The Hai Van Pass is a 21km stretch of mountainous road, starting in Da Nang and ending in Lang Coe, Hue. The pass offers breath-taking views of mountain scenery and blue ocean. We decided to strap our backpacks to the locals’ motorbikes and hop on the back with them. The locals knew the roads well and prided themselves on their safety so we trusted them. We set off speeding through the streets of Da Nang and just 15 minutes later we were amongst the mountains with eagles flying overhead.
The journey stretched for miles before us and I never wanted it to end. With every twist and turn we were greeted with even better landscapes, the sun was intense but the constant breeze was refreshing. We stopped at a local family owned restaurant a little off the pass, and ate freshly caught prawn noodles on an empty white sand beach. It was completely surreal. After a few hours (it usually takes around an hour and a half on a moped but we had various stops along the way), we arrived in Hue, and I remember thinking even if my travels stopped there I would be completely content. This kind of exhilaration and experience is one that doesn’t just benefit your wellbeing in the moment, but for years to come.
There are few moments that compare to when I sat on the great wall of China and looked out at the rolling mountainous landscape that lay before me. On a bright and cold day the scenery was stunning, we were so high that the birds played around us. The silence was only interrupted by the voices of our group catching on the wind. I looked at the bricks beneath me, the steps I had climbed, the height we were now at and became overwhelmed at how incredible this experience had been, the wall I was standing on was over 2000 years old and spanned for 21,000 km.
We don’t often experience that kind of freedom or wonder in our adult lives, and it’s important to remind ourselves how it feels. The Dragon Trip takes you to climb a section of the wall off the tourist track so you can embrace the authentic experience, it was definitely my personal highlight of the 25 Day China Loop!
When travelling Asia you have to be very careful to find the right animal sanctuaries to visit. Some, despite calling themselves sanctuaries, are tourist traps, and they prioritise money rather than the wellbeing of the animals. The Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary that The Dragon Trip visit is the most ethical sanctuary in Thailand. It focuses solely on the elephant’s wellbeing and provides a wholesome and organic experience.
Bonding with Elephants really does nurture the soul; they are gentle giants that have distinctive personalities, their eyes are so human like and they are equally as curious in us as we are in them. It is an obvious cliche when travelling but it is not to be dismissed, you will leave the experience feeling euphoric and it’ll be a day you will never forget. Take a look at our tours that visit the sanctuary here!
Miyajima is a must-see in Japan. It is a small Island in Hiroshima Bay home to temples, forests and lots of deer! It is most famous for the Great Torii Gate, a huge orange gate built as an entrance to the Itsukushima shrine that can be found just offshore and partially submerged during high tide. A day out here is spent wandering the forests, feeding the deer and eating good food from the numerous different stands. The adorable spotted deer will eat straight from your hands so stock up on deer food!
After an intense couple of days in Hiroshima this was the escape I needed. Hiroshima is a beautiful city and it is important to visit and learn about its devastating history, but it can be disturbing and upsetting. This day trip was so important in looking after my wellbeing, travelling is tiring and there are plenty of ups and downs, so it’s vital you take days where you can feed friendly deer, wander in endless lush forests and paddle in the waters beneath the Great Torii Gate! Take a look at our tours that visit Miyajima here.