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itinery and some traffic questions. Please help!

  • joancchung

    Joined Travelfish
    13th August, 2009
    Posts: 12

    3/9 Bkk > Chiangmai (Flight)
    3/9 -4/9 Chiangmai (is it possible to trek to Mae Hong Son ?)
    5/9 - 7/9 Chiangmai > Luang Prabang (thinking if I should go for the budget tour to laos which costs 1900 baht - slow boat)
    7/9 - 9/9 Luang Prabang
    10/9 - 12/9 Luang Prabang > Phonsavan (Plain of Jars)
    12/9 Phonsavan > Vang Vieng (is there any bus to V.V. from Phonsavan anyway? There's none told in "getting there and back"...)
    13/9 - 15/9 Vang Vieng
    15/9 - 16/9 V.V. > Vientiane (should i take Songtheaw?)
    16/9 Vientiane > Bkk (is it recommended to take the Sabaidee Bus which will take me to Khao San Road?)

    And some more questions...
    Should I take the bus to Mae Hong Son or join local tour?
    Is it ok if i dont book any hostel before the trip?
    I can speak thai, does it help in laos?
    any overnight buses for the route above so i might save some day times for seeing around more?
    Is it easy to catch the buses to each point? Do i hav to buy bus ticket from anywhere?
    Does my itinery sound reasonable? Any suggestion?
    Anyone is gonna be there around this period?

    Please help as you can. It's my first time travelling alone as a backpacker. I'm very excited and quite worried though.

    Thanks for your help!!
    Cheers
    J

    #1 Posted: 14/8/2009 - 18:16

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  • somtam2000

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    Hi J
    Your questions:
    Should I take the bus to Mae Hong Son or join local tour?
    Take the bus.

    Is it ok if i dont book any hostel before the trip?
    Generally that is fine - especially if you're flexible in where you stay. You may want to give this story a read: http://www.travelfish.org/feature/101

    I can speak thai, does it help in laos?
    Yes - lao people, especially in the cities have a pretty reasonable understanding of Thai.

    any overnight buses for the route above so i might save some day times for seeing around more?
    Not really

    Is it easy to catch the buses to each point? Do i hav to buy bus ticket from anywhere?
    In Laos, generally ticket at the bus station -- get there early to be sure of getting both a ticket and a seat. Some travel agents may offer ticketing as well.

    Other points:
    Any bus from Phonsavan to Vientiane will go via Vang Vieng.

    Otherwise, all looks doable to me.

    have fun!

    #2 Posted: 14/8/2009 - 18:32

  • seagypsy

    Joined Travelfish
    5th February, 2009
    Posts: 136

    Hi OP/Joan,

    Seems to me that your itinerary is the basic 2 week northern Laos trip.

    3/9 Bkk > Chiangmai (Flight)
    3/9 -4/9 Chiangmai (is it possible to trek to Mae Hong Son ?)

    Sorry but I don't think you can fly to Chiang Mai and also do a trek at Mae Hong Son all in 2 days. One option is to trek in northern Laos in the Luang Namtha area instead of Mae Hong Son.
    After taking a bus or shared van from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong and crossing at Huay Xai , instead of taking the 2 day slow-boat you could take the 4 hour bus up to L. Namtha for a trek whereas getting up to Mae Hong Son or even Pai is very time consuming (unless of course you fly from C. Mai).

    5/9 - 7/9 Chiangmai > Luang Prabang (thinking if I should go for the budget tour to laos which costs 1900 baht - slow boat)
    Don't recommend the 'organized tours' from Chiang Mai. It's easy enough to do it yourself which is a matter of getting a bus from the Arcade Bus Station to Chiang Khong or getting a shared van from any number of Chiang Mai travel agencies to Chiang Khong. But shop the cost via several places first before buying the transport ticket. BTW, this takes 3 days since the first day is getting from CMai to CKhong, ~5-6 hours depending on bus or van.
    So this will throw you off by ONE day already.

    7/9 - 9/9 Luang Prabang
    Yes, two days should suffice for LP, but see directly below.

    10/9 - 12/9 Luang Prabang > Phonsavan (Plain of Jars)
    12/9 Phonsavan > Vang Vieng (is there any bus to V.V. from Phonsavan anyway? There's none told in "getting there and back"...)
    Yes there are early morning buses between L. Prabang and Phonsavan and onward from Phonsavan to Vang Vieng, but you're using up the better part of 2 full days for this side trip just in transport time. Since you've already lost 1 full day, I suggest foregoing Phonsavan and the Plain of Jars for this trip since you're using 3 days (2 of which are transport days) of which only one day is for seeing the Plain of Jars. This will also 'gain' you one day should you decide to go trekking in the L. Namtha area BUT to have enough days to trek in Namtha you need a minimum of 3 days (1 day for the 4 hour bus, 1 day for trekking, and 1 day to get from L. Namtha to L. Prabang).

    13/9 - 15/9 Vang Vieng
    2 Days are enough for Vang Vieng.

    15/9 - 16/9 V.V. > Vientiane (should i take Songtheaw?)
    Either bus or shared van which is easily booked via your guesthouse' best to catch the earlier shared van if available giving you more time to tour Vientiane AND you can still catch the Sabaidee Bus in the late afternoon (5PM departure) and which is very convenient to get back to KSR, saving you the cost of getting to Friendship Bridge, getting to the train station at Nong Khai , or the further away Nong Khia Bus Station, or after arriving back in BKK, getting transport back to KSR. Plus you get into KSR really early in the morning, which makes it convenient to get a room as travelers are checking out.

    16/9 Vientiane > Bkk (is it recommended to take the Sabaide
    e Bus which will take me to Khao San Road?)
    See directly above.

    And some more questions...
    Should I take the bus to Mae Hong Son or join local tour?
    Not possible to get from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son, do a trek, and back to Chiang Mai in 2 days.

    Is it ok if i dont book any hostel before the trip?
    For early Sept. shouldn't be a problem at all since this is still the slow season.

    I can speak thai, does it help in laos?
    Excellent since as somtam mentioned, many Lao understand and can speak some Thai from watching Thai TV.

    any overnight buses for the route above so i might save some day times for seeing around more?
    Yes, the Sabaidee Bus or the overnight train from Nong Khai back to Bangkok. There's a night bus that runs between L. Prabang and Vang Vieng (actually destined for Vientiane BUT it can drop you off at Vang Vieng though in the wee hours of the morning) BUT I don't recommend it. It's safer to take the day bus going into and down the mountainous roads and BESIDES, you get to enjoy the great scenery and lush hills/mountains en route to Vang Vieng. Also forgot to mention that you can take shared vans from L. Prabang and these can be bought directly from your guesthouse which includes a free pickup from your GH. Generally the price of the shared van are the same (ie. very little scamming) but it doesn't hurt to check around to make sure that the price you're given is on the up-and-up.

    Is it easy to catch the buses to each point? Do i hav to buy bus ticket from anywhere?
    Generally better to buy the bus ticket directly from the bus station since quite a number of places (travel agencies and guesthouses) do add a service charge from just a few dollars to as much as double the price of the bus ticket. My experience in L. Prabang is that the service fee/commission is only a couple dollars but in Huay Xai and Vientiane, that service fee can be between 50-100% of the bus ticket.
    If you decided to go trekking in Namtha, no problems buying directly from the bus station BUT don't take the local Namtha to L.Prabang ticket. It's faster to take the 8AM bus to Oudomxai and transfer there to the L. Prabang VIP bus.

    Does my itinerary sound reasonable? Any suggestion?
    Anyone is gonna be there around this period?
    Please help as you can. It's my first time travelling alone as a backpacker. I'm very excited and quite worried though.

    Again, your route is pretty well 'beaten'.

    If you decide to take the Sabaidee Bus back to Bangkok, then shop the price too because it again can vary according to how much a guesthouse or travel agency tacks on for their profit.

    Have a safe and fun trip!

    #3 Posted: 14/8/2009 - 20:04

  • somtam2000

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    Great advice there by seagypsy - tks

    #4 Posted: 15/8/2009 - 09:05

  • joancchung

    Joined Travelfish
    13th August, 2009
    Posts: 12

    somtam, seagypsy, Thank you so much! your advice and information help a lot!!
    Visiting Luang Nam Tha seems nice. So i made a new arrangement for the trip

    3/9 Bkk > Chiangmai
    4/9 Chiangmai
    5/9 Chiangmai >Chiang Khong > Huay Xai
    6/9 Huay Xai > Luang Nam Tha
    7/9 Luang Nam Tha
    8/9 Luang Nam Tha > Luang Prabang
    9/9 - 10/9 Luang Prabang
    11/9 Luang Prabang > Phosavan
    12/9 Phosavan
    13/9 Phosavan > Vang Vieng
    14/9 - 15/9 V.V.
    16/9 V.V. > Vientiane > Bkk

    seagypsy, did u say it takes 4 hours to get to L. Namtha by bus? 'Coz the "getting there and away says it takes 7 hours. Im not sure if there is any bus faster which u mentioned. But it doesn't really harm since Im suppose to use 1 day for tranport anyway, right?

    I can't wait for my trip!!! Thank you so much again!!! This Travelfish web is awesome and so are you guys. Thankssssssssss~

    #5 Posted: 16/8/2009 - 12:22

  • seagypsy

    Joined Travelfish
    5th February, 2009
    Posts: 136

    "seagypsy, did u say it takes 4 hours to get to L. Namtha by bus? 'Coz the "getting there and away says it takes 7 hours. I'm not sure if there is any bus faster which u mentioned."

    joan--Looks great. Yes, since the Route 3 road running between Huay Xai and Luang Namtha got rebuilt by the Chinese to the border several years ago already, it's much faster now. I used to take that 7 hour bus which during the rainy season could take even much longer because those old buses had to cross a small creek but now it's like a highway. So the road is fine but leave room for delays if the bus has mechanical problems because you're not in Thailand anymore with their VIP buses.

    Oh, and if you don't need to visit Chiang Mai, another option is to fly budget carrier to Chiang Rai which places you 2.5 hours from Chiang Khong. Chiang Rai is a neat town too and not as busy or noisy as it's bigger brother, C. Mai. There's some great motorbike excursions headed northeast of the city along the Mae Kok.

    As an option or substitute to Phonsavan, on your way down to Luang Prabang from Luang Namtha, you could transfer at Oudomxai to a Nong Khiaw bound songthaew or bus. Nong Khiaw is along the Nam Ou River which is a really beautiful area. It's on the backpacker's trail and is viewed as an alternative to Don Det/Don Khon down in 4,000 Islands or a much smaller scale Vang Vieng . There are nearby caves (one which was used to protect villagers during the American War) and a waterfall as well as short river journeys upriver to Moung Ngoi. Then from Nong Khiaw, it's a 4 hour bus or songthaew ride to Luang Prabang but occasionally there is a shared down river boat which is also a very highly scenic way to get to L. Prabang. The Nam Ou meets the Mekong River north of the Pak Ou Caves (also known as Tham Ting) and if you can convince everyone else to shell out an extra U$1/person (or negotiated in advance), the boat might even stop there for half an hour but has to be negotiated with the boat owner in advance.

    You can buy the bus ticket for the Sabaidee Bus Co. in Vang Vieng instead of waiting to get into Vientiane but in either case, 'shop' around at several places first before buying in case they overcharge significantly for the bus voucher.

    And if you decide to take the Nong Khai train back to Bangkok, then it's better to reserve and buy your bunk/seat while in Thailand before entering Laos since many places in Vientiane overcharge up to 50% for the same bunk. You can't count on getting a bunk on the same day (after arriving from Vientiane to Nong Khai, trying to catch the night train back to BKK) because the train is quite popular and the 2nd class sleeper bunks get sold out early.

    Have an excellent trip!

    #6 Posted: 16/8/2009 - 19:57

  • joancchung

    Joined Travelfish
    13th August, 2009
    Posts: 12

    Thanks again seagypsy!
    I might add one more week to this trip. (will have to be back in BKK for the flight back to HongKong on 22nd september)

    Is it possible to visit Cambodia as well? Or do u suggest staying in Laos heading to South?

    #7 Posted: 18/8/2009 - 13:28

  • seagypsy

    Joined Travelfish
    5th February, 2009
    Posts: 136

    Well, if you've got another week and haven't visited Angkor at Siem Reap before then YES, highly recommend it. I would rank it as one of the 7 wonders of the world. With one week you could visit Siem Reap/Angkor (recommend 3-4 days) and Phnom Penh without rushing at all. Air Asia offers inexpensive flights between Bangkok and Phnom Penh but it's best to book well in advance on their website for the lowest fares.

    #8 Posted: 18/8/2009 - 13:56

  • joancchung

    Joined Travelfish
    13th August, 2009
    Posts: 12

    Thank you. but now i have some more questions...Thanks for helping again in advance.

    According to the story "How do I cross the Cambodia to Laos border?", should i book an organised tour to make it from laos to cambodia? How long does the transport take? Do i have to go to the south of Laos for Cambodia? I guess that takes me a day from Vientiane to south yea?

    "As an option or substitute to Phonsavan, on your way down to Luang Prabang from Luang Namtha, you could transfer at Oudomxai to a Nong Khiaw bound songthaew or bus..."
    So i skip Plain of Jars? It sounds nice if I cud go for river boat journey. River journey is always recommended in laos as i have read.
    Which one is more attractive?

    Thanks again for helping! Hope these upcoming questions wouldn't stop ur help...I have so many questions...

    #9 Posted: 19/8/2009 - 12:17

  • seagypsy

    Joined Travelfish
    5th February, 2009
    Posts: 136

    Sabaidee Joan,

    I've only been as far as Don Det and Don Khon so can't give any first hand advice on the border crossing. Beyond the advice already provided by Travelfish's own website and feature article on this crossing, I've read that it's important to choose your 'organised crossing' agency very carefully because I've read some reports of very poor service and long delays. Both Travelfish and Lonely Planet's Thorntree forums are inhabited by regulars and expats who frequent this crossing and know far more than I and I guess you could post more specifically in those forums (the Cambodia forum on Travelfish if you haven't already). Sorry I can't be more of help on this.

    With regards to visiting the Nong Khiaw and/or Moung Ngoi and a river journey on the Nam Ou, IMO, it's one of the most beautiful river-trips in Laos. I like the natural beauty in the Phonsavan/Plain of Jars area but was underwhelmed by the Jars themselves. And there are other river-side villages such as Sop Khong and further upriver Sop Jamm that have basic guesthouse facilities too. Visitors to Nong Khiaw and Moung Ngoi also stop in by river boat excursion at Sop Khong to visit the waterfall. Also several riverside caves to go spelunking but wiser to go as a group and easily arranged via the boatlanding master who's office is on the hill directly above the boatlanding. Make sure several of you have torches or headlamps and have sealed baggies or a dry bag for your camera and/or other electronics. Simple enough to drop in and ask him if there's already a group headed out for a day-trip to other villages or you can try and organize with other travelers at your guesthouse or that you meet in the small village of Moung Ngoi. The boatlanding master's job is to try and rotate the use of boats so that everyone who owns a boat gets his turn. You could even organize a picnic where the boat-owner will take you upstream to some sandbanks for your own private beach but don't forget to have sunscreen, a towel to also provide some shade, and bottled water, beverages and food/snacks. I spent a whole week in the area and enjoyed it far more than Don Det/Khon but there's also a family that I've been visiting for years. You can go on hikes to villages from Moung Ngoi (via a path behind the soccer field) and it takes a little over an hour oneway to the first village of Ban-Na but there are futher afield villages, some that are over-nighters which would require a guide but others that are nearby BanNa that are easily done solo or with others if you want to explore around. And you could even check with the boatlanding master at both Moung Ngoi and Nong Khiaw about whether other travelers are wanting to head down to Luang Prabang by boat which would again, be a very scenic journey. Once he knows that there are several travelers who are interested in a down-river journey to Prabang, he'll help you to organize the boat-trip which runs about U$100 for the whole boat so the more passengers (within reason subject to the size of the boat--of which many can handle 12-20 decently) then more to share the costs. Just expect that if it's not a full boat, then the boat-owner will likely stop to try and pickup villagers heading down to Prabang.

    #10 Posted: 19/8/2009 - 13:23

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  • seagypsy

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 136

    Oh, I'd forgot:
    "Do i have to go to the south of Laos for Cambodia? I guess that takes me a day from Vientiane to south yea?"

    No, you don't have to travel to the south of Laos to get to Cambodia. You could also fly from Vientiane or cut back into Thailand which would be a faster land route than Laos if you're wanting to head to Siem Reap.
    There's an early morning International Bus that departs from Vientiane's Talat Sao or Morning Market Bus Station that goes all the way to Khon Khaen where you can transfer to another bus for Khorat/Nakhon Ratchasima where you connect again for a bus for the Thai border town of Arranyaprathet to cross into Poipet where you can catch a shared taxi or forward transport to Siem Reap. You may have to stay in Arranya for one night and do the crossing the following morning. You can get a Cambodia visa upon crossing but read up on scams at www.talesofasia or perhaps even Travelfish provides details about this crossing (sorry I should have checked).
    If you decide to take the International Bus above, I would advise showing up at the ticket office by 7AM to purchase the ticket (2 windows so make sure you're at the right window). You'll need your passport and can pay in kip or baht. If you're traveling with others, it's safer that all of you are there because sometimes they won't sell a ticket for the bus unless all parties are there with their passports, etc. The bus ticket is straight forward and posted but there's an additional small fee that they charge (something like a border stamp fee). Keep valuable with you but suitcases or backpacks can be stored in the undercarriage.

    There are other Thai-Cambodia border crossings from Isan but I'm not familiar with these.

    #11 Posted: 19/8/2009 - 13:45

  • joancchung

    Joined Travelfish
    13th August, 2009
    Posts: 12

    Sabaidee seagypsy (Laotian greeting?) :) Thanks again!!!

    Getting into Cambodia sounds a bit tough... and i expect not to be in rush. I'd rather fly from BKK...next time. I'm sure in not long though =) Anyway, thanks for your information!!

    The river boat trip is really tempting. The only worry is that i'm on my own but not in a group. Just hoping i will be able to make it popping into a group by then. I want at least one river journey(i dont mind a simple and easy one) i long to see the beautiful scenery everyone recommended. So iam thinking if i should just spend a couple more of days in chiangmai and go the the river trip from Nong Khiaw as well as visiting Plain of Jars after Luang Prabang. What do u think?

    actually, a question, which i know its been asked and answered for many times already. but since family is sooooo worried about the safety travelling in laos alone, as a girl, with an asian face??!!!

    Btw, I'm just curious as Scott, but about you, who is seagypsy?

    Cheers
    Joan

    #12 Posted: 19/8/2009 - 16:03

  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
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    Ah if you look Asian people will probably assume you speak the lingo and jabber away at you in Thai and Lao BUT the good thing is they might also let you in to national parks, touristic attractions etc for the local price ... if you remain totally mute. Racial stereotyping does have its advantages sometimes. ;-)

    #13 Posted: 19/8/2009 - 17:27

  • joancchung

    Joined Travelfish
    13th August, 2009
    Posts: 12

    True =)
    I entered the Wat Phra Kaew for free this year!! But I dont look like a thai at all.

    #14 Posted: 19/8/2009 - 18:56

  • wanderingcat

    Joined Travelfish
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    the safety travelling in laos alone, as a girl, with an asian face

    quite a few girls from Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, South Korea, etc have backpacked alone in Laos & Thailand, or in pairs. guess we blend in more easily, except to the trained eye + ear. sometimes we can't even spot one another :P also depends how you dress & carry yourself. many in the tourist trade in Vietnam & Bangkok are pretty good at picking out Singaporean Chinese as targets. & Japanese stand out everywhere :)

    all sorts of plus & minus points when it comes to safety. in places like Pak Beng, no one bothers trying to sell us drugs, guess we don't fit their customer profile? same with Vientiane tuktuk drivers.

    some local men (even monks) might be more daring with us than they are with Western women. & sometimes you might encounter both Asian & Western men who could 'learn more about respect for women', though this is more the case in certain areas of Thailand (& certain online forums). but Western tourists can be a little surprised at the idea of Asian (esp SE Asian) girls backpacking alone & be quite protective of you, esp older couples. & local people can be very surprised & be very protective of you as if you're their own daughter. if you stay in family-run GHs you might experience this. & if you're friends with the owners, some even keep a lookout to make sure you've 'returned home' safely.

    in a few places like Luang Namtha, Huay Xai & Oudomxay, twin rooms can be better than doubles (hardly came across singles) esp in Chinese-run GHs...cos doubles are preferred for the 'night trade'.

    if i encounter creeps i just stick to/sit with the local women & they usually clue in on the situation quickly. female friends & i have been followed by men when travelling alone in Vientiane & Myanmar, two got chased down a road in Muang Sing many years ago (the guy was high on drugs), but we just walked into the nearest restaurant/shop/hotel/bank/travel agent & let the staff get rid of the guy. you can speak Thai so you'll have no problem explaining that you need help.

    in rural Chiangrai, i've been stopped by Thai soldiers & border patrol for ID checks while riding on songthaew/buses, they thought that a Shan Burmese pedigree cat wandered illegally across the border. in parts of north Laos i was also asked to show 'Lao ID card' when taking buses. in Bokeo & Chiangrai they're just looking out for North Koreans escaping to Thailand via China. in all cases i just showed them my passport & all was fine, usually they laugh over the 'mistaken identity'. (though when i take out my passport under such circumstances, i tell myself to be mentally prepared for the remote chance that it might be grabbed from me.) still it's the same kinda face that gets us into places like Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, etc for free right? ;) & there have been some temple ceremonies in Thailand where they let me stay inside but asked the Western tourists to leave (though i couldn't figure this out, what if the Westerners are Buddhists too??).

    other stuff about safety is mostly the same for all women travellers regardless of ethnicity...common sense + having your wits about you + be alert & prepared, don't appear like an easy target. some girls find it useful to run certain types of scenarios through their minds & think of how they would respond. if you go out drinking it'd better be in reliable trusted company, not people who'll get dead drunk themselves.

    i always have a list of phone no.s, emails & addresses (family, friends, embassies, bank/card companies, etc) written down & also emailed to family/trusted friend (oft take for granted that we can refer to our mobile phone but that can be stolen too), plus scanned images of passport & passport photos saved in a webmail acct (in case everythg gets stolen incl photocopies). always have a flashlight with me cos no idea if i might stay out late & when the next power failure will kick in in Laos (happens more often in rainy season). some girls place a chair (or some object that makes noise when toppled) behind their room door at night.

    think about how you want to carry your $ & valuables. have been occasional reports of snatch theft in Vientiane & less often in Luang Prabang too, & my friend lost her entire trip $ to a pickpocket in Bangkok. also reports of valuables left unattended going missing from GH rooms in places like Vang Vieng & Muang Ngoi Neua. my passport + most of my $ (i split it up) is in a money belt so that i don't need to worry when sleeping on long bus rides.

    might sound rather complicated, but just my habit to be prepared so that i can go all out to explore & relax with peace of mind. & maybe am paranoid after a few tricky, almost violent incidents in US & China. Laos is generally a safe place for girls travelling alone, personally i find it comparable to Japan.

    hope this helps!

    #15 Posted: 22/8/2009 - 10:53

  • seagypsy

    Joined Travelfish
    5th February, 2009
    Posts: 136

    straycat--great details and tips! Yes, as an Asian, it's easier to blend in but I suspect they're able to tell very quickly differences because of clothes and mannerisms. And it's unlikely that a Shan Burmese woman would be traveling alone on a bus unless she's trying to escape like you implied into Thailand.

    #16 Posted: 24/8/2009 - 05:36

  • somsai

    Joined Travelfish
    1st March, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 563

    One of the best run downs of travel safety I've read online, half of it could just as well apply to guys.

    some girls find it useful to run certain types of scenarios through their minds & think of how they would respond.

    I think this is called visualization. You run over a scenario in your mind enough times so that if it ever happens you are reacting without having to stop and think.

    #17 Posted: 24/8/2009 - 09:53

  • joancchung

    Joined Travelfish
    13th August, 2009
    Posts: 12

    Thank you, wangeringcat!This is a real good travel safety tips! Now i have a layout about it.

    I have been wondering...what does solo backpacking do to you guys? I mean do you get anything from solo trip? like any changes about yourself? your mind? your thoughts? just wondering though...

    #18 Posted: 24/8/2009 - 10:40

  • seagypsy

    Joined Travelfish
    5th February, 2009
    Posts: 136

    It makes us into raving seagypsies. Addicts to SEA where once we get home, we're plotting our return.

    #19 Posted: 24/8/2009 - 11:39

  • wanderingcat

    Joined Travelfish
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    glad that ppl find it useful - a lot was learnt from others.

    #17: You run over a scenario in your mind enough times so that if it ever happens you are reacting without having to stop and think.

    exactly. kinda like martial arts training.

    #18: what does solo backpacking do to you guys? I mean do you get anything from solo trip? like any changes about yourself? your mind? your thoughts?

    more like a big fat relief, don't have to listen to others whine about every little thing or wait for them to make up their minds only to change it again or wait for everyone to come to a consensus on what to have for dinner - freedom! :)

    travelling with others = significant amount of time talking to travel partner(s) = less time interacting with locals + less time observing what's going on around you + less 'quiet' time for reflection/thinking about your own thoughts/actions.

    btw for scanned images of passport in #15, meant just the photo/particulars page + signature page. cld also snap a photo of the page that contains arrival stamp/visa (& even the portion of the immigration card that you hafta retain for exiting the country, if any). sort of proof that you entered legally, in case passport vanishes, & you have the arrival/dept card no. for immigration to trace your record...good to have in countries where local officialdom tends to give certain nationalities a hard time cos of illegal immigration, prejudice, etc...Indon friend does that when visiting M'sia, Burmese friend does that when visiting anywhere, esp Thailand.

    #20 Posted: 26/8/2009 - 00:57

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