Thimphu: A Jaunt Around Bhutan’s Capital

dscn4795Thimphu is Bhutan’s capital and most densely populated city with roughly 91,000 citizens residing there. It is the base for the country’s government and houses the palace of the current king and queen. When you arrive you will get your first chance to see the traditional design of Bhutanese homes, all of which must follow a certain theme as set by royal decree. Sights here include the impressive Tashichhoe Dzong and the Buddha Dordenma statue which offers some glorious bird’s-eye views of the capital nestled in the valleys below. Continue reading

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Punakha: aka the Place with all the Penises

dscn4864Our second day in Bhutan involved a long and arduous drive to the district of Punakha. Although the distance between Thimphu and Punakha is only 70km or so, the drive took us well over three hours due to the terrible state of Bhutan’s mountainous road network. Punakha is famous for its picturesque dzong which is situated between the meeting point of two raging rivers and Chimi Lhakhang otherwise known as the Temple of the Divine Madman. There was, however, a far more juvenile reason for my excitement for this leg of the trip… Continue reading

Tiger’s Nest: The Jewel in Bhutan’s Crown

dscn5023Tiger’s Nest is likely to be the main factor in most visitors’ decisions to come to Bhutan. Despite being a country of almost unrivalled beauty, Taktsang is by far and away the jewel in the crown of this tiny Himalayan kingdom. Perched precariously at the very edge of a sheer mountain face, the location of the monastery almost defies belief and the views from the hike on the way up are unparalleled in their splendour. A visit to Bhutan would not be complete without stopping at this amazing landmark. Continue reading

Auschwitz: A Harrowing and Moving Experience

DSCN1436There has been a lot of debate about so-called dark tourism and Auschwitz certainly falls into that category. Is it acceptable to visit a place where so many suffered so miserably and died so pitifully? I’ve long been of the thinking that it is important for people to visit such places as we should never forget the unfortunate souls who toiled and died within them. Donations from tourists also help to keep the sites properly maintained and it would be nothing short of a disaster if places like Auschwitz were allowed to fall into disrepair. Dark tourism might not appeal to everyone and visits might sound morbid, but places such as this death camp serve as a reminder of past atrocities and a warning against repeating those mistakes in the future. Visiting Auschwitz is a difficult, powerful experience. Is it pleasant? Not at all. Is it worthwhile? Absolutely. Continue reading

Tokyo’s Best Hotspots

Sky-View-1Tokyo is vast. Like, really really vast. There are such a plethora of things to do and places to see that it can be hard to fit everything in when planning for a visit. There are districts in this glittering neon metropolis that cater for everybody from bustling shopping areas to beautiful parks, wild nightlife spots to serene religious sites. This guide should fill you in on some of the more interesting parts of Tokyo and help inform you of the must see local sights and activities. Continue reading

Things to do in Glorious Gunma

daikokuGunma is a prefecture some two hours train journey to the northwest of Tokyo. Gunma is far more relaxed and much quieter than the capital but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of amazing sights and things to do. If you have a craving for rugged areas of great natural beauty or want to hunt for Daruma related gifts, then Gunma is the place for you. Train stations are far less frequent when compared to Tokyo and these sights are widely spaced, so a hire car likely will be required if you wish to take in all of the landmarks listed below. Continue reading

The Outskirts of Tokyo and Beyond

Rainbow-Bridge-and-Booze-Cruise-BoatsSure, central Tokyo is great, but Japan isn’t all about seizure-inducing neon signs, karaoke in the early hours and drunken salarymen slumbering upside down on train station stairways. The outskirts of Tokyo and beyond offer a varied range of things to see and do from tourist-friendly temple complexes to cat-infested islands specialising in amazing seafood dishes. If you have your heart set on a stay in Japan, one thing I’d definitely recommend is getting off the beaten track and taking in a few of the more distant spots the capital and its surrounding prefectures have to offer. Six worth checking out are listed below. Continue reading

Jack Daniel’s Distillery Tour

DSCN1791My travelling companion and I were passing through Tennessee as part of our road trip of the US when, out of nowhere, an idea popped into my head. ‘Isn’t Jack Daniel’s made in Tennessee? Why don’t we call in and do a tour?’ It was thus decided that, at the very last moment, we would alter our course and head to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. It was a close shave, but we just about made it in time for the day’s final tour. Phew! Continue reading

Lake Windermere, Bowness and Ambleside

DSCN3836For many people tourism in England begins and ends in London. Those unadventurous and unlucky souls don’t know what they are missing out on! The North of England has an almost endless list of interesting landmarks and places of outstanding natural beauty.  The famous Lake District National Park houses a great number of these spots. Of all its awe-inspiring bodies of water, Lake Windermere and its surrounding towns and villages are, for me, the most beautiful and inspiring. Continue reading