My whole trip in brief

Dubai Travel Blog

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A lone trip down the Peninsular of Southeast Asia with a stopover in Dubai on the way. After spending a day on the beach in Dubai I hired a car and drove to Hatta, a small desert town in the Hajar Mountains where I soaked up life outside of the big city in the UAE. Then I flew to Bangkok and spent a few days aclimatising with other travellers before taking an overnight train journey to Surat Thani and a ferry out to the island of Koh Samui. Despite being warned I was still a bit disappointed with the extent of tourism on this island, although it is beautiful. Hiring mopeds with my new friends I met on the island was a highlight. We rode around the entire island and finished up at the Na Mueng waterfall to sooth my sunburn in the freezing cold water. I then took a shared minibus taxi to Sungai Kolok, a town in the extreme South of Thailand on the border with Malaysia. Many people warned me that it was a dangerous place but I didn't feel threatened by anything I saw. I did find out that a bomb had gone off in Hat Yai, a town in the same region, a few days after I had been there. After crossing into Malaysia I spent a day looking around Kota Bahru and seeing for myself the contrast between it's Islamic feel and Budhist Thailand. The highlight of my trip was visiting Pulau Perhentian, two tropical paradise islands just off the coast of Kuala Besuit. On one side of Perhentian Kecil there was a beautiful swimming beach surrounded by palms and with a few places to eat, then a 15 minute trek through the mini-jungle led to Coral Bay with amazing snorkelling and some deserted beaches. I got all the way back to mainland before deciding that I had to go back. Unfortunately on my first night back, full moon night, I got drunk and left my bag unattended while chatting to some Irish guys. I ended losing my camera with 400 photos on it as well as my passport with 8 years worth of visas and stamps in it which was the best travel souvenir I could ever have had. It didn't ruin my trip though and a local that I met said when he found the person who did it he would chop his hand off, I said it wasn't necessary but he showed me the sword and said it wasn't something that was acceptable on the island. I flew to Kuala Lumpur and applied for a new passport. It was to take a few days so I got another cheap Air Asia flight to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. Although it is part of the island of Borneo it is a Malaysian state but I was still stopped and taken into the immigration office for not having a passport. I explained the reason and also said that I thought it was an internal flight. They eventually wrote me out a temporary permit to be in Sabah but joked that if I missed my flight back to KL then I would have to stay there forever! I caught a shared minibus up to Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in SE Asia but my lack of forward planning meant that I could not climb the mountain as all accommodation at the base camp was full, oh well! I still took a couple of hikes around the area but being hungover, sick from altitude and a target for insects because I forgot my repellant, I didn't have the best of times. Listening to "Uptown Girl" by Westlife over and over again in some Malaysian guys car on the way back to KK didn't help my nausea but I ahd made it to the mountain as planned, I'll climb it another day. My flight back to KL was the least stressful thing the next day as I rushed around trying to get my new passport stamped by Immigration so that I would be allowed to leave the country fro Indonesia the next morning. I got to the immigration office just as it was shutting but someone felt sorry for me and opened up again to complete all the paperwork. The next day I flew to Jakarta where I spent a few days soaking up my last bit of Asia before flying back to Manchester. Indonesia was the least touristy and most interesting place in many ways, it is one place that I’m dying to go back to and it is perhaps what Thailand was 20 years ago.

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photo by: vances