Archives for category: – Trip: Southeast Asia

If Koh Phi Phi is a gorgeous, late-night-partying supermodel, Koh Lanta is her cool, super-chill cousin, perhaps not as magazine-cover gorgeous but still quite pretty and charming to boot. Instead of dodging paparazzi and partying until 4am, she just wants to hang out, grab breakfast, and maybe check out some cool shops on the way to the beach. Koh Lanta, with its super-relaxed Thai-beach-town vibe, turned out to be the perfect spot to end our vacation. Read the rest of this entry »

After a couple of flights and a brief overnight at the very nice Phuket Backpacker Hostel, we boarded a boat for Koh Phi Phi, Thailand’s stunning tropical beauty in the Andaman Sea. Of course, the word about Phi Phi had long since gotten out. As we disembarked into the heat from the air conditioned deck, we joined throngs of people streaming down the pier and were immediately absorbed into a sea of backpacks, luggage, and Thai men hawking hotel rooms.

Tonsai Village, the heart of Koh Phi Phi Don (the main island) is a dense area of small shops, bars, and restaurants served by streets no wider than a city sidewalk. There’s not a car or scooter in sight. When the boats come in, they turn into rivers of tourists. It was all a little overwhelming, so the first thing we did was sit down and have a pizza.

With lunch finished and the crowds cleared, we felt fortified enough to look for a place to stay, so we slung on our backpacks, and headed out to see what we could find.
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After leaving the Perhentian Islands we found ourselves back in Kuala Besut near what we thought was a bus station. I went to check our options for getting to Kota Bharu, about 30 miles away, from where we would fly to Phuket. There were some taxi drivers out front trying to solicit our business but I waved them aside, walked in, and started writing down bus numbers. A few moments later a short, heavy-set man with a few missing teeth walked up and stood right next to me, at which point there was an odd silence. He asked me in broken English what was I was doing. “Writing down buses to Kota Bharu,” I said without paying much attention. Another uncomfortable silence… “Those taxi,” he said finally. I had been standing in a taxi company office writing down taxi numbers. Derp…

I checked the bus station. It was closed, so we got a taxi instead (about RM60, I think ($20)). We were off to Kota Bharu. Read the rest of this entry »

Pulau Perhentian, as the islands are known in Malay, lie about 12 miles off of the east coast of Malaysia near the Thai border. Picture your favorite beach-themed screen saver. Where are those places? Well, the Perhentians wouldn’t be a bad guess. Scuba diving and chillaxing account for the largest part of the island’s GDP and that’s exactly why we were there. Backpackers mostly head for the small island, Pulau Perhentian Kecil (as did everyone on our boat). We took the road (strait?) less traveled to Deep Bay (Teluk Dalam) on Pulau Perhentian Besar, the big island’s quiet, southernmost beach.

The travel and diving season runs from April to October when the monsoons die down. We arrived in early April just as things got going. Here’s our take on this South China Sea gem. Read the rest of this entry »

From Bangkok we hopped on a Royal Jordanian flight and about an hour later descended into Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s main airport. Sure, the name’s a mouthful but you do get a pang and two bangs for your buck.

The airport, seemingly cut right out of the jungle, lies about 25 miles outside the city—but right next door to Malaysia’s Formula 1 track, in case you’re ever on layover and want to get in a few hot laps.

Instead, we raced to get a train to Kuala Lumpur (KL, as it’s known) and by the time we arrived in its hot, sweaty, jackhammering heart, it was late. We were anxious to square away our hotel given our lack of a reservation and headed for an area called “Golden Triangle” via the KL Monorail (Bukit Bintang stop). The area looked like any other modern city: a mall, a shopping center, restaurants with themes. A street called Jln Alor was the neighborhood’s saving grace. It was lined with lights, tons of people, food carts, and (non-themed) restaurants that spilled out onto the pavement. We’ve read that you can find a bite to eat here until 4am.

But a hotel, not food, was our priority. The first place we checked was full. The second was at the intersection of plain and ugly. Weird vibes were a no-cost extra. Somehow I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be our night but then we walked around the corner and discovered a nice looking place. The owner’s kid played in the lobby. We thought, “Great!” and checked in.

The room was a little dingy and barely bigger than the bed but whatever—it was for one night. I jumped into the bathroom/shower (one little space, multiple functions) and things started going downhill before I hit the rinse cycle. Read the rest of this entry »


We just got back from Southeast Asia. Our entry and exit point was Bangkok—what a city. Old, new, fashionable, and traditional, all mix together in this city on the move. Street vendors can be found everywhere selling anything from pad Thai and grilled chicken skewers to knock-off, Spongebob Squarepants carry-on luggage. Whole restaurants pop-up, makeshift-style, down random alleys. We even saw women at sewing machines, doing tailoring, right there on the sidewalk. Throw in some grit, a few stray dogs, boats speeding up and down canals in a black fog of diesel fumes, and you’ll have a pretty good picture of Bangkok.

Oh, don’t forget the heat. It’s hot, hot, hot, and humid. We averaged three to four showers a day and—I’m sorry to say—my deodorant still couldn’t keep up. That said, I think Bangkok is fantastic. It’s one of the most vibrant, engaging cities I’ve ever seen. Here are a few tips, if you go.

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Wow, what a fun trip! We learned to dive and look for monkeys in Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands—Natalie wanted to babysit so bad! In Thailand we were nibbled by turf-guarding fish off Koh Phi Phi, and spent a few nights in a super chill, bamboo bungalow on Koh Lanta, and sourced Bangkok for hand-tailored bargains, gifts, and tasty street food, while honing our taxi bartering skills. We miss the heat and the vibrancy of Southeast Asia but it’s good to be home. More updates and photos soon! Best, Nik

Having spent 2 jet-lagged nights in Bangkok, Thailand, we arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last night. So ready to head out of the city grime and toward some tropical islands. Tonight we travel by minibus to the Perhentians with hopes of pristine beaches, bungalows, clear water, and excellent diving! Hope all is well at home (8,000 miles away)! Life is good! ♥! xo -natalie