Whipping through Southeast Asia

I am really bad at writing about my work trips. They send me to incredible places like Singapore and Myanmar and what do I do? I come back and write about pillow menus and tiny t-shirts.

Yes, I spend most of the time doing mysterious work-related things, but not for one moment does it escape me that I am in a new place, working overseas while I am working overseas. I would never take a tuk tuk to an appointment in Newcastle, but in Cambodia? Definitely.

Riding in a tuk tuk phnom penh
The nicest tuk tuk driver ever, by the way.

I am allowing other forms of social media to take over my need to put my experiences down in words. It’s lazy, but I spend more time snapping and instagramming than I do writing, and that’s getting away from who I am.

I am not a photographer; I am a writer who owns a camera. In saying that, short video is too irresistible for me to resist and I will continue embarrassing my husband by snapchatting in public (@laurenvfitz if you’re interested).

However, for this post I’m going to let the photos take over so I can close the book on my November whip-around of Southeast Asia; tomorrow I leave for the next trip – two weeks in Vietnam and Malaysia. I want to start fresh but I don’t want to overlook the days I spent hopping through Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar. So, some photos.


Vietnam is my primary market responsibility, so it is a regular destination. I try to get out and see the cities when I can, but sometimes work dictates that I am limited to a hotel out of the city. This was the case in Hanoi, but still – it was Vietnam.

In Saigon I was lucky and found a tiny art street around the corner from the hotel. As always, the hotels themselves provide me with endless entertainment (push button window shades! ohmygod a free hair tie!). Never ever would I stay in such upmarket places on my personal budget and I appreciate every second.

JW Marriott Hanoi Vietnam
Rain in Hanoi; views from the Marriott.


Ho Chi Minh City from Le Meridien
River views from the pool deck of Le Meridien in a much sunnier Saigon.


fancy hotel Saigon
What. the. heck. This is what you see exiting the lift to the pool in Le Meridien.


Photobomb in Saigon Vietnam
Spot the cheeky photobomb in Saigon.


Tea shop Saigon Vietnam
Note the festive Christmas decorations.
Street art Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
What a find.


I apparently took one photo with my camera in Thailand. The rest, lost forever in a 24 hour snap story documenting the Patpong night markets and the moment after I stepped in wet cement with my flip flop then trailed it through the fancy lobby pictured below. Not my proudest moment.

Lobby of Le Meridien in Bangkok
The only photo I took in Bangkok – of the hotel lobby.


A driver from the Intercontinental Phnom Penh picked me up from the airport, and traffic was horrendous. On the way we passed a factory at closing time; what seemed like nearly one hundred women streamed out, crossing the street on foot, weaving around the cars. All I could think about is that when I see ‘Made in Cambodia’ on a tag, they could be the ones working inhuman hours to make it happen.

We eventually pulled up at the fortress-like hotel well after dark; it wasn’t feasible for me to exit the grounds to find something simple and local for dinner, so I got room service. I have rarely been so strongly aware of my Western privilege. Our world is so unbalanced it’s scary and I’m exceedingly fortunate to be on the right side of it.

Entrance to royal palace Cambodia
The Yellow Brick Road actually leads to the gates of Phnom Penh’s royal palace.


Shrine to the king in Cambodia
Shrine to the king? That’s my guess.


Fish Amok Phnom Penh
Yes, it was room service, but it was mouthwatering. Fish Amok at the Intercontinental.


Two nights in Yangon was a luxury. I stayed at the Novotel, which was nice but out of the way so I maximized my time in the city centre during my last morning and nearly got heatstroke – that sun is serious.

What is notable about Yangon is what is not there – motorbikes are prohibited in the city, immediately making it slightly more navigable on foot than its neighbors Bangkok and Saigon.

Coconut carvings in Myanmar
Coconut monkeys for sale at the market.


KFC next to a temple Myanmar
Myanmar’s first KFC.


Yangon buildings
A few doors down from the KFC, just to drive home how out of place it looks.


Alibaba Amusement Myanmar
Speaking of out of place, there’s also this.
bored street cart seller Yangon
This guy is who I think of when I complain about sitting in front of a computer all day.


Selling fish Myanmar
Fish for sale.


Pigeon feeding Yangon
She paid money to feed those pigeons and it made her so happy.


Downtown Yangon Myanmar
Yangon’s city centre.

I’d better hustle off to bed – my taxi is due at 5am and I don’t want to miss it. This time, my DSLR is staying at home; my notebook, though, that’s coming with me.

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  1. You most likely don’t remember me from LN (Ellen Miesle), but I know Alexa from camp and sometime read your travel posts because I too love traveling (although I’m not lucky enough to have it be my job!). Anyway, wanted to tell you my parents have lived in HoChiMinh City, Vietnam for over a year and are always looking for visitors/English speakers to visit with/host. If you’re interested in having them take you to eat, show you great shops near them, or see the new hospital my dad is helping build there, let me know! I’m on FB or my email is cumminsbe@yahoo.com. Happy travels!

  2. Always refreshing to have things put in perspective (thinking of that guy with the fruit stand especially). Also: KFC in Myanmar?! How fast things change.

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