histories is eye opening and really makes you realize how much your perception of certain countries may be warped by what you observe in the media’s agenda, but I digress…

You can read more of the French built prison

We also finished the day off with some traditional water puppets courtesy of the Thang long Water Puppet Theatre, i would highly recommend, if not for the hilarity, but for the awesome traditional music alone, makes for one awesome, yet very inexpensive show.

You can find more information

Thanks for reading, sincere apologies for the formatting issues, to save myself from pulling my hair out I will post and try to fix later.

Until our next stop in Hoi An, hope your having a happy holiday season,

Safe but awesome travels,

James & Sarah 😌

Templing around the Christmas tree…

Following a slight change in plans, we decided to cut out a stop in our itinerary from advice from other travelers and wanted to spend a nice week in Siem Reap. So we booked into the infamous Lub D* which had been only 4 months previous, and we were excited, this would be our first proper stop in about a month and looking forward to having a brand new comfy bed, and then off to Mango Rain for more R&R. So we would use our time in Lub D for activities and then the hotel for chill. It being a six 6 hour bus drive we opted for a flight with the fabled Cambodia Angkor Air** ( genuinely turned out to be cheaper than the bus option ). Not to mention we also crossed paths with a very intoxicated, tired and worn-out looking group of people who we got chatting to, it turned out that they were a Contiki tour…

Well did I have a few things to say to them.

I didn’t really though, we just wanted to find out what it was like, to which we found out it was a super fast booze tour with no time to eat, sleep or chill out before grabbing a flight or a bus to the next pub or activity. So in hindsight we are quite thankful that we missed one, I couldn’t imagine being like that and having to travel through one of if the most insane places on earth.

But anyway, we got an ATR for 35 minutes north over Tonle Sap Lake, and perched on the northern tip was the humble little city of Siem Reap. We couldn’t see the temples as we approached from the south, but I can tell you, holy shit…Wow. Grabbing a taxi from the airport it was about 25mins to Lub D, just to mention ( without being rude or offensive in any way ) taxi drivers will be a little aggressive and play sympathy with you for tours, trips etc; just be polite, and decline the constant persistence, he almost didn’t let us out of the taxi, just kindly say no, unless you obviously want to organize tours that’s fine, but will be much more expensive and won’t include all the extras ( I will disclose these details later ). So we arrived at Lub D, our literal home away from home, and was such a welcome surprise, we didn’t want to leave.

*Lub D is still our favorite hostel to stay in, and the one in Siem Reap is the first Hostel-Hotel, i would seriously recommend it, it’s a nice pleasant break from the normal hostel route, and not to mention so so clean, the food is amazing and the pool is essential. You can book on their Website, you will also get a 10% discount for using their website, so keep that in mind!

** Cambodia Angkor Air was such a pleasant surprise, we had read so many reviews of woes, and tales of missed flights and rude staff. Nope, we experienced none of that, with the exception of the Contiki tour, our flight was quick, pleasant and the staff were friendly and extremely helpful, we had arrived at the airport 3 hours early, following reviewers recommendations, turns out we got out onto an earlier flight and got there 3 hours earlier… I know right! You can book here…

Settling into our room, we couldn’t be happier, so new and clean, and all the staff so friendly and humble, making a friend instantly with the host of activities TARZAN, we felt right at home. I am pretty sure we were the first people ever in that room because, everything was brand spanking new. We were so happy here in fact that even after our first night we cancelled our hotel, and extended our stay here, it was super chill everyone was friendly, the food was great, within walking distance to everything, the list goes on.

We loved Siem Reap, the people, the food, the atmosphere, it was safe, and had a nice relaxed vibe to it that we loved, although got a small bit more intense when you ventured down into Pub Street, where you could eat insects, local food, and party. It was ok, but not every night, as the music was shit… Kinda showing my age here I know, but why this listen to such load terrible music. Anyway, it’s a super cool place. Here is some of the great places we loved and ate at:

  • T-Bone Steak Box: Little family hole-in-the-wall place, that do amazing fresh steaks, classic never judge a book by its cover, great food and humble staff, with great prices, keep in mind it’s steak…
  • The Brothers: This was our go-to, great place, great staff, great food and great prices, great use of the word great, it’s also a cool hang out spot with couches and bean-bags.
  • Le Bistro du Phillipe: Nice small restaurant, does great wood-fired pizza as well as a buffet off local food.
  • The Khmer Family Kitchen: Its all in the name, great local food, although on pub street, the prices will be a little higher, it’s worth to get a delicious local delicacy!
  • There is so many nice places here, like The Red Fox Espresso Café, you just have to go and explore…

We spent most of our days lounging by the pool, and taking part in the activities run by Lub D, or exploring the city by foot, like all places we have been to, and I don’t want to repeat myself but just go and got lost in the city, it’s the only way to truly appreciate it and find all those little hidden gems, as well as some snooping on TripAdvisor, which I have to say has been an essential tool when getting tours, finding places and looking for the best price.

Half way into Siem Reap and Chill, we did the big one, we did a full day of templing, which is still one of the most amazing things I have ever done. We organized a trip with a recommended tour guide, to which I will say that it might be slightly above budget, but entirely worth it, when are you ever going to experience or witness an ancient world as breathtaking as this, you can organize this by yourself to save some money, but if your like me I like to have it all structured to minimize confusion and to have a linear day so as not to stand around scratching our heads thinking ‘where to know?’, as we witnessed with so many other, distressed and left behind travelers. So there is 2 ways to do this, by the way, the temple ticket is compulsory and is not included in any price you pay to guides, it is $37 for a one day pass and $62 for 2 days.

  1. You can book a full trip either with an agency, on TripAdvisor or what we did is actually go through the government funded tourism board, and get a tour guide, and vehicle together for one payment, this works out around $100, which you can split between numerous people, it’s 50/50 for tour guide and transport. Our tour guide was amazing, he was so kind, humble, and full of information, and a fluent English speaker, his name was Chhoun Chhai, email: chhoun_chhai@yahoo.com, or khmerang@camintel.com, his number is: +855 16 307 272. We couldn’t have imagined doing this with anyone else tbh. They will organize everything for you…
  2. Speaking to other travelers, to go on the cheaper option, you can haggle with a Tuk Tuk driver, and the best prices I heard for sunrise as well as stopping to other temples (6 hours +) is between $30 to 40. State tour guides are $50 but you can get a local for $20 to 30, you will have to pay extra to stop and pay for your own food, $5+, as well as your own water, $1+, unless you have a good guide you will be joining the masses as each of the spots, as well as having to make your own way around with no knowledge of where the best spots are, but some people love the freedom, so the choice is up to you!
  3. It will be awesome either way!

So we did the sunrise at Angkor Wat, and thanks to Chhoun we had the best spot, along with only 3 other people ( his friend and 2 tourists ) and got to appreciate the spectacle our own way! Following this he took us on a walkabout tour away from all the crowds, it was actually quite incredible, he had the times and routes down to absolute perfection, with the history and visual spectacle of these amazing temples literally taking our breathe away!

I could literally spend hours typing and explaining the intricate details of everything that we saw, but I don’t think you could read it all, so I will put a brief itinerary for those interested in doing our tour with Chhoun or one of his colleagues. So just enjoy the pictures instead!

  • 4.50 – collected and brought via Jeep to Angkor Wat for sunrise around 5.30, pleasantries and stories exchanged along the way.
  • 5.30 – 9.00 – exploring the grounds, and getting the history, staying away from crowds and exploring the old gates leading to the temple, some photo-ops
  • 9.00 – 9.30 – Grabbing some food in a local eatery, recommend by Chhoun, delicious.
  • 9.30 – 10 – Head to Angkor Thom, and stop at gate for a history lesson,
  • 10 – 1 – Exploring the amazing city of temples, getting in depth history and exploring ancient ruins, really losing yourself you could spend days here, there is just too much,
  • 1- 1.30 – Heading to our last stop which is Ta Prohm, more history and stories,
  • 1.30 – 3 – exploring the ancient ruins, numerous photo ops, and getting lost in the jungle, and stop for lunch, we opted to head back…
  • 3.30 – Arrive back tired, informed but enlightened.

We can’t thank our tour guide enough Chhoun our amazing day, and he felt a bit off, so I hope he feels better!

So with one of our most memorable trips behind us, we wave goodbye to Cambodia. It been absolutely amazing, we will return?

Of course!

Our next stop is only an hour and half flight away, and there is spaghetti bolognese included, Vietnam here we come…

Thanks for reading and hope you stay tuned, happy travels! 🤙😎

James & Sarah

So much to see, so little time…

Grabbing a midday flight from Chiang Mai with Air Asia, who as I have previously mentioned are a very reliable airline, and a pleasure to deal with although I will say that make sure to book bags on beforehand because it is a little expensive when I realized I hadn’t, but anyway moving on. Connecting through Don Mueng, made quick and easy by the Air Asia ground staff, we arrived in Phnom Penh at around half 9, I had previously organized collection from the hostel we were to stay in so we had no worries getting out, they were more than willing, getting paid of course. We stayed in LovelyJubbley* which on all accounts was great, but the room was a little shabby and sheets were dirty, but still ok.

It was grand, to be honest everything except for the room was perfect, and the restaurant was great as we had most of our meals there, the food was great, cheap and always available. The pool was also a very welcome addition, to have a dip at the end of the day because Cambodia is fuckin hot. You can check them out on Hostelworld!

So with only 2 full days we had to hit the ground running, we decided to head towards the Royal Palace, which as it turns out closes during the day from 11 until 2 so keep that in mind, then when it did open it was after our trip to the museum so we didn’t have enough, but in the end it actually worked out in our favor. So with that closed we headed to the National Museum of Cambodia. This is absolutely worth the trip and an absolute must if your visiting Phnom Penh. It is a fascinating look into the cultural history of Cambodia, filled with numerous artifacts as well as paintings telling myths and stories. Not to mention the building and gardens wonderfully preserved.

You weren’t actually allowed to take picture inside the building, so here is some outside… with Sarah looking at the fish included.

While at the museum we also grabbed some amazing lunch in the Museum Café. Make sure to grab a bite in this absolute gem located around the right hand side at the back, it seems to be a local hangout spot for the locals so expect loads of different goings on. But also at the front, you are able to buy tickets to the show, and this is 100% worth it, especially if you would really love to see Traditional dances, and local storytelling, the true Khmer Culture, not just the ‘Killing Fields’. This wasn’t until the evening so we had some time to burn, it was then that we realized we had actually spent all of the cash on us, well enough to not be able to afford the royal palace. So we headed north to see some temples, and realizing how far out from our hostel we were, we wouldn’t have enough time to head back to get more money, as well as come back in time for the show. It was at this time we met our good friend Sang Hai*,who was our savior in the city, as if you visit the city will find that the Tuk Tuk drivers and vendors are extremely aggressive towards tourists with numerous scams and deceits going on, we tried to steer clear of them but they are obnoxious, BUT we do understand people gots to make a living, it just might not be the right way of doing it!

Sorry for the potato-photo, I only had my go-pro and it kinda hard to see what I’m shooting…. excuses 🙃

So getting confused and hoping to get to Wat Phnom, we cam across the stunning Wat Ounalom, and it was when we left did we meet Sang Hai. He was the sweetest man, and a welcome surprise in the sea of over-zealous Tuk Tuk drivers, who did not need to clap, I am not a fucking animal. Trying to devise a plan, he made his presence welcome and made us feel safe, although still a small bit skeptical of him, we agreed. We vowed to take us from the temple, to our hostel to grab money for the show, and clean up, take us on an hour and a half tour of the city and back to the museum for our show at half 6, it was now after half 4 so were these visions of grandeur? We hope not…

*By the end of our stay we were friends with Sang Hai, and I would highly recommend him if your traveling to Phnom Penh, he is very kind, and will go out of his way to make you happy ( although he did not show up on our last day to drop us to the airport we can only assume there was a time mishap, and we still believe in him ), you can find him on Facebook @mytuktukcambodia or his number is: +855 112 116 24

<
ot only delivered, brought us back, showed us around the city, saw all the major sights, from the Independance Monument, to getting to climb, Wat Phnom, which doesn’t get a sunset this time of year, so keep that in mind, Central Market, and the Russian Market ( do not go here if your claustrophobic in the slightest, it is intense ). The sun was setting at this time which was a perfect time as we got to experience all these amazing landmarks as they were beginning to be lit up in the clear twilight if the night sky, quite beautiful…

**Yeh again sorry, these are taken from my GoPro video, I didn’t actually have my camera with me on this stop, we were warned against large value items in public, this is not to say that it’s dangerous, we were advised by our driver also, as a precaution, just because after the recent events Cambodia is still recovering and so are a lot of people, that’s not to say anything will happen, just to be careful, and nothing did so hindsight does set in a small bit.<
etting closer to our show, and being stuck in serious traffic jams, unlike any we have ever seen. Although we still have to get to Vietnam which we have been assured is much more intense. With that Sang Hai delivered, we arrived at twenty past six, and just in time for the show, although we didn’t get seated until 7-ish, and of which we got some serious optimum seat-age. The show was incredible, consisting of local, traditional and modern dance, music, as well as shadow puppetry storytelling. It was a truly unforgettable performance and a nice insight into the culture that the great Khmer people are trying to preserve.

You can find more information on their Website, as well as additional insights about Cambodian Living Arts.With an incredible day behind us, we hit the hay knowing that we would be experiencing the tragic history to this country the following day, and little did we know just how horrific it was, and what the amazing people of Cambodia have been through. No one should ever have to experience what they went through, and it really makes you question how someones nature could ever lead to such horrific and inhuman treatment of other humans is truly perplexing.

I express the deepest sympathy with what the people went through here, and is for that reason that I don’t want to write about it, out of respect, and I don’t want to glorify the tourism of Choueng Ek Genocidial Centre, and Toul Sleng Genocidial Museum. But as to learn of this horrific event, and to become more educated I would recommend visiting these, but purely out of respect and knowledge towards the people that were deeply affected by this tragedy.

< img src=”https://itsjustanothertravelblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/gptempdownload-43.jpg&#8221; height=”2736″ class=”wp-image-655″ width=”3648″>For more information on this part of recent history you can check out

Unfortunately with that came the end of our time in Phnom Penh, and such a shame that we only had 2 days here, as there is such much more to experience in the city than what we did. But I digress. Only a 35 minute flight away our next stop is Siem Reap, and make sure to stay tuned as I put my serious photography skills to the test!

Thanks guys and hope your all doing awesome!

James & Sarah 🤙😎

‘More food, more friend…’

We finished our extraordinary trip of Laos with a flight back into Thailand and to the amazing ancient city of Chiang Mai and what an awesome time we had. We flew with Lao Airlines* and if any of you are thinking of flying with them, then do. The happy go-lucky attitude of the Laotian people is carried throughout the airline and it makes for a very pleasant experience.

You can book with them directly in their website here!

Arriving in Chiang Mai, we were welcomed by the warm embrace of the heat as well as our lovely taxi-driver. Her name was Saowaluck*, and she was the bomb-diggity, not to mention her sweet tricked out ride. She whipped us around in no-time, and although we promised her more business, as it turns out we were getting close to budget so we didn’t in the end, but we really wanted to, she was so sweet.

If traveling to Chiang Mai, look no further than Saowaluck Aroon, her number is: +66 89 855 5029, Noon CNX on Facebook, and email: noontaxi364-cm@hotmail.com

We were staying in Thai Time House*, which is a close contender to our favorite place we have stayed in so far. It’s located in the new emerging hipster area of Wau Lai Road, this is also home to Wat Sri Suphan or The Silver Sanctuary. Is an incredible sight to behind, a temple in the grounds of a school, made entirely out of silver, aluminum and tin. For those temples hunters out there this is an absolute must, they also offer shows, and monk-chats in the evenings after 6.

I would highly recommend Thai Time to anyone seeking to stay in Chiang Mai, it is just south of Chiang Mai Gate, and on the walking market on Saturday, we loved it due to just being out of the city but only 2 minutes walk, also has a rooftop terrace to appreciate some sunset action, you can book on Hostelworld

Apart from the obvious exploring, we really took the time we had in Chiang Mai to just relax. As we are almost 2 months in and haven’t really been anywhere longer than 4 days, we just wanted to kick back and chill. Taking full advantage of the Major Cineplexs there, we got a chance to hit the movies, getting to see Justice League ( Don’t bother to be honest, it a fuckin hot mess with way too much CGI and over production, come on DC, get it together ) and also Murder on the Orient Express, not a bad interpretation of the Agatha Christie classic, if I do say so myself.

Ate in some really cool places like The Faces and See You Soon. Both do traditional fusion food, as well as western if you want ( go to Faces for some great wood oven pizza ) and they are very affordable. Another great place to grab some great food, is the food market, which is located directly beside the South Chiang Mai Gate, and most of the stalls are open all day, so you grab some street eats if your feeling peckish.

But the main highlight came in quite a large package, and that was our day spent with elephants, in the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary*. If has been the absolute highlight on this incredible trip, definitely one of the most heart-warming and fulfilling experiences you could possibly do… They are the kindest, most adorable creatures on this planet, even though a little intimidating at first I’ll admit, but you can’t help but to fall in love with them. It’s great to see so many places shutting down the riding attractions to actually care and rehabilitate these great big softies.

We were collected at around 8 and amongst other weary eyed travelers we were transported about 60km outside the city, and down some very dodgy roads, but stopped at a little hut, where our awesome guide Pac ( apologies if spelled incorrectly ) gave an introduction, and history to the place, that they employ the local Karen people to care for the elephants, although we were assured that because of their close relationships, don’t be disheartened when they are shouting at them, they treat them like family. Getting our stereotypical traveler hemp style Karen poncho. He reassured that for them to like us to remember ‘More food, more friend’.

With that it was feeding time, consisting of bamboo, and banana. And when I mean they eat, they fuckin eat, like holy shit, they eat so much. But there was also a little surprise waiting for us also, a little 5 month old baby by the name of Shakira, it was instant love, she was so playful, and like most babies was unaware of her size, which made her even more adorable. Rolling around and running around unaware of her strength.

Feeding time we followed in the elephants path down to our camp, where we got some amazing chicken curry and fresh fruit ( dragon fruit my fav… ) and had a serious chow down before joining them for more play-time. Play time with these guys was literally flinging a boot around. Seriously I have never seen anyone have so much fun with a welly other than Shakira, as she rolled around, smashed it, flung it, reminds me when times were simple and you only had one boot to keep you occupied.

Making some ‘elephant medicine’ consisting of banan, brown rice, wild nuts mashed together, which they went crazy for, it was time for a mud bath. This was hilarious as the mud we had to get into was full of bugs, poo and who knows what else, but who cares… elephants. They ran and jumped it as we coated the, in a layer of mud to exfoliate their already very moisturized skin. But this obviously just ended up in a massive mud fight as everyone was throwing mud at each other more so than the elephants.

But now it was time for a wash, can’t stay muddy forever, although it would be a much better life if we could. Heading down to the river, everyone jumping in with the elephants included, is such an awesome experience, and you can really feel the connection that we all share, as we were flinging the water at the elephants, who didn’t go down without a fight and gave it right back. It is truly a once in a lifetime event, and doing it again would merely take away from this one.

All in all it’s an absolutely incredible day spent with such awesome mammals, and people too, everyone we met there and the guides were just amazing. We also got to keep our Karen Tops, As well as little handmade bags, totally worth it and I would spend less than a day.

If you are interested, well it is obligatory but if you would to attend this one, you can find all info and book on their website. Do it… do it now!

The rest of our time in Chiang Mai we spent visiting temples, of which there are plenty, and exploring the city. Seriously this city, as we found out only by getting lost is absolutely alive with art fairs, street art, and craft markets. You can only explore this city in foot, you miss so much if you fly by in a Tuk Tuk. All the amazing cafés and restaurants, lie within the alleys, off the main streets. It’s also here that you will discover the incredible urban art, that only from talking to local artists*, is a massive intricate part of the cities culture, and it’s not frowned upon in the slightest, in fact is quite encouraged. Turning down a alley we were greeted by beautifully colored hand painted murals from everything from religious murals, to crazy abstract characters, or stencils. You probably saw a few of these on my Instagram. But these alone is worth a day just wandering around the city.

So with that we have come to the end of our Thailand visits, it has awesome, and have made some unforgettable memories. It scary to think how quickly time is going, we are almost 2 months away, and it’s almost Christmas. Insane.

Make sure you stay tuned, our next stop is Phnom Penh, Cambodia, an amazing city but also quite a tragic one, as we soon learned of the horrible, yet very recent history, stay tuned, and stay awesome!

James & Sarah 🤙😎

Laid back in monks-town

Hah, see what I did there… very funny 😐

Just to reiterate the point, and I am not making it a negative one at all, just a message to other people. The Laos people are very humble and relaxed so when plans change, just go with it, there was some seriously frustrated people, as our bus was the wrong one, it was late, more expensive, went the wrong way etc… Just go with the flow, that’s the whole point of traveling, to look back at those moments fondly and what made the trip better!

So we grabbed a bus form Vang Vieng and made our long, windy, and steep climb up to Luang Prabang. This was the most insane road trip we have had so far. All crammed into one mini-van, being shaken as we overtook everything at speed, bouncing over small bridges, and then we came to the mountains. Round and round we went on a steep incline for what seemed like hours, teetering over the edge, but we had faith in our driver. That was until we came to the summit, the roads had been destroyed by a recent landslide. Our hearts were literally in our throats as we bounced just a little bit too close for comfort to the edge of a steep cliff, that didn’t have a bottom as we were in the clouds. But it has to be said, the views the entire way were absolutely breathtaking, I really don’t have much more adjectives to describe the pure beauty of the landscape here. Laos is truly one of the most beautiful places we have had the pleasure of visiting!

Very important information: if you would like to see the sunset on Mount Phosui, and also Wat Chom Si, get to the summit at around3 to half 3, this is a sunset junkie paradise and you won’t see anything like it anywhere else, but everyone else has the same idea, I have never been in an area so crowded before in my life… period, and people really don’t give a shit whether you can see or not. You will also need to pay to go to the top, it’s about 20,000 kip. So when you get to the top, head to the corner on the far-right and get a seat on the edge or on the bench, and just wait, it’s really nice to relax so burning some time will be easy, make sure your with a group so they can save your spot if you would like to walk around. Don’t forget, the best part of the sunset is about 20 to 30 minutes, we didn’t stay that long, but we saw it from the ground, and it is well worth the wait, you won’t ever see anything like it… Luang Prabang is an extremely special place, it is beautiful in every aspect. The scenery as it is nestled amongst the mountains, the large monk population quiet and content, the beauty of the Mekong river, it is so serene and calm. There is some much culture and history here, in the 3 or so days we got to spend here was not really enough time to truly appreciate the many aspects of this small city.

We visited the King’s residence which is now preserved and serves as a cultural museum, and serves a very important part of the history of the town pre-1970. Everything pristinely conserved gives a rich insight of Laos history, and there is numerous Buddha statues rescued from the destroyed temples during the bombings. It will cost you about 50,000 kip for entry but I would highly recommend it, and also don’t forget to see the King’s private car collection located in the back of the palace! Unfortunately photography is prohibited inside the grounds, but I do have a shot of the outside temple Haw Pha Bang.Despite being quite a large city, we mainly stuck to the old part of the city which is where our hostel* was situated, it was outside a temple so it was quiet, right in front of Mount Phosui and a few minutes walk to night market, cultural center, and the river, if you would like a nice relaxed stay I would highly recommend, friends of ours ended up changing to our hostel as it was so much nicer than the rest.

*We stayed in the IQ Inn, located just off Kingkitsarath Road, opposite Vat Visounnarath, more info can be found on Hostelworld!

One of the many highlights during our stay, was a venture out to the infamous Kuang Si falls, located about 30 mins outside of Luang Prabang, and what a trip it was! We went with 2 friends we had made and cost about 45,000 kip each, there and back, and 20,000 kip each to enter the waterfalls. This is normal as it’s the easiest way to maintain the natural wonders, and realistically it’s not that expensive when you convert it back. Not to mention there is also a Bear Sanctuary just before you get to the falls, so that itself is worth it. Although we didn’t stop as we wanted to spend all our time there, and holy shit, was it worth it. The sun began shining and started melting away the clouds, this illuminating the crystal aqua pools, water shimmering and crashing down the numerous falls, like a serene paradise. Making our way to the top, seeing everyone relaxing and splashing about in the pools, and having a great time, it really puts a smile on your face. Staring up at awe at the natural wonder, sun sending shafts of light through the tropical trees, it really makes you not want to leave. Heading back down to the smaller pools we all jumped in, the water cold, refreshing and light blue, gives you a good kick as you really don’t expect it to be that chilly, but totally worth it. With the exception of small fish nipping at you all the time, but they don’t do anything, just a little fright every now and then. We completely lost track of time here, and were almost half an hour late, but staying longer would have just ruined the experience.

<<<
re's itself, look in awe at its glory 😎

An old water mill, not sure if still in use, but makes for a good pic… 🤙

B-e-a-utiful 🦋

So peaceful 😌

Before 😁

After 🐠

There is another natural falls outside of LP, and it is currently the less populated one but a bit further out, if we had more time we would of liked to see it, but a decision was made and we don’t regret it. Tad Sae waterfall, is the other one, ignore the elephant riding and animals, just go for the falls themselves.

Our time in this amazing city was quickly coming to an end but what other way to end it than a lunch on the river**. It was a local activity advertised in our hostel, that we previously had no idea that we could do, but what a incredible experience it was. We booked through our hostel and were picked up at 8, and actually on time, and dropped down to the river where a Héue Dolan ( roofed boat ) collected us and brought us on a tour of the Mekong River. Getting to appreciate the amazing landscape from the water adds yet another dimension to the already awesome scenery here. Bobbing along we made our first stop to the promptly named Whisky Village, where they specialize in the distilling of Lao-Lao whisky, a fermented rice drink around 50%, I had the pleasure of trying it, and it is sickly sweet as well as strong, quite a unique combination, it’s a shame we couldn’t bring any with us, we pass through too many borders, shame. Heading back down to our boats, we are given raw peanuts ( freshly picked ) and warm soy milk as a snack, different but delicious. Not before long we arrived at our next stop, the infamous Pak Ou Buddha Caves, nestled in the side of a limestone cliff-face, we joined all the other boats, among the many other tourists getting a glimpse at this incredible devotion. The caves lined with statues made from every material and size, color. Making our sweaty way up to the final cave at the top of the cliff, you get to see the hidden statues at the back of a dark cave, incredible. Although the light is not quite optimum for photography and the light ruins that.

Getting back to the boat, we begin to make our way back during the afternoon sun and we are served our lunch. A quite amazing meal I may add, consisting of tuna rolls, vegetables and pork chops, finishing off with fresh fruit. It was a perfect way to end a perfect stay in such an incredible place.

Our trip we booked directly with the hostel and from the advertising it seems to run in conjunction with the local government, another trip if not the same can be found on Trip Advisor, I would highly recommend it to anyone wishing to visit LP.

So with this lengthy entry I leave content and wishing more from our stay in Laos, everybody we had the pleasure of meeting were humble and courteous and got to experience the absolutely breathtaking scenery of this incredible country. Would we return… most definitely!

Until next time, when we go back to Thailand, to the ancient northern city of Chiang Mai, until then, enjoy your travels and stay awesome 🤙😎

James & Sarah

Ps. I’ll leave you with these info pieces we found in the menu of a local restaurant. We found them extremely helpful and interesting.