From geothermal areas to tropical islands, New Zealand and South East Asia are both parts of the world that offer an almost other worldly beauty. Our guest writer and photographer from Flyingsolotravels.wordpress.com has captured some of the best and most beautiful scenery from New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand and East Java, Indonesia….
Rotorua’s Volcanic Parks, North Island, New Zealand
Wai-O-Tapu and Waimangu will more than sate anyone with a passing interest in geothermic attractions. Don’t be put off by the omnipresent eggy scent of sulpur in Rotorua’s (also known as Sulphur City) air, it’s just a gentle reminder that the town lies on the North Island Fault System – a feature of the dynamic and constantly changing meeting point between the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates. Waimangu Volcanic Valley provides a gem of an afternoon stroll and is awash with bubbling mud pools and vividly coloured rocks, the likes of which I’ve never seen before. It was also vastly quieter than the popular Wai-O-Tapu with its crowd-pulling Lady Knox Geyser.
Lake Tekapo, North Island, New Zealand
Just as I was starting to feel a little homesick, I got a slice of Britain-esque weather at Lake Tekapo. One minute it’s in the high teens, the next I’m caught in a hail storm on the wrong side of town and completely ill-equipped for such weather. It was worth it though to see the distant snow-capped mountains provide an awe-inspiring backdrop.
Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand
Mountscapes so breath-taking they’re hard to comprehend.
Kawah Ijen, East Java, Indonesia
Getting a 12.30am alarm call, trekking up the dusty, sheer slopes and descending into this capricious crater guided only by moonlight will test your nerves, and your lungs. For fire and brimstone is far from fictitious at Kawah Ijen, twin hazards which have the unnerving and sinister ability to transmogrify the scene from sheer wonder to dire dystopia without warning. Shifting winds can thrust thick, toxic sulphuric clouds into your face, burning your eyes and airways, encasing you and rendering you motionless until some respite is offered.
Brimstone, an archaism for sulphur, is precisely what brings the hoards of heroic miners here and in part these miners, in unison with their surroundings, are what attract inquisitive tourists. Six months before I visited Kawah Ijen, it was closed due to increased seismic activity – something I found out once the trek was completed. Three months after I left Indonesia another East Javanese volcano – Gunung Kelud – erupted forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes. A reminder of how volatile this humbling region can be. Would I do it again though? Absolutely.
Madakaripura Waterfall, East Java, Indonesia
If you’re into your waterfalls, get this one on your bucket list. Rumour has it it’s 200 metres high, and judging by the fact it’s extremely hard to see the top from the bottom, I’m not going to argue. The walk to get there is half the fun and I don’t want to give too much away but here’s a top tip: don’t shrug off the locals selling ponchos – you WILL need one if you hold any desires of keeping electronic equipment dry.
Koh Samui, Thailand
Much of Thailand is embodied within the 90 square miles oh Koh Samui. There’s sweeping white beaches, peerless blue skies, mouth-watering sea food and cheap eateries trading next to shiny modern resorts. But this wouldn’t be Thailand without the sight of scantily clad massage-offering ladies traversing the streets – day and night – and the sound of tuktuks seemingly hellbent on perforating your eardrums by promoting the next muay thai fight. It’s everything that’s bizarre and outlandish about Thailand, and that includes driftwood sticking out the sand with bird cages hanging off it.
Sunsets to die for in this Malaysian paradise where the west-facing beaches are a photographer’s dream and almost too good to be true. A memorable day can be had by finding yourself a willing captain, a few rods and an afternoon fishing the Andaman Sea. Some restaurants may even be inclined to cooking the day’s catch for you.
All words and images by Mark Peterson. Mark is a freelance travel writer intent on inspiring others to see as much of our perplexing world as possible. His favourite destinations include Vietnam (all of it!), Penang for its incredible food and the Fiordlands of New Zealand’s South Island. Find him on his blog and Facebook page.