Page 2 of piranha27 Travel Blog Posts

Asia » Indonesia » Sulawesi » Tana Toraja April 8th 2015

And so after the relatively brief arrival and layover at Southwest Sulawesi's capital Makassar, it was time to get more serious and start the arduous journey northwards through the rather inhospitable terrain of the inner regions of the island. This was also something that had played on my mind ever since I started planning for this Sulawesi trip. I have, of course, not forgotten the painful, cigarette smoke-filled 18h intra-Sumatra journey from Bukittingi to Parapet, and reading about others' experiences with the difficult bus journeys in Sulawesi, I tried to prepare myself for the worst. This 9h first leg from Makassar to Rantepao in the Tana Toraja ("Land of the Heavenly Kings") turned out to be pretty easy after all. It was a nice, big air-conditioned bus with comfy seats and most importantly, no smoking, which ... read more
Lemo Effigies
Torajan Rice Terraces
Tattiest Notes in the World

Asia » Indonesia » Sulawesi » Makassar April 4th 2015

A long time ago as a student in primary school, I saw the crazy-looking island of Sulawesi (we'd learnt it was called Celebes back in the days of the British East India Company) on the map, and wondered what it was like there. Now I'm finding out! And so a little over a month since my last brief rendezvous with Thailand (again), I'm back on a more exotic trail and continuing to fill in the gaps of my now seemingly never-ending Southeast Asian adventure. My latest stop is the aforementioned claw-like, giant Indonesian island, and its Southern capital of Makassar. At one point also known as Ujung Pandang, this fourth-largest city in Indonesia has had a colourful history as an important Dutch trading port-of-call en route to the Spice Islands of the Moluccas further east. While ... read more
Bird's Eye View
View from the Bastion
On the floor at the front of the bus again

Asia » Thailand » South-West Thailand » Phuket February 22nd 2015

I have an early morning flight to catch before the shared minibuses start running from Patong to the airport, but I refused to charter a private taxi from the Phuket mafia which would have cost nearly as much as the flight itself. So my solution was to spend the night somewhere close to the airport, so that I could just hoof it there the next morning. Conveniently, the quiet beach of Nai Yang served this purpose, though I hadn't counted on the ongoing high season unexpectedly jacking up accommodation rates for my single night's stay (THB1000!). I definitely busted the budget on housing on this one, and the savings I earned from stiffing the Phuket taxi mafia and going public instead almost entirely evaporated with the extra I paid compared to an additional night back in ... read more
Sunset @ Nai Yang Beach
Dinner @ Nai Yang Beach
Patong-Nai Yang

Asia » Thailand » South-West Thailand » Phuket February 22nd 2015

There's no escaping, I'm just a city boy. Over the past few years of my travels I've come to realise that there's only so many consecutive days of quiet nights that I can stomach before starting to get antsy for some bright lights stimuli. And so after a week of so visiting Phuket Town and the quieter beaches of Kata and Karon, I found myself hoofing it back to Patong. There's just something re-assuring about having a nearby air-conditioned mall and iced latte and ATMs on demand (thank heavens for Jungceylon). And of course in Patong, with Bang La Walking Street, the nights are never boring. Several nights, I found myself making my way to Illuzion, a seemingly new club (free entrance!) that appears to be attracting the wannabe-sophisticates these days, reliving Koh Phangan Full Moon ... read more
Illuzion Club
Dinner & Football @ Expat Hotel
Patong Stretching Cat

Asia » Thailand » South-West Thailand » Phuket February 16th 2015

Moving on from the cultural centre of the island back towards the Andaman beaches, I checked out the next two most-developed ones after Patong, namely Karon and Kata, just a few kilometres south of their hedonistic cousin. Definitely not quite the remote, remote beaches that I somehow made my way to in the Visayas in Central Philippines, but Karon and Kata still rank very highly in terms of quality. The very wide beaches are reminiscent of Kuta in Bali, and the sand so fine and clean that it does indeed actually "squeak when you walk on it" as claimed in the Wikitravel entry. Karon and Kata are lower-key than Patong, and away from the full blast of the package Chinese tourists. They're not quiet beaches by any stretch of the imagination, but do allow some kind ... read more
Kata Beach
Wat Chalong
Quiet streets of Karon

Asia » Thailand » South-West Thailand » Phuket February 11th 2015

Back on the road again! So a four-day Phuket getaway with some friends had me thinking, why stay for just a few days when the visa's good for a whole month? So here I am, back to the Southern Thai island resort paradise, barely six months after I'd left last year. Having pretty much seen just the hedonistic and tourist-heavy Patong, this time I'll be able to explore at least a few other places on the island. And my first destination was the old Phuket Town, the administrative centre of the island. In truth, I'd passed Phuket Town en route to Patong when I arrived at the Rassada Pier on the island last year from Koh Phi Phi, so this wasn't exactly my first visit. But the 30 min-1h ride through town and waiting for the ... read more
Patong-Phuket Town Bus
Pork Bone Noodles
Phuket Town Ranong Rd Roundabout

Asia » Cambodia » West » KaĆ“h Kong September 14th 2014

Leaving Koh Chang, now being so close to the Cambodian border, I figured it was time for a quick visa run. And so it was back to Trat for a minibus transfer to the Hat Lek-Cham Yeam border in the Southeastern-most part of Thailand along the Gulf. Based on my past experiences with various scams at Cambodian borders such as Aranyapathet-Poi Pet, I think I emerged relatively unscathed this time, hurt only by what I think probably was just a slightly overpriced (USD4) moto ride from the border to the nearest town of Koh Kong, some 10 km away. Koh Kong, with its relatively untouched and government-controlled beaches, mangroves and waterfalls, is part of a larger designated national park, but is otherwise (yet another) rather sleepy riverside town. It had in fact been on my to-go ... read more
By the river at Koh Kong Town
Hat Lek-Cham Yeam
The same giant inflatable kiddie floats that I recall seeing also in Central Lao

Asia » Thailand » Eastern Thailand » Koh Chang » Koh Chang September 14th 2014

Moving on from the quiet riverside town of Chanthaburi, I made my way towards Thailand's third largest island of Koh Chang (Elephant Island), which lies along the Eastern Gulf. From Chanthaburi, it would be a 1h minibus first to Trat, then a 30 min sawng thaew (pick-up truck) transfer to the pier at Laem Ngop, before a short 30 min ferry cruise to the island itself. That it was the rainy (and therefore low) season was very apparent. Probably not even particularly crowded even during the high season, the few main streets that encircle the island were mostly deserted. Even the main drag in the White Sands area was quite devoid of people, even in mid-day. I was probably one of just a few customers having breakfast at Monkeys Bar every morning, so much that the ... read more
Elephant Camp
The View Point
White Sands Sunset

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Chanthaburi September 9th 2014

After almost two weeks in the capital, I hit the road again towards what could be the last area of Thailand that I haven't quite yet covered -- the Eastern Gulf. My main objective is to check out the much talked about island of Koh Chang, to do a quick visa run to neighbouring Cambodia, and also to check out Koh Kong on the Cambodian side which I'd missed during my first foray back in late 2012. But first, a stop en route in Chanthaburi - a relatively quiet riverside town in a province better known for its fruit orchards and gem markets. It also happens to be the birthplace of my grandmother, though having left eons ago, I doubt she would recognise it today (she once told me there was no need to visit -- ... read more
Catholic Cathedral
Yindee Riverside Restaurant
Night Outdoor Sermon of sorts

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok September 8th 2014

And after a brief stay in the Phuket, it was a short domestic flight** to the familiar capital, where I plonked myself for almost two weeks, catching up with a couple of friends, attending a few trade exhibitions, and just generally reliving some of the good memories I've had from the place the past two years or so, when it's been my home away from home on the road. And even though I'm not attending any Thai language classes during my relatively short stay this time, it isn't difficult to re-enter a certain routine amid the familiar environs. And it's difficult also not to be a little reminiscent about the not-that-distant past when I embarked on my first extended stay here early on in my now two-year plus adventure, especially knowing that I'm almost certainly closer ... read more
Khao San
Friendly, long-beaked little bird on Thanon Asoke
Wat Ratchadamnoen

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