Posts Tagged With: Dubai

Back from my travels

So after three weeks in Thailand, I’m back. What a trip! It was amazing.

We started off in Phuket, which was ok. Hotel was good, and we were in a quiet part, next to the the Phuket Aquarium – well worth a visit – on a road with a few places to eat/drink, but which had a wee night market that popped up, and was the best value for eating, although we did find a local place about a ten minute walk from the hotel, that was excellent for food.
The hotel ran a courtesy bus into Phuket town, which we visited a couple of times, and on one occasion, it coincided with a street food festival, which was spectacular.
We also went into Patong beach one night. That was an experience!!

From Phuket, we moved on to Chiang Mai. If I’d known how amazing this town was, we would have spent more time here and less in Phuket!
The hotel was about a hundred yards from the night market, so food and drink (and cheap t-shirts) were minutes away from the hotel.
The town itself has a fantastically laid back hippy vibe to it. We spent ages just wandering round visiting temples, and sitting in little coffee shops, drinking the best coffee I’ve tasted in ages.
We also visited the women’s prison, where there’s a shop selling handicrafts that have been made by the inmates, and if you want a massage, you can get one from inmates who are learning massage, to give them an option when they get released.
We did a couple of trips as well, one to the highest point in Thailand, and also to the King’s Pagoda and Queen’s Pagoda, both of which are spectacular. The Queen’s in particular has a stunning ceiling. Well worth a visit.

From Chiang Mai it was onto Bangkok, where we visited Wat Pho where the reclining Buddha is, Khoa San Road (had to be done), the medical museum (fascinating and a little bit gruesome!) and the Royal Barges Museum.
Out hotel was 100 yards from the Train Night Market, so once again, eating and drinking, we were spoiled for choice.

Finally, we flew to Dubai for 3 nights, to break up the journey home. After the great value that was Thailand, the usually expensive Dubai seemed even more expensive, but you can usually get great deals, so a couple of days at the beach on the way home was just what was needed.

I’ve taken a horrendous amount of photos, so once I’ve have a chance to sort through them, I’ll post a few.

We probably won’t go back to Bangkok for a while, as it’s not a relaxing place, but definitely want to re-visit Chiang Mai.

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Course finished

So the Introduction to Ashtanga course I’ve been doing for the last six weeks has finished, and I loved it. It’s given me a structured practice that I can do at home, but I did miss not going to the class last night, so I might have to find a guided class that I can go to. Despite what the teacher said, I don’t feel that I know the routine well enough to go to a Mysore class, and I don’t want to be constantly asking “Does “X” come next or is it “Y”?”, so yeah, I think a guided class is the way forward for the moment, and as luck would have it, there’s a guided class on a Tuesday evening that would fit in time-wise, with finishing work.

Yoga aside, the weather has finally got reasonable enough that I have started cycling to work again. As well as being healthier for me and the environment, it’s healthier for my wallet to the tune of £57 a month, so that’s a good reason to do it.

Next thing I’ve got to look forward to is our trip to Thailand in a little over a month. We’re away for three weeks, and are taking in Phuket, Chang Mai, and finally Bangkok, with two nights in Dubai to break up the flight home.
I’m hoping I can try surfing again in Phuket. I took some lessons in Bali last year as it’s something I’d always wanted to try (I used to skateboard, and I snowboard intermittently) and I finally got to try it and it was as amazing as I’d hoped. So I really want to do it again.

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They call me the wanderer….

Not posted for a while.  Been away on my travels.

We booked a trip for my 50th* to Vietnam via Hong Kong on the way out, and Dubai on the way back.  Vietnam has been on my bucket list for years, and now I can tick it off, BUT I really would love to go back, it’s a fantastic country.

First stop was Hong Kong, which was initially a bit overwhelming, as there are masses of people everywhere.  By the time we had to leave 3 days later, I was starting to get my head round it, and I want to go back.  I think we had too short a stay and tried to cram a lot in, so it seemed a lot more hectic than it was, but it’s still one hell of a busy place.
Managed to squeeze in a trip to Macau as well.

Next stop was Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh city.  Wow!  Fantastic place.  Very busy, but easier to handle than the crowds in Hong Kong.  The traffic on the other hand!  Red lights only seem to apply to cars.  You get a green man to cross the road, and have to dodge the hundreds of scooters and mopeds for whom road rules don’t seem to apply.
Red light?  I’ll ignore that.
One way street?  I’ll ride against the flow unless it’s really busy, then I’ll ride on the pavement.
It’s all a bit nuts, but once you get your head round it and just accept that’s how it is, it’s not really a problem.  When crossing the road, just keep walking, the bikes will go round the back of you, but don’t stop and don’t step back. That’s when you’ll have an accident.

The war museum is a must see.  Some very harrowing photos from the war, and the Chu Chi tunnels which were used by the Vietcong, is another must visit.
For a great atmosphere, head to the backpacker area where you can eat and drink really cheaply, and if you fancy a fake Rolex, head to the market and start haggling.  The watches look decent quality, and you can haggle down to about a third of the price if you’re determined.

On to Hoi An, and we got there in time to see the Full Moon lantern festival which was beautiful.
The town itself is easy enough to navigate, and if you get lost, taxis are easily available, all run on a meter, and are very cheap.
Look out for signs saying “fresh beer 5,000”.  You can get a half pint of beer for 5,000VND (about £0.17) or you can splurge for a bottle of Tiger for about £1.00.
We ate mostly in the market, where there are lots of little kitchens with benched seating round them.  Sit down, order, and minutes later you’re tucking in to some really excellent street food, at a fantastic price.

After Hoi An we had a couple of days just vegging out poolside in Dubai before heading home.

Finally, here’s a picture of the largest rubber duck I’ve ever seen.  It’s in Macau.




(*I’m not 50 for a couple of months, but if we’d waited till then it would have been the rainy season)

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Home again home again, jiggedy jig.

So we’re back from the trip to Dubai/Malaysia, and it was awesome.  I’ll get some pics up later this week, when I get a chance, but basically Dubai was scorchio (43C) and Malaysia was humid (80% humidity) and scorchio.  Dubai was about £8 for a beer (so I didn’t have any) and Malaysia about £2 for a small or £3 for a damn big one.  So I did.

We found cheap places to eat in Dubai, and Malaysia was just a lot cheaper anyway.  Food was great in both places.
I liked Dubai, but I really don’t know if I could go there on a proper holiday (we did 2 nights either side of Malaysia), as it’s blisteringly hot, and seems to revolve around shopping malls, unlike any other Arab country I’ve been to.  It’s also very clean and orderly and not at all dusty and ramshackle, like – for instance – Morocco, and I do like a the chaos of those places over the sanitised version that is Dubai.  (That’s not to say I didn’t like Dubai, I did.)
Malaysia, I loved.  KL was amazing, and while I thought the driverless metro system in Dubai was great, the monorail in KL trumped it.  Street food in KL was superb, and then Penang, with it’s stunning coastline, and Georgetown, which was fun to just wander round and get lost in.

I’d love to go back to KL and to a different part of Malaysia – Langkawi maybe, instead of Penang, and I will be back in Dubai for stopovers in the future.

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