May 30, 2014 - News    No Comments

Week 22 – photo of the week – a magical moment in Siem Reap

It was our 3rd week travelling. After several days of severe flooding up North in Chiang Mai we decided to cross over to Cambodia. It meant doing the Indo-China loop the other way round but who says you’re meant to do it the way most do. If you know anything about C and I then you sure know we like doing things differently.

It must have been a sign as not only we met some amazing people on our journey to cross the Thai – Cambodian border but also witnessed this on our first night in Siem Reap.

week 22 - magical moment in Siem Reap

We thought Cambodia was going to be all about Angkor Wat and visiting temples but clearly walking the streets of Siem Reap at that specific moment was meant to happen for us to witness the most heart warming experience of our travels.

The first thing we heard was a group of Khmer kids singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas in the middle of October. We had to stop to check out what was going on.

It was Jimmy’s evening school for poor Khmer kids that couldn’t otherwise get any education. The kids were singing songs for tourists that stopped by. Jimmy – a guy that has his day to day job, dedicated his evenings and pretty much all free time to helping local kids learn English and get a head start in their otherwise underprivileged life.

Everything in his outdoor classroom was there because of tourists and backpackers. From desks and chairs to books and pencils. Teachers were volunteers dedicating their time to touch these kids’ lives and both C and I were indeed touched and amazed by how grateful they all were just for having us for that evening helping them with their vocabulary and spelling. Some of the braver ones even run up to us to practice their conversations.

I must say I never forgot how that evening made me feel and took this picture in case any of you would like to get in touch or perhaps visit Jimmy’s school in Siem Reap.

Siem Reap school

And yeah, it truly was a magical moment for both C and I and just as Macca loved his Croatian magical experience, I felt privileged and humbled to have had the chance to help at Jimmy’s school that evening.

Till next week.

M x

May 23, 2014 - News    No Comments

Week 21 – photo of the week – border crossings

Border crossings… There’s plenty when you trot around the world backpacking. Some more some less traumatic as an experience but South East Asia tends to be rather prolific in making it an experience for all Western travellers criss crossing the Indo-China Loop on their adventures.

week 21 - border crossings

Macca talks about several of his experiences this week and I must say that I too share a similar experience of crossing the border to go to the toilet (now, you didn’t expect that Mr Sherifi, did you?) Fortunately didn’t need to ask for permission as I was in the middle of nowhere, right in the heart of the mountains between Poland and Slovakia.  The Slovak side seemed just that little bit more appealing as  there was more cover over at the other side… Don’t tell anyone!

That’s not what I wanted to talked more about however. It is the SE Asian adventures that stuck in my head and Macca’s blog this week brought loads of memories flooding back in.

I had to ask C, which one he found the most creepy as for me it was a close one between driving an old heap of a mini van from Koh Chang in Thailand to the Cambodian border at well over 100k an hour in what seemed to be a humongous  tropical storm, flooding the roads and the visibility was no more than a few meters and our 20 hour night bus ride between Ha Noi in Veitnam to Lao border that we got to at about 5am and needed to not only wait for it to open in the middle of misty mountains and then walk across it for what seemed like a rather extended distance not really knowing where we were going.

Then there was Malaysia – Singapore crossing that seemed like the most Westernised and seamless one out of all SE Asian border crossing procedures excluding all haggling and bribery that was going on everywhere else.

slow boats on the Mekong

And there was my favourite – the slow boat trip between Luang Prabang in Laos, back to Thailand at the end of November 2011. It takes 2 days and the boats are usually packed full of backpackers sitting on the floor, playing cards and drinking copious amounts of locally brewed whisky but for C and I going the opposite way round the Banana Pancake Trail, the trip was actually really chilled out and quiet. With no more than 10 of us on the boat all we did is drink tea, snooze a bit, watch the amazing Mekong river take us to our destination and watching the little villages on the river banks come a alive with adults picking up their family members visiting, traders bringing supplies and kids watching out for friendly tourists waving hellos and good byes as we went past.

It was truly a special experience, totally removed from the outside world and merged with the boat, the river and the landscape for 2 full days… Slow life at it’s finest.

Till next week.

May 16, 2014 - News    No Comments

Week 20 – photo of the week – Whale Watching on Aitutaki, Cook Islands

I booked this trip somewhat last minute, after speaking to a Kiwi Couple I met at the amazing Koru Cafe on the other side of the island. It was getting towards the end of my stay on Aitutaki, one of the most amazing Pacific Lagoons. I wasn’t sure if I fancied another adventure after cruising the lagoon, attempting to dance Polynesian style with the locals and driving around the island on a little moped. I felt like I needed some chill out time… The Kiwis pretty much told me to go and book it RIGH NOW as it was a once in a lifetime experience, so I did and you must say that this weeks picture truly does show you that indeed they were right…

week 20 - whale watching on Aitutaki

Boarding the WetNWild boat with 3 other people and our Captain – Quentin I felt a little anxious as I knew he was going to ask us to jump in the water to swim with the beasts. Not being a confident swimmer I couldn’t quite grasp how I was going to do it on my own, without C’s shoulder to hold on to.

So far every day on the island has been an adventure and each day I did something that challenged me I decided that indeed this was my challenge for today and introduced myself to the other 3.

Vicky and Tom spent quite a few weeks on the island teaching kite boarding, working with Quentin and they also had Tom’s dad join them to watch the amazing beasts  before he set off back home down under.

We spent a good 15-20 min staring out into the blue abyss of the Pacific Ocean seeing nothing but a few flying fish before Quentin exclaimed… Here they are!!! Pointing us in the direction of the air and water sprays getting, blown high up in the air by the humpbacks. They were getting closer and closer as we approached them and we realised that we had between 4 or 5 of the beasts circling around our boat.

Apparently when you whale watch in Oz or New Zealand you have to go out and look for them but in the Cooks, they actually come to see you. In fact you can often see them from the beach on the Western side of the island.

I braved it! Jumped in the water, flippers, googles and snorkel on (with a little aid of a life jacket) and understood what the Kiwis meant by urging me just go and do it.

It is amazing to get so close up and personal with humbpacks, they’re beautiful creatures. So if you get a chance to go whale watching, I’m going to say what was said to me in September last year JUST DO IT!