August 2012

Returning From Extended Travel

Fishing Village - Phu Quoc, Vietnam

So you are back – what now!

You don’t feel like you fit into the ‘world’ you’ve returned to. Where you once were reasonably or even madly happy and content, you now look around you and nothing seems as it once was.  Many of your friends and family no longer understand you and you feel as if you’re in a dream – an extremely surreal one! Welcome to the world of returning from an extended period of travel.  It’s easy for people who haven’t experienced your journey to wonder who this person (you) is – what have the aliens done with my, son/daughter, friend, sister/brother and who IS this person. 

Things To Do In England - September 2012

Carnival Parade

Looking for something to do in England during September? England has a vast range of things going on and I’m hoping for an Indian summer as there are still plenty of festivals and outdoor events to look forward to. Why not get yourself to the capital to see London’s great gorilla invasion, visit one of the many festivals, or get limbering up your face muscles for the world gurning championships!  Here are To There And Back Travels picks for September:

Participants in this fun run don hairy gorilla suits to run, jog or walk 7 kilometres around the streets of London. Now in its 10th year this event plays a crucial role in drawing attention to and helping to protect the declining number of mountain gorilla’s left in the wild. You don’t have to run to be involved, it’d be great fun just to go and watch. 

When:  22nd September
Where:  London

Moroccan Kefta Tagine

Moroccan Kefta Tagine

Trying different foods from around the world is one of the great things about travelling. Kefta Tagine is a dish I first tasted in Essaouira, Morocco, I tried numerous recipes and variations of recipes when I got home to try and recreate the flavours and the one below has remained my favourite:

Moroccan Kefta Tagine
Serves 2-3

Exploring Crete

Intended Driving Route On Crete

With my upcoming trip to Crete I set about doing some planning for places I might want to see while I’m there and it will be useful for anyone else thinking of visiting. We’ll be picking a hire car up at the airport and exploring as much of the island as we can in the time we have. The above map is a map of our intended route and as with all planning I do for trips this is just a guideline, if something attracts our attention on the way round, this could change. As usual we will be staying in small family run bed and breakfasts along the way, getting off the beaten track and trying as many local foods as we can. I can’t wait to get there, the scenery looks stunning.

Here are some of the places I came across during my research:

On To Malaysia


We arrived in Malaysia by dark and had fun and games trying to locate the correct bus to take us where we wanted to go. We eventually found a driver who said he would take us where we needed to go – so we hopped on. It turned out not to be the right bus at all though, which we discovered when he pulled up at the side of a dual carriageway and turfed us off with the words “over that way”!! We ended up walking along the road and then crossing several lanes of traffic to eventually get to our destination.

Malaysian Roadtrip

On Way To The Cameron Highlands 

I'm not sure why, but I don't really feel like I've connected with Malaysia yet and we have spent a number of days just driving around in the car somewhat aimlessly. It's been a strange time, I usually make all the decisions about where we go and what we do, as John is not normally bothered and is happy to do whatever I suggest. With me not being in a decisive mood it left us with no clear direction. The parts we have been to so far have been a lot more westernised and built up than I imagined it would be and it resulted in me looking for a flight to go somewhere else.

Another Piece In The Puzzle

Cameron Highlands Tea Plantations

We spent a couple of days in the Cameron Highlands. The days found us trying the delicacies at the local tea plantations, strawberry farms (of which the fresh fruits are delicious) and going on a drive taking in more of the scenery. We are in Malaysia at a time when it rains every afternoon, we get a downpour of rain and one day I just stood outside in it and got drenched through to the skin – it was fantastic. Each day in the mountains we had a glorious thunderstorm and watching the lightening arching across the sky, followed by the dramatic booms of thunder were another reminder of the beauty of nature.

John Gets Scammed

At The Palace in Phnom Penh

“Tuk tuk sir?” …... “Where you go sir?” …...... “You whan city centre sir?” were the shouts that punctuated the afternoon air as we walked out of the airport terminal yesterday, I breathed in the hot, humid air and just smiled. We were back in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and the city looked so much more inviting and beautiful this time round. Being in a fairly westernised country for the past few weeks made me appreciate it all the more, even though at heart I'm not a city gal.

After negotiating a price with a tuk tuk driver we were off weaving through the cars, bikes and tuk tuks that make up the roads of this city. I sat and laughed at some of the manoeuvres, which are of course legitimate moves here and felt incredibly excited that I'd made the decision to come back here, it was the right thing to do.

Chul Muy!!

Whats On The Menu Today

Yesterday we caught the bus to Kep, got a tuk tuk and headed up to Jasmine Valley, it felt great to be back again and the familiarity of it was fantastic and most welcome. We had a lazy afternoon relaxing in the communal area with coffees, paddling in the pool and sipping lime juices. We stayed at Jasmine Valley for dinner and caught up with Woz while we ate dinner.

We had a long leisurely brekkie this morning, more waffles for me, yum!! Afterwards we wandered around Jasmine Valley with Woz, doing nothing in particular, just mooching about and talking really, but time flew by. John and I had decided before we left Malaysia that while we were down this way, we wanted to visit the island of Phu Quoc, which is over the border in Vietnam. We are going tomorrow, so we had to get some tickets sorted out today with Woz's friend Anna, and before we knew it, it was mid afternoon – so we hopped on a moto and drove down to Anna to sort out tickets.

Speedos To Dinner

Fruit Seller 

Today we were moving on to Phu Quoc, a Vietnamese island not far from the Cambodian border.

Much of breakfast we spent talking to Woz about yesterdays events and giving John the regular ribbing we give him about his keenness to order baked beans that started back the first time we met up in Phnom Penh. At 10am we were saying goodbye again and taking a tuk tuk to catch the minibus for the ongoing journey. Unfortunately more seats had been sold to people than there were actually seats in the minibus, which meant that everyone was packed in like sardines and having bum cheeks awkwardly resting on other peoples laps. I found this highly amusing, other people didn't though and there was lots of tutting and puffing going on throughout the journey, which amused me even more!! At the border there was more dissatisfaction from other people in the bus as some had paid out £44 before they left England for a visa and we were granted a free one as we were only visiting the island.