Three months ago today, we were saying goodbye to the life we had made in Korea for the past two years as we boarded a plane bound for Beijing. It was the start of our long-term backpacking trip and we were excited beyond belief. We had been anticipating and planning this trip for almost two years and it was finally becoming reality.
It seems so long ago thinking back to that particular day; all our possessions packed into one large backpack and daypack each, saying goodbye to our friends, our final bus ride out of our small town, and both our faces pressed against the plane window as we took in our last view of the Seoul landscape. Only the excitement of the trip ahead kept our emotions intact.
In 3 months we’ve covered a lot of ground. We spent 4 weeks in China, and another 3 weeks each in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos; which is where we are now. But believe it or not, we actually thought we’d be further along then we are. We originally thought we’d be all the way down into Indonesia by December, but we’re only going to be heading into Thailand in the next 7-12 days.
On the flip side though, we’ve been taking our time visiting each country. We’ve purposely been keeping our itinerary open to allow us the flexibility to either stay in a place longer that we’re enjoying, or move on from places we’re not. We really don’t plan more then 3 days in advance (though we have a general idea of the route we want to take), and so far it’s been working perfectly for us.
So what’s been some of our highlights? (I know you’re wondering!) In China it was walking on the Great Wall and seeing the Terra-Cotta Warriors, in Vietnam it was canyoning in Da Lat and eating on street corners, and in Cambodia it was relaxing on Koh Ru Island and exploring the Temples of Angkor. But those are only the highlights. We’ve been enjoying an incredible amount of experiences that words and photographs just can’t capture. (Though we’ve done our best to try.)
These past three months have also seen us develop and change as individuals. For starters, we’ve had to become more adaptable in varying circumstances. For example, our criteria for accommodations has become a lot more lenient. Having a flushing toilet, hot water, or even an en-suite bathroom for that matter are all luxuries we’ve learned to go without at times. We’ve also adapted to the different culinary options and have even become more relaxed with the hygiene standards in some places. And of course, we’ve had to adapt to the life of a traveler, going from living and working in a fixed place to always being on the move every few days or so with no place to call home.
Another area where we’ve seen personal growth is how much more patient we’ve become. Traveling is a test of patience and if you don’t learn how to go with the flow early on, it can make for a very difficult and frustrating ride. The biggest area where we’ve dealt with this is transportation. Departure and arrival times for buses are generally just guidelines, a 6 hrs bus ride now seems like no big deal, and personal space becomes less and less of a priority. We’ve really been able to take things in stride more easily now and when things start to get a bit hairy we try to laugh about the situation.
Budget wise we’ve been doing great. We’ll get more in-depth about all things money related when traveling in a later post, but so far in 3 months we’ve spent about a third of our budget. And that was with an original estimate of traveling for only 6 months. So as long as the money is there, we’re going to continue traveling for as long as that allows us.
So what’s in store for us in the following months? As mentioned, we’re heading into Thailand next. We’ll start in the north and then head south to check out Bangkok (floods permitting). We’ll then island hop some of the well know and lesser known islands, including getting PADI certified (scuba certification) on Ko Tao, which would be a brand new experience for both of us. We’ve got a couple of friends from Korea who will be vacationing in Thailand over the holidays so we’ll be able to spend Christmas with some familiar faces.
After Thailand we’ll head into mainland Malaysia, then possibly fly over to the Borneo side of Malaysia to tackle Mount Kinabalu and see the orangutans. We’ll then check out Singapore (and all their crazy rules) and visit with a friend who’s been working there for the past few months. Then we’ll fly over to Indonesia and check out Sumatra, Java, and the tourist haven of Bali, where we hope to rent a place for a few weeks, sink our feet in for a while, and possibly learn how to surf!
After that we’ll fly down into Australia where we’ve been thinking about doing a road trip from the north all the way down the east coast to Melbourne. But that’s still a couple of months away and anything can happen!
We’ve noticed a steady increase of traffic on this site and we’re so thankful for everyone who’s been following our adventures. We’re having a blast and love being able to share it with you!
So happy three month travel-versary to us! Here’s to another three great ones.
Arienne & Tristan