Travelogue: Singapore

Singapore, the Lion City, food capital of Asia and a three-day stopover on my travels. Here, I planned getting myself some Singaporean / Hainanese Chicken and Rice, buying myself a Kindle, and waiting for a cheap flight to my next destination – Bali, Indonesia.
Singapore - city view

Six years ago, I spent Spring ’07 in Singapore on a study abroad program, and while I had a damn good time, if I had a chance to do it over, I would have spent more time exploring Singapore and its surrounding countries, not just on my computer playing computer games.

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Travelogue: Malacca

After getting tired of the shopping in Kuala Lumpur, I hopped on a bus to Malacca (Melaka), the other UNESCO world heritage site in Malaysia. Malacca has a reputation amongst backpackers as being very boring, only worth a one-night stopover, but I found the city to be quite enjoyable and beautiful. A pity it was somewhat lacking in accommodation, or I would have stayed longer than 3 days before heading off to Singapore.
Malacca - scenery 7 Malacca - scenery 2

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Travelogue: Kuala Lumpur

From the Perhentian Islands, I set off towards Kuala Lumpur, the (shopping) capital of Malaysia. Being a backpacker, I don’t have space for shopping, so I contented myself with enjoying some pretty amazing food (not as cheap as Penang, but more variety) and seeing some of the cultural landmarks.

Here’s a cool model of Kuala Lumpur:
Kuala Lumpur - KL city model 1

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Travelogue: Perhentian Islands

After finally sating my appetite in Penang, I took an overnight bus and ferry to the Perhentian Islands, a pair of islands with amazing scuba diving off the coast of northeast Malaysia.
Perhentian Islands - scenery

The Perhentian Islands are beautiful and relatively untouched by civilization, but very touristy. Whereas places like Koh Tao have a good mix of local industry and tourism, the Perhentian Islands have only tourism – and so everything is about 50% more expensive than it should be. Absolutely beautiful, though!
Perhentian Islands - sunset

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Travelogue: Penang

For my first stop in Malaysia, I stayed for some time in Georgetown, the capital of Penang. As the northwestern-most state of Malaysia, Georgetown is right next to Thailand, and quite accessible once I left Thailand. As a UNESCO world heritage city, Georgetown has a lot of history!
Penang - street view 1

But the real reason why I stayed more than a day in Penang, is that it is the hawker food capital of Malaysia! While staying at an amazing guesthouse near Chinatown, I discovered this huge hawker center near the guesthouse, and resolved to stay until I had eaten every single food at the hawker center.

I stayed here for an entire week. ¬†When you can get two or three delicious dishes for about $3 USD, it’s hard to walk away.

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Travelogue: Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan is the home of the (in)famous Full Moon Party, probably one of the biggest parties of the world. During high season, as many as 30 thousand people will descend onto the island in one day for a wild night of drinking, dancing, and debauchery.
Koh Phangan - Full Moon logo and moon

So of course, for the first time in my travels, I get traveler’s diarrhea, and cannot join in.
Koh Phangan - Full Moon banner 2

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Business Analysis: Scuba Diving on Koh Tao

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to present: Jonathan Lee, the certified PADI advanced open water scuba diver!
Scuba diving on Koh Tao - with partner

Or I would, but unfortunately all the pictures from scuba diving are still being developed, so in this post, I’ll be doing a business analysis of Scuba Diving on Koh Tao.

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Interlude: Freediving on Koh Tao

When I first heard about the sport of freediving on Koh Tao, I was skeptical. In only two days, using a mask, snorkel, and fins, I could learn to hold my breath for up to three minutes, and dive down to a depth of up to 20 meters? Impossible!

But holy crap, it’s true! By the end of the course, I could hold my breath for 3:20, and had descended to a depth of 20 meters on a single breath of air!
Freediving Koh Tao - diving 1

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Travelogue: Koh Tao

Koh Tao, or Turtle Island, is the scuba diving certification capital of Southeast Asia. Since the cost of getting a scuba diving certification here is 1/2 or even 1/3 the cost in Europe, many backpackers opt to pick up their certification here. I decided to do the same!

To get to here, from Bangkok I first took an overnight sleeper train (that arrived 3 hours behind schedule) to Chumphon, then a ferry from Chumphon to Koh Tao.

Approaching Koh Tao:
Koh Tao - approaching Koh Tao by boat

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Travelogue: Three Days of Meditation in Bangkok

Now here’s something off the beaten track: while backpacking around Thailand, I spent three days in meditation in Bangkok – at a Buddhist temple, with monks!

Why am I doing this? Because it would be useful to learn to meditate, because it would be a great story, because I’m crazy.

Don’t I know that the ‘proper’ place to learn is in Chang-Mai? Yeah, but that’s the touristy place – they’ve got stunning views and waterfalls and shit, and I don’t want all that distracting me. Learning in Bangkok is not only the real experience (you’re with Thai people doing the same), but it’s also free!

I sound so hipster.
Bangkok meditation - monks 4

No, I’m not one of those monks.

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