Top Facebook Posts of 2014 – An Amazing Year of Travel

It’s a beautiful frosty morning. The sun is shining, there’s not a cloud in the sky and I’m reminiscing. Another year is drawing to a close and as I think about what the new year will hold for me and Asad, I’m also thinking about what an amazing year of travel we’ve had. It’s got me thinking of how I can sum it all up in one post without boring the pants off everyone! Then I thought of Facebook.

When I look back at my travel Facebook posts, it’s a virtual timeline. A diary. A reminder of all the places we visited, the sights we saw, the people we met and how we felt. It jogs my memory of events that six months later are fading but that are never truly forgotten.  It’s written in the moment without the heavy thought process involved when writing a full post. Not all the pictures are perfect but that doesn’t matter. It’s a spontaneous insight into all the places we went to that are not yet written about on this blog. All those empty drop down menu’s that I’ve yet still to fill with inspiring posts of our adventures around South East Asia.

It’s a taste of what’s to come.

So here are just a fraction of our top Facebook posts of 2014 that highlight the best of our travels.

In the meantime…

I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. May all your travel dreams come true!

May 25th 2013 – Poon Hill, Nepal – So after 4 days of trekking to Poon Hill, up and down 10,000ft, the best we could get of the Annapurna range was….

View from the top of Poon Hill


June 25th 2013 – Fun, fun, fun! Just got in from the Full moon party! Crazy fire ropes, a few fights, plenty of booze buckets, boogying and well some other dodgy stuff going on! – Koh Phangan


June 27th, 2013 – What a lovely day! Zipped around the island discovering best beaches and hidden coves. Som Tam and watermelon for lunch followed by a mad dash through dirt track and jungle to finally see a perfect sunset — Had Salad, Koh Phangan

Haad Salad Beach – Koh Phangan

July 1st, 2013 – Exhausted! Woke at 3.00am, took taxi at 4.00, a ferry at 5.00, hopped in a transit van at 8.00, bundled into a bus at 9.00, train at 10.30, 9 hrs later we took another train to finally reach our hotel!! The saga will start again tomorrow at 4.30am when a flight to Blighty is on the cards!! I need sleep and some more mossie spray!! – Bangkok.

October 24th, 2013
So, back at Heathrow airport again! We started our travels in May but had to take a slight detour back to Blighty in July to help the folks at home. 4 months later, a little older, a little wiser, we are back on track! Here’s to an amazing journey and adventure!!! Ready for take off! First stop Bangkok! Woo hoo!

November 3rd, 2013 – Great to see how Diwali is celebrated around the world! Today Kathmandu is alive with people getting ready for tonight’s celebrations. Happy Diwali to all our friends, may you always be blessed with health and happiness!

Mandalas and candles decorate the streets during Deepawali
Mandalas and candles decorate the streets during Deepawali

November 21st, 2013 – Wow! We completed the Annapurna Circuit, culminating in a very quirky and death-defying last-minute ascent on a mountain pony (Asad got altitude sickness) to the highest point Thorong La pass. At an altitude of 18,000 feet this was a real achievement for us lazy city folk! So proud of ourselves! A massive thanks to Amrit our very creative and entertaining guide and our very strong, singing porter Rajendra. Without your humour and faith we couldn’t have endured the acclimatisation exercises up hundreds of meters a day, the freezing cold temperatures, the endless dal bhat, freezing cold showers (or no shower) and the squat toilets! But it was all worth it to see the jaw dropping scenery of the Himalayas!


Humde airport in the distance
Humde airport in the distance
On the way to Muktinath

December 3rd, 2013 – My favourite pic on our travels so far ! – Chitwan, Nepal

Goofing around on the bus – Chitwan to Kathmandu
Chitwan National Park
A glimpse of the Annapurna as seen from Lake Phewa
A glimpse of the Annapurna Range as seen from Lake Phewa – Pokhara

December 25th 2013 – Wow! What a journey on the Yangon to Mandalay Express! Ironic it’s called the express, it took 15 hours!! Anyway, it was shall I say, a memorable experience. Why? Because the train thundered through some of the most beautiful rural scenery we’ve seen. It was so bumpy we were often catapulted off our seats, even airborne for a second! The train rolled from side to side, creaked and swayed and groaned all the way! Let’s see what Mandalay has to offer. Today’s travel tip? Maintain sense of humour whilst travelling!

This is fun!
This is fun!

December 27th, 2013 – What a fun day! After yesterday’s escapade trying to get back to the hotel, we bravely decided to rent a motorbike and explore Mandalay the easy way. Well not that easy! We had no mirrors, no clutch, helmets that didn’t fit and the bike kept on stalling much to the amusement of everyone around us! On the agenda was the heavily guarded Mandalay Palace and U Bein Bridge – the longest and oldest bridge in the world. Somehow we got back alive after dicing with death a few times, weaving in and out of crazy traffic and nearly coming off! A totally hair-raising experience! Today’s travel tip: When in Myanmar DONT get a bike!!

U Bein bridge - sublime at sunset
U Bein bridge – sublime at sunset

December 30th, 2013 – Today we experienced the sun rising over the Bagan temples! Walking up the steep steps of the Shwe San Daw Pagoda barefoot at 5.00am, we were excited and full of anticipation! When dawn broke revealing hundreds of mist covered temples we were tickled. When the sun came up in all it’s glory we were wowed by the beauty and tranquility of it all. Finally, when the hot air balloons went up one by one and covered the sky, it was the icing on an already delicious cake!

On the flip side, we spent 9 hrs zipping from one pagoda to another, when suddenly the bike finally gave up and came to a grinding halt. Asad decided to try some chivalry out and pushed me on the bike back to the hotel. (I opted to walk of course) but he wasn’t having any of it)! Guess what? Yes, the locals once again found it hilarious! Mmm I think there seems be a recurring theme here!!


February 3rd, 2014 – Well it’s goodbye Thailand! We’ve had an awesome time. Bangkok was exciting with its bustling streets, great food and fabulous shopping. Chiang Mai was a perfect meeting point for friends we’d picked up along way with the odd ladyboy thrown in for a bit of fun. From cookery classes to Ethical Elephant tours and a bit of Muay Thai and markets galore – Chiang Mai was to our relief cheap and definitely cheerful. Fast forward and we hit the very touristy beaches of Ao Nang only to shout oh no!! So we ran away and found our little piece of heaven in Klong Muang. Here we met some great people and had an amazing time! So Selamat Datang Langkawi! Malaysia here we come!!!

Siam Rice Cookery School – Chiang Mai
Elephant Nature Park – Chiang Mai
Catching up with friends at a Muay Thai Boxing Match
Klong Muang Beach -Krabi
Koh Pha Nang
Koh Pha Nang

March 4th, 2014 – Kota Kinabalu

So it’s almost the end of our time in Malaysia! It’s been real fusion of culture, people and food. Langkawi was a beautiful island, very laid back. Kuala Lumpur was fantastic – uber modern. The Cameron Highlands were a nostalgic throw back to British colonial times where walking amongst tea plantations and lychen forests lifted our spirits. We then moved on to Borneo; From Kuching – Kota Kinabulu – Sandakan, we travelled. Jungles, Orangutans, floating down the Kinabatangan river, watching Probiscus monkeys, flying bats, snake birds and the beautiful Kingfisher – all in their natural environment. Amazing! Tomorrow we fly to Singapore!

Kuala Lumpur at Night
Jalan Alor – Food Street, Kuala Lumpur
Checking out the tea – Cameron Highlands
LaZat Cookery School – KL


Langkawi Sunset

March 6th, 2014 – Just a fleeting visit to Singapore!

Singapore Skyline

March 19th 2014 – So it’s that’s time again, we are leaving Sydney. Tomorrow we go to New Zealand for a 3 week fly drive tour of the beautiful South Islands. Australia was unfortunately just a pit stop and not really in our plans to visit. But a stupidly cheap flight from KL came up and we thought let’s go!!  We had visions of travelling around but the cost has been enormous and hey we still have other countries to budget for! Shame, we would have loved to have experienced the outback, aboriginal culture and of course Ayers Rock! Alas it was not meant to be this time. So apart from seeing the usual sites of Sydney and a trip to the fabulous Blue Mountains, we have to say that the highlights were meeting our friends. Firstly, staying with Craig and Lorena in Canberra, then meeting Matt who used to work with us in London and Samma and co who we met in Nepal and who treated us to some home-made Momos! Thanks guys, you made Sydney memorable!

At Craig and Lorena’s House – Canberra
Bondi Beach – Australia
Matt and Asad during a night out in Sydney
We meet again – Friends from Nepal
The Blue Mountains

March 22nd 2014 – So today we started our 3 week drive around the south islands. Checked out of our prison lodging – no seriously it was a converted prison, very novel! (Bit concerned at the picture of Asad as he took to being an inmate too easily)!


Well it’s time to say goodbye to New Zealand! In 3 weeks we’ve had a taste of what makes this country awesome – it’s landscape! We’ve travelled over 3300 km from Christchurch to Kaikoura and experienced so much in between. We’ve been so spoilt – stared at the Milky Way on most nights, seen whales, seals, penguins and some amazing bird life! Every corner you turn, you simply can’t believe how stunningly beautiful this land is especially at this time of year. So tomorrow we head off to Bali to relax for a while before we explore Indonesia. Farewell New Zealand it’s been a blast!

A day’s hike in the Hooker Valley is a perfect way to appreciate the beauty of Mount Cook
Beautiful Sunrise, Mount Cook
Mount Cook
Asad Sky Diving – Queens town
Meeting Tim and Jenny, friends from London

April 17th 2014 – Great night catching up with Federica and Sal again! – Ubud, Bali


April 22nd 2014 – Third day of funeral ceremony and we well and truly got what we expected! A mass slaughter of 8 buffalo! It was terrifying, shocking and insane! The will to live pervades through everything that lives and breathes and to see such a large beast still trying to get up after an almost decapitation is beyond words!! Still – we managed to get through it surprisingly well! It was still worth going and a privilege to be part of a tribal tradition that spans hundreds of years. Tomorrow the family of the deceased will bury the person in a cave high in the hills with an effigy that bears a resemblance. We’ve learned so much about these mysterious people – it’s an anthropologists dream! Plan for tomorrow? No more funerals – just mountain hikes and serene village walks here we come! – Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi.

Cliff Burials, Tana Toraja
Enrekang, South Sulawesi

May 13th 2014 – What a hectic day! Last day in lovely Ubud which called for some last-minute sightseeing and a bike ride to see Mount Batur. Got fleeced on the way up by the local police who fined us IDR 250,000 for not having an international driving licence! We’ve driven everywhere in South East Asia and get fleeced here! Left Ubud, drove an hour and now in Seminyak. Asad had another craving for something bland – aka BURGER so ended up in Wacko Burger. Nice! Ended up having a drink in some random place called Frankensteins. Random photo included!

Thriller Night at Frankensteins Bar!
Rice Terraces – Ubud, Bali
Ornate doorways to Temples in Ubud

May 18th 2014 – 12 years ago was the last time we saw Ranjan in the UK. Now he’s living in Hong Kong with his lovely wife and family. Had a great evening catching up! – Discovery Bay, Lantau Island, Hong Kong


May 26th 2014 – Tomorrow we start another adventure – we are off to China! We’re excited and slightly apprehensive as we have the challenges of language, culture and of course politics to contend with. But it will be totally worth it as we have an awesome bucket list!


May 31st, 2014 – Supposed to leave the delightful Hutongs of Lijiang and saw-toothed mountains of Tiger Leaping Gorge a few hours ago to discover Beijing. But what do you know – the flight’s delayed! After zero communication from anyone we have found ourselves still here 3.5 hours later! I wouldn’t mind but the info board still says boarding! Anyway, they gave noodles away! Here’s some pictures of what we left behind!


Tiger Leaping Gorge – Yunnan

June 2nd 2014 – We had a great day today visiting the lovely Forbidden Palace and the Soviet inspired, centre of Communist China – Tiananmen Square. Asad seems to have turned out to be a bit of celebrity. Wherever we go the Chinese want their picture taken with him! No luck for me I’m afraid Don’t you just love the outfits!

The Forbidden Palace – Beijing



June 6th 2014 – Been in Datong two days now! A coal mining town with a socialist feel that has had the history kicked out of it and rebuilt again. Why do the Chinese do that?! No English spoken here and the menus are well dodgy! (Erm can’t even read them)! Pictures of Bullfrog, lamb spine, brain and here’s a new one – Donkey! Our dietary restrictions of no pork and no beef are stopping us eating well and I think it’s beginning to show. We’re existing on one meal a day now! Anyway took a couple of buses to the Yungang caves today – Buddhist statues dating back 1500 years. Laughed with the locals, had a few more pictures taken of us and went back to the hotel for our one meal of the day. Yeah you guessed it – noodles! – At Datong County, Shanxi

Yungang Caves

June 12th 2014 – Had a fabulous time in Pingyao walking through the historical streets of the old town. Met Sebastion, a fellow traveller who entertained us with his adventures through Mongolia and China. Arrived in Xian after a very long train journey of 10 hrs and what do you know we met up with another friend from London! Had a fabulous two days catching up with him and his friends over drinks and seeing the amazing Terracotta Army!


Terracotta Museum
Random meeting with our friend Toni from London!

June 15th 2014 – Wonderful day at the rainbow mountains! The next three weeks are going to be tough but awesome. Bring on Tibet! A dream about to become reality!

Danxia Landform Geological Park, Zhangye

June 17th 2014 – Finally arrived after an epic 38 hour journey on board the Qinghai to Tibet Railway in a non-smoking pressurised train with everyone smoking!

Making friends on the Qinghai – Tibet Train
The Tibetan Plateau – View from the Qinghai to Tibet Train

June 24th 2014 – Back where we started our journey, after an epic trek across Tibet via Everest! Off to Pokhara and Kathmandu for a few days to meet up with friends.

Mount Everest – Tibet

July 1st 2014 – So the day has come when we have to post our final travel Facebook status. We are going home tomorrow. We’ve travelled across 10 countries by foot, plane, train, taxi, songthaew, rickshaw and boat. From the majestic Himalayas in Nepal to the mysterious death practices of Sulawesi. From the awesome landscapes of China to the Tibetan plateau and finally Everest Base camp! We’ve lived, breathed it all. It’s been an amazing experience. We’d like to thank you all for your support and for taking the time to read our posts – it means a lot to us. To the new and old friends we met along the way especially Federica and Sal, Ariela, Pemba, Amrit, Rajendra, Tim and Jenny, Toni and friends, Alan, Ranjan, Craig, Matt, Samma, Shally and Musi. We will never forget you. You will all remain in our hearts forever for the laughter and experiences we all shared! For those of you who wish to travel the world – do it! Do it as soon as you can. Don’t wait for the promise of tomorrow – it may never come. It will give you a sense of freedom never experienced before – that of your heart and your mind!

The Famous Hong Kong Skyline
The Great Wall Of China – Mutianyu
Chinese Tourists love taking photo’s with foreigners!
Potala Palace – Lhasa
Grabbing a sneaky photo with a Buddhist Monk
Travelling across Tibet, in a bus, taking silly photo’s!
Mount Everest

So there you have it. Tell us about your travel highlights of 2014…

























New Zealand – A Three Week Road Trip Around the South Islands

If we had to describe New Zealand in one word, it would be spectacular. Even then as a word spectacular just doesn’t quite cut it! The mere thought of this wonderful island now makes us sigh and shake our heads as we think of just how amazing this country is. Where else in the world can you experience breathtaking glacial scenery, majestic mountains and spectacular beaches one day then shockingly turquoise lakes, alpine forests and coastal wildlife the next. Add to this a chance encounter with friends from London and our three-week road trip around the South Islands in a hired Mitsubishi Lancer was truly unforgettable!

Made up of the North and South islands, New Zealand is located in the South-Western Pacific Ocean. One of the last lands to be populated by humans, it is graced by a small population. For us that meant our road trip was a breeze. We drove through miles and miles of vast landscape on roads that were as close to perfect as you could get and with hardly another car on the road for company. Plus we covered great distances in record-breaking time.  In fact, one thing we loved about New Zealand was that it was so accessible and virtually set up for road trips. There were numerous camper van sites catering for campers to park overnight – have access to power, wi-fi, cook food and use their facilities. We stayed in holiday parks and backpacker accommodation in all the major sites. All of good quality. Even remote areas had facilities where you could frequently stop off to freshen up or have a bite to eat. It was amazing! And they had the cleanest toilets we had ever seen!

The short version of a long trip

Christchurch – Mount Cook via Lake Tekapo, Twizel and Lake Pukaki

Mount Cook stands at a 3724 metres and is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Its imposing presence towers over sweeping golden plains, gushing rivers and stunning valleys. Here we hiked through the Hooker Valley taking in the sights of the Mueller Glacier Lake and Hooker Valley Lake.

The impossibly turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo
The impossibly turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo
A days hike in the Hooker Valley is a perfect way to appreciate the beauty of Mount Cook
A days hike in the Hooker Valley is a perfect way to appreciate the beauty of Mount Cook
Spectacular Rainbows
Spectacular Rainbows

Mount Cook – Queenstown (via Omarama and Lake Wanaka)

Queenstown was one of the highlights of our trip and what an amazing time we had in such a stunning place. It was particularly beautiful during the month of March and April when autumnal shades of gold and red-painted the landscape.  Here we quenched our appetite for adventure with our friends from London Tim and Jen, who by chance had descended on Queenstown at the same time. This resulted in what can only be described as an adrenaline fuelled, action packed three days of fun! From luging and jet boating to skydiving, zip-wiring and parasailing! I was too chicken to skydive (peer pressure at this point was off the scale) and opted for the parasailing! Asad on the other hand had always wanted to skydive and took the plunge! I still can’t quite believe he did it!

Queenstown packs a punch with its list of things to do. It’s a pretty town embraced by the phenomenal Remarkables mountain range which were well – remarkable! Packed with adventure sport activities, great restaurants and a view to die for, we envied the well – heeled crowd that lived there. Plus meeting our friends in such a fabulous location was a great bonus, lifting our spirits no end after having only each other for company all this time. All this was followed by well-earned beers, a BBQ and of course a Fergburger – delicious gourmet burgers from the Fergburger restaurant that has quite a reputation internationally! The portions were huge and the chips amazing!

What a great view from up here!
What a great view from up here!
Extreme man! Extreme!
Extreme man! Extreme!
Anyone hungry?!
Anyone hungry?!
The Remarkables overlooking Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown
The Remarkables overlooking Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown
A delicious Lamb Fergburger!
A delicious Lamb Fergburger!

Queenstown – Te Anau  – Exploring the fiords of Doubtful Sound

After the craziness of Queenstown, cruising through the fiords of Doubtful Sound was a more serene experience. We learned about the story of Captain Cook – who in 1770 named it Doubtful Harbour as he was “doubtful” whether this inlet was navigable under sail. Ok. Not much substance to that story then! Well how about we also found out that it is technically not a sound but a fiord. (I’ll leave you to find out the difference)! The new Zealanders being a laid back bunch didn’t quite get round to making the name change! Nevertheless – the scenery was stunning in this vast and isolated wilderness. We were lucky to spot a colony of seals, saw bottle nosed dolphins and glimpsed the rare Fiordland crested penguin.

A colony of seals
A colony of seals
Misty and remote
Misty and remote

Te Anau – Franz Josef Glacier (via Queenstown and the Haast Pass through Mount Aspiring National Park)

Keeping a close eye on our pocket after splurging in Queenstown with the adventure activities, we decided to forego the actual climb to the Franz Josef Glacier. Instead we spent two days taking a few recommended hikes around the area. The drive to Franz Josef in itself was amazing. We stopped off in Ross –  a quaint historic gold – mining town where Asad tested out the local Jail and where I took my time releasing him from the stocks!

The viewpoint of the Franz Josef Glacier
The viewpoint of the Franz Josef Glacier
Why does this feel like marriage!

Franz Josef – Westport (via Lake Mapourika, Hokitika Gorge and Punakaiki Rocks)

Accommodation was expensive in Punakaiki, so we managed to stay in a Kiwi Holiday Park in Westport, closer to our next destination. On the way we visited the picturesque and rugged Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki. These heavily eroded limestone rocks are an area where during high tide the sea bursts through several vertical blowholes. Unfortunately it was low tide when we arrived so we never saw this! Nevertheless, the dramatic scenery gave us a taste of how varied and distinct the coast of New Zealand is.

Dramatic coastline of Punakaiki
Dramatic coastline of Punakaiki
The crystal clear waters of Hokitiki gorge
The crystal clear waters of Hokitiki gorge

Westport to Collingwood (via Abel Tasman National Park)

Part of the Golden Bay area in the Nelson region, we spent three blissful days relaxing and taking in the idyllic sights. We stayed in a fabulous place called The Innlet Backpackers and Cottages – a calm oasis where we had a cottage all to ourselves. It was luxury! Our days were spent walking along the beautiful coastline of Wharariki Beach, taking in the amazing rural scenery and spotting wildlife wherever we went. It was almost dreamlike!

The Innlet Backpackers & Cottages - a serene place to stay
The Innlet Backpackers & Cottages – a serene place to stay


Cape Farewell - the most northerly point on the South Island
Cape Farewell
Wharariki Beach - remote, wild and refreshingly tourist free
Wharariki Beach – remote, wild and refreshingly tourist free
Lords of the Rings scenery was everywhere!
Lords of the Rings scenery was everywhere!
So great to discover a seal pup on the beach
So great to discover a seal pup on the beach
Oystercatcher birds
Oystercatcher birds

Collingwood – Picton (via Rai Valley and a detour to the unmissable French Pass)

What was the highlight of Picton? Well not much really! Apart from a flat tyre, a pleasant walk around the very pretty town and some really tasty doughnuts,  the real adventure was the journey to Picton. Driving through the stunning Rai Valley we decided to take a curious detour to the French Pass as we had heard the drive was out of this world – it was! Imagine pristine rolling hills bathed in golden sun, shockingly golden. Sheep grazing on impossibly vertical mountains and views that literally took your breath away! The pictures say it all!

Before we realised how long the drive to the French Pass was!
Before we realised how long the drive to the French Pass was!
Stunning view of the French Pass
Stunning view of the French Pass
It just got better and better!
It just got better and better!

Picton – Kaikoura via Blenheim past the stunning Kaikoura Range

We came to Kaikoura and it rained! It rained for the whole two days we were here! Mind you, we had been lucky with the weather throughout our whole trip here, so we weren’t too disappointed and  it only added to the drama of the scenery. The Tasman sea thrashed against the shore, waves high and fierce. Our drive along the coast to Kaikoura revealed seals, some asleep on the rocks, others diving in and out of the surf. It was captivating. A privilege to experience. Luckily we were fortunate to meet up with Tim and Jen again, before they left New Zealand to embark on their next trip to South America. Oh the joys of travelling hey! We had come to Kaikoura for a reason – whale watching. Famous for having an abundance of marine life in this area, we were so excited to get a chance to do this.  Luckily I held down my breakfast on the very rough sea and we were lucky enough to spot a sperm whale and endless schools of dolphins that playfully swam alongside the boat. A wonderful way to end a magical and enlightening trip to New Zealand!

Dusky dolphins
Dusky dolphins
A sperm whale
A sperm whale

Kaikoura – Christchurch!

So that was the end of the road trip! Looking back, we are lucky to have experienced all of what New Zealand offers. Three weeks was not enough, but it gave us a chance for it to creep into our psyche. Being amongst the mountains and walking through golden fields touched our hearts. Every time we drove to our next destination, we asked ourselves if the beauty of this place could get better and better.

It did! Without fail. In abundance and with breathtaking sincerity!

Have you travelled around New Zealand? What was your favourite experience?