Next Up… South East Asia!

Posted on October 12, 2012

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As you may have noticed, this week’s Wednesday Wishes has not been posted (what?! And I’m only 2 weeks in! I know.). While I do apologize, I have a very good excuse:  I found myself very much caught up in something else… Planning my trip to South East Asia! I finally booked my flights, I’m leaving in February, it’s happening and I couldn’t be more excited!

As I mentioned before in other articles, this is something I have been wanting to do for a long time and have been working towards for months. It will be my first extended solo backpacking trip, though it’s not as extended as I would like it to be, and here’s why:

planning

So… Where do I begin?

I started saving up when I was still in school, working towards a 7 month trip after graduation. Unfortunately, due to some recent events, I was forced to quit school last month, uprooting my entire life. This not only left me with a year of uncertainty ahead of me, losing my study financing also significantly cut my income short. I was miserable, more trapped than ever and have never wanted to travel more.

What did I do? I upped my game. I have never saved so much in such a short amount of time, I seriously don’t know how I did it (okay, I do… I’ll write a post on that later!), but it still wasn’t going to be enough to go abroad for 7 months. I had a choice; I could stay miserable and save up for another year, hoping I’d still be able to go by then (who knows what will happen in a year!), or I could cut my trip short, go now and start enjoying life again, hopefully coming back with a fresher take on things and an idea of where I want to go next. The decision wasn’t that hard really, and here’s what made it even easier:

Meet Nick. Extremely cute, impossible to leave.

Remember the best boyfriend ever? The one I explored Barcelona with and the one who’s taking me to Rome for my birthday? This is him! Meet Nick, the cutest guy alive. It may be easy deciding to leave the country for 7 months when you’re alone, it sure as hell isn’t the same when you’re in love. With that in mind, I’ve tried everything not to fall for this guy but I couldn’t help it, it seems that being apart just isn’t meant to be for us. This is the kind of thing I’m sure I want to come home to. Leaving him for 3,5 months? I’ll miss him, but sure. Leaving him for over half a year? Hell no.

I’m afraid that if I don’t go now, I’ll never go. I have the time, I have the money, this is travel handed to me on a silver platter. On top of that, during a random search for flight tickets, I found the greatest deal ever: a return flight with Emirates from Düsseldorf to Bangkok for €582,-! That’s as cheap as it’s going to get. All the signs were pointing in the right direction; South East Asia. Now. I booked the flight and it was like a great weight was lifted off my shoulders. I’m going. I’m really going…

The Plan?

During my trip in Spain last summer, I learned not to plan too much or it will end up working against me. I picked 4 countries that I really want to see, but because I don’t have that much time in the area, I might have to skip one of them in the end. For now:

Thailand

I’ve been dreaming of Thailand for years now and I can’t believe it’s finally coming true. Many people say that Thailand is “ruined” and “overrun by tourists”, frankly, I don’t care. I can’t wait to eat the street food, see the temples, get a massage or just relax on one of Thailand’s many paradise-like beaches! Do I need to say more? I recently read “13 reasons why I love Thailand” on yTravel blog and it nearly made me book a flight for next week (check it out if you’re in need of some inspiration)! Thailand will be a great, if not perfect place to start my solo-adventure, I think. Places I’m definitely going to visit are: Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pai, Koh Chang and Koh Lanta. The best part? I’ll be there for Songkran! Something I’ve been excited over ever since I read this post by Adventurous Kate.

Laos

For years my foster mom has been encouraging me to go to friendly, beautiful Laos. My friend Merel, who went on her first backpacking trip at the beginning of this year, raved about Laos for weeks! To be honest, I didn’t need much encouraging, I had my sights set on it since I first saw the pictures. I hope Laos will be the place that teaches me how to relax, as I find it harder and harder to remember how to do that. I hope I will come to love Lao culture just as much as my foster mom and friends did. Mere 6 months from now, I’ll be zip-lining through the jungle in the Bokeo province, tubing down the river in Vang Vieng and sleeping in a hammock on Don Det. A 6 month wait has never seemed so long…

Image: DamianHR

Myanmar/Burma

As I told you in my first Wednesday Wishes post; Myanmar is at the top of my wish list! There is something about this country that has an amazing pull on me and from all the countries I’ve been wanting to go to, this is the most desired destination. Not as easy to travel as the rest of SE Asia, I think this will also be the biggest challenge for me. But the biggest challenges are often the most rewarding. Places I’m definitely going to see: Bagan, Yangon, Golden Rock, Inle Lake and Mandalay.

Cambodia
I’ve read so many beautiful things about Cambodia that it would almost be an insult not to go, when I’m in the area anyway. While Cambodia hasn’t got the same pull on me as the other 3 countries, I’m almost sure that it will pleasantly surprise me once I’m there experiencing everything first hand. How can it not, after all the stories I’ve heard? Of course, there is Angkor Wat, the temple complex that seems to be on every backpacker’s bucket list (including mine!), there’s backpacker party central Sihanoukville, there’s Phnom Penh, Kampot, Ban Lung… Too much really! Ohh, who am I kidding? I want to go there! Tomorrow!

What about this blog?

Well, I had given myself 3 months to see if I enjoyed blogging, before I would be turning it into something more “serious”. My verdict? I absolutely love it. I’m going to spend the next 5 months improving this blog; I’m looking into self-hosting, I’m learning about SEO and I’m talking to a designer. I still don’t know where it’s going, but I know I want to make this into something I can be proud of. By the time I’m in Asia, I want this blog to be up and running so I can share my stories with you while I’m on the road!

So that’s my life right now. It gave me lemons, so I decided to make the best damn lemonade I knew how. 5 months from now, I’ll be pouring it into a bucket and sipping it up while listening to the waves on a deserted white sandy beach. Doesn’t sound too bad.

Have you been to South East Asia before? I would love to read your stories! Leave a comment or tweet me up

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