West Sumatra – Muslim matriarchate, smoking volcanoes and the god of the bees

 

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Minangkabau museum in West Sumatra

29.05

We take off as usually at noon. Today hitchhiking goes very well, as usual. We couldn’t understand what was it yesterday and why no one stopped for whole six hours. A middle aged man with a lustful look in his eyes takes us to Panyabungan 3 kilometers down the road and then he decides to help us even more and take us after the town. Then we start hitchhiking small trucks and jeeps without waiting much.

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Phuket beyond the crowd

(Image credit: phuket.com)

This is a GUEST POST

Thailand is a country frequented by travellers from all parts of the globe. To give you an idea, the nation welcomed more than 32 million tourists last year, and this figure is 9 percent higher than the year before.

If you’ve travelled to Thailand in the past, you’re probably well aware of how great a place it is to visit. For a start, the country has an amazing culture, and it’s often dubbed the ‘Land of Smiles’ because the people are warm, hospitable and always smiling. Like in a previous Magic Kervan posts, we’ve also shared our experiences with very accommodating hosts.

One of its most popular destinations is Phuket, but all the hype seems to have had a negative impact on the place as well. One area in the island – Patong Beach is inherently a natural beauty, but like we’ve mentioned in the same aforementioned article, overdevelopment and mass tourism in this part of Phuket now gives the “wrong impressions of what Thailand really is.” Continue reading

Sumatra – first days in Indonesia and living at the magical lake Toba on an island inside an island

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Indonesia

Capital: Jakarta

Population: 258 million, the forth most populous country in the world following China, India and USA

Official religion: Islam

State system: Presidential republic

Monetary unit: Indonesian rupiah

Indonesia is an island country. We arrive on a big one on the west, one of the 17 thousand islands of the country. If we decide to visit every single island of Indonesia we will not be able to do it in a whole lifetime. We have just three weeks for Sumatra, which is very little time for seeing all on the sixth biggest island on earth with a territory as big as Sweden.
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Sabah – pirates and unprecedented good deeds in a distant part of Borneo

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07.05.

We are back at our favorite Malaysian State Sarawak, but this time for a short period. We stop to eat at the last town of the state – Lawas. The atmosphere is more Muslim than the other towns we passed through. The people from the off-road team treat us to lunch at a very nice restaurant in otherwise not so interesting small town Lawas.

The Malaysian part of Borneo consists of two states – the huge Sarawak and the so called North Borneo, Sabah State.

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Brunei Darussalam – one of the last sultanates on earth, oil wells and centuries-old jungles

Brunei Darussalam

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mosque Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin

Capital: Bandar Seri Begawan

 

Population: around 500 000

Official religion: Islam

State system: Absolute monarchy – sultanate

Citizens of EU have the right to enter and stay 3 months on Brunei”s territory. Our passports are stamped and soon we fly on the highway. It is always exciting when one enters a new country. As for most countries in the world, we have stereotypes for this one too – of course almost always they prove to be absolutely wrong and are far from the real life situation. We know very little about Brunei – it is one of the last sultanates on earth (together with Oman) and is the fifth most rich country in the world due to its natural gas and oil resources. We are eager to see what awaits us here.
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In the lands of the Kelabit people – giant insects, ears hanginig to the shoulders and nomad tribes

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The beach at Mukah

28.04

In the morning while we bathe in the South China Sea Mr. Shushtari is stung by a jelly-fish. He later told me that his heart had stopped for a second and he felt excruciating pain from the strong neuro-toxin. The tentacles touched his neck, chest and leg and the moment he got out of the sea red blisters started forming.

By the look of it we decide that this is not the most dangerous kind of jelly-fish and we run to the tent to put ointment on the blisters. Later the fisherman, we communicated with before, shows up (he is from the Melanau ethnic group, a Catholic) and tells us that this is the pink jelly-fish and though the sting is quite painful it is not dangerous. He says that he has been stung by the white jelly-fish that can cause fainting and medical care could be needed. Well obviously we were very lucky to be stung by the pink one.
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