Saturday, June 6, 2015

Fourteen Days After

Nusa Dua Beach Bali

Ma’am dito lang po ang pila…

That was in Diosdado Macapagal International Airport on the 24th May, 2015. I queued for the immigration, dropped my bags and let out a big heavy sigh of relief. After almost two months I can recognize what everyone was saying. We are so finally back.

Cebu - Kota Kinabalu - Bali - Yogyakarta - Yangon - Bagan - Mandalay - Bangkok - Chiang Mai - Pai - Chiang Rai - Luang Prabang - Vang Vieng - Pakse - Vientiane - Kuala Lumpur - Melaka. 55 days, 5 countries and 17 key cities – #ASEANSummerLoopthe most epic trip I’ve done so far.

Mactan Cebu International Airport
Day Two: We are so ready to conquer Southeast Asia 
Cebu City, Philippines
Instagram photo by Doi
Three shirts, two tank tops, two shorts, one pants, few undies, swimsuit, one pair of slippers, one laptop, two cameras and a few hundred dollars – that’s my life inside my backpack for two months.

Kota Kinabalu Malaysia
Day Three: Kilometer Zero
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Zen Dive Bali
Day Five: Yes, it was my first time to dive
Bali, Indonesia
With the most limited budget in the world, me and my buddies went out and explored our neighboring countries doing what we do best – to have fun (scrap intensive research and itinerary). It was AisAsia’s ASEAN Pass, the visa-free policies of Southeast Asian member countries and the spirit to move forward that pushed us further until we almost ran out of reasons to continue. But as a friend says, Laban lang Carla, we succeeded and accomplished our target – to unearth the essence of a place, doing it our way.

Day Twelve: We almost didn't make it to Borobudur Temple
Central Java, Indonesia
Shwedagon Pagoda Yangon Myanmar
Day Fourteen: A mesmerized monk at Shwedagon Pagoda
Yangon, Myanmar
I’ve been fortunate to have the luxury of long holidays and vacations. With the most meager salary I have as a public school teacher, it is truly unimaginable to pursue long-term trips such as this. But with our burning passion to move forward (plus the fact that I traveled with two of my most favorite persons in the world), we managed to pull off this trip which conspired three weeks before our scheduled first flight (over some bottles of beer).

Water Festival Bagan Myanmar
Day Seventeen: Free food, free booze and free dance at Thingyan Water Festival
Bagan, Myanmar
Bagan Myanmar
Day Nineteen: Braved the 40-degree heat and the sandy paths by bike
Bagan, Myanmar
U Bein Bridge Mandalay Myanmar
Day Twenty One: U Bein Bridge at sundown
Mandalay, Myanmar
I felt ecstatic, furious, elated, exasperated, enraged and contented all throughout the journey. It was an assortment of raw and strong emotions, it’s as if I was on a postpartum period every day (not that I experienced it already). It was extremely fun one moment and then torture the next, it was agony on one day and ecstasy the next. I was always trying to manage my moods and feelings for I am not the most relaxed person in the world. But with the perfect travel buddies, I learned to be calm and just ride with the hustle.

Novotel Platinum Bangkok Pool
Day Twenty Three: Chill day all day
Bangkok, Thailand
Pai Canyon Thailand
Day Twenty Six: There's my pot of gold
Pai, Thailand
I left my iPod in Bangkok. The hotel immediately sent it to me in Chiang Mai and for whatever reason it was returned to them. They sent it again to Chiang Rai, which was successfully received by the hotel. Unfortunately, we had already checked out (that same day) when they received it. They sent it to Kuala Lumpur (my next destination) and the iPod was sent back to Chiang Rai. Apparently, the battery should be removed first before it can be flown, which is impossible for my iPod. They sent it to a friend in Chiang Mai who will hopefully come home this year. Well, that’s my iPod having its own itinerary. I accepted that I will never be reunited with my iPod early on, but when I realized that my music will be forever gone, I was devastated. I just went on with my ‘mantra for lost things’, Use things not people, Love people not things.

Chiang Mai Canyon Thailand
Day Twenty Eight: Yes, I jumped
Chiang Mai, Thailand
White Temple Chiang Rai Thailand
Day Thirty One: Wat Rong Khun (WhiteTemple)
Chiang Rai, Thailand
Our camera bags got soaked during the Thingyan Water Festival in Bagan. We were so fortunate that our scheduled trip to Myanmar coincided with the yearly water festival. On our first day, we got wet inside the cab from the airport in Yangon. On the second day, we were soaked while walking around Mandalay. On our third day, we were drenched in Bagan from the train (yes, they throw buckets of water on moving trains as well) and on the way to our hotel. We thought that we were so waterproofed, but no, our camera bags were drenched. Luckily, our cameras survived the misfortune and for the next days, we were more waterproofed than ever.

Monks Alms Giving Luang Prabang Laos
Day Thirty Four: Alms giving ceremony at dawn
Luang Prabang, Laos
Vang Vieng Laos
Day Thirty Eight: Hiking, trekking and caving - not our usual thing
Vang Vieng, Laos
We had a flat tire in the middle of nowhere in Pai. I have the best skills when it comes to two-wheel drives, well, that was ten years ago. I got reacquainted with motorbiking in Pai, Thailand because renting one is the cheapest way to go around town. My buddy wasn’t confident with his driving skills which left me with no option but to drive a scooter with my buddy as backride. The first few attempts were not that great but as we navigated along the uphills, downhills and sharp curves of Pai, we got into the groove easily. And then flat tire. We were heading to a remote waterfall when I felt that our rear tire was deflated. With no one to help us, I dropped off my buddy somewhere and drove away, running flat. I reached a workshop and had it fixed just for when my buddy arrived (after walking for nearly an hour, it was noontime). We had to splurge on our lunch that day.

Pakse Laos Motorbike
Day Forty Five: Still moving forward minutes after the motorbike crash
Pakse, Laos
Pha That Luang Vientiane Laos
Day Forty Nine: There's a buddha relic inside Pha That Luang
Vientiane, Laos
And then another motorbike mishap in Pakse. It was inevitable for us to hire a motorbike again in Laos for it was the cheapest option to go around. It wasn’t a scooter this time but a 100 cc. automatic clutch which should be a better option when navigating this part of Laos. We were chasing waterfalls that day and I was starting to love the smooth 43km. ride on our way to our first stop. And then it went rocky, muddy and slippery. We were on a downslope and I was on the first gear while slowly pressing on the brakes. I noticed that I was having a hard time maneuvering and then boom, we toppled on the ground. I immediately got up and checked on my buddy and the bike. I had few scratches all and my buddy was spotless. I was emotionally shattered at that time but still had to go on with the day on a very slow pace. A refreshing liter of Coke was our treat afterwards.

Melaka Malaysia
Day Fifty Three: A quick stopover
Melaka, Malaysia
Traders Hotel Petronas View Room
Day Fifty Three: Room with an amazing view
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Cashless in Kuala Lumpur. With only four days to go before heading home, our cash ran out (we always bring cash). Our plan was to withdraw some Ringgits from the ATM machines at the KLIA2 Terminal and after numerous tries, we failed. Apparently, we needed to apply for the activation of international withdrawal from our banks beforehand. A friend tried calling my home branch and they activated it, but sadly, we needed to wait for 24 hours before we could use our plastics. And then a friend suggested that he could send some money through a money transfer agency, and after an hour we had Ringgits and renewed spirits. I love my not-so-many but real friends.

Those were just five of the countless mishaps we experienced on the road but we always try to look on the brighter side of things and believe that everything will be fine afterwards.

Don Mueang International Airport
Two hours of uninterrupted sleep at Don Mueang International Airport
Fourteen days after and my handwritten itinerary with my flight details and stuff is still on the fridge (this is for my mom). Fourteen days after and my room’s still a mess (knickknacks, souvenirs, and stuff) but I ain’t complaining for I need not to unpack and pack again and again. Fourteen days after and the comfort of not converting currencies all the time still amazes me. Fourteen days after and my pair of battered Beach Walk slippers is still itching to go to the beach and just chill.  

Southeast Asia Souvenirs
Souvenirs. Mementos. Kalat.
June 1, 2015 | 5:45 a.m.

It was the first ever flag raising ceremony for the new school year. I could smell the excitement from the young bloods that were spread out at the quadrangle. I let out a big sigh and smiled as I went to my first ever class that day. And they were all just staring, waiting for me to utter a word. I couldn’t be any happier.

Vang Vieng Laos
Day Forty: Fat, tanned, broke but happy
Vang Vieng, Laos

*All photos were grabbed from Blissfulguro's Instagram account*


  1. Adventure galore! Haha. Naeexcite ako sa mga entries mo sa Laos kasi pupunta rin ako dun this month. Hehehe

    1. Wow Laos! Please go to Luang Prabang's Kuang Si Waterfalls! :)

  2. Byahe kung byahe! Abangan ko next year summer vacation mo! :)

  3. lupeeet!!! I enjoyed all your adventures! inaabangan ko yan palagi sa instagram! Welcome home, teacher Karla! <3 <3

  4. nice naman mam carla, super level up na ang byahe mo. hihihi.. nice job :) ingit much.. hihihi

  5. Wow! I wish I could do this too.

    1. Mahirap pero masaya ang mahabang byahe Mustachio, go go go :)

  6. I'm glad you were able to maximize the summer break. Natuwa ako sa mga IG posts mo hehe :D Looking forward sa Myanmar post :D

    1. Salamat Micamyx. Di ka na ba lumuluwas pala? :)

  7. welcome home!! :)

    looking forward to more of your adventures :D -FEB

  8. You are so awesoome! I want to be your student, hahaha buti na lang nabasa ko blog mo today because this day almost ended in negative light for me pero your post saved the day, yay!

  9. Hello, Mam,
    Im planning to do a BKK Laos,BKK Yangon trip , how much do I need and what airline and itinerary will u recommend

    1. It all depends Neng, what I usually do is to score a good promo on airfare then arrange everything from there :)

  10. well said maam..
    cheers to more adventures ahead :)

  11. how much is your total expenses for the SEA trip im planning to do a brunei,indonesia,Bkk,laos,myanmar tour

  12. just arough estimate for me to save