I didn’t realize it’s been a month since I took a flight from Manila to Vietnam to start my backpacking journey in Southeast Asia and become location-independent. I travelled to Ho Chi Minh City and Mui Ne in Vietnam, Siem Reap in Cambodia, and Bangkok in Thailand.
I didn’t maximize the number of days before my passport expired for each country as this month was more of a vacation than anything else. Despite the sudden change of locations, I came across a few realizations and learned some lessons along the way.
1. Stay healthy!
I overdosed on spicy food in Thailand but I still kept eating them. I also didn’t watch what I ate that I ended up having diarrhea for a couple of days.
I can’t afford to get sick. Aside from the cost of medicines, I also wasted time trying to recover my health. I could’ve used the opportunity to work on other jobs that would allow me to generate more income. Or I could’ve used the time to explore other areas in Bangkok.
Thai Food – spicy!
Thinking that I’m invincible all the time is foolish so I need to be extra cautious especially when I’m on the road and I have fewer people to rely on for help.
2. Ask and you shall receive; haggle.
We found a guesthouse in Siem Reap and the initial price for a fan room with two beds and WiFi was 180 USD. Because of my friend’s haggling skills, we were able to bring it down to 120 USD.
On top of the discount, we wondered if they had bikes available, they gave us two. We asked if we could use their kitchen, they said yes. We requested for hangers to dry our clothes, they gave us a lot. We asked for a table inside the room, they brought one. We also inquired if we could borrow their pail and store food in their fridge, they willingly agreed.
our room for one month in Siem Reap, Cambodia
What was a basic room for a month turned out to be something more. We didn’t have to spend on other costs (hangers, buying a pail, plates for food, etc.) because we ASKED.
3. Long-term backpacking is NOT for everyone.
I realized that this whole long-term backpacking gig is not for everyone. Anybody who likes to try this out needs to consider a lot of things first. How much comfort are you willing to let go in order to be on the road? Preparation is the key but don’t miss out on looking at other areas. Are you emotionally up for the challenge? Can you handle the stress?
Poipet border in Cambodia
photo by Doi
But despite so many questions to consider, how badly you want it and how much you’re willing to sacrifice to continue doing what you want to do is what matters in the end. Still, if backpacking is not for you, you can still travel the way you want to.
4. Don’t expect too much.
Expecting that everyday will be a great adventure is good. But when you already have a vision of what you’re going to experience, you might get upset when things don’t go according to plan.
trapped in the sand
Mui Ne, Vietnam
When you expect too much, you close your mind to possibilities that might happen. Travelling is a different experience every time. Open your mind and just accept whatever comes your way. Otherwise, you’ll be disappointed.
5. Surround yourself with positive people.
“You are the average of the people you spend the most time with.” – I am reminded of this quote from a conversation I had with Eileen of Possibly Pinay. This was also reinforced when I talked to Mica of Senyorita.net that we need to “surround ourselves with positive people – physically and virtually”.
hanging out with new friends (Markus, Denisse, Doi, and Tony)
Fish Massage in Siem Reap
Travelling can sometimes get boring; most especially when you don’t have a lot of money to burn and you just stay in your hostel to work. But it is a must that you interact with people who don’t suck the happiness out of you.
6. Life is what you make it.
Cliché as it might seem, life is truly what you make it. Whether you have all the money in the world or you’re still making ends meet, it’s all about perspective.
Japanese street performer
Chatuchak Market, Bangkok
Is the glass half-empty or half-full? Which one do you wish to focus on? What do you do to fill the other half and make it whole again?
7. Love motivates you.
So many things happened during the month, falling in love was one of them. I didn’t realize how my world turned around because of being struck by cupid. It’s such a beautiful thing to happen to anyone.
in Angkor Wat Complex
I suddenly have a new aspect in my life that’s opened up and and this gives me all the more reason to work harder than ever. I’m more motivated now because I can see a direction on where I want to head in the future.
I’m currently settling in Cambodia for the second month to have more work done. That leaves the idea of getting flights to thailand scrapped for now. I hope to accomplish more productivity within the next few weeks so I can save more funds and travel to other parts of Southeast Asia.