He says, she says – Laos

3 March – 20 March 16 days

Places visited: Pakse, Don Det – 4000 islands, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang

Most favourite place:
Charlie: This took me a lot of thought but i think Don Det, but a close second being Vang Vieng. Don Det won because of its amazing waterfalls and the natural aspects. Vang Vieng is also amazing with its monstrous mountains and the sleepy rivers running through them.
Lisa: Don Det was a really interesting place for me. On arrival I was really confused at why people visited for long (some people stay weeks there) but once you got used to the really laid by vibe and explored the surrounding areas it was a really great place to spend your time.

Least favourite place:
Charlie: We passed through Pakse for one night and didn’t really get a chance to see if and judge it too well, but having said that, it seemed a bit characterless to me.
Lisa: Pakse was pretty unimpressive but we only spent one night there between crossing the Thai border and getting to Don Det, if I had to pick another place then I would say Luang Prabang. Whilst the town is quite a lot nicer than the others, I felt it was also the most developed and there wasn’t as much to do or see there. Don Det and Vang Vieng had the most beautiful scenery around them that I didn’t feel Luang Prabang could compete with.

Most favourite dish:
Charlie: The crispy pork! I discovered it too late and only managed to have it a couple of times though. I had something similar in Thailand, so maybe its not a great answer but i still miss that stuff!
Lisa: The Luang Prabang sausage was my favourite, although I only had it once. It’s filled with loads of herbs and the one we tried came with a really nice homemade eggplant chutney.

Best experience:
Charlie: We did so many cool things that this is hard to pick just one! I think the sunset bar in Don Det was awesome, jumping into the river from a high drop. We met the cutest little girl there too, who we spent a sunset with too which was so fun!
Lisa: I really enjoyed floating around the Mekong in Vang Vieng, especially at the Smile Bar where they had tied up tubes so you could get a drink and float there without moving whilst the sun set.

Worst experience:
Charlie: I think the night bus was probably the worst. The length of the bed meant we both had to sleep on a 5 ft single bed in a cramped spooning position. i need space to sleep so this meant i didn’t get much shut eye. Lisa of course managed to doze off well before me, but even she struggled!
Lisa: Our journey from Don Det to Vang Vieng which took a long 28 hours. Not only was in uncomfortable, we had a lot of waiting around, being messed about a little and were 4 hours late.

Something you will miss:
Charlie: The natural beauty of the country. Even with it being the dry season, we got to see some awesome natural landmarks. Waterfalls and dolphins in 4000 Island, towering mountains and cliffs in Vang Vieng, and swimming in the Mekong in all the places as it stretches the length of the country!
Lisa: The landscapes in Laos were beautiful, especially the Mekong and the mountains as they provided amazing sunsets.

Something you won’t miss:
Charlie: We’ve noticed it a lot on the second half of the trip. When you take the buses, they seem to drive you right through town, often past your hotel and back out the other side of town. Funnily enough theres a crowd of Tuk Tuks waiting for you in this random car park, charging huge amounts (in relative terms) for you to be taken back into town. It always frustrates me!
Lisa: Nothing seems to run on time in Laos. It’s a very sleepy place that seems to run on its own time which can be annoying when getting between places as you are always told the journey will be much shorter than it actually is.


He says, she says – Myanmar

15 February – 27 February 13 days

Places visited: Yangon, Kalaw, Inle Lake, Began, Mandalay

Most favourite place:
Charlie: My favourite place was probably Inle Lake, there was a certain charm about it and the authenticity is still intact. There is an uprising in tourism there, but it seems to be slowly progressing which means the time to visit is now!
Lisa: Bagan was really amazing, we got to see so many amazing sunrises and sunsets there and the scenery was really beautiful.

Least favourite place:
Charlie: For me this is Mandalay. The city itself has nothing wrong with it, we managed to go see the local sights, but aside from venturing outside of the city, theres not tonnes to see.
Lisa: Same as above.

Most favourite dish:
Charlie: This is a tough one, not because there was loads I liked, but because I don’t know what it was called! The tea leaf salad was good and all of the food provided by the hiking company too but I don’t know the names!
Lisa: I didn’t really love the food in Myanmar, I think the only local dish I really enjoyed was the noodle soups they make.

Best experience:
Charlie: The trekking for sure! I loved it all and it was made even better by the boat tour around Inle Lake at the end. We got to see so much of the untouched countryside and village communities by hiking through them.
Lisa: The trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake was 100% my favourite experience in this country, if not on the trip. Not only did we get to see some beautiful views but staying with local families in their villages was so authentic and unlike anything I have ever done before.

Worst experience:
Charlie: The worst thing is hard to choose. The night buses weren’t amazing but they were a lot better than some others we have taken. I think the worst thing was Lisa being sick but thats hardly the countries fault.
Lisa: Getting ill in Inle Lake wasn’t great but if I had to pick something else it would have been our bus ride to Mandalay where about 20 locals got on our bus chewing the red tobacco stuff that makes them spit lots, they were spitting into plastic bags the whole journey and it was pretty disgusting.

Something you will miss:
Charlie: I’ll miss the chilled out local vibes we came across, people just living their lives and not living in the tourist industry the same way other countries we’ve been to do.
Lisa: The people were really lovely but I think I will miss the authenticity that comes with travelling Myanmar. Everywhere we went we got to see the daily life of the locals before tourism gets in the way.

Something you won’t miss:
Charlie: I won’t miss the arguing in price with people. It was very similar with India, in the way that the merchant will add 40% to the price just to haggle it down and get a bigger profit.
Lisa: The red tobacco chewing, which was the same in India. I just find the chewing and spitting of it really disgusting and the streets are stained from it.

He says, she says – Cambodia

10 January – 31 January 21 days

Places visited: Phnom Penh, Kampot, Kep, Sihanoukville, Koh Rong Samloem, Otres, Battambang, Siem Reap

Most favourite place:
Charlie: For me, the favourite has to be Koh Long Samloem for its sheer beauty and peaceful atmosphere. The island doesn’t have roads or vehicles, limited electricity in the day, white sand and blue seas. Jungle hikes take you through the islands winding paths to other beaches with another character and atmosphere. Beautiful! A close second would have to be our day in Battambang!
Lisa: Koh Rong Samloem was just so beautiful! It was so nice to find an island that was still so quiet with minimal accommodation, no roads and some of the clearest water I’ve seen!

Least favourite place
Charlie: We spent a night in Sihanoukville whilst making our way through to Koh Rong Samloem. Sihanoukville has to be my least favourite as its just one big, dirty party town over-run with tourists looking for a cheap drink. We moved on the next day.
Lisa: Kep was my least favourite but luckily it was only a day trip we did there. For me, it just didn’t have a lot going for it other than the crab market.

Most favourite dish:
Charlie: Lok Lak! Its a stir-fried chilli dish with rice and a fried egg on top. Put a fried egg on anything and i’ll probably eat it. I think i liked it so much because its similar to a lot of the Thai stir fry dishes i love.
Lisa: I liked the Khmer curry. It wasn’t spicy enough for me but the flavours were nice and I could usually get it with tofu.

Best experience:
Charlie: My best experience is tough to choose. Meeting the locals and having them tell us their stories of the tragedy that they went through was amazing and touching, so i would have to say that meeting Bou Meng and Phi Lay – our tuk tuk driver in Battambang was the best thing to come out of our visit. Although waking up and looking out to the sea in Koh Rong Samloem was pretty special.
Lisa: Meeting Bou Meng, the survivor from S-21. It was a heartbreaking but really touching experience at the same time. One I definitely won’t forget.

Worst experience:
Charlie: Same as Below.
Lisa: I booked us a hotel in Sihanoukville that practically didn’t exist where it was supposed to. We walked about 40 minutes with all our bags to the most dodgy looking area to not find our hotel anywhere. We then had to go back to the main town and find something else. Luckily Agoda refunded our money and apologised but it was still pretty annoying.

Something you will miss:
Charlie: I’ll miss the kind nature of the people in Cambodia and the constant learning we took from them about their experiences over the last 4 decades.
Lisa: The people we met were amazing, not just travellers but we were lucky to meet some really amazing locals who told us very personal stories about their life and struggles.

Something you won’t miss:
Charlie: We shared one bus with a dude and his bag of chickens and another where someone brought a bag of warm dead fish and stuffed it under my seat. it was funny, but i won’t miss that smell!
Lisa: The bus journeys. Everything always took 2 hours longer than what they would say and there were so many stops added to pick up locals, a lot of whom had their market shopping with them. We had dead fish and live chickens on one of our buses although now we find it quite funny. Mostly it was just the wrong timings that annoyed us the most.

He says, she says – Sri Lanka

2 December – 23 December           
21 days

Places visited: Colombo, Kandy, Sigiriya, Nuwara Eliya, Ella, Tissamaharama, Mirissa, Unawatuna, Hikkaduwa

Most favourite place:
Charlie: my favourite place was Ella, set up in the mountains with beautiful panoramic mountain views and vivid colours everywhere you look. The drive from Nuwara Eliya to Ella is stunning.
Lisa: Ella was amazing. I loved being up in the mountains and seeing all the tea plantations. Every day we had there was filled with the most beautiful views!

Least favourite place:
Charlie: Fpr me it’s Tissamaharama, for no other reason that we didn’t get to see much of it as we only stayed one night. There’s no reason other than that we didn’t get a real feel for the place.
Lisa: Unawatuna was a bit of a disappointment for me. I’d heard good things about it from others however it just felt a bit too touristy but also very souless. There wasn’t much of a vibe there and having come from Mirissa (my second favourite place) I wished I’d just stayed there longer instead.

Most favourite dish:
Charlie: It’s got to be Daal curry. I couldn’t get enough of it! It’s a lentil based dish and it’s really hot and miss wether you’ll get a good one but when you did, it was delicious.
Lisa: Rotti Rotti Rotti! They have stuffed rotti with all of the best things. Vegetables, choc banana, chicken, cheese and garlic – what more could you want? An avocardo rotti you say? Well they’ve got that too!

Best experience:
Charlie: aside from the ability to drive ourselves around at our own leisure with the tuk tuk, my favourite experience was climbing the peak of Little Adams Peak. The views from the top of the surrounding mountains are beautiful!
Lisa: Having our own tuk tuk! It was literally the best decision we made. The freedom of travel and the extra things we saw because of it was priceless. It’s going to be hard to travel without one now.

Worst experience:
Charlie: This isn’t about Sri Lanka so much but it has to be the hotel we stayed in first of all in Ella. The room seemed fine but we soon realised the shower only worked if you put the shower head on the floor (weird). I had to fill a small glass with warm water from the floor shower and use that to splash myself clean. Also the wifi was switched off as the owner didn’t want the room next door to have the password
Lisa: We didn’t really have any terrible experiences but I guess my awkward conversation with the owner of Waves Inn 2 in Hikkaduwa wasn’t great. He really didn’t appreciate my view on his accommodation and I didn’t really appreciate his view on me by the end of it but it all worked out in the end.

Something you will miss:
Charlie: I’ll miss our beloved tuk tuk. The fact we could just load up and go at any time meant we did so much more than we would have without it. Sri Lanka is my favourite country I’ve visited ever so I’m gonna miss the whole place!
Lisa: the rotti, the tuk tuk and the landscapes… in no particular order.

Something you won’t miss:
Charlie: although neither of us got bitten particularly bad or frequently, I won’t miss the mosquitoes (who would?) they seemed to be able to get anywhere including inside our nets. We’d spent 10 minutes every night clapping in our room trying to get them.
Lisa: I am really searching for something here but I guess I won’t miss the varied prices. Each place seemed to be different from the one before. Some places we went it was easy to come across cheap food and other places the same food would cost double and usually not be as good. Same goes for accommodation really, mostly they were great for the price we paid however some places we went we really struggled to find similar priced accommodation that we were comfortable staying in. Usually moving out of the main area or just spending a few pounds more a night quickly solved this though.

He says, she says – India

19 October – 2 December
44 days

Places visited: Delhi, Varansi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Goa, Hampi

Most favourite place:

Charlie: I’m guessing me and Lisa are gonna go the same here, Varanasi. It was somewhere I had to see and it didn’t disappoint. The history and culture of the city is immense, all engrained into the unmapped alleyways and streets, along with the occasional ginormous cow and cheese shop! We also met a few really cool people to make it special too! Udaipur being a close joint second with Cola Beach!

Lisa: Hold the phone everyone – it finally isn’t a beach town! Varanasi is 100% my favourite place. It was completely hectic but had this charm about it. I loved our morning on the rooftop watching the sunrise and that at 5pm every day residents all over went on the rooftops to fly kites. Looking out at the Ganges to one side of us and then 5000 kites flying in the air on the other side was so special!

Least favourite place:

Charlie: This is tough because everywhere is so different and unique in its own ways, for the positive and negative. I’d say Jodhpur. The blue city isn’t as blue as they say, and aside from the Fort and a couple of walks around the city, there wasn’t much there in my interests. The Fort is amazing though! We also spent Diwali here which made a memorable evening watching the fireworks from our roof top over the Fort!

Lisa: I really didn’t think much of Agra. It’s of course worth the visit for the Taj Mahal and the Fort but we just spent our free time at our hostel otherwise cause the rest of Agra really didn’t have a lot to offer. We only spent a night there so we could do the sunrise at the Taj Mahal but I understand why some people just make it a day trip.

Most favourite dish:

Charlie: I struggled to eat curry and bread/rice every day here as it’s so rich so I mixed in some western and Asian alternatives along the way but Indian food wise, it’s the butter chicken masala with roti or parantha.

Lisa: They have indo-Chinese here and whilst I wasn’t crazy on most of it the chilli garlic potatoes are amazing! For an authentic Indian dish though I really liked the Kadai curries!

Best experience:

Charlie: There’s been a lot of really cool experiences along the way and it’s tough to pick one out of the bag. The River tour of the Ganges in Varanasi was great, riding our scooter to Cola beach and jumping into the cold river by the ocean was fun too. There’s so many! Taj Mahal at sunrise, Sunsets over the Ganges, Kayaking in Palolem, cycling around Hampi. One of those!

Lisa: The kite flying in Varanasi whilst sipping on chai on the rooftop (as above). Even though it happened everyday, each time it gave Charlie and I that ‘life moment’ where all the saving and planning to prepare for this trip was worth it to be in this moment!

Worst experience:

Charlie: The airports! I hate airports anywhere globally as it is, I hate the trapped feeling and I’m impatient. India adds 18 million levels of security to contend with. Scanning the bag on entry, on check in, in security and having your ticket checked every 10 metres at random, pointless locations throughout! It was something I dreaded and something I won’t miss!

Lisa: The demonetisation! 100% was the worst experience just because it massively affected our plans and our trip but even still I’ve enjoyed every minute of it none the less (minus the hours spent at ATMs).

Something you will miss:

Charlie: Okay this is a bit strange but in northern India especially, we seemed to get a lot of attention. We’d get waved at my children constantly, having adults and even entire families coming up and asking for a photo with us made me feel famous. A real ego boost somehow! It could happen 10 times a day and still didn’t feel like an inconvenience. I’m kind of a big deal in India I guess!

Lisa: I will miss the variety of India, each place we went to was different from the other, it’s crazy how much one country can have so much contrast! Arriving at a new place really gave us a heightened level of excitement to explore each place, while it was still very much India it didn’t feel samey at all.