Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

The Asia Jaunt: Month Four in Review

23

Was Month Four the best month yet?

Yes.

I don’t say that to disrespect the other months.  It’s just…IT WAS GOOD.  SO GOOD.

As I said last month, every month has a theme.

Month One was about being thrust into long-term travel and going to extremes in just about every way possible.

Month Two was learning about my own competence and enjoying my solitude.

Month Three was about the joys of friendship and being in the heart of the backpacker trail.

Month Four was the month of Vietnam! This month, also, was about friendship and fun, and deeply delving into Vietnamese culture with some guys who probably got me to explore more than I ordinarily would have.

If given the chance, I’d live every moment of my time in Vietnam again and again. It was that good.

Destinations Visited

  • Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Halong Bay, Vietnam
  • Hue, Vietnam
  • Hoi An, Vietnam
  • Nha Trang, Vietnam
  • Mui Ne, Vietnam
  • Saigon, Vietnam
  • Mekong Delta, Vietnam
  • Cu Chi, Vietnam
  • Phnom Penh, Cambodia (visit #2)

The Adventures

  • Designed a kickass pair of sneakers in Hoi An
  • Drank snake blood and bile in Hanoi
  • Survived my first real bout with illness since the trip began
  • Endured the border crossing from hell, almost getting rejected and sent back to Vientiane
  • Sailed and kayaked through Halong Bay
  • Celebrated Tet with fireworks in Hoi An
  • Fired a gun for the first time in Cu Chi
  • Became “one of the boys” for the first time ever
  • Came to grips first-hand with the horrors of the Vietnam War
  • Was delighted by water puppetry in Saigon
  • Enjoyed Nha Trang’s infamous boat trip
  • Rocked karaoke in a private room for the first time ever!
  • Learned how to ride in Vietnamese city and highway traffic, almost getting run over by buses!
  • Went to a party in the countryside outside Phnom Penh to celebrate the harvest with local Khmer families

Outlandish Adventures

  • Attempted to become a proper English girl, or at least talk like one
  • Celebrated my first Australia Day with Aussies in Hanoi
  • Rolled down a giant sand dune in Mui Ne
  • Played the greatest drinking games of all time in Halong Bay
  • Tore up dance floors in Nha Trang and Mui Ne
  • Got a haircut in Hanoi, and it wasn’t terrible
  • Stayed at the best hostel ever, and the best guesthouse ever
  • Shared a dorm with five boys and lived to tell the tale
  • Jumped off the top of a really tall boat into the water
  • Taught a boy to foxtrot on the beach
  • Fit three people into a cyclo in Hanoi
  • Had a date on Valentine’s Day (!!)
  • Swam to my first floating bar
  • As always, SO many things that can’t be mentioned here!

Survival Vietnamese

  • Chuc Mung Nam Moi! — Happy New Year!
  • Xin chao — hello
  • Tam biet — goodbye
  • Cam on — thank you
  • Kem — ice cream
  • Bia hoi — really, really cheap beer (think ($0.15/glass)

Self-Discovery

I learned so much about myself this month.  I’ve always been very open to change, but I thought that there were at least a few absolutes about myself — disappointing things — that I knew for sure.

Well, it turns out that, to my sheer delight, some of those absolutes weren’t so absolute after all.

It’s so easy to write off certain happinesses for yourself, assuming that they’ll never happen to you…and then you’re hit with a sledgehammer.  I’m never denying myself the possibility of happiness ever again.

Am I being deliberately vague?  Probably.

What a month.

Money Update

I’m still low on cash — by quite a bit, too.  But things are different from last month in that I now have a lot more ad offers and freelancing opportunities.  I’m thankful to one travel blogger in particular for hooking me up with some work.

But most importantly, I believe that I will make enough money to make it to the end of the trip successfully.

Anyone want to advertise on a kickass travel blog and/or several high-PR web sites?

The Next Steps

I’m currently back in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, the backpacker beach town that I love so much. My original plan was to work at one of the bars; however, after seeing the reality of what that entails, I don’t think it’s the best choice for me, or for anyone who enjoys sleeping from time to time.

The plan now is to hunker down, live cheap, and work like crazy. I’m currently developing a new project, and I’m very excited about it!

As for travel, I plan to return to Thailand and hit up the island of Koh Chang next, then swing into Bangkok for the fourth time.  I have three major priorities for the remainder of the trip: Bali, Singapore, and the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan.

For many reasons, some fantastic and some thoroughly annoying, I will be canceling my May 23 flight home and Korea stopover and flying a different route home.

We’ll see what happens.  It’s always an adventure!

Comments

23 Responses to “The Asia Jaunt: Month Four in Review”
  1. What an amazing month. I love that “ice cream” is one of your survival terms.

  2. AudreyDez says:

    This Vietnam Month seemed really awesome!

    Funny thing you were supposed to fly home on May 23rd and I’m flying to Thailand on May 23rd! Can’t wait to see what is the new route home:)

    Enjoy month 5!!

    • That’s perfect, Audrey! You’ll be able to see the beaches at their deserted, cheap, low-season best! You should have seen the difference that I saw between my trip to Railay in November and Mike of ArtofBackpacking.com’s visit there during the summer months…

      • AudreyDez says:

        I did read his post about the difference between peak and low season and I was reaaallly happy to know I had made a good decision to go in Thailand in low season. The weather may not be as perfect as it can be in December, but it’s still gonna be really good. And compared to Canada in May, it’s gonna be paradise!:D

  3. Cam says:

    Sounds like you are making the most of the adventure!
    If you do make it to Koh Chang, Lonely Beach is a good place to set up shop (Bungalows down by the beach are where its at!). You’ll need to share a jeepney with 12 other people and pay the standard 100 baht (super annoying)… it takes about 45 minutes from the ferry dock. Cheers!

  4. Amanda says:

    Sounds like a fantastic month! I’m eager to read about some of these adventures that you haven’t posted about yet.

    And now you’ve got me curious about all these things you’re being so vague about… haha. But I’m glad you’re happy and having the time of your life. However will you bring yourself to return to the U.S.??

    Here’s to an even greater month 5!

  5. Alouise says:

    Sounds like you’re having a great time. You’re posts on SE Asia have really made me want to book a flight there, especially with all the snow we’ve have. Can’t wait to hear more stories and learn about the project you have coming up.

  6. Amy says:

    Sounds like a great month! It will be nice to stay in one place for a while and relax. Especially if you’re able to do it somewhere that you know you enjoy and where you don’t have to spend much money. 🙂 After a few months of traveling, I’m usually ready to settle down somewhere and unpack my bags for a bit. I did the same in Montenegro and it was a really nice and much needed break from traveling.

  7. Earl Squirrelson says:

    Hi Kate,

    Glad to hear you are still loving the travel. I love reading your stories. I have been planning my own trip which starts at the end of April so your blogs have made the wait that much easier.

  8. Tijmen says:

    I’m impressed by your adventure list from Vietnam, not so sure about drinking snake blood though 🙂 Looking forward to reading more about your adventures!

  9. Lisa says:

    VERY CRYPTIC……are you getting married???

  10. I am glad you are happy, safe and having a great time hunkering! Have you considered teaching English for some cash? When we were low on funds my wife and I taught in Saigon…we don’t have tesols or anything and it was easy to get work.
    You had a good month indeed, you hit up some of my absolute favorite spots! Keep up the good work and we will be pulling for you Kate!

  11. Nicole says:

    Wow – what a fabulous few months you have had! I recently discovered your blog and am loving it – I hope to visit Asia for a few months next year, so you have definitely given me some great ideas. Thanks!

  12. Victoriana says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences as a solo female travelers, it’s given me a lot of ideas for future trips.

  13. Theodora says:

    Glad you’re still loving Asia…. Looking forward to seeing you in Bali once you get here.

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