Why not the macaques?

ImageNot amused.

I grew up with macaques and orang-utans being just in the jungle near my childhood’s little house. The macaques are never amusing to me because I know that they are diseased and should be avoided at any cost. But to most of you out there, you are still very delighted to get to see the macaques in the wild. I saw this macaque after my breakfast on day 3 in Koh Chang, Thailand. My friend immediately took out his phone to take this photo. I was dead sick seeing it walking through the cables looking for pieces of food. I wasn’t sure whether I should feel bad or happy. Koh Chang is beautiful but it is too populated on one side thus the environment gets dirtier and very welcoming especially for the macaques. When I was there for 5 days, I tried to look on the beautiful side, just. I managed to forget how disturbing to see monkeys all the way.

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This looks like Argentinian coastline. 

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I was jumping waves, I swear that was the greatest wave jumping.

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At the end of the stay, I thought I’ll never want to leave.

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 It was a perfect sunset at White Sand Beach.

A mini bus trip from Bangkok to Koh Chang will cost you around B300 ( USD 10 as in March 2014) and it will get you there in 5-6 hours. Bear in mind that the ride will be thrilling. Thai mini bus drivers are among the most reckless and notorious drivers in the world(I am not joking), ones who actually traveled Thailand this way knew exactly how it feels.

When I was on the island, I went on a quad trip with my friends through lush greens of Koh Chang. The trip was incredible, though I paid B2500(USD80) for supposedly 1 1/2 hour trip, we were on the wheels for 2 hours. That was to me, the greatest way to see Koh Chang on the quieter side.

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The ATV Salakphet Adventure team, they rock! That’s my German friend, Torsten.

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No mosquitoes nor malaria for me.

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Quite a happy ending, an isolated beach at Salak Phet.

It was a great escape. I’ve seen all of Thailand for more than 5 times.

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Alone?

When I am not traveling wit JF, I will usually continue traveling alone. I had lived alone in Bangkok for 3 months and now I am back here alone too. Traveling alone is always a concern to some. I’ve talked to so many people who have dreams to travel but most of them prefer to travel with their partners. Safety-wise, I’ve been asked about how I survived being alone in Bangkok alone while Bangkok is dubbed as a dangerous city to be at on your own. It is true, it takes time to gather courage to travel alone.

Traveling solo has its pros and cons. After some time, it always more pros than cons to me. There are so many people you can meet while traveling alone, and yes you can also enjoy the fun of having temporary traveling partner while you are alone. You can always travel at your own pace, do whatever you want to do, eat wherever you want to eat and choose to stay wherever you want to stay. You don’t have to wait for your partner to get ready, you don’t have to wait for your partner to finish packing, and you never need to argue of which way to take when both of you are lost in the city. When you are on your own, you are so much more independent and in control.

Among reasons why many refused to travel alone is because they cannot take it having to eat alone. Yes, it is a sad imagination but it is not bad as it you think it would be. Single traveler is easier to be approached by other single traveler and the next thing you know is the two of you sitting at the same table, laughing for hours, beer after beer. But then, if you must eat alone, bring a book. Read, and maybe this is a good time to learn foreign language. Keep yourself busy. Own a journal and write.

Of course, traveling with your partner will benefits in terms of sharing the cost of hotel/hostel room, taxi ride, everything will become cheaper when you split the costs. This is definitely the downside of traveling alone.

It is so much easier to experience stranger’s kindness when you are alone. You are definitely more approachable. There is nothing scary about this too. See? You eventually are not really alone. How not to become lonely? Stop feeling alone. Think that you’ll always stumble upon other travelers, because you’ll always be. Choose to travel during peak season so you won’t feel as empty. Some of my friends use Couchsurfing and they know with that they’ll always have some company. Be bold and confident and ask if someone wants to go out and have dinner with you. Chances are they will always say yes. Meeting new people is always fun and this often happens when you are alone. I cannot help you if you are very shy but don’t complain!

I have made so many temporary traveling partners while I was alone in Bangkok for 3 months. It was all great and I’ve made wonderful memories with them. Even though it was just temporary fun, fun is always going to be FUN. Single travelers that I met while I travel alone were all very independent, sounded and acted very educated and they are the most fun partners that you could ever enjoy being with.

So go ahead, don’t be afraid. Alone? It won’t suck that much.

Bangkok is not what you think it would be

September 2013.

Sawasdeeka.

Whenever I decided to take a break from traveling, I will park myself in Bangkok. My home country is Malaysia. Since I am no longer employed, I can no longer find good reasons to stay in Malaysia, but to go back once in a while to visit my family. People would say stuff about Bangkok; busy, crazy, notorious, and dangerous. Truth be told, it is none like the above. Contrary to popular belief or hearing from someone who only sees Bangkok for 3 days, serious cases almost mostly happened when you are TOO distracted or looking unconfident. Opportunists love taking advantages on travelers or tourist like this. I am sure we all have heard of tuk tuk drivers coming to tourists and ripping them off in this situation but this thing is totally avoidable. 

I had lived in Bangkok for good 5 months in autumn and after my winter trip to Europe. I feel safe and comfortable living among Thais. I am not a fan of big city, but Bangkok is exceptional. I’ve been to NYC and these cities share equal amount of excitements. 

While in Bangkok, one can actually afford to stay at a very nice, fully furnished apartment with just $300 a month, but I chose not to do that. I want to able to make friends and meet other travelers. Since I don’t like or not practicing going to clubs or even drinking, I stayed at a hostel that I think the best hostel in Bangkok, Boxpackers Hostel (should totally check this place out). Whether you are a shopping freak or not, this place is the best place to rest your head after a day out, venturing the busy streets of Bangkok. Also, I mentioned shopping freak because there is huge fashion mall across the street of this hostel that is ever alive and lively with people from all around Asia and the rest of the world! The hostel is also pretty close to train station, if you can count 10 minutes walking as close. In Bangkok, you don’t really have to worry about paying a lot for public transportation, I promise if you stay there for a week, you’ll get the hang of it, by all means, walking or riding tuk tuk or even the boat on Chao Phraya!

ImageThe dorm of 6 : That’s my backpack, and my Ripcurl lightpack

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 My pod or box, where I usually stay for months!

I have made so many incredible friends along my stay at this hostel. This is not like conventional hostels with bunk beds where people can see you even when you are picking your nose. There will no drunken people banging on the door at night. It is a place where you can actually feel “educated”. I love Khao San road too, but it is safe for me not to stay there. I had once stay there in year 2011, for 2 nights I cannot get to sleep and I heard stuff next door like an old man bargaining for a “company” and then ended up fighting and beating her. That and other things I am sure those who were also there know. The price of a hostel room at Khao San Road could be as low as 1 Euro, but I’d rather pay extra 10 Euro for extra extra comfort, and safety!

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 Rita from Taiwan: First friend I made the first time I stayed at Boxpackers Hostel, Bangkok. She is also traveling the world. Suddenly this place is not so strange anymore.

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 Roman & Jeremy from France and Germany: The last people at Boxpackers Hostel made bestfriends with before I left for Europe 2013 – 2014 winter trip

There are so many things you can do in Bangkok, not just visiting temples, in fact you’ll never run out things to do here as long as you are enjoying your time. I have no troubles being alone, I also have no troubles having great companies. I filled up my time learning Thai and making friends with locals. If you shall come to Bangkok, write to me, perhaps I can help with your itinerary. Songkran Festival for example, is a great time to be in Bangkok, the city has never been lovelier. And yes, while in Thailand, learn Muay Thai. It’s incredibly cheap and it’s incredibly great. After all, Thailand is the best place on Earth to learn this famous martial art.

ImageThis is me, doing muay thai (Thai boxing) in November 2013 at 13 Coins Gym. About USD 10 for a session of 5 rounds of intense punching and kicking, GREAT thing to do while in Bangkok.

Give it a chance. Bangkok is a great place to learn how to live a life by yourself. 

Till next time.