Travelling South East Asia (SEA)
(29th September 2015 – 24th November 2015)
On 29th September 2015 I set off with two friends on a life-changing adventure to explore and travel Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. I had no idea what to expect having never travelled outside of Europe before, or even travelled at all. I had spent 1 week holidays here and there, but never something as big as this. Yet here I was, leaving home for two months to explore the unknown. I never really knew why I felt the need to go travelling, heck I never even really knew why South East Asia. But something burned inside of me, a gut feeling, an instinct, it was almost a necessary thing I felt compelled to do. I felt as though travelling would give me that ‘zest’ for life that I had been lacking and looking for. I wish now that I had written this blog whilst I was travelling, rather than six months later, but those feelings, places, memories and stories are things that I treasure and remember so clearly as if I were still there now.
I wanted to put something together that I could look back on to relish and re-live, and also to give other people an insight into the cool things you can expect from this wonderful part of the world. So here we have a breakdown of the places in each country I visited, as well as my thoughts, pictures, and highlights.
Smelly and hot, oh my gosh so smelly and hot. Bangkok was eye-opening. I was gobsmacked to see families of four, five, six crammed on to mopeds weaving in and out of lorry’s with no shoes on. Health & Safety definitely wasn’t a top priority in this city.
Koh San Road (Bangkok), famous for its lady boys, cheap alcohol, tuk tuks and temples was where it all began and where you’ll find most backpackers start and end their SEA travelling journey. The night life is electric with music blaring from all angles, street stalls selling food (everything from corn on the cob to dead tarantulas on a stick, yes you read that right), and a place you’re guaranteed to never forget. The floating markets, the Grand Palace and various other temples, ping pong shows (very disturbing, but a must see), the Lebua roof top bar (The film ‘The Hangover’ was filmed here) are all must see attractions and highlights in Bangkok. My highlight in Bangkok was more of a feeling rather than the things I did. The person (me, obviously) who arrived in Bangkok at the beginning of their travels, to the person who came back to the city two months later to fly home were two completely different people. I will summarise about this later.
The vibe here was still very busy, but completely different to the craziness of Bangkok, and definitely not as smelly and hot. Trekking through the jungle, riding elephants, visiting the tiger kingdom, visiting the long neck Karen tribe, and attending a Thai boxing match are all fantastic activities you can expect to get up to in Chiang Mai. Oh, and I forgot to mention the vodka buckets, just imagine strong alcohol, and then some. One of my highlights in Chiang Mai was the gorgeous hostel we stayed in called ‘Bann Elephant Home’. A basic hostel located a little further outside the hustle and bustle of the main strip. I remember how friendly and welcoming the owners were and the amazing people, now good friends that I met whilst staying here. I also remember trying ‘Pho’ here for the very first time and being hooked on it from then onwards, ordering it almost every day for lunch and dinner. Typically a Vietnamese dish, Pho is a combination of rice noodles mixed with either pork, chicken, or beef, with vegetables boiled in broth. Absolutely delicious.
One of my favourite places, Pai was absolutely incredible. The scenery was angelic and breathe taking and never have I seen mountains and rivers quite so beautiful and picturesque. The vibe here was very chilled and hippy like. Expect to see lots of people with dreadlocks, lots of peace signs, and lots of pictures of Bob Marley. My highlight here was a beautiful café called ‘fat cat’ which sold the most delicious, healthy, fresh, and organic food. Chicken & avocado salads, porridge with seeds and nuts, sourdough bread. I couldn’t quite believe my luck when we discovered this place and we ate here every day until we left. Me and my friends often talk about this place and what we would give to go back and eat there again, and I’m sure one day we will. Waterfalls, lapping up the beautiful scenery, riding on mopeds as the sun sets, you couldn’t wish much more from such a special part of Thailand.
To be continued…..
PS – The smell gets better, but families of four, five, and six still wiz round on mopeds with no shoes on. You get used to this, it almost becomes normal.