All posts filed under: Travel

Backpacking Sarawak: Bario, The Kelabit Highlands That Time Forgot

It’s nearly 8 a.m. when I wake up… I draw the curtain and take a look outside. It must’ve just stopped raining, since everything is either still dripping wet or well flooded out. Clouds hover the plateau magnificently against the sky. Time hasn’t vaulted more than it should and slowly, like an amateur’s film fade-out, the “real” world evaporates… I am in Bario, the breathtaking Kelabit Highlands that time forgot. It is hard to explain to people who haven’t lived it, how great this place is, even in the wettest time of the year. I could go on and on with the memories I took with me from this wonderful place, when I first arrived in Bario just a little over a year ago, but it would take up pages if I did. I have felt the amazing energy that comes with letting go and making myself digitally “incompatible” and becoming part of what the Kelabit people represent… I could only offer my gratitude for the time I spent in the highlands and the way so …

Backpacking Cambodia: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap by Bus

The 6-8 hour bus ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap was unexpectedly pleasant… partly cos when we hopped on the Giant Ibis, there was the smiling face of our driver to start our journey to our next bus terminal, who later also demonstrated his excellent skill in manoeuvring the 41-seater beast through potholes and dirt road, maintaining a punctual schedule and all the while showing courtesy and concern for the passengers. Pretty rad, indeed. I’ve always been a big fan slower modes of travel – detours, mixtapes, pranks, drunken pitstops, head bumps, eavesdropping on other people’s weird sexual escapades, holding your pee in for the longest time, getting to know the stranger sitting next to you, pothole nightmares… there’s a lot of road trip spontaneity! So when my friends were lamenting the cost of airfare for our Phnom Penh – Siem Reap – Bangkok trip, I happily took the plunge and bought a one-way ticket out. The ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap took us through agrarian Cambodia – from passing an endless row of brick and mortar to …

Backpacking Hong Kong: Exploring Lantau Island

Lantau Island, Hong Kong’s largest fabled isle, has many hiking trails for one to explore and conquer – from moderate to strenuous trails that will take about 3-4 hours to make it to the top. It’s been all work and no play the whole of this week but today’s absolutely splendid; with only a few hours to spare, I took the ferry from Central Pier 6 to Mui Wo and made my way to Ngong Ping by bus to visit Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery, Wisdom Path, hiked the picturesque Lantau trail and hang with Mark, Kenny, Johnny “Fingers”, Malkey and the gang at “The Wall” by the waters before I almost missed the ferry back to Kowloon. All for good times! It was a chilly afternoon and I’d worn a sleeveless dress with my Chuck Taylors, but I had a good walk through the spiritual Ngong Ping piazza to warm me up and the 268 steps I had to climb to see the majestic 34 metres high big Buddha was so worth it… set against mountainous …

Backpacking Thailand: Royal Thai Handicraft

On my way back to the city centre yesterday from Damnoen Saduak floating market, the bus made a pitstop at the Royal Thai Handicraft… I was completely taken away by the abundance of beautiful woodwork on display at the workshop! Nothing riles me up more than the mere thought of how some people who undervalue the work of artists, or worse, offering less than half of the price tag – a lot of hard work and hours are invested into their pieces and sometimes they don’t work in the best conditions either. If you’re really interested to purchase an artwork, start at a little more than half and expect to meet somewhere in the middle. On a side note, the little girl is so cute! She’s learning how to count and greet in English and she’s really, really good!

Backpacking Thailand: Damnoen Saduak, Ratchaburi

I woke up just before sunrise today and set off to Damnoen Saduak – a 100 year old floating market situated about 100 kilometres southwest of Bangkok – to have a glimpse of the lives of some Thai people who still live along the canals and waterways. My visit, though very short, was a fascinating insight into the Thai culture and a Buddhist perspective on fasting; as the sun rises, monks from nearby temples make their way to the residential canals to receive alms in exchange for blessings and/or amulets. Buddhist monks lead an ascetic life of prayer, fasting, and manual labor, and thus only consume only foods received at the first seven house – I’d been so blessed to have witnessed this moment of grace. The villagers, on the other hand, sell and trade handicrafts, food, fresh fruits and vegetables harvested from their own orchards. “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard Life at 100 year …

Backpacking Sarawak: Bario Food Festival 2014

Agrarian Bario is defined by its timeless, age-old, sustainable village tradition – a mirror image of all that is urban, industrial and modern – and their creative powers to produce energy and design good agricultural practices for sustenance. Bario is a “long way” from anywhere, and that may explain why it receives less attention than other Sarawak hiking destinations, but it’s all part of the charm that makes the Kelabit Highlands so special. The highland plateau is home to the Kelabit and Penan tribespeople, lush hiking trails and solitude seldom matched… the terrains and walking trails linking the various settlements are a testament to Bario’s endless stretch of beauty and not too far away from the Pesta Nukenen festival ground, paddy fields sprawl across the horizon and contrast beautifully with the plane wreck from World War II (WWII). Will you notice the way the light of day changes the dense fog in the valley? It could be a place of safety and refuge for the observing traveler and the inquisitive; at 3280 ft above sea level, …