Sunday, 15 April 2018

Papermaking in Lao: Ban Xang Khong, Luang Prabang

I love to hunt out arts and crafts on my travels, and even better, actually give making something a go. There's already plenty to do in Luang Prabang in Lao including basket weaving, pottery and embroidery (onto Hmong slippers) but of course for me papermaking is a must.

Close by is the village of Ban Xang Khong, which specialises in manufacturing and selling products made from silk and Saa Paper (paper made from the bark of the Mulberry Tree).

Whether you are just passing through, on holiday or looking for a place to source from, this area is where you will be able to fill a couple of hours admiring the handicrafts and stocking up on souvenirs.

Hand painted pictures and cards
Hand bound notebooks

There are a number of little stores run by local people still using traditional methods to create beautiful handicrafts.

What I enjoyed most is the opportunity to see items being entirely made by hand, including the Saa paper.

Ban Xang Khong - paper making
To be able to appreciate the diversity of products, you will have to wander through a number of shops, but the larger ones in the centre have the most variety.

How to get there:
Go to the North station (you can take the little wooden bridge if you go by bicycle). At the North station, continue for about 50 yards, and turn left (just after the petrol station). Then, go straight on. The village is on the left, along the Mekong. A great way to get there is by bicycle.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Key sights: Tirana

Albania's capital Tirana, should definitely be on your list when considering a city break as it ticks most of the boxes and is cheap.

The infrastructure is still being developed, but with its quirky buildings amidst the remnants of the communist regime, there's little indication of its grey past.

It is a very pleasant city with plenty of cultural experiences and a buzz that doesn't exist anywhere else in Albania.

In the Summer months temperatures can reach 30 degrees. So, with the beach being an easy drive away, and an expanse of sand, there's the potential to couple a visit to Tirana with a lot more. 

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Restrictions for flights in Europe, March 2018

Following on from my Think twice before considering Ryanair post I was asked whether my old post regarding Restrictions for flights in Europe, written back in 2014 was still up to date. Surprisingly it isn't too far off ... it seems not a lot has changed in 4 years.

However, by way of update, as there were a couple of airlines which are no longer in existence, read on for the latest version of the list.

If you are planning a trip to Europe sometime soon, ensure you check the latest travel restrictions before you travel.

If you are in the UK, like myself, the website, should provide details of the latest changes, although I have summarised the latest restrictions below.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

My picks from: Thailand

Planning a trip to Thailand solo, with a friend or other half, or even kids; it's one of the easiest places to travel or experience. Here's a few recommendations to help with planning a trip. Of course you can check out all my Thailand posts here but I've tried to summarise the best bits below so you can pick out what suits.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Think twice, before considering Ryanair - February 2018

The recent changes announced by Ryanair in January, removing the ability to take 2 cabin bags on board, were quite controversial it seems. The 1 small bag allowance (roughly the size of a hangbag or laptop holder) is tiny. In fact it potentially restricts most people from taking a bag at all; even a foldaway cloth bag you would now carry to avoid the carrier bag charges in the UK, is too big!

Travelling on a Ryanair flight is something I actively try and avoid, particularly after the cancellations of flights at the back end of last year that left passengers stranded and stuck making alternative arrangements.

Of course, for research purposes and, because I'm tight and didn't want to shell out a couple of extra quid at the time of booking (before these changes came in), I accepted the inconvenience of travelling with Ryanair, just this once. Now I'm regretting my decision.

As I sit crammed into the middle seat (I like the window), on reflection, I can now honestly say I'd rather pay the extra and fly with another airline, than forego the frustrations of Ryanair's new policies.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Quick list: where to find a bite to eat in Hong Kong

First timers to Hong Kong may find it difficult when trying to find a place to sit down for just a bite to eat. 

There are numerous choices to suit every budget. This is just a quick list with a handful of recommendations from my recent trip to Hong Kong, which may come in handy if it's your first time visiting.

Top tip: don't just eat dim sum, although do try it and eat plenty if you enjoy it.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

7 specialities to savour; all made in Taiwan

I remember when it seemed like everything was made in Taiwan. Plastic items, dolls, computer parts; all with the same little 'Made in Taiwan' label.

Back then it didn't really dawn on me that Taiwan was much more than a gigantic factory, or that its status as a country was so ambiguous.

These days everything is made in China, as Taiwan advanced quickly to a creation industry and those labels were replaced by 'Designed in Taiwan'. It's now the original technology pieces that dominate the export markets.

However there are some things that are originally Taiwanese, still made there, and are worth tracking down if you visit. All food stuffs of course...