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Arriving In Vancouver

We got off the plane in the dark, caught the SkyTrain to the city, and walked up three staircases to the American Backpackers Hostel, just as someone was being kicked out because management found his needle stash under the bed. Hello, Vancouver.

Sick In Vietnam: My Experience With Dengue

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where my experience with dengue began, but I’m fairly sure it was somewhere in southern Cambodia, and I am so, so glad I wasn’t alone when it happened. I’d been travelling around India and South East Asia for a few months and had dealt with one or two weird viruses and bugs, but nothing big enough to really knock me out for more than a day or so. It’s funny because everyone warns you about food poisoning and malaria, so you get shots, buy a lifetime supply of Doxycycline and get all picky about where and what you eat, but it won’t necessarily stop you from getting sick. Not once did I think I’d get dengue. It began when I was in Hoi An, Vietnam trying to go to sleep, and my arms and legs started to ache. It started off pretty mild,…

Iceland: Into The Fjords

It’s both comforting and surprising to know that tourists generally don’t die in Iceland. Beautiful as it is, most of it looks like the opening of an 80s horror film. You get out of the car, look around at the magnitude, splendour and isolation of the place, and think ‘well, this is how I’m going to die’. It’s like the opening of The Shining.

4 Reasons To Avoid Koh Rong (and where to go instead)

Even if you’re not a traveller, the islands of South East Asia are probably on your bucket list. The sands are white, the waters are clear, warm and blue, you can dive in the reefs, stay in bungalows, eat local food, lay on the sand, and drink cheap cocktails – anyone who’s been to a Thai island will probably recommend it. Before I begin my tirade in to why you should probably avoid Koh Rong in Cambodia, I should mention that the island does look lovely on face value – the waters are clear, the sands are white, and the beach huts are wooden and picturesque and really nice to sit in, but on the other hand, the island is basically inhabited by tourists. I’m not really sure why, but I thought Koh Rong would be like a Thai island, and it really wasn’t. It was kind of grimy. If you’re…

Kep In April: Think Cold Thoughts

I’m sitting in a cafe in Kep (southern Cambodia) and I’ve honestly never been so hot in my entire life. I’m boiling just sitting here, doing nothing. I want to melt. Cold drinks are warm in five-minutes, ice melts in two, and you’re hot again in one. It’s inescapable. Kep in April is kind of horrible. So to console myself, I’ve decided to post about some of the coldest places we’ve been so far: Nepal. Chris seemed to have this idyllic notion that we’d step across the border from India to Nepal, and birds would instantaneously start chirping amid a picturesque backdrop of snow-capped mountains, prayer flags, butterflies, and fawns. So we got our Nepalese visas and hovered on the Indian side of the border, prepared for the scene to majestically transform from its dusty, loud, uninviting, garbage-laden façade in to a vision of beauty in a Narnia-esque kind…

Trains In India: Living The Unreserved Dream

I think our lowest point was on the way to Kolkata from Darjeeling. We booked beds on the train in one of the nicer classes (AC3) for the 13-hour overnight journey (find out how to book trains here). We were number eight and nine on the waiting list, which isn’t as bad a plan as it sounds.

Holi Festival In India

Something that’s really surprised me over my time in India is that Indian men will not swear or talk about the thing that happens when men and women hug each other in a very special way, in front of women. Often people will look at Chris when a swear word or something to do with sex is about to be mentioned and say “I can’t say it in front of her, but, you know…”, and sometimes when we’re in temples, I’m told to go elsewhere while the guide shows Chris ‘man carvings’. So the other day when we were being relentlessly followed and questioned by a hotel tout while carrying huge bags in Kathmandu, he got quite a shock when, in all my exhaustion-derived frustration, yelled: ‘The answer is no!” And swore. Not at him, just in general, out of frustration. It actually shut him up for a minute,…

Experiencing Angkor: What Not To Do

As much as I wanted Angkor to be a highlight, I really didn’t feel that way at the time. It’s a must-see place and I’m so glad I went, but I do not recommend seeing it the way we did.  It’s suggested that you see the temples over five days. We did it in two. We also decided to rent bicycles for $4/day instead of paying $25 to get chauffeured around for the day. Unless you’re a pro-cyclist who maybe does it in tropical climates all day, every day, always take the chauffeur.  I hadn’t ridden a bike in years, and I don’t think we really thought about how far it really is around those temples – it’s not just Angkor Wat, it’s basically a city full of temples and monuments that are all kilometres apart. There’s no shade, and at that time of year there’s no escaping the heat and humidity. I…

Food, Pilgrims, And A Golden Temple

One of the central reasons anyone should come to India is for the food. It’s rich, creamy, spiced, and complex – Indian food is like nothing else on Earth, and you haven’t tried it until you’ve eaten it in India. Someone said to me ‘Indians love sugar and spice’, and it’s absolutely true. When ordering coffee, I’ve had to start asking for sugar on the side because I literally cannot fathom how or why you would/could put that much sugar in a single cup of coffee. The desserts are basically cardamom and turmeric-infused lumps of sugar – both amazing, and mind-blowingly sweet. Gulab Jamun (one of their national desserts) is a sugar/curd ball that is both deep-fried in, and served with, sugar syrup. They don’t care about waistlines, cholesterol, or portion control, here it’s all about the taste, and if that means putting a lump of ghee in with…