It occurred to me today that after three weeks of starting this travel blog, I hadn’t actually written anything about travelling. Ranting about coffee and the dwindling supply of toilet paper in my house has been fun, and there are more stories like that to come I can assure you. However this post will be all about my trip to South East Asia.
From what I can tell, it seems to be a pretty common theme among young Australians to swap the text books for a backpack and a chance to see the world before getting caught in the grip of corporate culture and a career. Those that have known me for many years know that my plan was always to finish uni and then travel. I’ve been pretty stubborn about this too, turning down some great opportunities to get my foot in the door at some excellent companies, as well as (for better or for worse) ceasing to make any major commitments that would take me beyond December 2011. The reason I’ve always been so adamant about it was from something my father had told me when I was younger. He said that one of his only regrets in life was missing the chance to see the world while he was young before starting a career. Those words have stuck with me ever since I was a kid and in a way, I want to experience the world for the both of us. Ok, enough sentiment and emotions. Time to move on to the trip…
After initially planning on going walkabout by myself, a short trip down to Airlie Beach with my best mate changed that. Learning about the contrast between Australian and Israeli cultures, introducing Dutch, Swedish and English travelers to the wonderful game of ‘Kings’ and simply having a good time, the seed for a longer, international trip was planted. From that point on, ideas and destinations flew around until we decided on the starting point – Thailand. Home of Muay Thai boxing, whiskey buckets and of course, the somewhat infamous Full Moon Party.
With a starting point sorted, all that was needed was a timeline. I plan to be gone until I run out of money, but with my friend only being able to get until February off work, we decided on 6 weeks and four countries – Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. The idea of spending New Years Eve at one of the worlds biggest parties was a great reason to head over just after Christmas and also (understandably) aroused interest from a few other close friends to the point where there is now 6 of us spending New Years Eve in Koh Phangan, with four of us continuing through until February.
The itinerary is very rough and at this point covers only a few of the destinations and activities we will be seeing/doing. I didn’t want to plan everything down to the day because that leaves no room for spontaneity and going with the flow, but here are the main places we intend to visit:
Koh Samui / Koh Phangan – The main party will be on Koh Phangan but the island was mostly sold out by the time we got around to booking accommodation. Instead, we ended up finding a nice place on neighboring island Koh Samui and will catch the ferry over for the night and day-break it.
From there we will head up to Bangkok, drop two people off to go home and then pick up my brother before heading north to Chiang Mai. Then we will continue onwards, spending a bit of time in Laos (Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang and Vientiane) which came highly recommended from a few friends (the scenery, caving and tubing are meant to be amazing!). After spending at least a week or so in Laos we’ll continue on to Vietnam and begin travelling the coast from north to south checking out places like Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, Hanoi etc. the last stop before the big group trip rounds off will be Cambodia to visit places like Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat and Siem Reap.
One of my favourite parts of the itinerary was decided in the same way many great decisions are: After the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol. I’ll explain.
A close friend of mine who works on a fly-in-fly-out basis in the Northern Territory stopped by in August and after a 3 weeks in a dry community – needed a drink. Myself having just finished two huge days of study, also needed a drink. Somewhere towards the end of the night after mixing beer, wild turkey and wine (bad choice) we were discussing what we would do at the end of the trip. I had no interest in coming back after only a couple of months and my friend felt the same about heading back to the NT. The specifics are a little hazy, but one of us thought why not catch a mystery flight and see where the adventure takes us. Having always wanted to catch a random train in Europe and see where it goes, this seemed like a marvelous idea! But what if this mystery flight brings us right back to Australia? We needed rules. After much discussion, eventually these rules were agreed upon – we shook hands and everything:
After dropping everyone else at the airport to come back to Australia, we would proceed to catch the next international flight to a destination which wasn’t Australia, we hadn’t been before and could gain visa’s on entry.
Where we end up will be anyone’s guess and whilst I could look at the airport schedules for possibilities of flights out of Bangkok, that would kill the fun. But for now I think that sums up the basics of the trip! I’ll be posting in more detail about specific destinations closer to December and of course, posting stories from each stop as we go. If you think there is a place or thing to do in any of those countries that I must check out then let me know in the comments!
On a final note – I’m looking at buying a little netbook to take with me. If anyone is in the know of a particular make/model to buy, please let me know! (I’m currently thinking the Dell Mini).