When Aaron Budnick landed in Bangkok, Thailand, he had nothing but a backpack and a Lonely Planet book.
It was the start of Budnick’s five-month backpacking trip through Southeast Asia, and he didn’t exactly know where he was going.
Budnick, who was 22 at the time, hadn’t really planned his trip ahead of time. He graduated from Syracuse University in May of 2014, and in October was offered a job with Microsoft in Seattle, but he wouldn’t be starting the job till June or July of next year.
He saw the free time he had as an opportunity that not many people get, and he wanted to take advantage of it.
“The way we look at the world is you go to college and graduate, and you get a job or you go to grad school, and then by the time you get to be 40, you’re like, ‘Oh wow I wish I went and did something,'” Budnick said. “The ride is the important part.”
So Budnick made the decision to backpack — by himself — through southeast Asia. It was his first time in Asia, and he didn’t speak the language of any of the countries he would be visiting.
Budnick started in southern Thailand, made his way to Cambodia and Vietnam, then flew to northern Thailand, and ended his trip in Indonesia. He got around by bus, boat, motorcyle, and plane. Throughout his trip, Budnick befriended many other backpackers from all over the world, covered 2,000 miles on a motorcyle he bought in Vietnam, stayed with locals, visited temples and beaches, and tried the local food.
Budnick started his travels in Southern Thailand. While there, he visited the Wat Arun, or Temple of Dawn, which stands on the western banks of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.
He then made his way to Cambodia where he saw the Ta Prohm Temple. Budnick said the temple is known as the tomb raider temple and is part of Angkor Wat in the city of Siem Reap. It was used by the Khmer Empire, but then abandoned, allowing trees to overtake the temple.
In order to catch of glimpse of one of the smaller, poorer villages in Cambodia, Budnick hiked up a small mountain. The homes here are built on stilts over water.