With Bali as the well-known Instagram-famous paradise, Lombok stands a bit in its shadow and is often ignored by travelers. Although we are happy that it isn’t as touristic as Bali, Lombok is definitely a must-visit destination when you’re in Indonesia. Because Lombok doesn’t see that many tourists, it isn’t as developed as Bali, which makes you witness the realness and purity of Indonesian life and culture. The island still has a lot of hidden gems ready to be discovered.
Lombok is truly a magical island. In fact, it’s our favorite destination in Indonesia! We just loved being on Lombok; the local people are friendly, genuine and curious. And we’re not even speaking about its nature. Escape the crowds and enjoy a relaxing day on one of the most magnificent beaches or hike through dense jungle admiring its natural beauty. In every corner of the island, there are hidden gems, ready to be discovered, by you! Grab your scooter and follow our directions for the perfect day trip when you’re in Kuta!
WHERE TO STAY?
Well, when you look at the map of Lombok, your eyes will go immediately to Mataram, the capital city of Lombok. Although the city seems good because you might think there’s a lot to do, and it would be a great base for day trips, IT IS NOT. We wouldn’t recommend it. It’s just too busy and not that nice. If you go to Lombok, you want to be in a relaxed atmosphere, which you will find in Kuta.
Kuta (or Koeta) is a small town in the south of Lombok. It’s just 20 minutes from the airport and easily accessible by taxi. Don’t be confused with Kuta in Bali, because this town is completely the opposite of it. Instead of streets lined up with bars and hotels, you’ll find dirt roads with small warungs and beautiful homestays. This little fishermen town is slowly developing to a more touristic place with resorts that are getting build, so be quick and enjoy it while you can.
Tanjung Ringgit, Lombok
AWESOME DAY TRIPS TO DO FROM KUTA
EXPLORE THE RINJANI REGION
This hill, north of Sembalun Village, is truly a photographer’s paradise. With its 1200 meter high plateau, you get a rewarding view over the stunning scenery made up by rice paddies, and surrounding mountains (with the almighty Rinjani in front of it). A lot of people camp on top of the hill to witness the sunrise. The hike takes approximately 3-4 hours and is usually done with a guide.
MANGKU SAKTI WATERFALL
After hiking to the top of Bukit Pergasingan, you’ll probably be tired and up for a refreshment. Just a short drive from Sembalun village is Sajang. Here you can visit the Mangku Sakti waterfall, which is well-known for its beautiful rock formations and clear blue water.
SENDANG GILE & TIU KELEP WATERFALL
There are numerous waterfalls in the Rinjani region, but one of the most beautiful waterfalls we ever witnessed was the Tiu Kelep waterfall. After going through the entrance, you just follow the easy path of stairs down to the Sendang Gile waterfall, which is the closest one. To get to Tiu Kelep, you need to walk a bit back up to the entrance and turn left on a little path. Following this path leads you along a set of stairs, bridge and you’ll need to go through numerous streams to get to this ‘hidden’ waterfall deep in the jungle.
Pink Beach (also known as Pantai Tangsi) is a well-known Instagram spot on Lombok. We already hear you asking ‘is the beach really pink?’. Well to be honest, not completely. It has a light peachy-pink color, but you need to look very carefully. Although, you might be lucky when you go at the right time. It looks more pink with the right weather conditions (bright sun, a bit in the afternoon or early morning)! Even if it’s not completely pink, it’s a beautiful beach with crystal-clear water, perfect for an afternoon swim. There are no real facilities except for a couple of food stalls with food and drinks.
THE HIDDEN BLOWHOLE (TANJUNG POKI)
One of the most amazing natural spectacles of Lombok can be found in the Sekaroh district in East Lombok. This part of Lombok has a beautiful rugged coastline, with multiple impressive blowholes. When the big waves of the Indian Ocean crash into these spaces, the water splashes up, meters above your head. Always look out for big waves and the slippery rocks, going here is dangerous! This spot is well-known among the local fishermen, so you might be lucky to see them catch some big fishes!
Follow the gravel road that leads you to the blowholes right to the very end, which after a short ride end up at Tanjung Ringgit. This place gives you spectacular views of the ocean and the huge cliffs. This is the perfect place to see a beautiful, peaceful sunrise. Do you dare to sit on the edge?
BATU PAYUNG & TANJUNG AAN BEACH
Around the corner of the Tanjung Aan Beach, you’ll find a uniquely shaped rock in the middle of a small rocky beach. It’s mostly known amongst local tourists as a good photo op location. Hike up the hill behind it and enjoy the magnificent view over the bay. This spot also makes a great place to see the sunset in peace.
Lombok, and especially the area around Kuta is very popular among surfers. When driving around here, you’ll definitely see many surfers carrying their boards on the side of their motorbike. There is an abundance of beautiful beaches and great surf spots along the south coast of Lombok. Some popular surfing beaches around Kuta are Pantai Seger, Selong Belanak (best spot for beginners), Mawi, Ekas Bay and many more! Or try conquering the huge waves at Desert Point, which was voted by SURFER magazine as one of the best waves in the world.
We really hope you enjoy your time in Lombok! Let us know if you’ve done other awesome day trips in Lombok so that we can add these to the list. Everything listed right now are from our own experiences.
Everyone loves to dream a bit about other beautiful places in the world, even if you’re not a full-time traveler. By watching beautiful travel videos, your mind can easily drift off to those places like you are experiencing everything yourself. This time, we’ve made a collection of the most inspiring travel videos of Indonesia. We are sure you’ll want to pack your bag and book the next flight to Indonesia immediately!
Indonesia is such a huge melting pot of different cultures, religions, languages, and scenery. With its numerous temples, volcanoes, little islands, and white sand beaches, Indonesia should be on everyone’s bucket list! Visit the ancient temples of touristic Bali, go searching for Orangutan’s in the dense jungle of Java, drive through the rice fields with your scooter on Lombok or do a trekking on one of Flores’ active volcanoes.
It’s clear that it’s impossible to get bored in Indonesia, every single time you come here, you’ll discover another hidden gem. And that’s what these inspiring travel videos of Indonesia exactly do. These are the stories of fellow backpackers that want to share the beauty of Indonesia with you. Beware, you may want to quit your job after seeing all of this.
6 INSPIRING TRAVEL VIDEOS OF INDONESIA
Explore Bali, The Island of Gods – Indonesia
by Guillaume Galante
Explore Bali, The Island of Gods - Indonesia - YouTube
Backpackers – Memahami Indonesia
by Marco Santi
Backpackers - Memahami Indonesia - Vimeo
Postcards From Indonesia
by Alen Smolic
Postcard from Indonesia - Vimeo
Bali: Island of the Gods
by Dmitry Tkachenko
Bali: Island of the Gods - YouTube
Flores Island, The Home of Komodo Dragon, Indonesia – The Best Island Ever?
by Abd Faiz
Flores Island, The Home of Komodo Dragon, Indonesia - The Best Island Ever? - YouTube
Are you thinking about exploring Cambodia? Perfect choice! Cambodia is an amazing country with a rich history and a lot of unique things to do. For your convenience, we’ve made a detailed 2-week Cambodia itinerary that will make your next trip unforgettable. We cover everything from the temples of Angkor Wat, to the secluded white beaches of Koh Rong.
THINGS TO DO IN SIEM REAP
EXPLORE THE ANGKOR WAT COMPLEX
Of course, visiting the Angkor Wat complex will be on everyone’s itinerary. And with good reasons too. It is the world largest temple complex, with a size of an entire city. That’s why a lot of people take 2 or more full days to explore the whole complex. In our opinion, a 2-day tour, with one time the sunrise, is sufficient to see the most important and most beautiful temples. To get the most out of the experience, we suggest getting a certified guide that will bring you around in his tuk-tuk.
VISIT THE FLOATING VILLAGES
The floating villages of the Tonle Sap Lake are another reason to visit Siem Reap. During monsoon, the river expands exponentially. So a lot of people need to build their houses on high stilts, sometimes even until 10 meters high.
The people of these small villages live in an entirely other way, because they live off the lake. It’s a whole different community with schools, hospitals, and shops on the water. You can easily book a tour in town or you can go by the help of a tuk tuk driver.
Travel Tip: Try to fix a trip to Kampong Khleang! It’s the furthest of all, but also the most pleasant village!
TAKE A FOOD TOUR
After a day at the temples, it’s time to indulge yourself in the flavors of Cambodia by doing a food tour in Siem Reap. Explore the markets and taste the local Khmer cuisine. And yes, this includes weird dishes like fried crickets and a lot of beer!
STROLL THROUGH THE NIGHT MARKETS
Downtown Siem Reap, you’ll find multiple night markets like the Angkor Night Market, Siem Reap Night Market, Art Center Night Market, … These night markets are all purely for the tourists, where all the small souvenir shops are lined after each other. But it’s absolutely something to do at least once, even if you don’t want to find some real bargains.
Travel Tip: Don’t forget to haggle to get the best price!
END UP IN PUB STREET
End your night in Pub Street, the nightlife street where all the bars and restaurants are located for those that want to have a good night out. The drinks are cheap, music is loud, and the street is full of crazy, drunk backpackers.
WHERE TO STAY?
During our stay in Siem Reap, we stayed at the 288 Boutique Villa, a beautiful villa close to all the popular sights in town. After a long day at the temples, the swimming pool is really refreshing (believe me, you’ll be sweating).
THINGS TO DO IN BATTAMBANG
TAKE A BIKE RIDE THROUGH THE COUNTRYSIDE
Here you’ll feel that the vibes will be very different from large cities like Siem Reap & Phnom Penh. Rent a bicycle and explore the countryside, where time seems to have stopped. Locals here live a more slow-paced life. A bike ride along the river up north will show you the real Cambodia with its friendly smiles and hospitality. You can drive all the way to Ek Phnom temple and stop at a crocodile farm along the way.
RIDE THE BAMBOO TRAIN
The bamboo train is the most touristic thing in Battambang. This rickety ‘train’ (which is actually a steel frame with a small tractor engine) makes a return journey through the countryside of Battambang on a 7km old train track. It’s a unique experience, but as with any tourist attraction in Asia, beware of the scams.
VISIT THE KILLING CAVES
Cambodia has a dark past with all the massacres that are done by the Khmer Rouge. And The Killing Caves of Phnom Sampeau are an excellent example of showing the tragedy of those times. To get to the killing caves, you need to take multiple stairways up the mountain. On the way, you pass by wats, beautiful lookout points and a few monkeys. The mountain and caves are stunning, apart from the collected human remains that remind us of the past. Stay until dusk, to see hundreds of bats exiting the cave.
WHERE TO STAY?
We loved the Ramchang Guesthouse! It’s a bit out of the center, but not far at all if you’re taking one of the free bikes. The staff was wonderful and accommodating. There’s even a small pool, immediately when you walk out of your room. That’s convenient, isn’t it?
THINGS TO DO IN PHNOM PENH
TRADITIONAL KHMER DANCE SHOW
No visit to Cambodia is complete without attending a traditional Khmer dance show. The most well-known one is at the National Museum where you can enjoy a range of performances that let you discover the Cambodian culture. Just head over to the National Museum around 6 PM and buy your ticket beforehand to save yourself a seat. Some restaurants in town offer these performances too, during dinner.
KILLING FIELDS & S-21
Learn about the tragic past of Cambodia during Pol Pot’s regime and find out which cruelties have happened with thousands of innocent people in the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (also known as S-21). Combine this with a visit to one of Cambodia’s most-known killing field, Choeung Ek, to truly see and feel the tragedy that happened there. A lot of people leave the place speechless.
TAKE A BEER TOUR AROUND KINGDOM BREWERIES
At Kingdom Breweries, you can now do a guided tour around the brewery where you can see how they make and bottle the beer, and even get the opportunity of doing free tastings! Who would ever say no to that? Guided tours are done daily from 1PM-5PM from Monday to Friday. Just arrive a bit before the start of the tour to secure your place. Let’s get smashed!
WHERE TO STAY?
Feliz Hostel is a very clean hostel/hotel. The staff is super friendly and does everything to make you feel at home. There’s a nice rooftop restaurant and bar with a great view over the city. The rooms are very nice and spacious. And there’s a really good Japanese tapas bar right next to the hostel!
THINGS TO DO ON KOH RONG
HIKE TO LONG BEACH
You can get to Long Beach with a boat taxi, but also by doing a short and fun hike through the jungle. Start at the Skybar on Koh Touch (where the ferries arrive on Koh Rong) and start following the small path. After 45 minutes of walking through the jungle and descending a few rocks, you arrive at the end of Long Beach. Enjoy a day at the beach or hike further to Sok San Village.
SNORKELING TRIP AROUND THE ISLAND
Most visitors go snorkeling or diving at least once. The reefs are considered one of the best in the Gulf of Thailand. Try to fix a snorkel tour with a local or book a day trip at Koh Tuich for not more than $10.
SWIM WITH BIOLUMINESCENT PLANKTON
These little creatures start to glow a tiny blue light when a movement is made in the sea. Try to find a good dark spot close to the beach. Long Beach is usually a good place because there are no lights or people. Spotting the plankton from above the water is difficult. To see them, you need to go at least 1 meter deep into the water, preferably with a snorkel.
RENT A KAYAK
Rent a kayak and go around the island to explore the mangroves and hidden beaches. Places like The Rising Sun Guesthouse rent out kayaks for a day or per hour. Get on the water and enjoy the peace.
When you’re on an island, everything is always a little bit more expensive than on the mainland. But at Sambath Sakseth Bungalows you probably get the most value for money you can get on Koh Rong. Beautifully, spacious rooms with a balcony and hammock. It’s a bit further than the main strip of Koh Rong, which is good if you want to have a good night sleep! You’re surrounded by jungle, so it’s possible that a friendly gecko comes to say hello when you’re chilling on your balcony. One big plus: the WiFi works very good!
THINGS TO DO ON OTRES
RELAX ON THE BEACH
Otres Beach has everything to offer what you need! Laid-back vibes, beautiful crystal clear waters with amazing sunsets, good food, and cheap drinks. Sit back in one of the lounge chairs that you find all over the beach with a fresh cocktail in your hand and enjoy!
GET A MANICURE/PEDICURE
Manicuuuure, pedicuuure?! It’s impossible not to hear this if you’re chilling on the beach of Otres. As everywhere in Asia, the beach vendors can also be found here. Apart from selling sunglasses, bracelets, and skewers, some of them offer a manicure, pedicure or massage on the beach. A politely “No thank you” will make them move on, but if you’re interested, you can get all the work done for a minimal amount of money.
ENJOY THE ATMOSPHERE AT OTRES MARKET
Each Saturday, a crafts & food market, organized by local expats, is held at The Barn in the heart of Otres village. Here you’ll find a couple of stalls that sell clothes, local crafts but most of them sell all kinds of world food. Try some local cuisine, oven baked pizza, Indian food, Turkish kebabs, cakes, … The main activities are the several live music acts and the DJ that starts the party after midnight.
WHERE TO STAY?
When at Otres, we stayed in two places. When we arrived, we stayed at Golden River Bungalow, which is right at the end of Otres 2 but close to some good beachside restaurants. We loved to sit at the river when we had enough of the beach. During our second time, we slept at Relax Bungalows. This was really convenient because this way, we had to chance to see Otres 1 and 2. At Relax Bungalows, we loved to take a dip into the outdoor pool after a day at the beach.
THINGS TO DO IN KAMPOT
TAKE A TUK TUK TO THE PEPPER- & SALT FIELDS
Get yourself a tuk tuk driver in Kampot and ask him to drive you to La Plantation, a famous Kampot pepper farm a bit outside of town. Here you’ll learn everything about the process of making this amazingly delicious pepper in a free tour around the pepper plantation. On the way back to town, you go along a dirt road that passes through the salt fields, where you might be lucky to see the workers collect the salt at the end of the day.
EXPLORE KEP OR RABBIT ISLAND
One day is more than enough to explore Kep. Take the Crab Shuttle in Kampot, who will take you to the port of Kep on a fun boat trip. Once in Kep, you can spend your day by going to the crab market, renting a bike and take a ride around town or hike the national park. If you rather prefer spending a day at the beach, just get off at Rabbit Island with the Crab Shuttle and enjoy your day there. The Crab Shuttle takes you back to Kampot in the late afternoon so you can benefit from the sunset on the boat.
EAT THE KAMPOT PEPPER CRAB
When you’re in this part of Cambodia, it’s almost mandatory to taste a freshly caught Kampot Pepper Crab! Eat them fresh at one of the shacks at the crab market in Kep or at the beachfront restaurants on Rabbit Island. It’s still one of the best dishes we’ve had during our whole trip.
TAKE A BIKE RIDE TO BOKOR MOUNTAIN
Rent a scooter and head off to the Bokor Mountain. Most travelers go there for the abandoned Bokor Hill Station, where you can find an old abandoned casino, a little church and the Popokvil waterfall. It is said that there are still living wild tigers and elephants in these mountains, although there isn’t really proof of it. The road towards it is awesome to do by bike, with its endless hairpin bends along the route. Don’t forget to stop often to take pictures of the beautiful vistas of Kampot.
WHERE TO STAY?
In Kampot, we stayed at the cozy little family owned guesthouse Bandini’s. It’s run by a friendly young couple from France. The rooms are nice, the food delicious and they offer free bicycles! They even have a small bookstore/exchange on-site.
HOW TO GET AROUND IN CAMBODIA?
You have the possibility to book all your transportation quick and easy online with Book Me Bus. This will ease your whole trip a lot more, instead of running around town, finding the best rates at tour agencies.
Use our travel experiences and let us plan your next unforgettable trip. We provide you with all the information you need, take care of your bookings and add a detailed itinerary.
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It’s now exactly one year since we’ve left on our long-term travel journey. In this period, we already got the time of our lives and had multiple of crazy experiences along the way. From sleeping on a military base to looking inside an active volcano, find out our best travel experiences of the last year!
The Mongol Rally was the start of the trip and our 2-month journey from the UK to Mongolia and back to Belgium. We crossed all the stans in Central Asia and experienced so many incredible adventures along the way. We are still proud that we managed to make the whole trip, across deserts and mountain ranges, with an old Lada.
TAKING THE CASPIAN SEA FERRY
Waiting for a full week in the burning sun in the port of Azerbaijan, to get on the ferry towards Turkmenistan isn’t something that everyone would remember as a good experience. At the time, it wasn’t a good experience. But after almost a year, we often remember it again as a great new travel experience.
SLEEPING ON A MILITARY BASE AT THE TAJIK-AFGHAN BORDER
While we were trying to put up our tent after a long day in the Pamirs, a military guard came by and said that we had to pack up and go, while pointing his gun towards us. When we came back on the main road, two others stopped us, and commanded us to put out the car lights to eventually follow them. It was pitch-black outside, and we were for a second afraid for our lives. Ultimately, we arrived at a military base, they pulled some bunk beds out, and we could sleep there under a beautiful sky of bright stars. Apparently, we were sleeping right at the Afghanistan border, and it sometimes happens that they start shooting at each other.
CAMPING NEXT TO A FIRE CRATER IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE
Standing at the side of ‘The Gates Of Hell’ is still, one of the best travel experiences we’ve already done. The whole adventure, from trying to find it in the middle of the Turkmen desert to getting there with a local in his 4×4, made this an incredible journey.
The Pamir Highway or M41 is the second highest road in the world, which goes from Osh, Kyrgyzstan to Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Most parts aren’t sealed, and if they are, they’re in a bad state. It goes straight through the Pamir mountain range, along with the borders of China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The views are fantastic, local people are welcoming and always smiling, and it’s a really adventurous journey.
DRIVING THROUGH MONGOLIA WITH AN OLD LADA
With our little red Lada, we’ve made it to Mongolia, and it even survived its rough roads! The most unusual part about riding in Mongolia is that it starts with one road, and splits up into ten paths that all end up on one road again eventually. Riding your own vehicle in Mongolia gives a special feeling, and especially when you do it in an old Lada from 1989.
We decided to do some house sitting in Australia because it was the perfect opportunity to find some work in the area. We ended up staying on a farm where we had to keep an eye on the owners’ dog, a few paddocks with cows and some sheep. Some of the cows got some calfs, and we even had to care for a little lamb that was rejected by its mother.
CAMPING ON A SECLUDED BEACH IN HONG KONG
Hong Kong is called a concrete jungle, with its tall buildings and thousands of small streets. But did you know that Hong Kong has some great beaches too? We hiked a whole day to Ham Tin Beach, where we camped on a secluded white sanded beach.
There’s a blowhole on the island of Lombok, but it was kind of hard to find… We hopped on our motorbike and heard it should be found along the cliffs close to Pink Beach. When we thought we’d found it, we waited and waited and waited, nothing happened, until… *WOOSH*, the water sprayed all over us!
WALKING ON AN UNCROWDED PART OF THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA
Most people that go to the Chinese Wall go with a big tour bus that heads to the touristic Mutianyu section. Luckily for us, we joined the ‘secret wall tour’ run by Leo Hostel. This was a small group tour that led us to the old remnants of the great wall, where we and a handful of other people could enjoy the great architecture and serenity of the surroundings.
EXPLORING VIETNAM & CAMBODIA WITH OUR OWN MOTORBIKE
In Hanoi, we bought a motorbike, put a pair of luggage racks on the sides and started exploring the whole country, from the north all the way to the south, and all around Cambodia. We eventually sold the bike after two months in Saigon.
A visit to Angkor Wat is mandatory when you’re in Cambodia. Together with hundreds of other tourists that got out of bed at 3 am at night to see the sunrise, we were waiting till the sun came up. What first looked like a cloudy sky without much sun, soon became one of the most beautiful sunrises we’ve ever witnessed!
SWIMMING WITH PLANKTON
Swimming with the bioluminescent plankton on Koh Rong was a wonderful experience. They are abundant in the warm waters around the island, but you just couldn’t see them everywhere. We went to Long Beach -where it’s completely dark at night-, hopped into the water and started moving with our arms and legs. Suddenly we were surrounded by thousands of little blue lights in the water.
If there’s one dish that we won’t forget very quickly, then it would most definitely be the Kampot Pepper Crab we ate in Kep! The Kampot Pepper is truly delicious green pepper, which is used in the most expensive restaurants around the world. We ate a freshly caught crab (the owner went into the water to get the crab out of the fishing net) for less than $10!
BEING AT BOROBUDUR BEFORE THE CROWDS
Borobudur is a little bit the Angkor Wat of Java. This temple complex is the largest Buddhist monument in the world. We were standing at the front gate before it even opened so were with the first that got in. Most tourists arrive with the tours around 10 am, so witnessing the temple at the break of dawn was a beautiful sight.
CELEBRATING NEW YEAR’S EVE IN HO CHI MINH CITY
We celebrated our last night of 2016 in a very different way than we would do in Belgium. In Belgium, we would just countdown at a friend’s place and head down to the club afterward. In Vietnam, we came together on a square with thousands of other Vietnamese and expats to party and countdown towards 2017. After that, we ended up on a party on the top floor of an abandoned building.
SEEING WHALES IN THE WILD
The coast of Western Australia has one of the longest whale-watching seasons in the world. For Myrthe’s birthday, we decided to do a whale watching tour on a catamaran in Albany. During this 3-hour tour, we saw multiple whales with their babies swimming past on just a couple of meters from the boat.
During our house sitting on a farm in Australia, a newborn lamb was rejected by its mother. After trying to reunite them multiple times without success, we decided to save it from starvation and hypothermia. We bottle fed the little one for a whole week until the owners came back home.
BEING INVITED ON A WEDDING PARTY IN VIETNAM
During our stay in Hoi An, there was a wedding party planned at our guesthouse. We were there for two weeks already, and the owners invited us to join in on the party. That evening involved a lot of beer drinking and singing karaoke.
HITCHHIKING THROUGH THAILAND
Most travelers would never think about hitchhiking in Thailand, or any other Asian country. But by hitchhiking through the country, we got to meet so many friendly locals that we otherwise would never meet. It gave us a lot of cool experiences and are still in contact with two guys that gave us a lift for 10 hours.
We woke up at 6 am and took our motorbike for a 30-minute ride to a hidden natural hot spring in the mountains of Pai. We had the hot springs completely for ourselves! Relaxing in that hot water while the sun was coming up from behind the hills was a special experience.
We met with our friends Remy & Lena in Kuala Lumpur, who were backpacking around Malaysia and Thailand for two weeks, and decided to go to a bar on the 34th floor. When heading up the stairs, you end up on the roof, which was actually a heli pad. It’s even still in use!
BEING INVITED FOR LUNCH IN A HOUSE OF THE HMONG HILL TRIBE
Being invited into someone’s home if you don’t really know them is always a bit special. And especially when it’s with other cultures. It gives a unique way on seeing how other people live. When we were driving our motorbike while exploring the hills around Sapa, we ended up in a small village of the Hmong hill tribe. One of the women that sat outside, weaving traditional clothing, invited us inside and offered us tea and lunch!
Also on Java, we got up in the middle of the night to start the hike in the hope to see the sunset behind Mount Bromo, Indonesia’s most iconic active volcano. Unfortunately, it was too foggy because of the rainy weather. Afterward, we walked all the way towards the volcano over the sea of sand. We were there all alone because all the tourists make the trip with a tour in a jeep. Standing on the edge of the volcano, looking into that big hole and seeing the white smoke and activity inside, was really cool!
LIVING THE VANLIFE
If you want to travel around Australia comfortable and still pretty cheap, having a van is almost mandatory to tackle the endless roads in the outback. We’re living in our van on this very moment, and it’s really great!
EATING STRANGE STREET FOOD IN CHINA
Street food has always been our favorite thing to do in another country. It brings you one step closer to the local culture and how the locals eat. Everyone knows that the Chinese have a weird eating habit, and we were curious about tasting some of them. We tried some scorpions, dog, a strange squid dish, and a lot more weird dishes.
BOOM… There we were, lying on the ground, kissing the tarmac of a Lao road. A few seconds before, we were still happily driving around on our motorbike along a winding road somewhere in the countryside of Luang Prabang, without knowing what was going to happen after the next sharp hairpin corner.
You see, we’ve already been driving around Indochina for 3 months. We bought a motorbike in Hanoi, drove it all the way to the south of Vietnam, traveled whole Cambodia around with it and explored the most challenging roads of Sapa with a motorbike.
Everything went perfect, we never had any problem, and I was confident with driving a motorbike in Asia, even in the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh. But apparently, the past months were too good to be true. During our trip the last few months, we saw backpackers limping with crutches, covered with bandages and stuff. We never thought it would happen to us. But everyone needs that Asian tattoo right?
THAT MOMENT WHEN WE KISSED THE GROUND
We were in the beautiful city of Luang Prabang in Laos and planned to do a day trip to the Kuang Si Waterfalls. It is probably the coolest but also the most touristic thing to do in Luang Prabang. The Kuang Si Waterfalls consist of one large waterfall that changes into different smaller ones with small pools where you can swim in clear blue water.
We rented a motorbike in Luang Prabang around the corner of our guesthouse. It was one of those cheap Honda Scoopy models, and from the moment I drove out of the street with it, it didn’t feel right. But I just thought it would be me because I was used to driving a Sufat (Honda) Win and Yamaha Nouvo. Steering with it was tough, and it felt really unsafe when we drove on loose grit.
Travel Tip: Always wear your helmet!
The bike was already full of scratches, so people before us already had fallen with it multiple times. Maybe they didn’t repair it well after an accident, or it was just in my head. I don’t know, but it just didn’t feel right.
The way to the waterfalls is a one-hour drive on a long road with bends and turns every few seconds, passing small Lao villages and farmland. The road was mainly paved but full of potholes, and parts with grit and stones. Luckily, we’ve made it safely to the waterfalls.
On our way back, we were happily cruisin’ around in the afternoon sun, bend in, bend out. I was even more careful than normally because I didn’t really trust the bike.
Conquering the crazy roads of Sapa.
I overtook two Chinese girls that were driving really slow on a straight part. The next turn was a sharp and steep hairpin bend to the right, so I slightly pulled the brake, leaned a bit to the right to take the turn and then everything went a little bit blurry.
It has happened… We slipped out with our bike and shoved over the tarmac which was covered with dust and A LOT of small rocks. In a second and full of adrenaline, I stood up and ran over to Myrthe to make sure everything was OK with her. Luckily, she had nothing severe, apart from her wounds. Unfortunately, we didn’t wear long sleeves or long pants, so we were both bleeding very hard on our right arm and leg.
I put the bike back up and checked it for scratches or broken parts, but strangely enough, I didn’t notice any added scratches. It was at this moment we started to feel how painful our wounds were. We always bring a small First Aid Kit with us when we go on a motorbiking trip, so we immediately started cleaning our wounds. But most of all, I felt guilty towards Myrthe and stupid for making a miscalculation while making the turn.
Luckily, no one else was involved in our accident. Otherwise, it could have worked out differently. This bend was clearly a difficult one as another couple was standing at the other side of the road, because they also slipped out on the same place. The Chinese girls that came behind us fell also. But they went so slow that they could easily jump off and land on their feet safely. They probably just panicked when they saw us lying on the ground.
Traffic In Ho Chi Minh
CLEANING UP THE WOUNDS
Now it was time to bring back the motorbike… We went first to our guesthouse to drop off Myrthe so she could start nursing her wounds, and I put on a long pants and sweater. Because if I would arrive at the rental company with my bandages, they would use this against me. They checked the bike and noticed nothing unusual about it. One problem out of the way.
Cleaning our wounds was hell, I honestly don’t have any other words to describe the pain we’ve felt. We thought it would be alright to nurse them ourselves but the pain was unreal the day after, so we decided to visit a nearby hospital. The Luang Prabang Provincial Hospital looked like it was one from World War II, with metal beds and screaming patients in the halls. Apparently, it was wise to go to the hospital because our wounds were already starting to infect. They cleaned our wounds, but we had to come back after four days for a check-up. Because of this, we decided to book a plane to Bangkok to get a decent check-up in a decent city. However, the check-up in LP cost us $7, in Bangkok $120.
IT’S NOT OVER YET
Two days after the crash, when we were ready to leave the guesthouse, the guy from the rental company came to us and said that we had to pay for the bike because we had an accident. I couldn’t deny because he already saw our bandages, but of course, I denied that the bike was broken or scratched because of us. “Can you show me where the added scratches are?” I asked. But according to the guy, the bike was already rented out. He said that we should wait in the guesthouse and left. After 10 minutes he came back with pictures on his phone of the motorbike with scratches.
Prepared for the rain in Vietnam.
Weird that he could take pictures of the bike even when it’s rented out. We kept stating that those scratches weren’t ours because he showed pictures from the left side of the bike, but we fell on our right… He was very aggressive towards us and said that we should pay him $100 to repair it. $100, REALLY?! A new bike of that type costs not more than $250 in Laos. He wanted to call the police, but as we had to catch our plane, this wasn’t a solution for us. And most of the time, the policemen are corrupt too.
I was so pissed and didn’t have the time for this crap. Eventually, we gave him a note of $20 and just walked away, and the douchebag was even smiling with it! We just know that the sly guy from our guesthouse informed him and got a commission on the profit.
Eventually, the wounds healed right, now we both have scars that remind ourselves of that day (our Asian tattoo). I’m still driving around Asia with a motorbike but I’m much more careful, especially when taking a turn!
We know we look like the stupid tourists that drive around irresponsibly on motorbikes they can’t handle. Just don’t make the same mistake and learn from us with the help of following tips.
TIPS WHEN DRIVING A MOTORBIKE IN ASIA
Two bags full with bandages and stuff to nurse our wounds.
Always wear a helmet.
Only drive if you have an International Driving License AND licensed to drive with 125cc bikes.
Get a travel insurance (that covers you for driving motorbikes).
Always bring a First Aid Kit.
Check the bike for broken parts, scratches, bad tires, etc.
Take pictures from all angles of the bike BEFORE you drive away.
Don’t drink and drive.
Keep your eyes on the road.
Be careful of children, animals, and other traffic that can suddenly cross your path.
Don’t overestimate yourself and be careful.
* Driving scooters in Asia is dangerous. People get killed every day, among them are a lot of foreigners. In fact, southeast Asia’s biggest death toll rate is made by motorbike accidents who end up fatal. If you’re inexperienced, Asia is not the place to learn to drive a bike. But eventually it’s your own choice if you want to ride a motorbike. If you are confident and careful enough, it’s an amazing experience and perfect option to get around.
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