Southeast Asia

Full of optimism and free of debt, I traveled with Jonas to Southeast Asia in Autumn/Winter 2019. We started in Thailand, celebrated the new year 2020, then hitchhiked extensively through Myanmar on a very short visa.

After Myanmar, we returned to Thailand, which was the first country outside of China with COVID-19 patients. But February saw no restrictions, which is why we had no issue to hitchhike through southern Thailand across the border to Malaysia. All we had to do at immigration is sign a form that says we hadn’t been to China in the last 14 days. We hadn’t, but the officer did analyze our passport stamp very keenly.

In Kota Bahru (Malaysia), the coronavirus numbers started to let loose. We hitchhiked with facemasks to Penang and still considered booking more Airbnbs on our future itinerary. Then there was the announcement that Australia locked its borders. Shit. We had to get some money back from those bookings. Then slowly more countries started to lock down and so did Malaysia.

Luckily, Malaysia allowed us to stay. Even though our passport stamps had long expired, we were on the receiving end of amnesty. And we were happy to stay in Malaysia, because holy smokes, the food!

After lockdown, we explored bits of Malaysia whenever cases were low. Jonas didn’t like Malaysia the first time he visited way before I met him. Now he’s a huge fan. So am I.

Our adventures in Southeast Asia came to a premature halt. I’m hoping to pick up my travels here again later, but the world will look very different. But for now, enjoy these posts!

Myeik→ Bokpyin→ Kawthaung: Hitchhiking Two Consecutive Days in Myanmar

Events described in this post reflect those that happened on Tuesday the 28th and Wednesday the 29th of January, 2020. Jonas and I hitchhiked for two consecutive days from Myeik to Kawthaung with a one-night stopover in Bokpyin, Myanmar. This road is fairly new and quite adventurous. Before they built it, the only way to get from Myeik to Kawthaung was by ferry. Preparing to Hitchhike the Last Stretch of the AH-112 We had spent a lovely few days at the upscale Regent Hotel in Myanmar. One of the reasons to pick a fancier hotel was that we knew theContinue reading

Dawei to Myeik by Thumb – Hitchhiking Myanmar’s National Highway 8

Events narrated in this article happened on Friday the 24th of January, 2020. Jonas and I hitchhiked from Dawei to Myeik in the Thanintharyi Region of Myanmar. Finding a Tollgate During our three prior hitchhiking experiences in Myanmar, we figured that nothing beats a toll booth. Unfortunately, neither OSM nor Google Maps had a toll booth on the road south of Dawei in direction of Myeik (မြိတ်). I’d found a report online about Myanmar’s infrastructure which said there are nearly 400 tollgates in Myanmar. Surely, there must be a tollgate south of Dawei. So I used the good old techniqueContinue reading

The Way to Dawei: Hitchhiking from Mawlamyine

Events in this story happened on Tuesday the 21st of January, 2020. Jonas and I hitchhiked from Mawlamyine to Dawei in Myanmar.  Arranging the Tuk-Tuk As we’re slowly running out of visa days in Myanmar, we only stayed two nights in Mawlamyine. The day before departure, we asked the staff at Thanlwin Seesar Hotel to arrange a tuk-tuk for us to the toll gate. As the previous hitchhiking days had taught us, toll gates are simply the best places to stand to hitchhike from in Myanmar. We showed them the location of the Phar Auk Toll Gate on the mapsContinue reading

Wandering around Shampoo Island (Gaung Say Kyun), Mawlamyine

Events described here happened on the 20th of January, 2020. We visited Gaung Say Kyun Island, also known as ‘Shampoo Island’ on our one full day in Mawlamyine. Getting to the Jetty Before traveling by train from Yangon to Mawlamyine, I’d already marked a few spots I wanted to visit in the city. The highlight of those was an island in the Thanlwin (Salween) river delta named Shampoo Island. Its actual name is Gaung Say Kyun Island (ခေါင်းဆေးကျွန်း). I’d already spotted the island and its tallest pagoda and its scaffolding when we crossed the river by train the previous day.Continue reading

The Train from Yangon to Mawlamyine

This train journey occurred on Sunday the 19th of January, 2020. Jonas and I took the train from Yangon to Mawlamyine in Myanmar. “Kyat” and “MMK” both stand for the currency used in Myanmar. Click here to see the map of the route plus some tips. A Novel Experiences: Taking a Train Getting out of huge cities is often a problem when hitchhiking, and Yangon was no different. I’d done a little bit of research on a good place to hitchhike from after taking a long Grab ride, but it wasn’t worth it. At this point, we’d only hitchhiked twiceContinue reading

Between Two Capitals: Hitchhiking from Naypyitaw to Yangon

Events narrated in this article happened on Tuesday the 14th of January, 2020. Jonas and I hitchhiked from the new capital city Naypyitaw to the old one named Yangon. CONTENT WARNING: there are vivid descriptions of vomiting in here. Emetophobics might want to sit this one out. Early Wake-Up The breakfast time in Vegas Hotel Naypyitaw started at 6:30. That was the time we chose to wake up. I didn’t feel very great, but I soldiered on and dragged myself to breakfast. We’d already packed the night before, so the only thing that was stopping us from hitchhiking the 360Continue reading

Naypyitaw: A Surreal Planned City for Lovers of Motorcycles, Concrete, and Serenity

We were in Naypyitaw from the 10th till the 14th of January 2020. We worked from our hotel, took a taxi, and rented a motorbike for one day of exploration. A Brief History of Naypyitaw – a Planned City What would you do if you could design a city from scratch? You’d try to make it as perfect as possible, obviously. You’d try to think of everything. As someone who likes to play videogames with city planning features, I like to get things right for the sake of my sims. Back in 2002, the military government of Myanmar had it withContinue reading

Hitchhiking from Nyaung-U (Old Bagan) to Naypyitaw

This happened on the 10th of January, 2020. Jonas and I hitchhiked from Nyaung-U – the town near the famous ruins of Old Bagan – to Myanmar’s new capital city Naypyitaw. This was our first attempt at hitchhiking in Myanmar. We covered 260 kilometers by hitchhiking. Here you can find a price comparison of our hitchhiking journey versus taking the bus and here’s the map of our route and points of interest. Preparations to Hitchhike in Myanmar I’d been preparing for hitchhiking in Myanmar for literal weeks. Back when Jonas and I were in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I made the first hitchhiking signContinue reading

Cruising Down the Irrawaddy River from Mandalay to Nyaung-U (Old Bagan)

These events occurred on Tuesday the 7th of January, 2020. Jonas and I took a cruise down the Irrawaddy River from Mandalay to Nyaung-U (near Old Bagan) in Myanmar. At the bottom of this article, you can find information on how to book this trip yourself. Finding the Irrawaddy River Cruise Before we’d left Chiang Mai, we had to decide where we’d go after Mandalay. In Mandalay, the road to Yangon forks in two paths: to the temples of Old Bagan or to Inle Lake. Both are popular tourist destinations in Myanmar that can later lead to Naypyitaw – Myanmar’s brand-newContinue reading