I’ve been fawning over Vietnam since watching Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” episode where he meets Obama in Hanoi for soup. Something about that entire episode – the careful selection of pho, the hustle and bustle of Hanoi’s streets – really made me feel like finding the next cheap flight out of St. John’s.
I’ve been craving pho so hard since then that I’m now desperately seeking a good Vietnamese restaurant in Ottawa. And I’ve never. Even. Been. To. Asia.
Unlike every other travel blogger out there, I haven’t had the opportunity to explore Southeast Asia. I can’t seem to get out of Europe.
And, to be honest, Southeast Asia always struck me as the kind of place I should visit in my early 20s when everyone is a budget backpacker and partying on the beach until sunrise is THE thing to do. Now I know that’s not ALL true, though. (And, really, who cares if it is?)
I’ve got some wheels in motion for later next year, so here’s what I’m thinking. If you’ve been, I’d love some tips. If you haven’t, maybe this will spark some wanderlust too.
Obviously I’d start with this one because FOOD.
The older I get, the more my travels revolve around food exploration. It seems to be a consistent trend with aging, really. Yes, I realize I’m only 30.
But other than slurping down bowls of bun oc in a hole-in-the-wall, I’m aching to see Halong Bay. I’m a sucker for dramatic limestone pillars, emerald waters, and multi-day boat trips. Sometimes I feel there’s no greater way to observe a special landscape than by boat.
The same goes for Lan Ha, an area similar to Halong Bay with 300 karst islands. And white beaches. I’m all about those beaches.
The Philippines is where I want to do my beachy-type travel. I pine for it; nay, I live for it.
Usually my beach trips revolve around the Caribbean, because it’s easiest for me. But ever since I saw photos of the beaches in Boracay, I’m basically never going to be happy until I’m cartwheeling down one of those long stretches of white sand.*
It’s not just Boracay, though. There’s something like 7,000 tropical islands around the Philippines, including the Bacuit Archipelago. Bacuit Bay is basically a fantasy.
*I can’t actually cartwheel.
Indonesia has long been my number one bucket list Asian destination. I can’t even properly plan for this one, because there’s just WAY TOO MUCH to see. Honestly, I’d need months – or however long it takes for immigration to start knocking down my front door.
I’ve always been drawn to isolated island nations. I feel like such places breed a certain sense of originality and culture. (Take Newfoundland, for example.) Plus anywhere near the sea is the place for me.
So you can see why Indonesia is my go-to. The country totals more than an astonishing 17,000 islands (only half of which are inhabited), and there are over 300 languages spoken across them.
It was actually the volcanic landscape on East Java that first sparked my desire to visit, though. Something about the landscape around Mount Bromo is just too dramatic to be believed. I’m aching to see it first-hand.
Alright, Thailand definitely has to be done.
I want to visit Railay and Chiang Mai, and I want to peruse the markets in Bangkok. I’d like to visit temples, and eat weird things on sticks.
Not tarantulas, though. Never that.
And yeah, I’d like to grab some water guns and hose down children at Songkran. And when the one-year mourning period is over, I most definitely want a Full Moon Party on a beach somewhere while drinking questionable drinks from a bucket. Now’s the time, right? I mean, when the mourning is done.