Let’s Explore Asia!

What has long hair, doesn’t stop smiling and goes disappearing for long periods of time from the blogosphere? Meeeeee! Well, I’m back! (I think lol) I have two new entries coming your way. This entry is about my future travels to Asia. My bf and I are workaholics, and the people around us decided we should go on a break. At first, we were apprehensive. Are they planning a boardroom coup? Perhaps interior decorating of the houses? Or wait for it, are we about to meet the future loves of our lives by accident? In the end, we decided, why bother to worry and just go with the flow.  We wanted to go to places that are not on your usual tourist list, so this is our tentative plan.I hope it inspires you to go off the beaten track and do things that you can only do when you’re young.

 

Bactrian camels with Mongol nomads

Mongolia

Barring the fact that Genkis Khan was Mongolian, most people know very little about Mongolia. From an investment perspective, Mongolia is doing fantastic! Aside from Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, Mongolia is one of the fastest growing countries in Asia. It’s 2014 growth rate remains above 10%. Mongolia is a democracy (i.e. analysts believe the country is stable = your money is safe), and with the recent changes, FDI is more than welcome.

I want to visit Mongolia to explore the nomadic way of life, while my bf wants to go hunting with falcons. My bf is also an avid horse rider, and he’s looking forward to doing that here. Riding animals is not my cup of tea, so I think I’ll just feed and look after the bactrian camels. Bactrian camels are actually considered critically endangered in the wild, so this will perhaps be my only chance to interact with this animal. Mongolia is attractive to us since it is the perfect opportunity to step back in time.. In addition, Mongolia remains largely unspoilt. Fresh air, clean water and mineral rich soil? How can we say no to that!

Shanghai Maglev Train

Shanghai, China

I have to visit Shanghai just so I can take a ride on the Shanghai Maglev – the world’s fastest operational train! The journey from the International Airport to the city is 8 minutes long, but you’re travelling at 430kmp/h! It’s like flying at zero altitude! The train was built through a JV between Siemens and ThyssenKrupp. Seimens, along with Almabani, Bechtel and CCC, were recently awarded the $9.45bn Riyadh Metro contract for lines 1&2.

I’ve had some close encounters with fast trains. In Korea, I missed the opportunity to take the KTX on the Seoul-Busan route. KTX trains were built through a JV with Alstom, who are currently involved with Riyadh Metro lines 4, 5 and 6, as part of FAST (FCC Construccion, Samsung, Alstom, Strukton, Freyssinet Saudi Arabia, Typsa and Setec) consortium. Are Alstom or Siemans involved with the Haramain? Nope, that went to a Saudi-Spanish consortium. (Spain has some fast trains that I want to experience.) I’m also so excited about the Haramain! Jeddah to Makkah in 30 minutes? Yallah, let’s go!

I’m not too sad about missing the KTX. There’s a proposal to introduce KTX on Seoul-Jeju Island route, so I honestly don’t mind waiting. Jeju Island is a honeymoon/romantic destination in Korea, with the Seoul-Jeju route the world’s busiest air route. Have you visited Korea? Seoul is definitely one of my favourite cities in Asia – it’s so energetic! Did you know that 3.5million South Koreans donated jewelry and 227 tonnes of gold to save their currency in 1997? This drove the worldwide gold price to an 18 year low. I don’t know of any other country could pull of such a feat! Heavy machinery and ships also provides so much excitement for me. Daewoo shipping is building the world’s longest cargo ship for Maersk…can I pull of a site visit please? (*hint hint*) Even if you don’t want to actually leave the airport, ICN is such an amazing airport! I only wish it were open 24/7!

Similarly, the last time I had the free time to take a train from Milano-Roma, the AGV Italo wasn’t in operation. I’ve taken the Eurostar countless times but it’s no longer exciting. It’s actually embarrassing, as every time the train arrives in England, it slows down. My bf and I love trains and planes! Our travel to do list includes traveling from Russia to China by train, on a route aptly titled “The Vodka Express.” (No, I don’t drink alcohol.) We also want to travel “The Silk Route” and travel through India by train. I don’t know if we will accomplish all of these plans, but hey, put it out there, and who knows?

Alishan Forest Railway

Taiwan

The ongoing joke amongst my other friends is we are going to Taiwan to build a computer or buy an oolong tea farm because of the copious amounts of oolong tea we drink. Since it is so difficult to find oolong tea that is extremely pure, of single origin and organic, we tend to buy a lot directly. In recent times, we’ve had a lot of competition, and since we’re both anxious that our supply will dwindle, we seriously considered buying or setting up our oolong tea farm. Sadly, neither of us are of Taiwanese origin, so we have to pause our plans for now.

I want to go to Taiwan to experience all the night markets, eat everything that’s vegan and ride the Alishan Forest Railway. Built under Japanese occupation to transport logs down the mountain, the railway offers a unique chance to experience Taiwan’s greenery from a different perspective. The Alishan Forest railway goes from the rice paddies all the way around Mount Duli. It rises from an elevation of only 30 meters above sea level to a height of 2,274 meters in just 71.4 kilometers. The climate also changes from tropical to temperate during the ride.

Borneo, Indonesia

Mention Borneo and most people think of orangutans. (Well, my friends do anyway!) Borneo is an island to the south of Malaysia, and covered with lush green rainforests. It’s actually the largest island in Asia, and the third largest island in the world after Greenland and New Guinea. Unfortunately, much of this rainforest is being cleared to make way for timber, palm oil, rubber and minerals. Palm oil (after gmo soy and corn oil) is one of the cheapest vegetable oils to produce. This puts one of the main habitants of the rainforest, the orangutan, at great risk.

Orangutans share a DNA profile that is 97% similar to humans. Due to poaching, destruction of their habitats and the fact that a female orangutan reproduces every 8 years, orangutans are classified as endangered. Our main goal visiting Borneo is to volunteer at an orangutan sanctuary.

Bali, Indonesia

Do we need a reason to visit hedonistic Bali? I don’t think we will have any activities planned here, besides yoga and eating at all the vegan restaurants! I can’t wait! I recently took my bf to a yoga class. It was a hilarious experience. The pranayama made him tired, and all the asanas made him so sore. To top it all off, while in shavasana, he fell asleep and started snoring!! Since the yoga teacher had a crush on him, it wasn’t that embarrassing!

East Timor

Formerly colonized by the Portuguese and then Indonesia, East Timor recently gained independence and is looking to  make its mark on the world. I just realized that today, 30th August 2014, marks 15 years since their referendum for independence was held. Happy Independence Day East Timor! Again, the country is attractive because of its remoteness, and the fact that commercial tourism has yet to take off. This will be like a holiday in a holiday for us.

From East Timor, we’re so close to New Caledonia and all the other south pacific islands we want to visit, but time isn’t on our side this time round. I think we will only have 2 weeks to do the trip.

As I do a final read through of this post, it dawns on me that as a female, maybe I should tone down my love for all things metal energy – planes, trains and ships to name a few metal energies. My friends tell me I’m as rare as painite or the sorraia breed of horses. I take these as compliments. After all, as Saudization gets stricter, I’m sure my knowledge and skills will be benefical.

Have a great last day/night of summer!

3 responses to “Let’s Explore Asia!

  1. Hi,
    do you have any info on gyms and swimming pools in rawdah area or nearby rawdah.
    Your feedback will be much appreciated.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Shazia,

      Unfortunately I don’t have information of gyms in this area. Please let me know if you do find a fitness centre here.

      Apologies for not being more helpful.

      Sarah

  2. Hey all the best with your travels. Really glad you’re blogging again. Was wondering if you could help me buy a powerful blender for green smoothies in riyadh. Any stores or brands of blender you could recommend?

    Thanks

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