Dec. 2015 – Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Bali, Singapore

Vietnam/Cambodia/Bangkok/Bali/Gili Islands/Singapore: December 2015

Tips: Go. Gili Trawangan was our favorite part – more below.

Vietnam: We stayed with a friend in District 7 of Saigon and did Saigon only.  Best food of the trip.  For a whopping $2 or $3, so delicious.  You can party (and eat) all night here.  Don’t rent a scooter and drive in the insanity unless you’re… insane.  We had fun with it, and Jon did great – no one obeys traffic lights or laws, and I would’ve killed us.

Cambodia: Despite what your friends tell you, do not take a bus to Siem Reap. Took some 18-24 hours and the rest stops were not appealing.  The bus did have air (it was freezing).  Take a flight.

Angkor Wat: Pretty awesome. Go at sunrise and take an elephant ride (you sit on a little carriage type thing, not on the elephant itself, which is kind of a bummer) in between the temples.

Siem Reap: Tons of street food, do the fish pedicure (the fish are huge on the adventurous side, why not?), buy booze off a tuk tuk/rikshaw where I’m fairly certain sub standard booze is poured into bottles you’d actually recognize.  We stayed out all night, very doable here.

Bangkok: Do the markets, see the buddhas, eat the street food, go to a tailor if you have the time (we didn’t have the time, and we managed it – B&B Fashion was good), take the little canoe ride around, ride in tuk tuk’s, go to the hotel where they filmed the Hangover for sunset at the bar up top (guys can’t wear shorts and girls can’t wear flip flops.  I got in and Jon did not).  Do the night markets.

Bali: Love.  We did the temple on a cliff, had an amazing seafood dinner on the beach, went swimming with dolphins, spent NYE at an awesome rooftop party and then on the beach with a bottle of champagne (our tradition), and saw an amazing 360 firework display when the clock struck 12.  We made a last minute hotel change to Vasanti – good place and reasonable, and they threw a good NYE party.

The highlight though was Gili T., an island that is not part of Bali or Indonesia and is about an hour and a half boat ride from Bali.  This is a Muslim island invaded by surfers and divers and is awesome.  No motorized anything on the island, so you get around by horse and buggy or bicycle.  We biked around the 3 mile island at sunrise – gorgeous.  We stayed at Kaleydo Villas – one of my favorite places to stay ever.  Beautiful, it was cheap when we went, and we followed some guy who grabbed our bags when we got off the boat, who led us there (we trust anyone 🙂  Stay there!  Bicycles come with the place, and I think breakfast did too.  

There are two other Gili islands – plenty of people got off the boat at each, but (without having visited the other two), I’d do Gili T. again in a heartbeat.  Ah yes, the snorkeling was fantastic.  We didn’t dive then, but there were a million dive shops, and I’m guessing the diving was great.

*Note, the boats that go to and from the Gili islands can be janky in the sense that on the way back to Bali, they told us they didn’t have room for us on the boat, so we’d have to leave the next day.  Um, no.  We raised hell, Jon found the harbor master, and we got on another company’s boat for no charge.  The kicker – this one went back to a different dock, so we contacted our driver friend (Ryan – he drove us to the dock on the way to the ferry going to Gili, and we got his info. for pick up – worked out super, super well) on Whatsapp, and he picked us up at the other dock.  

Other dock – they had swimming with the dolphins!  We had never done it or really looked into it – Ryan brought us over there, and we absolutely loved the experience.  The dolphins are definitely in a pool FYI, but we still thought it was cool.  We probably wouldn’t do it again elsewhere, as this seems like a one and done.  Ryan then took us to the temple and recommended the restaurant on the beach/took us there and eventually back to the hotel.  We are happy to provide his digits!

Singapore looks like a fictional city with its colorful lights and crazy structures. We went to the boat shaped bar on top of a hotel, walked the well lit gardens, and hit Chinatown for chili crab. Mmmm chili crab.  We stayed at a Conrad hotel, which was totally fine but a little outdated.  Centrally located though, which was perfect.  Singapore was our last stop and so different/not beachy like than our other destinations, so it was our least favorite, but we enjoyed it.  Eat brunch at Kith – they have a few locations.

Hotels for this trip: I mention some of the places we stayed at above. We didn’t always book in advance (we rarely did, it was nice), and we generally used and/or Tripadvisor.  These are good sites/apps, but remember that the ratings are based upon customer reviews, so if you have people who have different tastes/purposes for going to the destination than you do, the rating is not all that useful.  Example: We booked our Bali hotel/villa like place, and this was rated some #3 of all hotels on (I think).  In reality, it was on the top of a mountain such that our minivan cab had a hard time getting up, the air conditioning was useless because there was space between the straw like roof and the rest of the place, and the people had to literally make a 10-15 (or more) minute trip to get anything, including drinkable water.  This made it about a 30 minute endeavor from when we asked for something (using Whatsapp by the way) and got it.  Might be fine for food, but not water.  We attempted to stick it out, but it was NYE, and the flies that were buzzing at lunch (no fans to be seen), we 100% changed hotels.  I get why some people who want to be remote and aren’t looking to party on NYE would like this place, but it was not for us.  It happens, and we were fine with it, esp after settling in to the new place and getting our party on.

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