Monday, September 5, 2011

What to do in Tokyo...

I am starting to make a list of things to do for my trip to Japan. One thing is for sure, I want to ride the bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka. I have never been on one before, so that will be interesting. In Toyko itself though, there seems to be so much to do. I have made a list of five things I have to do.

1. Watch a Sumo wrestling match.
2. Go to Yoyogi Park.
3. Get lost in Tokyo and try and find my hotel.
4. Try my hand at Japanese national passtime, Karaoke.
5. Visit the Ghibili Museum

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Trip to Japan

It has been a while since my last past. I decided to go to Sydney and I have been doing this contract job for the past few month. The contract is up in a few months, so it's time for another trip. A few friends that I made in Sydney are heading Japan in December. So, I thought I would start my trip with them and carry on to South Korea and China.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I'm back...

Hi Guys

Sorry I neglected the blog for a while. I have been trying to make an important life decision. I think I have come to a cross-roads and I have no idea what to do.  I am currently trying to complete my thesis to get my Master of Business (Marketing). It will take around 10 months to finish up.

I have also been offered the perfect job in Sydney, Australia. I don't think I will be able to finish my thesis overseas as my research is based in New Zealand. So, I can move over to Sydney and gain experience in a field where I desperately need it or finish my thesis and hope a company will take a chance on me next year.

I seriously don't know what to do.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Protip - Cheaper flights

Here is a trick to get cheaper fares when looking for flights online. Always browse in private mode, for firefox press and hold ctrl + shift + P. This means carrier websites can't read your browsers cookies and change their pricing according to what you have previously looked at.

This is a major problem in the airline industry and is borderline price fixing.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thailand 101 - Koh Phangan, part one

Koh Phangan. Home of the legendary full moon party. Once a month, Haad Rin beach on the island is invaded by 30,000 tourists looking for a good time. A week long party leading up to the main even. There is quite a lot to keep up busy during the while waiting for the nightlife to start, but not much to do before 11am as most people on the island are up all night, including the locals.

There are two options for getting to the island. Take the local ferry, which costs 200baht and takes about an hour or take the private carter speedboat, which costs 800baht but it only takes 15 minutes. Now our airplane arrived late, so we had to take the charter boat. It was my group of 6 and another group of 4 Canadians. We had to take a taxi to the charter jetti, but once we were dropped off, the taxi left and there was no boat. fifteen minutes passes, what now? an hour passes, um... what's going on. It was then that we decided to visit the local store and stock up on beers. We bought all the beer they had for sale in the shop, which was only about 40 beers. And proceeded to have an impromptu dock party, with someones ipod and speaker cranked. It was pretty awesome.

Eventually, the boat arrived two and a half hours late. And we got to the island, dropped of our bags at the accommodation and  went to the bar. This is where we were introduced to "The F***king Bucket" which is it's name on the menu. Basically it is a one litre (30 ounce) bucket, that is filled halfway with the spirit of your choice and topped up with the mixer of your choice. I got a jagermeister, redbull and coke mix. The reason the top up the redbull with coke is because the local redbull is six times stronger that the western redbull drinks. It was a great night.

This is a great island to explore by scooter, our group of six basically had the roads to ourselves, only every few miles, coming across another few tourists on bikes. We hire a four cliff side bungalows to house our group and it was the most spectacular view I had ever seen and at US$10 a night, it was a bargain. There was a 5 night minimum stay, which was fine. We got there 3 days before the party and had a day of rest after it.

In the next post I will give a bit more information about the activities available on the island and of course the Full Moon Party.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Thailand 101 - Koh Samui

Next stop are the islands Samui and Phangan. I took a flight on Bangkok airways from Phuket to Koh Samui on one of their prop planes. The flight took about twice as long as a 737 but was 5 times less expensive. I think I paid US$10 for the flight. 

The flight took around an hour and a half, we even got an in flight meal. Once we got to Koh Samui, I took a bus to the local mall, just to check out where the locals shopped. It was essentially like any western mall, except with different chain stores. Although, in saying that, they did have a FKC with an unusual offering, a corn sundae. I was intrigued. I purchased a corn sundae and well... it delivered. It was a sundae with creamed corn. I must say that this is probably not a good buy.

After wandering around the mall for a while, I headed out to see the local sites, of which there were few. Samui is more of a relaxing stop before you head over to Koh Phangan and the legendary full moon parties. In my next post I will tell you a story of an expensive speedboat ride into Koh Pahngan, that led to one crazy night.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Airbnb - Lap of Luxury in Phuket

Just because you are backpacking, doesn't mean you have to slum it. If you can gather a big enough group of people, either friends that come with you on your journey or other trustworthy backpackers. Then there are short term rental houses available in most parts of Thailand. I have linked an example of one that actually was down the road from where I stayed in Phuket. I was staying in a hotel with 7 others. If we had pooled our money, we could have stayed here for US$350, which would have worked out US$10 cheaper per night each.

A beautiful 4 bedroom villa, that sleeps eight, with your own pool! 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Protip - Scooter Hire

Just a quick note on scooter hire within Thailand. Scooting is the best way to explore the local area, it's cheap, easy and fun to do, especially if there are 2 or 3 of your in a group. We had a group of 6 scooters, the locals probably just laughed at us. Oh well. When you are hiring, you need to give your passport to the dealer to keep as collateral while you have their scooter. When you bring it back you get your passport back. Don't forget to carry a photocopy of your passport on you at all times. Below is a list of things your should remember:

  1.  Do not hire a scooter in Phuket, as there are known links to the mafia and passport counterfeiting.
  2. When you do get your scooter, ensure that you take photos of it, especially in areas that are damaged. Otherwise you will end up paying to repair the damage.
  3. Wear your helmet, the last thing you want is to have an accident without one.
  4. Barter, especially if you are in a group. Barter on price or even say you want the fuel included in the price. 

Thailand 101 - Phuket

Morning travelers,

As I mentioned earlier I will be trying to give some basic travel information about each of the countries in Asia, these tips are based on my experiences and if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.

Thailand is a travelers dream country, they say, if you have the money, you can get it in Thailand. It's a chance for the average person to experience the extra ordinary. Thailand's currency is the Baht, at the time of writing the conversion rate is 1 USD to 30.38 Thai Baht. Let me put that into perspective, if you go to a local mall (not a touristy one), buy a Thai food combo, it will only cost you around 20 baht, 66 cents for a meal, I still can't get over that.

Thailand is known for it's markets, fake consumer goods and even well-priced real goods. I don't enjoy walking around the markets as I don't see the point of buying low quality fake products. Instead of buying 10 fake Billibong tshirts, I would rather buy 1 real one as it would probably last longer than all 10 of the fakes. I do however love looking at the fake merchandise, just to see how bad it is and what ends up being counterfeited.

Another thing that you need to realise is that the price of almost everything is negotiable, it took me a while to realise that the locals expect you to barter and if you don't you may as well throw your money away. For example, I ended up buying some new golf clubs while I was in Phuket and shipped them back home. I went to an outlet factory shopping mall about an hours tuk-tuk ride out of Patong beach. I was looking at the new Callawy X-24 irons. The shelf price was 22,500 Baht, I walked up to the counter said I want to buy these clubs, I will give you 12,000, the salesman responded in the middle at 17,000 and I agreed. It must be said that I am not the best negotiator, but I still got a great deal. In New Zealand I would have paid three times that price for the clubs and yes, I checked to see if they were fake.

In part two, I will talk a bit about the tourist attractions. Well, they aren't so much attractions as they are ways for the locals to extrude more money from you for watching monkeys ride a bicycle for 20 minutes or cobra's doing nothing.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Protip - Cheap accommodation

Just a quick post on cheap accommodation. I obviously try and keep accommodation costs down on my trip because you only really sleep in your hotel, most of the time you should be out exploring or at the beach.

In saying that though, I will always check reviews of the accommodation where ever I go. The one time I didn't follow my advice, I paid for it, quite literally. On my first day in Kuala Lumpur, I booked a hotel overnight because I had to fly out the next morning. I decided to go cheap, spent about US$30 and let's just say, it wasn't up to my usual standard, the roaches didn't seem to mind though.

I reluctantly stayed the night, but the issue was that I had booked the same hotel on my way back home for a week and there was no way I would be staying in those conditions for a week. Unfortunately, the only other accommodation that I could find was at Hotel Maya, a 5 star boutique spa resort. It cost US$160 a night. So, I had to adjust my spending throughout my whole trip to cover the additional expense.

Well, that's the thing about traveling. Nothing is ever certain, which is what it makes it so enjoyable.


 Good morning,

I just thought I would share a site that I found. is very interesting concept, I actually found it a couple of days after I arrived back in Auckland. I wish I had used it for my trip, but I guess there is always next time.

Airbnb is essentially a couch surfing accommodation community. You specify which city you are visiting and pick how much you would like to pay per night, then get shown rooms / apartments that meet you specified criteria.

I found the site very easy to use and will definitely be using it on my next vacation. They even have an iphone app to booking your room on the go, very handy for a backpacker. I guess the only real issue is other than the major cities in South East Asia, there is not a lot of choice on the site, but as I mentioned the previous post, this will at least give you a starting point.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hopscotch Asia

Hopscotch Asia is a game I played, basically it's a cheap way to travel around Asia, especially if you have time constraints or a limited budget. I used Kuala Lumpur as my base and flew from there. Air Asia is my carrier of choice as I found them to have the best deals when I was looking for flight.

It's probably a good time to point out that I booked all my flights 6 months in advance and planned my trip quite well. I allocated time to each country I wanted to visit and booked accommodation in popular tourist locations. I usually stayed three or four days in the tourist area, which gave me enough time to find alternative local accommodation or group up with other backpacker that I had met.

Anyway, the way hopscotch works is you find the cheapest flight from each of the destinations you visit. For example.

Kuala Lumpur to Phuket
Phuket to Koh Samui
Koh Samui to Bangkok
Bangkok to Siem Reap
Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi
Hanoi to Hong Kong
Hong Kong to Macau
Macau to Beijing 

Most of the time, the cheapest flight will also have the shortest flight times, but it could also be a popular flight. The itinerary that I suggested above, is a great starting point for someone looking to travel around South East Asia and see the most popular cities. Below is a map of the region,for your reference.

Air Asia is your friend

Good afternoon travelers, 

First of all, there is one thing you need to know about traveling Asia. Air Asia is your best friend. They are based out of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and connect to all destinations within Asia, that are worth seeing. 

The reason they are the best possible choice is the great value for money. You get cheap airfares and great customer service, what more could you want with a low-cost carrier. Yeah, free wi-fi would be great but flight times are so short between destinations, that I am sure your facebook status can go un-updated for a few hours. 

At the moment, Air Asia is running a "World Domination Sale" all flights out of Kuala Lumpur are ridiculously cheap. I will give you an example. Fly from KL to Bali for US$33, I mean, honestly. Yes, it is only one way, but it's a great step in the game I call "Hopscotch Asia".


Welcome to my travel blog,

While backpackers tend to head of to the motherland, Europe. I found a cheaper, much more exciting alternative, where everyday brings you opportunities to experience things that just aren't available in other parts of the world. I am of course speaking of backpacking Asia.

I recently returned from a three month tour of South East Asia and thought I would give fellow backpackers some travel ideas, beautiful locations and great tips for make your money go that little bit further.

So, follow the blog. First we will be heading to exotic Thailand.