When you think of Vietnam, you probably think of moody landscapes, thick jungles, and the hectic nature of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Very rarely do people think of tropical islands when considering a trip to Vietnam.
There are actually quite a few islands that tend to be less touristy than the mainland, because, well, not that many people know about them. I finally had my own tropical Vietnamese island experience this year on Phú Quốc.
When I was planning my first trip to Asia in 2013, the countries that I was most looking forward to seeing were Thailand and Indonesia. I thought for sure Bali and Thailand as a whole were going to be my favorite spots from my two months of travels.
In reality, they ended up being the biggest disappointments from that trip.
May was the month I turned 27! I started the month in Thailand and ended it in Laos, my 28th country. And let me just say, I’m glad my country count is keeping ahead of my age, I think that’s a good sign.
This month included meeting up with one of my close friends, Pascale, who I met in Thailand a couple of months ago. May was also a month of readjusting to another new Asian culture, and finally discovering Laos for the first time, a country I’ve been wanting to see for years.
This is where I went and what I got up to in May.
Pink and purple.
If I could describe Laos in colors, it would be pink and purple. There’s this soft haze of pastels that often falls over the country, and it’s easy to see why they call this the romantic traveler’s paradise.
The outline of the distant mountains, the soothing flow of the river, the soft swaying jungle always close by as you walk home from another night of paper lanterns, solo street guitar players, and red brick sidewalks.
This is Laos, a country I’ve been wanting to visit since I first came to Southeast Asia in 2013. I missed out on seeing the country back then, but I knew I didn’t want that to be the case this time I was in Asia.
There’s nothing like an Asian night bus to make you think of your own mortality,
The stained curtains swing side to side in tune to the curves as we go around again.
I have The xx on repeat, thinking about all of life’s little defeats and how I got here.
The driver is going 80 on a hairpin turn, the wheels hugging the road just slightly so,
Will this be the last thing I see before I go?
I visited Koh Chang twice over the course of a couple of months and I easily found the draw of this “elephant island”. With its hilly jungles, uncrowded beaches, and the feeling that you’ve reached one of the less touristy spots in Thailand, there is a lot to love about Koh Chang.
I never thought I’d be a long-term island girl, where I’d actually enjoy living on islands for more than a month or two. I love being busy, living in vibrant cities, going to live gigs, finding new architecture, cafes, and street art down alleyways.
But guys, I have to admit, I’m kind of addicted to island life now. And I would say that Koh Chang was the island that started that addiction.
Kelsey and I quickly made our way to the Saigon Opera House, a short walk from where we were staying, and where we would be meeting our tour group for the day. We had signed up for a Mekong Discovery tour with Intrepid Urban Adventures, and we had a full day ahead of us of agricultural wonders and good food.
This was my first tour with Intrepid, but I had heard great things about them from other travelers and bloggers alike, which made me seek them out. They have tours all over the world, and their Urban Adventure tours specifically are meant to be more focused on the local side of a destination.
You can feel the vibrancy as soon as you touch down in Saigon – the motorbikes whizzing by, the smells, the sizzling heat.
Last time I was in the city, I was overwhelmed. It was one of the first cities I visited in Asia and my senses were doing overtime. I didn’t know how to cross the street without having a heart-racing adrenaline kick each time, and I soon found out that the motorbike thieves are a real thing when one tried to grab my friend’s bag from behind.
It was too much and I wrote off Saigon as a big city that I would never enjoy visiting. But as I sometimes find when I travel more, I couldn’t have been more wrong with my initial prejudice against the city.
Last time I was in Southeast Asia, I heard constant stories from travelers in Chiang Mai or Hanoi about their recent treks with local tribes, through jungles and uneven terrain. It sounded adventurous and a tad exotic. Trekking through the jungle in Asia with locals? Yes, that sounds like me.
Unfortunately, that last trip was whirlwind and planned to the day. There wasn’t much room for random treks for two- or three-days, no matter how interesting they seemed. I never made it further then those northern cities in Thailand and Vietnam, and forgot all about trekking until I arrived in Myanmar.
Myanmar is still a mysterious and constantly changing spot in Southeast Asia. This is what you should know about the country in 2017!
I received confirmation for my Myanmar e-visa, and booked my flights to the country soon after from a sweaty, windowless hotel room in Hong Kong. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I’m going to be honest and say that Myanmar is the most challenging country I’ve traveled to as of yet, but that doesn’t mean that it still wasn’t all kinds of awesome.
Myanmar was a unique destination in a sea of backpacker trails and countries that have been overrun by tourism time and again. Myanmar was still touristy in areas, but it also offered a glimpse at traditional Burmese culture and untouched scenery that I haven’t witnessed in quite awhile.