Asia, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Travel

Stray Asia | The Indochina Hangover

stray asia

Stray Asia - Words and Wanderlust

The plan was simple: travel through Indochina for 18 days, female and solo. It was the niche all phenomenal travel blogs were made of. Would-be travel articles formed bodies in my head: introspective and whimsical; the kind that would call for blockbusters or bestsellers, whichever comes first.

But 18 days became 29 and the “solo” traveling never happened. The niche, the hope of churning out sellable travelogues crumbled in the wake of many drunken nights, and my travel memoir fell into limbo– then as my blood alcohol level stabilized to a decent percentage– into a class of its own.

Even now as I write this, my recollection is mangled. By residual hangover, post travel depression or perpetual high? I am unsure. But I have a map in my head, each stop pinned with a story within stories. Those are what I shall attempt to gather today.



In Bangkok, I slipped on a stranger’s vomit at breakfast. But having overdosed on Chang beer the night prior, I was forgiving to those who were in the same plight.

In Ayutthaya, I burnt alive. Cycling at high noon around temple ruins looked easy on the free tourist map I have since crumpled unrecognizable. In 3 hours, I have at least downed 5 liters of liquid without peeing. It didn’t help that the people I was with seemed to pay no mind to heatstroke. FML.

In Chiang Mai, a boy and I conquered all of the town’s five gates on foot. We found a place that sold the yummiest mango and sticky rice in all of Thailand, got wasted over Mug-a-ritas from a Mexican restaurant, attempted whitewater rafting on a dry river and watched elephants paint among others. The boy, ladies and gentlemen, murdered my solo travel dreams.

In Chiang Rai, pop culture figured in an avant-garde Buddhist temple. Doraemon and Michael Jackson stood out. My hopes are fervent, as pure as the white temple and as precious as the gold toilet, that Sheldon Cooper be included in the very near future.

In Chiang Kong, a Belgian bar owner and his Thai wife gave me and my friends free tequila shots after a night of pool, poker and SanMig Light. To this day, I still couldn’t work out how I got home unscathed on a bicycle.



In Luang Namtha, a village of weavers welcomed me home. In the afternoon, we bathed at a nearby stream and built a bonfire at night. I taught the parents how to play Temple Run on iPad while the children learned Wiz Khalifa’s Young Wild and Free acapella.

In Nong Khiauw, I slept on a cottage with a hammock by an old French bridge. The town was tucked between boulders– limestone mountains with caves as armpits. I was the wee flea that cycled around and guzzled Beer Lao in between.

In Luang Prabang, breakfast meant Lao coffee on an outdoor cafe while writing postcards for the boylove half a world away. Lunch was kayaking for 3 hours under an ever angry sun or shooting kid monks with waterguns. Dinner, love, was almost always in the Mekong or by the Mekong.

In Vang Vieng, I went tubing with a dude I wasn’t in a relationship with. A lady bartender gave us each a bracelet for good luck and good love, convinced that we were on honeymoon no matter how we denied we weren’t. A couple of local kids hitched a ride in our tube a second later and together, we looked like a family. Again, FML.

In Ventianne, there wasn’t a dry moment. Where else would Songkran be best celebrated than in the capital? But not even endless water parties, a golden stupa and a victory gate reminiscent of the French came close to what transpired over Lemon vodka that night. And no, I’m not telling.

In Tad Leuk, the night was spent in a museum in the middle of a National Park beside a dry basin that was supposedly a waterfall in the wet season. The part of the ceiling directly opposite to where I slept had a gaping hole in it. I imagined extra large mice or small monkeys, but in the darkness, I only heard geckos.  But they sounded like they’re as big as alligators.

In Kong Loh, wonderlands were seven kilometers long and underground. My transient dwelling had big windows that opened to a field of tobacco that kissed the feet of the distant rock formations. It was one of the few places I didn’t wanna leave.

In Tha Kek, I feasted on pork intestines and beer while basking in sunset from the side of Laos overlooking Thailand.  For breakfast the next day, I pretended I wasn’t a backpacker and dined in a posh hotel. All in the name of free wifi.

In Xe Champhone, a forest of monkeys graced my arrival. In return, I handfed them bagsful of bananas. That was my last memory, the rest have been clouded by the cases of Beer Lao we downed in between water fights and interpretative dances in the tune of Whistle Baby.

In Pak Se, I had laolao whiskey on the Pak Se hotel’s rooftop bar. It was the first time in three weeks that I dressed up and the strap of my dress snapped. A gentleman in a flaming lycra bodysuit was kind enough to make some last minute repairs and managed to plaster the whole hullabaloo into the elastic of my bra strap. Until then, I never knew men were capable of the opposite of undressing.

In Don Det, I found Boca Del Cielo. Finding a beach in a landlocked country was like Alice finding the rabbithole that led to wonderland. It happened at twilight, my favorite time of the day, and after an afternoon of spotting dolphins and chasing waterfalls.


In Preah Rumkel, I ticked off a bucket list: cross a border illegally and succeed. There was a village fair going on and I easily camouflaged as a local. Lukewarm cans of Angkor beer were sold on dust-laden pop up stores tended by teenagers wearing jackets under the noontime sun. For the first time in the entire trip, I said no to beer.

In Siem Reap, I nursed the worst hangovers on the mornings after the best nights of my life. Happiness came in the forms of alcohol buckets with half a dozen straws and buy one take one cocktails. In Pub Street, I’ve mastered the very useful art of photobombing and the equally essential science of c*ckblocking.

In Poipet, I ate dog meat. Enough said.

This post is part of a travel series featuring a month-long (supposedly) solo jaunt to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia


This post has also been published on Thought Catalog.

Published by Rain Campanilla

Born under the star of Sagittarius, the centaur of adventure; and in the year of the Rat, the ever curious--- Travel is my birthright.

32 thoughts on “Stray Asia | The Indochina Hangover”

  1. mark julius Estur says:

    wow! reading at your adventures, you are truly rakistangnars! i just love it! the adventures sans the hangovers make it your niche in travel.blogging! more travels! cheers!

  2. Rain Campanilla says:

    Hey Mark! thank you for taking time to read my blog. Happy Travels to you as well 🙂

  3. Mike says:

    Hey, a new internet acronym, FML – thanks. Sort of applies to all situations. I know i’ve overindulged when the back of my eyeballs burn. It’s a dead giveaway. Loved your article.

  4. Endette Mendoza says:

    always a treat reading your blog. 🙂 thanks for sharing your adventures.

  5. Rain Campanilla says:

    you are most welcome dear. thank you for taking time to read my blurbs. happy travels!

  6. Rain Campanilla says:

    hey Mike, thanks for dropping by. Are you silverbackpacker on twitter?

  7. Mike says:

    No, I don’t twit (yet).

  8. Rain Campanilla says:

    really? mind if i ask how did you come across my blog?

  9. Rain Campanilla says:

    which one? i have two 🙂

  10. Mike says:

    Top of back – writing.

  11. Rain Campanilla says:

    ah. “iamdavids” – there’s an article on fliptravels about it.

    “What I tell people: I AM DAVID’S – is my take on the biblical young champion, the underdog who slew the giant. It embodies everything that I stand for– loyalty to the land, love of family and the will to rise from the ranks of poverty. It also signifies my faith, even in the smallest of things, like hitting bulls-eye with a lone slingshot.

    “What is true: I fell for someone who I knew, even then, would never be in my future. So I chose to immortalize what was in my then present and etch a claim that I will carry on my back for as long as it takes. (He also had my name cover his forearm.) I loved many others after that and it was heartbreaking to see them bear the truth of me having somebody else’s name on my skin. But it turned out to be the most reliable test of acceptance, because in the end, I took who stayed.”

  12. Mike says:

    Ah, ok. I thought the 1st letter was “l” from the picture and “lamdavids” didn’t make much sense. I like it. I’ll look for that article. Daghang salamat!

  13. Eileen of The Super Tourists says:

    Ganito na pala dito ngayon,soooo purdy!

    Amazing run through your trip! I love how how instagram feed is on here so we get to relive your posts but with more commentary. Indeed how plans go on and take a life of its own. #maypinaghuhugutan

    I can’t wait for the individual muni munis! 😀 *rubs palms maniacally*

  14. lamyerda says:

    I love your indochina adventures! As always, impressive choice of words. 🙂 Hope to see you on the road and share massive quantities of beer somewhere… Rock on! 😉

  15. Rain Campanilla says:

    yeah, if only i could summon enough strength to fight off procrastination 😛

    hope to travel with you and the happy meal, one day soon <3

  16. Rain Campanilla says:

    true that! will be in Pinas December Riz, hpe we could travel together then <3

  17. daene, says:

    “Until then, I never knew men were capable of the opposite of undressing.”

    My favorite line from the whole thing. This was so much fun to read! 🙂

  18. Dave (Silverbackpacker) says:

    Hi Rain I am silverbackpacker on twitter and fb. Just seen your question to Mike !!!!! Why did you ask??? Dave

  19. rakistangnars says:

    Hi Dave! If my memory serves me right, Mike started commenting on my posts around the time you retweeted/followed me on twitter. somehow, i thought you were the same person. That is all 🙂

  20. Hildy says:

    You are insane and an inspiration! Absolutely love how you dictate ur trip, concise and to the point, leaving me nothing but in awe. Im all psyched for my 10 days amazing race trip (you commented on my page). Any advice?

  21. Svetoslav Dimitrov says:

    Hey, what a nice way to write your adventures! 🙂 Did you like the dog meat?

  22. Svetoslav Dimitrov says:

    Hey, what a nice way to write your adventures! 🙂 Did you like the dog meat?

  23. Rain Campanilla says:

    Hi Svetoslav! Certainly not, but I was hungover and famished! 🙁 I was beside my self with guild the moment I found out </3

  24. Rain Campanilla says:

    Hi Svetoslav! Certainly not, but I was hungover and famished! 🙁 I was beside my self with guild the moment I found out </3

  25. Svetoslav Dimitrov says:

    Really, I loved it in China.

  26. Svetoslav Dimitrov says:

    Really, I loved it in China.

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