We’ve spent three days in Bako National Park, and it’s hard to imagine a more jurassic, a more alive, or a more astounding place in the world. As I write this, the tree canopy is swaying, signalling the early morning arrival of the local long-tailed macaque tribe on their breakfast foraging expedition, and the air is alive with the sound of a hundred different species of bird and insect getting busy with the day. I know that if I look hard enough, somewhere in the tree opposite there’s a perfectly disguised winged lemur folded up and pressed against the trunk, sleeping vertically after being up all night hunting. And a massive bearded pig has just strolled casually from underneath our house, he probably slept there last night. Read More

Songkran, the famous New Year water festival in Thailand, used to be a civilised affair with much gentle dripping of scented water on to the hands of respected elders.  Nowadays though, it’s three days of waterpistol-toting fun and alcohol-fuelled carnage.  Songkran in Bangkok can be quite an intense experience, with thousands of people on the streets.  So is Songkran safe for kids?  We spent an interesting Songkran in Bangkok with our two kids, aged 9 and 11.  Read on to find out what happened and if we’d visit Bangkok during Songkran again…. Read More

When we were in Vietnam in 2003, Phong Nha-Ke Báng National Park had only just been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  But we hadn’t heard of it.  If we’d managed to find out about it, we’d have spent at least six hours bumping along dirt tracks on the back of a taxi moped trying to get there. Once we’d arrived, the scenery would have made the journey worthwhile, but with no hotels, restaurants or any form of organised tourist industry, our options for staying around would be have been pretty limited unless we spoke Vietnamese and could have blagged ourselves a homestay. Fast forward thirteen years, and the addition of a proper road and the discovery of the world’s largest cave in 2009 has completely transformed the area into one of the best places we’ve visited in Vietnam. Read More

Suitable for all ages – that’s how the Phong Nha National Park Tour was advertised. Perfect for Sam (11), Evan (9), Megan (8) and Fraser (5).  And indeed, the first half of the day proved to be entirely fine being educational and breathtaking in equal measure. However, after a very tasty “build yourself some spring rolls” lunch adventure, we stripped down to our swimmers, were handed a hard-hat, a head torch and a life jacket, and things got a whole lot less suitable. Read More

We’re two hours into a six hour minibus journey in the mountains of Northern Laos, on our way to Nong Kiaow, and I’m trying to take my mind off the smell of vomit by listing all the things I hate about backpacking.   Evan, our slightly travel sick nine year old, has thrown up twice.  It’s thirty degrees outside and the air con doesn’t work.  But worst of all, the bus driver is a Celine Dion fan with an eye on becoming Laos’ first rally car champ. The scenery is probably amazing.  But it’s difficult to concentrate on scenery when you’re frantically rummaging in your backpack for another of the sick bags acquired from the last airline company you used.  Right now, bus journeys and travel sickness are both up there at the top of my ‘Worst things about backpacking’ list. Read More