Just like that, the new year has begun. Reason enough to look back on some of 2016’s highlights. A lot of travels, a lot of work, a very busy year. Yet, it was filled with great moments and produced good memories. So many things have happened and changed in my life and around it.
From Saigon we went on to Da Lat, a small city in the Vietnamese Central Highlands. This place felt very laid-back and peaceful. It seemed to be popular amongst Vietnamese tourists but not very much so among international ones. All the kids greeted us on the streets (no, they weren’t stealing nor selling anything). We went hiking/walking with a nice guide and visited the Pongour Falls.
After a few days, we travelled on to Hoi An, a beautiful small city about half way between Ho Chi Minh and Hano
I was relieved when we finally arrived in Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon). We had survived the crazy Cambodian highways! Vietnamese traffic was crazy in a whole different way: all the streets, especially in the cities, were packed with motorbikes and scooters. I felt like in the nearby South China Sea where huge swarms of fish swim past you, only the fish were two-wheeled vehicles with men and women (often more than two) sitting on top.
Our next stop on the tourist trail was Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, where we stayed at The Artist Guesthouse, a weird but nice sort of French-American diner and B&B. Phnom Penh was tuk-tuks, scooters, food, museums and massages. Let’s talk about something else though: We had seen and been in quite a bit of scary traffic before, but the long-distance buses in Cambodia were the worst I’ve experienced. While my girlfriend was usually dozing on the seat next to me, I jumped at every bump I felt or honking sound I heard. Reading and hearing about numerous car – especially bus – accidents later on didn’t help very much either. We were glad we hadn’t been involved in one of the seemingly countless accidents. Because we wanted to […]
As Bangkok was our only stop in Thailand, we quickly moved along to Cambodia, more specifically to Siem Reap. We spent a few days in this very touristy city and were surprised by how expensive things were in tourist Cambodia. We hired a tuk tuk driver for a day to take us to the most important temple sites. Just like everyone else who visits Angkor, we started off at Angkor Wat shortly before the sunrise. Despite all the people, it was beautiful.
From Penang we booked a minibus all the way to Bangkok (instead of the train or one of the more expensive buses). The ride to Hat Yai, a city in Thailand’s far south close to the Malaysian border, wasn’t too bad. The thing was that we arrived there late and thus missed the bus that was supposed to take us to Bangkok. For that reason, we had to wait six hours before boarding the next minibus. Hence we arrived in Bangkok in the middle of the night instead of late evening.
In the morning of our last full day on Penang Island, we went hiking in «Taman Negara Pulau Pinang» (Penang National Park). The hike mainly led us through a jungle colored in more than fifty shades of green with weird sounds and exotic plants everywhere. It was beautiful and relaxing despite the heat and the numerous noisy Chinese tourists.
Later on in the day, we visited the «Kek Lok Si» temple, roughly 50 minutes by bus from Georgetown.
We arrived in Butterworth super early in the morning after a terribly long bus ride. The city is the gateway to the island Penang, where we were headed. After waiting for around two hours, we could finally board the first ferry, which took us to Georgetown in roughly 15 minutes. We walked to our hostel, the House of Journey, and waited for another few hours. Luckily, we were allowed to check in early in the morning and sleep for a bit.
After a few relaxing days on Tioman, we took the boat back to Mersing and travelled northwards to Kuala Besut. Another ferry and we were on another wonderful island: Perhentian Besar, one of the two Perhentian Islands. A little bit more touristy than Tioman but nevertheless a great place to spend some days lying in the sun.
On July 1, I boarded a plane to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My girlfriend had spent the last few months there as an exchange student. Now the time had come to spend a few weeks traveling through Southeast Asia. We spent the first few days in the capital, where I didn’t take a single photo (even though we came back for a few days at the end of our trip). So, fast forward to a few days later when, after quite a journey, we arrived on the paradisal island Tioman.