On November 30 we left our centrally located hotel in Kuala Lumpur to reach Malacca by monorail, train and bus. The famous historic city of Malacca has a very interesting history loaded with seafearers and pirates alike. The city center has been named a UNESCO world heritage site for a reason, because the traces of the different peoples who controlled the city are very well visible.
From the refreshing coolness of the Cameron Highlands we descended back into the heat of the lowlands. In less than 4 hours our bus managed the windy road to Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. With all the time in the world we explored not only the sights of the big city, but also the trademark of Malaysia, the food.
Following the two cities of Alor Setar and George Town we headed to Ipoh, another provincial capital, before we dared to approach nature for the first time in Malaysia. We found more nature than we had originally expected and enjoyed every moment in and around the Cameron Highlands. Of course we couldn’t miss a visit to the team and a strawberry farm.
The streets in George Town’s old town have character
Our transfer from Thailand to Malaysia could have been so easy. Put quite a bit of money on the table for a ferry ticket from Ko Li Pe to Langkawi and done! We decided to try a slightly more complicated and more adventurous route and still made it. In Alor Setar and Penang we could gather some first experiences with delicious food and divers people in a country which could be a role model for other countries around the world.
From Bangkok we dared a long jump to the south of Thailand. Besides numerous beaches and islands we also had in mind to discover the beautiful nature inland. We started in the Khao Sok National Park followed by Krabi and a couple of islands further south which led to a very varied program.
We crossed Cambodia from East to West and the time had come to leave the country for good for this trip. From Battambang in the far west it was just a short hop to the border to Thailand. While the border station on the Cambodian side did have a ramshackle feel to it, the Thai side was very well organized including a nice building. We were to follow predefined lines, queue in lanes and get our passports stamped at what one might refer to as regular counters. Seven hours later we got off the bus in the middle of Bangkok’s most touristy spot to start a new adventure.
After a week-long excursion to Vietnam and the Mekong Delta we headed back from Chau Doc to Cambodia by boat. After a very journey we arrived in Kampong Thom, halfway between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The town offered some more insights into provincial life in Cambodia, as well as served as a basis for an side trip to Sambor Prey Kuk, some pre-Angkorian ruins.
We turned our backs on Cambodia for the first time on October 20. Following our journey along the Mekong river and along the Cambodian coastline we reached the southernmost border crossing along the Cambodian-Vietnamese border some time in the morning. Quite a change awaited us, because the different countries in South-East Asia seem to be more different than we would have expected. Our loop through the Mekong Delta should take roughly one week, while we explored towns, channels and markets.
Cambodians love concrete monuments: Durian roundabout in Kampot
After our first impressions of the remote areas of Cambodia and Phnom Penh, we headed out towards the sea. Once again successfully but not most efficiently, we avoided the commissions of guesthouses and travel agencies and bought the bus ticket directly from a bus company. After a 6 hour bus ride we got off the bus in a completely different world. This world was sporting beaches and palm trees and had a feel of peace, calm and relaxation. And of course a much more touristy feel to it all.
Following two wonderful days on Don Det and Don Khone islands time had come to say goodbye. To say goodbye to the wonderful landscape, to the country of Laos and also to say goodbye to a few people we had met along the way. While most tourists headed for Siem Reap and Angkor Wat in western Cambodia, we opted to slowly make our way along the Mekong river down to Phom Penh. Along the way we stopped in Kratie and Kampong Cham which proved to be two excellent choices.