Travel: 30 Bizarre Photos From Our Year On The Road

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Sometimes we have to think long and hard about a post but truth be told this one found me, the best ones always do! It came to me sitting in a Georgian hostel mere days before our final flight back to London. I started to look back through the photos on my phone and found some real treasure buried in the chest. This selection is just a scratch at the surface.

Most of the photos we use for the website are taken on the DSLR, so I kind of forgot that I had been taking the odd photo of day-to-day life on the road with my phone. Here I’ve edited them down and stuck them altogether, which will give you some great behind the scenes access to some of the forgotten or smaller moments of our trip... No surprises, of all the places with the wackiest things to see it had to be China, classic mental China! 

 In no particular order:

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1. Here’s some ‘interesting’ advertising from a Georgian bar toilet. A piece that carefully crosses the lines between drink-driving and Soviet politics, not an obvious unison. Here is a drunk driver hitting Joesph Stalin! Somehow this was designed to stop people from drink driving? Not sure if it met that aim, it's a far better piece of anti-Soviet propaganda.

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2. 'Sola!' What could this sign be communicating? Break out of the system? Always run from tall people? The colour yellow can never be contained by red? Can anyone solve this mystery?  

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3. We met this kind boy on the way up to a village in the Nepalese mountains. We’d been soaked-through in a hail and thunderstorm and then had to walk up a mountain for 2 hours, we were broken. Thankfully he showed us a shortcut and then invited us into his home to drink tea and the actual bizarre bit was that we ate a minced goat, sugar and sultana dish with his family - imagine a sweet gristly meaty pudding! Ali subsequently got the worst food poisoning she's ever had the next day.

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4. Who the f**k is Lonyo? And why is he painted above our bed? It looks like a 5 year old child's bedroom!  After 3 nights in this room I even dreamt about Lonyo... he’ll always be the mystery cartoon character from Asia we'd never heard of....

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5. Why do airports always put armrests on the chairs? If they put them in to make their customers tired and grouchy then they have met their aim. Apart from we (well Ali actually) can snake underneath them and defy the strict airport systems! Mali 1 vs Dubai airport 0

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Sri Lanka

6. Truly, this excellent promotion gave us a lot of giggles far beyond our time in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately we never got to try Trincomalee's 'Jambo Prowns' but we suspect they'd be pretty awesome. 

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7. Outside the major cities of China the standard of the toilets drops dramatically. Imagine the setting, if you will, you've been on a bus for 6 hours and the driver stops at a suspect hut on the side of the road. There's 4 other buses worth of people here and everyone needs the toilet so you start queuing and prepare 1 yuan to pass to a 'cleaning' lady. You finally enter the toilet and find this, a shit covered hole in the ground. This was a nice one, often these poo pits don't have walls! sharing is caring.

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8. Quasi-English signage can be found everywhere in China and very often you get treated to little gems like this one. For the record, I always take care of my treasures.

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9. 'Hellow My Friend', this wasn't the first thing we noticed on the advert. The important observation is that the child is the spitting image of Ali when she was a child. Weird.

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10. We met Amjad pretty randomly, he was helping to build a wall for his friend Mo's mum's house. He kept his mask on for the few hours while we were chatting so I joined him in becoming a ninja too by popping the snood on #jordanninja. 

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11. This didn't seem bizarre at the time but looking back at the spicy Taiwanese pancake that Shanghai locals munch on for breakfast was odd. Spicy, sweet and eggy, with long queues at every stall.

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12. 'We Have Sausages', this was a strange message to be taped across a door of a Nepalese tea house on the Annapurna circuit. It's true that over the 3 weeks of trekking not a single tea house sold sausages but then is demand for sausage big enough that it will differentiate your tea house from the others? This host obviously thought so. Unfortunately said the tea house was shut, we can report nothing more about the sausages other than they might sell them... 

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13. Ali couldn't wait to become this dear, although she might have been a bit more in character if she'd taken the glasses off. Special one. 

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Sri Lanka

14. I love that some Sri Lankan restaurants serve dosa on a plate but then cover the plate in a plastic bag. Would it not make more sense to pop the food into the bag or onto the plate? senseless waste. For every 5p bag or recycled PET bottle there's a restaurant some place giving out as many plastic bags as possible. It's saddening actually, the developing world is so far behind the most western countries.

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15. Ali never thought she was going to get to wear full Arabic dress, although I suspect she secretly wanted too.  She would get her chance when entering the King Abdullah Mosque in Amman, Jordan. Here is Ali, truly living like a local.

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16. Sometimes we all fall on hard times #bananabap

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17. I fear we may never taste anything quite as delicious as the bowl of creamy fragrant eggy custard like this one in Xi'an. This was one of the tastiest things we have ever eaten. A speciality of the amazing Muslim quarter of the city. Not that bizarre in hindsight, apart from the eggy gloopy texture.

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18. "Happy Holi" the kids screamed in English as they assaulted us with every colour of powdered paint under the sun. They were very careful to cover every cm of Ali's face, these children were well drilled in administering precision attacks on the street, the tourists didn't stand a chance.  The only problem was that we were on our way to get passport photos taken for our trekking permits!

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19. This isn't bizarre at all, mostly sad. We admired the father and son team that climbed the circuit sticking pictures of their sadly deceased son and brother, Sam, you can see the photo bottom left of the post. We were so shocked to hear about such a harsh loss to such a nice family. In our little way, we wanted to share this photo to show support, so they know our thoughts are with them.

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20. Nothing makes you feel more like a proper explorer than knowing you've stayed in the same hostel as the Monty Python member come traveller, come documentary maker, come proper legend, Micheal Palin. Still haven't got around to watching his 'Himalaya' episode though. 

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21. Most people won't know our friend Dulce but this Thai girl in the advert is her doppelgänger. Every time we saw the advert we thought it was her.

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22. Any mathematicians out there who can work this one out?


23. My secret filming doesn't do the volume of his snore justice, this guy rocked a serious nasal growl for most of the 13 hour train journey to Shanghai. The Chinese people in the carriage put up with everything, no one complained about it, they endured. Even with ear plugs this was the worst snoring i've ever heard.

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24. So, we were in a bit of a rush and needed to pay. In China, it's custom to do so at the till but when we went up we were greeted by this huge husky. We actually had to wait with the dog for 5 minutes before any staff came and i'll tell you what... this is one content dog.  She just sat there staring our the window.



25. Russian art has come a long way since the 70 years of social-realist painting and sculpture of the Soviet empire. Whereas once it was happy peasants working the fields for the good of all, now we get naked boys riding red horses. How times have changed, apart from the colour red. What would Stalin think of Russia's modern art I wonder? 

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26. Well I am a lanky one, so of course my spirit animal is a giraffe.

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27. You need to look closely to spot the bizarre items on the sticks we are all about to consume.  This was a round of deep fried grubs and crickets. They weren't too bad but they actually cost more than bbq'ed beef and chicken.

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28. There''s only one thing more dangerous than a Chinese moped driver... and that's one who knocks you down with a minion fronted moped! This moped perfectly signifies the tacky commercialisation of China, would any other country seriously buy this crap?

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29. This is not a joke, plumbers in eastern Europe actually dress like Super Mario! This guy was the third plumber we spotted in the Vienna train station. I'd definitely support a standardised Nintendo plumber dress code!

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Sri Lanka

30. The childish teenager in me couldn't help but chuckle at Sri Lanka's premium travel company, R.K. Rugshita Travels, in the most bombastic typography going. Big up my man R.K. Rugshita... lets hope he doesn't sell actual rugs!


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Nepal: 20 Photos That Will Make You Want To Trek The Annapurna Circuit

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Annapurna Circuit

Since the 1970s, generations of travellers have told wondrous tales of the Annapurna circuit.  Tales of a trek that can last up to 3 whole months in dizzyingly high altitude in the Himalayas, we were intrigued.  We first heard about it from a couple we met in Laos, they had just completed the circuit and were clearly in awe so we did some research to find out what all the fuss was about. It seems quite silly that we hadn’t heard of it until a few months ago, it's one of the most popular circuits in world! This became all-so-clear upon our arrival in Nepal, this country is a mecca for trekking and the Annapurna circuit is the perfect breeding ground for adventures, new walking friends and the highest mountains in the world.

Annapurna has truly stunning and dynamic landscapes that change every day of the route.  It's hard to believe you can find both jungle and artic tundra just a few days walk away! This is the holy grail of the great outdoors, so here are 20 images that will make you want to strap your boots on, pack your thermals and go tackle the infamous Annapurna Circuit.


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I’m not sure there’s anywhere in the world that can make you feel quite so small as the Himal and Annapurna mountains. Even after weeks of trekking, the mountain’s scale still takes your breath away, but not as much as the air-thinning experience of climbing to the top of one!


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Let it not snow, if truth be told. The Thorang-La pass is scary and dangerous enough without a snow storm and after 10 days of perfect blue skies, it was an un-wanted surprise that a storm hit for the morning of the pass.  Although, on reflection, the snow actually made the experience more memorable and certainly more challenging. The ever changing weather of the Himalayas is part of the package and clearing the top of the pass in a blizzard will be a story for the grandkids.


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If you take the yellow side-route up into the mountains above Khudi, you’ll find homestays run by warm and welcoming self-sufficient families. As well as feeding and providing shelter for you, they may also bless you with a Tibetan sash and milky rice stuck to your forehead. Ali was so touched by our host's blessing she became overwhelmed by emotion.  It had been 3 rough days of recovering from food poisoning, and the well wishes were the light at the end of the tunnel.


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Most of Nepal is Hindu, 80% to be precise, but in mountain communities most are Buddhist and nothing symbolises the simplicity and beauty of Buddhist belief like the coloured flags with Tibetan scripture on them, flapping in the wind.


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Nothing brings people together like a challenge, tough environments and relentless Daal Bhat for dinner every evening. The Annapurna circuit attracts all ages of like-minded people, it's really easy to meet walking buddies and with new pals comes fun, good chats and high moral for the more challenging parts like the pass. 


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After 8 months of travelling we felt confident we’d experienced much of the world's harshest weather, wrong! Himalayan storms, caused by tornados in warmer places, are brutal, long and pretty scary experiences. You can hear them thundering hours before they hit but when they do…oh boy!


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Walking the mountain paths takes you through villages and communities, so you can expect to walk into a few ragamuffins’ like these scruffy girls playing games in the village. Expect many greetings on the circuit from little mouths, “Namaste” echoing from village to village.


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When an environment is challenging, communities come together. Passing through villages and observing generations of families still following long practiced religious rituals on a daily basis is very special. Why not get involved and spin the Buddhist wheels of luck, clockwise that is.


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After days of gradually getting closer to the Annapurna mountains you’ll suddenly find yourself in ever-changing environments. The beautiful pine forests on the way to Lower Pisang made us feel like we just walked into another national park, this can happen a lot on the Annapurna circuit!


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Whether you’re on your own, in group or with a friend you must take some time to just stare at the mountains. It’s not very likely that you will find many taller or more beautiful, it’s the perfect excuse to rest your weary pins before the next ascent.


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As you leave Manang you will find the landscape starts to tear open in all directions. Aqua lakes form from snow run off, grass turns to brown steppe and the paths split into the different routes. It’s the perfect vista to remember the trek by and, in our opinion, it’s the most beautiful part of the circuit.


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Follow the river, it always takes you somewhere interesting. In this case, the path leads to Tilicho Lake which is the highest lake in the world. It takes a whole day of walking to reach Tilicho base camp, but with views like this on the way you’ll be completely mesmerised.


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There are few things that never leave your side on the trek. Luckily for Ali one of those things is me! But just as important is your backpack. It’s a heavy yet vital piece of equipment, but when you get to throw it down, rest your body and look back at what you’ve conquered, it makes carrying 12kg all the more bearable.  Although Ali almost let her bag roll of a mountain edge, twice! 


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As you climb above 3000 metres, you’ll start to spot ancient villages built from local stones that blend seamlessly with dusty rocky steppe on the way to Thorang-La. Take time to walk through these townships and admire how people survived in this challenging high altitude environment, many years ago.


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It sounds a little scary, and it is a little scary. To reach Tilicho lake you’ll pass through a falling rock area where small rocks hurtle south like they’ve come from Federra’s tennis racket. The sheer force of the moving rocks create stunning, almost abstract, shapes of colour down to the base of the ravine. 


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Who wouldn’t want to set eyes on the highest lake in the world? It was a gruelling 3 hour walk on a disintegrating path with thick snow, but reaching 5014 meters high, short on breath with a view of the Annapurna mountains one side and the lake the other has been one of life’s greatest achievements. It’s also the perfect practice for the high altitude pass….


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Unlike in many other countries, you’ll rarely need to queue to enjoy an amazing viewpoint. After taking the side route through Upper Khangsar we stumbled onto this uninhabited view point over the Manang valley. It would have been rude not to take a picture of Ali enjoying the view from the edge of a very high cliff.


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After 4 gruelling hours of air-constrained climbing up the slippery paths in the snow, we finally made it to 5416 metres above sea level and here’s the photo to prove it! It’s truly one of the hardest things you can do but its worth every second. You’ll feel like an absolute hero until you realise that the Nepalese shop owner in the hut next to us endures the same walk everyday to sell tourists hot drinks!


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Once you’re over the pass the landscape changes dramatically. Everything gets larger and more spaced out and the rocks turn a dirty brown as desert starts to take over the land. You can sit and watch the clouds for hours as they dance over the huge rock sculptures below. 


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The Nepali steppe isn't everyones favourite, most trekkers skip it by taking a jeep down to the greener bits of the circuit further south. For us, we love the desolate sombre colours of the Nepali steppe, dust filled, spiky shrubs and barely another soul in sight. It’s another day of adventure on the Annapurna circuit as we cross the steppe.


Why Trek The Annapurna

We've trekked in many countries but very few compare to the sheer epic beauty of Nepal's Annapurna and Himalayan mountains. We fought with illness, altitude sickness and battered bodies to complete the 3 week trek, but it was worth it. It was amazing and we'd do it again in a second if we could, we might even come back next year if we can afford to! If you do only one multi day trek in your life make it the Annapurna circuit.



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Sri Lanka: Jaffna's Stunning Hand-Painted Signage

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Arriving in Jaffna felt like we might have stepped back in time, this was clarified by all the people staring at us! As we wondered around the city centre, it's clear that few tourists make it here making a hidden gem in an often busy tourist laden country. Jaffna is Sri Lanka’s most northern city and the closest you can get to India. It's full of the hectic hubbub of market traders, bustling bazaars and more tuk tuks than people.

Annai Nagaa Food City Truck in Jaffna

Annai Nagaa Food City Truck in Jaffna


The folk in Jaffna are so friendly, the second we show the slightest interest in a man siphoning creamy tea between cups, a gentleman greets us in English and talks of his experiences in London many years ago. The same friendly man buys us both an incredibly sugary tea and left us to gaze at the happening city, suddenly something catches our eye. Above a generic hardware store we spot some beautiful hand-painted signage. The sign is mixture of English and Sri Lankan typography, a throwback to skilled graphic artists of the 20th century. Let us show you some of the most beautiful hand-painted signs in Jaffna.

'City Hardware stores' on Stanley Road

'City Hardware stores' on Stanley Road

Apollo Hardware

Apollo Hardware


Hardware Stores On Stanley Road

What’s really alluring about the painted signs is that they tell a story of what a street was like many years ago. Walking down Stanley Road into the town centre is quite an archaic place where men stand around together chewing the fat. Almost half the shops sell exactly the same hardware equipment, materials and services and have somehow survived the extensive competition and even civil war. It seems very old fashioned that so many shops compete against each other for the same services but really they represent a vital part of the community life. A community that fixes broken products, makes rather than buys and would happily enjoy a sugary tea with a shop owner without needing to buy anything.

Motorbike repair shop on Stanley Road

Motorbike repair shop on Stanley Road


One of the coolest things about Jaffna is that it’s traditional heritage dominates the city, unlike much of Sri Lanka's developed tourism. You won’t see the normal trends of ‘free WIFI’, coffee shops and trip advisor stickers on the windows here but you will be able to glimpse into the real working lives of the people. Fisherman selling their salted fish, fried foods served in the Jaffna ‘hotels’ which are actually small restaurants or the surprising speciality of the city, ice cream. Not to mention the cows who wonder the streets causing havoc to the merchants by laying pats outside their shops, just watch your step!

Naughty cow interrupting dinner service at Malayan Cafe

Naughty cow interrupting dinner service at Malayan Cafe

The jewellery shops on Kasthuriyar Road

The jewellery shops on Kasthuriyar Road


Everywhere we turned we spotted old timers fixing bikes, soldering components in a huge TV or making garments to be sold that day. The local trades people of Jaffna embody that spirit of DIY and are skilled in their endeavours. We were really inspired to see so much technical knowledge on show but it made us wonder how long it will last in the rising culture of throwaway products. On the same streets as the long established painted sign stores there are also newer stores with flashy vinyl and LED signage selling too-cheap-to-fix tat like the white goods we buy in Europe. Do the new stores represent the growing culture of waste in Sri Lanka? Sadly, we think it might.

Hand painted jewellers billboard,  Kasthuriyar Road.

Hand painted jewellers billboard,  Kasthuriyar Road.


Ceylon is word used often on Sri Lankan signage and it took us few days to find out that it wasn’t just a famous tea brand. Ceylon was the imperial name until it was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972 following independence, a little history lesson for you. The fact it’s still on the signage shows either the shops old age or perhaps it’s just a “if it ain’t broke then don't fix it” mentality. Either way, the old signs make a visitor feel like your seeing many generations of a city.

Wood clad trucker

Wood clad trucker

Wooden Freight

After an hour of marvelling at the beautiful signs of Jaffna we spotted something we’d never seen before, although in truth we heard it first. Our gaze fell on a huge wood-clad lorry covered with decorative graphics used for Sri Lanka deliveries. These lorries must have been in action since the 60/70's but the vintage wood finishing and paint work made them feel somewhat contemporary. After spotting one on a drop-off point on Kasthuriyar Road we went on to spot many across the day, roaring along the back streets of the city like boisterous animals. 

Amazing paint job on this truck

Amazing paint job on this truck

'Jaffna' painted

'Jaffna' painted

Jaffna is funny place, in many ways there isn't a lot to do but there is a lot to look at. It has a Dutch fort, amazingly cheap roti curries and some of the sweetest ice cream you will ever enjoy. We'll remember the friendly people and the vibrant signage, knowing that there are places in the world where change is happening at a far slower pace.

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10 Epic Photos Of China

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China is an impressive country and one so varied it’s difficult to try and summarise it in only 10 photos.  But picking our favourites is one job in running a blog so here it is. You will quickly spot that most of our favourite snaps explore China’s expansive landscapes. From the snowy peaks of the Tibetan border to the neon clad temples of the modern cities, China is all about contrasts! Grab a cuppa, or a noodle soup, and observe our 10 epic photos of China...


1. Yubeng


There is one spot that will forever be one of our favourite places in the world. Let us introduce Yubeng, a place where photographs don’t do justice. We entered in early December as the first snow was falling and there were only a few tourists who made it up to this sacred valley. Trekking Upper and Lower Yubeng got us as close to Tibet as we could afford and it’s only made us more excited about visiting the gated birth place of Buddhism. Without sounding like a classic traveller, it was really spiritual.


2. Huangshan Mountain


Although the Yellow Mountains are one of the most well trodden national parks in China, it can’t be denied that if weather sides with you the peaks are truly stunning. We were told that Huangshan only gets 50 days of sunrises, sun and sunsets; raining the rest of year. So with that in mind we felt pretty privileged to have 4 days of complete sunshine, rises and sunsets. This photo was taken in the Huangshan Grand Canyon on our first night. Wow the colours were exceptionally deep in colour, changing every few minutes before the darkness fell. It didn’t matter that we were joined by 200 other people, that sunset was the best of the whole trip (so far.)


3. The Great Wall


What would a trip to China be without a trek on the Great Wall? We set our sights on the deteriorating Jiankou section which, while crumbling away, did offer us access to 3 days on a vast unpopulated section of wall just north of Beijing. It’s one of the worlds wonders and being able to traverse the ancient stonework was very satisfying. Just look at it, a huge defensive structure that failed on the battlefield but left such an impact on the world through the sheer man power that built it. Remember, it can’t be seen from space as it’s smaller than most roads!


4. Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter 


We love food, which is lucky because when you’re a long term traveller because it’s one of the only things we can afford to indulge in. I mean, a person's got to eat right? Enter Xi’an, a place with one of our favourite food streets in the world. The Muslim quarter is an area of Xi’an with mosques, restaurants and shops that continue a long lineage of Muslim culture dating back to the very start of the Silk Road. But let’s talk about the food, there’s so much variety in the ingredients, cooking processes and skill that you have to imagine hundreds of foods: artisans baking, bbq’ing, smashing, frying, freezing most of China’s indigenous ingredients on a bustling street, apparently UNESCO are in process of giving it extra some leverage too. Our favourite food? Milk and egg soup, sweet, salty and enhanced by some middle eastern magic, delicious.


5. Baisha


This is not an obvious choice because only a few people would have heard of Baisha. It’s a small mountainside village that specialises in the craft of embroidery. Ali was in her element here as you can see from this photo as she wore a locals outfit proudly down the high street. We meant to stay in Baisha just a night but that quickly turned into a week, it was so relaxing and the people were so kind, it felt like home.


6. Feilai Si


Little explanation needed here, you are looking at the Miancimu peak, the second highest mountain of the Meili Snow mountain range in north west Yunnan, Tibet can be found just behind it. We got up at 6am to watch the sun shine brightly on this peak and this was our favourite shot of the morning. If you ever travel to Yubeng make sure you see a sunrise in Feilai Si.


7. Xi’an 


You couldn’t visit China and not witness a traditional temple. Unfortunately the cultural revolution of the 60s meant that many of China’s stunning temples and monasteries were destroyed. This was an authentic temple modernised with neon lights that make the structure even more dramatic. It’s the iconic Chinese image and one you will see again and again in pictures. It’s so much more breathtaking in real life. We hope this photo does it some justice.


8. Dali 


This photograph symbolises adventuring off the beaten track with the best way being by bicycle or moped. All across China we rented bikes to get out of the cities and towns and explore rural China. Here is Mark on a lane connecting Dali and Lake Erhai, the third largest lake in the country. It’s always good to get away from China’s tourism and renting a bike is the best way to do that.


 9. Zhangjiajie


Although Zhangjiajie was our biggest disappointment after we fought monkeys, flu and fog, we did get this photograph of Ali’s glowing locks against the monolithic Zhangjiajie canyon in the mist. In a way the drab weather we faced made it even more memorable for its sombre tones rather than the brash glowing yellow rocks you’ll see on the internet. We would love to go back and see this national park with better weather but until then we will have funny memories of this place.


10. Upper Yubeng 


On day two of our trip in Yubeng we ventured up to a frozen lake found at 4km above sea level. It was cold, slippery but incredibly beautiful. A calm solemn place that is visited by Buddhist pilgrims who walk around the lake 3 times clockwise. If you wait long enough a small avalanches drifts from the glacier above and in that moment time stops as you watch.


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10 Epic Photos Of China, By Studio Mali

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Russia: In 10 Photos

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We set ourselves the challenge of summing up our 3 week adventure in 10 photographs that define our experiences of Russia.  From the dazzling lights of commercial Moscow to the humble shamanic shores of Olkhon Island, we want to share with you our favourite pictures of the unique travel destination that is Russia, a country so huge and so different for it.

Moscow by night, Russia

1. GUM Department 

Nowhere signifies the decadence of Central Moscow better than the GUM department store next to Red Square. Expect police checkpoints, x-ray scanners and stoney faced doormen on the way in. That said ignoring security is easy, just look up and devour the opulent lighting of streets outside. Excessive but beautiful, Russia in nut shell.

Shamanic rock on Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia

2. Shaman Rock

The home of an ancient shaman who used to live among the rocks on the face closest to the water, quite treacherous to climb. It was a great place to watch the sunset from, joined by painters, photographers and the spiritual.

St Basils Catherdral in Moscow, Russia

3. St Basils Cathedral

Needs no introduction, a masterpiece in ornate architecture and truly one of Russia’s stand out sights. Very often, hyped ‘must see’ attractions fail to live up to expectations. St Basils is an exception, a true one-of-a-kind structure brought into existence by the infamous Ivan The Terrible; underpinning the majesty, the orthodox and the beautiful history of old Russia!

Shamanic poles on Orkhon Island (Lake Baikal), Siberia, Russia

4. Shaman Flags On Olkhon Island

Our mini bus driver dropped us off on the top of the hill, pointed to the beach and laughed at our plan of camping. Undeterred we started our march downwards noticing these poles and flags being licked by the wind. Shaman rock has been a place of pilgrimages worthy of spiritual visitors for generations and the poles stand as reminder of it's mysterious past. There was something very cleansing about camping so close to a place like this. Perhaps our favourite place in Russia.

Monument to the conquerors of space in Moscow, Russia

5. Conquerors Of Space

Soviet propaganda at its finest, a titanium sculpture celebrating soviet achievements in space. Built in 1964 in memory of Russian cosmonauts advances, the sculpture looms 107 metres into the sky representing a rocket take off. At the base, ‘the people’ of Russia are formed into a shuttles flame projecting the ever so important communist values of society as one. Probably the most impressive soviet sculpture in Moscow.

A shamanic tree on Olkhon Island (lake Baikal), Siberia, Russia

6. Ribbons In The Trees

You know you’re in a place that is loved when you find ribbons in the trees. We stumbled onto this one during a beach walk on Olkhon Island. We selected this photo because it shows the spiritual side of Russia, the Mongolian influence, and what a surprise it was to us. East of the Ural Mountains Russia changes and becomes difficult to categorise, it’s a must-visit for travellers coming to this country.

Woodland walk on Olkhon Island (Lake Baikal), Siberia, Russia

7. A Wonder In The Woods

On face value this could be any woods in the world but we picked it because it says something about the low lighting we found in Russia. The light just feels different to other countries! In this shot it’s seeping through the trees bringing the forest to life. Photographers that enjoy shooting during twilight will love Russia.


8. Springs of Arshan

Why is the bowl red? You may ask. It’s because these natural springs emit water with huge amounts of iron in it, it’s turned the bowl red and every sip has a metallic aftertaste. The Mongolian families that live in Arshan make daily pilgrimages to re-stock on this health boosting natural resource. You can’t travel to Eastern Siberia without trying it.

At the summet of Flower Mountain in Arshan, Siberia, Russia

9. Graffiti On Flower Mountain 

Dog mountain might have been a better name as we were joined by many Disney ‘Up’ canine companions on way to the peak.  Not that there is one in the photo, just Mark and some quite tastefully applied graffiti. Moody, beautiful and symbolic because the next day we would board a train into Mongolia passing these very mountains.

Window view of sunset on the Trans Siberian Train, Russis

10. Trans Siberian Sunset, With Vodka

You guessed it, as we left Siberia’s beautiful marshmallow sky it only seemed right that we would do so sipping on Lake Baikal organic vodka from our cabin on the train. We were lucky with the weather, this was the perfect way to leave Russia.

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Russia In 10 Photos, by Studio Mali

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Mongolia: In 10 Epic Photos

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This was a hard choice! We gave ourselves the challenge of selecting our top picks from a total of 165! There were many stunning shots we had to leave out but fear not, our favourites are shown below. We hope you like our photos, if you do please comment, share or pin! Thanks lovelies!

Amarbayasgalant Monastery Mongolia

1. Amarbayasgalant Stupe

Look into the eyes! The watchful gaze of a Buddha on a stupe at sunset. We picked this one because spiritual places always come alive at twilight and we hardly ever capture these moments. Just imagine the tranquil silence as you gaze on.

Mongolian Tour Guide Portrait

2. Undrakh 

Our beautiful guide Undrakh took our hands and led us across Mongolia. Not strictly a fact but she definitely knew her stuff and was big part of making our tour so memorable. She even taught us how to make Mongolian pasta.

Horse Trekking In The 8 Lakes Area Mongolia

3. Western Nomads

This is what happens when you dress two westerners as Nomads, put them on horses and then ride up and down a mountain. The result, two gleamingly happy travellers who felt like cowboys by the end of the horse trek.

Sunrise at Khovsgul Lake

4. Sunrise At Khovsgol

So we had to leave our ger at 6am for this one but it was worth it. Trust us when we say there is no image processing on this image. Just the pure, naturally vivid, majesty of mornings dawn.

Hand painted woodwork inside a ger Mongolia

5. Ger Construction And Detail

A gers value is based not on material but the amount of detail in the paint work. This was the most detailed work we saw on a ger, sublimely detailed brush work photographed in the afternoon sun.

Mongolian nomadic family

6. Our Nomadic Family

Our driver randomly called in with this family who were about to serve mutton dumplings, it’s good luck to arrive for dinner. They fed us, doused us with vodka and allowed us to stay with them on the coldest night of the tour. Mongolian hospitality is unreal, we will never forget our night here.

Snowy ger Mongolia

7. Let It Snow

Four seasons in a day they said. They weren’t wrong, we awoke one morning to three inches. This only makes the ger and it’s wood burner more cosy and exciting to be in. Like being kids at Christmas.

Driving through the Gobi desert Mongolia

8. The Road To Gobi

We picked this one because there is nothing quite so scary, and so vast, as racing across endless desert on dirt tracks. This snap underpins the raw beauty of the Gobi badlands and respect for those who live in this environment all year.

Flaming cliffs in the Gobi desert Mongolia

9. Flaming Cliffs Of The Gobi

I’m not sure we can think of many better places to see the sun settle. Shafts of stark shadows transform the undulating ripples of ancient sea beds. Just watch out for dinosaur bones under your feet!

Riding camels in the Gobi desert

10. Camel Riding To The Khakorin Sand Dunes

For weeks we knew this moment was coming. Boarding these strange creatures and setting off across the sand was a once in a lifetime experience, we had to get a shot of White Lightening and Choco Pie in the top 10!

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Mongolia - In 10 Epic Photos, by Studio Mali

If you liked our 10 Epic Photos Of Mongolia then why not check out our Mongolia Gallery Page....