In praise of Singapore
After months bouncing around on dirt tracks in tuk-tuks, lugging bags onto sampans and ferries, and navigating sidewalks cluttered with plastic chairs and infested with open manholes, sometimes that humble invention, the pavement, can seem a rare and beautiful thing.
How easy is it to get to China from Hong Kong?
It's not that long ago that the notion of just popping across the border into China was unimaginable. And, in fact, many folk tend to leave China off their RTW itinerary – not least because of the difficulty with visas.
Searching for the real Ubud
On a short walk between our guesthouse and restaurant on the popular Monkey Forest Road, we were offered no fewer than 20 taxis and a dozen massages. A fellow tourist told us that restaurant staff had thrust menus at her while she was out for a run. Certainly the hawkers in the tourist centre are pretty intense and if they're not part of your preconception of Ubud they can easily cloud your initial impressions. This was the case for us, and it took a little time and a bit of poking around before we finally understood why the city is a must-see on any itinerary to Bali.
Beginner on a bike - Lombok's stunning south coast
"If you can ride a bike you'll be absolutely fine." I was far from convinced. If it wasn't enough that I'd reached the age of 46 without ever having ridden a motorbike, on our way into Kuta in southern Lombok just a few hours earlier we'd witnessed the sombre aftermath of a fatal crash between a motorbike and a lorry. But still, we'd come to see the fabled beaches of South Lombok and a motorbike appeared to be the only feasible way to getting to see them. After a short demo and a ride with one of the staff from the guesthouse as my passenger, who screamed "Valentino Rossi!" in my ear as gentle encouragement as I wobbled across the car park, I was ready to go.
Eating your way around Singapore's hawker centres
Food lovers can approach their dining plans in Singapore at almost any level. Those with a palate for luxury will find no shortage of high-end restaurants, offering wagyu steaks, rare lobsters and even truffle caviar, all washed down with lashings of vintage wines from the world's most exclusive vineyards. There's also a glut of mid-range restaurants which are priced similarly to typical European restaurants and which cover pretty much every known variety of cuisine.