31 Jul As the Southeast Asia Journey is Coming to an End…
My Southeast Asia journey is coming to an end and while I’m enjoying the last days relaxing in Pulau Perhentian, a cool island in North-Eastern Malaysia, I started thinking over the experiences of the last few weeks.
There have been highs and there have been lows. Moments when I was feeling really well, and others when I felt out of place. But it was all the same a great experience and, as for any trip, a way to discover things about myself.
[pullquote]There have been highs and there have been lows. And, once again, I discovered things about myself [/pullquote]
The first part of the Southeast Asia trip was the easiest one. I was back in Siladen, a lovely small island in Northern Sulawesi, for a friend’s wedding. I was with a small group of long time friends, and when I stay at Siladen Resort I feel at home. I chilled out, dived, worked, read, enjoyed jaw-dropping sunsets and, best of all, laughed a lot.
I then headed to Singapore, where I spent a couple of days. Since it wasn’t my first visit, I tried to discover something new – like the small but interesting Museum of Asian Civilizations – but I felt abashed by the overwhelming heat and the killer air-conditioned. Not to speak of the prices, as almost everything in Singapore is very expensive. It was nice, but I was happy to escape.
My incurable resistance in planning obliged me to wait for my Visa to Myanmar and that’s how I took a last minute decision to make a stop in Kuala Lumpur where I had never been. I liked my stay in KL. Although I can’t call it a beautiful city, it is an interesting melting-pot of culture and a place of contrasts. I was staying at a simple but welcoming guesthouse, with good wifi connection and in a very convenient location. And, most importantly, I finally met Umei – who led me through a fantastic tour to discover KL street food – and David, with whom I had been virtually in touch for a long time.
Kuala Lumpur was an unexpected discovery
When my Visa application was eventually accepted, I flew to Yangon to start exploring Burma: Mandalay, Bagan and its temples, Inle Lake. That’s when the lows began. That’s when I started asking myself what I was doing there.
I knew Southeast Asia would be tough since I never had a great feeling with that area of the world, but I thought Myanmar would be different and who knows? Maybe this time I would eventually have a burst of love!
It was tougher than I had expected. I’ll write more about Burma, but the truth is that day after day I was feeling more and more uncomfortable, confronted with a world I don’t understand, in a place which was not as I had imagined it. And while I love solo travel, I’m also aware that being alone didn’t help.
[pullquote]I knew Southeast Asia would be tough since I never had a great feeling with that area of the world. I thought Myanmar would be different. Truth is, it was tougher than I expected[/pullquote]
I could have stayed longer in Myanmar, but I didn’t feel like it. While for the first time in years I was counting the days left before heading back home, I only wanted to find a nice and calm place to relax, read, catch up with work and a huge number of e-mails I left behind as in Burma the internet connection is so slow that even the smaller thing takes ages.
I thus decided to go to the Perhentian Islands, as suggested by my friend David of Malaysia Asia. A good choice, indeed. Not the most beautiful sea destination I’ve seen but rather pretty and with a very cool atmosphere. I like having long walks on the beach, lying under a tree with a good book and most of all walking barefoot.
In a couple of days, I’ll jump on the night train again, back to Singapore to end my Southeast Asia wanderings like a queen. When I was invited by the Banyan Tree to spend the last day of my trip at their property in Bintan – a small island close to Singapore – I thought that I couldn’t have imagined anything better. A full day of indulging and pampering at a luxury hotel I have dreamed to go for a long time, before stepping on the plane that will bring me back home.
After weeks of budget hotels – some nice, other nothing special when not even ugly, but accommodation in Singapore and Burma is truly expensive -, transfers by plane, long bus rides in Myanmar and night train journeys in Malaysia, I long for a day in a dreamy place, for once surrounded by luxury and the nicest amenities.