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2019 has undoubtedly been my most intrepid year of travel yet. Although I visited more countries overall last year, this year I have finally travelled out of my own continent. I also took my first long haul flight and backpacked solo for 4 months, my longest trip yet.
January – April
After exploring western and central Europe in 2018, I made a firm decision I would be backpacking Southeast Asia in 2019. The first quarter of 2019 wasn’t too jam packed travel wise. I just spent a lot of time working full time in retail and saving money. At the end of January I took myself on a day trip to London, where I explored all the free things the city had to offer.
I didn’t spend a great deal of time planning my trip, as I knew it would benefit from spontaneity. I booked my outward flight in mid February and handed my notice in at work the following day. April 19th was my final day at work and then I embarked on my 4 month adventure on April 30th, headed for Singapore.
Check out my Singapore blog posts:
Singapore on a Budget 3 Day Itinerary for Singapore
15 Photos to Inspire You To Visit Singapore Singapore Travel Guide
My subsequent adventure took me across 8 countries altogether. I explored countless destinations connected by, what felt like, endless bus rides, ferry journeys and flights. I failed to have hardly any decent nights sleep constantly moving from hostel to hostel, but I wouldn’t have changed any of it for the world.
After 3 days in Singapore I headed to Malaysia and explored the capital, Kuala Lumpur. From here I flew to Hanoi, the hectic Vietnamese capital. I was based here for around a week to-ing and fro-ing to other popular backpacker stops, one of which was Ha Long Bay. This is undoubtedly an amazing place to kayak, however I chose the complete wrong excursion to explore this place. I also headed out to Mai Chau for 3 days, a beautiful, more untouched rural town a bit north of Hanoi. Here I rode a motorbike for the first time, trekked through rice terraces and swam in surprisingly warm open water.
I spent 3 and a half weeks in Vietnam altogether travelling from North to South, visiting Trang An (in the Ninh Binh Provice), Phong Nha, Hue, Hoi An, Da Lat and Ho Chi Minh, before I headed over to Cambodia.
My highlights of Vietnam are hard to decide as I loved the whole country so much. So much, in fact, that I ended up heading back there at the end of July (more on that later). Hoi An was certainly a favourite – check out my itinerary for this amazing town here. Canyoning down waterfalls in Da Lat was an incredible experience and the sheer beauty Ninh Binh and Phong Nha showcased to me was something I will never forget.
My Cambodian adventure started in the capital Phnom Penh. I learnt a lot about Cambodian history here but felt this was all the city had to offer. I spent 2 weeks in Cambodia exploring Kampot, Koh Rong Sanloem and Siem Reap.
Peaceful Kampot was home to Banteay Srey – a project that operates as a vocational training centre for Cambodian women. I took part in a yoga class here and also explored the amazing Bokor National Park. The island of Koh Rong Sanloem was the perfect all-round place to sunbathe, swim, drink and jungle trek.
Siem Reap hosts the world famous Angkor Wat temple. Although horrendously overcome by tourists, the sunrise tour I did of the archaeological park was certianly unmissable
A 10 hour travel day saw me cross the border into Laos and head to Don Det, found in the 4000 islands (Si Phan Don). This arpeggio of islands is found in the Mekong River, only just across the Cambodian border. This first Lao stop, consisting of cycling, kayaking and dolphin spotting ended up being one of my favourite in the country.
I spent two weeks in Laos, travelling up North through the country. I made stops in:
- Pakse – didn’t have much in the city itself but there were some awesome waterfalls a short drive out
- Vientiane – the poorly reviewed capital pleasantly surprised me with it’s beautiful temples and cat cafe
- Vang Vieng – amazing scenery and adventure activities
- Luang Prabang – ended up being a trip highlight despite my first nights sleep being outside on the hostel decking.
Another new month saw another new country, and also saw me reach the half way point of my trip. I took the very slow slow-boat from Luang Prabang to Chiang Khong in Northern Thailand. I spent one night before heading there before heading to Chiang Mai – an unmissable activity here is visiting the elephants. My exploraition of North Thailand took me across to the hippie town of Pai with it’s amazing hot springs and canyon, followed by Chiang Rai and it’s white temple.
The south of Thailand didn’t really do a great deal for me. It was a lot of beaches which were lovely but honestly, I could’ve been anywhere in Europe and the prices reflected that! We visited the islands of Koh Lanta and Koh Samui, as well as Railay Beach (very beautiful!). However, a bucket list location of the south of Thailand is Khao Sok national park. The over night trip I did here to Cheown Lan Lake was incredible and one of the best things I did.
I spent 2 days in the, what I found to be, suffocating capital of Bangkok, before flying back to Hanoi. Since leaving Hanoi and Vietnam the first time I had heard endless talk of the Hagiang Loop, a motorbike loop in the country’s northernmost province. It was simply everyones highlight so I didn’t see how I could miss out! It was 100% worth the flight back and all the worries I had about it. I drove myself around for 520km, didn’t injure myself and saw the most incredible scenery. Oh and I only got lost once!
Check out all of my blog posts from the Hagiang Loop:
After my quick return to Vietnam, where I FINALLY did a cooking class, it was time to head to another new country – Indonesia. I started off in the infamous Bali, beginning in the town of Canggu.
After Canggu I headed to Ubud, and then to Uluwatu where I went to the amazing, seclude Nyang Nyang Beach. Bali generally didn’t do a great deal for me, after the abundance of culture the rest of Asia had given me! After a week in Bali I headed to Gili Air, a tiny island off the coast of Lombok. Taking just 15 minutes to walk across, this tiny island was a lovely place to walk and cycle. There was an awesome snorkel tour here where I got to see turtles!
Mainland Lombok was a favourite destination as it was so much more authentic than Bali. I also hit 100 days in Asia at this point! Lombok was much less overrun with tourism and just generally more picturesque. Here I visited:
- Kuta, where I had a surf lesson at Selong Balanak beach
- Senaru, where I trekked up and camped on Mount Rinjani Volcano
- Sengiggi, where I went and saw some amazing waterfalls
After leaving Lombok I embarked on a 4 day boat trip across to Labuan Bajun in Flores via the Komodo National Park, stopping at Kenawa Island, Gili Lawa, Rincar Island, Pink Beach, Moyo Island, Kelor Island and Padar Island. Seeing the huge Komodo dragons was certainly a highlight. After 3 weeks in Indonesia, and 16 weeks in SE Asia, I flew out to Sydney.
Check out my blog posts from the Komodo Boat Trip:
I started my Australian adventure staying with Nikita in Ulladulla. We went to the incredible Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay, Pigeon House Mountain in Morton National Park and I met a kangaroo at Pebbly Beach. I then stayed with my friend Lyn in South Coogee and did the Bondi to Coogee Walk to cover all the Eastern beaches (Bondi, Bronte, Tamara, Gordons Bay and Clovelly).
The city of Sydney itself was so surreal to be in. The harbour bridge climb was an amazing, but overpriced experience, and coffee at the Grounds of Alexandria was an instagram lovers heaven! My final stop took me across to North Curl (nearly Manley) where I stayed with Ree. I took a trip from there to the Blue Mountains National Park and then spent a day exploring the Northern Beaches.
My final night away was spent having a buffet meal in the revolving restaurant at the top of the Sydney Tower. I embarked on the long 24 hour flight back to London on 27th, stopping by Doha, Qatar on the way.
September – December
Honestly, I haven’t really travelled at all since being back. I moved to Sheffield in September to start at uni and since then have travelled between there, Manchester and Nottingham to see my boyfriend and my friend. I did take a day trip to London and Liverpool recently though. Aside from that I have just been thinking of where I want to go next. Having time away from the backpacking life has made me realise how much that sort of thing is for me and how I can’t really stay still for more than a week.
It’s easy to forget how hard, at times, I found travelling alone for so long. But I do know it has done me nothing but good in the long run. I can’t wait to go on more adventures next year and add more countries to my visited list – 27 and counting…
But until then I shall be living vicariously through this blog and my YouTube channel!