Roundup Philippines: A country that has it all

El Nido-Nacpan Beach-PhilippinesIt’s been a quiet some time now since I have traveled the Philippines but I never got to write my final roundup. Recently thinking about it, I wasn’t even sure if I should write it at all since it has been so long ago already. But giving it a second thought, I just had to do it. In the end it was the country where I spent the longest time (three months), the country where I found new friends, fellow travelers and locals alike, the country of many adventures and the country with probably the friendliest people I have met. No, not writing this final roundup wouldn’t do this beautiful country and its people justice. A country that has it all and that is probably my favorite country after all. Continue reading

Categories: Roundups, The Philippines, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1,111 Comments

Roundup Cambodia: A country in transition

Royal Palace Phnom PenhMy original plan was to enter Cambodia from Laos and then cross the whole country before going to Vietnam. But when you travel long-term, things and itineraries tend to change every once in a while and here it all happened very quickly. Due to a rather spontaneous decision to leave Cambodia early in order to meet up with my Belgian friends Dolf and Chris in the Philippines, I ended up returning to Cambodia five months after my initial visit. But this circumstance actually made for a very interesting experience as I had left the country during absolute high season, with the country being arid, dusty and hot and returned to what felt like a different country. At the end of wet season, I found a country of lush scenery, green fields and a pleasantly mild climate. As different as these two stays were, as different were the adventures I experienced. Continue reading

Categories: Cambodia, Roundups | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Roundup Vietnam: A country of many facets

Hanoi Museum, VietnamI was meant to travel Vietnam a lot earlier, right after my Cambodia trip, but a rather spontaneous change of my itinerary forced me to postpone this adventure by more than three months. Having finally booked my ticket to Hanoi and a rough outline of places to visit in my head, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. A good amount of fellow travelers told me a lot of good things about the country. Others said that they didn’t like the people and their attitude and that the country has already become too touristy. By that time I had already been to 7 other countries and I was worried that Vietnam would just not be able to fascinate me anymore. Luckily I was very wrong and it turned out to be a great trip, with all kinds of different adventures, beautiful places and memorable encounters with the locals. Continue reading

Categories: Roundups, Vietnam | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Roundup Myanmar: A magical country in transformation

Bagan at SunsetI had actually planned to travel Myanmar right at the beginning of my trip. Uncertainties about the needed budget and the accomodation situation (it was high season back then) eventually kept me from going. But I could never really get it out of my mind. The things I had read and the stories I heard from fellow travelers who had been there just made me more and more curious. At one point I thought that I had to go and from then on it all went pretty quickly. I booked my tickets, arranged my visa in Kuala Lumpur and got a big stash of clean and crisp dollar bills. I was excited and was expecting a country very different from all the other places I have visited and with hopefully less tourism. At that point I didn’t know that my expectation would be more than exceeded. Continue reading

Categories: Myanmar / Burma, Photography, Roundups | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

Roundup Malaysia: Tracing the colonial past on well established paths

Kuala Lumpur-1-2Overall I spent about three weeks in Malaysia, a country which wasn’t even on my list when I started my journey. Another stopover in Kuala Lumpur before heading to Myanmar / Burma made me decide to at least explore a little bit of that country. I mean, I was there already so why not take advantage of it? Since I had only a few weeks, I decided to travel the Malaysian Peninsula and not Borneo. Maybe a mistake after all looking at it now. But first things first… Continue reading

Categories: Malaysia, Roundups | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

Roundup Indonesia: Surfing, Skulls and Dragons

Indonesia Roundup-1My Indonesia journey was one of very different facets. It all started with about three weeks of intensive surfing on the island of gods, Bali. That I would come here for surfing was already set before I even left home. I just wanted to get some practice and finally improve my surfing which is so hard to do when you are from a country like Germany. That being said, this quest turned out to be harder than I hoped for. The waves were often either too big (and that’s massive), too small or it was too windy to go out. At the same time the crowd factor was insane. Of course, I was there during peak season so what should I have expected. But having been there already once before, it really seemed like surfing has just exploded. Sometimes the lineups were so full, that it even got dangerous paddling out. I was involved in a couple of incidents myself and witnessed a couple of more from close by. So in terms of the surfing itself, my stint on the island leaves me with mixed feelings at the least. Continue reading

Categories: Indonesia, Roundups | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Roundup Laos: Loops, Landscapes and Laziness

Laos_Roundup-1774Laos has been the country of impressive nature and monumental landscapes. The sea of clouds on Phongsaly, the karst mountains in the North and Center of Laos as well as the mighty Mekong accompanying my journey from North to South.   To top it off, Laos treated me with majestic waterfalls and gigantic caves. There is not a whole lot more you can demand from a country in terms of nature encounters. That being said, it was striking how less wildlife there actually was. We walked in the jungle and sometimes didn’t even hear a bird, not mentioning seeing one. Apparently the Lao people a long tradition of hunting and have a taste for almost all wildlife. Besides that there is a lot to explore and it is so difficult to venture off the beaten path. The means of choice for this is definitely the motorbike. The scenic loops and day trips can make for some wonderful memories. However, if you stay on the main route that almost everybody is doing, Laos is almost as touristy as Thailand. I didn’t expect this to that extent I have to admit. Continue reading

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Roundup Thailand: Good Food, Nice People and 1860 Curves

Bangkok-0639I didn’t intend to stay that long but it’s been almost a month in Thailand. That alone is already a pretty strong statement and  I can say Thailand has been really good to me again. This time I decided to skip the South and the islands and focus on Central, and even more on Northern Thailand. That part of the country has so much to offer and is so diverse that it would have been easy to fill a 2 months itinerary.

First of all, I was surprised by how cheap Thailand still is. Having travelled the country in 2008, I expected the prices to be much higher. But food, accommodation and transport were so cheap, that it made the start of my journey an easy one. I am afraid that it will be tough to run on the same budget in all of the other countries I will visit.

Continue reading

Categories: Roundups, Thailand, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

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