It’s a wonderful world out there, and we believe that independent travel is the best way to experience it. Although our primary focus is on South East Asia, our itchy feet have taken us much further afield, from New Zealand to China. Anyone looking for standard travel website fare, from top ten lists, to luxury hotel advertorials will be disappointed. For everyone else, buckle up, and enjoy the ride!
A breath of fresh air: Malaysia’s colonial hill stations
Malaya, as befitted one of Britain’s steamiest overseas dominions, had several hill stations, which offered colonials some respite from the tropical heat of the lowlands. They included Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut), Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera), Fraser’s Hill (Bukit Fraser), and last but not least, the Cameron Highlands. Read more.
Rudyard Kipling’s Burma: three days of wonder
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) spent just three days in Burma (Myanmar), and yet this brief visit had a profound effect on him. The British writer – who was 23 years old at the time – stopped in Rangoon (Yangon) in March 1889, as part of a sea voyage from Calcutta to San Francisco. Read more.
A Malaysian year in festivals (2015)
Malaysia’s reputation as a tolerant, multi-cultural nation has taken somewhat of a battering over recent years, thanks to the rising persecution of religious and ethnic minorities. For the time being though, there are still sizeable communities of non-Malays and non-Muslims, each of which marks a number of festivals every year. What follows is a selection of some of the most important religious and/or cultural celebrations which visitors can expect to see in 2015. Read more.
The Great Farini, Lulu Farini and the Lost City of the Kalahari
The Kalahari Desert extends for 900,000 square kilometres, across three countries: Botswana, South Africa and Namibia. Its name, which comes from the Tswana for “great thirst”, gives a taste of just how inhospitable it can be. And yet in 1885, a former entertainer and impressario – the Great Farini – claimed not just to have become the first white man to cross the Kalahari on foot, but also to have discovered the remains of a lost civilisation. Read more.
2015 ethical travel guide to South East Asia
We believe strongly that tourism can be force for good in the world, but for that to be the case, people need to travel with their eyes wide open. It is our hope that this guide will help inform travellers about the ethical strengths and failings of the ten countries which make up Asean (the Association of South East Asian Nations). Read more.
New border regulations add to Thailand’s tourism woes
Faced with a serious crisis in Thailand’s tourism industry, the country’s military regime appears intent on making a bad situation even worse. Not content with overthrowing a democratically-elected government for the umpteenth time, the junta has ordered a tightening of border restrictions. Read more.
Malaysia’s unsung heroes: Captain Francis Light
Without Captain Francis Light there would be no George Town. But his legacy is much more than just one city. When Light took possession of Penang in 1786, on behalf of the East India Company (EIC), he set in train a process of colonisation which resulted in all of present-day Malaysia, as well as Singapore and Brunei, coming under British rule. Read more.
A day by day guide to the Langtang Trek
The Langtang Trek ranks as one of the very best “tea house trails” in Nepal, combining beautiful countryside, with stunning mountain views. And yet it attracts far fewer people than either the Annapurna or Everest regions. Read more.
How to organise independent treks in Langtang National Park
One of the most appealing features of trekking in Nepal is that it is possible to do so many amazing multi-day hikes independently. On the so called “tea house trails” there is no need to have guides or porters. The routes are clear, with plenty of places to stay, eat and drink along the way. Read more.
Burmese days: the extraordinary photos of Philip Adolphe Klier
Until recently we had never heard of Philip Adolphe Klier (circa 1845-1911), a German-born photographer who worked in Burma in the late 19th and early 20th century. But thanks to an ongoing project by the UK National Archives to digitise its huge archive of pictures, we have been introduced to some of his wonderful work. Read more.
All aboard the slow train to Kalaw (or Inle Lake)
We at itchy feet are firm believers that if a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing slowly. Which is why the train between the former colonial hill station of Kalaw and Shwenyaung, the nearest railhead for idyllic Inle Lake, is such a treat: three and a half hours to travel 50 kilometres! Read more.
Cecil Beaton in wartime China
It’s hard to imagine a more unlikely war photographer than Cecil Beaton, best known for his fashion and society portraits, as well as his costume design for theatre and film. But it appears that he was one of those people who is annoyingly good at whatever they turn their hand to. Read more
Goodbye LCCT, hello KLIA2: Kuala Lumpur’s new budget Airport
Strange as it may seem, we at Itchy Feet, Itchy Mind grew rather fond of LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal), Kuala Lumpur’s much-maligned budget air hub. Sure, in the early years it felt more like an Indonesian bus station than a modern airport. And its location was amongst the least convenient in the world. Read more.
Introducing Malaya and Borneo (1948-1950)
We at itchy feet, itchy mind love old photos, particularly ones which give glimpses of what life was like in pre-independence Malaysia. So imagine our excitement when we found this beautiful collection of pictures from the UK National Archives, called Introducing Malaya and Borneo. Read more.
Art Deco with a Malayan twist
In its Jazz Age heyday, Art Deco influenced everything from jewellery to ocean liners, from graphic design to architecture. Rather than a set of hard and fast rules however, it was an eclectic mix of parts, which somehow came together to form a beautiful whole. Art Deco was the first truly global style, but ironically, for such an influential movement, its name was not coined until decades after it had fallen out of fashion. Read more.
Suffolk House: the first and last of Penang’s “great houses”
Unique is much overused word, but there is no other way to describe Suffolk House, the finest example of Anglo-Indian architecture outside of India. Built more than two hundred years ago, the “First Great House” of Penang, is not just visually stunning, it is a living link to the early days of British colonial rule in Malaysia. Read more.
A train journey of delight into Sabah’s interior
The North Borneo Railway was constructed between 1896 to 1906, in an effort to link the tobacco and coffee plantations of the interior with the coast. The railway not only still exists – the only one on the island of Borneo – it’s a great way to see the interior of Sabah, and forms part of a pleasant loop round some of the state’s most attractive scenery. Read more.
Southern exposure: the wonders of New Zealand’s South Island
Breathtaking. Awe inspiring. Stunning. Amazing. Incredible. Oh and very, very beautiful. It is hard to talk about New Zealand’s South Island, without using a thesaurus-worth of superlatives. But mere words cannot do justice to this extraordinary place. The splendour of South Island really has to be seen to be believed. Read more.
Having a whale of a time in Kaikoura
The Kaikoura peninsula has a justly deserved reputation as one of the best places in the world to see whales. Indeed, tens of thousands of tourists come there every year for that reason alone. But this lovely part of New Zealand’s South Island has so much more to offer tourists than just whale-watching. Read more.