Big news! I just booked a one-way ticket to Asia! Words cannot describe how thrilled I am to finally commit to making this long-awaited journey happen. (Or how stoked I was to score a $430 dollar flight, haha.)

Come the end of August, I will be on a flight bound for Hong Kong. From Hong Kong I’ll be playing it by ear- but Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia are all certainly on my to-see list.

And I won’t be flying solo! Accompanying me on my Asia jaunt will be my friend Victoria, a London-based journalist who I met here in Paris.

This trip will involve lots of big cities, beach time and exotic eats. (Lots, and lots of eats.)


Images clockwise from left: Forum Vietnam, Lady Iron Chef, Serious Eats, Destino Gourmet


The route:

On the way to Hong Kong, we will stop for a 24-hour layover in Tokyo during which I intend to stuff myself with sashimi and ramen. While my budget won’t allow for any longer in pricey Japan (sad face), I plan to make the most of my extremely limited time in the land of the rising sun (cue the sushi). In Hong Kong, the only things I know I want to do are wander Macau and nosh on dim sum. After that, we will presumably catch a flight to Southeast Asia- and from there who knows!


Clockwise from top left: WikipediaBali Essence, Sightseeing GroupNomadic Matt

Here is my (very) rough plan for September-December (or longer) 2013:

Hong Kong (5 days)

Indonesia (6 weeks)

Singapore (5 days)

Kuala Lumpur (3 days)

Thailand (6 weeks)

Cambodia (1 month)

…and hopefully there will be time for Laos and Vietnam! As of yet all plans are extremely tentative.

The budget:

At present, I have about $2,000 saved up at present. Womp, womp. I want to save at least $3,000 more before leaving, which means I have four months to get very serious about budgeting, blogging and busting my ass.

My measly budget will mean Couchsurfing in expensive cities like Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as seeking more online work while abroad.

Which begs me to ask, is it a good idea to bring a laptop (Macbook Pro) on a backpacking trip to Asia? I’m so, so apprehensive to bring my one of my most prized possessions. I already have a Pacsafe, but what would everyone recommend for electronics insurance?


The splurges:

While I of course will try to travel frugally, I will also make room in my budget for several once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Which will hopefully include:

Yoga in Bali

I would love to detox in Bali and yoga it up for about a month. Back home, yoga is one of my favorite workouts but I haven’t done much of it in nose-bleed expensive France. I’ve heard really good things about the Yoga Barn, but any recommendations would be fantastic!

Cooking classes in every country

As most of you have probably realized, food and cooking bring me lots of joy, so my trip to Southeast Asia wouldn’t be complete without learning how to cook the dishes of each country. Please comment if you can recommend some great cooking schools!

Scuba-diving certification

Diving-wise, my little brother completely puts me to shame: he has so many diving certifications it makes me green with jealousy! I’ve heard really good things about Roctopus in Koh Tao so I’m thinking of finally getting my diving certification with them.


Other Southeast Asia bucket list items:

In Southeast Asia, I want to do it all: train Muay Thai, work at an elephant sanctuary, party all night at the full-moon party, tube Vang Vieng and take a Thai massage course.

Basically, there will be two competing sides of me on this trip: the 22-year old side of me is incredibly excited to live out of a backpack, get really tan, meet cute boys and drink lots of buckets, while the nerdy, pseudo-anthropologist side of me can’t wait to snap photos of the French-colonial architecture in Kampot, do sun salutations in Bali, and learn how to garnish pho properly.

And most of all, thank you for reading Ashley Abroad. It really means the world to me that people actually read what I have to say, and that I’ve made so many connections with others because of it. I’m so looking forward to sharing my journey with you, especially in Asia!

So readers, I need your help! What are your must-see places of Southeast Asia?

Share it!


Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.