Alright! Now that we’ve got the negative points out of the way we can start to focus on the real fun stuff; the best things to do and see in SE Asia.
Now I must ask you to keep in mind that unfortunately I did not get a chance to experience Vietnam, Myanmar or Borneo (ones for the future) and that, again, this list is purely subjective. All of the items listed are in no particular order and I haven’t reserved one spot for each country as I feel that some countries were more deserving of more spots than others. It was a little tough to narrow it down to the final six and I had to make a few cuts here and there that I’m sure were achene to a Father having to cut his kid from the soccer team because, and although the wife will never forgive him for it, the kid just sucks! Not completely sure though as I don’t currently own a soccer team or a kid but you get what I mean when I say it was tough!
So here we go with Tha Bozz’s personal list of the six best things to do/see/experience in SE Asia. Why six? Because I have way too much time on my hands being stuck in this airport for five but seven would take me over my word count.
The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Chiang Mai, Thailand – Its a day of hanging out with Elephants; what’s not to like right!? Now please be aware that there are a number of legit and not-so-legit equivalents of this dotted around Thailand and the rest of Asia for that matter. However this day with the majestic, big nosed beasts (that eat and s*it like there’s no tomorrow by the way) featured no riding, or ‘ridding’ as its referred to on many flyers but this isn’t a spelling bee, no painting, the Elephants were never tied, chained or forced to go anywhere or do anything that they didn’t want to at any point.
Whilst there you get to feed, bathe, walk with and, if there up for it, have a good old fashioned cuddle and a heart to heart with some of these amazing animals. I had a heart to heart with Stevie the Elephant about this girl I liked and he told me to relax and just be myself. Don’t get me wrong she dumped me the next day but at least we both knew where we stood.
Truthfully; this isn’t the cheapest attraction in town but as a truly unique, ethical and above all else fun day out I’d highly recommend it. Follow the link for info https://www.elephantnaturepark.org/.
Yi Peng Lantern Festival, Chiang Mai, Thailand – Its another one for Thailand and although this one is time of year specific I’d highly recommend catching it if you can. Granted the Lantern Fest isn’t as mental as Songkran (which I’m gutted that I didn’t get to experience personally but I’ve heard…) but the sight of so many people coming together to set off their lanterns at the same time and then seeing them literally coat the sky needs to be seen to be believed.
Now I’m not a superstitious person and I don’t believe that the lantern that me and my friends set off (complete with Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Sting quotes) is going to grant us good luck, help us win the lottery or get JLo to return my calls (don’t ask how I got the digits). However their is something oddly majestic, peaceful and uplifting about the whole scene and I’d personally recommend it over a p*ss up in the Old City. Or you can just go and have the p*ss up afterwards like I did and that would be good as well. More info including dates etc can be found here http://www.thaizer.com/festivals/yi-peng-lantern-festival-chiang-mai/.
Boat Party, Anywhere in SE Asia that does them! – Okay; here comes the part where I feel like an uncultured British swine who only goes off on his holidays for a fore mentioned p*ss-up but it could be worse, I considered putting Khao San Road on the list…
Though on as serious a note as one can write when discussing such a subject the boat party that I attended in Siem Reap, Cambodia was epic! Rather hilariously it was advertised as a ‘Cultural Booze Cruise’. Truthfully the things in question exist together in about as much harmony as a full Bathtub and a plugged in Toaster but we did go through a few Floating Villages, got to hang out with some Crocodiles and took a dip inside as well. Not with the Crocodiles though; that’d be f*cking crazy.
Yes there was alcohol, excessive amounts of it in fact. We played drinking games, blasted loud music, enjoyed a gorgeous sunset and by God had an awesome time. Plus these events are a great way to meet people, make friends and then tell them about your near-escapades with a Transgender person in Bangkok…Not making that up folks, no reason to do so…
The party I went to was organised through Mad Monkey and you can get more info here if this sought of thing floats your boat…Sorry. http://www.madmonkeyhostels.com/
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum & Killing Fields, Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Now this one doesn’t have a light-hearted tone surrounding it unfortunately. I’m sure many readers are familiar with the events that took place in Cambodia in the mid to late 1970’s and many people who are still with us are haunted by the memories.
The truth be told, and without going into too much detail, the Museum and the Fields are not easy going and leave little detail unexplained. Literally everybody present was either crying real tears or was damn close (myself included) and its for this reason that I would recommend making yourself experience these two sites. The fact that the events that took place in this lovely country happened relatively recently and the fact that despite these horrors the country still remains so welcoming and upbeat is a true credit to the people that live there.
I’m not generally one to put myself through too much heartache but in my personal opinion this is a massively important piece of history that you owe it to yourselves and the people affected by the events that proceeded it to visit and get to know the details of. They are truly shocking. More info can be found here as I would recommend a basic understanding before visiting to give yourself an idea of what it is that your going to see http://www.killingfieldsmuseum.com/.
The Borobudur Temple, Java, Indonesia – Well there was no way that I was missing this when in Java. If I’m honest the journey to get there consisting of a bumpier than bumpy bus ride and 4 human beings climbing into a wheelbarrow attached to a car less than the size of the average car boot was as much of a highlight as anything. All in p*ssing rain as well.
Once we arrived the real fun kicked in when we realised what a money-making opportunity we’d missed out on when every kid and their parents wanted a photo. Seriously, we couldn’t take two steps without it. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life. I had been asked the odd time in Cambodia and Fiji in the past but nothing to this extent. Honestly though; it was a blast. The people were so polite, chatty and kind that it felt more like a privilege than anything else. Many groups of kids learning English were asking to interview us for school projects as well; I swear to God if I ever have a daughter who’s half as cute and charming as some of those kids then I’m getting a gun and she’s not going out without a chaperone.
Oh and The Borobudur? Yes its cool and looks amazing up close but honestly it wasn’t the highlight of this very special day. Indonesians are great it must be said…
Eat, Eat, Drink, Drink!, All over the Place – It goes without saying that the food in SE Asia is phenomenal and as a self-confessed foody myself this for me is a particular highlight. The noodles, the rice, the chicken, the beef, the pork, the eggs, the fruit I could go on forever!
If I absolutely had to pick a favourite country in this department I THINK I would have to go with Thailand but its a close one and it changes by the day.
Whether its the small restaurants or the street food its never expensive unless you really want it to be and its never unsatisfying, again, unless you really want it to be. I would actually make a habit of ordering something I’d never eaten at least once a day or sometimes something that was literally written in the local language because I was that confident that it would rock my world. Just as a side note though; some of it might also rock your belly the first time you try it so take it slow and no your levels as things can get insane, as I learnt the hard way once or twice.
There you have it folks my completely un-definitive guide. Well, no actually, its just a list of some cool s*it that I’d recommend doing whilst in SE Asia. There’s loads of other stuff that I did and didn’t do that is equally awesome. In all honesty the best experiences are often the smallest and most inconspicuous anyway; jumping out of moving Buses, sneaking into 5 star Hotels, snorkelling in the Sea, pulling all-nighters on party roads and just meeting awesome people and having a laugh and a good time with them.
I’m still at the airport and I still kind of miss SE Asia but I’m optimistic about Australia and I’m sure there’s more good times ahead. Shame that I’ll have to get a job though!…
I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.