I'll be honest -- leaving Southeast Asia behind for Australia has been pretty hard. Australia is lovely, of course, but it's an entirely new chapter in an entirely new place.
There are no warm days and hot beaches and 7-Eleven toasties and endless relaxation.
Really, there's no more vacation. And that's sad!
In an effort to process all of my feelings about the three whole months I spent backpacking through Asia solo, I wanted to compile all of the highlights into a big recap post. (And yes, I'm pretty sure I'll be processing all of these travels for years to come.) Warning, what follows is a really picture-heavy post! But it's been so fun to look back, to see a certain photo and remember exactly how I felt in that moment, to realize how long ago it all feels now, and feel grateful for that time. I'm so grateful for that time.
Vietnam, to Thailand, to Laos, to Cambodia, back to Thailand, and a quick day in Malaysia, below!
Vietnam was honking motorbikes, sweet Vietnamese coffees, lush green mountains, pushy hagglers, my first motorbike ride, stunning caves, harrowing overnight buses, and my first taste of insane personal freedom. I will always be indebted to this beautiful country. (And I need to go back and explore the southern half!)
Hanoi > Sapa > Ha Long Bay > Cat Ba Island > Phong Nha > Hoi An > Da Nang
Thailand was hundreds of temples, waterfalls galore, meeting elephants for the first time, stretching myself to make new friends, falling in love with Thai food, exploring night markets, minor injuries, and getting to know locals.
Bangkok > Kanchanaburi > Chiang Mai > Pai
Laos was an unending slow boat, incredible rivers and mountains, so many sunsets, practically unbearable heat, drunken tubing, the start of the rainy season, hammock hanging with beers, and bicycling through the countryside.
Pakbeng > Luang Prabang > Vang Vieng > Don Det
Cambodia was an impossibly corrupt border crossing, the bucket list item of visiting Angkor Wat, torrential rains, getting scammed by a ten year old, pondering world poverty, crying at the Killing Fields, $2 foot massages, night swimming, games of Jenga, and the discovery of an insane wine bar.
Siem Reap > Phnom Penh
The south of Thailand was even more torrential rains, sweating in a bungalow in the jungle, deciding to write a book, almost dying on a long tail boat, lots of ferries between islands, making so many new friends, the most beautiful resort on the beach, scuba diving for the first time, a new tattoo, and more relaxation than I even knew possible.
Ao Nang > Tonsai > Koh Phi Phi > Koh Tao > Koh Phangan > Chonburi
Malaysia was a quick 12 hours, a long train to and from the airport, selfies with the Petronas Towers, our last Asian food, and the most beautiful currency I've seen.