For the last many years I have spent my winter months in Southeast Asia, picking the place to base myself based on the foods I wanted to eat. That my business as a travel blogger allows me to do so is a privilege, but many people ask why I keep returning to the region. It goes far beyond the food, to the landscape and the people, and the many wonderful things that keep me feeling like I am somewhere new every single day. For this visual tour, I have selected three countries: Vietnam, Laos and Burma (Myanmar). While not exhaustive at all, the sample below hopefully whets your appetite to visit the region. The beauty of travel is that it consistently challenges the way you view yourself by giving rise to interesting connections with people in new places. This ability to connect is deepened the more I feel out of my skin and somewhere unlike my upbringing in Canada. As the photos below show, each country in Southeast Asia is very different, and each will provide not just a set of memorable meals but also architecture, transportation stories and a lot of wonderful smiles.
One of my favourite fruits in Southeast Asia is rambutan! The word translates to “hairy fruit,” which is quite an accurate description. It is sweet, but not overly so. When people ask to describe the taste, I say it tastes like an apricot had a baby with a lychee.
I loved this photo of one of the waiters from a steamed-rice-crepe restaurant in Saigon taking a break with the chaos of traffic behind him.
Saigon taken from above, with the parks and skyscrapers all wedged into one busy, thriving city.
Another view of Saigon, this time taken at night during Lunar New Year (called Tet) with celebratory fireworks. Those lights on both sides of the road are the thousands upon thousands of motorbikes parked at the side of the river to watch the show in the sky.
A woman bikes to the market in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta area. This was taken in a town called Cai Rang town, not far from the floating markets. While it used to be that Vietnamese people would come to the market by boat, a new bridge built over the Mekong connected different villages, and many have traded in their boats for motorbikes and get to the markets on land.
Fish for sale at the Cai Rang land market, located just at the edge of the Mekong River. People can come via boat or by land, making it an important hub for produce and meat shopping within the area.
Keeping with the fish theme, freshly caught fish grilled on the side of the road makes for a wonderful dinner in the country. This was taken in Luang Prabang.
One of the more popular tourist attractions for Western and Asian tourists alike are the Kuang Si waterfalls outside of Luang Prabang. Hard to believe the colour of the water!
Luang Prabang lies at the confluence of two rivers, the Khan and the Mekong. Views abound from either!
The view from the main bridge in Nong Kiaw, a beautiful town north of Luang Prabang.
Girls walking on the main bridge in Nong Kiaw.
Houses in Muang Ngoi Neua, a boat trip from Nong Kiaw. When I visited it was not very crowded, but friends have said that tourism has overrun this tiny town and it has struggled to handle the influx of people.
Saving the cutest photo for last. A young Laotian girl and I played at the side of the road, and of course I needed to snap a photo of her beautiful face before I left.
Dawn over the temples of Bagan, in Burma. I spent several mornings bicycling as the sun rose, hopping from temple to temple before the sun started baking my clothes into my skin.
One of Bagan’s many temples during the day.
Bagan was as beautiful at dusk as it was at dawn. I spent many evenings sitting atop one of the climbable temples and watching the sun disappear.
A typical morning scene in Burma, with monks asking for alms to obtain their food for the day.
A fisherman in a traditional boat from Inle lake, just as the sun began to rise over the water.
One of the most memorable parts of my trip was visiting the markets in Inle Lake, which rotate around the lake so that each of the villages in the Shan foothills can get access to fresh produce and food, and much more. Breakfast was something I skipped at my hotel and instead ate in the form of mohinga, a fish noodle soup eaten for the first meal of the day in Burma, which I would buy from one of the market vendors.
G Adventures runs a number of departures in [Asia] (www.gapadventures.com/destinations/asia/?ref-getthere) encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.