Even in today’s 9-5 routine lifestyle, anyone can take the leap to see the world. That is why we aim to bring stories from everyday people who have taken a fairy-tale adventure. This person certainly had a surreal experience that most of us only dream of. The following photos are of some of the most stunning places in Asia and look like they were taken straight from National Geographic or a monthly desk calendar. After posting to the travel section of Reddit, Kerry Chapman received praise and many questions about the trip and planning. I reached out to the user and she graciously agreed to share more of her story.
How was a four month long trip feasible?
Kerry Chapman, who resides in the UK, has a passion for travel and thankfully after working for the HR department of same company for two years they granted her the opportunity to go out on an unpaid career break—for four months. For this extensive adventure, Kerry and her boyfriend certainly made this most of it, and I was lucky enough to learn about how they managed such a trip on their own.
What was the overall cost?
Kerry and her boyfriend each spent roughly ₤3500 over the four months, flights not included. Travelling just with her boyfriend, they found sleeping arrangements in South-East Asia cheaper to get a double bed in a guest house rather than two beds or a double bed in a hostel. It was more expensive in China and Japan so they often stayed in hostels to save money.
How did you get to so many countries?
They booked flights about 9 months in advance: one flight from Phuket to Chang Mai and an indirect flight from Beijing, China to Tokyo, Japan and then Japan back to the UK. She recommends Korean Air as a good airline. Otherwise they traveled from Singapore to China by bus through Malasia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam usually overnight. “The journeys weren’t too bad and it meant we saved money on accommodation.”
Kerry sees the benefit to group travel as it helped make things along the journey more comfortable in addition to more affordable. “I would recommend using the SinhTourist bus whenever you can. They’re a slightly more expensive company but the buses are really nice and you each have a mini bed instead of a seat and you get a free bottle of water and sometimes a snack (yay)!”
What were your favorite parts of the trip?
It is difficult for Kerry to pick a favorite thing she did as the entire vacation included so many different events, but her most memorable activity was the day she spent at the elephant sanctuary in Chang Mai. “I am a big animal lover and this sanctuary takes in elephants that have been mistreated and provides them with care, freedom and safety from poachers.”
Traveling not only allows a person to see the stunning places the world has to offer but also insight into the lives of other people. Some people have found the visiting Cambodia can be a sobering experience due to the country living in such poverty. Angkor Wat may be a cool, amazing place to see, but many sites are related to the country’s war and genocide. All these things aside, Kerry has taken so much more from that journey and loved learning about the history and incredible people. “The Cambodians are some of the most friendly and inspirational people I have ever met. In Siem Reap, we watched the most incredible circus show. It told a true story of how a young girl, haunted by memories of the Cambodian civil war, learnt to deal with her emotions through art. The girl, along with 8 other war victims, spent their childhood in a refugee camp where they received art therapy to overcome the trauma. Together they opened an artistic and social centre to rebuild their community and help others from exceptionally difficult social and economic backgrounds. This was the start of the Phare Circus. Watching the genuine enthusiasm, passion and huge smiles of the talented performers, you’d have no idea they came from some of the most difficult social and economic backgrounds. Even after the show their dedication and enthusiasm was inspiring. I would say that overall, Cambodia is more of an experience than a holiday destination.”
Kerry uses a Samsung WB150F compact camera for her beautiful photos. Although photography is just a hobby for her, she would love to be paid for her photos to travel more. HR isn’t quite as exciting as seeing the world and her next planned adventure is to travel a bit of Canada in 2017.
Advice for future travelers?
I asked her whether there was anything she wished she had known beforehand that would have helped make her trip a little bit easier. Her response was that it would have been useful to know about the common scams that occur in each country. “A lot of them we knew about beforehand – tuk tuk drivers, taxis, locals offering favours then demanding money, etc. We also heard about scams on the Laos-Cambodia boarder but unfortunately still got caught out.” Travelers beware of these scams and know where your money should be going. This is where it can be extremely helpful to know a local friend or guide that will help you avoid such instances. Lastly, she recommends learning common phrases in China as that country has the strongest language barrier compared to the other countries she visited.
I leave you with Kerry’s favorite sunset.
Thank you so much Kerry for letting me share your trip and your thoughts. We, as passionate travelers, have so much left of the world to explore. Best of luck on the rest of your endeavors. All photos were taken by Kerry Chapman