Since I've been over in SE Asia, I've attended many veg events and even have another one in December around Christmas. I have been speaking at these events along with giving food demonstrations of my vegan recipes including my Vegan Cheese Sauce:
Tuesday 6 November – Bus from Chiang Mai to Mai Sai
I finally arrived at 01:20 at the Chiang Mai train station – 5 hours late and after 16.5 hours on the train. Exhausted. It was easy to get to the Poi De Ping Hotel from the train station. A driver drove myself and 6 other people to their places. Mine was about 5 minutes away and the drive cost THB100. One of the staff was waiting for me to arrive.
I did a bit of computer work, had a shower and slept for a bit before waking up at 06:30 to call the Green Bus to see if their early buses to Mae Sai were free, but they only spoke Thai on the message. Went back to sleep after realising I’d just have to get the 12:00 midday bus.
When I woke up and had a shower, one of the staff members took me to the bus station – a 2-minute drive on his motorbike – to get my ticket. I paid THB234 (under AU$8) for a VIP back seat 5B. The staff memeber drove me back and I looked around the area for something to eat, but there wasn’t anything. I ended up leaving earlier to get something to eat at the bus station. I ordered noodles with bean shoots, garlic and chilli for THB30. Not that exciting, but okay. I also bought some snacks at the shops and the 7-11 over the road. I realised when walking back to the station that there was a market down one of the side streets, which would have been fun to explore.
Thursday 25 October – Butterworth to Bangkok by train
The Butterworth, Malaysia to Bangkok, Thailand train was meant to leave Butterworth at 14:20 and arrive the next day in Bangkok at 11:24. I booked a KTM sleeper train with Air Conditioning in a second-class berth ANST. It was the 36-Ekspres Antarabangsa. On Coach 10 #10 at a cost of RM 111.90 (just over AU$34.)
The train arrived at the Butterworth station at 14:45 and finally left at 15:00. The sleepers were down as seats. An attendant had told me that you could sit anywhere until we crossed the Thailand border around 19:00 when the berths (beds) would be made up. A Finnish guy sat with me and we had a bit of a chat. He was studying herbal medicine and Muay Thai in Thailand and had been in Thailand many times.
A lot of people got onto the train until we were at Pandang Besar. This is where we all got off of the train to get our Thailand land visas at around 18:30. Because I was crossing over on land (train) and not by air, I could only get a 15-day pass. It’s 30 days if you fly over. I hope this will be enough time for Thailand. If not, I can always do a border crossing and back.
I arrived about 15:20 at the Palembang airport where I noticed a lot of smoke/fog/pollution when flying down. Santi and her partner, Gary picked me up. This was the hottest I’ve been since arriving in Asia on August 7. We drove to Santhi’s to pack some of her clothes as we would both be staying at Jhonson’s (the head of IVS in Palembang) house. We then drove to Taman Golf where Jhonson and his wife, Aphing (nicknamed Cece) live with their two daughters, Vanni and Cici.
Cece cooked dinner: tofu with sweet soy, soup with tofu skin, curry, kang kong, beans and corn with rice:
Today begins a month-long journey for me, speaking at various IVS veg events in Indonesia. Sumatra will be in a couple of weeks, first up is the island of Java.
Chindy and Santhi from IVS picked me up at the Yogyakarta airport with our driver, Siti. We then drove to a hotel to pick up Avara from Living Food Lab and her work mate, Lukman. Avara and her business partner, Steve run the Living Food Lab at Bali’s Green School that I had meant to see when I was in Bali last but still haven’t.
This year marked the beginning of the Viva la Vegan! interviews with Vegan Athletes, Fitness Fanatics and Exercise Enthusiasts worldwide. I have received almost over 100 responses from various vegans from around the world and have had a great responses to them. When I get past 100 responses, I will be releasing a book very soon.
Please see below for the already published articles - in alphabetical order - click on the photo to read the interviews. There are many more to come and will be added as they are published.
I arrived in Kuala Lumpur (KL for short) a bit after the scheduled flight arrival time of 00:20. I had met a great guy, Satri on the flight who works with Air Asia. He ended up giving me a lot of tips and helping me when we got to Malaysia. My Telekomsel SIM card synced up to DIGI as soon as I got to Malaysia, notifying me that I could use DIGI in Malaysia easily. Before I knew it I had bought a new SIM card for Malaysia from the DIGI counter and had another SIM card to add to the collection. Note: I had tried to use a "global" SIM card at the beginning of my journey but had not been able to call or receive calls and it was really expensive. Annoying to buy a new SIM card in each country, and not good for the environment or humans but it’s the safest thing for me to do.
I also got some money out of an ATM in the Malaysian currency, Riggit RM. I didn’t need to get a visa in Malaysia as long as I was staying under three months and had a return flight home. I just had to scan both my index fingers at the customs counter. Very easy process, especially after midnight.
I had been advised to only go in a taxi if I had bought a voucher at the taxi stand. So, with the help of Satri, I bought a taxi voucher to go to my hotel that was 50% extra due to being after midnight! RM 78.30 (approximately AU$26 – divide RM by 3). I arrived at Langit-Langi Hotel safely, text my Mum, heard from Vick - one of Dad’s work mates who is visiting his Mum in Malaysia at present - and went to bed.
Slept in and got a bit of computer work done. Checked out at 14:00 and walked around for a bit before Vick, his Mum Gnanma (pronounced “Yanum”), and family friend Sundrum picked me up. Vick was leaving to go back to his hometown Cairns via Singapore and wanted to meet me before he left. As my hotel was close to the airport, it was great that they could pick me up before Vick left. Here a photo (from Vick's camera on his phone) of Vick and I at the airport:
At 15:30 we started our drive to Bunutan – just a bit outside of a seaside town, Amed. Jean Paul had got a great price from a local driver in Ubud: for Rp 385 000 (this is about AU$38 – move the decimal place 4 places) he would take the four of us (Jean Paul, his friends Elisa and Verena and myself) about three hours up North East to our new home for the next 2-3 nights. Verena and I had found the place on Agoda last night and were quite impressed with ourselves finding a bungalow for all four of us with a pool and so near the ocean.
I arrived just after midnight in Jakarta with the tune of The Boys song from K-Pop group, Girls Generation in my head - the plane had this song on repeat as we boarded and exited the plane! My FaceBook friend, Angela met me at the airport and accompanied me in the taxi to my hotel, Onyx Residence, which took a long time to find. It was about AU$10 for the BlueBird taxi (the company that many say is the only taxi you should trust to travel) and the airport fees.
I am off on a new adventure. This year instead of escaping the Australian Winter and going to the USA again, I have finally decided to go to SE Asia. I am going for 6 months in total and plan to go to Indonesia, Malaysia, then up North to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Depending on the Visas I will stay for as long as I can in each country. I don't have much of a plan other than to catch up with friends, take some time out, continue to complete various books I'm in the middle of writing and to explore other cultures for awhile. Can't wait!
The fledgling New Zealand vegan outreach group, Go Vegan is running a short essay competition on veganism. Writers must be from New Zealand but the winning entry/entries will be publishing internationally including right here on Viva la Vegan!