RTW Trip Roundup

My year (plus some) trip over three continents has finished and I’m still processing everything I saw and learned! I visited 20 countries in total. Here’s a list of each country with something I will remember about it, as well as a gallery of photos which hadn’t previously made it onto the blog.

Singapore Roundup

Overlooking the Gardens by the Bay from the top of the Marina Bay mall

Overlooking the Gardens by the Bay from the top of the Marina Bay mall

I had a few days in Singapore before my flight home, and though it wasn’t the cheapest (an average of $50 per day, though I bought some gifts and souvenirs) it was a nice place to finish off my trip. There’s some great food – similar to what I found in Penang – and everything in the city is very deliberately planned out. Furthermore, the public transportation is excellent and relatively cheap. It reminded me a whole lot of midtown, Manhattan. I also managed to meet up with a couple of friends, which was really great!

Malaysia Roundup

The Queen Victoria Clock Tower Memorial in George Town, Penang

The Queen Victoria Clock Tower Memorial in George Town, Penang

I spent only 9 days in Malaysia – all in George Town – and spent an average of $28 per day. As I’m at the end of my year-long trip through three continents, I was quite tired and didn’t do much except eat and ogle street art. It was also really, uncomfortably hot in George Town, so I didn’t have much energy to see tourist spots like Monkey Island or Penang Hill. It was a nice week, though, as I had time to plan for my time at home and also get myself ready for my work and holiday year in Australia, which will commence in May!

I would love to go back to Malaysia one day, particularly to go scuba diving off Borneo or the Perhentian Islands. I have to save something for the future, right?

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A Food Tour of George Town, Penang

Amazing Wan Tan Mee at the Red Garden in George Town, Penang

Amazing Wan Tan Mee at the Red Garden in George Town, Penang

Penang has been dubbed the food paradise of Asia, and by some even the world, and for good reason. There is a hugely diverse selection of cheap and expertly prepared dishes on virtually every street corner in George Town. There are dozens of food courts where you can sit and have fresh juice, noodle and rice dishes, seafood, ice cream, and assorted snacks for about $1 each. Hawkers are generally very friendly and speak enough English to help you make a selection. The Red Garden was one of my favorite food courts, and it’s also where Anthony Bourdain went for delicious Wan Tan Mee (noodle soup with dumplings and pork) on No Reservations.

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Thailand Roundup

Standing in front of the Namuang waterfall on Koh Samui

Standing in front of the Namuang waterfall on Koh Samui

I spent 74 days in Thailand, which beats my previous record from Bolivia! My budget was all over the place, as food, accommodation, and transport were extremely cheap up north and only  moderately cheap down south, but then I added on loads of scuba diving, some Thai language lessons, a cooking class, and renewing nearly my entire wardrobe. Ultimately I panned out at an average of $35 per day including everything, which still isn’t too bad!

I visited 8 places: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai, Sukothai, Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Khao Sok, and Ao Nang. I absolutely fell in love with Chiang Mai and would consider going back to live there semi-permanently in the future. It’s a bit of a cliched expat center, but for good reason!

I also enjoyed checking out some cool street art and seeing the beautiful coral reefs of Koh Phi Phi. All in all, it was a wonderful 10 weeks!

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Food in Chiang Mai

The local Chiang Mai noodle dish - Khao Soi - at a tiny restaurant called Khun Yai at the northern gate

The local Chiang Mai noodle dish – Khao Soi – at a tiny restaurant called Khun Yai at the northern gate

One of the best parts of spending a month in Chiang Mai was exploring all of the different food they had in the city. In addition to the typical pad thai and fried rice dishes, you could find an assortment of awesome curries for about $1.50 a plate. The local speciality is Khao Soi, which is a coconut-based noodle dish. I ate it at least 20 times at different places. Then of course there are the Saturday and Sunday night street markets, where you can try lots of different dishes for fifty cents each and get stuffed in the process.

I also took a cooking class with Zabb-e-Lee, which was an incredible experience. I made a ton of delicious food, including the best fried spring rolls I’ve ever eaten. The recipes were much more accessible than the fancy food I made at my cooking class in Laos and I actually think I could repeat some of it. I just need to buy a wok!

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Christmas in Sihanoukville

For Christmas week I decided to take a break, relax and spend some time at the beach. I didn’t do any sightseeing or hiking, and only took a handful of pictures. Here’s a taste of my holiday! Hope everybody had a great one, too.