Asia

Asia

On an Isolated Corner of Ko Samui

Backpacking in Search of Paradise

Like many desk-bound Canadians, I had always fantasized about finding the perfect tropical beach. A beach with the whitest sand, the clearest water, and most importantly, the fewest tourists. In 2003, I had left a promising career on hold to explore Thailand in search of Garland's perfect beach with Charles, who was then my boyfriend of just over a year. The numbers themselves argued against being able to find paradise. Close to ten million tourists visit Thailand each year, with a good proportion of them hitting the touristy mainland beaches of Pattaya, and almost as many visiting the island of Phuket. Join me as I search through sun-drenched islands in search of a paradise that may soon be lost to all of us.
Fountains in front of the Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Travel Photo: Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In the heart of Malaysia lies a metropolitan city redefining traditions and expectations. With its modern façade and quick way of life, Kuala Lumpur is a jewel of a city and one of the busiest and most metropolitan in all of South East Asia. With its close proximity to Singapore and world class airport, the city is thriving and its technological infrastructure is one of Asia's most prized assets.

Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia and is the most developed city in the country. With over 1.6 million residents it's also a decent size.

The city is rife with energy and richness. Both in its food, culture and in its people. It also boasts gorgeous year round temperatures due to...

MK And The Little Man Hong Kong Harbor

Meat Floss And The Vegetarian: My Unplanned Affair

I've been a vegetarian since I was about ten.

I love to get immersed in the countries I'm visiting. This means getting as far away from any English speaking folks or signs as I can.

As a vegetarian, this can be pretty tough. I break out my bad Mandarin (or Thai, or Cantonese) and ask for something with no meat. I almost always get pork or fish, because most people assume vegetarians just don’t eat red meat. Vegetarian is a concept that just doesn't translate well.

After countless meals trying to order vegetarian food, I was getting frustrated. And hungry.

And then I found the ...

Doi Suthep Temple, Chiang Mai

Travel Photo: Bells at Wat Pharathat Doi Suthep Temple, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai's Buddhist temples are some of the oldest in Thailand. Open to the public, they're great examples of Thai architecture, and a wonderful way to see true Thai culture and history.

Doi Suthep can be seen from almost anywhere in Chiang Mai, clinging to the mountainside close to the summit of Doi Suthep hill. Doi Suthep temple was built under King Geu Na in the late 14th century.

It's believed that striking the bells will bring good luck.

Legend holds that the temple's site was chosen by a sacred white elephant charging through the forest. King Geu Na ordered the temple built where the ...

Downtown and Marina Bay at night, Singapore

Travel Photo: Marina Bay at Night, Singapore

Marina Bay, in the sovereign city-state of Singapore, is a vibrant section of the city that includes the diversified Central Area or CBD (Central Business District). It is a 24/7 lit up wonderland that includes 3 1/2 kms of paths along the Waterfront Promenade, numerous hotels, commercial shops, high end residential buildings and lots of entertainment options.

Home to the famous Merlion and Marina Centre, this area of the city is well lit up regardless of the hour. The lights and views (especially at night) almost put Las Vegas' neon strip to shame and are a pride for all who live there.

Singapore has one of the busiest water ports in the world and the city-state uses water as a backdrop to highlight it's success at every opportunity. Whether you're walking down the Promenade, sipping a Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel (home of the Singapore Sling) or marvelling at the creative wonder of The Helix Bridge you'll feel...

Yapak Beach (Puka Shell Beach), Boracay, Philippines

Travel Photo: Yapak Beach (Puka Shell Beach), Boracay, Philippines

The island of Boracay in the Philippines is considered by many to be one of the nicest beach destinations in the world. It routinely makes it into the top 10 beach lists year after year. After a few moments walking the length of it's three main beaches you'll quickly understand why.

Yapak Beach (Puka Shell Beach) on the northern side is special because it's entirely made up of white puka shells. Though this creates a slightly rougher sand compared to the famous white powder on White Beach, the color of the azure water and the quiet isolation easily make up for it.

The throngs of people that spend their waking hours walking up and down amazing White Beach or Kite Boarding on the windy Bolabog Beach rarely venture to this quiet area that is every bit as nice as it's siblings. To get there you can...

Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

Travel Photo: Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

Victoria Harbour, in beautiful Hong Kong, is a perfect juxtaposition of old world charm meets rampant 21st century commercialism. There aren't that many places in the world where a 19th century style Chinese junk boat (the Duk Ling) could sail through a crowded harbour backdropped by giant skyscrapers topped with monomental brand names and yet look so perfectly in it's element. It's striking, yet works. As beautiful as Victoria Harbour is during the day, at night it really shines with its dazzling A Symphony of Lights where more than 40 of Hong Kong's skyscrapers light up the night in a music and light show. The show takes place on both sides of the harbour and is a joy to see. From the waterfront you can take a ride up The Peak or jump on a ferry and head to...
Ko Mook, Thailand

Travel Photo: Farang Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand

Koh Mook, a small island paradise in the South West of Thailand in the Andaman Sea is a place of quiet tranquility. Due to it's small size and lack of almost anything, this is the perfect place to get away from it all. There are a few small resorts on the island however the place remains fairly low key even in the high season.

Besides for spending your days lounging in the 28°C ocean and stretching out on the glistening white sand, you'll probably find yourself enjoying a beer or two as your days slowly blend into each other. The biggest excitement of the day is watching the few longtail boats drop off and escort away the guests of the island since that's the only way to get there. Occasionally you'll see a sailboat tied up off the tip of the bay and the occasional diving boat might drive by in the distance.

In the morning there are usually a few...