Travel Doesn’t Always Go To Plan!

So, things haven’t exactly gone right this August…

At the end of July I had to return home, to the United Kingdom. I’ve been hanging out in London, Nottingham, and my home town Buckingham. This wasn’t planned- I came back for unfortunate family reasons- but I did believe that I would be able to pick up from where I left off. I was going to return to Central Asia and then carry on the journey across West China, and finally into Tibet. This is after all what I set out to do all those months ago, when I first left home.

Travel Tramp London

The Gherkin, London

The Chinese however have refused to give me a visa, for reasons they won’t disclose to me. Maybe because we beat them at the Olympics? I can but guess… So this has of course, completely thrown all my plans out of the window. I won’t be reaching Tibet anytime soon after all.

This meant that a new plan was needed! I wasn’t about to just give up and stop travelling. Tibet will have to wait, but there’s plenty of other places still left to visit.

St Dunstan in the East- Even n London I managed to explore some abandoned, bombed out buildings!

St Dunstan in the East- Even n London I managed to explore some abandoned, bombed out buildings!

So where am I going?

I’m heading to NORTH KOREA! That’s right! DPRK here I come! Major thanks have to go out to the tour company Young Pioneers, who’ve organised absolutely everything for me. They offer budget tours to what is possibly the least visited country on the planet!

Young Pioneers have endless tours to unusual holiday destinations. All your favourite getaway destinations, Somalia, Iraqi  Kurdistan, Transnistria. Anywhere with a strange or dangerous reputation, and all the fun I’m looking for. You can check out their website HERE. I’m certainly going to be exploring more of these intriguing destinations with them in the future!

My jaunt into the DPRK isn’t until October, so until then, I’m heading over to South East Asia. I’m flying into Singapore on September 5th, and while you might think that the island nation is the haunt of rich tourists and business people, I’m going to be exploring on the cheap while going in search of a few of the country’s abandoned buildings, most of them relics from World War II and the British Colonial days. Keep following to see what I can unearth.

And then from Singapore I’m heading north, into Peninsular Malaysia. I’m not looking for a relaxing beach break- although it will be a bonus at the end of the journey- no, I’m looking for Malaysia’s last communists. I’ll be following the course of the country’s little known Communist Insurgency, the Emergency that shook what was then the British ruled Malaya for 12 long years. It’s a forgotten war, but one which my Grandfather served in. I’m going to follow the course of this conflict from Singapore, into the jungles of Southern Thailand, where hopefully I can find some of the last Malayan Communist Veterans. These are fighters who were never allowed home again, who have been living in the jungles for decades, and will I expect, have a few interesting stories to tell. If I can find them…

I’m hoping to learn more about Malaysia, the war, the communists and my own Grandfather. This a period of history that has shaped much of modern South East Asia, yet remains almost completely unheard of anywhere in the world. You can find out a little bit more about the Malayan Emergency and the Malayan Communist Party HERE.

Malayan Emergency

In the Malayan Jungle

It’s a new adventure. Not the one I thought I’d be on, but one that could very well prove to be the most interesting yet.

I’ve stocked up on some new equipment, some great new camera lenses and there’ll be a whole load of new content coming your way, on the blog and across all my social media channels!

Dark Stuff On The Blog That’s Been Flaming Hot!

August’s most viewed article is from Abkhazia! I explored an old, abandoned, government building in Sukhumi. The building was wrecked during the bitter Georgian-Abkhazian conflict which followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. It’s a haunting place. The article’s proven to be a bit of a contentious read, but the first thing you need to know about this little known breakaway Republic on the Black Sea is that all sides involved have their own tale to tell, and all the sides suffered. You can read it yourself HERE.

Travel inside Abkhazia

Less contentious is my photo article from Tbilisi! The Georgian capital has to be one of my favourite travel destinations in the world. It’s so good I spent a month living in the city. These were the best photos from my time there, and you can see them HERE. The food is delicious, the wine is beautiful, the scenery is magnificent and the people are great! Put it down on your bucket list.

At the very start of my trip, way back in October, I left my home in the United Kingdom to travel not so far afield. I caught a ferry into the English Channel, where I found the rural, car free, quiet island of Sark almost untouched by history and tourism. The article has been a popular read this month, so why not check it out HERE.

What’s On The Way?!

On the blog, there’s loads of great content lined up!

Keep reading for more abandoned Abkhazian buildings, and some photographs from another breakaway territory- Nagorno-Karabakh- a disputed region between Armenia and Azerbaijan. There’s loads more from the beautiful mountains of Georgia, and just maybe a few little reads from my most recent trips into Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan!

Remember, for live travel updates, don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post daily!

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Richard Collett, August 2016