“It is easy to go over the border. It’s much harder to come back,” the guide teases.
As I look on to the thin stretch of elevated concrete, that crucial marker that keeps the peace for one of the most volatile feuds still existing in the world, flimsy is the word that comes to mind. It almost beckons you to at least try to violate it. Well, I say almost, if not for the stern-faced soldiers gravely guarding the demarcation line. They are staggered all over the Joint Security Area (JSA), one of the few things which North Korea and South Korea both agreed to share. Tension hangs thick in the air; the soldiers breathe this in all-day. Continue reading →
How Taiwan isn’t rolling off everyone’s tongues when they speak of adventure trips in Asia is a bit baffling. In the brief time I’ve spent overall in this country, I’ve seen stunning landscapes, met inspiring people, and took part in memorable traditions. Hualien County, around 2-3 hours by train from urban Taipei, is one of such little-known places, but one I would urge all my friends to see. Continue reading →
Before I get to the list, there’s one important thing I need to share — Ferdy. That’s the only name you’ll ever need to know in Bali.
Ours was a serendipitous meeting — we were a group of six stranded in Jimbaran, at the mercy of the overpriced taxis that lurked outside the restaurants. That was, until Ferdy came along in his Bluebird cab to drop off his passengers.
“Six, can?” – Us
“Can!” – Ferdy
And with three words, a bond was formed.
Ferdy had a smiling rest-face, which puts you at ease at once. We liked him so much that we hired him to be our driver/guide for the whole of the next day. He was honest, cheerful, and extremely generous the whole time, as if he were taking long-time friends around to see his home. I can honestly say that our trip wouldn’t have been as memorable if we didn’t get to know Ferdy.
Okay, now that you know the best driver-slash-guide in Bali, it’s time to explore! The island is simply humungous. For the six visits I’ve made to Bali, I’ve barely scratched the surface. It’s uncanny: each time I go, I find around 5 more things to do when I return to the Island of the Gods.
Here are ten suggestions on how you can make your own Balinese adventure unforgettable, based on the knockout experiences that made me come back for more (I’ve listed them in no particular order):
1. Paraglide at Timbis Beach
A sure way to get a Bali high is to paraglide at Timbis Beach. It sounds crazy to jump off a bluff, but once you soar above the hills and the sea, over the ridiculously expensive cliffside mansions, then it will all make sense. If you’re lucky, your tandem instructor may let you take the reins and control the chute for a bit. If you’re extremely lucky, you may even get to literally touch the clouds! This adventure is time-dependent; paragliding season in Timbis Beach is from May to October.
It was a strange feeling — heading to Thailand and knowing that I didn’t come here to saunter at the beach, nor to hit the flea market. Instead, I was making a beeline for something far away from the waves and the skyline — onto the mountainous state of Chiang Mai.
If Bangkok is the kingdom’s Fashionista, and Phuket, its Party Animal, the Chiang Mai would be the Flower Child. With a laid-back cool, it bids you to take things slow. Ever so gently, you find that you’ve turned from the bucket-bearing all-night-reveler, to that morning person who gets up to bike along the rice fields. Continue reading →
For me, Singapore is at its prettiest during the night. All the neons are bright, and the light shows are plenty.
As much as I love hopping on a plane and zipping off somewhere, I also love days when I just stroll around Singapore itself. Somehow, I almost always stumble upon something interesting, like a free concert, a flea market, or a bunch of ingenious buskers.
Hopefully, this vid will make people think of the city-state as not just another layover spot (although our airport is indeed king!), but as the bustling Lion City where surprises await to pounce on the curious wanderer.
I think I just found Santa Claus’ holiday lair (or at least where his reindeers escape to get some R&R).
I must admit, Nara was nowhere near my go-see radar. That was before a little bird told me that it was home to free-roaming wild deer, who didn’t mind being doted on by humans (that is a lot, we’re not exactly the world’s cutest species). On my return to Kansai, we hopped on the JR for a quick day trip to Nara.
Nara turned out to be a nice alternative to Kyoto, if you are all for immersing yourself in the rustic, nostalgic side of Japan, but are a bit wary of getting caught in the tourist stampede. Only a handful of people stepped off the train with us. As we strolled through the cafes lining the path that led to Nara Park, it almost felt like we were the only excursionists around. Continue reading →
My mission? To have fearless joy. Once I figure out what that means, I'll let you know how it goes.