Saturday afternoon Liam and I went out for a fabulous socially distanced lunch out with his family, where we had some delicious lasagne at Bonnie’s Brunch. A newly opened family run cafe in Plymouth we have all given two thumbs up to. We got back home and decided that even though the promised heat wave wasn’t quite as strong as anticipated, the weather was still far too nice to pass up! We packed up our bags and headed up to Venford Reservoir on Dartmoor, somewhere we had visited earlier this year with Liam’s parents (link). This time however, Liam had something new and exciting in store for me. I couldn’t wait!
Driving across Dartmoor in sunny weather is always stunning. Heading out of Princetown, Emily and I stopped near Merrivale to start our afternoon. Walking to Kings Tor we wrapped around the Bronze Age settlements, taking in the stone rows, circles and standing stones that have been in place these past 4000 years. I always find it hard to imagine what it must have been like for prehistoric man in such a windswept and open environment. It makes it all the more amazing to think that as a species, even with the most primitive tools, we shaped our environment so early into our history that it would last for millennia.
Emily by the standing stone with the clearly visible remains of a stone circle in the background
After a Covid19 lockdown initiated hiatus, Emily and I made the most of the bank holiday and got out onto Dartmoor. It felt like it had been ages, and in all honesty it really had. 6 months of travel, poor weather and a strict lockdown had prevented us getting out to our local National Park for the best part of a year. Still, that’s the best thing about the outdoors. It’s there waiting for you and it’s all the more glorious for it.
Our last day of our mini east coast road trip rounded off back in Massachusetts, destination: Plymouth. As soon as we started planning our trip to the east coast, Liam and I knew we wanted to stop here, marking the beginning of our around the world trip in Plymouth UK and the end of the trip in Plymouth Massachusetts. These two towns have such a strong historical UK and US relationship with each other so it was even more fitting for the two of us to visit.
Kaohsiung has a lot of parks. Which is fantastic. Living in a city, both Emily and I love them and the convenient outdoors green spaces they bring. Lucky for us, Anja and Kevin were able to point us in the direction of many of the best during our stay in the south of Taiwan. Whether wandering around the Lotus Pond or ambling our way around Weiwuying park, we were never too far from nature despite the high rise environment we were based in. With plenty of amazing local delicacies just waiting for us to walk enough to gain an appetite (from savoury beef noodle to peanut butter mochi stuffed waffles) we made sure we got out and about as often as we could!
If you go in through the dragon and out through the tiger you get good luck 🤷
Our final destination on this fabulous change of plan trip to Korea was the capital city, Seoul. We hopped off of the budget bus we took from Jeonju (which was still such a remarkably nice bus compared to the ones we’ve been taking recently) and headed straight to the Dongdaemun design plaza. A remarkable space located right on a metro line. The sleek and futuristic metal sheeted buildings and surrounding sculptures make a perfect playground for any photographer. So many different angles and lights to capture! There are places to eat and shop both inside and out of the buildings making it even more enticing to stick around this area for a while. A space also exists inside one of the buildings where designers can display their projects or set up shops to sell their goods. It’s an amazing place to find something unique and special. A center for arts and culture is one of the best things to have at the heart of any city and I’m glad we got to see this one in Seoul.
Nightbus from Vientiane to Bangkok, 12 hours, a land border, sleepy taxi ride to guesthouse at 6:00am, chill out until room is ready and sleep until it’s after the midday heat. Emily and I really have our Asian night bus routine down to a tee. A one night stay in Bangkok, enjoying the capital of street food (where you can get 3 amazing curries and rice to share for less than £4) and we were back in a minibus heading the short (3 hour) distance to our next destination in Thailand – Kanchanaburi!
I don’t think there will ever be a point in my life where sustainability, and in particular sustainable tourism, will not be something that I aim for. How lucky am I then to live in a city with one of the UK’s premier sustainable attractions – the National Marine Aquarium. Green Tourism Gold certification, conservation and education at the core of everything they do and entrance now valid for a year, it is fair to say there has never been a better time to visit.
The Grand Canyon. Maybe it should be called the F-ing Massive Canyon. Because that’s what it was. After crossing the state border and another long drive through the Kaibab National Forest, steadily climbing altitude to around 7000 feet, I was giddy with excitement to be camping on the South Rim for two nights. We were finally at one of my all-time bucket list destinations.
Kaibab National Forest – Courtesy of the Armchair Explorer
Leaving slightly later than anticipated due to a missed alarm clock (typical) we started our long road trip to the Grand Canyon. First stop – Waffle House; my first visit to the American Breakfast institution. 2 hash browns smothered in chilli and cheese followed by a giant waffle later and we were on our way. Heading west to Utah we aimed to reach Moab, Utah in the early afternoon.