Stuart

After six months

After six months

…and over one hundred blog posts, this is it now – the final post from me, on the day we head back to London. We’ve had a great few days in Rio – huge thanks to Lance and David (and their dog Mousse), our hosts at Casa Cool Beans, which has been a fantastically friendly, […]


Ayahuasca – conclusion

Ayahuasca - conclusion

It’s three days since the last ceremony took place, and we’re now in Cuzco.  I’ve done a lot of thinking about my experiences this week, and thought I would attempt to sum it all up.  This may be a rather premature conclusion, given that the effects of the medicine apparently continue to work for some […]


Ayahuasca ceremony 3

Ayahuasca ceremony 3

As I lay on my mat, listening to the shaman blessing the bottle, counting down the minutes until I would have to take my final dose, I found myself gripped by apprehension.  I was dreading swallowing the foul liquid, and sure enough, when my cup came round, my throat instinctively tightened up, and I almost […]


Ayahuasca ceremony 2

Ayahuasca ceremony 2

The next night, we assembled in the maloka once more.  I was dreading drinking the brew, and my stomach felt knotted up with anxiety at the memory of the taste.  When it came, though, I swallowed it quickly, took a gulp of water, then rinsed my mouth out as quickly as possible, relieved not to […]


Ayahuasca ceremony 1

Ayahuasca ceremony 1

We arrived in Puccalpa late on Saturday, after a delay of several hours. Within twenty minutes, we had our bags, had met Jill, one of the retreat owners, and were in a moto taxi to the port. An hour later, we were in the communal kitchen area, sitting down to our first dinner- a lovely […]


Welcome to the jungle

Welcome to the jungle

This is the last blog post for seven days or so, as today we fly to Puccalpa, in the Amazon jungle, for a week long retreat with Tierra Vida Healing centred upon three ayahuasca ceremonies. I first heard of ayahuasca from a good friend last year. Also known as ‘vine of the soul’, ayahuasca is […]


World’s Most Dangerous Road

World's Most Dangerous Road

Another day, another road trip.  Only today’s happened to be a 64 km mountain biking excursion down ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Road’ (WMDR). The road, which begins at La Cumbre (4,700 metres) and finishes at Corioco, 3,600 metres lower, was built with hand tools and dynamite at the beginning of the century as part of […]


It had to happen

It had to happen

The final day of our jeep tour, and the sight we travelled so far to see – the vast salt plains of Uyuni. The salt covers around 2,000 sq km and is currently 9 metres deep. Despite our best efforts to avoid the comedy photographs beloved by some of our fellow travellers (the Taj Mahal […]


Stargazing

Stargazing

When I was younger, I used to be hugely into stargazing and astronomy.  I could spend hours with my binoculars looking up at the night sky, and for a long time, I wanted to be an astronomer.  I even persuaded my dad to take me to a local astronomy club in Haywards Heath one night […]


My two favourite things…

My two favourite things...

Yesterday we took a bus out to Maipu, the biggest wine making region in Argentina, with 1,200 wineries producing 70% of the country’s wine. We hired bikes from Bikes and Wines, who seem to have the market cornered in combining two of the most pleasant things on earth – cycling on a lovely sunny day, […]


The Devil’s Throat

The Devil's Throat

We first heard about how good the buses are in South America when we looked into booking the trip and realised quite how big the continent is (did I ever mention the time I spent an hour on Google Maps, thinking “It doesn’t seem that far from Santiago to Peru” before realising the scale indicator […]


A walk on the glacier

A walk on the glacier

Today we went for a walk on the Franz Josef glacier (where Jane’s birthday photo of me came from) – a few more photos for you to enjoy…


‘Embrace the fear’…

'Embrace the fear'...

…is the slogan of NZone, the Queenstown-based skydiving company which has been on our radar for about seven months.  Way back when we were planning this trip, we decided that a skydive would be a cool thing to do, if terrifying.  Frankly, though, it’s not that scary when you’re just sitting there in the pub […]


The art of incongruous cooking

The art of incongruous cooking

When we worked out travel budget, way back in autumn 2010 (a fine joint effort, where Jane took responsibility for researching likely daily costs per country, plus the likely contingency costs of additional activities, and I made it into a lovely spreadsheet with ‘Alert – you are over budget’ warnings and live currency feeds from […]


Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook National Park

Yesterday we left Christchurch in the rain, and spent a very strange jet lagged few hours winding our way down through deserted farmland (bar the sheep) to Mount Cook National Park, stopping only for a much needed nap in a town car park somewhere.  Jet lag and the airport floor were catching up with me, […]


Another day, another country…

Another day, another country...

Well this is all a bit weird.  Just over three week ago we were in Laos.  Then we went to Cambodia.  Stopped briefly in Sydney for three nights, and now we’re in New Zealand. We arrived a little late to make spending NZD$160 on a hotel room worthwhile, so opted for the airport floor route.  […]


War Museum

War Museum

Today we went to the War Museum in Siem Reap, which contains remnants of the struggle which endured from 1979 until 1991. The People’s Republic of Kampuchea, established after the Khmer Rouge were dispelled by the Vietnamese army, continued to fight the Khmer Rouge after they retreated to the Thai border under the ongoing leadership […]


An ingenious solution

An ingenious solution

Before we left for the temples of Angkor today, I completely forgot that you have to cover your shoulders as a mark of respect in a lot of temples. Alas, I had forgotten to bring a shirt.  Jane to the rescue though, who saved the day with a particularly dainty, pretty, shiny, coloured scarf. Needless […]


The best value beer in town

The best value beer in town

This evening we found a bar which offers you a ‘fish massage’ by none other than the ‘fish doctor’. Click on the video and you can see that this intriguing proposition involved sitting with your feet in a tank, while a load of fish nibble at your feet. It’s a bizarre sensation, and, whilst my […]


The net effect

The net effect

The last time I went backpacking was in 1991. I was 18, and together with my two best friends, Jason and Adryan, went Inter Railing around Europe for a month. In those days, I seem to recall that around £200 bought us each a month of unlimited rail travel throughout Europe, including some ferry crossings, […]


A present comes our way

A present comes our way

Apologies to all those who have been waiting with bated breath for an update from our last few days in Laos. After the incredible Kong Lo Cave, we headed down to Pakse, a fairly small town without a big tourist scene, in which we only planned to spend a night en route to Si Phan […]


Welcome to the underworld

Welcome to the underworld

An early start this morning – up at 04:45 to catch a tuk to the bus station in Vientiane for our 06:00 bus to Ba Nam Him, jumping off point for the Kong Lo cave, our next scheduled stop on our way down through the country. Our plan was to stay overnight in Ban Nam […]


Between a rock and a hard place…

Between a rock and a hard place...

We are currently in Mong Ngao, a little town idyllically located about eight hours upriver from Luang Prabang, an hour by boat from Nong Xiaw. The town is only accessible by boat, which makes for a pleasant, relaxing experience – not a car or a scooter in sight, and barely even a bicycle. The area […]


Waterfalls, bears and a spider

Waterfalls, bears and a spider

It’s official – both of us are fit.  The Rough Guide says so.  Today we went to Kuang Xi waterfalls, and instead of opting for the taxi journey, we hired mountain bikes for the 62km round trip cycle, which, according to Rough Guide, “only for the fit”.  So there you go. We did the journey […]



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