While at heart I am a backpacker, my adventure comes with a twist. The modern metropolitan cities of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur aren’t quite so suited to the budgeting traveler exploring backpacker routes. Instead they can provide a buzzing city break or for many a place of business; and if you look in the right places, you can still find heaps of character, culture and history infused within the streets, the food and the people that make these cities what they are. With three incredible and very different hotels as bases, I was free to wander and wonder within the city streets.
Not far from the busy weekend streets of Brick Lane, with its determined shoppers and queues for cereal, we found a wonderland. The location, which will remain secret at the request of Brit, was filled with wonders from years gone by. Magnificent tattered chairs, large wooden tables and a variety of antiques sat below a mist of incense. A musical duo performed in the background and an interesting chap repeatedly entered and exited to light his cigarette on the candles. The scene was set to delve into the mind of a curious illustrator with a knack for poetic one liners.
Basketball. A sport dominated by the United States, and growing in talent and popularity every year across almost every other continent. While we see the proof of all that, there is one exception: the UK. There’s a passion for the game here, but it’s not being paid attention to. ‘Paid’ being a key word there, with funding cuts a common thing for the sport here and a hurdle that is yet to be cleared. Players in the national team are having to live on £15 a day in the build up to international tournaments, with tiny beds and early morning flights. After the NBA’s recent trip to London, I’ve been having a think about the current state of the game in the UK and where it’s heading.
Arriving in Hanoi was a shock to say the least. Far from a negative however, it was instead just different, unfamiliar and far from what any Westerner is used to seeing on a day to day basis. Nothing could have prepared me for the wild roads, the constant noise, the humidity or the motorbikes piled high with large furniture items casually being transported across town. While for the first day this was daunting and crossing the road or even just walking down it terrifying (have a look at a Hyperlapse video I made), I quickly absorbed the city and tried to become one with its madness. Like anywhere in the world, if you can’t do this then your lack of connection and confidence with the environment will soon lead you to trouble.
Would it be smart to turn down the opportunity to get in a car with a few of your friends and drive to a place you’ve never been to before for a weekend full of exploration and new experiences? No it wouldn’t be smart. So when MINI gave us that exact opportunity we jumped at the chance. Our weekend adventure took us to Bristol in a beautifully crafted red MINI Cooper S where we set our sights on exploring a few of the gems the city has to offer.
The city at night is a jungle. The constant battles. The constant pressures. The challenges, the environment, the elements. The need to adapt, the need to face your fears, the need to take one step be ready for the next. Stay hidden. Stay visible. Embrace the jungle and keep going.
Have you ever done indoor skydiving on a ship? Or have you ever used high speed internet in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? No, wait, have you ever been served a drink by a robot? Your answer to all of these is probably no. Well, it’s definitely no, unless you were on board Royal Caribbean‘s brand new futuristic cruise ship Quantum of the Seas with Dan and I back in October. The lovely people at Royal Caribbean invited us to experience their new ship, that will completely transform the way we view cruises, forever. There’s setting the bar high, then there’s this. A change in perception. A change in the industry. This was our first experience on board a cruise ship, and boy did we have a blast. Read on to see what we got up to, and whether Royal Caribbean have given us a fresh perspective on cruises.