All posts filed under: Light

Red Sky At Night

I like to travel alone. I enjoy the freedom of it. I enjoy the new and unpredictable experiences you have by venturing into the world by yourself. I enjoy meeting people along the way. People who travel alone are rarely ever on their own of course. You make fast and firm friends when travelling; it’s normal after chatting for a mere two minutes to ask someone to dinner. Real world rules don’t apply here. Occasionally though, I do feel lonely when travelling. It usually happens right after I’ve made some excellent travelling friends. Maybe we spent a week on a Thai island or a few days on a Vietnam beach together. But then people go their own way and that sudden aloneness again is always jarring. It usually only lasts an afternoon or so but still, it’s a readjustment of sorts. It happened to me when leaving Koh Lanta, off Thailand’s Andaman coast. I had spent six days on the island, with a loose collection of solo travellers who all hit it off. We walked …

What the Flashpack! Where to Stay in Ubud and Saigon

I’m currently flashpacking in SouthEast Asia, hashtagging my way around Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Flash- what? Flashpacking. There’s no one agreed definition but a good summation: backpacking but fancier. Flashpackers tend to be in their twenties or thirties, quite attached to their gadgets, willing to slum it but also liking their their little touch of luxe every now and then. I view flashpacking as mixing high and low end experiences to create a more engaging, authentic travel experience. You might stay in a super cheap, fun hostel one night and party with an international crowd; then you might splash out and spend the next three days at a yoga retreat with an infinity pool. That’s flashpacking at its finest. It’s backpacking for grown ups. A lot of places are tapping into the flashpacking market by providing more upmarket versions of hostels with extra touches and often co-working spaces. I visited Malaysia and Bali earlier this year also and came across some great places to stay. Here are the two best flashpacker pads I’ve encountered so far! …

You live in Oman?!

  ‘Where?’ is usually the response to ‘I live in Oman,’ or ‘Ooh, how exciting, what’s Jordan like?’ ‘Not Amman. Oh-man.’ Of course, some people give up the good fight and just tell people they live in Dubai. Everyone knows Dubai. I couldn’t possibly. I used to describe Oman, quite specifically as being ‘South of Saudi, beside Yemen; at the Eastern tip of the Arabian peninsula.’ ‘Oh. So quite close to Dubai then?’ Which it is, of course. I didn’t know very much about Oman when I accepted a teaching job there. In fact, that was part of what attracted me to the position in the first place. Now, having left after spending two years in the capital Muscat, the Omani Tourism Board should pay me for the sheer raving I do about the place. ‘Of course it’s safe! It’s actually safer than Dubai really, Omani’s are very welcoming towards Westerners and pretty liberal. No I never had to cover! We have everything you have at home- Starbucks, Zara. Yes we have pubs. And beaches!’ …

Love Letter to Cambodia

  I loved Cambodia from the first rain soaked evening I arrived in its rambling French colonial-era capital Phnom Penh. Coming from the craziness of Vietnam, where crossing the street means taking your life in your hands, I appreciated its laid back, easy going charm. People are different and so are travel experiences. I’ve heard some negative reports about Cambodia, but I can honestly say it was one of the best countries I’ve ever visited and somewhere I’d love to return to. The month I spent there can be summed up as: temples, yoga, beach, food, coffee, wine. AKA heaven. A word on the food; Cambodian food is often lessened when compared to the cuisine of its neighbours, Thailand and Vietnam. But I though Khmer food to be delicious! Their way of making curries reminded me of Malaysian cooking, delicately layered spice that’s tastier than just firing in chillies! Also, the French influence means there are some fantastic French restaurants. Try Le Cyclo in Phnom Penh for Bouef Bourginon followed by chocolate mousse! This is …

The best little beach in Vietnam

An Bang Beach Vietnam is quite possibly my favourite beach town. That’s no small feat; I’m a beach town kind of girl. And I’ve encountered some great ones- in Northern California, Spain, Sri Lanka, Bali and Zanzibar. But I’m calling it: An Bang is the best. Although bestowing the moniker ‘town’ upon it is definitely being generous, An Bang is that perfect cliche- small but perfectly formed. The beach is beautiful, a long, wide sandy expanse. Danangs’ brightly lit skyline glitters to your right, a hazy blue outline describes the Charm Islands to your left. Everything about An Bang is perfect. The beach isn’t overdeveloped but has just enough bars and restuarants to keep you happy. The French run Soul Kitchen is a particular expat favourite as is the Driftwood Cafe- drop by there for some excellent pizza. An Bang Village Restaurant is the spot to go for a bargain $25 Vietnamese cooking class and make sure you stay at Under the Coconut. It’s the type of place people fail to leave. I meant to …

Tea & Silence: Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An is a beautiful city in Central Vietnam, full of artfully crumbling French colonial buildings and a lantern strung Old City where the lights are turned off at night. It’s the kind of city you plan to visit for a weekend and end up moving to. In Hoi An is a tea house called Reaching Out. In the Old City, it’s a comfortable cafe with lots of polished dark wood and a lovely sun trap area out the back. The carefully presented tea and coffee trays would be reason enough to visit. But there’s another reason to visit Reaching Out; it is almost completely silent. The staff are all deaf or hearing impaired. You order using a printed form and pencil. You ask questions using carefully labelled blocks provided at your table. You are encouraged to communicate using gestures, sign language and smiles. The silence is refreshing. Coffee shops are usually loud; milk steaming, coffee beans grinding, people chattering, baristas shouting, mugs banging, glasses clinking. There’s none of that here. It’s a wonderful place …