This month we’re straying with Jeremy, a Canadian guy who’s always got a grin on his face! He has just finished 3 months travelling on a Stray Asia tour.
Jeremy fell in love with Stray after he Stray’d New Zealand with us in 2013. He went back home with a bad case of the travel bug and spent the last few years saving up for his Stray Asia adventure. We were so happy to have him back on the bus with us again!
What has been the highlight of your Stray Adventure?
The highlight of my Stray Adventure without a doubt was the “Tree Top Explorer“, zip-lining and trekking adventure in Pakse (Southern Laos) with Green Discovery. This hop off from Stray included a three day / two-night hike into the jungle through coffee plantations and forest where we zip-lined back and forth across a waterfall until we arrived at our accommodation for the duration of our stay.
Home for the two nights was a treehouse overlooking a massive valley, suspended nearly 10m in the air and into which you zip-lined to arrive. The treehouse even had a flush toilet; talk about luxury! Every piece of the trip from the zip-lining equipment, to the food, and even the wood that built the treehouses was carried in by foot to the location. Waking up every morning to a waterfall shower coupled with shooting down a 400m zip-line are memories I will cherish forever. Please note that a trip similar to this one can also be done in northern Laos in Houay Xai. For either trip just note you need to book in advance!
What is the best thing about travelling with a guide?
First off, Stray has amazing guides. Every single one loved their job and treated passengers more as friends than as customers. Having a guide allows you to turn your mind off and simply enjoy travelling. No need to waste nights thinking about booking buses, flights, hostels or activities. Guides also help when you arrive in a new country.
Need to buy a SIM card? Ask a guide. Need to know how much to pay for or book a tuk-tuk? Ask a guide. Need to stay safe while travelling? Unprompted a guide will help you. Want to go swimming in a waterfall on a cold day and no one will join you? A guide will! Guides even helped with questions surrounding my travels after I had finished on Stray. Connect with your guides on Facebook during your travels for help along the way and stay in touch for years to come!
What is your favourite photo from your trip?
My favourite group selfie whilst on tour occurred during the two-day slow boat trip from Houay Xai to Luang Prabang in Laos. Unlike our fellow ‘non-Stray’ travellers who were booked onto cramped, public boats with little to no space, our Stray family spread out on a private boat with more tables and chairs than we could count. We played cards, listened to music, had a few shots of Lao-Lao rice whiskey (careful) and sang a few Taylor Swift love stories.
The boat cruised down the Mekong River while we basked in the sun until we arrived at our overnight stop at Ban Pak Nguey village where we played with the local school children, swam in the river and were welcomed for the evening with a Baci (welcoming) ceremony. I could spend a few more days on the slow boat, no question about it.
What is a handy tip for other travellers thinking about Straying Asia?
Share and exchange tips and tricks with fellow travellers. You will save loads of time and money, meet great people and have an amazing trip. For example, on one of my first days travelling I was told about an app called Maps.me. This is an offline map that allows you to use GPS while away from Wifi.
I personally found buying a SIM card in every country very useful. 9GB of data for less than 10 USD goes a long way when you are in a country for a month and allows you to avoid the stress of slow Wifi at hostels. Just be sure to unlock your phone in your home country before coming!
Another helpful tip is Hostelworld, Agoda and Booking dot com – these are all great apps to help you find accommodation along the way when you decide to hop off. The Stray guesthouses usually do the trick though. Be sure to watch your visas along the way. The costs of visas are different for every country. Most nationalities don’t need to pay for a visa in Thailand, but in order to travel through Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam a visa purchase is required.
The visas are usually good for 30 days. It’s awesome to ask and share with people whilst you’re on the road, however, also sit down with friends before you travel who have already been to Asia. I personally sat down with a few friends and the advice went a long way to create memories and experiences that will last a lifetime.
What is your top tip for everyone who travels for the first time?
Be social! People make the difference in your trip and on Stray you will be handed lots of them and on a platter. One thing I have learned over time is that the people you meet really make your trip. You can be in the nicest place in the world by yourself and have a lousy time as you are unable to share the experience. Alternatively, you can be with a few amazing friends in the middle of a rainstorm and have a blast.
On my first day on Stray, I met a tremendous group of individuals. In this group was Laura whom with I have developed an amazing relationship. While on Stray we travelled together on and off for four months and have continued travelling together afterwards as well! You never know who you are going to meet out there so keep an open mind and be positive. Not everyone gets to leave their home country and not everyone gets to travel around South East Asia!
What would you say to yourself one month ago before you jumped on the Stray Bus?
Two words. TRAVEL LIGHT. Seriously, if you aren’t going to use it on a weekly basis, ditch it. You can buy almost anything here for cheaper than back home. From travel speakers to chargers, toiletries and medication to clothing. Sunscreen is the only exception to this rule. Bring lots and wear lots. The screen you buy here either doesn’t work as well is prohibitively expensive or bleaches your skin. In deciding what to bring, unpack and repack your bag fast and multiple times.
This will give you a sense of how it will be while on the road where you won’t have the time, space or interest in repacking every day. Along the way you will accumulate ‘stuff’ – shirts from pub crawls, hats, souvenirs, brochures; it all adds up. Lots of planes have a max weight of 7kg carry-on and 15-20kg checked. Be well under before you leave! And remember, the fewer ‘expensive’ items you bring, the less you will need to worry about when you leave the room.
So where to next?
I have caught the travel bug and I don’t think I will ever shake it. I am extremely happy I travelled with Stray again in Asia; the Stray family continues to amaze me. I am currently back in Canada now and deciding what to do next. My options range from – getting another job in the investment industry – moving to London – teaching English overseas…your guess is as good as mine. What I do know is that I am not yet done with Stray!
If you’re ready for an epic adventure in Southeast Asia like Jeremy, check out our travel passes!