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02 September 2012

A repeat journey to Malaysia, Laos, Thailand and Indonesia.

By Gerald

I have perhaps lived the life that Asia’s TAG line expresses – ‘now everyone can fly’ – over the past few years. Each time I holiday away I find myself drawn back particularly to Malaysia and Indonesia, partly because of friendships made there, but also the ability to actually go. Air Asia fares from Australia (my home) encourage one to put thought into action.

And so my July ’12 trip was to again catch up with friends and also to explore somewhere I had not been before. My 23 day (wouldn’t you like that length of break?) itinerary took me from points as diverse as Tioman Island on Malaysia’s East Coast and the South China Sea – the description of where it is sounds exotic – and the place certainly is, through to the tea fields in the hills of Bogor, about 60kms outside Jakarta.

At Tioman, I had the pleasure of staying at Melina Beach Resort, an Eco Retreat tucked away in its own private bay. Bliss. The opportunity to immediately enter vacation mode and and a like mindset. Swim, snorkel, kayak, stroll – and all this within a few meters of your room. There is even a tree house as one of the sets of accommodation. How good is that?

Next stop after a bus trip from the small town of Mersing into KL and LCCT was a few days layover in Vientiane, Laos. Many folks pass through and give Asia’s boutique capital just a couple of days, but there is much to enjoy and especially after repeat visits you strike up accord with even a favourite small laundry where you are welcomed back after 14 months as if it is only yesterday since you last visited. Laos is still that sort of place – the pace is relaxing and there is an opportunity to soak up local experiences and have the satisfaction of feeling that you can really get to know the city.
Again I have a favourite place to stay in Vientiane which is deservedly well rated on the Travel Sites. Hotel Khamvongsa is just a joy to hang out in as the base for a stay.
Vientiane is changing (progress?), so make sure you head to Laos whilst it still has an innocence about it.

A short time spent in UdonThani on the Thailand’s Mekong side allowed me to catch up with friends for two days – they extended me wonderful hospitality including being in the back of a pickup to explore the hills and sites around the city. I never tire of seeing rice fields and the green of Asia’s rural life (our green back home is different).

Next task was taking a long set of three flights with Air Asia through Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and across to Bandung to arrive in the middle evening after a before breakfast start. Air Asia’s attentive cabin service and welcome on each flight made the journey easy however.

Bandung is a favourite with shoppers – not my scene – I just like the vibe of the place, the fact that I know folk there, and as it is a university town, there is a great night live music scene and lots of good eating. Being surrounded by hills and at 900m above sea level it is a cooler place in many ways.

My last stop was Bogor, home to my friend’s elder sister and family. Again I was scooped up and shown so much in a few days. A side trip to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah took me to the outskirts of Jakarta and the chance to see so much of Indonesia and its regions portrayed in one place. But for me the joy of Bogor was its hills covered in tea plantations which date back to the beginning of the 1900′s and which now defines the appearance of the area.

All too soon it was ‘home time’ – that thing that occurs at the end of a holiday break, when you say :: where did the time go? So another multi-flight took me easily from Bandung to LCCT and then Air AsiaX to Sydney.

Now planning has begun for the next one!