Backpacking adventures in Asia
Why Asia? How did the idea of a backpack tour come?
I’ve always wanted to go far away for a long time by myself. Last year I graduated at the university and I wanted to do a gap year before starting my Master program. I decided to go to Asia. Firstly, it is the cheapest destination– it has a great culture of budget backpacking tourism, which is exactly what I wanted to do. I planned my tour to last for 2 months. In the first month I travelled with my German friend around Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. On the way I met a guy from California and I travelled with him in the second month. Then I realized I didn’t have a reason to come back home yet. Since I could even save money before I stayed for another month and went to Indonesia alone. However, even there I’ve never had dinner alone, as everyone was open-minded and I’ve met many cool travelling young people.
How did your family and friends react when you told them your idea? Did they support you?
Strangely, my parents understood me, though they were worried. When I arrived to Asia, it turned out that there was Wifi everywhere. In those places where there wasn’t I texted them and we could talk almost every day. My friends understood less why I want to travel alone and (kind of) live in bungalows. Now they are all jealous though.
It is not so common, that a girl goes to a distant world alone! How did you prepare your travel and how did you get ready for your journey?
I booked my accommodation in Bangkok for the first day, but I didn’t prepare anything else in advance. I had my Lonely Planet books with me throughout my journey. At home I’d marked the places where I wanted to go and what I wanted to see. I checked the forums and made notes about how to reach those places. Of course on the spot everything changed and spontaneity characterized the whole trip. I spent approximately 2 weeks in every country; however travelling took more time than I expected. We travelled mainly by bus, sometimes by tuk-tuk, which is a cheap three-wheeled taxi. This way we have met with locals, which was also a great adventure. Regarding the medication I got 6 vaccinations and a dozen of different pills before departure.
Didn’t you feel in danger during the adventure? How is the public safety there?
Many people asked me about the crime situation in Asia. To be honest, usually in the nights I felt even more safe there than here at home. Laos and Cambodia is so underdeveloped and the monetary and social differences are not so sharp yet, so you can’t really feel a general tension you feel for example in India. People have a few clothes, they live bungalows. These places seem so far from home, though there it became our everyday life. I didn’t walk late at night alone in an alley, but I wouldn’t do that in Hungary either. If you keep the fundamental rules, there won’t be any trouble.
People are really nice, however for example taxi drivers want to scam you everywhere. Besides of this nothing bad happened. Begging is as well a hard thing, but you can learn how to handle that. When we needed water, we bought from them instead of the supermarket.
What is the situation with the illnesses, diseases, about which we can hear a lot? Did you have a bigger injury or illness during your journey?
Yes, in the beginning I had a smaller accident. We had a really cheap and rundown accommodation in Bangkok, where my foot started to hurt one morning. On the next day I woke up with a 40 degree fever and my foot was swollen to the size of an elephant. I couldn’t stand on it and I cried because of the pain. In the hospital they thought at first that it was snakebite, but at the end they diagnosed it as a spider bite. I got injection and medicine, and fortunately the insurance company paid everything back and I recovered in a week. I was really lucky that it happened in a big city and that my friend was there for me.
Tell us a bit about the Asian cuisine! Did you like it and did you get used to it easily?
It is totally different and very cheap. In the streets you can get fresh coconut, mango, pineapple and crayfish everywhere, which are extremely expensive in Budapest. Everything was so delicious there! At the beginning we didn’t dare to eat at the stands in the streets, but soon we learned that if there are many people at a stand, we can eat there without any problem. Of course we expected to have a period of diarrhea, since everyone has it. Fortunately I had it only at the end of my trip. So we tried everything, but only within reason of course.
As a woman didn’t you missed the make-up, pretty dresses and the everyday comfort?
I went with a 35 liters backpack, but I used nothing from my wardrobe there. I bought there on the market loose, hippie trousers and some T-shirts, which I wore most of the times. I like to wear make-up, so if we went out I put some on, but somehow I didn’t miss it at all. There weren’t any expectations, for example regarding my looks. This was the most harmonized, careless period of my life, since I felt that I am good the way I am and I needed no confirmation about it. Being comfortable was only what really mattered. I have visited really pure and spiritual places, the Buddhism and acceptance is everywhere there, which is a change after the superficialness of the everyday life at home.
How was your return to home? Was it hard to live in the Hungarian reality after your experiences in Asia?
In the first two weeks I was really happy but after 2-3 weeks depression came, on what I was counting already. It was hard. I have changed a lot during my adventure and I was afraid that it would go away. After I started to look through my photos and make a short film I slowly realized that even if I don’t think about Asia every day, it will always be the part of my life.
Would you go back? Would you live in one of the countries in Asia?
I’d definitely go back! However next time propably I’d go to a different country. I had hard moments, but I pushed my boundaries on purpose. In every country I asked myself if I would live there, though after 5 days always came the feeling that no, I wouldn’t stay. Probably I’d get bored and I’d miss the European culture.