Ha Long Bay

Karsting my eyes out to sea

A scenic retreat was in order after the nightmare that was Hanoi. Cat Ba island – and more specifically the karst formations out to sea – proved just the natural remedy I needed. It was a 2 hour bus ride (accompanied with a soundtrack of an X-factor style Vietnamese karaoke) and an hour on a speedboat to get to Cat Ba. I elected against going…

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Good morning Vietnam

A frustrating greeting from SE Asia

Travelling long distances overland has its challenges, as I found many times on this leg of my journey. So apologies in advance for this long and rather negative post! Maybe worth skipping over this one for some more positive travel tales. Leaving Guilin, my destination was Hanoi, Vietnam, via Nanning at the very southern tip of China. In Nanning, the plan was to book an overnight…

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Chinese Whispers

Karsts and caves in south China

Onboard yet another sleeper train, this time to Guilin, I travelled in the relative luxury of “hard sleeper” class with my own bed (hurray!). It was still jam-packed, though – like the Trans-Siberian all the beds are open in a dormitory style, but with three bunks high instead of two. Despite continued language barrier issues I still managed to converse with the passengers. Through the…

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Enduring a journey from hell to discover a view from heaven

Oh my. No, I’m not referring to the breathtaking scenery in the pictures above (I’ll come onto that later) but the extraordinary means with which I got there. Okay, so it was still via train. But this time it was in hard seat class, which is essentially the Chinese equivalent of fourth class for overnight trips. And it lived up to its standard, or lack thereof….

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Sprawling Shanghai

Traversing an enormous metropolis

A speedy six hour train journey whisked me from Beijing to Shanghai Hongqiao station. The high speed trains in China work very efficiently. The formal boarding process, uni-directional seating, open walk-through carriages and modern interiors make them feel more like areoplanes than trains. As beautiful Chinese countryside flashed by at 150mph I couldn’t help notice the yellow sky above, and the huge power plants and…

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Great tales from China

A frantic first stop in the Chinese capital

A scenic overnight train journey from Ulaan Baatar to Beijing finally brought to an end my Trans-Mongolian journey. China was yet another country I was visiting for the first time, and after a fortnight in some of the most remote parts of the world I was more than ready to step into this buzzing metropolis. I had the pleasure of staying at Leo Hostel. It’s…

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A Nomad in Mongolia

Turning back time in the middle of nowhere

The penultimate stop on my Trans-Mongolian journey was in Ulaan Baatar, the capital of Mongolia, where I spent a week exploring this large, landlocked country. I hadn’t a clue what to expect beforehand – I’d never met anyone who’d been, nor researched it much prior to my arrival. About half of the 4.3 million population live in the capital city, Ulaan Baatar, which makes the remainder…

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Sailing Baikal

Photographing the largest, deepest and oldest freshwater lake in the world

Check out the photos above as I stopped beside Lake Baikal in Siberia at a town called Listvyanka. The 25 million year old lake in the world covers an area larger than Belgium and is deeper than 5 stacked Eiffel towers. 400 streams and rivers flow in from the nearby mountains, which supports many endemic species of fish and other wildlife in the surrounding national park. Recently…

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All aboard the Trans-Siberian railway

Setting off on the mother of all train journeys

The Trans-Siberian express, also known as the ‘Vodka train’, runs on the longest railway track in the world. It also happened to my home for 4 days last month. And it’s one experience I can’t wait to share. Built in just 10 years from 1891 across treacherous terrain and in the harsh Siberian climate, the Russian built line has evolved to become today a critical…

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Previet from Moscow

A bittersweet first dose of Russia

As I type this update somewhere on a train in the Siberian wilderness, I’m mulling over an experience in Moscow filled with highs and lows. The Russian capital was the first stop on my journey for 4 days. Founded in the 13th century, the city today has a metropolitan population of around 15 million making it one of the largest in the world. The iconic…

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