Month 10: Travel Summary and Statistics


bike ride in don det

During my 10th month of travel, I finally left Thailand. Having spent the past six months in this wonderful country, it truly felt like home and I was devastated to be leaving.

However, there was so much more of South East Asia to see and with just 2 weeks to explore, I decided to spend them having a short introduction to both Laos and Cambodia.

As always, these weeks weren’t without drama and I had some of the best, and worst, experiences on my trip to date. 

It all began with the slow boat to Luang Prabang.

Luang Prabang mountain view from the Mekong

I’ll be writing about this traumatic journey over the next few weeks, but let’s just say that the scenery was incredible and what I imagined would be an extremely peaceful and relaxing experience was somewhat tarred by the fact I was sat about a metre away from a dead woman and her grieving husband for the entire journey. She had died from malaria mid-boat trip and with nowhere to put her, they stuck her at the end of the boat with her grieving husband.

Arriving at my guesthouse in Luang Prabang, I ended up in a room that locked me out and could only be opened when the guesthouse owner brandished a huge machete and hacked the door down. I was then locked inside the room as soon as I closed it. A room which now had no door handle and so I had no way of getting out. I remained there for two hours before someone heard my cries for help and could finally let me out.

Refusing to stay there any longer I was moved to the only other free room which had cockroaches in the bed, enormous bugs flying into my face and a toilet filled with cockroaches and other dead animals. I couldn’t take it and spent the night sitting on the ground outside crying. I thought I had been saved when two Dutch guys returned from a night out and said I could sleep in their room that night. Ten minutes later, I woke up to find one of them attempting to grope me. In the room which you could not open from the inside.

I left the guesthouse the next morning and decided it had been the worst night of my entire trip

From that moment onwards everything improved. I treated myself to an amazing room and fell in love with Luang Prabang. I spent my time eating delicious baguettes, exploring the temples, watching a gorgeous sunset and being disappointed by the appalling behaviour of tourists at the morning alms giving ceremony.

temple in luang prabang

views in luang prabang from above

monks at morning alms giving luang prabang

After Luang Prabang, I decided to skip Vang Vieng because I don’t want to die and head for some relaxation time in Si Phan Don.

hammock don det laos

It was amazing.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so relaxed before in my life. I spent every day lazing in my hammock, napping and catching up on my favourite TV shows.

The only time I actually did something was when I forced myself to rent a bike and ride to the nearby island of Don Khon. It was one of the highlights of my time in Laos and I loved cycling the dirt tracks and feeling like I was the only living soul around.

When I took the turning signposted as “beach” I was rewarded with deserted sand dunes and a gorgeous lagoon. I spent the rest of the day sunbathing, watching the local children swimming in the Mekong and fisherman wading out to catch fish with their bare hands.

bike ride in don det

4000 islands sand dunes

don khon sand dunes

The final stop on my whirlwind tour took me to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. I took nearly 2000 photos over the 2 days I spent at Angkor and it was one of the most incredible sights I’ve seen on my travels to date.

perching on angkor wat

sunrise at angkor wat

sunrise at angkor wat

I was devastated to be leaving Cambodia after just four days as there was so much more of the country I was desperate to see. Sadly, I’ll have to save it for a future date as it was not just time for me to leave Cambodia, it was also time for me to leave Asia and head to Europe.

What?!

Europe?!?!

That was never in the plan! 

It’s true. It wasn’t. I fell in love with South-East Asia from the moment I arrived and immediately made plans to travel through that area indefinitely. I didn’t want to ever leave. If you take a look at my plans before that, I was going to be heading to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa in March.

Plans change. 

As much as I adore Thailand, being there for the rainy season didn’t sound like an awful lot of fun so I began exploring other alternatives. I started my trip in Eastern Europe and with only 6 weeks to explore the region, I left wishing that I could have stayed longer. With a huge list of countries in that area that I still want to visit it seemed like the perfect decision to return there for the summer!

Tomorrow’s post will be a detailed outline of my plans for the next 6 months, but I can tell you it will be spent exploring Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

 

Onto the statistics for the month! 

Distance travelled: 13,041 km

Countries visited: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Egypt, The Netherlands, England.

Cities Visited: Chiang Mai, Chiang Khong, Pak Bang, Luang Prabang, Pakse, Don Det, Siem Reap, Bangkok, Cairo, Amsterdam, London.

Number of photos taken: 6192

Number of flights: 4

Number of trains: 0

Number of buses: 5

Number of boats: 2

Money spent:

Thailand: £215.25 over 12 days = £17.94 a day

Laos: £85 over 9 days = £9.44 a day

Cambodia: £190.46 over 4 days = £47.61 a day

Egypt: £15 over 1 day = £15 a day

The Netherlands: £96.20 over 3 days = £32.06 a day

England: £7.50 over 1 day = £7.50 a day

Total amount: £609.21

 

The next month:

I’ll be spending the next two weeks back home in London, where I plan on catching up with friends and family, eating my weight in cheese and drinking 500 cups of tea.

On the 1st June I fly out to Ljubljana – my favourite city in Europe. I’ll be spending a week in total in Slovenia and will be celebrating my birthday there too! I have lots of exciting adventures planned for my time there, including a hot air balloon ride over Lake Bled and trying out canyoning for the first time. I’m sure this will result in a dramatic near-death experience.

With a short stopover in Vienna, I’ll be flying to Morocco to travel solo on the 10th June and I’m very excited about taking my first step onto the continent of Africa.

 

Looking to follow along with my travels through my monthly summaries? You can read the previous month’s summary here, the next month’s summary here, or head on over to the monthly summary page to read from the very beginning!

Previous Attacked by Monkeys in Monkey Forest
Next My Summer Plans for 2012!

49 Comments

  1. fotoeins | Henry
    May 19, 2012
    Reply

    Lauren, I see top-seller as a travel book, or at least as a chronicle of your travels. :-)

    Enjoy your time in London!

    • May 21, 2012
      Reply

      Hahahaha, awwww, thanks Henry! I’d love to write a book of my Ordeals one day!

  2. DebbZ
    May 19, 2012
    Reply

    Dead woman, cockroaches, and a guy attempting to grope you ?
    Geesh, that would ruin my trip completely. Glad to know that you’re fine, Lauren

    • May 21, 2012
      Reply

      Yeah, there was a moment there where I wanted to flee back to Chiang Mai, but I decided to battle though and ended up loving it!

  3. Elle Croft
    May 19, 2012
    Reply

    Wow. I can’t believe you had to go through that! But I’m so glad it worked out OK in the end.
    Looking forward to hearing about your time in Ljubljuana, it looks like a cool city!

    • May 21, 2012
      Reply

      It’s the BEST city. I will probably write 400 gushing posts about how much I ADORE it!

  4. George
    May 19, 2012
    Reply

    Wow everything is changing then, but it’s good to see that your stay in london is only temporary and you are still carrying on with your travels.

    I bet you’ll have an amazing time! I am so insanely jealous of your life it is unreal.

    • May 21, 2012
      Reply

      I’ve had about 5 million emails (approx.) asking me why my trip is over, but it’s definitely NOT! It’ll be strange to be in Europe after so long in Asia, but I have plenty of exciting adventures planned for my time! …And I’ll be back in Thailand in November!

  5. Leanne
    May 20, 2012
    Reply

    I’m sorry your not coming to Australia. Was looking forward to seeing you. Are you coming here at all?

    • May 21, 2012
      Reply

      I’ll be there over Christmas! Not for an extended amount of time like I had originally planned, and not to work, but I’ll probably be hanging out in Melbourne for a while :)

  6. Torre – Fearful Adventurer
    May 20, 2012
    Reply

    Every time I read your blog, I come away traumatised and significantly less enthusiastic about travel.

    You’re going to write a whole post about the dead woman, aren’t you? You can’t just leave me hanging with a bunch of questions. For some sick reason, I want to experience this vicariously, and then get put off travel.

    • May 21, 2012
      Reply

      HAHAHAHA!

      Of course! There will be an extremely long and dramatic post about it within the next few weeks! :)

  7. May 20, 2012
    Reply

    That was one nasty beginning of your trip. I am glad you could make it through. Welcome home, Lauren :) Have a great time in Eastern Europe! Love your photos and look forward to your updates.

    • May 21, 2012
      Reply

      I truly believed I was cursed at the beginning, and that I should have never left Chiang Mai!

  8. Alison
    May 20, 2012
    Reply

    What a horrible experience you had on the boat and on arrival at your accommodation – I’m not surprised you were crying. I think anybody would be in a state. And being by yourself as well, you must have been terrified! It must be nice to have a break at home though, to refuel before travelling again :-)

    • May 21, 2012
      Reply

      It was my first bit of solo travel after travelling with Dave for months and it was definitely jumping back in at the deep end!

      It’s nice to be back… Although i couldn’t stay for more than a few weeks! I’m just too excited to be able to eat cheese again!

  9. Mark Olwick
    May 20, 2012
    Reply

    I’m confused: Wasn’t this supposed to be a summary and statistics for 10 months of travel? I only see one month.

    • May 21, 2012
      Reply

      I do the summaries every month.

  10. Waegook Tom
    May 20, 2012
    Reply

    Wow fantastic post Lauren! Glad you survived the boat trip and that first night in Laos…eurgh flying cockroaches would’ve sent me over the edge!

    Can’t wait to read about your plans for the summer. Eat a few blocks of Cathedral City cheddar for me ;)

    • May 21, 2012
      Reply

      I’ve basically built myself a Cathedral City…. city. Which I live inside and nibble at all day.

  11. Lesley Peterson
    May 20, 2012
    Reply

    Gorgeous photos! But the boat ride has to be one of the worst tales from the road I’ve ever heard. I thought you were kidding about #deadbody !!!

    • May 22, 2012
      Reply

      Oh no, trust me, these things ALWAYS happen to me!

  12. Maryga
    May 20, 2012
    Reply

    13,041 km in one month = 437 km per day average. How did you do it?

    • May 22, 2012
      Reply

      Flying from Bangkok -> Cairo -> Amsterdam :)

  13. I just recently found your blog, but I’ve been having a good time reading through your archives… It really seems like you manage to find yourself in the most mind-boggling situations, but your story about the malaria victim takes the cake, I think!

    I’m really glad to hear that after a bumpy start, your time in Laos was so positive. I am SO excited to spend some serious time in South East Asia on my upcoming RTW trip. It seems like many people get sucked in there and can’t bear to leave!

    • May 22, 2012
      Reply

      Hi Steph! It’s true, I always end up having the craziest things happen to me!

      You’ll love South-East Asia. I spent 7 months there and I’m still planning on returning later this year!

  14. Sophie
    May 20, 2012
    Reply

    Just discovered your blog Lauren, and I love it :)

    I’ve got Laos and Cambodia on my list of places to see in South-East Asia if I ever head over there. They sound beautiful!

    I’d suggest exploring more of Bosnia if you are going to be back to Eastern Europe, Sarajevo is one of my favourite cities, and there’s loads more to see :)

    • May 22, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Sophie!

      I loved Bosnia when I was there last time and it looks like I’ll be spending quite a bit of time there this year too ;)

      • Sophie
        May 22, 2012
        Reply

        Yes just saw your post about your summer plans (which all sound amazing, by the way); Sarajevo is brilliant, I hope you enjoy it! Bosnia is just a place no-one thinks of going but the rewards are great (I promise I’m not working for their tourist board!). I enjoyed Serbia too but sadly only had a few days in Belgrade, so not really an experience of the country itself.

  15. Someday I'll Be There - Mina
    May 20, 2012
    Reply

    I read the whole post with a smile on my facy until i reached the countries visited section and I saw Egypt and O.O!!

    You visited Egypt? For just one day? :D why?! Or you’re still here at that moment? Will there be posts about it? :D I’d like to read your stories about Egypt…more horrifying stories should be coming up :D

    • May 21, 2012
      Reply

      Mina, I know!! We were flying from Bangkok to Amsterdam and had a layover in Cairo! I’m hoping to get to Egypt after I do the Middle East this year though, I’ll keep you up to date with my plans! :D

  16. May 21, 2012
    Reply

    It just goes to show you can never trust the Dutch. Just kidding, obviously.

    It sounds like you really had a dreadful time. Have you sold the movie rights to this story yet? Lauren triumphs over adversity! It’s surprising you actually went on to like the town after so much bad luck.

    • May 22, 2012
      Reply

      Haha! I know… But I always end up having an ordeal everywhere I go, so I’ve learnt to not judge a place by my near-death experience :D

  17. Ian [EagerExistence]
    May 21, 2012
    Reply

    “I’ll be flying to Morocco on the 10th June and I’m very excited about taking my first step onto the continent of Africa.”

    But you’ve been to Cairo, Egypt right? Coz that’s in Africa too :-p

    Morocco is awesome, I can fire some suggestions your way if you’re interested.

  18. May 21, 2012
    Reply

    Wow sounds like quite the beginning of the Laos trip was quite the nightmare. I honestly cannot even imagine having to sit next to a dead woman on a boat with her grieving husband, to then be checked into what seems like the worst hostel ever. You’re a trooper! Glad the trip got better after that!

    • May 22, 2012
      Reply

      I know, it felt like one thing after the other! I’d been told by everyone that I’d have such a chilled out, relaxing time and it ended up being the complete opposite!

  19. Vi
    May 21, 2012
    Reply

    That boat trip to Luang Prabang was something…Two days in boat with dead body..brrr…

    • May 22, 2012
      Reply

      Yeah, it was pretty horrifying…

  20. Ava Apollo
    May 21, 2012
    Reply

    The dead woman would have me disturbed, but the cockroaches would have been too much. Too much I say! It really is true, the highs are much higher but the lows are much lower abroad.

    • May 22, 2012
      Reply

      The cockroaches were awful. I could have coped fairly well if they were just on the floor, but they were in my bed, they were flying around the room, ugh!

  21. Britany
    May 25, 2012
    Reply

    What a terrible experience for your first night in Luang Prabang! That was my favorite city in Laos. Good for you for being able to bounce back from such a traumatic experience and enjoy the rest of your stay there!

    • June 7, 2012
      Reply

      It was mine too, which is crazy as I should have hated it after my horrible experience!

  22. Dave from ACoupleTravelers
    May 29, 2012
    Reply

    Love summary posts – will have to convert those pounds to dollars though lol!

  23. Wow – so much in 10 months! I’m a little bit jealous ;)
    Nice to see the budget you spent and: it shows that traveling is often not that expensive. thx for sharing – it helps others who plan to travel the same countries!!

    • June 7, 2012
      Reply

      Yep, that’s why I include how much i spent each month :D

  24. Arjun
    June 5, 2012
    Reply

    Dead woman : Crazy. cockroaches and other dead animals with enormous flying bugs : crazier and then, the craziest!! How could you be so naive? These guys were going “dutch” with you in the middle.. Shhesh!

    • June 7, 2012
      Reply

      I wasn’t being naive – I’ve been looked after by travelers everywhere I’ve been. They’d come along and seen me in tears. Would any decent person leave a crying girl to sit outside on the ground all night?

  25. Sarah
    September 4, 2012
    Reply

    Glad to see the story had a happy ending after that seriously rough beginning! Planning a trip to SE Asia right now, and it’s great to see which places were your favorites! (and which weren’t…) :)

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