50 Signs You’re A Backpacker In South East Asia


I just stumbled upon this fun list: link

It’s basically about the South East Asia backpacking experience, and it definitely took me back! Oh, how I miss the sweet pineapple, cheap pad thai, cute children waving and proudly saying the only English word they know, which is “HELLO“, and my friggin awesome tan. Seriously, I was like a golden Buddha. Well, I decided to share the list with you, along with some super important comments from yours truly.

50 Signs you’re a backpacker in South East Asia

1. You have a flip-flop tan.
Well, duh.

This is technically a hiking sandal tan line, but I didn’t take that many pictures of my feet, okay?

2. You’ve been through at least five pairs of genuine fake Ray Bans.
True dat. I just broke my last pair of fakes, and it’s making me miss Thailand. All the fake Ray Bans back home don’t fit me at all.

3. You’ve been through a similar number of fake Beats headphones and Havaianas flip flops (thongs, jandals, sandals).
Beach parties are the worst, ’cause you always lose your flip flops, and the next day you will have to pay way too much at the first shop you see, because you can’t stand to walk barefoot in this heat anymore.

4. Shoes have become less and less compulsory to you.
You’re not even allowed to wear shoes most places, so all you need is a pair of flip flops for crossing the street. Hot concrete = ouch.

5. You have a strong inkling towards getting, or already have got, a travel tattoo and/or piercing.
I decided against this. In India, I felt a strong urge to have my nose repierced, seeing these women with impressive golden studs. In Koh Phi Phi there were tattoo shops everywhere I looked, but I wasn’t too sure about the quality and hygiene.

6. It’s really exciting to you that the harem pants fad is catching on back at home because then you never have to stop wearing your Southeast Asia garb.
Who cares, I wear my harem pants with pride! They got me through a month of the Indian heat and modest dress culture. Unfortunately, I had to throw one of my pairs out, after I threw up on them on a 12-hour bus ride. Yikes.IMG_9604

7. You have more or less forgotten about the existence of eyeliner and concealer.
NEVEEEERRRR! I live on those.

8. The mere concept of a blow dryer and curling iron have become laughable.
With that humidity, your hair’s always gonna be wet anyway.

9. You either already have or are suddenly inexplicably amenable to the idea of dread locks.
Nope, not at all.

10. You can be very easily persuaded to spend 75 cents on a fruit shake.
Fruit lassis <3

11. You cannot be very easily persuaded to part with more than $3 for a beer.
It’s all about Kingfisher, Chang, Beerlao and Angkor Beer.

12. You know how to say “hello,” and, “thank you,” in about five different Southeast Asian languages.
I forgot most of these, so I had to look them up, and now it’s all coming back to me.
Indian: Namaste, śukriyā
Thai: Sawasdee Krab (male)/Ka (female), Kob kun Krab (male)/Ka (female)
Lao: Sa-bai-Dee, Kaup Chai (like a cup of chai, get it? haha)
Vietnamese: Xin chào (sin chow), Cám ơn (Gahm uhn, almost sounds like come on)
Khmer (Cambodia): Jum-reap Soo-a, Or-koon

13. You may also have figured out how to say “beer.”
A Vietnamese chef taught me how to say “two more beers, please”, but I totally forgot. He would be so disappointed.

14. You arrange your plans around the next full moon.
Of course!

15. There’s still neon paint stuck to your Megan Fox tank top from the last one.
Just on my Full Moon Party shirt, but alright, I’ll take it.

16. It’s okay because you totally have more than one Megan Fox tank top.
I actually don’t have a single one!

17. “Bucket,” suddenly has one meaning, and one meaning only: one-beverage inducer of black outs.


18. You no longer find monkeys to be cute or even tolerable.
After the monkey temple in India, I am actually sort of scared of monkeys. The little ones are still cute, though.

19. You’ve become an expert at sitting on chairs and stools that hover mere centimeters off the ground.

20. You’ve become some kind of an expert at communicating with your hands and facial expressions.
Did I ever really become an expert? 

21. Your daily routine involves a morning ritual of DEETing from the feet up.

22. Instead of seeking out mirrors, you slink by, trying not to look at the dirty vagabond you’ve become.

23. You’re totally going to learn how to play guitar.
Nope. I wish.

24. You’re totally going to take up fire dancing.
Kirstin and I were veerrry impressed by the firedancers in Koh Tao, and wished we could do the same.

25. You’re positively giddy if you find a bathroom with a western toilet, toilet paper, AND soap inside.

26. That said, you’ve mastered the required movements for the squat toilet. Out of necessity.
Meh, not in harem pants, at least.

27. Hot water is no longer a strict requirement for your showers.
You can say that again, sista.

28. Neither is shampoo.

29. …and sometimes neither is soap.

30. You’ve tried (and later regretted) some kind of rice liquor.

31. Someone, at some time, has taken you for a ride on a tuk tuk or taxi, and you’ve overpaid like crazy for it.
Too often, really.

32. You’ve eaten street food you never would have considered previously.
I didn’t go too crazy with the street food, although that would probably have been fun. Yum, spider!

33. You can’t believe how delicious it was and how much you want to eat it again.

34. You’re seriously considering taking up a teaching job so that you can stay.
I was considering taking a job at the school in Koh Tao, but I passed it while walking from the pier to the hostel, and there was nothing in this world that could make me return to that area after that walk.

35. Your bamboo bungalow doesn’t even have proper walls, yet it makes you happy.
It didn’t, ’cause there was a huge spider hiding in there.

36. You can totally go, like, three whole days without Wi-Fi.

37. Yet once you find it again you’ll be glued to your phone, even if it does take an hour of painstaking refreshing to finally load a single Facebook message.
Wi-Fi time is sacred time! Some people would sit in a corner and try to stream the latest episode of Game Of Thrones, while I caught up with my friends back home.

38. You keep reassuring your family that you’ll buy your plane ticket home, “tomorrow,” which never seems to arrive.

39. Yes, fried rice IS a food group.
I miss fried rice everyday.

40. You are the Jenga-freaking-master of the universe.
I actually only played Jenga once.

41. You’ve, like, wholly tapped into your spiritual side.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. No.

42. All you need are good vibes, good people, and a daily dose of Ujjayi breathing.
What the hell is Ujjayi breathing? Other than that, I’m totally with you on that.

43. Lotus flowers are so thoroughly inspiring.
I was all about the Frangi Panis.


44. You’ve become all willy-nilly with your passport.

45. The random hostel guy has kept it overnight.

46. So has the visa service guy who took it to the capital for you when you didn’t feel like leaving the beach.

47. You’re used to eating really, really well for very, very little money.
If fried rice, veggie burgers, pad thai and fruit lassis are considered healthy, then yes.

48. You don’t even really need electricity.
Some light so I can at least read a book at night would be nice.

49. You now have friends from all over the world.
Or mainly Canada.

50. You have the painful task of leaving a piece of your heart in the coolest part of the world, ever.
Em yêu và nhớ anh, South East Asia! (someone said it means “I love and miss you”)

The 18th thing crossed off my list

Boo. Did I scare you by coming out of nowhere? Aww.

Anyway, I finally got it together and officially crossed another thing off my list. Probably the last time that will happen before my 23rd birthday, but I promise – to you and to myself – that all these things will be crossed off at some point. Hopefully I still have a few good years in me.

(It was Malaysia)



Planned route:
India: Delhi → Goa → Mumbai → Gujarat → Saurashtra → Pushkar → Jaipur → Delhi → Agra → Varanasi → Kolkata

Thailand: Krabi → Koh Lanta → Koh Phi Phi → Patong → Phuket → Koh Samui → Koh Phangan → Koh Tao → Hua Hin → Pattaya → Bangkok → Chiang Mai → Mae Hong Son → Chiang Rai → Chiang Khong

Laos: Luang Prabang → Vang Vieng → Khammouane → Vientiane

Cambodia: Siem Reap (2 weeks of volunteer work) Battambang → Koh Kong → Kompang Son → Kampot/Kep → Koh Thonsay → Phnom Penh

Vietnam: Saigon → Nha Trang → Hoi An → Hue → Hanoi → Sa Pa

Final route:
India: Delhi → Vagator → Arambol → Hampi → Mumbai → Udaipur → Jaisalmer → Jaipur → Amritsar → Rishikesh → Agra → Varanasi → Kolkata

Thailand: Krabi → Koh Phi Phi → Patong → Koh Samui → Koh Phangan → Koh Tao

Myanmar: Kawthaung

Chumpon → Bangkok → Chiang Mai → Pai → Chiang Mai → Chiang Rai → Chiang Khong

Laos: Pakbeng → Luang Prabang → Vang Vieng → Vientiane

Vietnam: Hanoi → Hue → Hoi An → Nha Trang → Saigon

Cambodia: Phnom Penh → Sihanoukville → Siem reap

Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur →  Taman Negara →  Cameron Highlands →  Georgetown

Singapore: Singapore

Thailand: Bangkok

When I started planning for this trip, I was in a bad place. Dumped by a boy. Stuck, both in school and in general, desperate to get it overwith so I could escape. I think my trip was just that – an escape.
I so desperately want to find my passion in life, be ambitious about something, but how could I possibly do that without knowing myself? To be honest, I have always felt that I was in between every personality trait – shy but social, smart but dumb, trusting but cynical. One thing I always knew for sure, was that I am selfish and dependent, and I hoped that this trip would force me to throw that away with my extra luggage.

In some way I guess this would be an Eat, Pray, Love-kind of experience. And by that, I mean I would deal with my issues, develop some strong personality traits and gain more confidence. Then I would discover my passion in life, and go back to accomplish something.

While this all sounds very unlikely, it was what had helped me in the past. Everytime I have been away from home since my parents divorce 4 years ago, I’ve become a little more independent, a little less shy, and a little more sure what I wanted to do in life: travel. Being away for 4 months however, was something I had never done until now, and it didn’t feel right as soon as I actually left. Maybe it was our choices of countries (where people could sometimes be rude, the food awful, and the cities dirty and loud), but it could also be because my travel partner and I turned out to be incompatible.

Of course, this all just sounds so negative, and of course this experience hasn’t been at all. I’ve gotten to see amazing places – many that I want to return to – and met some great people, and that is what I wanted all along. I finally got over the guy who dumped me, which gave me a lot fewer lonely nights and fits of anger.

Basically, I had some great highs and awful lows that made me see things only a tiny bit clearer, but I am on my way. I learned that I enjoy the simple things in life, like a sunset or a little kid waving at me, because deep down, there is a war in me, and I never know which side will win. Some days, I think I am a fun and outgoing person, always seeing the best in people. Other days, I don’t dare talk to people, and I think I am destined to live a life of sadness and loneliness. That is why I rely on the only ones that understand, my best friends. Away from them, I felt hopeless and less “free”, and I know that this is something that I have to get used to as we start to move in different directions.

This post will probably forever be a mess, like my feelings about my trip. There is so much I want to say, yet nothing I can think of. It was the experiene, but not the time of my life – at least not as often as I wanted it to be.

113 days away from home
18 things crossed off my bucket list
13 books read
7 countries traveled (if you don’t count Burma)
Not nearly enough hangovers.



I realise that I skipped the Final Thoughts post on Malaysia (which I’ve skipped on so many countries anyway), but honestly, in many ways I feel that Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur especially, and Singapore are alike: people are friendly and speak good english, it’s insanely hot, and feels very western. I like it.

We arrive somewhere in Singapore after 14 hours on a sleeper bus. It’s the comfiest one I’ve ever been on, so it definitely lived up to its name, which is Supernice. We have booked two nights at The Green Kiwi on Lavender Street, which is apparently a little over 1 km away, so naturally we just walk. When will we ever learn!? We arrive at our hostel, all sweaty and awful-looking, and the staff quickly offer us some water and super helpful directions to all the places we want to go. Oh, and their breakfast is amazing.

OK, enough with the hostel-reviewing. We don’t do much the first day but eat at a food court and go to the movies, where we watch 22 Jump Street, which has to be one of the funniest movie I’ve seen in a long time. I am crying from laughing so much. Definitely seeing that again very soon.

The next day we meet up with Geoff and go to Little India, Orchid Garden and Chinatown. In Chinatown, I buy a mono-pod. This is what happens when you spend too much time in Asia, you guys. I put on this screenshot of mono-pods so you’ll know what I’m talking about.


Now, lots of pictures from the park and Orchid Garden:

20140622-233717-85037487.jpgSONY DSC20140622-233717-85037863.jpgA BLACK SWAN, YOU GUYS. And some turtles.20140622-233717-85037098.jpgThis had me laughing SO hard for SO long. I’ll call it The R. Kelly AngelSONY DSC20140622-233709-85029671.jpg

We then rush to see the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands Hotel. We head up to the skydeck on the 56th floor and enjoy the sunset and a strawberry slushie with rum – so basically a Strawberry Daiquiri. It’s so amazing, I could  stay up there forever. And I’m going to one day, because I am currently forcing my friend Angel to split a room there someday, because you can’t go in the infinity pool unless you are an actualy guest at the hotel.

Doing the standard, super classy touristy photo.


SONY DSCPossibly the most Singaporean photo everIMG_3369-220140622-233721-85041138.jpg20140622-233720-85040248.jpgIMG_3399-2

Needless to say, I am exhausted when we get home. The next day we have all day in Singapore before catching our flight to Bangkok, but have to check out at 12. I am hopelessly slow at packing today, and end up being the last one left in the dorm, just packing away. Our weird, intense and Brazilian roommate, Harry, then enters and we start talking casually. I only understood a fragment of what he is saying, but the conversation is about me leaving, and he’s sad to see me go – or with his words, leave him. He then points out that we’re all alone right now, which I find a bit weird, but I just ignore it. Harry asks for a hug, and I intentionally put on my backpack before saying “sure”. He does the most annoying thing you can do to a backpacker: taking it off my shoulders, to make it easier to hug me. You can’t really hug people with a 20 kilo tumor on your back – which is kinda the reason why I put it on in the first place!

I am a bit annoyed at this point, because the most painful and irritating part of being a backpacker is putting on and taking off your backpack. I give him a hug anyways, and immediately, he gets this insulted look on his face – as if a hug is not enough. He pushes me against my bunk bed and rests his arms against the bed, one hand on either side of my face. And then he tries to kiss me. UGH! I turn my head say “no”, but he doesn’t seem to understand and keeps asking me why, without moving. Finally I escape and hurry out of there with my stuff.

We go to the malls on Orchard and do a bit of shopping. Again. We spend like two hours in a giant H&M, where I end up running around, telling all the staff members that I think I’ve lost my phone in one of the dressing rooms, when I really have had in a puch around my neck the whole time. Embarassing. Then we go to Sentosa, an awesome island full of activities. I’ve been wanting to zipline for ages, but have felt that it was too expensive, but this is my last chance, so I do quite the hike by myself to get to MegaZip Adventure Park and zipline with a big group of anti-social Asians! Ziplining is amazing!!! And so, I’ve crossed off yet another thing on my 22 things list.



After landing, the two guys in the picture above want a picture with me. They have been ziplining down to the beach with me. I find it funny, so I want a picture with them, too. Then 12 other Asians proceed to take a huge group picture with me, all doing the peace sign pose, of course.

We almost don’t make our flight, as we are a wee bit late at the airport, but hey, wouldn’t mind being stuck in Singapore. Ever.