After the most amazing time in Thailand we spent the next month traveling completely on our own, without the comfort of the tour group! Luckily, we made some amazing friends on the trip who decided to join us for the rest of our travels! We didn’t get lost once and no trips to the hospital so all in all, I feel it was successful! I know most people say this but I miss it soooo much and almost wish that I had appreciated it even more than I did at the time! Even though that would be impossible! Anyway, here are some photos from my time out there:
Next stop: Vientiane, Laos
The journey from Bangkok to Vientiane Laos involved two trains and some tuk tuk journeys. First was the 12 hour sleeper train from Bangkok to Nong Khai. We were actually very lucky because our sleeper train was clean and comfortably but we have heard of stories from friends of sleeper trains being full of cockroaches! From Nong Khai we took a small local train to Thanaleng, Laos. From here we crossed the border into Laos, visa’s were sorted on arrival, and we took some tuk tuk’s to the centre of Vientiane and then to our local hostel.
Bangkok – Nong Khai sleeper train.
One of the first places we visited was the Ho Phra Kao Museum, holding a lot of Laos art. The temple we visited is adjacent to the Presidential Palace and used to serve as a private temple. Although I had seen MANY temples by this stage, this was one of the most beautifully preserved temples…despite it being the least decorated in gold.
Lane Xang Avenue and Patouxai
(Laos adaotion of France’s Champs-Élysées and Arc de triomphe, having been a former french colony)
BBQ Time! Amazing how you can eat like a Queen for barely anything! I was meant to lose weight traveling but with all this amazing food, that didn’t happen….
Next Stop: Vang Vieng, Laos
We stayed in a lovely hotel along the river and of course, the only thing to do when in Vang Vieng was tubing! This consists of being on a rubber dingy, floating down the river, ropes thrown to you from various bars to pull you in and getting very drunk! Didn’t have a water proof camera so no snaps from my tubing experience but it was something everyone should try!
View from Popular View Guest House
The best thing about this was not only was it a cheap and clean guest house to stay in but you could tube it all the way from the start point all the way back down to the guest house. Good side – float meerily down the river. Bad side – you have to make it back before 6pm to return to the tubes. Plenty of time? Well, not when it takes you about 2 hours from one bar to the next when they’re right next to each other! The bars were amazing with water-slides to mud fights and mud volleyball/tug of war! Great fun! Definitely advise anyone to have a go!
Next Stop: Hanoi, Vietnam
Without a doubt is one of my favourite places in the world, let alone my travels. For a country ravaged by so many wars it maintains it’s charm and beauty. Of course Vietnam is renowned for the many thousands of mopeds that fill the streets! Photos don’t even capture the scale of just how many there are! Crossing the road can be dangerous and the best thing is to look confident and just make a break for it! They tend to weave round you anyway… so it all worked out in the end!
Just ‘a few’ mopeds, there were many more behind this lot!
Little Hanoi Hotel
If you stay anywhere in Hanoi, you must check this place out. Run by the most kind and friendly family and really go out their way to make sure you feel comfortable and happy. Clean, all en-suite facilities too! Bargain for what we paid as well!
(Built by the Cantonese community in Vietnam in 1900)
Sewer Tunnels prisoners climbed through to escape, Hao Lao Prison 1951
Of the 16 political prisons who creeped through the sewer door, 5 succeeded in joining the resistance base to continue the struggle.
Hoan Kiem Lake, Central Hanoi
Fanny’s Ice cream
If you get a chance to go to Vietnam, Fanny’s ice cream is everywhere! Their main store is located near the lake in Hanoi. It is the most delicious ice-cream parlour! Everyone we knew who had spent time in Vietnam recommended it and it lived up to it’s expectations. My diet in Vietnam consisted a lot of this ice-cream!
Centre of Hanoi
I presume this was meant to be their version of a roundabout. You could spend hours here looking down and watching the mopeds weave their way around each other!
Flower market, Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Note: You can’t walk through this grassy area unless it is a national holiday. We did get chased off by an angry security guard… I felt like a naughty child!
Next Stop: Ha Long Bay
Of course if you spend time in Vietnam, you cannot go without doing the boat trip to and around Ha Long Bay! Whilst it is something you don’t need to do more than once, it is definitely worth doing! Amazing to discover the little villages that live in between the limestone outcrops all year round, with schools and markets! We spent some time kayaking and looking around the markets! Our boat was called “Dragons Junk”… so random! Anyway here are a few shots:
Fish market in the ocean!
Next Stop: Saigon, Vietnam
Unfortunately as we only had four weeks to do four countries, we couldn’t go to all the places in between the two cities.. such as Hue, Vinh and Hoi An! However, it means another excuse to go back! Therefore we made our way to the capital, Saigon (aka. Ho Chi Minh City):
Post Office, Saigon
We also spent a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, learning about the impact the Vietnam War had in Cu Chi. It was amazing to see the incredibly clever tunnel system used by the Cu Chi people to survive the war, below is a photo of one of the holes used by the Cu Chi snipers to defend their land from the American soldiers.
Cu Chi Tunnels
We also spent time exploring the Mekong Delta taking in the local scenery. We took a boat ride from My Tho on a small motor boat along Dragon Island, Unicorn Island, Pheonix Island and Turtle Island.
Along the Mekong Delta
We were told by our guide that many of the original Saigon people now live in the shanty huts along side the river, having been pushed out during the war and the rich.
Pure honey bee-keeping farm, Unicorn Island
Me tasting the amazing honey-tea!
I’d obviously given up on caring about my looks here!
Next Stop: Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Cambodia
Due to time constraints we had to make a whistle stop tour of Cambodia! Firstly arriving in Phnom Penh, Cambodia after a 6 hour bus ride from Saigon. However, the main reason I wanted to come to Cambodia was to explore the beautiful Angkor Wat Temples! I took over 600 photos so it was tough to whittle it down to only a few. Although I had seen so many temples in Thailand so far, they were completely different to the ones in Siem Reap. The Angkor were just stunning, many still intact despite being centuries old! We got up early for the sunrise at 4.30am and spent a total of 6 hours climbing/walking through the temples. The area is so huge that it requires a tuk tuk from one site to the other! Take a look and see what you make of it yourself:
Next Stop: Langkawi, Malaysia
We decided to treat ourselves and have another beach week, we just missed Koh Phangan too much! Luckily, Malaysia has a cluster of islands and it really is living a life of luxury here. We spent only a few nights in Langkawi, more than enough because there isn’t an awful lot to do apart from lie on a beach, eat and the various water sports! However, the views did not disappoint…
Views from Penang Centai, Langkawi
Lovely restaurant close to our resort, so yummy! I couldn’t resist taking a photo to savour the moment!
Last Stop: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
It actually breaks my heart to say that this was my last stop on my travels…well except from HK, last of my back-packing holiday anyway! There is so much to explore here, so many shopping malls which is amazing if you had lots of money! Unfortunately funds were running low but it still didn’t stop us window-shopping! It felt a little like Hong Kong with clean, easy public transport all with air-con! LRT and the Monorail was my new favourite best friend! Anyway, most of our time here was spent looking around the local markets, shopping malls, tourist sites and eating of course! Here are a few snaps of my time there:
Central Market, KL
China-town Market, KL
Times Square Shopping Mall, KL
Lake Gardens, KL
View from Petronas Towers, KL
Petronas Towers, KL
So that concludes my travels around South East Asia! It’s actually so depressing looking back over these photos, I honestly had the most amazing time of my life! I hope that it isn’t too long before I go back and get to explore even more! I hope you enjoyed the photos and hope that you too get a chance to go or if you’ve been, brought some memories back on your own!
Although traveling doesn’t quite stop here… haha, seeing as we’re in Hong Kong right now. Watch this space!