The aspiring travel blogger Ellie Schastye and her husband, a well-known fruit eater, blogger and their friends, who are well-known in Russia and abroad, went on a winter trip across Asia on their own, the route of which was seven countries. Based on her experience, Ellie told what difficulties they had to face on this journey, how they found accommodation, which is the most expensive and budget country in Asia, and many other interesting and useful things.
– Tell us about yourself.
– My name is Ellie Happiness. Recently I am a Pole Dance coach. There is a “family” dance studio in Kazan. When I decided to make my way to warm countries with my family and friends, I had to change my field of activity from dancing to travel blogging. I am just learning, therefore, it is difficult to call it something serious. Now we are organizing raw food seminars and yoga tours with our team and family.
– Why did you choose to travel to Asia and what route was laid for independent travel?
– We chose an independent trip to Southeast Asia for a reason. My husband is a well-known fruit eater and blogger in Russia and abroad, and in winter he eats only tangerines from seasonal fruits. So we decided to leave for warm countries where there are a lot of fruits. Plus – these are some of the most budgetary countries. We traveled in a large group of ten people (friends, colleagues, family), therefore, it is more convenient to look for profitable housing options in Asia.
Our self-guided travel itinerary in Asia: 3 months in Sri Lanka and 1 month in Phuket in Thailand. We spent a three-week trip in Asia: Vietnam (Nha Trang, Mui Ne, Phu Quoc), Indonesia (Bali), one day in Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), the Philippines (Davao, Samal), after which we returned “home” to Phuket.
– What difficulties did you encounter while planning and during an independent travel in Asia?
– Yes, there is some difficulty in planning a trip – this is the choice of the country. This is our first wintering outside Russia and the first trip on our own (before that I only went on package tours to Egypt and Turkey for 2 weeks). Therefore, due to lack of experience, I had to watch a lot of videos on YouTube and re-read a bunch of articles about Asia and an independent tour of Asia. We are a large company and each has its own requirements. For example, it was necessary to have a good Internet connection for remote work. Difficulties were in finding a large house (at least 5 bedrooms), and our organizer was engaged in all this, and remotely from Kazan. And if remotely, then it is obtained through intermediaries, and this increases the price several times. I had to rent for a short period of time and, upon arrival, look for housing on my own in the area.
In the process of traveling in Southeast Asia, we got such an experience that you need to find out in advance about the seasonality and chemistry of fruits, the traditions of their collection. For example, there are countries where very unripe fruits are picked and it is impossible to eat them.
– Which country did you like more and why?
– Wow))) I can’t answer this question unambiguously. There is a rating in my head, where the pros and cons of the country accumulate.
Sri Lanka, Mirissa city:
+ more or less stable internet
+ inexpensive housing, fruits
+ gorgeous ocean and beach
– not tasty local food
– green fruits
– the locals want to deceive you every now and then
Vietnam, Mui Ne city:
+ housing can be found relatively inexpensive
+ ripe fruits, large selection
+ local food: dumplings and borscht due to the large number of Russians
+ Internet flies, even in cloudy weather
– few beaches where you can swim and swim
– the sea is not very clean
– the locals don’t know English
And so you can paint for each city, only this is my rating, all people have different preferences. It all depends on the goals and desires. But personally, I did not like Phuket from all the cities, I accumulated too many minus signs and did not live up to expectations.
– What is the most budgetary and most expensive Asian country on your independent trip?
– The most expensive country on our trip to Asia – Malaysia, the city of Kuala Lumpur. We were passing there one day. Prices in Malaysia were an unpleasant surprise. Where are the prices in Asia from? For example, 500 grams of grapes – 300 rubles. Or a room in a guesthouse, built almost from dirt and dust – 1100 rubles. Travel by train from the airport (50 km) – 870 rubles. one way per person. We were still surprised: “Is this exactly Asia?!?” We got used to the fact that everything is cheap.
AND the most budgetary country on our independent trip to Asia – the Philippines, especially in terms of food and transport – very cheap. There are only problems with housing, because tourism is underdeveloped and there are practically no good, inexpensive hotels. Food prices in the Philippines: fast food, such as shawarma – 80 rubles, papaya fruit – 3-10 rubles. / piece, pineapples – 40-50 rubles / piece. The stuff and equipment on Filah is very cheap. A small speaker for music can be found for 600 rubles, and in Thailand the same for 1100 rubles. sell. Accommodation in the Philippines: a room in the Red Planet in Davao with two beds will cost about 1,500 rubles. per day. Other hotels are in about the same range.
– How did you find accommodation while traveling and where did you book it?
– An important point in traveling around Asia on your own is finding accommodation. The Internet helped us in this, such sites as Booking.com, TripAdvisor, but this is for a short time. If for a long time, they already searched through intermediaries, but then they realized that it would be better for two people to come in advance and look for them themselves, it will be cheaper.
We spent about 60 thousand rubles a month on housing in Sri Lanka in Merissa. for a 4-room house. Accommodation in Thailand in Phuket cost us about 100 thousand rubles. for a 6-room two-storey house. On a trip to Asia in hotels for two, we spent about 1000 rubles. average.
Difficulties in finding accommodation while traveling on their own were mainly with the cancellation of the reservation, if they did not have time to check in on time. Once, in my “beloved” Kuala Lumpur, we did not manage to book a room due to the fact that we were on the plane, and the reservation was made after midnight (according to the rules, we had to check into the room at 14.00). The hotelier offered to wait outside or check into a room with double payment. Unpleasant situation…
– Was it difficult to get used to Asian cuisine? What dishes did you like?
– It was very difficult to eat Asian dishes. Asians love everything that is very spicy or very spoiled. Therefore, we were looking for European cafes. Although in Thailand I liked one grandmother, she has a stall on wheels with food, she prepares very tasty grilled catfish and Som Tam salad from green papaya. You just need to ask for “but spicy” to avoid spice. By the way, I saw some strange slurry in her bags, and she told me that this national dish is exclusively for Thais – “Thai style”, for Europeans – it will be “know good”)
– Expensive life in Asia for a traveler?
– I think Asia is very different. Therefore, it can be suitable for both a saving student and a non-saving businessman. For example, in Vietnam I know a guy who lives there for 250 rubles. per day, cooks himself and teaches people to ride the surf. Very budget friendly. We are very lazy and rarely cooked, and ate mainly in a cafe. The average check came out about 300-500 rubles. for two.
If you take public transport, then in Sri Lanka it is cheap. By bus to the neighboring city (12 km) you can get there for 11 rubles, though they will try to deceive you by hook or by crook. This is a good reason to learn to insist and argue. Tuk-tuk transport for the same distance will cost around 400 rubles. In Thailand, to get to the neighboring city (12 km), you will have to fork out 800 rubles for a tuk-tuk.
– Have you taken out travel insurance?
– Insurance was not issued to anyone. It was not useful.
– What is the difference between the Asian mentality and the Russian?
– Yes, nothing at all. There is a mentality of poor people and rich people. The poor will always try to deceive you, cheat you, and it does not matter in which country: in Russia or in Asia, what is the color of the skin and the shape of the eyes of a person. A poor person is always poor, he is not ready to give up his own and will want to take someone else’s as well. The rich do not have time and they know the value of it, so they are not interested in cheating you in trifles. For example, in Bali we got stuck in the middle of the forest, a rented car broke down on the highway. We came across a businessman who helped us, but refused to take money, but asked to leave reviews on TripAdvisor for his business. And in the Philippines, any taxi driver who drives on the meter will drive in circles to accumulate mileage.
– What do you think is worth seeing in Asia?
– I’m not a particular connoisseur of sightseeing, so in any country I usually go to the beach before sunset, get caught in the rain and find unique people. What I wish for you)
– Your wishes for travelers who are going on independent travels in Southeast Asia.
– Traveling on your own is convenient when you know how to communicate and negotiate. It doesn’t matter if you know the language well or not. Every Asian country has its own English. The most important thing is to keep the fine line between friendliness and vigilance)
Interviewed by Olga Avrakh