Reflecting on 2017: Best travel moments of the year

Reflecting on 2017: Best travel moments of the year

2017 was simply a fantastic year of travel.

Many countries were visited, and many destinations were explored within the individual countries. It helped create many memorable travel moments that will stick in the memory bank for a for a very long time.

Phang Nga Bay

Canoeing the mangroves in Phang Nga Bay.

From the chaotic Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, to the blissful Khao Lak in Thailand. From the stunning cultural vibe in Ubud, Bali, to the laid-back streets of Vientiane in Laos, 2017 simply rocked and picking the five best travel moments of the year was no easy task.

In fact, to be truthful, choosing the number one travel moment of 2017 was quite straight forward task, with one specific event clearly heads and shoulder in front of pack, in terms of a meaningful and different life experience.

Without any further or do, let’s get into the list and go through the best five travel moments of 2017.

Culture of Vietnam

Creating great memories from Vietnam.

 

Reflecting on 2017: Best five travel moments of the year

 

1. Volunteering in Laos

teaching English

Teaching the primary kids.

 

Time Travelled: May/June 2017

To volunteer abroad was an amazing experience and one that will never be forgotten with the people I met and the challenges that were met.

I chose Vientiane, Laos as the location for my volunteering duties that was organised through the International Volunteering Headquarters. The program I was set out to do was to teach English to the primary school kids and at the time I had no idea was I was getting myself into.

Teaching the kids at their primary school was a real challenge to say the least, holding the little one’s attention during class was a difficult task, but when things clicked and we songs were songs, read out the alphabet and counted number, the mojo really got going.

I also had the pleasure to teach English to the Monks and the was an epic experience. The monks had a real desire to learn and that made the teaching all more enjoyable. The class with the monks was full of laughter, cheekiness and special memories that will last a lifetime.

If you get the chance to volunteer abroad, take it, sure it can be expensive expedition, but special moments like these don’t hold any dollar values.

Teaching English to the monks

Teaching English to the monks.

Ho Phra Keo Temple

The Ho Phra Keo Temple in Vientiane, Laos.

 

 

  

2. Staying at the Amazing Alaya Resort in Ubud, Bali

Alaya Resort

Alaya Resort in Ubud, Bali.

 

Time Travelled: March 2017

I have stayed in many stunning resorts during my travels, but for whatever reason Alaya Resort in Ubud, Bali sticks out as the clear leader so far.

A wonderfully designed resort with a strong Indonesian flavour to it, whether it is inside the hotel rooms or out and about on the resorts grounds, Alaya is proud of its Indonesian heritage.

The dining experience at Alaya is five-star standard with two fabulous restaurants to choose from, The Petani and Manisan Restaurants. It is the Manisan that will stir up those romantic strings, with the restaurant conveniently located amongst the rice-fields that comes with a delicious Indonesian cuisine.

Personally, I always rate any resort largely based on the customer service, and the staff at Alaya Resort are top notch, with their friendly greetings and a pampering of the highest order. It made the experience alone at Alaya that extra special.

 

Alaya Resort Ubud

Alaya Rooms.

Alaya Resort

Take the path to the Manisan Restaurant.

 

 

3. Christmas Wonderland in Singapore

Christmas Wonderland - Singapore

Christmas at Gardens by the Bay.

 

Time Travelled: December 2017

Lights, colours and Christmas carols hovering through the speakers above. Gardens by the Bay is the setting for the glorious Christmas Wonderland in Singapore, and quite appropriate with the Super Trees sparkling high above.

It truly was a savouring moment to wander through the festive grounds and witness many people in high spirits and taking in the Christmas spirit that was well and truly alive, with the magnificent choir belting out a Christmas tune or two.

Everyone got their money’s worth when the amazing Christmas lights display began and it stopped everyone in their tracks with the eyes glued to the spectacular show. For this event, I was fortunate enough to witness the show from high above on the OCBC Skyway and get more brilliant views of Singapore.

Gardens by the Bay.

The Skyway at the Gardens.

Gardens by the Bay.

Marina Bay Sands and the Gardens by the Bay.

 

 

 4. Exploring the outdoors of Da Lat in Vietnam

Da Lat flower centre

The colour of Dalat Flower Centre.

 

Time travelled: January 2017

Gorgeous Da Lat. I ventured to this Southern Central Vietnamese city through recommendation and I’m glad I did. While the city centre is a unique attraction with great food, shopping and a lively atmosphere, the lure will always be to escape to the outdoors in and around Da Lat.

 

The surrounding area is very green with large hilltops, forests, lakes and magnificent waterfalls to gaze upon. There are plenty of scenic views to be found in Da Lat and the best way to see it all is to hire a personal driver and have a great day out exploring Da Lat. Just don’t forget to charge your camera, you’ll need it for this particular day trip.

 

Xuan Huong Lake.

Xuan Huong Lake in Da Lat.

Elephant Waterfalls - Da Lat

Elephant Waterfalls in Da Lat, Vietnam.

 

 

 

5. A family outing into Phang Nga Bay in Thailand

 

James Bond Island

Great photos shots can be found all over James Bond island.

Time travelled: September 2017

Thailand often delivers when searching for those precious moments and Phang Nga Bay in Southern Thailand, delivers on all fronts. For this family outing, we took the Longboat into the Bay and witnessed paradise at its best.

It started with a canoe in the mangroves and the limestone caves, a blissful way to start any day-trip, as you lay back and take in the surrounds around you and with the only sounds coming from the oars hitting the water.

Next the longboat went deep into The Bay and we stopped at the famous James Bond Island for a quick dip, sightseeing and more photo taking opportunities with the little islet made famous in the 1974 James Bond film taking most of the glory.

The experience in Phang Nga Bay ended at the Panyee Island, a floating village, which is not only set-up for tourist and a solid feed at lunch time, it’s also a way to view a unique lifestyle for locals who live on the floating village and yet still have luxuries of schooling, housing and a Mosque for prayer time.

 

Memorable travel moments of 2017, five of the best, and it could have been many other adventures throughout the year that could have made the list. What does 2018 have in store? Who knows, because I liked to go with the flow and see what surprises will come my way next. Happy travels.  

Check out Fair Dinkum Traveller’s best travel photos of 2017.

Active in thailand

Entering the caves at Phang Nga Bay.

Phang Nga Bay

Take the Longboat out to Phang Nga Bay.

About Your fair Dinkum Traveller

Anthony Jury

Anthony Jury

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Reflecting on 2017 – Favourite Travel Photos of the Year

Reflecting on 2017 – Favourite Travel Photos of the Year

A brand new year brings new hope, it’s also a time to reflect on the year that has just passed us by quicker than you can say “happy new year” the year 2017 and what a year it was in travel. For me, there is no better way to reflect on the year than going through a few of my favourite travel photos of the year.

Many amazing destinations were visited throughout the year, with many great moments made, and it is fitting that some photos are more cherished than others in a year that will be remembered personally for the right reasons and that is an epic year of travelling the world.

 

 Reflections on 2017 – Favourite Travel Photos of the Year

 

The old and new of Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

The old and new of Ho Chi Minh City.

Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam is an incredible city to visit and if you can dodge the manic traffic there is plenty to see and do in the bustling city. Ho Chi Minh is a city with traditional buildings, modern skyscrapers and even broken down houses that look they are about to collapse and to me this picture sums up the city perfectly.

 

Elephant Waterfalls in Da Lat, Vietnam

Elephant Waterfalls - Da Lat

Elephant Waterfalls in Da Lat, Vietnam.

On the outskirts of the fabulous Vietnamese city of Da Lat, there are many breathtaking waterfalls and other natural beauties that are ready to leave you speechless. Elephant Waterfalls is one of the many falls in the area that need to be visited, the picturesque scenery and the sounds of the water crashing down will stay with you long after you leave.

 

Culture and tradition is alive in Vietnam

Culture of Vietnam

Culture is alive in Vietnam.

Walking the streets of Ho Chi Minh City and in downtown Saigon is alive with tourists and locals having a great time. If you venture past The Old Post Office and the Notre Dame Cathedra, tradition and culture comes out to play and the locals even like to dress up in traditional Vietnamese dress to add to the setting.

 

Family time on Four island in Vietnam

Four Islands Vietnam

Family time on Four Islands in Vietnam.

Travelling with family is the best way to travel and I love this picture with me and my boys as we look out from one of the Islands during the Four Islands day tour in Southern Vietnam. I don’t know what it was, but something got our attention.

 

What are you looking at?

White Kangaroo

What are you looking at?

Exploring Perth’s Whiteman Park in Western Australia is a real treat for the whole family, especially when you enter the wildlife park and see Australia’s favourite animal, the kangaroos. The excitement levels will light up when you take a peek at these very beautiful white kangaroos that are on show inside the park.

 

Stunning Claisebrook in Perth, Western Australia

Claisebrook, Perth, Western Australia

Stunning Claisebrook in Perth, Western Australia.

Claisebrook is a lovely café strip along the Swan River which is situated just outside of Perth City. The best way to get to this boutique strip is via The Little Ferry Co. a little cruise line that offers shuttle trips along the river.

 

Experience the Balinese Legong Dance in Ubud

Balinese Legong Dance

Experience the Balinese Legong Dance in Ubud.

Grab front row seats to the best show in Ubud, Bali and checkout a  great cultural performance, The Balinese Legong Dance. It is an evening treat to stroll in off the streets of Ubud and see a dazzling show that even features some beautiful Balinese women.

 

A restaurant tucked in the rice fields.

Manisan, Ubud

A restaurant tucked in the rice fields.

The superb Manisan restaurant of the Alaya Resort in Ubud is superbly located amongst the rice fields. A great cultural dining experience of fine Indonesian food, it is the perfect place to dine for a memorable romantic experience with your lover.

 

The Sakala Beach Club – Tanjung Benoa, Bali

The Sakala Beach Club

The Sakala Beach Club – Bali.

The Sakala Resort’s very own Beach Club, it is paradise at its best, the club, pool bar, sunbaking and the popular beach of Tanjung Benoa. If you want a luxury experience in Bali, then head down to The Sakala.

 

A bunch of Volunteers in Laos

volunteers in Laos

A bunch of volunteers in Laos.

Heading over Laos to volunteer abroad was one of the finest experiences I have had in travel, even better meeting a bunch of fellow volunteers from all around the world and creating great group shots like this one.

 

Old man and his bull – Laos

Laos

The old man and his bull.

To wander into a local village in Vientiane, Laos was a real eye opener, it was like heading back into time. Still, the locals were smiling and hard at work, and as I was about to leave I was fortunate enough to capture this great photo of the old man and his bull.

 

Teaching the monks in Laos

teaching monks - Laos

Teaching the Monks in Laos.

Teaching English to the monks in Laos was another great experience in 2017. It was a real pleasure to meet these great men of all ages who devote their lives to a cause that strongly believe in, they have quite the sense of humour too.

 

Prayer time in Laos

Prayer rime in Laos

Prayer time in Laos.

Religion is an important part of life in Laos and stumbling into a temple during prayer time let’s you create another fantastic photo.

 

Picturesque Vang Vieng

Picturesque Vang Vieng

Picturesque Vang Vieng.

Taking a weekend off from Volunteering, it was time to head to picturesque Vang Vieng in Laos. It’s not only a party town, but it’s also home some of the country’s finest natural beauty with hills and rivers providing a treat for outdoor enthusiast.

 

James Bond Island in Thailand

James Bond Island

James Bond Island in Thailand.

Sometimes you can take a random photo of the magnificent Islet at James Bond Island at the right time, like on this occasion in a trip to Thailand.

 

Canoeing the mangroves in Phang Nga Bay.

Phang Nga Bay

Canoeing the mangroves in Phang Nga Bay.

Sometimes it’s great to sit back and unwind, while you enjoy a little canoe ride amongst the lush mangroves in Phang Nga Bay of Thailand.

 

The sunset over Khao Lak – Thailand

Khao Lak Resort

The sunset over Khao Lak.

Another end to a gorgeous day in Khao Lak, Thailand, what better way to view the last light of the sun for the day from the Khao Lak Resort’s Sky Bar with a drink in hand. Simply gorgeous.

 

White Water Rafting in Thailand

White water rafting in Thailand

White water rafting in Thailand.

Another fun family experience this time in the wild river in Phang Nga Province. Not too wild however, as these waters, while a little rough at times, was still a great white water rafting outing with the kids.

 

Sunset over Singapore

Sunset over Singapore

Sunset over Singapore.

Walking on the edge of Marina Bay, it was perfect time to snap a picture of the breathtaking Singapore City with the sun going down.

 

Singapore Lights up at night

favourite travel photos

Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands at night.

Singapore really lights up at night and it’s simply stunning, especially when you venture towards the sensational Gardens by the Bay and capture a picture with the mighty Marina Bay Sands in the background.

 

The Merlion and the Sands

The Merlion

The Merlion and The Sands.

It’s probably hard not create a memorable travel photo when the Marina Bay Sands is in the picture, yet on this occasion it is teamed up with the Merlion.

 

About Your fair Dinkum Traveller

Anthony Jury

Anthony Jury

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G'day mate, it's your Fair Dinkum traveller who ventures into Asia and around Australia. Stay tuned for epic destinations, great tips and awesome travel stories.Read more...
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Walking the Streets of Vientiane – Laos

Walking the Streets of Vientiane – Laos

There is something a little different about walking the streets of Vientiane in Laos, it’s not your usual Southeast Asian city.

Sure, it still has the food stalls that spread out through the streets, where you remain unsure whether the food is safe to eat (with the consequences being a week on the toilet), I know that I’m always wary of street food.

It has the vibrant marketplaces where a bargain is sure to be found, and the strong Buddhism flavour that is the main strength of religion in Southeast Asia, and the values that the locals live strongly by every day.

 

King Anouvong statue

King Anouvong statue, Vientiane.

 

Furthermore, Vientiane has other familiarities of their Asian counterparts, for instance, stray dogs that are busy wandering the streets and at times will join you at the dining table.

There are the taxis and tuc-tucs drivers on the side of the road that are willing to take you around the city to earn a buck or two, and of course, Vientiane has that familiar smell in the air that lets you know you are very much in the heart of Southeast Asiaand I’m not saying that’s a bad thing either, at least in my opinion.

The obvious difference when walking the streets of Vientiane compared to its neighbouring Southeast Asian cities in the likes of Bangkok and Hanoi, is the population. The hustle and bustle does not exist in Vientiane and how awesome is that.

 

walking the streets of Vientiane

the laidback nature of Vientiane.

 

To stroll through the Laos Capital means no dodging motorbikes on either the road or the footpath, and crossing the road is not as stressful as it is in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, although you’ll still need to exercise caution by looking left or right before taking that next step.

Walking along the footpath is a leisurely experience too, with a lot less obstacles and pedestrians getting in the way, which means going from point A to point B is not too much of a hassle when travelling by foot. It truly is a great city wander through and greet the friendly locals at will.

 

Vientiane City

The streets of Vientiane, Laos.

 

To me, being in Vientiane is like going back in time, the modern world has yet to catch up with this little city, with any new polished buildings being a rarity (although they do exist). I can honestly say it is not a bad thing to visit a destination that has a change of pace.

The Vientiane Night markets is another wonderful stroll and is easily the best markets I have seen in Southeast Asia, not that I have been to them all. It is a festive attitude at these markets with great entertainment and quality goods on sale. Even better with the Mekong River and the border into Thailand nearby. Being an Aussie, I just love the fact you can stare into another country from the other side.

 

Night Markets

Night Markets from above on a wet Laos Day.

 

Of course, there are the stunning Palaces, temples and museums to gaze your eyes upon and marvel at the history and culture of the country’s work. Every visitor to the region knows that Southeast Asia get it right with their beautifully designed buildings.

Walking the streets of this beautiful city, you will stumble across some precious buildings like the Sisaket Museum and Wat Phra Keow. Although the Golden Palace and the surrounding structures will knock your feet off, the golden texture is indeed brilliant.

 

Sisaket Museum

Sisaket Museum.

 

Then there is the Patuxai War Monument, the locals are so proud of this mighty landmark that stands out in the capital city ofLaos for everyone to witness. It celebrates the country’s independence from the French.

I remember the first time I saw this iconic structure from several hundred metres away, it’s presence was simply superior to anything around it. No doubt it was built to show its country’s strength. As I stepped closer to the monument, the magnificent structure just blew me away, and then I climbed the steps to the top and the 360 views of the city just capped it off nicely.

 

Patuxai Monument, Laos

The stunning Patuxai War Monument.

 

It was the walking streets of Vientiane, the laidback city full of heart and with a proud culture. A city on the rise, but one I hope that doesn’t change too much, because I enjoyed stepping into a city that simply wasn’t in any rush.

Heading to Vientiane? Check out for hotels on TripAdvisor.

 

streets of vientiane

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Is Your Traveller’s Heart Taking You To South-East Asia?

Is Your Traveller’s Heart Taking You To South-East Asia?

Contributed to Fair Dinkum Traveller

When it comes to planning a weekend break, a lot of people don’t need to invest more than a few hours to research the perfect location and the ideal flight to get there. It’s easy to understand why. Between last minute deals and a getaway that doesn’t require a lot of planning, the click and buy generation is taking over the short holiday market.

There’s no shame about it. After all, sometimes all you need is a quick escape out of everyday routine to recharge your batteries. It doesn’t really matter where you’re going if you’re only going to spend a couple of days there. It’s all about not being at home – or at work for that matter – and instead enjoying the taste of life elsewhere, far away from your daily worries. It’s the quick beach break, the cultural city getaway, or the outlandish countryside weekend.

However, there comes a time when you want something else from your holiday, when it needs to be more than a quick bubble of peace. You know the feeling: You’re drained and you want to rethink your life priorities and set things in the right order for you. That’s the kind of life crisis that calls for a long holiday where you can immerse yourself in a new culture, mindset and landscape. You can’t just click and book a long holiday without considering the destination carefully. If you want to come back feeling refreshed and enlightened, you need to aim for south-east Asia. The Far East, as it used to be called, is rich in history, adventures and flavours. More importantly, it offers the perfect spiritual platform to question your motives and redefine your life.

 

Time in Laos

Enjoy South-East Asia at its finest like at Patuxai War Monument in Vientiane, Laos.

 

The countries of south-east Asia

If you haven’t got a map of the world at hand, south-east Asia is a subregion of Asia that refers to all countries that are situated in a region south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. For simplicity, it’s said to consists of what used to be Indochina, and the historical East Indies and Malay Archipelago. Geographically, it’s the equivalent of about 8.5% of the world’s population, which makes it the third most populous region in the world – the two others being south Asia and east Asia. In other words, if you’re going to south-east Asia for a taste of isolation, you might have picked the wrong part of the world for that. But the region has a lot to offer in terms of tourism, history and even business if you’re looking to start a new life elsewhere.

 

South-East Asia travellers heart

Lara Croft’s temple in Cambodia

 

INDOCHINA

The French influence in Vietnam

Vietnam was one of France’s most profitable colonial possessions after the country gain control over the North of Vietnam as a result of a victory in the Sino-French War of 1883-1884. As with any colony around the world; the themes of exploitation of raw materials, workforce and other natural resources are to be expected. But the French rule has left in Vietnam a variety of historical architecture and customs that give the country its particular attitude. In fact, French architecture is so dominant that the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hoi An and Hanoi. More interestingly, this isn’t the only vestige of a colonialist past in Vietnam. Indeed, according to https://theculturetrip.com, you can find a culinary influence from patisseries to restaurants in most of the country. In fact, if you’re looking to start your career in the gastronomy industry and learn from the best chefs, Vietnam is definitely the place to be.

 

Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam.

 

Thailand, a beautiful country that is shut to foreign opportunities

If you want to enjoy more beaches and less colonialist guilt, take a trip to wild Thailand, and especially Khao Lak. Why there? Because it’s a little less than two hours’ drive from the Island of Phuket, but it benefits from a peaceful and relaxing environment. You won’t find the crowd of tourists you expect so that you can have the sunset, the sandy beaches and the resorts almost to yourself. It’s a little bubble of paradise that awaits you every year between November and May in this area of Thailand. However, you may find it difficult to make a living in Thailand, even if you fall in love with the country and decide to stay. There are very little business opportunities for non-native citizens as a Thai-born person has to own the majority of a company. Only US citizens can own up to 100% of a company in Thailand, but they still need a minimum capital first.

 

Koh Samui

Koh Samui – Thailand.

 

A taste of Lara Croft in Cambodia

If you still remember Angelina Jolie exploring the ruins of a temple in Tomb Raider, then you’ll be pleased to know that you can find these temples in Cambodia. Admittedly; since Angelina went running there in her tiny shorts, the place is crawling with tourists. But with a good guide, you can still see everything and revive your old Lara Croft’s memories. If you’re ready to get up early, you can visit the magnificent Sunrise at Angkor Wat – although be ready to be there before 5:30 am. You can find the famous Tomb Raider’s temple, Ta Prohm, with its intertwined tree roots too. You won’t have much difficulty to imagine life in Cambodia if you’re not afraid to downsize a bit. In fact, a couple of American tourists have made Cambodia their home since 2015 and despite low earnings – less than $35,000 a year – they have all they need. They’re the happiest they’ve ever been in Phnom Penh.

 

Start your spiritual journey in Laos

What if you just want a spiritual awakening for your holiday? Laos is often described as a mystical country by those who have visited it. The most important thing that tourists will tell you about the country is that it remains completely outside the spotlight. There’s barely any tourists in Laos, which means that you can take a good look at ancient Buddhist temples without getting up at dawn to avoid the crowd. Consequently, it’s a great place to find out more about Buddhism and exploring your spiritual side at your own pace. Make sure to attend the Luang Prabang ceremony in northern Laos before you leave. Every morning the monks walk in town to collect the food offerings. You can ask the locals how to participate.

 

South-East Asia - Laos

Temple in Laos

 

The city of the many pagodas and temples in Myanmar

Another great place to explore your spiritual side is Myanmar, and especially Yangon, the city that has some of the oldest pagodas and temples in the country. Some are even believed to date back to the lifetime of Gautama Buddha over 2500 years ago. The oldest pagoda in Burma, the Shwedagon is a 99 metre-high stupa that is entirely covered in gold. It’s a place of pilgrimage for many Buddhists as it enshrines a hair relic of Siddhartha Gautama. You can see it from anywhere in town, and it’s impossible not to feel its aura. If you find your calling in Myanmar and are wondering about staying and embracing a new lifestyle, you might be interested in reading this interview http://www.goaway.sg/life-in-myanmar that explains how the expat life feels like in Yangon. As a general rule, locals are friendly and will go out of their way to help you. Besides, you can experience a frontier market in a Buddhist culture, which makes it both challenging and peaceful at the same time.

 

EAST INDIES & MALAY ARCHIPELAGO

Indonesia, the melting pot of cuisines and cultures

There is no bigger melting pot in south-east Asian than in Indonesia. Jakarta, home to 10 million people, offers a tour of colonial architectures, live music venues and fine dining restaurants, all within a few yards from each other. Needless to say that there’s a lot to see and experience in Indonesia, from a metropole culture in Jakarta to UNESCO-listed national parks and volcanoes to hike up on Java. If you love the creative juxtaposition of cultures, wildlife, and without mentioning the world’s biggest Buddhist temple, you’ll be happy to know that the house prices are low: https://rumahdijual.com/. In fact, you can buy a manor house with garden for the price of a small family home in the UK.

 

South-East Asia - Java

Buddhist temple on Java

 

The country of the thousands of islands

With over 7,000 islands to choose from, you know that visiting the Philippines will be an adventurous experience. In fact, for most people, it can be difficult to know where to start, but here’s a little overview of the best sites to see. El Nido, for Pinoy travellers, offers one of the world’s most picture-perfect seascapes, without mentioning its fantastic limestone cliffs. If you’re wondering what Heaven looks like, El Nido might be the closest thing you’ll find to it. If you want a feel for the old history of the place, spend some time in the UNESCO-listed town, Vigan where the Spanish architecture continues to tell the tales of the past. However, you can forget any dream of making your life in the Philippines: Foreigners are not allowed to own property.

Whether you want to reboot your life or just to clear your mind, south-east Asia offers a multitude of landscapes, spiritual encounters, fascinating cultural backgrounds and exciting business opportunities to help you on the way. All you need is to pack your luggage and start your self-discovery tour.

 

Bang Nieng Khoa Lak

Enjoy South-East Asia at its best like at this Khao Lak Markets.

About Your fair Dinkum Traveller

Anthony Jury

Anthony Jury

Your Aussie - Asia Adventure
G'day mate, it's your Fair Dinkum traveller who ventures into Asia and around Australia. Stay tuned for epic destinations, great tips and awesome travel stories.Read more...
Booking.com
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The Lasting Volunteer Memories of my Time in Laos

The Lasting Volunteer Memories of my Time in Laos

It’s been a few months now since my volunteering days in Laos concluded and quite often I find myself thinking back to the days of teaching English in Laos. Often those volunteer memories come flooding back as I reflect on what I enjoyed most when assisting in helping others have the basic understanding of the tricky English language (even myself I find it tricky!!!).

Time in Laos

Teaching English to the monks in Laos.

I think back to the memories that were created and as to be expected there were a number of special memories that always stick in the mind. Lasting memories from the experience of teaching English to the monks and learning how human and downright cheeky they really are. To teaching the primary students and the challenge of keeping the young minds interested, while frantically making a dill out of myself.

All fantastic experiences I will admit.

 

I can tell you now that it wasn’t the repetitive food we had at the Green Lion Organisation, or dorm style setup that didn’t provide any air-conditioning just a fan or two and made a good night sleep near on impossible. But heck, that was what we signed up for, to live in 3rd world kind of conditions, so we could really appreciate the gimmicks and comforts that were left back home.

 

Volunteer memories

The lasting Volunteer Memories of my Time in Laos.

 

So, what volunteer memories really sticks out the most?

 

The single memory that does come to the memory bank often, amongst a lot of cherished memories, was the time spent with the fellow volunteers. A bunch of men and women of all ages who were in the country for the very same purpose as everyone else, which was to give back to the world, where the help was needed most.

Volunteer memories

Fellow volunteers.

It is the greatest unknown when entering a volunteer house for the first time, what kind of people will I be volunteering with? It is one thing you can’t control, especially if going into the journey on your own, which I did on this occassion.

The questions run through your head, what nationality will they be? Will I get along with them? Do they have a sense of humour? What if I room with someone who annoys me or worse snores? Most times the thoughts are negative, that is human nature to have a little fear when entering the unknow, and to be honest those feelings should be quite the opposite as for any worry I had leading into my trip to Laos was unfounded.

Remember this little fact, each volunteer you meet has paid good money for the experience, it is not cheap. Whether is it teaching English or roughing it outdoors while constructing a building, they are all there for the common cause, to lend a helping hand. Therefore, each volunteer who you come across are honest, good folk who just want to assist in whatever way is required at the time.

Volunteer memories

Fellow volunteers and the hosts in Laos.

It was the same for my own experience in Laos, people came to the Green Lion Volunteer organisation from all over the world, there were people from France, Malaysia, Denmark, Holland, England and Canada. I was the sole Australian.

Whatever the nationalities and personality differences there may have been, it didn’t matter, I got along with each volunteer. We participated in sport, played cards, drank beer and sang karaoke. The whole time was a blast, even if there was a few boring down times, that just meant we had to pick each other up and get through the dull periods by saying something stupid to create a little laughter.

Time in Laos

Fellow volunteers at the Patuxai War Monument in Vientiane Laos.

What blew me away the most was the age difference, I got there expecting volunteers of all ages and that I heard is generally the case. Except not during my time in Laos, at the tender age of 35 (which I still find quite youthful), I was the oldest volunteer in my tenure by at least ten years with most other volunteers being college students and under the age of twenty-two.

At first it concerned me. I mean my own kids were not that much younger, thankfully the fears were put to rest quite early, because I quickly learnt that age was no barrier, we all got along and acted as youthful as one another, sure they partied longer than myself in Vang Vieng on the weekend, but that suited me just fine to have a little me time.

Volunteer memories

All smiles in Laos as memories are created.

Anyway, I marvel at the fellow volunteers I had the honour of meeting during my time in Laos with a lot of respect to them. To meet people so young but performing an honest deed and paying good money for the experience, including flights, was a real credit to them and for that there was a lot of respect.

When the program came to an end in Laos, you came to the sad realisation that it would probably be the last time you see any of them again, except for on Facebook, where everyone befriended each other. At the end of the day one common thing will always stick around, there were lasting volunteer memories that will always stay in the mind of the good and wild times that were had in Laos.

check out other articles from my volunteering experience in Laos.

An Epic journey of a Volunteer in Laos.

Why you should consider Volunteering abroad?

What to expect when Volunteering abroad.

Volunteer memories

Good times were had with a few Lao Beers in the evening.

 

 

time in Laos

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About Your fair Dinkum Traveller

Anthony Jury

Anthony Jury

Your Aussie - Asia Adventure
G'day mate, it's your Fair Dinkum traveller who ventures into Asia and around Australia. Stay tuned for epic destinations, great tips and awesome travel stories.Read more...

3 Awesome Inland Destinations to Visit in Southeast Asia

3 Awesome Inland Destinations to Visit in Southeast Asia

When you think of Southeast Asia the instant thought process is beautiful beaches, palms trees and sipping cocktails all day long without a single care in the world. However, there is no need to exclude those inland destinations that often get neglected when planning your next holiday to the famous tourist region of Asia.

Visiting towns away from the coast line does not mean paradise is instantly taken away, in fact, at times it could be the preferred option. When it comes to choosing any amounts of Inland Destinations in Southeast Asia, the choices are plentiful and you are quite spoilt for options when doing your research. How about a lending hand, below are three inland destinations that must be given every consideration amongst many other splendid locations in Southeast Asia.

A man and his bull

Inland Destinations in Southeast Asia.

3 Awesome Inland Destinations to visit in Southeast Asia

Da Lat, Vietnam

Vietnam is full of chaotic cities and glorious coastlines but in the Central Highlands of Southern Vietnam there is another little secret that’s ready to be explored. Da Lat, is the city I am referring to and it is the picturesque scenery, beautiful lakes and a unique township that makes Da Lat a city that needs every traveller’s attention.

Inland Destination

Inland Destination – Da lat, Vietnam.

What’s to like about Da Lat

–          The picturesque scenery –

Within the Da Lat area or the outskirts, the region is full stunning scenery that gives Da Lat its breathtaking views, add the abundance of natural water features and it becomes a photographer’s dream.

Day tours are naturally very popular in the area and a full day exploring the region is the best way to make the most of the outdoors in Da Lat. Hiring a personal driver is the cheapest and most efficient option to get full value in the day.

Da Lat

Ho Xuan Lake in Da Lat.

Where to go

There are plenty of attractions in Da Lat to go and see, like an amazing bakery in down town Da Lat, a host of Buddhist temples and a magnificent flower centre for those who love colour in their life. Here are a few priorities whenever you reach destination Da Lat.

–          Explore the waterfalls –

Da Lat is full of lively waterfalls with many falls situated far and wide in the surrounding region. Grab a personal driver or hire a car and see as many waterfalls as time allows. The popular falls are the Elephant and Datanla Waterfalls, but take a pick.

Da Lat, Vietnam

Elephant Waterfalls in Da Lat, Vietnam.

–          The Da Lat Flower Centre –

Buzzing with glamor and colour, the Da Lat Flower Centre needs no convincing to be on the list of attractions. A short taxi ride or a decent stroll (preferred) from the city centre, the flower centre is full of various plants, flowers and inside attractions.

–          Da Lat Cathedral –

Even if you are not religious, you will love the light coloured Cathedral of Da Lat, that is a popular attractions for all travellers. No entrance fee is required to go inside the grounds of the Cathedral and a few pictures are bound to be taken, for good reason too.

Da Lat Cathedral

Da Lat Cathedral

Where to Stay

Budget stays and boutique hotels are everywhere in Da Lat and if you are travelling with a family, you can save heaps of dollars by staying at the Nguyen Minh Hostel, the hostel contains private rooms, good location, reasonable bedding and all for only $20-dollars a night.

Inland destinations - Da lat

Ngyuyen Minh Hostel in Da Lat.

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Ubud in Bali is bustling town that is full of life and character. About an hour inland from the tourist hotspot in Kuta, you don’t always need a beach to enjoy paradise in Bali, not when you have epic shopping, lively streets and stunning resorts with gorgeous pools take in the Bali heat.

Ubud

Inland Destinations – Ubud, Bali.

What’s to like

–          A vibrant cultural township –

A vibrant culture hits you at once upon reaching your destination. Fine temples, an abundance of rice fields, traditional dances and busy streets with lots going on, is the masterpiece that makes Ubud popular for all tourists.

inland destinations Ubud

The markets in Ubud Bali.

Where to go

Culture shows, market places, temples and many more places to see in Ubud, below is a list that is a must in this vibrant, Balinese town.

–          Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary –

Flock to the Sanctuary where the monkeys are out in full force and will at times attempt to jump on you. Not only a nice stroll in a magical forest with monkeys, inside there are wonderful temple structures to gaze your eyes upon as well. All for a small entrance fee.

Monkey forest temple

Temple with in the forest

–          Tegallalang Rice Terrace –

The gorgeous rice paddies fields and the surrounding scenery will get your camera clicking frantically as capture images so beautiful. No beaches in Ubud, but the Tegallalang is more than a fitting alternative.

–          Balinese Legong Dance –

Nothing says culture in Ubud like the traditional Balinese Legong Dances, that has all sorts of costumes and creatures coming out at night, including beautiful women in a traditional Bali dress. These performances can be found in a couple of locations at different times in the evening and locals are giving away flyers at every corner.

Inland destinations

Balinese Legong dance.

Where to Stay

Magnificent Resorts make up most of the accommodations in Ubud and it can be quite costly. Anyway, do your homework and you will find suitable accommodation for any required budget. A stunner of a resort in Ubud is the Alaya Resort, great restaurants, stunning gardens and beautifully interior designed rooms that makes Alaya the pick of the crop when seeking a luxury stay.

inland destinations

The Alaya Resort in Ubud, Bali.

Vientiane, Laos

When Laos is a landlocked country, any city or town within the borders will obviously be an inland destination. Vientiane is the pick of a lot, mainly because it is such a fascination to visit a Southeast Asian capital city where the population is modest and the streets are not saturated with pedestrians and motor-bikes.

inland destinations Southeast Asia

Inland destinations – Vientiane Laos

What’s to like about Vientiane

–          The Laid-back Nature of a City –

Being a less populated city, it is enjoyable to be able to walk down the streets with freedom, unlike other over populated cities in Southeast Asia. In Vientiane, you can cross the road without any major fears of getting run down and walk the markets without every shop owner begging you to buy their items.

The Laidback nature of Vientiane allows you to cool off with a relaxing beer in the bar, easy access throughout the city either by foot or a tuc-tuc and enjoy local cuisine without the need to rush. It’s Vientiane and you are in their time now.

Morning prayer in Laos

Morning prayer in a Laos Buddhist Temple in Vientiane, Laos.

Where to go

Lots to see and do in Vientiane, Laos with many temples, palaces, parks and attractions on offer, below is a list of many of must see attractions.

–          Patuxai War Monument –

The Patuxai War Monument stands proud in central Vientiane for all to see. A monument built to celebrate the country’s independence from France in the 1950’s, gather to the fine landmark and capture 360-views of the city from the top.

Inland destinations

The Patuxai War Monument in Vientiane, Laos.

–          Ban Anou Night Markets –

Opened from five every evening of the day, The Night Markets are one of the finest you’ll see. A vibrant atmosphere with good affordable products on offer, where you can also local street food and enjoy river walks by the Mekong River.

–          The Golden Palace –

One of the finest Buddhist temples in the city with plenty of historical buildings that will occupy the photo album. The Golden Palace will take most of your attention with its stunning colour and large presence a clear standout.

The Golden Palace

The Golden Palace in Vientiane, Laos.

Where to Stay

Vientiane is full of affordable hotels or cheap hostels spread out through the city. The Inter City Hotel has spacious rooms and comfortable beds and is as good as it gets if you want a hotel room with all the comforts. The Hotel overlooks the Mekong River and Night Markets, with café’s, Bor Pen Yang rooftop bar and restaurants within close vicinity.

Intercity Hotel

Intercity Hotel, Vientiane, Laos

inland destinations

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About Your fair Dinkum Traveller

Anthony Jury

Anthony Jury

Your Aussie - Asia Adventure
G'day mate, it's your Fair Dinkum traveller who ventures into Asia and around Australia. Stay tuned for epic destinations, great tips and awesome travel stories.Read more...

James Bond Island

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