17 Jun
Days adrift.  Click here to see our best and worst experiences so far.
Number of flights.  Click here to go to the itinerary page.
Bus, train and taxi rides.  Click here to see all posts relating to transport. (56 posts)
Miles walked.  Click here to see all posts relating to walking and trekking. (43 posts)
Countries visited.  Click here to see what we think of them. (14 posts)
Number of species spotted.  Click here to go to our wildlife page.
Photos taken.  Click here to go to the photo gallery. (105 posts)
Rainy days.  Click here to find posts relating to the weather. (50 posts)
Number of times scammed.  Click here to read all about it!  (2 posts)
Otters spotted.  Click here to go to our website about otters: amblonyx.com
...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

Best and worst

Here we are going to keep a whimsical and arbitrary list of bests and worsts from our year of travelling around the world

Worst fright – Maureen screamed like a girl when she woke to a mouse clambering on her head in Ko Surin. Of course, she is a girl, so that’s okay

Best massage – our first ever Thai massage at Lotus Village in Sukhothai still hasn’t been beaten. We were kneaded like dough, using a technique I have dubbed ‘putting the lid back on an old tin of paint’

Worst equipment – the compact camera we took, a Panasonic ZX-1, has been no end of problems. The sensor needs cleaning for the third time, which I’ve never seen with a compact camera that is after all a sealed unit. And in Nepal it developed a problem with the lens extending motor which means it often won’t work at all. But sometimes does

Worst mosquitoes – the hide above the flooded forest where we sat for five days waiting for hairy-nosed otters was terrible. We were drenched in DEET, but the stupid little buggers committed suicide to get at Maureen’s blood, while the smarter ones bit us right through our trousers and shirts

Best sunset – the sunsets over the desert at Kgaligadi in South Africa remain the most beautiful we’ve seen on the trip

Best fruit – the longan, which is related to the lychee and rambutan but has a delicious and strong flavour that is quite earthy… but in a good way

Worst toilet – The vile nastiness of the squalid and uncleaned toilets at this roadside stop between Bardia and Chitwan, Nepal, made going at the roadside very enticing. And they even have the gall to charge for using them

Best laugh – huge pink kimonos at the hotel in Nyalam. We may have been freezing cold and suffering from altitude sickness, but in spite of that (or because of it) we just couldn’t stop laughing

Worst embarassment – Maureen having to watch Matt being cajoled into dancing with a Tharu woman at a “cultural evening” in Bardia NP. It was a most horrible display

Worst journey – the express bus from Bardia to Chitwan in Nepal, a hair-raising hour on the roof and then five bone-crunching hours bouncing like potato sacks on the back seat

Best non-electrical item – our TravelTap water filter, which means we’ve been able to drink hotel tap water in Madagascar, Nepal and Tibet without fear (touch wood!) of ailments. Number of bottled water purchases in our first 80 days: 10.

Worst smell – open sewage flowing across the street on the outskirts of Bhaktapur, Nepal – and we had to drive through it three times because our stupid guide left important documents back in Kathmandu.

Worst night – freezing cold at Kyanjin Gumpa, shivering in a sleeping bag at 5:30 in the afternoon after almost dying (well, felt like it) hiking down the valley with ice wind and clouds pushing us back.

Best place of worship – Shalu monastery, with the evocative sounds of monks chanting in a quiet little monastery with no other visitors

Best smell – citrus blossom in the rainforest at Ranomafana, Madagascar. The trees were a kind of primitive orange, and Emile showed how you can identify any citrus tree by holding a leaf up to the light – you’ll see lots of little white dots.

Worst misunderstanding – not very dramatic, but after spending 2 nights at Marievale in South Africa we wanted to stay another night; I asked the receptionist “is the room free tomorrow night?” and she looked startled, gave me a very long searching look, and then said carefully “no, you have to pay for it.”

Best guide – for anyone travelling to Madagascar I’d recommend Guy without hesitation, as being extremely conscientious, organised, knowledgeable and friendly.

Best bird name – the Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk.

Worst road – the unpaved road up to Langtang (Trisuli to Syabru Besi) which goes on endlessly up and down winding, jolting curves and is impossible to drive on at more than 10mph the whole way

Best bit of kit – I really love our neat little Toshiba netbook and its already-battered white Zeroshock case, but who knows what I’ll decide is actually our best bit of kit once we’ve been travelling six months? (Matt)

Best deal – the Wild Card, which gets us in free to all public wildlife reserves. For us this includes Kgalagadi, Augrabies Falls, Namaqua, Cape Point, Tsitsikamma, Camdeboo, Mountain Zebra and Kruger.Best deal – the Wild Card, which gets us in free to all public wildlife reserves. For us this includes Kgalagadi, Augrabies Falls, Namaqua, Cape Point, Tsitsikamma, Camdeboo, Mountain Zebra and Kruger.

Best cappuccino – that would be Spill The Beans, a cafe in Simon’s Town where the cap was pretty much expert quality and the breakfast was great as well. Very average cappuccinos elsewhere in South Africa.

Worst accommodation – trekking lodges in Nepal! The prize goes to “Moonlight Lodge” in Kyanjin Gumpa, Langtang; our room had no light, the plyboard wall didn’t even dim next-door’s snoring, it was freezing cold, the outside toilet was a squalid squat, the shower required pretty much balancing over the loo (we didn’t bother trying), the food was crap, and there was no running water of any kind – yup, you washed your hands in a bucket of water

Best haggle – haven’t really had to do haggling, but we did get a room for R400 that was originally offered at R600.

Best tip – if you come to Nepal, for a trek or anything else, don’t stay in Kathmandu – find a place to stay in Bhaktapur; it is a lovely city, what Kathmandu might have been 20 years ago, and it’s still only a 15 minute taxi ride from the airport or the centre of Kathmandu

Best breakfast – the cooked breakfast made by Carmen at Pear Tree cottage (Storms River Village), including wild saffron milkcaps gathered by Robbie.

Best wine – Kleine Zalze cabernet sauvignon, which went very well with fillet steak at Terroir

Best animal sighting – watching spotted necked otters fishing and playing at Tillietudlem

Best new food – Kitfo, an Ethiopian dish of very finely minced raw steak, dipped with the fingers into a sour spice mix before eating.

Worst eating – a traditional African bobotie at the Fig Tree restaurant in De Hoop which was mostly burned to charcoal. The silver lining is that they took it off the bill without a quibble.

Best hike – the third day of Langtang, climbing from Langtang village up to Kyanjin Gumpa with the mountains ahead and on either side, and the valley filled with berberis and azalea turning a burning autumn red

Worst travel guide advice – the Baedeker guide to S Africa says to tip petrol attendants around 10% of the fuel bill. R30+ for filling your car and washing the windscreen? My tip: give them R5, or just whatever coins are in the change.

Best eating out – Michelin-starred dim sum at the tiny Tim Ho Wan restaurant, every mouthful was gorgeous and the spartan surroundings and minimal elbow-room with raucous waitresses was totally incongruous

Worst planning cock-up – Well, we needed to book accommodation in the main S Africa parks because they get full up. Not only did we almost miss out, but I booked our very first stop without realising that our flight from London on the 28th doesn’t actually land in S Africa until the 29th! Luckily, Lien could still change the flight dates. (Matt)

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2 Responses to “Best and worst”

  1. Carmen says:

    Thanks for the Best Breakfast!!!! I’m HONOURED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • shortclaws says:

      Definitely the best!

      Wow… looking at this page, we really have some updates to do. Although the Best Breakfast will not change. ; )

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