Banda Aceh

12 01 2010

Our ride

We headed up to Banda Aceh to cross over to the island of Pulau Weh to do some snorkeling and maybe diving.  Banda Aceh is the provincial capital of Aceh, the northern most province in Sumatra.  Well known for the suffering and devastation caused by the 2004 tsunami which wiped out much of the city, Banda Aceh is recovering from the tsunami. However, this tragedy affected everyone in Banda Aceh, as much of the city was completely wiped out. Read the rest of this entry »



10 01 2010

Gunung Siyabak

From Lake Toba we headed north to the Karo Highlands and the town of Berastagi.  In Berastagi, our goal was to climb a volcano (Gunung Sibayak) and then move on north to Bukit Lawang, where there is a park with orangutans.  The highlands around Berastagi have many active volcanoes and the rich volcanic soil provides for some great growing conditions for fruits and vegetables.  Berastagi is famous for the passion fruit they grow here, plus the many other excellent fruits and veggies.  The people here are very nice and there are not many tourists. Read the rest of this entry »

Danau Toba, Sumatra

6 01 2010

Batak houses

We took a ferry across the Strait of Melaka from Penang to the port of Medan in Sumatra.  After a little confusion at the port of Medan, our first stop in Sumatra was  Danau Toba, a massive lake that was formed by a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago.  We arrived late and stayed in the port city of Parapat, and the next day we crossed over to an island in the middle of the lake called Samosir. Read the rest of this entry »

Penang, Malaysia

3 01 2010


We left Pakbara by land and took a mini-van across the border and into Malaysia.  We had a brief stop in the city of Hat Yai.  This southern-most portion of Thailand is home to the minority Thai Muslims, and they are easy to spot with the women wearing headscarfs.   There is infrequent violence between the Thai police/military and local Muslim extremists in this area, so we were just passing through.  Hat Yai had a bunch of punk rock Thai kids hanging out at the downtown, dressed up like they had just spent all their money at Hot Topic (a ‘punk-rock’ store at many American malls).  We had some really good donuts at Mister Donut, then got back in the bus headed for Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »

Ko Lipe

1 01 2010

Ko Lipe beach

Happy New Years!!!  From Koh Kradan we took a boat further south to the island of Koh Lipe. Our Lonely Planet guide book said that Koh Lipe was a ‘hidden gem’ and an undiscovered tropical paradise, but since everyone uses Lonely Planet guidebooks, there was nothing hidden or unknown about it.  The island was packed with vacationing Europeans (mostly Scandinavians escaping icy winter), thus the food and lodging was insanely expensive (the seafood cost more than in the United States!).  Since we visited around the time of New Years, most of the lodging was full.  We spent a day looking for accommodation, then decided it was best to leave when we realized everything in our price range was full.  There is a major boat service that links the major tourist destinations of Phuket-Koh Phi Phi-Koh Lanta-Koh Lipe-Langkawi (Maylasia) in one big fast-boat, so any almost any person sober enough to stand upright can get to Koh Lipe. Read the rest of this entry »

Christmas on Ko Kradan

29 12 2009

Ko Kradan beach

We spent Christmas on the island of Ko (island, in Thai) Kradan.   Ko Kradan is located further south from the popular islands of Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta, and has only four or five places to stay and eat.  The islands and water are beautiful, with colors right out of a postcard, with all different hues of blue in the sky and in the water.  There is also great snorkeling right off the beach.  The food is really expensive, and the lodging wasn’t cheap (but that is mostly because it is high season). Read the rest of this entry »


22 12 2009

Railay Beach

We are now in the paradise land of Krabi in the Andaman Sea. This area was hit by the 2004 tsunami, but it is now back in swing with many sun worshipers coming to visit the beautiful beaches, see the gorgeous rock formations and participate in great snorkeling and diving. The only leftover signs from the tragedy are the new “tsunami evacuation route” signs found everywhere in case there is another tsunami. Read the rest of this entry »