Prelude to Malaysia-Cambodia-Vietnam visits
Years ago, after my return to the Philippines from a seven-month stay in Indonesia, I gifted myself with a Southeast Asian Travel Guide. It was sold on a very big discount because it’s the non-updated version. I didn’t mind and I figured that it would always be useful and I can find out for myself new attractions and information.
Surprisingly, the book featured not only the ASEAN countries of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It included the city-states of Hong Kong and Macau, too. I put markers on the book and for countries which I have been to, I stuck on red post-its while I marked those I haven’t yet visited with the color blue.
I can almost mark the book with blues as I recently embarked on a travel to Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam. This trip was taken with a new set of travel buddies and we made arrangements and plans almost a year ahead. Despite early planning, there were still last minute changes that brought additional excitement to the trip.
The trip started with buying promotional airfare tickets with Air Asia with a Clark-KL and KL-Siem Reap route. Then we booked Cebu Pacific flight from Ho Chi Minh to Manila. We searched online for bus line, schedules and rates from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh. We didn’t take the direct road trip as we made an overnight stopover at Phnom Penh. We researched budget hotels and accommodations for each stop, compiled them and compared notes. After we have decided for the best accommodation, we booked them online. All in all, I have spent only over US$500 for the entire trip, travel tax and local buys included.
What added spice to this trip was meeting friends I only met online through the OneASEAN multiply group. The good thing about this travel was that we did not only see the sights and landmarks each country can offer but we also observed the local culture and people while stuck in the traffic in Kuala Lumpur (KL), walking the streets of Siem Reap, sitting at the stretch of Sisowath Quay, and looking out our hotel window at Ho Chi Minh (or Saigon).
True, each country has its own unique qualities, but there are a lot of similarities that connects these countries and their people. Now, the lectures and reports in my ASEAN class for my Masters in International Studies many years back were coming back to me. With this trip, I could now translate the concepts into reality. I should have finished that course. Tsk, tsk, tsk.
In my succeeding entries, let me tell you the beauty each city I recently visited has offered me and my friends.