Month 13: Travel Summary and Statistics

Month 13 saw us up our pace dramatically. We visited multiple countries and finally arrived on a different continent! This is a pretty long update so grab a cuppa or a glass of wine and settle down for the long haul.

We started the month of November in Bangkok and found the experience was quite different to the city that most visitors discover.

The country was still in mourning following the death of their beloved king. The music had been turned down, entertainment had been cancelled and the citizens were all dressed in black. More than anywhere else we travelled in Thailand, did we feel the impact King  Rama IX’s death had on his subjects.

We visited the Grand Palace – it was very golden, especially in the sun.

We asked where to find the best Mango sticky rice (khao niew moon) and were sent to Kor Panich, an 80-year-old institution famed for its sweet sticky rice recipe which they claim comes from the royal kitchen where the owner’s wife’s mother use to work.

Around the corner we found Tom yum Banglamphu which you guessed it, served Tom yum goong and delciously garlicky Goong tod gratiem with the freshest squid, shrimp and crab.

 

We took the sticky but slow train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi. Eliza tucked into a tasty banana leaf parcel of Green Chicken Curry on the journey.

Kanchanaburi is a beautiful area with a horrible history. During World War 2, Allied soldiers and Asian labourers were put to work on the building of the Thai-Burma railway. They lived in appalling conditions, subject to cruelty, starvation and disease. Eliza’s great-uncle was a Prisoner of War here and we could piece together some of story with the help of museum staff.

 

We went and paid our respects at Hellfire Pass, one of the most infamous sections of the railway that is now a memorial to those who suffered and died there. The area gained its name from the torches lit at night as emaciated POWs worked to complete the section during the ‘speedo’ period, like a scene from Dante’s inferno.

 

On a lighter note, we took a day trip to Erawan Waterfalls, a stunning series of seven waterfalls cascading into turquoise pools.

 

And then it was time to head to Vietnam to catch up with Eliza’s brother and his girlfriend who were enjoying a holiday there. We met in Phong Nha and went to on a bumpy bike ride to The Pub with Cold Beer which had COLD BEER – not to be sniffed at in SE Asia!

We visited Paradise Cave.

 

Ziplined and kayaked in Dark Cave and climbed through the rocks to frolic in an underground mud bath.

We explored the pretty streets of picturesque Hoi An (a lot busier this time than our visit in August 2012) and settled down on tiny stools to sample Bahn xeo and Cao lau.

 

And famous Hoi An specialty, White rose.

After saying goodbye to Rob and Siu Hing we headed to Saigon to stuff ourselves with more street food including:

The fantastic snack Banh da xuc hen

 

Bot chien

Chuối Nếp Nướng was a favourite for breakfast or an afternoon treat.

 

Then after one year and 21 days it was time to leave Asia and fly to New Zealand, via an overnight stop in Kuala Lumpur and a 23-hour layover in Sydney.

In Sydney, we stayed at an Airbnb apartment with a great night-time view of the harbour bridge.

The next day after an amazing breakfast of Smashed pumpkin, ricotta and pesto, poached egg and sourdough toast and Smashed avocado with charcoal bread and poached egg, we went on a whistlestop tour of the city.

 

We took a walk through the Botanical Gardens in brilliant sunshine.

Admired the incredible shapes and shades of the Sydney Opera House (wow!)

Checked out the harbour and that bridge.

 

And hopped on a ferry to Manly and straight back again when it started pissing with rain.

After a few hours flight, we finally touched down in Christchurch, New Zealand and into the home of Eliza’s Uncle and Aunt.

Stats of the month

Countries visited: Thailand, Vietnam, New Zealand

Places visited: 9

Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Dong Hoi, Phong Nha, Hoi An, Saigon, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Christchurch

Money spent: £95.09 / $117.36 per person, per day

Wow, an expensive month, due to multiple flights, updating our wardrobes for cooler climes and equipping ourselves for a roadtrip.

Distance travelled: 14458km / 8984m

Meal of the month: Tom yum goong

Tom yum Banglamphu was packed with locals all tucking into plump, juicy freshwater prawns in a spicy, rich buttery broth infused with aromatic lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime. It is by a long way, the best Tom yum goong we have ever eaten.

Next steps:

After catching up with family, we’ll be heading up to the top of the South Island. We will be sampling wines around Nelson, tramping and kayaking our way around the Abel Tasman Track and rock climbing in Paynes Ford. Let’s see how much further we get before we head back down to Christchurch to spend the festive season with family.

 

 

1 Comment

  • comment-avatar
    Cheryl 18 January 2017 (07:54)

    Plenty of food and lots of spending by the look of it

    Interesting to learn more about Uncle Bob