…….The World Without Boundaries

Back to Sunshine in Mirissa, Sri Lanka

The highlands of Sri Lanka were so beautiful but there were times when I really missed the brightness of the tropical sun that I was so accustomed to back in my country Malaysia. Of course, being a Tropical island itself, Sri Lanka is nothing short of the hot tropical sun but of course it can only be fully acquired in the coastal areas.

Coming down to the coastal areas of Sri Lanka from our last stop in the highlands (check out my post on Ella) was not easy. We took an air-cond-less public bus so it stopped like every now and then to drop off and take in passengers along the way. It was quiet empty in the beginning but it became heavier and heavier as more and more passengers came on board. In the end it was fully loaded so many of the passengers had remain standing for hours on end.


It might only be around 5 hours – and I’ve been on much longer bus rides before – but somehow it felt like forever. Thanks God I was seated on the front row so it was probably less shaky compared to those at the back rows. I had a nice chat with a local Sri Lankan who was so eager to know what I thought of his country. Like most of the passengers on board of the bus, he was coming down from his village in the highlands to one of the coastal towns where he was working in. Read more →

That Place called ELLA

Ella was one of the places that my travel buddy Audrey had suggested us to go when we were touring the beautiful highlands of Sri Lanka. To tell the truth, I had never heard about it before Audrey mentioned it to me but of course anything with mountains and tea plantations turned me on so I was quite excited.  We went there by train after hiking across the beautiful grassland of Horton’s Plains and I could never get enough of the beautiful scenery that we were served with while cruising on the fast-moving (or slow-moving, depends on your expectation) train. I mean, seriously, the beauty of Sri Lankan highlands really took me by surprise. The train ride itself was very exciting. Every now and then the train would cut right through a hill in an underground tunnel and the screeching sound of the rails was deafening but of course it was part of the excitement.trainride (Copy)

Ella that I found out was more like a village which was about to turn into a small town. It was far from developed but the tourism industry seemed quite promising with more and more tourists coming in. A cab took us to a beautiful guesthouse which was very much strategically located on the side of a hill. The view from the veranda was just so breath-taking I really couldn’t get enough of it. It was quite unfortunate for us to be there during a long drought when Ella was not at its best look. I was told that it had not been raining for the last 6 months so the whole area was quite dry and dusty. A waterfall was supposed to be seen streaming down the hill and made it such a perfect picture for a postcard but still it was breath taking even without the waterfall. Read more →

jipp February 13, 2015 1 Comment Permalink

Sandakan – The Mecca for Foodies

Nobody comes to Sandakan without feeding himself with seafood. Sandakan is said to have the best seafood in the State – and probably in Malaysia – as told to me by some seafood enthusiasts. They told me how seafood in Sandakan is better than those in Tawau or Semporna – the other two major seafood-producing towns in Sabah. I’m not quite sure what they mean by good or how exactly they do the comparison but I know for sure that seafood is a thing of luxury back in KL so I had to go all out savoring myself with it (seafood) while I had the chance.


The famous Nasi Kuning at Taman Rimba to begin my food adventure in Sandakan with..

Of course one of the things that I still can’t find anywhere else is seafood Bah Ku Teh. I know at least two restaurants that serve good Seafood Bah Ku Teh in Sandakan. One is Nah Chai Restaurant in Tanah Merah and the other is called J4 (or something) at Batu 4. I had the impression that they were related to each other, that the one in Batu 4 was a branch to the one at Tanah Merah but I was told that they were actually not (related). Of course the one at Tanah Merah was the pioneer so I knew I had to go there first. Read more →

jipp February 13, 2015 Leave A Comment Permalink

Back to Sandakan

It was so good to be back to Sandakan again after my last goodbye to it four years ago. I was stationed there for four years and I gotta say it had shaped me a lot as a person – the experiences that I gained while I was being there were invaluable. Before coming to Sandakan, the eastern part of Sabah was quite alien to me so I was eager to explore. And true enough, my job had required me to go all over, even traveling far out into the ocean and spending hour after hour after hour on a boat ride which could turn rough at times, to remote islands that I never knew existed and to villages that could only be reached by river.


It really was a down-memory-lane for me. I went to those places that I used to go to when I was still stationed there. I loved Sandakan back then and I still do when I returned again 4 years later. Sandakan has not really changed much. I mean, there are new buildings here and there, with new hotels springing up like mushrooms after a long rain but overall it still looks pretty much the same to me. I noticed the existence of McDonald’s, Secret Recipe, Kenny Rogers and even Big Apple of which all I missed having around back then. Read more →

jipp February 8, 2015 1 Comment Permalink

Hanoi Again after 5 Years

When I first came to Hanoi 5 years ago, I found myself instantly intimidated by all the surrounding. Thanks God I flew in from Ho Chi Minh City where the traffic was probably crazier so I did manage to hold on and find enough time to gather my senses without losing my mind in the process. There were people everywhere, all running to wherever they wanted to go and that constant honking took a little bit of time to chew in. I had to remind myself over and over again that I was there on a holiday so I didn’t have to keep up with them – that I had to go about things in my own pace only then I’d get to really enjoy all the things that the city had to offer.


Arriving in Hanoi. Yippie!

But I liked Hanoi almost instantly, even more than Ho Chi Minh City, which I thought was quite too modern for my taste. Hanoi on the other side is very oriental yet so European, thanks to the French who had turned it into the Paris of the East. I could gaze and marvel at the architecture all day long without getting bored and believe me, Hanoi is not all about the architecture but a combination of so many other things that are hardly found in any other city. It is a very big city, probably bigger than KL, but somehow there’s something so rustic about it, with a strong flavor of kampong charms, at least in its people who look more like farmers that live in a metropolis that Hanoi is. Read more →

jipp January 10, 2015 Leave A Comment Permalink

My Journey to the Top of IndoChina

It was so good to be back in Vietnam – or Sapa particularly. I went there back in 2010, and instantly fell in love with that little town left by the French when they colonized Vietnam many decades ago. I’d been wanting to go there again – so badly – but I never had the chance until recently when I decided, it was now and never. I cut my Christmas short and returned to KL just to pack up and flew off to Hanoi the very next day. I would be ushering in the New Year – in a foreign land – alone and believe me, it didn’t turn out to be as sad as it might sound :-P

trains sapa

I saved Hanoi for my last day in Vietnam. Instead, I took an overnight train to Sapa on the day I arrived there, and I arrived in Sapa in the wee hours of the day, at a freezing temperature. I remembered how I was instantly surrounded by hotel agents of sort the moment I got off the bus back then, all wanting to bring me to a hotel so that they could get some commission out of it. This time, nobody came to me so I instantly realized something was not quite right. Read more →

jipp January 8, 2015 2 Comments Permalink