Southeast Asia forum

3 Weeks in SE Asia - solo, woman hardcore backpacker

  • foubee

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    I will have 3 weeks to travel around. I will fly in Bankok on August 8 and will fly out on August 30. I am interested in Cambodia/Vietnam/Laos/Mynanmar. Maybe I should save Thailand for later...any advice how to map out my itin? which countries should I pick. once i land in bankok, i will only move around by land...all border crossing..

    any advice?? Pleeeeeeeeeeease!! :-)

    #1 Posted: 8/7/2011 - 09:04

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  • busylizzy

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    You will not be doing 5 countries in 3 weeks, no matter how hardcore you are. Check out all the previous posts on the logic (and logistics) of doing this. Unless you are prepared to spend more than half your time sitting on buses.

    Check out the itinerary planners on this site for more info.

    I'd say pick one. Thailand gets my vote in this case.

    #2 Posted: 8/7/2011 - 09:34

  • SBE

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    You can't get into Myanmar overland. You have to fly intoYangon if you want to travel more than a few km from your point of entry, so scrap that one off your list. (I think you can fly into Mandalay too, if you're coming from China. Not 100% sure though as I always go there from BKK.)

    I love Myanmar, would be my first choice in the winter months but August is a bad time to go there anyway ... rainy season and some of the roads might well be impassable.

    #3 Posted: 8/7/2011 - 13:50

  • MADMAC

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    SBE really? A friend of mine went there, and loved the people but said the Gestapo were simply unbearable. He said he would never go back to Burma unless the military government disappears.

    #4 Posted: 8/7/2011 - 17:45

  • eastwest

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    I'm at a loss about the hardcore backpacking. What does that mean exactly?

    Does that mean one has a daily all-in budget of $5?
    Eating strictly streetfood dishes of less than $0.50 cents?
    Taking only local "chicken-on-your-lap" minibuses and walking any distance under 5 km with a backpack on your back?
    Feeling, naturally, superior to any other traveller that does anything else?
    Haggling till the marketseller caves in to concede that last $0.10 profit so you can have the local price for that mango?

    Please tell me I'm wrong with the above assumptions. I could easily have overseen something very obvious.

    #5 Posted: 9/7/2011 - 11:52

  • SBE

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    Military can and do abuse populations everywhere. Not going to Burma because of the military govt isn't helping the general population at all. That was the opinion of a Shan rebel leader I happened to bump into and have lunch with one day on a previous visit. Also the opinion of an old woman I met whose husband had just been sentenced to 13 years imprisonment for allowing westerners into their home without permission. They definitely didn't want the country to be left without any contact with the outside world.

    I sensed less oppression and fear on my last visit BTW... just a feeling. Aung San Suu Kyi had just been released from house arrest, maybe that had something to do with it.

    #6 Posted: 9/7/2011 - 18:11

  • MADMAC

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    "Military can and do abuse populations everywhere."

    You have this problem in England?
    Did you have it in Thailand?
    Did you have it in Malaysia?
    Did you have it in Indonesia?

    In most states, there are limits to police powers and military are focussed on external, vice internal, threats. Burma is a police state where rule of law does not apply in any way, shape or form. I haven't been, but this particular friend of mine feared for his very safety when confronted by agents of the government there. I don't agree people shouldn't go for some sort of boycott reason (although I understand the rationale) but people should understand that if you are confronted by agents of the government, the chances of a bad outcome are much higher than in a state that embraces constraint on government agents.

    #7 Posted: 9/7/2011 - 18:26

  • SBE

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    I was thinking more of DR Congo, Chechnya, Iraq etc. Have gun, will rape and pillage.

    Can we get back on topic?

    #8 Posted: 9/7/2011 - 19:04

  • SBE

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    PS Why did your friend fear for his very safety in Myanmar? Loads of military checkpoints and guys with guns but they aren't all that scary. Myanmar is one of the safest countries in SE Asia to travel in...very little risk of getting robbed or mugged there in spite of everyone knowing that you have the equivalent of several years salary in cash on you.

    #9 Posted: 9/7/2011 - 19:11

  • MADMAC

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    My friend told me he felt like he was in Nazi Germany. And he didn't like the feeling.

    #10 Posted: 10/7/2011 - 01:35

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  • SBE

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    He's that old?

    #11 Posted: 10/7/2011 - 03:02

  • MADMAC

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    OK, I think he meant it felt like he imagined Nazi Germanyu would feel.

    #12 Posted: 10/7/2011 - 11:03

  • SBE

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    @MMThere are military road blocks where people's passports get checked in Thailand and Indonesia too.

    In Myanmar there are military ID checkpoints everywhere but I've never seen a foreigner get taken off a bus at a military road block and detained by soldiers in that country. I have seen that happen in Thailand though...and not just once either.

    Did your friend actually see any foreigners getting hassled by the military in Myanmar? Did he hear about this happening to any tourists while he was there? It's a pain in the arse having so many checkpoints but they don't target tourists and hardly glance at your passport, it's a mere formality. They aren't looking for foreigners.

    BTW, I saw a trip report on TF recently saying they didn't even have to get off the bus for ID checks... treated like the monks, given a sort of "diplomatic immunity". Don't know if that's general practice now or not....I've almost always had to get off the bus and queue to get my ID papers checked like the locals.



    @ Foubee. You haven't given us any clue what your interests are or what you want to see so how can people suggest an itinerary for you? All we know is that you want to cross borders overland and consider yourself a hardcore traveller.

    You want things to be as difficult, time consuming, uncomfortable as possible right? Something really hardcore that can be fitted into 3 week holiday and which involves crossing a border overland. Aha! Got it. Here's an itinerary idea for you.

    Go from BKK to Siem Reap via the Poipet border crossing. Be sure and go there by minibus from a KSR travel agency. Do NOT go to Mochit bus station and take an ordinary public bus to the border because that wouldn't be hardcore enough. You get much more opportunity to demonstrate your skill and panache at detecting and dealing with scam artists on KSR transport. Also it'll take much longer to get to SR and will be a lot less comfortable so that's a big plus too.

    Taking the piss a bit, sorry, but you do need to give people some idea of why it is you're interested in visiting the particular countries you've mentioned. Why them and not Afghanistan, Yemen or Cameroon?

    #13 Posted: 10/7/2011 - 20:24

  • MADMAC

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    SBE
    Are you trying to assert that the quality of governance, in any capacity, in Burma is somehow equivelent to the quality of governance in Thailand?

    #14 Posted: 10/7/2011 - 21:18

  • SBE

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    I was just questioning that scared friend of yours opinion about how safe it is to travel in Myanmar. Disagree but ask Tilapia, he's the expert.

    I was also questioning his opinion about how ethical it is to go there now. But hey, why don't you go and see if you can find a single person in Myanmar who thinks it's a good idea for independent tourists to boycott the country.. Their opinion is, after all, more important and relevant than what your friend thinks.

    PS You obviously haven't seen how brutally the Thai governance treats Burmese refugees.

    #15 Posted: 10/7/2011 - 22:41

  • MADMAC

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    You did not answer the question.

    I have no desire to go to Burma. It has no salsa scene.

    Yes, the Thai government has not always been gracious concering the Hmong, the Khmer and others. To be fair, there has been a siginificant refugee problem on their borders for a long time and it puts a continuous economic demand on the country. The problem with Burma is particularly a difficult one, as it has been decades long and no end is in sight.

    And my friend did not say it was not safe. Indeed prior to WW II it was safe for tourists to travel to Nazi Germany. He said it felt oppressive and found it easy to imagine scenarios where it would not be safe. Thus he didn't enjoy it. I did not say he (or I) advoacted boycott. What I said was I was surprised that you prefer it.

    #16 Posted: 10/7/2011 - 23:08

  • SBE

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    You did not answer the question

    And why do you expect me to answer your question MM??

    Thai/Burmese/Khmer/Hmong/Nazi politics is totally off topic...I've explained why I think it is safe to go to Myanmar and I have explained why I don't think the tourist boycott is a good thing for the people of Myanmar. That is more than enough considering the OP probably won't be going there.

    I love Myanmar because of the people, the culture, the scenery, the light. I find it a far more interesting country than Thailand. Here are some photos of Myanmar.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8675349@N06/sets/72157626752269628/

    Hope that helps with your question.

    If you want to talk about politics there's a section for that elsewhere. People who are interested will reply if they have time I expect. That is not what Foubee asked about.



    #17 Posted: 11/7/2011 - 01:31

  • MADMAC

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    It is off topic, but you did bring it up.

    #18 Posted: 11/7/2011 - 01:35

  • SBE

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    ?

    #19 Posted: 11/7/2011 - 01:38

  • MADMAC

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    Foubee
    Back to your question:

    Which countries should I pick? Pick one. You have enough time to take a decent, superficial look at one place. Do more than that, and you won't absorb much from anywhere. Not enough time. Absorbing another culture takes, above all, time.

    #20 Posted: 11/7/2011 - 11:34

  • Thomas922

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Global Village
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    Nice pics SBE. You boys...hehe!

    But OP I agree. What is a hardcore packer and what do you want to see?
    I say pick one place. North to South Vietnam. But 3 weeks is not enough anywhere in SE Asia really but if you just wanna breeze on in.....

    #21 Posted: 11/7/2011 - 15:17

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