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Those who are familiar with our travels will remember that they are never straightforward, and we are probably the most accident and illness prone travellers you’ll ever meet.

In the past 16 years we’ve dealt with emergency spinal surgery in Istanbul, fire in a Javanese guesthouse, haemorrhagic dengue fever in Bali, emergency landing of the aircraft in Southern Thailand, typhoid in Indonesia, typhus in Burma …. the list goes on.

We could probably write a guide to the hospitals around the world!
But somehow these mishaps have always turned out to be lucky and lead us to the most interesting encounters, unusual finds and amazing memories.

Our 2020 trip wasn’t so different…

Just after New Year we were in Bangkok visiting some of our regular sources, commissioning new pieces, buying pearls, gemstones and organising the next legs of our trip –  a train journey through China into North Korea. As you can imagine things were a little busy!

Katia's jewellery design plan

Katia really does design most of our jewellery

Too  excited about our  plans, we’d ignored all the warning signs – this trip wasn’t meant to be!

Firstly, the  Chinese Consulate in Bangkok decided that we must be journalists or terrorists because of our multiple Turkish, Iranian and Lebanese visa stamps and we were about to go on another uncommon trip.

“A long investigation is necessary before your visas to China can be approved”

was the response from the visa centre.

After several days of stress, we decided to withdraw our application and reapplied to a different Chinese consulate, in the North of Thailand where we went next.

Katia playing with her food in Bangkok

Totally gratuitous picture of Katia playing with her food in one of our favourite Bangkok eateries

Yunnanese food

Equally gratuitous picture of Yunnanese food Seriously, try it, and your mouth will love you forever

We finally got somewhere – an interview with a nice, sympathetic and very chatty lady.

After a long conversation about our love of Yunnanese food; an exchange of recommendations for good restaurants and John’s almost successful attempt to sell her some earrings….
…we had our visas for China.

Two days later, and with Covid raging across the region, China closed its doors, the FCO advised against any travel to the whole of China and our travel insurance evaporated!

So, we had to think of a plan B.

(Clue:- we headed off for a quick visit to Indonesia and thence to Myanmar to finish off a previous visit which had been curtailed due to Katia’s scrub typhus … but those are other stories)

Chinese visa photo

Hard-won but unused Chinese visas