Travel Update: Thailand and The Philippines

I’m always the worst at blogging while on the road so I thought since I’m one month into my trip it would be a good idea to write a post about what I’ve been up to so far!

My current view as I write this post in Bali!

My boyfriend joined me for the first two weeks of my adventures. We landed in Hong Kong and spent 2 nights there exploring the city. Although I’m sure you could spend much longer there and still find things to see and do we felt like we were able to cram all that we really wanted to do into one long day. We explored Kowloon and Hong Kong island mostly by foot (ending the day with walking over a half marathon).

We rode the star ferry to Hong Kong island and took the tram up to see the truly spectacular view of the city.

Our biggest challenge was finding food on a budget when we didn’t quite know where to go. We ended up having a great local experience at a restaurant where it seemed we were the only English speaking people and whom the locals enjoyed a few laughs at our expense as we tried to navigate their seemingly normal customs. First we didn’t know that you shared tables! So when we were hastily pointed to a seat we weren’t sure where to go as all the tables were full.. until we figured it out that we were sitting across another couple! Duh! Our next challenge was navigating the menu. I needed something gluten free and wasn’t too keen on eating any weird meats. After trying to talk with the server about some food options we ended up having a miscommunication and only ordering one dish😂

Although I quite enjoyed it- my hangry boyfriend was very ready to eat. So we walked some more and ended up just spending the extra money at an American restaurant. Classic.

After a great day in Hong Kong we were ready to take on Thailand. We flew straight to Chiang Mai and decided we would work our way down the country. We went from Chiang Mai to Bangkok to Railay to Koh Lanta to Phuket and then both flew out of Phuket on to our own adventures (or I guess in my boyfriends case – back home lol).

Thailand wasn’t my favourite country I had been to (and I’ll write more about it later). I had expected the crowds of people but I felt a little disappointed from all the stunning pictures I had seen there. It seemed that although possible to take beautiful pictures there would always be herds of people unseen in the background and therefore the beauty from these photos felt quite fake. In Railay unfortunately we both began to feel quite sick and felt that way for the following week.

Too sick to eat the pepto hahah

After this experience we found out a lot of people would get sick in Railay from the food. Although there were some things I definitely loved about Thailand – first the food in the North was not only incredibly cheap but was also incredibly delicious! If I could only eat in Chiang Mai for the rest of my life I think I would be very happy. I also really loved Railay once the tourists left from their day trips. The beaches were incredibly quiet in the morning and for sunset and it was amazing having those views to practically just yourself.

It was sad leaving my boyfriend and going off on my own. Although I was excited for my next adventures we had such a great two weeks together and I didn’t want him to leave!

Plus he had been carrying my bag most of the time so it sucked having to carry it on my own now lol.

It was the same price to fly with a short layover in Singapore to Cebu than it would be to include a two night stop so I decided to book my flight with a stopover and explore the city. I truly fell in love with Singapore but my accommodation was absolute shit and my budget just couldn’t afford the nice places to eat/cool things to do. I ended up just wandering around all day and explore the gardens by the bay. I paid to get into the cloud forest and LOVED every second of it. It was surprisingly quiet and I was able to get some beautiful shots.

After barely surviving a literal hostel from hell I left Singapore and headed for the philippines!!! I have been wanted to travel to the Philippines for so long that finally getting to go was very exciting. I spent a week on Cebu island and a week on Palawan. I stayed in Moalboal the entire time I was in Cebu and did any tours from there. I picked Moalboal because I wanted to finally get my PADI open water certification (YASSSS) and had heard about the amazing diving here. It was truly spectacular and such an incredible experience.

My time in Moalboal wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine though. Sadly after a horrible experience in Singapore I found yet another hostel covered in bed bugs. At least this hostel was nice otherwise but unfortunately I found them so late at night that I ended up having to spend my first night on a bench in the hostel grounds. It wasn’t as bad of a sleep as you’d think! There was a security guard and he was nice enough to get me some fans so I had a very comfortable few hours rest. The next night my saint of a boyfriend got me a hotel to clean up and give myself time to find a new place to stay. I ended up staying at the dive centre itself and I’m so glad I did. It was close to all the restaurants and right by the water. I ended up meeting some really cool solo travellers there too and we had a great time diving and exploring the island.

On days that I wasn’t diving I went to Kawasan falls via scooter and Oslob to see the whale sharks. The whole whale shark situation merits a blog post on its own… so I’ll save that for when I get home! Kawasan falls was beautiful and I was surprised by how little tourists were there. Maybe it’s because we just went on our own without a tour but it seemed that mostly locals were swimming there. There are many little falls and swimming areas you can hike to so you’re able to get a private part of the falls if you want.

After hiking up to almost the top we were crossing a stream when my flip flop just completely fell apart with no way of salvaging it! Haha I ended up having to walk down in the mud barefoot – did I mention it had just rained too? 😂 Moalboal threw me lots of curve balls from the bed bugs to getting a coral cut (which is now a little infected SOS) but I really enjoyed my time there. However after a week I was ready to leave Moalboal and head to Palawan for another adventure. I decided to spend one night in Puerto Princesa on either end of my trip to El Nido as it’s about a 5-6 hour drive to get there.

El Nido was just as beautiful as people had raved about- although it is quite a bit more expensive and much less developed. Many people were getting sick from the food or water and even I left fighting something off after only a few days. While there I did a combination A&C island hopping tour. There’s essentially 4 tours you can do (A-D) and if you do a combination it’s just the highlights from each!

In the philippines it seemed like you would keep running in to the same travellers you met in different islands and hostels so while in El Nido I had lots of friends I was able to meet up with and explore and would run into others just on the beach or at restaurants. This definitely made my time in El Nido much more enjoyable and we had a blast together even through a thunderstorm while out on a little boat in the middle of the ocean haha. – the Philippines really tried to kill me I think but hi I’m still here.

I’ll write much more about my time in the philippines if you’re curious about going yourself once I’m back home. On my last night back in Puerto Princesa I went to find a salon because I had seen a sign leaving that said 85 php for a mani!!!! Um that’s a 2 dollar mani😂 so I went and got my nails done for less than $5! Woo!

Now I’m currently in Bali. When I left to come here I told myself to leave any negativity I had from my bad hostel experiences in Singapore and Moalboal behind and just roll with the punches as they come fighting any unfortunate situations with humour instead. Well, I’m glad I had this mentality as when I arrived I had a crazy night and I think laughing about this would be the only way to get through it. If you have me on snapchat then you know what went down lmao – if you don’t then you should A) add me: stephnordlund but also I’ll write a post about what happened very shortly!!!

So far I am very impressed with Bali – it is just as touristy as people warned yet still a place that’s enjoyable and makes you want to stay forever. If you’ve been to Chiang Mai then Canggu kind of reminds me of it mixed with an LA art scene vibe – with all the delicious restaurants and coffee shops for incredibly low prices. I had gluten free pancakes and ice coffee this morning for $5 and bought a cinnamon bun (also GF) for only $2!!! Heaven!

Just devoured this bad boy

Many many posts about my time in Asia will come once I’m home and I have the chance to go through my already thousands of pictures and adventures! In the meantime follow my insta: travelbugsteph and Snapchat: stephnordlund for my live adventures and stories!!❤️

Xx, S

9 thoughts on “Travel Update: Thailand and The Philippines

Add yours

  1. I felt exactly the same about Thailand – it always looked so beautiful in the pictures but in real life it was just heaps and heaps of tourists. It was still beautiful, but sad that it’s just become another tourist trap! I also agree with you on the Singapore front – it was one of my favourite places in Asia. Great post and great pictures, even the Thailand ones haha xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad I’m not alone in this! Still has some of the best food but none of it felt authentic anymore. Thank you!!😊 xx


  2. Proud Filipino here! I’m glad that you enjoyed your stay in the Philippines (most of the time, at least). Ahahah. There is so much to see here and I agree with you that Palawan is as beautiful as seen on the photos in the internet. Great post!

    Carlo, weheartraveling

    Liked by 1 person

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