Jonas Nold

Joined April 2017Living in: Bad Waldsee, Germany
  • Day63

    Tioman Island

    August 15 in Malaysia

    After being constantly on the move for 1 1/2 months straight we decided to treat ourselves with some days of beach vacation. For this purpose Tioman Island is ideally located between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
    We were really excited about a few days of relaxing under the sun, swimming in the sea and drinking beer.
    This plan went great until the second day when I started to get a really bad headache and fever. I was also pretty weak, so there was not much I could do
    ... Not like I had planned to anyways 😉 Julia went a bit snorkeling directly offshore while I spent most of the day in the hammock. After three days I was in a condition good enough to go for a day trip snorkeling to a few places which was really nice. Especially Renggis Island offers a beautiful underwater scenery.
    Overall we liked Tioman Island for its laid back setting and calmth. What we didn't like that much was that it's quite expensive compared to other destinations in the area. And we weren't big fans of the beach itself, there were just too many rocks in medium to low tide to go enjoyably for a swim.
    Unfortunately I couldn't go diving because of the flu I had caught. But this is also said to be one of the highlights.
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  • Day58

    Malacca

    August 10 in Malaysia

    When we arrived at the airport in Vientiane our flight wasn't posted anywhere but after our first - a little bit worried - investigations we found the proper Check-in counter. From Kuala Lumpur we took the first bus we could find in direction of Malacca (malay: Melaka). It's a well known tourist destination due to its rich colonial history with Portuguese, Dutch and British occupations and their leftovers. Especially the Dutch are responsible for many of the sights nowadays.
    We had thought that the evening would be enough to see the city but as we arrived later than anticipated we decided to stay another night to have enough time to see it all!!
    Actually all the sights are spread over an area of about 1 sqm, so you can comfortably see them in a 2-3 hours stroll through the alleys. First we went to the main square with the distinct red painted houses, a church and the "Stadthuys", a huge administration building. The Church of Christ wasn't very impressive from the inside but still nice for a change after the temples in Laos. Then we went to St. Paul's Hill with the ruins of St Paul's Church and a lighthouse/watchtower on top. The last sight was "A Famoso", the last standing building from the Portuguese and only spared because of the intervention a captain named Raffles. He will later be known as the founder of Singapore and governor of the Dutch East Indies. Then we had a simply amazing Falafel at our hostel before relaxing in the afternoon there with some beers.
    In the evening we went out to see the city in the nightly illumination... Just as pretty as during the day and we really loved the atmosphere in the city. There was a tourist market going on and the streets were completely full of people looking for snacks or souvenirs. Quite the difference to the day before where we were alone at night in the streets. Early in the morning we took a taxi to the bus station to take the bus to our last stop before flying home, Tioman Island.
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  • Day56

    Vientiane

    August 8 in Laos

    The bus ride from Vang Vieng to Vientiane was pleasant compared to previous tortures. So we were still pretty refreshed to go out and explore the vicinity of our hostel. It's a pretty small city for being a capital with just around 200.000 inhabitants. Consequently it has a really laid back and relaxed atmosphere making it perfect for a stroll. We visited the Victory arch in the middle of the center which is the major landmark. Afterwards we took a detour to a Wat which is named the "Black Stupa". Nothing too impressive to see...
    The next day we took a bus to the outskirts to the city next to the Mekong River and the border to Thailand. There is the so-called Buddha Park, a seemingly random area with all kinds of statues of gods and goddesses. A rather impressive sight even though the composition is pretty random and there's absolutely no information on the history or the statues itself 😅 We took the bus back, had a quick lunch and then hired bikes to go to "Lao's most important cultural landmark" - a golden stupa located within beautifully renovated temples. Even though I didn't like the massive fake golden shiny stupa it was still nice to look at from a distance. Vientiane is a nice city but it lacks the natural features other parts of Laos has to offer.
    An evening stroll along the Mekong river and the night markets with a traditional Laotian barbecue concluded our journey to Indochina. It was an amazing experience and we enjoyed all three countries that have similarities and yet are so different.
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  • Day54

    Vang Vieng

    August 6 in Laos

    Vang Vieng used to be the party hotspot in Laos and for some time in all over South East Asia due to it's infamous river tubing including all sorts of drugs. But after several deaths on the unpredictable river the government shut down the whole party business basically overnight.
    Now there's a bit of a party scene left and at some spots you can still get drugs. And it's also still possible to tube down the river. We decided to book a full day tour that includes the stuff we want to do. Besides that we had a relaxed evening just visiting the night market and having a beer at our hostel.
    The next day we got picked up to go to the ziplines. Along us there were about 25 more people but it wasn't too crowded and we really enjoyed the ziplines leading through the jungles. Then it was time to get into the tube and let us gently float down the river. That was the plan but then it turned out to become a quite rough and pretty fast tour due to the heavy rains lately. It was still great fun even though Julia missed the exit and needed to be "saved" by our guide 😁 The last leg of our trip got us into a buggy to make a 20km journey to a spring water. This turned out to be the highlight of the day! We were covered in mud and it was so much fun going through the gigantic potholes... That's definitely more enjoyable after rainfalls 🙂 The Blue Lagoon was a great refreshment and possibility to get clean again.
    On our way back three of the five buggies broke down due to different issues... And we were the last group of the day which meant that it took forever to get us "rescued". One of our fellow tour group participants was so nice to give us the last working buggy so we could return to the tour operator. We came home with more than three hours delay but it didn't really matter as we didn't have any plans. We got rid of the mud and then went out for a mushroom pizza and pineapple shake.
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  • Day52

    Luang Prabang

    August 4 in Laos

    The bus to Laos took just a few hours longer than expected but we were still glad to have made it there after 27 hours of driving. Two people were left behind at the Vietnamese border because they had an eVisa which doesn't allow you to cross this border...
    We didn't have any issues but the process at the Laotian border was ridiculous: There were like 6 stations and at each one you needed to pay one or two dollars. The last station was to get the temperature, why exactly isn't clear 😂
    We checked in at our "Villa" pretty late and then headed out again to get something to eat. Almost all restaurants had already closed so we were happy to get some fried rice and noodles before going to sleep.
    The next day we rented a scooter to get to the sightseeing highlight of Luang Prabang, the Kuang Si Falls. Usually they have a blue color, but because of the recent rainfalls the water was wilder and greyish. Still a pretty impressive sight! There is also a bear sanctuary as a part of the park with over 20 rescued bears from poachers and the horrible practice of extracting bile. This is used for some sketchy alternative medicine mainly in China and Thailand. These magnificent animals were luckily rescued but many more are still hunted and tortured.
    Later we went to the Royal Palace in the city center and then early back to the hotel as I wasn't feeling well...
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  • Day49

    Ha Long Bay

    August 1 in Vietnam

    The bus to Ha Long Bay picked us up at 8 in the morning to the 4 hour drive. We've heard many bad stories about the boat cruises there so we opted for the more expensive tour. What's the point in going there and not being able to enjoy it?!
    The bay is a UNESCO World Heritage area and one of the most popular destinations in Vietnam. But it was still a surprise that there are currently more than 600 boats cruising the bay. 15 years ago there were just two!!! This must have quite the impact on the islands, the water was polluted with trash and you could often see an oily film. Besides that it was very scenic which we could see during an hour long kayak ride and a shirt swim.
    The food usually consisted of 6 course meals with a definite focus on fish and seafood. It was a wise choice of Julia to go for the vegetarian option which was in parts better and definitely a lot more. We tried squid fishing at night but it's not the season so we were pretty unsuccessful. At night a thunderstorm raged over the sea and there was water coming into the boat. Luckily it didn't last too long but some cabins got flooded up to a certain extent. On the second day we went for a walk in a pretty cool and big cave system. Afterwards there was more food and then we headed back to the hostel and straight on the bus to Laos...
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  • Day48

    Hanoi

    July 31 in Vietnam

    With a comfortable and pretty quick night bus we arrived in the capitol Ha noi early in the morning. This left us some time to plan our visit to Halong Bay and the onward travel to Laos.
    Then we had time to get lost in Hanois small alleys. The city has a bit of backcountry charm compared to the bustling Ho Chi Minh City. There's still a lot of traffic going on but less chaotic... First we wanted to visit Ho Chi Minhs mausoleum but the signage and opening hours are so bad that we didn't manage to get inside. We enjoyed that all the sights are in walking distance to the old city where most hotels are located. So we visited two churches, a temple area and later the mausoleum of Jo Chi Minh without getting inside.
    Later in the afternoon we went to Hao Lo prison, also called the 'Hanoi Hilton' by the US prisoners held there. It tells stories about the cruelty of the French colonialists and their vietnamese helpers. One section is reserved to tell how well the US soldiers were treated there but I guess that's a bit of propaganda. In the evening we "enjoyed" free beer for an hour at our hostel :)
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  • Day46

    Hue

    July 29 in Vietnam

    Hue is the former capital and place of the Imperial Palace of the Nguyen dynasty, the Royal family that reigned until about 1945.
    We intended to stay only for one night but all buses were fully booked for the next day. So we needed to stay for another night which was a good thing in hindsight because Julia got sick pretty badly. Therefore we needed to quit our exploration tour early on the first day to take care of the flu. But we only had time to see the pagoda. On the second day we visited the Imperial Palace which was money and time well spent. Large areas are in ruins but the ones that were restored looked pretty royal to me.Read more

  • Day44

    Hoi an

    July 27 in Vietnam

    Hoi an is a famous stop in Vietnam and on almost every backpacker itinerary. This spot is well deserved and accordingly the town is bustling with tourists. It's also famed for the handicraft, especially tailoring.
    Many people we met were praising this little UNESCO World Heritage town, so we directly booked for two nights. We arrived early in the morning so we reserved the whole day just to explore the old town and check for prices for a tailored jacket. I wanted a casual dark blue jacket after I had lost mine in Mexico City in a state of Tequila drunkenness :( It took us the whole day to explore the small alleys and beautiful old houses. A real little treasure ❤️ At night there was a full moon festival where all the lights are turned off so the light show with candles on the river is more impressive. But it didn't live up to the expectations and it was rather unfortunate that the beautiful lanterns were turned off... Anyways, we had another night to see them. It was also too cloudy to see the Red Super Moon Eclipse thingy.
    The next morning we went to a fitting session with the tailor. The jacket was already fitting perfectly, so we had time to bike to the Pottery Village. On arrival there was a ticket booth and we paid obviously. Especially because it said that there is a pottery class included. The ticket wasn't checked and the "pottery class" is just sitting next to the Potter(? 😂) and moving around with your hands. He doesn't really tell you anything and in the end they almost force you to buy something... Overall this pottery village seemed pretty ridiculous and a rip-off to me. We had planned to go to the beach afterwards but as it was raining we decided to head back to the hostel for a break. In the evening the rain eased and we could finally enjoy the colourful Hoi an in all its beauty 😍
    At our last day we went for the third time to the same restaurant which offered amazing meals at reasonable prices.
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  • Day41

    Nha Trang

    July 24 in Vietnam

    After the cold, harsh and rainy weather we were really ready to have a beach vacation 😊 Nha Trang is just a four hour bus ride from Dalat and lies within a secluded bay.
    We were greeted by full sun shine and 35 degrees, quite the shock for our bodies. We were also surprised by cheaper beer 🍻 So we decided our plan for the next 36 hours would be relaxing and day drinking. First we went to the beach and took a swim. Unfortunately the water is pretty trashed and you'll swim amongst plastic bottles and other rubbish. It's also a bit too warm for my taste, I prefer the water to be refreshing. We still enjoyed the sun and warmth... In the evening we took a stroll in the night markets looking for something edible but there wasn't too much choice for Vietnamese food. Instead you'll find a lot of Russian restaurants and menus, a leftover of the good relations between the Sowjet union and Vietnam.
    For the next day we put mud baths on our bucket list. The region is pretty famous and known for them so we had to choose between several. We decided for the Tháp Ba because it's the closest one to town that is outdoors. I would have thought that the mud was thicker but despite that it was a fun day in the spa and something different.

    The next leg of our journey was the longest one, so we were happy to get a reasonably good sleeping bus for the overnight trip.
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