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Laos was our entry point into South East Asia. What a difference a 100 meters make, smiling friendly people and so cheap. Laos is a country as yet untouched by the modern demands, stress and peace of life. Its beauty lays in the Lao people, century-old traditions and heritage, ands its lush, pristine landscape. Laos is one of the few truly exotic destinations left in the world. Explore the country where beautiful nature and traditional life encounter. Lao has a variety of hidden charms: beautiful countryside and pristine rainforests, organic cousine and unique handicrafts. You can also join various festivals and traditional ceremonies. Lao people are frank, open and friendly, and they possess a strongly developed sense of courtesy and respect.
Cambodia. Ancient temples, empty beaches, mighty rivers, remote forests… and (outside Angkor) only a handful of tourists. At Angkor Wat over 5000 people fly in every day to explore the complex; from the splendor of Angkor Wat to the enigmatic faces of the Bayon and the haunting Ta Prohm temple, enveloped in the clutches of the jungle. We travelled off-the-beaten-track” visiting remote villages, We also saw Cambodia’s dark site when we visited the killing fields and the Tuol Sleng prison. Up to 20,000 people were tortured into giving false confessions at Tuol Sleng, a school in Phnom Penh which had been converted into a jail. Elsewhere, suspects were often shot on the spot before any questioning. Fifty percent of the estimated 425,000 Chinese living in Cambodia in 1975 perished. Khmer Rouge also forced Muslims to eat pork and shot those who refused. The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, killed close to 1.7 million people in the mid- to late 1970s. Human bones and skulls fill a museum in Cambodia that had been used as a prison and torture center during Pol Pot’s reign. During Pol Pot’s (Khmer Rouge’s) regime over twenty percent of Cambodia’s population was murdered.
We spend a few days R&R close to Silhanoukville. Once arrived in Thailand we drove on perfect roads, good infrastructure and familiar faces such as Mc Donald’s, 7 Eleven etc. Khao Sok National Park was our first stop. Khao Sok National Park offers thick rainforest, limestone cliffs, waterfalls and mountains. Buzzing Bangkok was next, travelling by tuk-tuk through the crazy streets, we hired a longtail boat through the khlongs, visited the stunning Grand Palace, the reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, the floating markets. And not to mention navigate our Motorhome through mad house traffic in Bangkok. Thailand’s turquoise waters and perfect white beaches around Khao Lak, Krabi. This area is dotted with hundreds of limestone karst islands. We travelled to the nearby floating villages and to James Bond Island. Kanchanaburi this tranquil town is the jumping off point for visits to the infamous Hell Fire Pass and River Kwai. We took a ride along the tracks of the Death Railway and reflected on the atrocities of war at the Death War Museum. More R&R on Phuket and perfect remote beach camping on Ko Lantha.
We crossed into Northern Malaysia for the last part of our trip. First stop was Penang Island in the northwestern part of Peninsular Malaysia. The Cameron Highlands are located close to the city of Ipoh, in the western part of Peninsular Malaysia. A nice place to visit to beat the heat from the coast. We spend many days lazing on the East Coast. Kuala Terengganu and Kota Bharu lie within the two Islamic states of Malaysia (Terengganu and Kelantan); the beaches (especially Cherating) are superb. Kota Bharu and Kuala Terengganu are both known for their great authentic markets. These two cities also reflect the traditional Malaysia best. Our last stop before Kuala Lumpur was Malacca about 150 kilometers to the south of Kuala Lumpur. Sloping rooftops of traditional Malay houses still hang over the water, and seem to call out sleepily from the past. The river side is a part of the city that seems to have defied the Portuguese, who captured the city in 1511 and occupied it for well over a century. A building no more than twelve feet across can easily extend backwards two hundred feet. Our highlight in Malacca was the old port area and the historical area. Our last stop Kuala Lumpur. Shopping in this great metropolis is very popular. More than any other spot in the country, Kuala Lumpur, or “KL” as it is commonly known, is the focal point of new Malaysia. While the city’s past is still present in the evocative British colonial buildings of the Dataran Merdeka and the midnight lamps of the Petaling Street night market, that past is everywhere met with insistent reminders of KL’s present and future. The city’s bustling streets, its shining, modern office towers, and its cosmopolitan air project an unbounded spirit of progress and symbolize Malaysia’s unhesitating leap into the future. To some, this spirit seems to have been gained at the loss of ancient cultural traditions, but in many ways KL marks the continuation rather than the loss of Malaysia’s rich past. Like Malacca five hundred years before, KL’s commercial centre is a grand meeting place for merchants and travelers from all over the world. Our truck was shipped back to Europe to be sold or will be shipped back to Australia once our new truck is ready for Stage 6 of our World adventure.