NAMASTE AND WELCOME TO
Kathmandu & Beyond
A journey which began in Nepal and spans the globe. Join us on the road less travelled as we share our favourite off-the-beaten-path destinations and quirky things to see and do.
Hello and welcome to our travel blog. We are Mark and Kirsty Bennetts, the travellers behind Kathmandu & Beyond, a website designed to inspire you to travel to off the beaten path destinations and seek out unconventional things to see and do in better known places.
Our personal interests combined with our passion for Asia and Eastern Europe have shaped our travel blog over the years, and today we focus on the regions of Asia, the Far East, and the New East (Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Baltic states, and Central Asia). In-depth subjects include off-the-beaten-path travel, street art, monuments and buildings from the former USSR and other ex-communist countries and all architecture that falls in the genre of Brutalism (aka concrete porn).
The more we travel the more find ourselves looking beyond the conventional sights. We’ve always travelled independently and on a budget and have always been drawn to lesser-known places. These are the places and experiences that we write about.
We want to inspire you to explore the road less travelled, and we hope our mantra of ‘stop the bus’ will encourage you to break longer journeys with stops in lesser-visited places, and that our suggested itinerary section will provide you with the framework to start planning your own adventure on the road less travelled.
One of our aims is to show you that off the beaten path travel to places many tourists don’t consider visiting is not as challenging as it may first seem.
Why Kathmandu & Beyond?
We created Kathmandu & Beyond over 12 years ago, when we moved to Nepal to begin a location independent lifestyle. Kathmandu is an incredible city, but life there wasn’t especially easy and we were hungry to explore more places. Six months in Kathmandu was just the start of our journey and that’s where the ‘Beyond’ part of the name comes in.
Although we have both travelled for as long as we can remember, and have been travelling together since 1996, this particular journey began in November 2008, when we left the UK for Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu – Kirsty to continue her job as the Asia Product Manager for an upmarket UK-based tour operator and Mark to take on a consultancy project for a local travel company wanting to develop their trekking programme. We soon learnt that life in Nepal is rarely dull and that the Nepalese are some of the loveliest people you will meet.
After 7 months living in Kathmandu … we went “beyond” – initially continuing to work remotely, and then, when expat life gave us itchy feet, as full-time travellers. We now combine freelance projects with our nomadic lifestyle.
We have spent a lot of time in Asia and, in addition to Kathmandu (Nepal), we’ve either lived in or spent extended periods of time in Chiang Mai (Thailand), Siem Reap (Cambodia), Yangon (Myanmar), Bali (Indonesia) and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam).
We’ve also travelled extensively in South and Central America, Central Asia, and Europe and over the past few years, have spent an increasing amount of time in Central and Eastern Europe, especially countries of the former-USSR and the Balkans.
Our travels have taken us to 100-plus countries around the world – Mark has been to over one hundred and Kirsty has recently passed her century (in countries, not years!). You can see them all here.
On our second trip together: Luang Prabang, Laos, 1997
More About Us
We are full-time travellers who have been living nomadically for over eleven years. Rather than travel bloggers, we like to think of ourselves as travellers with a blog. The actual travel part of travel blogging and photography are our priorities: we won’t sacrifice time exploring a destination or give up an evening sampling the local beer at the expense of spending time on our laptops!
We tend not to get too personal in our posts, but this one: Nine Years on the Road (30th November 2008 – 30th November 2017) includes some insights and a few pointless facts. A more recent personal insight into our current life is 2020, the year in travel that wasn’t! which re-caps a year in which it was impossible to travel. Below you can read a little more about which destinations make us tick as travellers.
Editor in Chief
Number of countries visited: 101
Favourite Countries: India for its incredible diversity, Cambodia and Burma both for the people and the sights, Japan because it’s the country that gave me the biggest culture shock I’d had in a long time, Bolivia for such an amazing contrast in scenery, Thailand because it feels like home and Mexico because it could feel like home. Oh, and I have recently fallen in love with Ukraine, Cuba and Turkey! Can I pick regions too? In that case, add the Balkans and Central Asia to the list! Sorry, but it’s not a very fair question for a traveller!
Best Travel Memories (from a handful from too many to count on one hand!)
- The Galapagos – I was completely blown away by the proximity of such weird and wonderful wildlife. Having to watch my step for fear of treading on a Blue-footed Boobie or sea iguana freaked me out – but in a good way!
- My first ever time in Asia – it was Bangkok and I’ll never forget it! It was the beginning of my love affair with travel.
- Travelling by fishing boat from Flores to Lombok via Komodo National Park – aside from seeing Komodo Dragons, the ocean was crystal clear with fantastic snorkelling and the scenery was stunning.
- Seeing my first tiger in wild in India at Bandhavgarh National Park and returning to the Taj Safari Lodge to find a rose petal-filled bath and a glass of red wine beside it!
- The enormous nothingness of Mongolia – staying in a yurt on the steppes surrounded by nothing except the stars and a lot of goats …
Kirsty’s Bucket List
- Take a camper van trip from top to tail (or tail to top!) in New Zealand
- Explore wild Papua New Guinea
- See the Northern Lights in all their glory
- Photograph Lemurs and Baobab trees in Madagascar
- Return to Central Asia so I can visit Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan
- Travel around Iceland
- Visit Iran and experience the hospitality everyone raves about!
- To spend more time in some of my favourite cities in Europe: Kyiv, Belgrade, Budapest
- Go street art hunting in Berlin and Lisbon to find out if they can be added to the list of favourites!
- I may have visited India over 20 times, but I miss the craziness and can’t wait to get back there!
He does what he's told!
Number of countries visited: 104
Favourite Countries: India, Nepal, Thailand, Colombia, Iran and I was really impressed with what we saw on our recent visit to Mexico . If I had to pick one then I guess it would either be India or Nepal. I love the diversity and ‘organised chaos’ that India has to offer, but I guess equally I am a mountain & trekking junkie and there is no where better on the planet than Nepal for getting up close and personal with some of the biggest mountains in the world. So, although it isn’t a country, I am going to say the Sub-Continent and cover all my bases!
Best Travel Memories (from a lot!)
- Travelling from China to Pakistan via the Karakoram Highway in the middle of a storm
- Completing a 30-day trek to Upper Mustang in Nepal
- Being invited to an Animist funeral in Torajaland (Indonesia)
- Enjoying a few too many chang (local beer) with a group of Tibetans in Lhasa and spending the whole night talking in Mandarin (I don’t speak Mandarin!).
- The two days spent hitching from Kyrgyzstan to China and all the friendly truck drivers that picked us up along the way
- Looking for spomeniks (Tito-era WWII memorials) in the Former Yugoslavia (see below)
- Getting to trek around Mt. Kailash in Tibet – this had been one of my ambitions for a long time
- Discovering Ukraine for the first time in 2015 (and returning several times since)
Mark’s Bucket List
- Afghanistan. Ever since reading Eric Newby’s ‘A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush’ some 20 years back I have had an obsession with getting to this country.
- Head up to North East India – namely Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura
- See more of Kazakhstan and continue into Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan
- Walk the Great Himalayan Trail, which crosses Nepal from east to west
- Take a long trip across Russia, looking mainly for Soviet-era architecture
- Begin exploring Africa, starting with an overland journey from Egypt to Ethiopia via Sudan and Uganda
- Visit Iraqi Kurdistan
- Visit (and photograph) British seaside resorts in the depths of winter
Click on the following links to learn a bit more about where we are now and where we’ve been. We rarely know where we’re going next! …
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