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South East Asia

Posted on 28 November 2009 by Sasha

South East Asia is a region with a melting pot of vibrant cultures, diverse religions and unique and fascinating history.  The temperate is warm and tropical, the food amazingly flavoursome and the people are some of the nicest most welcoming people you are likely to meet anywhere in the world.  

South East Asia is an incredibly beautiful region to travel in but in some places it is extremely chaotic and claustrophobic.  The region has gone through many hardships in recent history and although the countries are developing at an overwhelming pace there is still an overwhelming number of poor people, and petty crime isn’t uncommon.  As long as you travel with an open heart and open mind travelling South East Asia is joy with surprises around every corner.  It’s a place you will want to go back to again and again.

 

Shopping

South East Asia is a fantastic place for shopping with beautifully made handicrafts, cheap electronics and other goods. The region is also well known for its trade in knockoff designer goods.  The trick with shopping is Bargain, Bargain, Bargain and Bargain Hard!!!  Bargaining is a huge part of the culture if you wish to buy anything you are expected to bargain.  Don’t worry bargaining can be fun, the trick is to be assertive and keep your sense of humour.  Ask the price, then halve it, u will generally meet somewhere in the middle.  Don’t be afraid to walk away if it is not the price your after, often they will come after you and give u the price you want, if not there will most likely be a stall selling the same thing nearby.

 

Transport


Typically Asia can be a difficult place to get around independently outside of the major cities due to many countries still developing and as a result lack transport infrastructure and efficient public transport systems.  That said it’s not impossible and if you don’t mind erratic schedules, sharing with the locals and hard mattresses on overnight trains then travelling is not so bad.  Now days there are quite a few budget airlines servicing the region making it cheap and quick to travel from place to place.

By Air…

Tiger Aiways offer cheap fares on flights to Asia departing from Perth as well as cheap fares on flights within Asia.  There hub city is Singapore.

Jet Star have cheap flights departing Australia to Asia as well as a huge range of flights within Asia.

Air Asia have flights departing from Australia to Kuala Lumpur (KL) from the Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth. They have a huge network of flights within Asia departing from KL.

By Land…

State Railway of Thailand is a great way to get around the country. For long travelling days or overnight trips you can get a sleeper car.

KTM Malaysian Railways rail network will take you all over Malaysia and on to Singapore.

 

Tours

Spotlight on Intrepid Travel 
Intrepid Travel offer small group off the beaten track tours all over Asia.  What’s unique about these tours over traditional coach tours is that you take local transport such as public buses and overnight trains where you get the opportunity to mingle in the with locals.  Intrepid use expert local tour guides who  give you a unique insight into culture and local life. 

Intrepid have a new touring option called Urban Adventures, these are short tours from half a day to a few days that give you a unique local insight into a city or destination.  They are a great way to get your bearings in a new place and really learn about the local life and culture.

 

 Tips

  • Take only small amounts of clothing and buy most of your clothes over there, not only are the clothes cheap but they are also more appropriate for the humid climate.
  • Many part of South East Asia including Malaysia and Indonesia are Muslim countries, it is polite to dress modestly covering up your shoulders and wear bottoms that go bellow the knee.  This dress code also needs to be followed if you are planning on visiting any temples whether they are Buddhists, Muslim or Hindu.
  • Be patient.  DO NOT GET ANGRY!!!  South East Asia runs in its own time, it’s not uncommon for food to take a long time to come out from a restaurant and sometimes it may not even be what you ordered and on top of that the language barrier can be quite a challenge.  Take a deep breath, try and resolve the problem calmly.  South East Asian’s are very friendly people and they often don’t understand why the crazy westerner is shouting at them.
  • Be aware of scams, it’s a good idea to ask about common tourist scams at the nearest tourist information centre, they will have great tips and advice to avoid getting scammed.  Trust your gut, if you feel like your getting scammed or something seems too good to be true then it probably is.

 

More Info.

  • Travel Fish is a fantastic site to find out info on South East Asia and to plan your trip.  The site  has great travel tips and advice, comprehensive information on destinations and provides independent reviews on accommodation and services.
  • Backpacker South East Asia is a free magazine that has fantastic stories and travel inspiration for Backpacking SE Asia.  The magazine can be picked up at hostels, information centres and other tourism institutions throughout Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.  It is also available for download off the website.
  • For comprehensive information from an expat on travelling Chiang Mai and Thailand check out Visit Chiang Mai Online.
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Australia

Posted on 28 November 2009 by Sasha

Australia is a land of diversity from its people descending from all cultures to its breathtaking landscape.  Experience Australia’s colourful outback, beautiful beaches, spectacular dive sights, lush rainforests, alpine snow fields and cosmopolitan modern cities.  Get up close and personal with Australia’s unique native wildlife.  Immerse yourself in Australia’s easygoing culture, make friends with the locals and learn some unique Aussie slang.  What’s not to love about travelling Australia!!!

Getting Around 

Many travellers who visit Australia are surprised by the sheer size of the country and the time it takes to get from one city to another.  However despite its size, Australia is a relatively easy country to get around with an excellent flight and road network as well as good public transport servicing all the major cities.

Travel times between popular destinations…

Aus Table

 

By Air

Travelling by Air is the most efficient way to travel around Australia and is often the cheapest option.  All major Cities and holiday destinations are services by Qantas and Virgin Blue.  Smaller towns and out of the way places are serviced by various regional airlines.

Qantas is Australia’s National Domestic Carrier

Virgin Blue  offers great fares all around Australia

Jet Star offer low cost fares with a growing flight network

Tiger Airways offer crazy low fares!!!

Skywest Airlines  is a regional airline servicing major towns in Western Australia including Broome and Monkey Mia.

REX Regional Express services regional areas in the Eastern States and South Australia.

  

By Road

Travelling by road is a great way to see the diversity of Australia’s beautiful landscape.  Be aware that driving between major destinations will mean long hours in a car or bus, however there are always lots of opportunities to stop along the way and see the sights.  There are many towns around Australia bursting with character that are definitely worth a stop on any road trip.

Firefly is an express coach services in regional NSW and Victoria as well as offering daily express services between Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

Murray’s express coaches operate in NSW servicing regional towns, coastal towns and the snowfields as well as express trips to Sydney.  This is the cheapest and most efficient way to get around southern NSW.  Murray’s offer many daily trips between Canberra and Sydney with fares as low as $15 per person.

Greyhound  has a fantastic network of coaches and express coaches all over Australia.  They often have special discounted fares for students, backpackers, YHA members as well as offering  mates rate discounts.

Tips

  • Pick up a free copy of backpacker magazines The Word Australia and TNT Down Under  at tourist information centers and hostels.  They have lots of great stories and fantastic information and advice for traveling Australia.
  • You will often find tourist discount coupon books at visitor information centre’s, these are great as they offer a wide range of discounts on attractions, hostels, phone cards, meals, car hire and much more.
  • Wear sun protection!!!  It is very easy to get sunburnt in Australia with much higher UV rays then Europe and other places in the world.  Frequently apply sunscreen at least an SPF 30+, wear a hat and sunglasses.  There is nothing worse than the pain of lobster red sunburn!!!
  • Australia is known for its beautiful beaches but the ocean can be a very dangerous place.  Be sensible, swim with other people and at patrolled beached always swim between the Red and Yellow flags.  If you are a weak swimmer do not go out into water that is too deep to stand in.
  • Get an Aussie slang dictionary.  Aussie slang is humorous but very illogical and it can be very difficult for some tourist to understand what is being said.  Not only will an Aussie slang dictionary help you understand the crazy talk you may also find some funny sayings to surprise the Aussies with!!!
  • Don’t be surprised if you find that most Aussies aren’t like Crocodile Dundee and Steve Irwin.  If you don’t get greeted with a G’Day don’t worry it’s not because they don’t like you, most Aussies will greet with a simple “Hi, how ya going?”.
  • You may come across Aussies calling people Bogan’s.  A Bogan is simply the Aussie name for trailer trash, hillbilly, pikey, scanger or tokkie.

 

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