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Three months ago, I gave you all a peek into my upcoming travel plans. You all gave me such amazing advice and feedback last time that I decided to do it again.

One month from today, I’ll be waking up in Bangkok, ready to traipse around Southeast Asia once more. Sometimes I think this is the region of the world that my life will be dedicated to exploring, that’s how much I love it. I’ve been away for over seven months now, and frankly — it’s been too long. I’ve had a fantastic summer and fall taking shorter trips (I’ve still got a week in Florida coming up!) and spending lots of time at home, but I’m ready to strap on my enormous backpack and really get out there and challenge myself again. And a good challenge it will be — the majority of this trip I’ll be traveling solo.

This trip will be “just” five months. I can’t help but think of it that way — “only” one hundred and fifty days. Maybe it’s because in the past I’ve had the luxury of traveling without a return ticket, or maybe it’s because I love Southeast Asia so much that I kind of want to stay forever. But because of my time limitations, I’m trying to get a rough idea of how I plan to spend my months.

Which is where you come in. Readers, I need your help! On this trip I’m finally going to use the grant I received to do my Divemaster course — I just need to figure out where. I’ve included some of my ideas in this post, and I’d absolutely love your feedback in the comments.

Thailand

Thailand Travel

No surprise here — my first stop will be back in my beloved Thailand. I’ve decided to kidnap my little sister for her winter break, so she’ll be joining me for the first three weeks of my trip. We’re basically heading straight to Koh Tao, where I’ll catch up with friends, get some Muay Thai and yoga in, and of course dive my favorite spots. Once my sister leaves I’m going to hit up some new destinations — visit a friend who moved to Koh Mak, and attend in Pai. I know a lot of you are going to be in Thailand around this time, so I’d love to plan a reader meet up!

The Philippines

The PhilippinesImages clockwise from top left: , , ,

Once I get my Thailand fix, it’ll be time to add a new stamp to my passport. The Philippines has long been on my radar as a place just one degree removed from the typical Southeast Asia Backpacking trail, a challenge I’m ready to take on as a solo traveler. I want to trek to the rice terraces of Northern Luzon, party all night in Manilla, swim with whale sharks in Donsol, and absolutely scuba dive my face off at some of the best reefs in the world. Depending on how my budget is looking at the time, I might even cross something off my life list and do a week-long kitesurfing course in Boracay. Is there anything I shouldn’t miss in the Philippines?

Indonesia

Indonesia TravelImages clockwise from top left: , , ,

Just as the rainy season comes to a close at the end of March, I’ll be heading to Indonesia. If I end up doing my Divemaster course here (see below!) I’ll just have three weeks or so after to travel. Thus, I’ll likely be limiting my travels here to the islands of Bali and Lombok. That’s fine with me — I’d rather explore a small region slowly and thoroughly than scramble all over with an 80L backpack strapped to me. I’m going to hit all the highlights — hiking Gunung Rinjani, playing with monkeys in Ubud, and dancing the night away in Seminyak. I’m even hoping to sneak a yoga and surfing retreat in there somewhere.

Divemaster Course

The biggest decision I need to make on this trip is where to do my Divemaster course. At bare minimum, I’ll be spending a month in that spot — a full fifth of my trip! I’m looking for a place with a combination of impressive diving and a good lifestyle up on dry land. Here are some of my contenders, and I’d be so grateful for your advice.

Divemaster Course

• Puerto Galera, Philippines. From what I gather this is the place to do a divemaster in the Philippines. The diving is meant to be top notch, however the beaches don’t get great reviews and the nightlife is decidedly seedy. Still, the island of Mindoro is large and I doubt I’d get bored here.

• Moalboal, Philippines. As Lonely Planet says “diving, drinking, and dining top the list of activities in the dive colony of Moalboal.” There also appears to be plenty of land based activities. Still, I can’t find tons of information about doing a Divemaster course here.

• Bali, Indonesia. What can I possibly say about Bali, one of the superstars of Southeast Asia? I know I’d be happy on land here. On the downside, the diving here is notoriously cold and the island might be a bit distracting.

• Gili Trawangan, Indonesia. This is my current top contender. I hear frequent comparisons between Gili T and Koh Tao, which is a fantastic sign. Yet I wonder if there is enough to keep me from getting island fever on an island so teeny and if the diving is at the level I’m looking for.

And Beyond….

So what was so important as to convince me to book a round trip ticket for this trip? My baby sister’s graduation from New York University. No way am I missing that! Then, the following weekend I’ll be in Toronto for TBEX. Beyond that is a mystery, though I suspect I’ll spend a chunk of time in Martha’s Vineyard helping my mom fix up her new old house, and I have a plan to Cuba on the backburner. If everything goes according to plan, in the fall I’ll be taking off on another major adventure.

Readers, do you have any advice for me, or blog posts to share about any of these destinations? What are your upcoming travel plans?

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99 Comments...
  • Annie
    November 29 2012

    enjoy! im jealous of the 5 months right about now.

    Indonesia is my favorite place on earth.
    Annie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 29 2012

      I definitely don’t mean to come off as ungrateful if I did, Annie! I am so excited about five months in paradise, it’s just a shift to travel with time constraints again. I was spoiled!

      • Annie
        November 29 2012

        I know what you mean.

        After I came back from my RTW, every vacation I’d ever been on seemed so shallow. Even since then on trips I’ve taken I still say “how is it possible to know a place with such little time”

        every experience is different, short and long. I miss the long trips, but your short time no doubt will rule either way.

        BTW, Gili T is pretty amazing. I think you will love it. Gili Meno, right next door, is unbelievable. quiet and real. dont miss it!

        Cant wait to hear about it.
        Annie recently posted..

        • Meihoukai
          November 29 2012

          I also think part of the problem is I see my time in Thailand and Southeast Asia less as a trip and more as just… life. I mean, I was totally satisfied with my jam-packed week in Iceland, but the thought of a week in Thailand would make me cry. That’s how long I need just for Bangkok! 🙂

  • Morgan barsi
    November 29 2012

    I’d avoid boracay completely. It’s very panama city beach, fl like with nothing much to do but get wasted. The beach is pretty, but it’s overrun with people trying to hawk sunglasses, hats, and boat rides. Out of all the places I went this summer, it was my least favorite. The diving there is garbage.

    I have a friend in Bali. She doesn’t dive, but she loves the island enough to have extended her trip by two months.

    • Meihoukai
      November 29 2012

      Morgan, I hear that a lot about Bali! I don’t plan to dive in Boracay… I’ll definitely save that for the nicer spots! Thanks for the advice.

  • Lucy
    November 29 2012

    Sounds like a fantastic trip – especially looking forward to hearing about the Philippines as I’d love to go out there.

    I really enjoyed Gili Trawangan, did hear that it was a bit of a party island but found it easy to escape too (and it has some stunning sunsets). Worth visiting the other Gili Islands too and can take the trip over to Lombok if you feel the need to escape! Have some posts about Gili T on my site at
    Lucy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 29 2012

      Thanks for the link, Lucy! I love your blog name, and your photos of Gili T are beautiful. It seems like it’s quite pricey to get to Bali and back from there, but maybe a weekend in Lombok or one of the other Gilis would do if I was feeling the island fever!

  • Marco Fiori
    November 29 2012

    Awesome news. I’m heading to Thailand to start an indefinite stay in Asia in January so it’ll be really fun to follow your journey as I do mine.

    I’m sure you’ll inspire me with some things to see, especially as the only part of Asia I’ve done is Japan.
    Marco Fiori recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 29 2012

      That’s exciting Marco! Stay in touch, maybe you can join in on the meetup I’m planning while I’m there!

      • Marco Fiori
        December 2 2012

        Definitely Meihoukai, if I’m around and stuff like that’s happening, I’m definitely open to that. I’ll be keeping an eye on my RSS / Twitter for news about that.

  • Meghan Hochgesang
    November 29 2012

    get OUT! WE are flying to bangkok for our honeymoon exactly one month from today, TOO! how funny!!!!
    Meghan Hochgesang recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 29 2012

      How exciting Meghan! Well technically I fly out on the 26th and arrive late on the 27th, but I got this post out a few days late 🙂 Where are you planning on going for your honeymoon?!

  • the life pursuit
    November 29 2012

    I spent a week on the Gili Islands a couple of years ago, it was incredible – although I don’t dive (yet) the snorkelling was amazing and everyone I spoke to who was there to dive was loving it.

    Gili Trawangan is by far the most party-friendly of the three Gili islands, but I still found it pretty chilled, unlike much of Bali. And you’re really not too far from Lombok if you need a brief getaway at any point…

    • Meihoukai
      November 29 2012

      I’m a big diver, but I still love to snorkel sometimes too — nothing like the feeling of the sun on your back! Thanks for the tips… I haven’t heard a bad word about the Gilis yet.

  • Amanda
    November 29 2012

    I would recommend doing your divemaster in Bali or the Gilis over the Philippines. I really liked the Philippines, and granted I did not go diving at all the “top” spots (my boyfriend wasn’t certified when I was planning our trip) but I would much rather live in Bali/the Gilis than anywhere I went in the Philippines. Bali is touristy, yes, but sometimes touristy is good when you need to buy bug repellant or a towel or a new bathing suit. There’s a ton of expats who live there (my divemasters in the Philippines were always Filipino, which isn’t bad but I’d also want some expat friends too), the food is amazing (and they have bomb Western food too), and it’s easy to get around the island (as opposed to needing to take a flight to get somewhere else in the Philippines). I didn’t dive in Bali but I have heard good things about it. Also if you get island fever on the Gilis you can just hop over to Bali for a few days. Oh and if you want to do yoga in Bali you can take classes at Yoga Barn in Ubud, it’s cheaper than doing a full retreat and the classes/studio are awesome! Ok longest comment ever but I hope that helps. Oh and I disagree with the other commenter who said skip Boracay–I liked it 🙂 Just stay/eat/play in Station 3 to avoid the crowds and package tourists.
    Amanda recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 29 2012

      Okay I just read through all your Philippines posts — you are so cute, are you sure you have to leave?! Just stay and we can be travel buddies 🙂

      You make some very compelling arguments for doing my DM in Indo, and I agree with them. I also kind of want time to travel around the Philippines, as there are so many destinations to see there! Glad to hear a positive vote for Boracay, as I’m definitely heading there with plans to kitesurf! Thanks for all the tips…

      PS: LOVE your new blog design!

      • Amanda
        November 30 2012

        Ahh, I wish I could go back!! If only I could find like $5,000 hiding in my bank account 🙂 Maybe I can meet you in South America in a year instead. And thanks about the new design! If you ever decide you want a custom one, I’d recommend the woman I worked with and it only cost $60, sooo much cheaper than all the other custom designs I’ve seen.
        Amanda recently posted..

        • Meihoukai
          November 30 2012

          Wow, I might ask you for a recommend on that at some point. Right now I’m slammed with freelance stuff and barely keeping my head above water with my blog, so I’ll have to wait till things quiet down. But yeah, a blog redesign is very much on my radar.

  • Sarah Somewhere
    November 29 2012

    Woohoo! Awesome plans Meihoukai! Try to catch up with Torre of ‘Fearful Adventurer’ on your beloved Koh Tao, she is living there now and seems like a really cool chick!! I’ve already given you my tips, but I’m sure you will EASILY fill five months in those amazing destinations!! Excited for you 🙂
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 29 2012

      I was just thinking the other day how I hope Torre will still be there! Just sent her a Tweet, thank you for the reminder 🙂

  • Mike
    November 29 2012

    Any plans to see Viet Nam Meihoukai? I have a yearning to go back again under peaceful circumstances this time. I wasn’t in the war and made many choices to avoid it, but was stranded in Saigon at the end of the war in 1973.

    • Meihoukai
      November 29 2012

      I spent just under three weeks in Southern Vietnam last November — you can find my posts under the “Destinations” tab. I had mixed feelings about the country but I am excited to return someday to explore the North and see Halong Bay!

      • Daniel
        December 4 2012

        Hi Meihoukai,

        I just returned from 3 weeks Vietnam and Hong Kong. Loved the Ha Long Bay, but apart from that, there was nothing I´d come back for for a second time. Dont get me wrong, I enjoyed the trip and dont regret it. It just didn´t get me to say “Hell, I´m staying” like Koh Tao did..
        But the Ha Long bay alone was worth it, you should definately see it some day! I´d recommend at least 2 nights on a boat…

        • Meihoukai
          December 4 2012

          I definitely plan to return to Northern Vietnam someday, though sadly there’s not enough time to make it on this trip. Too many places, too little time!

  • Captain and Clark
    November 29 2012

    We’d recommend spending some time on the island of Siquijor in the Philippines. It’s got an incredibly back story and we stayed at the cutest beachside resort, La Casa de la Playa.

    Your trip sounds amazing and we can’t wait to see where you choose to take your course. 🙂
    Captain and Clark recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 29 2012

      Thank you so much for the tip guys — I’ve just gone and marked it with a star in my Lonely Planet 🙂 I’m so excited!

  • Eric W
    November 29 2012

    If you like Koh Tao, you will like Gili T. Gili T is a bit more rustic but for both you need to take scary boat rides to get to, both have tons of restaurants and bars along the water, both have fire dancing at night.

    I think you would enjoy your divemaster course in Gili T.

    Moalboal and Puerto Galera may not have the nightlife you’re looking for.

    The diving in Puerto Galera and Moalboal is just OK. It was pretty cheap. Check out Apo Island near Dumaguete.

    • Meihoukai
      November 29 2012

      Eric, thanks for your advice here and on Twitter! I’m surprised to hear you say the diving was just okay in PG — I hear so many raves about it! I guess every dive is different though, and that’s the benefit of doing a DM somewhere… you have lots of time to see all the good stuff.

      • Eric W
        November 29 2012

        I was last in Puerto Galera in September of 2009 so I am just going off what I remember. I remember a couple small wrecks, a big anchor and a small plane wreck. My notes also say there was a strong current. I need to start taking better notes.

        I remember the beach was very small in Sabang. Not really enough to lay out.

        In Indonesia, try to check out Mt Bromo. It’s about a day from Bali and pretty cold but I liked it a lot.

        Enjoy the Philippines and Indonesia. I thought those were 2 of the most friendliest countries I’ve ever visited.

  • Lindsey
    November 29 2012

    Oooh, your plan is pretty much exactly what I’m planning to do but in reverse 🙂 I’ll miss meeting you in Thailand but I’ll be around the Philippines from early Jan to early Feb, if you end up getting there that soon. Or southern Thailand around the middle of February.

    I have no recommendations for your DM course, but I can ask some advice… (seems a fair trade… haha). I’m looking to get my diving qualification in the Philippines or Thailand. Where would you recommend in Thailand? Any particular company?

    And since I’ll be hitting up Donsol before you I’ll definitely let you know how that goes. Whale Sharks!!
    Lindsey recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 29 2012

      Hey Lindsey! If you decide to get certified in Thailand, Koh Tao is the hotspot to do it. I cannot more highly recommend the wonderful Roctopus Dive. It’s a small but super fun shop and if you tell them Meihoukai sent you they’ll take great care of ya 🙂 Best of luck!

  • Stephen S.
    November 29 2012

    My vote is Gili Trawangan or Moalboal they both sound amazing. I am also spending 5 months in Asia but not until next year. Look forward to reading your post to get some great insights.
    Stephen S. recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 29 2012

      Reading others’ blog posts is my favorite way to get excited about an upcoming trip, so I hope I can give you a little preview of what’s to come for you!

  • Ok I’m bummed you didn’t pick South America…you know there are some AMAZING dive spots there, but I am so so so excited for you. The Philippines is a dream destination for me!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 29 2012

      Don’t worry, I’ll get to South America someday 🙂 Hopefully as early as Fall 2013!

  • Meryl
    November 29 2012

    I am so glad you’re visiting the Philippines! I’ve been a lurker of your blog for quite some time and I’ve finally dropped a comment on one of your Siem Reap posts a couple of months back.

    One of my favorite places here is the Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur areas! My family and I went on a road trip there last year and 4 days just wasn’t enough. But since you’re in the North area anyway, you might as well drop by after you check out Sagada’s rice terraces. Vigan in Ilocos Sur has old heritage houses, a street frozen in time like it’s from WWII and good food (try the deep fried empanada!). In the Ilocos Norte area, there’s Pagudpud, a stretch of beach facing the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean. This is definitely quieter compared to Boracay and Puerto Galera.

    Waaay up north is Batanes. It is a small island at the tip of the map and there are hardly any tourists there, since it can get quite expensive to fly. I’ve lived in the Philippines all my life and this is the one destination I would really, really want to go to. It is a picturesque seaside town filled with steep green hills, stone and cogon houses, rugged trails and a great view overlooking the sea. It’s a good place to unwind and just be with yourself! The best time to go is early in the year until around May or June, before the monsoons come in.

    Other places to see: Baler in Aurora (it’s a good surfing spot) and Bacolod in Negros (endlessly good food, particularly sweets)
    Meryl recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 30 2012

      Hi Meryl! Thanks for coming out of lurkdom 🙂 I love having all of this insider info from a local! I’m going to write these notes in my guidebook… thank you!

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    November 29 2012

    One loud vote for the Philippines! I think it is insane that more travelers to Asia don’t visit as not only is it BEAUTIFUL but traveling there could not be more easy: English is spoken by practically everyone, they LOVE Americans (seriously, the stars & stripes are on their 100 peso bill!), and the people are the friendliest we have yet to meet. As you know, Tony & I decided to do our OW dive certification in the Philippines and it is the best money we have spent on the trip so far. Seriously, we loved our time there so much that we shelled out the big bucks to extend our 3 week trip to 7 weeks instead!

    As we are newbie divers, we have not dived in any of the places in the Philippines that you are considering, but you might want to look into doing some diving in Coron and/or El Nido on Palawan at some point. We can also highly recommend Apo Island, where we got certified, as it is apparently one of the 10 best spots to dive in the Philippines and is truly stunning. The drawback to Apo is that it really doesn’t have the nightlife you want and pretty much no internet access, so I don’t think you could do the divemaster course there (well, you could, but I don’t think it would be your ideal location!), but you really should dive there at least once or twice if you go to the Philippines!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 30 2012

      It will be quite a nice change to be in a country where Americans are beloved! I hear over and over how friends and easy to meet the people are, and I’m really looking forward to that aspect of it. I think I’ve resigned to the fact that I’m going to be dragged my full dive gear all over the Philippines… it sounds like there is great diving everywhere!

  • Heather
    November 29 2012

    I’ll just miss you in BKK–I land on Jan 2! Hope we can cross paths somewhere during that time, as I’ll be roaming around until late June. I can’t wait to for the adventure to begin!

    • Meihoukai
      November 30 2012

      Definitely! I’m going to try to be better about Tweeting on the road this time so I can find other travelers and readers in the areas I’m in. I’d love to meet up!

      • Heather
        December 1 2012

        Sweet! I’ll probably be terrible about tweeting, but I’ll try to check in every so often 🙂 I’m @heathervdh

        • Meihoukai
          December 1 2012

          Just added you 🙂 I’m a terrible Tweeter too, but I’m sure we’ll find each other somehow!

  • Vicky from acoupletravelers
    November 30 2012

    Sounds like a great 5 month plan! All the divemaster options seem pretty good so it will be difficult to settle on just one! We will be spending the month of January in Thailand (first 2 weeks in Bangkok and then a week with my parents coming to visit in Phuket) so we would love to meet up with you! Hope it works out!
    Vicky from acoupletravelers recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 30 2012

      That sounds like an awesome way to kick off the year! I’m crazy for Bangkok, hope you’ll love it as much as I do! Maybe I’ll catch you there towards the tail end…

  • paul | walkflypinoy.com
    November 30 2012

    this is such great news, Meihoukai! i knew you couldn’t stay away from Southeast Asia. haha. i’m glad, too, the Philippines is becoming more and more of a possibility this time. So yeah, I say go to the Philippines! Look into diving course in Palawan (Puerto Princesa, El Nido, Coron). The amount of tropical underwater life there is insane!
    paul | walkflypinoy.com recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 30 2012

      Oh, I’m going to the Philippines no matter what on this trip! Even if I do my Divemaster in Indo, I’m definitely heading to the Philippines for at least a month of traveling. Can’t wait!

  • Stephanie
    November 30 2012

    Bohol in the Philippines is really cool! The famous chocolate hills (no they are not made of chocolate) and the worlds smalles monkey is there…
    Also as the other Steph said:) Palawan is the best adventure spot, lots of discovering to do there. I must warn you, Boracay is very very touristy!

    • Meihoukai
      November 30 2012

      Bohol is definitely on my list! As for Boracay, I think sometimes a touristy place can be quite fun for a break. Plus, no where tops it for Kitesurfing!

      • Stephanie
        November 30 2012

        That is true, it was crazy windy on one side of the island. and the sunset sail was nice too! oh and which other place has a starbucks on the beach? 🙂

  • Stephanie
    November 30 2012

    best surf and yoga retreat in bali: SURF HAVEN , its not cheap, but youll feel like a princess! (inlc. own butler)

    • Meihoukai
      November 30 2012

      I’ve heard great things about Surf Haven… the founder is a friend of one of my great friends in London, weirdly! What a small world.

  • Rachel
    November 30 2012

    I’ll be in Chiang Mai during the time you’re in Thailand – will you be going there at all?

    • Meihoukai
      November 30 2012

      Hey Rachel, I visited Chiang Mai last time I was in Thailand and I didn’t really get the hype to be honest… but I know its adored by so many. Anyway, I’ll be going to Chiang Rai and Pai I think, so I’ll probably be passing through at some point. We should meet up!

  • Kristen
    November 30 2012

    I will be in Thailand this winter as well, a reader meet up would be awesome!

    • Meihoukai
      November 30 2012

      I’ll definitely keep everyone updates Kristen! What are your plans?

  • Shaun
    November 30 2012

    Your plans sound great. I’m going to Panama in three days! w00t!

    • Meihoukai
      November 30 2012

      Congrats Shaun! I’ve got to get to Panama at some point, I love Central America.

  • Kristen McCarthy
    November 30 2012

    I’ve been a secret shy fan for a long time now (you seem so cool and fun that I don’t even know what to do with myself) but I’m thrilled to see that our paths might cross in Thailand — please do keep us updated on any plans for reader meet-ups or any time you’re fine with a superfan meeting up with you because I would love to do so!

    P.S. I was inspired by your Yes Girl-ness to make that my New Year’s resolution. Seriously, you’re so cool. 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      November 30 2012

      Kristen, thank you so much for your sweet comment — you made my night! I’ll absolutely keep everyone up to date with my meet up plans! And I’m so glad to hear you’ve embraced YES-DOM! 🙂

  • Ailene
    December 3 2012

    Hey Meihoukai! I’ve been following your blog for a while now, and I’m so excited that you’re planning to visit the Philippines. Please do! We have tons of beautiful beaches, and diving and surfing sites (El Nido, Puerto Princesa, and Coron in Palawan, Bantayan Island in Cebu, Apo Island in Dumaguete,etc). I hope to cross paths with you in the future! 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      December 3 2012

      Thanks Ailene! All the places you mentioned are on my list! I think I’m going to dedicate at least a month to exploring the Philippines. Can’t wait!

  • Dita
    December 3 2012

    Hi Meihoukai!

    So happy you come to SE Asia again.

    Well, i also have a plan to go to Thailand (Phuket Spesificly) on January.

    So, u will come to Indonesia around March? Maybe we can meet up cause around that time i also in Bali. 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      December 3 2012

      I think I’m going to wait until April when the rains die down, but I might just get there by the end of March! Stay tuned, would love to meet up!

      • Dita
        December 3 2012

        Sure. i’ll be in Bali around that time. i’ll see u soon 😉
        Just let me know when you’re already in Bali

        • Dita
          December 4 2012

          By the way, you can go to Raja Ampat (in Indonesia). They have one of the best underwater view

          • Meihoukai
            December 4 2012

            I’m absolutely dying to do a liveaboard there someday! Maybe it will be on this trip…

        • Meihoukai
          December 4 2012

          Will do, Dita! I’ll look forward to meeting you 🙂

  • Gwen
    December 4 2012

    Hi Meihoukai! My boyfriend and I are currently travelling around SE Asia and love reading your blog. We have probably referred to it more than our lonely planet and I love to read what you thought of a place and look at your pics before we go there. So thank you!

    For your Vietnam travels Hoi An is amazing and a really great place for photo opps with all the pretty lanterns there. (Not sure if you went there or not last time but if not definitely go!).

    We are heading to Thailand again soon and will be there for Xmas and new year. We are keen to check out koh Tao and from what we’ve read on your blog it sounds amazing!

    Hope you enjoy your travels! Might bump into you along the road!

    Gwen

    • Meihoukai
      December 4 2012

      Hey Gwen! This comment made my morning, so glad this site has been such a resource to you! Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll have time to get back to Vietnam on this trip… but I’ll be there someday. If you head to Koh Tao in early Jan I’d love to meet up!

  • Gwen
    December 5 2012

    Hi Meihoukai! We will be going to the new year full moon party and then probably head to koh Tao after that so it would be cool to meet up! 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      December 5 2012

      Cool! I’ll be at the FMP on the 28th, then probably on Koh Tao itself for actual New Year’s, and sticking around after that. See you then!

  • Alyssa
    December 9 2012

    Hey Meihoukai! Long time reader, your travels are inspiring! I’m currently located in central Thailand teaching English but heading to the islands for New Years and we also frequent Bangkok, since it’s only about an hour away! Also, went to Gili Trawangan, and my friend went diving there. She loved it!

    • Meihoukai
      December 11 2012

      Hi Alyssa, thank you so much for the kind words! I’ll be in Koh Pha Ngna for the Dec. 28th Full Moon Party and then I’m thinking of a reader meetup in Bangkok on Jan 16th. Would be great if you could make it, even though I’m sure mid week isn’t ideal for a teacher!

      • Alyssa
        December 12 2012

        Oh bummer! I’ll be in Koh Chang, we only get four days off. It’s a travesty really. Mid week probably isn’t the best, but if you spend any weekends in the city I’d love to meet up!

  • Maddy
    December 10 2012

    Hi Meihoukai!
    Thought I’d write a quick message just to tell you I am in love with your blog! Over the last week I’ve read almost all your posts and I think you need to write a book for times when I don’t have access to a computer. I’m a bit addicted. I’m planning a trip to Thailand and Cambodia next summer so your posts have been super helpful in figuring out where I want to go. I spent 2 and half months on Koh Tao last year to do my divemaster course and I miss it so much.
    Have you thought about doing your divemaster course on Sipadan? Friends of mine have all said its the best diving they’ve ever done.

    Anyway, happy travels! Can’t wait to hear about your next Asia trip.

    Maddy

    • Meihoukai
      December 11 2012

      Hi Maddy! Thanks so much for this comment, you made me smile! I’m glad you loved Koh Tao as much as I do. I’m going to be heading to tons of new destinations on this trip, so hopefully they help you even more to plan yours!

  • Camels & Chocolate
    December 13 2012

    I have a reason for you to be in Nashville in October, I just can’t tell you quite yet 😉 So keep that month open!

    Also, I’m so jelly you’re getting your divemaster! My best friend who was foreign service in Japan is now stationed in Indo, so Scott and I are planning a dive trip there for this time next year. Take good notes!

    • Meihoukai
      December 14 2012

      Oh, you know me… I’m always months behind in blogging thanks to my OCD compulsion to document EVERY MOVE I MAKE! And um, you can’t be dropping secret hints like that without giving me more info! Email me lady 🙂

  • Anne
    December 15 2012

    FINALLY! You’ll be here in the Philippines. I just spent two weeks in Puerto Princesa and El Nido, Palawan and what can I say?! It’s really more fun here in the Philippines. You’ll love El Nido, it’s really a little corner of paradise. Bohol, particularly in Balicasag Island, has an amazing underwater world. 🙂 Hope to meet you when you get here!

    • Meihoukai
      December 16 2012

      I’m so excited about the Philippines — I’ve been glued to my Lonely Planet guidebook! Where do you live?

      • Anne
        December 16 2012

        My hometown is in Zambales, Philippines (it’s a coastal province up north) but I’m currently based in Manila. 🙂 Hope you’ll arrange a meet up for all your Filipino readers!

        • Meihoukai
          December 18 2012

          That’s a great idea Anne… I’ll have to do one when I’m in Manila!

  • Camille D
    December 15 2012

    Great plans! I think you’ll be disappointed with Gili T though compared to the other places you’ve been.
    The island is fun, and a party place where you can also find your quiet( get a cockatil hour drink at Villa Juliantos on the “other” side of the island to watch the sunset!) but I didn’t think the diving was worth all the hype. Same for Bali.
    Expensive to get to, but but! Don’t miss out on Gili Meno!

    Nusa Lembongan is great (aka the “smaller bali without all the toursits according to the lonely plant – so true!!!)

    And my all time favorite of Bali and Lombok is KUTA LOMBOK (vs. Kuta Bali). Quiet but great beach parties (vs. bars, etc on Gili T) and expat/locals mix with AMAZING beaches and surfing and nature. And….amazing beach Yoga!

    • Meihoukai
      December 16 2012

      Unfortunately I think when it comes to DM locations, at some point you have to either sacrifice a little bit of diving or a little bit of lifestyle. I guess I decided I’d rather have a great island than great diving (but in an isolated location). But I will be traveling around the Philippines so I will get plenty of world-class diving in 🙂 And thanks for the tip about Kuta Lombok — I’ve starred it in my guidebook!

  • Wei
    December 23 2012

    Hi Meihoukai, I like your blog..i’m going to dive in Big Island in Jan..definitely will do the manta ray dive. 😀 I’m from China, dive a lot in south east Asia..I’ll be glad to give you some tips..Abt Philippines..compared to Puerto Galera, I personally prefer Anilao. I’m going to Anilao in March again, to take some pics of those critters. Have you seen thresher sharks yet? You can go to Malapascua for them. in Bali, don’t miss diving in Tulamben, shore dive there…many things to see in and around that wreck, big bumphead parrot fish, pygmy seahorse…check out my photoalbum if you are interested. flickr.com/weideng cheers. 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2012

      Wow, you are such a talented underwater photographer! I love your Flickr stream. You’ve given me some great suggestions… I especially want to see the pygmy seahorses!

      • Wei
        December 23 2012

        Thanks I appreciate it..I’m actually trying to buy new camera for my Hawaii trip…wanna take some nice pics of the mantas..I just can’t get enough of them..(my previous camera along with the housing was stolen in Belize 4 months ago..:( ) Do go to Anilao when you have the time in Philippines..you won’t regret it..There are so many small things to see. it’s definitely the macro paradise (No. 1 is Manado/Lembeh strait in Indonesia, but getting there is not convenient, either change in Singapore or Jakarta..) here are some of my pics from Anilao last year.

  • Gwen
    December 29 2012

    Hi again Meihoukai! I’m in koh phangan now for new year. We didn’t take anyone’s advice and didn’t prebook accommodation and it took us forever to find something – we nearly got the ferry back! As we are going to koh Tao on the 1st or 2nd on jan do you know anywhere good we could stay (cheap) as I don’t want another nightmare haha. Is koh Tao busy at the moment?

    Gwen

    • Meihoukai
      December 29 2012

      Uh oh, yeah it is a rough time to be looking for accommodation on the islands! Koh Tao is definitely busy right now, and they are charging way more than the usual prices. When you get here don’t even bother looking on the beach… look more off the main road in Sairee. Best of luck, and let me know when you get here!

  • lester
    March 8 2013

    hi Meihoukai!
    did you visit philippines already?
    please come to my paradise place, let’s have some fun. just send me a message when you get here. +639123472614

    see ya 😉

  • Julio Moreno
    May 12 2013

    Awesome pictures. At the moment, I am trying to decide where to go for the summer and Thailand just got a bump up the rankings!
    Julio Moreno recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 17 2013

      Thailand is a very, very special place… other than my home country it’s where I’ve spent more time than anywhere else. Dig through my Thailand archives… hopefully there should be some travel inspiration in there!

  • Ray
    July 4 2016

    I am planning my Honeymoon for Bali in 2017, so will be good to hear about your tips for both on land, as well as for diving. I am not PADI certified yet, but would be interested in learning more about the PADI certification process in Indonesia.
    Ray recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 7 2016

      Hey Ray, you can check out my full Indonesia archives by going to the destinations page, above! I have tons of posts on Bali, the Gilis, and Nusa Lembongan and Penida!