The Lao Guy’s Portion

The guesthouse was depressing. As soon as I checked myself in, I decided to take a walk to the town. Since Pak Beng is a small town… the walk to town was a very short walk.

When I exit my guesthouse’s driveway I saw Lao Guy up ahead. He saw me too. Suddenly he was walking very slowly, probably waiting for me to catch up to him.

I met Lao Guy on the Slow Boat. He’s from Luang Namtha and it was his first time on the boat too. I didn’t talk to him on board. Everything I knew about him I got from the German girls and Anne. One time, I woke up from a nap and saw Lao Guy looking at me. He smiled. But I was too shy to smile back. So I checked if I was drooling instead…

The first thing Lao Guy asked me was “HAJHHSUAEIHS?” … No it wasn’t that but that was what it seemed like to me because he was speaking Lao. My answer was “Oh, sorry, I don’t speak Lao”. Caught him off guard for a moment and then he said “Oh I thought you’re Lao” … yeah, I get that a lot when I travel in SEA. Lucky me.

So Lao Guy and I walked to town. It was around 6pm and the sleepy town was beginning to come alive. We talked and I figured out that he’s a tourist guide working in Luang Namtha. He was checking out the slow boat to see if he could arrange new tours for his company. In Pak Beng, he was looking for the Red Market… I have no idea what that is. I haven’t researched it either. He probably said Night Market and I heard Red Market. Who knows.

We parted ways when Lao Guy said he wanted to look for the market up the hill. By then I was already too hungry to even walk. So I told him I was going to check out what’s at the end of the road and we parted ways.

I end up hanging around a local drinking house, taking photos and videos of a drunk lady singing. But that’s another story to tell…

On my way back, I found the only Muslim Restaurant in Pak Beng. Hassan Indian Restaurant. Because I was tired, I ordered my food to go. Hearing this the owner of the restaurant, Hassan, asked me “Oh you are going to eat with your guy?”… I got confused, because I heard Guide instead of Guy… I said No, no, I don’t have a guide… and then he explained to me that he saw me with Lao Guy earlier. Then, things started to make sense to me. Ohhhhhh, that guy. He’s not MY GUY. I met him on the boat today. We were just walking to town together.

Hearing my reply, restaurant owner nodded his head. Seemingly satisfied with my answer.

But apparently, he didn’t believe a word I said! I opened my packed food that night and found two spoons, two garlic naan and enough rice to feed two very hungry person!
Hassan, you are kind man. But honestly, Lao Guy’s not my GUY. Even though he had the nicest smile and the sexiest dimples. But not my guy!

And Lao Guy, I did not eat your portion of the rice. But the garlic naans were delicious. Thank you.

The Downside of Travelling Alone

Travelling solo is like falling in love for me. It’s exhilarating and scary at the same time. I have so many good things to say about it but they’ve been said before again and again by many seasoned solo travellers. I am sure there’s nothing more I can add about the joy of travelling alone. So today I am going to do an antithesis to the subject. Let me once and for all share with you something that I have discovered while travelling alone. It’s not all pretty like we all painted it to be. It has its ugliness and downsides. Here are a few of them:

Safety
Safety is one of the biggest downside of travelling alone. There are safety in numbers. When you are a woman being alone and looking very foreign is enough to make you a target of unwanted attention. In some countries, you have to be very extra careful about your safety. Since you don’t have anyone to rely on you just have to be responsible for your own safety while on the road. It’s not as hard as it sounds. You just have to be extra aware of your surrounding. Some people just give you negative vibes right from the beginning. Learn to trust your instinct. Always know what to do when you are in a bad situation. For example: I was followed by a scary old dude when I was in Chiang Mai. After unsuccessful attempts to lose him, I took a detour into a book store. Spend an hour there and by the time I was done, he was gone. Voilà!

Chiang Mai #ZoorahTheExplorer

Gecko Used Bookstore saved me from creepy ol’ dude.

Budget
Yes. If you are not into dormitories like me, you have to be prepared to pay extra for accommodation.

The Heavy Lifting!
I carry a 55 + 10 L. It’s heavy! Carrying it around took sooooo much energy. In certain countries, you have to put your bags on top of the vehicle ( ie: Song Theaw in Laos). That’s when you realized how heavy your backpack is! This is not a big problem if you are a girl because usually help will come in the form of strong-armed fellow male backpackers… but if you are a male backpacker, this is something you really need to think about.

The Constant Selfie
Yes. This harsh reality of travelling alone. If you don’t make friends along the way, all your photos will be the lone selfies of yourself and even if you do make friends, you won’t stay with your friends throughout your trip (because at one point or another, you will have to part and go separate ways) so, most of your photos will still be a bunch of selfies of yourself captioned “missing my friends, already”.

Get used to the sight of this lonely selfie.

Get used to the sight of this lonely selfie in your album. People will also hate you for it!

 

The Random Feeling of Loneliness
After travelling for a while you will get one of those random feelings that emphasize your loneliness. Being far away from familiar comforts and having no one to talk to could take a toll on you. I remember waking up in the middle of the night in Viantiane feeling hopelessly lonely. For some reason, I remembered where I was and what I was doing and I felt something that I could only describe as fear of being alone. I cried. But when I woke up the next morning, I thought it was hilarious!

The Random Craziness
There are things that you will do when you are travelling alone that you will never do when you are at home. People will judge you for it. But it takes a little ‘crazy’ to be able to do this travelling alone thing. As long as you don’t end up dead in a ditch somewhere, why not?

This.
Haters. No matter what you do there will always be people trying to bring you down. The worst case scenario is someone would say that the only reason you travel alone is because you are so ugly that one would want to rape you. Classy. But it only hurts if you let it hurt you! So don’t let it hurt you and you will be fine!

When you look back, they’re not that bad. They’re nothing compared to all the great memories you will make when you travel alone. Trust me, after a while even the bad times don’t seem that bad at all! You make good memories and bad ones. It’s part of life. Even sitting where you are, you are bound to have your ups and downs. So why not strive in your own ups and downs while seeing the world? Right?

The Sayana Bed & Breakfast, Bandung : A Home Away From Home

I discovered a nice little Bed & Breakfast in my recent trip to Bandung, Indonesia. It was my first ever solo backpacking trip ever and I am so happy that my frantic-last-minute online search lead me to The Sayana Bed & Breakfast. I mean, being a backpacker on a backpacker budget, I could’ve easily end-up in one of those dodgy backpacker’s hotels or hostels. But I didn’t. I am glad I didn’t. It was also my first experience with a bed and breakfast and The Sayana Bed & Breakfast really set the bar pretty high.

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The Sayana Bed & Breafast is a little gem of a place. Nestled between Jalan Veteran and Jalan Van De Venter, it is a quiet retreat and away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Definitely a nice and relaxing place to return to after a long-tiring excursion in Bandung.

The owner of the place, Pak Eddy, was very helpful from the very beginning. We’ve been emailing each other back and forth, weeks before I arrived in Bandung. I was a little bit worried about arriving in Bandung in the middle of the night. I had never travelled to another country and arrived in my destination at midnight. It was also my first attempt at travelling solo, so I was pretty thorough when I did my research, meaning, I exchanged lots and lots of email with several people before I made up my mind about where to stay etc etc (Yeah, It’s a little bit OCD, I know). Pak Eddy was kind enough to assure me that it was safe and even gave me specific instructions about which taxi to take and how to direct them to The Sayana B&B in Indonesian (though, my Indonesian is seriously an EPIC Fail. Not enough dose of Sinetron, I supposed).

While I was there, I was impressed with the interior design. Well, ‘impressed’ was a bit of an understatement, really. The truth is, I was crazy about the design. Everywhere I look, I see tiny details that I love. It’s pretty obvious that a lot of love and passion have been poured into this place. Each room has a character of it’s own. I couldn’t stop myself from taking a lot of photos! I found a video in youtube showcasing some of the lovely details in The Sayana B&B, have a look… and tell me I am over-reacting.

10294364_10152605132999206_5245761875927261756_n My room was spacious and very comfortable. I was upgraded to a bigger room (Thanks Pak Eddy and Franz!), I absolutely LOVE the room! I didn’t have to climb any stairs too. That’s definitely a plus! 🙂

Wait, that’s not enough to sway you? There’s more! The staff at The Sayana Bed and Breakfast are awesome. When I arrived in the middle of the night, I was greeted with smiles and one hell of a smooth check-in! Yup, I arrived and I was in my room in less than 10 minutes! Now, that’s what I call efficiency!

Franz and Kadis The caretakers Franz, Kadis and Pak Sodir, takes good care of all the guests. Franz, speaks fluent English and was very friendly and helpful throughout my stay in Bandung. Gave me good “street-smart” advices and thanks to that, I have managed to make my seven-day trip in Indonesia a “trouble-free” one.

To sum it all up. I had such a pleasant stay at The Sayana Bed & Breakfast. It was a sweet home away from home. I know I will be back here again someday and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. If you are looking for a nice place to stay in Bandung. Go ahead and give The Sayana B&B a try. You can thank me later.

Find The Sayana Bed & Breakfast.

On Facebook.
On Blogspot.
and Agoda.

More photos.