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!

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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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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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Cambodia Roundup

A dubious way to transport a ladder in Phnom Penh

A dubious way to transport a ladder in Phnom Penh

I spent 16 days in Cambodia and an average of $30 per day. I didn’t see too many places, just Banlung, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, and Siem Reap. The buses in southeast Asia were really wearing me down and I was concerned about my budget, so I decided to take it easy. I ended up spending more money than I had wanted to, though, mainly on the delicious western food I found near the beach.

I don’t have a burning desire to return to Cambodia. I found the people there to be a bit too aggressive and untrustworthy. It’s not that I felt unsafe there or like I’d be attacked, but rather that the people I encountered weren’t too concerned about my well-being and were always trying to rip me off. Also, the traffic was terrifying, especially when going for a bike ride.

I suppose if I do ever find myself in Cambodia again I’d like to explore more of the coast. I didn’t get to any of the islands or the smaller towns, and although the beach at Sihanoukville is beautiful, the town completely lacks culture and charm.

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Laos Roundup

A tuk tuk in Luang Prabang

A tuk tuk in Luang Prabang

I spent 21 days in Laos and an average of $25 per day. I have been slowing down considerably, largely due to travel fatigue as well as budget constraints. I only saw four places in Laos: Luang Prabang, Vientiane, the Kong Lor Cave, and the 4,000 Islands. Highlights include learning about the Secret War, taking a cooking class, and simply relaxing and not worrying too much about my next steps.

I had some difficulties in Laos, most notably losing my ATM card on my very first day in the country. Entirely my fault, I simply forgot to take my card out of the machine after withdrawing money. The experience wasn’t too terrible, though, as it gave me an excuse to linger in Luang Prabang longer than I might have otherwise, visiting sights like the Tad Thong waterfalls. I also had my faith restored in Schwab (the only bank you should use if you are traveling abroad) and FedEx, miraculously receiving a new card less than two weeks after I lost it, virtually halfway around the world.

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Vietnam Roundup

Duck noodle soup with bamboo at a street food stall in Hanoi

Duck noodle soup with bamboo at a street food stall in Hanoi

I spent 30 days in Vietnam and spent an average of $30 per day. I saw quite a lot, visiting Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Ninh Binh, Ha Long Bay, Hanoi and Sa Pa. My experience in Vietnam was a bit of a roller coaster. I had perhaps the worst tour experience of my life in Ha Long Bay, followed by one of the best in Sa Pa. I got ripped off more in the past month than I have been throughout the rest of my entire trip, was shocked by the anti-American propaganda at Vietnam (American) War museums,  and struggled with insane motorbike traffic in the cities. On the other hand, the food was incredible, and when I wasn’t being ripped off I met some very kind and warm people. Overall I’m really happy I visited Vietnam, especially because my father is a veteran. I was able to understand the conflict from a more historical context, and more importantly I understand Vietnam the country, not just the war.

There wasn’t too much I missed that I’d like to see, but perhaps if I come back I’ll spend more time in the south. I skipped the Mekong Delta and Phu Quoc, which are both supposed to be beautiful. There’s also a ton more street food that I haven’t tried yet!

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Romania Roundup

A street in Brasov with the Hollywood-like sign in the background

A street in Brasov with the Hollywood-like sign in the background

I spent 15 days in Romania and spent an average of $24 per day, not including the money lost on my car rental fiasco. I visited six places: Timisoara, the Apuseni mountains, Deva, Sibiu and Cisnadioara, Brasov and Bucharest. Overall I was very impressed by the enormously friendly people and pleasant atmosphere in most of the places I went to, although Bucharest was not a very enjoyable city. I also loved eating papanasi!

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