Questions on the world - Andy's answers
Trip Start Aug 09, 2010
156Trip End Dec 23, 2010
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Where I stayed
Least favourite - Hong Kong, it wasn't all bad, but really wasn't my cup of tea compared to everywhere else!
Favourite - Vietnam, all the way. Just everything about it was amazing, the whole vibe of the country is just indescribable.
Most likely to return to? Probably Vietnam, although I would love to spend more time in Tokyo and Kyoto.
Q. What is the place you would recommend must be seen if I was compiling a bucket list
Narrowing it down a bit it would have to be...an impossible task! Halong Bay in Vietnam, Tokyo, Milford Sound in NZ, Taj Mahal the list could go on and on, which is what made the trip so epic from start to finish.
What I think I'll do is for each country try and pick something that might not be in the 'obvious' category
India - Ghandi's last home in Delhi where he was assassinated: an awe-inspiring and humbling place
Singapore - we didn't see much but I'd highly recommend heading down to Clarke Quay for restaurants and bars
Borneo - try and get a flight/helicopter to see Mt Kinabalu. Truly spectacular. If you're feeling particularly energetic it's supposed to be fantastic mountain walking
Vietnam - try and get an early morning tour of Hanoi to show you the markets, get some Pho at an authentic cafe and experience real city life
Hong Kong - The really obvious ones apply here! Best/tackiest is to get down to Victoria Harbour and see the light show. It is a true one-off!
Japan - spend a Sunday in Yoyogi Park. Watch the rock-a-billys dance, see dancers perform, look out for Harijuku girls, drink beer, eat Octopus balls, just watch the world go by. You will have the best time ever.
New Zealand - head to Raglan or Arrowtown. Two small towns/villages off the beaten track but truly beautiful in their own way. Raglan is beach heaven right by the hills and Arrowtown is just the most picturesque place you can imagine.
Australia - head to Cleland Wildlife and Conservation Park just outside Adelaide. If you can't get your fill of Ozzie wildlife here there's something wrong with you. Like Blair Drummond but in Oz and with 'roos and wallabie and emus and dingos and...well you get the idea :o)
Canada - Take a free walking tour of Vancouver with The Travel Guys. Brilliant value and lets you see sides of the city you'ld not expect and hear loads of interesting info. Especially handy if you've got a blog to try and fill up after 4 months of travelling!!
USA - Niagara Falls!! What a cliche, but by god it's amazing. Especially in the winter when the spray freezes and truns everything skeletal and deathly white. It is simply breathtaking.
Q. Which country did you find to be most friendly and likewise which was least friendly
Most friendly is difficult. Vietnam was full of lovely people, but Asia in general is so full of push shop assistants it's tough going, whilst Oz, NZ, US and Canada had nice folk, but you'ld expect that. Possibly Tokyo was the surprising one as you consider Japanese, by reputation, as shy and introverted, but they were all lovely and helpful, often without you having to ask for help.
Least friendly, not really anywhere. Maybe we got lucky but everywhere we went people were nice.
Q. What will be your next adventure or do you just want to have some time at home to chill out.
Heading to Vegas in March!! Our friend Paul is getting married so we're heading off there. The bank manager ain't gonna like us, but no way were we missing out on that. After that we're going to hopefully head up to Orkney and see some of the sights of Scotland that we need to explore.
Q. I'm keen to have a top 10 of your favourite activities / days etc.
Wooft, 10?!? To save completely boring everyone I'll stick to top 5, maybe
1. Halong Bay trip. A real once in a lifetime experience
2. House boat on Keralan backwaters - luxury, peace, quiet, stunning
3. Jeep trip in India - how to see a country the real way, heading out into the country and travelling through villages
4. MotorbIke trip in Vietnam - as above but so much more exhilirating given it was the first time I'd been on a motorbike!
5. Tokyo - the day we spent exploring visiting a museum, braving the metro on our own, heading to Harijuku, sitting in Yoyogi Park, that was one hell of a day to remember.
6. Bike trip through the village in Vietnam where we stopped to eat with a community during the mid Autumn Festival, and I ate dog
7. Driving in NZ. It's just amazing. Very little traffic on the roads, stunning scenery everywhere, and other drivers are courteous. It's almost everything Scotland isn't!!
8. NHL in Vancouver. BRILLIANT!!!
9. NFL in NY. Suez will disagree vehemently with this but I absolutely loved it
10. An evening walking in Kaikoura, NZ. A sea location set against massive mountains, just beuatiful.
Q. Would also be intrigued by the bottom 10 too.....
10 more?!??! Now that's even tougher, I'll try and pick out some though
1. Hangover days!!! There were a few of these and most were definitely bottom 5 material!
2. Jaipur,- hot, smelly,dirty and very very wet.
3. City open top bus tour in Hong Kong - sitting in stop start traffic to see crappy skyscrapers and nothing exciting was not a good use of a morning
4. It's sounds tough to say but the trip to see the sea turtles was massively disappointing. Far too crowded and not what I was expecting.
5. Onsen. For those that don't know it's a Japanese bath in natural hot springs and everyone said that I would love it. I didn't, it was far too hot, I felt sick and just hated it.
6. Khatakali dancing in Kerala. It's traditional Keralan dancing which makes you loathe to criticise it, but by god it was awful, and went on forever!
Q. What was your top 3 favourite meals?
Ahhhh, the favourite question from almost all sources!!
In no particular order
- Aria, Sydney. It was the most expensive meal we've ever had, and the service wasn't that great but the food was amazing! The beef was like nothing I have ever tasted before.
- Devonport, NZ. I had a seafood chowder for lunch at a small restaurant and it was one of the tastiest things I have ever tasted
- Hanoi, Vietnam. An early morning bowl of Pho at an authentic cafe in a side street in Hanoi. This was one of those amazing experiences that you go on trips like this to experience.
Q. What was your scariest moment?
Probably the scariest moment we had was when we almost talked ourselves into doing a sky dive!! This was about 6 weeks before we were planning it but even still the butterflies were going big time!
For something that actually happened, the only thing I can think of was on the first day in Delhi, getting out of the tuk-tuk being confronted with beggars and street sellers and then seeing armed police outside the Laxhmi Temple just freaked me out. Not necessarily scary, but I was so far out of my comfort zone.
Q. What was your most memorable moment?
Walking through the Royal Gate in Agra and seeing the Taj Mahal. It is such an iconic image that seeing it 'in the flesh' was just indescribable.
Q. Has the trip changed either of you as a person, and the way you look at the world outside the UK?
Absolutely. I never for one minute thought that I would be able to do this and survive, but not only have I done it but it has whetted my appetite for more!! It definitely makes you feel more humble seeing the absolute poverty that exists in the world, although it is all too easy to forget about it too when you leave it behind and head to more "civilised" countries.
What it has made me realise is the world is such a small place and that for all the differences between countries, people are in general all the same. A real mix of friendly, rude, happy, arrogant and content.
Q. What were your outstanding (top 3 or more) laundromat experiences - describe ?
Good grief. You really want to know this?!?!
- Laundromat in Vancouver, dumping the washing in there and then heading to a proper diner for a massive breakfast.
- Dunedin. Getting into the apartment and finding out that there was a washer dryer in the place. Small things really please you when you're not expecting them!
- Sydney - not a top moment but Suez breaking the handle on Alison's washing machine sticks in the memory. I genuinely thought she was going to have a heart attack!
Q. Who were the best / worst (top 3 or more) travelling companions - where / when / why ?
That is such a horrible question!
Everyone on the Vietnam trip was just brilliant. Alison, Christine and Edwin on the Japan trip were just fantastic as well, with Alison deserving an extra special mention for letting us stay in her flat in Sydney xx
The guys on the Indian trip were fine, but just not up to the same class.
Oh yeah, and then there was Phil. What a twat!!!
Q. Who were the best / worst (top 3 or more) tour guides ?
Well, we had 3 main guides.
Aapji - just an absolute legend. He was unfailingly friendly and helpful and just couldn't do enough to help you and was everything that we needed
Tracey - I've rarely met someone so enthusiastic about a country. You just can't help but get caught up and be desperate to learn more about Vietnam
Lisa - hmmmm, let's just say she wasn't that good and leave it at that.
We had numerous other guides for day tours and to be honest not many of them stick in your memory, other than a huge number of the ones in Vietnam were called Tang! Dallas, who ran the Barossa Valley wine tour was really friendly and knowledgeable.
Q. What were the best / worst flights (airlines) : catering - flight-attendants - landings (who were the aeroflot/luftwaffe or the pride of the RAF pilots) ?
Best - Jet Airways from Cochin to Singapore had probably the most comfortable plane.
Worst - Air Canada, rubbish enterntainment, rubbish food and either dis-interested or middle-aged cabin crew. Not recommended.
The surprising thing was that the Asian airlines and flights were the most punctual, but as soon as we hit Oz things went downhill and the delays started!
Q. Is there anything that you missed that you would have wished you had time / money to do ?
More time in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, more time driving around NZ to see the rest of the South Island, a bit more time in Japan to explore other places, as well as more of Tokyo. And that's not even counting places that we got nowhere near visiting!
Q. Which place won your hearts ?
Vietnam. No question.
Q. Would you consider going to live / work in any of the countries (if your family could go too - not that we're chasing you away) ?
I'd love to try living in Vietnam as somewhere completely different, and also New Zealand, it just seems to be Australia, but better!
Q. Top 3 bloggers ?
There's only one candidate, my Dad! His contributions kept us entertained on many a day!
Q. Best / worst travel - movies / music ?
Worst - Jackie flipping Chan! On the bus trip from Niagara to NY we were tortured through about 8 of his films, each of which was worse than the last.
Best - Toy Story 3. I am a sucker for a cartoon.
Worst - the "music" for the Keralan dancing. It was really more percussion but it really, really, really bored through your head. And didn't give up.
Best - sitting in Cairns listening to my i-pod. I was on the verandah of our hostel with the rain teeming down in 25 degree heat at about 10pm and it was heaven!
Q. I only have 1 day to 'live' your travels - just one day. Which day would you recomend i do?
There would be two days that stick in my mind most, each of which are similar in idea. Both of them involved getting off the tourist track and exploring the real country. The bus and jeep trip from Agra to Tordi in India, and the motorbike trip from Hue in Vietnam.
I know that's two, not one, but I think it's something that you can take to whatever country you travel to and try and explore some of the country that you don't expect to see. You will get so much of a reward from it and encounter experiences that you just don't expect.
So that's it from me. I've finally got everything updated on this that I possibly can. Only thing left to do is maybe put together a photo book to complement the amazing job my Auntie Lynn is doing of compiling this blog into a printed version.