April - October 2015
  • Day186


    October 22, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    So we made it.

    With the soft caress of carpet under our feet and the shades of Autumn outside the window, it did not seem as if we had ever been away that long. Yet 6 months had passed and we had seen and done so much. Memories flickered into view as we shared stories with curious family and friends around kitchen tables.

    ...Hiking up onto mountains, through canyons, over glaciers and deep into caves. Sailing across bays, rafting down rivers, snorkelling in reefs and swimming in waterfalls. Free falling at 16,000 feet to sleeping under the stars. Dancing with Navajo, eating with Maori and drinking with Lao. Swimming with sea turtles, riding on elephants, holding koala and feeding monkeys...

    6 months and a lifetime of memories, worth every second and penny.

    Travelling is as much about sharing as it is about the individual experience. We met fantastic people who have shared in our enjoyment and become friends; be they fellow travellers, guides or locals. We hope the friendships forged will endure and that someday, somehow, our paths will cross again for more laughter and memories.

    Lastly but most importantly, thank you, our family and friends, for reading, complimenting and encouraging. Without your support the adventure would have been harder and lonelier. We look forward to seeing you in person soon.

    This will be the last post for now but maybe not forever.

    Love, Kim and Alex
    Read more

    Carol Stringer

    Really good to have you home looking so fit and happy. Glad everything worked out so well (apart from the Heathrow taxi!). You obviously have had many fantastic experiences to remember. xxx

    Tracy N Virgil Cannon

    Really enjoyed reading about your adventures. It sounds like you both had a truly wonderful time. Only problem is I've got nothing to look forward to reading now! Hope you are both well x x x

    Rachel barnett

    Loved reading all about your adventures and seriously Kim an alternative career as a writer....... Never boring, unbelievably descriptive to the point that you felt we were with you X

    2 more comments
  • Explore, what other travelers do in:
  • Day185

    Hong Kong to Heathrow

    October 21, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌧 11 °C

    Our final flight went smoothly; descending down through the cloud and over an illuminated London to arrive early on a dark damp October night. Although we had caught a few hours of sleep on the flight, we calculated that we had probably slept less than 6 hours in the last 48. So it was with eager anticipation that we sought our taxi to take us the very final leg to Alex's parents. However we could not find our driver amongst the many who lined the arrivals hall with their surnamed signs...

    A phone call later and we discovered that an administrative error by the taxi company meant that there was no driver or car ready to take us. Instead, as fatigue crawled over our eyelids and along our spines, we waited 1 and 1/2 hours for another car to be driven all the way up from Herne Bay. When the call handler explained that the car had been 'upgraded' to a Mercedes as compensation, Alex nearly laughed and said 'a Robin Reliant here and now would be better'. Sat under the stark lighting of the arrivals hall it felt ironic that we had travelled around the world without too much difficulty but the final leg had become unstuck by a Kent-based taxi company.

    It was the early hours of the following day when we eventually arrived at Alex's parents. We were completely knackered yet happy. After 6 months and so many hours we were finally home!
    Read more

    Kim and Alex

    Like us - tired and a little worse for wear but home

  • Day185

    Bangkok to Hong Kong

    October 21, 2015 in Hong Kong ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Bleary eyed we rose in the pre-dawn darkness to tentatively eat a breakfast our still sleeping stomachs reluctantly accepted. Through the silent streets by taxi, we bade farewell to the humid heat and entered the bright and airy cocoon of airport controlled atmospheres, which would accompany us until we arrived in London.

    Daylight steadily motioned across the departure gate's glass panelling, illuminating our plane as we boarded. Nestling down into our seats we settled into the few hours it would take to cross back over the countries we had visited and land in Hong Kong to transfer planes.

    Both tired but not ready to sleep we watched with surprise as a man, seated across the aisle and donning what appeared to be liberated hotel slippers, broke into heavy snoring within one minute of takeoff. However his symphony did not last long before he was asked to change seats to accommodate the whims of a young girl who did not want a window seat after all.

    Entering the cavernous terminal at Hong Kong we changed the last of our remaining money to buy a picnic of Starbucks pie and muffin over brown napkins, the taste still lingering as we were called to board...
    Read more

    Kim and Alex

    Bye bye Bangkok

    Kim and Alex

    Hello Hong Kong

    Kim and Alex

    Picnic lunch!

  • Day184


    October 20, 2015 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Neither heat nor noise could keep us from sleep last night after a marathon through Bangkok's malls. Our feet numbly trudged our exhausted bodies up the hostel's steep steel stairway and we collapsed into bed.

    Kim enjoyed 'dippy eggs and soldiers' for breakfast before we returned into the depths of Bangkok's retail fantasyland for final gift and souvenir shopping. Our pace was leisurely but time past quickly as our last 24 hours in the city clicked down.

    Up through the zig-zagging line of escalators up we ascended to the very top of the Siam Paragon mall, where we entered its regal Cineplex where plush upholstery was softly light by the creamy glow of a giant chandelier. We chose to watch 'The Walk' in IMAX 3D, which was half the price it would be at home and a sheer visual spectacle.

    It felt poetic that on the last day of our adventure we were watching a film set in a city where it all begin 6 months, New York.

    After packing our bags for the last time we sought some sleep before having to rise in the dark early hours to take our flight home.
    Read more

    Kim and Alex

    3D cool!

    Kim and Alex

    Kim's dessert!

  • Day183


    October 19, 2015 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Neither of us slept well in the hot house that was our bedroom. The air was thick and still whilst noises of the city and an archaic pluming system rattled around us. Admittedly it was not solely these conditions that deterred our bodies from falling into deep sleep. The impending homecoming, with its sense of both ending and beginning, brought an excitement that whirled in our minds and bubbled beneath our skin.

    Walking along the pavement (a novel experience after Vietnam), slick and shining with the early morning rain, we marvelled at the scale of the shopping malls that lined the streets. Towering upward with broad colourful signage to denote their brand, we detoured into these mountains of glitz, waltzing past giant cartoon sculptures and shining fashion displays. The scale and opulence was like nothing else we had seen in South East Asia and was somewhat comparable to parts of Las Vegas, minus the casinos. As with Trang Tien Plaza in Hanoi, there were no real bargains to be found and some of the prices in recognisable stores were even higher than back home (shirt in Topshop £90?!)

    Our turning heels squeaked on the over polished floor as we took ourselves to what we had heard described as the 'working class mall' of Bangkok - MBK. This description is due to its layout being more like a market with thousands of makeshift stalls selling unbranded or fake branded clothing items at prices more in line with the average local salary. With limited finances the opportunity to replace some of our clothes, brutalised by 6 months backpacking, interested us.

    After a day of much haggling for items that will likely disintegrate on their first wash, we met with Freddie, our friend from Stray who 'hopped off' the bus in Ho Chi Minh City.

    Whilst our backpacking styles differ somewhat (Freddie was holding a signature Starbucks coffee, sporting a new haircut and staying in the Holiday Inn) he is very likeable and it was great to catch up on our respective adventures since we parted 3 weeks ago.

    Freddie was in Bangkok to continue his own round the world trip by flying to Bali tomorrow before travelling to New Zealand and beyond. We wish him the very best on his travels and hope to see him back home once he returns next year!
    Read more

  • Day183

    Hanoi to Bangkok

    October 19, 2015 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    An ash smog clung to the air and shrouded the city as our taxi drove away from the tightly packed buildings through the crawling early morning traffic. Only once cruising over a motorway bridge to the airport did the sky open up as if exhaling a long-held breath.

    The radiant walls and feathery atmosphere of the departure hall felt foreign as we breezed through. Nevertheless as our footfalls echoed off the ebony floor we were buoyant to be on the move again. Caught by the tourist board with no reasonable excuses, we obliged in completing questionnaires on our stay and ordered a lunch to go, containing neither rice or noodles.

    After months of travelling overland we returned to our starting point of Bangkok on a flight that took less than 2 hours. That said the entire journey still took the majority of the day due to all the additional travel, waiting and form filling required. At Bangkok airport we were greeted with a long-snaking heart-sinking queue through immigration. Tired and bored looks were abound as small children played between the legs of patient faced parents. Time ticked backwards as questions about onward travel and the hammer of rubber stamps reverberated down the line. At least we weren't the man who nearly made it all the way to the front, only to return to the back upon realising he hadn't completed an immigration arrival card...

    We avoided Bangkok's chaotic traffic and took the train into the city centre. Where previously we had stayed in an older part of the city, frequented by backpackers and close to the Stray office, now we stayed in the more modern but equally popular shopping district. A concrete mesh of train platforms and pedestrian walkways stretched above the streets, filled with the colours of moving people and flashing advertisements. Rising up from street level and past our eye line were huge multi-story shopping malls, complete with bowling alleys, ice rinks and cinemas, vying for shoppers' attention.

    This was to be our decompression chamber back to modernity from the fringes of backpacking life but honestly it had the appearance of Bluewater on acid.
    Read more

  • Day181


    October 17, 2015 in Vietnam ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    It was our last day in Hanoi as well as Vietnam before flying to Bangkok tomorrow. We spent it leisurely packing our bags and completing minor bits of 'travel admin' in preparation for the penultimate section of our adventure.

    We have not stayed In one place for so long since Cairns, Australia and that was 3 months ago now. Before then we were back at home. In the time spent here we have grown increasingly confident in navigating our way around the busy streets. It must show in our body language as we find ourselves approached less by the city's hawkers and hustlers seeking to make money from tourists. That said we are not immune, Alex still got his leg grabbed by a flip flop repair scammer but he didn't even break stride when telling the man to let go.

    We've posted a number of playlists along the way but this is a compilation of our favourites, a soundtrack of sorts to our adventure around the world (https://open.spotify.com/user/somebodyalreadyhasit/playlist/4rDw8yS6CxtxXSLQbR4lvL) -

    The Who - Baby O'Riley
    Big Country - In A Big Country
    Hozier - Someone New
    Johnny Cash - Jackson
    Chuck Berry - Promised Land
    Walk The Moon - Shut Up And Dance
    Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Can't Keep Checking My Phone
    Oh Wonder - Technicolour Beat
    Crosby Stills Nash and Young - Almost Cut My Hair
    Martin Luke Brown - Nostalgia
    The Beach Boys - Surfin' Safari
    AC/DC - Highway To Hell
    Hilltop Hoods - Cosby Sweater
    Chase & Status - Alive
    Lovebirds - Want You In My Soul
    Ten Walls - Walking With Elephants
    Clarence Carter - Snatching It Back
    Adrian Cronaur - Pt.2/Good Morning Vietnam
    MisterWives - Our Own House
    Delaney & Bonnie - Comin' Home
    Read more

  • Day180


    October 16, 2015 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    After some internet research we located a hotel with a swimming pool nearby, which allowed non-guests to use for a fee. With the white hot sun forecast to hammer down unobstructed, it felt like an opportune way to spend the day. The hotel was situated south of the Old Quarter, where wide tree-lined streets accommodated French architecture. We past the Italian Embassy, in the grounds of which Labrettas and Vespas sat in glass showcases. Vacant-faced sales assistants of pristine Italian fashion houses starred out of their glass prisons waiting for the diplomats and their entourages to spend diplomat dollars. In the evenings locals use the wide pavements as badminton courts, couples in western attire pose for their wedding photos whilst brass bands practice on the steps of the Opera House.

    At the hotel, aptly called ‘Army Guesthouse’, men and women in dark green military uniform with detail in gold and red walked with purpose as we meandered to the pool. The buildings appeared worn and in need of care but the pool was clean, its topaz floor shimmering hypnotically underwater. When we arrived we were the only people using the pool but by the afternoon we were joined by German sunbathers and Vietnamese swimmers.

    As Alex helped Kim apply sun lotion to her back, Kim noticed a Vietnamese man intently watching her from the water. Feeling uncomfortable, Kim turned herself so Alex blocked the man’s view. Alex turned to seek a view of the man for himself and chuckled when he was confronted with the image of an archetypal ‘dirty old man’. The small dark gnome face with dark piggy eyes sneered upward as one hand feverishly picked at the nose and the other hand was probably feverishly elsewhere. After this episode as well as witnessing further instances of ‘picking and spitting’ into the pool’s water by the locals (including the pool attendant) we decided to skip swimming again.

    The sun curved over the pool to dip under the west side of the hotel building and cause shadows to slowly creep across the tiled floor. We returned to our hostel and after dark walked amongst families, couples and joggers along the beautifully illuminated Hoan Kiem Lake.
    Read more

  • Day179


    October 15, 2015 in Vietnam ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    We returned to the Old Quarter to finish the shopping we did not complete yesterday. Whilst we were not buying anything that should have taken more than one day to purchase, there were several hurdles to waylay even the most determined shopper.

    As described in the previous post, haggling turns transactions into a lengthy game of smiles and frowns and the humid temperature claws at your stamina. The pavements are used as parking bays for the city’s thousands of scooters and elsewhere an obstacle course of plastic dining furniture, fruit sellers, scurrying pregnant dogs and small children amongst broken paving and general detritus hinders movement and pushes pedestrians into the road, already crowded with cruising taxis, beeping scooters, enterprising cyclos and silent bicycles. Still any feelings of frustration sit within a sensory smorgasbord. The thick aroma of barbequing meat mixing with the citrus scent of fruit, the colourful displays of goods lit up by neon colours at night and the horns of scooters echoing with the sing-song invites to dine, take a massage or ride a cyclo.

    A pastime of ours, particularly when travelling, is to ‘people watch’, and one of our favourite restaurants, with its balcony overlooking a crossroads in the Old Quarter, grants us perfect opportunity for this. One thing we have particularly noticed is that locals actively engage in ‘picking and spitting’. Often we will watch both men and women go almost knuckle-deep in a bid to clean out their nasal passages whilst hearing the loud thick hawk of mucus pulled from throats to be spat out onto the street. Social suicide back home, a national sport in this part of the world.
    Read more

    Kim and Alex

    Children's theme park across the road from our hostel

    Kim and Alex

    View from our favourite restaurant's balcony

    Kim and Alex

    View from our favourite restaurant's balcony

    Kim and Alex

    Good luck using the pavement

  • Day178


    October 14, 2015 in Vietnam ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    Back amongst the chaotic Hanoi scenes we ventured into the Old Quarter to partake in the traditional past time of travellers nearing the end of their journey - souvenir shopping. Since beginning our adventure 6 months ago there has been many an occasion when we (usually Kim) have seen something worth buying for ourselves or someone else, only to accept (usually Alex) that it was unrealistic to carry it around for months on end. Whilst we could have posted these items home, they were never found all in one place and the cost to repeatedly send items home was prohibitive. With our bags (mostly Alex) getting lighter as we bail out clothes and other unneeded items for charity, there was plenty of room for what we found in Hanoi.

    Unless shopping in the shiny modern malls like Trang Tien Plaza, haggling for items at the local markets and small street-side stalls is a given. Particularly with sellers highly inflating their prices when tourists approach. However Wu had advised that it was part of local Buddhist custom to not engage in haggling during the morning hours so we were in no rush to head out onto the streets until lunchtime.

    Weaving through a congestion of scooters, fruit sellers and torn up paving, we slipped in and out of shops that sold gifts of fabric, paper, wood and stone. The sight of our Caucasian faces brought the hurried attention of sellers to welcome us inside. We searched specifically for a set of chopsticks as we had become quite skilled in our use of them through South East Asia and thought we might use them again once home.

    Although we had haggled together before, it was still amusing for us and the locals to observe each other's styles. Being compassionate and kind, Kim was more likely to buy if she empathised with the seller, i.e. a young pregnant woman, and would haggle to a point until she felt it might cause offence to stick or go lower on a price. Alex meanwhile was ruthless with a smile.

    Yet if it hadn't been for Kim then we might not have brought anything at all as Alex sought to squeeze the best deal he could out of the Old Quarter. One female seller laughed at our debate with each other and commented in halting English that we were like an old married couple before noting to Kim that Alex was 'good husband' as he got her to eventually agree his price.
    Read more