Wander to Southeast Asia and Travel on the Cheap!

Elephant Ride at  Siem Reap, Cambodia

Elephant Ride at Siem Reap, Cambodia

As J.R.R. Tolkien wrote so many years ago, not all who wander are lost. Maybe those who wander are just filled with a little more wonder than the average person. If you think you are this person, well, the world abounds in low-cost places to travel. One such place is Southeast Asia — Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Once a very war-torn part of the world, these unique cultures are now more like paradise, offering you an oriental relief from the rigors of western society. Whether it’s one night in Bangkok or several in Ho Chi Minh City, these countries and their favorable exchange rates won’t break the bank!

The most expensive item you’ll have to purchase when visiting Southeast Asia is your plane ticket, but even this item is far cheaper than what it once was. You can fly from London, Paris or most major cities conveniently to Bangkok, Hong Kong or Singapore and then transfer flights if need be. These regions are isolated from the West no more. Once you’re there, you can lie upon the beaches of Thailand or ride an elephant in Cambodia. Or visit centuries old temples and learn about the lost long-ago culture that made this region one of the most advanced in the world at that time.

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are also cities not to be missed and you can help yourself to some pho or other tasty Vietnamese cuisine. You’ll find your money will go far here and feel like your money will last forever. Adventure trips could include backpacking in from Bangkok and discovering villages few Europeans ever see. The opportunities are boundless in Southeast Asia and nothing will cost too much money. You’ll save so much money choosing this region for your next vacation you’ll want to come back again and again.

Anne Perkins is a freelance writer focused on how to live large on a little living. She writes financial savings tips and enjoys taking any idea and making it easier or cheaper to complete.

The 10 Wildest Little Known Festivals in the World (Part 2)

Last time we spoke about five odd but super fun sounding festivals held around the world. Today we continue that topic with five more crazy awesome festivals. Which one would you attend?

Redneck Games

These Redneck Games look very refreshing and fun!

6. The Redneck Games

This festival was created out of the offense taken by media implications that the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta would be hosted by a bunch of “rednecks”. The redneck games include classics such as “bobbing for pig’s trotters” and “toilet seat throwing.”

Hadaka Matsuri

Are you thinking of Mulan and King of the Mountain right now? I am.

7. Hadaka Matsuri

A Japanese festival born out of a Buddhist practice in which they purified their spirits, it is now known as the “naked man festival.” Thousands of men in loincloths gather on one of the coldest nights of the year to join in the celebration.

crying baby

I can’t imagine wanting to attend this – The noise! One crying baby is one too many!

8. Crying Baby Festival

This festival is centered around two sumo wrestlers who hold up a pair of babies. The winner is the baby that cries first. The festival celebrates the Japanese saying, “crying babies grow fast.”

Sonkran Water Festival

I vote we hold a Sonkran Water Festival with all these hot temperatures!

9. Sonkran Water Festival

Thailand holds this festival every year for three days, in which everyone participates in a giant water fight. Doesn’t that just sound inviting with all the record breaking temperatures out in the midwest right now? I vote yes.

World Gurning Championships

Add some strange sound effects and we got a winner! Meeep!

10. World Gurning Championships

Taking place in Egremont, Cumbria, this festival celebrates making ugly faces. Whoever makes the ugliest face wins! So what do you say is this a face only a mother could love?

Read the first part again: The 10 Wildest Little Known Festivals in the World (Part 1)

The 10 Wildest Little Known Festivals in the World (Part 1)

There are thousands of festivals celebrated all around the world. Many are known to almost everyone, however, there are a few that are not.

baby jumping spain

Would you let this guy jump over your baby?

1. The Baby Jumping Festival

Taking place every year in the village of Castrillo de Murcia, Spain, the ceremony involves men dressed as the devil literally jumping over a mattress full of babies. The ritual, which takes place during the Corpus Christi, represents a cleansing of sin as well as luck and good health

finland wife carrying festival

Don't drown her! I think you'd lose for sure if she did.

2. The Wife Carrying World Championships

Held every year in Sonkajärvi, Finland, this competition is a relay race in which competitors carry their wives as they run. What does the winner receive? Their wife’s weight in beer. No wonder this festival seems to be increasing in popularity.

cheese rolling contest

How bad to you want that cheese?

3. England’s Cheese Rolling Festival

This yearly festival is centered around a wheel of cheese that is thrown down the hill and chased after by a number of contestants. The first contestant to roll to the bottom of the hill gets the cheese!

holi india color festival

Can you imagine explaining the cleanup to your mother?

4. India’s Color Festival

Known as Holi in India, this festival celebrates both the coming of spring as well as the religion of the Hindu people. Participants celebrate by soaking one another in a wide variety of colorful powders, waters and perfumes.

La Tomatina

Slip n' slide on a bed of tomatoes, sounds like fun!

5. La Tomatina

The town of Brunol in Valencia, Spain, celebrates this festival by welcoming 20,000 people to have what basically amounts to a giant food fight, in which tomatoes are the main ammunition.

Up next is The 10 Wildest Little Known Festivals in the World (Part 2).

The Spectacular Angkor Complex

The Angkor Complex was once the center of the Khmer Empire. The empire’s boundaries were central Vietnam, China, and the Bay of Bengal. The ruins lie in modern day northern Cambodia in the Siem Reap Province. The word Angkor means city and the complex was once a huge city, believed to be the largest city in the world prior to the Industrial Revolution. The rulers of the Khmer Empire were known as universal monarchs or god-kings.

The complex itself composed of over 1000 temples, but are largely recognized in 3 main temple groups. They are Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Bayon temple. Everyone knows of Angkor Wat, as it is the biggest of the 3. It is considered to be the largest single religious monument in the world.

Below you will find some spectacular imagery of the Angkor Complex. Is it any wonder why I wish to travel here someday soon?

Angkor Wat Aerial View

Angkor Wat Aerial View

Apsara Dancer Carvings

Apsara Dancer Carvings

Empty Pools of Angkor Wat

Empty Pools of Angkor Wat

The Bayon Temple

The Bayon Temple reflected in the moat.

God-King Statue at Bayon Temple

God-King Statue at Bayon Temple

Artistic shot of Angkor Wat

Artistic shot of Angkor Wat using zoom.

Entering Angkor Thom

Entering Angkor Thom

Angkor Wat Sunset and Reflection on Moat

Angkor Wat Sunset and Reflection on Moat

54 Stone Figures line the South Gate Causeway at Angkor Thom

54 Stone Figures line the South Gate Causeway at Angkor Thom

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Have you been to Angkor? What did you like best about it?

My Trip to Guangzhou, China (Spring Break 2001): Day 11

(Copied from my Travel Journal. Age: 15)

Mom wanted to relax without the kids this morning. While she went to the White Swan Hotel. In the meantime my sisters and I explored the hotel from the 5th floor to the 18th floor. We climbed stairwells. We went up the stairs, and down the stairs. We went to the playground on Level 4. Finally we head back to our room.

When mom gets back too she announces we’re going to have lunch with one of the new fathers, a new mother (not related to the father going), and the China team. Since the new father was paying we let him decide where to go and what to order. He really wanted to eat Chinese sea food so we went to the place recommended by the China team. He got help with the menu too.

Menu: shark fin soup, jellyfish, chicken feet, jumbo shrimp, crab legs, tiny garlic shrimp, turtle, red fish, fish heads, and some spicy white wrinkly item (later find out that this is elephant clam).

The meal was excellent. The best we had on the trip. What’s really funny though is I was so worried about the shark fin soup when it came that I didn’t know what to do. I felt I shouldn’t eat because of what I heard about how the shark fin is obtained, so I avoided what look like meat in the soup and ate the noodles. The noodles were delicious! Then I found out that the meat was actually winter-melon and the noodles were the shark meat. Apparently cartilage is stringy.

One of these is fake, can you tell?

One of these is fake, can you tell?

At the restaurant we were told one of the bills that was used to pay for the meal was a fake. I asked if I could keep it. So cool! Do you know how you can tell the difference? Color and watermark.

We rode a golf cart from the White House Restaurant to the entrance of the park. I walk from there with Norman’s niece to the hotel.

After dinner at an Australian restaurant, mom, my sisters, and I went to the Teem Mall across the street to shop.

My Trip to Guangzhou, China (Spring Break 2001): Day 10

(Copied from my Travel Journal. Age: 15)

Early morning around 10 AM we go sightseeing. Did you know that the sidewalks have a yellow strip running down them? It’s to help the blind move around easier in the city. They can track where they are based on the texture.

The first stop is a visit to a temple where we get blessed by Buddhist monks. I saw both male and female monks, I was expecting just male monks. All of them were bald. Crazy! My middle sister lit some incense and asked if she could light more. Everybody tried to get a coin through a whole in an iron tower for good luck.

Then I met Norman’s niece. He wants her to learn English because she will be living in Los Angeles next year. She’s in the first year of Chinese middle school. She’s only twelve but she looks like she could be my age. She was really cool.

After lunch at the Banix restaurant, the China team (excluding Norman) and a few of us went bowling. My best game was 112 point, my worst was 73.

My Trip to Guangzhou, China (Spring Break 2001): Day 9

(Copied from my Travel Journal. Age: 15)

A lot of us today went shopping as a group near the White Swan Hotel again. Around noon we head back to our hotel. One of my sisters really wanted to go swimming in the hotel’s pool with another little girl in our group so we went swimming. Then we relaxed for a bit in the sauna and steam room.

At 5:30 PM Group #49 takes a dinner boat cruise down the Pearl River. I didn’t like the food so much.

The show put on by the boat was great! Martin translated what was going on for us. It was about a wedding ceremony. The groom was chosen from the audience, which made it really funny.

Then all of the kids in our group (I do mean all) raced around onstage playing and dancing much to the delight of the parents. It was a good night.

My Trip to Guangzhou, China (Spring Break 2001): Day 8

(Copied from my Travel Journal. Age: 15)

Shamian Island was the heart of Guangzhou after the opium war in 1840 in the age of Imperialism. Shamian Island is 3 square kilometers in area. It is bordered by the Pearl River.

After shopping near the White Swan Hotel (while other couples and families filled out more paperwork for visas), I went with one of the girls and her mother to the park on the right side of the hotel. The 3 of us climbed the dirt trails that led away from the more populated pathways. We went into the forested hills and saw many couples. We dubbed the hilly areas Lover’s Lane.

Eventually we got to another road that was near a wall. The sign on the wall told us that the wall is what is left of the remains of the Ming Dynasty Wall. We walked by the museum from earlier in the trip.

I recognized by then how close we were to the 5 Goats Statue and took the mother and daughter to it since they had yet to see it. The daughter decided to copy the kids sliding down the flat rails on either side like the kids I’d seen do earlier.

Then a long, and may I repeat that word, long, walk later we left the park and went back to the hotel for dinner and sleep. I’m exhausted!

My Trip to Guangzhou, China (Spring Break 2001): Day 7

(Copied from my Travel Journal. Age: 15)

Early afternoon my mom, sisters, the same girls from last night at dinner, and I go to the zoo. There are 3 zoos in Guangzhou. It cost only $5 for the four of us to go. The zoo is anything but small. It’s got a mini Sea World area, a large playground, a fish world with tyke pools to catch goldfish, exotic animals, a tiny amusement park, and spacious walks shaded from the sun by tall, tall trees.

We saw lions, tigers, and bears!!! Oh my!!! (No, seriously, we did see those things.) We even got to see a panda, leopard babies, foxes, wild boar, hippos, rhinos, elephants, monkeys, deer, and much, much, more!

I felt some of the cages and areas were too small for the animals, but the zoo is large, so I feel there’s possibly this was just the public areas for the animals and their real enclosures were much bigger. They were small so people could see them and so that the animals would be hidden all day.

We saw a show where animals did tricks and fab stunts. There was a bear riding a bike, a trick rider and horse, a mountain goat on a tight rope, etc.) It was neat!

After of 3 hours meandering around its time to head back to the hotel. We have an hour and then the whole group will be enjoying pizza and soda for dinner.

My Trip to Guangzhou, China (Spring Break 2001): Day 6

(Copied from my Travel Journal. Age: 15)

Today we are going to visit the S– orphanage. When the bus arrived everybody got excited. We were given a warm reception by the director.

I tried a citrus fruit, pomelo, that is native to the city and a famous Chinese drink, Jianlibao.

After the snack we were directed upstairs to see the babies. In the first room there were many babies, all playing or sleeping.

In the sleeping rooms were cribs. These rooms were mostly empty at the time, though there were a few babies. They had perhaps a dozen tiny infants, but most children or babies were over a couple of months old.

We then got to see the site of the new orphanage. When it is completed it will house more babies than they do currently.

Tickets to see the Sleeping Buddha

Tickets to see the Sleeping Buddha

The next stop of the day is to visit the Sleeping Buddha. It’s huge! It lies by a river carved straight into the rock.

The trip back to the orphanage is short and the lunch is good.

An hour before dinner a couple of the other adopted older (still kids though) siblings arrive at the hotel. They have just come back from a side trip to Shanghai. They, my sisters, and I spend a delightful evening together playing hide and seek in the dark on level 4 of the hotel.