21 July 2017

10 Weeks in; Reflections of my SE Asia Travels so far

I had a bit of time to kill at the airport before my flight to Siem Reap, so it was the perfect opportunity to sit back and reflect on my travels so far.
It has now been almost ten weeks since I have been travelling around Southeast Asia, and looking back at the very beginning seems oh so long ago! Not in a negative way of course, I’ve just done and seen so much in the space of ten weeks.

Here’s a quick rundown tally of what I have been up to so far:

Countries visited: 3 (Indonesia - 18 days, Thailand – 27 days, Vietnam – 22 days)
Places visited: 12
Islands visited: 2
Flights: 9
Ferries: 3
Buses: 1
Trains: 1
Tuk Tuks: 5
Motorbike taxis: 7
Scooters Rented: 1
Snorkeled: 1
Jet skied: 1
Day-Tours: 6
Street food tours: 3
Cooking Classes: 2
Temples visited: A million
Massages: 3
Manicures: 2
Pedicures: 1
Tattoos: 1
Hangovers: 3 (Not bad)
Books read: 1.25 (Not much time to read sadly!)
Komodo Dragons seen: 1
Pandas seen: 1
Elephants fed: 5
Monkeys perched on shoulder: 1
Squat toilets used: 2 (Shudders)
Clothing items bought: 6
Cheapest beer: 18 cents (Hoi An)
Most expensive cocktail: $25 AUD (Red Sky Bar, Bangkok)
Airbnbs: 4
Budget Hotels: 7
Luxury Hotels: 7
Accommodation checked out of early: 2
Hotel keys accidentally taken with me: 2 (Doh!)
Shit left behind: 1 (laptop cable – but got it back thankfully!)
Shit stolen: 0 (phew)
Accidents: 0

So, quite a bit has happened. I’ve been very fortunate so far with nothing really bad happening to me and I’m hoping it’s going to stay that way!

Sunset at Karon Beach, Phuket

Here’s a specific tally of best/worst things and moments:

Best hotels: The Breezes Bali, Twin Lotus Resort Koh Lanta, BYD Lofts Phuket, Maryo Resort Chiang Rai, Vedana Lagoon Phu Loc.

Vedana Lagoon, Phu Loc

Worst hotels: Le Manoir Premier Da Nang. Firstly, my shower flooded the entire bathroom into the room and there was no window so it was a dark depressing hole.
I changed the next day into a room with a view which was much better, however there were loads of stains all over the bedding (which wasn't changed once) and inside the fridge was a very old and sticky spill that had never been cleaned. People were smoking inside the hotel, not in the rooms but out in the corridors so it always smelled disgusting. The staff however were very friendly and helpful and it was in a good location to the beach, so I just made do. You get what you pay for!

Best Airbnb: Sathorn, Bangkok. Great apartment in a local area with amazing street food.

Worst Airbnb: Da Nang. Typical Vietnamese house in a local area above a coffee shop. The bed was rock-hard, the floors and bathroom were very dirty, there was gum on the bed, rats in the walls, no proper bathroom (there was a shower head - in the toilet cubicle...), it was super loud and on the Friday night before I left early there was a huge drug party downstairs. All part of the experience, but the next day I was outta there!

Best days: Bali week with my best friends, meeting great people and partying in Bangkok, my first day in Koh Lanta when I was in an epic beachview villa, Phi Phi Island booze cruise, Golden Triangle day trip in Chiang Rai, meeting up with Gareth in Vietnam and staying in a dream overwater bungalow room.

Visiting the Singha Beer Park on the Golden Triange day trip

Worst days: Getting badly lost in Jakarta on my first day, thinking I was going to miss my flight connection from Hanoi to Da Nang, being accidentally very hungover in Hoi An, sitting in a shit hotel the first night in Da Nang after Gareth left and missing him.

Top 3 fave places: Phi Phi Island, Koh Lanta, Hoi An.

Beautiful Phi Phi

Least fave places: Patong Beach Phuket, Jakarta.

Coolest bars: Mr Bean Bar in Hoi An, Guns N' Roses Pub in Da Nang.

Cool moments: Observing a monk praying ceremony at Wat Pho in Bangkok, watching an All Blacks game in a sports bar in Vietnam.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai

Funny moments: Being proposed to on the back of a motorbike while stuck in traffic, Jakarta. Gareth being asked to take a photo with an Asian woman at the Marble Mountains and made to put his arm around her and hold her hand. He was mortified but did it anyway cause he's so nice!

Random sights: Seeing an elephant driving past on the back of a trailer in Krabi, the dragon bridge in Da Nang is pretty random but cool! It lights up at night and on the weekend actually breaths fire.

Interesting experiences: Riding on a very questionable gondola around a huge theme park in Jakarta, entering my first mosque (and the largest in Southeast Asia), receiving a blessing and bracelet from a monk in a temple in the mountains in Chiang Mai, sharing a sleeper carriage with a Vietnamese family on a train from Da Nang to Hue.

Best things eaten: Green Curry, Pad Thai and Mango Sticky Rice in Thailand and Chili and lemongrass chicken, Banh Mi and Pho in Vietnam. I'm also just obsessed with fresh mangoes and coconut juice.

My ultimate favourite food - mango sticky rice!

Strangest things eaten: A silk worm in Thailand, liver on a street food tour in Da Nang and an ice block that I thought was strawberry. Turns out it was red bean and brown rice…. weird.

Best purchase: An awesome Yoda drawstring rucksack in Hoi An.

Favourite beer: Tiger draft and Singha.

Favourite sights: Seeing longtail boats in a picture perfect postcard setting in real life in Phi Phi, observing rescued elephants roaming free in nature as they should be in Chiang Rai, going to the incredible White temple in Chiang Rai, looking into Myanmar and Laos while standing in Thailand at the Golden Triangle, walking the beautiful alleyways of Hoi An at night with their colourful lit up lanterns.

White Temple, Chiang Rai
The beautiful streets of the Old Town in Hoi An

Least fave sights: I visited the Chiang Mai zoo while there because they have pandas which are my favourite animal and any chance I get to see them I do. You have to buy an extra ticket to see them and the enclosure was fairly decent but the rest of the zoo was shockingly appalling. The animals such as lions, were pacing back and forth, bored to tears in their tiny enclosures. The orangutan was slumped over and I have never seen a more depressed animal in my life. The worst was the elephant that has to stand there all day CHAINED hoping for tourists to come past and buy it bananas. It was rocking back and forth and its eyes were completely glazed over. I felt horrible to be supporting such a place by buying a ticket and after seeing the pandas I immediately left, feeling very sad.
Also seeing so much rubbish washed up on the beaches, Patong Beach was the worst.


It always makes me smile seeing people on their scooters carrying mountain-loads three times the size of them.

When I was last in Vietnam I was very nervous about the crazy traffic and crossing the roads without getting run over. This visit, it just wasn’t a problem for me at all. It’s like I grew a weird confidence being away for six months and I could all of a sudden walk into a busy road without hesitation.

I’m also very used to seeing the mounds of rubbish all over the streets, the crazy powerlines, dodging pot holes and men openly pissing on the side of the roads, whereas I suppose that might shock some people!

Although I love Indonesia and Thailand a lot of the people there are constantly trying to rip you off and get as much money out of you as they can. I found that a lot less in Vietnam.
I was still of course hassled by drivers but I didn't ever have to say 'will you run the meter' when I hopped into a taxi because - of course they would!

It's kind of hilarious the amount of times I've been called sir!

I have felt very safe in all three countries visited so far, with the exception of Jakarta. I never felt in any danger there, just very uncomfortable at times and also quite unwelcome.

Streets of Jakarta

What's next?

Well I am currently sitting in my $18 AUD a night hotel room in Siem Reap finishing this post off. I'm feeling very tired as my flight was delayed by 4 hours and I didn't arrive to my room until 1 am and didn't go to sleep until 3 am due to the devastating news of Chester Bennington. But it is now lunch time and I will venture out shortly to begin exploring this new city. I have a whole week here and then three days to play with where I think I will bus to Phnom Penh.

After that I am planning on flying to Laos, starting in Vientiane before busing up to both Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang. From there I will be flying via Bangkok into Myanmar which will be my 27th country. Beginning in Mandalay, I'll then bus to Bagan and then Nyaungshwe to visit Inle Lake.
Next I will fly back to Bangkok where I will be meeting up with my mum who is visiting Asia for the first time. I'll be spending the next three weeks with her in Thailand before finally departing for home on the 8th of September. (I'm so happy to be spending more time in Thailand!).

So I still have exactly 7 weeks left - and a lot still to pack in! That's why I've been so busy for the last week or so trying to catch up and finish as much work as I can before starting the next chapter which will be all go.
I think starting from now, here in Cambodia and the next two countries will present whole new experiences for me. I feel like I know Indonesia (Bali), Thailand and Vietnam pretty well now and I'm very comfortable in those countries. I'm so interested to see how I will feel about the next three, what the people are like, the food and the culture. I'm very excited.

Thanks so much for reading and following along on my journey. I still have so much to write about and I definitely plan to as soon as I get the chance.
Below are a few more highlights photos from the last couple of months starting at the beginning.

Happy Travels,
Watersports fun in Bali
Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Ubud, Bali
Sporting our fresh friendship tattoos
The view from my Airbnb in Jakarta
In front of the MONAS statue in Jakarta
At my favourite temple in Bangkok, Wat Pho
The expensive but awesome birdcage cocktail I got in Bangkok
Hiring a scooter and exploring the island of Koh Lanta
Beautiful surrounding islands of Phi Phi
Dream come true at Maya Bay!
Colourful Karon, Phuket
Trying bugs at a local market in Phuket!
Cool dragon staircase in Chiang Mai
The Iron Bridge in Chiang Mai
I loved visiting temples by night in Chiang Mai
Feeding rescued elephants at a sanctuary in Chiang Rai
At the Baan Dam Black House Museum in Chiang Rai 
Interesting sights at The Golden Triangle
On the borders of three countries!
Action shot (it was the guide's idea) ;)
Exploring the ancient city of Hue
Tropical paradise in Phu Loc
Enjoying the incredible view from our overwater bungalow
The beautiful streets of Hoi An
Having a perfect beach day in Hoi An
Riverside in Hoi An
I loved the preserved buildings of the UNESCO World Heritage town Hoi An
Exploring the streets in Da Nang
A selfie in front of the famous pink cathedral in Da Nang
Beautiful Da Nang Beach

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  1. Stunning pictures! This was a mesmerizing round-about of your trip till date with some interesting observations! Loved the white temple and it's added to my wishlist now :)

  2. I am amazed at everything you have managed to pack into the last ten weeks! Your trip has been amazing so far and thankfully it seems that the bad experiences haven't been too bad, especially in comparison to all of the wonderful experiences. Some of the bad hotel experiences sound awful, especially the rats in the walls. Your photos are just stunning, so many beautiful places!

  3. Da Nang Beach is such a peaceful place with all those waves moving slowly towards the shore. I wish I was there this very weekend. You are truly blessed to see so many amazing places. Sorry for your bad experiences!

  4. I have been in Bali and really loved it there. I still want to see more of Asia. So you actually gave me some great tips for places to visit. You added nice pictures. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  5. Wowowow!!! You amaze me woman! This is a lot of stuff you did for the last 10 weeks. Glad you are safe and having fun!

  6. That room in Vietnam sounds like a nightmare! But it's part of the adventure! I'm also an animal lover but I refuse to visit zoos, they generally are heartbreaking. Looking forward to your next adventures!

  7. The photos look like paradise!!! This was a lot you have done in a short span in all honesty. Glad you are having fun and living life

  8. Looks like you have had such an amazing trip. I love you going through a best and worst list of all of your travels. All the different things that worked for you and didn't work for you.

  9. What an amazing trip! The pictures of Vedana Lagoon and Da Nang Beach are just breathtaking. I wish I was there! So jealous! lol

  10. Sounds like an amazing trip. I LOVEEEE Thailand. There's so much culture and it's so very fun. Your pictures are making me wanna go.

  11. what an amazing life you lead... that would be a fantastic way to live, exploring the world! I love your photos and now have the travel bug ; )

  12. It sounds like an amazing 10 week trip! You've experienced so much, both the good and the bad and that's what makes the trip more worth it. I've always wanted to go to South East Asia! I should totally start planning.

  13. I am in Indonesian. Why did you go to Jakarta, the city is not good at all. It is a heap of polluted and populated mess. Go to Jogja (AWESOME PLACE, stay in Amanjiwo for AMAZING but pricey experience). Go to Borrobudur, Prambanan, and the MANY other temples there. Go see the nature there as well. Go to Malang. See the temples (again), and the wonderful nature (mount Bromo, Teluk Asmoro, and the many nice places). Go to Komodo Island. See amazing Padar island by Komodo and see the wonderful local culture as well as well as teh breathtaking nature. Go to see TANA TORAJA in Sulawesi (AMAZING PLACE). The culture is exotic. It is a trip that will make it into one of your life highlights for sure. The place is something people would only dream of from teh movies. Exotic culture and beautiful nature. This is an unducumented place. As well as SUMBA. this island is gaining on hype. Go to Raja Ampat as well. Many of these places I told you require a guide, because the majority of the people will surely speakk no English. But they are truly breathtaking places. Go see them. Hire a private tour. JOgja no need guide, malang no need guide, komodo no need guide


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