Asia · 108 Days · 46 Moments · June 2017

Kyrgyzstan, China, and Southeast Asia

15 October 2017

Singapore was a truly amazing country. This massive, modern city has endless sites. The marina bay sands and Gardens by the Bay are truly beautiful. Santosa Island is a giant theme park complete with universal studios and the largest open ocean aquarium in the world. The many little districts that pop up are the true gems of this city though, such as Chinatown and little India. Goodbyes were bittersweet as I'm sure I'll run into some of these people again but the thought of not seeing them all each day is very sad. Group photo top row left to right (John- Usa, Darren- Australian, Daniel- Spain, Jess- English, Jack- English, Marijka- Canadian, Tony- English, me, Sharlotte- Australian, Tom- Usa, AJ- Australian, Monica- English, Lu- British, bottom row Amy- British, Alice- Isle of Man, Alexis- USA, David- Tasmania)

8 October 2017

Melaka Is a sweet town just hours away from Singapore. It was once a busy port town, but now is more of a tourist destination. It's canal streets and old Dutch buildings make it a lovely stop along the way to Singapore.

7 October 2017

Only one day in Kuala Lumpar, but we made the most of it. Trekking through the Ecoforest, visiting the Petronas towers, shopping in Chinatown. Even made it to a movie.

3 October 2017

On the penhentian Islands for a couple nights in Malaysia. The snorkeling and diving here were amazing, tons of fish and coral. Unfortunatly, what made the area famous was the black fan coral and that has been completely wiped out from tourist and fishing.

2 October 2017

30 September 2017

Hiked around Bukit Luwang, Sumatra, Indonesia to see Orangutans in the wild. We came across and large male who came down to check us out and a few females and their babies. It was a truly amazing experience. Then raftered back to our hotel from the jungle. Our accommodations were on a small river, you had to cross a small partially broken rope bridge to get there and it had a 6 person limit. But the area was beautiful and quiet. The local families played and sang music together each evening.

28 September 2017

Samosir island at lake Toba is truly a gem. located in Northern Sumatra this beautiful volcanic caldera was formed by one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history covering over 2000 square kilometers. The area also has a rich history as the Butak people are know for stone chairs that local leaders decided important matters as well as punishment for criminals which was often being consumed by the villagers. The area now has characteristic houses with high swooping roofs, many Christian church's and grave sites, and beautiful views from the high hilltops.

24 September 2017

Spent a couple days wandering around the Jigjag streets of Georgetown, Penang. This lovely island has old homes, that still have their French colonial charm. Hunting through the many streets for street art, little temples and mosques tucked away will keep you busy all day.

18 September 2017

A week on Koh Phangan is truly paradise, sandy beaches and lush green scenery. The diving there is truly amazing, at Sail Rock the coral is filled with colorful fish. Of course, the one day I didn’t go scuba diving is the day they saw a whale shark! Climbing around the small islands and lagoons you could spend days just admiring the view. And of course we had to go to one of the infamous Moon party's- Blackmoon. All underwater photo cred to Mr. Tony Hayes

11 September 2017

5 days in Bangkok were not nearly enough to explore this giant, busy city. Our first stop was the grand palace, where large groups of mourners in black were visiting to show their respect for the King. The well loved king had a year long mourning period, which ended a few days after we left. Of course we had to go to a Muay Thai boxing match. Where we witnessed multiple knock outs and the crazy gambling in the upper stands. We also, visited the many markets, including a floating market just outside of town. Finally, we had drinks at Skybar site where they filmed Hangover 2. The views of the city from here were incredible!

10 September 2017

9 September 2017

Siam reap home of Angkor Wat, an amazing collection of ancient Hindu and Buddhist temples. At its height over a million people lived here. Unbelievable sunrises and sunsets made the 4am mornings well worth it. By the end of 3 days we had the system down, race by tuk tuk at 4am to the lesser visited back temples and you can get a few minutes without fighting the hordes of tourists to really enjoy these ancient feats.

5 September 2017

Explored the sites of Battambang, and it's many rice paddies. First stop the bamboo train, a terrifying ride on this bumpy, curvy track. Then a stop to meet some fruit bats and cross a rope bridge to a local temple. Then up 350 stairs to visit a crumbling Banan temple older then Angkor Wat. Nearby we visited the Phnom Sampeou and the killing caves where 10,000 people were executed by the Khmer Rouge. In the evening we watched as millions of bats left their caves at dusk, from our spot it looked like huge black waves in the air. You could hear the squeaking of these thousands of bats and the smell was very strong.

3 September 2017

In Cambodias capital Phnom Penh we visited the Phnom Stupa which the city is named after and the Russian market. Our first day in the city was spent visiting the killing fields of Choeung and S21 or the Tuol Sleng Museum of genocidal crimes. Learning about the reign of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot was incredibly impactful, 1/4 of Cambodias population died, roughly 3 million people. These sites are memorials to the victims. At S21, a survivor of the prison was there, which highlighted how recently these events were as the party lost power in 1979. Cambodia has many programs to bring back arts and culture that was lost during the Khmer Rouge rule. We attended a traditional dance show and tried a local dish of ants. The city was very lively with tuk tuks everywhere. We stayed at a little hotel called Nawin right next to the royal palace.

30 August 2017

Ho Chi Minh (aka Saigon) is an amazing bustling city, at its center is everything you could ever want. Including 4 Starbucks. Spent a day visiting the Jade temple, Notre Dame cathedral, and post office. The traffic of scooters in insane, add in the fact that scooters make their own rules anyway and you get a unique type of controlled chaos. We visited the War Remenant museum of which was a somber reminder of the war that ended just 43 years ago. The next day we went to the Cu Chi tunnels a 200 km tunnel net work that the Viet Cong used as a base and that people lived, fought, and worked in. I only made it through 20 meters of this tunnel before I had to leave due to claustrophobia. It is amazing to see the progress this country has made since this devastating war.

28 August 2017

Another lazy day hanging out at this amazing beach. Bonfires and night swims in the glowing phosphorous sea. Then a stroll through the local fishing village to see everyone preparing for an evening of squid fishing. Unique round boats are found lining the beach as these are the small dingy boats.

26 August 2017

After a super fancy night bus we arrived at Jungle Beach near Ninh Hoi at 6am. We are staying at a beautiful little resort in huts and mosquito nets. But it is right on the sea and in the evening the phosphorus makes the sea glow bright blue.

25 August 2017

Hoi An has proved to be such a fun city, with its lovely markets and riverfront. We had a great night out to celebrate Carol's last day before returning to Tasmania. The night included bucket drinks and street hennas.

24 August 2017

First day in Hoi An checking out the night markets, of course on our way we stopped at Marble Mountain and the beach!

23 August 2017

Dragon boat tour down the Perfume River to see the ancient Vietnamese Emperors tombs (Minh Mang, Khai Dinh, and Tu Duc) and Thien Mu Pagoda.

22 August 2017

Visited the Imperial Citadel home of the Vietnamese Emperors. Though badly destroyed during the Vietnam War many parts of the Citadel are intact including the main throne room, temples, and women's quarters. Also spent some time walking through the mazes of the Dong Ba market.

20 August 2017

Savannakhet, just a quick stop on our way to Vietnam. But you can see Cambodia just across this river. We managed to find a tucked away little food market, and probably traumatized the local restaurant having 20 people order at once.

18 August 2017

We are spending 2 nights in a village near Konglor Cave. Our rooms are in lovely stilted, thatch roof buildings right on the river where we watched a beautiful sunset and rainbow. Then we took the traditional narrow wooden boats through the 3km caves. These massive caves are pitch black and with the help of head torches we guide our way.

17 August 2017

Spent my time in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos at the grand Pha That Luang Wat. This shrine is said to hold a Buddha Relic. And wandering the many streets and cafes of this city.

15 August 2017

Spent a morning in the rain, swimming and exploring this amazing waterfall just outside of Luang Prabang. Along the way you pass a Sun Bear sanctuary, with some lively little bears playing.

13 August 2017

Exploring Luang Prabrang city today included a climb up 300 steps in 90 degree heat to Mount Phou Si. But the view was well worth the climb. This sleepy little city along the Mekong river will always be a favorite with streets lined with French Cafes and tuk tuks.

10 August 2017

Luang Namantha has been such a change from bustling eastern China. From big cities to small town in the Laos jungle. Biking to the local waterfall Namadi Waterfall and white water rafting on the Namtha river (it was supposed to be kayaking but it being rainy season the water was very high). The small villages built on stilts with large rice paddies give the whole area a quiet, quaint feel.

7 August 2017

After managing to get on a train to Shilin from Kunming (standing room only) we made it to the famous Kunming Stone Forest. Which legend says was created when the magic whip being used to herd the rocks broke so the rocks were left sprawled out along this region. They truly look like a stone forest

5 August 2017

Spent today climbing above the clouds at Buddhist holy mountain, Mt. Emeishan. At over 3000 meters it's quite the climb down.

4 August 2017

Round two at Chengdu, this mega city has so much to see. Beautiful Qingyang Taoist temple in Chengdu and of course a visit to the worlds largest mall- New Century Global. Before we caught a night train to our next destination Leshan.
Boat trip to see the giant Buddha of Leshan, lead by our wonderful tour guide Tom. Our hotel for the night was the "Witty Monkey" and had monkey murals covering every single walls, complete with plush monkeys on the beds.

1 August 2017

Sad to be leaving these people in Xian but we had a great time exploring the city and trying all sorts of interesting foods at the night market. People from left to right (Ilona-german, Li Wern-kiwi, Peggy-australian, I can't remember his name- Japan, me, Mark -england, Matt-usa, Paul -scotland, Mark -australian, Jeanette-usa, Tom -China, Debbie-England, Jeanette -usa, up top-Lucy -australian)

28 July 2017

In Chengdu exploring tea markets and the many shops of this vibrant mega city. Attended a Chinese opera which we got to dress up in traditional opera makeup and costumes. Visited the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research center where we saw week old pandas and many many lively adults. Then a hike up to the rainbow water pools of Huanglong National Park.

25 July 2017

Visiting the famous Labrang Monastery on the Tibetan Plateau. This Monastery has over 2000 monks and the people in this area feel much more Tibetan then Han Chinese. Prayer wheels line the streets and devotees come here to do the 5 km prayer route.

24 July 2017

Took a small boat to Bing Ling Caves. The rockface is lined with many small caves and worn away statues. At the end there is a giant sitting Buddha, they have had to cover the feet as people are starting to wear it away while praying. Up in one of the temples we met an amazing old man at 87 years old he sleeps, eats, lives on the temple and has for 30 years. He was so kind clearly wanting to talk and would ring the gong as people prayed.

21 July 2017

Camping at the Great Wall was amazing, we put our tents up in the parking lot and explored. I took some time to explore a nearby town and found a beautiful Buddhist temple. Once at the Great Wall we climbed all over, including up to a functioning Buddhist temple. This part of the Great Wall was truly magnificent with small shrines on the distant mountains and the sunset was beautiful. In contrast to this amazing view behind the wall was giant coal factories with huge cooling towers. It just shows how China is in between this incredible history and progress.

20 July 2017

A busy day today as we visit Mogao Grottos and Ming Sha Hill with the Cresent Moon pool. Mogao Grotto is an ancient Buddhist site where caves were Dug into the cliff side and filled with Buddhist figurines and holy items. They were eventually abandoned but many of the paintings and statues are in amazing shape as they have been locked away in dark caves for years. Then we visited the extremely touristy desert oasis Ming Sha. There is a giant dune here that you can ride camels around, but there are so many people here that all you can see is a massive herd of camels lined in a row. The Cresent Moon pool was once an ancient oasis, but has started to dry up in recent years.

17 July 2017

Wandering around the Yar Ruins of ancient china was very hot! The town was once a hub of Buddhism, but was destroyed in the 13th century when Genghis Khan invaded. We also took a trip to a Kariz Museum that explained the amazing irrigation system that allows this area to thrive. These are considered once of the 3 ancient Chinese Feats along with the Great Wall.

16 July 2017

Turpan was an interesting stop after visiting the local museum we took a walk to the Imin Minaret. As we walked along a local man who was clearly intoxicated started to harass us. A local woman on a motorcycle with a load of children in the back came to our rescue and gave us a ride to the Minaret. The region Turpan is in is actually one of the hottest places on earth.

15 July 2017

Our Bush camp in the Talkaman Desert started off with a sand storm. The winds were so strong that they almost knocked people over and our dinner was very sandy. We found some ruins of a stable and reinforced the windows with rocks so that we could put our tents inside, otherwise they would have blown away.

14 July 2017

Took the truck out into Wensu Tomur Grand Canyon, the many different layers of soil make the hills looks so colorful. Some areas were so layered from a distance they looked like ancient temples. In this whole Canyon there are only 2 trees they are said to be a goddess and her human lover and once her father found out about the affair he turned them both into trees. There for couples come to this spot and hang ribbons to honor this story.

13 July 2017

Spent an evening in the pleasant city of Aksu. What was described to us as a small town has 2.3 million people. We somehow managed to become the hit of the local square after we joined in with the evening dance classes.

12 July 2017

Hiked up a 4 km rocky river bed to the amazing Shipards Arch the highest natural rock arch in the world.

11 July 2017

We spent a week bopping around Kashgar after our truck was stuck at the border. This beautiful city with its local Ulygur popular holds so much beauty and warmth. If your going to be stranded somewhere this is where you want to be. We tried to visit the famous Sunday animal market, but it was closed by the government that weekend. There is a lot of security and a large police presence in this part of China. Which is very different then east China.

4 July 2017

Quick stop along our way to the famous caravansary stop. Here was the seat of the ancient Khans that once controlled this area of the Silk Road.

1 July 2017

Visiting a traditional Kyrgyz Eagleman and learned how they catch these amazing birds from their cliff side nests and train them to hunt.

30 June 2017

Was welcomed onto the truck at Karakol. Then, we spent a couple nights in yurts along lake Issyk-kul at Jeti Ortuz. Got schooled by a bunch of 10 year olds as we tried to horseback ride up to this amazing mountain view. I have never been so sore, these horses were half wild and we rode for 5 hours non stop. Crossing rivers and tiny little dirt paths. But the kids seem to be incredibly comfortable on these massive animals and ride as young as 5 years old.

29 June 2017

Spent a couple days exploring Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital before I head to Karakol to meet up with the rest of the Oasis group. Although the museums were closed for a holiday I got to walk the many parks and Osh Bazaar.