You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place. // Miriam Adeney
I’m currently on a train in Scotland, rolling through the lush green countryside. There are deep blue-grey lochs on my left and clean white light filtering through the many windows in my car.
This is my life, or at least it has been for the past 5 years. I somehow find myself in the most beautiful places, usually by myself, or all to myself, if you frame it that way.
It’s my 28th birthday this Saturday. The past years have been a whirlwind of travel memories, some of my strongest friendships, losses, and countless new beginnings.
One of my goals on The Atlas Heart is to break down travel misconceptions or judgments about places and ideas. Perhaps it could be that destination that everyone warns you not to visit because of how dangerous it is, or maybe you yourself had preconceived notions that were proven wrong once you arrived to where you were going.
My aim is to present a variety of different opinions and experiences through the eyes of other travelers. It’s important to hear travel stories from all different perspectives in life, I call it seeing the world through a kaleidoscope lens.
To continue my travel budgeting series around Asia, next up is Laos!
I finally made it to Laos after missing it during my last trip to Asia in 2013. Since I went in the low season this year, I found it harder in some aspects for traveling around and budgeting.
I still managed to meet quite a few new traveler friends, but starting off my time in the country with a week straight of heavy rains in Luang Prabang, put a bit of a damper on my time, literally.
Off season or not, Laos turned out to be on par, or even a little cheaper, than its neighboring Southeast Asian countries of Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Food and drink especially were inexpensive and accommodation prices varied a lot depending on where I was in the country.
This is everything I spent during my 28 days in Laos!
“‘Live each day as if it’s your last’, that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn’t practical. Better by far to simply try and be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your electric typewriter and work hard…something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.” // Emma Morley (Excerpt from One Day)
When I stepped on that flight to Hong Kong last October, I had no idea how much my life would change in the course of eight months.
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Explore the stunning tropical Vietnam island Phú Quốc – a side of Vietnam that most people don’t see. Soak in the sun and enjoy these 6 things to do in Phú Quốc.
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 quite a few islands that tend to be less touristy than the mainland because not that many people know about them. I finally had my own tropical Vietnamese island experience this year on Phú Quốc.
But is Phú Quốc worth visiting?
There are a lot of fun things to do in Phú Quốc, and with white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, the island is Vietnam’s paradise. I would 100% recommend visiting the island to anyone who is exploring Vietnam.
This is why a second visit to Thailand changed my mind about the country.
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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.
Maybe it was because Thailand was built up so much by other people before I went, or maybe it was just because I didn’t jive with the country at the time. Whatever it was, I hardly enjoyed my time in Thailand and wrote it off that Thailand is overrated and that I probably wouldn’t be back anytime soon.
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.
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.
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To continue my travel budgeting series around Asia, next up is Hong Kong!
Hong Kong was actually my first Asian destination for this trip, but I somehow didn’t get to this budgeting post until now. I think it’s because I’ve spent the least amount of time in Hong Kong so far, so it wasn’t as much of a priority.
But, the time has come to talk about travel budgeting for this metropolitan city. Hong Kong is one of the most expensive places in Asia, so it’s good to know what you should budget before you arrive.
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Is Myanmar Expensive? I actually found it to be the least expensive country in Southeast Asia.
To continue my travel budgeting series around Asia, next up is Myanmar!
Myanmar can be a wild card when it comes to budgeting. Although you can research and read blog posts like the one you’re currently reading about what to expect, you can never be too sure when it comes to this country. Prices are constantly changing, as well as the information on Myanmar as a whole.
I wrote up a Myanmar travel blog post on 12 things to know before you go to Myanmar, and it’s a good reference from which to base your travels. I came across so many posts from 2014 and 2015 in my research, and almost all of them were already out of date.