My stay in Kuala Lumpur was very short but great nonetheless! Since I sprained my ankle, I spent afternoon/evening resting in the Airbnb and walking around. The host I stayed with was one of the sweetest people I have ever met. She told me a lot about Malaysia and made me a home cooked meal, which was absolutely amazing. Not sure what the fish was but the curry that accompanied it was so good. The next morning she made me breakfast as well and it was sooooo good! It was tapioca with shredded coconut plus rice of course and small fried fish. I definitely want to try and make the tapioca and coconut dish when I get home!
Oh Koh Phangan. You were quite the treat that ended in me spraining my ankle. After an overnight bus to Surat Thani and a two hour ferry ride, I arrived in Koh Phangan. In between Koh Samui and Koh Tao, Koh Phangan is a popular destination and famous for it's Fullmoon and Halfmoon Festival. I spent three days here and had an absolute blast.
I stayed at Echo Beach Backpackers
Hostel and am so happy I picked this one. The hostel is really chill and just a bunch of young travelers. I met some really great people and ended up spending the majority of my time at the hostel.
After an eight hour bus ride, I arrived in Bangkok. The bus ride was easy but the borders are really different. The Vietnam - Cambodia border was a lot quicker than the process at the Cambodia - Thailand border. Both companies I used had an employee fill out my departure and arrival card but the Cambodia - Thailand border was definitely a lot more chaotic. Many buses are about $10-$18 USD from Siem Reap to Bangkok but I decided to splurge on a VIP Van for $28 USD. I'm really happy I did this because the line for arrival into Thailand was absolutely mental. The wait for foreigners was three hours long but since we paid more for the VIP, we were able to use the express lane, which took about 15 minutes. Crazy stuff but in the end, I'm happy I paid a bit extra.
My first official whole day in Thailand has been the highlight of my trip so far. My friend, Susan, spent a whole week at an Elephant Haven in North Thailand back in March and to my luck, there was one located two hours outside of Bangkok. This Elephant Haven rescues elephants and spoils them in the best way. A lot of these elephants used to be in shows or danger but now are living the absolute dream. The haven has volunteers prepare their food, walk with them, and bathe them too. All they do is eat, play in the mud, and swim in the river everyday. One of the head employees Kahn was telling us that they get absolutely spoiled with all the food that they eat. However, he did say that they used to do elephant rides but once they saw how cruel it was they immediately stopped. Their slogan is "No rides, no shows, just love" which is very appropriate. It's obvious that the staff really care about these elephants and want the word to spread for more volunteers to meet these gentle giants. Hands down the best experience of my life.
After a five hour bus drive (with an insane driver who booked it the entire time), I arrived in Siem Reap. When the bus arrived, I took a tuk tuk to the hotel and could already tell how different Siem Reap is from Phnom Penh. It's not a huge city but there are tons of people and cars everywhere. Since I was still a little sick, I decided to take it easy and just walk around the area, which included Pub Street, which was crawling with liveliness. However, didn't stick around too long since the temples were on the agenda right in the morning!!
If you know me, then you know I'm a morning person. However, waking up at 4 AM was brutal. We left in our tuk tuk at promptly 4:30 AM. We left so early because we needed to get our $20 admission tickets. The office was crawling with people trying to get their tickets and go to the Angkor Wat and see the sunrise. Despite the long line, we made it in time for sunrise. It was absolutely gorgeous seeing the sun rise over the temple and having the silhouette reflect off the water. The early rise was definitely worth it. We then spent the rest of the day visiting the other temples such as Bayon and Angkor Thom. All of the temples we saw were absolutely breathtaking! And a definite must see.
Not going to lie, I wasn't too excited about going to Phnom Penh after freaking myself out and reading horror stories from other people about their experiences in the city. But after three days, I ended up really liking the city. I think I mostly liked the city because of the great Airbnb that I stayed at. I decided to stay with a local family and it was amazing! I fell a little bit under the weather and the host made sure I he everything I needed to be comfortable.
Before coming, the Airbnb host from HCMC told me that the country is still slowly coming back from the Cambodian Genocide and that Phnom Penh is quite depressing. While I agree with that statement, I think the Cambodian people are very friendly even though this terrible event happened nearly 35 years ago.
Arriving in Phnom Penh and finding the Airbnb was easier than I thought it would be. My host, Long, was such a sweet guy and an amazing host. The Airbnb is further away from the backpacker area so got more of a local feel for this city. The first day I just walked around the Russian Market and explored the neighborhood.
After a four hour flight to Singapore, a four hour layover, and a two hour flight, I finally arrived in Ho Chi Minh City! My Airbnb host Andrew gave great detail on how to arrive to his apartment and I made it safe and sound with no hassles. The apartment was so spacious and modern and I instantly became obsessed with it. In addition, Andrew was a great host and provided a map and itinerary of what I should do on my first day there.
On Day 1, I walked all around Saigon. The city is bustling with cars, buses, and mopeds zipping through the streets with no cares for the traffic light. I was a little scared at first since everyone kind of just drives but quickly got over that. Saigon still has a French vibe with all the cafes lining the streets and all the architecture in District 1.
I visited the Norte Dame Basilica and Post office first. Both very beautiful and reminiscent of western architecture. Afterwards, I walked down the street to the Opera House, which once again has a western vibe to it. It's really amazing seeing French architecture in an Asian city! The streets around these monuments are filled with it. Finally, I went to City Hall. The area is very nice and walkable. However, the heat does get killer!
Annnnnd here we are! My last day of work at C.C.C. Kei Wai Primary School (Ma Wan). It seems like only yesterday where I had my interview and now I am officially done. There were some problems here as any job but overall, I really liked my time here and the work. It was a really easygoing job and it's sad to think that I will never have a job this easygoing again. But on to the next chapter of grad school!
However, before I leave Hong Kong, I will bee traveling for a month around South East Asia and I could not be more excited! I will first fly into Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam then bus it to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Cambodia, Bangkok, Thailand, then take a ferry to the Half-Moon Festival in Koh Phanghan, Thailand, then fly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and finally end my trip in Bali and Gili Trawangan, Indonesia. Afterwards, I will fly to Hong Kong for a day to see my family and friends before heading back to the good ole States!
Here I come South East Asia!
How is it already July!? It feels as if it were September just yesterday. As I reread my blog posts, I realize that this has been the shortest and longest year of my life. I'm really grateful for the opportunity to take a year off and teach but sadly my time is up. I'm excited to go home but I'm also really sad to leave. Here is a list of what I'm looking forward to and going to miss.
What I'm looking forward to:
-Chipotle (soz family and friends but I NEED Chipotle)
-Seeing my family and friends
-NY Pizza and Bagels
-Good cheese and dairy products
-My comfy bed
What I'm going to miss:
-My family and friends
-Easy access to the beach and different amazing hikes
-My noodle stand and the people who run it
-The safety (I can walk alone in an alley and feel 100% safe)
-Easy access to Asia
-Nightlife and Junk Boats
-Cheap dumplings (cause they're life)
-Street waffles and egg puffs (also life)
Just traveling the world and sharing my adventures and experiences.
Travel Wish List