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Overland Crossing From Thailand Into Myanmar

As the bus slowly approaches Ban Phu Nam Ron, the Thai side of the border between Thailand and Myanmar, Chris and I, survey the aisle. The passengers on the bus have somehow dwindled to just two other locals and us.

“Myanmar! Myanmar!” the driver motion to us. We flash him a thumbs up, drag our bags off the rusty overhead luggage compartment and hop off. Ahead, we see large blue signs that mark the end of Thailand and a little immigration office where we will head to for our departure stamps.

The day is now dry, still decidedly humid but slightly cooler, unlike the initial downpour that had kickstarted our journey from Kanchanaburi Bus Station.

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Doing Wanderlust (By Opening Up Your Heart To The World)

SOME TIME IN 2009…

I unscrewed the large metallic screws that held my cabin’s porthole tight and looked out. The real threat of Somalian pirates has passed-we’re free to enjoy the transient but majestic ocean vistas once again. Looking out from Deck 3, the ocean appears close; occasionally a whiplash of water would graze the surface of the porthole. The night was jet-black, the horizons indistinguishable except for the lash, swash and slosh of the waves against the vessel, illuminated by the neon on the promenade deck. I pressed my face against the porthole, unable to take my eyes off the constant motion of the ocean and thought, “I never want to stop wandering.”

What exactly is this insatiable wanderlust that has urged me to throw myself into the maelstrom of romance and ‘consummation’ of far-flung lands? I am not an explorer, a historian nor even an avid tourist, yet consumed with a certain kind of restlessness, I had packed my bags and had set out for the unknown.

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How I Was Denied Boarding at Bangkok International Airport in 2007

My journey around the world didn’t begin with a round-the-world ticket. It didn’t even begin with a ‘I-will-quit-my-job-and-travel-around-the-world’ thought. Such thoughts were too ambitious for a 23-year old Malaysian girl possessed with fervent wanderlust. I had some cash to my name but not enough. No worthy assets that I could sell to fund my travels. No rich parents to loan me some. No credit cards for emergency usage. No travel insurance. Nada. The only things I have, of real value were time, health and some spunk.

So mine begin with a simpler thought: I will take one step, and then another.

I never knew where I’d go and where the road will lead me to. I only planned to keep pushing boundaries and see how far that would take me.

And as the story goes, my miraculous round-the-world journey somewhat kick started with denied boarding.

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Why did I go to Albania? (Tirana in photos)

“Why do you want to go to Albania for?”

An Italian friend sneered after I told him of my backpacking plans across the Balkan Peninsula, where the plan was to start from Albania and finish in Turkey (in 2009). Travelling time: however long it takes.

“You want to see Albanians? Just go to Italy…so many of them. Dangerous people. Thieves, some of them.”

The plan came to fruition when Tim, an English friend, proposed of a slow journey across the isolated fringes of Eastern Europe, when he knew that I was about to finish one of my ship contracts. I didn’t know anything about the country till then but I jumped on the invitation right away. The less I know, the better. Far-flung countries with strange names compel me most. How am I supposed to know how dangerous the place is if I haven’t experienced it myself? Besides, British Airways had a special deal going for less than £100 one-way from London to the capital city of Albania, Tirana. It sounded just like the perfect place to explore and to kick off the trip.

“If you don’t hear from me on Facebook, then call 911,” I told my skeptical Italian friend.

The verdict? Check out the pictures of Tirana here.

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It was fun while it lasted (Reflections of an ex-crew member)

Costa Victoria is an old ship but one that has recently been refurbished with new balconies, terraces and windows. Elegantly furnished with a classical nautical style without the modern kitsch, the ship is refined and stately. Even if it’s only a mid-sized ship, it does have 964 cabins, 5 restaurants, 10 bars and at least 14 decks (storeys) to get lost in. For crew members, the Victoria supposed to be one of the better ships to work on after Costa Atlantica and Costa Mediterranea.

Ale showed me around eagerly as I’d never been on the Costa Victoria before. The main halls were decked with fairy lights, Christmas trees and other festive decorations.

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Catch the Spring in Busan, South Korea

Canola flowers in bloom

Spring dawned rather late in South Korea this year, but after a few days in Busan, the grey skies turned to blue and sunshine broke through the clouds. The crisp cool air became warmer and moister. What was perhaps the most apparent sign that spring has arrived were the blooming of canola flowers.

 

Along the banks of Nak Dong river in Busan, canola or rapeseed flowers were flourishing in mid April. Stalks of yellow waved under the strong wind, while locals were making preparations for the upcoming Canola Flower Festival in the southern port city of Korea.

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Waitressing In Melbourne (And How You Can Do It Too)

One of the most frequently-asked-questions on my blog is: How did I find jobs in Australia? Was it easy for me to find one? Did it pay well?

There are a thousand ways to land a job in Down Under but I can only share with you whatever I know from job hunting in Melbourne. My knowledge can be limited and the lessons that I’ve gathered from my experiences may not apply to everyone but let me tell you that it was an easy and painless process: I got a job in 4 days.

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Liquid In Pictures (Around The World)

When I think of liquid, the first thing that comes to mind is water, be it oceans of it or just a trickle, be it from an artificial or a natural source and most of all, I think about a hundred ways how we, the living organisms of this planet, use it.

I’m terribly familiar with liquid. Being a Cancerian (a water sign) and a Water Pig (Chinese Zodiac) and having spent close to five years, working on cruise ships and surrounded by bodies of water, it’s no surprise that I’m always fascinated by it. I even share Bruce Lee’s ‘Be water, my friend‘ wisdom, which as a vagabond, I can relate fully to. The skill of adaptation, of changing one’s form to fit the external surroundings is useful when I drift intercontinentally.

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Melbourne Graffitified (The Hunt For The Best Street Art)

Mister A and I have collected a rich, haphazard treasure trove of street art while walking randomly in Collingwood and Fitzroy (inner city suburbs of Melbourne), mainly along Smith St, Kerr St, Argyle St, Gore St, Rose St, Fitzroy St, Nicholson St and its surroundings. We have disappeared behind the dark alleys and local neighbourhoods and found, among the dumpsters and white picket fences, is some of the world’s best street art.

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Not Surfing at Boings Beach, Melbourne

I hate waves.

Arenzano Beach, Genoa-2008

A storm is brewing in the horizon. Ash grey clouds hover close together, the winds pick up and the salty air turns sultry. The mild waves that were lapping the shore previously are now picking up in speed and size. The tide pulls back further, faster than ever and returns to slam the shore, gathering up giant swells on its journey and smashing it to smithereens  when it breaks. I am paddling back furiously and curse Giorgio, my friend for getting me out in the middle of the sea in the first place. I’ve no idea where Giorgio is but panic halts my wandering thoughts. The only single focussed thought that I have is to survive.

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