This weekend I return to SG for one more semester of teaching and research. It marks the beginning of the end of my stay in this interesting–some might say remarkable–SE Asian country, as I will return permanently to NZ in five months. While engaging in my academic responsibilities I will continue to build the nascent political risk consultancy I have established in NZ, chasing down some potential leads and developing the web site concept in order to reach a larger audience and client base. Come June I will be doing that full time.
It has been wonderful to have spent the last two months in NZ, and out on the Auckland west coast in particular. I made in down to the South Island for the holidays, but mostly enjoyed a remarkable run of weather as I reclaimed my home and restored my roots in the community in which it is located. In spite of its problems, I often feel that Kiwis do not fully appreciate how lucky they are and how (relatively) minor the majority of its social and political problems tend to be (some notable and unfortunate exceptions notwithstanding). Â In the larger scheme of things it may not be exactly Godzone but it sure is a darn good place to live–and I say this having personally experienced the downside of NZ in the form of my direct exposure to unethical academic management and duplicitous politicians who say one thing then do another without regard to the costs imposed on innocents and the country’s international reputation. But even then, a few ethically bankrupt elites do not detract from the broader, more positive picture.
In any event I plan to compile a short “to-do” list of places in SE Asia to visit while back in SG (one mayor attraction of the country is that it is a transportation hub with many options when it comes to regional travel). Since I enjoy open water swimming and snorkeling, the top of my list is the Bornean East Coast, which I understand is unspoiled and non-touristy (which is why I have no interest in Bali or the tacky Thai resort destinations). I have been to Pulau Tiomen and Bintan, so want to go further afield in the search of reefs, surf and fish. If anyone has suggestions along those lines, I am all ears.
I will continue to post and attempt to contribute to NZ policy discussions while finishing up in SG, and look forward to what promises to be another interesting chapter in a life yet to be fully played out on either a personal or professional level.
I got my PADI Open Water in Pulau Weh, Aceh late 2010. The diving was beautiful, and since Banda Aceh is a short direct flight from KL, it might be something to consider. And of course, Aceh’s post-conflict, post-disaster highly religious society on the edge of the region is particularly interesting in and of itself. It’s a remarkable place. Pulau Weh sits on the edge of the Straights of Malacca, and was a major shipping port early 20thC. There was a plan to build a major seaport there in the 2000s, but nothing has come of it.
At the other end of the archipelago is the Raja Ampat Islands in Papua, and a friend who works with WWF marine guys says they rate it as possibly the best dive site in the world. More difficult to get to, obviously. I’m planning to get there some time in 2011, insyallah. I don’t know about surf in the archipelago, you’ll have to take other advice on that…
Thanks George. I am thinking more of Sabah than any place else, but your pointers give me food for thought. Trouble is, I have to do the trip during the university semester break, so have limited time to travel.
I just spent 4 days around Sandakan, which included 2 nights on Libaran Island. We included a trip to Bakugan Kechil island which had a glass bottom boat ride – which was useless, as they drove too fast, and the glass wasn’t clean. However, we did get a chance to go snorkelling, which was great. The fish weren’t as varied as at Mele island, Vanuatu, and the coral not as good as in the Red Sea, but it was still pretty good.
However, the highlight of the trip was travelling to the Turtle Hatchery on Selingan Island. We got to see a Green Turtle laying its eggs, transferral of the eggs to the hatchery, and the release of the turtles that had hatched that day. A fantastic experience – highly recommended.
We also had a late afternoon boat trip on a tributary of the Sukau river, and got to see 3 species of Macaques, Proboscis Monkeys, and an Orangutan in the wild. The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre gave us the chance to get a good close up views of Orangutans and Macaques, and also a Green Pit Viper.
Cheap clothes in markets and malls in Kota Kinabalu as well.
Hope this helps.
Seligan Island is on the itinerary (the place we are staying is on a peninsula about 30 min. by boat from it). We’ll spend a night in KK on the way in and out and will look to do at least one of the river trips. The main purpose of the trip is to find clean water and reefs to swim/snorkel in/on.