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Post your trip reports, travel experiences, and updates abroad. Or your expat story if you already live overseas. Note: To post photos and images, insert the image URL between the tags [img]and[/img] after uploading them to a third party site.
So I just got back from 5 weeks overseas and dealing with bad jet-lag so I figured I'd share my most recent trip with you all to pass the time at 3am. Unfortunately this isn't a mongering trip, I was with one girl the whole time, but I did get to see some cool stuff and experience some interesting places most of you all probably haven't been. I'll break them down into three categories: Batanes, Malaysia, and Bali.
Batanes Islands, Philippines
So this is a place I've always dreamed about going to in the Philippines as it's a dream destination for most Filipinos (and that of my girlfriend) and always looked so surreal. It's quite pricey to get to compared to most destinations in PH, around $200 round trip airfare, but was money well spent. For those of you who don't know where it is, the Islands are the very northern point of the Philippines and are actually closer to Taiwan than the mainland of Luzon.
The Islands are known for being hit by strong Typhoons and thus most of the houses are built out of stone. Unfortunately while I was there a Typhoon struck on my last day, causing flights to be canceled for 2 days and stranding us there. The landscape has a very mountainous tropical island feel but with immense pasture land for grazing cattle and goats. For those that are familiar with Far Cry video game series, the scenery is very similar minus of course the dangerous animals and warring locals. With that said the island is probably the most laid back and truly friendliest place I've been to in the Philippines. There is virtually no crime, poverty levels seem pretty low, and average life span is quite high. They even have a store called The Honesty Store where there is no attendee and you pick the items you want and are expected to be honest and pay.
Fortunately for us a local festival was going on and I finally got to experience a Cock fight. No not between lady boys but between Roosters. I ended up winning $10 after which a local invited us back to their friends house for food and drinks.
Overall I give the islands a 7/10. They are beautiful with amazing locals and awesome seafood but lose points due to frequent Typhoons, running short on supplies, and lack of some modern amenities. For guys interested solely in girls and nightlife, you won't find much here. Women are very basic and simple and there is virtually little nightlife.
Here are a few pictures from the trip. Apologies for the poor quality, most were taken with an Iphone which has a terrible quality.
Typhoon creating huge swell
Pulau Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
I was quite impressed with Malaysia, mainly Kuala Lumpur and from just my short time there looked like a city where I could live eventually. Pulau Perhentian Islands are off Malaysia's north east coast near the border with Thailand. I chose to go to these islands because they weren't too hard to get to and we only had 5 days in Malaysia. My girlfriend wanted a beach area with some outdoor activities and this was the best I could find at short notice.
The islands themselves were fabulous. The water and surrounding jungles and coral reef were straight out of Nat Geo. Snorkeling trips were very reasonably priced and there were plenty of beaches to choose from on the two islands. The downside is that it's a major backpacker hub which I hate. I booked unknowingly during high season in which almost all the hotels were booked up and/or prices were jacked way too high. I paid around $80 a night for a shit hotel that would cost $15 in Manila. It was the most crowded beach I had ever been to with hordes of European and Australian vacationers and backpackers. For someone who enjoys culture and off-the-beaten-path locals it was not the environment for me but the food was great and cheap and the beauty of the islands made up for it. The nightlife was also pretty awesome and if I was not with someone I think I would have enjoyed the company more.
Overall I give it a 6/10
Malaysia and Indonesia has some weird outlets so I was unable to charge my phone limiting my pictures taken. My girlfriend has more but here are a few I took.
Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
Oriental Whip Snake, mildly venomous, chilling on a tree. Almost walked into it
Last edited by hammanta on August 23rd, 2017, 1:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I have a love hate relationship with Bali. On the surface it's a destination that has it all; fabulous culture and history, adventures anywhere from high adrenaline water sports to volcano trekking, rafting and mountain Biking, quality beaches, and crazy nightlife. There are world renowned hotels that top out at $700 a night or more, as well as crazy themed lodging such as Safari Inn to futuristic hotels and pristine lush mountain escapes. I stayed in an awesome Airbnb right in the middle of Ubud, the temple and historical area of the Island (think Eat, Pray, Love location).
With that said, Bali (at least the areas I was at) lacked a genuine feel. It's all way to commercial. The souvenirs that look so cool can be found all throughout the island in privately owned shoppes to large chain stores. The temples lose their flare with cafe's and chain restos (Starbucks, Uno,etc.) sitting in their front yard. A lot of the statue's and murals were created less than 25 years ago and the temples look relatively new as well. Want to hike a cool volcano, be prepared for the likes of 500 plus people doing the same thing at 3am. I'm sure there are areas in Bali that have a more pristine feel but in the 7 days I was there I didn't find them.
With that said I still genuinely enjoyed my experience there and slammed a lot of activities into my itinerary including volcano trekking, white water rafting, temple viewings, Bali Zoo, getting spit on by an Orangutan, and of course the ever famous Monkey Forest.
Bali is expensive though and I went over my budget big time while I was there. I also under estimated the size of the Island. I thought in my mind the island was some tiny place but in reality the main city of Denpasar has over 400,000 people and is highly urbanized. From East to West the island would take 6+ hours to traverse in a car (4 hours from north to south) thus one would need weeks to see and do most of what Bali has to offer.
Overall I give it a 7/10
Though a tourist trap, I think I enjoyed the Monkey Forest the most. Very amusing if you like animals.
Thanks for the report.
I visited Bali and yes the hotels there are expensive because it's consider a great honey moon destination for the richer Asian (South Korean maybe Japanese) tourist. Because of the beaches you also have the Aussie I think going there for the surf.
I stayed in a very wonderful Airbnb for $35 a night right in Ubud so luckily I bypassed the luxury locations. I think I went during high time because everywhere was crowded with European and Australian Tourists. I did get to see Kuta beach but I'm not a surfer so I didn't appreciate it that much.
Oh I don't regret by any means bringing her, but she's not into clubbing or bar hopping as much so I missed those opportunities. But we had a blast nevertheless.
I haven't been to Batanes yet but it is on my wishlist. Apparently it doesn't have the typical Philippine climate and is more similar to that of Hong Kong's. There use to be a ferry going over from Currimao in Ilocos Norte a few years ago too but the route got cancelled, so the only way of reaching it now is by plane from Manila, and also Tuguegarao and Laoag.
I saw my first cockfight in Puerto Galera which was underwhelming to say the least. Lasted a few seconds.
It's ironic you should mention Far Cry. I've been playing Far Cry 3 today - one of my favourite video games.
Why do western men die before their western wives? Because they want to!
I can't speak for the climate of Hong Kong as I haven't been there but while I was in Batanes it was HOT. More so than Manila at the time. Batanes is a lovely place but will get boring after more than maybe 5 days. There are few restaurants, little to do at night, and hard to get supplies. Restaurants and stores run out of things all the time and after a few days the scenery no longer becomes breath-taking. Still worth the visit to see the scenery and the locals.
Regarding cockfighting, I've been to Philippines 5 different times and that was my first time experiencing it. I thought it was fun due to the gambling aspect (I like to gamble ) but take that away and it's very anticlimactic.
I'm not a big gamer but I've loved the Far Cry Series for years now. Far Cry 3 definitely the best. FarCry 4 was nearly as good but Primal was alet down.
Appreciate the kind words Pete. The trip was a blast.
Nice photos and trip reports. I spent a week in KL when I was getting my Thai visa and it was a really interesting place. In 7 days there I took more photos than in 6 months living in Bangkok.
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