Reclining with Buddha and cuddling with elephants!

When were we there
30 days, October 19-November 19

Where did we go
✈️ Flight from Dubai to Bangkok
🏨 Dusit Thani Bangkok
✈️ Flight from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City
🏨 Norfolk Mansion
✈️ Flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap
🏨 Privilege Floor at Borei
✈️ Flight from Siem Reap to Hanoi
🏨 Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa
🚗 Drove from Hanoi to Halong Bay
⛴ Cruise in Halong Bay
🚗 Drove from Halong Bay to Hanoi
🏨 Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa
✈️ Flight from Hanoi to Chiang Mai
🏨 Akyra Manor Chiang Mai
✈️ Flight from Chiang Mai to Phuket
🏨 JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa
✈️ Flight from Phuket to Singapore
🏨 Parkroyal on Pickering

Small boat tour in Bangkok
Giant reclining Buddha in Bangkok
Meeting up with Margo and Bob in Ho Chi Minh City
Shopping in Ben Thanh market
Temples in Chiang Mai
Temples in Siem Reap – Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm
Banteay Srei in Siem Reap
Halong Bay Cruise
Street food tour in Hanoi
Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai
Thai cooking class
Ladyboy cabaret
Meeting up with Adam and Michelle at food stalls in Singapore

Neither one of us had been to Southeast Asia before, so we spent about a month moving through various cities and countries. Of course, this part of the world has incredible food and beautiful temples.

Thailand: We started out in Bangkok just a few weeks after their beloved king had passed away. The entire country was in mourning. Everyone was wearing black, there were memorials on every single street corner, and the mood was somber. We immediately switched our wardrobes to all black, or wore a black ribbon everywhere we went.

We spent a few days in Bangkok, exploring temples and shopping, before moving on to Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is a beautiful city in Northern Thailand, with an old town that’s still surrounded by a moat and remnants of an old wall. Chiang Mai was awesome. We went to an ethical elephant sanctuary, took a Thai cooking class, and saw a LadyBoy cabaret. There are lots of really amazing Buddhist temples here. I particularly love all the gold!!

We were at the elephant sanctuary the day of the US election. We voted by fax! This was literally one of only 2 or 3 days on the entire trip when we didn’t have internet access and we were totally disconnected from the world. Just as we were losing cell coverage we heard, “things aren’t looking good”. We were washing elephants, surrounded by other tourists hoping for a Hillary win (most tourists tend to be liberal). It was the only thing anyone could talk about. It was a tough day.

Vietnam: we loved Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. We ate a ton of pho and bahn mi sandwiches. But the highlight here was our cruise on Halong Bay, home to thousands of towering limestone islands. Unbelievable scenery. We also went kayaking, swimming, got a fishing lesson, and went through some caves. We were on the maiden voyage for a brand new boat and it was incredible! Our room on the boat was like a 5 star hotel: floor to ceiling glass with a private balcony. Wow.

Cambodia: We had a great time in Siem Reap. Tourism is fairly new in Cambodia, but they are nailing it. Everything is well organized, people speak english, and it’s cheap!

Siem Reap is home to a ton of temples built over 1000 years ago. Many were buried in the jungle until just this past century! We loved exploring Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. Our favorite was Ta Prohm, where you can see how the jungle grew over, around, and through the temples. Bayon and Banteay Srei were also amazing. The temples were originally Hindu, so they tell the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Our hotel was ridiculous. Our room was huge (1000 sq feet), free laundry, free mini bar, free breakfast (until 3pm!), free cell phone, and more! All this for ~$100 per night. The staff was incredible. Everyone know us by name, and called us “Fabulous Kate” and “Fabulous Sachin”, or “my King” and “my Queen”. It made us laugh every time.

You don’t need to spend a ton of time in Siem Reap to see it all. If you are making a trip to Southeast Asia, do a quick stop here.

Singapore: We used Singapore as a buffer between the rest of Southeast Asia and India, a place where we could take a break, drink tap water, eat salads, and decompress a bit. We got a suite at the Park Royale on Pickering, one of the nicest hotels we’ve ever stayed at. We loved Singapore and I’d love to go back.