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Clarey Travels

Diving USAT Liberty, Bali

I kick and launch myself forward, swimming through vertical beams while trying to catch a glimpse of the sleeping big potato grouper. As I near the hull of the ship, the water turns freezing cold – the thermoclines here are hard at work. As am I.

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The USAT Liberty was sunk during World War II and is one of the most popular wreck dives in Southeast Asia. Pro tip, if you want to dive the Liberty and want to see cool stuff like the sleeping grouper or the bumphead parrot fish, plan to overnight in Tulamben (a small, sleepy fishing town in Bali’s Northeast) and head to the wreck at 6 a.m. in the morning. Otherwise, it gets way too crowded with day trippers from 9 a.m. onwards.

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Songkran First Timer … and I survived it!

Having heard of Songkran through friends and seen the many videos and pictures, naturally I was keen to head to Thailand for the festival once I found out that it was about to fall on a long weekend in 2017 (even despite my many Thailand Trials which keep putting me off the Land of Smiles).

We made it to Bangkok with minimal fuss – there was some scaremongering that this year’s Songkran would be downplayed due to King Bhumibol’s death however as you can see from our photo, we all had a splashing good fun.

Here’s some things I took away in general from my experience.

1) Waterproofing

… is necessary. Even despite waterproofing her stuff in a ziploc bag, my friend’s phone decided to act up on her (it’s now dead).

Alternatively, just put your cash in a waterproof pouch and use a waterproof camera to capture your Songkran moments.

We saw waterproof pouches and hats for sale all over Bangkok.

2) Know where to go

Yes, Songkran is pretty much a free for all water fight – and if locals see that you have a waterproof pouch while on the road, you will be splashed. However, there are definitely a few places where people venture to with nothing else in mind except to engage in water fights. We went to a couple of places:

  • Siam Square – make sure your shoulders are covered up for this one, they wouldn’t let us in because the girls were wearing sleeveless tops/ dresses. Water costs 5 – 10฿.
  • Silom Road – 5 km of road converted into walking streets filled with tons of vendors, this really caters to tourists that venture here purely for Songkran. Water costs 5 – 10฿.
  • Right outside our airbnb (personal favourite) – so we got off our tuk tuk, and there on the small street outside our airbnb, locals were dancing to music on the pavements and splashing all the passengers that went by in tuktuks. They had huge tubs of water that they shared with us and we took part in the fun as well. A lot more of a ‘local’ and impromptu experience.

There are a few places in Bangkok that sport more traditional Songkran celebration such as Sanam Luang in the Rattankosin area or Phra Pradaeng – we never made it to those as we were already tired out after our first day of Songkran!

3) Attire

It’s going to be comfortable in your bikini, for sure. Or for guys, to go topless or in a singlet.

Do remember though, that this *is* the Thai New Year and a majority of the Thai people are conservative. From what I saw, most locals still wore shirts that covered their shoulders during Songkran. So do put something over your swimwear 🙂 Can’t do anything about it becoming clingy and skimpy but try to dress somewhat modestly for a start.

Would I go back again during Songkran? Well, I wouldn’t go back purely FOR Songkran. I can definitely see the appeal – big water fight on the streets! childhood dream comes true! However, there’s far better – and cheaper – ways for me to get my kicks nowadays, I’m sure 😉

Last but not least, here’s the video of our Songkran experience, made possible by Auch.

Sunrise (and more) at Angkor Wat

This was a big item on my bucketlist. The experience itself? On a scale of “Sign me up for another 4.30 wake-up” to “I should have just pressed that snooze button”, it leaned more towards the former (due to a few nice and unexpected perks!) … but could have easily gone both ways.  If I were to return to Angkor Wat, it’d be purely with a better camera to take nicer snaps. But here were the highlights of my visit.

Personal space…

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Dear Barefoot Kuata – Why I will never return.

Dear Barefoot Kuata,

I was unsure if I had picked the right island to hop off – after all, only having 12 days to choose between 20 volcanic islands to get off… what if I made a bad choice?! Or horrors, what if I got bored? After all, Kuata seemed to be the smallest island (or one of!) in that plasticky brochure I was given at the Awesome Adventures booth.

Well, after spending five days on Barefoot Kuata, I have finally compiled a list of reasons why I will never return.

1) Look at that untidy beachfront

Filled with bures, beach tents, natural foliage and white powder sand. How unsightly.

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2) I pay this much to sleep in a tent?!

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Mind you, this ‘tent’ (deluxe dorm) has an attached bathroom through the back. It is also terribly difficult to sleep at night with the cooling sea breezes and fans switched on. Also, don’t forget the crashing waves. Such horrid conditions! And down the stone steps of your tent, you literally have ugly views like this: Continue reading “Dear Barefoot Kuata – Why I will never return.”

One Day in Bohol with Big Eyes

Carmen Chocolate Hills, one of the reasons why we decided to make a sidetrip to Bohol during our one week Cebu stay. Amongst the contenders were a trip to Moalboal, the Kawasan Falls or diving in Mactan. However, since we knew that most of our time in Cebu would be spent diving in Malapascua, we decided that Bohol would make a nice little detour in our trip.

Once we arrived at Bohol (hint: don’t book your ferry tickets online, we got them for much cheaper at the ferry terminal), we asked around and managed to rent our own bright yellow scooter:

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Meet our trusty scooter, Pikachu.

We found a place to stay on Panglao Island in Bohol on Momo Beach (although, I wouldn’t recommend it). After which, we set off to see two things that Bohol is known for – the tarsiers and Chocolate Hills!

Corella Tarsier Sanctuary

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Travel Guide: Malapascua Island

Malapascua… a small island that is well known in diving circles for the world famous dive site that is Monad Shoal. While not as beautiful as some islands that I’ve been to, Malapascua possesses a certain charm that has managed to capture my heart weeks after I’d left it. If you’re looking for an island populated by local villages and some resorts without massive tourist hordes, sounds like Malapascua is the island for you.

Things to do in Malapascua

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Diving in Malapascua Island, Cebu

A half days’ journey from Cebu, Malapascua is a small island that promised much and delivered as promised. The trip here was a bit of an ordeal, but the diving was top notch and world class. Never have I ever seen so many different things in a single dive trip compared to Malapascua. Of course, we went there for the famous and elegant Thresher Sharks (check out the bad boy pictured below!) but by the time we left, we had fallen in love with the island and its dive sites.

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Taken with my brand new Nikon Coolpix AW130

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Fiji Roundup

Visiting a tropical island during rainy season sure gives someone time to Get Stuff Done. Namely, wrapping up the video of my sojourn to Fiji. So without further ado, here it is!

Footage features Barefoot Kuata, Barefoot Manta and the Sawa-I-Lau Caves.

The song is one of my favourites, Africa by Toto.

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