Beg-packers are everywhere in the media at the moment. They’ve been around for a while, but a rise in numbers (and a rise in blatant insensitivity) are getting people really mad. So, what are beg-packers, why are they asking for money and are they wrong to do so?
Here are a few answers to those questions and my own personal opinion, which argues that beg-packing is pretty ridiculous, but it isn’t all bad (read first before you get angry at me too).
What are beg-packers?
Beg-packers are Western (majority white) tourists who are asking others to fund their travelling. Beg-packers are raising this money through crowdfunding websites such as fundmytravel.com, hawking postcards or busking on the street, and in some cases, just begging for money. Read more
I have flown in and out of Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, a bazillion times, travelling to and from Hong Kong. However, for this flight back to the UK, I booked a long layover in Doha just so I could spend 24 hours in Qatar and finally see more than just the airport!
I’m not in any way sponsored by Qatar Airways (I wish I was), but they are genuinely one of the best airlines I’ve travelled with, hence why I’ve done it so often. They’re cheap, they fly where I need to go and their service is always of a high standard.
So, here is the story of my 24 hours in Qatar, how I made the most of a long layover in Doha and some travel advice for anyone looking to do the same:
24 Hours in Qatar: Hamad International Airport
The first couple of times I flew in and out of Hamad International Airport, it was nothing but a shack with a duty free section and nowhere to exchange money!
Now, the new fancy terminal is like a miniature city in itself. There’s so much to see and do in the airport alone that you could easily make the most of a long layover in Doha without venturing out into the city (and I have done that too).
Aside from the obvious restaurants and shopping, Hamad International Airport also has art galleries, lounge facilities (all-inclusive food/relaxation areas starting at US$55), an airport hotel and a spa that has massage packages and even a swimming pool! Read more
Hurrah! My #40days40blogs challenge meant I finally posted up all the details of my two months in Southeast Asia! Here’s a roundup of all the places I managed to squeeze into my two months solo and on a shoestring budget, including detailed itineraries, travel journal entries and more:
Two Months in Southeast Asia: Myanmar (Burma)
I started my two months in Southeast Asia with Myanmar, also known by its old colonial name, Burma (this confused some of the Brits back home so FYI).
This country is fascinating. I was intrigued by its history and the tragic stories of the governing military regime and the colonial wars.
Also, I personally found Burmese cities to be overwhelming, even for someone like me who had been living in Asia for five years. The traffic, the crowds, the business, the noise! It was chaotic, but beautiful. I really felt like I’d thrown myself into the deep end. Read more
“You’ve slept in a lot of beds,” one of my oldest and best friends said to me a few weeks ago. When I gasped in offence, he was quick to add, “I mean, travelling, of course!” That got me thinking about all the places I have stayed on my travels: some the best hostels in the world, the comfiest of pillows and… some of the worst places I have ever ‘slept’.
After five years of living in Asia, I have pretty much perfected the ability to sleep anywhere. But, there are still a few standout beds that (bed)spring to mind. Here are, in my humble opinion, some of the best hostels in the world and the places I’ve most enjoyed resting my head.
Oh, and a few of the worst, too:
Bad Bed – Noah’s Ark, Hong Kong
Did I ever tell you about the time I moved to Hong Kong and stayed for three weeks in a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark? A life-size replica of Noah’s Ark. How is that possible? Why is that possible? How could they possibly know it’s life-size? All very good questions that I have no answer for. Read more
I’d witnessed Bagan sunsets in Myanmar, splashed around in the lagoons of Laos, buffed up on history in Cambodia and stuffed my face with Vietnamese delicacies in Saigon. I was, sadly, coming to the end of my big Southeast Asian backpacking trip, but at least I was going out on a high. It was time for an incredible two weeks in Bali.
After five years of living on the continent, this trip was something of a farewell to Asia. And my final two weeks in Bali were a farewell to that trip itself. After six weeks of sightseeing, I was ready to flop on a beach somewhere, stretch out with some yoga and relax with a cocktail in hand.
I had been trying to get to Bali for at least four of the past five years, specifically for the amazing surf and therefore surf schools. In my two weeks in Bali, I visited Legian, Kuta, Uluwatu, Nusa Dua, Lovina, Amed, Ubud and Canggu. I absolutely loved it, but unfortunately, luck just wasn’t on my side… Read more
After lugging my backpack around Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, I had finally reached the last destination on my backpacking bucket list. I had finally arrived in Bali! So, after all my previous ‘travel advice’ posts, this is the final one: my guide to Bali, Indonesia.
I couldn’t wait to go to surf school, laze on the beach all day and stretch out my aching back (backpacks are heavy, y’all!) at yoga. However, what greeted me in Bali completed exceeded my expectations.
Here is my full itinerary, budget details, travel tips and general guide to Bali:
Guide to Bali
My Itinerary: I had two full weeks in Bali, with stops in Read more
I had spent 10 days in Myanmar, only one week in Laos and then two weeks in Cambodia, but I had only set aside a few days to explore Ho Chi Minh City, also known fondly as Saigon. It was my second visit to Vietnam, having been to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay back in 2013, but I desperately wanted to see ‘the Pearl of the Orient’ before I left Asia for good.
Having wangled a bus journey from Cambodia and rearranged some flights, I managed to squeeze a few days in HCM City into my Southeast Asian tour. Here is my travel diary from my very short dip into Vietnam and Saigon: Read more
So, I’d covered Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. Next was a brief few days in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, also known fondly by its previous name, Saigon. I only spent a few days in the city, so here is my Ho Chi Minh City travel advice and budget planning for a brief visit.
This was my second trip to Vietnam, having visited Hanoi and explored Ha Long Bay back in 2013. I’d heard great things about Saigon, so even though I’d experienced some of Vietnam before, I didn’t want to leave it off my Southeast Asia backpacking trip.
From my visit to the capital and with two weeks of Cambodia behind me, I had some idea of what to expect once I’d hopped over the border. But, as ever, I was wrong! Read more
OK, so if you’ve been keeping track then you’ll know that so far on my travel diary, I’ve done 10 days in Myanmar, one week in Laos. Next up in my Southeast Asian adventures is two weeks in Cambodia.
I had been anticipating a trip to Cambodia ever since I first moved to Asia, so this part of my trip was definitely a treat for me. For a detailed itinerary of my trip, you can read my previous post on Cambodia travel advice.
Here is my travel diary from my two weeks in Cambodia:
Day 1 – Vientiane, Laos to Phnom Penh, Cambodia
After an intense one-week fling with my new lover, Laos, I was now ready to head to my next destination. I started my two weeks in Cambodia in Phnom Penh, flying into the capital city. Read more
My recent trip to Cambodia was on a shoestring budget. With tickets to visit the ancient city of Angkor starting at US$37 for one day and a limited time in Siem Reap, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to see that many temples in Angkor.
Hostel staff advised that I would be able to see five temples in Angkor if I took a bike, more with a guide. My trusty Lonely Planet told me I could only manage three Angkor temples in 24 hours.
Not to be thwarted, I rented a bike for the day for US$3 and decided I would try and see as many as I could. I left my hostel at 4am, cycling through unlit city streets to get to the ticket office (confusingly, notwhere near the entrance of Angkor), before heading to Angkor Wat for sunrise.
I didn’t see five temples. I didn’t see three. I saw TEN temples in Angkor and I have the sweat-drenched t-shirt and toned glutes to prove it! Here are the ten temples in Angkor that I managed to squeeze into just one day: Read more