As some of you might know I spent last month and a week travelling the Southeast Asia. I was in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. I used aeroplanes, trains, buses, boats, motorbikes, bicycles and my own feet as transportation and slept in 28 different places (hostels, guesthouses, couches of fellow couchsurfers and hammocks). I rode a motorbike on one of the best roads I’ve ever been to and got lost in a cave. I made a lot of new friends and got to know the old ones better. It was the best trip I’ve ever been on and I am glad I got the chance to do it.
Some things surprised me about Southeast Asia. I had really different notion about it. I expected to be less touristic and generally exotic place to be. I expected to be talking mostly to locals and occasionally run into foreigners. But it was high season and most of places I visited was full of foreigners. And it was not a bad thing. Most of people I met there were backpackers. openminded and friendly. After all if you decide to take your backpack and travel around Asia for next 3-4 months you have similar mindset as me. Yes, as I realised later,the length of my trip – one month and a week was actually really short. Most of people travel for “indefinite time” or “until money run out”. I met a guy who wants to travel the world in 1 year – including Asia, South America and Europe.
Have you ever been in a bar where it’s really easy to start conversation to the table next to you? Well, that’s how it felt throughout my whole trip. I am not really extroverted person but I hadn’t had problems with making friends any place I went. That’s why I think it is important to travel at least sometime alone or in a small group of friends. Otherwise you will miss on all of this. And you can meet some amazing characters. As you can imagine, people who are travelling for a few months have some amazing stories to tell. Funny thing is that as you travel you run into random people you already met before. In Thailand I randomly met on street Americans I have drank with 2 weeks ago in Laos – 800 kms away. I also met one Scottish guy three times in different places in Laos and Thailand. I guess it indeed is a small world.
During the day I was trying to travel off the beaten track as much as I could. It is more difficult to dodge the crowds of tourist and it let me many times to some funny (and a bit dangerous) situations. But in the end I have a story I will remember for the rest of the life. There is another upside to this. If you stay out of the tourist tracks, you get to meet more locals. Cambodians and Lao people are the most welcoming and friendly nationalities I have ever met. They are always in a good mood even though they are covering 12 hour shifts in hotels. Of course, there are exceptions. In tourist infested places like Vang Vieng or Don Dhet the atmosphere changes. Some of the tourist can behave very insensitively and locals hate the guts out of them. I entered Laos in Don Dhet and if I would have to make opinion just based on this place it would be very different.
The nature in Southeast Asia is ruled by Mekong, the biggest river I have seen in my life. I was already in Vietnam in Mekong delta and it was beautiful. Now I was tracking the river upstream through Cambodia and Laos. The river goes through mountains and valleys. It creates beautiful views and even more beautiful waterfalls.
There is much more I wanna write about my trip and I will continue in other articles. It’s sad I can’t cover everything. I even started a travel book during my travels (Guys have travel books and girls have diaries, ok?). I will do my best to put together some of the best stuff. Stay tuned for next article!