We loved spending time around Yangshuo, in Southeast China, which is an area of immense natural beauty. It can be described as Halong Bay on-land because of the similarity of the hills that stretch as far as your eye can see with a couple of very scenic rivers running through.
Traveling by train from Vietnam, our initial stop was Nanning, the first major town across the border. This is my first visit to China, apart from a few work trips to Shanghai and one of my first impressions is how smiley, friendly and helpful most people are. Our Chinese is limited to hello and thank you but armed with a phrase book and our best charades skills we have successfully tackled a number of situations and had lots of friendly banter. We have found it easy enough to buy tickets and navigate the trains as long as you allow plenty of time. In fact the stations are organised a bit like airports with separate waiting rooms for different trains and it would be very hard to get on the wrong train.
Long before I started my career in travel the Maldives was high up on my travel bucket list in terms of must see destinations. I’d seen the quintessential photos of the white sand, clear blue water and palm trees as far as the eye could see and heard stories of this almost fantasy island land in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
After an evening arrival it wasn’t until the next morning when I opened the curtains of my overwater bungalow at the Sheraton Full Moon Resort that I finally got to see it for myself for the first time. The water was clearer and bluer than the pictures and the sand even whiter, my jaw literally dropped for a few moments as I stood there gazing out. The sea plane ride down to the W Retreat & Spa later that day in perfect sunshine provided an even better and more spectacular view of this vast expanse of ocean dotted with atolls and the luxury resorts that inhabit them.
Upon arriving at the W I quickly saw why people referred to this place as a fantasy island, it w...
Battambang is a small sleepy colonial town, a couple of hours drive from Siem Reap. We caught up with Morrison and Robert at Bric a Brac, their new 3 bedroom hotel.
I knew them from my time at Design Hotels and found out by chance that they moved from Sydney to Battambang last year. As they spend most of their time in Asia for work, they had been considering a move for some years and felt Battambang ticked all the boxes. The guys wear many hats and one of them is hosting foodie tours in Burma and Vietnam through their company, The Globetrotting Gourmet.
Battambang is less commercial and more authentically Cambodian. It's a great place to relax for a couple of days after visiting Angkor Wat.
Image Courtesy of Bric-a-Brac
The old town centre is home to some of the best preserved French colonial architecture in Cambodia and UNESCO is currently considering adding the town to the World Heritage List.
Robert and Morrison bought one of the colonial houses to create a home and workspace and...
It's strange to realise that our adventure has finally started. After 2 quick nights in KL we are now in Siem Reap, the biggest tourist destination in Cambodia, thanks to Angkor Wat. We had only booked a hotel for 3 nights but quickly decided to extend to a total of 8 nights. We plan to spend a month in Cambodia but haven't yet made any plans. With time we will hopefully settle into this new travelling life and realise it's not a 2 week holiday where you have to see all the sights and relax in a hurry.
The temples of Angkor Wat are spread over a huge area. We were lucky to catch 2 programs on SBS just before leaving Perth that gave a good overview. The temples really are awe-inspiring. Some have been partly restored so you get an idea of what it would have looked like originally, however a lot of the charm lies in their crumbled state and in the way the buildings fuse with the jungle.
Even with 100s of other tourists you still have a sense of discovery. Most of the temples were f...
I returned last week to Istanbul after a 25 year absence. How the city has changed and yet, the soul of Istanbul remains the same. It’s a magical place where you feel the full weight of world-changing history with the modern self-confidence of an emerging country that knows its place in the world.
Yes, please see the big-ticket items: The Aya Sofya; The Blue Mosque; and The Topkapi Palace. These are necessities. However, I also wanted a different stream to float down in Istanbul and opted for a walking tour of the city with a native Istanbuli photographer, Ali.
Ali met me at my hotel at 10.00am and we set off along the Bosphorus towards Karakoy and then the Old City. The first part of the journey was scenically uninteresting which was fine as it gave us time to chat about Istanbul, Turkey, photography and all matter of questions I could conjure up. Ali spoke perfect English, was extremely well-educated and interesting.
He explained he would be as hands-on or off with the pictures I wi...
The Copenhagen restaurant Noma has been called "the world's best restaurant". It ís a strange title - with something as subjective as taste, how can any restaurant be ranked as number one? Nevertheless, such headlines bring publicity, business and demand. Dinner at Noma is one of the world's most difficult reservations to make.
In March of 2014 more headlines announced that Noma was relocating from Copenhagen to Tokyo for a few weeks the following January. The entire staff of over 60 people, from head chef Rene Redzepi to the dishwasher, were coming to Japan and recreating Noma up on the 37th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel.
Reservations were snapped up the moment they were released in June. Many people paid extra for an accommodation package in order to secure a table. 60,000 more people remained on the waitlist, desperate to get in. Diners jetted in from around the world. A San Francisco girl who had a spare seat, and offered to pay for dinner on the condition the person fle...
I strolled in, unsure of the peculiar surrounding. A fine scent wafted through the air, filling my mind with smells of home and, funnily enough, peanut butter. Being attracted to the scent I crept closer and closer. The gate was aged and was eaten by rust and dirt. White paint covered the walls. Dawdling through the gates I was drawn to vibrant colours decorating the plain white walls.
Colourful sticks outlined the path, which led us to a room filled with wise women. They all sat along a wall on comfortable cushions, towels, mats and pouffes.
The ladies looked up with excitement, chattering in the local Berber language. Looking around I was aware of the amount of nuts and shells scattered in various baskets. A young lady, Maryam, wearing a black scarf and lab coat, welcomed us. Explaining that the Co-operative is run to benefit local widowed women, Maryam gestured for me to take a seat on one of the plump cushions. With a thick rock in one hand and an argan nut in the other I got to w...