With our Southeast Asia Bucket List experience just a few weeks away, our travel preparation shifts into high gear. Hotels and Air have been booked long ago. Our excursions are also booked as we are now tying loose ends before we depart. My Thailand SIM card should arrive any day, as will the steady stream of Amazon purchases!
What started as a “Bucket List” adventure has developed into a full-fledged combination Bucket List – Beer Tourism extravaganza. Our Southeast Asia Bucket List experience starts in Thailand, moves to Cambodia, then Phuket and finally Hong Kong before our return home.
Originally, our goal was to keep the focus on the many Bucket List opportunities the area has to offer. On researching the destination, I discovered a beer culture that I could never imagine! The beer culture is thriving, found everywhere including the remote areas of Cambodia.
This would be my first visit to Asia, my mind swimming with an overload of anticipation as I’m not sure what to expect. Visions of an Asian, peyote-induced, Koyaanisqatsi danced in my head! The fear of getting lost, the fear of being the only English speaking person traveling in an unusual world could be potentially overwhelming. We pressed on knowing our Southeast Asia Bucket List adventure would be an experience of a lifetime!
Day 1, our adventure starts in Bangkok, following 22 hours of travel time which I’m sure we will have us anxious to get settled in our hotel. Staying 4 nights, we have a long list of excursions planned including a Bangkok City Tour, Damnoen Saduak floating market tour and an Ancient Ayutthaya food tour. We have 2 food tours booked, a tuk-tuk night food tour and a night walking food tour through the Yaowrat Chinatown area of Bangkok. Our last night is a “freestyle” evening, on our own wandering through Bangkok.
Our research shows that most Thai restaurants and brewpubs brew their own beer. Brewpubs abound, featuring Belgium and German beers most likely to cater the many European visitors. Craft Beer Breweries as we know them are an underground business. Unfortunately, stifled by Thai government regulation which demands unreasonable production that runs counter to the craft beer concept. I’m told that changes are in the works and that soon the Craft Beer industry will be thriving to match the demand of the wanting public!
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Day 5 is upon us with our morning free. The day begins with a visit to a morning street market for a traditional Thai breakfast. Soon to be followed by souvenir shopping as we collect mementos of Bangkok. After that, it’s off to the airport for the second leg of our Southeast Asia Bucket List adventure.
Next stop, Siem Reap Cambodia and the nearby temple complex of Angkor Wat! We have extra passport photo’s in hand and a pocket filled with U.S dollars (US Dollars are the currency of choice). A Visa is needed for US citizens visiting Cambodia. Unlike most countries, Cambodia allows you to buy the Visa on Arrival with a passport photo and $30USD in cash. We have 3 nights in Siem Reap, booked at a luxurious 5-star resort costing little more than $70 per night!
The food is cheap and so is the beer at about 50 cents USD per pint! Our days will be spent exploring the many temples, most over 900 years old. We’ll visit a lakeside village built on stilts, and visit a nearby waterfall. Our evenings in Siem Reap will include, exploring Pub Street, eating street food and sampling the beer at the Siem Reap Brewery! Fried crickets, tarantulas, and water bugs are snacked on by locals and curious tourists alike. I’ve been told fried crickets are eaten like peanuts and go well with beer. We will have to wait and see about that.
Day 8 starts with an early wake-up and our trip back to the airport to catch our flight to Phuket Thailand. We have 3 nights in a beautiful 5-star resort with ocean views on Patong bay. The resort, just a short 20-minute walk from party central, Bangla Road in Patong Beach. The area is several blocks long, lined with nightclubs, pubs, and restaurants offering everything you could ever imagine plus a few surprises. Our days will be spent exploring surrounding islands including the famous Ko Phi Phi with local guides from Andaman Islands Tours and Travel.
Day 11, in my opinion, our top Bucket List attraction of the trip! We board the Star Clipper from the Thailand Jetty on Patong Beach. The Star Clipper is a 360’ tall ship sailing vessel powered by the wind, driven by 4 masts with 16 sails. A modern cruise ship, created for luxury-loving passengers who enjoy the traditions and romance of legendary era sailing ships. Sailing in pampered comfort, 170 passengers on board enjoy the exotic scenery off the coast of Thailand cruising the Andaman Sea.
Setting sail to ports of call that include Ko Surin, Similan Island, Hin Daeng, Ko Rok Nok, Langkawi, Ko Kraden, Phang Nga Bay and Ko Hong, most ports only accessible by small sailing vessels. We have one week at sea, with the wind in our hair. The traditions of the past happily joined to the comforts of the present day, certainly the highlight of our Southeast Asia Bucket List experience.
Hong Kong, China
Day 18, we disembark The Star Clipper and head to the airport for our flight to Hong Kong! Another amazing city, and another bucket list checkmark off my list. We have 3 nights in Hong Kong with two full days of freestyle sightseeing. My cousin Darren, a Hong Kong resident for several years has offered to show us around. Included in our agenda is a number of foodie stops, including Hong Kong’s famous street food, Dim Sum, noodle shops and Peking Duck. With craft beer being a focal point that surely will be included, as well as the many scenic viewing spots of the city below. Everything documented to be shared in future articles after our return.
For those of you interested in following along as we travel, all of our pictures will be posted to our Facebook page The Beer-Centric Traveler.