Things I Will and Will Not Miss About Southeast Asia

After making similar lists about South America and Oceania while waiting for my flights to the next destinations, I made this my farewell-to-this-continent tradition. It gave me time to reflect on my experiences in different regions and to appreciate what I had liked and disliked before moving on to the next leg of the journey. The notebook and pen again appeared in my hands as I waited for my flight out of Bangkok to Milan via Jordan and I thought about my time in Southeast Asia.

Everyone should carry some emergency cash, even the monks.

Things I Will Miss About Southeast Asia:

-Seeing monks in robes wandering about town, occasionally doing unexpected things like withdrawing money from ATMs

-The shopping (second-hand bookstores, custom made clothing shops, and pedestrian marketplaces)

-All the food (street food – from chopped fruit in a bag to fried-before-your-eyes Pad Sew; spicy coconut curries; 24 hour pho restaurants; Malaysian roti canai; banana vanilla milkshakes from the Blue Pumpkin in Siem Reap; and oh-so-much more)

-Snorkelling and underwater coral gardens

-Spending time aboard longboats and junkships

-The smell of tea and strawberries in the highlands

Traffic in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Things I Will Not Miss About Southeast Asia:

Trying to cross the road in Vietnam

Miri, Borneo

-Sharing my swim space with reef sharks and sea lice/jellyfish

-The surprising number of bees in the rainforests of Brunei

-Sweating even while in the shower due to the suffocating humidity

-Worrying that every mosquito that bit me after 5pm was giving me malaria

Kuching LOVES Cats

 

Welcome to Cat City! the bus driver announced upon arrival in Kuching.

I had already been having a rough day. The news that kucing in Malay meant ‘cat’ sent a wave of fear down my spine. Images of a hot, humid city overrun with fluffy moving furballs infusing the air with trails of dander suddenly clouded my vision. I felt my airway tightening with a phantom allergic reaction. I am not a little allergic to cats; I am asthma-inducing, sinus-imploding, eyeballs-a-flaming allergic to cats.

Why had no one mentioned this fact earlier?! I screamed in my head.

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A Miserable Day In Miri

 

Let me warn you now: I did not take a single photo of Miri. I had such a frustrating, pull-your-hair-out kind of day in Miri that I would have probably thrown my camera at someone before I took a photo with it. So I kept my camera in my bag, where it couldn’t do any harm to anyone.

I was sad to leave Brunei but I had booked my flight home out of Kuching, a city to the south in the Malaysian part of Borneo. I had planned for some time in Miri to break up the bus journey from Bandar Seri Begawan to Kuching. Miri is the hub to reach three national parks that are supposed to be pretty great: Limbir Hills, Niah Caves, and Mulu. I had hoped to squeeze in a half-day to see the famous caves in Niah.

You can’t always get what you want.

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