Browsing Category Southeast Asia

Riding the Yangon Circular train – Memoirs from Myanmar

Riding the Yangon Circular train – One of my best day trips from Yangon, Myanmar

When you search for things to do in Yangon, riding the Yangon circular train comes as one of the top activities. Pictures of travelers surrounded by sleepy Burmese people carrying overloaded bamboo baskets in the Yangon train would fill the internet feed. 

Those Yangon train pictures promised to offer an insider’s look into the local life of the city. So after exploring Yangon for a day, I decided to get my piece of the train.

The little girl inside me who grew up in India riding trains suddenly sprang to life. Before heading out of my hotel, I packed a small bag with my wallet, camera, water bottle, and strode towards the Yangon Central Railway station. 

Finding the train station wasn’t the easiest task. When I arrived at the Google map location for Yangon Central station, I couldn’t find the place. 

A few locals gestured me to climb the bridge at the location. When I did, I could only see the railway tracks from up the bridge, but I couldn’t locate any ticket booth or platform.

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Lovely Things To Do in Inle Lake, Myanmar

Located in the Shan state of Myanmar, Inle Lake is a huge freshwater lake. It is surrounded by mountain ranges from all sides.

Measuring twenty-two(22) kilometer long by eleven(11) kilometer wide, Inle Lake seemed so big that it reminded me of Lake Titicaca that is shared between Bolivia and Peru. People inhabit both these lakes.

While I was trying to find the things to do in Inle Lake Myanmar, only a few travelers talked about visiting the Shan, Intha, Padaung, and Pa-O communities that live on, around, and above the lake in the mountains that so gloriously encircle the lake.

So what was the highlight of the Lake Inle as per most of the people?

I had seen traveler’s feed stuffed with Inle lake fishermen balancing a conical net on their one feet while the other leg rested on the stern of a long wooden canoe that is ubiquitous on the lake. In other Inle pictures, I had seen frail men maneuvering the wooden oar with one leg and their other leg perched on the stern.

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Myanmar Visa for Indians – A Complete Guide

This guide to the Myanmar visa for Indians lists all the possible Myanmar tourist visa options for Indian citizens — Myanmar visa on arrival for Indians, Myanmar e visa for Indians, and the regular Myanmar travel visa from the Myanmar embassy in Delhi.

I had booked a flight to Guwahati and, then from there, I was to enter into Burma by land (always my preferable travel option) via the Moreh (Manipur)/Tamu (Myanmar) border.

But my Northeast India and overlanding into Burma plan was disheveled by the protests in Guwahati. Land travel was impossible under the given conditions, and I canceled my flight ticket and a stay in the Maujuli island, the disappearing land of the east.

As I booked a flight to Yangon, I decided to apply for a Myanmar online visa (evisa) to be assured instead of depending on a visa on arrival as the trip already seemed to be jinxed. Also, I didn’t want to wait in queue for long at the Yangon international airport.

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Your Appetizing Penang Travel Guide – Delectable 3 days in Penang 

What to do in Penang in 3 days

    1. Introduction to Penang
    2. 3 days in Penang — My Penang itinerary to fun and food-filled trip to Penang.
    3. Day 1 — Art, Street food, and historical places to see in Penang
    4. Day 2 — Penang hill, Clan jetties, and a seafood dinner at hawker center with live music.
    5. Day 3 — Penang National Park for nature or Hin Bus Depot for street art and Batu Ferringhi beach to end the day with a golden sunset and good food.
    6. Have only two days in Penang?
    7. Important information – Planning your trip to Penang
    8. Where is Penang Island?
    9. Where to stay in Penang city?
    10. How to reach Penang, Malaysia?
    11. What is the best time to visit Penang Island?
    12. Where to exchange currency in Penang?
    13. What would be your Penang trip budget?
    14. Resources to help you visit some of the Penang famous places.
    15. Supplementary reads to this Penang Travel Blog

Introduction to Penang 

After a short walk under the bright sun from the bus stand to my guesthouse in Georgetown at Lebuh Carnarvon, I put my bags in my room and went out for a stroll. For those who don’t know, Georgetown is the capital of Penang state or the Penang island.

I was famished after a long bus drive from Taman Negara, and Carnarvon street seemed like the right place to be. Little did I know that soon I was to be lost in the labyrinth of the streets of Penang flaunting exquisite art and some delicious Penang food.

The streets seemed empty, and I wondered if there were any tourists. A friend had questioned my Malaysia trip by saying that the only thing to see in Malaysia was Penang.

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What to Eat in Penang – The Seafood Lover’s Guide

What does this “What to eat in Penang” Guide Contain?

  1. My crazy journey with food and how I can’t stop eating fish but now I eat more responsibly. (Though this is a good story along with some dependable resources to eating fish sustainably, if you are short on time, you can click on the below sections directly to jump to the food in Penang.)
  2. Why food hunting in Penang can be overwhelming for first-time travelers to Penang?
  3. Brief introduction to the Penang food culture.
  4. Best street food in Penang for seafood lovers.
  5. A note to the vegetarians and pescetarians reading this Penang food guide
  6. Translations of some important food items from English to Malay to help you navigate Penang food
  7. Best food courts in Penang.
  8. Where can you find the best hawker food in Penang?
  9. Where should you go if you want to eat the best Indian food in Penang?
  10. Which one is the best restaurant for Nyonya or Peranakan Cuisine?
  11. Best restaurants in Penang/Best restaurant in Georgetown Penang.
  12. Where should you go if you want to eat the best seafood in Penang?
  13. Which one is the best seafood restaurant in Penang?
  14. How to travel in Penang to eat the best food in Penang?
  15. Where to stay in Penang for food?
  16. Great Instagram accounts for finding best food and restaurants in Penang.

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Finding Stories and Street Art in Penang

Penang is a spicy potpourri of Chinese, Malay, and Indian ethnicities. But I didn’t realize how thick this gravy of cultural mix is until I went to Penang.

On my first day in Penang, I stayed in a Chinese guesthouse, ate rice and fish curry at a Muslim Malay restaurant, and my evening stroll took me to Indian food stalls proudly flaunting crispy samosas.

Wait. What was happening?

Indian Malaysians, who were mostly from South India, told me that many Indians were taken to Penang to work as laborers during the 130-years rule of British over Malaysia. Penang port was the main trade route for traders from China, Spain, Arabia, and India, and the British wanted their chunk of the trade.

A Malay Chinese whom I met while hiking the Penang hill cleared my doubts about the origins of Chinese Malays. He said that the Chinese sailed to Malaysia in the 18th century to trade and work as laborers.

Over time, all three ethnicities blended to form the current Penang.

While the Chinese relished the Malaysian coconut flavors, Indians used sweet-chili sauces in their curries, and Malaysians ate biryanis and noodle soups with the same fervor. Given the rich mix of the three cuisines that the island is blessed with, the question of what to eat in Penang and what to do in Penang can be more complicated than you think.

While admiring the street art in Penang, I felt that the cultural evolution of Penang had been pasted onto Penang streets in a raw and hilarious manner.

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Kinabatangan River Tour – It Is Not Just About Wild Orangutans

Once upon a time, there was a long river muddy. Along the bank of the river lived the mama elephant Lily. On the top of a Jamun tree lived a monkey very funky with a very long nosey. A shrewd crocodile waited beneath the tree to see the monkey fall loosey.

A talkative hornbill nested in the tree. While her friend the orange orangutang visited her often for tea. The village children played on the riverbank every day, while their mothers shouted to call them home, come, come, otherwise the monkey will take you away.

If you hadn’t guessed, this is a story inspired by real characters. I wrote it when I went on the Kinabatangan river tour in Sabah, Borneo.

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Malaysia Wasn’t the Country I Imagined – Your Reasons to Visit Malaysia

When I was thinking about visiting Malaysia after my Bali trip, everyone told me to not go to the country that only has Penang and Kuala Lumpur. They said maybe you can see a few orangutangs while traveling in Malaysia, but what else?

In the one-month that I stayed in Malaysia, I not only traveled to Penang and Kuala Lumpur but I fell in love with the country.

I wanted to write these reasons to visit Malaysia since the day I came back to tell those friends that they were wrong and to urge the rest to explore Malaysia. Of course, I did have wild encounters with orangutans in Sabah, but there are many more riskfree things to do and interesting places to visit in Malaysia.

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Bali Visa on Arrival for Indian Citizens (And Others)

I traveled to Bali a few months ago. The beautiful pictures of Bali and other islands of Indonesia that I had seen made Indonesia a must-visit destination in Southeast Asian countries.

But gorgeous azure-green pictures weren’t the only things that had enticed me to fly to Bali. If you are an Indian reader, you would know how much we struggle with visas on our Indian passports. Given my never-ending wanderlust, I am always looking for countries who offer a visa on arrival or a visa-free entry to Indians.

As soon as I read about the hassle-free Bali visa on arrival for Indian citizens (and other almost 170 nationalities), I bought a one-way ticket to Bali.

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Malaysia eVisa for Indians – All You Need to Know.

When I traveled to Southeast Asia this year, I knew that I would visit Indonesia, but I didn’t know where I would go from there. I zoomed out of the Asia map and turned the globe around to understand which countries were green and gave a visa on arrival or an e-visa.

The closest country to Indonesia was Malaysia, and its green footprint on the map captured my attention. Also, I am always excited to visit the less-popular places, and Malaysia is one of them. If you are planning to visit Malaysia now, you are lucky as you will see it before the country is flooded with tourists. I went to Malaysia in October, and sometimes I was the only one in a room in the entire hotel or the only one camping amongst 100 empty tents.

When I first traveled to Malaysia in 2012 for two days, my friends and I drove in and out of the Malaysia-Singapore border five times due to some immigration problems. Back then I had applied for a Malaysia visa via an agent; in those days I was not so rigid about I-will-plan-all-my-travel-myself.

This year when I googled about Malaysia visa, I found out that Malaysia now gives an eVisa to Indians which is valid for three months, and you can travel within Malaysia for thirty days on that eVisa.

Happy as a girl who had just discovered ice cream, I applied for the eVisa for Malaysia within a few hours. The next day my visa was approved.

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A Gorgeous Sunset on the Nusa Penida Island – Golden Postcards of Memories

Irrespective of from where and with whom you watch a sunset, each sunset is of its own kind and is perfect in its own way.

I witnessed the golden beauty submerging in the Indian ocean from the island of Nusa Penida, near Bali, and in the zen state that followed, I wrote this piece of writing which I am publishing here (with some editing).

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A Day on the Deserted Nyang Nyang Beach, Bali– With Blue Postcards of Memories

When we descended the stairs of a cliff to reach this turquoise beach visible in the distance, my nut-brown eyes first quickly scanned through the different colors that had spread themselves onto the landscape, and then they insisted on exploring each hue for prolonged periods of time and stopped listening to me.

White cottony clouds floated in a light-blue sky, which gave way to a deep-blue sea, whose green waves rolled towards us, and then they washed over the brown moss to run into the fluorescent-green corals and mix with the ink-blue pools in which black and golden stripped tiny fishes darted to and fro from one rock to another.

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