Bali : Revisited

Hello, people of the world. I have very limited time in Malaysia with my family, now that I am going to migrate real soon. It has been almost a year of constant traveling, and I feel prepared physically, mentally and emotionally. After a year long of discouragement, I am on my way out and I cannot wait to start my new life abroad! Am I scared? No!

Last year I had promised my little sister a trip to my favorite place in South East Asia. We flew on April 10th, it was her birthday gift and we both had wonderful week. It’s like a ritual visit; I had been visiting Bali every year and the feeling is the same every time; overwhelming. Such beautiful place.

Non-existent sunset but the skyline was still breathtaking.

Non-existent sunset but the skyline was still breathtaking.

Sea grasses are not disgusting to be felt on your feet!

Sea grasses are not disgusting to be felt on your feet!

Uluwatu: I once shroomed here with JF. It is still the prettiest spot in Bali.

Uluwatu: I once shroomed here with JF. It is still the prettiest spot in Bali.

Sister and me.

Sister and me.

I love the sea, that's the gesture.

I love the sea, that’s the gesture.

Ceking-Tegallalang rice field terrace near Ubud, Bali.

Ceking-Tegallalang rice field terrace near Ubud, Bali.

Do you want to sit here all day? I do.

Do you want to sit here all day? I do.

Our place in Ubud and it is USD15 for one night.

Our place in Ubud and it is USD15 for one night.

Have you had your Bali shot? It is more than Eat, Pray, Love. It is life.

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March 2014

I have never owned a fancy camera. I traveled with my phone with just 3mp camera, and when I am with JF or friends, they will take pictures for me with their better camera phones. My point is, you don’t need fancy cameras to make memories.

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Viewpoint, Koh Chang, Thailand

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However this would make you feel.

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I came up with this photo idea, my friend took it with his phone camera.

You can always make money but not memories. Go out and sail, be away from the safe harbor.

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.

Ditch your guide book, make and be your own guide

Before I started traveling, I always imagined myself walking around a city, searching for a place to stay, with a guide book in my hand. But in reality, after my first trip to Thailand in 2011, I found out that guide is such a hassle. I thought I’d look cool, I looked stupid instead. Hidden agendas of a guide book : to make you feel like you are not doing enough as suggested, or to make you feel that you are restricted to only those suggestions. A guide book is heavy, hard to read and actually very confusing, because if you ever held a guide book and actually read it (from first page to last page,you’ll fall asleep at page 5), you’ll know. The writings are too small (I am already with 4 eyes, be 6 if I have to de dependent on guide book). When you travel, you’ll have your personal preferences of what you really will like. Write them down, take some pictures and write some notes about them. A guide book is based on, at least, the writer’s preferences. There are so many people in this world and simply there are too many suggestions to be followed. So, why do you travel anyways? It is for you to discover one place and all the things about that place by any kind of method you can think of, like asking locals for their suggestions instead. That is more fun, and that is the time when you can actually learn some foreign language. I always think that the writer of a guide book may have not done some of the things he or she had written. Many asked : But how do we know about things we must see, do and eat? Make your own research, like highlighting the major attraction, make a big circle and start from there.

The fact that I too, hate being told what to do makes me feel like I shouldn’t follow a guide book. It’s like that. Quoting my another favorite travel writer, Robert : “By balancing a travel schedule that incorporates sightseeing, cultural experiences and relaxation, you’ll return from your trip enriched, educated and rejuvenated. You’ll be ready to face whatever challenges come your way – but you’ll also be eager to travel again!” 

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I found my own “Maldives”, Karimunjawa, Central Java, Indonesia in May 2012

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.

A recap for year 2011 and 2012

I started traveling around my neighborhood of beautiful South East Asia in year 2011. It was a week trip in wonderful, hot, summery April with my former partner and at that time I just got my first passport, just for my supposed-to-be first trip ever outside Malaysia, which was to Indonesia, with my family. I ended up going to Thailand first and it was great nonetheless

the border gate; northern West Malaysia, Bukit Kayu Hitam and Southern Thailand, Sadao

the border gate; northern West Malaysia, Bukit Kayu Hitam and Southern Thailand, Sadao. I took a gruesome 17 hours bus ride from south to north.

I went to the 2004 tsunami town in Thailand, Ko Lanta

I went to the 2004 tsunami town in Thailand, Ko Lanta

distracted, psyched and all smile on my first tuk-tuk ride in Krabi, Thailand

my first time riding the moped and...

my first time riding the moped and…
...I crashed my moped. …I crashed my moped.

bugs are delicious in Krabi

famous Mr Blowfish in fishing village near Krabi.

my very own secluded beach in Ao Poh, Ko Phi Phi

this basic but beautiful bungalow facing the secluded beach in Ao Poh was my pad in Ko Phi Phi, costed me a good 800 baht.

this basic but beautiful bungalow facing the secluded beach in Ao Poh was my pad in Ko Phi Phi, costed me a good 800 baht.

the first part of island in Ko Phi Phi that got the first tsunami wave back in 2004, I am talking about this pier.