It’s 5.13am in the morning. If you think how early I wake up just to write something, you are totally wrong. In fact I haven’t sleep yet! However, I can’t help myself to write something here about my South East Asia trip couple months ago.
So, most of you might be think how brave (and crazy) I was to pack my bag and went exploring SEA by myself. Yep, maybe I was! I couldn’t believe that I could make that sudden trip come true either. I even never think about it before and just planned everything a week before. What a week? Yes, you read it right #notatypo. Believe me or not, I made my place-to-go-list every night before going to bed during the trip! When I arrived in every city in the country, I always ask tons of questions to one or two people around, asking which places are worth to visit and I found it was the best thing to do, slightly better than asking google.
I might mention it before, I went to explore almost all of the countries by land, which means I had a roadtrip. Obviously, I’m not driving since it’s SEA. Instead, I took a bus from one to others. Did I use tour? No. I search all the tickets and managed to book it by myself, mostly online but some direct in travel agent available in each country.
My SEA trip started from Malacca – Malaysia – Hat Yai – Phuket – Bangkok – Siem Reap – Ho Chi Minh – Mui Ne – Nha Trang – Hanoi – Singapore. So in total, I visited 5 countries and 11 cities within 3 weeks. It indeed a bit packed since I had only limited time but it’s all so worthed.
Your questions might be, is it safe? Especially for a girls??? Oh come on, yes it is, if it is not then I won’t be here back to Indonesia right now! :p
But… but… (here we go the surprise behind a surprise) as a girls and backpackers we always have to anticipate things we don’t want to be happened. We always have to be prepared if that bad things suddenly come.
What are those bad things? It can be many things! From losing your stuffs if it’s stolen or even losing your whole backpack (I’m not kidding, this is truly happened to other travelers), deceived by local people, problems while crossing borders including bribery or additional cost you’re not supposed to pay, accidents, and many others.
Therefore, firstly first you have to focus on reading those important stuffs like safety traveling tips and other traveler experiences compare with where-to-go, what-to-eat, where-to-buy stuffs! If you’re not reading this, you must be surprised for all things that later you might go through. But if you do so, you’ll at least know the bad things that might be happen and anticipate it before. Remember, people can steal or bribe because of chances and it’s your job to limit those chances.
Here are some stuffs that I did to anticipate the bad lucks:
1. Bring a smaller backpack instead of the big one or even luggage.
Why? It will make you more flexible to bring your backpack to your own seat in the bus, not leaving it in the bus baggage. This could avoid people to steal your stuffs or even whole bag. If the driver ask you to put your bag in the bus baggage, just ignore them and act like you don’t understand what they said (that’s what I did!).
2. Bring several locks and a chain.
There are several types of backpack, mine have it’s own locks and completed with a chain. This was very useful especially when I had to leave my backpack in the bus when I was in the immigration border. If I brought my backpack down, it would be so much uncomfortable for me to move because the queue was no kidding long for some countries.
3. No short pants or u-can-see clothes during the road trip. You know why.
4. Do not bring any wallet. I put all of my important stuffs inside my backpack and always locked it and put some money in my pocket for a quick needs. I also bring another small bag in case I have to leave my bag for quite a long time to put all stuffs like camera, passport, etc.
5. Make friends with other travelers around you, especially those who are also a solo travelers. Don’t be a quite traveler if you’re alone. This is so important so you can support each other along the road! Make friends with them and they could be your travel companion for you either for lunch, dinner, or even for a day or several day trip just if you have same itenery.
6. In terms of ticket prices and all payment stuffs, always do a research in google.
If you are planning to buy ticket offline, don’t quickly believe in one travel agents. Go to one or two place for compare and quickly ask local people recommendation (since some of bus even if it’s cheap but it is old and have bad drivers record).
7. Do not hang your camera in your neck and always be ware with your phone and bag. Why would you show off your camera and handphone? Put it on the backpack and lock it! It won’t be useful as well in the border since you’ll not allowed to take any kind of photos and there won’t be any wifi around. Becareful with your bag as well, especially in Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh where some of the thief usually did a force robbery, hit you and run with your bag.
8. Do not hestitae to throw 100 questions to people around you! I always did this, instead of doubting yourself with just information from google, asking local people lead you to more accurate information. But just be smart to whom you ask the questions. You won’t try to communicate with a grandma in English, right? It’s not Europe, it’s SEA dude. They won’t understand your language.
9. Google maps and google translate is a must application you have. It will enable you to travel and communicate with local people by your own easily. Download offline version of google maps if you can’t afford local number. Safe your money and time 🙂
10. Don’t be stingy for not affording local numbers with internet, especially if you travel the country for more than 3 days. 1-2GB internet is more than enough to let you stay connected with those-who-know-it-all, google. It will help you to not stuck in one place and look smart by your own, lol. But seriously, bad people will easily get you when you’re in confused. It will also help you if suddenly you face some troubles along the road. Internet is your first aid kit!
11. Don’t always look at your phone everytime and everywhere, just like you are a phone addicted. This rules applied especially in public area like in the road or bus, etc. Instead, save your phone in easily reach area for a quick grab. Your phone is everything! If it is being stolen, it will so much troublesome for you and your trip and your work and your family.
12. Lastly, just don’t be careless in everything you do. Check double check and even triple check! Think 100 ahead and bad possibilities of your act.
These tips might be random tips during the roadtrip but hopefully this will help. Do you want me to write precisely, how to cross the border in Malaysia-Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam and real problem I had when crossing the borders plus how I handle that? Let me know! I might write more detail about that during my spare time and also I’ll let you know what’s important to bring and how to arrange my backpack as a smart traveler. If there any information you want me to write about, please do left comment below! I would love to hear 🙂