Southeast Asia – 6 Months in the Making…
As this posts, I am hopefully in a self-induced Ambien coma somewhere over the Pacific on my way to Phuket, Thailand. I had flown from Denver to Boston last Wednesday, spent a couple of days with my folks, and then hitched a ride with some friends down to NYC for a wedding. Now, after six months of planning, I’m heading over to Southeast Asia for 3 weeks in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. A lot of the research I did for this trip said to not plan a lot and to just book your ticket over there and go with the flow. In theory, that would be awesome, but there’s 6-7 of us backpacking around so we needed more of a game plan than winging it with that many people. And I think we got a solid one.
I’m flying solo out of JFK, through Hong Kong, and 26 hours later (and technically 2 days later), I land in Phuket just before noon. I then immediately hop a taxi to Rassada Pier to get on an hour-and-a-half ferry to the island of Koh Phi Phi Don. Apparently this is one of the most touristy spots in all of Thailand, but it’s known for its beautiful beaches and it’s just something we wanted to do, especially to see Maya Bay where The Beach was filmed. Having arrived a few days earlier, my friends will already be on the island and hopefully waiting at the pier for me with a beer in-hand and ready to escort me to the nearest beach. We then plan on spending the next night camping at Maya Bay before catching another ferry to Krabi Town; A supposedly less touristy spot, but still beautiful beaches.
We’ll spend a few days in Krabi before hopping some flights to Chiang Mai in the mountains of northern Thailand. After touring around Chiang Mai, we head North to Chiang Dao to spend a night in a treehouse (“Fort Kickass”) or something before continuing on to Chiang Rai and Chiang Khong (Huay Xai). In Huay Xai, we actually hop a ferry to Luang Prabang, Laos. And I’m really, really stoked for this part. In doing initial research, I was completely against any ferry from Thailand into Laos down the Mekong River because all reviews basically just told stories of misery – Everyone said that it was a great experience, but you just needed to be prepared for absolutely cramped, uncomfortable, and slow boat ride. I did not want to do that on such a time-crunched trip already. But, we ended up finding more of a ‘luxury cruise’ (Nagi of Mekong) to book that had some great reviews and “splurging” for it was only like $100, which includes the 2-day boat-ride, food on board, lodging overnight in Pak Beng, and touristy stops along the way. Who knows what it’ll end up being like, but I’m actually now really looking forward to this two-day river cruise.
We then have five days in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang. I don’t really know what the plans are while we’re here, other than to somehow get to Kuang Si Falls. But again, in all the research I did and in talking with people who have been, “the more time in Luang Prabang, the better.” There might be a push from the group to hop a bus down to Vang Vieng to experience the tubing scene, but personally, I’m really looking to avoid that. Basically it sound like Spring Break for backpackers and that’s not what I have in mind for this trip. Plus, it’s been clamped down on now, so apparently it’s not even the old scene anymore. Who knows what we’ll end up doing…
We finally then hop a flight from Luang Prabang to Hanoi, Vietnam where we all begin to kind of disperse and go our own ways. The main goal of getting to Hanoi was to find a junkboat cruise to the North in Halong Bay; Basically, an overnight cruise around another UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s comprised of nearly 2,000 limestone islets. Touristy, but something I had to do the first time around.
That’s the gameplan. We’ll see a big mix of a lot of different stuff, but I think we’ll still have enough time at each place to really soak it in and not feel like we’re just running around the whole time. At least that’s the hope. Either way, just in doing the research for this trip, I can tell it won’t be my last time in this region of the world.
And I’m sure I’ll be updating Facebook along the way.