My Favourite Beaches

I’m having a day of aimless pondering and reminiscence. Which inevitably leads my mind to my travels, and today, for no particular reason I thought about some of the great beaches I’ve been luck enough to relax on.

Now my idea of a great beach is possibly nothing like yours. I like my beaches natural, clean, preferably devoid of other people and I enjoy some lively waves. I also like to be able to get my hands on a cold drink easily. And I don’t do pebble beaches.

So I’m not fussy then 🙂

First up, how about this little gem at Mirleft in Morocco?

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It is hidden away from the main town and has only a handful of buildings set up against the cliffs. There are two places to stay and two places to eat – not that they appear to be restaurants. You just walk up looking hungry and the next thing you know you are eating tagine in the company of 20 friendly stray cats.

Then I remembered the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia. It’s a bit of a mission getting to these two islands, involving a flight from Kuala Lumpur, a taxi south along the coast and then a 30 minute boat ride. But it’s worth it.

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The sand is soft, the water is clear and warm and the fresh fish is wonderful.

The biggest surprise I’ve ever had in terms of beaches is New Zealand. Not being one for research I hadn’t really expected much from the coastline of NZ but my arrival in Abel Tasman National Park put paid to that.

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As I walked along the coastal path through the park I passed beach after beach that would not look out of place in Thailand. All had perfectly clear water, rocky jungle backdrops and clean white sand. Sadly the water was bloody freezing, and I say that as Brit, but I swum anyway (because I’m a Brit).

My favourite Thai island is Ko Lanta. The west coast is lined with beach after beach. Choosing the right beach is easy too. The further south you go the quieter and more natural they get, finishing up with the beaches of the National Park at the southern tip of the island.
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I found this lovely beach just before the National Park. It was almost deserted and a friendly local was on hand to sell me ice cold Coke.

My longing for beach perfection seems to be drawing me to The Philippines. I’ve read a lot about the stunning beaches with tiny villages proving the all important sustenance and shelter. The Philippines sits very high up my bucket list.

What’s your favourite beach? Have you found the perfect beach? What beaches should I avoid?

Let me know…

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Cheap Flights – Your Gateway to the World

I love cheap flights. I’ll never get an upgrade to first class, or earn any air miles or whatever they are called now though. I’m just too tight. But I remain smug and happy in the knowledge that I am getting a great deal, whilst I sit with my 6’3″ frame squeezed into a ludicrously small economy seat.

The real beauty of a cheap flight is that it paves the way for countries to be explored so cheaply. Because once you have a bargain flight you can go in search of bargain accommodation too.  And then the bargain eateries and the bargain tours. All courtesy of the internet. Before you know if you have put together your own super cheap tailor made adventure.

I am off to Barcelona early next year. I plan to fly one way and then make my way home from somewhere else. The cost of flying one way from London Stanstead to Barcelona?

Suddenly my trip to Europe is looking like a no-brainer. I plan to fly back from Geneva. The cost?

These two flights are with well known budget airlines RyanAir and Easyjet. But there are many other airlines that fly cheaply within Europe, so the options are immense. I tend to use Skyscanner to drill down and get more options.

When using budget airlines it is important to follow the rules. This mainly means travelling light, with a correctly proportioned carry on bag. Do your research beforehand to avoid getting hit by additional charges.

Such great deals are not limited to Europe though. I have seen a growing popularity for “Open Jaw” flight deals. No doubt these are nothing new, but they are fairly new to me. An Open Jaw flight is a journey which starts and ends in different countries. You then need to arrange your own travel to the start and/or end point, though it is a good idea to ensure that the journey either begins or ends in your own country.

I am a big fan of the Holiday Pirates website which is a great source of cheap holidays and flights. They often list some superb Open Jaw flight options. For example, at the moment they have a suggested flight starting in Madrid, going to New York and then returning to Manchester. The cost is GBP£194. Add to that a flight from Manchester to Madrid, available from RyanAir for less than GBP£30, and you have yourself a really cheap flight to New York, with the added bonus of having the chance to see Madrid.

Obviously this extra layer of complexity does not suit everybody – but to the bargain hunters like me it provides some very tempting deals.

It is fairly easy to design your own Open Jaw flights. I often use Opodo but other sites now offer this option too.

Do you have any tips on finding great flight deals? Feel free to share, either in the comments section below, or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Topdeck Cave Restaurant – Goreme in Turkey

Goreme is a town bang in the centre of Turkey amidst the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia. It has its fair share of good restaurants but we received a reliable recommendation to go in search of the Topdeck Cave Restaurant. Our hotel kindly made a reservation for us.

I have no idea why it is called Topdeck, but getting there did involve a climb. The streets of Goreme are quite steep and Topdeck is rather hidden away in a tiny side street. Luckily there are plenty of street signs to guide customers.

The restaurant is hollowed into the bedrock which gives it a wonderful atmosphere. It is not too big, probably seating around 30. Some of the seating is on the floor, which is apparently a great way to experience their traditional Turkish food. Please excuse the awful photograph, which shows the different types of seating. I took this at the end of the night. We were the last to leave and the restaurant was full for most of the evening.

Topdeck Cave Restaurant in Goreme, Turkey

We entered past the kitchen, which was a hive of activity. But the owner, who was cooking feverishly, took the time to greet us nonetheless. We were then shown to our table by the owner’s young daughter. Service in a restaurant is not an easy thing to provide.  Every customer is different and it is the skill of the waiter or waitress to decide how much attentiveness is needed. The owner’s daughter at Topdeck seems to overcome this whole problem with the most infectious of enthusiasm. She is a credit to the restaurant and our brief conversations (she speaks very good English) were a highlight of the meal.

The food too was great. We tried a selection of what they were cooking, all of which was delicious. I foolishly forgot to take a photograph. First we had Turkish Meze which was the best that we had in Turkey, particularly the Cheese Rolls. This was followed by an insanely tender Lamb Shank with local vegetables. The lamb was delicious. It is worth mentioning that we were recommended to share a main course, which was excellent advice. We both have fairly large appetites and we were not left hungry.

The cost was very reasonable and having also tried the Pumpkin Goreme Restaurant which offered a similar and pretty good experience (less the excellent waitress) we thought Topdeck was noticeably better. I would recommend a visit if you want to try some superb home cooked Turkish food.

They have no website it seems, but Tripadvisor link here:
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g297983-d2183700-Reviews-Topdeck_Cave_Restaurant-Goreme_Cappadocia.html

Map here:
https://goo.gl/maps/r2crl

Maya’s Corner Cafe – Istanbul – Tasty, cheap and well placed for tourists

When I travel I often get caught out needing something quick to eat. Whilst I am amongst the tourist attractions I find that cafes and restaurants will charge a premium due to their locality to the areas heaviest with tourists. Putting myself into this situation due to a lack of research and preparedness is one of things I berate myself over the most. At lunch time I just want a quick and cheap snack. Not a sit down meal with obligatory bread and the lure of a beer and an ice cream.

So to stumble upon a top quality and cheap place to eat only 3 minutes walk from Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was a stroke of luck.

Maya’s Corner Cafe is a very small hole in the wall type eatery which offers a small selection of healthy chicken doner wraps and salads. At the time I visited there was just one table for two outside which was taken, but I was invited to sit inside. This enabled me to watch closely as my Chicken Doner Wrap was lovingly but swiftly prepared. My travel partner had the same wrap but with roasted vegetables added. Both were delicious, though I would say that the wrap with the vegetables was better.

Also on offer are salads, a veggie wrap, fresh orange juice and teas and coffees. All at a very reasonably price and but a short stroll from Hagia Sophia, the Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque.

Maya’s Corner Cafe is located at Alemdar Mahallesi, Yerebatan Caddesi, No 25. Lunch for two cost around 20 Turkish Lira, which is roughly UK£5.50 or US$9.00.

SuB Hotel – Istanbul

That first journey when you arrive in a country is usually the toughest. Finding an ATM, getting to grips with the local public transport, juggling a map and a bag whilst searching for a hotel. Add to that a level of heat somewhat higher than this Brit usually has to contend with and you have yourself a challenge.

So when I burst through the doors of the unassuming SuB Hotel in the Karakoy district of Istanbul, I was in need of a cold drink and a sit down. The guy at the reception desk clearly knows his stuff though, as he showed me straight to a seat and offered me refreshment.

Three days later it had become clear to me that SuB is a hotel that recognises the importance of excellent customer service. The staff were all very welcoming and helpful without stepping over that unseen line were helpfulness becomes annoying. That wonderful welcome was merely an indication of what would follow.

The hotel itself is a little unusual. Anybody who likes a formal, modern, and dare I say stuffy hotel experience may well find SuB to be not to entirely to their tastes. The hotel has been designed with a particular look in mind and I feel that what I am about to say needs to done carefully….

“SuB has some attributes that seem to have more in common with a hostel. But in a good way.”

The reception area has a selection of used books for example. And the walls around reception are adorned with some interesting and  “opinionated” art which compliments the attractive exposed brickwork. The cafe area next to reception has a charmingly hap hazard blackboard explaining the food options. Relaxing chilled music plays gently in the background at all times creating a wonderful atmosphere. These are all plus points. I loved sitting in the cafe area, tapping my toe to the superb tunes whilst I planned my daily adventures.

The rooms, mine was spotlessly clean by the way, are also a little unlike your average hotel room. My bed had a metal head board painted in bright red. The door to the bathroom was also made of heavy riveted metal. Neither of which was an issue, and some three weeks later I remember this clearly, which can only be a good thing.

The Star of the Show

The star of the show though, bettering even the superb staff, was the excellent breakfast. Every morning a large buffet of cheeses, breads, meats, jams, biscuits and more is crammed onto a large table. Eggs are cooked to order and the chef even brought us out his own special creation. On day one we had a delicious panna cotta and on our third morning we were offered a rice pudding which was a challenger to my mother’s. There is a culinary genius hidden in the SuB kitchen I think. And if you stay, be sure to try the home made hazelnut spread. It is wonderful.

Breakfast at SuB

The hotel is located in a great area. It is only a 10 minute stroll from the Karakoy metro stop which takes you quickly across the Golden Horn to the major attractions. Close by is also the interesting Tunel train, a short funicular line which climbs the steep hill up to the shopping street of Istiklal Cad and Taksim Square. Karakoy itself has a great selection of small restaurants, some overlooking the Bosphurus Straight. These are no more than 5 minutes walk from SuB.

The Price

I paid just under 100 Euros per night for a double room, which when compared to other hotels in Istanbul seems about right.

Competition seems strong in Istanbul so I don’t doubt there are better hotels in this price bracket. But if you are a semi retired backpacker like me, with a love of relaxing music and great food, SuB is probably the place for you.

Their website
http://subkarakoy.com/

Location on Google Maps
https://www.google.com/maps/place/SuB+Hotel/@41.025513,28.979023,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x14cab9ddcaec8d3b:0x2c00f95f406c7888

My Explorations in Istanbul
click here

The Liebster Award

Liebster Award You may well be reading this and thinking “what the hell is a Liebster Award?” I certainly did when @pataschasworld on Twitter nominated me. I started thinking about my acceptance speech and where my black tie was, but then thought I best do a little research.

It turns out that the Liebster Award is a bit like a blogger’s chain letter. Though rather less annoying. A blogger nominates 10 other bloggers and sets them some questions to answer on their blog. They in turn nominate another ten bloggers and set some new questions.

The web gives endless other rules, one of which is that those that I nominate must have less then 200 followers. That’s the only rule I am sticking to (kind of) as the rest are just plain muddled. So below are the questions set by Patashcas World, as detailed here in their blog entry, along with my answers.

The fact that they nominated me is quite crazy actually. The beach at the top of their blog is the astoundingly beautiful Playa Conchal in Costa Rica. I got engaged on that beach in 2011. I love the crazy randomness of an unlikely coincidence. 

1. Do you prefer city trips or nature? Why? 

I go through stages of preferring one, and then the other. When I travelled around the world I got very bored of cities. In the end, coming so quickly one after another, they started to feel very similar. Particularly in South America. But then just when I thought I had had enough of cities for ever, a real gem would come along. Like Cusco in Peru. Or Wellington in New Zealand. Or the city I could never get bored of – New York City.

So my answer changes. At the moment I can’t wait to explore Istanbul next week and Seoul a couple of weeks later. I may be sick of cities again after that though. 

2. Where was your worst night spent and what happened? 

More than one night actually. In 2011 my girlfriend and I were in Mendoza in Argentina. We arrived during a big festival and hostel rooms were really hard to find. But we managed to get 7 nights booked at a highly regarded hostel.

When we got to the dorm we noticed bed bugs on the bunk. The hostel called in exterminators and washed all our clothes but that night my girlfriend got savaged by the bugs. We spent hours the next morning looking for somewhere else to stay but without any success.

In the meantime the exterminators were called in and the infestation was traced to the rucksack of an American girl – who seemed to have gone into hiding. In the end we stayed the whole seven nights in an eternal loop of bad sleep and extermination.

Eventually the hostel burnt the mattresses. I like to think I can sleep anywhere, but knowing that I will be attacked by bugs in the night was tough. 

3. Is a rental car a too expensive way for you to travel? If yes, which transportation do you prefer? 

I feel like I am a good person to ask this to actually. I have almost completely travelled by local transport and I love it. Local chicken buses are a real experience, and trains in far out places are nothing like westernised travel (I’m looking at you Vietnam!) and are a great way to see the countryside.

But I have hired a car twice whilst travelling. Once for 6 weeks in New Zealand and again for 6 days in Tenerife. As a result I feel like these are two places I know really well.

Having the car gives complete freedom to venture from the standard tourist routes and just check out what is down that dusty track. New Zealand really is a great place to get out and about in a car too. Every road seems to have some incredible sight to behold.

So yes, a rental car is expensive, but sometimes it is worth the expense. And what do I prefer? A tuk-tuk of course. Life is always good when you are in the back of a tuk-tuk. 

4. What is your favourite destination and why? 

Without a doubt my favourite destination is Cambodia. I’ve been twice now and long to return. My main obsession is the temples, which is why I first went. But I soon realised that the people are amazing and the food is pretty good too. I can’t wait to return and next time I want to explore the coast. 

5. What was the oddest food you’ve eaten? 

Probably Guinea Pig in Cusco. Which was nice, and like most unusual foods it actually tasted like chicken. I came close to trying tarantula and deep fried whole chicken embryo in Cambodia but bottled it at the moment of truth. 

6. What was the most dangerous situation you’ve ever been involved in? 

I work in the risk industry so I am really good at finding reasons to not put myself in danger.

But retrospectively I would say that endless bus journeys in the Andes throughout Bolivia and Peru was pretty dangerous. The mountain passes and perilous roads were both spectacular and terrifying. And the drivers have a reputation of driving whilst drunk and are exposed to long period of driving without rest.

I feel lucky that we had zero problems to be honest. Others are less lucky. 

7. Did you ever needed medical treatment during a stay. If yes, in which country and what happened? 

I broke my ring finger 3 days after getting married. I braved a rope swing into the lake at Khao Sok National Park in Thailand. Sadly it seems that my fear of heights is more prominent in my left hand, which refused to let go of the rope. Once my full body weight had done it’s job the bone in my finger cracked in half kind of lengthwaysOuch!Luckily we had a nurse from the UK in the floating hut next to us. Once I had swum one handed to get back to the huts she helped me straighten my finger – which crunched loudly enough for everybody in the room to hear. I struggled through the next 2 weeks of honeymoon – Malaysia and then Cambodia – before seeking proper medical assistance back in the UK. 

8. Hostel or suite? 

A constant debate between my wife and I. Well into our 30’s now, we do rather stand out in hostels. Not that it bothers me. But in all honesty we are now hotel  people. But I still miss the conversations and weirdness of hostels and their dorms. 

9. Your best memory of a stay… 

Hmmm. That’s a tough one. So many memories.

In March 2011 we landed in Buenos Aires after nearly 2 months in New Zealand. Which was a real shock to the system. New Zealand has just over 4 million citizens. The province of Buenos Aires alone has over 15 million and when we arrived it seemed that a large chunk of them were bustling around the streets of San Telmo. We needed a bolt hole and we stumbled upon a newly opened estancia in Uruguay by the name of El Galope. 

Getting there was a challenge. We took a ferry across the Rio Plata to Colonia del Scaramento in Uruguay and then a bus. We had to disembark at a random spot in the middle of nowhere where the owner of El Galope, Miguel, was waiting for us.

At the time El Galope was fairly new and they didn’t have much in the way of online reviews and web presence. We were the only guests and as Miguel pulled into the estancia it dawned on us just how remote the place was. Rolling green countryside disappeared to the horizon in all directions.

Despite the fact that we don’t ride horses we had a wonderful three day stay. Miguel and his wife Monica were amazing hosts, and continue to be to this day. Their dog, Tupac, kept us company. We visited a local goat’s cheese farm on bikes. The food, cooked each evening by Migeul and Monica, was good and the local wine was brilliant. I even assisted Miguel (badly) with some building alterations to the guest quarters.

El Galope was nothing like we ever expected. It was the most relaxing 3 days in a truly special place, and it was the perfect preparation for our subsequent trip into the insanity of South America. 

10. What do you collect? (Because everyone collects something) 

Nothing that I can think of in a material sense. But as a traveller I collect memories. Weirdly I have a shocking memory at work or at home, yet my memories of travel are as clear as if they happened yesterday. 

11. Why do you travel? 

Because I only have one life and there is a hell of a lot to see.   

 

My Nominations 

I am a bit new to Twitter so my nominations are rather random. Here goes…

@goneabroad – who have quit their jobs to travel. Which makes them inspirational ! Good work. 

@karthiknomad  – likes travelling and skateboarding. Great combination.

@aflyingirishman – I’ve met loads of travelling Irish. Ireland must be rubbish. 

@krystianya – I love the photo atop her Twitter feed. Burma is it? 

@GAffairTravel – are helping women travel solo. Which is good as I have witnessed first hand the difficulties solo-female travellers face. 

@wheresdariel – by the looks of his Twitter feed he is at the top a rather big mountain!

@onenomadwoman – 40 countries since 2012! Impressive. But I won’t believe she can time travel unless she comes round my house yesterday to prove it. 

@WeMustDash – a man with a moustache and his other half, setting off on the trip of a lifetime. I’ve done that and it was great. My facial hair went a bit ginger though. 

@wtravelist – Let’s travel the world! So says the WorldTravelist. I’m game…let’s go! 

@ExplorerOnEarth – also wants to travel the world. They should hook up with the @WorldTravelist. They seem to be like-minded. 

@Adrian1707 – who travelled the length of Africa and wrote a superb blog. 

My Questions for you 1. Which country sits at the top of your travel bucket list and why?

2. Top bunk or bottom bunk?

3.  Do you ever wear those weird baggy and colourful backpacker trousers? If so, post a photo to make me chuckle.

4. What is the most relaxing place you had ever travelled and what is so great about it?

5. When you aren’t tweeting or blogging, what do you do with your days?

6. What is your best bit of travel advice?

7. Have you ever been the victim of a scam whilst travelling? Yes? You best tell us…

8.  Guide Book or just turn up and wing it?

9.  What is your favourite country? Tell us why and make us want to go there.

10. What is the weirdest place you have slept whilst travelling? And how did that happen?!

The Ultimate Act of Kindness – Find it Via Your Local Airport

I was talking recently with my wife and travel partner. I can’t remember how we got on to the subject but we were talking about acts of kindness. The conversation reached a slightly depressing conclusion, but intrigued I stoked up the same conversation at my workplace a couple of days later.

The conclusion we all reached, is that, rather sadly, most acts of kindness are in fact transactions of a sort. The kindness is given but something is expected in return. Be it love, appreciation, loyalty etc. I’ll give you an example.

A man gives his friend £100 because the friend is in a bit of fix. If 2 weeks later this friend had extricated himself from the fix and then won a holiday for two, but invited a different friend to join him, it is fair to say that the kind man would be rather miffed. And £100 lighter.

Probably without really realising it, the man, now really wanting his £100 back, expected an upgraded level of friendship in return for his kindess.

You can apply this type of logic to almost any act of kindness when the two parties know each other.

In the end, after much toing and froing, my wife and my colleagues all conceded that the purest act of kindness is between two people who do not know each other and will never see each other again.

The homeless person in the big city. The anonymous donation maybe. But certainly not between friends and family.

Now this is actually a rather depressing thing to be thinking about, but then I realised that by far the best place to find pure unadulterated kindness is at the other end of an aeroplane flight.

Prove It!

I’m not sure I can, but I’ll try,

When I got off of a night train at Da Nang station in Vietnam I was concerned with one thing and one thing only. Finding a taxi to Hoi An so I could get some sleep. Sadly the arrival of a train is like a honey pot to bees when it comes to taxi drivers. A few would be handy, but in Vietnam they can be wating en mass.

So bleary eyed, I staggered towards the crowd of excitable taxi drivers, all beckoning me with great enthusiasm. Then a man appeared next to me speaking pretty good English.

“Where you from?” he asked.

“England” I responded, blinking in the harsh sunlight and wondering where my sunglasses were.

“How long you staying?” he enquired.

“Three days” I replied. “Or maybe four.”

The man touched my arm in a way that encouraged me to stop. I looked down at him for the first time. His face was one of concern. “You should buy your ticket for your next train now. There is a festival and tickets will sell out. Come with me. I will help you.” He turned expecting me to follow.

Yeah yeah I thought. I may be a newcomer to this travelling lark but I know all about that type of scam.

“No it’s fine” I responded confidently, setting off towards the baying crowd of drivers once more.

“No really” he shouted after me. “You will not get a ticket tomorrow. You must buy now. Come.” He was probably beckoning me with great vigour but I wasn’t looking back and I certainly wasn’t falling for his skullduggery.

I fell into the crowd of taxi drivers and before I knew what was happening my bag was slung into a taxi and I was on my way to Hoi An. I felt pleased with myself for making short shrift of the trickster. But of course you can see where this is going.

I arrived at my hotel and the first thing they asked me is if I had bought my onward ticket for the train. When I answered they looked concerned and told me about the festival. A boy was sent to the station to buy a ticket and I paid a premium for it.

I never saw the man again, which was lucky as he probably would have pointed and laughed. But was his act an attempt at pure kindness? Probably not. He most likely hoped that I would pay him for his assistance. I will never know for sure.

I Said Prove It!

I’m trying…

What about the young student who offered to show us the best photographic opportunities in Banteay Kdei temple in Cambodia. He was so helpful and courteous, showing us how to capture the light just right and where to stand. Then he hounded us for payment and no amount was enough. Grrr.

Or the Argentinian man who tried to help me wipe ketchup from my shirt. He worked so hard as he dabbed at the stain. He even happened to have a cloth and a bottle of water in his hand at the time. Sadly he didn’t see who stole my camera. (This didn’t really happen…though it often does)

You’re Running Out Of Time. I’m Getting Bored

Hang on….I think I’ve got it!

We were on our way to Ko Samet in Thailand. Our crazy Thai Minibus of Doom from the Cambodian border had somehow conspired to deliver us to the edge of a main road miles from anywhere. As we stepped off I looked back at the driver with a look that said where the hell am I?

He pointed down the road the behind us. “Walk” he shouted. And then he was gone, in a way that only Thai Minibuses of Doom can be gone.

Think twice before getting in one of these!

We set off, heavy rucksacks weighing us down in the early afternoon heat. The road was long. We could tell this because it was straight and flat and the end was hidden somewhere in the middle of a heat haze. Then we heard the most welcome of sounds, the rattling popping engine of a Thai tuk tuk.

We hailed it vigorously but then realised it wasn’t like the tuk tuks we had been using in Bangkok. This was a tuk tuk designed for carrying goods. Judging by the contents of it’s floor it usually carried vegetables.

Nevertheless the driver, an elderly Thai man with kind eyes, stopped and insisted we jump in. It was a squeeze but we managed to get “comfortable” and he set off. First of all he swung by his house to get his motorbike helmet. This was confusing. Maybe there is a law in Thailand that says you can ride helmetless if carrying vegetables, but you must don the head protection when carrying backpackers.

But anyway, within 5 minutes we were at the dock in Ban Phe. The man jumped from his seat and helped us out, even assisting me as I hauled by backpack onto my back. I reached for my wallet and removed a sum of money that seemed a little more than suitable, but as I turned to give it to him I saw that he was already sat astride his tuk tuk and was pulling away.

“Stop” I shouted, breaking into a run which made Bambi look surefooted. But he waved dismissively, still smiling at me with his kind eyes as he drove away.

“Please stop” I whimpered pathetically. Then I stood and watched him ride away into the distance. I was confused. I felt like I had cheated the poor guy. I was almost worried that people may have seen me not paying him.

And then it dawned on me. That was pure unadulterated kindness, all bundled up in the form of a smiling happy Thai man. Nice.

Cool Story Bro’. What are you trying to say though?

I guess that what I am getting at is that travelling delivers the most extreme high. The unbridled happiness, the awe inspiring vista, the jaw-droppingly tasty and cheap food, the most special of late night conversations with like minded nomads.

And it also delivers the most testing of lows, which make the highs all the more amazing.

For me, on that steaming hot day in 2012 I eventually came to realise that the Thai man was possibly the kindest person I have ever met. It made me happy.

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