When one thinks of a beach holiday in Southeast Asia, the usual suspects come to mind: Phuket, Bali, Koh Samui, or for those who stick to the regular backpacking circuit, Koh Phangan. Beaches in Malaysia usually come as an afterthought.
And when one finally does think about Malaysia, just about every other tourist ends up in Perhentian Islands, Langkawi or Sipadan in East Malaysia. As a local, I knew better but despite that fact, and having escaped to many islands on the east of Malaysia (not just the ones mentioned), Pulau Kapas was strangely never on my radar.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This photo was taken while I was journeying across the Balkans in 2009 with Tim, a good English friend of mine. We’d taken a day trip out to the lake coast of the St. Naum Monastery, where we marvelled at the picturesque coast, teased the aloof peacocks at the monastery’s courtyard and gaped at the Galičica Mountain looming behind.