This month, Wout (@woutmaerschalck on Instagram) joined the Dragon Journey for an incredible 31-day tour round Southeast Asia. We caught up with Wout to search out out what his favorite elements of the tour have been – and what he liked about Southeast Asia!
Why did you select to go to South-East Asia?
I selected to go to South-East Asia as a result of it has all the time been a dream of mine, however I couldn’t do it earlier as a consequence of Covid. After bidding farewell to my pals, I launched into this long-awaited journey to Bangkok, searching for new experiences, solace, and an opportunity to hit the “reset” button on my life. The journey was full of pleasure, exploring various cultures, and embracing the unknown. It grew to become a transformative journey of self-discovery, leaving lasting reminiscences and gratitude in my coronary heart.
What was a very powerful factor that you simply discovered concerning the area in your journey?
Throughout my journey to Cambodia, some of the impactful and unforgettable experiences was visiting the Killing Fields. It wasn’t a nice matter to delve into, given the darkish and hard-hitting historical past related to it, nevertheless it left a profound impression on me.
The Killing Fields are websites the place the Khmer Rouge regime, led by Pol Pot, carried out mass executions and atrocities through the late Nineteen Seventies. The Khmer Rouge was a radical communist occasion that took management of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. Below their rule, they sought to create an agrarian utopia, resulting in pressured evacuations of cities and a brutal marketing campaign to remove perceived enemies and intellectuals. The Killing Fields have been locations the place hundreds of harmless Cambodians have been brutally tortured and executed.
One of the infamous Killing Fields is positioned in Choeung Ek, simply exterior Phnom Penh, which I visited throughout my journey. Strolling by means of this haunting website, I discovered concerning the tragic tales of those that misplaced their lives there. The displays and shows helped me perceive the unimaginable struggling that befell through the Khmer Rouge regime. The go to to the Killing Fields was a somber and deeply emotional expertise. It made me mirror on the capability for cruelty that people can inflict upon each other and the significance of studying from historical past to forestall such atrocities from taking place once more.
It struck me that these occasions weren’t adequately coated in my faculty schooling, and I noticed the importance of searching for out this information as an grownup. Understanding Cambodia’s painful previous and acknowledging the atrocities dedicated through the genocide is essential for honoring the victims and making certain that such darkish chapters in historical past are by no means forgotten or repeated.
What was the very best expertise you had on the journey?
One of the best expertise throughout my journey was undoubtedly the unforgettable cruise in Halong Bay, Vietnam. It was a really distinctive and mesmerizing location, not like some other place I had visited earlier than. The sheer magnificence and tranquility of Halong Bay left me in awe from the second I set foot on the boat.
Because the cruise set sail, I used to be surrounded by an ethereal panorama of limestone karsts jutting out of the emerald waters. The bay’s pure magnificence was nothing wanting magical, and it felt like stepping right into a dream world. The mild lapping of the water in opposition to the boat and the distant calls of seagulls supplied a serene soundtrack to the journey. It was an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of day by day life, permitting me to attach with nature and discover a sense of internal peace.
The spotlight of the cruise was undoubtedly the sundown over Halong Bay. Because the solar started its descent, the sky remodeled right into a mesmerizing canvas of colours—heat hues of orange, pink, and gold painted throughout the horizon. It was a wide ranging spectacle, and I couldn’t assist however be captivated by the great thing about nature unfolding earlier than my eyes.
The cruise itself was an expertise of luxurious and luxury. The crew on board took nice care of us, making certain that we had every thing we would have liked and guiding us to the very best spots for panoramic views. The meals served have been a pleasant mix of Vietnamese delicacies, introducing me to new flavors and culinary delights.
Because the cruise got here to an finish, I discovered myself reflecting on the great thing about Halong Bay and the reminiscences created throughout this voyage. It was a really awe-inspiring expertise that jogged my memory of the facility of nature to nurture the soul and go away an indelible mark on one’s coronary heart. The cruise in Halong Bay grew to become the spotlight of my journey, a cherished reminiscence that I’ll fondly recount to family and friends for years to return.
The place was your favorite place to go to in Thailand?
My favourite place to go to in Thailand was undoubtedly the Wat Doi Suthep Temple, perched majestically on the mountain of Doi Suthep, simply exterior the colourful metropolis of Chiang Mai. Upon arriving on the temple complicated, I used to be instantly struck by its magnificence and tranquility. The ornate golden spire of the temple shimmered beneath the daylight, and the mild sound of temple bells stuffed the air. It was a spot that exuded a way of serenity and devotion, inviting guests to discover its wonders.
Earlier than reaching the principle temple, we walked up the spectacular Naga staircase, flanked by intricately carved serpent-like creatures, believed to guard the temple. The ascent provided a chance for quiet contemplation, because the sounds of town regularly light away, changed by a sense of peaceable detachment.
As we reached the highest of the staircase, we have been greeted by the grandeur of the temple complicated. The central pagoda, adorned with intricate particulars and beautiful architectural designs, stood as an emblem of non secular enlightenment. The views from the temple’s elevated location have been awe-inspiring, revealing the luxurious landscapes and surrounding mountains in all their pure splendor.
Contained in the temple, the ambiance was each reverent and vibrant. Monks in saffron robes chanted historic verses, and the scent of incense wafted by means of the air, creating an ambiance of non secular sanctity. Devotees lit candles and provided prayers, their faces reflecting a profound sense of devotion and reverence.
The temple’s serene ambiance, beautiful structure, and non secular power made it a favourite vacation spot throughout my time in Thailand. It was a spot the place I felt a deep connection to the nation’s spirituality and historical past, reminding me of the sweetness that lies within the harmonious coexistence of religion, nature, and cultural heritage. Wat Doi Suthep Temple grew to become a cherished reminiscence, one which I’ll carry with me as a reminder of the profound magnificence and spirituality that I encountered on my journey by means of Thailand.
What was the very best meals you ate in Vietnam?
One of the best meals I had in Vietnam was undoubtedly the mouthwatering Banh Mi, and the one which stood out probably the most was the delectable creation I savored at Banh Mi 25 in Hanoi. Banh Mi is a culinary masterpiece that completely encapsulates Vietnam’s fusion of flavors and culinary heritage. It’s a pleasant sandwich that showcases the nation’s love for contemporary substances, daring spices, and the artwork of culinary craftsmanship. The Banh Mi at Banh Mi 25 was a symphony of flavors and textures. The crusty baguette, with its good steadiness of softness inside and crispiness exterior, supplied the perfect canvas for the gastronomic masterpiece that awaited inside. The sandwich was generously full of quite a lot of substances that harmoniously complemented one another.
First, the succulent and savory grilled meat added a burst of umami goodness, and the tender slices of roast pork provided a deliciously wealthy taste. Subsequent got here the medley of contemporary greens, which included crunchy cucumber, tangy pickled carrots, and refreshing cilantro. The Banh Mi was additional elevated by the addition of do-it-yourself pate and creamy mayonnaise, lending a pleasant creaminess that tied all of the flavors collectively.
From the primary chunk to the final, each second spent savoring the Banh Mi at Banh Mi 25 was a celebration of the fun of meals and the cultural riches that Vietnam has to supply. It was undoubtedly the very best meals I had in Vietnam and an expertise that I’ll cherish for a lifetime.
Any high ideas for travellers going to South-East Asia?
Travelling to South-East Asia will probably be an enriching and unforgettable expertise. Listed here are some high tricks to benefit from your journey:
- Embrace the Tradition: South-East Asia is a area wealthy in various cultures, traditions, and customs. Take the time to study concerning the native tradition, present respect to the locals, and be open to new experiences. Have interaction in conversations, attempt native customs, and immerse your self within the vibrant tapestry of every nation’s distinctive heritage.
- Keep Hydrated: The local weather in South-East Asia could be sizzling and humid, so it’s important to remain hydrated. Carry a reusable water bottle and drink loads of water all through the day. Be cautious with ice in drinks; go for bottled water when uncertain concerning the supply.
- Attempt Avenue Meals: South-East Asia is known for its delectable road meals. Don’t miss the possibility to attempt native delicacies from road distributors. Search for busy stalls with a excessive turnover of consumers, because it’s a superb indicator of tasty and contemporary meals.
- Discount with a Smile: Bargaining is a typical observe in lots of South-East Asian international locations, particularly at markets and road stalls. Strategy it with a smile and a pleasant angle, and also you may simply rating a superb deal on souvenirs and native merchandise.
- Respect Gown Codes: Some spiritual websites and conservative areas might require modest costume. Earlier than visiting temples or sacred locations, test the costume code and canopy your shoulders and knees out of respect.
- Carry Money and Native Forex: Whereas bank cards are broadly accepted in city areas, it’s important to hold money, particularly when venturing into rural areas or visiting small institutions. Native ATMs could be your lifeline through the journey, offering handy entry to money when wanted.
Lastly – the place’s subsequent in your journey bucket listing?
Subsequent on my journey bucket listing is a much-anticipated household journey to Tuscany, Italy, proper after my South-East Asia journey. The prospect of reuniting with my family members and sharing my SEA adventures by means of my weblog fills me with pleasure and anticipation. Exploring iconic cities like Siena, Florence, and Rome will undoubtedly be an enriching expertise, providing a stark distinction to the colourful and various cultures I encountered in South-East Asia. I’ll regale my household with fascinating tales of bustling markets, historic temples, and breathtaking pure wonders from my travels with The Dragon Journey in South-East Asia.