Talk about travelling and South-East Asia must rank highly on desirable destinations, and while I can’t offer accommodation advice since I spent most of my trip in fancy hotels with my family, I was a fairly busy boy out there, so hopefully I can give a little feel for amazing Asia!
Considering there isn’t exactly a great variety of wildlife on Singapore, between the towering skyscrapers of the city and the expanding government-owned accommodation areas, the island’s zoo is a godsend! Enclosures for animals are spacious and innovative, with the use of moats and water features rather than physical barriers or fences. Split into 4 area, including a nocturnal Night Safari dedicated to creatures of the night and a River Safari tracing creatures from the world’s greatest rivers there’s no shortage of things to do – I actually went three times! For night time activities take advantages of Happy Hours across the city – alcohol prices are extortionate so take advantage of the 2 for 1 deals while you can! A nice spot is One Fullerton, a run of chilled bars that offer fabulous views of the Marina Bay Sands laser lights show that runs ever night – I went to Over Easy which did the most incredible ice-cream milkshakes. For an authentic eating experience the Hawker Centres offer a little everything. Lao Pa Sat in the centre of the city’s business district was surreal as you can basically have your table put anywhere on the street and have food from all over Asia – definitely try the Satay Skewers, they are to die for!
Never have I come closer to death than in Ho Chi Minh City. The reason? The terrifying motorbikes snaking like awful demons all over the road. The analogy of them being like a shoal of fish rings true – they’re constant and never-ending. Terrifyingly you just have to step out into the traffic, start walking and not stop till you reach the other side. Once you’ve mastered crossing the roads though, the city is a real bizarre place to wrap your head around. There are still some faint undertones of the city’s French colonial period, most obviously Notre Dame Cathedral and the long French boulevards that perhaps explain why the city was once known as the Paris of the East. You couldn’t really travel to the city without visiting the Vietnam War Museum, a truly sobering experience. The city has moved on since then though, and while there are definite intentions to remember the war, there’s also a feeling of a desire to progress beyond it. Nearer the river, there are modern skyscrapers and rooftop bars that offer amazing views. Before leaving the Vietnamese Spring Rolls have to be tried – they’re gorgeous, although if you’re Vegetarian don’t bank upon vegetable meaning ‘without meat’ – more than a few times the vegetable spring rolls had chicken or pork in them.
If you don’t like Temples, Siem Reap is not the town for you. Home to world famous Angkor Wat and dozens of other temples you might think Siem Reap was one-dimensional, but the Temples are actually all quite different in character. The most memorable was probably Ta Prohm, which served as a location backdrop for filming of the first Tomb Raider film and hasn’t been touched since it was discovered, giving it a much more authentic feel than you’ll get at the other touched-up Temples. The only way to travel in Siem Reap is the cheap and fun Tuk Tuk, which in the Cambodian case is a motorbike with an attached trailer. The centre of activity is Bar Street, full unsurprisingly of bars and restaurants and fish spas, although looking at some of the feet going into the spas I’d think twice before putting mine in one! Massages on the other hand are cheap and relaxing after a day in the sweltering sunshine at the temples and if you’re feeling peckish the Khmer Food is delicious, with the best place to get it in town probably being Café Indochine near the centre of the city.
So there you have it – sights to see in South East Asia…if not exactly on a shoestring budget.