What have the past 5 months in Southeast Asia looked like?
Kuala Lumpur – Melaka – George Town – Cameron Highlands – Kuala Lumpur – Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville – Siem Reap – Battambang – Phnom Penh – Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) – Mekong Delta – Nha Trang – Hoi An – Halong Bay – Hanoi – Sapa – Bangkok – Chiang Mai – Bangkok – Chiang Mai – Tachilek – Chiang Mai – Hat Yai – George Town – Phuket – Chiang Mai – Bangkok.
Phew! It’s been a busy few months and at times a little exhausting (especially when we tried to cram in 7 different locations during our month in Vietnam!), however, the reason for this round-up is that we are switching gears over here.
After 5 months in Southeast Asia, it’s time to explore a new region!
I feel like I have barely scratched the surface here, yet I’m sure I would feel the same way six months from now. Sam and I are ready for a change of scenery and that is starting with a very unexpected trip to Europe and a little visit to Canada for me.
And now let’s go back to the start for a look at some of the highlights and lowlights (there have been very few of those) during my time here.
Highlight: Melaka was my first introduction to Southeast Asia and I couldn’t have asked for a better destination. The riverfront was covered in colourful street art, there were countless temples and shrines to explore, the food was delectable, and the weather was tropical! The city center was small enough to be enjoyed on foot, but there were also riverboats and trishaws available to discover the outlying parts of Melaka. I’d go back anytime.
Lowlight: Getting kicked out of our hotel room in the Cameron Highlands because the owner had given away our room to someone who was willing to pay a higher rate over the holiday…we only had half an hour to scramble and get out of there. Everything else in town was either booked for the weekend or outrageously overpriced so we just decided to leave town even though we hadn’t done any sightseeing. It felt like a bit of a wasted journey to go all the way there only to have to leave so soon, but sometimes that’s just how things go.
Lowlight: Oh Sihanoukville… I had read such great reviews from other bloggers, but what I found instead was a backpacker ghetto with a really dirty beach. Add to that an incident on Serendipity Beach where a little boy (probably no older than 11) tried to pick a fight by shouting all kinds of profanities after we politely declined to buy bracelets…I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. If you’re heading to Sihanoukville, you’re better off avoiding Serendipity Beach altogether – apparently Otres Beach is a bit more relaxed, but I didn’t personally make it there.
Highlight: It’s no secret that I loved travelling through Vietnam. If you only have time for a few countries in Southeast Asia, Vietnam should be at the top of your travel list. I recommend visiting Hoi An which is a really charming town and also a great place to get clothes custom made, a boat tour of Halong Bay, and trekking in Sapa.
Lowlight: Sam getting food poisoning! This consisted of me having to run out to a pharmacy in the rain with Vietnamese words scribbled on a little paper (Google Translate is magic!), and then being woken up at 3 in the morning to go in search of toilet paper. Running around the hotel lobby and going into empty hotel rooms in search of TP when it’s pitch black is plain spooky!
Highlight: Planting temporary roots in Chiang Mai and living like a local. After three month of being constantly on the go, it was nice to get a little apartment and enjoy the city’s markets and restaurants. I also really enjoyed heading down to Bangkok for a few days to attend the first ever Digital Innovation Asia conference. It was a great time to network with industry professionals, meet up with bloggers I knew in person and others that I only knew virtually, and there were also some great parties to attend.
Lowlight: Up until this week if you had asked me to name the lowlight of my time in Thailand, I couldn’t have given you one. Then about two days ago I got the worst bout of food poisoning I’ve had in the past 10 years…and so did Sam. Oh my, oh my. Let’s just not get into the details.
So what next?
Well, I still have plenty left to write about my time in Southeast Asia, but you can also expect a few pieces from Finland and Canada in the coming weeks.