All cities have their own unique set of smells and sounds, often not entirely pleasant, but always evocative of a place and a time, an urban olfactory “fingerprint” that defines every visit.

Our two days in Valencia were imprinted by the scent of honeysuckle from the tree lined boulevards. In fact its the smell of the Jacaranda tree, the purple blossom of which envelopes the streets with its wonderful perfume. We are visiting in late April, which is obviously Valencia’s more aromatic month as we hear that the old town within the walls can get very “piquant” during the hotter months!

Penang

Holy hell it was hot in Penang. We’d been away for some time by now and the heat had never really got to us. This place was in a sweat league all of its own, and on occasion knocked the wind right out of us leaving us gasping on the sidewalk like beached Guppies.

My only previous knowledge of Penang was from a friend who went to film a documentary there years ago, as it was then the home of top quality plastic surgery. Great for boob jobs and sex changes.

When we are given less time to explore a place, Px and I tend to go all out on the box ticking and generally achieve much more than if we have a few days in a place.

With two days and nights in SP, staying with Shen, our chef friend we’d met earlier in the year at a street food event in UAE, (there’s another story there, but not for now), and my 800th birthday to celebrate, we had a lot of ground to cover.

 Donsol              Sabang             El Nido

Getting ourselves to the Philippines turned out to be a bit of a struggle. But boy was it worth it.

After the catastrophic realisation that we’d missed our original Hanoi to Manila flight, we flapped about rebooking flights, cancelling hotels, internal flights etc. Dealing with the knock on effect of our little scheduling error meant one more night in Hanoi, I told you that city wouldn’t let us leave, and about £600 in rebooked flights and cancellation fees. 

Our plans for Hoi An being thwarted by floods, meant the we took a hop flight from Saigon to Danang, and then onto Hanoi. One night in Danang proved it to be a great little city which if it wasn’t for the flooding, we would have otherwise missed out. Divided by the Han river, it boasts the famous 7 bridges including Dragon Bridge, and the unusual Han Bridge ☑ which is the first Swing Bridge built in Vietnam, instead of opening like Tower Bridge, it pivots from the centre to allow boats to pass either side.

Water water everywhere…

If there is a God, and there clearly isn’t, you’d have thought he would have done a better job with the water distribution across the planet. He’s really cocked that one up. While other countries are starving & in drought, this one has more than it needs and most of it is unusable, you really don’t want to drink this stuff.