The Epic Adventure Part II: Month 4 (October 2017)
October seems to have been the month of moving fast. After spending a whole month in Malaysia in August and a whole month in Indonesia in September, I hit up four countries in October.
I started the month with 10 days in Myanmar and had such a great time exploring this largely undiscovered gem. It’s a country full of some of the nicest people I’ve met during all my travels, and a country that still isn’t quite ready for tourism. It’s one of those places that you need to visit now before more and more tourists pour in and ruin it.
After Myanmar, I left Southeast Asia for the first time in four months and headed to China where I met my Nan for two weeks of travel. China is a huge country that you could spend months in and still not see everything. So, in two weeks we only got a taste of what the country has to offer. We chose to divide our time between Beijing, Xi’an, Yangshuo and Shanghai.
I must admit I had certain expectations about my trip to China. I thought the people were going to be extremely rude and that the language barrier was going to be extremely difficult. Instead we found people to be mostly friendly and helpful, except for the domestic tour groups that pushed and shoved us at every sight we visited. China is an incredible country with some of the best preserved historical sites in the world. I can’t wait to go back and visit more.
I flew straight from Shanghai to Bangkok where I immediately hopped on a bus to Siem Reap in Cambodia. I finished the month in Siem Reap, marvelling at Angkor Wat and having a great time checking out the bar scene on Pub Street.
2/10-3/10- Yangon, Myanmar
3/10-4/10- Bagan, Myanmar
5/10-7/10- Three Day Trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake
7/10-9/10- Inle Lake, Myanmar
10/10-11/10- Yangon, Myanmar
12/10-17/10- Beijing, China
18/10-20/10- Xi’an, China
20/10-23/10- Yangshuo, China
23/10-26/10- Shanghai, China
27/10-31/10- Siem Reap, Cambodia
Some Interesting Statistics
Countries visited- 4 (Myanmar, China, Thailand, Cambodia)
Things lost- 1 (sunglasses)
The temples of Bagan- Bagan is one of the highlights of any trip to Myanmar and I had a blast riding around on my electric bike and stopping off at any random temple. There are thousands in the region so most of the time we had no plan. But we did make sure to hit up some of the most beautiful ones, and of course to catch two sunsets and one sunrise over the area. It is spectacular.
A three-day trek from Kalaw to Inle lake- I’m not quite sure I knew what I was getting into when I decided to commit to a 65km hike from Kalaw to Inle Lake. But for less than $40 for three days of hiking including food and homestays, this trek was one of the cheapest ways to spend three days in Myanmar. We had an awesome group of people that kept me entertained for the three-day trek through beautiful countryside and farmland. Our guide Zaw taught us so much about the local minority ethnic communities that live in the villages and the crops that they grow. I arrived in Inle Lake very sore and very muddy but it was well worth it for the experience and the new friends I met along the way.
The Great Wall of China- All the temples and historical places I visited in China were so amazing that I could put every one of them on this list, but the biggest highlight of Beijing for me was finally being able to hike the Great Wall of China. I was extremely proud of my 74-year-old Nan for being able to make it up onto the wall. But I did leave her behind for a rest while I did the huge slog up the step part of the Mutianyu section of the wall. It’s another New Wonder of the World that I can tick off my list.
The Terracotta Warriors near Xi’an- But if I had to pick my favourite thing in China it would have to be the Terracotta Warriors. Walking into the pits and seeing literally thousands of the warriors is an awe-inspiring moment, especially when you realise that they were created in 220 BC, more than 2000 years ago! Of course, not all the warriors have been restored as the process is a painstaking puzzle for the archaeologists that work on the site. But the glimpse we did have of the restored warriors showed the level of detail and handicraft that was used to make the warriors. For a history buff like me, my day at the warriors is up there with some of my best travel days.
Angkor Wat- Angkor Wat is ridiculously touristy, and at $37 USD for a one day ticket to the temple complex, it is hands down the most expensive place I have ever visited in terms of entrance fees and values. But the reason the Cambodians can charge so much is that they know that people aren’t going to miss it. I’d heard sunrise over Angkor Wat could be terrible because of the thousands of tourists that pack the complex, but luckily our guide took us to the other side of the bridge where we were able to take some beautiful photos without the noise and pushing and shoving. The highlight for me was not Angkor Wat itself, but the other temples we visited including the famous Tomb Raider Temple.
Favourite Food Moments
Night Food Tour in Beijing- We booked a night food tour in Beijing with UnTour Food Tours and it was one of the best food tours I have ever done. I really regretted having eaten anything at all that day because we got fed so much food on this four hour long tour. We ate delicious hand pulled noodles, sampled hot pot, ate a street food pancake, and went down this dark alley to find some of the best chicken wings in Beijing.
Dumpling Tour in Shanghai- After how much we liked the UnTour Food Tour in Beijing, we decided to book a food tour in Shanghai. Four hours of eating and sampling dumplings is basically the definition of foodie heaven for me. We tried pot sticker pork dumplings, wonton soups, my favourite soup dumplings and even got to create our own prawn dumplings.
Cambodian food in Siem Reap- Although I loved Chinese food, it really didn’t agree with me. All the oil that they use in their cooking left me feeling pretty yuck for the two weeks I spent eating in the country. So, it was a relief when I got to go back to the fresh, fragrant, sweet and sour flavours of South East Asia. My favourite Cambodian dish for sure is the Khmer curry that is like a Thai curry but less spicy and with more coconut milk. It was delicious.
Food Poisoning in Yangon- As a final goodbye Indonesia decided to give me food poisoning from food I ate at the airport. So, by the time I arrived in Yangon I was in a world of pain. I’m used to a bit of traveller’s tummy but this was only the third time in my life that I have had full blown food poisoning. I was running such a high temperature that I thought I could possibly have dengue or malaria. Thankfully the worst of it subsided after 48 hours and I was mostly recovered for my three-day trek.
Money Spent- $2950
October was another month where I absolutely blew my budget. Luckily quite a lot of these expenses had already been sucked out of my bank account months ago when I booked my flights to and from China. China is not super expensive but it is undoubtedly more expensive than South East Asia so the two weeks I spent there really meant I took a hit to the budget. I’m a little bit in panic mood for the rest of my trip in South East Asia but hopefully I can make the money stretch.
As always you’ll find all of my expenses itemised in this public google sheet.
I’m almost finished with my South American posts, but not quite there yet!
Instagram Top Five
After 30 amazing days the Indonesian government is unfortunately making me leave this incredible country. I set off with a mission to visit parts of Indonesia that the average Australian never visited. And i think I achieved it. I climbed volcanoes, I visited 1000 year old temples, I dived ship wrecks and with manta rays, I partied on the Gili islands and in Seminyak and I explored the wonders of Komodo National Park both on land and under the water. Most importantly, I met some truly incredible people (majority of which were not Aussies). Thanks to everyone that made this month one of the best yet. Next stop- Burma/Myanmar!
What’s Up Next?
I’ve got a little more to see in Cambodia before I hop on to a bus to Ho Chi Minh City for a whole month of travel in Vietnam!