Welcome to my blog, megaworldasia, the purpose of which is to provide helpful information on non mainstream, or adventure type travel, in the South East Asian Region. If you want to get off the beaten track – and by this, I mean if you want to do more than just lie around on a beach sipping Mai Tai’s – then follow my regular trip reports of my sojourns into the less travelled, and more remote locations, of Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. To help get you on your way, my reports will include all the standard stuff like prices and how to get there. I’ll also include interesting anecdotes of the characters, and situations, I meet along the way. Before you get started on one of my regional (South East Asian) reports I’d like to give you a little background information about myself.
I was born and grew up in New Zealand at a time when getting out of the house was still the thing to do. Computers had hardly been heard of at that stage and the idea of spending the day cooped up inside a building was something that was only done if you were struck down with severe illness or there was a flood. Roaming far and wide from sunrise to well after sunset, beyond the boundaries of the one’s front door, was a normal state of affairs. From early on I was imbued with a sense of adventure – and the need to explore things – and was always looking for something of an outdoors/physical type activity to keep me occupied. As a teenager I was fortunate enough to live near the coast and it wasn’t long after my thirteenth birthday that I started surfing. Eventually, surfing became the main preoccupation in my life and it was to fuel my curiosity for seeking out locations, off the beaten track, on this planet. Surfing gave me a reason to travel and the fact was, more often than not, I and many other guys of the same ilk, ended up in far flung locations simply because that’s where the best, and most uncrowded, surf was.
A t the time I didn’t fully realize it but involvement in an adventure activity (surfing) and travel to exotic, remote locations became inextricably linked together. The idea that travel needed some kind of purpose became a natural course of events and it was a mindset that saw me moving across the Tasman Sea to Australia; to seek out new and uncrowded surf locations in some distant land. A few months after arriving in Sydney I, and a couple of like-minded comrades, had eventually surfed our way across the southern coastline of Australia to end up on that continents’ west coast. During the trip across I’d met others who’d been to Indonesia and a few weeks after arriving Perth, I was on my way to experience the exotic charms, and flavours, of South East Asia. That first visit through Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia was to ignite an attraction, for this part of the world, that eventually saw me moving to Thailand, almost twenty years ago, and I’ve been here ever since. The surfing eventually gave way to a keen interest in scuba diving and I was fortunate enough to spend several years residing in one of the world’s premier recreational diving locations; Phuket. My involvement in scuba saw me work my way up to instructor level as I dived in some of the best locations in the region. Somewhere along the line I developed a fondness for going into caves. This probably had a lot to do with going forth into the unknown but, never the less; it was an activity which provided a challenge as well as an adrenaline charge.
These days I’ve backed off on the cave diving and moved more towards dry cave exploring of which there are literally thousands of in this predominantly karst region of the world. Going on a caving adventure usually means a trip into a remote location which, more often than not, also involves a jungle trek or a journey into the wild, sparsely populated areas of places like Vietnam, Laos and Northern Thailand. It can also provide an opportunity to experience other unique or interesting things such as Buddhist temples along the way. Quite often, the two things are combined as people in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia will usually install Buddha images (including statues) within cave interiors.
It’s an opportunity to get off the beaten track of the tourist beaches and air-conditioned restaurants, that so many seem to hardly move beyond, and get to some of the more remote, and interesting, locations of this varied and diverse landscape. And the fact is getting off the beaten track isn’t all that difficult if you’ve got access to the right information and plan things correctly. My primary source of information when I’m planning a trip tends to be Wikipedia and Wikitravel. Other travel info websites, such as Tripadvisor and Travelfish, while providing limited info on some of the out of the way locations I’ve been to, are lacking in real detail. With this in mind, whenever I’m on a trip, I’ll make a point of gathering as much info as I can about each site/location. Besides the standard stuff such as getting there, accommodation, restaurants, prices, directions, distances, and local guides there’s also plenty of photos to give you a real feel for the place. Just click on whichever country you’ve got an interest in and you’ll see a drop down list of sites/locations. Click on one of them and you’ll get an in depth report which I hope will help with your planned trip. Feel free to comment and if you’d like to add more additional info about any of the locations, feel free to do so.