My list of Southeast Asia travel joys

April 9, 2012 in Places,Southeast Asia

My love affair with Southeast Asia was one of those opposites-attract scenarios: uptight, punctual hipster meets chaotic-bordering-on-crazy. Although brief, it was intense: it reminded me the act of breaking my rules can be its own reward.
Woman selling fresh flowers in Hanoi, Vietnam
It certainly had its downsides, mostly of the insect variety: bedbugs, cockroaches, mosquitoes. Long bus rides, a lack of toilet paper, wet floors in bathrooms (why bother to stick a pipe in under the sink?), crushing humidity. But mostly, Southeast Asia kept me smiling–here’s why:
The street food: mango and sticky rice in Thailand, unidentified spicy goodness wrapped up in banana leaves in Bali, steaming bowls of pho (and pretty much everything else edible) in Vietnam
Spotting monkeys in the trees, even if I secretly hoped they wouldn’t get too close
Never having to wait for a red light: Southeast Asia traffic rewards those who dare
Fruit shakes pre-blender in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Fruit shakes: your choice of tropical fruit, from exotic passionfruit and dragonfruit and mango to tame-but-still-delicious pineapple or banana, mixed with ice and a healthy spoonful of sugar: all mixed together by a blender plugged into the street corner
The smell of clean clothes: handing over a sack of dirty, rumpled clothes and receiving a stack of carefully-folded, sweetly-smelling items the next day for the same price of one washing machine cycle in a Laundromat at home
Sand in between my toes on Tohko Beach, Phi Phi Island, Thailand
The feeling as if you’ll never ever be able to get rid of all the sand lingering in your bag, your towel, in between your toes
Rock climbing the incredible limestone cliffs in Railay and Halong Bay: the satisfaction of reaching the top is heightened when you turn from the rock and see crystal-clear turquoise water stretching out before you
Sliding into the motorbike seat of your favorite street cart vendor and making your own dinner
Drinking a coconut at Sari Organic over the rice fields, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
From watching the man shimmy up the tree to cut one down with his machete to slurping the water straight out through a straw to cutting up the flesh for a snack, coconuts are the ultimate symbol of laid-back life in the tropics
Sunset over the sea (while sipping a pina colada, while lounging in the sand…
Hammock on the beach in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
Hammocks, glorious hammocks
Being either barefoot or wearing flip-flops ALL THE TIME
Realizing that three square (and delicious) meals a day costs less than your morning latte in Melbourne
What are your favorite Southeast Asia travel joys? 
  •  Lovely article! I’ve been traveling in Asia for the last seven months and I love the food, drinks, friendly people, massages, beaches, palm trees.. (I can go on forever.. haha). And oh.. it’s so cheap..!

  • Sounds like those positives definitely outweigh the negatives! And those street-side smoothies sound amazing as well.

  • Love that last shot! I find there are ups and downs to each country I visit, but that the ups are sooooo much more than the downs.

  • LOVE! This is currently my favorite list too. Although I have to say we’ve been turned down 3 times for mango sticky rice.. once they even said “we have sticky rice.. no mango” LOL. But we’re determined. Today is the day! 

  • the friendly people, the amazing food, the constant picture-prefect photo opportunity, the temples, spending my time in slow trains watching the world go by. I am in deep love with Asia, I am already looking forward to return hopefully soon!! Happy to hear you liked it as well 🙂

  • I adore hammocks, I wish we had more of them in Canada, there’s nothing better than a day in the hammock.

  • I just love the laid back attitude of Southeast Asia–the casual dress, eating from food carts, lounging in the shade (or the sun), fresh mango juice, and friendly people. I can’t wait to go back!

  • camorose

    You can live like a queen on a pauper’s budget–that’s definitely one of the best parts 🙂

  • camorose

    The first time I saw a blender on the street I was in heaven–no excuse not to drink every variety of smoothie!

  • camorose

    Ahhhh what I would do to go back to that hammock on Gili T!

  • camorose

    Good luck! Mango sticky rice is pretty delicious, but give me a fresh fruit smoothie any day!

  • camorose

    Love this! I need to take a slow train next time I go 🙂

  • camorose

    I know! I’m trying to convince my dad to hang one by my parents’ pool.

  • camorose

    Ahhh I miss all of those things too! Although I have found a little Vietnamese place in town that does a killer fresh mango smoothie 🙂

  • Jenny

    We share so many of the same south east Asian travel joys 🙂 I just took my mom to Sari orangik a few months back when she was visiting me, what a place! Although Ubud is über crowded it still remains of my top travel joys of the world! Next time, try body works spa in Ubud. I’m pretty sure you’ll add it to your list of travel joys!

    Check out my life blog at

  • camorose

    Ohhh I went to Body Works! It was actually right when I had the bedbugs so I was miserable–went and had a milk bath, felt SO much better, even if the relief didn’t quite last 🙂 Love it!

  • Riz

    Super love this post!! 🙂

  • camorose


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