Asia Travel Stories

Feeling like Tomb Raider
Welcome to the Asia Travel Stories. Within these pages, you can read selected stories and musings about our waterfall-themed adventures in Asia. Hopefully, you'll find these stories entertaining and educational. Perhaps you might get a good laugh at our expense, or you might find some nuggets that you can apply to your own travels.

Thumb through the travel stories below. They are arranged chronologically with the most recent escapade at the top. Enjoy :)



Sunset over Sun Moon Lake in the geographical heart of Taiwan (26-October 2016 to 6-November 2016)
Yin Yang Traveling
: The drive felt surprisingly long, and when we were getting close to Tainan, at around 1:15pm, I thought it was just a matter of time before we'd be at our hotel and be in position to just walk about town seeing the city's main sights. However, we had trouble entering into the Taiwanese Garmin GPS the accommodation that Mom had booked on Friday night, and when she finally started getting a handle on the location of the accommodation on her iPhone, that was when I realized that we weren't staying within reasonable reach of the city center of Tainan. Instead, Mom thought that we should be staying around Anping Fort as she somehow latched onto this place thinking that I was interested in it though I had no idea how she came to that conclusion. So when we finally got to the accommodation called the Wei-Yat Grand Hotel at 1:55pm, we were then told that check-in wasn't until 3pm so we just left most of our luggage at the lobby then quickly headed out as time (in terms of daylight and attraction closures) was running out. It was frustrating that what we once perceived as having a lot of time when we had finished the Maolin Valley Waterfall was now a race against time...[read more]



Koyo at the Shirahone Onsen (13-October 2016 to 26-October 2016)
Seeking Out Japan's Top 100
: Eventually, we caught the 7:32am train hoping that this was the 7:30 bullet train going to Mito, but it didn't take long before an english announcement said that the train would stop at every station after Abiko. So from that point on, we had a decision to make. Should we get off the next stop and take the next train back to Ueno hoping that we'd arrive in time to catch the 8am train back to Mito? Or should we keep going on this slow train hoping to still catch the 9:22am train from Mito to Fukuroda. Well, we decided to keep going thinking that with this train having the 28-minute head start, it couldn't beat us to Mito, could it?...[read more]



A couple chilling out in the Maldives (17-November 2009 to 20-November 2009)
The Vacation from the Vacation
: We did a bit of a walking tour of the city, but we were pretty determined to find something good that was local and so we followed our LP guide into this place (I forgot its name) where we had ourselves delicious (and spicy) fish curries. Now THIS was what we were looking for! It was funny that we had to leave the resort to get the real Maldivian experience, but I guess that's kind of how we roll. We'd much prefer to do things that are more indicative of the local lifestyle than try to have a home away from home. After all, isn't the differences and the variety of life what travel is all about in the first place?...[read more]



At Marari Beach in Kerala (17-November 2009 to 20-November 2009)
Laid Back India
: We'd eventually walk in front of two other beach resorts. And well after the sun went down, we started to notice crabs coming out of their holes. Just a few paces from our hotel, I felt something squishy on my left sandal. I feared the worst as apparently I did it again...[read more]



The Shiva Statue at Murudeshwar (14-November 2009 to 16-November 2009)
Converted Soul
: When I Lokesh noticed I was busy washing my boots at a water spigot near his car, he inquired what I was doing. "I'm washing sh*t off my boots," I said, squeamishly as my fingers were in the grooves of the boots where water by itself couldn't get the stuff off. He nodded and said, "I smelled something in the car." I guess that explained it...[read more]



Goan sunset (12-November 2009 to 13-November 2009)
A Tale Of Two Goas
: ...furious after realizing there was no hot water (I took a cold shower), no hair dryer, no filtered water, toilet cover broken, no hand towels, and overall the room felt quite dirty and subpar considering we're spending 2 nights here and Goa was a resort town, Julie placed a call with the local rep to request a change of accommodation for tomorrow night (it was already too late for tonight). This place (a supposedly resorty place that foreigners go to for a relaxing beach holiday in India) was the worst we'd been to for some time. We both could take this for smaller rural villages, but we're talking a resort town here. Something just didn't add up...[read more]



Sunset in Meghalaya (9-November 2009 to 11-November 2009)
Black Nostrils
: Throughout the flight, Julie was started to get the chills. I speculated whether it was the soot from the diesel exhaust in both Shillong and Guwahati that weakened her immune system. I also had black nostrils myself as my nose had boogers covered in black soot, and each time I blew my nose, I could see black specks on the tissue. So indeed this wasn't quite the anniversary day that I was hoping for. What else could go wrong?...[read more]



The India Gate (1-November 2009 to 8-November 2009)
"Hello, Delhi!"
: ...I guess Julie and I were a bit tired from the early morning wake-up and consequent safari and food coma so we dozed off. But suddenly at 12:15pm, Subhash slammed on the brakes, waking both of us up. When the vehicle stopped, I noticed a little boy lying beside the road. Subhash seemed like he was in shock as he sat silent, and then got out of the car. From that point, he was swarmed by villagers (one of them hitting him repeatedly). And it was then that I started to compute what had happened....[read more]



Bird skimming Sea of Okhotsk (5-June 2009 to 12-June 2009)
As Wild As Japan Gets
: But just as we were about to get going past the bridge, we were stopped in our tracks by a closure sign. We couldn't read the Japanese script by this closure sign, but a sign further up the path showed a picture of a menacing bear. "I don't need to read Japanese to understand that sign," said a relieved Julie, who didn't feel like doing this waterfall anyways knowing that bears are in the area...[read more]



Fushimi Inari Taisha (28-May 2009 to 4-June 2009)
From The Alps To Old School Japan
: But at least they weren't kidding about this bus being "express" as it pretty much skipped every stop along the way except for a stop at Terada, which we arrived at 4:25pm. As we waited for this train to leave, I looked at the monitor in front of our train and saw some nine stops or so 'til the end. For an hour-long train ride, there's no way there could be nine more stops so my doubts that kept nagging at me finally became action. So eventually with my worrying, Julie asked some employee on the train, "Toyama?" Then the guy pointed at that other train waiting to leave as well. Oh man, we had better get our stuff and run...[read more]



Mt Fuji (21-May 2009 to 27-May 2009)
Completely On Our Own
: We knew to head straight for the Chuo Line (instead of the Yamanote Line like last time) to connect to the Shinjuku Station. The problem was that once we got on the correct platform, we couldn't figure out which side of the platform we should be going to. So I went into the train that was currently there and tried to read some of the signs to get an idea of whether it was the right train or not. The signs didn't help me much though. But just as I was about to leave the train with Julie waiting for me outside, the door closed! The train was about to move and both Julie and I were separated! Julie panicked and my heart started to race. So both of us tried real hard to force the doors open before the train moved...[read more]



The Forbidden City (18-May 2009 to 20-May 2009)
The North Capital
: After a bit of tense back-and-forth discussions along with a phone call between Donald and the travel company, Donald eventually caved into Julie's demands, and we were eventually on our way to Badaling. No one seemed terribly happy in the car from the driver to Donald to Julie who could understand the complaints made between Donald and the driver in Chinese. I could sense the momentary tension and it was apparent that we shared in a moment of disharmony - something that wasn't what the CCP wants these days (they'd rather have a "harmonious" society)...[read more]



Diaoshuilou Waterfall (not) (12-May 2009 to 18-May 2009)
Too Soon In The Northeast
: So we disembarked to a chorus of "Meiguoren (American)" or "Laowai (Old Foreigner; not exactly a kind thing to say)" by some of the more intoxicated guys also wielding cigarettes. Restraint needed to be exercised so as to not get in a brawl with these guys that were also blowing smoke and hocking loogies everywhere (just like inside the train). And when we got off the boat, it wasn't clear whether we'd be on another boat tour since we weren't sure if another group would show up and justify a trip with the minimum number of people required. Needless to say, an already disappointing day was becoming a disaster...[read more]



Shanghai (9-May 2009 to 11-May 2009)
Belly Of The Rooster
: There, we paid our 20 yuan per person admission charge and walked about checking out some of the indoor exhibits and having fun with looking at some of the larger statues, especially the first one with a large penis and a chain around its mouth. The sign next to it said something to the effect that you can't stop Nature...[read more]



Tianmen Dong (6-May 2009 to 8-May 2009)
Getting The Sell On
: He straight away asked whether we'll pay in cash or credit. But we already hesitated. And upon further inspection of the box, I had read that this stuff was Bear Bile Powder (which thankfully was spelled out in English [it was the only English words on there]). That was the dealbreaker (not that there was any deal to begin with). I wasn't going to encourage the destroying of endangered animals over this. I wondered if there was some other "ailment" if they'd pull out Tiger parts or some other critically endangered organism going into their stuff...[read more]



Terracota Mannequins (3-May 2009 to 6-May 2009)
Emperor Qin's Legacy
: In any case, we still got to see our waterfall! However, we felt bad for the poor driver who was in the car since 6am - over 15 hours. He said he had never been out this far before and the longest he had driven in any one stretch of time in his 25 years on the job was 1.5 hours. So the 6 hours or so of straight driving was a total marathon I'm sure...[read more]



Jiuzhaigou (28-April 2009 to 3-May 2009)
The Home Away From Home
: Once uncle got home from work, we conversed for a bit. Unfortunately, he had a pretty thick Sichuan accent or dialect going and we really couldn't understand a word he was saying. It reminded me of when one of Julie's former coworkers who was Scottish took us out for some English tea. And her husband had this really thick Scottish accent that I could barely make out what he was saying. But at least this was in English. With the uncle, I could only imagine how someone fluent in Mandarin Chinese would have trouble understanding this guy...[read more]



Huangguoshu Pubu (25-April 2009 to 27-April 2009)
The Yellow Fruit Tree Surprise
: At that point, we embarked on what would turn out to be one of the more dangerous slow boat cruises I've taken part of as this boat (as well as others) would routinely crash into the walls while passing under some treacherously low stalactites and tree branches. You'd definitely be knocked out if you didn't watch out and duck underneath these obstacles. Both Julie and Li were yelling at me to "duck!" or "xiao xin!" because I was usually busy taking pictures without noticing where the boat was headed. Apparently, I needed to pay more attention as a stalactite or tree branch would narrowly miss my noggin...[read more]



Detian Pubu (22-April 2009 to 24-April 2009)
Not Quite The Detian We Hoped For
: Now, it was time to get to sleep, but one thing we learned that was kind of a downer was that this place didn't have mosquito nets. This was disconcerting considering that malaria and yellow fever were a possibility in these parts. Plus, the later the evening went on, the more mosquitoes we noticed were buzzing around on the white ceiling in our room. I'm guessing they got through the openings on the non-weatherproof door or crevaces in the windows. In any case, we were sleeping with Jungle Juice on this night...[read more]



Lijiang (19-April 2009 to 22-April 2009)
Krazy Karst
: That relative peace and tranquility was quickly dashed on our way out as large Chinese tour groups with tour guides speaking through bullhorns once again invaded the premises (apparently they were done with lunch by now). And it got worse as we went closer to the entrance. In fact, that entrance area was totally crowded with people from multiple tour groups with multiple bullhorned tour guides blaring their lectures and instructions all at the same time. We were quite glad that we had our lunch first and then toured afterwards...[read more]



Tian Tan (15-April 2009 to 19-April 2009)
Losing Ourselves In Hong Kong
: ...Afterwards, we headed for the cable car and made the scenic nearly half-hour ride. The clouds looked dark and threatening, but they hadn't delivered any precipitation. However, the winds were howling and that made the cable car ride a bit scary as we were swaying in it...[read more]



Angkor Tom (7-January 2009 to 9-January 2009)
Where's Your Head At?
: By this point I was really getting the chills. While we were busy being herded through security and then quickly walking to our transfer gate at the Hong Kong Airport, my teeth were chattering even though we were moving fast and I was fully clothed in fleece jacket, long pants, a hiking shirt, and wool socks. I was looking forward to the plane ride partially to at least try to get some sleep and fight off this apparent fever. But at the same time, I wasn't looking forward to the flight because it was going to be over 13 hours and if I don't manage to sleep most of the time, it was gonna be one hell of a long flight. "Honey. That's now the third time you've got food poisoning. When will you learn?" said Julie...[read more]



Sukhothai Historical Park (28-December 2008 to 7-January 2009)
Ready Chedi?
: At this point, I was getting worried because the last time this happened was back in Peru and even though it was kind of working now, it was merely a matter of moments before the lens would become stuck completely. Since we're not even half way through our trip, this was worrisome. And sure enough after a few more minutes of touring the temples at Doi Inthanon, the lens got completely stuck. So from now on, it was wide angle mode from here on out...[read more]



Wat Arun in Bangkok (21-December 2008 to 28-December 2008)
One Night In Bangkok
: I kept my eye on the meter fully aware that the nice lady at the Baan Chantra reception told us we shouldn't have to pay more than 50 Baht to taxi back from Wat Pho to the hotel. Despite this, we were going on roads that didn't look familiar and eventually when the meter stopped at 58 Baht, the taxi driver stopped the car then said something that we couldn't quite understand in his limited english. Julie started to freak and said, "Where's the hotel?" in a raise voice. The taxi driver pointed to the alley way. This definitely didn't look like the street we arrived to the Baan Chantra in. In any case, it looked like we were had and now we had to figure out where we were and how to get back to the hotel......[read more]



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