During my first time in India, I was a relatively inexperienced traveller: I was overwhelmed by its beauty and stunned by its poverty, just as any first-time visitor. The second time I went to India, I expected to be more familiar with its various vagrancies. In reality, I was overwhelmed and stunned just as before.
I’ve been involved in photography in one way or another for 12 years now. At university, I studied photography and video and went on to work as a camera operator followed by seven years of teaching photography at secondary school level.
More recently, I have sold my landscape and travel photography online and to various publications and now, while travelling, it has become my only source of income which is somewhat terrifying!
We recently had a long Auckland layover between Tonga and our onward flight to Rarotonga. We hate to miss an opportunity to see a bit more of the world and another stamp in our passports made this an opportunity too good to pass up. The friendliest custom officials in the world and easy transport connections meant that we could make the best of our time in Auckland (despite the London-esque weather) and still have time to relax and make our onward flight. Here’s what we recommend on a limited timeframe during an Auckland layover .
Swimming with humpback whales in Tonga was a truly humbling experience that very nearly didn’t happen for us! But luck was on our side that day
It was late October, approaching the very end of Tonga’s whale watching season. We had been delayed in Samoa about a week longer than expected and arrived in Tonga just two days before the last day of the season.
Desperate not to miss our opportunity to swim with whales, we hastily flew north to the Vava’u Islands, one of the best places to see the humpbacks. These majestic creatures migrate north from the Antarctic every summer to breed in warmer waters, heading back as soon as their young are strong enough for the journey.
The best flight in the world is surely over the Tongan archipelagos of Vava’u and Ha’apai, streaking across the bright blue skies with glorious views below
We’ve been on the road for three months now and taken 15 flights and counting. Ever since we first left continental Australia there’s been some breathtaking aerial views from our windows across the Pacific thousands of feet below.
Despite its tiny size, the natural wonders of Samoa are vast
Samoa is made up of two main islands, ‘Upolu and Savai’i. We split our time evenly between the two and were never short of activities to fill our days.
Despite its tiny size, the natural wonders of Samoa are vast. I suggest hiring a 4WD on each of the islands and spending a day driving round and taking in the natural landscapes along the way.
Samoa beach fale may be rustic, but you can’t beat the views
Samoa doesn’t have much in the way of luxury accommodation. Apart from a spattering of three-star resorts spread over the two main islands and a motley collection of motels and lodges in Apia, there is only the Samoa beach fale left to choose from.
On first impression, they may seem a bit basic but scratch the surface and you’ll find beauty and tranquillity to match the most luxurious of resorts.
On Mount Yasur volcano there was not a soul around and not a noise to be heard – other than the deafening eruptions, that is
The first few weeks of our trip had been active enough. We’d hiked, climbed, caved, canyoned, kayaked and more. It would have been perfectly acceptable to spend a few days lounging on a beach on Tanna Island, soaking up the Pacific sun.
However, you don’t go to Tanna without seeing the “Old Man” that is Mount Yasur volcano, and we were no exception.
Diving Juno Wreck with turtles in Samoa was a unique experience. Getting up close and personal to underwater wildlife like this is just incredible
“You’ll either love it or find it extremely depressing,” reads the guidebook description of Satoalepai Turtle Sanctuary.
I’ve never been a huge fan of zoos and captive wild animals, so when I read about the chance to go diving Juno Wreck with turtles in Samoa at the sanctuary I decided to pass. Maybe I’d get a chance to see them in the wild…
We select 10 great travel books to read on the road, having spent hours, perhaps days, on long journeys with our heads buried in books. Great travel books 1. The Snows of Kilimanjaroby Ernest Hemingway When talking about Ernest Hemingway and great travel books you’ve got plenty to choose from. I’ve gone for The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Samoan buses are uncomfortable, noisy and won’t run on time. But that’s the fun of it! Even if you have nowhere to go in Samoa, take a bus somewhere.
We wanted to get out of Apia and head to the south coast. We’d heard the waters were incredible and there were some great natural sights to see. Taxis are expensive and as we are on a budget the bus was the answer. We’ve taken plenty of buses across the Pacific islands now, but this one was a little bit different.
It’s Friday 12th September. Usually, I would have just finished my second week back at work teaching at an east London secondary school after a five-week summer holiday. New exercise books would have been distributed and sullied with fresh graffiti.
The students’ (and teachers’) initial enthusiasm at the start of a new year would be beginning to wane. And, if it hadn’t happened already, I would be starting to regularly raise my voice in anger at the students’ general indifference as their first coursework deadlines start to loom.
“What do you miss about the UK?” I asked my father a few months after he and my mother had moved to France, back in 2010. He pondered for a moment.
“I’m not sure I necessarily miss the UK, but there are certain things I know I’m missing out on,” he replied. “I feel bad that I’m not going to be voting. Like I’m letting someone down…”
Tanna Island in Vanuatu is where our adventure really began, an island just 40km long and 25km wide
After a week of comfortable self-catering in Efate, followed by a fairly luxurious week on Aore Island, Santo, it was time to get back to basics, cast off the First World, and experience a bit of real Ni-Van culture.
Aore Island lies 2.6 kilometres off Espiritu Santo’s coast, opposite the island’s capital, Luganville. It is easily accessed by a short ferry ride across the Segond Channel.
We’ve spent a week at Aore Island Resort, hosted by Anne, the warm and friendly Australian owner who bought the resort around 10 years ago. The resort has 18 cosy but spacious bungalows set amid neat, tidy and well-kept gardens. The resort backs onto a charming coconut palm plantation and is surrounded by local farms.
Well, this beats the A12. If I were at home, I would be drinking my morning coffee in our fifth-floor flat, watching and listening to the traffic hustle its way along the busy road and junction below. The trains would be rolling in and out of Newbury Park tube station taking thousands of commuters to work in busy and noisy central London. I’m not at home. In fact, I am a long way from home.