• Driving across the Nullarbor – Part Two: South Australia

    Having already spent a day and a half driving, somewhat incredibly, I was still in Western Australia. Driving across the Nullarbor (and even just out of WA, it seems) is no mean feat. The distances involved are not to be underestimated. Neither is the amount of wildlife propagating the popular Australian myth that all the animals are out to get you. This post details the second day of the two-day journey across the Nullarbor. To read about Day One click here. Otherwise, keep reading for tales of oysters, whales, wombats and sand dunes! Leaving Eucla and WA Eucla is only just within WA; it is 12km from the state border…

  • Driving across the Nullarbor – Part One: West Australia

    A 2,700km stretch of road named “not a tree in sight” and nicknamed ‘Nullar-boring’ by locals doesn’t sound that exciting, does it? Well, in fact, the Nullarbor boasts a mysterious ‘nymph’, the world’s longest golf course, a magnificent whale-watching platform, and is littered with caves and blowholes. Driving across the Nullarbor, from West Australia to South Australia, it turns out, actually was quite an adventure. Having set off from Esperance, this post details day one of the two-day journey across the Nullarbor. Norseman – Gateway to the Nullarbor Norseman is where those arriving from (even) further West join the Nullarbor, a small gold mining community about 200km north of Esperance.…

  • Anticipating driving across the Nullarbor – the longest road trip ever

    In a few days time I will start the longest drive of my life. I will leave Esperance, WA and drive more than 4,000km to Bundaberg, QLD. That’s the equivalent of driving from London to Mumbai (but crossing one country instead of 12). Australia doesn’t look that big, does it? It’s a bit of a sneaky secret, but I’m telling you, Australia is enormous. It is vast, and Australians, who are used to these distances and consider them normal, have a totally different perception of distance from visitors. Having lived remotely for the past few years, I have learned not to underestimate Australian distances and also grown cautious of the…

  • Things to do in Langkawi

    Famed as the ‘Jewel of Keddah’, and Malaysia’s tropical island paradise, Langkawi is made up of 104 islands spectacularly spread across a patch of the Andaman Sea (seriously, get a window seat if you arrive by air). While a destination of choice for local shoppers, keen to make the most of the duty free, Langkawi is also popular among thrill seekers especially water sports enthusiasts. Here are my tips for the best things to do in Langkawi. Langkawi cable car It is definitely worth getting the cable car up to Langkawi’s highest peak, Gunung Mat Chinchang, to take in the views across the island (especially if you didn’t get that…

  • Exploring Penang, one work of street art at a time

    I wasn’t really sure what to expect of Penang. I knew of Georgetown’s UNESCO heritage listing so expected the town to feature historic elements, low buildings, that sort of thing, and I had heard good things about the food, and that there was some street art. What I didn’t realise was that the walls of Georgetown are a canvas for street artists, and just about every street corner provides a fascinating insight into life in Penang. Penang’s street art story Artist Ernest Zacharevic was asked to paint some murals around Georgetown, and it is his paintings that are probably the most recognisable. The works often incorporate objects such as bicycles…

  • Australia, the next chapter – Farewell Esperance

    The start of this new year has been especially exciting because 2015 will be a year of big change for me. Having been living in Western Australia for almost four years, this year (next month, no less!) I’m moving to Queensland. Firstly, apologies to friends in Europe. I am are aware this is not the return to Europe you have been asking about!  Those without much experience of Australia may think ‘big deal, moving within Australia. How different can it be?’ and having previously lived in other countries, I can understand this. It wasn’t until I had lived in Australia for a few months that I truly understood distance, from an Australian…

  • Vietnam’s Tomb of Khai Dinh, a tomb with a view

    Being the home of Vietnam’s imperial history, Hue boasts several impressive tombs. Sounds a bit morbid, but if you haven’t seen an Asian tomb, you should. They are very impressive places! Emperor Khai Dinh was the penultimate emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, reigning from 1916 – 1925, and he was the last emperor to be buried in a royal tomb. A tomb with a view His tomb is quite distinct from other royal tombs. Firstly, it is significantly smaller than others. Its construction, three levels built into a steep hillside, makes it feel more like a monument than a place of quite reflection. 127 steps make exploring it quite a…

  • West Australia’s Crazy, Colourful, Tin Horse Highway

    “Is that a horse made from scrap metal?” It’s not something you see on every roadtrip, but a small farming community in Western Australia’s wheatbelt region has created an open-air art gallery along one of their highways. Moving to Australia gave me a fresh perspective on distance. Living in Esperance, WA, our nearest city is Perth and it is over 700 kilometres away. That’s about the same distance as driving from Paris to Barcelona, or New York to Detroit. Roaring along the highway, about five hours into the eight-hour journey, I spotted the first of more than 70 tin horses that line the main road leading into Kulin. Kulin is…

  • Things to see and do in Singapore

    I’ve said it before, and probably will again, Singapore is so much more than a stopover! A true melting pot of cultures and people, it is a dynamic and truly multicultural city, full of fascinating sights and interesting neighborhoods. Myths and Merlions With the body of a fish but the head of a lion, the merlion has been a symbol of Singapore since 1972. The lion’s head comes from the Malay term for the city ‘Singapura’ meaning ‘lion city’, and the fish body represents Singapore’s origins as a fishing village. The statue faces east, which is believed to be the direction that brings prosperity. At regular intervals each day the…

  • Vietnam’s Thien Mu, a Temple with a Political History

    On the north bank of the beautiful Perfume River in Hue, the Thien Mu Pagoda is a place of peace and reflection. Historically however, the temple was closely associated with politics, predominantly the opposition to Vietnam’s oppressive regime during the 1950s. This edgy and unique characteristic of Thien Mu makes it fascinating to visit. The temple is dedicated to Buddha and was originally constructed in the 1840s, but most recently restored in 1953. It is a working temple with meditation halls, drum towers and several shrines. It is also home to a sangha of Buddhist monks, whose presence was only indicated by several trays of chillies left to dry on…