OPEN TOP BUS TOUR, SYDNEY

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Open top bus tours are perhaps our nerdiest tradition and yet we love them. When you don’t have loads of time to get to know a place, they’ve proved invaluable for giving you a flavour of the different areas, a bit of local history and they generally prove to be quite hilarious in a very Joey ‘I’m in my map’ sort of way.

The tour was pricey (as expected in Sydney), around $40 each, but the tickets could be used for twenty four hours. However, do beware the last ride of the day – it was apparent our driver was keen to get home for his dinner.

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HALONG BAY, VIETNAM

Vietnam almost broke us. Disastrous overnight journeys, lost possessions and bouts of serious illnesses robbed us of not only a lot of money, but also a lot of our optimism. So when it came to booking the last part of our journey, a cruise around Halong Bay, we were looking for a bargain and praying for the best – especially as the sunsets here are supposed to rival the best across the world.

halong bay sunset

Our hotel offered a two day, one night trip including food for $45, which seemed great and despite the saleswoman looking dubious and describing it as ‘not the worst, not the best’ cruise, we were feeling excited!

Needless to say, it rained. A lot.

halong bay cruise

But the boat was clean and modern, there was a wide range of food choices, the drinks were reasonably priced and we made some hilarious friends. Continue reading

THE DAMNOEN SADUAK FLOATING MARKET

We’ve been so lucky with visitors and as Tate checked in to head home, Lucy’s plane was landing. She was here for our last two weeks of officially living and working in Bangkok and so it was a chance to do loads of the touristy things we’d been meaning to do for ages. Top of the list was to visit a floating market. It wasn’t as good as we’d hoped, the dirty water not matching the postcards and being in a boat also meant that you couldn’t escape the hassling vendors. However, it was an experience and it was a definite novelty.

Here’s our ‘market rating’ below:

Bargains: 4/5
Refreshments: 5/5
Range of products: 2/5
Convenience: 1/5
Scenery: 3/5
Commercialisation (1 being very commericalised): 1/5
Overall opinion: 2/5

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JIM THOMPSON HOUSE, BANGKOK

When Jim Thompson arrived in Thailand in 1948, he recognised not only the beauty of the Thai people, but the beauty of Thai silk, establishing a business which allegedly saved Thai silk from extinction. Having seen stunning traditional Thai dress across Thailand, we were keen to visit his home and witness the elegant yet vibrant silks being manufactured.

His home was fantastic to look around; a complex of six teak houses set in gardens. The tour guides were really enthusiastic about showing us all the different artefacts inside and telling their colourful stories. However, we were marginally horrified to discover that Jim Thompson had been the proud owner of an ‘entertaining’ Chinese mouse house. Imagine a television, but instead of a movie, imagine a maze, and instead of watching actors move around, imagine watching mice. Yes, that was apparently a popular form of entertainment!

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The gift shop was also a sight in itself: scarves, ties, clothing, handkerchieves, make up bags… our purses took a slight hit!

Whilst it was a pleasure to learn about the house, the silk and the history of the Jim Thompson business, most intriguing was the mysterious disappearance of the man himself. On Easter Sunday in 1967, Jim Thompson disappeared whilst visiting a friend in Malaysia. Following the biggest manhunt Malaysia has ever seen, rumours and theories about what may have happened to him during his weekend walk in the Cameron Highlands are still accumulating over 40 years later. His body was never found and no substantial evidence has yet led to the solving of the case…

Charlotte & Sarah x

JAMES BOND ISLAND AND FLOATING VILLAGE

With a friend flying into Phuket airport to visit us, we found ourselves back on The Andaman coast and visiting the previously missed town of Khao Lak. Following in Roger Moore’s footsteps, I spent a morning travelling through Phang Nga bay to visit Ko Tapu, more commonly known as the ‘James Bond Island’ after its appearance in the film The Man with the Golden Gun.

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James Bond Island

The nearby Koh Panyee village was an intriguing place to stop for a seafood lunch. The 1600 residents, mostly fisherman, have created an entire community built on stilts above the sea. The crisscrossed roads of the village are lined with stalls selling trinkets and fresh noodles, as well as beautiful sounding small birds in cages that are priced according to their singing ability.

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