Cosy Cafes and an Unforgetable History Lesson

Sunday, 2 July 2017

After a very sweaty stay in Hoi An it was to mine and Craig's relief that our next stop was going to be somewhat cooler in temperature. Way up in the mountains Da Lat is a favourite amongst backpackers for its super cheap accommodation and canyoning. Unfortunately for us we had started to dramatically run out of money and therefore had to sacrifice some trips we once had planned to do (canyoning being one of them). True to the rumours Da Lat was so much colder that Hoi An (around 22-28 degrees) and although back in England those temperature would send myself and Craig down to Camber Sands, those temperatures for us now, since being in hot countries for up to 6 months meant leggings and sweatshirts - it was bliss! For me personally Da Lat didn't have too much going for it. Our hostel 'Lucky's' was really cute and Lucky was so friendly and helpful, providing us with breakfast every morning. Plus he had two of the loveliest doggies ever that he thankfully saved from the cruel dog meat trade - what a guy!

Hot and Heavenly Hoi An

Friday, 30 June 2017

Desperate to see the ocean again and swim in the sea it was no surprise that we were excited to finally make our way to Hoi An. I heard great things about Hoi An, from the pretty lantern lit streets to the sprawling beach; it was a place I was looking forward to explore.

After a short but sweet stop in Hue, enjoying an incredible mint chocolate chip shake in a cafe I can't remember the name of (apologies) we were back on the road to Hoi An. Already the scenery was a lot more up my street, passing beautiful Danang on the way (which we were very sad about not stopping at). When arrived at Hoi An the first thing we noticed was the heat! Blessed with blue sky's and scorching temperatures (between 32-40 degrees) we made an agonising trek to our homestay 'Petunia Gardens' - recommended by the lovely Emily and Sam (thanks guys if you're reading this!). The owners of Petunia Gardens were so accommodating and friendly and made our stay V special - the breakfasts are also ah-ma-zing (I can vouch for both the banana pancakes and the omelette). The location also worked really well for us as it was equal distance from the old town and the beach - perfect. Although most people rented scooters or push bikes we were mad and walked - which if you like walking is really not that bad!

Manic City / Mysterious Caves

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

From Chang Mai we flew to Hanoi in Vietnam. We opted to stay at Chien Hostel in the city - which was a brilliant find! We arrived fairly late but were greeted by the friendliest, warmest staff ever. We got a free cup of iced coffee on arrival and were showed to our dorm, which was easily one of the coolest dorms I've ever stayed in - me and Craig got our own double bed bunk! Chien provided free breakfast and free beer, which to Craig's delight we arrived just in time for. After serval beers and an AWFUL shot of snake infused rice wine (Craig, not me) we headed to bed to get some well earned rest for a day of exploring the following day.

Hanoi itself is a manic Asian city! The traffic is mad and it's impossible to walk about safely as a pedestrian! Pushing this fact aside, Hanoi is home to some beautiful French colonial buildings that are so instagramable! Plus the city itself has such a unique buzz.

Cafe Crawling Around Chang Mai

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Since we've been traveling, myself and Craig have found a new hobby. What's that I hear you ask - yoga?  - or maybe we've joined an alternative dance group?! Although that does conjure up a wonderful image I'm afraid it's something a little more mundane. As you've probably already guessed from the title of this post, it is in fact going to cafes. We have named this new hobby of ours 'cafe crawling' as just like a bar crawl it involves moving around from place to place although this hobby involves a lot more coffee and cake, and a lot less beer and hangover food (although we do believe some of the cafes we've visited to be awesome hangover spots!). Although this post features only cafe's in Chang Mai, I must also note that we have guiltily been cafe crawling all over the world - the addiction started way back in Japan, when we discovered drip coffee. Anyway, enough rambling - let get down to it!

The Story Behind Thailand's Cruelest Tourist Attraction

Friday, 23 June 2017

When we think about Thailand many of us think about elephants - I mean they are even the logo for their local beer, Chang! Travelling from England, a place not renowned for its elephants, I wanted that elephant experience we all want when we visit Thailand. Like most people who want the 'elephant experience' I am also a HUGE animal lover. From as young as I can remember I have been obsessed with animals, and elephants were no exception. Having this profound love for all creatures, great and small I became super aware from social media and even word of mouth just how cruel some of the conditions most of the elephants were kept in, in Thailand and other areas of South East Asia. If you had asked a 6 year old Elly what was one of her 'must dos' in her life she would of replied 'ride on an elephant!' but with what I know now I can't imagine anything worse.

On the 24th of May 2017 myself and Craig visited Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. Set in the beautiful, tropical Chiang Mai country side ENP is home to 200 elephants, 400 dogs, hundreds of cats and loads of water buffalo - it's literally a haven for all animals (many of the cats and dogs at the park were rescued after the 2002 tsunami). Lek, the lady who founded ENP works relentlessly helping to rescue and rehabilitate these creatures, giving them love, hope and a place to call home. I cannot begin to tell you what an incredible place it is, and I feel so unbelievably lucky and proud to have been part of Lek's journey.

Perfect Pai and THE BEST TOUR EVER!

Monday, 19 June 2017

After Krabi we did what most sensible backpackers do and headed north! We actually flew from Krabi to Chiang Mai, it wasn't expensive and saved us a lot of time - as we didn't have long in the north. First on our list was the picturesque mountainous town of Pai. After a short stop in Chiang Mai we jumped straight on the bus for Pai (with obvious plans to return to Chiang Mai on our way back). We'd heard many backpackers say how much they loved Pai and that 'if you go up north you have to go to Pai!' - it was kind of the 'done thing'. Known for its breathtaking mountain views, hippy vegan cafes and bars, waterfalls and general quaint vibe we were super excited to check it out. Before I move on to where we stayed I want to quickly mention the notorious bus ride to Pai - with 726 snake turns in the road, along side huge cliff faces it was one of the most thrilling (terrifying) journeys I have encountered. It would have been okay if the guy hadn't been driving at 80 the entire way! With that said just pop a couple of travel sickness tablets before you leave and you'll be Aokay!

Island hopping around the phi phi islands

Friday, 16 June 2017

A week into our Thailand travels and we were joined by Craig's mum and dad, Elaine and Mick! We were super excited to see them after 6 months and we couldn't wait to show them all our fav spots we found so far - especially Railay Bay.