Category: 2015

I observe racism even before entering the country. Approaching immigration, a security guard directs people into different lines. So far so good, but the guard does not direct people with the intention that all lines have roughly equal length but separates people like me into the “short line” and people that look like labourers from South Asia into the “long line”. Whereas only a few people are in my line, there are more than 50 in the other line. Who cares if the labourers have to wait? […]

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The plane is late, I have to take a taxi to get to the train station and catch one of the last trains of the day. I enter the train armed with a sushi box, let myself fall into the comfy seat and soon we head south at 300 km/h. It feels so good after months of slow and uncomfortable transport. Outside, only the lights of cities and towns are visible. My plane had landed in the north of Taiwan but two-and-a-half hours later, I am already in Tainan in the south of the country. […]

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Fate brought me to Gunung Mulu National Park. Bad research led me try to take a non-existent ferry from Brunei and the only option to leave on that day was the bus to Miri in Malaysia’s Sarawak state. Before I entered the bus, I made sure to book the flights to Gunung Mulu. The National Park lies deep inside the mountains and planes are the only way to get there.
Gunung Mulu is famous for its caves. […]

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Brunei is a rich Sultanate occupying a tiny spot on the island of Borneo. Malaysia has a much bigger part of the island and Indonesia’s territory is much larger still. The sultan rules as an absolute monarch over the roughly 430,000 people in Brunei, applying a mixture of English common law and sharia law. Wealth from oil and gas has transformed Brunei in the last decades. Its GDP per capita, measured at Purchasing Power Parity, ranks among the highest in the world. Brunei just doesn’t look like a rich country. […]

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Time is running short. I have to decide if I want to visit Indonesia for only a few days or not at all. Getting a short impression is better than getting no impression at all, so I go. From Singapore I take the ferry to the nearby island of Batam and from Batam a perversely cheap flight to Padang on the western side of Sumatra. I am glad that I decided to visit Indonesia: Firstly, it is a very beautiful country; secondly, Indonesian girls love to smile and thirdly, the avocado-chocolate smoothies are amazing. […]

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Singapore is an island city-state located off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. It sits at the entrance of the Strait of Malacca, a vital shipping lane connecting the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. Modern Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles as a trading post of the British Empire. For the Malays its island location made it uninteresting, the city of Johor on the mainland was much more important. Colonial powers love islands though, they are easier to take control of and defend. […]

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I enter Thailand arriving from Laos in the northeastern Isan Province. It is the poorest part of the country and sees few tourists although it has quite a few attractions. For the average traveller it just doesn’t fit in the usual preconceptions of Thailand with beach and fun. The first stop is Ubon Ratchanthani. The Night Market is a great introduction into Thai cuisine, cheap and delicious food all around. […]

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