Now that our time in South East Asia is over, we’ve been reflecting back. Over a whisky (or 5), we worked out our SE Asia Top 10.
1. Making Friends in Vietnam
I’ve heard so many people say that the people in Vietnam lack the warmth of their neighbouring countries. I’m not sure if we were just lucky, but we found Vietnamese people to be overtly friendly, particularly in the south of the country.
From people we met drinking in the street, to student tour guides, we felt very welcomed and have come away from Vietnam with more friends than when we arrived.
2. Amazing Food in Hoi An
Another pick from Vietnam. We hadn’t done any research on the food in Hoi An and were pleasantly surprised by the tasty, unique dishes here and lack of over pricing.
Of course, Vietnamese food as a whole is amazing, but Hoi An is another step above. See Leckie’s Hoi An food guide for more on this.
3. Phra Nang Beach
Thailand had no shortage of beautiful beaches, and coming from Queensland I like to think myself quite the beach connoisseur, but Phra Nang really is something special.
We were more than happy to spend a week doing not much more than floating around in Phra Nang’s clear waters and snacking on BBQ corn.
4. Falling in Love With Bangkok
Present turmoil aside, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed passing through Bangkok several times and have been hatching plans on how we could make it a semi permanent residence.
5. Angkor & Siem Reap
We’ve now seen Angkor, Bagan and My Son. They’re all stunning, but the reason Angkor had made this list is that we loved the whole area.
From a tuk tuk ride through the jungle surrounded by deafening cicadas, to 50c beer, to the friendly locals in town and even the seedier tone to Siem Reap – we loved it all. We stayed 3 days, but could easily have made it longer.
6. Riding E-Bikes in Bagan
Fairly new to Bagan is e-bike rental. The 40km per hour, mobility scooter-esque bicycles allow you to explore areas no tour bus can reach. This meant that for large parts of this day we were completely alone, surrounded by ancient temples, exploring in the dark with our torches. Very, very cool.
7. Inle Lake Cigars
Yes, Inle Lake is touristy, but on comparison to neighbouring countries there are still relatively few people there. Around Inle Lake are many craft shops and cigar makers. These sweet cigars contain ingredients such as aniseed and honey and are hand rolled. If you but at the ‘factory’ then they are much more expensive than in the market, but it will still hardly break the bank.
We enjoyed many a lazy afternoon with a cold beer and a sweet Inle cigar.
8. Jamrock Bar, Railay
We didn’t spend nearly enough time here due to sickness, but had an amazing time nonetheless. Sam, the Thai rasta who runs this place is so friendly, even shouting us shots from his own bar.
As the name suggests, there’s a fair amount of reggae being played, but Sam’s happy for patrons to plug in their own iPods when it’s quiet. It’s always quiet.
9. Truly Off The Beaten Track Experiences
We were so lucky on several occasions in Myanmar to visit places that no tourist had ever been before. From seeing newly discovered rock carvings, to requiring Karen rebel escort, to barefoot caving – it was such an adventure and a really, truly unique experience.
10. Spiritual God Festival
The word ‘festival’ makes this sound a lot larger than it is. In reality, it was a smallish group of people drinking, smoking and making offerings to their spiritual Gods for 3 days straight.
Our favourite bits included a man in makeup dancing with a bottle of whisky on his head, eyes rolling back and seeing a woman donate. The donation was slapped to the crotch of the makeup wearing man, who then slapped the woman in the forehead with it.
This is something we would never have seen without local knowledge and again, we feel so lucky to have seen it.
There were so many great moments in our SE Asia trip, but these are our Top 10.