My final thoughts on Indochina

It’s genuinely difficult to digest the past 30 days. You lose track of time and every day becomes a Saturday.

We have seen so much and met so many different people from a number of different countries it’s been an incredible experience.

When I first booked these tours I was actually looking forward to the Indochina one the most. I booked India as a gamble. I mentioned before that after completing the India tour I was amazed at how good it was and that Indochina has a lot of work to do to beat India. Well, with all things considered I still think India was a better tour overall.

Both were very different and we got to see a range of things that are unique to the individual countries. The people from all the countries were very accommodating and our group in the tour became very close and all got along. This is something that is easily taken for granted. I’ve got a lot of memories that will stay with me for life so I cannot say any of it was an overwhelmingly bad experience.

However, the things that made Indochina slightly less fulfilling can be narrowed down to a few points.

First of all, the group size was too big. I thought having more people would be great fun and to a point it is because you have a lot of different people to mix with and get to know. But it also causes problems because you have more people with slightly different interests and it becomes impossible to please everyone. As the tour went on this became more of a problem because as people became more comfortable and friendly with eachother then everyone became more honest. And with honesty came quite a bit of moaning or complaining about activities or where to eat for dinner or where to go for drinks etc. I ignored a lot of it and tried to focus on enjoying myself but it’s impossible to block it all out.

The second thing that I struggled with was the volume of travelling. Nearly every day we were moving around. It was great to see a range of places and we have genuinely seen a lot of towns but it takes its toll. The lack of sleep is one thing but being constantly stuck in a bus gives you cabin fever and if you also throw in the fact the majority of the roads in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos were pretty bumpy and ridden with potholes it makes for an uncomfortable bus journey. At times, it felt like the buses were moving washing machines and id just been for a 4 hour wash cycle. You come off the buses feeling beaten up.

The third point is linked to the second and I felt we were moving around so often that we never got to enjoy the towns. It takes a day or two for people to get their bearings and understand what’s good and what key areas you should visit. By the time this happened we were always back on the bus and off to somewhere new which was a bit disappointing. There were a couple of towns where I would have preferred to have spent more time. Hindsight is a great thing though and I guess this is what it’s all about – learning as you go.

It’s hard to narrow down the trip to a few highlights or best bits but if I was pushed I would say the following:

– seeing Angkor Wat at sunrise was nothing short of incredible. Your brain can’t quite process what’s happening in front of you.

– Hoi An was probably my favourite town, closely followed by Hanoi as a city. It had a lot of variety but it was spectacular at night. It’s no wonder they label it as the Venice of Asia

– Ticking off my bucket list – this tour enabled me to tick off a lot of my bucket list items. There were a lot of things I managed to do that I felt would not be possible and for that I’m grateful to not only the tour for providing the opportunity but also the fact we had an incredible group of people in our group who would “live for the moment”. Many people say they live by this motto but very few actually do.

A few of us are staying together now to go to Patong (in Phuket) and then onto Koh Phi Phi And Krabi. It says everything when after the tour finishes you have a large number of people still sticking together.

Another life experience which I don’t regret at all. I’ve learnt a lot, met a huge number of cool people and have a lot of life experiences to share.

Time to take a break from the group tours until New Zealand and work my way around.

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