A Travellerspoint blog


I crossed the Malaysian border by train to a small town called Butterworth and then took a ferry to an island of the West coast called Penang. The weather there was so much hotter than in Thailand, it was definitely in the high thirties. Penang has had many different cultures living there for centuries so there are many different types of delicious food. It was lovely wandering through the narrow streets looking at the wonderful architecture and watching people celebrate the last few days of Chinese New Year by lighting the most enormous incense sticks, some of which were at least 6 foot high and 6-7 inches in diameter.


Huge incense sticks!

I met some other English people in the same Guest House as me as I was watching the owner kick through their door as he had lost their key! We got well so we had some drinks and ate together. Whilst drinking beer outside the guest house we met two English girls called Sarah and Kate they were both travelling alone and had met each other in Kuala Lumpur. They told me that they didn’t like their guest house and as I had two double beds to myself in a huge room I said that they could move in with me, which worked out only 2 pounds each a night! We all went to the beach together the following day. The beach kind of sucked but it was a good laugh anyway.

Kate and Sarah in my massive room

Crappy beach!

The owner of the guest house (Charley, the forgetful one!) really wanted us to go to one of these karaoke nights with him so that night we gave in and took him up on his offer. It was so much fun. There was a birthday party there so we all got party hats, cake and a boiled egg! It was so bizarre it wasn’t cringing!

Our almost pure English group (sorry louis)

Crazy Charley

Bizarre Karaoke singers

Our plan from Penang was to go south east to the Cameron Highlands but I met up with a friend who told us about an island north of where we were called Langkawi, it sounded good so we forfeited our bus tickets to the highlands and took a ferry up to Langkawi. The beaches were lovely and the island was surrounded by 99 other smaller islands which made for good boat trips and parties. We met an English couple on the ferry so we stuck together for a few days. We hired a car and explored the island, went on a cable car ride and generally chilled out and partied. The island was very beautiful, full of mountains, fantastic coast lines and everything was tax free!

On the ferry to Langkawi

jet skiing!

Island hopping boat trip

Eagles feeding

The crappy automatic car we hired!

Cable car

Our party group!

Graffed up VW

After we had had our fair share of sun, sand and tax free nights out, four of us headed to the Cameron Highland Mountains in central mainland Malaysia. It was more amazing than I could have ever imagined. There were rolling hills covered in tea plantations as far as the eye could see, with mountains covered in dense jungle perfect for hiking through. We met a fantastic group of people at the hostel we stayed at. It was lovely hiking, eating and just hanging out with a group of good fun, like minded people. It is very difficult to hire motos and impossible to rent a car in the highlands so we had to rely heavily on the generosity of strangers as we hitch hiked everywhere.

On the bus to the highlands

Amazingly cheap Indian meal

Start of our first hike

In the jungle

Jungle cat paw prints!

Making lunch at the top

Top of the lookout tower

Strawberry farm

Cactus nursery

Tea plantations

Butterfly and insect farm

Cleo with scorpions

Hitch hiking

Random waterfall

Start of our tough hike

Most people headed to Kuala Lumpur from the Highlands. I had heard of an almost untouched spot of coast line called Cherating on the east coast where it was possible to surf. I thought as I would be surfing in Indonesia I would get some practice in. I had a good look at a map and decided I could get there in a day. I set out very early in the morning. First I got a bus to Kuala Lumpur, then a train, then another bus to a place called Kuantan 40km south of Cherating. I found out I had missed the bus to Cherating and a taxi was too expensive so I thought about all the hitch hiking I had done and decided to try my luck. I stood at the side of the road for two and a half hours and watched it get dark. Thousands of cars must have gone passed but nobody was willing to stop. Just as I was about to turn back and find some accommodation a small car stopped with a young Muslim couple in. It turned out they had seen me and done a u-turn and come back around to pick me up. They drove me 20km further than they had intended, dropped me at a guest house and then took me to get some food (which I insisted on paying for). It's people like this that make travelling so worth while, it brings a smile to my face every time I think about that night just knowing that there are people like that in the world willing to go right out of their way to help someone in a shitty situation.

The lovely couple that helped me out

Cherating was lovely, really nice beach, fairly good surf and soo quiet! I spent two days surfing there but then decided I would go to KL as I was a bit lonely!

Huge lizard outside m beach hut

KL was really fun. The guys that I had left had befriended three Indonesian girls that were studying there and had there own apartment. So we spent a lot of time with them going out and going to there apartment. Didn't do a lot of touristy things there, mainly going out and meeting people I had befriended earlier in my trip.

KL tower from Sky View Bar

I got an email from a friend I had made in the Highlands saying she was going to Bali. As I had no plans I decided to fly to Bali and meet up with her. I met a guy called Adam at Bali airport who had come straight from Tokyo and was getting ripped off by the baggage handlers, I decided to go and help him out and was stuck with him for over 2 weeks! We went to Kuta to meet up with Cleo, the surf was good there but the beach was filthy and the sea was full of rubbish. We stayed in Kuta for a few days and met up with Oskar. We then followed the coast north and came across a more chilled out place to stay. We found a bungalow for only £4 each a night. All we did was ride around on motos, go to the beach, swim in the sea and go out in the evening.

Our bungalow

On the beach

Crazy hat man

My last place in Bali was Ubud, a small town full of culture, lovely architecture and surrounded by some spectacular volcanoes. It was the perfect place to spend my last couple of weeks. Again we mostly spent our time riding motos and chilling out. We also visited a monkey sanctuary and attended a very strange dance including a man dressed as a horse kicking and walking on glowing coconut shell embers. Oskar and Adam went to Lombok a day before 'Peace Day' and Cleo stayed with me as I had no money to travel any more apart from my journey home. Peace day happens once a year where you are not allowed out of you're hotel, electricity is minimal and you shouldn't eat, drink or smoke, not that it stopped us! The day before Peace day we decided we would climb a volcano called Mt Batu. It took us over an hour to reach the base of the mountain, we rode dirt paths to get as close to the mountain as we could. When we could not ride any further we dumped the bike and started on foot up the volcano. It was very demanding! We couldn't find a path to the top so we had a hard time deciding the best route to take. We did eventually make it to the summit scraped, bruised and incredibly exhausted. The volcano we climbed was actually a volcano in a volcano. The large crater was about 14 miles in diameter and we were right in the middle. We could see the weather closing in so we made a hasty retreat to the bottom. The descent was much easier as we followed a path down. On the way back to Ubud we got stuck behind a carnival procession in the rain! After peace day it was time for me to leave Cleo and head to the airport and begin my journey home.

The monkey sanctuary

Carnival demons getting the finishing touches

Cleo and our volcano


Start of ascent

Outer crater

At the summit

Inner crater


A special thanx to Adam Maltz, Oskar Rennerhorn, Cleo Brooks and Angela Marshall for helping me make my trip as amazing as it was.

Posted by joopwoop 08:48 Comments (1)



I arrived in Bangkok from Laos on the 22nd of December. I stayed in Kao San Road for 10 days. Big mistake! I may well have been in London or any other major western city. It was full of drunk tourists 24/7. Christmas was good and so was New Years eve, though the fireworks were a bit disappointing. One day a German guy called Dennis and I got up early and headed out of the city to visit a floating market. Although it was very set up for tourists it was still fun. On the way up the river in our boat our driver crashed into a house on stilts and destroyed the boats roof! It was hilarious! He was so embarrassed as he probably made the trip 10 times a day. He set to work repairing the roof as we waited on the river bank. We told him it was better without the roof as we could see more and it was a lovely day, so we continued our journey roofless!


The two Swedes and Dennis both headed to the islands in the South and I headed up North to a town called Chang Mai on the train. It was the best train I have taken so far. I met an American guy called Wayne who was in the same cabin as me. It turned out he had been living in Chang Mai for 21 years. He gave me so much priceless information, not only about Chang Mai but about Thailand in general. There was a dining car at the back of the train so we both went to eat. It turned out to be a dining car/disco car! Here we met 2 Dutch guys on holiday called Jano and Lukas, another Dutch fellow named Jaspar and an Australian girl called Brawghn, or something like that!


I discovered that the two Dutch guys were planning to rent a motorbike in Chang Mai and travel to a small town called Pai. I decided I would join them, only I would do a complete circuit back to Chang Mai.
The next morning we decide we would go to the jungle and do a spot of zip lining. It was amazing! There was over 2km of zip lines and we reached speeds of over 80kmh. We also saw some gibbons up in the trees, which was surprising as we were told it was unlikely we would see any.


I was relieved to here that Jano was ranked number 1 in Holland at classic motocross racing, as I had never ridden a proper motorbike before! He rode my bike back to the guest house and then his own and gave me an hours lesson in a car park. Thankfully I picked it up pretty quickly and soon became confident enough to ride around the streets with the traffic. The next morning we started our journey to Pai with our band new helmets we had to buy, as the hire shop's helmets were rubbish and didn't fit properly.


The road to Pai was fantastic. It is famous for its perfect road and 762 curves which ranged from huge sweeping bends to tight hairpins weaving there way up mountain sides. When we arrived in Pai I felt incredibly confident on the bike and was ready to continue my trip in the morning.
In Pai we met up with Jaspar who had made his own way up on a scooter. He looked hilarious!

We also met up with Brawghn who had taken the bus.

The next 4 days were incredible, I covered over 1000km with about 6000 corners/curves. The roads for the rest of my trip were just as good if not better then the road to Pai, plus the scenery was amazing. As the road during the end of my journey went into Burma I had to pass through countless military check points. The Burmese military had their guns pointing at the Thai's and the Thai's had their guns pointing at the Burmese. Every now and then they would go over and drink coffee together! Obviously I did not take photos.


This is a guy who owned a little shop on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere!

This was a water fall that took me 1 hour to reach and was hoping I could swim as it was so hot. This is as close as i could get, bummer!

Most of the roads were fantastic quality and really fun to ride fast!

Out of the way cow!

This is the river separating Burma from Thailand

When I arrived back in Chang Mai I slept for 20 hours and went trekking in the jungle for 2 days. It was loads of fun. There was supposed to be a group but it turned out it was just two of us. It took about 4 hours to drive deep into the jungle west of Chang Mai. We met our guide, called Mr Ton, and started our trek. We were both given a belt with a machete and a sling shot with a bag of stones. Every 50 or so meters Mr Ton would stop and show us a plant or a tree with medicinal or culinary properties, it was very interesting.

Very poisonous snake


Mr Ton

Playing Tarzan!

Mr Ton made us jungle hats

Our trek finished when we met some elephants and they agreed to take us to a clearing where we could sleep for the night.

A family lived in the clearing raising live stock and growing crops.

We admired the view and had a rest.

Mr Ton then gave us some traps to catrch rats in, so we set the traps by the river and used nuts as bait which we had collected earlier in the day. It was then time to cook and eat! After dinner we sat around the fire and Mr Ton played his guitar and sang some western songs as best he could, it was great and a bit funny! It was then time to check our traps, we caught two rats! On the way back to the clearing we looked for tarantulas and found a couple living in holes. We teased it with a stick so we could watch it attack. It was really impressive. We then took our rats back to camp.

First we had to give them a bath.

We then put them in the fire to loosen their fur.

We skinned them, only to find out the larger of the rats had two fat worms living inside it so we couldn't eat it.

I gutted the smaller non-infected rat and stuffed him with a spicy paste thing Mr Ton had made.

He then went on a grill above the fire for about 20-30 mins.

He was then eaten, delicious! Look at her face, lolocaust!

After my North Thailand adventures I started to make my way down South, stopping for a few days here and there on the way. My first stop was a small town called Phitsanulok. There wasn't much to do or see in the town it's self but 50km West was a well preserved ancient city called Sukhothai. I took a bus there and hired a bicycle to ride around the the ancient wats, temples and huge Buddha statues. It was such a relaxing lovely day. I was the only young male tourist there so i was happily riding around on my own reveling in the local female attention I was receiving. I must have had 20 photos taken of me with different girls!

From Phitsanulok I travelled by bus to a town called Nakhon Ratchasima. There was nothing very exciting to do. There was a large night market which was nice to wander round sampling some of the local foods. As i think I was the only white person in town again I got a lot of attention, some nice, some not so. I got the impression from the males that I wasn't welcome there and again every girl wanted to get their picture taken with me, swings and roundabouts!
I then took the train to an even smaller town called Surin, again nothing there! I spoke to a friend online and he recommended a place called Kanchanaburi West of bangkok where the famous River Kwai bridge is. I traveled over 500km across central Thailand by train close to the Burmese border. Kanchanaburi was a really relaxing, scenic and easy going place full of interesting people. It's the kind of place where days seem to merge into each other and before long you forget how long you've been there, in a good way! I met a couple of guys who had lived in Thailand for a long time. They were called Rob and Renee. They both spoke Thai and they had a car so I went with them to few interesting places. One of which was the infamous Hell Fire Pass. This is a section of the railway Japan built in WWII in order to connect Bangkok to Burma to transport military supplies as going by sea was claiming to many of their ships. Captured soldiers as well as Burmese and Malay captives were transported to the jungle and forced to build 415km of railway. It is known today as the Death Railway as it's construction claimed over 100,000 lives, mainly due to the brutality of the Japanese guards. The story was made famous by the film 'The Bridge on the River Kwai'.

A memorial for the men who lost their lives

The infamous 'Hell Fire Pass'

A twisty tree!

Sunset from my balcony

Bridge over The River Kwai

Big lizard!

It turned out that Rob and Renee were going by car to Bangkok, so I hitched a lift with them. As soon as I got to Bangkok I caught a bus straight to a small town on the coast called Prachuap Kiri Khan. It had been ages since I had been by the sea so it was lovely walking on the beach and having a swim. There was a large rocky, hilly, mountain to the North of the bay which I decided I would climb the next day. I got up at 05.30, packed a bag with everything necessary to make a day out of it and began the long trek along the coast watching the sun rise over the horizon. After 3 hours of difficult climbing I discovered it was impossible to reach the top without any climbing gear and I wasn't prepared to risk my life in order to prove something to the hotel staff that said I would never make it! It was still a great day out, I found a low point and crossed over to the other side and was met by waves crashing against the rocks.

A view of the bay

View of Prachuap Kiri Khan

The sun rising over the rock I had intended to climb

No way up!

The other side of the rock

The town was also overrun by monkeys!

I continued my journey South to a place called Chumpon and then took a ferry to an island called Ko Tao. It was really nice there but was mainly for people wanting to get PADI certificates and I wanted to save my money for Ko Phangan so I went there! I met an American guy called Mark and a Swiss fella called Samuel. We spent the majority of our time riding motorbikes around the island and partying on the beach.

Hat Rin beach (where the fun happens)



Names that escaped me

Found a drum and bass dj

Beach rave and fire limbo


Experimenting with my manual exposure

After 5 nights on the island I was running out of time and money so I went back to the mainland and traveled to Malaysia by rail.

Posted by joopwoop 22:51 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)


sunny 34 °C

From Saigon I caught a bus to Phom Penh which is the capital city of Cambodia. In Phom Penh I met up with a girl called Charlotte who used to live on my street and is now working as a drama therapist for a NGO (Non Government Organisation). Charlotte and her friend Maeve showed me around the city and took me on an organised tour of the Tiger Beer Brewery/factory where their friends band played and some amazing expat dancing took place!

Charlee and I in a tuk tuk in Phom Penh

The following day I met some Canadians and I joined them on a tour of the Killing Fields. This is where the Khmer Rouge executed millions of civilians, mostly women and children, under the Pol Pot regime. The bodies were buried in mass graves and most of them were beaten to death to save ammunition. There were still bits of bone, skull and clothing sticking out of the ground. It is still very hard for me to imagine how this was able to take place only a couple of decades ago.

These are the mass graves

We also spent a day visiting temples/pagodas, palaces, museums, etc. Oh and then we went to see some kick boxing, that was free to get in and we got to sit ring side, it was great fun!


The girls had to hire some trousers as they were inappropriately dressed!

U can never be too young to be a kick boxing fan!

Local crowd

The winners

I also visited the S-21 (Security Prison 21). This is where people with even the simplest education were tortured and detained. If they survived they were sent to the killing fields to executed.

The cells prisoners were kept in

S-21 regulations

Victim of S-21

The view from S-21

Torture cell

I also joined Charlee and Maeve on a trip to Koh Kong; a small town in Cambodia on the Thai border. From there we took a day trip on a boat to Koh Kong Island. Koh Kong Island looked like somewhere out of Jurassic Park, covered in palm trees, tropical vegetation and lagoons. Even the beach looked as tho we were the first people to go there! We spent all day in the sun, swimming, eating, drinking and relaxing.

Boat to Koh Kong island

Boat on Koh Kong island


Charlee and Maeve went back to Phom Penh and I decided to travel South to the coast to get some more sand and sea! The place I went to on the coast was called Sihanoukville and I only planned to stay there for a couple of days but ended up staying there for eight days due to some cool people I met. Was a great place to spend my Birthday! Met some MORE Canadians and played countless games of pool and checked out some clubs. I also met a couple of Tasmanian girls called Anne and Pippa who were totally crazy and lots of fun! I decided to spend my birthday with them. We found a deserted stretch of beach and went swimming, sun bathing, got intoxicated and generally did not act my newly appointed 23 years of age, which was fun!

I went back to Phom Penh for one night and found out that the water festival I had intentionally avoided (as it is known for being a nightmare for tourists, due to the crowds) had been a disaster. A stampede took place on a bridge, opened specially for the festival, killing 400 and injuring 800 people.


From Phom Penh I went to a large town called Battambang in the North. Here I went on a moto tour of the temples, visited a crocodile farm, went on a bamboo train, and did a cooking course on traditional Khmer food. I do not have any photos of the cooking course so I'll tell you all about it. The restaurant I booked it through was called 'smoking pot', right up my street! I had to be there at 0800, I waited until 0900 for two other people to show up who were from Essex! We chose which dishes we were interested in learning to cook and then set of for the market to pick out fresh ingredients. I decided to cook Fish Amok (coconut fish curry), Loch Lach (spicy beef with garlic, ginger) and something else I can't remember. We then prepared our ingredients, cooked them and ate them! Very delicious! We were then given a cook book to take home, as the Essex couple were going home soon after they said they would post it through my door for me! Have u got it yet Mum!?


By then I was fed up of bus journeys so I decided to take the boat to Siem Reap. The boat left at 0700 and i woke up at 0650! Chucked everything in my bag as quickly as i could, ran down to the street, flagged down a passing moto and have him $5 to get me to the boat asap. One hair raising journey and 40 seconds later I arrived just in time to board the small metal boat. The boat journey was fantastic, there were some great people on board and the scenery was very beautiful.

In Siem Reap I visited one of the great wonders of the world, that is Ankor Wat. I went there with some Swedish guys and watched the sun rise and i forgot my camara, AAAHHHH. It was amazing and you will have to take my word for it. Fortunately I had visited it the day before so I do have some photos. After the fifth temple we were getting fed up at looking at old rocks so we called it a day, as it was well past beer 0 clock!

In Siem Reap I also visited the land mine museum. Cambodia has one of the highest death tolls by land mines in the world. The guy who runs the centre lost his wife and two daughters to a land mine when they were working in a field. It costs $1 to make a land mine and $3000 to remove and disarm. There are an estimated 6 million land mines still active in Cambodia, most of which are concentrated in an area called the K5 mine belt near the Thai border originally placed to keep out the Khmer Rouge that had fled to Thailand when they were overthrown.

Once we had depleted Siem Reap of there alcohol we went to Laos to see if they had any! THEY DID! Only place i've been with opium on bar menus!

Posted by joopwoop 00:52 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)


I've made it!


Two weeks ago I was petrified of the idea of going backpacking for the first time, in a continent I’d never been to, on my own! Except from close friends and family, everybody said I was mad to be embarking on such a venture but it was and is something I needed and need to do. The thing I was most worried about was spending vast amounts of time on my own; this is still yet to be a problem. Since I arrived in Vietnam I have only spent one day by myself. I’ve met so many like minded people, had loads of fun and seen some crazy things!

I flew from Heathrow at 11:55 on the 21st of Oct, changed at Singapore and flew in to Hanoi, Vietnam at 12:30. From the moment I stepped foot out of the airport I knew I’d thrown my self into the deep end! Hanoi is the most chaotic city I have ever seen, been to, experienced! There are motos going in every direction, dodging in and out lorries, taxis and coaches. Sounding your horn is a way of life here. The streets are lined with people selling everything and anything, from some of the best food I have ever tasted to motorbikes, batteries even people offering to cut your hair and shine your walking boots!

This is the airplane that took me to Hanoi, Vietnam
Market in Hanoi
Got lost and came across this lake. When taking this pic i almost got my bag nicked!

Everything is extremely cheap here with everybody trying to make a quick buck. The average person working in the city earns aprx $50 a month. You can get a huge bowl of rice, deliciously cooked meats, stir fried vegetables and ½ ltr of beer for $2, amazing!

This is 1.5 million dong, im a millionaire!

The bastards that cut the power and made me loose all of my blog!

On the 23rd Oct – 25th Oct I went to Halong Bay on the North East coast, a trip organized by the hostel I was staying at. This is one of the most spectacular places I have been. The floating Islands in the Film Avatar were modeled on the huge rocks rising out of the water. The first night we stayed on a boat in the middle of the bay with loads of other boats. Had great fun playing drinking games and jumping into the water from the top deck! The second night we spent on a private beach off one of the rocks deep into the bay. This really was like paradise! Spent the day wakeboarding off speed boat, playing volley ball and generally chilling out on the beach soaking up the sun! We slept in bamboo huts with dry grass roofs, very ‘Cast Away’!

These are some views of Halong Bay
beach_2.jpg beach_huts.jpg

From Halong Bay I returned to Hanoi for one more night before heading up north to Sapa to visit local hill tribe villages near the Chinese border. I got my first overnight train!

This was my home for the next 12 hours!

When I arrived the weather in Sapa was miserable at best but managed to find a very decent place to stay and let the locals thrash me at pool!

One of the locals!


Where else on earth can you find a view like this for $5 a night!?

Found a reasonably priced one day trek to visit the hill tribe villages and went to find somewhere that served my new favorite food; Pho.


Me eating Pho!

Thankfully the rain stopped the next day for the trek but the view hadn’t improved! The trek lasted about eight hours and there were some very challenging routes through ankle deep mud and bamboo forests. It was hilarious watching people falling over covering them selves in mud whilst local girls ran up and down in sandals helping fit and healthy twenty somthings with walking boots! Even though the clouds were low the views were still breath taking.

From Sapa I went back to Hanoi by train. I had a hard sleeper so it wasn’t very comfortable! From Hanoi I flew to Danang and then went to Hoi An to find a place to stay; as Danang is pretty bland.
Hoi An is a beautifully colorful town with lots of bars, restaurants, tailors and vibrant markets. Unfortunately I fell ill on my first day so I spent much of my time in my room. These are some things i did manage to see.

This was my room/cell!

After a few days I went to a small city called Huy about 100 miles north on the coast. Here I met a couple of Swiss guys and we went on a river trip visiting pagodas (old temples) on the way.

My plan from Huy was to get a bus south to a town called Nha Trang but I heard the weather there was awful and the town had flooded leaving people stranded. I decided to fly straight to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). At Saigon airport I met up with a few people I had been traveling with previously. We went off in the scorching midday sun searching for somewhere cheap to stay that could accommodate us all. Eventually we found somewhere!
Saigon was great fun; we went to the local horse racing, saw a Vietnamese rock band out of town, went to the War Museum. We also had a lazy western day by going bowling, to the movies and clubbing! There is a fantastic night life in Saigon if you get out of the tourist areas and go where the locals go. We also went to the Cu Chi tunnels. Theses are 200km of tunnel networks where the Vietcong evaded and fought the Americans. Here are some photos!

An entrance to the tunnels

The tunnels were scary!

This is a model of a female Viet Cong soldier chilling on a hammock

This is an old look out post

A boobie trap, or man boob trap as our guide called it!

These are unexploded American bombs which the Viet Cong would turn into mines or bombs of their own.

As I missed out on a chunk of Vietnam by flying south I decided to back track to a small town by the sea called Mui Ne with amazing beaches. I was joined by a Canadian called Mark who was heading north. Mui Ne is a pretty quiet town but it livens up in the evening, so much so we had a chance to watch the sun rise!
The food here is amazing, we would watch the fishermen catch it in the morning and sell it to the restaurants and then we would choose what we wanted to eat from the fish tanks outside the restaurants.


Mark continued north up Vietnam and I headed south to Cambodia.

Posted by joopwoop 21:01 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

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