Aspiring travel blogger Ellie Happiness with her husband, a well-known fruit eater in Russia and abroad, a blogger and their friends went on a winter trip to Asia on their own, the route of which was seven countries. Based on her experience, Ellie told what difficulties they had to face on this trip, how they found housing, which is the most expensive and budget country in Asia, and many other interesting and useful things.
– Tell us about yourself.
– My name is Ellie Happiness. In the recent past, I am a Pole Dance coach. There is a “family” dance studio in Kazan. When they decided to make their way to warm countries with their family and friends, they had to change their field of activity from dancing to travel blogging. I’m just learning, so it’s hard to call it something serious. Now with the team and family we are organizing seminars on raw food and yoga tours.
– Why did you choose a trip to Asia and what route was laid out for independent travel?
– Independent travel in Southeast Asia was not chosen by chance. My husband is a well-known fruit eater and blogger in Russia and abroad, and in winter he eats only tangerines from seasonal fruits. So we decided to go to warm countries where there is a lot of fruit. Plus, these are some of the most budget-friendly countries. We traveled with a large company of ten people (friends, colleagues, family), therefore, it is more convenient to look for profitable housing options in Asia.
Our route of independent travel in Asia: 3 months in Sri Lanka and 1 month in Phuket in Thailand. We spent a three-week trip in Asia: Vietnam (Nha Trang, Mui Ne, Phu Quoc), Indonesia (Bali), one day in Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), the Philippines (Davao, Samal), after which we returned back “home” to Phuket.
– What difficulties did you encounter when planning and during an independent trip to Asia?
– Yes, there is a difficulty in planning a trip – it is the choice of the country. This is our first wintering outside of Russia and the first trip on our own (before that I only went on package tours to Egypt and Turkey for 2 weeks). Therefore, due to lack of experience, I had to watch a lot of videos on YouTube and reread a bunch of articles about Asia and an independent tour of Asia. We have a big company and everyone has their own requirements. For example, it was necessary to have a good Internet connection for remote work. The difficulties were in finding a large house (at least 5 bedrooms), and our organizer was doing all this, and remotely from Kazan. And if remotely– then it turns out through intermediaries, and this increases the price many times. I had to rent for a short period of time and, upon arrival, look for housing on my own on the ground.
In the process of traveling through Southeast Asia, we got such an experience that we need to learn in advance about the seasonality and chemistry of fruits, the traditions of their collection. For example, there are countries where very unripe fruits are plucked and it is impossible to eat them.
– Which country did you like more and why?
– Uh))) I can’t answer this question unequivocally. There is a certain rating in my head, where the pros and cons about the country accumulate.
Sri Lanka, Mirissa city:
+ more or less stable internet
+ affordable housing, fruits
+ gorgeous ocean and beach
– not delicious local food
– green fruits
– the locals want to deceive you every now and then
Vietnam, Mui Ne city:
+ housing can be found relatively inexpensive
+ ripe fruits, a large selection
+ local food: dumplings and borscht due to the large number of Russians
+ the internet is flying, even in cloudy weather
– there are few beaches where you can swim and swim
– the sea is not very clean
– the locals don’t know English
And so it is possible to paint for each city, only this is my rating, all people have different preferences. It all depends on the goals and desires. But personally, I did not like Phuket from all the cities, I accumulated too many minuses and did not meet expectations.
– What is the most budget-friendly and most expensive Asian country in your independent travel?
– The most expensive country on our trip to Asia – Malaysia, the city of Kuala Lumpur. We were there one day passing through. Prices in Malaysia were unpleasantly surprised. Where do such prices come from in Asia? For example, 500 grams of grapes – 300 rubles. Or a room in a guesthouse built almost out of dirt and dust – 1100 rubles. Travel by train from the airport (50 km) – 870 rubles. one way per person. We were still surprised: “Is this Asia for sure?!?” We are used to everything being cheap.
But the most budget-friendly country on our independent trip to Asia, the Philippines, especially in terms of food and transport– is very cheap. There are only problems with housing, because tourism is poorly developed and there are practically no good, inexpensive hotels. Food prices in the Philippines: fast food, such as shawarma – 80 rubles, papaya fruit – 3-10 rubles / piece, pineapples – 40-50 rubles / piece. Things and appliances on Filas are very cheap. A small column for music can be found for 600 rubles, and in Thailand they sell the same for 1100 rubles. Accommodation in the Philippines: a room at the Red Planet in Davao with two beds will cost about 1,500 rubles. per day. Other hotels are in about the same range.
– How did you find accommodation on an independent trip and where did you book?
– An important point in traveling around Asia on your own is the search for housing. The Internet helped us with this, such sites as: Booking.com , TripAdvisor, but this is for a short time. If for a long time, they were already looking through intermediaries, but then they realized that it was better to come to two people in advance and look for themselves, so it would be cheaper.
For housing in Sri Lanka in Merissa, we spent about 60 thousand rubles a month for a 4-room house. Housing in Thailand in Phuket cost us about 100 thousand rubles for a 6-room two-storey house. When traveling in Asia in hotels for two, we spent about 1000 rubles on average.
Difficulties in finding accommodation while traveling on their own were mainly with the cancellation of reservations if they did not have time to stop by on time. Once in my “favorite” Kuala Lumpur, we did not have time to book a room due to the fact that we were on the plane, and the reservation took place after midnight (according to the rules, we had to check into the room at 14.00). The hotelier offered to wait outside or check into a room with double payment. An unpleasant situation…
– Was it difficult to get used to Asian cuisine? What dishes did you like?
– It was very difficult to eat Asian dishes. Asians like everything very spicy or very spoiled. Therefore, we were looking for European cafes. Although I liked one grandmother in Thailand, she has a stall on wheels with food, she cooks very tasty grilled catfish and a green papaya catfish salad there. You just need to ask for “but spice” to avoid the sharpness. By the way, I saw some strange goo in her bags, and she told me that this is a national dish exclusively for Thais – “thai style”, for Europeans – it will be “know good”)
– Is life in Asia expensive for a traveler?
– I think Asia is very different. Therefore, it can be suitable for both a saving student and a non-saving businessman. For example, in Vietnam I know a guy who lives there for 250 rubles. per day, he cooks himself and teaches people to surf. Very budget-friendly. We are very lazy and rarely cooked, and ate mostly in cafes. The average check came out about 300-500 rubles. for two.
If you take public transport, then in Sri Lanka it is cheap. By bus to the neighboring city (12 km), you can get there for 11 rubles, although they will try to deceive you by hook or by crook. This is a good reason to learn to insist on your own and argue . Tuk-tuk transport for the same distance will cost somewhere in the region of 400 rubles. In Thailand, to get to the neighboring city (12 km), you will have to fork out for a tuk-tuk 800 rubles.
– Have you taken out travel insurance?
– Insurance was not issued to anyone. She didn’t come in handy.
– What is the difference between the Asian mentality and the Russian one?
– Yes, nothing at all. There is a mentality of poor people and rich people. The poor will always try to deceive you, cheat you, and it doesn’t matter in which country: in Russia or in Asia, what skin color and eye shape a person has. The poor are always poor, they are not ready to give their own and will want to take someone else’s as well. The rich don’t have time and they know the value of it, so they’re not interested in shortchanging you in small things. For example, in Bali we were stuck in the middle of a forest, a rented car broke down on the highway. We came across a businessman who helped us, while refusing to take money, but asked to leave reviews on TripAdvisor for his business. And in the Philippines, any taxi driver who goes by the meter will drive in circles to wind up his mileage.
– What do you think is definitely worth seeing in Asia?
– I am not a particular connoisseur of sightseeing, so in any country I usually go to the beach before sunset, get caught in the rain and find unique people. What I wish you)
– Your wishes to travelers going on independent trips in Southeast Asia.
– Traveling on your own is convenient when you know how to communicate and negotiate. And it doesn’t matter if you know the language well or not. Every Asian country has its own English. The most important thing is to observe a fine line between friendliness and vigilance)
Olga Avrakh was talking
Photo of Ellie