Clown fish in Malaysia
Clown fish in Malaysia
  • Cool Boarders 2018
    • 18/03/2018
Not much to report.
Went to Les Arcs for some snowboarding, using the tried and tested method of flying to Geneva and getting the Altibus.
It wasn't during the worst of the "beast from the east" coldness, but it was still minus 22 centigrade up the mountain some days, and the visibilty was generally poor - low cloud without bringing new snow.
So i spent half the time sitting in the hostel, run by an enigmatic english couple, eating croissants and ruining the seasonaires lives by introducing them to Monopoly Deal card game.
This was fine, since i was using an "a la carte" ski pass, where you only pay for the days you use it.
And on the few bluebird (new snow + sun) days, it was fantastic - vast swathes of off piste, DIY slalom runs through the trees, the monster top to bottom, 8km (2km vertical) non stop Aiguille Rouge run.
Also went across to La Plagne for one day, which was ok once the sun came out, again some great off piste off the top of the glacier, and then a race against time to get the connecting "hand bag" gondola back to the Les Arc side of the valley before closing.
  • Hiking Hong Kong
    • 16/02/2018
Next stop Hong Kong, just for a contrast i thought i'd check out one of the worlds most renowned high rise cities.
What i did not appreciate (until i started researching) is that Hong Kong is more than just the city, it has loads of national parkland, mountains and beaches, spread across four? islands.
The mixture of chinese daily life and the remnants of british administration is fascinating, with UK road signs on streets lined with dried seafood stores, bakeries and dim sum restaurants.
A 1920's tramride (20p fare along whole route) got me to the Happy Valley racetrack, an impressive horse racing arena where every wednesday, drunken expats and chinese alike fill in reams of paper betting slips.
The remaining colonial era buildings are dwarfed by the high rise of modern steel and glass skyscrapers, but more numerous are the concrete blocks of flats which seem crazily tall in relation to their footprint, and are unwavouringly covered on the outside with aircon units, satellite dishs and laundry hanging out to dry 36 stories up.
One of the most famous tourist attractions in the city is Victoria Peak, with a 360 outlook over the island. Most tourists take the colonial funicular railway to the top, but the queue was crazy so i walked up, past crumbling mansions whose views of the harbour have been obscured by high rises.
Also noticing that the entire hill side is reinforced and punctuated by identifying markers - a reminder of how many tragic landslips there have been here.

Next day i took the Star Ferry across the harbour to Kowloon, and wandered around the flower market, bird market, the famous Chung King "Mansions", eat cheap noodles, take the crowded subway and be one of two people over 6 foot tall.
Last stop of the day was to hike up to Lion Rock, the mirror image lookout spot to Victoria Peak, but unfashionable and empty. The views would have been great if not for some low cloud.
Descending after sunset down a step track with monkeys chattering in the undergrowth around me.

Packing in the sights and the hikes, next day i said farewell to my luxurious hotel, stocked up on bread and cheese and took the ferry to Lantau Island.
Landing in Discovery Bay immediately felt a world apart, with bicycles being the only form of transport to navigate most of the settlement. Then the climbing began, to the top of 869m Sunset Peak.
Unfortunately once again, haze obscured the views at the top, but great walk none the less. On the way up i nearly trod on a snake, which turned out to be a non deadly lookalike, and then emerged on to a ridge covered in military training huts, with an army helicopter buzzing about.
Finally as darkness fell i tiredly descended a seemingly endless staircase to reach a quaint and remarkably un-busy YHA youth hostel.
Another early start in the morning to beat the crowds to the Great Big Gigantic Golden Buddha statue, which is pretty big and dominates the landscape. Also on site, the hall of a thousand golden buddhas.
Now i'm not a religious expert, but i would have though buddhism especially is about inner reflection rather than building gaudy monuments, but i guess the tourist dollars keep the monks filled with noodles.
Quick bus trip to Tai O, a fishing village with houses built on stilts above the coastline, and then ferry (past the enormous new 40 mile bridge connecting Hong Kong and Macau)+train+ferry to the next island - Lamma.

Lamma island hosts Hong Kong's power station, fish farms, and out of sight of both, empty beaches and tiny villages, traditionally populated by fishermen who have vetoed any development.
The whole island is navigated by a few concreted paths about 6 foot wide, so again the only tranport is bicycles, plus a few quad bike type things.
There are no hotels but i was able to stay in an AirBNB, with a zimbabwean/south african family who had moved here for a fresh start, working for an NGO.
It felt bizarre being in such a quiet and tranquil place, yet only half an hour boat ride from a metropolis.
That brought me to my last day - well, my flight home was at 7am, too early to be worth staying anywhere before heading to the airport, so i hiked back across the island, took some last photos of HK sights, rode the mid level escalators, watched the nightly "symphony of lights" (somewhat underwhelming) where all the skyscrapers LED advert boards coordinate to music for 20 minutes, and then headed to the airport to find somewhere to sleep. zzz

Flying back via Abu Dhabi was interesting to see the man made islands and crazy skyscrapers from the air, but i can't think of a less appealing place to spend a holiday!
  • octopus
    • 07/02/2018
first time trying to embed a video:

GH010249i from stuart pinchin on Vimeo.

  • Similan Smiles - diving in Thailand
    • 06/02/2018
So in Nottingham i've been crashing at my friend Callum's place, an australian immigrant web developer.
His cousin was getting married in Thailand, so i tagged along for some winter sunshine.
After the celebrations on the beaches of Koh Samui, i headed to Koh Phi Phi, famed for being the location of the beach used in the film "The Beach".
The beach is now submerged beneath throngs of daytripping tourists, including boat loads of chinese snorkellers, many of whom can't actually swim and just bob around in their bouyancy aids and water wings.
Amusingly though, by walking through a bit of jungle one can reach equally idyllic sandy coves with no one else ruining the view!!!
After another quick ferry ride to the refreshingly quaint colonial town of Phuket, i embarked on something [ the rest]
  • Durban Urban Turban.
    • 01/11/2017
Final days in Durban, which could easily be mistaken for a seaside resort with its miles of sandy beaches and promenade.
Europcar didn't look too impressed with how muddy the car was when I returned it!
Inland, a built up CBD with some grand historical buildings, and an international melting pot - Durban has the biggest Indian population outside if India, resulting in the local speciality snack, Bunny Chow, half a loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with curry. The owner of the restaurant I stopped in complained that the area was being spoiled by an influx of foreigners - referring to northern Africans and in particular Nigerians moving in. Wandered through various busy shopping streets and markets, including the Muti market which sells a wide range of witchdoctor supplies, with uniden [ the rest]
  • Wrecks n Whales
    • 01/11/2017
Said goodbye to the mountains and headed for the coast, passing through valleys of logging operations and sugar cane plantations, and stopping to visit one of the world's 47 Richmonds, named after the original by immigrants thereof.

The coast is a different world, built up and affluent looking. And sunny!
Staying at a very liberal and hippy bar/hostel where I met some interesting locals, one friendly dog, and two unfriendly dogs who wanted part of my leg for dinner.
Halloween night, a bbq and the big rugby match meant a party atmosphere, until the cape blue stripes came back to defeat the Sharks and drinking turned from celebratory to disconsolate.
This morning went scuba diving on a wreck named "Purpose", a 140 metre long cargo vessel lying in 30 metres of water off Ali [ the rest]
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Africa Overland 2017
Safari tour in a big yellow dustbin lorry
Travelling from Nairobi to Victoria Falls, through game reserves and whatnot, with Oasis Overland
North Sea Cycle
cultural bike ride around northern europe
Over a couple of months, i'll be testing my legs by riding from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Bergen in Norway. Approx 3000 miles, sounds like a lot but not very much each day on average...
Caribbean 2016
3 weeks of sun, sand, and craziness
A much needed relaxing break in the Cayman Islands... was what i expected, but instead almost none stop action, sports, sightseeing and partying. And then 10 days in Cuba, a beautiful, welcoming, and bewildering place like no other. And then back to Cayman for more awesome...
Tour du Mont Blanc 2015
A 10 day hike around Europe's biggest peak
The alps in the summertime are majestic. This walk, between 1500 and 3500m took in breathtaking views, high altitude camping, wildlife, and charming locals. After completing the walk i spent a few days relaxing on the shores of, and in, Lake Geneva.
Wales Walk 2014
A three week struggle across Wales on the Cambrian Way
Having skipped Wales on last year's LEJOG, i wanted to finished the job. The Cambrian Way provides 18,000 metres of ascent, the same as Everest - and twice that of the Pennine Way or Cape Wrath Trail. So it was hard work!
LEJOG 2013
1800 mile trek from one end of Britain to the other
After being a nomadic traveller for two years, I wasn't ready to go back to real life and get a job, but i wanted to do something constructive. Whilst in other far flung parts of the world i was often embarrassed by my limited knowledge of my home country. So i bought a train ticket to Penzance. And i walked.
South Pacific 2012
Beaches and reefs, palm trees and cava
A month relaxing in the Cook Islands, another month relaxing in Fiji and Samoa, with lots of diving, snorkeling, book reading, cava drinking, sunbathing and such. Then hitting the tourist trail on New Zealand's North Island, from Cape Reinga to Wellington. Off to Australia for a couple of weeks of modern world, then flying to Singapore, numerous public transport adventures through Malaysia and Thailand to the gap yearers mecca of Bangkok before flying home.
North America 2011
Backpacking around the US and Canada
Summer camps in New Hampshire, backpacking around the East Coast, protesting at the White House, traveling across Canada to track down my namesake, couchsurfing and hitchhiking through California, bears, snowboarding, crazy cyclists, Christmas in San Diego
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