I had the year after high school all planned out; go to uni to study criminal justice (what the heck was I thinking?!), spend the next three years being a broke student, and just all round follow the social norms. That all changed when my best friend Jack took me out for dinner, gave me a pandora charm that read ‘all around the world’ and basically said fu*k uni, come travel Asia with me. How could I say no?
And 7 months of working 10 hour shifts everyday, hating every second and wondering if it was even worth it…we were off.
The thing with travelling is that you don’t remember everything. But what I do remember is not the touristy things we did, but the places and the things we did that took us off the beaten track. The things that made me so uncomfortable, made me push my limits, made me have to go with the flow of life because so many things could and did go wrong.
It’s with this idea that I got to experience the most insane thing in my life. We were about 1 month into our trip and we hadn’t done anything to crazy, but we struck up a conversation with this guy at our hostel and he told us about this motorbiking trip through the north of Vietnam. An hour later we had booked are tickets for that night to get to Ha Giang (a province up in the Northern mountains of Vietnam where we would start our trip).
Over the next 3 days, we motorcycled (moped lol) through the most unbelievable views I’ve ever seen and got to see the traditional way of Vietnam, with the women carrying heavy loads on their backs, every single child we passed would wave and scream at us. All because this place we went hadn’t been discovered and ruined by tourists yet, and I was so grateful for that. Looking back on this trip through the mountains, I can definitely say it is the top on my list for the best things we did. I would recommend this to everyone- even my parents are planning on doing it!
Over the next few months I got to experience some unreal things. Here is a list of all my favourite places/things we got to do.
- LAOS. Holy moly. This country is beautiful. And I bet you’ve never heard of it. Its literally just above Thailand on the map and I can’t believe that I didn’t hear anything about it before I started researching. So Laos for us is summed up in 3 words: blue lagoons, waterfalls and burgers. Why you ask? Well, in Vang Vieng, where we stayed for a week, all we did was blue lagoons, we would get a moped and travel on these long, bumpy dirt roads to get to the clearest blue water and swim all day. Life was sooo simple. Also, the place we stayed was the best room/house/bungalow, out of the whole trip. Right on the river, overlooking rice fields and massive mountains. Unreal. Waterfalls- cause literally we saw like 20 (if you follow me on insta, you know). Burgers- we found the best burgers you’ve ever eaten in your life, and lol we ate 2 a day, Well until I got food poisoning…
- RABBIT ISLAND, CAMBODIA- We spent a week here. There was no electricity on the island, our bungalow didn’t have a proper shower or toilet, you could walk around the island in two hours (we didn’t make it because of course we got lost), and all there was to eat was seafood. But thats what life is all about right?! All I did all day was sleep in, eat food, lounge in a hammock and read or write, do some yoga while the sun set then have a massage on the beach, overlooking the ocean. IT WAS BLISS. 1 of the places I will definitely go back to. BUT the best thing of all was the bioluminescence. Which is essentially plankton that absorb all the sunlight in the day and at night when you go for a swim they light up all around where you touch, it was so magical and one of the best nights of my life.
- KOH SOK NATIONAL PARK, THAILAND-Again, not many people know about this place, and we only went there for tour of the park, which is this massive lake surrounded by huge mountains. The thing with tours are that you can pay a little extra to have your own private boat, but unfortunately this tour was expensive ($50 per person- which was our daily budget), so we had to suck it up. Wish we spent that little bit extra because we were shoved onto that boat like sardines. But me and Jack being the legends we are, asked to sit next to the boat driver so we got our own space to view all that was around us. Throughout this whole trip I’ve been comparing everything to New Zealand, and nothing has come close; except for this place, it vaguely reminded me of Milford sound. vaguely.
- WHALE SHARKS, OSLOB, PHILIPPINES-Obviously this was going to be on my list of favourite things. We got up at 5am to beat the crowds, with no such luck. Again there were millions of people in the water, the whole thing was so unethical it was unreal. BUT, I ‘lost’ my boat and swam away from everybody, and I found myself in my own secret spot, surrounded by the 4 whale sharks, swimming 1 metre away from me. I wasn’t exactly scared… but their big mouths that could swallow me whole looked a little daunting thats for sure. Something I would recommend to anyone cause it makes you realise how small we really are.
- SIARGO- Last be definitely not least, Siagro island. This is a place I plan on coming back this year, I want to live here, I want to spend the rest of my days lounging about waiting for the tide, and the waves that come with it. But other than the surfing (if you’ve never heard of it, its a place where one of the best surf breaks in the world are), the vibe of that place was the best. But what really got me with this island is that it taught me sooo much. Such as how I want to be a good surfer.. so I was tired of catching the small waves, and I was so ready to get out into the reef breaks. We did just that, and well, I got wrecked. I couldn’t catch a single wave, I nearly knocked myself out by a rock and my leash getting stuck on the reef so I nearly drowned (not fun). And obviously my love for the ocean slowly lessened by every near death experience. So every time we went out I just couldn’t catch a wave. It was all in my mind, I would physically try but my sub consousious just wouldn’t let me, making me even more angry. But while I was here, I did 2 yoga classes a day, and they were my saviour. I would work through those emotions and be ready for the next time I went surfing, by trying to get In a better mindset to take on those waves.
Of course I have to do a special mention to all the night buses we took. These 12-50 hour bus ride are definitely up there for the most memorable and “I’m so sick of this, I wanna go home” moments. Like our bus catching on fire at 5am in the morning, the whole bus filling up with smoke, and we had to find our own way to our destination. The bus dropping us off at 3am on the side of the road, telling us there would be another bus coming in 30 minutes to pick us up…5hours later. And lemme tell ya something, I have the bladder the size of a pea, and there is no toilet on the bus!!! Soo I had to pee on the side of the road with the whole bus looking on, the creepy bus driving watching me, who had previously got a photo with me cause I was white and female. But these obviously taught me so much- not exactly sure what that lesson is, but I’m sure there was one.
And the last thing is that I found myself on this trip. I started it off with crying about leaving behind everything I know, and being so scared of this, but then I read some life-changing books, podcasts, blog posts and now I’m a completely different person, I created this God damn website because of it. I started out going into this four month trip away, then coming back and studying something I’m not so passionate about-just cause I feel like I have to- to now manifesting my own business ideas, studying something I’m so passionate about (more to come on that later), and just being all round pumped on life. I honestly feel like I can manage anything that is thrown at me because I experienced it all, and got through it. How exciting is that?!
You’ll be seeing more of me, I can assure you.
“I do not bring back from a journey quite the same self that I took”