Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Long-Awaited Long-Term Travel Begins!

Over summer holiday, I traveled around Asia for a couple months. Pretty soon upon departure, I knew I was hooked, and I wouldn't be able to go home without seeing more of this continent. I remember distinctly it was on those long night buses in Vietnam that I began devising what would become my current long-term travel plan. The girl I met & traveled in Vietnam with and I even began discussing the possibility of an India trip together.

Once I moved to Ubon, my sole pre-occupation and determination to stick out the semester was to save money for the biggest trip of my life yet. Although I made sure not to sacrifice having fun, I had a very clear goal of mind of saving money, and stuck to it. Although the school canteen was without a doubt the worst food I've had in Thailand (..or in life), the free price had me coming back for more. Often the only money I'd exchange during the work week was a 30 baht dinner. I had after-school tutoring for extra cash, allowing me to mainly refrain from touching my Thai account.

When I wasn't writing during my free time, I was researching and planning travel. My original idea was a few destinations over a couple months before returning home, but slowly I kept adding places I wanted to go and extending my time frame until it reached its current 8 countries over five months (although I still do not have a return date set in stone).

I knew I couldn't leave Southeast Asia without seeing Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos. When my friend moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, I noticed flights were quite cheap from Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta. With the thought process that it's gonna cost a hellava lot more to go to Indonesia when I'm home, I booked a trip to see my former Moosewood co-worker. India has been on my radar for quite some time, and why make it a separate trip when the Bangkok to India flight fares were too good to pass up? And if I was going to go to India, the mystifying country of Sri Lanka was practically begging me to stop over with such low fares. Furthermore....if I was going to head west after India, why not just pop over to visit my best friend in Israel and finally get to experience that wonderful country on my own itinerary? It all made too much sense!
When plans didn't work out to go to India with Krista, it wasn't like me to rule it out. If you can't depend on yourself, then who can you depend on? I experienced traveling solo once before and loved the freedom and control of it. But, I knew that India was a complete other ball game for even the most experienced traveler. After extensive research and speaking to well-traveled India friends about traveling solo as a female, I made the well-researched decision to go for it. India will be a completely different part of my trip; I know it's not going to be a walk in the park. I'm not going to India for vacaton, but I am going to India to see and experience India. 

I am happy with the plan I have. When comparing itineraries with traveling friends, some had each day planned out to a tee, knowing which city they will be in every single night. While their mothers may be happier with this information than my own parents are about mine, my semi-loose itinerary allows for flexibility, traveling with people I meet along the way and the much needed R&R days I'll surely take.

And it's already begun. By the time this blog is scheduled to post, my sister and friend will already be here in Bangkok with me. On Tuesday, we will head to the beautiful beaches in southern Thailand. After they leave, I'll make my way into Malaysia for a couple weeks, with a 6-day trip to see my friend in Indonesia. I will then meet some Ithaca girlfriends in Cambodia for a couple weeks. I'll journey up to get to know Laos, until I finally return to Thailand for two weeks to prepare for my biggest part of the trip to come: Sri Lanka and INDIA. I will meet another friend in Goa, India for New Years, but after 10 days with her, I'll be on my own with nothing planned yet. I may stay anywhere from 1-2 months (or less, if I really don't feel comfortable) until I pop over to Israel and finally home.

I do have many dates and flights booked, but there is a lot to be determined along the way, which is awesome and exciting. I have a solid mix of friend travel along the way, but I am especially looking forward to all the experiences and people I will meet that comes along with solo travel. This is my trip and I can do what I want to!

Note: In an effort to lighten my load, I will be traveling without a computer. I am sure I'll find ways to blog on the road from my iPod or internet cafes, but the quality of photos, writing and frequency may decrease. If I miss writing too much, as this blog has become an important outlet for myself, I may just pick up a notebook computer along the way.
My life for 5 months. My trips may be getting longer,
but my backpack lighter!

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