Backpacking for the First Time!

In July I recruited two great friends to travel the world with me. These strong souls are Kareem and Ryan, and after speaking to many travel friends, we came up with an adventurous route.

In early September we flew to the other side of the world. We decided to explore South East Asia and end the trip in Japan! It was our first time visiting this part of the world and none of us knew what we were in for. The route consisted of visiting four countries, eleven provinces and four major cities, all within four weeks. 

The trip was surreal and life-changing! 

I'm sharing the questions I received most after getting back because I couldn't possibly describe everything. Let’s start with the most popular:

How was your trip?

It's hard to sum up a long trip, especially when life is so different over there than it is here. Parts of my travels were breathtaking and amazing, but other parts were boring or tiresome due to the amount of time spent in transportation. But regardless, there was always a new and fascinating view to gaze upon.

Thailand, overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai / Photo by Ryan Nocella

What was the coolest thing you did?

It’s a tie between playing with monkeys in Bali, Indonesia or playing with retired/rescued elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Both were truly a dream come true.

Bali, Indonesia

Bali, Indonesia

Chiang Mai, Thailand - Retired Elephant Park

Chiang Mai, Thailand - Retired Elephant Park / Photo by Ryan Nocella

What was the craziest thing you saw?

A Thai Boxing Match while in Bangkok. We sat in the local’s area and were so intrigued as we witnessed live betting within the crowd.

What was the strangest thing you ate?

I ate a fish eyeball while in Tokyo, Japan!

What was your favorite meal?

The pho from Hanoi, Vietnam.

What was the worst part of the trip?

Getting food poisoning in Bangkok. At least Ryan was going through it with me. 

What was the most memorable encounter with a local?

When we met Jati, an artist in the town of Ubud, Bali. He invited us into his small studio and showed us his old and current artwork. It was a special moment for all of us.

Jati in Ubud, Bali / Photo by Ryan Nocella

What was the biggest cultural difference you saw?

We visited many temples and in order to be respectful, we always had to either remove our shoes or make sure that all shoulders, knees and chest were covered when entering a temple. This was extremely strict when visiting the Grand Palace in Thailand.

Thailand, Bangkok - Grand Palace

Thailand Pai, White Buddah

Thailand, Bangkok - Grand Palace

Thailand Pai, View from White Buddah

What country would you revisit?

I would love to go back to Vietnam, but explore the southern areas like Ho Chi Minh City.

What was the best moment of the entire trip?

Going to see Ha Long Bay, one of the Seven Wonders of Nature. Ha Long Bay, in northeast Vietnam, is known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests. Absolutely breathtaking.

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
— Mark Twain
Danielle Kachler, IIDA, Intermediate Designer

Danielle Kachler, IIDA, Intermediate Designer