Aug 13: Six of us arrived all separately from Nepal and the UK. During our stay in Bangkok we decided to visit the infamous tourist trap called Patpong for its “nightlife”. A very memorable night. #unforgettable
Aug 15: Recreating the iconic Britney MTV VMA moment. Sorry snake, for selfishly using you as a photo op. My human greed got the best of me.
Aug 15: Departed for Chiang Mai on a sleeper train in the evening. The 12 hour journey ended up taking around 15 hours. I would definitely recommend the overnight train. It was around £20 for one way A/C sleeper compartment. I sleep through anything so I had no problem. Us… “socialising” haha! Celebrating Jason’s budday on the train.
Aug 17: Had a funtastic day out going to the waterfall, zip lining, rafting and quadbiking. We thought we were pretty much hidden, and yes that’s us trying to do the snake pose.
Aug 17: The most unattractive photo of us… rafting in the rivers outside of Chiang Mai. Such a fun day.
Aug 18: Catching an early morning flight from Chiang Mai to Phuket – we were amazed by such views.
Aug 18: Lack of sleep… but still going strong and that’s all six of us.
Aug 18: Meeting the loveliest Thai Nepali dai’s in Phuket. The place also has the largest Nepali population comprising of Thai Nepalis, Burmese Nepali and Nepalis. Yadav Dai aka MR RAI and Tara dai were wonderful hosts. Taken at the Big Buddha (Buddha is in the background). This attraction is somewhat similar to Lantau Island of Hong Kong.
Aug 18: Of course no trip to the South East is complete without getting a custom tailored suit. Getting measured at BEST Suits, owned by Mr Rai in Phuket Town. They’re wonderful.
Aug 19: Arriving in Phi Phi Island was breathtaking. It was also the place where we spent a little extra and stayed at a very nice resort. This was at the beach in front of the resort and I kid you not, it was even more beautiful there… Our biggest regret? Not staying an extra night.
Aug 19: Maya Bay. It was also the filming location of the Leonardo Dicaprio starrer The Beach. I just wanted to be there forever…
Aug 19: A boat trip to and around Maya Bay… snorkelling and all sorts. Off I go.
Aug 20: After a tiring ferry, bus, ferry journey from Phi Phi Island we made it to Koh Pha Ngan – home of the FULL MOON PARTY. And why waste an evening? This was Pre and I at the Jungle Party! Yes, it takes place in a jungle and you get a bucket of drinks with your ticket. It’s pretty cool.
Aug 21: There was no holding back, we went all the way with our full moon fashion!
Aug 21: The world famous Full Moon Party at Haad Rin beach. After a few days at Haad Rin, I wanted out. It was loud and just alcohol. But I believe it was more “in our face” as we were at the heart of the party.
Aug 23: A day trip to Koh Nang Yuan from Koh Pha Ngan. The Lomprayah speed boat took us to this island and Koh Tao, very popular for snorkelling and scuba diving. It’s also a visual treat and worth the money. Swimming and seeing the fishes so close was definitely a very new experience. It’s a different world below.
Aug 25: Catching the 5.40AM local train from Bangkok to Aranya Prathet (near the Cambodian border). The train only has one seating class, it takes around six hours but feels like a mini-lifetime but the great thing is it’s only 50-60 Baht. That is just over £1.
Aug 27: Spent the day at the Angkor Archaeological Park in Cambodia. That behind me is the Angkor Wat, the largest temple complex in the world. There are other beautiful historic sites in the same location including the Angkor Thom and the tomb where Angelina Jolie starrer Lara Croft Tomb Raider was filmed.
Aug 30: After spending a night in Hanoi, capital city of Vietnam, we took a cruise to see the Halong Bay… a UNESCO world heritage site. What surrounded us were beautiful islets formed many thousands of years ago. Activities included kayaking, trip to the Amazing cave, cooking class, squid fishing and more.
Aug 30: As we exited the Amazing Cave, one of the largest in Vietnam… this was the sight that greeted us. A beautiful downpour across what we could see of the majestic Halong Bay
Sept 2: Back in Thailand – In Pattaya! It wasn’t an amazing place but the hotel we stayed at, Hard Rock was pretty cool so I guess that was what got me excited.
Sept 2: Our group travel officially came to an end on the 3rd Sept. We decided to go off with a bang by visiting Pattaya, a notorious area full of girlie bars, massage parlours and all sorts of things you do not want to remember. The Alcazar Cabaret show was amazingly entertaining. More on that later.
Sept 3: After saying goodbye to the final travbuddy, I started by solo journey by staying at the WE Bangkok hostel. The next few days consisted of little, just reading, walking, exploring and getting a few paperwork done. Felt very local.
Sept 9: I travelled back up to Chiang Mai for my week at the Elephant Nature Park. The park was home to over 30 elephants that had been injured or suffered from logging and the tourist trade. The greed to have the elephants trained for tourist shows led the mahouts to train them using inhumane methods. Several elephants were fully blind to partially blind due to the mahouts poking the eyes of the elephants to get them to do things… there was a female elephant with a dislocated hip due hours of forced breeding. A place where I learned a lot…
Sept 12: During my week long volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park, we were involved in all sorts of tasks from cutting corn, feeding elephants, cleaning poop to painting the rooms at a monastery at a nearby village. An experience that I will never forget, met wonderful people.
Sept 13: We were also taken to a school nearby where we said Hello to the children. This was Wei and he loved colouring. The children loved to “play-fight”, I was pretty tired after lifting everyone up and pretending to make them superman.
Sept 17: After a day in Yangon, capital city of Myanmar (Burma), I headed towards Bagan. This was when the plane flew over Irrawaddy River.
Sept 17: Lex in Myanmar… Bagan is a beautiful place. The place where I felt the most disconnected from life but connected to the land.
Sept 20: Arriving in London. All in one piece and without losing anything. Importantly, in good health.
“It was amazing”
That’s my common reply to those that ask me about my summer trip to South East Asia. Saying those three words makes me feel guilty. I know for a fact that the trip was so much more than ‘amazing’ but in between all the rush and the few minutes that I have with the other person, I let the trip be confirmed as just ‘amazing’.
If we had time then I probably would take an hour or so to go in full details and explain and share the feelings that I had at that moment. I was excited, nervous, scared, happy, disappointed, impressed and sad but the most important thing, I was there. My mind for once was pretty much there. It did not feel occupied by the future or the happenings of the past. I was living.
Countries: Thailand. Cambodia. Vietnam. Myanmar
Date: 13 August – 20 September
Via: Dubai – Emirates Airline
Accommodation: Nice hostels. Okay hostels. Amazing hotels. Okay hotels. Room without window.
Highlight: Volunteering at ENP, Phi Phi Island and Bagan (Myanmar)
Not a fan of: Yangon, capital city of Myanmar…
Most Hummed Song: Buddha Was Born in Nepal by Dhiraj Rai and “Im feeling soo EXOTICCC” by Priyanka Chopra
Cost: Still counting… will be working for a while.
Last Words: Absolutely no regrets.
PS. I will write more about the journey soon and share photos too. If you have any quick questions about the countries that I visited then I’m just a mail away.