Granted, this may have been heightened by the fact that the country was still trying to get back on its feet after the tsunami, but it was still a shock to the senses. Before that I had only ever visited much more developed and Westernised countries and was somewhat unprepared. The travel brochures show you the gorgeous sandy beaches and the hypnotising temples; what they don’t show you is everything else.
Something about how foreign and exotic the place felt made further thoughts of backpacking Asia quickly creep into my subconscious. Which was why, two years later, when faced with several decisions on where to take my first solo backpacking trip, Vietnam was the only place that truly captured my imagination. That time, however, I was more prepared for what would await me when I arrived.
I now find myself back in Asia – Malaysia to be exact – and the same conflicting feelings from my first two experiences have resurfaced. If you have ever travelled around parts of Asia you will know exactly what I’m talking about when I say I love it and hate it in equal measure.