Category Archives: Trip Prep

Sorry, I’ll be busy with Africa.

When in your life do you get to say, “sorry, I cant, I’ll be in Africa”!? I do…for the next month!!

I’m going to be on the South West Safari for 25 days with Acacia Africa! We go from Johannesburg, through Kruger, Chobe, and Estosha National Parks, To victoria Falls, the Oldest Desert and highest dues in the world in Namibia, and end in Cape Town.

I feel like my trip is like some trippy version of time travel, starting in the first world and working my way back. As I listen to the complaints of the cost in Australia made by my friends doing similar trips in reverse, I cant help but be thankful that I am doing mine in the order I am. If I’d stepped off a plane and into India I would have been home for Christmas.

That being said, Africa is the beast of this trip to me. It’s like the ultimate cool, crazy thing…Lots of people work for a year in Australia, tons do the south east asia loop, and its a yogis unofficial mission to make it to India…but Africa…not a lot of people do Africa. I’m still a little undecided on how I feel that I’ll be leaving without volunteering officially this time around, but I think I’ve subconsciously planned that in such a way that will force me to go back.

I will be touring the southern tip of the massive continent which checks many things off ye good old bucket list but Kilimanjaro and Kenya for the great migration are still hanging out.

I have a few more days in India…I’ve decided to fly to Mumbai because trains from Jaipur are waitlisted for the next week except first class which was more than flying plus airport transfers, then I fly Ethiopian Airlines (which supposedly has a safe flight record) to Johannesburg on Tuesday morning. 10 hours of flying for 400 bucks–Why is air travel in Canada so damn expensive!

Anyway, I’m sure I will post again before I leave, but I had to post to share my excitement as I scrambled to get finances sorted today and the lady on the phone suggested I come in later in the week, I got to say, “sorry, I’ll be in Africa”

PS getting 1000USD for a kitty and visas while abroad is challenging and expensive and should be done further in advance than 3 working days.

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India travel tips…so far

Get a mobile phone. You need it to book anything online…and anything online is easier than dealing with Indian travel agents.

Book trains at the post office, either 2AC is a good benchmark to aim for.

Often, flying is worth it…less than 100 bucks and way quicker/safer….plus the airports are a great reprieve from the otherswise dirty streets of India

1.25L of water is probably 18ish rupees. Don’t pay more than 7 for chai, even that is high…and know that you are literally getting 2 ounces of beverage.

If somebody shows you 5 fingers for a price, it is 50 not 5.

Samosas aren’t that great here…parathas, chapatti, and curry however are a whole new world to the west. Ohhhh and the Thalis-yum!

Tourist bus means round trip…and it is also often all Indian tourists

Ashrams are not as glamorous as even eat pray love makes them out to be.

Thums up is like spicy coke with 10 times more sugar.

They like to salt fresh fruit juices, and put sugar on fruit you buy in the street.

Look carefully where you are stepping…there are many animals in the streets dumping the garbage they consumed for lunch, and nobody cleans it up….and it doesn’t really smell much worse than the rest of the street.

Eat with your right hand, something about wiping your arse with your left.

Wash your hands often, and especially before eating…there’s always a surprise that requires you to eat with your hands

Taxes are not included and they are high. Tipping is also expected…for pretty much everything it seems, or maybe I’m just a foreigner so they try…haven’t sorted that yet, but I did have to justify not tipping the guide who yelled at me in Hindi for 20 minutes about not being late returning from the Taj then waited 2 hours for the Indians to come back.

You will see people living in conditions way poorer than in South East Asia. You can’t save them all, but be grateful for what we have at home.

They are conservative…but Sarees show skin, look at one and judge what you think is relative.

Markets are outdoor malls….bazaars are what Western folk would call a market.

Traffic is bad. There are actually cars vs. just motos in SE Asia, it’s a whole new world of traffic jam

If taking a bus to one place, expect to stop at 10 other temples, marble shoppes, and often for food, it took 7 hours to get to Agra from Dehli…a 200km journey.

Use big bills wisely, and be careful not to rip any.

Book in advance…my new found spontaneity is not serving me well thus far.

If you are a girl alone and you have even the most distant of connections, this is the time to use them.

More Indians than you think speak English, be nice and they will at least try, be harsh and good luck.

Visas & Border Crossings in South East Asia

This isn’t ALL the info…this is info for Flying in to DPS, Bali then to Singapore, then overland to Malaysia-Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos-Thailand on a Canadian passport in 2013.

Vietnam Visa: 60 dollars, get it in advance, there is also an e-visa system for air arrivals, 45 in advance, 15 on arrival. Extentions in country, overstay is 5 per day. Its like 15 minutes to get done in sihanoukville in person but it’s a bit out of the way solid 45 min walk from water) so most places charge 10 bucks to get it processed…use your judgement on what’s good for you.

Cambodia Visa: 20 on arrival…anything from Thailand by land will charge you more, the airport, Laos, and Vietnam borders are well regulated. Extention is 40, overstay is 5usd per day ***Cambodia is the only SE Asia country with atms that dispense in USD….get all the USD you need for Visas here, you will get ripped off on exchange elsewhere ***

Thailand: 30 by air arrival, 15 by land, 60 day tourist visa extendable to 90 once in Thailand is 1000 baht but needs to be done before hand…it is 40USD in Hanoi, 110 MYR in Penang, and 1000 baht in Vientiane. Double that for a dual entry. Malaysia is the only visa run country that doesn’t have a visa charge itself. You can do a visa run to Myanmar for a 10 dollar fee at the border crossing closest to Phuket. Getting a 60 day is cheaper than extending or paying the overstay 500 baht pd. If you get a double entry visa it means you can enter for 60 days, renew for 30 additional (90 total) then leave and do it again so 6 months total…but once you’ve left, the first ‘90’ days is done, and you start your second entry at day 1 of your second 60/90. If you’re getting your visa in Vientiane there is a massively long line and wait, so beware…also people out front to scam you saying they’ll process for a fee…there ARE application forms inside! Also you will need photocopies of your passport, Laos Visa, and Laos stamp page which you can do for 1000 kip at the consulate. There are like 20 tuk tuks and mini buses to the border at 2-4 pm daily after pick up.

Laos: 42 for Canadians, 35 for UK, USA, lots of the EU (some only 30). You will pay 1USD to ‘stamp’, and 2 more if it is after 4:30, a weekend, or a holiday.
Indonesia: 25 on arrival, 150,000 IDR departure tax paid only in IDR and the atm at DPS airport only dispenses in 100’s, you can extend in country.

Myanmar: 20-30USD in advance Border runs to Myanmar charge at $10 stamping fee in/out of Myanmar

Malaysia, Singapore: free.

Bonus….India: cheapest in Vietnam by about 10USD….it is 63 for everyone but Japanese (74) and Americans (83) but takes a full 5 days to process…time it well. Hanoi is great because you can go to Halong Bay and Sapa while waiting but get copies of your passport…Vietnam is sticky about it for hotel stays. Nicest embassy I’ve visited for sure.

Overland border crossings
Singapore-Malaysia…hectic because people do it for work daily, but simple and efficient.
Malaysia-Thailand (hat yai) also simple, any mini bus pretty much holds your hand…however make sure you’ve filled out your arrival card fully, the thai border officials aren’t known for their friendliness.

Thailand-Cambodia(poipet)…basically any border in this direction is a mess, poipet is the worst. Not unsafe, just a scam. There’s about 3 fake border offices, do NOT pay in baht, and you do not ever NEED to pay an extra processing fee….follow signs for ‘pre-arranged’ visas to take you to the real boreder!

Cambodia-HCMC: Because the viet visas are pre done it’s quick and easy. The 8 dollar bus from pp to hcmc will arrange it all and get the passports stamped as a group. No fee.

Vietnam-laos (Vientiane): you will pay 1 dollar to stamp leaving Vietnam (or 20000vnd), then as mentioned 1 dollar stamping at laos, plus 2 more on weekends holidays and after hours.

Laos-Thailand (Huay Xai-Gibbon): Super easy. Any package bus deal will include your bus across the river, if not I think it was less than 100 baht. Out bus dropped us off by the night market (LP-CM) so we didn’t have to pay for the sorongatheu from Arcade station which was nice. buses leave the Thai border town at 6 and 10 am. Paid no stamping fees on either side.

Fire me a message if you have any questions.