Blog Archives

Overland Adventures: the stinky Filipino fish bus

Naked children leapt from the ramshackle pier in the tropical downpour, laughing and screaming as lightning flickered across the edges of a sky as threatening as any I’ve yet seen.

“That boat?” I asked hopefully, indicating the larger and (slightly) more seaworthy-looking of the two pieces of junk lashed to the pier.

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Whale Shark Snorkelling in Donsol, Philippines

“There, there!” he kept shouting, “go straight, go straight!”

I kicked on through the murky water, peering through my goggles into the plankton-deepened gloom before me but seeing nothing.

“Where, where?” I yelled to the spotter on the boat, surfacing and looking back to shout, “I can’t see it!”

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A Near Miss With One of Thailand’s Deadly Rich Kids

So there I was, bottle of Singha in hand, strolling along the street through On Nut (a suburb of Bangkok) towards the Skytrain station to go meet friends, when this car brushed past me – a matter of millimetres from connecting – angled off the road, and crumpled itself into first the lamppost and then the wall directly in front of me.

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Overland Routes from China to Southeast Asia

If you’re looking to travel overland from China to SE Asia (or vice versa) you have three main route options: Guangxi province to Vietnam, Yunnan province to Vietnam, and Yunnan to Laos (and Thailand); a fourth potential route is Yunnan to Myanmar,

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Dog Bites Man: on soi dogs, getting bitten, and rabies shots in Bangkok

Thai soi dogs

Bitten in Bangkok

Khao San Road, circa 3am… (and this is not the first story I’ve told on these pages that picks up at that time & place!) …my Canadian buddy’s waiting for me in the street while I pop in to a bar to grab us two more beers and make use of their restrooms.

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On Khao San Road, late night beatings, and sticking your neck out

“That little fucker just tried to take my wallet!”

Not from what I’d seen… “You sure mate?” I replied, “looked to me like you just bumped into each other.”

We were drinking and dancing in the middle of Khao San Road at 3am, as you do,

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How to Get Travel Insurance When You’re Already Overseas (and how I found out the hard way)

Whoever took my camera that day, hats off to them; they were good. I never felt a thing… one minute I was snapping photos from the Chao Praya Express boat, but the next (as I was wanting to take a pic from the Skytrain window) I found myself reaching into an empty pocket.

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Palm Oil and the Plight of the Orangutan: visiting the orangutan sanctuaries of Sumatra and Borneo

An orangutan in Gunung Leuser park, near Bukit Lawang

Orangutan means ‘man of the forest’ in the Malay and Indonesian languages. But where does the man of the forest go when the forest is gone? There are a number of places in Southeast Asia where you can see both the answer to this question and the reason it must be asked in the first place,

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Sumatra Overland Route

When I first visited Southeast Asia in 2004 en route to Australia with my mate Danny, we’d had no real plan to visit Sumatra (or anywhere else in Indonesia). We flew in from India to Singapore, and were flying out from Bangkok to Australia via Brunei.

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Preah Vihear: failing to visit the disputed temple from the Thai side

“No, you can’t go there, army fighting with Cambodia now.”

What? I’d just checked two hours earlier with the policeman on duty back at Surin bus station, and he’d told me the situation was calm, so I’d continued on towards Preah Vihear; now this motorbike driver at Kantharalak bus station was telling me Preah Vihear was off limits again…

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Musings on Development in Northern Laos

Development is a double-edged sword, as we all know – naturally the local people of any developing place wish to (and surely deserve to) benefit from the same modcons as all of us, yet the very lack of them can be one of the things that charms visitors so. If you’re sick to the teeth of social media,

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Two Very Different Visits to Vang Vieng (pre- and post- tubing crackdown)

Vang Vieng is small town in an achingly beautiful part of Laos, situated on the Nam Song river and facing some of the most stunning karst scenery to be found anywhere. The incredible natural setting makes it a tourist draw, and it’s the sort of place that seems perfectly made for eco- and adventure tourism,

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Thailand to Malaysia Overland: getting stranded at the eastern border with a lonely policeman (or, how NOT to travel to the Perhentian Islands)

How NOT to travel from Thailand to Malaysia overland!

(for the sensible routes from Thailand to Malaysia, scroll to the lower half of the post)

Hat Yai bus station. The day was getting old, the sun dropping and the shadows drawing long, and I wasn’t sure if I had time to make it to Kota Bharu in Malaysia before the border closed.

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Phonsavan to Hanoi overland; 2 days, 2 landslides, a scam, a crash, and 2 stolen passports

As the three of us rattled along through the dark in back of the songthaew, a brief pinprick of light caught my eye out over the rice paddies. As I peered out into the night, another tiny light popped into existence and described a quick arc through the air before vanishing;

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Theft, robbery, scams; three intense weeks in Vietnam (Hanoi to Saigon overland)

People often ask each other about which countries were their favourites to travel to. It’s a hard question to answer, and not a question which I can answer with one single country; I’ll usually answer with a shortlist! However, sometimes the opposite question is asked – “which country was your worst?”

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