As you know by now, since my yearlong trip across Southeast Asia I am a huge fan and advocate of traveling and exploring by motorbike. I probably rode a bike at least once in every country I visited and every single time it made for an unique and unforgettable experience. It is about the feeling of total freedom, of really immersing yourself in the scenery around you, about the sun warming your face, a cool breeze blowing through your hair and all the kind people you meet along the way. The freedom of traveling by motorbike is just unmatched. You can do whatever you want whenever you want and you are not confined to anyone’s schedule but your own. You can just take that interesting side road you just passed, you can have a snack at that unique road stop which you’d otherwise whip right past or stop to say hello to that group of smiling children who have been happily waving at you. Continue reading
During my year-long journey all across Southeast Asia, I became a big advocate and fan of traveling by motorbike. I probably rode a bike at least once in every country I visited and every single time it made for a unique and unforgettable experience. I did several multi-day tours as well as numerous one day excursions. It is about the feeling of total freedom, of really immersing yourself in the scenery around you, about the sun warming your face, a cool breeze blowing through your hair and all those kind people you meet on the road. Personally I think it is one of the best ways to really explore a place and I can recommend everyone to at least give it a try. Here is why I think so: Continue reading
Here is the second part of my Vietnam diaries which are supposed to summarize the second half of my one month trip from Northern to Southern Vietnam. As you know by now, my entire camera gear got stolen in Saigon / Ho Chi Minh City and since I also lost all of the pictures documenting the second half of my trip, I decided to do this two-part compressed recap. You can find the first part here. Apart from the creative commons pictures from Flickr I am using again, I can this time at least use some photos taken during a thrilling side trip in Dalat. It’s been an interesting and very diverse part of my trip with a lot of recommendable places. However, let me start with the least likeable of them …. Continue reading
Having arrived in Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City as it is called these days, the worst thing that can happen to a traveler and passionate photographer happened to me. All of my camera gear got stolen and with the equipment I also lost heaps of nice pictures I took along the way coming down from Hue. After a while, I began to come to terms with the material loss but the irrevocable loss of these pictures which I had put time and effort into still gave me a hard time. And it sometimes still does these days. Apart from the painful loss itself, another consequence of this incident is that I am also not able to cover my trip and all the adventures along the way as I would like to here on escapology. But since I still want to let you guys know where I went and give some advice about those places, I decided to write a two-part recap with the use of some creative commons images from Flickr. It is not how I like to cover things, especially using other peoples images, but there is no other way. I hope you will still like some of the things you will read below… Continue reading
Hanoi was great to get a first taste of Vietnam. But after a few days in the city and touring its highlights, it was time for serious adventure again. Aris, a fellow traveler and photographer whom I met in Myanmar, recommended traveling all the way up North to tour the province of Ha Giang by motorbike. By many this remote and mysterious area is regarded as Vietnam’s final frontier. Bordering China’s Yunnan Province, the region boasts nature as you have probably never seen it. Massive limestone walls, granite outcrops everywhere, hanging valleys, rice terraces climbing to the clouds and winding roads carved into the mountains. This alone sounded like a great adventure but combined with the ubiquitous presence of the local hill tribes, mostly the proud Black Hmong, this tour quickly became a must do on our Vietnam itinerary. Continue reading
After my amazing trip through Myanmar, my next destination was Vietnam. My plan was to travel from the far North all the way down to the South into the Mekong Delta. Big parts of this journey would be done by motorbike, supposedly the best way to explore this beautiful country. This picture was taken during one of these bike trips. It was a three day tour along the Chinese border through Vietnam’s far North. Still very rugged and untouristy, the region around Ha Giang and Dong Van offers a scenery which is hard to match in South East Asia. The loop took me along narrow and windy roads, carved into the gigantic mountains, past vast rice paddies and through villages which are seldomly visited by tourists. We were running late on the first leg of the tour but couldn’t help but stop to enjoy the sunset dipping the surrounding mountains in warm pastel colors. One of the few local buses plowing the route Ha Giang – Dong Van was just crawling up the windy road which, for a moment, almost looked like a snake making its way up from the valley below.
After our two day trek through the Shan Highlands, Aris and I wanted to explore some more of this scenic and relatively untouched region of Myanmar. On our way back to Hsipaw, we had passed a small village which seemed very nice and interesting. Our plan was to make it back there, till having to figure out how to, and spend the night. Not sure how to exactly get there and not knowing if we could actually stay, we packed our bags, charged our camera batteries and set off for what would be one of the best experiences of my entire trip.
The Togean Islands were nice and relaxing but after those three days I was ready to move on and go exploring again. I just can’t live the lazy beach life for too long. So I took an early morning ferry back to the Togean’s main city Wakai down to Ampana. From Ampana my plan was to charter a private car and drive down to Tentena. I had the number of a local driver who had told me that I would need at least four more people to make it happen. Luckily I was able to motivate two couples to come along. I arranged the rest and off we were to Tentena, avoiding a long and exhausting bus journey. Continue reading
Our last stop before returning to Manila was the Island of Busuanga and its main town of Coron. The perspective of some more island hopping but especially some of the world’s best wreck diving made us take the long boat journey from El Nido upon ourselves. What was supposed to be a trip of about 8 hours, turned into a 12 hour odyssey. After 4 hours Dolf and I got sick – not because of the rough sea or the boat being to shaky. No, we figured that we both had something bad for breakfast and it felt terrible. Anxious to arrive in Coron, we noticed that the boat turned around all of a sudden. Apparently another boat of the same company had engine problems and needed to be towed into Coron Harbor. The timing for a maneuver like that could not have been worse.
Exploring Palawans Underground was great and chilling at Sabang Beach was also nice but now it was time to see the things we had came here for. Rumors of white beaches, turquoise blue waters, deserted lagoons and beaches had lead us to magical Palawan. We wanted to see for ourselves what is true about these stories and what is not and made our way all the way up to El Nido. The jeepney ride from Sabang took us four hours and was quiet rough.
Recommended by fellow travelers and locals alike, we expected a beautiful, lazy and laid back town by the coast. Our first impression was everything but that. Continue reading