So after a lovely last day where we did the Singapore river walk from our hotel, through the immaculate litter-free streets, past the colourful old shuttered buildings interspersed with the modern glass monoliths, coffee bars and restaurants we now wait at Singapore airport to board our flight home. Having said good bye to the sun and heat for goodness knows how long, here are a few quick reflections
Vietnam was authentic, beautiful and sincere – the conundrum of a place you must go to, but not ruin with commercialism. Bangkok was the epitome of where East catapults into the West, loud and brash but fun with it. Singapore is a far more sophisticated, relaxed and respectful fusion of East and West, old and new.
As you can see over the three weeks we had 8 flights, would have been 9 if it hadn’t been for the bad weather in Leeds at the beginning, and so on a couple of occasions were packing and unpacking on a 24/48 hourly basis. This was an absolute doddle with these Packing cubes which we bought from Amazon – I bought a 6 piece and a 4 piece. Steven took the micky when he saw them at home, but after 2 days was extolling their virtue to everyone on our Halong Bay cruise. I even got a “this is the most organised and easy to search suitcase ever” from the security at Leeds Bradford who manually searched our cases. Such nachas!!
We were a bit worried about our eating requirements, particularly in Vietnam, but the Happy Cow was the best £3.99 ever spent. Comes on android and iOS and searches for Vegan or vegetarian restaurants near you, and gives you opening hours, reviews, costs and then walking directions from where you are. It never let us down, even in the middle of nowhere in Vietnam. We ended up going to everything from very upmarket “a la carte” vegan to going down backstreets eating in what looked like someone’s house (there was a bed in the corner in one place), but there it was a “Vegan restaurant” sign up outside and fellow vegetarian/vegan travellers from around the world, and half our age, eating there too. Amazingly we were never ill.
None of this would have been possible without access to data whilst abroad and being on Three could use our phones throughout Vietnam and Singapore as if we were back in good old Blighty. Bangkok was slightly easier for us so it didn’t matter as much, but the Happy Cow does have a facility where you can store information offline so download on wifi before you leave your hotel.
Trailfinders put the package together, and whilst there was one day in particularly we did too much after a flight, did a fantastic job. Our tours and hotels were spot on, especially given our lack of activity at weekends. There wasn’t a hitch in any of the arrangements or transfers, and whilst I’m tempting fate before our British Airways flights home, our luggage hasn’t got lost! The guides – Lin, Mi Tu, Dung, Vung, Bank and Mr James (we know its not his real name!) – enabled us to understand and appreciate the people and their culture, not just the place. Extra special thanks go to Jackie and Julian for their hospitality in Singapore.
Non techies/photographers may want to skip this paragraph! I couldn’t have done this blog without WordPress, Flickr, my iPad Pro (although any iPad will do) with Apple smart keyboard and my Canon M6 and lenses. I have at home a Canon 6D and associated L glass from 16mm to 300mm. The total weight of the whole M6 kit is 1.270 kg that is M6 + 11-22mm + 22mm + 18-55mm + 55-200mm. The 18-55mm was normally attached to the M6 and I usually carried the 11-22mm with me. My Canon 6D with 24-105mm weighs 1.47kg and my 16-35mm is 630g. So in total my normal carry around would weigh 2.1kg, almost twice the weight of the whole kit for the M6, and well over twice what I normally carried with me. This was the first time I was “brave enough” to leave this all behind and rely totally on the Canon Mirrorless system. I found that I never needed the EVF, despite the bright light – the tilting screen got round the problem. 90% of the shots were taken with the 18-55mm and I swapped the 11-22mm for the 55-200mm when we went into the jungle for Steven to do Flight of the Gibbon, and the length was also useful to snap scooters from our balcony in Hue. The added advantage of small camera is small tripod, Joby Gorilla pod 3k Kit. I managed to always attach it to something to gain height and it was sturdy enough. Small kit equals small camera bag and I actually had oodles of space in my hand luggage for something else this trip! On a 9.7inch iPad the results look good, although I appreciate that the proof will be on my 27inch iMac when I get home. I shot exclusively in raw and Snapseed was used to manipulate before uploading to Flickr and integrating into WordPress. SD cards were backed up onto a 500GB NextoDI which I’ve had for years. I even persuaded Steven to back up his video onto it as well. To tag my photos with GPS data I use “GeoTag Photos Pro” on my phone (no data required) and then use HoudahGeo on my iMac when I get home. I know there are other solutions that will GeoTag at source, but this works for me as it drains my batteries less. It does mean that the Flickr feed attached to my blog does not have exif or GPS data, but I plan to upload the manipulated raw images once processed into a separate album for all the pixel peepers!
My shoulders, back and husband also appreciated the smaller camera – it was less intrusive. Steven felt I had gone away with him, rather than him tagging along with my me and my camera – and that’s probably the most important factor.
Finally, a very special thank you to my “guest blogger”, the perfect travel companion and partner, without whom I am likely to have got hopelessly lost and without whom the last 3 weeks would not have been as enjoyable. Maybe next time I’ll get him to write two posts 🤣. Kids, we forgot to get fridge magnets in Hue and Ho Chi Minh City so you’ll have to go and get them for us!!
And on to Pesach . . . . . . After which I’ll need a holiday!