Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary

Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary Dates: 22 Jul Having seen orangutans at the Rehab Centre, I woke early again to head over to Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is a little out of the way even from Sepilok, so I hopped on a motorbike rented from my accommodation and drove over there instead of opting to pay the crazy price for a taxi in Borneo. It’s a good 30 minute drive from Sepilok area, and is really easy to find – there is a big sign on the main road telling you where to turn, and plenty of …

Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Centre

Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Centre Dates: 20 Jul After spending a couple of cold, rainy nights at Mount Kinabalu Park I jumped on the bus at 9am over to Sepilok to do the Rainforest Discovery Centre, Orangutans & Proboscis Monkeys. There are more busses throughout the day but nobody ever has a solid answer as to when they actually arrive, so if you’re wanting to take the bus from Mount Kinabalu I would highly recommend getting up and waiting on the road before 9am. The bus cost 45RM (~£8-9) and took around 5 hours. If you’re staying in Sepilok area make …

Mount Kinabalu Park

Mount Kinabalu Park Dates: 19 Jul Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Malaysia at 4,095m, and if you’re up for it you can climb to the peak. The climb would have cost too much for me – travelling long-term has made me budget tightly and I limited myself to one expensive tour while in Borneo – the Kinabatangan River. So instead of climbing the mountain I opted to take a walk around Mount Kinabalu Park instead, a series of trails at the base of the mountain. I stayed at D’Villa Rina Ria Lodge, which is 10-15 minutes walk down …

Tam Coc

Tam Coc Dates: 2 May My last stop in Vietnam was Tam Coc, nearby to Ninh Binh – also known as the inland Ha Long Bay. I drove here on the bike I rented from Tigit, but as far as I’m aware it’s very easy to get a bus down here from one of the many tour operators on the streets of Hanoi. With rivers running through huge limestone rocks and rice paddies. The main thing to do here is a relaxing boat ride, taking you right through the middle of the rocks & paddies and through a few small …

Hanoi 2

Hanoi & Dong Xuan Market Dates: 29-30 April After being sat on a motorbike for 800km during my road trip to Sapa I needed a couple of days on my feet and relaxing around Hanoi, so I decided to go and shoot some street work and some portraits of the market workers at Dong Xuan Market in the north of the Old Quarter. It’s a really cool local market that sells lots of clothes and some bits of food in certain parts, with a couple of souvenir shops also on the ground floor. I stayed at K3 Hostel for my …

Road trip to Sapa

Road Trip to Sapa – Hanoi > Mai Chau > Moc Chau > Nghia Lo > Than Uyen > Sapa > Lao Cai Dates: 22-27 Apr As mentioned in my previous post about Hanoi I messed up on my visa. So instead of going from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh like I had initially planned I opted to go for a couple of road trips, the first of which was five days on the road to Sapa. This is only my second time ever on a bike, the other time was a scooter in Pai. So while I was thoroughly …

Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi Old Quarter Dates: 18-21 Apr Back to South East Asia. My first stop in Vietnam was Hanoi, naturally I chose to stay in the Old Quarter. I spent 4 days in Hanoi before setting off on a road trip to Sapa. I did initially plan on driving from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh but I stupidly didn’t check visa requirements and only got 15 days on arrival rather than the 30 that I thought I was going to get… So I decided to stay in the north instead and do a couple of road trips on a motorbike I …

Busan

Busan – Gamcheon Cultural Village & Haeundae Beach Dates: 15 & 16 Apr After my week in Jeju I flew back over to Busan for a few days before making my way back to South East Asia (Vietnam to be precise). I’m indifferent on Busan, it’s pretty difficult to get by as an English speaker as barely anyone in Korea speaks English, a lot of menus are in Korean only, lots of restaurants are catered for serving 2 or more people, and I’m also not a big fan of seafood. My favourite part of Busan was going for a walk …

Jeju

Jeju Dates: 12 Apr After spending a few weeks in Japan I decided to stop off in Korea to see some friends who now teach English there – Heather & Ben, I actually shot their wedding in early 2016. I did a lot of walking and spent a lot in Japan so I definitely needed a week of relaxing, catching up with my blog & journal, and some home comforts (I drank so much tea, sorry for ravaging your Yorkshire Tea supply guys). I did go for a walk with Heather & Ben one of the days though along the …

Osaka – Nara

Osaka – Nara Dates: 6 Apr Nara is a must-do day trip from Osaka, takes around an hour on the train from Osaka > Nara station, then it’s around 20-30 minutes walk from the station to the deer park & main temples. Unfortunately when I went the main temple with the big buddha had construction work going on so the outside wasn’t too pretty, but it was still a lovely walk around and pretty cool feeding the deer – who can get fairly aggressive if you have food and don’t give it to them! I had my pockets nibbled at …

Osaka – Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle Dates: 4 Apr After hiking up Mount Misen the previous day, I wasn’t up for doing a lot with my sore legs so I took a leisurely stroll around Osaka Castle and checked out the Ghibli shop in Namba Walk. The Ghibli shop was a pain to find, and honestly I don’t know if I could find it again. I think from Namba Station you head East, until you get to BIC Camera. From BIC Camera there will be some escalators down, which if you’re viewing on a map appears like a triangle coming out from the road …

Hiroshima – Miyajima, Mt Misen & Itsukushima Shrine

Hiroshima – Miyajima, Mt. Misen & Itsukushima Shrine Dates: 3 Apr This marked the last day of my Japan Railpass, so I had to rush around Miyajima before jumping on the Shinkansen over to Osaka in the evening. Easily done. To get over to Miyajima you hop on the train down to Miyajimaguchi Station then take the ferry, which is free with the JR Pass, over to Miyajima island. I did have fairly limited time on the island however I had plenty of time to get the main attractions done – Itsukushima Shrine & Mount Misen. Itsukushima Shrine is a …

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park & Castle

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park & Museum, Atomic Dome & Hiroshima Castle Dates: 31 Mar – 3 Apr I couldn’t go to Japan and not visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park & Museum, it’s such a unique place and something that will never be forgotten. I obviously knew how devastating a nuke is, but until you read the stories from survivors and see the various items in the museum it’s hard to grasp just how much damage they cause. What really stuck with me was the aftermath – a large chunk of the people that died didn’t directly die from the …

Kyoto – Fushimi Inari taisha & the East

Fushimi Inari taisha & East Kyoto Dates: 30 Mar On my last day in Kyoto I decided to do the famous Inariyama/Fushimi Inari taisha walkway, a path leading through thousands of Torii gates. Being inside them is quite the sight. The full circuit can take 2-3 hours to walk around, but once I’d walked around half of these for an hour that was enough for me so I decided to cut off halfway up and make my way up a few of the temples on the east side of Kyoto: Sennyu-ji, Chisaku-in & Kiyomizu-dera, ending with a short walk through …

Kyoto – Ryoanji Rock Garden & Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion

Kyoto – Ryoanji Rock Garden & Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion Dates: 29 Mar After I finished up at Arashiyama I head over to Ryoan-ji temple to see the famous rock garden. Ryoan-ji is a temple in the northern part of Kyoto with a Japanese Zen garden made up of various large rocks placed amongst perfectly raked small smooth pebbles. It’s an interesting sight, and is designed to aid with meditation – and even with a number of tourists there you can see how this is the case. It’s impeccable. About 20-25 minutes walk away from here is Kinkaku-ji, the famous golden …

Kyoto – Arashiyama

Arashiyama Dates: 29 Mar The second most must-do thing in Kyoto alongside Gion is probably Arashiyama, the famous bamboo groves. They’re quite a way out from where you’ll likely be staying in Kyoto, but very easy to get to by public transport. When you arrive it’s extremely easy to find where they are due to how busy they get, just follow the crowds – chances are everyone else is going there too! There is one route through the groves when you reach them, long enough to get plenty of shots of the bamboo – don’t expect to get any shots …

Kyoto – Gion

Gion District Dates: 28 Mar I took the Shinkansen from Tokyo mid morning to ensure I had as much time in Kyoto as I could due to only having two nights booked here as I was on limited time using my JR Pass. After arriving in the early afternoon I made the Gion District my first stop, my Airbnb was minutes walk away from the area so it was a convenient place to start my exploration of Kyoto without having to travel any more than I already had done. The Gion District is basically the old town of Kyoto, full …

Edo Tokyo Museum

Edo Tokyo Museum Dates: 26 Mar Ever since being a kid I’ve had an interest in Japan, so when I was researching Tokyo and saw the Edo Tokyo Museum I couldn’t resist taking in some history on Japan from the Edo period on one of my rainy days mentioned in my other post about Tokyo. The museum is full of beautiful scrolls & manuscripts, alongside some displays of what Tokyo would have been like in the Edo period, including both models and life-sized interactive displays. It’s 600Yen (~£4.30 when I was there) and takes a few hours to go around …

Tokyo

Tokyo Dates: 23-28 Mar My first taste of Japan was naturally Tokyo. I landed late in the evening and was really struggling to find my airbnb. I ended up having to ask a local who didn’t speak a word of English, and he walked me 10 minutes in the opposite direction to where he was going right up to the door. This was a sign of things to come in Japan and is one of the reasons I love the country so much – the people there are incredibly friendly. I didn’t get chance to shoot much due to rainy …

Pai – Conserve Natural Forests – Ethical Viewing of Elephants Thailand

Ethical Viewing of Elephants Thailand – Conserve Natural Forests Dates: 13 Mar Alongside doing a cooking course another must-do thing for me in Thailand was to go and see elephants. The ethical viewing of elephants is fairly difficult to do in Thailand. A lot of riding camps still exist, and lots of “sanctuaries” still treat their elephants badly, beating them to do as they’re told for tourists. You should never ride an elephant, their spine is not the same as one in an animal like a horse and with them being wild animals they are beaten and tortured into submission …

Pai – BeBe Spice Wok n Roll, Best Thai Cooking Course in Pai

Best Thai Cooking Course in Pai Dates: 12 Mar I love cooking and I also love Thai food, so one of my must-do things in Thailand was a Thai Cooking Course. I looked at some in Chiang Mai and in Pai and found that BeBe Spice was the Best Thai Cooking Course in Pai, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a long day, starting at 8.30am and finishing at around 10.30pm – so you learn lots and get chance to ask Thom (the woman who runs the class) any questions you have throughout, there’s certainly no rush. Thom was great, it’s …

Pai – Lod Cave

Lod Cave Dates: 11 Mar The only cave I have ever been to is Tiger Cave, during my road trip around Koh Lanta, and I didn’t go into the cave much at all there because we didn’t get the guide. I’d heard lots about Lod Cave and none of it bad, so when I planned my trip here I made sure to plan to get a proper guide to show me through (though I did find out when there that you have to go in with a guide anyway). I’ll never forget the first proper cave I went into, it …

Pai – Baan Santichon Chinese Village & Yun Lai Viewpoint

Baan Santichon Chinese Village Dates: 10 Mar 10-15 minutes drive outside of Pai is Baan Santichon Village, a traditional Yunnan chinese village which was settled in the mid-20th century by a mix of Thai hill tribes, Chinese and Yunnan tribes. It’s an interesting part of Pai and totally different to the rest of the area with the buildings looking much more traditional than the rest of Pai. It was very quiet when I went, but it was at the start of low season in Pai so that’s not surprising. I prefer that in a place like this though as it …

Pai – Sai Ngam Secret Hot Spring

Sai Ngam Secret Hot Spring Dates: 8 Mar There are a couple of options in Pai where hot springs are concerned, but for me there is only one to consider – the hot spring known as the secret hot spring. It’s much cheaper than the resort hot springs and from what I’ve heard it’s also much nicer (I didn’t go to the resort hot springs so cannot say from first hand experience) They can be a bit tricky to find directions to, but they’re actually really easy to find. Take the 1095 road out of Pai, cross two big concrete …

Pai Land Split, Pam Bok Waterfall & Bamboo Bridge

Pai Land Split, Pam Bok Waterfall & Bamboo Bridge Dates: 7 Mar After a couple of days relaxing in Pai I rented a scooter to explore the area. I started with Pai Land Split, Pam Bok Waterfall & the Bamboo Bridge – all of which are on the same road so it’s a quick and easy day out with a variety of places. I started with The land Split, a farm that overnight somehow cut in half because the earth split, strange right? The owner of the farm didn’t despair though, instead he turned it into a tourist attraction where …

Chiang Mai Temples (1)

Chiang Mai Temples Dates: 27 Feb – 1 Mar Chiang Mai is a wonderful place. It boasts over 300 temples so there are endless days of walking around photographing them, I spent 3 days just walking around exploring them and there were still a few of the major temples that I missed out – most notably Wat Doi Suthep, the big temple on the top of a hill outside of Chiang Mai centre. And I only missed this out because of transport! I honestly can’t remember which temple is which due to taking photos of so many of them, but …

Phuket – Phi Phi & Shark Point Dive

Phi Phi & Shark Point Dive Dates: 24 Feb While in Phuket I did a dive around Phi Phi islands, including Koh Doc Mai, Koh Bida Noc & Shark Point. I did the dive through Dive Asia at Kata Beach who were good, I would recommend them. I don’t yet have an underwater camera but I did shoot the islands from the boat. Luckily it was a pretty quiet dive site so there weren’t many pesky boats sneaking in the photos. During the dive I didn’t see anything too exciting other than a big school of barracuda, a sting ray …

Phuket – Phuket Night Market & Town

Phuket Night Market & Town Dates: 13-22 Feb I arrived in Phuket from Koh Lanta and had quite a few days in Phuket Town, it’s very quiet and not much going on but it’s a nice enough place to stay if you have the time to burn. Most of the activity is on the weekends at the night market near Wat Nakaram, and on Thalang Road on Sundays. I walked up to Khao Toh-Sae viewpoint one of the days which was ok, nice enough view but not much of an angle to look around, I wouldn’t walk it again – …