My 2016 Travels
Here are snapshots of my travels so far in 2016. In October, I’ll be adding Cambodia and Myanmar to my list. Then finally, my home: California!
A much-needed break from everything Thai and a chance to be “western.” I enjoyed eating authentic Hong-Kong style Chinese food, the type of cuisine that I miss so much back in California, making my way through Mongkok’s shopping district, catching up with old friends and new, and just being in a more country where English is one of the main languages.
India with my sisters
One whirlwind week in India: New Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra. Dubbed the “Golden Triangle” because they’re all located in a convenient triangle for travelers who don’t have much time, but want to see as much of India as they can.
Thoughts/words on each city
New Delhi: Green. Chaotic. Luxurious yet overwhelming.
Jaipur: Textiles. Amber Fort. Shopping. Luxury vagabonds.
Agra: The Taj Mahal. Tourists. One day only.
Vietnam is best seen by motorcycle. You can’t just go through the country without seeing its every day life and landscapes. The beauty of simplicity as I saw families live each day by their own hard work was humbling. They lived such simple lives and I was just an every day spectator. The vast rice paddies and fields of agriculture stretched for miles and miles — seeing the workers like little ants as I drove by. The school I visited: 4 classrooms and a few teachers. They were learning how to add and subtract. Simple lives. Simple.
I went from the historic southern capital of Ho Chi Minh to the local beaches of Long Hai to the coast of Mui Ne to the mountains of Da Lat to the popular tourist site of Nha Trang. From Nha Trang, I took an overnight bus to Hoi An, a sleepy UNESCO Heritage Site heavily influenced by the Chinese. Walking around the city at night, shopping for custom-made clothing and shoes, relaxing in cafes, and eating “The Best Bahn Mi in Vietnam” proclaimed by Anthony Bourdain — what. a. place.
From Hoi An, I flew to Hanoi, the capital of the North. Halong Bay, of course, was on the agenda. And it lived up to the hype and expectations. Natural limestone formations — thousands of them in one bay. Sleeping on a cruise and waking up to the silence of the waters as it swished back and forth on the ship — what. a. feeling.
Last stop: Sa Pa, Vietnam. 3 days, 2 nights of trekking through rice farms and local hilltribe homes, including staying overnight with Hmong people. I never imagined I would be here in Sa Pa sleeping in a wooden loft house with a Hmong family and being invited into their homes for a few days. It was one of the highlights of my trip.
Malaysia — the backburner of the Southeast Asia backpacker trail. I never thought I would be back, but with the good grace of my friend who is a Fulbright ETA there, she invited me to visit her in her town of Gerik, located in the state of Ipoh. But first, I made my way to Cameron Highlands, a vacation spot for many Malaysians to escape the humidity and heat of the lowlands. Cameron Highlands is known for their tea plantations: hundreds and hundreds of acres of tea plantations. BOH tea plantation is the most famous tea in Malaysia and only exports to two other countries. As a tea-lover, I reveled in the fields of tea leaves, taking pictures here, there everywhere. It was beautiful and rightfully so.
After visiting my friend in her town, we headed to Penang. Penang holds the city of Georgetown, a UNESCO heritage site because of its delicately preserved houses from when many Chinese occupied the town (and still do). Georgetown is a must-see especially for its streetart. A treat for those who enjoy wandering.