Travel around Asean with these unusual modes of transport

Travel around Asean with these unusual modes of transport

On Feb 8, the Chinese in Malaysia, and the world over, celebrated the lunar new year, bidding farewell to the Year of the Sheep and welcoming the Year of the Monkey.

Traditionally, it's a time for parties, a time of wishing peace and prosperity on others, and, above all, a time for family.

But it is also a hectic time of year: with one in six people around the globe celebrating the occasion, the Chinese New Year period is thought to mark the world's single largest human migration event, as scattered family members come together for the occasion.

Add to that everyone else taking the opportunity to travel during the public holiday … that's a whole lot of people on the move at once!

And just how do all these people move? Well, there's the usual route of planes, trains and automobiles, of course, but have you considered the more unusual ways of travelling around the ASEAN region?

Seaplanes, for one, can be very convenient.

While they are more associated with niche, luxury travel, the opportunity to make fast, easy connections without a runway could see seaplanes play a larger role in the future of countries like Indonesia.

The archipelago's 17,000 islands offer up the perfect opportunity to enjoy the beauty of ASEAN's coastline from above.

Photo: The Star/ANN

And if you're feeling particularly adventurous, you could even try your hand at the stick: One enterprising company in Bintan, Indonesia, lets you take to the air in your very own seaplane! (Well, it's not really yours, and sensibly, there will be an instructor on hand.)

If flying is not your cup of tea, then why not try "natural" travel, instead.

While they might not offer the fastest journey, elephant tours can be a beautifully traditional way of exploring some countries in this part of the world.

Photo: The Star/ANN

Responsible elephant tourism not only delivers a unique and memorable experience but also plays an important role in the conservation of these magnificent creatures.

The key here is responsible: if you want a truly enjoyable experience, make sure the elephant is enjoying it too.

Baan Chang Elephant Park in the north of Chiang Mai, Thailand, or the Elephant Park Project in Luang Prabang, Laos, are just two examples of an ethical approach to this wonderful mode of travel.

If that's bit too slow and stately for you, then switch into fifth gear and get ready for the burn! Singapore, that fast-moving, trendy city, offers supercar tours around its iconic streets (that might not be for the faint-hearted, mind you!).

With everything from the sleek beauty of a Lamborghini to the roar of a Maserati on offer, you get to experience supercar heaven without the price tag that comes with owning one.

There are several companies that offer these tours, so shop around and see how much horsepower you can handle.

Photo: The Star/ANN

If that's two wheels too many and a whole lot more power than you're comfortable with, Segway tours are becoming increasingly popular in the cities of South-East Asia.

You can tour the streets of Singapore, cruise down the back alleys of Bangkok and even explore the beaches of Bali. It's like walking, but without all that effort, and you get a stylish helmet to wear too.

Here in Malaysia we have some more traditional wheels on offer in the form of the iconic Malacca trishaw, or beca.

These colourful conveyances travel the length of the historic town, offering pedal power to help tourists enjoy the best of Malacca's quaint streets and rich cultural heritage. You can pick up a trishaw from in front of Christ Church, on the town's main street.

The great thing is, they'll not only get you from A to B but the riders will also give you a wonderful guided tour with local tips and insights.

Sometimes, it's not about getting to you destination, it's the journey that counts.

Malaysia doesn't have a monopoly on quirky historical transport, though. The Philippines' jeepneys offer a riot of colour and fun.

Originally converted from US military trucks left behind in the 1950s, these vehicles still provide a colourful way of travelling around the cities and towns of this beautiful country.

Photo: The Star/ANN

Ingenuity is ever key to getting around, and nowhere is that more true than in Cambodia, where you have unique bamboo trains, or norry.

These improvised homemade conveyances offer one of the world's most unique rail journeys, and can be found around Battambang in the country's north and Poipet, on the Cambodia/Thailand border.

Comprising a motorised metal frame on which bamboo planks are laid, and with reports of a top speed of almost 50kph, these exciting little bamboo rockets require quite a bit of bravery to climb on to.

However you choose to get around, there's a whole lot of ASEAN to see!

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