Thailand, Singapore & Indonesia 2015
The last time we went to South East Asia was in 2013 so it's was time for us to go there again. Reeta wanted to go to Indonesia, so I devised a plan to visit several beautiful places in Asia including Indonesia.
Since we didn't have a lot of time (only two and half weeks) we had to make a tight schedule in order to get the best value for our time. We had to make an ideal mix of discovering culture, seeing world wonders and relax. It was a big puzzle, but we managed to plan a great trip.
Of course, we couldn't plan a trip to South East Asia without paying a visit to our friends in Hat Yai, Thailand. From Schiphol Amsterdam Airport we took a one-way China Airlines flight to Bangkok. After 11,5 hours we arrived in Bangkok. We were a little behind schedule so there was no time to relax, because we had to check in to our Thai Smile airways flight to Hat Yai. This flight only takes about 1,5 hours. At Hat Yai airport our friends, Ralph and Oa, were waiting there for us. Their kids (5yo and 6yo) were at school and we picked them up later that day. The first stop was lunch! Delicious fresh and spicy noodle soup. After that we went to our friends house to freshen up (we had been travelling for almost 20 hours) and take short power nap. Hat Yai is very nice city in the South of Thailand. Not to many tourists and that makes it a very easy going place to be. Our friends know the city well so they could take us to very nice places and restaurants.
One day our friend Oa took us to her gym which also has a medical centre attached to it. Reeta had a small physical check up in order to find the cause of her constantly blocked nose. The doctors in The Netherlands can't seem to find the cause of her problem and they're also not willing to look beyond their traditional methods. It's probably all about money. Anyhow, we had a great afternoon at the gym and then Oa suggested that Reeta could join one of her Zumba classes. And while they were doing Zumba I got a private lesson in Muay Thai. It was really fun and intense. I had to take regular small breaks. Not that my endurance was so bad, but it was at least 30 degrees Celsius in that gym which caused to me to overheat rapidly. Even a solid block of ice to my chest was not cold enough. But I managed to finish the whole hour and gain a great experience.
We only stayed with our friends for one week. Which was too short. Next time I really need to plan a longer stay with them. During our stay with our friends from Hat Yai we went on a road trip. By car we went to Trang and stayed in a very nice boutique hotel. The hotel was still new and since we were only staying for one night we chose the cheapest room, which was very comfortable but had no windows. We had a great dinner and in the evening Reeta, Ralph and I went to 7eleven to get some drinks. The beer was very nice and cold and came in 660ml bottles! We sat on the hotels terrace (which was a large balcony) overlooking the streets of Trang. A very nice way to end a beautiful day.
The next morning we got up early and drove to the seashore at Hat Chao Mai National Park. From there we took a shabby longtail boat to the island of Koh Muk. The ocean was a bit rough and we got fairly wet, but in the hot Thai weather our clothes dried up very fast. The island of Koh Muk is very small and there are no cars on the island. Only bicycles and motorbikes. So our taxi to the resort was a motorbike with a home-made side car. It was by far the best taxi ride I've ever had so far.
We went to Muk Lamaai resort. A relatively small, but very nice resort. Great room, right next to the pool and we were the only guests at that time. The staff was great and extremely nice and friendly people (which becomes painfully noticeable when you're used to Dutch people who are generally arrogant and inconsiderate). The staff took care of the rooms, breakfast and dinner. They also took us on small road trips around the island. If you ever find yourself on Koh Muk, go to Muk Lamaai resort.
Unfortunately, after a week of good quality time with our friends in Thailand we had to move on to the next leg of our journey. We wanted to go to Yoghyakarta in Indonesia, but there were no direct flights from Hat Yai, so we had to go to Singapore first. We decided to stay in Singapore for a day before moving on to Indonesia. We've been in Singapore before and although it is just a big, shiny and fairly clean city we still enjoyed ourselves. This time however the city was covered in 'Haze'. A dense smog caused by Indonesian farmers who burn their land to prepare it for the next crop. These massive forest fires create a very unhealthy smog in Singapore and Malaysia every year. In Singapore you can do a lot of shopping, but we went to the gardens by the bay. One of the things we didn't get to see on our last visit. The gardens behind the bay are situated right behind the famous Marina Bay Sands Resort hotel. It was hot and sticky day so while visiting the gardens we were also hopping from aircon to aircon.
After Singapore it was time to go to Indonesia for the first time (and our second time on the southern hemisphere). Thankfully, we came prepared so paying cash for our on-arrival-visa was fast and easy at Yoghyakarta airport. No long wait. And with our change we could easily pay for our taxi to the hotel. Our first impression of Indonesia was that it was quite dirty and there were far more motorbikes than we saw in Thailand. Also, it felt a lot hotter than in Thailand. The thermometer clock right next to our hotel stated 42 degrees Celsius in the middle of the day. Apart from the dirty city and the gazillion motorbikes we had a nice stay. The people were very friendly and the food was often great. From Yoghyakarta we took daytrips to the Borudbodur temple and Pramban temple. The tourist attractions were quite expensive, but the cheap food and drinks made up for it. We often saw evidence of Dutch presence (occupation) from many years ago. Apart from the daytrips we took, Yoghyakarta city itself wasn't a very interesting place to be. It was just big and dirty. I did, however, got to buy some batik. The cheap stuff, but it looks OK. After 3 days in hot hot hot Yoghyakarta it was time to relax in a luxurious resort on the island of Lombok. The taxi ride to the airport was terrible. Very busy roads, so we were glad we left early. Yoghyakarta airport is very small, so it was full of travellers. Our plane was a bit late and once we were on it we were stuck in an aeroplane with a very annoying kid. Thankfully, the flight was only for 1 hour and my mp3 player could easily tune out the annoying kid in the back. We arrived late in the evening at Lombok airport and from there we had another full hour to go by taxi to the resort.
So the trip from Yoghyakarta to Lombok was really bad, but it was all forgotten once we arrived in our luxurious resort room at Living Asia Resort Lombok. We stayed at Living Asia Resort for 4 days. Just relaxing at the pool and having an occasional cocktail. We did a few small road trips on the island, but our main goal was to relax and be pampered by the staff of the resort. So we did see the beautiful countryside of Lombok with it's rice fields and some Hindu temples, but we also enjoyed the swimming pool and the comfort of the resort.
Once we were relaxed it was already time to go back to Singapore. Again we stayed there for one day before going to our final destination. In this case 'Amsterdam'. I didn't want to leave South East Asia, but it was time to go. It took some effort to get used to the 6 hour time difference and 20 degrees Celsius temperature difference, but nothing we hadn't experienced before.
All in all we had a great, but short, holiday with some great new experiences. Now it's time plan for our next visit :).
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