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A delectable feast in Asia's South East

A delectable feast in Asia's South East

story by: Inspire Magazine

Do you find yourself wistfully daydreaming of South East Asia? Seeking maps and idly tracing a route with your finger? Make your dreams a reality with a trip to the land of mist and mystique. The invite’s there, you just need to answer. 


1. Don’t be shy, just give it a Thai
Stunning from every viewpoint, Krabi is arguably the most scenic provincial capital in Thailand, so swivel your toes and take in an eyeful. Your gaze will linger across longtail boats and limestone karsts. To the north the awry green cliffs of Khao Kanab Nam jut through the water and to the south an eternal stretch of mountainside expands into the horizon. 

Buzzing with the constant ebb and flow of tourists, Krabi boasts inexpensive restaurants and robust curries, while the sheer rock faces of Railay Beach are just 45 minutes away – popular with daredevil climbers mesmerised by the swathes of its limestone. 

Intent on feeding both your stomach and your spirituality, Chiang Mai’s a melting pot of culture and cuisine. As the cultural heart of Thailand, it’s a city of contrasts, where ancient temples nudge modern new builds and Burmese heritage prevails. Join a local cooking class and prepare sweet fragrant curries or satisfy your cultural hunger and partake in a 'Monk Chat', available for a small donation at a handful of temples. For those already harmonised, tee off at one of the city’s stellar golf courses, or head to Chiang Rai and embark on a tour of the Golden Triangle. 


2. Wham bam thank you nam

If you don’t believe in myths, you just might after a trip to Vietnam. With 2000 islets scattering the emerald waters of Halong Bay, the locals will tell you they were carved by the tail of a thrashing dragon. And you can’t help but feel they might be right. View the limestone karsts by Chinese junk boat, weaving between their jutting walls and sheer facades. 

From oceans deep to valleys high, ascend into the hills – and the humid mist – for a village stay with the Sapa Hill Tribe locals. Set amidst ripples of cascading rice fields, observe workers in the paddies and then step inside their modest huts for bowls of steaming tea. 

Complete your Vietnamese adventure with a stay in Hoi An. With merchant houses and glowing silk lanterns, twinkling lights and Japanese bridges, it’s remarkably well preserved. Sit riverside and decide what’s next on the agenda – lounging on Cua Dai beach, whizzing down the giant sand dunes of Mui Ne or exploring Ho Chi Minh City where you can also access the infamous Cu Chi war tunnels. When the time arrives to leave this blessed land, sail into Cambodia by luxury river cruise. 


3. Myanmar is open for business
For Myanmar, a change in name mirrored a change in mind-set. Previously off-limits, Burma is now open for business. Littered with temples, relics, gilded pagodas, golden stupas and timeworn ruins, ladies and gents – fill your boots! Start in Bagan, where the silhouettes of more than two-thousand ancient temples pierce the sky and its low-level mist. Best visited at sunrise, the cool air and rising fog create a magical light around its enchanting pinnacles. You’re standing in a forgotten kingdom, where kings once ruled and Mongols conquered.

Other Myanmar highlights include floating down the Irrawaddy and visiting Inle Lake. Offering Kodak moments from every angle, the lake’s freshwater surface appears like a never- ending sheet of silver. With water and marshes that seamlessly combine and wooden houses skimming its shallow embankments. The fishermen propel their boats with an intriguing leg hooking technique, a movement that is both perplexing and hypnotic to watch.


4. Why hello, Borneo!

If you’re tracking down the world’s largest flower, which at three feet and 15 pounds is the Rafflesia Arnoldii, say hello to Borneo. A gentle giant nestled in the Malay Archipelago, Borneo is flushed with natural attractions, from caving systems to bird watching and some of the world’s best diving. In particular, Sipadan Island offers a treasure trove of diving diversity, with scuba junkies arriving from across the globe to experience its sudden drops and sheer coral walls. Teeming with nonchalant turtles and entrancing schools of fish, you’ll also find sharks, barracuda and micro Pygmy seahorses. Along with gargantuan flowers and South East Asia’s largest Barrier Reef, Borneo also boasts a large orang-utan population. Knock at the doors of a rehabilitation sanctuary and get acquainted with these round-bellied mischief-makers. From baby orphans to adolescents intent on causing mayhem, personalities range from quiet and curious to bold and boisterous. Either way, you’ll enjoy a full few hours of natural orang-utan showmanship.

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