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Tiger Kingdom in Chiag Mai, Thailand

Posted on 13 July 2019 by David

Do you like cats? How about big cats? How about big cats (i.e. tigers!) that can bite your arm off or worse? If you said yes to all three you need your head checked.

After visiting this amazing place, I started to wonder if -WE- had to have our head checked. I mean, who purposely decides to go into a cage with MULTIPLE TIGERS who are free to roam about (who lick their chops as they see you come in) AND THEN proceed to hug them?

Apparently A LOT of people and you might too.

Chiang Mai, where is that?

It’s in northern Thailand, between Myanmar and Laos.

How do I get there?

You can fly to into Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX), or do the crazy thing like we did and take a 16 hour train from Bangkok.

No, I mean. How do I get to Tiger Kingdom?

You can hire a tuk-tuk and they’ll take you all the way there.  It’s about a 20 min drive from center of town.

Has anyone ever been eaten there?

(Asking the real questions here.)  As far as I have heard no but they might just be very good at hiding that.  We spent several hours at Tiger Kingdom and there were no incidents.   The big cats are very well behaved and as long as you follow the trainer instructions you’ll be fine.

How about some pictures?

The cat ate my camera.  Really.  I placed my camera on a nearby bench and one of the Tigers thought it was a toy!  It grabbed it and muched on it.

Check out a photos search on duckduckgo.  Tiger Kingdom Pictures

If you want to know more or have questions about this place let us know!

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Trip to Tibet – Our Six Day Itinerary

Posted on 10 July 2012 by David

We took a trip to Tibet late last year.

Tibet Travel - Tibetan Dog and Tibetan Man - Trip to Tibet

Our Trip to Tibet

Tibet is stunningly beautiful with natural mountains and lakes that you can not find elsewhere.  However, it is not an easy place to get into and you must be flexible with your plans and willing to absorb the risk that you may not be let in at the last minute.  However, when you make it there you will surely have an eye-opening experience.

To help you plan, today we’ll share our itinerary for Tibet.   In the upcoming posts on the remaining Mondays in July, we’ll give you some tips on how to get into Tibet, and provide highlights of our trip so keep watch for that if you’re interested in Tibet at all!

Trip to Tibet Travel - Nechung Monastary

Six Days in Lhasa

We spent six days in Tibet last year and we spent all of it in Lhasa for several reasons.  There is so much to see in and around Lhasa that you need a full six days in Lhasa to see it all.  Furthermore, unless you’re going on a trek to climb Mount Everest, everything you would want to experience about Tibet, you can find in Lhasa.  And lastly, there may be different permit requirements if you wish to travel far outside of Lhasa.  So make sure you coordinate with your travel agency in advance.

If you would like a more authentic tour experience, consider requesting the service of a tour guide who is a Tibetan.  This way, your tour money contribute to the well-being of the Tibetans directly.

Our trip to Tibet consisted of visiting the major monasteries that taught us a great deal about Buddhism and the Tibetan culture. We walked around town to get a sense of modern Lhasa and we traveled just outside of town to view the natural beauty of Yamdrok lake.

Detailed Tibetan Itinerary

Before Arrival in Lhasa:

Get a prescription for Diamox before leaving your home country and start your treatment two days before arrival in Lhasa. It worked for us as we had no problem acclimatizing to the altitude. Diamox does make your finger and toes tingle though!

Day 1: Fly into Lhasa and Acclimatize!

Fly into Lhasa airport (LXA) and take it easy today. Lhasa is at a high elevation of 11,450 ft., so you will need at least a day to get used to the thin air. Do not plan any strenuous walking or physical activity even if you’re feeling well.

Get to Potala Palace by 5pm and register for your admission ticket for use on the following day. Present your passport and make sure to get a receipt. Tickets are limited, this is why you must get your tickets the day before.

Trip to Tibet - Potala Palace

Walk around town, be polite, stay low key, and observe life. Take pictures of the exterior of the Potala Palace.

For dinner, catch an authentic Tibetian dinner in the Barkhor Circuit. Try some momos and yak butter tea if you are adventurous!

Trip to Tibet - Momos - Tibetan Food

Day 2 Potala Palace, Drepung Monastery, Nechung Monastery

Get to Potala Palace (布達拉宮) by 9am.  Potala Palace was the chief residence of Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala, India in 1959.  The most stunning chapels of the Red Palace house the jewel-bedecked chorten tombs of previous Dalai Lamas. The quarters of the 13th and 14th Dalai Lamas in the White Palace offer a more personal insight into life in palace.  Leave at ~12pm.

Next take minibus 301 or 302 to Drepung Monastery (哲蚌寺). This is the largest monastery in the world, with more than 7,000 monks living there. Leave by 3pm.

Take a 10min walk downhill to Nechung Monastery (乃穹寺). The Monastery closes at 4pm so hurry. You might have the chance see the monks debating in Tibetan! If not you may be able to see a debate at Sera Monastery the following day.

Trip to Tibet - Nechung Monastery

To return to Lhasa, take bus no. 302 from Nechung Monastery, or bus no. 301 from the bottom of the hill. Arrive back to Lhasa by 5pm.

In the evening, try shopping for souvenirs & have dinner at Barkhor (八廓) – a Kora pilgrim circuit that proceeds clockwise around the periphery of the Jokhang Temple.  The Barkhor is one of the best places to pick up Tibetan souvenirs such as knives, prayer wheels, Buddhist statues, jade jewelry and the latest music from India.

Trip to Tibet - Jokhang Monastary

Day 3: Ganden Monastery and walk the High Kora; Monk Debate at Sera Monestary

Be transported to Ganden Monastery via 4×4 SUV. Arrive at Ganden ~9am. Tour for ~2hrs. Ganden is a photography heaven – lots of colors, lines, textures and all in service for the monks in their red robes.

The three main sights of Ganden Monastery are:

  • The Serdung, which contains the golden tomb of Tsongkhapa
  • The Tsokchen Assembly Hall
  • The Ngam Cho Khang Chapel where Tsongkhapa traditionally taught his students. You must walk the High Kora (~1hr). The path is signposted by a rich array of colorful prayer flags fluttering in the breeze.  Ask your tour guide to teach you about sky burials.
Trip to Tibet - Ganden Monastery Landscape


Take SUV back to Lhasa, arrive ~2pm. Be dropped off at Sera Monestary to see the monks debating.

* Note: Be prepared to visit Sera Monestary again just in case the monks are not debating. On our first day there, a wealthy Tibetan had made a significant donation to the Monastery in order for the monks to read and pray for the donor at the donor’s request!  Although watching a full courtyard of monks reading and reciting scripture was interesting, it is not nearly as exciting as a debate. =)

Free time in the afternoon/evening. You may want to drop by Spinn Cafe to have a delicious hot lemonade, get some free wi-fi, and socialize with other visitors!

Day 4: Jokhang Temple and Monk Debate at Sera Monestary (take two!)

Walk to Jokhang Temple (大昭寺) in the morning. Arrive by 7:30am for 8am entry. See the pilgrims prostrate on the ground outside the temple (best in morning).

One of the main attractions is the main cloister with a ring of large prayer wheels, kept spinning throughout the day by pilgrims.  However the cloister that leads to the central hall, contains Jokhang Temple’s star attraction, the Jowo Rinpoche (or Jowo Shakyamuni). This life-sized (5 foot/1.5m) statue of the Buddha at age 12 is the holiest object in Tibet. Probably originating in India, it was brought to Lhasa as part of the Chinese Princess Wencheng’s dowry in 641.

Go up to the roof for a fantastic view of Lhasa and the snow capped mountains.

Leave by 10am. Take a cab ride to Norbulingka, former sumer residence of Dalai Lama. The highlight here is the New Summer Palace (Takten Migyu Potrang) within. Stay till 1pm (when it closes).  Plan for a quick lunch.

Then take a 15 min taxi ride to Sera Monastery (色拉寺).  Arrive by 1:45pm. Your objective is to see the monks debate in Tibetan, usually in a garden next to the assembly hall in the center of the monastery.  The debate usually takes place between 3:30-5pm (or 2-4pm) daily except Sunday.

Take a bus or taxi back to Lhasa.

trip to tibet travel - Sera Monastery - Monk Debate

Day 5: Venture out of Lhasa to Nam-Tso or Yamdrok Lake

Hotel pick up at 8am. Drive 4 hrs via Land Cruiser to Nam-Tso (纳木错) Lake. Arrive by 12noon. Leave at 2pm.  Then head to Yangpachen Hotspring.  Back to Lhasa by 6pm or stay at Nam-Tso Lake overnight.

If Nam-Tso Lake is closed due to bad weather, arrange a day trip to Yamdrok Lake instead.

Both lakes are considered sacred in Tibet, and the water there is so pure and blue that we dare not to touch them.  We don’t want to pollute such a sacred and beautiful lake just by touching it with our bare hands.

Trip to Tibet Travel - Yamdrok Lake

Day 6: Day of departure.  Early morning flight out of LXA.

Wear a coat and keep some gloves with you. The airport doesn’t always turn on the heat!


Now that you know our itinerary, next week we will share with you a few things that surprise us about Tibet.

Interested in Tibet?  Then check out our other stories:

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Guest Post: Travel the world, just don’t get scammed in Havana!

Posted on 28 June 2012 by Danica

travel the world - havana scam - street band

In this week’s “Travel the World, Just Don’t Get Scammed” series, we are very excited to have Tammy Lowe to share her experience in Havana with us.  It is a story of cigars, a muscle man with lots of bling, a few mojitos and a diamond ring.  Intrigued?  Read on…

That’s Where I am From Too!

“Where are you from?” we were asked by a friendly young Cuban during a stroll through Havana.  “We are from England”, we replied and he got very excited and told us that his friend lived in a town called Bedford.  “No way! What a coincidence, we are from Bedford”, we said.  We chatted for a while and found out that he was an English student.  He asked us what we were planning to see that day and we mentioned a few famous sights.  He asked if he can join us and be our tour guide, free of charge of course, so he can practice his English.  We agreed and had a really nice time with him.  At one stage he asked us if we wanted to go to a local market and if we like cigars?  Not one to miss out on a shopping opportunity at local markets we agreed.

travel the world - havana scam - me with cigar

The Man Nobody Wants to Mess With

So off we went to the outskirts of Havana in what looked like a much poorer district, where he led us into a flat.  That doesn’t look like a market I thought to myself, but then I thought maybe some people just run illegal markets in communist Cuba to make a bit more money.  Inside was a young woman with hardly any clothes on who puffed up the cushions on a mattress on the floor, which was turned into a sofa.  We sat down and all of the sudden this big guy (and I mean really big!) with gold chains and muscles that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger look tiny, entered the room, shouted at the woman to leave, and sat down opposite us.  At that stage we started to feel a bit uncomfortable.  Where are all these colourful, charming handicraft sellers we were used to seeing on the streets?  He asked us if we wanted to buy some cigars, but we weren’t really interested.  He looked a bit puzzled and shouted at our ‘tour guide’ who in a panic said to us that he thought we wanted to buy cigars.  We explained that we were more looking for souvenirs like handicrafts, but inquired the price for the cigars as we felt this situation could soon turn ugly.  The big man said $50 for a big box.  We said that we only have $20 on us, which was true and asked him what we can get for that?  He pointed to a mini packet with five cigars that usually comes as a free gift if you buy a big box.  He looked a bit angry and at this point we started to feel a bit nervous, locked in his house as we were.  Chris was holding on to our backpack very tightly and we looked at each other and said that we will take the small cigars as we only had $20 on us.  He sulked a bit, but led us out of his flat after we paid him.  Our tour guide didn’t follow us.  As soon as we were outside we quickly made our way through the back streets towards the more civilized and touristy part of town.

How I Really Knew You

After that shock we went to the nearest bar, ordered some food and a few mojitos to celebrate our escape.  We reflected on the day and couldn’t quite work out how we fell for the scam.  We kept thinking what a huge coincidence it was that this guy knew somebody in Bedford and was able to describe the sights and how beautiful the river was.  I mean Bedford is not exactly a well-known town in England.  And then it struck us that a few days before we had been asked by some other locals where we were from.  When we told them they just smiled and told us to enjoy Cuba, so we didn’t really think much off it and just thought the locals here are very friendly and curious.  But now we know that they must have all worked together and told each other the intel they received about us.  So when the guy asked us where we were from and we said England he knew full well that we lived in Bedford and had had a few days to research the town online.  So to gain our trust he made up the story about his friend studying in Bedford.

Then Comes the Surprise!

It was our first holiday together, so we put it down as one of those experiences you have as a traveler and decided to enjoy the rest of the night.  We sipped some mojitos and listened to a Cuban band when all of the sudden Chris started to look very serious.  He told me that he was glad our backpack hadn’t’ been stolen by the guy as there was something special in there.  I had no idea what he was talking about and thought maybe he couldn’t handle the strong mojitos very well, but then he took out a small box containing a ring and he popped the question.  Of course I said yes.  If we survived being locked in a gangster’s menacing flat, we can survive anything…

travel the world - havana scam - engaged

About Tammy Lowe:  Tammy is one half of Tammy & Chris on the move.  She hails from Germany, and is therefore both mighty and efficient.  Chris is the other half, hailing from the UK which means he likes to talk about the weather, be polite, or sometimes even both at the same time.  They both have civil service backgrounds, but have left their bowler-hats back in London to go and work on justice and human right issues in Cambodia, and, whenever they get some time off, travel around the world.

Thank you Tammy for sharing your story.  Congratulations, and what an adventure you two survived together!

Like this story?  Check out our other story in the “Travel the world, just don’t get scammed” series.

If you want to share your short story about a time you have been scammed, leave us a comment below.  We’d love to hear from you!


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Packing for Your Morocco Sahara Desert Tour

Posted on 18 June 2012 by David

Our Shadows - Morocco Sahara Desert Tour

People have been asking us what they should pack for their Morocco Sahara desert tour.

If you’re planning a trip out to the desert, you need to insure you pack as light as possible.  However since you’ll be miles away from civilization you need to make sure you’re prepared for any situation you may encounter.

So, to help you prepare for your trip, here’s our list plus some tips about the items you should take.  We had a great time seeing the sand dunes in the Sahara Desert, and with preparation, you can as well.

As a side note, we bought many of our items from REI (, mostly because if you are not satisfied with a product for any reason you can return it. (I returned a set of earmuffs that kept falling off my ears after three months and I got my refund for it.)   You may want to check them out as well.

Packing List – Morocco Sahara Desert Tour

 Erg Chebbi Sand Dunes - Sahara Desert Tour - Morocco Travel


  • Windbreaker or light jacket
    • TIP: The sun can be unbearable during the day but at night it can get a bit chilly.  Take a windbreaker or light jacket just in case.
  • Comfortable jeans
    • TIP: Riding a camel will not be very enjoyable if you wear shorts!  The camel fur is rough and jeans will protect your legs.
  • Sneakers or hiking boots or sport sandals
    • TIP: Don’t take a new pair of shoes, you’ll get sand all on them and inside of them.
  • A hat, visor, or headscarf
    • TIP: A desert headscarf works wonders to block the sun and the dust.
  • Sunglasses
    • TIP: Don’t sit on them.


  • Digital Camera
    • TIP: A strap will help make sure you don’t lose it while trying to take picture as you’re bouncing around on a camel.
  • Extra batteries
    • TIP: Fully charge all your batteries at your hotel before you embark.  There are no facilities to charge your batteries in the desert!
  • Lens and camera brush
    • TIP: Get one such as the Nikon 7072 Lens Pen Cleaning System for dusting off all the dust that will get on your camera.  Your camera will love you.  It worked wonders on ours!
  • Tripod
  • Alarm clock
    • TIP: You can use your phone, but take a little alarm clock just in case your phone runs out of battery!

Sunrise in the Sahara Sahara Morocco Travel


  • Swiss army knife
  • Hand Sanitizer
    • TIP:  It’s true.  There is no running water inside the desert.
  • Face wipes
  • Napkins or tissue
  • Roll of toilet paper
  • Water bottle
  • Flashlights
    • TIP: You’ll have candles but just try walking out with one in the middle of the night when you need to go.   A flashlight will at least stay on.
  • Non-salty snacks
    • TIP: Overly salty snacks will make you thirsty, stay away from those.

Medicines and Lotions

  • Pain medicine
    • TIP: Just remember, any medical facility is miles of camel rides away.  It will take a while to get there.
    • TIP:  For headaches use Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
    • TIP:  For bites, scratches, anything that’s swollen, use Ibuprofen (Advil)
  • Band-aids
    • TIP: No need for a big box, just a few strips is good.
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Anti-Diarrhea medicine
  • Antacids
  • Antibiotics
  • Allergy medicine

Another article you may be interested in is our interview with a local guiding company on planning a Morocco Sahara desert tour.  Hope you enjoy it.

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Surviving the Amazon Jungle

Posted on 17 September 2011 by onthegroundtravel

Amazon Jungle Survival Tips:

1) In Europe, you learn to look up to see the frescos on ceilings.  In the jungle, we learned to look up, down, left, right, below, and everywhere.   It’s not the animals that are most likely to hurt you (most of them run away before you even know they are there), but it’s the plants that may cause you the most grief.  When you walk the jungle, try not to touch anything with bare skin.  Many trees have spikes on the trunks, underneath the leaves, or on the roots and some of the spikes are poisonous.   Furthermore, if you happen to brush against a tree trunk infested with fire ants, the pain from the stings will last several days.   If you get stung by fire ants, consider yourself lucky as there are other ants that can leave you in severe pain all over for days.   The same goes for tree sap, some can cure illness, others are dessert for the monkeys, and some are just plain poisonous.  On windy days, heavy fruit from the top of trees are dangerous as they may fall at high speed and knock you out or worse.  Locals call the fruit “Cabeza the Muerto” or “Dead Head” for that exact reason: they look like a head, and have knocked some jungle hunters dead in the head (we are not kidding!).

Spikes on Tree Roots in the Amazon jungle from trips around the world.

2) Wear white color, long sleeve clothing.  Mosquitos are attracted to dark and bright colors.

3) Buy a mosquito net for your head.  Outdoor equipment stores like REI sell them.  They will definitely give you peace of mind when you hear insects buzzing around your ears all day.  I know they work as there were definitely a few mosquitos stopped by the net right in front my eyes as they tried to bite me.

4) Make sure your lodge provides knee-high rubber boots.   This is essential.  You will be walking through some really muddy areas that can be knee deep.  Hiking boots will not be sufficient unless you don’t mind getting your socks and feet all muddy as well.

5) Our posts on Life in the Amazon Jungle and Iquitos and the Belen Market (port city to the jungle) may also be of interest to you.

Amazon Jungle Adventure Log:

Learning survival skills is one of the primary reasons we made a stop at the Amazon jungle.  Under the expert guidance of a local guide, we learned a number of skills that we can carry with us for the rest of our lives.  This includes how to avoid getting lost, and what to do once you are lost in the jungle.  Other tips such as finding water and food sources, and when to start a fire are also invaluable.  As difficult as it may seem for city dwellers like us to adjust to the uncomfortable weather in the Amazon, we were glad we visited this wonderful place.

Water Vine in the Amazon jungle from trips around the world

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