Page 4 of Go where the pepper grows Travel Blog Posts


Asia » Malaysia » Kelantan » Kota Bharu July 31st 2012

Blog starts with 'via' again. Via Marang and Kuala Terengganu, we make our way to Kota Bharu in the extreme Northeast of peninsular Malaysia. A short look at the map confirms my suspicion that we're almost in Thailand already. KB is the capital of Kelantan, the most conservative and staunchly Muslim of Malaysia's states (more, so much more on that later). The city is also famous for its diverse cuisine, which for us was the main reason to go there. After the disappointing, pricey fare on Kapas, we wanted to indulge in great food once again. And that's what we did the next five or so days. Eat, eat, eat. For breakfast, we go to an Indian restaurant where I finally, finally get my beloved masala dosai, which turns out to be the best I've ever ... read more
In awe
Paper dosai
Durian

Asia » Malaysia » Terengganu » Pulau Kapas July 29th 2012

In the morning, we stand next to the freeway trying to flag down a car to take us to Marang. After a few minutes, another foreigner couple arrives, backpacks and all, at the bus stop on the other side. After we give each other the evil eye, an unspoken competition starts of who'll manage to secure a ride first. At least we're not going in the same direction. I remember well the old local ladies in Montenegro sneaking in front and stealing my rides. Eventually, a car stops for us. The friendly man, who we can't communicate much with due to language issues, drops us off at the bus station in Kemaman, where we take a local bus to Marang. The reason we went there is to catch a boat to Pulau Kapas. From the harbour, ... read more
Tree in Kapas interior
Colourful beach chalet
Butterfly

Asia » Malaysia » Pahang » Cherating July 27th 2012

On my 2009 SEA-trip, I'd already visited most of Peninsular Malaysia's West, so the logical thing to do on this trip was to head to the East Coast. Our first stop is Cherating, a pleasant little village on the Northeastern edge of Pahang state, bordering on the state of Terengganu. To get there, we take a bus from KL's Pudu Sentral Bus Station to Kuantan, roughly four hours eastwards. Once there, we jump on a decrepit local bus towards Kuala Terengganu and tell the metrosexual ticket collector to be so friendly as to tell the driver to drop us off at the right stop for Cherating. Less than an hour later, we are dumped on the roadside and make our way to the centre of the village. After a few tries, we find a chalet that's ... read more
Tropicality
Teh tarik
Batik painting

Asia » Malaysia » Wilayah Persekutuan » Kuala Lumpur July 25th 2012

You must all be tired by the blogs about Peru and Bolivia, so to give you a break here's one about a couple travelling in Southeast Asia. I know, I know, the irony. Anyway, back in KL once again, can't even remember if it's my third or fourth time. To me this city is the proto-capital of Southeast Asia, for it encompasses all that SEA represents. Its sights, sounds and smells are Malaysia's sights, sounds and smells, and walking around town, our senses are overflowing with what by now have become very familiar sensations. The prayer call of the muezzin at 5am, bus horns, relentless car alarms, Bollywood music in the Indian mamaks. There's the reek of rotten eggs from the open sewers and gutters you pass, the smell of chicken wings roasting on massive charcoal ... read more
Hostel thongs
Chapathi
Temple window


As my train pulls into Prague, I watch the thick, overhanging clouds looming above the historic Bohemian city with concern. They obstruct the sun, bring rain, potentially spoiling the mood for everybody. Not the best conditions for a three-day music festival. Music? Indeed. I'm on my way to the 14th annual Obscene Extreme Festival. As the name suggests, this is not gonna be your run-of-the-mill summer rock festival with the occasional hard rock or heavy metal band thrown into the equation. What awaits me is three days of aural assault and straight up brutality. A closer look at the running order reveals band names like Gutalax, Human Scum, Splattered Mermaids, Vomitory, Necromorph, Bowelfuck, Rottenness, Vulvectomy and Sublime Cadaveric Decomposition. The genre these bands belong to could be roughly described as grindcore, although there are a million ... read more
TOTT: Scream!
Jig-Ai pit
Houwitser

Asia » China » Jiangsu » Tongli March 18th 2012

The small town of Tongli is only about an hour away from Suzhou, easily accessible by bus. Well, actually it takes me longer to get to the bus station in Suzhou by local bus than it does to Tongli. Upon arrival, I buy a few baozi for breakfast and make my way to the centre. I grudgingly pay the hefty 90 yuan it costs to enter the old town; what's the use of complaining - it is a touristy little town and they wanna max out the profit, just like anywhere else. I can't help but wonder what it would be like were, say, the Heidelberg Altstadt fenced off and accessible only through a gate where tourists have to buy pricy tickets to enter. Visiting Tongli on a Sunday might not have been the brightest idea, ... read more
Tourists in boats and teahouses
Finally a decent sneaky shot
Chrysanthemum tea

Asia » China » Jiangsu » Suzhou March 17th 2012

Ah, Suzhou, pleasant little town, easy to navigate. I wish I could say that, but I don't wanna lie. In fact, though, most Chinese people would think of Suzhou as a small town, as it has only around four million inhabitants. Referring to the 2010 Census, that means there are still 20 (!) cities in China that are bigger than Suzhou. Probably only the Top 6-8 would be considered 'big cities' by most. This time I arrive by train, catch a local bus, which unfortunately again takes almost an hour to near my host's place. Slowly but surely I'm getting fed up by the time wasted using local transport. The sheer size of Chinese cities really takes it out of me. Once again I start pondering whether it wouldn't be easier to just stay in a ... read more
Master of the Nets
Small old ladies heading into the temple
There's something comforting about those canals...

Asia » China » Jiangsu » Nanjing March 14th 2012

In Nanjing, for the first time on this trip, I get the opportunity to stay with a Chinese family at their home. Getting there proves to be a bit tough, though. The bus ride from Jiangyin to Nanjing is a breeze, but then finding the right local bus isn't. There are several bus stops outside the main building of the bus station, but still inside the gated area. On the street outside, there are several more, so which one do I go to? And which direction? I see what I take to be my bus, no. 327, arriving at the stop outside, so I hop on and show the driver the slip of paper with the characters of the bus stop where I'm supposed to get off. He studies it for a moment, then nods almost ... read more
Prayer flags detail
Vegetarian temple food
Nanjing skyline from City Walls

Asia » China » Jiangsu » Jiangyin March 8th 2012

Catching a bus from Shanghai to Jiangyin turns out to be easier than I thought. They leave every 30 minutes from Shanghai's Long-Distance Bus Terminal, which is located within walking distance from the Shanghai Railway Station metro station. I copy the Chinese characters for 'Jiangyin' onto a piece of paper, show it to the lady selling the bus tickets, nod and smile when she asks me a question in Chinese, which prompts her to shoot me a weird look, but I just keep nodding and smiling bravely until she gives me a ticket. I have enough time to grab a bite before my bus leaves, so I check out a baozi stall to see if they have vegetarian ones. My standing around awkwardly, shifting from one foot to the other gets me some attention from the ... read more
Nice countryside around Jiangyin
Cuddliness
Mapo doufu, Sichuan-style

Asia » China » Shanghai March 4th 2012

Shanghai and I did not get off to a good start. First thing I do is buy a bottle of water at an airport shop, as I'm rather dehydrated and dizzy from the long flight. I ask the shopgirl if she can point me to the metro, but then I realize I'm in China now, and English doesn't get me very far. She calls another shopgirl, and I repeat what I said, but they just look at each other confusedly and then start discussing the finer aspects of my outward appearance, I'm guessing. A person at Shanghai Pudong International Airport who doesn't speak Chinese? Impossibru! Whoa, whoa, hold on a sec! Don't worry, you can continue reading. This is not gonna turn into a blog where I bitch about how nobody in China speaks English. I ... read more
Coloured pottery camel
Guardian lion seal
Greens in wok




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