Indochina 2014

Indochina—I’d read many blogs and articles about this region, but it had never occurred to me before that I’d be traveling there! Now, I can say I have been to Indochina! And even better than that, I got to visit this region with my best mate, Wayne! 😀

The reason I am writing about this trip is to give you, the reader, some sort of a starting reference point. Yes, you. I know you have been searching Google for information on how to travel in and around Indochinese countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, and sights such as Phi Phi Islands, Angkor Wat, Choeung ek museum, etc. Hopefully this blog will help you with your trip Indochina trip planning! I will present this blog in parts so that you can find the section with the exact information that interests you!

Part 1: TRIP PREPARATION

We started our 2 week trip in Vietnam then hopped over to Cambodia and wrapped it up in Thailand. As a reference, I flew from Indonesia, and Wayne flew from South Korea. Initially, this is how we broke it down:

  • 3 days in Vietnam
  • 4 days in Cambodia and
  • 7 days in Thailand,
  • 14 days total

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Before I go into detail, first let’s talk about how we got there.

Flights

If you are looking to save some money on the flight, I highly recommend that you find a budget airline to get to Vietnam. Asia has many dependable budget airlines. I flew from Jakarta, Indonesia using a Singaporean based airline called TigerAir. Booking your ticket at least 2 months in advance for high season will be the best way to go about it. Alternatively, you can subscribe to their newsletter and wait for their promotional emails (just a head’s-up, you have to pay for seats on this airline so don’t be surprised. Or you can just skip the seat selection and avoid the charge on that. That’s what I did on my flight home and it saved me a few bucks).

Baggage 

BEFORE you fly, it is critical that you remember to weigh your suitcase AND carry-on backpack/cabin bag!

If your suitcase’s weight is close to your limited weight allowance, don’t play with it, head to their website and upsize your baggage limit. Why? Sometimes your suitcase will weigh more in the airport (I don’t want to badmouth any airline or airport here but I have experienced it several times). And if the weight is more than you are allowed to bring, they will happily charge you extra for that.

If you are the backpack type, make sure your backpack is not heavier than what is allowed. For TigerAir, it is 10 Kgs. For AirAsia, it’s 7 Kgs. For further information, I suggest you consult your airline’s website or give them a call. Just make sure that your backpack is at least 1 KG less than the allowance. Why? Again. You never know how that airport scale will work… If by chance, your backpack weighs more than the allowance, just purchase their additional baggage allowance. Here’s why…

In Phuket, we saw one unfortunate guy paying more than $100USD for his huge backpack which, of course, from the looks of it already passed the allowed weight. We were right behind him in the line so after he left, I asked the lady at the counter and she said he had to pay extra for for excess cabin baggage weight, it worked out to $18 USD per kg in excess of the allowance for AirAsia. So there you have it. Weigh. ALL. Of. Your. Bags.

After you book your flight, check if you have a layover somewhere in the middle. If you are like me and have a layover somewhere, I suggest you to bring some local money in case you want to buy food or souvenirs in the duty free areas.

If you’re flight searching and you see that the cost to fly directly to Ho Chi Minh is too expensive. You can take a flight to Bangkok and then take off from there to Ho Chi Minh City on your next flight. That’s what Wayne did and it’s much cheaper (less that $50 USD) than a direct flight from Seoul to Ho Chi Minh City.

After you finish booking your flight(s). You should make a checklist of things to bring with you. Aside from the usual clothing, before you go, I’d recommend you to download an offline map application on your phone. We used one called “Ulmon Pro CityMaps2Go” on our iPhones and it worked marvelously! If you want to use this app, you’ll have to download the map for cities separately (with no additional cost). What made this app great is the ability to use it without an Internet connection. You just have to enable location services on your phone and you’ll be able to see your current location. It helped us a lot when we’re trying to find places to see, food to eat, and get back to our hotel.

Ok. I think this is enough for one post. Next post I’ll be sharing about our first stop: Vietnam. See ya!

 

Fun Biking

My biking tour started with having breakfast right in front of this beautiful view, Mount Batukaru

My biking tour started with having breakfast right in front of this beautiful view, Mount Batukaru

This is common view in some Balinese villages

This is common view in some Balinese villages

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Tripping to Bali

I was in Bali, Indonesia for 5 days and I enjoyed every single moment of it. 🙂

The trip there wasn’t like something I’d prepared months prior. It was more like a last minute decision. But honestly speaking, I had had this idea of getting out of my system and comfort zone by doing a solo trip somewhere. I planned it to be somewhere in Java island but ended up in Bali instead.

Out of the blue one day, I checked out a flight website. Apparently that airline had a promotion to Bali and it was the last day to actually book the ticket for that particular price. So, you might guess it. I took the chance right away! It merely took me a couple of hours to find the best days for me to fly there et voila! The tickets were for 1 week and couple of days after. I might sound like nuts to some but that’s how sometimes things work in my life, by being all spontaneous and enjoy things 🙂

I got the tickets already. Then I had to figure out where on Bali I was gonna stay. Jumped to Agoda to find some nice and budget hotels. And it came to me that probably I should just spend my whole trip there in Ubud. It was an amazing place to be. I discovered the beauty of this place from Eat, Pray, Love. And talked to myself, probably this was the right time for me to pay a visit there.

Long story short, I sorted some hotels in Ubud and ended up in a 3 stars hotel there. I am a pretty simple guy. As long as the hotel is clean, has comfortable room with air condition and WiFi, I am sold. And this hotel is much more than that, especially for the fact that I got cheaper price by booking the hotel online. It was USD 38 while in the brochure of the hotel that I found out later, they regularly charge USD 80 per room. 😀

After checking in hotel, I walked out to have a late dinner since i arrived at night time there. Taco Casa, a Mexican restaurant was my choice the night i arrived. Thanks to Tripadvisor! It was a pleasant dinner per se. The day after, at 7am, I was picked up by a bike tour I booked the night before. It’s Banyan Bike Tree Tour and I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to take a look deeper in Bali itself. It’s clearly one of the most memorable moments of my life. 🙂

I’ll post some pictures I took while I was in Bali in parts. Now enjoy the first part of it 🙂

Campuan Village

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Amazing view in Campuan, Bali

Comme Père Comme Fils

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The old adage, “Like father like son” still applies these days.
At least, for this kid in the photo.
He’s been expected to follow his dad’s path since a very young age.

Wayang

Wayang, a Javanese word for particular kinds of theatre. The performance of shadow puppet theatre is accompanied by gamelan orchestra in Java.

UNESCO designated wayang kulit, a shadow puppet theatre and the beat known of the Indonesian wayang, as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

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Gamelan, a traditional musical ensemble from Indonesia, typically from the islands of Java and Bali, featuring a variety of instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, drums, gongs, bamboo flutes, bowed and plucked strings. Vocalists may also be included. For most Indonesians, gamelan music is an integral part of Indonesian culture.

Source: Wikipedia

Sunset for The Hundreds of Thousandth Times

The place that has become the silent witness of things happening on earth over centuries

Candi Prambanan Part Deux

I took plenty of photos of Candi Prambanan so here are some more I’d like to share with you.

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So this is one of the big big statues inside the candi. When you climb up the stairs in each candi, on top of that, you’ll find a chamber with a statue in it. This is one of those statues that i managed to capture. It’s pitch dark in there. And i didn’t dare to take any more pictures of the statue because I respect them. Respect? I don’t think so, Jon. Oh ok, lemme be blunt here. They are really old and ancient so I believe they are too big to be contained in a photo. But this statue that I captured was interesting because it has 4 faces, it represented 4 elements of the earth. And the local belief is that it will bring fertility to a woman who touches 1 particular part of it.

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I was in complete awe there. Well, looking at all the details. And the fact that it’s built around 9th century impressed me even more. Ancient people with no technology like we have today but they managed to build them.

Candi Prambanan

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One of the Candi in a 9th century Hindu temple compound in Central Java, Indonesia. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

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