Backpacking IndoChina in 11 Days: What To See & Do in Cambodia

I need to remember how great our adventure was. The thought of just hopping from country to country alone was an adventure in itself especially the border crossings but the best adventure was being able to see the places that we’ve only seen in books or in pictures. So stay with me as I relived our 11 day adventure that started in Cambodia then Vietnam then Laos, and finally Thailand. Yay!!! You can do this too! Maybe even better than we did. 🙂


Today is exactly 2 months since I turn 30 and flew to Cambodia – the starting point of our multi-country escape in Indochina to celebrate  a new milestone. To be honest, I haven’t really had the time to check all the pics and do a cleanup since we return. And sometimes, everything feels like a dream. But I know it’s not because I have pictures to prove it. Plus every now and then, I get messages from strangers commending about our kick-ass and detailed plan too.  I have Trip Zilla to thank for that. 🙂 Just grateful that I could share and inspire others to travel.

After detailing the everyday activities, I still have lots to tell but unfortunately, things happen. When I finally caught up, I got super busy that I felt the need for extra hours just to do the things that I wanted to do. 24 hours is just not enough. But today is a bit different. There’s this little voice in my head that’s telling me that I need to write to calm my raging thoughts. Oh yes, my to dos are still endless but I need this.

I need to remember how great our adventure was. The thought of just hopping from country to country alone was an adventure in itself especially the border crossings but the best adventure was being able to see the places that we’ve only seen in books or in pictures. So stay with me as I relived our 11 day adventure that started in Cambodia then Vietnam then Laos, and finally Thailand. Yay!!! You can do this too! Maybe even better than we did. 🙂

First stop: SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

When you thought of Cambodia, of course the first place that would come to mind is Angkor Wat right? We were there. But to our delight, Angkor Wat is not just a single monumental structure. The place was HUGE. And that’s not all it, Siem Reap was actually home to lots of Angkors or city in ruins. IT WAS MIND-BLOWING. And because the husband is a National Geographic fan, it was like playground for him. For me, every corner is a place to photo shoot. Haha! If we ever come back to Cambodia, we would surely take the 3-day pass. But if you are in a hurry like us, you can just have it in 1 day and visit only the musts. See below our pictures arranged from our first stop to the last.

Day 1 Siem Reap, Cambodia (Currency spent: USD-cash on hand)
-Sunrise @ Angkor Wat
-Bayon, Baphoun, Royal Enclosure, Terraces of Elephants
-Checkout
-Lunch
-Bantay Kdei, Ta Phrom, Sunset @ Phnom Bakeng
-Night bus to Phnom Penh

Second stop: PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA

We didn’t really knew much about Phnom Penh. When the husband asked why we would go there, I just answered because the bus from Siem Reap ends there and I want to rest after sleeping on a night bus. But surprisingly, we were able to sleep well on the night bus. Plus when we arrived at our accommodation, we were allowed an early check-in. So having rested, we don’t have a choice but to spend the rest of the day wandering. But what a wander that was. In all of our stops, Phnom Penh’s was the most heartbreaking. At S21, the husband had to asked that we shouldn’t take a selfie because it seems inappropriate. And to my disbelief, I just agreed without 2nd thoughts. We visited two sites from the horrors of Polpot’s regime in Cambodia: Choeung Ek Killing Fields and Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (S21). We spent the half day in Toul Sleng listening to the history of Polpot’s terror. I was teary-eyed all throughout. Those places are not for the faint at heart. It will really break you. But don’t fret because there’s still other nice places in Phnom Penh too like the Royal Palace and some others that we missed because we’ve stayed at Choeung Ek and S21 too long.

Day 2 Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Currency spent: USD-cash on hand)
-Early arrival in PhnomP
-SLA early check-in
-Killing fields 9-12 AM
-Lunch
-Toul Sleng 2-4 PM
-Royal Palace
-Independent Monument
– Buy tix to PP & Laos
-Slept @ SLA

More pics to follow from Phnom Penh soon. I will make time to scour in the coming days and post it in instagram since I’m still having problems with the storage and I don’t have time to tinker the new blog.

Stay tuned!!! We’d love to hear your thoughts of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh as well. Were you amazed at how big the Angkor Wat too? What are the nooks of Angkor Archaeological park that you’ve visited and we missed? How about Phnom Penh, were you as sad as we were upon hearing the stories of Polpot’s terror? Do tell.

PS: Please follow us at our INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK page. We’d love to hear and reconnect to wanderers like you. 🙂

Thank you for reading. May God bless you on your travels.

Cheering on you,
Migo & Miga

2 Days in Bangkok, Thailand (Day 10-11/11)


We arrived in Bangkok at 5 AM via 4 transport transfers from Vang Vieng, Laos. The journey started with a VIP van to Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge where we processed the exit from Laos. As soon as we got off the van, we were ushered by a staff from Soutchai Travel. He gave us instructions on what to do and gave us a sticker. Before getting on the connecting bus, he told us that the sticker will be our identification of the Soutchai staff at the Thailand side. The bus to Nong Khai was quick. When we got off, a staff approached and ushered us at an office near a 7/11. We were given our tickets and instructed to wait for the bus at 8 PM. Since it was still 7PM, we had enough time to eat and bought a Thailand sim. We all thought that we would be riding the same sleeper bus all the way to Bangkok but we changed sleeper bus at Nakhon Ratchasima. At 5 AM, we arrived in Mo Chit Terminal 2 in Bangkok, Thailand. We only paid once for all the rides. The ticket was bought in Vang Vieng via Soutchai travel for 270K LAK, around 1600 PHP.

Taxi to Mahannop
Because it’s very early, there was no other transport in sight but taxis. Unfortunately, the driver doesn’t understand English. When we showed him the AirBNB receipt for the address, he proceeded to call our host to our suprise. But even after talking to Danielle, it took him a while to find the place. From that experience, we decided it is our best interest not to take taxi in Bangkok unless necessary. We will have more control if we take public transports.

Early Check-in Not Possible
When we arrived, our room was not yet available but we were able to deposit our big backpacks so we decided to start our tour early. Started it with breakfast in Bangkok.

Street Food Noodles
Our rule was if we were really hungry, we would not be adventurous and eat in the streets. But when I saw the yummy looking noodles at an alley stall, the rule was forgotten. Good thing the noodles were really good. We just used sign language to communicate.

What we did in Bangkok
Like the previous countries, I didn’t really OC on the itinerary. So I was quite surprised that our place where walking distance with the tourist spots. The blessings and luck were so abundant in this trip. Everything was perfectly laid out. Just thankful. 🙂

Armed with google maps and the husband’s awesome grasp of directions, we went around checking the places in the “Rattanokosin Cultural Route” then did a walking tour to Wat Phra Kaew.


Wat Phra Kaew and The Grand Palace
And like Phnom Penh’s Royal Palace, we didn’t had an idea that the place was huge. We had fun taking pictures and listening to it’s history via the audio tour. Unfortunately, the audio tour is limited to 2 hours only so we weren’t able to listen to them wholeheartedly in between photo shoots.

Around 1 PM, our host texted that our room was ready but we were still busy exploring. By 4 PM, we had enough. Who wouldn’t? Most tourists will have stayed there for around an hour but we stayed for 5 hours. Just wow! When we left Migo mentioned that a guard commented that he was wondering what we were doing inside since he saw us in the morning until the afternoon. Most tourists stayed only for an hour. LOL


The Rest of Day 1
When we left the grand palace, we were very exhausted so we decided to not walk all the way back. We took the tuktuk and paid 100 BAHT. After checking in, we took a bath and decided that we had enough wander for the day. We slept then went out to dine with a friend. The night ended with us playing board games at a board game cafe just like what we did in Hong Kong.

Bangkok Day 2
We woke up late. By this time, we felt we needed the extra sleep. After checking out and left our bag, we went to visit “Wat Pho” and had lunch inside. But it was evident that we had enough fun since most of our time were spent eating. The husband seeing me exhausted decided we just need to visit the “musts”. After checking some spots, we decided to call it a day and walk all the way back to the guest house. We lingered for a while to charge our phones. By 6 PM, we were ready to go. We rode a bus to the train station bound to the airport.


Bangkok Pics Here!

3 Days in Vang Vieng, Laos (Day 7-9/11)


The plan was to leave Vientiane at 6 AM but we found a 9:30 AM bus schedule. We welcomed the change since we’ve been waking very early the passing days.

We woke up a little late than usual and had our breakfast at the Karenderia near Singsanti’s. By 9:00 AM, we were already in front of Capitol Residence waiting for pick-up. After 15 minutes of waiting, we were worried why our pick-up didn’t show up. The husband asked me to call the ticketing. They assured us that the pick-up will be there in 10 minutes. Another 10 minutes passed, still nothing. The husband pushed to call again but I hesitated because it might seem too pushy. After a while the tuktuk came and we relaxed a little. We picked up 2 more along the way.

Bottom right pic is Migo standing in front of our accommodation in Vientiane. The rest are pics from our breakfast - the street opposite the karenderia, the karenderia and our food!
Bottom right pic is Migo standing in front of our accommodation in Vientiane. The rest are pics from our breakfast – the street opposite the karenderia, the karenderia and our food!

Bus to Vang Vieng

The travel to Vang Vieng is about 4 hours. When we got to the bus, it was already filled so the husband and I were forced to seat apart. On the way, the husband was sound asleep while I blogged about our day in Vientiane.

Journey to Vang Vieng from Vientiane!
Journey to Vang Vieng from Vientiane! Migo & Miga wearing the new couple shirt bought at Vientiane night market.

Hello Vang Vieng!

When we arrived, most of the tourist left the bus station immediately on board a van while we waited for our host to pick us up. After a while a pick-up arrived. Without asking, we went with the other group. It turned out, that wasn’t our pick-up. Haha! When our host called, we told her we rode on the wrong pick-up. Nouth arrived in a while.

I picked Nouth’s place because it had awesome ambiance. True to the pics, it made me feel like we were on a honeymoon. We’ll talk more about the place we’ve stayed in 6 cities on a separate blog soon. Stay tuned.

Our quaint accommodation with our friendly host, Nouth!
Our quaint accommodation Lao Valhalla with our friendly host, Nouth!

Vang Vieng Day 1

After settling, we slept and explored Vang Vieng. We borrowed a bike and took our first pic of Vang Vieng’s mountains. Then went to the riverside looking for the view on bright side’s pic. We saw bridges but none matches what we saw in the picture. It was about sunset so we decided to just let it go since what we were seeing was just as beautiful.

Migo tuning the bike for our first stroll!
The riverside view with the power of timer! :D
The riverside view with the power of timer! 😀

 

Life in Vang Vieng, Laos! We were welcome with the rainbow promise. 🙂

When we had our fill, we walked to find a good place to eat. We had dinner then went back to the guest house and stayed at the common area. After a while, other guests arrived. We had the chance to get to know them. Hema and Alex from Spain, then Lara from UK. We bid goodbye around 11:30 PM since we had an early call-time for the half day tour.

Miga’s favorite setup to eat. 🙂

Vang Vieng Day 2
We woke up around 8 AM. Had breakfast and by 9 AM, we were ready for our half-day tour. One other guest who also stayed at Lao Valhalla joined us. On the way to the drop off we exchanged infos. When we arrived on our tour service, 3 more joined.

Our group of 6 composed of 4 nationalities: Chinese, Koreans, Laotian and us. The tour started at a trek to the start of a multi-stop zipline. The 1st stop was around 10-15 minutes walk from the common area where our Laotian guide waited while preparing our lunch.

It took us around an hour to finish all the stops. While enjoying the ride, you get to enjoy the view on the top of each platform too. At the last ride, I was famished.

Lunch were served and after we went tubing into a cave. We laid down on our tube and then pull ourselves into the cave.

The tubing was extreme. I was concerned with pulling myself that I fail to enjoy the view inside. I was afraid of being left out too. The husband said his arms were sore ’cause of the tubing. Luckily, mine didn’t because I pushed to stay close to the only other girl in the group – Yang, the Chinese. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take a photo, besides it’s pitch dark inside the cave. I’m claustrophobic so that was kind of hard for me.

We rested for a while and then went into the last stop of our half day tour – the Elephant Cave. Yang and the 3 Korean guys Yong, Jang & Kim have full day tours. We went back to our cab and traveled back to the start of their 10K kayaking. As they were oriented, I’m feeling grateful that we opt to miss it. When they left with their kayaks, our service drop us back to Namsong Bridge.

While our tour-friends are busy paddling the 10K back to city center, the husband and I went to rent a motorbike for our trek!

Motorbiking and Trekking in Vang Vieng
When we bike to the city center on our first day, our bike act up. As the husband tried fixing, a guy approached us and walked the bike. We were surprised. In my head ran bad thoughts again but as we got nearer, we saw the same bikes. We assumed he must be Nouth’s friend – the owner of the bike. He gave us a new bike and fixed what we used. While at it, we saw his motorcycles for rent too.

On the way to Nouth’s place after our half day tour doing zip line, tubing and caving, we were dropped by the tour service at Namsong Bridge. As we passed by Nouth’s friend’s place, we decided to rent a motorbike. In Vang Vieng, there are no public transportation. To go places, you have to bike or motorbike on your own. Since we planned to trek, we needed a motorbike to go there.

The husband chose the manual motorbikes first but after 2 tries, he opted for the automatic ones which were rented at a higher price. We took the motorbike home and rested for a while before leaving for our next activity of the day – trekking in Vang Vieng (will make a separate post for details).

After the trek, we went back to the city center again and as planned tried massage after dinner. Our very 1st massage since birth. Haha! It was an amazing experience. Can’t wait to try other massage since we just had a Lao traditional massage. We went back to the house past midnight already so we decided to retire.

Vang Vieng Day 3 – Blue Lagoon and Off to Bangkok, Thailand

From my research, I only find a 10AM bus sked but when we bought a ticket on our 1st day, there was a 1:30 PM trip bound to Bangkok already. It added us an extra half day in Vang Vieng and crunched our travel time to night.

We spent the extra hours swimming at Blue Lagoon despite the rain. By 1 pm, we were ready to go. We bid goodbye to Nouth. Yang was scheduled to leave too. Nouth drop us at the end of Namsong bridge. We walked to the other side and waited for our bus pickup.

While waiting, the husband bought lunch and mango shake. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to enjoy it since I toppled the table and dropped the mango shake. I was stunned for a while, thinking he would lashed out at me. But just like always, his patience and tolerance for my carelessness is noteworthy. Thank you Lord for husbands like Migo. 🙂

Then we were off to our journey back to Vientiane then finally to the friendship bridge where an agent of Soutchai Travel assisted us. He bought our terminal fee then instructed us to ride the bus to the other side. When we arrive in the border of Thailand, another agent from Soutchai Travel helped us get our night bus ticket. When we were settled at the bus station, he bade us goodbye. As it was still 7 pm, we had an hour to ourselves since the bus is scheduled to arrive at 8:00 PM. The husband and I didn’t waste our time and bought food and a Thai sim card. The 7/11 staff was very kind enough to set-up our sim. It was much easier than our experience at Laos. 🙂

The story about how we were awed (or naihas) with the night bus to Bangkok is up next. Stay tuned. Hopefully, I can blog this weekend. I’m just so excited to be done with the personal blogging so that I could finally start my non-meish blogging and do a cleanup.  I’m afraid that if I did the non-meish stuffs first, I would forget the personal details. It’s just doesn’t  feel right to forgot my first love.  LOL

Booked: Indochina Backpacking Tips and Tricks


Sharing our trip at Tripzilla was good because I was able to learn a lot from the people’s comments. While I find our trip just within our budget, I realized that it may have been too much for others. Our budget was 100K excluding the flight fare and accommodation (pre-paid). We spend only 8OK for 4 countries which makes it 20K per country (10K/person/country).

We find our trip just enough but to those who find it steep on the budget here’s a list of tips and tricks in which they can compromise while we decided that they are must-haves.

Accommodation
One of our biggest expense is the accommodation since we have them all pre-booked in AirBNB around 2-3 months before the date. While I am adventurous and a daredevil, the husband wanted a sure place to stay. He couldn’t imagine us jumping from place to place without a proper accommodation at hand. Also, we have a listing in AirBNB. Using it as our main platform for accommodation is paying it forward.

Tip: In all of the four countries, there were lots of accommodations everywhere. If you are feeling brave, just booked only your starting country since you might need it at the immigration or use other platforms other than AirBNB and see if you can find a much better deal.

Transportation
Jumping from one country to the other is expensive. We’ve spent around 14K. These were all land trips since I wanted to experience the border crossings. Call it crazy but Indochina wouldn’t be the same had we flown all over. Lol Expensive and battering but worth it. We were able to experience traveling in different modes of transport plus we had a chance to immersed with the locals too. You can check on the table for our fares and cross check it with flights. You might find a better deal than we did. The table had time duration too.

Also, Laos was super stretched. It was crazy going there from Vietnam. Most of the itineraries I saw on the net exclude Laos.

There was miscalculation on the flight too. It would have been nice if we started from HCMC, Vietnam to Cambodia to Bangkok and then end in Laos. But we weren’t really thinking of the itinerary when we booked.

Tip: Don’t include Laos in your itinerary. Vang Vieng is not to be missed but you can do a trip to Laos separately. On this trip, we missed Luang Prabang so maybe you can include it in yours. In Laos alone, we’ve spent around 11K+ so if you exclude it, it’ll be cheaper.

Food
When I made the plan, I only allocated around 8K. What happened was it ballooned to almost twice. Instead of just eating in the streets, we splurged a little. Ate at cafes and some to our heart’s desires. Lol I’m a fan of thrift eating too but we’ve saved enough to eat nicely so why shouldn’t we?

Tip: Don’t eat at cafes. Be adventurous always and eat always in the streets. 

Tours and Private Transportation while checking Spots
I’m an avid DIYers but when you only have a day to spend on a city, you can’t help but splurged on the easy way or else you will be spending your day unwisely. Besides we only have 11 days of travel in between these countries. We need to make use of our time wisely.

Tip: Haggle to the max. We didn’t really haggled much for ours. 🙂

Extras
The 40K is not all spent in Indochina trip only. We spent around 15K+ in our Manila lay-over. Look at our gdocs detail to see everything that we spent per country. Also we splurged a little in buying stuffs like couple shirts and souvenirs which were not actually part of our plan. Hehe

Tip: Be firm in your budget. Don’t be tempted with couple shirts and unique skirt (wore them on our 1st day in Vang Vieng). Don’t even think of buying souvenirs even if they are too cute. Don’t give tips and the likes. Hehe We spend 9k on these extras. 

Summary
We planned this trip for almost 8 months since we booked the ticket on December 31, 2015. I’m an OC planner and always try to make travel cheap. But maybe this is not cheap enough. Haha

Tip: Next time on your next travel, make the itinerary first before the ticket. The greatest lesson I learned from this trip is to plot your itinerary first before getting a ticket especially if you plan on a multi-country route.

So is our trip expensive? Depends on whose perspective. But we’ve always been cautious travelers and we planned for things wisely. We are not some millenial traveler. For us, this is enough and money well spent. If you ever find a much cheaper version, do let us know. 🙂

Open our planning doc for more details. Just added a new sheet “Expense_Details” that has the day-to-day spending because we’ve been getting inquiries about entrances and etc.

I actually have all the data in my ever note since everyday on travel before sleeping, we tracked how much we were spending to make sure we were on track. 🙂

Cheering on you,
Miga&Migo

Booked: Indochina Backpacking Itinerary + Expenses (Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand)


I wanted to do this post after I narrated the everyday adventure but the thought of knowing how poor have we become won’t let me rest. Haha! I didn’t even want to go out since we arrived on Thursday because of it. LOL But the husband was unusually restless. He went out on Friday and begged me to joined him on a movie with friends on Saturday (Train to Busan). All throughout, I felt like I was there but not really there. All I wanted to do is just sit down and track our damage, which I did this dawn. Slept around 3 AM just to get it all laid out. (Yeah, OC!) I wanted to write a post immediately but I remembered piktochart. I can’t make a post without it.

indochina_15343758_726988bc3d5ad9619816cd35801637e3cba9a24e

Today everything is ready. 🙂 I had an initial accounting on Friday while the husband was playing board games. I noted that we spent around 25K per person, almost the same amount with our Hongkong-Macau trip for 5 days but I forgot to include the flight fares and accommodations which were already paid plus our expense in Manila and some ATM charges. In all, we spent around 40K per person – that’s everything already. 10K less than my estimated 50K pocket money only. I actually thought we spent bigger since we had some extra splurges like the souvenirs and shopping which were not part of the estimates. Haha! See the details here. Everything is plotted – schedules, itinerary, expenses, transpo & accommodation.

Was it worth our money?

Of course! It was worth every penny. The joy of wanders is totally overwhelming. Much more to me since I loved everything about the trip since the planning. And being able to achieved everything that was planned is totally mind blowing. I attribute it all to God, to the good people of the place we’ve been to, especially to the husband who has been very supportive in everything. Once again, the Lord has shown me that nothing is impossible if you only put your mind and heart into it. People thought it was crazy – 4 countries in less than 2 weeks? Who’d do that? We JUST did. Crazy Couple, are we not?! o_O

Where’s the awesome pics?

As much as I wanted to share it now but this blog’s storage is unfortunately full already. And it might take some time to select favorites with an almost 8 GB of pics from Day 0 to Day 12. The husband did post our Go Pro selfies on his Facebook. That would be for now. Will find a way in the coming days. Hehe! Stay tuned. 🙂

The Itinerary

I had a very detailed itinerary in our planning board but on our next trip, I think I will adapt the new plotted itinerary found in our updated board. Putting in just the goals of the day is way better that OC-ing everything with time limits. Flexibility is much more fun. Also, I loved it that every time we arrived at a new place, the husband would just ask our target place to visit and then he will searched it on his maps and find a way to get us there either walking or bus or train. Well, you could do this if you have a very reliable and direction-savvy husband or travel partner especially if you are like me who is only good at planning but zero in directions and map reading. Hahaha!

Day 0 Cebu->Manila, Manila->Siem Reap
-Flight to Manila (unfortunately Cebu Pac doesn’t have Cebu->Siem Reap. Right now, there are only 5 international destination that can be reached directly in Cebu: Singapore, Hongkong, Taipei, Incheon, Tokyo-Narita. Maybe, we’ll have Singapore or Taipei next. The husband and I had a consensus not to do Korea and Japan anytime soon. Will blog about it on the coming days.)
-8 hours of lay-over
-Flight to Siem
-Late night hostel checkin
-Slept at Khmere’s Place

Day 1 Siem Reap, Cambodia (Currency spent: USD-cash on hand)
-Sunrise @ Angkor Wat
-Bayon, Baphoun, Royal Enclosure, Terraces of Elephants
-Checkout
-Lunch
-Bantay Kdei, Ta Phrom, Sunset @ Phnom Bakeng
-Night bus to Phnom Penh

Day 2 Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Currency spent: USD-cash on hand)
-Early arrival in PhnomP
-SLA early check-in
-Killing fields 9-12 AM
-Lunch
-Toul Sleng 2-4 PM
-Royal Palace
-Independent Monument
– Buy tix to PP & Laos
-Slept @ SLA

Day 3-4 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Currency spent: VND-withdrawn)
Day 3:
-Checkout at SLA at 7AM
-Early departure to HCMC
-Checkin at Rich’s Place
-Afternoon & night in HCMC
-City walk to riverside & etc
-Book Cu Chi tunnel tour
-Slept @ Rich’s Place

Day 4:
-Checkout at Rich’s at 6AM
-Breakfast outside
-Left the big packs
at VietWay Tours
-Cu Chi Tour 8-230PM
-Bus back to PPenh 400 PM
-Arrive 10PM, slept
at Village Hostel

Day 5 Bus from HCMC, Vietnam ->PP, Cambodia ->Vientiane, Laos (Currency spent: USD, LAK-withdrawn in Pakse, Laos)
-Checkout at Village Hostel
-Van to Stung Treng 4AM
-Arrival in Stung Treng 12PM
-Van to Pakse1230PM
-Arrival in Pakse 500PM
-Dinner
-Night bus to Vientiane 830PM

Day 6 Vientiane, Laos (Currency spent: LAK)
-Arrival in Vientiane 7AM
-Early checkin @ Sing’s
-Rest & lunch after
– Buy tix to Vang Vieng
-Visit Buddha Park
-Riverside & night market
-Slept at Sing’s

Day 7-9 Vang Vieng (Currency spent: LAK-withdrawn in Vang Vieng)
Day 7:
-Checkout @ Sing’s
-Breakfast at karenderia
-Departure to VangV 9AM
-Arrival in VangV 1PM
-Checkin @ Nouth’s
-Rented a bike and do a tour
-Slept @ Nouth’s

Day 8:
-Free breakfast
-Join a half-day tour w/
Ziplining, Caving & Tubing
-Rent a motorbike
-Trek to Phon Ngern
Mountain
-Dinner & tried a Lao Massage
-Slept @ Nouth’s

Day 9:
-Free breakfast
-Motorbike to Blue Lagoon
-Checkout @ Nouth’s
-Left VangV @ 1PM
-Dinner while waiting for bus
-@ Sleeper bus by 8PM
-Slept @ bus

Day 10-11 Bangkok (Currency spent: BAHT-withdrawn in Nong Khai)
Day 10:
-Arrive in Bangkok at 6AM
-Early checkin not possible
-Left bag and do an early
temple visit @ Royal Palace
and Wat Pra Kaew
-Checkin at 3PM, slept
-Free dinner @ 7 PM
-Visit a board game cafe
-Slept @ Daniele’s

Day 11:
-Woke up late.
-Free brunch
-Checkout & left bag
-Visit Wat Pho
-Back to pickup bag
-Dinner @ airport
-Left bangkok at 12AM

Day 12 Flight out of Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok
-Arrive in Mla at 4 AM
-Checkin at The Wings
-Slept until 12PM
-Free brunch
-Checkout at 1:30 PM
-Left Manila at 4:00 PM
-Home by 5:00 PM
-Dinner at Bigby’s til 10PM

Highlights:
-Able to withdraw VND, LAK & BAHT
-Affordable internet sim in Laos & Thailand
-All bus tix were bought on the day & were able to pick new sked thus extending
wander time.
-Tried a lot of means of transport
-Eat at street foods & cafes alike
-Able to bike & motorbike in Vang V
-Able to trek in Vang V
-Meet new friends in Cu Chi & Vang V tour
-Achieved the 4 country target with no bus sked aberrations & etc
-No bad experiences in people and etc
-Able to navigate on our own via maps
-Amazed by The Wings in NAIA 3
-Awesome trip!!!

TOTAL DAMAGE:

Category Cost
PRE-PAID (via credit card) ₱18,831.40
Ceb<->Mla;
Mla->Siem;
BKK->Mla
₱10,802.40
Accommodations ₱8,029.00
PAID DURING TRIP ₱61,729.95
Transport in between cities ₱14,736.00
Expenses* ₱46,993.95
TOTAL FOR TWO PERSONS ₱80,561.35
Per person cost ₱40,280.68

Documents here:

Indochina in 11 Days (Cam-Vie-Lao-Tha) Infographic
Trip Details (Schedules, Itinerary, Expense, Transpo, Accommodation)

Accommodations:

Date Place Link to Stay Cost /Person (US$) Total Cost (US$) Total Cost (₱)* Notes
1 8/20 – 8/21 Siem Reap, Cambodia Khmere’s Place US$10 US$20 ₱942 Sat Night, Booked
2 8/22 – 8/23 Phnom Penh, Cambodia Local Riverside Guesthouse US$10 US$22 ₱1,036 Mon Night, Booked
3 8/23 – 8/24 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Rich’s Place US$13 US$15 ₱705 Tue Night, Booked
4 8/24 – 8/25 Phnom Penh, Cambodia Khmer Village Hostel US$10 US$20 ₱960 Wed Night
5 8/26 – 8/27 Vientiane, Laos Singsanti’s US$13 US$15 ₱802 Fri Night, Booked
6 8/27 – 8/29 Vang Vieng, Laos Lao Valhalla Bungalows & Restaurant US$25 US$25 ₱2,641 Sat,Sun Night, Booked
7 8/30 – 8/31 Bangkok, Thailand Daniele’s US$15 US$15 ₱943 Tue Night, Booked
TOTAL US$96 US$132 ₱8,029

*US$1 = ₱48

Transportation:

Date From To Transportation (Ticketing/Bus) Travel Time (hrs) Cost /Person (US$) Total Cost (US$) Total Cost (₱)*
1 8/21 (Sun), 22:30 Siem Reap, Cambodia Phnom Penh, Cambodia Night Bus (Cambodia Angkor Express) 7 US$18 US$36 ₱1,728
2 8/23 (Tue), 08:00 Phnom Penh, Cambodia Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Day Bus (Phuong Heng (Sun Leang)) 7 US$15 US$30 ₱1,440
3 8/24 (Wed), 16:00 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Phnom Penh, Cambodia Day Bus (Phuong Heng (Sun Leang)) 7 US$15 US$15 ₱1,440
4 8/25 (Thu), 4:30 Phnom Penh, Cambodia Stung Treng, Cambodia Van (Sun Leang) 7 US$65 US$130 ₱6,240
8/25 (Thu), 12:30 Stung Treng, Cambodia Pakse, Laos Van 5
8/25 (Thu), 20:30 Pakse, Laos Vientiane, Laos Sleeper Bus 11
5 8/27 (Sat), 9:30 Vientiane, Laos Vang Vieng, Laos Day Bus (Yortdoy Service) 4 US$5.50 US$11 ₱528
6 8/29 (Mon), 13:30 Vang Vieng, Laos Udonthani, Laos Van (Southchai) 6 US$35 US$70 ₱3,360
8/25 (Thu), 20:30 Udonthani, Laos Nakhon Ratcha, Thailand Sleeper Bus 7
8/30 (Tue), 3:00 Nakhon Ratcha, Thailand Bangkok, Thailand Sleeper Bus 3
TOTAL 64 (2.67 days) US$153.50 US$307 ₱14,736

*US$1 = ₱48

Basically, above are the details that you will need if you ever want to do what we did. But maybe you can find a better option than do a crazy all day travel from Vietnam to Laos. You can also scrap Laos altogether like this itinerary.

When we book this trip, we didn’t really thought about what we will do. We just booked the cheapest flight that we found. Haha! You can do better. 🙂 That’s if you are willing to gamble like what we did here since basically, I didn’t find the same itinerary of what we did when we planned this. LOL Laos was the odd one out but I really wanted to visit Vang Vieng. No regrets though because Vang Vieng is way better than what I have dreamed of. 🙂

Finally this is it. 🙂 I will try my best to continue writing the everyday happenings but most of the non-personal details are already here. You can ask me anything if you have more questions about doing this adventure. If you ever thought about doing this, listen to that voice.

No matter what other people tell you, doing what you love is the best thing in the world EVER! Go and seize it. YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE so make the most out of it. 🙂 You can’t bring possessions to your grave but memories live forever.

Cheering on you,

Migo & Miga

This post is at TripZilla’s Blog. Shared also at TripZilla Philippines Facebook Page.

13D12N of Adventure – an Instagram and Facebook Recap


Before continuing the story of our Indochina adventure in Vang Vieng, Laos – our longest city stop, let us reminisce the adventure with our everyday updates. Instagram updates were done by the wife (me) and super amazed that the husband voluntarily joined the fun by posting in his Facebook page. Hurray! I have Pokemon Go to thank for since if not for it, the husband surely wouldn’t get a mobile internet and a new phone. Haha!

Here’s the day-to-day activity from our albums & linked to the blogs:

Day 0 – Flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia

Day 1 – Temple Hop in Siem Reap, Cambodia & night bus to Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Day 2 – Historics in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Day 3 – Day bus to HCMC, Vietnam & night life

Day 4 – HCMC, Vietnam & bus back to Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Day 5 – Multi-transport to Vientiane, Laos

Day 6 – Vientiane, Laos

Day 7 – Vang Vieng, Laos
Day 8 – Vang Vieng, Laos
Day 9 – Vang Vieng, Laos & multi-transport to Bangkok, Thailand
Day 10 – Bangkok, Thailand
Day 11 – Bangkok, Thailand & flight to Manila
Day 12 – Manila, Philippines

Will update this post as soon as I’m done writing the remaining activities from Day 7 on wards.

Here’s the 28 insta pics that summarized our activities everyday since August 20, 2016 (the wife’s 30th birthday) to September 01, 2016 (the husband’s birth day count down at 10. birthday on September 10!)

 

In Facebook:

 

Our trip in numbers:

10 leg of transports,7 accommodations, 6 wandered cities, 4 border crossings, 4 flights, 2 stop-overs

How poor have we become?

Will post soon. 🙂

A Day in Vientiane, Laos (Day 6/11)


Fresh from our all-day-all-night city and country hopping, we arrived in Vientiane early morning of our 6th day. Our AirBNB host was away on vacation so we were told to be at the place exactly at 2 PM. His maid will only be there at that time.

When we get off the sleeper bus, we saw other tourist get on a cab. It looks like a multi-cab here in PH. The driver also called us so I took it as a blessing. Looking for a ride can be a hassle. We paid 30K for the ride to the city center.

The ride took around 30+ minutes. It must have been short without the Friday morning grind. When we get off the bus, I asked the driver for directions to our place. But as we were about to start walking, the direction I thought was different from that of the husband.

We argued a little and he got angry with my distrust. It didn’t last long though. After a while, we were back to being lovey dovey. If there’s one thing I love most about traveling together, that would be our camaraderie. We were a team in everything. And I’m quite certain that we wouldn’t have the same output when we are with other people. In a group, I tend to be the Alpha but when we are together, we take turns in being one. It is also a blessing that our strengths are different because together, we make an awesome blend. I’m good with planning and research while the husband is the navigator. He takes my plan and find a way to get us there. I’m all about the positives and he, the negatives. I am in charge of the time and he takes care of the money.

Early Check-in Blessing

Locating Singsanti’s place was quite hard. The people that we asked were not familiar with the land mark, Capitol Residence but after a while of walking through the streets, we found it. As we were deciding where to go next since it was still early for check-in, someone approached us. I noticed her passed by a while back. She asked if we were the AirBNB guests. After our nod, she called someone and told us the maid will be here in 5 minutes. We were surprised. She was in a hurry to leave too so I didn’t get the chance to asked who she was.

The maid arrived after a while. Singsanti’s maid doesn’t speak and understand English so I wasn’t able to ask her who called. She led us inside and toured us around with just signs. I was quite amazed. Who needs English?

Like Phnom Penh, the early check-in was a blessing. It was still around 8 so we decided to just settle and rest first before starting our tour.

The husband then asked what’s our itinerary for the day. Buddha Park was the only thing in my list but I didn’t OC-ed on the details. He proceeded researching on a way to navigate.

Vientiane in 1 Day

We went out of the house at 11 AM and were famished. Our first order of business was to find a place to eat. There were a lot of places to eat in Vientiane, from Singsanti’s place we went back to where we were dropped. On the way we find a quaint cafe in the corner.

Over lunch, the husband talk me out of going to Buddha park since it’s about 2 hour ride round trip and the last bus back to the city center is at 4:45 pm. It was very time consuming. He wanted to visit the temples instead since it’s just nearby. But I wouldn’t budged.

Buddha Park

After eating, we walked to Vientiane Capital bus station. By tuktuk round trip from the city center, Buddha Park would cost 220K so we took the bus since it’s only 12K round trip. We arrived in Buddha Park at around 4 PM. It was quite good since only a handful of tourist were around since it was almost closing time.

Buddha Park was just as I thought. The husband was not impressed since he wanted the temples so much cause of Poke stops. Haha!
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Vientiane at Night

It was almost 5 PM when we arrived so we hurried to the temples. Unfortunately, they closed at 4 PM so we just took pictures outside. We walked to the riverside after.
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There were lots of locals at the riverside jogging and walking. Then we went to check the night market. The husband wanted to buy shirts since he used all his clothes already. Our scheduled laundry is still in Vang Vieng. Unfortunately, there were lots of cool stuffs there that we bought more than we actually need. Lol

Because we were not too famished, we went to eat at a roadside stall. We had noodles and squid for me. They were yummy and only cost us half of what we spent at lunch in a chic cafe. We went back to the night market after since the husband wanted a “Pikachu” shirt. But the shirt was too big. When we get to the Alphabet shirts, we were quite amazed at the meaning of the 1st letter of our names. K for “Keep walking” and M for “Memories in the making”. Together they meant pretty awesome so we bought it.

As we we were about to leave, a cool designed skirt caught the husband’s eye. It was nice but too expensive for my taste but the husband was strongly for it so who am I to say no? Haha! Having a husband who makes you look good is rare these days so I always feel favored.

We ended the night at a chic cafe enjoying gelato and macaroons. Because we were both spent, we just tuktuked back to Singsanti’s place which we felt pretty overpriced at 50K. I haggled it to 40K (5 USD).

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Expenses:
Starting LAK: 1, 757, 000

Brunch 135, 000
Wallet 15, 000
Ticket 90, 000
Bus#14 12, 000
Buddha Park 14, 000
Drinks 11, 000
Bus#14 12, 000
Sub-total: 289, 000

Magnet 15, 000
Keychains 50, 000
Lao Shirts 90, 000
Skirt 75, 000
Shirt 50, 000
Magician 2, 000
Dinner 34, 000
Ice Cream 42, 000
Tuktuk 40, 000
Subtotal: 398, 000

Breakfast 65, 000
Misc 5, 000
Subtotal: 70, 000

Grand Total: 757, 000
in PHP: 4, 322.00
* rate is 1000 LAK equals PHP 5.70

Itinerary:
07:00 AM Vientiane Bus Station Tuktuk to City Center
07:20 AM City Center
08:00 AM Singsanti’s Place
11:00 AM Left Singsanti’s
12:00 PM Lunch at Chez Cafe
02:30 PM Departure to Buddha Park via bus #12.
03:30 PM Buddha Park
05:30 PM Back in the City
06:00 PM Riverside Night Market
08:00 PM Streetside Dinner
10:00 PM Ice Cream
11:00 PM Singsanti’s Place

A Crazy Travel from HCMC, Vietnam to Vientiane, Laos (Day 5/11)

Yip. You read it right. It was a van, not a bus. And we were quite surprised as well. But they speak no English, how else would we know what’s going on. The husband kept asking if the van would take us all the way to Vientiane. I had no idea. The husband asked if I still have the ticket. The ticket was collected by the tuktuk driver. Whoah. We had no proof. I bet the husband was ultra-worried at that point because I was. But I kept my cool and the belief that we are favored. God is with us so who could be against us?


Missing Vietnam would have been easier on our itinerary and pocket but this wouldn’t have been called IndoChina sampler had we missed it. No regrets though. The travel was surprisingly comfortable and fun. No schedule hiccups and we were able to jump from city to city and country to country smoothly. Thanks to God, to our imposed discipline and to all the strangers who helped us along the way. Being in foreign countries with different languages and only a handful can speak and understand English was hard but we made it through. It turned out, the first step was only the hardest. Everything that followed was easier than we thought it could be.

First Leg: Bus from HCMC to Phnom Penh

The info on the net was limited. We were supposed to ride Giant Ibis transport since that was the only bus company who had a kick-ass site and good reputation on my research. What happened was, we never rode a Giant Ibis bus. From Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, we rode Cambodia Angkor Express Co. Ltd night bus. Lesung, the staff in Khmere’s Place in Siem Reap booked it for us instead of Giant Ibis because it has tuktuk pick-up. Giant Ibis had none.

How to Laos?

Phnom Penh(PP) was the crucial part of our leg. It was our decision point. From PP, no night bus for HCMC but it has a bus going to Vientiane, Laos. But going to HCMC will cost us half a day of travel. Going back will cost us another. Yet there was no way we will miss Vietnam. IndoChina trip wouldn’t be complete without it.

We had 7 itineraries for this trip. The only difference is the travel across countries. The hardest leg was going to Laos from HCMC (Saigon). My 1st choice was to travel from Saigon to Hanoi by train, then bus to Luang Prabang, Laos. The husband thought it was crazy. It is crazy but I was pumped with the idea of being in a train for 24 hours. I was concern with the day travel between PP and Saigon also. The husband asked me to re-consider and try plotting the bus route. When I did, I realized that it was actually the shorter route. Going to Hanoi takes 24 hours and the bus from Hanoi to Luang is another 24+ hours while the bus route will only take us exactly 24 hours.

We had a plan but of course we didn’t know if the bus schedule on the net were updated. Thankfully and by God’s grace, He led us to Mr. Dara who took us to Sun Leang ticketing office in Phnom Phen. At Sun Leang, we were able to book the tickets to and from Saigon then the longest leg from PP to Vientiane, Laos. The owners at Sun Leang were very kind. The schedule I found on the net from HCMC to PP was at 8:30 AM and 12:30 PM only, luckily there was a last trip at 4 PM. With the new departure of 4 PM, instead of just doing the city tour in HCMC, we were able to visit Cu Chi Tunnel. It was a stretch and somewhat scary because the tour ends at 2:30 PM. If something had gone wrong, we’d be missing both our bus back to PP and the leg to Vientiane. It would have cost us 160 USD of money and tons of regrets too. Good thing, we were blessed. Not only did the tour went well, we met some awesome people on the tour too. Awesome God indeed!!!

Goodbye Saigon

The tour ended as scheduled. We had enough time to eat before the bus leaves at 4 PM. We ate at Subway. While we were waiting for our food, the husband noticed the other diner. He remembered seeing him at Sun Leang ticketing office. He’s the same guy indeed. We chatted for a while until it was time to go but not without adding each other in Facebook first. We wished him safe travels with his new baby – a motorbike then took a photo.

When we checked-in at our transit hotel in PP near Sun Leang, I saw Luna’s post with his bike. Thankful that he too has arrived safely just as we did.

Goodbye Phnom Penh

Sun Leang’s owner told me to call him when we return from HCMC but I forgot about it. Not minding it much too since we didn’t have a phone to call him. When we arrived at the bus station, we were at a stand still again. Our departure to Vientiane is still at 4 AM. We find it costly to checked-in at a hotel since we would be staying for hours only. But we were tired. The next leg of travel was the longest. We needed the extra boost. The tuktuk took us to a hostel near Sun Leang. At that time, I thought it was the bus station. But it was actually the ticketing office. Haha!

We left the hostel at 4:00 AM. Our schedule is at 4:30 AM. The tuktuk told us to go to the end of the road. When I almost reached it, I felt a little dejavu. It was only then that I realized that we are not going to a bus station but to the ticketing office, and the karenderia where we had our first meal in PP was right across Sun Leang. Lol Toast to being meh. Haha!

After my realizations, fear took over. Why were we brought here? Now what? When we approached Sun Leang, a tuktuk driver asked if we wanted a ride. We said no and told him we wanted to go to Sun Leang bus station. Drown in misery, I didn’t noticed him calling somebody. After a while, the ticketing office opened and the owner was surprised to see us. He asked why I didn’t call. Ohhh me.

When I realized that the tuktuk driver had called him to notify we were outside, I turned around. I didn’t noticed him leaving. We were not able to express our gratitude but may he be blessed for his kindness. Being helped without asking is just amazing. Thank God for people like him.

We waited for a while then our pick-up arrived. We bid goodbye to the owner and felt at peace. Bus and transport schedule is everything on this crazy trip so every time we are scheduled to hop on, we are always on our toes until we reached the bus. Haha!

Van to Stung Streng, Cambodia

Yip. You read it right. It was a van, not a bus. And we were quite surprised as well. But they speak no English, how else would we know what’s going on. The husband kept asking if the van would take us all the way to Vientiane. I had no idea. The husband asked if I still have the ticket. The ticket was collected by the tuktuk driver. Whoah. We had no proof. I bet the husband was ultra-worried at that point because I was. But I kept my cool and the belief that we are favored. God is with us so who could be against us?

We were 12 on the VIP Van. There was only 1 that looks like a tourist but he looks a little scary so we felt on our own. There were numerous stops along the way. At one stop, I excused myself to pee. It was then that I noticed that I was the only woman on the van. Negativity washed over me a little but I shrugged it. Thinking of negative things will only invite real danger.

When we had our breakfast stop at 9 AM after traveling for 4 hours, I had a good look at our fellow passengers. They didn’t look that scary at all. When we went back to the van, I felt more at ease until we noticed them leaving the van one at a time at around 11 AM. What’s happening again? o_O

It turned out the last stop of our VIP van is Stung Streng. Once there, our driver dropped us at a local place, talked to the owner and notify him of our destination. After some calls, our VIP van left. We were not told what to do next but as I got the hint, I asked the owner what time is the next ride. But I asked a little late. We’ve been wating for around 30 minutes already. There was no time to eat lunch.

Another Van to Pakse, Laos

The van this time is slightly bigger with around 15 passengers. There were 2 elderly women who I think knew some of the passengers since they kept talking. The other tourist from the previous van turned out not very tourist after all since he knew how to communicate with them. From our little time waiting in Stung Streng, I realized that he too has difficulty speaking in English.

DCIM108GOPRO
DCIM108GOPRO

Before we left Stung Streng, I asked the owner if this van will take us all the way to Vientiane. He said no and told me that we will take the night bus to Vientiane. The driver will give us the ticket. I was totally in awe and felt that it was another God-given surprise. Not taking the bus was actually nice since we were able to experience a bit of local atmosphere.

Crossing the border to Laos

After an hour of travel from Stung Streng, we reached the border.
When we cross to Vietnam from Cambodia, our passports were collected by the bus staff. We didn’t have to do anything but lined up to collect our passport after it was stamped.

This time, we did it by ourselves. We went together with the locals. Wrote our name in the arrival and departure cards and lined up to have our passport stamped. As I was writing our name, I noticed people giving their passport with money in it. I actually thought it was bribe. Haha!

Unlike the crossing to Vietnam where we didn’t pay anything, we paid 2 USD on exit and 2 again on entrance. So the money with the passport is actually that payment. Lol

After the exit, we walk to the  border entrance of Laos. An officer hand us an arrival card. I thought badly again but nothing happened. And as I was waiting for our passport, negative thoughts ran on my head and again, nothing happened. Now that I was recalling it, I felt a little disappointed with myself for even thinking negative things. I’ve read so much and must have been corrupted by the bad stories. Tsk. I’m just glad everything went by smoothly and even surpassed our expectations. God truly is the best.

Hello Laos!

At around 3 PM, we stopped at a local store. They must have noticed my look and signed a hand to the mouth. And as we went outside, one of the passengers mentioned Pacquiao. The husband was quick to answer. They all laughed.

We waited with them at the store not really knowing what they ordered. We were at the table with the 2 elderly women. When the order arrived, it was then that they signed if we wanted some. It was noodles. We ordered just 1 in case we wouldn’t like the taste. It was yummy. Our first taste of Lao noodles. Yay!!!

There were vegetables served with the noodles. When I pointed on it,  1 of the elderly woman, showed me how it was eaten. She took a string beans and dipped it at a gray paste. I copied her and realized that the paste taste like salted fish. It must have been salted fish paste. I loved it. I ate everything on our bowl.

We stayed at the store for almost an hour. When it was time to pay, it was then that we realized we didn’t have Laotian kip. The driver paid in our behalf and we gave him our money.

Welcome to Pakse, Laos

We traveled for another 1+ hour and around 5:30 PM, we arrived in Pakse. The driver bought us a ticket and hand it to us. After a while he left. The husband and I went to explore Pakse. Our first stop was the ATM.

Pakse was not what I imagined it would be. From my researched, it seemed like a so-so town but it was not. It had the feels of Helen in Georgia minus the tourists. The streets were well-planned. We especially loved Cafe Parisienne right across the bus station.

On our itinerary, we were supposed to arrive in Pakse at 7 PM. We didn’t know that it had ATMs too. We wasted no time and withdrew without planning how much. We automatically choose the same amount in VND. When the husband checked his currency app, he was surprised at the amount. We have withdrawn way too much. 2M in KIP is so much bigger than 2M in VND. Lol

After the initial currency shock, we roam around to look for a store that sells Laotian SIM card. We went into a mall, found none. We saw one outside but it was almost closing. They were in a hurry so we weren’t entertained.

Like in Hongkong, asking anyone is not a good choice since most don’t understand you. When I saw a kind looking elderly woman, I tried asking then pointing at my phone. She understood it immediately and directed us.

The husband bought a Laotian sim for internet. I bought a sim for call/text. Laos will be our longest stop so buying a sim is a good decision.

Unfortunately, using a sim in Laos is not as straightforward. It has to be registered first. The store owner run through the process with us. When we left her store, the husband had internet while I have my call/text. We stayed for around 30 minutes just to have them up and running.

After buying our sim, we went back to Cafe Parisien and have our dinner. We went back to the bus station at around 7:30 PM. The bus would not accept pasengers by then.

While we waited, 4 of the passengers from our van to pakse saw us. I was surprised to know they are actually university students studying in Laos. They are all taking different courses: IT, Architecture, Civil Engineering and Business Ad. I was quite suprised they could talk English too. They were just shy to talk to us in the van. 😀

The  Night Bus from Pakse to Vientiane

This was our 2nd night bus but compared to that of Siem to Phnom, this was wayyy better. The bus has two floors. We were on last bed on the 1st floor.  It even had a toilet. The beds are spacious and comfortable too. After some regular update, I dozed off. Woke up around 6 AM. We arrived in Vientiane around 7 AM of our 6th day.

So how was our all-day, all-night of travel? It was surprisingly fun and not uneventful at all. We were able to experience it the non-bus way. We were thankful of having had the chance to experience it the way we did. 🙂 And very grateful to the strangers that extended their kindness and stories to us.

Here’s our expense and itinerary of our 5th day

04:30 ETD to Stung Treng (via van)
09:00 Breakfast Stop
12:00 ETA in Stung Treng
12:30 ETD to Pakse (via van)
13:45 Cam-Lao Border (4 USD/Pax)
14:15 Resume Trip
15:30 Noodle Stop
16:00 Resume Trip
17:00 Pakse
20:30 ETD to Vientiane

Expenses in USD:
Breakfast 2.5 USD
Immigration 8 USD
Noodles 2.5 USD
Kip 1 USD
Sub-Total: 14 USD
Remaining @ PP: 206
Untraceable: 26
Total: 40 USD
in PHP: 1,854
Remaining USD: 166 (Migo 91, Miga 75)

Expenses in KIP:
Starting Money: 2M KIP
Sim Migo 30K
Sim Miga 20K
Dinner 120k
Snax 19k
Bus Station to City Center 60K
Total: 249k
in PHP: 1,423.38
Kip remaining: 1.8M

Grand Total in PHP: 3277.38

A Day in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Day 3-4/11)

She kicked my ass. Hahaha! But what I love most about our little time in Saigon is the people we’ve known. After the tour, we had our late lunch in Subway. While waiting for our order, the husband remembered a familiar face. I wasted no time and talked to him. 🙂 The husband did too. Just awesome.


On the planning, going to Vietnam was already a stretch. Upon research, the only bus schedule for Ho Chi Minh City from Phnom Penh was by day. Considering our limited days of travel, day bus is a no-no. But not going when you are already so near feels like cowardice. Glad we did. Our time in Vietnam was nothing like Cambodia in wanders but we had some noteworthy moments with other travelers. We had our first night time stroll too. Dined well and had a super spicy breakfast. And—we stayed at a private room this time. 🙂
3rd Day of 12

We left Phnom Penh early morning on our 3rd day. We were picked up at SLA hotel and brought to the bus station. There was 1 other passenger with us on the tuktuk, David. The ride was enough to chat a little. He is a teacher from Spain who has been traveling for 2 months in Southeast Asia.

Unlike the night bus from Siem Reap, the day bus to HCMC was comfortable. There were only 7 passengers and all of them are foreigners.

When the bus left, I felt the urged to pee. I peed when we left SLA but it seems that wasn’t enough. To keep my mind away from my predicament, I decided to blog. After a while, I noticed the bus was stopping. I hurriedly checked. Relief washed over me when I saw them checking the tires. God is so good indeed.

When I went back, I continued to blog. We have 2 more stops until we arrived at the border crossing.

Crossing The Border to Vietnam

There were horror stories about border crossings on the net so I have always feared this part. Lucky for us, everything went smoothly. When the bus left at Phnom Penh, our passports were collected. Upon arrival on the crossing, we were asked to get off the bus. Someone noted our number then we were asked to get on again. The bus then move to another stop. This time we were told to bring all our stuffs. We followed the bus staff into a building and lined up. While waiting, we had a another chance to talk with our fellow passengers.

The passports that were collected was submitted to the officer. We didn’t actually do anything. Our passport was stamped, our names were called then it was given back to us. It was very straight forward. We went back to the bus after and loaded our big bags to the bus trunk.

Hello Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
We arrived in HCMC around 4:30 PM so we mostly spent our 3rd day on the bus. Unlike Cambodia, we didn’t have any pick-up but our host says his place is walkable from D1 bus station. Since it was raining, we were almost tempted to ride the taxi but after a while the rain stopped. We left the bus station with no idea where to go. We were just holding on to the piece of address from AirBNB.

After crossing the road, I observed the people and settled to ask the teenager that was waiting for the rain to completely stop. Thankfully, she knew “Bui Vien” street.

With her directions, we were able to reached the street. Our next task was to find the house. We felt it was easy since we were already on the street but when we reached 204, 205 was nowhere. It was then that I noticed a taxi driver calling on to me. I hesitated at first but went anyway. He looked at the paper and pointed to the way we were from.

We proceeded to the direction pointed but 2 or more houses have past, we were still lost. Feeling defeated, I slumped my shoulder and saw the taxi driver again. He pointed to a corner. It was then that I understood. I signed a thank you and went ahead to the corner. God, it was indeed our place. I silently screamed a thank you to God. Just wow! He never fails to amazed me every time. Much gratitude to the taxi driver too who helped us without us asking. Angels are real. 🙂

Cu Chi Tunnel Tour

After settling down, we planned our to do. I didn’t really OC-ed the itinerary of Saigon since on our plan, we were supposed to arrive at 2PM then leave at 12PM the next day. The schedule I found on the net was just 8 AM and 12 PM back to Phnom Penh. There was really not much to do but a city tour. But as you might have read, Mr. Dara, our tuktuk in Phnom Penh brought us to a different bus company. We learned that there’s a 4 PM bus to Phnom Penh and booked it. Now we have extra hours in Saigon.

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#OOTD at VietWay Tours. They have such amazing art display!

After we settled, we decided to stroll and find a place to eat. On the way, VietWay tour on Cu Chi caught my eye. The husband was furious on my sudden change of heart. Half day tour of Cu Chi leaves at 8 AM and returns to the city at 2:30 PM. He was worried that we might miss the bus and he was looking forward to a non-hectic 4th day. I reluctantly agreed but in the end, he gave in. We booked the tour for 10 USD. Glad we did. Cu Chi was not what we expect but we met new friends on our tour group. We were 15 on the van.

DCIM108GOPRO
DCIM108GOPRO

We were seated with Antonio, an Italian. On our back were married Indonesian couple, Pitria and Puthing, then Arnel from Canada. We ended our tour exchanging instagrams with Antonio, Pitria and Puthing. The rest of the group were 4 guys from England, a couple from Germany and a Portuguese, an Australian and 1 other guy.

New friends!!!

The husband felt Cu Chi was so-so but it was good enough for me even if I panicked and only scaled 20 meter of the tunnel. Closed spaces is so not for me. The tunnel was really small and hot. Inside, all I wanted was to get out and panicked when I realized it’s hard to go back due to the cramped space. Good thing I found the exit. I went out without 2nd thoughts while the husband went back to scale the next 20. He was having fun and yet he find it so-so. The husband can be a little hard to please sometimes.

A Night in Saigon

After booking the tour, our plans changed. Since city tour is no longer our itinerary on the 4th day, I wanted to at least visit and take a picture at night. Armed with his offline google maps, we walked from “Bui Vien” to Ben Than Market. We saw Cosmos Cafe along the way and decided to dine there. We tried an Ostrich meal. We ordered a lot and was quite amazed that we finished everything. It was my first time to taste club soda with apricot too.

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Awesome dinner w/ Ostrich!

After dinner, we resumed our trek and ended at the city hall. Took some pics at the park opposite it which was quite crowded even for a Tuesday. Along the way, we saw lots of  Vietnamese ladies and noted most are pleasing with their white complexion and chinky eyes. The husband even joked that if I die early, he might transfer to Vietnam and find a new wife. Gosh! The husband has improved everyday. Couldn’t be more prouder. Haha!

We walked the length of the park and ended at the riverside. There were a lot of Pokemon trainers. The husband was quite busy connecting to a free wifi just so he could play. After a while, we saw a spot by Hotel Rennaisance. The husband was quite happy having caught a total of 16 magikarps. I was having fun too watching him play and get excited plus the crowd was crazy always running around the harbor chasing for rare pokemons. Haha! We stayed until an hour then went back to the city hall. Then decided to walk some more to Notre Dame Cathedral and the Reunification Palace. Both the cathedral and the palace were not lighted so we just settled watching it from afar. It was already 11 PM by then and most cafes were closing. We feared that there might be some rule on late night stroll in Saigon so we took the cab back to Bui Vien.

Our place was at the end of Bui Vien but the cab drop us at the other end. We were quite amazed at how the street has turned into a party place. It was like Sinulog. People are drinking and eating on the side walk, loud music and lots and lots of party animals. Just wow! The taxi must have thought we’d be joining the ruckus. Haha! But not that night. 😀

The husband was quite ecstatic that night and craved some coffee. Unfortunately, the non-alcoholic cafes were close so we decided to call it a night.

A Day in Saigon

Despite sleeping late the night before, we woke up early and checked out at 7 AM. We went into the first restaurant that caught our eye. It was right across our corner. They only had noodles. We didn’t even know what kind of noodles was that but they come with a lot of spices. The husband was quite feisty and added chili paste on his noodle while I on the other hand, added spices. I didn’t know they were all very hot. The noodles was very yummy but I was fuming before I could finish everything. I felt my lips thickened, my ears felt hot as well as my face. The husband was very concern. We had to order milk to pacify. Hahaha! I met my match in Saigon indeed. I have always pride myself of being brave but this time Saigon proved me wrong. The spicy noodle almost made me cry while Cu Chi tunnel had me on a panic attack. Lol

So how is Saigon for me?
She kicked my ass. Hahaha! But what I love most about our little time in Saigon is the people we’ve known. After the tour, we had our late lunch in Subway. While waiting for our order, the husband remembered a familiar face. I wasted no time and talked to him. 🙂 The husband did too. Just awesome.

That’s it for Day 3 and 4. Day 5 and 6 will be lumped together too since day 5 will be an all-day travel. We leave Phnom Penh on dawn of day 5 and arrive in Vientiane, Laos in the morning of day 6. Wish us luck on our first full day and night of travel bound to Laos.

Pics to be updated soon since we have no time to transfer from our cam to the phone yet. Unfortunately, we thought gopro might not be good to use at night and at Cu Chi, it was lowbat. Haha!

Here’s our spending and itinerary in Vietnam

Starting Money:
2 Million Dong
(money withdrawn from our BPI savings account)

Note: Saigon has a lot of ATMs everywhere so if you are having a hard time on currency, just call your bank before you travel and notify them that you will be using your ATM outside the country. Withdrawal charge is just 30K.

Itinerary Expense (in VND):
Cu Chi Tour 220K
Souvenir Magnets 150K
Dinner 530K
Ice Cream 45K
Taxi 30K
Breakfast 150K
Cu Chi Entrance 220K
Souvenir 230K
Snacks 45K
Subway 148k
Toilet 6K
Dinner 80k
Drinks 15k
Total: 1869K
in PHP: 4, 715.47 (the actual amount deducted from our BPI ATM)

BPI International Withdrawal:

August 23: 1 VND = 0.0020783740 PHP (xe.com)
withdrawal = 1,000,000 VND
converted amount = 2,078.37 PHP
actual withdrawn = 2,378.85 PHP
difference = 300.48

August 24: 1 VND = 0.0020856029 PHP (xe.com)
withdrawal = 1,000,000 VND
converted amount = 2,085.60 PHP
actual withdrawn = 2,336.62 PHP
difference = 251.02

Itinerary:
Day 1
8:00 AM Tuktuk Pick-up
8:30 AM ETD bus to Saigon
3:30 PM ETA in Saigon
6:00 PM Night Walking Tour
– Dinner @ Cosmos
– City Hall
– Park
– Riverside
– Cathedral
– Reunification Palace
– Bui Vien
12:00 AM Lights Off

Day 2
6:00 AM Wake up
7:00 AM Checkout
8:00 AM At VietWay
8:30 AM Tour departure
3:00 PM Tour arrival in city
– Late lunch
4:00 PM ETD bus to Phnom Penh

Post made while traveling from HCMC to Phnom Penh! 🙂

A Day in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Day 2/11)

We started the tour at the farthest destination – The Killing Fields. We left at around 7:30 – 8 AM. The traffic was heavy. We arrived around 9 AM. Our itinerary didn’t really have time frame but I was surprised to have spent the entire morning there. It might have been fast if we didn’t do the audio tour but we would have missed a lot if we did. The real beauty of “The Killing Fields” can be experienced in knowing how it has come to be. All throughout the tour, I was teary-eyed. There were moments that I wanted to bawl in agony for those who have suffered. And it seemed, it wasn’t just me who felt the same. Most of the visitors were having the same look that I thought I had.


This temple took my gloom from the S21 away. So pretty!!

We fall in love with the temples in Siem Reap and was quite interested with how they came to be but Phnom Penh blew us away with its horrendous, tragic and cunningly vivid memory of a historical event that change the lives of the Cambodians that were born and lived at Polpot’s Regime. It was sad and heartbreaking. Just thinking about what we’ve learned  yesterday pinched my heart once again while writing this. My heart went out to all those who suffered. I pray that they may be at peace and pray more that what happened in Cambodia may never happen anywhere in the world ever. It’s unthinkable. Please if you ever visit Phnom Penh, take time to visit “The Killing Fields” and “S21”. Don’t just visit, do the audio tour. It will cost you 2+ hours for each but it will be worth it.
We arrived in Phnom Penh via night bus from Siem Reap. We were picked by tuktuk from Khmere’s Place to the bus station. Lesung, the night staff at Khmere booked the ticket so we didn’t have an idea of the type of seat. When we arrived, the bus was already filled. We were in awe at how cramped it was. It took us a while to find our beds but was happy that it was on the top bunk.

I felt uneasy at first due to the cramped space but when I looked around, I realized we were actually better off since we are smaller compared to other passengers who were all non-Filipino. When the bus left, we dozed off. I was tired but I never thought that I wouldn’t noticed anyone getting off the bus when we arrived in Phnom Penh. A staff had to wake us up. We were surprised that we were the only ones left. Haha!

I was still half awake when we get off. When someone approached us, I gave my baggage tag thinking it was the staff. The husband stopped me immediately. The mistake triggered my regular programming. I was back on battle mode.

The guy who approached us was actually a tuktuk driver. It was still 5 AM when we arrived and I forgot to messaged the hotel for our bus number when we left Siem Reap. Mr. Dara, we learned later, was still waiting despite of our hesitations. It was 5 AM, the hotel expects us at 6 AM, check-in was at 2 PM so Mr. Dara was actually a godsend.

But even if I feel that God always send me good people wherever I go, there is always that 2nd thoughts. After checking our itinerary, we negotiated for a fare. He offered 5 dollar to take us to SLA Hotel. I had 7 in my itinerary but I haggled still. In the end, we settled with 5.

In Siem Reap, our tuktuk was negotiated by Khmere but I didn’t make the same arrangement for Phnom Penh thinking we can just navigate by ourselves. When Mr. Dara offered, we were hesitant since we didn’t know the rate. We haggled for 20, I had 15 on my itinerary.

We notified SLA of our arrival and apologized for neglecting to message the bus number. We asked if we could leave our bag while we wait for check-in at 2 PM. The staff notified that our room is already available so we could do an early check-in. Yay! An amazing surprise. We wanted to rest first before going on the tour so we had Mr. Dara return by 7 AM to start our tour.

Our room was a dorm. There were 2 beds: both double decker, single and double. But this time, it was just us. Lucky!

We started the tour at the farthest destination – The Killing Fields. We left at around 7:30 – 8 AM. The traffic was heavy. We arrived around 9 AM. Our itinerary didn’t really have time frame but I was surprised to have spent the entire morning there. It might have been fast if we didn’t do the audio tour but we would have missed a lot if we did. The real beauty of “The Killing Fields” can be experienced in knowing how it has come to be. All throughout the tour, I was teary-eyed. There were moments that I wanted to bawl in agony for those who have suffered. And it seemed, it wasn’t just me who felt the same. Most of the visitors were having the same look that I thought I had.

We finished around 12 PM after a short movie at the museum, just in time for lunch. We invited Mr. Dara to eat with us. Over lunch, the normal me kicked-in. Traveling is good but knowing people and their stories is just as fun too. We exchanged stories about family, love life and some. It was a fruitful exchange. I learn something about Cambodia thru the eyes of a local. It was amazing.

We were back in the city around 2 PM and went directly to “S21”, which was mentioned a lot in “The Killing Fields”. We took the audio tour again and in no time, we were whisked into an unimaginable history that was more heartbreaking than “The Killing Fields”. S21 is the start of the horror. Visiting each room sent chills to my spine. It was as if I walked into a torture movie scene but the only difference is that, it wasn’t built for a movie. It was built and used for real.

Cameras were not allowed. I was sad for a while but as I went farther, the sadness left me. Being drawn deeper into what’s happening, I have lost the will to photographed anything. It was a place of sadness, grief and suffering. The place is best felt than captured.

When we left “S21”, I asked the husband for a gopro doufie. He said it might not be appropriate. As we exit, I saw a survivor selling his book. Without 2nd thoughts, I bought one directly. What he has gone through was tough. My 10 dollar may not make a huge difference but I wanted to console him that he was amazing to have lived through it. It doesn’t matter that I got a reprimand from the husband after. He said I had no way of becoming a pro-backpacker since I’m too spend thrift. I’m too generous and it’s not good. 😦 It hurts. Oh well, the truth hurts but should I change just to be a pro? I’ll think about it. 😐

When we left S21, I was on a foul mood from his comment but I kept my cool. He was right though so I focus myself on other things instead. I told him how I underestimated Phnom Penh. I didn’t thought that “The Killing Fields” and “S21” will be that impactful. It was already late so we were sure to miss some other stops.

Thankfully, Royal Palace was still open. I was still having a scowl when we arrived but when we entired, it was just wow. No one told me that it was a big place with a lot of temples. Everything is just so pretty. My angst turned to excitement. I have underestimated Phnom Penh indeed. 🙂

Inside, we were threatened by the closing and the rain. We didn’t had time to linger so we took pictures in a hurry. Good thing that we did though because the rain started to pour after a while. The rain stopped when we left and it was already time to close. But we already had our fill so we left with a smile.

Our last stop was the independent monument. We were supposed to go to National Museum but Mr. Dara having remembered our hectic sked suggested we must booked the bus tickets first.

It was a good call. I was glad to have listened to him. We were able to book all the tickets that we need. We booked a round trip to HCMC and the trip to Vientiane, Laos too. All our problems were solved in one go. Thank you, Mr. Dara!!!

After the tickets, we bid Mr. Dara goodbye. It hurts me that I couldn’t give him a tip anymore since I’ve been overspending already and the husband is on my toes. I wanted to let him know I was sorry but the husband butt in saying, I shouldn’t be doing that kind of talk. Waaa! Sometimes I hate it that we are too different. I don’t understand what goes on in his head sometimes. 😀

We rested for a while then have our dinner at the restaurant on the corner of SLA. We bought some stuff at the mini-mart opposite it before retiring for the night. We slept early since our pick-up from the bus bound to Ho Chi Minh City will be at 8:00 AM.

See below our expenses and itinerary of the 2nd day

Expenses in USD:
Tuktuk Bus Stop Pickup 5
Day Tour 20 (No tip, free lunch)
Breakfast 4
1. Choeung Ek Audio Tour 12 (6/pax)
Snacks 2
Lunch 20.40
2. Tuol Sleng Audio Tour 12 (6/pax)
Book 10
3. Royal Palace Tour 13 (6.5/pax)
4. Independent Monument 0
Dinner 8
Grocery 8
Total: 114.4
in PHP: 5,303.10

Add-on:
Day bus to HCMC 30 (15/pax)
Day bus to PhnomP 30(15/pax)
Night bus to Vietnam 130 (65/pax)
Total: 190
in PHP: 8,807.60
Grand Total: 304.40
in PHP: 14,110.70

Itinerary:
5:00 AM Arrival in Phnom Penh
6:00 AM Checkin @ SLA
7:00 AM Breakfast
8:00 AM Off to “The Killing Fields”
9:00 AM Start tour
12:00 Lunch
2:00 PM Start tour of “S21”
4:00 PM Start tour of “Royal Palace”
5:00 PM Ticket Booking
6:00 PM Back @ SLA
8:00 PM Dinner
10:00 PM Lights Off

Our Stay: SLA Botique Hotel

Tuktuk Driver: Mr. Dara

And that’s it for Day 2! Wew! Spent the bus ride from Phnom Penh to HCMC writing this. Ride well spent. 🙂

Here’s some of our go pro snaps. Unfortunately, we have none for “S21”. More pics from my cam soon when  we return to PH. 1 country down, 3 to go!!!

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Close up!

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