Everyone we met was shocked (and impressed) that two girls were travelling with just hand luggage but, honestly, its easy and so worth it.
Why should you do it?
- No waiting at baggage carousels for your luggage wondering if they even put it on the plane
- Save money by not paying for hold luggage
- Save time checking in – you can check in online, print your boarding pass, before you get to the airport, and go straight through to security
- It makes travelling from place to place so much easier – walking with a 40l backpack is easy
- You get to laugh at people struggling with massive backpacks that look like they’re carrying their whole family and applaud yourself for being such a savvy traveller
We had a shuttle from the coast of Bali into Ubud. Ubud is known for its appearance in Eat Pray Love where Julia Roberts’ character “like totally finds herself”. We were staying in a nice home stay with a big double bed, a slight way out of the centre. We rented a motorbike and biked to a number of different destinations around Ubud including the sacred monkey forest, where monkeys roam freely:
We flew from Bangkok into Bali and then caught a flight, straight away, to Lombok, costing us only £14 each. We later found out that this airline (Wings Air) has crashed multiple times and is banned from flying internationally… But, never mind because we are here alive and well!
Our first Indonesian destination was Kuta (Lombok) and we had a homestay booked – our own private shalet with a huge double bed and tasty breakfast included!
On our first day we motorbiked to two of the beaches on the west coast. The first beach we went to (mawun) was beautiful and serene with just a few tourists. Afterwards, we headed to the beach known for its sunset views and surfer scene (manwi) and we walked over the rocky hill to find a stretch of pebbled beach with just one other couple on the whole beach. With practically a beach to ourselves we lay back and enjoyed the peace and quiet.
Mawun Beach, Kuta Lombok
A beautiful country tainted by tourism? I know this opinion will not be very popular but I felt it was worth sharing our true experience in Myanmar as well sharing the undeniable beauty of a country so different from its neighbours.
Before I start, I’d just like to say that the country is beautiful and everyone is extremely friendly. The pagodas are breathtaking and it’s true – Myanmar offers a very different vibe than the rest of Southeast Asia. Some of my favourite views and most spectacular photographs have come from Myanmar – the beautiful Bagan. However, the new burst of tourism has resulted in some less positive outcomes.
We weren’t always going to travel to Myanmar but the fact that it was relatively untouched by tourism and persuasion from fellow travellers really encouraged us to go. People who had been recently told us that Myanmar needed to be visited now before tourism took over like it has in a lot of Southeast Asia. We applied for our visas – E-visas which are a really simple process, but then disaster struck: “Myanmar destroyed by flooding” filled the news. Each daily update seemed to be more bad news for the country. At one stage we thought we weren’t going to be able to visit at all but luckily we could.
In Siem Reap we stayed at Naga hostel, a sister hostel to the Mad Monkey. This meant we could use the bar (and pool if we wanted), at Mad Monkey, for free. So the challenge was on to get another free t-shirt. 20 beers = a t-shirt. Challenge accepted.
Our bus dropped us way out of town in Battambang (pronounced Battam-bong) leaving us with only one option… Motorbike taxis. We were in a deserted area with no shops or people besides the dozens of men trying to get us to get on their bikes. Luckily, unlike the big cities in South East Asia, Battambang is pretty tame and the ride was safe enough – at least in Cambodian terms.
We spent our first afternoon in Kampot chilling out at the hostel and avoiding the rain. We stayed at Mad Monkey (a chain of hotels in Cambodia), the dorms are spacious and modern but the food and drink is overpriced. So instead, we wandered down the street for some cheaper Cambodian cuisine.
Once again we spent the night getting to know people over pints of beer and a game of pool.
We arrived in Phnom Penh, after our border crossing bus journey, about 4pm. We were greeted by rain, lots of rain, more than England rain. It was the tuk tuk drivers dream… Loads of westerners soaked to the bone in need of transport to their hostel. We managed to join 2 Austrian girls and got a tuk tuk to our hostel.
journey to the hostel in the rain
Crossing the border into Cambodia was another new experience.
We purchased our tickets from Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam) to Phnom Penh (Cambodia), from the reputable travel agent Sinh Tourist for the equivalent of £5.50 each. Our bus was due to depart at 8.30am with Long Phuong bus company. At 8.15, ahead of schedule, a guy came and got us from the waiting room and ushered us on to the bus and we departed. So far so good, this was the first bus in Vietnam we hadn’t had to wait an hour for.