A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Hello! Xin chào! Sabaidee!

Welcome to my little slice of the internet that I'll be calling home for the next few months!

My goal with this little blog is to share with you some highlights so you can reference this if you ever decide to travel to these countries, hopefully make you laugh at my own despair and let you know that all is well despite being officially on my own over 7,000 miles away from home.

Not gonna lie, it is also my way of organizing the million photos I've been taking and documenting the moments of this trip for myself in the future so consider it a peak into my private journal.

Keep in mind that I am doing all this from an iPad (which is terribly frustrating 90% of the time) and a blogging beginner so formatting will most likely be weird - just like me.

Hope you enjoy!

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Posted by ouicope 22:26 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Goooood Morning from Vietnam!

HANOI, VIETNAM

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18 hours later, we made it to Vietnam!!!

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Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam and to be honest, overall is kind of MEH in my opinion. The major reason being is that it is stressful as shit to walk anywhere. It is actually kind of unbelievable how many scooters drive in this city and there are absolutely no laws (at least being enforced) for driving. Think endless lane changes sans blinker, people crossing the road whenever they please (my first experience of this was a little kid running across the freeway) and nonstop honking. Taxis and buses even have a different kind of horn put into their automobiles so that with 1 push of the horn it honks automatically multiple times in a row. In the states, you honk because you have road rage. Here you honk because you are passing a car/scooter or you are approaching an intersection or you are turning a corner or really just whenever you feel like it. I feel lucky that I made it out of the city without getting my heels clipped by a car or scooter.

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We stayed in the area called "The Old Quarter" (definitely do it) since its the backpacker area. Small streets, lots of places to buy crap, and confusing as hell to navigate. With that said, the night time was very fun since the daytime stores would close up and put out little tiny plastic chairs in the streets for people to drink beer and eat street food on. I kept seeing bags of brown circle foods that these old women were peeling and I was very intrigued so ending up buying an overpriced bag of... wait for it, water chestnuts! Wow so foreign... NOT. Felt like a serious noob.

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One of the weirder things I forced Jon to do was attend a water puppets show which, as the name entails, was literally puppets on water to the tune of traditional Vietnamese music. We couldn't understand anything happening and after 1 minute of the 45 minute show, I instantly regretted choosing the middle, center row without an easy escape route.

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We wandered around the city afterwards, witnessing a scooter crash, a photoshoot for 5 different brides and grooms in front of a generic looking mall (so weird) all while enjoying plenty of Pho and Bahn Mi's along the way.

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Posted by ouicope 23:15 Archived in Vietnam Tagged hanoi Comments (0)

The Land of 1,600 Islands

HA LONG BAY, VIETNAM

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We did a 2 day 1 night cruise in Ha Long Bay using Bhaya Cruises (100% recommend) This cruise was by far one of the highlights we did on the trip. After hours of scanning Tripadvisor, I'd been worried about getting a janky ass boat with rats or having a boat filled with all old retired fogies who went to bed at 7pm. Instead, ours was a new 2 month old boat, had a perfect mix of young and old people from all over the world, and about equal staff to people on the boat so food/service was top notch. We each paid $175 and it was well worth it (there's cheaper & more expensive options but you get what you pay for).

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Even if our boat hadn't been great, the atmosphere of Ha Long Bay is unbelievable. Really hard to take pictures of because there is something like over 1,600 islands and islets that form a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars (ok I just copied that from the ha long bay website it sounded too perfect). Despite there being rain the night before, the haze blew off for us and we had sunny blue skies while cruising through the islands so it was pretty perfect.

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We got to take small canoes through a floating village where locals actually live on the water and later on Jon and I took out kayaks where we were the only ones in the area for as far as we could see. We enjoyed a sunset happy hour party on the roofdeck, a cooking demonstration and a fancy dinner where I learned I don't have a clue about the correct (i.e. ladylike & proper) way to eat a prawn.

The next morning began with perhaps, the most peaceful way to ever start your day - Tai Chi on the roofdeck while sailing through the morning mist among those magical cliffs. Afterwards, we got to take another small boat out to see a huge cave inside one of the limestone cliffs and that was really cool. Depending on how much time you have in Vietnam, you could also do a 2 night, 3 day cruise which we could've done but definitely don't do the single day tours as it takes about a 4 hour drive 1 way to get to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi so it would suck to spend 8 hours in a car for only about 4-5 hours of bay time. Ha Long Bay overall was an amazing experience - highly, highly recommend.

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Posted by ouicope 02:11 Archived in Vietnam Tagged bay long ha Comments (0)

Picturesque in Vietnam!

HOI AN, VIETNAM

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Not to be confused with Hanoi (which I have done nonstop), this place was my favorite spot I've seen in Vietnam so far and the place we spent the most time (6 days). First off, this ancient town is in central Vietnam, has access to the beach and a river runs through the town so the vibe here was waaaay more mellow and chilled out and beautiful. Scooters are still here but more ride bicycles or walk around the town. All the buildings are super old school looking and worn down but in a way that makes every picture look super hipster and awesome. Definitely one of the most picturesque places I've ever seen.

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We stayed 4 out of our 5 nights at Essence Hotel Hoi An which was a great value for the location and had a good pool. Since I've been with Jon, we have not been staying in hostels more like actual hotels or boutique hotels. For Valentine's Day he treated me to a night in a fancy resort hotel called Alma Courtyard which had the best pool I've ever been in. To top it off, the hotel came with a full massage and spa treatment included in our stay FO FREE!

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Highlights here were renting a scooter of our own (Jon drove because I'm certain I would crash) and exploring the countryside full of rice paddies and locals. It only costs $5 a day to rent one and $2 for gas so we did this a few times - one of which we ended up getting a flat tire but luckily an auto repair shop was around the corner and replaced our tire for $5. It was almost too convenient that we felt like it might have been a scam but oh well. Since we now had access to outside the quaint old town, we were able to see what will be the future of the area between Hoi An and another main city called Da Nang (30 mins apart). There were probably about more than 30 or so fancy resorts being built on the beach area between these 2 cities but it was odd since those that were finished looked as though they were empty and it was sort of eery seeing all this money and work put into making the area nice but no tourists to occupy it. It will be interesting to see in 5-10 years how popular this area will be.

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There are 2 beach areas in Hoi An, either a short scooter ride away or accessible by bycicle. The Cui Dai beach is where a few fancier resort options were a bit farther out of town but since there was a typhoon in 2014 the beach here is shit now. The other beach An Bang beach was a better option and had lots of younger people and cute tiki style sun shades but came with an endless line of haggling women trying to sell cheap goods or have you buy fruit. I've gotten very good at saying no to people here since it happens a ton of times each day. It's basically like you are a walking dollar sign.

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Since Hoi An is super cute and charming, there isn't a ton of nightlife here. We became regulars at this chill place called Dive Bar early in the night that had cheap drinks and live music but it was weird since we kept seeing the same people there every night who seemed as if they were permanent resident travellers in the area hanging out at their local "Cheers" bar. There were 2 bars that actually got going pretty rowdy called "Backpackers Bar" and "Why Not". The Why Not bar at midnight will actually shut down (so does the rest of Hoi An) but then they have a shuttle waiting to take everyone to another after hours bar a few miles outside of town. Imagine a school bus where you are smashed in with 4 people to a seat (aka 8 in a row) with a few drunk stragglers hanging out the front door SF cable car style.
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The catch here is that they don't provide transportation home so you're stuck paying for a super expensive cab home at 3am or whenever you call it quits. Jon and I opted not to partake in that and luckily it worked out in favor for us. As we were going to walk home, another local guy across the street offered up to us and the group of 5 other travelers we were talking with, to use his bar which was basically like a garage with a pool table and bar set up inside. We stayed here for hours into the night and it truly was perfect.

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Tailoring is a huge tourist money maker in Hoi An and Jon and I gladly partook in the fun. It began almost instantly when we were in our cab arriving in Hoi An, a lady on the back of a motorbike started talking to us through our taxi window letting us know about her tailor shop in town and to check her out on tripadvisor. We ended up running into her again later on the streets where she mapped out where she is located and after the background check on Tripadvisor (90 5 star reviews) we decided on her. We found out later that the common way for tailors in Hoi An to advertise is to befriend and small talk their future customers. They will walk next to you, tell you that you are pretty, ask where you are from, give a little advice for directions around town, ask how long you are staying for before dropping the bomb that they have a tailoring business where they can make anything that your heart desires.

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Jon had a navy 3 piece suit made complete with a shirt for $160 that he really likes. I had a formal long black dress made for $45 which Jon claims he likes and I just sort of like. I had thought being able to make whatever the hell I wanted with my own personal tailor would be super fun but it turned out to be very stressful. There were just too many options of cut, color, style, fabric, etc that it was overwhelming to say the least. Top it off with a bit of a language barrier and you can either have the best or worst experience. I was terribly ill prepared and the communication wasn't working with the first tailor we choose. I ended up going to another tailor in town that had more example dresses on display and was able to customize the color, fabric and fit from that model which was way more fun and I was very pleased with the dress and jumpsuit I had made there ($40/each).

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Besides the endless wandering around town and taking a million photos, our last fun activity in Hoi An was a traditional Vietnamese cooking class. There's a lot of options in Hoi An but we went with "My Grandma's Home Cooking" which seemed like more of a full on experience than the others where you just sit in a restaurant provided cooking space. We took a boat out on the river to an island where our teacher is from and met her 88 year old grandma who is super tiny. We learned how to make rice flour and paper used in fresh rolls among an outdoor kitchen setting that was unreal. Her backyard looked out to lush green rice patties and we had a tropical looking setup for our outdoor kitchen where we cooked 4 Vietnamese dishes. During our lessons, a loudspeaker started broadcasting the local news to us and the rest of the residents on the island which is how they get their news since they do not have TVs. It was crazy to think that's how it works for them on a day to day basis.

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This cooking class opened my eyes to how much serious hard work it takes to do simple tasks. To make rice flour for example is a terribly tedious process without automatic machinery and it is still the way a lot of local people work. The work is done by women no matter how old and frail they look. In fact, that was a major theme I noticed. Outside of fisherman, mainly the women are the ones doing all the work here whether it is selling goods on the street or working hunched over in the rice fields. The most heart breaking ones were the extremely old women on the streets, trying to sell random touristy junk like clay whistles, or the ones offering up to take you around in a canoe or selling food from a street stall. They are still working as hard as ever and I know when I'm old I'm trying to just be a weird old lady that hits people with her purse and is waited on by everyone else. Just sayin.

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Posted by ouicope 14:08 Archived in Vietnam Tagged hoian Comments (0)

Temple Time

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

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In case you are not familiar, the main draw for travelers to Siem Reap is to witness the magnificent ancient temples that make up Angkor Wat Archaeological Park, the world's largest religious monument. Our first morning there we decided to wake up at 4:30am and head over to the main temple, Angkor Wat, to watch the sunrise.

It was pitch dark and we hadn't had a chance to explore the area really yet so our tuk tuk ride was a bit exhilarating taking us to this long awaited temple not fully knowing where we were or what to expect. We walked in the dark guided by our mini flashlights, while others fell to the ground (seriously, a lady ate shit within minutes of walking in) and crowded in with the others in the main pond area to await the rising sun. Jon had done some research prior to our visit to figure out the best place to stand for pictures (left side of the pond facing Angkor Wat) and we were definitely right in our placement.
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The sunrise was everything it had been hyped up to be and because of the beauty, it does draw in a ton of tourists making it also very crowded. I popped in my earphones and played some of my favorite chilled out songs to drown out the crowd of balking older asian ladies and in turn, it was one of the most peaceful moments I've had all trip. Watching the temple come to form with the rising sun, was truly awe-inspiring to the point that it brought tears to my eyes. I wasn't sure why the moment evoked such a strong physical reaction but it was truly something I will never forget.

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We spent the rest of the morning wandering inside the temple and over to the other nearby temple, Bayon which is made up of thousands of faces carved into the stones. Eventually the lack of sleep, hunger and increasing heat took over and I had a bit of a temple tantrum where I wanted to go back to the hotel real bad. The next day was a lot better to explore the temples since we were fully rested and I was well fed.

One of the cooler temples was one called Ta Prohm which is known as the "Tomb Raider Temple" for being featured in the movie. It was crazy to see how the jungle had taken over the temple and it was a gentle reminder of how strong Mother Nature really is. Afterwards, Jon and I found a smaller temple that I don't even remember the name of but it was a great experience since we were basically alone exploring which was a welcomed change of pace from the crowds of the main attractions.

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There is a much larger backpacker nightlife scene in Siem Reap than Hoi An where they actually have a street named Pub Street with a ton of bars and restaurants and clubs. My favorite part was definitely the $2 30 minute foot/leg massages on the streets where you get to drink a beer, get your feet/legs rubbed down and do some serious people watching on the street.

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Despite the amazing temples and cheap massages, Cambodia was definitely an experience I've never had before. It was the most 3rd world country that I've ever been in. Little kid beggers are constantly hounding you which is heart breaking and outside of the backpacker area you can really see how super poor the area is.

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Unfortunately, in Cambodia marks the beginning of my first experience with travel food poisoning from poor water and food. I spent no joke about 30 of the 50 minute plane ride from Siem Reap to Saigon in the airplane bathroom including the take off where I got yelled at by the crew but then was allowed into the bathroom when they saw my panic. No more details are needed for that ;)

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Posted by ouicope 14:10 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Sick, Sad & Solo in Saigon

HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM

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Depressing title right? Well despite the catchy alliteration, it describes most of my time in this city. But first the fun stuff...

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Jon and I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon) and were put back into the craziness of scooter driving but at least in this city the sidewalks were actually used for walking not for selling souvenirs. We got in a lot of museum time here visiting Ho Chi Minh City Museum, The Reunification Palace & the War Remnants Museum and learned a lot more about the Vietnam War (they refer to it as the American War by the way - weird!)

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Highlights here were having cocktails at Chill Sky Bar which was a swanky bar super high up that overlooks the city (think Vegas wannabe skyline) followed by drinks at a cute little VW Bug car bar. We had an extremely friendly young bartender who spoke decent English who let us play whatever ever music we wanted on youtube through his computer behind the bar.

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The computer also came in handy for times when we couldn't fully understand him since he had google translate pulled up so that we were able to type in our sentences to fully communicate to him all night long. It was awesome.

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Jon had to leave on the 21st which made for a very sad, emotional day. I was also still not quite fully recovered from the food poisoning in Cambodia so took it pretty easy in this city overall. Luckily our hotel, Beautiful Saigon 3, was in a great little alleyway just off the main road in the backpacker area of District 1 so it made for a comfortable home base.
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I still managed to cruise around lots of streets around a big park in the city, checked out a huge flower market and went up to the 68th floor of the Saigon Sky Deck which overlooked the city, but mostly spent my time laying low after the whirlwind of the last 16 days. Ho Chi Minh City is a huge city and I know I only barely scratched the surface of what to do, eat and see there. However, for this point in my trip I needed to take a breather from the constant go-go-go. Plus now that it was time to officially be on my own, I had to spend a lot of time figuring out what the heck I was going to do next which was time consuming in itself.

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Posted by ouicope 14:42 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

1st Impressions in Laos

VIENTIANE, LAOS

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Flying to Laos was a fun experience. While technically, it was no different than any of the flights I had taken so far, it was liberating knowing I was going to a brand new country all by myself. I made a "friend" on the plane on the way over who was also from Northern California but he seemed a little bit like a weirdo so I stayed in the airport bathroom for a little longer after we landed in the hopes of loosing him after the baggage claim (which worked btw).

I really didn't know what to make of Vientiane when I first got there. My hotel, Riverside Palace Hotel, was decent enough (palace is a huuuge stretch in the name) and centrally located so I began my usual walk around the area trying to get a feel for the town.

It was very quiet while walking around and the first thing I noticed was there really weren't a ton of young backpackers. While this doesn't truly matter a ton, it wasn't quite in line with the experience I was hoping for now being on my own. I rented a bike and did a bit of sightseeing of the temples (called Wats) in town but couldn't really understand what the appeal of the city was.

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Highlights here began with a beautiful sunset followed by witnessing a group workout session (picture a flash mob practicing their dance) and exploring the Night Market on the river. I also had a very enjoyable dinner date (sorry Jon) with a 78 year old British Gent who was a classic grey, long haired hippie type with endless stories. We bonded over our love of music and talked for 2 hours until he started to repeat his stories and I took that as my cue to go.

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In my experience in Asia thus far, you can get a feel for what the main attractions and sites to see are from tour company boards and posters all around the city. Vientiane seemed more like a commuter city with no real enticing sites itself, rather was more of a jumping off point to head north to the town of Vang Vieng for partying and river tubing. I struggled with the decision of whether or not to go to Vang Vieng for 2 reasons:

1st: Vang Vieng is known for being a backpacker highlight but mostly for an awesome party town. Being new to the solo female traveler scene, I wasn't looking to go get super drunk by myself.

2nd: Transportation in Laos is extremely behind the times so taking a bus to Vang Vieng was the only option

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After reading endless articles about how the 1 way trip can take anywhere from 6-8 hours on an extremely windy, bumpy road in an over packed bus then having to take another 4-6 hour bus from Vang Vieng to the next destination of Luang Prabang. I ended up skipping and took an expensive 45 minute flight to Luang Prabang instead. I figured that with my ability to get car sick within 30 seconds of looking at my phone wouldn't pair well with the 10-14 hours spent in that bus.

Would I like to see Vang Vieng someday? Absolutely. I've heard amazing things about how fun and beautiful the area is. Hopefully by then, trains will be established or I will at least have a friend to commiserate my sickness with. If you have the time and the stomach to make the journey definitely do it.

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Posted by ouicope 18:15 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

Waterfalls & Elephants & Bears.... Oh My.

LUANG PRABANG, LAOS

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From the moment I stepped off the plane, I couldn't stop smiling as I had the sensation rush over me that I was finally in a place that felt like a home away from home. Luang Prabang is a small town set in Northern Laos situated between 2 rivers, the Mekong & Nam Kahn, surrounded by lush greenery of rolling hills. I had been craving the setting of nature mixed in with a chilled out backpacker vibe which Luang Prabang fulfilled to the T.

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My happiness and excitement for a new town immediately was put to the wayside when I realized in the airport that I had made a rookie traveler mistake... forgetting to write down the name of my hostel and only having a vague idea of directions on how to get there. I had been relying on free WiFi and saved offline pages from my phone/google maps but this time all of them crapped out on me simultaneously. With nothing but error pages & a single road name in the general area of my hostel, I tried to communicate where I was going to a taxi driver who had a condescending look of "seriously? you don't have a clue where you're going?" look on his face.

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It was only 10am by the time I arrived to the general drop off point I had told the driver to go, so I felt confident lugging my shit around town in search of my hostel - assuming I'd recognize the name. Rookie mistake #2 - every damn hostel in a foreign country usually has either similar names or ones that make it so hard to pronounce that its easy to forget. Accessing WiFi up to this point had been pretty easy, buy a cup of coffee from a cafe and you're granted the golden ticket of WiFi access. Not this time. For starters, I wasn't in the proper Old Town center area where tourist catered cafes and restaurants were located. Instead, I was surrounded only by local food stands and guesthouses. Thinking a guesthouse would definitely have WiFi, I tried the first 3 I could find to ask (and even offer to pay) for WiFi.

Denied.

Starting to now actually freak out & sweat profusely (it was 100 degrees out), I bit the bullet and turned on the data on my cell phone and found my hostel, luckily only a 1 minute walk away. This little data session ended up racking up an international bill of over $100 within minutes, which my mom instantly informed me of, although luckily I was able to square it away later on and get it down to $30 - phew.

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Feeling better that I at least had a location to go, I encountered Rookie mistake #3 - booking a cash only hostel without having local currency. Thankfully, Laos accepts Thai Baht & Vietnamese Dong (in some places) so I ended up handing over a mix of Baht & Dong which basically looks like Monopoly money, not really knowing how much I was paying. I had only booked 1 night at Souvasavong Guesthouse (see why I couldn't remember it?) and good riddance for it. By far the worst private room I had stayed in with no wifi, a single ratty old comforter on the bed and the bathroom consisting of a toilet with a detachable shower head literally directly over the toilet. After the 1 freezing cold, awkwardly standing shower I took, my entire bathroom was covered in water which basically set the stage for an epic pool party for mosquitoes. I also got locked in here for a solid 5 minutes since the water on the rusty lock to the bathroom had jammed in. Truly thought I was either going to get Tetanus from cutting my hand on the lock or get eaten alive by mosquitoes in my birthday suit. Needless to say, I switched hostels the next morning to Khammany Inn (definitely recommend - super social hostel).

After a stressful hour of settling in, I finally set out on foot to figure my shit out. Once I got to the central Old Town area, right away I noticed how many solo female travelers were roaming the streets. I again had that comforted sensation wash over me of feeling like I was definitely in the right place. I picked up a map, did a money exchange and started soaking in the beautiful scenery surrounding me.

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I knew I was going to settle into Luang Prabang for an extended time (at least in traveler time - 6 days is considered a lot). During my time here I rented bikes for 2 days ($2/day) and cruised the streets & alleyways to the point where I felt like I knew the town like the back of my hand. Sunsets on the Mekong River were spectacular to watch and there were endless restaurants on the river to sit and soak up the view in.

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My second day here, as I was hiking up the main Wat in town called Mount Phousi, I got to talking with a girl at the top of the mountain who ended up being an old coworker from Yelp. Talk about a small world! We made plans to meet up at the Night Market later on and I was finally able to have drinks with a group of girls that night at a local bar called Utopia.1_14254929..ia-interior.jpg Utopia ended up quickly becoming my favorite hangout spot by far in Luang Prabang. It was a bar/restaurant/lounge that was also a yoga studio by sunrise/sunset and had an outdoor volleyball court. It was a little off the beaten path, overlooked the Nam Khan river and truly felt like a hidden gem since it took me quite some time to find it. I was able to do a sunset yoga session here which was by far the best class I've ever taken. Being able to look out over a river as the sun is setting makes it pretty easy to get your zen on.

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Highlights here were taking an organized tour to see some of the main attractions in the area. Some people prefer to do their own tour but after doing endless planning, I happily paid my $40 to have my day fully planned out for me. The tour began with a minivan pickup at my hostel, a drive out to an elephant camp where I rode for an hour on a elephant (with no guide mind you - my elephant was clearly the big boss because everyone else had to have a Lao guide sitting on the elephants neck).

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I made friends with the only other English speaking person in our group, a Canadian kid with a thick accent that made me giggle every time he said "eh." After some quality time with the gentle giants, we were shuttled over to the river area where a small boat awaited us. It took us to see the inside of a cave known as a special place of worship for the Bhuddist people where there were hundreds of little Bhudda statues placed all throughout the cave. Next up, we had a pit stop for a fried rice lunch in a small village followed by local rice wine & whiskey (called Lao Lao) tasting. All of this was enjoyable but I was anxious to get to the final stop of the day, the Kuang Si Waterfalls.

I've made it a habit of only briefly looking at pictures online beforehand of major sites to make sure I can have that initial shock and awe experience in person. I did this with Angkor Wat as well as Kuang Si Waterfalls and it exceeded my expectations. Before walking into the waterfall area, we passed through a Bear Rescue center where more than 10 bears meandered lazily in their outdoor playground, wrestling with each other or sleeping in a hammock. I had no idea they were here so it was a pleasant surprise to see those furry animals.

My new Canadian friend for the day and I spent the afternoon jumping off trees into the pools, hiking up the vivid blue green waterfall pools snapping a million photos along the way. At the very end of the seemingly endless mini waterfalls & pools, there was a gigantic waterfall - definitely the biggest I have ever seen. We only found this later in the day so I ran short on time but vowed to return to this little bit of heaven on earth before I left.

Only 2 days later, I took a car out with some friends at the hostel back to the waterfall and fast tracked it to the big waterfall area. We hiked up to the top which definitely broke a sweat then continued on for another few miles to find a cave we had heard about. Now, at this point in my trip I had already been inside 2 other caves so I figured I'd be fine. This cave however, was a legit pitch dark cave that had small openings and hadn't been done up for the tourists. We had brought our flashlights so we walked in for about 15 minutes the space getting smaller and smaller to the point where I had a mild panic attack. Might have had something to do with the fact that I saw 3 cockroaches then whacked my head on the rocks but all of a sudden I started thinking it was hard to breath. Just as I said out loud that I wanted to go back, we realized we had hit the end of the cave so I took a few more steps, slapped the wall to say I made it to the end of the cave then bolted as fast as I could back towards the light.

One last thing to note, as with most places I am now realizing in Asia, there was a night market in Luang Prabang selling more clothing and souvenirs. This one also had a cool little food alley where you could eat a variety of goods like lemongrass sausages, pork/veggie dumplings and mini coconut cream pancakes. There were even a few buffets where you could fill up your entire bowl piled as high as you wanted all for 15,000 Lao Kip - the equivalent of $1.85. The combination of cheap food, beautiful scenary and good people made Luang Prabang a definitely highlight in my trip so far.

Posted by ouicope 15:52 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

Another Year, Another Country

Van Halen knows what's up... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-NshzYK9y0

Almost exactly a year ago, I was heading out on the most exciting, nerve-wracking, trip of my lifetime... my solo backpacking trip to SE Asia. I had quit my job, was going to be spending my own hard earned cash money nonstop for the next foreseeable few months and couldn't have been more pumped. I think back to the feeling of that time... a swirl of anticipation, the fun of the unknown, coupled with the hours of research trying to figure out how to plan without knowing anything about the areas (may or may not have had a few "chrissy fits" over frustration of indecision or lack of/overwhelming amounts of information).

Flash forward to the present and I've booked myself a roundtrip ticket to Panama... and have done little to no research whatsoever. Once I was back to the working world, I was head down in the depths of trying to learn a new industry that I almost felt that I shouldn't go travel.

Almost.

With the help of my wonderful, planner of a boyfriend, Jon... We set our sights on Central America. A place neither of us had been that was close enough that taking a 10 day vacation wouldn't require 18+ hours of flights (I'm lookin' at you Asia!) but also far enough that we could experience a different environment altogether.

Why Panama?

That seemed to be the go to question after we had locked in our tickets. We had heard a lot about Costa Rica and Belize which are still on my to see list by all means... but we kept hearing that Panama was this place that had yet to be fully discovered by the hoards of tourists that inevitably invade. Once we started doing more research on what we wanted for this vacation.... ultimate beach time + some outdoorsy action + cultural experiences + short time in a big city... Panama fit the bill to a T.

So here it is, my trip to Panama... Spoiler alert, it fucking ruled.

Posted by ouicope 21:23 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

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