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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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Khmer curiosities

Entering rugged Cambodia

Well, I say ‘rugged’ Cambodia because that’s the first word that came to mind after entering the capital Phnom Penh, and I couldn’t find another suitable adjective to describe this unique country. Getting from Can Tho to Phnom Penh wasn’t feasible without first going back to HCMC and staying a night to catch an early morning coach the following day. It was a long ride –…

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The Mekong Delta

Floating through my final stop in Vietnam

The chaotic streets and endless hooting of the cities had given way to the serene and peaceful waterways of Can Tho, located in the southern Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. It was only a 3hr coach ride to get there from HCMC. Its geography is unlike anywhere else in Vietnam, or much of Asia in fact. The Mekong River empties into the South China Sea…

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On the Ho Chi Minh Trail

Mountain and city retreats in South Vietnam

The next stop in Vietnam was the highland town of Da Lat, and it took just under a day to get there from Hoi An. The first leg was via overnight train along the Reunification Express from Da Nang to Nha Trang, and unfortunately with my last minute decision I was told there were only seats available (when I instantly recalled the nightmare leg in…

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