Carla and Stan took a meandering and adventurous custom trip through Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Singapore. They traveled from North to South In Vietnam, cycling through the old quarter of Hanoi, kayaking in Halong Bay, and visiting the Cu Chi tunnels in Ho Chi Minh. From there, they flew to the mystical land of Myanmar where they wandered the ancient temples of Bagan, bathed with elephants in the jungles of Kalaw, and toured the unique biosphere of Inle Lake by boat. Then it was off to sample the tastes of Malaysia with an emphasis on beach time on the UNESCO island of Langkawi. A final stop at the city-state of Singapore brought their 31-day trip to an end although it will remain an inspiration for all of us planning trips to Asia.
Hear it from Carla and Stan:
"It was another amazing adventure from Wildland and we met so many wonderful people and had amazing experiences - washing an elephant in the mist in a cool mountain stream, ripping up the Mekong in a local boat (we added that to our journey in Ho Chi Minh city), cooking over charcoal braziers, watching a hand powered Ferris Wheel at a temple fair, our guide's wife cooking a meal for us at home, having a drink in the rooftop bar at the Caravelle (if you grew up in the 60's watching news reports on the war in Vietnam you would understand), parasailing, and last but definitely not least the food!!"
What experiences did you enjoy the most?
Yangon, Bro our guide was amazing. Once he realized we wanted to see the real city - we used local transport, ferries, train, bike taxis - it was a blast and took us to parts of the city that I am sure most tourists do not see. In fact I can just about guarantee that from the number of times Stan (6'3" blond, blue eyed and bearded) got approached by both men, women and children to have their photo taken with them - we were the oddity.
What were your personal highlights from the trip?
This is the hard part. Overall it is that no matter where we live or what we do we all have similar hopes and dreams. Sharing a meal, laughing at a child's antics, talking about our futures, hoping for a better future/life for our children - we share this planet and we want better things for it and for us. It goes back to our first trip to Syria with Wildland where our guide is stuck inside that war-torn country and we facebook to keep up with each others lives. The same is true for Ecuador and I expect it will be the same for Vietnam and Myanmar. These connections will last a lifetime and enrich our lives so much.
What tips and advice would you give travelers headed on a similar adventure?
The company is called Wildland "Adventure" for a reason - this can be an adventure - and you need to keep your mind/heart open to cultures that are very different from ours. If you want cookie cutter hotels, and expect only to eat in fine dining establishments you will not experience the people or the country. Don't be crazy and drink the local water, but do try the wonderful foods in the night markets - when you see it being prepared fresh on the grill or deep fried go for it - you will be amazed.
This trip is a great example of how travel throughout the region of SE Asia has changed in the past few years. Flights between countries, overland transportation, and domestic travel have all gotten significantly nicer and easier, making a 31-day trip linking 4 different countries not only feasible but fantastic.
Thanks Carla and Stan! You're the type of travelers that inspire us to keep planning trips that connect with communities, empower local guides, and keep our trips adventures!