Two Years on the Road to Nowhere
Trip Start Feb 23, 2006
160Trip End Jun 24, 2009
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Where I stayed
Taiwan, Korea, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Th
(If they followed the guidelines on this sign, I don't think anyone would be on Khao San Road because they would have blocked them all at the border) Today marks my 2 year anniversary from the date I left Miami with my friend C on a one way ticket to Taiwan and a plan that has changed as many times as there have been days on this trip (730). The original vague "plan" was something like Asia, SE Asia, Australia by New Years 2007, Easter Island and a year in South America to learn Spanish. Instead I've picked up a bit of Mandarin, Bahasa and Thai, but still speak the same amount of Spanish as I have for the past 20 years. I certainly wouldn't have guessed that 2 years after leaving "home" (wherever that is) that I'd still be in this corner of the world.
But I digress.
The past couple of years have been amazing! I've seen so many things and met so many great people that I really hope I will be able to keep in touch with over time. I've learned my lesson from my previous trips that travel partners take a little extra work to become friends. I can count on 1 hand the number of people that I keep in touch with from my first trip to SE Asia 15 years ago. Although my Palm Pilot blew up and I lost almost 2 years worth of entries, I still have a lot of the contacts that I want to keep. And anyone that I've met over the past couple years would have a hard time forgetting thechineseguyumet if they should want to email me. The funny thing is that it doesn't matter if I've spent hours, days, months or years with some of the people that I've met, the amount of time spent has nothing to do with how much they have touched my life or the likelihood that we'll meet again. Living in Bangkok, has increased the opportunity to meet people again and again since Bangkok is the center for all travel in SE Asia. I've seen people that have come out on another trip again and some on their way back home from a long journey
I've noticed over the past couple years that being Chinese has great advantages when traveling in Asia. Because I look similar to everyone around here, I blend in a lot better than say a 2M tall pasty white Englishman. Almost every country in Asia has a large Chinese local population. It's a lot more than just blending into the masses. It's more about the way people receive me especially if they are Chinese. There is a certain bond or trust between Chinese people. Like just today, I haven't had an umbrella since Annabel left mine in a taxi back in China in August, but after eating breakfast at the best Bakery in Asia, Rainforest on Chulia Street, Penang, they loaned me their umbrella after only a short conversation about my origins and my peculiar English accent la. Somehow, I just don't believe that they'd do the same for your average western traveler. I really noticed it when I was in China when for a stretch of about 3 or 4 weeks, half of the people I met invited me to share a meal with their family
Unfortunately, I had to leave Thailand as my visa exemption had finally run out and I couldn't return until June 1st without getting a proper visa. I figured that this was a sign that I should finally leave Thailand. I had also heard that there was a big blues festival in Byron Bay in March. When I looked up the site, http://www.bluesfest.com.au/ , and saw the lineup, I knew all signs and the path of least resistance were pointing to Oz and I had to go. Galactic is playing there, Air Asia started service to the Gold Coast and I found a 160 dollar flight to Oz. It will be strange to be in the minority again, but at least I sort of speak the language down there. Maybe I'll buy a phrasebook when I get there for those backwoods towns like Sydney. I look forward to good cheap wines and some good western food. I don't look forward to the sticker shock of the hostels and general cost of living after 2 years in cheapo Asia. The days of 15 dollars a day total expenses are coming to an end. I don't know how much to budget for Oz, but I'm thinking it will be more on the lines of 35-40 a day especially considering the decline of the USD to about .90 AUD and fuel prices. Wish me luck. I may just have to return to Thailand after all.
Year 3 here I come.
Editors comment after getting to Australia: Um... 35-40 a day is just not possible as I paid $34/night just for my dorm room. My first week, I spent over $150/day and just about 3 months budget in Thailand. It's calmed down a bit since then, but I'm thinking my 3 months in Australia will cost me just about as much as my last year in Asia. DOH!