Asia · 98 Days · 34 Moments · January 2019

Southeast Asia (Hadas & Melissa)

7 May 2019

5/6-12: El Nido Me and Melissa’s final destination together 😥 Well our journey has come to an end... and we had the pleasure of finishing it at El Nido, a lively beach town in the island of Palawan. We spent our last week relaxing on the beach and doing some shopping. It rained for a lot of our time here (the skies crying towards Melissa’s departure) so we went to cafes and restaurants to pass the time and indulge in some comfort foods. We had a lot concluding conversations and summed up all our moments together. We really shared an incredible journey together and are incredibly grateful for everything we learned along the way. And as cliche as this is- friends who travel together stay together! So stick around, maybe another trip together is around the corner 🤗

6 May 2019

5/3-6: Port Barton Yet another remote beach village destination- this one exceptionally small (pretty much only 2 streets in the whole village). We went to a calm and beautiful beach by boat taxi, and ate at several cute restaurants throughout our short stay.

3 May 2019

4/26-3/2: Siargao Island This small island in the Philippines is a surfing capital, which makes it home to gorgeous beaches and a relaxed surfers atmosphere. We spent most of our days laying on the beach and tanning. The second half of our stay here we stayed at a hostel called the smiling pig, which we had to be interviewed and accepted to, and it ended up being a really special social experience. We loved the people with us, most of them European, and spent a lot of time just hanging out with them. One of the days an employee of the hostel (a local) took us with us to her village to celebrate their Labor Day fiesta. We absolutely loved this- such an authentic and cultural experience. We arrived at the house of one of the villagers (a tiny hut pretty much), they shoved plates in our hands and stuffed us. We danced and celebrated with the local families, and ended the day with a sunset at secret beach

26 April 2019

4/19-26: Cebu City In the main city on the island cebu, we became advanced open water scuba divers!! Definitely a highlight of our trip- not only was scuba diving an amazing and eye opening experience, the instructors really made our week unforgettable.

20 April 2019

4/17-19: MoalBoal After a day and a half of flights, transfers, and buses, we arrived at our first destination in the Philippines! MoalBoal is best known for the Kawasan falls- incredible waterfalls and pools, as well as beautiful beaches with packs of sardines. We were only here long enough to see the falls, we did this with a local tour guide that took us “canyoneering”- a term that basically means hiking with a twist (cliff jumping, natural water slides, and walking through water). The waterfalls were truly amazing- crystal clear blue waters in a jungle setting. Aside from this, we explored the small beach strip where most of the tourists stay, where we found some cute restaurants and bars. So far the Philippines have been treating us (and our wallets) well.

16 April 2019

4/11-16: Hong Kong To sum up this city in 3 words: cloudy, delicious and expensive. Hong Kong is a huge bustling city, filled with a futuristic vibe and underground and/or high up spots. After spending over 2 months traveling in SE Asia, it was really nice to come to a place so western and a variety of foods (a little less nice to come back to normal prices). Because it was rainy throughout most of our stay, we did a lot of indoor activities: saw a movie, walked around malls/ galleries, took the metro (super cool and modern), and Melissa dyed her hair 🥳. We managed to get ourselves outside with our raincoats and explore the city by foot, as well as by cable car / train- both which took us to cool view points of Hong Kong. At night we mostly indulged in local comfort food or drank fancy cocktails at trendy bars. Some of the treats we tried in Hong Kong: dim sum dumplings, egg tarts, egg waffles, lots of bubble tea, sushi on a conveyor belt, and matcha flavored everything 😋

11 April 2019

4/4-11: Hanoi After a very intense 3 week period in Vietnam, we decided to stay put during our last week. Although there’s not too much to see after a few days, Hanoi is a major city with cool nooks everywhere, so it was nice to spend time getting to know it. Some of the attractions we saw were the women’s museum, ho chi mins mausoleum, and the train tracks. The mausoleum is the previous prime minister’s preserved dead body which was placed to respect and honor him... pretty creepy but also cool. The train track is surrounded by cafes right on the tracks, the place has a real charm to it. Besides this, we mostly just went to cool restaurants and cafes around town, including note cafe- a small place where the walls and tables are covered in notes that any visitor can write. Our first few days here were still with the Israeli girls we had met in the loop, they were really nice and fun to travel with! Hanoi definitely gave us well needed relaxing time :)

4 April 2019

4/3-4: Cat Ba This island is in Halong Bay, which is famous for it’s massive cliffs bulging from the ocean. We came here with a few girls that we did the loop with and did a day boat tour

2 April 2019

3/31-4/2: The Loop The Loop is a very windy road that takes minimum 3 days to complete. It passes through Vietnam’s most beautiful landscapes, from massive green cliffs to remote farm villages. We did this through a tour guide with a group of 11 girls total, we switched off from riding on the back of motor cycles to the Jeep.

29 March 2019

3/28-30: Sa Pa Sa Pa is a small town in high up in the mountains of North Vietnam. In our first morning here, we were already picked up by our “mama”- a Vietnamese woman who lives in a countryside village and gives tourists an authentic experience in her village. We hiked 5 hours through the mountains, through rice fields and waterfalls, and finally arrived at her house where she introduced us to her family and made us a home cooked meal. We did this with a group of already familiar Israelis and a few other Europeans. The day after we did a little more hiking in the mountain surrounding her village and then were taken back into town. We loved our mama and had a truly authentic experience.

27 March 2019

3/27-28: Hanoi take #1 Before starting to travel in the north, we had to make a stop in Hanoi, the capital. We only had one full day, which we spent on a free walking tour of the city. We saw some of the highlights of the city, and also tried egg coffee (it’s actually made out of eggs) which was surprisingly delicious. The city is big and there’s so much we have yet to discover.. we’ll be back soon 😉

26 March 2019

3/24-26: Phong Nha Phong Nha is a small village in north Vietnam, located in the middle of untouched jungle and mountainside. The scenery is insanely beautiful within itself, and once you explore the area you’ll find other hidden treasures. The area is known for its caves, some of the biggest in the world- so we did a cave tour and visited 2 (paradise and dark cave). The first cave was huge and had really fascinating formations, we just walked around inside and looked at the natural wonder. The second cave was a little more “hands on”- we were brought to the entrance with a zip line and then had to swim inside. Once we were inside it was completely dark, we walked with head flashlights and were lead to a “mud pool” where we bathed in the mud and rubbed clay on ourselves, it’s good for your skin and also just messy and fun. The second day was more relaxed, we went for a walk and just took in the view around us. We also spent quite a lot of time playing pool and cards at the hostel

24 March 2019

3/23-24: Hue We stopped for a night in this small river town. We arrived in the evening so we decided we would go out for an interesting dinner and we tried crab for the first time. We can’t deny that crab meat is delicious, but the amount of meat you get for the effort you put in is really not worth it. After eating the crab we both were still hungry, so we went out and got ... a sushi boat. We both convinced each other that we deserve both meals and allowed ourselves to splurge. The day after we rented bikes and went to 2 of the attractions in the area: the imperial city, and a famous pagoda building. Both were not too fascinating, but riding the bike was fun, and being part of the traffic was also a cultural experience.

23 March 2019

3/20-23: Hoi An Food capital of Vietnam! Obviously we took advantage of that and indulged in the tastes of the city- whether at a restaurant, on the street, or in a cooking class ! We learned to make fresh spring rolls, fried rice pancakes, stir fried noodles, and pho soup. It was way more than just a cooking class, we also fished crabs on basket boats and went shopping at the local market for fresh ingredients- a real culinary experience. Hoi An is known as the place to get clothes tailored. There’s tons of stores that offer to tailor clothes with the fabric of your choice to fit the measurements of your body. We got bathings suits made, Hadas got a dress as well. We’re really satisfied with the results. Aside from the attractions, Hoi An has a beautiful and authentic old city with beautiful markets, you can’t walk a few feet without seeing handmade lanterns decorating the streets.

19 March 2019

3/17-19: Dah Lat This small town in south Vietnam is surprisingly developed and hip. There’s lots of cute cafes and secondhand clothing shops to come across in this city, as well as beautiful landscapes. The main, and boldest, excursion we did was waterfall repelling. The whole group happened to be Israelis, which was not surprising to the guides, who actually knew a few Hebrew words. Repelling is definitely scary, but extremely fun, not to mention the breathtaking lush mountains surrounding us. The tallest waterfall we repelled down was 65 meters! We also rode on a scenic roller coaster in the mountains which was again both beautiful and scary. Both nights we went to “Maze Bar”, a bar that is built as a huge, and very confusing maze, with lots of cool seating throughout.

16 March 2019

3/15-16: Ho Chi Minh First stop in Vietnam ! This city is by far the most developed city we’ve been to in our trip. After a few weeks in the remote areas of Cambodia we were excited to see functioning bus stations, air conditioned facilities, and signs of civilization as we know it. In our first day we visited the war remnants museum which really gave us a different perspective on the Vietnam war- pretty horrifying and intense, but educational. The second day was mostly just wandering the city and coming across some of the cool sites in the city, which consisted mostly of historical buildings and architecture. We visited the independence palace, Ho Chi Minh city hall, central post office, Saigon opera house, and Norte dame cathedral. We also did some shopping at a huge local market, and couldn’t resist entering the 2 malls in the area. We got some cheap bargain steals as well as some clothes from common brands. The food was delicious- looks like pho soup is becoming a daily meal.

14 March 2019

3/8-14: Kampot Kampot is a small town on a river surrounded by mountains. It’s known for its pepper farms and good European food, which we definitely didn’t miss out on. So here are a few of the things we did while here: -chilled out by the river: there’s a lot of cool spots and lounges along the water, including one which has a mini water park in it. We sunbathed on tubes while occasionally going down a slide or a zip line -Bokor Mountain: we did a motorcycle tour which took us through the scenic road up the mountain, and stopped at several cool spots. -movie room!: there’s a place in town that offers private rooms with couches and a tv to watch any movie on for just 4 dollars.. we did this twice Kampot was full of Israelis, which to us meant learning a few new card games. We also attempted riding a motorcycle and (more or less) succeeded! We loved Kampot so much we ended up staying almost a week! Oh and also because we didn’t realize a visa to Vietnam would take a week to process

8 March 2019

3/3-8: Koh Rong Yet another island with white sand, clear water, and lush trees. Koh Rong is known for being relatively untouched by humans. The island has no roads, meaning the only way to get from place to place is by foot or by boat. The electricity and water system are pretty unreliable, so a warm shower is not to be taken for granted and AC is a luxury. There’s a very relaxed and peaceful vibe on the island during the day, and by night it turns into a party island. Most days were spent chilling on the beach, except for one day we joined a boat tour of the island. We did it through a backpacker run company and we were very happy to have an English speaking tour guide. We went snorkeling, visited a village on the island near by, saw the sunset around a bonfire from an isolated beach, and swam with bioluminescent plankton at night. Needless to say- everything was fascinating and beautiful!!

3 March 2019

3/1-3: Phnom Pen The capital of Cambodia gave us a short-lived yet enriching experience. The city is much more developed and westernized than we had imagined, it’s very lively and fast paced, filled with lit buildings and busy roads. Underneath the surface of all the trendiness lies a tragic history that still sits heavily on the hearts of the locals. In the mid 70s a communist rule took over the government and led the country to genocide. More than 3 million died in killing fields and various prisons/ interrogation institutions, that’s 1 in every 4 Cambodian. So the main sites in Phnom Pen are memorials and museums depicting the disturbing events. We visited the 2 most popular ones- the killing field (one of many throughout Cambodia) and the S21 prison. Although a lot of what we saw was very graphic and horrifying, the exhibits were strategically built and made us go through an emotional and educational journey.

1 March 2019

2/26-3/1: Siem Reap Our first stop in Cambodia ! Siem Reap is a big city filled with markets, bars, and TEMPLES. It’s known for the famous Angkor Wat temple, which is a huge Buddhist temple within a massive complex of other temples. We rented a tuk-tuk for the day, and our driver Lan took us to several temples. We can’t deny that the temples were fascinating, but the heat made it hard to do anything besides sit and drink a cold coconut. A few other highlights from Siem Reap: -5 dollar pedicure!!! Honestly, you get what you pay for- low quality nail polish, not so qualified staff, and questionable hygiene. Regardless, we’ll probably do another one in a few weeks -We tried alligator meat! Was pretty anticlimactic- tastes pretty bland We went out in the center of town called Pub Street where all the bars and restaurants were. We met people from all over and joined a few pub crawls along the way.

19 February 2019

2/18-25: Koh Phangan Our daily schedule in Koh Phangan was pretty repetitive throughout our week long stay- sunbathing on the beach, going to a sunset lounge/ exploring the nightlife on the beach. Although it was repetitive, it was not boring! Each beach had its own atmosphere and crowd, and we were so happy with the tanning results at the end of each day. The sunset bars were a great place to relax and enjoy the sunset with way too much Hebrew in the background. And of course, the famous full moon party! It was truly fascinating to see so many people from so many countries gathered on one beach, we had a blast. Besides that, nightlife on the island was a little more low-key than expected, but a fire show or a quiet bar was good enough for us. Koh Phangan was our last stop in Thailand, and after a month we are definitely ready to see more :)

16 February 2019

2/15-18: Koh Samui Most of our time in Koh Samui was spent relaxing on the beach. Whether in a small vacation town called Fisherman’s Village or the backpacker Chaweng beach, doing nothing on the beach became a lifestyle. The nightlife in Koh Samui was nothing special. There were bars on the beach that were full of people (and families with children?) but the main attraction were the fire shows.

14 February 2019

2/14: Ko Phi Phi A half day boat ride and some beach hopping helped us get a feel for what the island has to offer. The boat ride took us to several of the gems in the area, most of them in a separate island that is a nature reserve and uninhabited. We went snorkeling at almost every spot which was absolutely beautiful (Melissa was scared of the fish and did not have the same experience). But regardless, we were in awe by the crystal clear blue waters and huge lush cliffs. The pictures show cute small monkeys on one of the beaches, but don’t be fooled- these are vicious monkeys that tried to grab our bag out of Melissa’s hands, don’t worry- we handled the situation calmly.

11 February 2019

Feb 11: יציאת מצרים (פאי) Being on a budget and not short for time, we took the longest and cheapest route from Pai to Koh Phi Phi. Pai is pretty far up north in Thailand and Koh Phi Phi is a southern island off the coast of Krabi. Our journey: Monday- Left Pai at 13:30, arrived in Chiang Mai at 17. Got on sleeper bus at 20 heading to Bangkok (10 hour drive) Tuesday- Arrived at 6:30am in BKK, wandered around with our bags for a while, ate some cheap food and then at 6:30pm we boarded ANOTHER sleeper bus (this one less quality ofc) for 11 hours to Krabi. Wednesday- Arrived in Krabi at 7am. We got on a bus at 7:30am for about 2 hours (to unknown destination). Then a mini van drove us about 30 minutes to a port. From the port we took a 90 min ferry ride (full of cockroaches) to none other than KO PHI PHI where we arrived at noon. We then walked for about 20 minutes in the boiling sun with our bags to find our hostel! Moral of the story: worth saving the $50 not to fly!

9 February 2019

2/9: We took the day to see a few of the many wonders of Pai. The tour we signed up for included lots of attractions in one day- the White Buddha, water caves, natural hot springs, and the Pai Canyon. It was a pretty tight itinerary but we were glad to see most of the attractions in one day even if brief, so this was perfect for us

7 February 2019

2/7: Journey to Pai We got on a minivan which would take us to Pai within 3 hours. We began the ride feeling eager, and finished it feeling exhausted. We knew before that this journey consists of very windy roads and sharp turns, but did not expect what was to come. We spent 3 hours with a bag in our lap as the nausea took over.. it was rough. Nevertheless, when we got to Pai we were fascinated and forgot about the ride pretty fast. Pai looked like paradise- beautiful mountain scenery surrounding a relaxed and hipster-y town. Every corner was more inspiring then the next. Our hostel is not only at an amazing viewpoint, but it also has a pool and very social vibe. We took advantage of that as soon as we got there. The street food in Pai has the same personality as the town itself- it’s known for great vegetarian food. We really enjoyed walking and looking at the variety of foods, as well as tasting it. We love Pai so far!

6 February 2019

2/6: Zip-lining! We went to a park called Flying Squirrels to do a zip line course. The view was incredible and the staff were really funny (spoke to us in broken Hebrew they had learned from previous tourists). The course was about 2 hours with a variety of zip lines and other obstacles. Once we got back to the hostel, we napped till dinner and then went out to the main bar scene and shared a bucket of Mojito (literally a large bucket)!

4 February 2019

2/4: ELEPHANTS 🐘 What we’ve all been waiting for- elephants!! We went to an elephant sanctuary with a pretty cool group of people, got to feed and bathe them, and then visited a beautiful waterfall. Later that night we saw a LadyBoy show in the Bazaar market area. It was entertaining for sure but also lacked any real talent (harsh- but true).

3 February 2019

2/3: Arrival in Chiang Mai After 12 hours on the sleeper bus, we found ourselves in a scenic town in north Thailand called Chiang Mai. We were exhausted from the ride, but we explored the area regardless and ended up in a flower market. Everything was colorful, there were fascinating sculptures built out of only flowers, and of course some cheap and delicious street food. That was followed by a long and well called for nap. In the evening, we went to a night market, it was an endless stream of fabrics, foods, and tons more. And as the locals say “smell good, stop global warming, love you. ☘️”

2 February 2019

2/2: Reclining Buddha, Last day in Bangkok We checked out of our hostel, left our bag at a travel agency, and began our day with another temple. This time instead of walking, we took a “Tuk tuk” to the temple- a small and open colorful vehicle. This temple was much less crowded but still a little hard to navigate. The “reclining Buddha” sculpture was the main attraction, but the rest was beautiful as well. This day was followed with some more street food and wandering the city. At 20:00 we got on a “sleeper bus” which took us from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in 10 hours. We said goodbye to Bangkok and were eager to arrive at our next destination.

1 February 2019

2/1: Floating Market We started the day at 7 AM when a sketchy van picked us up from the hostel. We drove an hour and a half to get to a floating market (market in canals where you can shop by boat). It was an over crowded and over priced tourist attraction, but definitely an experience that ended up being worth it. We got a paddle boat tour of the market and bought some coconut ice cream while floating along the canal. Once we returned we caught up on some sleep... a little too much- we didn’t wake up for the alarm 😬. We quickly got dressed and made our way over to chabad, where we met up with Melissa’s garin and shared the Shabbat with another 500 Jews in Bangkok. After dinner, we went to explore the nightlife of Bangkok once again and stumbled in to a roof top bar where there was a live show. The band was extremely talented and the atmosphere in the bar was electrifying with American style music circa early 2000s. Melissa knew all the songs!

31 January 2019

1/31: Lazy Day Slept in till 13. Roamed aimlessly for a while, got a 5 dollar (30 minute!) foot massage. The highlight of this day was dinner - we went to a Mexican restaurant. The owner of the restaurant was Mexican which was reflected in the authenticity of the food! We had some delicious tacos while we watched Netflix that the owner provided. On top of all that, the place had a husky mom with 2 adorable puppies- this was a very tasty and homey dinner.

30 January 2019

1/30: Day 2, Grand Palace On the second day we visited the main attraction of Bangkok- The Grand Palace; the largest Buddhist temple in Bangkok. It was definitely a sight to see, although it was pretty crowded and very confusing to navigate. That was followed by a boat ride across the river to a pier market. Very touristy and sweaty day. At night we went out on a bar crawl with a close-by hostel. We met a lot of people our age from all around the world. The night started in the bar at the Mad Monkey hostel with stops at 3 different pubs while meeting mates along the way. Oh and Melissa ate a fried scorpion!

29 January 2019

1/29 Arrival: We arrived at BKK and began the transport to our hostel. After several minutes of confused roaming we found our cab driver (one hour drive for 11 bucks!). Our hostel, New Siam 1 Guest House greeted us at the reception and we walked up to our room to find a decent private room with a private bathroom. After freshening up we immediately went to explore the city. Our hostel was at a very convenient location so we were greeted with tons of markets and cheap goods. We had our first meal, a classic Asian noodle soup for about $1.50 which was a very pleasant surprise. We spent most of our time getting to know the wonders of the area. Exploring the major backpacking road of Koh Saun Rd. and neighboring smaller streets filled with bars and restaurants!