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My Favorite Places in Southeast Asia

If you haven’t yet, check out my guest post on Lesley’s blog By the Porchlight for all the reasons you should visit Southeast Asia! Now that I’ve convinced you to travel to the region, where exactly should you go? Here are a few of my favorite places:

• The River Kwai Jungle Rafts in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. This floating hotel is only accessible by boat and has no electricity! But it was amazing. You can jump off the front deck and float down the river or watch elephants bathe from the hammock on your balcony.

River Kwai Jungle Rafts

• The Puerto Princesa Underground River on Palawan Island in the Philippines. Named one of the new wonders of nature in 2012, you can take a boat ride on the river into an enormous cave. On land, you’ll see giant monitor lizards and monkeys hanging out together and the most gorgeous green water you could imagine.

Underground River

• Street food stands in Hanoi, Vietnam. I don’t even care for Vietnamese food, but the pho I ate at one of the many tiny tables set up along the sidewalks of this charming city was so delicious. Chances are there won’t be any English spoken here but a little pantomime can go a long way. After dinner grab a beer at a roadside bia hơi joint.

Hanoi

• Kuang Si Falls near Luang Prabang, Laos. Best swimming holes in the world! But please be respectful of the local culture and wear a t-shirt over your bathing suit. There are tons of signs posted yet I saw so many foreigners in bikinis. Also be sure to visit the Bear Rescue Center at the entrance to the park!

Kuang Si Falls

• Beng Mealea near Siem Reap, Cambodia. Angkor Wat gets all the hype but I preferred this remote temple that can be reached by tuk-tuk in two hours. Prepare for a dusty, bumpy ride… But it’s worth it! Beng Mealea has been consumed by the jungle and left to ruin, which to me only adds to its beauty. You can climb up and over fallen rocks and rubble. Since there are many trees, it is also much shadier than other temples.

Beng Mealea

• Phang Nga Bay Sea Kayaking near Phuket, Thailand. Definitely do the Hong by Starlight tour with John Gray’s Sea Canoe. Expensive but so worth it! Amazing guides, great food, beautiful scenery, monkeys, swimming… I also loved making krathongs out of banana leaves and flowers and making a wish as we watched them float away in the candlelit lagoon. Magical!

Phang Nga Bay Sea Kayaking

Nipah Guesthouse in Pulau Pangkor, Malaysia. This is the best hotel I have ever stayed at because of its owners. Nicest, friendliest people you will ever meet! Alicia and Anuar really went above and beyond to make our stay exceptional. This is a great place to visit if you want to relax for a few days… Read in a hammock, take a leisurely stroll to the beach, munch on banana fritters, and feed the hornbills. Walking to Coral Island during low tide is fun too!

Pulau Pangkor

• Buddha Park near Vientiane, Laos. There isn’t much else to do near this city so if you’re in the area, definitely check out this sculpture park! So many bizarre Hindu and Buddhist statues. There’s also a giant pumpkin with three levels (hell, earth, and heaven) that you can go inside. From the top there’s a great view of the entire park.

Buddha Park

• Bali, Indonesia. This island is my favorite place in the world (so far). I love the offerings that are EVERYWHERE. Balinese people are very spiritual. They believe that Bali is populated with gods, ancestors, spirits, and demons and the offerings are meant to show respect and gratitude. I saw many items presented in the offerings, such as fruit, candy, cigarettes, money, crackers, and incense.

Bali

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2012 Review Extravaganza: First Quarter Recap

January:

I went on vacation to Palawan Island in the Philippines (so beautiful!!).

that's a real starfish!

that’s a real starfish!

fresh coconut milk

fresh coconut milk

monkeys and monitor lizards!

monkeys and monitor lizards!

Puerto Princesa Underground River

Puerto Princesa Underground River

it was Chinese New Year

it was Chinese New Year

I also blogged about my December 2011 trip to Singapore and Bali.

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this was actually terrifying

this was actually terrifying

I quit my job as a kindergarten teacher to be a full-time student. My last day there was filled with cards, presents, and hugs!

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February:

I went on an awesome Bugok Hawaii Ice Festival and wine tasting trip.

red wine foot bath!

red wine foot bath!

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party bus

party bus

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I visited the Korean Folk Village.

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chestnuts roasting on an open fire

chestnuts roasting on an open fire

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March:

I visited Busan.

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I visited Siem Riep, Cambodia and Bangkok and Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

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In case you’re wondering, I lived in Korea from May 2010-May 2012.

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The Queen’s Meme

1. When you take a vacation at the beach, what do you like to do the most?
Walk on the beach, take photos.

2. You are on the beach enjoying the nice clean fresh air. The sunbather in the chair next to you lights up a cigarette. You do not smoke. You move your chair. Then the person you sat down beside lights up a cigarette. What would you do? And how many times would you move around the beach to get away from the carcinogens invading your vacation?
It would depend on how much crap I had to carry around. But generally I would never be hanging out on such a crowded beach!

3. Do you think smoking should be permitted on public beaches?
No, I think smoking should be banned pretty much anywhere.

4. Have you ever encountered a shark or other dangerous animal at the beach?
Just a month ago I got stung by a jellyfish in Vietnam and it was sooo painful! I still have a scar.

5. Do you prefer hotels, condos, or cottages at the beach?
Any of them! One with a pool would be nice.

6. Describe your worst experience with accommodations at the coast.
I got Montezuma’s revenge in the Dominican Republic.

7. Describe the best beach vacation you ever had or tell us about your fantasy beach vacation!
I have been to so many beautiful beaches around the world. But I think Palawan in the Philippines was the best so far!

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Ten on Tuesday

1. Would you rather give up pedicures or flat/curling irons?
I don’t use a flat/curling iron, so I would give that up. I love pedicures! Unfortunately in Korea they are expensive. For $35 they only do your toenails, you have to pay $70 for them to actually scrub and massage your feet!

2. Does your middle name have a family meaning?
My middle name is Eileen and no, it doesn’t have a family meaning.

3. Do you like to sneeze?
Yes! Who doesn’t? 😉

4. Do you think kids should need to learn cursive?
No. I never write in cursive; what is the point? They should learn to print and type.

5. When you go to the beach for the day, what do you take?
A chair, towel, beverages, sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and a book.

my most recent trip to the beach

6. Which decade had the best music?
The 90s. With the 80s coming in a close second.

7. Are you a good hand-shaker?
Ummm I’m OK…

8. Do you have a go-to meal for when you are at a restaurant and you can’t decide?
It depends on what kind of restaurant it is. I usually order the same thing at my favorite/regular restaurants. But there are a lot of them! At an Indian restaurant, I order garlic naan, saffron rice, and some kind of chicken curry. At the Thai restaurant in my neighborhood, I order yellow chicken curry and spring rolls. At On the Border, I order the lunch chicken burrito (going there Friday!). Etc., etc.

9. Do you have slippers?
No because I feel like they get dirty too easily. I wear plastic shower shoes. Not that comfy, but I don’t walk around my apartment that much anyway.

10. Are you easily grossed out?
I guess. Depends on what it is. I don’t wanna see blood or vomit.

Original post can be found here.