Uncharted Traveller

Category - Travel Somewhere, Anywhere

Castaway: Travel to Philippines

best flight deal

“I just feel like everyone tries to do something different, but you always wind up doing the same damn thing.” Leonardo Di Caprio, The Beach

Authentic, stunning and adventure come to mind anytime I think of travelling the Philippines, the land of seven thousand islands, infused with green rice fields and smoking volanoes. Although it has been a well known tourist destination for the past decade and there have also been amazing flight deals, it is only in recent years that this incredible place has really come to the attention of backpackers around the world.

Castaway in the Philippines

I’ll be honest, the first time it crossed my mind was upon watching the Muhammad Ali documentary “Rumble in the Jungle” which covered the infamous boxing match he fought with George Foreman in Manila. However, the second time was a much different experience. Following the fourth or maybe fifth time I watched the movie “Castaway” with Tom Hanks,  I became obsessed with finding somewhere in the world with white powdered sands and tropical scenery like those in the movie and likewise, I also became fascinated with the idea that:

“What if I found an island like that to live on?”

Having scoured the online world and then spoken to other backpackers, I eventually settled on the incredibly beautiful Philippines and in particular, a chain of islands in the very north of the country. After a little bit of digging, I also found out that it was possible to organize for a fisherman to drop me on the island with a supply of food and water, at which point I could live out the life of a actual castaway. Not satisfied with just thinking about it, I picked a date and then managed to find the best flight deal imaginable to South East Asia on the booking engine Me Traveler (which by the way, is far more reliable than Expedia etc).

Travel to philippines

Sitting here in a Vietnamese cafe surrounded by backpackers, it comes to mind that we all try to do something different in life but then we all seem to wind up doing the same thing. Not this time, for in two days time, I fly out to the Philippines to begin what should be the adventure of a lifetime, although hopefully the fisherman comes back to pick me up, as I would like to experience living like a real castaway and not actually become one.

Visit the Mekong Delta & Uncover the Origins of SE Asia

mekong delta day tour

Luscious trees line the banks of the Mekong, reaching downward for the shiny surface as a mysterious mist rises early in the morning. An enormous volume of water infused with exotic species and ancient civilization, for thousands of years, the river has been the original source of life in Southeast Asia and today it is still there to be explored. Taking a Mekong Delta day tour  is a “”must do”” in Vietnam, but this only scratches the surface, as the entre region is an assault on all senses and a once in a lifetime experience.

Natural, vast and diverse, the Mekong Delta is an awe inspiring place, from the myriad of boats which form part of a frenetic floating market, the vast array of produce in each one, the crocodiles lurking near the river banks and the unforgettable vistas of a river that brings life to the region each day. It is also a sea of colour, for the diversity of such natural surroundings are emphasized further by the colours of the locals attire and the coconuts, spices, flowers, noodles and succulent meats which are found in the markets. And then there are the people themselves, friendly and primitive, meeting the locals in the Mekong Delta is a humble occasion in which you can gain a real insight into the old world and uncover traditions that have existed along this river over the centuries.

mekong delta day tour

Don’t forget to uncover the real Vietnam

When you visit Vietnam, it’s hard to remember that such a place exists, for the history of recent war is overwhelming and at times, almost definitive of its popularity as a tourist destination. However, the incredible eco-system in the Delta has a way of wiping the slate clean and taking an adventure back to the humble origins of nature, and of human civilization, is one of the most refreshing experiences in Vietnam. An endless number of amphibians, reptiles and birds can also be found here, along with stunning mangroves, smaller inlets and a wide expanse of powerful water. If there is one thing you will take away from this tour of the Mekong Delta, aside from the wonderful locals, it is likely to be the grand scale and widespread mystery that envelops the entire region.

Visiting Vietnam will always be synonymous with uncovering war and recent tragic events, but its important to remember the origins of this incredible region and in one of the best tours from Ho Chi Minh City you have it all, an ancient peoples, a diverse eco-system, a chaotic floating market and an unforgettable journey.

Life has too many decisions, Just Go.

Which way to

I wasn’t the most adventurous person throughout my pretty average upbringing, although an abnormal level of anxieties ensured that I never strayed too far from the beaten path. In school they told me how to dress, they taught me right from wrong and outlined what my career should be, but this only served to confuse me later in life when it came to making decisions. For all the variety of modern day life, the endless choice and never-ending options, I can’t help but think that life has too many decisions, and sometimes you need to just go.

The overwhelming rise of mass decisions

You see, as adults we suddenly find there is nobody there to make the decisions like there was at school or at home. Furthermore,  there are now far too many to make on a daily basis and as we gather even more possessions and more responsibilities, the numbers of these decisions grow. What colour shoes to wear, cappuccino, frappuccino, green tea or herbal for breakfast, lunch in or eat out, take the train, walk or wait on the bus? The end result; whether we are trying to decide on what to eat, what to wear or which way to travel. The modern world is now infused with a mass number of possessions and decisions which bring nothing but stress to our lives.

And herein lies the problem, the mass number of decisions leads to procrastination or self doubt and essentially, in-action as rather than feeling inspired by the options and opportunities at our feet, we feel overwhelmed and mostly resolve to make no decisions at all.

Waiting around vs. Taking action

As someone who battled acute anxieties his whole life and suffered a general fear of travelling to new places or seeking new experiences, I can tell you that facing these fears is the only true means by which they will ever go away. It took more than 4 years of travelling the world to properly understand these concerns and realize the best way to alleviate them, but ironically, this “”way”” was as simple as they come. Yes, having researched all the important parts such as how to hire a campervan in Sydney or what to pack for a ski season, I came to understand that the best way to start the adventure and begin facing up to my personal demons, was to just go.

I could have waited until more money found its way into my bank account, I could have waited for a friend to hold my hand, I could have waited for a time that better suited my career or a moment when I felt ready, but then none of this seemed to make sense anymore when I could, just go.

It was terrifying, to walk out that door, to go to the airport alone and board a plane for some place I had never been. It was scary to think of all the things that could go wrong and even more horrifying to contemplate a worst case scenario, but none of them would ever happen. No, I would spend the following 8 years travelling around the world without any sign of the concerns or things that worried me in the beginning and incredibly, I would become a travel writer in the process.

I am not old or wise just yet, but as someone who knows from experience, I can tell you that travel is the most incredible experience and an opportunity to change everything you thought you knew about the world. However, it only happens if you can block out the mass number of decisions and then realize that there are really only two simple words which will help you on your way. So be brave, look forward and just go.

U Pac Hotel: One of the best hotels in Pudu

upac hotel

Few countries in the world can offer the same diversity or value and likewise, few hotels in Pudu can offer the same high quality as this hotel near Pudu Pasar.

Home to one of the largest wet markets (above mentioned Pudu Pasar) in Kuala Lumpur, Pudu is a busy and authentic town in Malaysia infused with quaint restaurants, interesting attractions and hidden charm.

Here are the 5 benefits of staying in U Pac Hotel, one of the best Pudu hotels:


1. U Pac is a hotel near Pudu Pasar

U Pac is a hotel near Pudu Pasar and you can explore this place on foot which is teeming with produce and products of all kinds including meat,vegetables and fish as well as a huge variety of electronic equipment such as audio systems, DVD’s and car accessories. If this wasn’t enough, you will also find an aquarium in this market which is largely inside a large complex. Early in the morning is the best time to visit the wet market.

2.U Pac is surrounded by the most interesting things to do in Pudu

Aside from being a hotel near Pudu Market, U Pac Hotel is situated within easy reach of all the best things to do in Pudu, from the imposing Choon Wan King temple, the glorious street food on Wai Sek Kai, the enchanting facade of the infamous Pudu Jail, and the many small stores offering every sort of product you can imagine. Pudu may be a little short on iconic attractions, but it more than make up for this with a host of interesting cultural experiences.

3.U Pac is a cheap hotel in Pudu

Make no mistake for our meaning of “cheap”, for U Pac Hotel is a quality accommodation offering a service far outweighing the monetary value. Regardless of the number of nearby hotels which are to a high standard, not many (if any), can match the affordable value of U Pac Hotel. If you are looking for an affordable hotel in Pudu, look no further.

4.U Pac Hotel is a high quality hotel in Pudu

Winner of the “Top 10 Bargain Hotel – Malaysia category of the 2016 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice award”, U Pac Hotel offers a high service to match the growing reputation. Although you can stay here for a relatively small investment, you can also be sure of a high standard interior with beautiful rooms and excellent facilities.

5.U Pac Hotel has the most friendly staff in Pudu

What good is a hotel if the staff are not friendly? U Pac Hotel is renowned for having the friendliest staff who are helpful, courteous and welcoming to the traveler. Whether you are visiting Pudu for the first time or returning for a business meeting, it need not matter, you can expect the best service in this, one of the best affordable hotels in Malaysia.


Visiting New York on a budget

Taking a trip to the “City that never sleeps” is always an expensive affair but with a little but of research it is possible to consider visiting New York on a budget. Here are 5 ways to visit New York on a budget.

Best affordable place to eat in New York

What better place in the world (apart from Italy) to try pizza than in downtown New York. Located in the heart of Greenwich Village Joes Pizza is an authentic over-the-counter fast food service which has been a favourite of the locals for decades/ Try getting down there before the students clear it out, but whatever you do, just make sure you check out this tasty affordable place to eat in New York.

Address: 7 Carmine Street, @ Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10014, United States

Most affordable hotel in New York

The Pod Hotel 51 is little over a mile and a short beautiful walk to Times Square, where else in New York can you stay for $110 per night (That isnt falling apart). Bright, quaint rooms with attractive decor and all the necessary amenities, this option is an awesome budget hotel in New York.

Address: 230 E 51st St, New York, NY 10022, United States

Best local experience in New York

People watching on Times Square is free and undoubtedly one of the most fun things to do in New York, but for an actual local experiences in New York – a boat trip to Ellis Island is a great affordable thing to do in New York. Home to the original and infamous immigration halls along with the monumental Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island is a half day adventure and a most affordable activity in NYC.

Best Broadway show in New York

Firstly, the best way to find tickets for a show in New York is in the ticket discount booth on Times Squar, secondly – all the shows are excellent. Personally I liked OZ (Wizard of Oz) and Chicago for the authenticity, but really you would be hard pushed to find a show on broadway that didn’t blow your mind.

Traversing Madgascar on foot: An interview with Ash Dykes

Imagine travelling to Madagascar and deciding to walk the length of the country.
I had the pleasure of interviewing the amazing adventurer Ash Dykes who recently became the first person ever to traverse the enormous island of Madagascar on foot. Travelling with a local guide in parts, Ash scaled extremely high mountain passes, trekked through luscious jungles, waded across treacherous rivers in the night and much, much more.
Why did you begin this adventure Ash?

This is what I love & am truly passionate about, I have been taking on adventures around the world for 6 years now, so if it wasn’t the expedition across Madagascar – it was going to be something.


What made you choose this insane hike the length of Madagascar?

It was actually when I was crossing Mongolia on foot, I was alone & would only see locals now and again. I thought to myself that my next adventure should be in a location where there’s more locals that I can integrate with, understand there ways & learn from them.
Madagascar instantly stood out to me, I knew very little about the place, not many people travel there & I was eager to get into it’s interior and see what it’s truly about. The best way to see a country is by foot I say, but I love the challenge, the survival aspect & the pure grit you have to go through in order to make it out alive.
What were you afraid of the most?
Afraid wouldn’t be the right word, but what I was weary of was the crocodiles, mosquitoes, bandits and the river crossing as they got very high and strong when we were in the mountains during the rainy season.
Did it get lonely, and if so, how did you deal with it?

I did have different local guides, in which I’d have them join me on different sections, so I was always with one, but on occasions it did get quite lonely, specially when we’d be in a village, the guide would talk away with everyone & I was just unable to due to me not knowing the language. But I had faced much lonelier times crossing Mongolia, so this wasn’t much of a deal.

What was your happiest moment on the trip?

There were many, but one that seems to stand out is day one, walking along the coast on a bright sunny day, watching humpback whales jumping out of the Indian ocean, strolling upon elephant bird eggs & witnessing a local tribesman spare fishing. But also – the planning was now behind me and whether I succeed or fail on this expedition – it was now down to me to make it happen!

What was the hardest part of your trip?

There were also many, from catching the worst strain of Malaria, facing impenetrable jungle whilst trying to hack our way through and having to turn back on many occasions to hunt down a different route. Being stuck on Mountain tops unable to find our way off, having to build a raft using natural resources to cross a strong river, almost losing our photographer who came out for a few weeks, to a river crossing at night, there were many more difficult times!

What was the most profound lesson you learned on this adventure?

I learn so much on each of my expeditions that it would be too hard to pick one I guess, but sticking to your gut instinct & making decisions when you have people with you is extremely tough – but always go with what you truly believe is best, even if others go against it.
I also learnt a lot from within the country, it’s beauty and diversity. I partnered up with the Lemur Conservation Network to help spread awareness on Madagascar’s unique biodiversity & the threats the island faces, but what I’ve seen is that conservation is growing out there, they are discovering new species, bringing back the rain forest and that really makes me happy and inspires me.

I also partnered up with the tourism minister to help spread awareness of Madagascar, it’s beauty and what an incredible place it is to take on an adventure, it was great to share stories with the rest of the world from within.

Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to take an adventure like this?

Go for it, the world’s a big place and there’s still lots to explore, don’t stress yourselves too much with the planning – it’s an adventure, things will change, you just need to take the first step and get amongst it all.

Bali: An unforgettable yoga retreat in Ubud

Ubud Bali

Relaxation in the heart of Bali

Pure relaxation far away from the noise and deep in the heart of traditional Bali; Ubud is the perfect setting to experience Indonesia’s famous yoga culture and a prelude to fine cuisine and stunning scenery. Ubud is also the most idyllic place in Bali from which to experience everything the island has to offer, from the adventure treks surrounded by jungle, the cultural visits to local villages, the morning classes of yoga meditation, to an afternoon spent on a white sandy beaches.

Surrounding rice fields make it unsurprising how it forms the staple for most meals, but local cuisine is far from simple or straight forward. Natural and fresh, a Ubud restaurant will always use local produce to accompany some of the best seafood in the world and most succulent meats. In this respect, Bali differs from the rest of Indonesia as it has a non Muslim majority, which means roast suckling pig, duck, other meats and more variety in general is common.

Ubud restaurant

Yoga and luxury in Bali

However, for all the adventure it offers, an Indonesian holiday is never complete without relaxation and quality accommodation and thankfully, this is an area in which the island excels; for there are several incredible Yoga Retreats and Bali luxury villas resort around the island with top quality facilities, unrivaled food and world class restaurants. Many hotels also offer day excursions to the white powder sands on nearby beaches and yoga sessions for some quiet meditation. There may be a lot of things to do in Ubud, but it also has a charming way of bringing balance back to life and allowing the visitor to drift away in complete silence.

Bali luxury villas resort

Natural, charming and infused with culture, Ubud is a delightful destination where small craft communities can be found next to majestic palaces, quaint temples, mountain scenery and the best restaurants in Bali. Although the surroundings can offer ample adventure for the active traveller, an Indonesian holiday in Ubud promises serene relaxation and an escape to luxury comfort in quiet surroundings.

How to lower the cost of long term travel

I wish it were true; that ten years travelling across more than 50 different countries would be enough education in terms of how to get the most from a travel budget. Although, this could not be further from the truth, and it is with regret that I now think back to the simple mistakes I had made during this time, and how much value was missed as a result of not researching, or even thinking about my spending in an efficient manner.

12 months training to become an International travel consultant would emphasize my ignorance and here are 3 of the most important lessons on how to lower the cost of long term travel:

Travel Insurance

Laptop, cash, backpack, cellphone, camera; these are just a few items which were stolen from my possession over the years and unfortunately, most of these occasions were not due to negligence, but rather for the fact that some incidents are often unavoidable. I incurred the full expense of replacing these items.

As a travel consultant, I would learn how most of my clients had enough sense to recognize the importance of travel insurance and to ensure they had adequate cover. This sense was then emphasized when other clients failed to do so, and paid the ultimate price through colossal medical bills, or sudden expenses in other areas which could not be covered.

My time as a travel consultant not only showed me how wrong I was for not having any travel insurance, but also how lucky I was not to have sustained any accidents of incidents of a more serious, and expensive nature.

Travel insurance may seem like an unnecessary cost, but trust me, it is an investment worth having that will eventually save you money, and an untold amount of inconvenience.

Booking flights online

As a consultant, almost every sale included an airfare, and these flights were always booked directly with the airline. My selling point as an agent was usually in finding the lowest airfare for the customer, and the best tactic was always to create urgency by explaining how the price can fluctuate at any moment.

Naturally, I also needed to know everything about my competition in order to establish trust with a client, so this involved keeping a close eye on the main booking engines which is the obvious alternative through which airfare can be booked.

Unfortunately, I knew very little about online booking at the time and in particular the term ““cookies””, which would prove a very costly mistake. These “cookies” are effectively a way in which websites can track a user online, meaning that they know when a customer is returning to  re-check the cost of a flight. Booking engines also know the importance of creating the above mentioned urgency, and unfortunately they use these cookies to increase the price of a flight for returning customers.

However, there is a simple means to stop this from happening, along with many other ways to find a cheap flight online.

Save on Accommodation

Eating food, drinking water, and having somewhere to rest your head for the night; these are the basic necessities of every travel itinerary and also the most expensive part of the budget.

When I first started travelling, I often booked accommodation prior to arrival but this involved a minimal amount of research, and even less time performing comparisons. In hindsight, I should have been using discounts and special offers on a continual basis, while also comparing the price of hotels etc on several websites as opposed to the same one. When you consider how accommodation is always the largest part of a travel budget, this was a naive and expensive thing to overlook.

There really should be no excuse and no reason not to check one of the many comparison websites who scan across the major travel brand booking engines for the best price. Not only is it a lightening fast process, but it will usually result in a lower price and when you consider the significance of $5 per day over the duration of a year, the savings are immense.

As a travel consultant, you have the privilege of meeting a multitude of savvy travellers who know how to make their spending money go further, and last longer. Saving money on accommodation is the easiest way to make the bulk of the savings which will allow for this, not to mention how it is also a simple and entirely painless process.

Zanzibar: One of the best Tanzania safaris

Best Tanzania Safaris

Hands down, one of the best Tanzania safaris

Zanzibar is quite literally an assault on the senses, and the very first time I visited the island back in 2008 after one of the best Tanzania safaris, I genuinely had no idea of the incredible history we would find, and the endless number of things to do in Zanzibar. In truth, it would be somewhere I would return over, and over again.

Experience the enchanting island of Zanzibar, a most famous Spice Island off the coast of Tanzania, and tropical paradise on the Indian Ocean. Zanzibar is an alluring mix of ancient history, wildlife and modern paradise, from the slave dungeons of charming Stone town and the myriad of alleyways filled with antique store, traditional shoemakers and art galleries, the fascinating spice plantations, the red colobus monkeys in Jozani forest and giant tortoises on Prison island, to the white sandy beaches, and luxurious five star resorts in the north. The Serengeti may have the reputation, but Zanzibar is definitely one of the best Tanzania safaris you will come across.

Stone Town is such an intriguing port in which to arrive and not only is it the birthplace of Freddie Mercury, but the town itself is perfect for taking a walking tour, or doing some shopping before catching an unforgettable sunset in Africa House. Craft shops of every kind fill a myriad of narrow streets which are interrupted by quaint café’s, small eateries and colorful art exhibitions. It is easy to get lost, but then this is also part of the Stone Town experience.

At the end of each day, the night market on the waterfront is akin to the largest seafood buffet you have ever seen. Fresh lobster, delicious prawns, sweet sugar cane and Zanzibar pizza – there is no end to what you can find in the night market, and the most unique aspect is that you negotiate the price with each stall owner.

The spice plantations are one of the most popular Tanzania safari tours while Prison island and Jozani forest offer an excellent wildlife opportunity in some beautifully secluded wilderness areas. However, having taken so many Tanzania safari tours on the mainland, one of the main draws of Zanzibar are the white powdered sands up North or to the East, where you can check into a quaint bungalow, a fancy resort, or even a more affordable budget room.

Kendwa beach is a little quieter than the nearby Nungwi, but either destination can be considered a beach paradise with plenty of things to do. Sunset cruises, snorkeling, scuba diving and village tours, there are many activities here to break up the relaxation and opt for a little adventure.

Many people travel to Zanzibar for a few days and some for a week, but regardless of how long you can afford, you are sure to leave this paradise, with plans for what to see when you return.

Chartered or uncharted, that is the question


Chartered or uncharted, that is the question…

Imagine, a gentle breeze tumbling across the deck as you roll over to continue sipping on another martini. Some finger food is now out on the table, but the rays of the sun and the comforting sound of the ocean are too relaxing to want to move much further than the drink by your side. You lift your sunglasses slightly to look toward an endless horizon before lying back on the deck of your yacht charter and marveling at the cloudless blue expanse up above.

Renting a yacht might sound like a very expensive activity for an average vacation, and possibly something only a celebrity could afford but actually, if there ever was such a day when this was the case, it has most certainly passed. On the contrary, a yacht charter is now both normal and very affordable travel experience for a family, a group of friends or a special event.


For example, you can charter a Gulet which is a “smaller” yacht and can sleep up to 8 passengers. With a total price of $1250, that makes it just $156 per person for an incredible experience on your very own private yacht. Just to put this into perspective, you can expect to pay upwards of this amount in most European city hotels not to mention a luxury villa on the Mediterranean.

Obviously the prices will be different depending on the size with a Super yacht being the most expensive but the point is, a yacht charter is now an affordable option for almost anybody.

The question is not how, but rather when

A yacht charter has two main options aside from the particular boat you decide upon with the first being that you take an experienced crew to do the sailing, or alternatively that you take the reigns for yourself. It might seem like a good idea to go independently but actually, having a crew on hand to do the dirty work can be a great advantage and allow you to focus on relaxing rather than the logistics of where, and how you go anywhere.

However, regardless of which boat you go for and whether it is crewed or not, a yacht charter is an excellent idea for a vacation and with many beautiful ports in different countries offering the service such as Turkey, Croatia, Greece or Italy – choosing a yacht charter for your next trip abroad should not be a question of how, but rather a question of when.