A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about highlights

South East Asia Summary and Highlights

A round up of our SE Asian adventure in the same format as our South American summary


View South East Asia on Roaming Rolts's travel map.

Number of days in South East Asia: 88 days

Countries visited:

Thailand: 12 + 17 = 29 days
Laos: 8 days
Vietnam: 24 days
Cambodia: 5 days
Malaysia: 7 + (Sabah: 5 days) + 2 + 2 = 16 days
Brunei: 2 days
Singapore: 2 + 2 = 4 days

Accommodation:
45 different accommodations
+1 night bus (after that we decided never again! Not in Vietnam at least where the speed limit was 60kph most of the time, 80kph at best and flights were less than £30.)
+2 night trains

We changed accommodation within the same town on 3 occasions:

Luang Prabang was booked up for the second night.
Saigon we had booked two nights originally but the guesthouse was not particularly clean and had a bug problem so we did not extend our stay there.
Kuala Lumpur's B&B hostel got a booking for a school party therefore double booked our room and so we had to find a hotel for one night before moving closer to the train station for the second night where it was cheaper and more convenient for our early start to the airport for Australia.

48 different places over 88 nights gives us an average stay of 1.8 nights at each place, compared to 1.7 nights in South America; however we moved around a lot more in Asia, as South America’s average included changing three times in the delightful town of Calama, 3 nights camping on the Inca Trail and 9 nights travelling. If you look at the average for staying in a hotel or guesthouse only, South America’s average is 2.25 nights and Asia is 1.96 nights. Regardless of which way you calculate it, it is safe to say we moved around an awful lot! It felt as though we moved a lot more in Asia, as we rarely spent more than two nights in the same hotel.

Our longest stay for the whole time was 4 nights in Krabi over Christmas. We managed 3 nights on Phu Quoc island in Vietnam and 3 nights in Hanoi. I think it's fair to say we have literally not stopped moving for 3 months.

We rejected one accommodation and did a midnight dash (at 11pm) to another hotel in Siem Reap, where the hotel was expecting Chris to return with a hooker, when he booked the room with absolutely no belongings. The hotel we left was filthy with gunge and slime in the bathroom and the air conditioning did not work in the stifling 40 degree heat of Cambodia. That and the owner was pretty rude towards me for being a fussy English woman, with a boyfriend (husband) who just goes along with whatever I tell him. Marriage must be a strange affair if this is not the case in Cambodia!

Top 3 Accommodation

This is a lot more difficult to decide for South East Asia as everything was so cheap, we really did not slum it. We did not stay in any dorm rooms, mainly double rooms, occasionally twin and until we got to Malaysia, we did not even have to entertain the notion of sharing our bathroom.
The best country for accommodation is Vietnam, where £18 will get you a very nice 3/4 star modern western style double room with buffet breakfast. Excluding Singapore, which is just generally a lot more expensive, Malaysia was least value for money, with rooms being very basic and bathrooms being a wet room the size of a closet. Turns out our cupboard under the stairs is more than big enough for a bathroom, when I had previously thought it too small to be a downstairs toilet. North Thailand was probably the cheapest and best value for money. We struggled to spend much more than £10 for a cute little bungalow. We also stayed in the most authentic rooms here, without needing to lower expectations in comfort.

Anyway.... I digress.

Chiang Mai, Thailand - GAP's House: lovely traditional large room with lovely wooden furniture and a good breakfast. The hotel was set in the grounds of a garden, which was more like a jungle.
Krabi, Thailand - Cozy Place: this was like a miniature holiday resort hotel with the 20 or so rooms all overlooking the pool. The bed and room were massive, the balcony was a good size, breakfast was good competition for a Brazilian breakfast and Barrel dog lived there! This dog was the roundest fat dog we had ever seen!
Phu Quoc, Vietnam - Lan Anh Resort: these were cute little bungalows around a pool and garden with a lovely outside bathroom behind your room. The breakfast was pretty good too.

We stayed at the Radisson in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, which goes without saying that that was our nicest hotel, but we paid nearly £50 a night for that, and although you couldn't get anything at all for less than £40 a night in BSB, I'm sure if we had spent £50 a night in Vietnam or North Thailand we could have potentially got something even nicer. The Sheraton in Sandakan comes a very close second in the international chain hotels category.

Worst Accommodation

I would say we generally had better luck with accommodation in South East Asia, probably due to the fact there was a lot of competition and more options for each budget in each town. Also in South America, our budget although considerably more per night, was normally the minimum amount you would have to pay to put a roof over your head for the night. Anyway, the worst three:

The aforementioned dirty accommodation in Siem Reap (although can that count if we didn't manage to stay more than a couple of hours here?)
Saigon - the room with the bugs and unwashed blankets
Chiang Khong, Thailand - had a broken toilet and so faeces leaked out over the bathroom floor. Nice.

Travelling Times

We had a lot more land to cover on this section of the trip, but perhaps cheated by flying through most of Vietnam, as a 12 hour bus or train journey costed £25 for the one hour fight. Numbers in brackets are times from South America to show a comparison.

Time spent on buses: 90.75 hours (141.5)
Time spent on trains: 25 hours
Time spent on flights (excluding connection times): 44.75 hours (37)
Time spent on ferries: 33.5 hours (13.5)
Total time travelling: 194 hours/ 8 days and 2 hours (192/8 days)

Stuff Stolen

$4 additional fees at the Cambodian border. $2 of that was for the official medical check.......the other $2 were because I have your passport and because I can.

Probably completely ripped off at various other times, but actual thefts are zero! Yay! (Compared to three in South America.)

Highlights

So again I will try to do this as a top three for each country. We have an incredibly long list of highlights to choose from though.

Thailand

IMG_1498.jpg
The Royal Palace, Bangkok

Bangkok - Exploring the capital city of Bangkok, which we both absolutely loved. Some of our favourites were the unmissable Royal Palace, a long tail boat tour around floating villages on the Thonburi canals, Wat Arun lit up by night, exploring the locals’ alleys around the river by our first accommodation and enjoying cocktails at the Sky Bar by night.
Kanchanaburi – Riding Death Railway over the River Quai bridge and a day trip to the picturesque Erawan Waterfalls
Chiang Mai – Cooking class and the elephant conservation park, where we washed the elephants

Thai Beaches
Ah I’m cheating already….

IMG_4527.jpg
Sunset at Khao Lak

Khao Lak – The best snokelling trip we went on was to the islands of Koh Similan
Krabi – Kayaking around the mangroves, karsts and caves
Koh Jum – Actually stopping to relax on this deserted rustic beach island. There is nothing to do, which was just what we needed!

Laos

IMG_2391.jpg
Mountain scenery between Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng

Slow boat along the Mekong from the border to Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang – The food! Our own private buffet barbeque and taking a rowing boat across the river to a hidden bamboo restaurant in the trees
Vang Vieng – tubing along the river and exploring the hidden caves, which included walking through the pitch black empty caves in water up to your chest.

Vietnam

IMG_2801.jpg
Hanoi by night

Hanoi - Exploring the narrow streets of the old quarter on foot and by cyclo before enjoying a coffee overlooking the chaotic rush hour traffic in the square below and then enjoying the corner bars known as ‘bia hoi’.
Hoi An – Wandering the streets of the old quarter, by day and lit up with colourful lanterns by night before stopping for a relaxing cup of tea and cookies in a deaf tea house.

IMG_3309.jpg
Children in a minority village

Kon Tum – Tour in French by moped of the minority villages and all the interesting stories he shared with us.

IMG_3754.jpg
Locals returning from a fishing trip at sunset on Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc Island – Relaxing on the beaches and exploring the island by moped before taking a boat out for a snorkelling trip.

Cambodia

IMG_3927.jpg
Former school, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Phnom Penh – Former S-21 prison, now home to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Cocktails at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club
Cheoung Ek - The Killing Fields

IMG_4008.jpg
Temples at Angkor

Siem Reap – Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples

Malaysia

IMG_4704.jpg
La maison bleue, Georgetown

Langkawi - Walking up the Telega Tujuh Waterfalls and sliding down the rocks between the Seven Pools
Georgetown - Wandering the streets of the UNESCO centre and admiring the street art, traditional Malay shop houses, Peranakan mansion house and Cheong Fatt mansion house (La maison bleue) before heading to Little India for a traditional banana leaf curry.
Ipoh – Visiting the strangely placed Kellie’s Castle, which does not exactly match its surroundings.

Borneo – Sabah

IMG_5333.jpg
Orang-utan!

Sandakan – Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre and Rainforest Discovery Centre and its canopy walkway
Sandakan - Afternoon tea in the traditional English tea house overlooking the bay
Kota Kinabalu - Scuba diving off the coast of Gaya Island

Brunei

IMG_4983.jpg
Kampung Ayer Water Village

Bandar Seri Begawan - Royal Regalia museum, the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque lit up at night and the boat trip with self-assigned tour guide for a driver along the river to find the proboscis monkeys.
Tasek Lama Park – Walking the trails along tarmac and climbing root covered steep muddy hills before watching the monkeys cool off in the stream just outside the park
Kampung Ayer – starting off in the visitor centre, which goes into more detail about the history of the villages before meandering through the jetties, which link this water village together

Singapore

IMG_6823.jpg
Gardens by the Bay

Singapore zoo and night safari
Gardens by the Bay Light Show before enjoying cocktails in the bar atop one of these trees
Sentosa Island - Waterslides at Adventure Cove and snorkelling through the tropical fish tank, taking the chair lift up the hill in order to toboggan back down and the S.E.A. Aquarium.

Overall, our favourite country was Thailand, with Vietnam being a close second. In both countries, they enjoy a good haggle; however this seemed to be quite light hearted and more of a game in Thailand, whereas in Vietnam, you always wondered how much you were going to have be ripped off. You never felt like you were winning or at the very least breaking even in Vietnam.

We absolutely loved our adventures and have had the most amazing six months of our lives, but my goodness, by the end of it, were we tired! We found it incredibly tiring for the last couple of weeks to pack up and change accommodation again; however this was probably partly because we knew we were nearing the end of our trip. Six months was a decent amount of time. If we had more time, we would have loved to have better explored Australia; but where do you stop?

Last post will be a short summary of our fortnight in Australia. I decided to do it separately to the Asia summary, as it was such a contrast.

Posted by Roaming Rolts 10:37 Tagged beaches singapore cambodia thailand malaysia vietnam laos borneo highlights asia sabah brunei south_east_asia summary Comments (0)

South American Highlights and Summary

A quick round up of our amazing trip to South America, before we start on South East Asia.


View South America 2013 on Roaming Rolts's travel map.

Number of days in South America:81

Countries Visited:
Peru: 21 days
Bolivia: 11 days
Chile: 13 days
Paraguay: 3 days
Brazil: 20 days
Uruguay: 4 days
Argentina: 9 days

Accommodation
34 different accommodations
+2 revisits
+3 nights camping (Inca Trail)
+7 night buses
+1 airport (São Paulo)
+1 night flight

48 different places gives an average stay of 1.7 nights.

Most frequent change: 7 nights, 7 different accommodations when
travelling from Chile - Paraguay - Iguassu Falls

Top 3 Accommodation
1. Apartment in Rio de Janeiro - just generally good, reasonably
priced accommodation.
2. Hostel in Foz Do Iguazu - good room, really helpful, friendly owner
and the best breakfast we had all trip.
3. Pousada in Paraty - nice room, 2 gorgeous friendly cats, lovely
outdoor courtyard with hamocks and swinging bench.

(Turns out they were all in Brazil, yet one of our worst was Alameda
Park Hotel in São Paulo, unless the payment for that never goes
through....The bed was literally solid and the whole place was
incredibly dated.)

Worst Accommodation
1. Calama, Chile - really skanky thread bare sheets, paper thin walls
and disgusting shared bathrooms. Seemed to just be lone men staying
there.
2. Uyuni Salt flats hostel - no electric, no heating (even though it
drops below zero at night), no showers, no hot water. Dorm room for 6.
We didn't get a choice on this one.

In our whole time in South America, we accidently booked bunk beds for
the twin room once (hehe!) And had to share a dorm room only twice. We
had ensuite the rest of the time on all but 2 other occasions.

Travelling Times

Time spent on buses: 141.5 hours
Time spent on flights (excluding connection times): 37 hours
Time spent on ferries: 13.5 hours

Total time travelling: 192 hours (8 days)

Stuff stolen

Robbed 3 times :-( + 1 hotel dishonestly taking $75

3 kindles
2 rucksacks
2 tablets
2 cameras
2 iPods
2 driver's licences
2 passports (amazingly handed in!)
1 mobile phone
Various amounts of various different currencies
Various tops

Highlights

We started this list on paper and it almost became a list of everything we did, so we've tried to condense it to our top 3 choices for each country.

Peru
The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu were a given for Peru, and so cheated by coming up with three more. (And even then we've got plenty more to add.)

Huacachina - Sand buggies and running down sand dunes
Lake Titicaca - Uros floating islands and Isla del Sol (I know this is Bolivia, but was more to save on our list!)
Cusco - Saqsaywaman Inca ruins and pony trek

Bolivia
La Paz - Mountain biking down death road and pedestrian day.
Sucre - Dinosaur prints park
Uyuni - 3 day excursion to the Uyuni Salt Flats

Chile
Iquique - Ghost towns of Humberstone and Santa Laura
Chiquimata - Copper mine tour
Santiago - Bella Vista Patio - restaurants and quirky little shops in a hidden courtyard.

Paraguay
Asunción - Train museum
Asunción - Regenerated neighbourhood by night

Puerto Iguassu - Argentina
Iguassu Falls and wildlife
Speedboat trip through the waterfalls

Foz Do Iguazu - Brazil
Iguassu Falls - We preferred the Brazilian side as you could see all the falls and get a greater impression as to their size and magnitude.
Bird park - good collection of toucans.
Churrascarrías - Eat as much as you like for about £8, which included about 15 different types of meat served to you from skewers.

Brazil
Paraty - Colonial coastal town with narrow cobbled streets and cute buildings plus relaxing boat trip to surrounding islands and beaches.
Ilha Grande - Car-less beach island on the way to Rio de Janeiro with white sand beaches (Lopez Mendes), jungle walk and colourfully lit beach bars by night.
Rio de Janeiro - Sugar Loaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer and favela tour around the largest favela Rocinha.

Uruguay
Montevideo - Wandering around the town and the best steak ever from the barbeque market.
Colonia de Sacremernto - Colonial port town
Colonia - Bike ride along the coast to the former bullring and a train museum, stopping at picturesque and deserted white sand beaches.

Argentina
Buenos Aires - Tango show and dinner - one of the highlights of our trip.
Buenos Aires - bi-century museum showing Argentina's history since 1810 to the present day and the MALBA contemporary art gallery.
San Antonio de Areco and Tigre - Excursion into Las Pampas and the Paraná Delta.

Overall our favourite country was Peru, as we felt this offered the greatest variety of attractions and you could easily spend a fortnight to 3 weeks visiting here as a normal holiday and would have the best experiences.

We thought Brazil was a very close second; however felt this was less culturally different to a lot of other more western cities. If you were to spend a week in Buenos Aires, you must add on an extra 3-4 days and take the boat to Uruguay to visit Montevideo and Colonia as they are such a contrast to the massive capital of Argentina.

Now for 26 hours flying on 4 different flights across a 10 hour time zone and 4 days to South East Asia to start the next part of our big adventure. Bangkok here we come!

Posted by Roaming Rolts 19:47 Archived in Argentina Tagged waterfalls boats rain travel bus chile plane highlights border bolivia isla_del_sol summary pedestrian_day itaipu Comments (4)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]