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In the summer of 2009, Nicolas Rapp decided to take a break from his Art Director job at The Associated Press to attempt a one-year overland travel around the world in a 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser. He was back in New York in February 2011 after traveling 15 months and 37,000 miles.

Visited countries


August 2020



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  • Following the beaches in Malaysia and Thailand

    Posted on November 12th, 2010 Nicolas No comments
    Spending the night on a beach in south Penang.

    Spending the night on a beach in south Penang.

    After a last promenade in Kuala Lumpur, I leave the city. There is a Chinese and Indian area there, but it is quick to go around. Really nothing more impressive than New York City can offer.

    A mix of modernity and tradition in Kuala Lumpur.

    A mix of modernity and tradition in Kuala Lumpur.

    In the northern suburbs, I do some grocery shopping to make sure I have enough food for the upcoming week, and I later stop few miles outside of the city, in Templer Park, to spend the night in the forest.
    Early in the morning I get on the road and drive toward the Island of Penang. It is still sunny, but I know it is going to change and I probably will get a lot of rain once in Thailand.

    In Kuala Lumpur Little India.

    In Kuala Lumpur Little India.

    As I said earlier, the roads are very good in Malaysia, and effortlessly that I put the 200 miles behind. Highway tolls are somewhat more expensive than the previous countries I have been too. I am surprised to see gasoline is in self-service, which – surprisingly enough – I didn’t see since the U.S.

    The road in northern Malaysia.

    The road in northern Malaysia.

    Also I have GPS maps for Malaysia and Thailand, which will make the next weeks a bit easier on the navigation front. Last time I was able to use the technology was in the Arab Emirates.
    In the south of Penang Island, I find a quiet beach and spend the night there. In the morning, I pass the bridge and go back to the Peninsula, then drive north to the Thailand’s border. Everything there is straight forward, and it takes me only one hour to go through the Malaysia and Thailand customs and immigration procedures. The temporary import of the vehicle in Thailand is very easy, and I don’t even have to use my special document (the Carnet de Passage) to go through.

    Flooded road close to the Thailand border.

    Flooded road close to the Thailand border.

    The area around the border has been recently the theater of floods, and the road is sometimes still under the water. Regardless, it is not as bad as I was expecting, and I can put some miles behind. Late in the afternoon, the rain becomes very strong, and early enough I have to stop for the day.

    Too much rain to continue safely.

    Too much rain to continue safely.

    The rain is too sturdy and I can’t cook out, so I go to a roadside restaurant where I get my first Thai meal, which I was looking forward since a long time. Of course it is delicious. I also spend the night on the parking lot and fall asleep as the rain continues to fall.
    In the morning the sun is back and I can leave what turns out to be the city of Phatthalung.

    The Trans World Expedition made it to Thailand after almost 30,000 miles.

    The Trans World Expedition made it to Thailand after almost 30,000 miles.

    I am now going northwest toward Phuket. There, I will visit David who contacted me few months back to invite me to visit the island. Few years back David was also on the road with his family, and visited a lot of the places I have been to. When he arrived in Thailand, he decided he found his paradise and will stay here.
    I arrive in Phuket after a long day of driving and call him from a public phone.

    I saw people transporting pretty much anything during my trip, but this one is a first.

    I saw people transporting pretty much anything during my trip, but this one is a first.

    It turns out that he rents luxury villas in the paradisiacal island, and having one available in the Surin beach area, he invites me to forget my tent for few days and enjoy the huge west coast mansion. Of course, I accept.

    Close to Phuket.

    Close to Phuket.

    Few days with David and his girlfriend.

    Few days with David and his girlfriend.

    I spend three nights there. David takes me out at night, and in the daytime we visit the island or work on the truck. He has an old Land Cruiser, so he takes me out on off-road trails.

    Hitting the trails of Phuket in David old Land Cruiser.

    Hitting the trails of Phuket in David old Land Cruiser.

    The nightlife is famously crazy there, and it is quite a contrast after all the time I spend in Muslim countries. I am not use to drink that much and can’t say I take too much rest. There is a lot of European around, and they are out of their mind, especially in Patong, the sin capital of the Island.

    Night market scenes in Phuket.

    Night market scenes in Phuket.

    Knowing I have a lot of kids following my adventures, I will not post any nightlife pictures on this website; just know that it is pretty alarming.

    Phuket west coast.

    Phuket west coast.

    In the meantime, I get some news from my friend Vikas who I stayed with in Mumbai. He is able to take some time off, and we decide to meet in Bangkok. From there we will drive to neighboring Cambodia and explore the area. It is time to leave my friend David and go back on the road.

    The last beach before the bridge.

    The last beach before the bridge.

    I leave on Thursday morning and drive north. I cross the small mountains dividing the south of the country and reach the east coast.

    Crossing the central mountains.

    Crossing the central mountains.

    After nightfall, it takes me some times to find a good beach where I can camp for the night. Eventually I find the perfect spot north of Chumphon. The temperatures are lower as I go north it seems, which give me some respite as it is easier to sleep.

    Waking up on the beach close to Chumphon.

    Waking up on the beach close to Chumphon.

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31 Responses to “Following the beaches in Malaysia and Thailand”

  1. Ohhh fresh hot blog Thanks for the fix.

  2. Hi Nick!

    I love this set of pictures and descriptions of your trip! Would love to be waking up on the beach in Chumphon rather than rainy Seattle right now, but we press on. 😉

    I’m craving Thai food now!

    Enjoy the journey! Be blessed and safe!
    Beth 🙂

  3. Hello Nick:

    Love the photos and captions. You look so relaxed, poised and healthy. Looking forward to following this leg of your journey. Congratulations on your one-year mark. Many blessings.

  4. Absolutly love the blog. Never followed a blog before until I foundout about your trip. Very envious of you. Any way during the heavy rain storm did you sleep in the tent on top of the truck??

  5. Wearing a orange shirt of that kind in that country! Aren’t you ready to become a monk there?

  6. Charlie A (Santa Clara, Ca.)

    Thanks for this last group of pictures. Thailand looks like a great place to visit. I hope to one day.

  7. i;m from delmar delaware.been reading about your travel when you started.i love all your posts;but would like to see more i ckeck on your travel almost every night.hope you have a safe trip.

  8. Thanks for the fix, Nick! Please be careful crossing roadways that are flooded, I know they’re used to it there but I can’t believe floods are any different there than they are here – very dangerous! Sounds like you enjoyed the nightlife. =) I’m glad David was able to give you a welcome respite, he seems like a good guy. This is another stretch of your trip I’ve been looking forward to, you don’t disappoint! Be safe and have fun!

  9. Once again, amazing photos! The elephant in the truck is my fav! Travel safe and enjoy your time with V.

  10. Ms. Marti~Nashville, TN

    Hey Nick, I can only imagine the photo’s you took that you chose not to post because of the younger people. I only wish the other individuals that have written on the blog would remember that before posting some of the outlandish comments that cause a flurry on the blog.

    How wonderful that this leg of the trip is somewhat more relaxing that the past countries. I’d say its about time! You finally being able to visit with some of your friends! I’m excited for you that Vikas is going to be able to travel with you for a while. This will have to make your trip even more interesting to have someone with you to share some of the navigation, driving and helping with cooking. I’m sure the two of you will have some interesting conversations. Sure wish I could be a fly in the truck! LOL

    BTW I really like how you have updated your map to show exactly where you are and have been. Again, your showing the kids and adults parts of the world we have only read about. Can’t believe its been a year since your journey began. Another reason to live each day as though the last!

    Forge on my friend, Ms. Marti~Nashville, TN

  11. WOW sums it up. What fabulous, beautiful pictures and wonderful to know that you are having such a great time. I’ve LOVED this post. thanks!

  12. Nick, I see that when you come home your route has you comming through Wichita, Kansas. We would love to offer you a room and Burn a couple of steaks for you. Just let us know. Jeffery & Kimberly.

  13. So Interesting! What an amazing change in infrastructure from one country to the next! I can’t believe the amazing change in road conditions! Good decision on watching out for the kids on the pics but that is only one more reason to write the book at the end of your travels. I will be first in line! Dave, so happy you found your paradise and what an intriguing story you must have as well. I must say I want to start planning my vacation to stay at one of the luxury villas on Phuket. I am glad you had such a great time Nick! I can’t wait to read your next post! Stay safe and be careful of those floods!

  14. Now I want to see those pictures from the ‘alarming’ nightlife!

    This leg sounds much more fun and relaxing than the last. Good to see you enjoying yourself.

  15. Great pictures & post. This looks like someplace I’d like to visit. Nice pic of you, Nick. Happy, healthy and relaxed…that’s what we like to see. I love the elephant picture too. As well and the giant Buddha one.

    Enjoy your adventures!

  16. Great photos,,sounds as though you finally can relax and really enjoy the trip,,
    Takes an edge off the not so nice incident’s,, Stay safe and God Bless You,, ,:)

  17. Fabulous! simply fabulous.

    glad you’re safe, eating well, and traveling easily (except for that little bit of rain).

    waking up on beach, you must just pinch yourself when surrounded by such beauty. it’s the one place to which i’d love to travel. someday – right now i’ll have to settle for experiencing it through your eyes.

    continued safe travels,

  18. Charlie A (Santa Clara, Ca.)

    Hey Nick,

    I was just reviewing your updated map. Are you going to check out Bali? I think it might be worth a look since you will be so close. You could take your truck on the Penyeberangan Ferry from Ketapang Indonesia to Gilimanuk, Bali. It would be a very short boat ride and the fee should be around $120.00.

    Cheers Mate,

  19. You got to Thailand around the ideal weather season: the cool season! You’ll probably experience the tail end of the rainy season while you’re in the kingdom. How seedy were those pictures in Patong Beach? I can only imagine. Last time I was in Phuket, I stayed in Karon Beach. It’s a little more relaxed with the tourists, minus the seediness.

    Are you planning to ring in the New Year in Asia? That would be fun!

    I miss Thailand. Post more pictures please!!!

  20. Wonderful picctures. I, too, am curious of the nightlife pics! I am always wondering about the pictures that you don’t post. Yes, another reason for a book. Can’t wait! Glad to hear you have a traveling companion for a while. Enjoy!

    Be safe!

  21. You really have made it to paradise. I love that shot of the spindly palms on the beach. Looking forward to more stories of your travels.

    As always, travel safe.


  23. You sound in much better spirits! Thailand is beautiful, thanks for the pics! I must agree with the others though. The experience you have had and are having nearly requires a book! I too would buy it. Hey, a book deal could ultimately lead to another expedition!

  24. Wonderful pictures Nic. Reminds me how much I miss Thailand – the people, the food and the beauty of the islands. Been following you since the start of your trip. Continue to enjoy your journey.

  25. Is that fish getting ready to be fried in the Little India picture? That looks yum.

    I have always wanted to go to Thailand and Bali. Do you have any plans to go to Bali?

    If you have any plans to visit Seattle area do let me know. Would love to meet in person and talk about your amazing trip. I keep telling my wife about your new adventures as soon as I read your latest blog post.

  26. Hey Nick,

    Loved this last post. Will have to visit Thailand sometime. It is obvious you are so much more enjoying this part of your journey. Niceeeee pictures. The shot of the palms on the beach is my new screen saver.

    Safe journey my friend,


  27. Kuala Lumpur is the name of a ship that comes in to seattle we load and unload. Like that old truck you 4×4 in.

  28. Nick I can’t believe it has been a year already. Thank you for such fantastic reading. I have enjoyed your journey almost as if I was there myself. Thank you for having such courage and spirit of adventure! You have inspired a lot of people and given much joy! Thank you again.Stay safe.

  29. Hello Nick,

    OMG!!! I can’t beleive I missed this Blog of yours……Thailand is my home country!!! I was waiting since you started your trip around the world. I was in Thailand last month :-).

    I am glad you had a great time there in Thailand, pictures are so beautiful!!!! I agree with you the street food sometimes is the best!!!

    Also, THANKS for not posting the night light in Phuket. It’s too crazy there!!

    Anyway, hope you enjoy the rest of your trip and please say “Hi” to Thai people for me and of course EAT A LOT of Thai food for me too 🙂


  30. Hey Nick,
    Oh my, the pictures are just wonderful. 🙂 I wish I was there. I think that it is really neat what you are doing and I wish I could. I’m so jealous.
    The food looks gross but yummy. That is a lot of rain.
    These people are good a designing buildings. They are very detailed, plus big.

    Can’t wait to see your other blogs

  31. Hey buddy. been a while since I posted. Hope you’re well. Seems like It. You seem to have made some ground on your finishing date.