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The Other Side of Paradise: Maafushi, Maldives

As the ferry slowly pulled up to the pier, the large hanging grey clouds rumbled slowly, threatening to rain. Chris and I looked uncertainly the sky and then at our approaching destination: Maafushi Island of Maldives.

We had been super excited when we spotted a reasonably affordable guesthouse on Maafushi while researching for accommodation on the Internet. Double rooms started from USD35—it felt almost too good to be true!

However, as Maafushi grew closer and closer, my heart sank a little.

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Maldives On The Cheap: How I Backpacked Maldives For Less Than USD 300

I bet you’re about to hate me.

You’re huddling in your cramped office cubicle, wishing that you were anywhere else but there.

You wince as you scroll through the page. One after another, photos of sparkling turquoise waters revealing itself slowly and almost mockingly. You can almost breathe the balmy air; taste salt on your lips.

Reading about someone else’s vacation on the Maldives is like smashing salt into your gaping wound, and yet, you can’t seem to tear yourself away from the page.

Well, don’t.

Because I’m about to tell you how you can do the same without having to sell your first-born. Or that shiny new gadget of yours.

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Life in small-town Germany : Part 1

 WHERE IN GERMANY ARE YOU LIVING IN AGAIN?

 

I‘m growing comfortable living in a little German village called Hermsdorf. To the uninitiated, it’s somewhere in the state of Thuringia, where the nearest bigger cities would be Jena and Gera. Leipzig and Erfurt would be an hour away while Berlin a mere 2.5 hour drive.

 

Still lost? Me too. I knew nothing about Hermsdorf before I got here.

 

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Dawei Myanmar

Discovering Dawei

Mornings in Dawei city start with a hearty breakfast at our hotel.

 

At Shwe Moung Than hotel, the $18 per night price tag not only offers a lovely double-room with a private bathroom, but also daily breakfast at the highest floor. The breakfast menu varies so everyday is a pleasant discovery of local Burmese dishes. The van driver who drove us from Htee Khee border town to Dawei sure knows the best places to stay in.

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Reflections of 2014

Reflections of 2014 (And Some Favourite Travel Highlights)

Admit it. We always turn pensive when New Year’s Eve rolls by.

The last day of each year, somehow commands an enormous power to make us think. Whether you like it or not, you tend to contemplate, to muse and chew on the little high and low moments of the year that went.

I rang in the New Year by making a dish of Malaysian chicken curry for my new-found German friends at their place. I’d tried my best to emulate the simple flavours of home but without the right ingredients, it didn’t turn out the way I’d wanted.

The curry was way too creamy, the chicken not flavourful enough.

But because it was already late and everyone was hungry, I couldn’t just dump the dish into the bin and make another. Besides, I didn’t have enough ingredients to start making another one.

Unfortunately, for me, the dish must be served.

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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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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. Instead, my miraculous round-the-world journey somewhat kick-started with denied boarding.

 

For a 23-year old Malaysian girl possessed with fervent wanderlust, with little savings, no credit cards and no travel insurance to her name, it was a bad omen, warning her of the dangers ahead. But she was young and naive, with plenty of time and a handful of spunk.

 

So my journey began with a simpler thought: I will take one step, and then another. I’ll solve this problem 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 here’s a story of how I was denied boarding at first but then eventually succeeded to travel to Europe on a one-way ticket.

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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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