It is seven months since Pinion and I set off from Heathrow on a cold January evening to Nepal. We’ve had some great adventures since then hitting up Nepal, India, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and we have recently crossed into Laos. We are way behind where we thought we would be now but are still having a great time.
Seeing as lists of stuff are so popular these days, here is my list of highlights so far:
- Reaching Annapurna Base Camp
We hadn’t trained, in fact I spent I spent the 3 week period around Christmas and us setting off on a strict carb loading diet. Our first conversation with Dawa our porter guide involved him asking about our training, Pinion said something about us going for a walk in Wales recently. That turned out to be over a year ago. When the trek went wrong (a lot of snow) and we had to head back and start again our enthusiasm was starting to fade. The snotty colds, the crap down jackets we rented and the icy paths were trying to knock the steam out of us. The ice did kill Pinion’s Kindle but we carried on. We found a pair of crampons in the bin meaning that we had one each, this meant we could keep up with the Korean trekkers who had been passing us. At base camp I don’t think either of us really could take it in. We stomped about in the snow, took photos and had lunch before we started the walk back down. Nepal was such a beautiful country, we will be heading back as soon as we can.
- Holi in Dharamsala
This finished off a great week for us. We saw the Dalai Lama in a long life ceremony for him, met some lovely Canadians at a cooking class and then went and played Holi with some kids down the hill from McLeod Gang. Before we left I asked on Indiamike where we should go for Holi, most of the responses were that we should stay inside. They didn’t think it would be safe for us to go out and we heard some dodgy stories from people in larger cities, but we had a fantastic time. We had missed most of the adults throwing paint but we found a load of kids playing at their local temple. They were armed with water pistols, buckets and handfuls of colourful powder. They approached gently, smearing little bits of colour on our faces and wishing us ‘happy Holi’ and then it descended into a full on paint and water fight.
- Conquering our joint fear of the ocean and completing our open water dive course
Whilst conquered might be an overstatement, I was pretty shocked that we completed this course. I guess if you’re going to learn then Koh Tao is probably your best bet, what with it having some of the cheapest dive schools and lovely dive sites. Seeing both turtles and whale sharks has probably spoiled us for future dives!
- Exploring Bagan on e-bikes
Yeah it was dusty and dirty but we absolutely loved Bagan. The temples were amazing. They’re constantly being damaged by the weather, the sand and stupid tourists who climb all over them and so it was great to get to see them now. At this point in our trip we were not ‘over-templed’, I think this really helped make us appreciate them. Myanmar was a beautiful country and it was a toss up between Bagan and Inle Lake for our favourite place. I’m still not sure, but i’m pretty certain we will go back.
- Spending a week helping at a Cambodian school
We spent a week attempting to teach English at a small school just outside of Siem Reap. The school has kids aged between 4-22, all with different abilities. They have very few resources and it was difficult to think of enough ideas to really engage the kids sometimes. Just proved how easy we had it at school back home. It was hard work, we were given the task of ‘teaching’ 4-7 year olds in the ABC class each morning. I’m not sure how many kids that age can pay attention for 2 hours in their own language never mind trying to concentrate in a completely different one. Needless to say we played a lot of games and sang a lot. I am hopeful there will be 10 little Cambodians who know the Hokey Cokey!
I think 5 is a good number of items for a list, i’m not ever aiming to work for Buzzfeed so don’t need to stretch it out to 20. We’ve had some awesome experiences and adventures but it’s not always so glamorous. Pinion being groped in Varanasi, us both being ill for pretty much a whole month in India, getting bit by a dog in Vietnam are probably the lowest moments. Despite this we are having an amazing year, we travel a lot slower than we planned but it means we get to find the small little towns and the best beer! Next up we have 3 weeks here in Laos before we head to the cities of Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.