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    Doing the Tourist Thing in Thamel

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    My second day in Kathmandu saw me with only a very general plan to check out some of the attractions in the centre of the city, around the tourist hub — Thamel. I had a list of places deemed worth checking out from Anima and a second from my brother, and both proved to be pretty reliable. I also had an interest in just seeing where my feet took me. I had Google Maps on my phone and a pretty good sense of direction in my head, so I wasn’t that concerned about getting lost.

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    Kathmandu. Dog Man Don’t

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    On 5th October 2019, I landed in the capital city of Nepal, ticking an item off the top of my bucket list that had been there for quite some considerable time. There was no especially good reason why it had taken so long to get to, perhaps other than doubting that my cash reserves would be sufficient for me to have a good trip. However, earlier that year, I’d won a prize at work that allowed me to spend my entire time there without spending a single rupee on hotels. As you might imagine, that made affording the trip significantly easier.

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    Overlander: Day 7 – Rest and Repair

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    Our wander around the city of Swakopmund revealed that the word “city” is perhaps a little generous. It basically boils down to nine blocks arranged in a grid, with a bunch of outdoors shops and mechanics specialising in off-roaders. It almost seemed like the city only existed to serve overlanders.

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    Overlander: Day 6 – Dune 45

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    At various points through the night before then, I needed to answer the call of nature. Lacking any alternative facilities, the only solution was to walk for about 20 metres away from the camp into the scrub that surrounded us to the horizon in every direction. As I was…communing with nature, I looked up into a crisp, clear, starry night. And I started to laugh. There was nothing especially funny up in the sky, I wasn’t being tickled by nature. It was just raw joy.

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    Home by the Hải Vân Pass

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    From the start of my trip across Vietnam, the Hải Vân Pass had been the one thing I could call an objective. Everything else was a bonus, but that 93.4-km drive from Huế to Da Nang was all that mattered. So, I rose on a miserably drizzly Saturday 29th December 2018 and, with a degree of nervous excitement, awaited the arrival of the motorbike taxi driver who had offered his services as a tour guide the previous day.

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    Finding History in Hue

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    After walking down to the Perfume River and across a bridge, I made my way to the Imperial City – the seat of Vietnamese royalty up until 1945, when the country declared its independence from the French. It remains an impressive sight.

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    The Long Road to Hue

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    With no direct bus to my next destination — Hue — my itinerary took me first back to the capital and then on the road south. The first leg was uncomfortable because I’d been given the seat/bed right next to the toilet, but the hours passed without incident. Once I arrived in Hanoi, my problem-solving skills were really put to the test.

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    A Local Experience in the Muong Hoa Valley

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    I awoke on the 26th December 2018 perhaps the freshest and best rested I’d been all year. The dead quiet of the Mường Hoa Valley, combined with the unbelievable comfort of the bed in Mama Chu’s house and the fatigue from the lengthy trek to get there all combined to create the perfect conditions for a refreshing night’s sleep. I was a honestly quite reluctant to rise from the super-soft bed and its almost mattress-thick blanket but, with the rest of the household already up and about, I felt a little guilty sleeping in.

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    A Christmas Miracle in Sapa

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    I arrived in Sapa in northwest Vietnam much earlier than I planned, at about 2am on the morning of Tuesday 25th December 2018 – Christmas Day. I’d been told that the bus would arrive closer to 6am, getting me there just in time to find a place to stay, dump my gear, rest a bit and then plan my adventures in this remote mountain town. Instead, I found myself in a sleeping city, with not a single hotel open for business.