The BEST (And Worst!) Moments on my Southeast Asia Trip
What's it like to travel to seven countries in 4.5 weeks across multiple continents?!
It's tough to sum up such an experience into one sentence.
You see, with travel - especially fast travel like this trip - I was constantly on the move: planning the trip as I went, keeping up with client work when I found internet connections, and trying to maximize my time in each amazing city I visited.
Exhausting and exhilarating could describe what it was like traveling to those places in a month's time.
With that said, this post is going to round up the best (and worst!) moments on my trip to Southeast Asia, New Zealand, and Australia!
"What?! You're sharing the worst moments too? Isn't traveling and the digital nomad lifestyle all cocktails and laptops on the beach?!"
With blogging, videos, and social media, we all choose to show the highlights of our lives.
In this post I'm sharing both sides of the story, as there are always positive and negative things that happen while traveling - just as there are positive and negative things that happen when you're home.
Here are the memories that stand out the most on this trip!
The BEST moments on this trip:
Sunsets in Bali
Don't really need much of an explanation for this. :)
Hiking a volcano in Bali
WOW. Just WOW.
That's all I could think when we arrived at the summit on Mount Batur, climbing through the fog to the very top as the sun showed the first sign of morning on the horizon.
Hiking is one of my favorite ways to get a high viewpoint while traveling. Hiking a volcano (!) for the first time was so cool and different than anything I had ever experienced.
"I'm in Thailand" moment
You've seen the boats in photos or videos of Thailand. These boats are associated with the islands in Thailand, and upon seeing them for the first time, I had the "I'm in THAILAND!!!" moment/feeling.
Unexpected view in Railay
When I was traveling around some of the islands in Thailand, my friend Nick and I went to Railay Beach (which actually is on the mainland).
Railay was my favorite beach I went to in my short three days. The bright blue water, the limestone cliffs, and meeting a bunch of travelers from all over the world (remember, Thailand is pretty touristy) was awesome.
We were walking around when we stumbled upon a group of people climbing up this rocky area and saw a sign saying there was a viewpoint at the top.
Unprepared and in flip flops (most people were wearing sneakers), we decided to climb up to see what the view was about!
It was an easy climb - like easy rock climbing - and there was a rope for additional support.
The view, though...
I love high viewpoints so this was one of the highlights of my Thailand trip.
Meeting likeminded girls at the Bali retreat & making friends as a solo traveler
As usual before I travel solo, I get a little twinge of nerves: will I meet people? Will I get lonely? Will I make friends? Will I want to come home early?
That has never been the case but of course I feel those common fears like most people do.
Deep down I know it'll be entirely worth it, and that I will meet people.
And I did! The likeminded girls at the retreat...the friends I made traveling through the countries after...it was really great.
I never felt lonely, in fact, I felt like I needed a little more alone time so I could keep up with work! Ha.
Southeast Asia has tons of travelers from all over the world, so if you're considering a solo trip, definitely consider Asia. It is super easy to meet people.
I met and made some travel buddies in New Zealand and Australia too.
While I'm unsure if I'll ever see these people again outside of Instagram and Facebook, I'll always remember our fun times and memories!
The people I met and hung out with definitely made this trip special.
Thailand Hostel and Elphie's First Walk
We stayed at The Moment hostel in Ao Nang which was AWESOME. After a couple not-so-great hostels (one in particular is explained in the "worst travel moments" section), I was skeptical of hostels and almost wrote them off completely.
The Moment was great: clean, new, and casual but also social. I made a few friends there and it was fun chatting with other travelers and digital nomads.
One of our roommates was a mom traveling with her daughter (Elphie) who was only a year or two old. She said most hostels turned down children, but this place accepted them.
Her daughter really well-behaved, and she walked for the first time in our room!
We look over and see the little crawler stand up and take a few steps.
"Becky! Is the first time she's walking??"
"Um, yes! Yes!"
The girl had plopped back on the ground but stood up again, and I quickly whipped out my camera next to me to capture the moment. The mom's camera was broken so I was glad I had my camera at-the-ready so I could send the video to her.
I definitely never expected to see a child's first walk on this trip!
Spontaneous Macau day trip
I didn't plan to go to Hong Kong originally, but when I was booking flights for this trip, I saw that to get from Bangkok to New Zealand I would have to connect flights in Hong Kong.
So I decided to go to Hong Kong and spend a few days there and then fly to New Zealand.
Near Hong Kong is Macau, another SAR (Special Administrative Region) of China.
It intrigued me but I didn't think I would go...until I realized that it was only a one-hour ferry ride away, and...what if I never had the opportunity to go again?!
Read all about my day trip to Macau here!
I am so happy I went. I was in an energetic, goofy mood the entire time. I'm really excited to get my travel vlog up from Macau!
Being at this amazing infinity pool
After our volcano hike, we went to this amazing resort in Ubud for a collaboration and lunch. The infinity pool was INSANE.
I mean, look at it:
It was a pretty great & relaxing view after an early morning hiking.
Having "I'm in Australia" moments every time I saw the Opera House
Australia was my fourth continent and 25th country!
I still can't believe I've been to Australia...
I've had Australia on my travel list for ages and it almost didn't feel real that I was actually there.
Until of course, I walked up to the Sydney Harbour and saw the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
I lucked out and arrived on a beautiful sunny day - two days later it rained a LOT, and was cloudy/rainy the rest of my time in Australia. So I was super happy to see Australia's most iconic building on a nice day!
Attempting to learn German from German guys I met on Waiheke Island
I still can't say "ten" right...
Traveling solo can be fun, especially when you meet other travelers! On the bus around Waiheke Island, I met a couple of German guys who were about to explore New Zealand from the north to the south.
We hung out that day and I attempted to learn some German phrases. It was fun!
The amazing view of the Hong Kong skyline from the Sheraton
After my horror of a hostel in Hong Kong (see below), I promptly checked into the Sheraton. I went to the restaurant on the top of the hotel and sat by the window so I could see the evening light show.
It was so cool to see such a modern and colorful city from above!
The WORST moments on this trip
Overall, these "worst" moments aren't all that bad. The reality to travel is that there are always positives and negatives; we just tend to showcase the happiest ones on Instagram, Snapchat, and other content we put out online.
Beginning of trip stress and a little anxiety in Bali
When I arrived in Bali, I only had my flights planned for the rest of my trip. No hotels, hostels, or Airbnbs were booked for the remaining six countries I was about to visit, no activities, and logistics were still up in the air.
It was also the first time I was traveling more long-term while working online, and I felt a little stressed trying to balance work and travel. On my first trip in DC, I had only two freelance clients while working for 9 days; at the point of this trip I had three and was in talks with two potential others.
After a few days I chilled out a bit - which isn't tough to do in Bali! - and felt my stress and anxiety easing. I LOVED Bali and my time there overall.
No internet in New Zealand
For some reason I couldn't get good internet in Auckland, the capital city. And then a few days into my time in New Zealand, the internet at my Airbnb - which was already quite slow - completely stopped working.
Since I rely on internet to keep up with work, this was incredibly frustrating. I tried Starbucks, I tried McDonald's and Wendy's and bought random foods to use their internet. My internet barely worked except for Wendy's.
My Airbnb host shared her secret password for her personal internet with me on my last day after me telling her that it was completely out. Little did I know, she had only given me the building's internet code...
If you're a digital nomad too, I'm sure you can relate to this frustration!
Creepy Man in Hong Kong
Upon arriving in Hong Kong, I was in awe of the amazing lights, sounds, and bustle of the city. I felt 100% safe in Hong Kong (I felt pretty safe everywhere actually) but wasn't expecting to get approached by a creepy man.
He told me he was from Hong Kong, but "oh actually from India," and I shouldn't ignore him (he kept trying to talk to me and was asking me why I was alone). He walked across a crosswalk next to me and whispered, "I like you" all creepy in my ear. I shouted "NOT interested!" and sped-walked away, leaving him behind. *Shuddering*
I'll probably do a separate blog post on dealing with the few creepy men that approached me while solo traveling, but overall I felt safe. I felt in my gut that the dude in Hong Kong wasn't going to do anything but it was still annoying and creeped me out.
Horrible hostel in Hong Kong
This was the lowest point of my entire trip. Which is probably not all that bad considering what some people deal with while traveling!
But when I tell you my hostel in Hong Kong was horrible...It. Was. HORRIBLE.
One of my favorite travel bloggers recommended this hostel (Rainbow Lodge) in Kowloon so I trusted the opinion. It was situated in an awesome location so I booked it to save some cash as Hong Kong is also more expensive than Thailand, Bali, etc.
I'll save you the entire rant, but the bed was one of those triple bunk beds (I didn't know there was such a thing?) and my bed happened to be the one on the very top. The nice receptionist girl kept apologizing, saying it was all they had left, and I didn't realize why she was so apologetic until I climbed in that night.
There was only enough room to lie down between the bed and the ceiling...
It felt like I was sleeping in a coffin.
There was no room to sit up or even halfway lean up...I'm a fit and slim person, and it was extremely hard to not just get in the bed, but I almost fell down multiple times trying to do so.
In the few hours of sleep I got, I had dreams about being dead which just put me in a sour mood the next morning. *Shuddering*
Since I didn't didn't get the reading light or power bank I was promised (I'm honestly convinced this wasn't even a real bed) I used the last of my laptop battery to charge my phone at a nearby Starbucks. With about 5% battery left on my phone, I FaceTimed my dad and burst into tears when he asked how Hong Kong was. It was a little embarrassing as I was...in public...but I tried hiding it!
Right then and there I booked the rest of my trip at the Sheraton down the street and promptly checked out of Rainbow Lodge.
Never will I ever stay at that hostel again...
Seeing a man jump off a cliff in Australia
Ahh, so this was a really sad moment. :/ I went back and forth on whether I wanted to write about it, but decided to in the end.
I joined a small group of friends I made in Sydney to do the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk. It is a truly beautiful walk - the coastline views are incredible and it was the most perfect day.
As we were walking away from the cliffside viewpoint we were taking photos at, we hear a police officer shout "Oi!" and turn around. We unfortunately hear a man scream while jumping off the cliff.
I had never seen someone commit suicide before...luckily we didn't see him hit the bottom, and I hope no one else did. Apparently this happens often in that area, unfortunately.
We gave the police officers our information and accounts as witnesses, and some people of our group had to go into the detective office to provide statements.
It shed a weird shadow on the afternoon. It was just shocking and really sad to see, and we can only hope his family and friends are able to move past it.
The reality of travel: the good and the bad
In the moment while these "worst moments" didn't feel good, I feel incredibly grateful and fortunate that I'm living a life where I can work online, travel while I work, and explore our beautiful world.
I had an absolutely amazing time during my trip and am already itching to go back to these places!
If you're planning a trip, I couldn't recommend Southeast Asia, New Zealand, and Australia more, depending on what you're interested in and what your budget is.
Oh, and getting through the entire trip without getting food poisoning was pretty awesome. ;)