Month 41: Travel Summary and Statistics


Inle Lake boat

In my last monthly summary, I wrote about how I often struggle balancing work and travel. When it came down to choosing one, I (of course!) went for travel and didn’t regret it. I had the best time exploring Myanmar and created some of my favourite travel memories of the year.

I paid for it this month, though, when it came time to play catch up. So many deadlines to meet, so many pages of How Not to Travel the World to edit. My writing on Never Ending Footsteps fell to the wayside and my stress levels hit their peak on a New Year’s Eve with 15 freelance articles due.

Still, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t continue to travel when I desperately needed to stop. Here’s what I’ve been up to over the past four weeks!

Kalaw sunset
Kalaw sunset. Photo by Dave.

After leaving Bagan, passport clenched tightly in fist, I headed for Kalaw, a beautiful hill town with cooler temperatures and incredible Indian food. Most travellers only visit Kalaw as a starting point to their three day trek to Inle Lake, a hike I’d planned for but ultimately cancelled. I was concerned about getting behind with my book editing and wasn’t sure if I’d be up to it with my mono still kicking around. I realised how rare it was for people not to hike when we were the only foreigners leaving Kalaw by bus. 

Inle Lake Sunset
Inle Lake at sunset

Next up, Inle Lake, my final stop in Myanmar. I arrived fully expecting to hate it. I hadn’t heard many positive things — only that it was mega-touristy, kind of expensive, and not worth spending more than a day in. As tempting as it was to stay in Kalaw for the rest of my time, I couldn’t allow myself to be so lazy. 

I’m glad I left. I loved Inle Lake. 

One highlight was my sunset cruise on the lake, complete with hilariously awkward silence when our driver cut the engine and had us floating, Dave and I sat single file, in the middle of the lake for an hour. Nobody said a word and I spent more time giggling and staring at my feet than watching the sunset.

The day-long cruise we took the next day was even better. I typically hate tours where you’re taken to factories and jewellery shops in an attempt to earn your driver commission but, while it was totally about that, this one wasn’t boring. Seeing the kickass bamboo fishermen (and not taking their photo because some of them fake it as a way to make money from tourists), drifting past floating villages, visiting lotus silk weavers, silversmiths, cheroot makers, and boat builders. So much fun!

Inle Lake
Inle Lake

From Myanmar, I flew to Taiwan, one of my favourite countries in the world. Taiwan was the first country I ever visited in Asia, over three years ago, and it blew my mind. I was excited to return but a small part of me was concerned I wouldn’t love it second time around. I’d travelled a lot in the past three years and didn’t know if it would still be exciting.

Fortunately, I fell for it even harder than before. During my first visit, I had been terrified of food and lived on a diet of McDonald’s and 7-Eleven sandwiches. This time around, I was all about trying new food and I couldn’t stop eating. Taipei’s night markets and street food are incredible. I wanted to stay and eat for months. Taiwanese street food: The best.

My week in Taipei was spent balancing book editing with taking Dave to my favourite Taipei tourist sites. A return to Longshan Temple was in order, as was Shilin night market for eating. We ate at Din Tai Fung and I visited a new themed restaurant to add to my list: The Barbie Cafe! I got to finally meet one of my favourite travel bloggers, Tom, along with his lovely boyfriend, and we trained it up to Yingge and Sanxia together.

Taipei sausages
Taipei sausage fest

Next, I took Dave down to the south of Taiwan, via high speed train, to see Kaohsiung. Kaohsiung was one of my favourite spots in Taiwan when I last visited, thanks to the crazy temples around Lotus Pond Lake. I was hoping to spend a day showing Dave around and re-exploring the lake but work got in the way and I spent my time in Kaohsiung on my laptop.

I did, however, get to take the ferry over to nearby Qijin Island for the first time. It was rainy and not all that interesting but the blue and yellow houses made me happy. 

Qijin Island
Qijin Island

As much as it was tempting to spend my entire time in Taiwan recreating my first visit, I wanted to see somewhere new.

I decided to go for Kenting, at the southernmost point of Taiwan, known for having pretty beaches. Sadly, the weather wasn’t nice enough for sunbathing but it was windy enough to almost throw us from our scooter as we drove around. The beaches were beautiful and I’d love to return in summer.

Beach in Kenting
Beach in Kenting
Kenting beach
Pretty Kenting, even when stormy

Also: This sign. 

Sign in Kenting
In case you didn’t know, the ocean can be pretty deep.

My final stop in Taiwan was a return to Hualien and Taroko Gorge, one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been. When I first visited Taroko Gorge, I did so via shuttle bus because the idea of me on a scooter was ridiculous. While I got to see a small area of the National Park, I was pretty limited by bus schedules and stops. 

This time around, we opted for a scooter and it was SO much better! I was able to fit in five hikes this time instead of one, regularly stopped to take photos whenever I felt like it, and loved having the winding roads all to ourselves.

taroko gorge

Onwards! It was time to return to the Philippines via an exhausting travel day, consisting of leaving Taipei at 1am, arriving in Manila at 4am, flying to Caticlan at 7am, taking a tricycle to the ferry terminal, a ferry to Boracay, and a tricycle to our hostel. 

And then we napped. 

boracay white beach

But I was in Boracay and I never sleep in Boracay. 

So I began to drink.

Month 41 travel map

Countries Visited: 3

Myanmar, The Philippines, Taiwan

Cities Visited: 8

Boracay, Hualien, Inle Lake, Kalaw, Kaohsiung, Kenting, Taipei, Yangon

Distance Travelled: 5931 km

Highlight of the Month

My first day in Taipei: Cool temperatures after sweltering Yangon, delicious street food, and getting to see Dave start to fall in love with my favourite country all made for the perfect travel day.

Lowlight of the Month 

Four continuous days of rain on Boracay — there isn’t much to do on the island when the rain starts pouring and I spent my time inside writing. Good for productivity but not great when I wanted to soak up the last of the sun!

Incident of the Month 

I gained a few travel stripes in Boracay this time around, culminating in me throwing up from drinking too much — the first time that’s ever happened to me. I’m not a huge drinker and usually stop before things start spinning but not in Boracay. It took just one cocktail and my god, I’ve never been drunker. 

The beach spun for three hours after I finished my drink and I waited it out at my favourite beach bar, hoping to get a grip. In the end, I stumbled back to my room, knowing that throwing up would make me feel better. I forced myself to stick my fingers down my throat but was so drunk I forgot what I was doing half-way through. All I could think about was how spongey my throat was. And then there was vomit all over my arm and I was so confused.

This happened at 8 pm.

Hardcore partier. That’s me.

Money Spent

Accommodation:

  • Kalaw: $52.00 over 3 nights: $17.33 per night
  • Inle Lake: $20 over 1 night: $20 per night
  • Yangon: $32 over 2 nights: $16.00 per night
  • Taipei: $176 over 7 nights: $25.15 per night
  • Kaohsiung: $55.88 over 3 nights: $18.63 per night
  • Kenting: $11.57 over 1 night: $11.57 per night
  • Hualien: $49.48 over 3 nights: $16.49 per night
  • Taipei: $26.25 over 1 night: $26.25 per night
  • Boracay: $53.06 over 2 nights: $26.53 per night

Note: I travel with Dave and these accommodation prices are my share — the rooms are therefore double the price listed here.

Transportation: 

  • Bus from Bagan to Kalaw: $12.00
  • Bus from Kalaw to Inle Lake: $7.50
  • Sunset + full-day cruise at Inle Lake: $15.00
  • Bus from Inle Lake to Yangon: $22.00
  • Taxi from Yangon bus station to our guesthouse: $2.50
  • Taxi to Yangon Airport: $3.50
  • Flight from Yangon to Taipei: $291.37
  • High speed train from Taipei to Kaohsiung: $46.70
  • Bus from Kaohsiung to Kenting: $10.15
  • Bus from Kenting to Kaohsiung: $10.15
  • Train from Kaohsiung to Hualien City: $17.65
  • Train from Hualien City to Taipei: $13.74
  • Taipei metro costs for our stay: $10.93
  • Bus from Taipei to Taipei airport: $4.53
  • Flight from Taipei to Manila: $47.13
  • Flight from Manila to Caticlan: $69.80
  • Tricycle/Ferry/Tricycle from Caticlan to the ferry terminal: $5.90

Food: $341.50

Visas and Entrance Fees: 

Inle Lake entrance fee: $10.00
Boracay entrance fees: $3.89

Miscellaneous:

Buying winter clothes in Taipei: $125

Total Amount Spent: $1547.81

The Next Month

Month 42 travel map

I’ll be in London for the next month, basing myself in Brixton. I’ll be eating all the food, hanging out with travel blogging friends, and enjoying staying still. Stay tuned for a whole heap of summary posts from 2014 and a big announcement about my 2015 travel plans!

 

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 Month 40: Travel Summary and Statistics
Next Where to Eat on Nimmanhaemin, Chiang Mai

58 Comments

  1. January 5, 2015
    Reply

    Taipei sounds amazing! I’ve never really given it a second glance but now definitely want to visit. While I’m in the area it would be a shame to miss out (especially on those tasty looking sausages)!

    Boracay looks beautiful. Definitely worth a visit!

    • November 26, 2015
      Reply

      The food is definitely one of the number one reasons to visit! :-)

  2. January 5, 2015
    Reply

    Wow I love your pictures. Looks amazing!

  3. Dan B
    January 5, 2015
    Reply

    I love the name Kenting, it sounds like somewhere in England. Kind of like somewhere near Kent. Pronounced like “tenting”. Kenting. I supposed it may actually be pronounced ken-ting though, which just isn’t as fun.

    Can sympathise with your alcohol sickness. I barely ever drink as I always feel sick, then I get anxious that I’m going to vomit…and the whole experience ends up being a hassle.

    • January 10, 2015
      Reply

      Ha! Yep, it’s pronounced like tenting.

  4. January 5, 2015
    Reply

    Hi Lauren! New-ish reader here (I’ve probably visited before but this is definitely my first comment). This post totally cracked me up! I love the sign about deep water in Taiwan (who knew?) and the story about your uber-strong cocktail…it almost sounds to me like it was spiked with something, I’ve never heard of someone throwing up after just one! It makes for a good story anyway.

    I’ll definitely be back to read more, I’m living in Colombia and trying to break into the world of freelancing while I travel so it sounds like maybe I could learn a thing or two from you (even if that happens to be what NOT to do). :) Cheers!

    Leah

    • January 6, 2015
      Reply

      Thanks for commenting, Leah! :-) The cocktail was a very large and very strong Long Island Iced Tea. I’m usually pretty tipsy after one beer!

  5. Toni
    January 6, 2015
    Reply

    Your incident report cracked me up. The spongy-ness of tongues should be discussed more often. I love your pics. Do you edit them or use special equipment?

    • November 26, 2015
      Reply

      I edit all of my photos in Photoshop, and shoot with a Canon 550D.

  6. April
    January 6, 2015
    Reply

    I never drink Long Island Iced Tea anymore… it is a silent killer. Haha! I would have loved to meet you in Boracay… was there with my friends last week of Dec. :)

    • November 26, 2015
      Reply

      Ah, I must have just missed you! Hope you had a great time :-)

  7. Marg
    January 6, 2015
    Reply

    Love your blog Lauren and also the Photo’s, always a good read. That cocktail must have been just so strong. Oh well looks like water next time ! Ha Ha !!!!

    • January 10, 2015
      Reply

      It was pretty strong but I’m also an inexperienced drinker! :-)

  8. January 7, 2015
    Reply

    Suuuch an amazing lifestyle. It’s nice to follow your adventures. Taipei is definitely a place I want to see, specially living only 2 hours from there! I can’t believe you did all this in only a month!

    • November 26, 2015
      Reply

      It was a pretty wild month! Time to slow down :-)

  9. January 7, 2015
    Reply

    Wow Taiwan is your favourite country? I don’t know much about it to be honest but this definitely piqued my interest :)

    • November 26, 2015
      Reply

      It’s incredible! :-)

  10. What a successful month of travel, you did so much!
    That is such a hilarious picture you painted of being distracted by your throat’s sponginess while attempting to make yourself sick! At 8pm. :)

    • January 10, 2015
      Reply

      Ha! I know — I’m so ridiculous! :-)

  11. January 7, 2015
    Reply

    “I forgot what I was doing half-way through…then there was vomit all over my arm and I was so confused.” Hahaha! This is hilarious! Hope you’re feeling better now though :)

    • January 10, 2015
      Reply

      Feeling much better now and can’t stop giggling about my night of vomit! :-)

  12. January 7, 2015
    Reply

    Wow! What an amazing month you’ve had! Thank you for the inspiring post :D I love the pictures as well. I can’t wait to hear about your 2015 travel plans!

  13. Mary Akis
    January 8, 2015
    Reply

    I am an avid reader of your travels since late fall 2014 and I always enjoy receiving your updates. I was kind of curious in this trip you noted $125 for winter clothing??? Where on earth would you need winter clothing.

    I live in Ontario Canada where the temperature this morning was -34 degrees with the windchil, yesterday it was even 10 degrees colder…so you will have to laugh along with me when I saw that you spent money on winter clothing.

    Safe Travels

    • January 8, 2015
      Reply

      Hi Mary! I bought the winter clothes because I’ll be moving to Western Europe over the winter. While it’s nowhere near -34 degrees here (I can’t imagine what that feels like!), I only own shorts and t-shirts so had to stock up in preparation! :-)

  14. January 10, 2015
    Reply

    thank you for bringing back sweet memories of inle lake! i too was bracing myself for annoyingly touristy and instead, had THREE of the most memorable, immersive travel experiences of my life.

    • January 10, 2015
      Reply

      So glad to hear you enjoyed it too, Becky! It’s not somewhere I thought I’d want to return to but I’m missing it a lot.

  15. Miriam of Adventurous Miriam
    January 11, 2015
    Reply

    I can totally relate to your concern that Taiwan wouldn’t be as exciting second time around. I was a long-term traveler in Asia 9 years ago and there are some places that I delibertately won’t return to. They have certain memories and I like to remember them as I did back then.
    I’m excited to hear about your 2015 plans! Enjoy London :)

    • November 26, 2015
      Reply

      It’s tough returning, isn’t it? When you have such perfect memories of a place, you don’t want to taint them with a less-than-great experience.

  16. January 12, 2015
    Reply

    Aw Lauren, I can literally drink a case of beer without any problems but give me a Long Island Iced Tea and I am done. I also grew up on Long Island and as teenagers we were clueless on what anything was, but we had heard the name “Long Island Iced Tea” and decided to try it. We thought you were supposed to take powdered iced tea and put the alcohol in there, nothing but powder and alcohol. Let’s just say, I spent that day in the woods vomiting.

    • November 26, 2015
      Reply

      Hahaha! That’s hilarious!

  17. January 23, 2015
    Reply

    Ah Boracay – fond memories of that beach from March last year. None including vomit though.

    (came close, admittedly)

    • March 21, 2015
      Reply

      Hahaha, it’s a crazy place! The only place where I can’t help but go wild :-)

  18. Ain
    January 24, 2015
    Reply

    Your posts are very interesting. Taipei and Boracay sounds amazing! Boracay is definitely the place i’d like to visit! it’s really pretty looking at other posts. Where do you stay in Boracay?

    • January 26, 2015
      Reply

      I stayed at MNL Hostel and it reminded me why I no longer stay in hostels. Would recommend finding somewhere on Airbnb that’s close to station 2.

  19. Rebekah Voss
    January 24, 2015
    Reply

    Great pics, Lauren. I definitely need to make it over to Taiwan. My next stop will probably be the Philippines, and I’ll be sure to check out some of these spots. Thanks for the great stories and info!

    • March 21, 2015
      Reply

      Boracay is a must see! Super touristy but super pretty and a lot of fun :-)

  20. February 2, 2015
    Reply

    Your pictures are so pretty! I really want to do a big trip around asia next time we hit the road.

    • March 21, 2015
      Reply

      It’s definitely my favourite region to travel to. No matter what I plan on doing, I always seem to end up cancelling my plans and heading back there!

  21. February 2, 2015
    Reply

    Your photos are great Lauren! Just by curiosity, what camera do you use?
    I can’t wait to make my way to Asia! What are the best months to visit Taiwan?
    Cheers!!

    • March 21, 2015
      Reply

      I use a really old and beaten-up Canon 550D. I liked Taiwan in September — it was less rainy than when we visited in December.

  22. February 9, 2015
    Reply

    Myanmar is at the top of my ‘to-do’ list and your post has made my craving to visit even worse!
    My interest was piqued when my best friend travelled around for two weeks…she’s 6ft fall with short, bright pink hair so she had a few interesting encounters with locals!

    • March 21, 2015
      Reply

      Wow, I can only imagine the attention she’d attract. Definitely not a common sight! :-)

  23. Shobha
    February 9, 2015
    Reply

    The photos of Myanmar are gorgeous. Makes me want to visit even more. I’ve never been to Taiwan but have been to Boracay many years ago.

    • March 21, 2015
      Reply

      I can highly recommend Taiwan :-)

  24. February 12, 2015
    Reply

    That picture of Boracay really brings back the memories.

    My first trip abroad (outside N. America) was to Philippines and specifically Boracay.

    Thanks for the opportunity to reminisce!

  25. February 16, 2015
    Reply

    Those pictures look amazing. Especially of The Philippines. I think I may have to go there!

    • March 10, 2015
      Reply

      You definitely should :-)

  26. Oh I LOVED Boracay! So great you went to Myanmar. Looking forward to reading your book, Lauren. GANBARE! (Japanese word, basically means I’m cheering you on! ;))

    • March 8, 2015
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Michelle! So close to the finish line! :-)

  27. Frank Braun
    March 1, 2015
    Reply

    Wow! What an amazing month you’ve had! Those pictures look amazing.

  28. Matt
    March 5, 2015
    Reply

    Hi Lauren I’ve been following you for the past year now and just wanted to let you know that you were one of the major contributing factors towards my four month tour of Dubai, Maldives and South East Asia.

    Currently on Maafushi (Thailand next) and it is certainly not hard to see how you fell in love with it. Although I do not know how you survived on Fulidhoo there is literally nothing to do on the island!! Couldn’t last more than 45 minutes when our excursion to Picnic Island stopped off there.

    Look forward to reading about the rest of your travels. — Matt

    • March 8, 2015
      Reply

      Wow! Thanks, Matt :-). I’m so excited to hear that! Well, I was recovering from a particularly bad bout of mono in the Maldives, so lying on the beach and doing nothing was exactly what I needed at that time. Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip!

  29. Kevin
    August 28, 2018
    Reply

    The price of lodging seems so cheap. Guessing these are all hostel prices?

    • August 28, 2018
      Reply

      Half were private rooms in hostels, half were budget hotels. No dorms!

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