Asia summary

Three amazing months in Asia flew by as we visited (and ate our way through) Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, Myanmar and the Maldives. Asia has always been our favourite continent and this trip reaffirmed it’s position at the top of the tree.

Destination highlights

  • Relaxing and biking around the gorgeous and serene Lake Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia

  • Relaxing on Maldivian beaches; the best we have ever seen and the guesthouse we stayed in on Thoddoo was a real highlight due to the amazing manager and family

General highlights 

  • Asia has always been our favourite continent so this part of the trip was a brilliant mix of the new, exotic and the familiar
  • Cruising around on a moped in Thailand, Sumatra and Myanmar is always one of our favourite things to do. There’s nothing like it to see the countryside
  • Most people we interacted with spoke English which gave us the opportunity to learn a little about their lives and culture
  • My love of efficiency was matched by the Japanese’s but it was also coupled with stylish design (and their toilets were outstanding)
  • It was a nice feeling to put our cold clothes on when we got to Japan and Hong Kong, and we enjoyed the warm underground walkways
  • We met some of the friendliest locals on this part of the trip, particularly Sumatra, Japan, Myanmar and Maldives
  • With AirAsia, we managed to bag some very cheap flights including £83 from Kuala Lumpur to Sapporo (eight hours) and £38 from KL to the Maldives (four hours)
  • We love islands and beaches and in Asia we visited tonnes of beautiful tropical ones: Ko Lipe, Ko Lanta, Pulau Weh and all of the Maldives
  • Cheap living costs meant we only stayed in dorms in Tokyo and Kyoto. And being that it was Japan, they were well designed and cosy and we actually we got a decent nights kip
  • Seeing friends in Thailand and Myanmar and my Dad in Hong Kong was brilliant
  • We had spent nearly 13 months in Asia on our previous trips and on holidays so revisiting places such as Phuket, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Kyoto was familiar and fascinating
  • We managed quite a few trips to the cinema, which was a nice taste of home, as the tickets were generally only a couple of quid
  • As we had quite a bit of time and only a few thing set in stone, we were able to be quite flexible with our itinerary. We could stay in a place a day or two longer if we wanted, and we were able to add in the Maldives at the last minute
  • The upgrade to business on our flight from Hong Kong to Yangon, Myanmar was a lovely bonus
  • All the guesthouses in the Maldives seemed to like offering things complimentary including fish BBQs, island tours, picnic island trip and snorkelling

Lowlights

  • Asia is probably the worst continent we have visited in terms of rubbish. It’s always disheartening to see locals chuck it on the ground, but it nearly broke my heart seeing locals throw it from the ferries into the beautiful water of the Maldives
  • Tropical heat and lots of it apart from Japan
  • We both got particularly bad food poisoning in Bangkok. It was miserable spending three days running from the bed to the toilet
  • Maldives food was pretty bad – overcooked tuna served three ways was really terrible
  • It rained for four days solid in Koh Lanta to the extent we couldn’t do anything and got particularly bad when the electricity and plumbing stopped working…
  • Friends going home leading us to feel a bit homesick
  • Journeys in Sumatra were pretty hairy and hazardous especially with the chain smoking locals on falling apart buses
  • Osaka airport is built on island and due to high winds our train stopped on the other side of the bridge leading us to miss our flight. We had to rebook and pay for new flights and a hotel and also missed out on a night with Jack’s dad who was waiting for us in Hong Kong
  • Not meeting many people, and almost everyone being younger than us
  • I’d forgotten how tacky some parts of Thailand are with tourists walking around in shit clothes and every shop a tour agency. Ko Lipe was also much more developed than five years ago and rubbish disposal was clearly still a big problem
  • For some reason the food on the Thai islands isn’t as good as elsewhere in Thailand and yet is twice as expensive

 

Observations

  • There’s a surprisingly wide mix of religions across the continent: Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindi
  • Domestic tourists seemed to more noticeable than on previous trips, particularly in Thailand
  • All new construction projects in the developing countries we visited seemed to be funded by the Chinese
  • Places which we thought would be off the beaten track were still more western than you might imagine (e.g. parts of Sumatra and Myanmar)
  • The fact that you can do the Maldives on a budget is crazy
 
Food and drink notes
  • We both LOVE Asian food and ate very well everywhere (bar the Maldives)

  • We loaded up on fresh coconuts and fruit shakes in Thailand and the tropical fruit was always amazing

  • Only one beef rendang (Jack’s favourite dish) in Sumatra was a disappointment
  • We liked but didn’t love Japanese food (except for the tempura restaurants) but we did love the beer

  • But eating and drinking in izakayas was a fun and tasty way to experience Japanese food and culture
Katsu curry (and a beer)
  • Myanmar food was surprisingly delicious with interesting salads and fresh seafood on the beach

  • We had an enforced alcohol detox in the Maldives (as it’s illegal on local islands) which hopefully did us some good

Favourite photos:

Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Lake Toba, Indonesia
Bukit Lawang, Indonesia
Tokyo, Japan
Snow monkeys, Japan
Kyoto, Japan
Bagan, Myanmar
Kalaw-Inle Lake trek, Myanmar
Inle Lake, Myanmar
Ngapali, Myanmar
Yangon, Myanmar
Thoddoo, Maldives
Rasdhoo, Maldives

Next stop: Dubai and then Africa

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Alice says:

    Ah brilliant summary! Glad we made it onto the highlights. I have an observation in return – Bex told me she didn’t do jumping photos and there she is jumping away!

  2. Jack Solesbury says:

    Yeah, you are right – she is a hypocrite! x

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