As a part of the training for my new job as Sales Manager in Australia, I was forced to go to Asia for two weeks… I know, tough right? But, someone has to do it!
Here is a bit about my time there.
My trip started in Bangkok where I was able to meet the Stray crew based there – absolute legends who made my time in the city so much easier! I was a little apprehensive about Bangkok from what I had heard in the news, but I had no reason to fear, Bangkok was incredibly peaceful and any protesters I saw or heard of were doing so in a passive way. I had a great time exploring Bangkok, from eating street food, to shopping on Khao San Road, to exploring the many great temples, to attending a few bars during the later times at night!
The next stop from Bangkok was Chiang Mai. I had now spent 24 hours with the group I was travelling with and everyone was getting on great, which created an unforgettable time in Chiang Mai! We had two awesome nights out, with attending an impressive Lady Boy show (I am a little concerned how attractive I found them) on the first night and a Muay Thai boxing event on the second. During our free day there we all went on The Flight of the Gibbon, which was an incredible experience, with ziplines through trees, one was nearly 900m long! A must do for anyone at some point on a Southaast Asia trip.
An absolute highlight of my trip was my time in Laos, it is like nowhere I have been before. I had heard about “Laos time” before arriving, but on the first evening going out to dinner I was given my first insight – nothing happens quickly and you really need to understand this so you can enjoy your time in Laos, otherwise you will be driven nuts by how long things take! We had a different type of transport for Laos: a private Stray long boat down the Mekong River to Luang Prabang. Such an awesome way to travel, I just wish someone had told me about how cold it gets!
My favourite night in Laos was Stray’s exclusive traditional homestay, where we spent the evening in a small village on the side of the Mekong River and got immersed in their way of life. We were welcomed to the village with a Baci ceremony from the village elders, which was very humbling and made us all very much a part of the village. We also tried a few shots of the ‘delicious’ local rice whiskey called ‘Lao Lao’, which is made right in the village.
Next up was Cambodia with a quick trip to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, they were both highlights but for very different reasons. I loved Siem Reap for its party atmosphere and the chance to visit the incredible temples, including Angkor Wat. I was in absolute amazement at the size and also the intricate details in the temple; how they were able to do that in such a short time is beyond me. Phnom Penh was a very humbling experience, with the tour to the Killing Fields and S-21. I had a lot of questions to ask the guide, and at times I struggled. I think it is something everyone has to do while in Cambodia, to understand what the country went through.
Travelling with Stray made the trip so much better! Having an incredible guide who showed me places I wouldn’t have the chance to go otherwise, as well as the various different types of transport Stray use, to let you experience all Asia has to offer. Everything went so smoothly, with all departures leaving on time even though we were in some incredibly remote places!
It was a whirl wind trip, but one of the best trips I have ever had. I met so many awesome people, ate many different delicious types of food and drank some very well priced beers and showed Asia how a kiwi dances! (I’ll let you decide whether that is helpful for the New Zealand cause or not…!)
Gareth is Stray’s Australia Sales Manager, based in Sydney. He travelled on Stray Asia’s Mekong Pass.