Friday, February 26, 2010

I'm on a Boat

What's your favorite way to travel?  One of the benefits of being gone for 6 weeks was that I got to experience lots of different transportation.  In mainland China and Hong Kong, we often took the subway.  In Malaysia we had the benefit of a friend to drive us around in a car -- such freedom!  In Thailand, we got around Chiang Mai in the back of red trucks, which serve as the cabs of the city.  Our main city-to-city transportation in Cambodia was by bus, with mixed results (but the price was right -- never more than $10 for a six hour ride).  We also experienced...

Near Plover Cove in Hong Kong's New Territories

In Penang, Malaysia

Also in Penang.  Thanks, friend!

In Hoi An, Vietnam.  Only $1 to rent one for a day -- so fun.

Going to the Shanghai airport at 431 km/hr

And taxi:
A long-distance cab to Battambang, Cambodia, equipped with karaoke.  See it on the dash?

No doubt you have been breathlessly awaiting my picks for the top five modes of transportation, so here they are:

5) Budget airlines.  No pictures here, but nothing beats a $50 ticket on AirAsia or JetStar.  We never could have seen so many places without low-cost carriers like these.

4) Bamboo train.  In Battambang, Cambodia, the locals figured out a way to make good use of the railroad tracks.  They take a flat bamboo platform, cut a hole for a motor, and set the whole thing on wheels.  When you meet another platform coming the other way, you just get up and take yours off the track to let the other guys through.  It's become a bit touristy, but it was still awesome to speed through open country with the wind whipping our faces.

3) Tuk tuk.  We used these a lot in Cambodia.  It was a nice, open-air change from the more crowded cities of Vietnam.  A huge bonus was hiring a tuk tuk driver for a day and a half in Siem Reap.  He was fast (passing cars, even), helped us with all our questions, taught us a local card game, and hung out with us at our hostel (where he also worked).  It was great to have someone we trusted and had fun with to take us anywhere we needed to go.

Chin and his tuk tuk

Cows and countryside

2)  Overnight train.  You really can't do Asia right without taking at least a few long train rides.  The very first leg of my trip was on a sleeper train to Shanghai with my friend Sara.  We got to meet lots of different people and practice our Chinese.  But the train ride that skyrocketed "overnight train" to the number two spot was our sleeper train from Hanoi to Danang, Vietnam.  I slept like a rock, we watched The Office on a laptop in our cabin, and we played cards with the neighbors.  Above all, the scenery was stunning, and I could hardly peel myself away from standing at the window and watching green mountains and sandy beaches speed by.

Views of Vietnam from an overnight train

1) Boat.  Whether it was a 45-minute river cruise through historic Malacca, Malaysia:

...a couple hours touring the floating villages on Cambodia's Tonle Sap lake:

...or spending a night on a junk in Halong Bay, Vietnam: were the best! 

*Photo credit for the last two photos goes to Gloria, who also gets mad props for sleeping under the stars with me on the Dang Tam deck.*


  1. um, i think 431 kmph is a little fast. like, WAY too fast. like, 5 g's fast.

    i'm surprised you survived. :-)

    p.s. thanks for another great post!

  2. We (were) on a boat!

    great post! Was planning to post about SEA transportation on my blog, but now I may just put a direct link to yours instead ;P

    where's the pic of that tree in the bathroom? :)

  3. Nice pics. The bamboo train looks tight!

    Now, this is for mom-- if you didn't catch the reference to Woggs' favorite song, get on YouTube and type in "On a Boat" !!

  4. I'm sure Mom already knows "On a Boat" by heart, but if not, I'd advise her to search for the clean version.

    "Got my swim trunks, and my flippay floppays..."