Kuta stalls

The worst tourist traps of South East Asia

April 23, 2012 | Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Travel | 51 Comments

I spend a lot of time on this site talking about just how incredible South East Asia is.

This is my easily my favourite part of the world. Most of the time the scenery truly is stunning, the people really are friendly, the culture is utterly fascinating and the food … oh the food.

But, now and again, I find somewhere that I just can’t stand.

I don’t expect everywhere to appeal to me, and nor should it. What I’m looking for in a destination is almost certainly not the same thing as a family on a two week vacation or a bunch of guys on their gap year.

That said, after a year or so travelling in this region, I’ve been unlucky enough to spend time in a few places that for me have almost no redeeming features whatsoever.

These are those places.

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The Friday Photo #95 – Not catching fish in Laos

February 10, 2012 | Laos, The Friday Photo, Travel | 1 Comment

Not much happens in a hurry on Don Khon, the larger and even sleepier cousin to the chilled out backpacker haven of Don Det in southern Laos. While cycling around this quiet patch of dirt in the Mekong river I came across an optimistically named waterfall, and other than the rushing river there was absolutely nothing else moving in the midday heat.

Even the fish couldn’t be bothered showing up in the trap at the bottom of the picture. They were probably having a snooze like everybody else…

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Scooters in Vietnam

Why I love riding scooters in Asia

November 28, 2011 | Laos, Thailand, Travel, Vietnam | 19 Comments

I have a confession to make. It’s kind of embarrassing really. *deep breath* Ok, here goes I don’t have a…

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Roadside stall, Vietnam

The kids of South East Asia

April 25, 2011 | Cambodia, Laos, Travel, Vietnam | 8 Comments

There’s no doubt that kids everywhere are cute, but for some reason the miniature citizens of South East Asia seem to be especially photogenic. Whether they’re peering inquisitively at the stranger in their midst, playing with their friends at the side of a dusty road or just splashing around happily at bath time in the river, there’s something about them that made me reach for my camera every time.

Here’s a selection of shots of those pint-sized people from my travels through the region.

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Some of the stupidest things I’ve done while travelling

As you know, I’ve been doing this travelling thing for a while now. I’d like to think that I’ve got better at it over the years. That I’ve learned stuff, y’know? Don’t book too far in advance, for instance. Packing light is a virtue. Imodium is a tradeable currency in Africa. That kind of thing.

Every time I start getting a bit too cocky, however, I manage to find a way of bringing myself back to earth by doing something especially stupid. It’s a good thing though, I reckon – while travel confidence is vital, travel over-confidence is not. When you start to think you know it all, bad things start to happen.

Here’s just a few of many, many examples…

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Kids in the Mekong

The Friday Photo #50 – Kids in the Mekong

Enjoying a quiet Beer Lao on the verandah of my guesthouse on Don Det in southern Laos, my attention was drawn to the river below by the sounds of splashing and squealing children.

Popping my head over the edge, it was hard to miss these two excited kids making the most of ‘bath time’ in the Mekong. Jumping off a little jetty, bumping each other with inner tubes and generally having a ball, the joy on their faces was fantastic to see.

Sometimes in life, the simplest pleasures really are the best.

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Dreaming of South East Asia

It’s a funny thing, you know.

Something I’ve realised about myself over the years is that I don’t deal well with routine, with things being much the same from one week to the next. Predictability isn’t my style – I need the thrill of the new and unexpected to keep me inspired. If that’s the case, I shouldn’t have any real desire to head back to South East Asia. I spent four and a half months there last year, the longest I’ve ever spent in a region that I wasn’t actually living in, and saw an awful lot of it. From crazy motorbike adventures to getting off the grid in a little slice of paradise, eating bugs to exploring incredible wonders of the world, I did it all and a whole lot more.

So why can’t I get the place out of my mind? When I start daydreaming during yet another sleepy meeting, why is it always a vision of Asia that jumps into my head? Given that I don’t have enough money or annual leave to go anywhere outside Australia right now, why is it that dozens of options for Thailand holidays or Philippines adventures still seem to appear as if by magic in my imagination?

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Taking It Slow: Public Transport in South East Asia

I can’t think of anywhere else that I’ve been with such a diversity of public transport options as South East Asia. If it’s got wheels you’ll probably find someone offering to give you a ride in it. Even better, it’ll cost comparatively little – especially if you’ve been working on your bargaining skills. It won’t always be comfortable, it’ll frequently be slow, and it would often have been ordered off the road years ago in other parts of the world. What it will always be, though, is an experience – some of my most vivid memories of Asia relate to the mode of transport I was using at the time.

Here’s my guide to some of the best – or at least the more interesting – public transport options that I’ve enjoyed and endured in that part of the world.

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