After almost 154 days abroad my trip is slowly coming to an end. I will hit day 154 as of April 9th. I still have a little over a week left, but for the most part my trip is over. I saw what I wanted to see and experienced an adventure of a lifetime. Over the course of the last five months while backpacking SEA I fought illnesses in different countries, explored a vast amount of terrain by foot and hitchhiking, and tried my best to live as minimally as possible while seeking the views. It’s true what they say, “The best things in life are free!” You just have to have the determination, willpower, endurance and courage to find them. I could not have experienced a lot of the countries i backpacked through if I did not meet the people through hitchhiking or going out of my way to talk to random strangers. I think as you become more of a traveler you understand the principles of being a supertramp and find any means to travel. Whether that’s hitching boats, trucks, leather tramping, sailing, cycling and even spending some money to get from place to place towards the end of your budget. I traveled much of SEA by walking and hitchhiking. It is not for everyone. You don’t see much of the tourist attractions, but for me, I travel to experience the culture, the people of the country and the views in the undeveloped lands. Most of the places I backpacked to you cannot get to by a bus or a train. You could take a cab and spend a lot of money or you could just strap on your backpack and walk into the unknown without a plan, which is what I did for most of the duration of my 5 month backpacking trip through SEA.
I spent almost two months in ChengDu, China visiting my friend Eric, who specializes in Civil Engineering and Architecture. I crashed on his couch, 18 stories up, in his nice apartment and ended up kickin’ it with his German roommates Christoph and Jelte since Eric worked far too much. We saw much of the free museums and attractions around ChengDu such as Dufu’s Thatched Cottage, Luodai Ancient Town, Xindu, Baoguang Vihara Temple, ChengDu Panda Sanctuary, Global Center, Culture Park, Lan Kwai Fong, Wuhou Shrine, Shengxian Lake, Wenshu Monastery, Wide and Narrow Alleys, ChengDu East Music Park and more. From there I learned how I really wanted to travel, which surprisingly enough, ended up being solo.
I spent seven days guerilla camping in the Kunming Mountains. I changed spots a few nights, but spent many nights falling asleep next to a nice, toasty fire. I celebrated my new year overlooking the city of University Town South in Kunming watching the fireworks burst and light up the tops of vacant skyscrapers. In Kunming I hitched my first two rides on my trip abroad and this gave me the idea to continue hitching while backpacking SEA for the next few months of my trip. I hitched a ride from a tricycle a few miles to get into town and find food and I hitched a ride from a vehicle that took me to a university in Kunming. I found China to be super easy to squat in as long as you take the Metro to the last station and guerilla camp on the outskirts of town in the undeveloped areas. You can also squat in abandoned buildings, or newly constructed, vacant architecture. Food is relatively cheap if you stick to street vendors and the only other expense is water, which I bought from the store as I did not trust the tap water here.
I slept in a lot of airports over five months and Kunming was one of them. I ended up flying to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with absolutely no plan, no map and no idea what I was getting myself into. I ended up taking the train to KL Sentral and from there I went northeast to see the KL Tower and Petronas Twin Towers. Malaysia marked the beginning of a long hitch hiking adventure. From January 5th to the beginning of March I only walked or hitched rides with the exception of our rock climbing trip in Koh Yao Noi where we chipped in for a motorbike, which ended up being 1,500 baht. So if you consider I walked and hitched from KL down to Singapore and back up to Krabi, Thailand visiting many of the villages and towns in between and making multiple trips to different cities I would say I hitched roughly 7,000 KM and walked close to 1,000 KM when I was actually just leather tramping through the cities. The cheapest part of my travels were when I traveled solo through Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. I think if I break it down I ended up spending about 700 USD in total on food and water for those 3 months while I either camped outside, or crashed on floors from people I met on the road.
The highlight of my trip though was definitely the last month. Langkawi island was insanely beautiful. The people treated me so well hitchin’ me rides to all over the island and I got to camp in luxury while squatting on Westin Resort beach with free WiFi, bathroom and water, not to mention the spectacular views of the fish from the dock lights at night. I did end up getting robbed and my phone got stolen in the Philippines, but I ended up meeting the most wonderful people of the whole trip in Nueva Vizcaya Solano, Philippines. I will always remember the Lacdao family and appreciate everything they did to help me out on my travels. I got some kind of food poisoning in Baguio and it ended up lasting for 10 days. Luckily they housed me and let me crash on their floor. I’ve been kickin’ it with them ever since. They taught me how to kill a chicken Filipino style. We ate a pig roast and they killed a live pig. We celebrated Chloe’s 4th Birthday and Erika’s graduation from the 6th grade before she moves to Calgary with her parents. I hitched rides with them to Isabela, Mt. Palali and ended up swimming and cliff jumping from Senora Falls.
We are spending my last days in Manila and I will most likely disband from the group to visit Taal Lake and climb Mt. Maculot to overlook the Taal volcano. This trip has been awesome and I was a few hundred dollars under budget.
Including my five plane tickets, food, water, transportation, a laptop, shoes, and any items I bought on the trip I ended up spending roughly $2,800 USD, which for 5 months of backpacking SEA is living extremely minimally. I will do a further break down when I get back to the states, but it’s under my budget of $3,000 USD which I am very proud of because I know I can travel the world now on practically no money.