Page 11 of LivingTheDream Travel Blog Posts

Asia » Malaysia » Johor February 12th 2009

(Day 314 on the road)Picture a tropical island with lush palm trees, a beach front bungalow about three metres away from the sea, an underwater world with abundant fish and great visibility, and you pretty much get the idea of how Jawad and I have spent the last week. It was pure heaven. If you get the picture, you can stop reading now. If you want a few more details, read on. Tioman was once voted among the ten most beautiful islands of the world, and it really is gorgeous. It is pretty big, but only the small coastal strip can be inhabited, as mountains rise steep from the coast. The the inland is thick mountainous jungle, mostly left to itself. All the life thus resolves around a very narrow strip of land right by the ... read more
Tropical paradise
Underwater self portrait

Asia » Malaysia » Pahang » Taman Negara National Park February 3rd 2009

(Day 305 on the road)There are two ways to reach the national park Taman Negara (after getting to the area on the famous Jungle Train from the Cameron Highlands, which was a great journey through lush, deserted, well, jungle): By bus or by boat. Of course, we opted for the three hour boat ride, which lasted for about three hours in a longboat and took us through a pristine jungle environment. And speaking of jungle: This is what Taman Negara is all about. It is actually the oldest jungle in the world, some 130 million years old. It has been largely unaffected by ice ages and other climate changes, and its forest and animals could thus develop undisturbed. After spending a a day exploring the village, we then set out on our main adventure: An overnight ... read more
Jawad on the canopy walk
Taman Negara jungle

Asia » Malaysia » Pahang » Cameron Highlands January 28th 2009

(Day 299 on the road)From Kuala Lumpur, it was a painless four-hour bus ride northeast to the Cameron Highlands, at 1500 meters famous for its cooler temperatures than the rest of the country and the perfect climate for growing tea. They are named after a British surveyor of the name William Cameron, who supposedly "discovered" them in 1885. Today, they are a popular holiday and weekend destination for Malaysians, as we soon found out with most of the (affordable) accommodation solidly booked out. It was the week after Chinese New Year, and it seemed that half of Kuala Lumpur was here with us. The weather wasn't too kind on us either, as it was raining frequently, mainly in the afternoons. But we were not so easily deterred. We spent a relaxing day in and around the ... read more
Cameron Highlands landscape

Asia » Malaysia » Wilayah Persekutuan » Kuala Lumpur January 27th 2009

(Day 298 on the road)It is raining. Let me say that again: It is raining here in Kuala Lumpur. Unbelievable. It has been a very long time since I last experienced rain. To be precise, it was when I was trekking and camping in the Japanese mountains back in September, over four months ago. Reaching Kuala Lumpur however from Ko Tao in Thailand was a long journey. I had completely underestimated the time it would take me. I had taken a quick glance at the map and figured it would take me about 10 or 12 hours. In the end, it took 30 hours (ferry, wait, night train, day train, wait, bus), and I arrived here thoroughly exhausted. I found a nice hostel right in the heart of Chinatown, the perfect place to stay as Chinese ... read more
Petronas Towers
Merdeka Square, Jawad and Irene

Asia » Thailand » South-West Thailand » Ko Tao January 19th 2009

(Day 290 on the road)Arriving back in Bangkok from Yangon, I spent two "medical days" there, visiting the hospital (to get a vaccination) and a dentist (for a checkup). As soon as that was over and done with, I caught a night bus and a ferry to the island of Ko Tao on Thailand's east coast. The ferry crossing to Ko Tao was plain awful: The sea was rough and the catamaran was bouncing on the waves like crazy. I don't think there were many people who were not sick, and the staff could hardly hand out plastic bags as quickly as passengers needed them. I managed to fill four of these bags, and thus arrived on the island with a pretty empty stomach. I wish I had been a bit better to take a video ... read more
At the dive site

Asia » Burma January 10th 2009

(Day 281 on the road)The bus ride from Bagan to Chaungtha beach on the south-west coast of Myanmar was supposed to take 20 hours. Instead, it took 36 hours, including a forced overnight stay in the middle of nowhere (with 28 hours of pure driving time). Especially the night on the first bus was tough (once again) - they literally continuously played Burmese soap operas at the maximum volume possible all night long. Everyone was annoyed and many people covered their ears in a vain attempt to escape the noise, but no one asked the driver to please turn it down or switch it off. It was completely beyond my understanding, as even my good earplugs only gave minor relief. The main theme of these shows is always people (mostly the women) screaming at each other ... read more
Buying fresh prawns for dinner
Welcome, 2009
After sunset on Chaungtha Beach

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan January 1st 2009

(Day 272 on the road)From Mandalay, it is possible to take a slow boat (14 hours) to Bagan down the mighty river Ayeyarwady. The boat was due to leave at 0530h, and we arrived 45 minutes early to be on the safe side with tickets. The taxi drivers to the jetty ripped us off blatantly, charging four times the normal rate we had paid previously, and at the boat we had to pay 20 times as much as the locals do for the ride (it was goverment-owned boat, so the extra money didn't even go to the local people). On top of that, the boat didn't leave until 0630. Not the best start into the day. The boat ride however was great. I had imagined it to be a foreigner boat with maybe a few locals ... read more
Overgrown temple, just for me alone
Sunset over Bagan
I wonder what she is smoking?

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Mandalay December 28th 2008

(Day 268 on the road)We arrived in Mandalay by means of another uncomfortable overnight bus journey, that left us stranded at the bus station far away from the city centre at four o'clock in the morning. After finding a reasonably priced hotel (which took us over an hour) and a morning nap, we soon discovered that Mandalay itself is nothing special. It is a big, dusty and busy city during the day, and at night it is pitch-black and noisy, as electricity is extremely patchy and all the restaurants and hotels have their generators standing out front near the road. We planned to stay for two days, and spent the first day exploring the city on bicycle, mainly a few temples and the presidential palace (we didn't go inside however, as the palace was a) restored ... read more
The suppressed Moustache Brothers
Boys near Amarapura

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Inle Lake December 25th 2008

(Day 265 on the road)I arrived in Inle Lake, famous for its people living on and close to the water, on a gruesome 16 hour overnight journey from Bago. The roads were awful, as was the state of the bus and the temperature inside (close to freezing, especially since they left the main door open at all times for some strange reason). We arrived here at the ungodly hour of four in the morning, but luckily we quickly found a nice bungalow by the canal in the town of Nyaungshwe (of where we moved out later however due to the incredible noise by the motorboats plying the waterway). Electricity in the town (like everywhere in Myanmar so far, including Yangon) is patchy to say the least and more often than not not available except for a ... read more
Life on the lake
Sunset over Inle Lake

Asia » Burma » Yangon Region » Bago December 21st 2008

(Day 261 on the road)From Yangon, we took the train up to Bago, about two hours north-east. Trains in Myanmar are government-operated, and the train ride (at an expense of more than four times the local price, to be paid in USD only, no local money) was our first direct sponsorship of the military dictatorship. The journey was fun though, and it was nice being on a train. The city of Bago was founded in the year 573. Legend has it, that two princesses saw a female swan standing on the back of a male swan on an island in a huge lake. They took this as a good omen (not sure why exactly), and founded the ancient Burmese capital of Hanthawady here, and establishing many many temples and pagodas in the area. The city grew ... read more
Absolute and complete chaos
View over Bago's surroundings

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