South East Asia
Brunei doesn’t get many tourists. It’s a small oil-rich sultanate on the island of Borneo. Along with its over-staffed and under-visited museums on the oil industry and the sultan, there’s the impressive Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque and the water village of Kampong Ayer to visit.
There are two things people thinking of when they think of Cambodia. Angkor Wat and the Khmer Rouge. Angkor Wat is the most well known of the temples at Angkor and it is spectacular. It’s easy to spend a few days exploring all the different temples. The legacy of the Khmer Rouge is readily apparent in the capital, Phnom Penh. No visit is complete with a visit to the Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide museum. It’s a traumatic experience, but it’s a necessary part to try and understand Cambodia’s tragic past.
I had 24 hours in Malaysia on the way back from Brunei before I had to catch the overnight train to Singapore. I hung around KL and looked at the Petronas towers and a couple of temples. That was about it.
Singapore... How can one think of Singapore without thinking of the Singapore Sling, famously invented in the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel? Unfortunately the bar now serves a terrible Singapore Sling, but there’s a plentiful supply of peanuts and you’re expected to throw the shells on the floor. Thankfully the rest of the cuisine in Singapore is superb - some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had. Even with all the modern buildings it’s still easy to find reminders of World War II, from the Changi prison museum to the various memorials. I liked Singapore overall, it may have strict laws that seem strange to the outsider, but as a city, it works well.
Bangkok is a bustling modern city sprinkled with peaceful temples. I’ve been to the city a couple of times, but always on the way to and from somewhere else. I plan to return and see the rest of the country one day.
My first visit to Vietnam was a brief stop in Saigon after travelling through Cambodia. At the end of 2010 I took a return trip and followed the heavily trod tourist trail from south to north. I spent some time in Saigon, explored the tunnels of Cu Chi, relaxed in Hoi An, got drench in Hue, took an overnight train to Hanoi, swam in Ha Long Bay and saw in the new year in the center of Hanoi. What I'll remember most is the tranquility of Ha Long Bay, the food of Saigon and the crazy backstreets of Hanoi.