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Lessons from a backpacking adventure

10 ways riding solo changed my life

Before I departed on my overland trip through Asia last July, one of my greatest anticipations – aside from visiting many incredible countries – was to write this blog post at the very end. I was keen to know how this experience would change me. To justify it to the various curious people, I described this as an adventure “within” and a “character building experience”….

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All the finer details

Where I went, how I got there and what I took with me

    When I wasn’t exploring new towns, trekking or doing any of the countless activities over the past few months, I’d usually pick up my phone or tablet in the dead of night and write about my observations. Typing feverishly about the adventures wasn’t just a way of telling friends, family and colleagues that I was still alive and well, but a chance for me…

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At Journey’s End

An emotional conclusion to my adventure in Singapore

I put a great big cross on my bucket list on November 27th as I stepped out of Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands MRT station to be greeted with the high-rise view of my end destination.  I had accomplished my ambition of an overland adventure spanning an entire continent, and it took days to wipe an everlasting smile off my face. There was a noticeable spring…

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The Final Frontier

A mix of old and new in Kuala Lumpur and Malacca

Arriving into Kuala Lumpur came as a welcome change after a few weeks away from the hustle and bustle of big cities. I was beginning to miss some urban comforts, especially after my last adventure in the jungles. As the MRT subway train pulled up into the city, the ambience became quite energetic. There were huge crows of people wearing yellow t-shirts in support of…

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High tea

Trekking in the Cameron Highlands and an aborigine rainforest rescue

The Cameron Highlands is a region in the heart of the Malaysian peninsula famous for its tea plantations, orchards and mossy forests. Its cooler climate provides much needed respite from the otherwise hot and humid climate at sea level. Despite the persistent rain this came as a welcome comfort as I stepped off the coach in Brinchang. Over two days I trekked through 4 of the main trails…

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Colonial charms

A stop in diverse and delightful Penang

It was a long day en-route from Koh Lanta to the Malaysian city of Penang. First up was an early morning minivan back to Krabi, followed by a 5 hour coach ride to Hat Yai, and another minivan to the border town of Padang Besar. The crossing into Malaysia involved a 20 minute walk through the border region amid what seemed like lacklustre security, with hardly…

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Leeches and beaches

Island retreats in Thailand's sunny south

My next destination from Chiang Mai was the sunshine island of Koh Pha Ngan in the Gulf of Thailand, some 1500 kilometres south. It’s possible to take a couple of trains all the way to the nearby town of Surat Thani, but again my last-minute decision cost me a seat on the first one to Bangkok, leaving only road based transport to get there. I hadn’t…

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Oh my, Chiang Mai

Finding adventure and tranquility in Thailand's northern paradise

I can’t fault the overnight sleeper train service from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. I’d rank it on par with the Paris-Moscow express in terms of comfort. There are only one or two second class sleeper AC carriages on the train, and most of the passengers are foreign tourists. The seating/sleeping configuration isn’t arranged in compartments, but it’s still spacious with only one upper and lower bed either…

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A very sombre Bangkok

An understated welcome from Thailand

A swift three hour coach ride from Siem Reap took me to the chaotic border town of Poi Pet. It’s a hectic town but I wasn’t there for long – after clearing customs it was only a short walk across the border to Thailand customs. After some lunch at the train station (only plain rice and monkey nuts unfortunately) I boarded a 7hr train to…

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Temple Run

Exploring the ancient ruins of Angkor

After another three hour endeavour on a fishing boat back to Sihanoukville, I boarded a bus back to Phnom Penh. The road infrastructure in Cambodia is still quite limited, so it’s not straightforward to travel directly to Siem Reap without first going to the capital. Happily, though, I made the most of this stop to visit the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre run by Wildlife Alliance….

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