After living and working in New Zealand for a couple of years, Rachael Perkin was ready for a much needed sabbatical to travel and Southeast Asia was conveniently located between New Zealand and her native UK. She decided to spend a leisurely couple months travelling through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam on Stray Asia’s Lot Pass. Here she’s shared some of her top experiences and stories from the road…
What are the key words/phrases you learnt to say in Asia and how did it help you on your travels?
On our first day we received an awesome list of Thai phrases from our Tour Leader which really helped us! I also made a list in my phone of ‘useful words’. I think my top three were:
- ‘Kithan Kha’ which is Thai phrase meaning ‘Bill please!’
- ‘Kop Jai Lai Lai’ which means ‘Thank you very much’ in Lao
- ‘Chol Moy!’ is the one I probably used the most – this means ‘CHEERS!’ in Cambodian!
What is the weirdest thing you ate on tour and where were you?
Definitely RAT in Cambodia (on the way to our homestay)! Sourced from a lovely lady on the side of the road…they were vegetarian field rats and they were delicious, but it’s definitely an odd experience!
We also went to this awesome restaurant in Siem Reap called the ‘Bugs Café’ and sampled some delicious, gourmet bugs. Our favourites were: Feta and Tarantula samosas and the Silk Worm curry!
What is the most interesting thing you learnt or did while on tour?
The most interesting day for me on the tour was going to the Killing Fields and the S21 Prison in Phnom Penh. It was amazing to find out what little I actually knew about the Khmer Rouge. Our Tour Leader had lots of information for us and patiently answered all of our questions.
What are the 3 things you can’t leave home without to travel in Asia?
- Travel Adaptor
- A great pair of flip flops (I ALWAYS recommend rubber ones, you can wear them in the shower in the more questionable hostel showers!)
- HAND SANITIZER (enough said)
What is a handy tip for other travellers thinking about Straying Asia?
MY TIP: Ask your Tour Leader any questions you can think of! They are there to help, and if they don’t know the answer, they’ll find out! One of the best things about travelling Asia with Stray is that you have a guide who is a fountain of knowledge, so use it!
What is your favourite selfie (or group selfie) that you took on the bus and why?
I have two favourite group photos from the trip…
The first is in Hue in Vietnam on our Motorbike Tour which was EPIC!
The second is in Cambodia, we had a party for the 4th July for the only American in our group:
When you look back on your trip, what is the first thing that pops up in your mind?
‘The movements of the sun’ – we had a running joke in our group that we needed to see as many sunsets and sunrises as we could. You will not be disappointed in Southeast Asia!
What is your top tips for everyone who travels for the first time?
- Try not to be afraid to try new things! I jumped on the back of a scooter for the first time in Vietnam and had my eyes screwed shut and probably almost bruised the ribs of the poor driver – but now I’m a pro and it really is a great way to get around!
- Download a currency conversion app (your head will hurt if you do mental calculations for your whole trip)
- Don’t be upset if things don’t always turn out like you planned (sometimes they turn out even better!)
What are your personal hotspots in Asia?
- Luang Prabang! I loved this place…the bluest waterfalls I have ever seen, an amazingly chilled out town and the cheapest and largest street food buffet ever!
- Da Lat. This romantic town in Vietnam is so picturesque and there is so much to do. I highly recommend the cable car into the Buddhist monastery (as long as you’re okay with heights!). The Crazy House is such a fun way to spend a morning, and then of course a stop in the MAZE Bar at night – it’s the most incredible bar I have ever been to.
What is the most bizarre thing that happened to you while travelling through Asia?
The most bizarre thing for me was that nothing bizarre happened to me. LOTS of bizarre things happened in Asia, from eating rat and bugs in Cambodia to singing Karaoke in the most rural location of Laos – but I stayed completely the same, I just have some more incredible memories to add to the bank!
Rachael is back living the dream in New Zealand now and already planning her next big travel adventures for 2018!