3 recommended guide books for backpacking around the world

Have you found the gift for your loved ones this festive season? If you still do not find any, I would like to suggest these 3 books from Amazon.com that you can buy as a gift, if your recipient love backpacking around the world.

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts

Rolf Potts’ tome of vagabonding is an inspirational work rather than a practical guide. While the same practical information is contained in other books, this book shines in the area of travel philosophy. Travel is like a religion, where some people are incredibly fervent about it, while others just don’t understand. This book makes you realize that long-term travel is not only possible, but desirable and worthwhile.

I particularly liked the section on working for travel. As a 9-to-5 worker planning a long-term trip, I needed the inspiration to keep going. I liked being told that working will actually make me appreciate travel more. After all, to afford travel, I have to be here anyway.

Throughout the book, there are great little excerpts from famous travelers, philosophers, and explorers, as well as anecdotes from ordinary travelers. Rolf has a particular liking for Walt Whitman, and I may just have to go pick up some Walt poetry now. The literary references in this book let you know that world travel and a simple life aren’t new concepts.

The only problem I see with this book is that it may soon become dated with its references to specific websites.

The book is of a small and convenient size to take on the road.

An exclusive review by Shannon B Davis “Nepenthe” (Arlington, MA United States), courtesy of Amazon.com

Worldwalk: One Man’s Four Year Journey Around The World by Steven M. Newman
WorldwalkStephen M. Newman, a 6’2″ 28 year old journalist decided to walk around the world with his giant backpack clinger, living only on hospitality, to see if the world is really still a good place. The fact that this is a real story, a real account makes the most impact on me.

In the ancient days, people made pilgrimages, holy quests and this is what his story was of, a modern pilgrimage. He comes across as optimistic and faces the world with a sense of humor even though some of the things he sees and the people he encounters are truly horrible.

His optimism seems a little forced sometimes, a little overzealous, but maybe that was how he really felt. Anyways, I guess nobody likes a whiner, and who would really want to listen to him whine?

During his whole voyage, there were a number of times that he did get lucky, and from his account, a lot of the people he met were friendly and kind and hospitable, and that has a lot to say about the world.

So you should read this story, he points out some interesting sociological standpoints about how people in other countries see Americans, and it makes you feel like being an American is something truly lucky to be. He was very brave, to do what he did.

It probably was a lot harder than he made it sound. You can find Steve in the 1988 Guinness book of world records as the first person to walk around the world alone.

An exclusive review by hzze (AZ), courtesy of Amazon.com

The Practical Nomad: How To Travel Around The World by Edward Hasbrouck

I bought this book expecting to find something other than what it is. Instead of the subtitle “How to travel around the world” maybe it should have been subtitled “What you need to know before you travel around the world.”

The author is very knowledgeable and the book offers a lot of valuable insight. It’s been helpful for me planning my own global crossing. But not helpful in a pragmatic “here’s what you need to do” kind of way. It was helpful in educating me about travel industry practices, paperwork preparation, and conditions in certain areas of the world.

However, I’m a bit dismayed by two aspects of the book. Hasbrouck seems to tout train travel on almost every page. He has a real love of trains I guess. He even said on one page that given the same distance (up to about 600 miles) he’d take the train over flying because, he says, they’re more comfortable, the food is better, and you meet interesting people.

Maybe my travel experience is vastly different than his, but I don’t hold the same romantic fondness of trains. My experience has been they’re a crowded, hot, time-consuming confinement with people that looked a bit sketchy. And I consider myself an adventurous traveler. I’m not one to watch the world from the bay window of a luxury cruise liner.

It also becomes annoying how the author seems to inject his political opinion into every page, almost every paragraph. He seems to editorialize on everything – capitalism, socialism, class bias, feminism, health and disease, food distribution, etc. I happen to agree with a lot of his opinion but to have it be so ubiquitous is droning.

Overall, this is a helpful book, probably one of the better ones out there for general around-the-world information. But if you’re looking for the nuts and bolts “how to” information, find something else.

An exclusive review Todd Adams (Nashville, TN United States), courtesy of Amazon.com

Wrong information on Rungus costume by our own government…

Hmmm… I have seen this billboard photo few times, at few places, but did not have the opportunity to shoot and post in my blog.

Until about last week when I managed to shoot the billboard while on my way home in Putatan, as my car stuck in the usual traffic jam. The billboard is situated along the road to the airport, just in front of Sutera Harbour.

I did asked my wife (she’s Rungus) about the photo, and she said that it is NOT a Rungus costume. The words “Kudat Rungus Longhouse” on the top left of the billboard were wrong.

I think the government should be more sensitive on this issue, as it gave wrong information to us and more importantly, our international guest.

They should check the correct and valid information from our local authorities, before putting the advertisement/billboard up.

Anyway, who knows what is the race for the women’s costume? I don’t think it’s Murut…

NOT a Rungus costume

Don’t forget your travel medical insurance

Coming to Sabah and climbing Mount Kinabalu sounds really fun, but what would you do when “worst case scenario” happen?

Are you insured for this event?
Photo by pearlworld

Lets say while travelling with a public transport from Kota Kinabalu to Kinabalu Park, you involved in an unfortunate event – a landslide happened a few kilometers away from Kinabalu Park entrance, and the bus that you take fall into a 30 feet ravine. The stretch from Tamparuli to Kinabalu Park is well known to have intermittent landslide, especially so during wet season.

The question here is: Are you well prepared for that event? We know that the risk of you getting into such position is very small, but what if you are one of the survivors?

For foreign tourist and travellers, the event can actually cost you a lot, unless you are prepared. It is an emergency situation, and you may need immediate medical care that could save your life.

Generally, what you need during the events are:

  1. Emergency ground and/or air ambulance. As most of the time in Malaysia, emergency medical services are operated by government body, you may have to use the resources that they have. Frankly speaking, ambulance services in Tamparuli-Kundasang-Ranau stretch are provided by Hospital Ranau, and the services can sometimes be dissappointing.
  2. Hospital in patient care and medication. Depending on the severity of your injury, intensive care management can be really expensive, especially if you are treated in a private hospital in Kota Kinabalu. It is not that government hospital is bad, you will get more attention in private center.
  3. Outpatient services for less serious emergencies. If you are lucky to survive the event with just a minor injuries, outpatient treatment can always be obtained from any clinic around, but Malaysian government may give you a special attention in the emergency department of the hospital.
  4. Doctor’s fee. Private practice and government medical center have a very different fee schedule. You may want to spend a bit more to get a better services from most of private center here.
  5. Emergency related travel expenses. If your injuries are severe, and need a special attention and treatment from more specialize center, you may have to fork out your own money for the travel related expenses. The most frequent example that I encounter is decompression sickness (for SCUBA divers). Patient have to pay for the transport and ferry to Labuan to get to the decompression chamber for treatment.

You may be fit and healthy before the climbing trip, but you may not be ready if thing goes wrong along the way.

You may need to consider having a travel medical insurance to ease the burden of these kind of travel medical expenses, especially so if you are travelling from abroad. Having medical problems and accidents outside your country can really be devastating, and most of the time will disrupt your travel plan.

I know that shopping for travel medical insurance can be really difficult, but just consider these few points before you sign on the dotted line:

  1. Try to compare various policies of the travel medical insurance packages available.
  2. Know the limits of your coverage for your medical emergencies and treatments.
  3. Make sure you know what are the definitions for important terms like pre-existing condition, medically necessary, stable and controlled condition, or re-occurring condition.
  4. Know the exclusion or exemption of the policies. *As climbing can be categorized risky activities, accidents or injuries during your climbing process may not be covered by the policy. Check with your insurance provider about the possibility of including it. Bare in mind that insurance provider could have a different clauses for the inclusion, and you may have to pay extra for it.
  5. You may want to consult a licensed insurance agent or broker about the types of travel health insurance products available to you.

Click here for FREE quote

Mount Kinabalu trip report by Adam Helman

I met Adam when he came here with his two friends, Bob and Rob – just to climb Mount Kinabalu in June this year. They were on their quest to conquer all mountains in South East Asia and a string of volcanoes around this region which are declared as among the “Earth’s Fifty Finest” – the planet’s 50 most prominent peaks.

He claimed that the journey was an extraordinary experience, lasting five weeks and with general success;

  • Four of Earth’s fifty most prominent mountains;
  • Seven of the World Top 100 peaks (ranked by prominence);
  • Five island highpoints (Bali, Borneo, Java, Lombok, and Sumatra);
  • The Malaysian national highpoint, Mount Kinabalu.

Adam have prepared an elaborate trip report with 19 web pages and 176 embedded photographs for their trip.

One is required to have a guide on-trail. The lady, in her twenties, seems to be the only female guide of the bunch. We are issued personal ID badges with our names and date of entry – a system to foil those who would climb the peak without permission.

The hiking route is obvious and well-traveled. It is muddy in many places, with stairsteps cut to lower the effect of erosion. Some steps are quite tall, exceeding one foot. One annoyance is that the trail is nonuniform in grade. It is nearly level in some parts, and somewhat steep (at least for a trail) in others.

Read the rest of his story here.

Adam, guide and Robert

10 Durian Cake & Recipe links – anymore suggestion?

I wrote about red colored durian in July 2007, not knowing that the post will become so popular. At the time I wrote this post, the article about durian is the third most popular post in this blog.

Today I received an email from Mike Pool, one of the blog reader who would like to know  ANY recipe about durians!


I live in Canyon, Texas. My wife is from Malaysia. While visiting her parents in Malaysia, we tried a variety of rare types of durian. I tried a few, but I must admit, it was a difficult to make my mind give in to trying the first one. By the time we left, I could actually eat a pod without much hesitation. I never did see a red pulp durian. The next time we go, we must try to find one.

My curiosity still compels me to try recipes that use durian. The local Asian community has durian fruits and frozen pods in their grocery stores. Our Thanksgiving holiday is coming up. Many of us go to a friend’s house who is an engineer. His house is large enough to accommodate a large gathering. We are having dishes that are favorites from Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia. No turkey and dressing will be admitted to the social event. We plan on bringing a durian cheesecake. There will not be much in the way of desserts, so we hope it will go fast.

I enjoyed reading your article on your website. If you have any recipes that use durian, I would be interested in that. Borneo must have the most beautiful scenery in the world. I would love to see some pictures pictures of scenery from Borneo.


Mike Pool

I am not sure whether the links are appropriate, but these are the links to some of durians recipe online:

  1. Durian Online: Durian Recipe Gallery
  2. Durian Ice Cream
  3. Durian Recipe from Wiki Books
  4. Durian Cheese Pie
  5. Durian Cheesecake with Chocolate Fudge
  6. Durian Lime Pie
  7. Durian Pure Cheesecake
  8. Durian Cream Puffs
  9. Durian Cake
  10. Durian Mousse

Please add more links in the comments to the best durian cake & recipe online, and help Mike Pool to prepare durian dish for his Thanksgiving party. Thank you very much!

Durian cheesecake with chocolate fudge

Durian Cheesecake with Chocolate Fudge is brought to you by Ellana Guan from Cuisine Paradise.

Jari-Jari, Body & Mind Relaxation – Massage therapy center in Kota Kinabalu

My wife who currently expecting, is on her 7th month of pregnancy of our third child. Her moves has become slower and she started to complain to me that her lower body, especially her pelvic joints becomes intermittently painful and sometimes discomforting. I did give her massage for once or twice, hoping to relieve her symptoms, but unfortunately, it didn’t. And I don’t encourage her to take pain killers to relieve the pain, although we know that it would help her condition.

So, I brought her to Jari-Jari, Sabah’s latest location for high quality indulgence, a massage therapy center that is situated in Tanjung Aru Plaza, Kota Kinabalu. It is a perfect place to restore and rejuvenate your body with various treatments and massages, which is done by skilled local Dusun therapists, blended with sensuous oils that can really calm your mind and body.

She was a bit reluctant at the beginning, as she had never been offered to be “pampered” like this before and slightly anxious whether the massage would disturbed her pregnancy. However, after discussing with her massage therapist, it is quite safe to have a massage during pregnancy, provided that the masseur do not disturbed her tummy.

There are various packages available, starting from just a “Signature Massage” which cost about RM140++ (their website state RM160++) for 1 hour and 15 minutes up to RM670++, depending on the packages that you choose.

I was told that they have a very special promotion for locals, which would only cost us RM98++ if we decided to choose one of their “Signature Massage”. As this is our first time, I decided to utilize the promotion and opt with their Award Winning Best Traditional Treatment – Dusun Lotud Inan Body Therapy.

This relaxing massage uses techniques passed down from generation to generation among the Lotud Dusuns, a group from the Tuaran District just north of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Their distinctive massage technique involves applying pressure with the thumbs to the various pressure points in the body, magically unlocking the flow of energy, releasing tension and relaxing the muscles.

The session started with a 15 minutes of Floral Foot Bath, Foot Scrubs and followed by the “Dusun Lotud Inan Body Therapy”. I managed to get some photos of the place while my wife was gets the treatment.

Jari-Jari, Body & Mind Relaxation - Massage therapy center in Kota Kinabalu

We were served with herbal tea (which taste really spicy) while my wife was filling up her particulars on their reservation form.

Jari-Jari, Body & Mind Relaxation - Massage therapy center in Kota Kinabalu

The front entrance of Jari-Jari at Level 2, Tanjung Aru Plaza, Kota Kinabalu.

Jari-Jari, Body & Mind Relaxation - Massage therapy center in Kota Kinabalu

Babysitting my children while my wife gets her treatment.

Jari-Jari, Body & Mind Relaxation - Massage therapy center in Kota Kinabalu

Inside view of the foot treatment place.

Jari-Jari, Body & Mind Relaxation - Massage therapy center in Kota Kinabalu

Jari-Jari, Body & Mind Relaxation - Massage therapy center in Kota Kinabalu

Jari-Jari, Body & Mind Relaxation - Massage therapy center in Kota Kinabalu

Jari-Jari, Body & Mind Relaxation - Massage therapy center in Kota Kinabalu

Jari-Jari, Body & Mind Relaxation - Massage therapy center in Kota Kinabalu

Jari-Jari, Body & Mind Relaxation - Massage therapy center in Kota Kinabalu

My wife with the therapist inside the private room.

While flipping through their brochures, I saw an interesting package, which tailored specifically for Mount Kinabalu climbers – SABAH JUNGLE TREKKERS AND MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS PACKAGE. The session take 2 hours @ RM 345.00 ++.

A reward for all those who have completed their jungle trek, or reached the summit of one of the highest mountains in Southeast Asia. This proven treatment is designed to relieve stress from tired and aching muscles.

5-Step Treatment

  • Floral Footbath
  • Foot Scrub with Borneo Coffee
  • Foot Therapy
  • Fatigue & Tension Relief (oil free) Therapy or ‘Tungku’ Relaxing herbs Hot Compress Therapy
  • Dusun Ulu Tanggara Body Therapy with Muscle Rub Aromatherapy oil

Care to have yourself pampered?

*If you are wondering, this is NOT a sponsored post…

A family trip to Tuaran Crocodile Farm (Taman Buaya Tuaran), Sabah

I managed to spend some quality time with my family last weekend, after 2 weeks of non-stop working. We went to Tuaran Crocodile Farm, a crocodile adventure land which situated 32km from Kota Kinabalu city center. Just want to share and show my little boy real crocodiles as compared to what he usually see in Animal Planet.

The crocodile farm is the largest crocodile farm in Sabah. It accommodates more than 1,000 crocodiles in the land below the wind. Open daily from 8.30am to 5.30pm, it is one of the place that you can bring your family for an adventure. They also have crocodile show time, twice a day from Monday to Saturday (at 11.00am and 3.00pm) and additional show at 1.00pm on Sundays. The show can be just anything from kissing the crocodiles up to boxing with them.

We arrived just half an hour before the farm closed. I only managed to go around the farm and take photos for less than 20 minutes, but it was worth the time. Enjoy the photos!

Tuaran Crocodile Farm

My wife and two little angles.

Tuaran Crocodile Farm

The view of the farm as you walk in the entrance door.

Tuaran Crocodile Farm

It’s a “preserved” crocodile. And no, we don’t have any relationship with Crocodile Hunter.

Tuaran Crocodile Farm

My son riding a SEEDOO with a crocodile. Hahaha…

Tuaran Crocodile Farm

Riding a crocodile trishaw…

Tuaran Crocodile Farm

Tuaran Crocodile Farm

Tuaran Crocodile Farm

Few crocodiles seen in the pond. There were actually many more crocs, but I don’t think there would be any significant differences on the photo.

Tuaran Crocodile Farm

Naturally bisexual crocodile? Hmm…. interesting.

Tuaran Crocodile Farm

This is a very interesting crocodile:

Tuaran Crocodile Farm

Now we know why he got there…

Tuaran Crocodile Farm

There’s a Murut Longhouse inside. Cultural dance is shown half an hour after every crocodile show time in here.

Tuaran Crocodile Farm

Bamboo House. It’s already closed when we got there.

Tuaran Crocodile Farm

I wonder why they put Terengganu flag up there?

Mengkabong River

A view of Mengkabong River. You have to cross this river if you are driving from Kota Kinabalu using Sulaman highway.

Mengkabong River and Bridge

Mengkabong river and the bridge.

Mengkabong River

Another view of the river.

Mengkabong River

A nearby jetty. Photo was taken from above the bridge.

Wild Malaysia: The Wildlife and Scenery of Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak, and Sabah

“If you have been looking for a source of inspiration concerning the wildlife and scenery of peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak, and Sabah, this is it … the caves, flowers, turtles, butterflies, birds, gibbons, and more that I’ve missed on other visits up the peninsula! The book is well organized with individual sections on peninsular Malaysia, with many subsections, and on Sabah and Sarawak. It is a coffeetable book that you will use.”
— Unique & Exotic Travel Reporter

Book Description

Wild Malaysia is a major new pictorial study of the natural history of southeast Asia’s southernmost peninsula and offshore islands, which are home to an enormous wealth of species. Produced in association with the World Wide Fund for Nature, it is illustrated with 400 superb full-color plates taken especially for this book, of plants, insects and other invertebrates, fish, reptiles, frogs, birds, and mammals, each in its natural habitat.

Wild Malaysia offers a general yet accurate introduction to this spectacularly scenic region and its national parks. Malaysia’s tropical islands, topped by rainforest and ringed by coral reefs and transparent blue seas, are as beautiful and untouched as anywhere in the world. Its vast and exotic wildlife encompasses elephants and the world’s smallest rhinoceros, a profusion of monkeys and apes (including proboscis and leaf monkeys, gibbons, and orangutans), the slow loris and the tarsier, the clouded leopard and the sunbear, bats and reptiles, a spectacular variety of bird and marine life, and over 10,000 species of plants.

An extensive introduction examines the topography, history, climate, and peoples of Malaysia and includes important discussions of the relationship between man and forest, between conservation and development. Sections on animal and plant life provide an overview of the multiplicity of species to be found. And in “A Walk through the Rainforest,” Junaidi Payne explains the complex interdependence of the forest ecosystem, details Malaysia’s conservation programs, and the plans to create new reserves and protected areas not only in the forest but on the islands and surrounding seas as well.

Individual chapters describe peninsular Malaysia’s islands, coastal areas, and hill forest (many of which have been designated as national parks), Sarawak’s great rivers and cave systems, and Sabah’s offshore islands with their coral reefs, marine life, and exotic flora. There is also a complete list of conservation areas.

Gerald Cubitt is one of the world’s leading natural history photographers. Junaidi Payne is a professional conservation biologist and Senior Scientific Officer with World Wide Fund Malaysia. He is coauthor with Charles M. Francis of A Field Guide to the Mammals of Borneo.

An editorial review of Wild Malaysia: The Wildlife and Scenery of Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak, and Sabah, courtesy of Amazon.com.

Mount Kinabalu climbing package booking for 2008 is now OPEN!

I have set up a new booking system for aspiring Mount Kinabalu climbers, after 3 months the old system was down. Mostly it is due to Sutera Sanctuary Lodges internal problem, where they have set up new rules and regulations for climbers starting from 2008 booking dates.

So, if you are planning to climb Mount Kinabalu in 2008, check out our whole new pages of climbing package information and booking form.

Here: http://www.mount-kinabalu-borneo.com/booking

Thank you to Mr. Peter Chang, a freelance tour operator, who is humble enough to give me a hand on handling all those booking for Mount Kinabalu climbers. I won’t be able to do this booking system on my own, if not from his help. Of course, Aiden is still around to help me.

Have a nice booking!

Gunung Mulu National Park on RealTravel blog

Most of us know that Kinabalu is one of the World’s Heritage Site that is situated in Borneo island. Do you know that Mulu, which is situated in the state of Sarawak, in the same island of Borneo, is also a World’s Heritage Site?

Mulu, or Gunung Mulu, (gunung means Mount in Malay), like Kinabalu was successfully listed as a World Heritage site in November 2000.

Mulu meets all four of these:-

Earth’s history and geological features
… Mulu’s concentration of caves, its geomorphic and structural characteristics are an outstanding resource, which allows a greater understanding of Earth’s history.

Ecological Processes
… Mulu provides outstanding scientific opportunities to study theories on the origins of cave faunas.

Superlative natural phenomena or natural beauty and aesthetic importance
… Mulu has outstanding scenic values, including the natural phenomenon of millions of bats and swiftlets leaving and entering the caves is a superlative wildlife spectacle.

Biodiversity and threatened species
… Mulu provides significant natural habitat for a wide range of plant and animal diversity both above and below ground.

Sounds similar like Kinabalu, but Mulu have extra caves…

I was surfing around the net, when I stumbled into RealTravel Blog, a free travel blog services by RealTravel, an online travel guide and trip planner powered by advice from real travelers. I read about Gunung Mulu by Kyle & Dan, travelers to the other World’s Heritage Site in Borneo. Their travel blog entry was picked by RealTravel Blog Editor as one of the best travel blog entry and was featured on RealTravel Blog main page.

Deer Cave, Mulu National ParkI saw a very familiar photo on Mulu somewhere else, but it did not interest me until I really look at it attentively. The famous entrance to Deer Cave in Mulu – which one should be able to spot a human like figure, or specifically, an important American historical figure. Do you know that Deer Cave is one of the cave which have millions of bats that can be seen leaving for their nightly dinner and hunting – and this also fits the criteria to be chosen as one of the World Heritage Site?

Thinking of going for a caving session in Mulu? Then you should read Kyle & Dan’s entry!