Phnom Penh or Beirut?

Sometimes, when you get up in the morning, its easy to be confused about where we are – the streets here seem just like the scenes of Beirut we used to see in the 80’s. Everything just seems a charm-less mess. And it also seems that everything is improvised – take the Toyota Camry above […]

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The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek

After the genocide museum we carried on out of the city to view the Killing Fields. This was where the prisoners were taken, before being killed and buried in mass graves. 9,000 skeletons have been uncovered, but a further third of the graves remain untouched. The burial pits themselves, just look like a building site, […]

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The gruesome side of Cambodia

There are lots of different ways to get around Phnom Penh – on the back of motorbikes; in cyclos which are chairs mounted on the front of bikes ridden by old, skinny men; on moped-powered tuk-tuks, or in saloon cars acting as taxis. For the many aid-workers in town, the vehicle of choice is a […]

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Phnom Penh – a strange city

We’re in Phnom Penh, and we can’t make head or tail of the place – there seem to be such wide contrasts. Take our accommodation, Diamond’s Guest House, which is in the centre of the city and handy for the Royal Palace, National Museum, and the restaurants and cafes along the banks of the Mekong. […]

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Moving on to Phnom Penh

There are a number of different ways to get from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, by road or water. Possibly the most picturesque is to travel by fast boat – which takes 6 hours and costs $22 a person – which goes across the huge Tonle Sap lake between the cities, and down the Mekong […]

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Heading back to Bangkok

All good things come to an end, and so does our Thailand visa. We’re heading north now, back to Bangkok, where we’re going to head off to Cambodia (again) and Vietnam. And as usual, it’s a multi-part journey which seems to go on forever. We start at 7:30am in the back of a pickup, to […]

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Tripping to Koh Pha-Ngan

Just across the bay from Mae Nam beach lies the island of Koh Pha-Ngan. It is a quieter island than Koh Samui – less developed, less roads and less expensive. It’s famous for the full moon parties held on the main beach at Haad Rin – tens of thousands of backpackers flock there for the […]

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Monday mornings

After we’d been travelling a while, days of the week started to become the same. At home, we’d all looked forward to the weekends, and equally we’d all felt a bit down on Sunday night when it meant tomorrow was Monday morning. But while we’re travelling, ‘weekends’ and ‘weekdays’ only matter because of what everybody […]

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Moving on to Koh Lanta

After just two days on Rai Leh, we decided to move on to Koh Lanta, an island with another beautiful beach, two hours south by boat. Luckily, although the first part of the trip was in a long-tail, this was only out into the bay, to board a bigger boat waiting to take us to […]

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By long-tail around Krabi

Krabi province is basically a coastal bay, filled with 200 tiny islands. Although some of these, like Koh Phi-Phi are big enough to have accommodation on them, the majority are small uninhabited lumps of rock and beach, dotted around the bay. Whenever you see pictures of Phuket, you will spot three or four pictures of […]

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Happy New Year!

Thailand doesn’t run it’s calendar in the same way that we do in Europe. For a start, today is New Years Day, called Songkran – I’ll explain a bit more about that in a minute. The other thing that is curious about the Thai calendar, from our perspective at least, is that it is 544 […]

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Koh Pha-Ngan again

Waking up on the beach is quite a wonderful experience – as long as it’s not literally on the beach (well, even that would have been great when we were younger). But today, stepping out of the bungalow onto the sand path and then wandering down to the beach was pretty fantastic. And the beach looked better […]

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Around Koh Samui

Sightseeing around Koh Samui isn’t all elephants, jungle and beach. There’s only one main road which goes right around the island, and all of the main businesses are lined up along it. Which is handy when it’s hot and dry, and you want to stop for a drink and an ice-cream. In Asia you’re never […]

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Sightseeing on Koh Samui

For a few days we’ve hired a couple of jeeps to explore the island. Yesterday we drove up the hills in the middle of the island – despite the absence of proper roads, which made it much more interesting! The children loved it all – especially the bumpiest bits, where we were getting the jeeps […]

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Life’s a beach

Apart from Christmas, this is the longest we’ve stayed in one place since we started travelling – and we’ve got another 10 days to go! Its glorious not having to pack up our rucksacks and move on, and we’re quickly slipping into ‘holiday’ mode. We’ve even managed to loosen the purse-strings a little bit, to […]

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Life on a beach

It’s tough, but somebody’s got to do it. After all, somebody gets up early to put those beach umbrellas and deck chairs there – it would be terrible if nobody used them. And so Caroline and Sarah have taken to them like sand to a beach picnic. From early morning to late in the afternoon, […]

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Waking up in The Florist

Fortunately for us, the guest house seemed better when we woke up. After a filling breakfast, we cast a critical eye over it, and tried to see if our friends would like it. In the end, we decided that with a few finishing touches, and a couple of sneaky tricks, it would be okay – […]

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Arriving in Koh Samui

Our arrival in Samui was fairly easy – the bus and boat connection was dead easy – but once we were on the island, we were in the hands of the local transport mafia. Transport in Samui is notoriously expensive for foreigners, and the minibus operators and taxi drivers were asking 2-3 times what you’d […]

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On the rails again

After a day of ‘hanging around’ the pool at the guest house, we took another sleeper train down to Surat Thani, in southern Thailand. Our desination is Koh Samui, an island off the East coast, where we’re due to meet up with our friends from home – Caroline and Peter, and Charlotte and Emily’s best […]

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Back to Bangkok

After our journey to Cambodia – 16 hours of slow-moving misery – we thought we’d try and make the journey back to Bangkok easier. Although the flight was outside of our budget, we splashed out $30 on a taxi to the border. Instead of 7 hours in the bus, it took us just under 3 […]

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Around Siem Reap

Now that our pass for Angkor Wat has expired, we took the opportunity to drive around the countryside a little further, to see some of the sights away from the temples. As long as we’re on roads, Mr Heng’s tuk-tuk is quite comfortable, but off road it’s definitely a bumpy experience. The tuk-tuk is basically […]

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A study of contrasts

Cambodia is a country with huge contrasts, as I’ve already said, and our afternoon was a stark example of that. After spending the morning looking around poverty-stricken villages, the girls were invited over to the exclusive hotel for a swim with their new playmates. The hotel tuk-tuk picked them up, and they all took off […]

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Last call for Angkor Wat

Our last day at Angkor Wat – our $40/3 day pass expires today, so we set off early again to get the most of our time. We’d chosen two last temples, the first being Preah Kahn (yes, I had to write the names down – there’s no way I would remember all of these tomorrow!), […]

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Floating over Angkor

Somewhat incongruously we went from the Landmine Museum to the Angkor Wat balloon – a huge helium balloon which carries up to 12 passengers 200 metres into the air to get a view of the main Angkor Wat temple and the surrounding forests and fields. We’d chosen sunset to do it, so on one side […]

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The Landmine and War Museums

Two days ago we visited the Government-owned War Museum, and this afternoon we visited the privately-owned Landmine Museum. Both of them told the same story, of the terrible impact on the country of the Vietnam War, the Khmer Rouge period, and the continued civil war which ran until 1998. Although the displays focused on land […]

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Tomb Raiding

Today’s temple was Ta Prohm, which is the one which has been taken over by the jungle. Although much of the undergrowth has been removed, its still astonishing to see trees growing over, around and through the temple complex. The roots of the trees wind their way between the stones of the walls, and as […]

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Angkor afternoon

The heat in the middle of the day is sweltering, even though we have had lots of time to adjust to Asian temperatures. It reaches around 36 degrees, with no breeze to cool you. Its little wonder that it is typical for people to shut up shop and take a rest in Asia during the […]

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Angkor Wat and Beyond

What are we, mad? After an exhausting day two days ago, we got up this morning at 5am to meet Mr Heng and go to Angkor Wat for sunrise. We knew we had to do it, so we thought we should get it done soon. Although lots of people do get up this early to […]

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Waking up in a building site

We were woken up at 7.30 by the builders on the floor above, knocking a hole in the wall. Just what you need after a long bus trip. At 9 we checked out, and realised that the whole of Siem Reap is a building site. The whole town looks completely unfinished, and on every corner […]

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Not getting easier

On our second day of filming, we didn’t have much packed down on the agenda, but the traffic in Bangkok makes it so difficult to get around – it takes ages to get between shots. Unfortunately the BBC’s hotel is on the other side of town from ours, so we had to set off at […]

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Bangkok Filming – Day One

Hmm. Here’s a challenge for you – make a factual programme about a family visiting the Bangkok City Palace, without being allowed to film in the Bangkok City Palace. Yup, defeats me too! It turns out that item number one on the schedule was sabotaged by the Thai authorities, who won’t allow filming inside the […]

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Meeting the Beeb

Today was a BIG day – the day we were meeting our director, who will spend the next week filming us around and about Bangkok for the Holiday programme. Ginny’s the director, and the great news was that we had the meeting over lunch at her hotel, so we enjoyed a pretty luxurious lunch in […]

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Back in Bangkok

We left Chiang Mai on the overnight Special Express train, which leaves at 5 o’clock in the evening, and gets you back into Bangkok at 6 o’clock in the morning. As usual, it was a pretty smooth trip, with comfortable sleeping berths, and a good Thai meal in the restaurant car, looking out onto the […]

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The Streets of Chiang Mai

Streets in Thailand strike us as completely chaotic, just a mess of vehicles with motorbikes darting in and out constantly. It makes crossing the road a somewhat hit-n-miss affair, but at least the drivers slow down a little when they see a foreign family weaving its unsteady way across their path. One of the amazing […]

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Getting around Luang Prabang

We’re becoming experts on getting around Luang Prabang (not difficult – there are so few ways to do it, and so few places to go!). Slow boat up the Mekong One of the ways to enter or leave Laos for Thailand is to take the slow boats which ply the Mekong river. Although we’ve declined […]

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