Mongolia – Heading West

As one of the world’s least densely populated country, Mongolia is a country of vast open spaces, nomads and mutton. At the countries center, along the Trans Mongolian railway lies the coldest capital city in the world, the rather bland Ulan Bator. Venturing out of the city is where you discover Mongolia’s rugged beauty and great hospitality. To the south lies Asia’s largest desert, the Gobi, which is constantly growing further into the north of China. Heading into Western Mongolia gives an immense sense of isolation. Here you find Kazakh nomads who fled Kazakhstan because of the “Russification” since 1920, and set up permanent residence in the Bayan-Ulgii province. To see the best of the country it’s suggested to tour the country using your own vehicle (or a guide), however attempting to master your own way around on public transport can be an experience in itself.

Gobi desert from the Trans Mongolian railway

View of the Gobi desert from the Trans Mongolian Railway enroute to Ulan Bator

Officer waves in Sukhbaatar Square, Ulan Bator - Mongolia

Military procession in Sukhbaatar Square, Ulan Bator

Mock fighting in Sukhbaatar square, Ulan Bator Mongolia

Mock fighting in Sukhbaatar square, Ulan Bator

Munks cleaning dishes in Gandantegchinlen Ulan Bator Mongolia

Munks at Gandantegchinlen, Ulan Bator

Women mongolia black market ulan bator depressed

Women waits at her packed up stall in the black market, Ulan Bator

Terelj National Park Mongolia

Terelj National Park, outside Ulan Bator

Overview of Terelj National Park, Mongolia

Sunset over Terelj National Park, outside Ulan Bator

Terelj National Park Mongolia, horse riding

Terelj National Park, outside of Ulan Bator

Terelj National Park Mongolia, horse riding

Terelj National Park, outside of Ulan Bator

Food stop on the 36hr bus journey from Ulan Bator to Khovd

Food stop on the 36hr bus journey from Ulan Bator to Khovd

Car swap, mongolian policeman, enroute to olgii

Confusing situation with police enroute to Olgii in the far west

Bayan-Ölgii Province, snow capped mountains and fields of grass

Remote landscapes of the Bayan-Ölgii Province

Eagle flying in front of mountains western Mongolia

Eagle soaring in the far west of Mongolia

Green grass, russian van, mongolia, transport

Driver stops in the middle of a field to swap some of his fuel for alcohol

russian jeep arrives on dirt rd at sunset in Olgii Mongolia

Arriving in the far west of Mongolia, Olgii

Outdoor pool in the sun, black markets Bayan Ölgii Mongolia

Playing pool at the black market in Ölgii, Mongolia

Horse by the river through Tsengel, Bayan-Ölgii‎ Mongolia

Riding along the river towards Tsengel, Bayan-Ölgii‎

Khurgan Nuur (lake) in Bayan-Ölgii Mongolia

Khurgan Nuur/lake in Bayan-Ölgii

Cow dung fire, cooking fish from Khurgan Nuur, Mongolia

Mardan lights up some cow dung to cook freshly caught fish from the Khurgan Nuur

Black and silver horse tied up to a post, mongolia

Horse waits patiently near the Khurgan Nuur

Goat milk, khurgan nuur Mongolia Bayan-Ölgii

Milking goats by the Khurgan Nuur

Khurgan Nuur (lake) in Bayan-Ölgii Mongolia

Khurgan Nuur (lake) in Bayan-Ölgii

Cooking a goat and cooling it off in the Khurgan Nuur

Kids pose while a cooked goat is cooled off in the Khurgan Nuur

Curious kids observing me eat by the Khurgan Nuur Mongolia, sunset

Curious kids observing me eat by the Khurgan Nuur

Mongol kazak kids playing at khurgan nuur mongolia

Kids playing around by the Khurgan Nuur

Kid playing on a hill by the Khurgan Nuur Mongolia

Kid plays with rocks by the Khurgan Nuur

Three Kazak-mongol men walk along the Khurgan Nuur

Kazak Mongolian men stroll along the Khurgan Nuur

Mongolian ger/yurt, their living room, kitchen and bedroom

A family inside their ger, camped around the Khurgan Nuur

Horse reflection in waters above the Khurgan Nuur Mongolia

Drinking from the Khurgan Nuur

Horses play around the Khurgan Nuur lake, Mongolia

Horse love along the Khurgan Nuur

Man on a silver horse with a purple sunset in Mongolia Khurgan nuur

Kazak-Mongol man on his horse by the Khurgan Nuur

Man plays with a goats head after cooking

Head from a cooked goat, Khurgan Nuur

Sunset in Khurgan Nuur lake

Sunset enjoyed by five kids and one baby wolf, Khurgan Nuur

Dog howls alongside the Khurgan Nuur, Altai Tavan Bogd

Dog howls alongside the Khurgan Nuur

Goats and kids on a hill in the Khurgan Nuur lakes region

Kids and goats fool around near Khurgan Nuur

Altai Tavan Bogd, women cooking along the Khurgan lake

Kazak-Mongol women cooking by the Khurgan Nuur

Advertisements

China – Guilin to Beijing

A month long tourist visa is barely enough to see even a fraction of Chinas many highlights. From its incredibly diverse cultures, amazing food, spectacular mountains and cities that sprawl seemingly endlessly in order to contain the world’s largest population as well as the second largest economy in the world, there’s a lot to enjoy. A fairly straight forward route when arriving from Vietnam can take you through the popular tourist region of Guilin, then onto some seriously stunning mountains and national parks, before heading to the modern Shanghai, the most populated city in the world, and then onward to the history and culture rich Beijing. From Beijing there is of course the mandatory trip out to the most iconic symbol of the country, the Great Wall.

Yunyang rice fields

Yunyang rice fields

Yangshuo town

Yangshuo town

Yangshuo lookout

Yangshuo lookout

Kid waving the Chinese flag at Tiananmen square

Kid waving the Chinese flag at Tiananmen square

Street games in Shanghai

Street games in Shanghai

Skyline in Shanghai

Skyline in Shanghai

The Shanghai Bund bull

The Shanghai Bund bull

Rickshaw driver in Beijing

Rickshaw driver in Beijing

Rickshaws in Beijing

Rickshaws in Beijing

Not quiet a pet shop...

For sale

Mt Lushan town

Mt Lushan town

Mt Lushan three step waterfall

Mt Lushan three step waterfall

Mt Lushan three step waterfall

Huangshan – “Yellow Mountain”

Huangshan "Yellow Mountain"

Huangshan “Yellow Mountain”

Huangshan "Yellow Mountain"

Huangshan “Yellow Mountain”

Huangshan "Yellow Mountain"

Huangshan “Yellow Mountain”

Huangshan "Yellow Mountain"

Huangshan “Yellow Mountain”

Great Wall of China under moonlight

Great Wall of China under moonlight

Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

Rafting past the Dragon bridge, Yulong river

Rafting past the Dragon bridge, Yulong river

Wedding business - Bejing

Wedding business – Bejing

Flag burning prevention - Tiananmen square

Flag burning prevention – Tiananmen square

Testing the boundaries - Tiananmen square, Beijing

Testing the boundaries – Tiananmen square, Beijing

Blind busker in Bejing

Blind busker in Bejing

Bamboo writting

Bamboo writting

Yangshou

Boating down the Yangshuo river

Vietnam – DnButterfly (Video Post)

To mix up the usual photo posts, here’s a video of some butterflies in Cuc Phuong National Park dancing to the unlikely sound of Drum ‘n Bass. A few minutes into the video you’ll see a slide show of some existing photos, with a few new ones thrown in as a hint of what’s to come. Enjoy.

Click HERE to watch in HD (720p)

Vietnam – North

While you may experience some lingering post war resentment as a westerner travelling through northern Vietnam, the countries raw beauty and established tourism industry help to put that all aside. Exploring the scenic karst formations by sea in Ha long bay or by land and river in Tam Coc, hiking through the mountains in the north such as the hill tribe regions around Sapa, or just cruising around the country by motorbike are great ways of experiencing the best of the countries landscapes as well as absorbing the various ways of Vietnamese life. Of course no visit to Vietnam is complete without indulging in the cheap bia hoi (draught beer) on street corners in the likable old quarter in the capital, Hanoi.

Tam coc - ninh binh

Smile! Tam Coc – Ninh Binh

Boating down Tam Coc in Ninh Binh

Boating down Tam Coc in Ninh Binh

Ninh Bin Tam Coc boatride

Boating down Tam Coc in Ninh Binh

Boating down Tam Coc in Ninh Binh

Boating down Tam Coc in Ninh Binh

Rice field, vietnam

Rice field in Tam Coc, Ninh Binh

Vietnam northern cat ba island, Ha Long Bay, boats

Cat Ba Island – Ha Long Bay

Sunset over Cat Ba island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island – Ha Long Bay

Vietnam flags, Cat Ba island

Port at Cat Ba Island – Ha Long Bay

Women washing in boat, Vietnam Cat Ba

Cat Ba Island – Ha Long Bay

Vietnamese fisherman black and white

Fisherman in Ha Long Bay

Black and white monkeys

Ubiquitous south east asian monkeys on Monkey Island – Ha Long Bay

Protection from traffic fumes

Typical clothing for women on scooters, Ha Noi

Buildings in Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa Town

Vietnamese tribe women

Sapa hill tribe women

Vietnam school kids

School in Giang Ta Chai, Sapa

Vietnam-Sapa-red-zao

Red Zao women in Lao Chai

Dancing in sapa vietnam

Performance in Sapa Town

Boy Ta phin village

Local boy in Ta Phin village

Laos Chai fishing, sapa

Fishing In Laos Chai, Sapa

Duck duck goose

Ducks racing for food in Sapa

Cat Cat village, Sapa

Boy in Lao Chai village

Boy in Lao Chai village, Sapa

Laos – Pi Mai in Vientiane (New year celebration)

Laos new years from April 14-16 is a great time to visit the country, with its water festival that encourages a contagious mixture of cheerfulness and cheekiness, spurred on by the constant flow of water and endless supply of Beer Laos. Jumping on the back of a truck filled with a dozen locals dancing, shouting “Saibadee Pi Mai” (happy new year), and throwing buckets of water, is a trip highlight of many lucky enough to take part in the local celebrations. The festivities lasts a few days longer than the official three days, and is most intense in major cities such as Luang Prabang and the capital, Vientiane.

Laos Vientiane Pi Mai Celebrations, truck, water

Laos Vientiane Pi Mai Celebrations

Laos Vientiane Pi Mai Celebrations, beer laos, truck

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos, waterpistol

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos, water pistol

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos, dancing

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos, strange man

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos, Monk puts wristband on girl

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos, scooter, flour, water

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos, girls dancing, crutch grab

Cheeky kids at the Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos, water stuck in time

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos, beauty pageant, temple

Parade at the Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos, water festival, scared man

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos, group photo

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Pi Mai Celebrations in Vientiane, Laos

Laos – Sticky Rice, Beer Laos, and Caves

It appears the law making it illegal for a Laotion and a foreigner to enter a “relationship” has helped prevent the country from becoming an overly westernised tourist destination, as well as limit sex tourism – a surprising difference from neighbouring Thailand. The people are much friendlier, and while there are no beaches due to it being a landlocked country, there are plenty of sources of water to keep you entertained. There are stunning waterfalls such as those found in Luang Prabang, mysterious streams running through an endless array of caves, and hidden springs scattered throughout the country that you’ll usually just share with the locals. Of course there is also the controversial tubing in Vang Vieng where alcohol (amongst other substances), care free tourists and the river mix with often fatal consequences. This type of activity has been isolated to just the one river, so if you grab a motorbike and explore the country on your own, you’ll have no trouble discovering the beauty of real Laos.

Kuang Si waterfall, Luang Prabang - rope swing

Kuang Si waterfall, Luang Prabang

Cleaning/gutting fish in the street in Luang Prabang

Cleaning fish in the street in Luang Prabang

Noodle Shoup - Entertaining Laos english

Entertaining signage in Luang Prabang

High Dive while tubing in Vang Vieng

Risky business while tubing in Vang Vieng

Victory Gate/Patuxai and fountain - Vientiane

Victory Gate/Patuxai – Vientiane

Pi Mai New Years celebration in Vientiane - water festival

Pi Mai New Years celebration in Vientiane

Monkey business - Vientiane

Monkey business – Vientiane

Monks walk on Don Chan bank of the Mekong river in Vientiane

Monks walk along the Don Chan bank of the Mekong river in Vientiane, towards Thailand on the opposite side

Tham Nang Aen Cave Laos

Tham Nang Aen Cave

Mangroves seen during the "Thakhek loop" at sunset

Mangroves seen during the “Thakhek loop”

Cool Spring at Bo Houay Namgen on the "Thakhek loop"

Cool Spring at Bo Houay Namgen on the “Thakhek loop”

Drinking Laohoi rice wine with locals at a cool spring in Bo Houay Namgen on the "Thakhek loop"

Drinking Laohoi rice wine with locals at a cool spring in Bo Houay Namgen on the “Thakhek loop”

Kid serving Beer Laos in Bo Houay Namgen on the "Thakhek loop"

Worlds youngest bar tender(?) serving Beer Laos in Bo Houay Namgen on the “Thakhek loop”

Wooden canoe ride through the impressively long (7km) Konglor cave

Wooden canoe ride through the impressively long (7km) Konglor cave

Dog burnt on fire

Mans best friend, now dinner

Dogs in cage

Dogs without hope, en-route to the Vietnam border

Monk walks along a submerged tree in the mystical Kongleng Lake

Monk walks along a submerged tree in the mystical Kongleng Lake

Monks playing in the mystical Kongleng lake

Monks playing in the mystical Kongleng lake

Thailand – Beaches and Beer

It’s no secret that Thailand is a tourist hotspot, though surprisingly you don’t often hear people complain about too many tourists here. Not that there aren’t, they’re just about everywhere. Often loud, regularly intoxicated, and always having fun, visitors here seem to get along harmoniously, contradicting the effect they may be having on the country and its local people. When the hangover wears off, you may find the time to discover how much beauty the country has to offer. From its stunning beaches and countless diving opportunities, to its world class rock climbing on the dramatic karst limestone cliffs, or its jungles, rivers and waterfalls, there is never a shortage of natural wonders (or beer) to justify a stay of far longer than first planned.

Longtail boats, Small island off Ton Sai, Krabi

Small island off Ton Sai, Krabi

Deep water soloing on cliffs off Ton Sai beach, Krab

Deep water soloing on cliffs off Ton Sai beach, Krabi (assisted self portrait…)

Deep water soloing on cliffs off Ton Sai beach, Krab

Deep water soloing on cliffs off Ton Sai beach, Krabi

South end of Rai Leh, Krabi

Climbing up south end of Rai Leh, Krabi

Multi pitch rock climbing above Ton Sai, Krabi

Multi pitch climbing above Ton Sai, Krabi

Rock climbing at Phra Nang beach, Krabi

Rock climbing at Phra Nang beach, Krabi

Phra Nang beach, Krabi

Phra Nang beach, Krabi

Snorkelling at "The Beach" (Maya beach)

Snorkelling at the rear entrance of “The Beach” (Maya beach)

"The Beach" (Maya Beach)

“The Beach” (Maya Beach)

Absolute vodka Bangla rd, Patong beach - Phuket

Visuals on Bangla rd, Patong beach – Phuket

Fire shows on Koh Tao beach

Fire show on Koh Tao

Island chill, South Koh Tao

Island chill, Koh Tao

Dog at Lahu village outside Chiang Mai

Lahu village outside Chiang Mai

kid at Lahu village outside of Chiang Mai

Lahu village outside Chiang Mai

Kids dancing at Lahu village outside Chiang Mai

Lahu village outside Chiang Mai

Jungle trekking outside Chiang Mai

Jungle trekking outside Chiang Mai

Sunset Kong Lan/Pai Canyon - Pai

Kong Lan/Pai Canyon – Pai