• Travelling around northern Laos on the ‘vomit bus’

    When I was dithering about whether or not I should travel to Pai, a small hippyish town in northern Thailand favoured by Western backpackers, one of the marks in the ‘no’ column was the fact that the bus ride there was pretty hairy. So much so that there are plentiful reports of hapless tourists becoming extremely sick during the journey, thanks to being crammed into a minibus that’s speeding around multiple hairpin bends. When I did eventually make the journey to Pai, I was amused to see sick bags tied to the back of each seat of the bus. Fortunately, no-one needed to make use of them. However, the same…

  • Lanna food: the flavours of northern Thailand

    I thought I was already familiar with Thai food. You know, green curry, pad thai and all those kinds of delicious things. Then I actually travelled to Thailand and found that I was so wrong. Yes, there’s plenty of green curry and pad thai in Thailand. But there’s so much more. I spent the vast majority of my time in Thailand in the north of the country and it’s there that I discovered the joys of Lanna food. This is the regional cuisine of northern Thailand, named after the ancient Lan Na kingdom. It’s hearty food with bold, punchy flavours and is one reason why I’m pretty much always counting…

  • Steak, sunsets and the magic of Montevideo

    Montevideo was my introduction to South America and, to be honest, I was a little apprehensive about it. I knew very little about Uruguay and I’d read a few things about Montevideo, the capital, that concerned me. In particular, the Ciudad Vieja area, where I was staying, was meant to be pretty sketchy on weekends and after dark. And on a more practical note, accommodation in Uruguay was relatively expensive and I risked blowing through my budget early in my trip. Returning home so soon with my tail between my legs wasn’t an appealing thought. At this point you may be asking why I was even travelling to Uruguay in…

  • 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 –…

  • Train travel in Ukraine: What you need to know

    I don’t know about you guys but I love travelling overland, especially by train. Give me a window seat, snacks and a good book and I’m a happy camper. Sadly, the train system in the UK is prohibitively expensive and, for the most part, rubbish. So when I had to make the train journey from Kiev to Lviv in Ukraine, I was probably a little more excited than the average person. What’s more, the journey was 7 hours long meaning I had the perfect excuse to do nothing but daydream and read for pretty much an entire day. Getting around a foreign country by public transport is something I’m very…

  • 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…

  • Dreams of exploration in Punta Arenas

    Stepping off the bus at Punta Arenas into the frozen Chilean dusk, my first impression of the super skinny South American country was “wow, it’s a bit chilly in Chile”. Sorry… But when you’re almost as far south as it’s possible to be before you reach Antarctica, in a country that juts out into the stormy Drake Passage, you would expect the weather to be a little on the cold side. I ended up in Punta Arenas kind of by mistake thanks to a misunderstanding with bus schedules. It didn’t really matter though because I already half expected to be staying here at some point during my journey through South…

  • How to spend one week in Ukraine

    What do you imagine when you think of Ukraine? The endless fields of wheat that earned it the nickname “bread basket of the Soviet Union”? Little old ladies wearing headscarves? Or perhaps your thoughts immediately turn to darker issues. A war zone? A nuclear disaster? Donald Trump’s latest scandal? Until you actually visit a country, you’re only getting half the story. Ukraine may not seem like an obvious holiday destination but then I’m not an obvious holiday destination sort of person. However, it is safe to visit (the war with Russia is only affecting areas on the eastern border), it’s beautiful, offers great value for money and the people are…

  • A food lover’s guide to London Bridge

    As I was travelling up the escalator in London Bridge station, I overheard two guys behind me say “shall we go straight to Pret?” and I inwardly screamed “WHY???” Choosing Pret over any one of the many independent businesses in London is a questionable move at the best of times, but when you’re literally minutes away from Borough Market I have to ask again: why? However, Borough Market isn’t where London Bridge’s food and drink scene begins and ends. London Bridge is a great place to base yourself when visiting the capital, with ample choice of hotels and within easy reach of all the main sights – but if you…

  • 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…