Tag Archives: recommended

Scuba Diving In Salang, Malaysia (one for the bucket list!)

False clown fish, Salang, Tioman Island

Ever been scuba diving in clear water surrounded by fish and coral? I never had until a few weeks ago and let me just say IT WAS FRIGGIN’ AMAZING! Easily the best travel decision I’ve made over the last few years (and definitely better than my infamous Tour de Horror project). After a rough January I was feeling used and abused so I decided to head out to Salang, the northernmost village on Tioman Island in the South China Sea. I’d heard many great things about the diving out there and decided this was where I wanted to get scuba […]

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Breathtaking Underwater Photos From Tioman Island, Malaysia

Nudibranch at lunch, Salang, Tioman Island

Over the last decade I’ve traveled to countless exotic destinations famous for their world-renowned scuba diving yet for some strange reason I have never been PADI certified. However all that is about to change next month! Needless to say I am super excited! In a couple weeks I’ll be headed out to Tioman Island, located in the South China Sea between peninsula Malaysia and Borneo. Scuba diving in Tioman is supposed to be incredible and judging from the photos my instructor Grahame has sent me as a teaser, it’s no surprise why.   Who have I chosen to get certified […]

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What To See And Do In Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

The beautiful beach on Pigeon Island, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

Swimming with blacktip reef sharks. Learning how to cook crab curry. Drinking toddy fresh from the palm tree. Pristine beaches and beautiful temples and friendly people. Yes, this is Trincomalee, one of my favorite cities in all of Sri Lanka. Located in the northeast corner of Sri Lanka, Trincomalee is far removed from the typical southern tourist trail. After the #TBCAsia travel blogging conference in Colombo wrapped up, I went up to Trincomalee and spent four jam-packed days exploring all there was to do in and around the city. And Here Is What I Found: Drink Toddy, The Best Alcoholic […]

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10 Things You Don’t Know About Sri Lanka

Magestic Sri Lanka tea plantation

One of the best things about visiting a new country is learning new things. No matter how much research you do or how many people you ask, there are always things about the country that surprise or even bewilder you. Last November I had the honor of being selected as one of the top 50 travel bloggers and invited to Sri Lanka as part of TBC Asia. During the course of my month in the country I saw some incredible sights, ate some delicious food, made some amazing new friends, and yes, learned a lot of new things. So without […]

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How To Visit Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Here in Jaffna, Sri Lanka the cows own the streets. They are not scared of anything and when you honk at them they just look at your like "WTF do you want?"

The quickest way to make people want to visit somewhere is to tell them that they cannot. So when I heard that Jaffna was off-limits to foreigners and rare even for ordinary Sri Lankan citizens from the south to visit, well I knew right then and there that I would find a way to explore this beautiful yet war-torn city. Entry into the far northern reaches of Sri Lanka is forbidden without expression permission from the Ministry of Defence. The reasons for this vary depending upon who you ask, however the most common answers I got were because of political […]

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Girihadu Seya: The Oldest Buddhist Temple In Sri Lanka

Girihadu Seya in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

Up in the northeastern corner of Sri Lanka lies an amazing place named Trincomalee but often referred to as heaven. The beaches are pristine, the scenery is like something out of a movie, the temples are breathtaking, the food is delicious and the people are friendly. But beyond all that there was one place which really impressed me. The oldest Buddhist temple in all of Sri Lanka — and one of the oldest in the world — is Girihadu Seya, which translates as “the stupa on top of the rocks.” This stupa was built 2,500 years ago, back in the […]

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The Ultimate Indonesia Food Guide: Regional Dishes

Soto Ayam in Indonesia

Part of the beauty of Indonesia is that the country and islands are composed of hundreds of different cultures that have all come together to form one diverse nation. As such the food in Indonesia varies not just island to island but city to city. Even simple dishes like soto (a traditional soup) and sambal (chili paste) are so different from one city to the next that they often have completely different names. Trying each and every one of them is no simple task. In fact attempting this is exactly what I have been doing for the last year….and I’m […]

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A Photo Journey Through Thiên Đường “Paradise” Cave, Vietnam

Thiên Đường Cave (Paradise Cave)

When Thiên Đường “Paradise” Cave was discovered in 2005 in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park it took the title of longest cave in Vietnam away from the name star of the park, Phong Nha Cave. At 31km in length Paradise Cave is more than four times longer than it’s nearby sister and has much more impressive stalactite and stalagmite formation. (In other words if you only have time to explore one of the caves, explore this one!) My Favorite Photo   The photo above left is really neat. Do you see the man sitting up top? I could hear one […]

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Nusa Penida: Bali’s Hidden Paradise (Shhhh!)

Nusa Penida island

This island has long been overlooked by tourists, much to the pleasure of the locals. In fact originally I was not even going to write about it. However my blog is not near as popular as some of the others out there and I highly doubt that this post will result in a flood of new tourists to Nusa Penida, so I have decided ehh what the heck, I’m going to write about it. Despite being located only a 40-minute fast boat ride from Bali, for some reason this island has been completely overlooked by foreigners. It is full of […]

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Batanes: A Photographer’s Dream Destination

Morong Beach, Sabtang Island, Batanes

Ask any Filipino what is on their bucket list and almost every one will mention visiting Batanes. Although tourism is a big part of what sustains these islands — life here is not cheap given the fact that everything has to be flown in from Manila — nearly all tourists are Pinoy. Perfect for me because as most of you already know I love going places where other white people don’t…or won’t Batanes is a cluster of ten islands (three of them inhabited) in the farthest northern reaches of this sprawling archipelago. Located less than 200km south of Taiwan, the […]

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About Derek Freal

Derek Freal

Derek quit his promising corporate career in 2009 to travel the world. Now he tries to convince others to explore and try new things.

Abandoning his job in 2009, Derek now tries to convince others to do the same.

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