Sometimes a new post idea is created before I reach a destination. Sometimes they don’t even present themselves until I’m right in the middle of an extraordinary (and not so extraordinary) experience. And sometimes I get a little inspiration for a new post by other travel bloggers.
One of my favourite travel bloggers is Stephanie from Twenty-Something Travel. I’ve been following her adventures for the past 2 years and get a kick out of her posts. Her writing is honest, funny, and insightful. A couple of months before starting my backpacking trip, I read her post “Out My Window: A Retrospective” showcasing shots from the windows of places she stayed in. I loved the concept and decided it would make a great post at the end of my trip as well.
8-months of traveling meant there were a lot of accommodations that Tristan and I had stayed in, with varying styles and comfort levels. From overnight trains and buses, to hostel dorm rooms and guesthouses, to beachside bungalows and campervans, I managed to narrow the field down to 13 places. Compiling these photos was a trip down memory lane, bringing back the feelings and specific stories that surrounded these locations. Not all of our destinations are featured, but the post gives you overall view of where our travels took us.
The first stop on our trip was Beijing, China. From the moment we arrived in Beijing, there was a permanent grey haze covering the city. It was so bad we couldn’t even see down the block. One morning, after a heavy rainstorm overnight, I opened the curtains to our room and gasped at the view. There was actually a view to be seen! Unfortunately the clearer skies only lasted a couple of days before the haze returned.
After spending just over a week in Cambodia and trying to find out what all the fuss was about in Sihanoukville, we decided to leave the main land behind and traveled by boat for one hour to Koh Ru. With only one resort on the island, comprised of 12 beach-side bungalows, this was the closest we came to finding “paradise” on our trip.
Traveling through Southeast Asia was full of amazing foods and incredible scenery, but there’s also a large amount of poverty in the region. Our first check with reality came in Phnom Penh, Cambodia where it was overtly evident. We’d be walking back to our hotel at night and see many Cambodians, including a young mother with an infant, trying to make a corner of the sidewalk as comfortable as possible for the night.
Our journey from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Laos was a 13-hour ordeal. And after almost 3-months on the road already, we were exhausted to say the least. When we arrived on Don Khon, we found this amazing bungalow with a huge communal terrace that jutted out over the Mekong River. At only $5 a night, we ended up spending a week reading in hammocks, drinking Beer Lao, playing endless games of Scrabble, and enjoying unbelievable sunsets.
Vang Vieng, Laos is, unfortunately, best known for its drunken, drug-fueled tubing shenanigans. While it can be a kick-ass fun time, and made for one of our most watched videos, the surrounding karst topography and other natural wonders are often overlooked. Maybe now that the government has stepped in and shut down nearly every riverside bar, travelers will start to see why Vang Vieng is more than just a party town.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Luang Prabang is the cultural heart and epicenter of Laos. The place oozes charm and a quick 2-3 day visit won’t do it justice. We loved wandering the streets, taking in the stunning palaces, and shopping and eating at the most amazing night market we encountered on our trip. It just so happened that our guesthouse was situated right on the main road that was closed off and transformed into the market every night. My wallet wasn’t so thankful.
Our friends Matt and Deb, from Travel With a Mate, were living in Penang, Malaysia and invited us to stay with them while we were visiting the island. It seemed our visit with them revolved around food (and there’s no better place for amazing food than Malaysia!); eating at their favourite hawker centre, learning to cook traditional Nyonya cuisine, and introducing them to Korean food.
The most unique sleeping arrangement we had on our trip was in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra. Perched above the common space in the guesthouse, our room had only 3 walls. Yes, 3 walls. The view was beautiful and it felt like we were sleeping right in the jungle, but we were always woken up in the mornings by monkeys jumping on our roof, worrying us about the potential of them coming into our room and helping themselves to our stuff.
Samosir Island, in Southeast Asia’s largest lake, Danau Toba, was our second stop in Sumatra. The view from our room was gorgeous. We spent our few days here zipping around on a motorbike and learning about the Batak people.
One of the funniest moments on our trip was discovering our chic looking hostel room in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia didn’t exactly have the view we were expecting. We were so flabbergasted at the attempt to give the illusion of a window that we made a video of our finding.
Our second experience staying with friends we met through travel blogging brought us to Singapore. Dave Fox, from Globejotting, and his wife welcomed us into their spacious apartment with an incredible view and helped us cut down the costs of visiting Southeast Asia’s most expensive destination.
Road tripping from Cairns to Sydney, Australia in a campervan meant that we could pull into any rest stop along our route and spend the night. This particular rest stop was in Macksville along the Nambucca River. We pulled in after the sun had gone down and had no idea this view would be waiting for us in the morning.
One of the highlights of the trip was road tripping around New Zealand’s South Island for 2 weeks. The scenery, the people, and the sites were incredible. Being able to pull our campervan into any conservation campsite for a nominal fee meant we could stay right in the thick of nature. With views like this of Mt Cook, who’d want to stay in a hotel?