What I ate in South East Asia; The Good, the Bad and The Ugly

THE GOOD

I never felt healthier than while traveling through Indochina. Every meal was colorful, fresh, and delicious. I sampled every local deliciously and tried many dishes I would have never picked in the states. My favorite temptation throughout South East Asia were freshly juiced drinks. I had one at every meal. I tried watermelon juice in every country and for most breakfasts. The best was at a tiny cafe in Luang Prabang, Laos.

JUICES

THE BAD

Personally some of the worst foods I ate were fish dishes. However many of my tour mates loved these meals. I do not like fish. I did try everything. But I did not enjoy any of them. Plus the way fish was presented (with its eyes and scales) was not appetizing.

THE UGLY

In Indochina you have to try the weird stuff. Sometimes you just need to close your eyes and eat. I sampled a couple of weird delicacies that turned out not bad! I tried several different fried bugs in Thailand. They were crunchy and had weird textures, but for the most part tasted like popcorn. I also sampled rat in Laos. Honestly if I didn’t know it was rat I would have just that it was BBQ beef skewers. Snake whiskey was the weirdest thing I tried that I actually enjoyed! I did a shot once in Laos and again in Vietnam. It tastes like tequila.

FOOD PORN PHOTOS

RECOMMENDATIONS

You have to take a cooking class in Thailand. I learned tricks that I implement today at home. The class took me through the Asia markets. It taught me how to shop for ripe vegetables, eggs and the perfect meats. I learned how to make Pad Thai, Pumpkin Curry and Sticky Rice. I absolutely loved learning to cook in Chiang Mai.

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT MY TRIP THROUGH SOUTH EAST ASIA? CHECK OUT:

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Review of the Big IndoChina Adventure with Contiki

I initially chose to go to South East Asia because I wanted to travel to a tropical location for my winter holiday. Other then wanting to catch some rays, I had no other aspirations. But I now have a new love and appreciation for asian culture and solo travel.

This trip introduced me to a completely foreign culture, new (amazing) foods, friendly people, peaceful cultures, exotic adventures and stunning landscapes. This trip put me out of my comfort zone and completely emerged me in different ways of life. I can honestly say I have returned as a stronger, braver and more confident person. I recommend going on this adventure alone. You will meet many like-minded travelers and you will discover so much about yourself.

When I booked this trip I expected to stay in mostly hostels and cheap hotels…expectations were blown out the water. We stayed in mostly 4 and 5 star hotels. Every place was nicer then the last. But my favorite places we stayed we not the 5 star hotels. We stayed at two charming guest houses and on a beautiful junk boat in Ha Long Bay. Every place we stayed had free wifi, water bottles, safes and hot water!

I couldn’t have asked for a better group of fellow travelers. I will forever be friends with many of the people I met. Especially my tour manger Lee (Hailey). I can safely say she made my trip. Lee is super cool, chill and fun. She showed us the best bars, hangouts and foodies in town. She was familiar with the locals and even spoke most of languages. I told her initially I planned on turning my brain off for most of my trip. So it was awesome having her plan most excursions and helping me have the time of my life.

The coolest thing about this trip is you’re not stuck on a bus all day long like many other contiki trips. Don’t get me wrong there are bus trips. The longest was 6 hours. To get through the different countries you will take an overnight train, boats, tuk tuks, buses, vans and jets. I loved our overnight train ride. It really gave everyone a chance to bond.

My favorite things I did on the trip were the Wat Phrathat in Chiang Mai, Thai cooking class in Chiang Rai, Elephant riding, “Kangaroo Sunset” bar and kayaking in Luang Prabang, causing a street dance party in Siem Reap, jumping off our boat in Nha Trang and sailing in Ha Long Bay.

I would recommend this trip to everyone. I always felt safe, culturally submerged and had a blast.

Tips I wish I had been given:
-Bring temple wear (Long pants, t-shirts)
-Pack your bag and then take out half. It’s super easy to do laundry.
-Bring only one swim suit. There are water activities, but not consecutive ones. You only need one suit.
– You should not need more then $25 a day if you don’t plan on doing much shopping.
– Invest good pair of flip flops. You have to remove your shoes a lot and they’re easier to get on and off then sandals.
-Don’t bring a huge suitcase. A back pack is better.
-You don’t need to bring makeup. Most of the girls on the trip won’t wear it. It will just sweat off.
-Bring your own bug spray.
-Bring or be prepared to pull out american dollars. You will need to pay for most excursions with USD. Also Cambodia widely prefers USD over Riel.
-If you’re coming from the states you don’t need an adaptor. All outlets take the US plug!
-Wifi is everywhere. Turn your phone on airplane mode and don’t bother getting a plan. Just Skype and iMessage people using wifi.
-Pack playing cards!
-Pack your own portable charger!

Amputees, French things and Vodka.

This morning we traveled through the countryside to the capital city of Vientiane, Laos.

Where did I stay?

Inter City Hotel

We visited the Cope Center. Which is an education and rehabilitation center for Lao people affected by UXOs. It was a little disheartening because much of the blame for war, bombings and death is placed upon Americans. But the country is very progressive and forgiving now. I donated $50 which is quite a lot. I hope that my donation can help positively affect someones life.

Then we were taken on a city tour where we were shown some of the important government buildings and the “Arc De Triumph” of Laos. I climbed to the top and found a great panoramic view of the bustling capital. The city is modern and booming. It’s strange to think that just a short distance away people are living in shacks without electricity.

Afterwards we strolled towards another temple. It was really cool because a huge festival was going on. So there were busy markets, street foodies, entertainment and music. It was a blast and I wish we could’ve spent more time at the concert we stumbled upon. But we were hustled back onto the bus.

For dinner we went to a really swanky three story resturaunt. We had the whole third floor to ourselves. I ordered strawberry cider, spring rolls and a hot plate. I also got some free drinks from one of the boys who bought a bottle of vodka. Contiki kids can really drink. :p

Tomorrow we head to Cambodia!

8AM is perfect for drunk kayaking

Up bright and early after an insane binder last night at Kangaroo Sunset.

We were picked up by two tuk-tuks blaring old school hip hop music. As soon as we piled into the tuk-tuks we were all handed Lao Beers (it was 8am).

After a 30 min drive we arrived at the river for cave river tubing. By that point many people had already down 3 or 4 beers. While we waited for a cave tour to begin we downed more drinks. While we were shot-gunning I noticed the other tours around us were sitting quietly, while ours was dancing and laughing. The other tour groups also had helmets and life-vests. We did not.

Finally it was our turn to hop into tubes and pull ourselves through the cave river. Many intoxicated 20 somethings were led into a dark and ominous cave. Where we sung show tunes very loudly, people floated into dark crevasse and kept hitting their heads on the low hanging cave. I don’t think they let us go all the way through because at one point we just suddenly had to turn around. It was probably a wise decision.

Then we walked to a riverside bar where we were blessed with shots and drank wine coolers before kayaking. Our guides managed to put amps in their kayaks so we cruised down the river blaring old-school jams. One team of drunk kayakers flipped their kayak immediately. Ayal ended up dislocating his shoulder and having to paddle the rest of the way, while same passed out drunk in front. It was an amazing spectacle. Kayaking through the Laotian countryside and monstrous mountains was breath-taking. Being buzzed and listening to rap as we paddled through the Mekong was straight out of a movie. Best day of my life so far.

LUANG PRABANG TO VANG VIENG

This morning we boarded a coach and headed to Vang Vieng, Laos.

Along the way we stopped for lunch at this amazing restaurant on top of the mountain. The restaurant had spectacular views and pretty good food too!

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Vang Vieng is a stunning riverside town surrounded by mountains, farms and winding rivers. Its a quiet and simple town that is a backpackers heaven.

Where did I stay?

The Elephant Crossing Hotel

Accommodations: Excellent. My favorite place so far. A charming boutique hotel ran by a family and locals. Stunning views and an great restaurant.

Location: Walking distance to everything.

View from our hotel

View from our hotel

A Night to Remember

Tonight my entire group went to locally recommended Kangaroo Sunset Bar. We had dinner and then got the party started! The bar played old school dance music and served heavy-handed cheap drinks! Everyone was buying shots for everyone. We danced on tables, did the macarena, drank more shots, took over the bar and played beer pong. It was a blast. Even a sudden down pour didn’t stop our party.

Riding Elephants

Riding elephants through the jungle of Laos was one of the most out of this world experience of my life so far. We woke up early and beat the heat and drove out to this amazing elephant reservation. According to the tour operator the elephants are all free range, happy and well looked after. They all looked very healthy and appeared loved by their handlers. You could really feel the strong bonds between the elephants and their handlers. Our elephants name was Ping-Pong. At 45 she was the second oldest in our herd. She was strong, brave and very stubborn. Our guide was fantastic. He spoke very good english and taught us a lot about Ping Pong and the other elephants. I would recommend elephant riding in Laos to anyone!

Where did I go?

Elephant Village 

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