Seeing the stars (I mean really seeing the stars) is such a rarity in today’s light-polluted world. Australia’s vast untouched landscape provide the perfect opportunity to step out into the wild, wrap a blanket around yourself and star gaze until you go dizzy.
So whether you go north to Uluru to appreciate the perfectly formed Southern Cross, or south to the famous star-gazing Outback destination of Coonabarabran – sleeping in the Australian outdoors will leave you feeling like you’ve stepped into a planetarium and put on a pair of 3D glasses.
Don’t leave home without the bare essentials. You’re in the Outback for strewth’s sake with its vast expanse of wilderness and unknown spider types. Have you got spare batteries for your torch? Enough water? Foil blankets? You might think these are unnecessary if you’re parking up your campervan or setting up next to you super tech tent, but always be prepared.
We’re all guilty of living life through a lens. It’s awesome to snap away at all the cool stuff you see, but this is one scenario where, unless you’ve got the right gear and know-how, your eyes are more powerful and all-seeing.
That’s right, snakes and spiders and all things slithery. Jump straight in without checking in the dark corners of sleeping bag or shoes at your peril!
Keep your skin free of itchy red bites by remembering to take the repellent with you. And if you’ve slung a hammock up between some trees, invest in a cheap mosquito net to go over the top.
You don’t have to become an astrologist before go, but you’re certainly going to have a much better time if you know your Phoenix from your Fornax.
Don’t be that person with the guitar singing a rendition of ‘Look at the Stars’ or the one with a portable speaker blasting out whatever shuffle decides to play. The best thing about being under the stars is the meditative calmness and taking the time to talk!
Star-gazing is much more fun when done with friends
Remember your toes and head are the first to get cold and so some snuggly socks and a trusty beanie will mean you’re staying warm long after the fire has gone out.
You’re finally snuggled in and feeling content after a night of star-gazing. The last thing you need is a sudden urge that will mean wriggling out of you sleeping bag and into the dark, dark night.
Less rain than Scotland (probably), warmer that Norway and greener than Greenland; as “norths” go, the north of Thailand is pretty brilliant.
Getting there is pretty simple as the Bangkok – Chang Mai train is not only fast, efficient and cheap, it’s also a Southeast Asian travel rite of passage. Choose first class and a private air-conditioned sleeper compartment. Go second to sit or sleep, or go third and enjoy the fact that you’ve saved a a bit of doh and you sit up for hours on a flight anyway, right?
Travel overnight to make the most of your time, but travel by day to soak in the scenery. Bordering Laos and Myanmar, Northern Thailand is slightly cooler in temperature than the hot south and rivers and rice fields meet rolling shades of green that cover hillsides throughout this ancient and luscious land. It’s a romantic notion sitting on a train, watching the scenery go by and reading a book or contemplating life, but the time is yours, the scenery free so enjoy yourself with all you see.
Hong Kong is a crossroads. A metropolitan melting pot where east meets west, island-life meets the mainland and tradition meets modernity. Look hard enough and within the high-rise buildings you’ll find little gems of architecture including Chinese temples, colonial residences and even the odd zoo. Oh and the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator, but more on that in a minute. Then there’s Kowloon, an urban sprawl that seeps out into the New Territories before connecting to Mainland China. There are also over 200 outlying Islands that can only be accessed by boat. Despite all of its diversity many people rush through Hong Kong, spending no more than a couple of days in the city before travelling onward. Take your time, no need to rush.