Page 4 of piranha27 Travel Blog Posts

Asia » Laos » North » Luang Namtha September 17th 2013

With the last grains of sand in the hour-glass of my Thai tourist visa rapidly trickling away, I scurried to the Thai border and bade farewell to the country that has been my second home (yet again) for the past few months. As I approached the boat landing for the short long-tail boat ride across the Mekong River, I could already see Thailand's friendly neighbour beckoning warmly in the near distance. And barely two minutes (and THB40) later, I was there! Immigration at both Thai and Laos ends were a breeze, with nary a queue and friendly officers, which really put my tiring visa run experiences at the Cambodian border at Poi Pet in stark contrast. And so, after getting off the boat at the Laos end, clearing immigration and walking up a short slope, there ... read more
Wat Chomkao
Bar How
For those tired of Conventional BBQs

Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand » Chiang Rai September 15th 2013

And so after some two and a half months, it was finally time to leave Thailand (again). As I continued to make my way towards the northern border with Laos, my last stop before I crossed was Chiang Rai. Incidentally, this was also my first stop in Thailand last year early on in my trip, when I crossed the border from Myanmar. At the time, I'd only spent a quick overnighter before speeding off to catch a flight to Bangkok. So this time, I stayed just a little longer to explore the city a bit more. The current low tourist season certainly made itself felt here. I recall Chiang Rai's streets certainly being more crowded and bustling last year, in July. But now, in September, Chiang Rai feels very, very quiet. And walking around at night, ... read more
Hilltribe Museum
Wat Jed Yod
Fried Crickets

Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand » Chiang Mai September 14th 2013

After that brief sojourn to the highlands of the north, it was time to head back to the regional capital of Chiang Mai. And what a way to get back, as the mini-van driver drove as if in a frenzy down the winding hills, but thankfully got us all back in one piece, in a much faster-than-anticipated time of course. Because I'd already spent some time in Chiang Mai last year, I originally planned to make it just another quick night or at most two, before heading up north again towards the Golden Triangle. But there's something about Chiang Mai that makes you want to stay a little looonger. Perhaps it's the pleasant climate, despite the intermittent rain that persistent during this rainy season. Perhaps it's the generally low-key and laid-back atmosphere, notwithstanding its deserved status ... read more
Folk Life Museum
Folk Life Museum
Chiang Mai Temple Scams

Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand » Mae Hong Son September 10th 2013

After a few days getting stoned, I mean, chilling out in Pai, I continued on my way on the north-west loop towards one of the highland towns closest to Myanmar -- Mae Hong Son. It was a four hour winding bus ride through some stunning highland scenery, but I arrived there soon enough. And what greeted me was a slight surprise. I had somehow expected a relatively bustling city, but Mae Hong Son turned out to be a rather quiet town. It was quite a stark contrast to the farang-filled little streets of Pai. Mae Hong Son certainly seemed much more genuinely local. And yet the vibe certainly wasn't just Thai. The town's proximity to the Shan highlands of neighbouring Myanmar certainly showed in the composition of the local people. Several of the temples in town ... read more
No Yingluck!
Circle of Life
Lake Jong Kham

Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand » Pai September 7th 2013

And so it was with some melancholy that I said goodbye to my home away from home that is Bangkok, and took the long (but it must be said, very comfortable) 16h overnight train ride up to Northern Thailand. This would be my second time in the region - the first was just over a year ago, barely months into the beginning of my travels, when I entered the country in the north from Myanmar. I'd originally planned on spending time there before I headed down towards Bangkok, but an unexpected visit to the capital by my grandma saw me zooming down by plane to meet her there for the few days she was going to be in town. And with it went my original plans of exploring the much talked-about northern loop of Pai-Mae Hong ... read more
Falling in Love in Pai
Pai's Walking Street at Night
Mae Nam Pai

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok September 6th 2013

And so yet another two months has flown by, and I've reached the end of my third extended stint in Bangkok. It's perhaps not surprising that with each stay, I've found myself doing the touristy things less and less, and getting increasingly more into a sedate routine. With weekday mornings occupied by my Thai classes, I've found less need to run around trying to take in the touristy sites, most of which I'd already seen on my previous trips here. Early on in my stay I also met Jin again just before she returned to Korea, and subsequently caught up with several groups of Singaporean friends who'd made short trips up, so I felt like there wasn't a need to do much more running around. Though I was, unfortunately, compelled to make a couple of visa ... read more
Yaowarat - Chinatown
Psychedelic Provisions Shop @ Chinatown

Asia » Thailand » Western Thailand » Nakhon Pathom August 12th 2013

So I'm back in Bangkok for another extended rest period from travelling, and it's taken some six weeks before I found the strength again for a short sojourn outside of the capital. It was the Mother's Day long weekend here in Thailand, so I took the opportunity to visit the famous floating markets in Amphawa and Damnoen Saduak just outside of Bangkok. I'd read about these in LP during my first extended stay in Bangkok around this time last year, and they seemed like convenient day trips, but it has taken me until now to get down to visiting them. It's funny how sometimes the closer they are, the harder they are to visit... I vaguely remember visiting a floating market as a kid, and I vaguely remember it being a looong boat ride down the ... read more
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Wat Phra Pathom
Amphawa Floating Market

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Medan June 28th 2013

And after saying goodbye to the orang-utans of Bukit Lawang, it was pretty much time to say goodbye to Sumatra too. My last stop on the island was a quick overnighter back at the provincial capital of Medan, where I'd passed through on my way from Berastagi to Bukit Lawang. Medan is Indonesia's third largest city, but there's certainly no love lost between it and the many travellers who are compelled to find their way here, en route to their intended other destinations. LP described it as possibly the top candidate for the answer to the oft-asked "worst place you've ever travelled to" question, and though that might be a bit of an exaggeration, it's certainly hard to see dirty, busy, disorganised and noisy Medan winning many hearts. I don't think it was the worst place ... read more
Istana Maimoon
Cemetery next to Mesjid Raya
Istana Maimoon

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Bukit Lawang June 26th 2013

Having enjoyed the cool mountain air of the highlands for over a week now, starting from Bukittingi to Toba and Berastagi, it was time to finally head back down to the reality of the infernal heat of the Sumatran lowlands. And so from Berastagi it was a 5h journey to Bukit Lawang, a small village tucked away from the bustle of the provincial capital of Medan, and which has been receiving tourists to its the nearby Leuser National Park and orang-utan rehabilitation centre for the past several decades. What's that, another orang-utan rehab centre, you say? Didn't I already visit one just last month in Sepilok, Sabah, East Malaysia? Indeed I did. But I'd come to Bukit Lawang for the trekking, much vaunted by LP, and also the hopes of catching a sight of the red-haired ... read more
A River Runs Through It
Welcome to Bukit Lawang
Kids Preparing to Tube

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Berastagi June 23rd 2013

After making the difficult but inevitable decision to leave beautiful Toba, I continued northwards on a 4h ride to the hill-side town of Berastagi. Like many hill-side towns that I've visited the past year, this one was also established by former colonial rulers looking to escape from the searing heat of the lowlands. In this case, it was the Dutch of course. And as far as hill-side towns go, Berastagi doesn't seem to be that different from the rest, especially with regards to its pleasant, temperate climate. A small town essentially centred along just two main streets, Berastagi nevertheless packs some kind of buzz from a busting local Karo population, as well as Medan-Chinese weekenders, whose presence becomes increasingly apparent as we venture closer to the regional capital. The uniquely-accented Hokkien (a Chinese dialect) very similar ... read more
Welcome to Berastagi
My Kind of Coffee Shop!

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