Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The End of the Adventure

Over two months ago I left DC to start what I called "Mollie's Grand Adventure," and what a grand adventure it has been! In the last 68 days, I have had so many experiences -- mostly good, some bad -- and seen so many cool places:

It's been like doing seven vacations in one trip. I've done a lot of things and learned a lot of things -- this wasn't a "finding myself" venture by any means (I already know me pretty well), but I was frequently forced to be brave and more uncomfortable than I would normally choose. I feel like I've been traveling forever, but at the same time I can't believe it's already over!

I'm sad to leave of course -- this traveler lifestyle is something I could get used to -- but at the same time I'm ready for certain home things, including but not limited to my family, constantly available drinkable water, preparing my own food, washers/dryers, truly clean feet, and having access to more than four outfits.

As you know, I spent all of Nepal within 5 feet of Sister2, and then most of Southeast Asia within 5 feet of Andy. Two major travel partner wins, since they both like to do the things I like to do, try all the food, and walk a ton.

If you've been following my posts all along then you know what I've been up to, but here are my retrospective highlights and things I would have done differently from the Southeast Asia portion of the trip.

Best days (I can't pick one):

Worst day:
  • Excluding long days-o-bus rides, the last day in Bangkok. It ended in massages and delicious food, so it was not a total loss by any means, but the day itself was hot and super-polluted and draining. Cities after too long (2 days) wear on me.
Place I would have stayed longer:
Place I could have skipped:
  • Hue (it was fine but not amazing).
  • Luang Prabang (we stayed 4 days, but should have only stayed 2. It's SUPER over-priced and there isn't much to do. If you want to just hang out somewhere, hang out somewhere with a beach.)
Nicest people:
  • Thais -- I love how much they smile!
Sketchiest people:
  • I'm sorry to say this, but be warned if you go, a lot of Vietnamese people will screw you over at every opportunity. We were upsold (multiple times), cheated, tricked by a taxi driver, forced into the worst bus seats (we successfully fought back on this one), and robbed, all in Vietnam. :(
Best food:
  • It's waaaay too hard to pick just one thing -- so I'll say Vietnam. All of the things. 

Worst food:
  • Cambodia was the least exciting food-wise (pho pho pho pho). But oh man this coconut curry ("Amok") at Angkor Wat was delicious!

Best activity:

Worst activity:
  • There was a Class 3 whitewater kayaking experience outside of Luang Prabang. I didn't blog about it at the time because it was mostly upsetting and terrible and scary. It was also really unsafe (despite the very legit-looking guide company there were NO safety precautions taken), so I do not recommend doing this.
Favorite city:
  • Saigon

Least Favorite city:
  • Bangkok
Best Palace:
  • Grand Palace, Bangkok

Best Ruins:
  • Angkor Wat

So would I go back? Maybe. I feel like I saw Nepal and Vietnam pretty thoroughly, and Cambodia doesn't have that much to see, but I would love to explore more of Laos (we stayed in the north/central area, but further north or way south would be cool to see). Southeast Asia was pretty freaking awesome and relatively easy travel-wise, but there's a whole world of other places to go and see and explore! Who knows where I'll end up next...