• 14 Ton That Dam Street: Ho Chi Minh City’s hidden cafes

    I struggled to enjoy my time in Ho Chi Minh City. I found the combination of unrelenting humidity and traffic all a bit too much, plus I was in the grip of a depression which made everything that much harder. So I decided to take it easy and focus on things I enjoyed, rather than forcing myself to be a tourist. I had been looking for some (quite literally) cool cafes where I could escape the heat and throw myself into my work, so I was delighted when my Google research threw up a whole load of gorgeous-looking places. Then I noticed that they all had the same address –…

  • Why you need to visit Pondicherry

    Delhi. Rajasthan. Kerala. Goa. It’s a safe assumption that pretty much all of these places are on the “must see” list of most visitors to India. And rightly so because they’re all incredible in their own unique ways. I’ve been to India twice, spending just over three weeks there on my most recent visit, and I’ve still only seen a fraction of what this vast and wonderful country has to offer. So I completely understand why first (and second) time visitors gravitate towards the big names, the places they’ve already heard of. But I want to tell you about another part of India that you might not have considered visiting…

  • Teaching English in Laos with Big Brother Mouse

      Before I went travelling, if I had to think of a really random situation to find myself in, teaching English in Laos would be a strong contender. I didn’t know much about Laos and I had absolutely no desire to teach anything to anyone ever. Yet travel changes you and I arrived in the UNESCO-listed town of Luang Prabang, in northern Laos, a different person to the one who left London several months earlier. I immediately fell in love with Luang Prabang and its sleepy old town, sandwiched between the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. I spent days wandering through streets lined with palm trees, past Buddhist temples and…

  • What to do in Sri Lanka: A two week itinerary

    Let’s be real. Two weeks isn’t long enough to experience all of Sri Lanka. However, it’s certainly possible to cover a fair bit of ground in this amount of time. This itinerary means you’ll get to experience tea plantations, beaches and even a safari – making your two week trip feel like a lot longer. Isn’t that what we all want from our holidays? Days 1 – 3: Negombo Here’s a not very interesting fact: Colombo airport isn’t actually in Colombo. It’s in the town of Negombo, just to the north. It’s worth knowing this not very interesting fact because Negombo is actually a much better place to stay than…

  • Yala National Park: Is it any good?

      Sri Lanka is justifiably famous for its wildlife and one of the best ways to spend a few days while in the country is to go on safari. There are three national parks to choose from – Yala, Udawalawe and Wilpattu with Yala being the most popular thanks to its leopard population and its location in the more visited south of the country. But does popular equal good? Not necessarily… I visited Yala as part of a wider trip throughout the south of Sri Lanka. Wilpattu is in the far north so it wasn’t practical to visit on this occasion. Udawalawe is the place to go to observe elephants…

  • Six must-eat dishes on Jalan Alor

      The hawker centre of Jalan Alor in Kuala Lumpur is street food heaven and a destination that’s on every tourist’s must-do list. It’s sensory overload in one street; the pungent smell of Durian fruit fills the smoke-filled air as a myriad of traders furiously grill satay sticks or steam juicy dumplings. You can’t walk more than a few minutes without someone waving a menu under your nose, asking you to take a seat at their restaurant. With so much going on and with such a vast array of choice, how do you even begin to decide what to eat? Here are my top recommendations: Roast chicken wings from Wong…

  • Five great things to do in Melaka

      There are a few places in the world whose name alone conjures images of adventure – steamy, tropical weather; intriguing spice-laden food; dimly-lit shops filled with strange and unrecognisable items. Melaka (or Malacca), in the south-west of the Malay peninsula, is one of those places. Coveted by the Chinese, the Dutch, the Portuguese and the British, this former trading hub became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. Despite this it’s often eclipsed by its glitzier neighbours, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Here are five reasons why Melaka should be on your travel to-do list: Soak up the history Melaka was once one of Asia’s greatest trading hubs and it…

  • Primates and pirates in Borneo

      “It will take us about an hour to travel to Turtle Island – unless we see any pirates, in which case we’ll have to go a little bit faster…” Hahaha, a pirate joke from our guide while we’re on a boat. Good one. Except, as we found out later, he wasn’t actually joking. We’d been in Borneo for less than a day and it was already shaping up to be quite the adventure. Borneo is one of those places where just the name alone plucks at the imagination and stirs up thoughts of intrepid exploits through dense, steamy jungles filled with all manner of exotic beasts. Yet, for some…

  • W15 Escape: A Sri Lankan escape from the rat race

      Sri Lanka was the first country I visited after I quit my job, my house and my life in London, and I’m sad to say that I probably didn’t do it justice. A two week dash through half of the country while trying to get my head around what the hell I had done was not exactly conducive to a fun time. But when we arrived on Sri Lanka’s sleepy, surfy south coast and checked into the gorgeous W15 Escape for a few days, I finally felt like things might just be ok. As a backpacker, you don’t often get to stay in luxurious hotels. Of course, there’s the…

  • Monk chat and the pursuit of happiness in Chiang Mai

      “I’m not religious but if I were then I would be Buddhist”. If I had a pound for every time I heard someone saying this then…well…let’s just say it would be one way to fund my travels! I do get where people are coming from though. Buddhism enjoys a rare position of privilege among world religions; a belief system that seems to be both inoffensive and, in some ways, desirable to a lot of people. For me, however, the interest in Buddhism comes less from a “spiritual” perspective and more from one that relates to my health. As someone who is so often immersed in a fug of depression…