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Jason Phan
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"The silence of nature is very real. It surrounds you, you can feel it." -- Ted Trueblood - I think I can sit up here and listen to the wind rustle the tops of trees for hours on end. Java has been surprise after surprise both small and big for me. No better surprise than was the city of Malang. - Often used as just a pit stop to hike Mount Bromo it had way more on offer than most people realized. Plenty of waterfalls to chase, some of the most amazing hiking trails you can ask for, the colorful neighborhood, and of course there is Bromo itself! - Spare a day or two and explore Malang, it's worth it. • • • • 📸 | @nikonusa 🌎 | @indtravel ⠀ #theroamingnoodle #indonesia #wonderfulindonesia #malang #java #exploreindonesia #indotravellers #travelingthroughtheworld #beautifulseasia #iamtb #backpackersintheworld #worldnomads #travelalone #traveltheworld #backpackerstory
"If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don't like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it." -- Sean O'Connell - North of all the popular temples (Borobudur & Prambanan) laid this hidden gem in the town of Yogyakarta (I still can't pronounce this town correctly 😅😭💀) on Java Island. A rag tag group of backpackers and myself decided last minute we should take a detour here to explore a waterfall I found out about. With no expectations we set off, just like that. - A few pit stops for gas, a break for Javanese coffee we found ourselves standing atop this view. Immaculate was one way to describe it's pristine beauty void of the hordes of tourist, aside from us of course 😁. This validated all the reasons why I had chosen to stay and explore Java that much more 🙌🏻 • • • • 📸 | @samsungmobile 🌎 | @indtravel ⠀ #theroamingnoodle #indonesia #wonderfulindonesia #yogyakarta #java #exploreindonesia #indotravellers #travelingthroughtheworld #beautifulseasia #iamtb #backpackersintheworld #worldnomads #travelalone #traveltheworld #backpackerstory
"I went searching for treasures - what I found surpassed all my imaginations." - After Bali I made it a point to explore the island of Java. So many people overlook it when they're passing through, but not this guy! Little did I know that the next three weeks I would meet such an amazing group of people, see some of the most epic things on this adventure, and REALLY find the gem of SE Asia I didn't know I was searching for. - Bandung was a great first appetizer to the island's main courses. The rolling tea hills went on as far as the eye can see in any direction. The food here great, the sulfur lake pungent, and the hot springs soothing. Take a quick break, do yourself a favor and take a day-scooter trip and explore all its got to offer 🙌🏻 • • • • 📸 | @samsungmobile 🌎 | @indtravel ⠀ #theroamingnoodle #indonesia #wonderfulindonesia #exploreindonesia #bandung #java #indotravellers #travelingthroughtheworld #beautifulseasia #iamtb #withgalaxy #backpackersintheworld #travelalone #traveltheworld #backpackerstory
"Never in my wildest dreams would I ever thought I'd end up here." - That's the beauty of life isn't it? No matter how much planning you do, foresight you have, precaution you take, it steers you in a million different directions. You just have to accept that nothing is really ever in your control and just go with the universal flow. - I've learn to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride a lot on this trip. Unexpected adventures, locations, and experiences are all part of the game. I've just been fortunate enough to get a chance to play it. - Bali was a truly nice surprise. I was hesitant to come here in fear of how overly touristy it has become in recent years. But if you search hard enough, scoot far enough, be open enough, then there sre still hidden fruits of the island to be enjoyed. - From the local cuisine, immensely deep rooted religious culture, to the amazing landscape and natural formations, even the local craft beer scene, it had a bit of everything I was looking for, and a lot of surprises I wasn't expecting. - Bring only your sense of adventure. Leave behind only your footprints. • • • • 📸 | @samsungmobile 🌎 | @indtravel ⠀ #theroamingnoodle #indonesia #wonderfulindonesia #exploreindonesia #ubud #bali #indotravellers #travelingthroughtheworld #beautifulseasia #iamtb #backpackersintheworld #worldnomads #travelalone #traveltheworld #backpackerstory

Chiang Mai is one of Thailand’s treasured spots for backpackers whom traverse this part of the world. Once a best kept secret has now become a major destination point on everyone’s travel map. Located about 435 miles north of Bangkok you’ll be greeted by a mountainous backdrop lined with green treetops. Whether you take a night train, day bus or simply fly into Chaing Mai there is NO reason why you should skip this gem.

The vibe here is undoubtedly chill, the weather warm, and the food spicy. You will run into plenty of travelers, backpackers and vacationers alike, from every corner of the globe here. There are no shortage of expats setting up permanent residency here either and for good reasons. Whether the mountains are calling your name, a Muay Thai bout is on the docket or finding your inner peace surrounded by monks you’re in good company here.


HALF DAY TEMPLE RUN
Screen Shot 2019-04-24 at 1.01.46 PMBy now you are probably burnt out by temples as Thailand is home to over 30,000 of them, but there are a few worth visiting in Chiang Mai. The city’s layout, a grid more or less, makes it easy to get around by foot with most of the temples located within the square. Most of the temples were free to enter which made it a very pleasant surprise.

The architecture of the temples are very reminiscent of what you will find throughout Thailand with a few boasting a more outlandish design. From ancient statues (Wat Chiang Man) to chedi ruins (Wat Chedi Luang), and temples boasting gold and copper Buddhas (Wat Phra Singh) you can easily get lost in a day trip around the city. Plan an early morning exit before the heat really gets on hot and a few hours to spare to explore.

Some of my favorites I visited on a half day trip were (with the mentions above):

  • Wat Chedi Luang
  • Wat Phra Singh
  • Wat Chiang Man
  • Wat Pa Pao
  • Wat Chiang Yuen
  • Wat Lok Moli
  • Wat Phantao (my favorite)

CHEER ON A MUAY THAI FIGHT
Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, could arguably be hands down their national sport. A visit to Thailand and not seeing to a match is just wrong. Skip Bangkok and head straight to Chiang Mai to witness a more down and raw match without all the bells and whistles. Thaphae Boxing Stadium, located across the gate of the same name, hosts bouts every night so you can always catch some action. Most of the hostels and hotels can set you up with tickets in advance, 500 baht will get you through the doors, or you can always purchase them in person. 

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Once through the doors you are transported into the proper world of Muay Thai fighting. The seats were all close to the action, ours was on the furthest back row, still provided outstanding views of every blow. They also have giant projectors displaying the fight from all angles. Each night there are five matches where local schools from the area all come to show off their fighters. With so much action you can surely satiate your Muay Thai appetite. The main bout is always a draw and on this night it was Thai local versus New Zealander. I won’t spoiler it but will say worth all the baht I paid for admission.

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CARVE THE MOUNTAINS
Nearby Chiang Mai there are two mountain ranges, Doi Suthep and Doi Inthanon, in which I would highly recommend grabbing a scooter to explore. The former is much closer than the latter, making for a great leisurely day trip with no rushing involved. Thailand traffic is quite tame compared elsewhere in Southeast Asia making it the perfect place to harness your scootering skills.

Aside from a great view looking back down towards Chiang Mai there is also Wat Phra That Doi Suthep located near the base of the mountain. A Hmong Village is up north, deep within it. My big suggestion is head up into the mountains towards the Hmong village and start your descent down from there. You will find people living a much simpler life with VERY FEW tourists nearby. These kind people make their living off of small shops selling great eats and locally made crafts. It was a hit with our crew that day.

If you’re the adventurous type then you need to ride towards Doi Pui Viewpoint. The road is a little bit more harrowing but the view is just too spectacular to miss. Once you navigate the rocky dirt terrain your efforts will be rewarded handsomely. You could even spot the Hmong Village from up here!

On your way down make a stop at the mentioned Wat Phra That Doi Suthep as it’s one of the more important temples in Chiang Mai. They have an escalator where you can take up for a few bahts but the real attraction is all the steps one can accrue by taking the stairs! Marvel at the gold laden pagodas and the immaculate view of Chiang Mai at a closer glance. Do note that when we were here the air pollution was bad but no where near the levels it is at time of writing. I can’t promise the views to be clear but it’s one of those risks you just have to take.


INDULGE YOUR TASTE BUDS
20190219_192356Thailand is one of those countries brimming at the rim with culinary delights from a vast array of ethnic influences. Anywhere you go within its borders you are assured to find great eats and Chiang Mai is no different. Night markets are a HUGE staple in SE Asia. Once the sun goes down the streets are bustling with life from patrons and vendors.

20190221_193430The once walled off city hosts a plethora of night markets on any of its given gates. Whether you are on the north, east, south or west gate you’re going to be in a for a treat. During me short stay there I saw to it to eat at as many different vendor stalls as possible, indulging in my every taste bud.

Whether you’re a connoisseur of meats on a sticks, freshly grilled seafood, stir fried noodles, curries of red, green or yellow, even if you’re vegan, there is a stall waiting for you. Fruit and dessert lovers don’t fret as plenty of options are available for the taking as well (try the banana/nutella crepes!). Be adventurous and try some durian!

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NOTE: If you’re on the North Gate go about searching for the woman with the cowboy hat. Her stall, featured on the late Anthony Bourdain show, is a must visit for pig lovers. I won’t hit you with the details but if you love slow stewed pork – this is a must go.


GO TO A DAY RAVE – IT’S A THING
20190223_173949Located just a mere 25 minute tuk tuk ride outside of Chiang Mai is the Grand Canyon waterpark. Think of it as the actual Grand Canyon on a MUCH smaller scale, full of backpackers and locals alike. With sunscreen in one hand and a beer in the other it makes for a great way to spend a hot afternoon. Usually this locale is a very family friendly outing but on some occasion, mainly big holidays and special weekends, you can catch a bunch of electronic music blasting from this oasis.

It’s a great spot to unwind especially if you have been traveling a long time, living out of your backpack and hostel to hostel. Sit back, have a beer or jump off the 30 foot rock wall on the opposite side and relax to good vibes all the way into the morning.  This is the easy life of Thailand I tell you.

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