Monday, July 18, 2016

Banana Pancake Trail 2016

by Regin Reyno

I’m so excited for my upcoming travel. This will be my longest independent travel so far. 16 days on the Banana Pancake Trail. It is an imaginary trail in Southeast Asia named after a favorite snack/breakfast amongst western tourists that is being served on this trail; the Banana Pancake. (muesli and yogurt, too)

Although I’ve traveled for 5 months straight in Europe and America in 2006, I was with a group and didn’t do the planning and all that stuff. So, this will be my longest independent travel, so far. I’ve done independent travels in the past, but not as long as this one. Whew! So excited!

I started backpacking or traveling independently in 2011. We did a 9 day-travel on the Banana Pancake Trail, as well. That was Bangkok, Thailand-Siem Reap, Cambodia-Saigon, Vietnam-Siem Reap-Bangkok for 9 days. Independent travel on a budget; and then, our Klement Backpacking and Ministry in 2012. Since then, I fell in love with backpacking and the Banana Pancake Trail. So now, even If I’m already based in Beijing, I will go back to Southeast Asia to experience more this trail. 

The Banana Pancake Trail, though not a literal trail is likened unto famous travelers' trail like the Gringo Trail and the Hippie Trail. 

This trail is full of backpackers, travel bloggers, hostels, internet cafes, guesthouses, travel agencies, bars, cafes, massage spas, night markets, overnight buses, railways, budget airlines, motorbikes for rent, and restaurants (and of course, touts). 

These are the places that are part of the Banana Pancake Trail

THAILAND-Bangkok (Khaosan rd.), Pai, Chiang Mai (Tha Pae Gate), Krabi, Phuket, Koh Samet, Koh Tao, Kanchanaburi, Koh Pangan (with its world-infamous Full Moon Party), Koh Phi Phi

CAMBODIA-Siem Reap (home to Angkor Wat), Sihanoukville and its off-shore islands, Battambang, Phnom Penh, Kampon

MYANMAR-Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake

LAOS-Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang, Nong Khiaw, Bolaven Plateau, Si Phan Don (The 4000 Islands)

VIETNAM-Saigon (Pham Ngu Lao st.), Dalat, Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Sapa

MALAYSIA-Penang, the Perhentian Islands, Melaka, Ipoh, Cameroon highlands 

INDONESIA-Lake Toba, Yogyakarta (Marioboro), Mount Bromo and the islands of Bali, Lombok, and Gili Trawangan

PHILIPPINES-Boracay, Banaue, Sagada, El Nido, Siargao

SINGAPORE-Little India 

NEPAL-Pokhara, Thamel in Kathmandu, Everest Base Camp
INDIA-Goa, Pushkar, Varanasi, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Kerala, Agra (Taj South Gate)
CHINA-Dali, Lijiang, Yangshuo  

I’ve been to some of these backpacker places before. 

Siem Reap in CAMBODIA
Bangkok, Krabi, Pai, Chiang Mai, and Koh Samet in THAILAND
Yogyakarta (Marioboro) in INDONESIA
Vientiane in LAOS 
Banaue in the PHILIPPINES
Yangon and Bagan in MYANMAR
Saigon in VIETNAM
Jaipur and Agra in INDIA
Yangshuo in CHINA

Having able to experience some places on this trail, I can say that these are some of the best destinations on the planet. Tourists flock here for a reason. These places are laden with the best attractions this planet has to offer. Majestic mountains, magnificent rice terraces, karsts, awe-inspiring scenery, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, lagoons, pristine beaches, jaw-dropping ancient architectures, mouth-watering cuisines, temples, old churches, vibrant culture, wonders of the world (Angkor Wat, Taj Mahal, Shwe Dagon Pagoda, Borobudur, Banaue Rice Terraces), friendly locals (beautiful women, too). And the best part of all-it’s inexpensive. The cost of living in Southeast Asia is low, especially compared to Western countries. So, to go to these destinations, you can enjoy, relax, splurge, and experience different kinds of activities without breaking the bank.

That’s why apart from Europe, Southeast Asia is my favorite travel destination, especially the Banana Pancake Trail.

With a vibrant backpacker community in these area, there will never be a dull moment. It’s a good opportunity to interact with fellow travelers from all over the world, make friends, make memories, as well as mingle with the locals. 

From Beijing, I will be flying to Bangkok and start from there ala Richard from the movie The Beach. And from there, we’ll see what adventure awaits me on this well-trodden trail in Southeast Asia.

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