South East Asia

South East Asia

I am now settling into what will become my home in Malaysia for the next 3 months. Over the past few weeks before I started work here in Johor, I ventured through Thailand, Laos, and then Cambodia. I met so many interesting people, ate some of the most delicious food I’ve ever eaten in my life, and saw some beautiful and interesting sights along the way.

My experience has been one-of-a-kind. Since returning to Malaysia, I have had so many thoughts and memories swimming through my brain.

Below is a jumble of these memories, highlights from my travels, both as images and words…

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And so, my journey began on my very first day in Bangkok, Thailand… navigating my way down Khao San Road when I came across this guy. With his snakes. And his awesome hat.

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In Bangkok, I met up with a couple of friends from NZ, who coincidentally happened to be in Thailand at the exact same time as I was! One evening, as we were wandering through the flower markets in BK, we heard the familiar “Lady – Tuk Tuk??” , We politely declined and said we were happy to walk, but first I asked if he wouldn’t mind if I took a picture… He happily obliged.

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I spotted these two cuties playing outside the flower market.

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The view across the bridge, just around the corner from our hostel in Bangkok.. the spot where we were staying was tucked away amongst a web of alleyways. I loved walking around this area in the early evening, I’d pass by friendly local children playing with balls and rackets in the streets as the grown-ups sat outside with their friends eating, drinking, chatting. We even stumbled across a bird that meowed at us – but that’s a whole other story.

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This sneaky cat took a moment to laze on one of our scooters.. In Chiang Mai, Thailand.south-east-asia-12south-east-asia-15

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After spending a couple of nights in Chiang Mai, a couple of pals and I decided to ride our scooters up to Pai, a beautiful little village which was about 5 hours north of Chiang Mai. Below are a few frames I took along the way…

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Back in Chiang Mai, there was a night market happening literally just outside where our little hostel was located, stepping out into the street I was blown away by the waves of people, sights, and delicious food surrounding us. Each and every night at 6pm, the national anthem would blast out of the street speakers, no matter where you were in Thailand all of the people would stop whatever it was they might be doing at the time, stand, and listen. Coincidentally, we happened to be walking through this market on this particular night at around 6pm.. so, when the anthem started to tinkle from the speakers, the whole market seemed to just freeze in time. It was the most surreal and incredible moment to witness.

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In Thailand there are countless places advertising “elephant treks” where tourists ride elephants for fun… I knew this wasn’t something I wanted to do. Instead, my friend and I ventured to the Elephant Retirement Park in Chiang Mai where we spent two days taking care of some beautiful elephants. We bathed them, fed them, had some epic water and mud fights with them… The two days at the park will always stand out to me as the most rewarding, inspiring, and incredible two days I spent in Thailand…south-east-asia-41south-east-asia-42

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The baby elephant here is Lanna. She is less than 1 year old. Her mother can be seen in the foreground. Lanna is cheeky, playful, wonderful… and we all fell completely in love with her.

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oh yeah, this is me, casually giving this huge Elephant her shower. Moments after this image was taken, we ended up in a lake of mud, having a water fight with the keepers and the elephants. It was such a surreal experience.

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My friend Gemma and I had opted for the two-day experience, where we would be staying overnight in a hut at the park. The dude in these photos is our awesome guide Tom, who took care of us during our stay at the park. He taught us about the Elephants, oh and he also taught us how to cook a mad Pad Thai using bamboo.

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Busy volunteers building a new shelter for the elephants.

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At the end of our first day at the park, Tom took us with him to the local market. There was just four of us who stayed overnight at the park, and the four of us were the only foreigners at this market. We spent time with Tom choosing ingredients for our meal we would cook later that night. We met heaps of friendly locals, as Tom led us through the many stalls, handing us samples of delicious street food to try along the way.

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One local dog, curious about my camera.

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Taking a little break in the late afternoon, as our time at the park was coming to an end.

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My first encounter with Laos, after catching a bus to the border, we stayed the night in a little border town called Houay Xai.

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On the slow boat to Luang Prabang, Laos.

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This is Vancy. She makes the most amazing sandwiches and smoothies in Luang Prabang. Her little street-side stall was usually my first stop each day. Partly for her amazing food, yes, but also because she had the sweetest, most friendly demeanour , it would put the biggest smile on my face each morning.

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Catching a boat to one of the beautiful waterfalls, just outside of Luang Prubang.south-east-asia-98

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After spending a few days in Laos, I caught a flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Below are a couple of frames I took as I wandered along the streets in the early evening, working out my bearings.

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Exploring some of the old temples around Angkor Wat.

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Spotted our friendly Tuk-Tuk driver taking a well deserved nap… He patiently waited for us outside the temples (in 31 degree heat!) as we explored the place.

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After Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, I spent about 3 days in Phnom Penh. While here, I didn’t take any pictures. There were times when I was exploring the streets where I’d spot someone or something happening, and I wished I had my camera by my side. I’d met a lot of travellers who had experienced or heard of other people’s experiences in Phnom Penh and having their bags or cameras snatched by people on scooters. Many of the Tuk-Tuks had protective wire around them, to stop thieves from snatching bags from the tourists inside. So I wasn’t taking anything, my bag or my camera, when I was out walking.
I spent one of my days in Phnom Penh at the Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields. On this particular day, out of respect, I decided to not take my camera. Millions of Cambodian people were killed during the murderous Khmer Rouge regime, they lost a quarter of their population. This particular day was a heavy day, but it was always my intention to visit these places… as this was a huge part of not only Cambodia’s history, but the history of humanity.

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After my time in Phnom Penh, I journeyed south to Sihanoukville.south-east-asia-131south-east-asia-132south-east-asia-133south-east-asia-134south-east-asia-135

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After spending a night at a hostel in Sihanoukville, my friend and I decided to jump on a boat that took us across to a little island called Koh Rong. I was intending to stay for just a couple of days before heading back to Thailand… however, as soon as I arrived I knew that my plans would change. The island was beautiful. There were no roads, only a white sand beach dotted with wooden bungalows. The local people here, especially the kids, were so friendly, and we met a bundle of interesting characters over the days we spent on the island.south-east-asia-137south-east-asia-138

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The boy in the image above is called Richard. My friend and I had met him the night before I took this photo, while we were playing pool in one of the local beachfront bars. We were playing against a group of local guys, and Richard stood there on the edge of the pool table with a cheeky grin, giving us sneaky pointers on which balls to sink. He was such a cool kid, and we were stoked to bump into him again the next morning.south-east-asia-140south-east-asia-141south-east-asia-142south-east-asia-143south-east-asia-144south-east-asia-145south-east-asia-146south-east-asia-147south-east-asia-148

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This cool little kid came and sat with me on the beach as I watched the sky turn from golden to red.south-east-asia-150south-east-asia-151

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As my friend and I were lazing about in this cafe, reading our books on our last day in Koh Rong, I heard some rustling to my left… Turned to find this little girl trying on my shoes. She was hilarious. We ended up playing a game of darts with her.south-east-asia-154south-east-asia-155

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Her little sister and a local cat overseeing the game.south-east-asia-157

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I am so grateful for the experiences I’ve gained and the wonderful people I’ve been lucky enough to meet during my travels… both my fellow travellers, and the local people who have greeted us with open arms along the way… It’s thanks to all of these amazing people, which makes this particular adventure one which I will never forget.

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