Saturday 8 December 2018

Koh Lanta - Trip Report

I decided to spend Xmas 2017 with my girlfriend in Koh Lanta; one of the few beautiful Thai islands that has yet to be overrun by loud, elephant-pants-wearing trashpackers drinking out of buckets or massive groups of manner-less Chinese tourists.

Getting there from Sri Lanka (trip report) involved being transported in every form of vehicle, but in Koh Lanta I had one of my own; a wee Honda Click scooter for zipping around the island.

This is where I made a rare travel blunder, embarrassingly in the country that I know best.

Monday 25 June 2018

Sri Lanka - Trip Report

I travelled to Sri Lanka solo, just as I have on many of my previous adventures.

This time it wasn't the original plan but my girlfriend happened to crash her car on the way to the airport. Very unfortuante for her, but for me - I got to sit next an empty middle seat on the plane. Every cloud has a silver lining.

It was 1am and I had arrived in the land of the vertical bank note.

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My first destination was the incredibly scenic town of Ella. The 7-hour taxi ride there from Colombo airport was a little costly by Sri Lankan standards at 13,000LKR ($81.50, 61.50 GBP). The trains in Sri Lanka are so cheap that they're practically free. It's just unfortunate that the first train would have got me to Ella at sunset rather than sunrise. Time is more important than money when you're on a short trip so I didn't want to waste a whole day, unlike my girlfriend who was wasting the day in a police station thousands of miles away.

Thursday 4 May 2017

Copenhagen, Denmark - Trip Report and Vlog

Why would anyone leave Scotland in the winter, only to travel to an even colder country?

Well, £25 each way flights and the promise of the best pastries and bacon in the world was good enough reason for my brother and I to book a trip to Denmark.

For this trip report I made a vlog. I've considered doing this in the past but it seemed like too much hassle to do it well. Technology is getting better though and I was able to film, edit and upload this vlog in Ultra HD using just my phone (a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge).

Thursday 27 April 2017

Milan, Italy - Trip Report

I arrived in Milan around 8am after a long overnight flight from Hong Kong. Having had the luxury of a comfortable night's sleep, thanks to the unforgettable experience of travelling in first class, I was ready to spend the day exploring rather than recovering.

This was my first trip to Italy and I had scheduled it so that I could experience the ‘Derby della Madonnina’ - the famous derby match between AC Milan and Inter.

I had yet another stay with AirBnb, booking a beautiful apartment in a residential area, right beside a metro station, for about a third the price of a decent hotel room in the city.

Just checked in to my Airbnb apartment in Milan. #Milan #Italy

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Before booking I contacted the host and told her I could only book if I could check in at 8am. In this scenario the host has to block out the previous night on the booking system, so they're not always keen to do this. Thankfully, as I was booking for a whole week, the host agreed to my request.

**** £30 / $38 free credit for new Airbnb members ****

After settling into my wonderful new home I went out exploring. It was the coldest weather I'd experienced in close to 3 years at around 10 degrees C, but still bearable wearing a hoodie - the only warm item of clothing in my whole suitcase.

Wednesday 8 March 2017

My £10,315 First Class Cathay Pacific Flight (that cost me £30).

Four years ago I got into the hobby of collecting airline miles. I previously hadn't even bothered to sign up for any airline's frequent flyer clubs, in the mistaken belief that I would need to do a crazy amount of travel to get anything worthwhile out of them.

Since I started reading blogs such as Head For Points and the Flyer Talk forums I've since collected hundreds of thousands of miles, but very few of them came from actually flying. Most were from churning credit card signup bonuses (what would be called "bonus whoring" in the online poker world) and various other offers that have come up from time to time.

I've previously written about some of the excellent miles redemptions that I've made for Business Class flights in the last couple of years:

Bangkok to Istanbul with Malaysia Airlines @ 65,000 Avios + £14.10 GBP
Istanbul to Bangkok with Royal Jordanian @ 65,000 Avios + £101 GBP
Bangkok to Hanoi with Qatar Airways @ 18,000 Avios + £98 GBP
Bangkok to Osaka with Japan Airlines @ 20,000 Avios + £26.90
Osaka to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific @ 20,000 Avios points + £26.90 GBP

This was my first time making a redemption in First Class, travelling from Hong Kong to Milan with Cathay Pacific for the bargain price of 120,000 Avios + £30 GBP.

Flight to Milan, man. #HongKong #CathayPacific

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Sure, 120,000 is a lot of miles to use up on one flight. I could certainly have used them more frugally, but the opportunity to fly First Class for the first time in my life, to do it with a top airline like Cathay and pay only 30 quid in taxes, it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Thursday 9 February 2017

Hong Kong - Trip Report

After a week of eating everything in Osaka, I travelled to Hong Kong with the intention of doing plenty of hiking to burn off those excess calories.

I'd visited Hong Kong several times before but was unable to take advantage of its excellent hiking trails as it was always raining. I hoped for better luck with the weather on this visit.

Just as I did between Bangkok and Osaka, I was able to book an excellent value miles redemption ticket between Osaka and Hong Kong. I travelled business class with Cathay Pacific, KIX-HKG direct, for just 20,000 Avios points + £26.90 GBP ($33.79 USD). The cash price of the same ticket was a ludicrous £1877 GBP ($2357 USD).

It was only a 4 hour and 25 minute flight but, just like my flight from Bangkok to Osaka, the airline uses a long haul aircraft for the route. This makes a big difference in terms of comfort as you get a fully flat bed in business class rather than just a wider seat.

This was a 10am flight so certainly no need for a sleep. I just lay back and watched The Secret Life of Pets.

The Secret Life of Pets

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Monday 19 December 2016

Osaka - Trip Report

The wonderful thing about travel is the experience of something different than what you're used to. And for a European it doesn't get any more different than Japan. When you're in Japan, you know that you're 5,000 miles away from home.

However, one thing that’s Japanese that I am used to is their food. I seek out Japanese restaurants no matter where I am in the world. It was four years since my last trip to Japan so another visit was well overdue. I’d been hearing that the food capital of Japan was Osaka, so, of course, I booked a flight there.

I used some of my Avios (British Airways) miles to book a business class flight with Japan Airlines direct from Bangkok to Osaka for 20,000 Avios + £26.90 ($34.10 USD / €32.08 EUR) in cash. An excellent value redemption considering the cash price of the same ticket was £963 ($1221 USD / €1148 EUR).

It was a 5 hour flight but fortunately Japan Airlines use a long haul aircraft for the route. Long haul is usually defined by most airlines to be over 7 hours. The benefit of flying in a long haul aircraft is that you get a flat bed in business class rather than just a big seat. And with a 23:25 takeoff I needed it.

I got a solid 3 and a half hours sleep in. The cabin crew asked me before lights out if I wanted to be woken up for breakfast or left to sleep. Of course I value food higher than sleep so I wasn’t going to miss my first Japanese breakfast of the trip.

With the 2 hour time difference the flight landed at 6:25. Early morning arrivals are good in that you get a whole day at your destination. In fact, more than a full day for me because I generally don’t get out of bed before midday. But they are bad in that it’s usually way too early to check into a hotel.

Thursday 27 October 2016

Living in Thailand - 2016 Update

Two years ago I published a blog about living in Thailand. Since then I’ve written lots about my travels overseas to other countries, however an update on the place that I spend most of my time is well overdue.

The weather, the food and the girls are still hot. The only thing that’s changed recently is the cost of living, for me as a Brit at least. Our currency, Pounds Sterling, is now worth about 25% less against the Thai Baht than it was earlier in the year before the damn Brexit vote.

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Yangon, Myanmar - Trip Report.

Since I don’t want to get a job, go to school or marry a Thai girl, I’m still living in Thailand by means of back-to-back tourist visas. This requires me to briefly leave the country every 3 months. I usually try to make the most of these visa-runs by visiting other parts of Asia that I haven’t been to yet and which interest me.

The only nearby country I hadn’t visited yet was Myanmar (formerly Burma). It was at the very bottom of my list but after more than 5 years of visiting other neighbouring countries multiple times, it was about time that I checked it out.


I chose to visit Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the largest city in Myanmar, because there is a Thai embassy there and it’s just a 1 hour, 1300 Baht (28 GBP / 37.50 USD) flight from Bangkok.

That’s the price flying with the Thai budget airline Nok Air.

Like the budget airlines in the UK, you have to go to some spartan departure gate that’s all the way at the ass-end of the airport and then spend 15 minutes being transported like cattle to the plane in an overcrowded bus.

Tuesday 5 April 2016

Manila - Trip Report

After another three months in Thailand my visa expired, meaning it was travel time. After living in Thailand for the best part of five years I'd already visited just about every country in Asia when it came time to do a visa run. Not the Philippines though.

The most obvious choice for a trip to Philippines would have been Cebu. It's very touristy with lots of nice beaches. I'm not that big on beaches, or tourists for that matter, so I chose to go to the big dirty city of Manila - just a 3 hour direct flight from Bangkok.

The start to my trip wasn't great. I was in Manila for less than a minute before getting scammed by a policeman for 200 Pesos. (100 Pesos = $2.15 USD = £1.52 GBP)