We’re tired. The same goals of our South American trip are not flying here. I think back at all the stops and the ground we covered last year and can’t believe we did it.
First off, the lack of planning for this trip was suppose to make it fun and feel like we were flying by the seat of our pants. It did not work. I over planned South America, but did nothing for Southeast Asia. Somewhere in the middle is best. I should at least learn about where we want to go, but maybe not plan an itinerary unless we have very little time. Lesson learned.
But, even if you plan, how do you know how you’ll feel once you get there? In South America we were gungho about seeing it all. This time it feels like a total drag. Part of me knew this was coming. I wasn’t really ready to leave home this time around. Work was going well. I loved the projects I was working on. My mom and I had a fun project going. I loved where we were living. I didn’t want to leave. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to come to Southeast Asia. It’s just, I was in the middle of good stuff before we left, unlike last time where we were counting the days.
So, we were sitting at a bar in Luang Prabang, trying to figure out how to get to Vietnam. A couple from California overheard our Vietnam planning and interjected. “Just to let you know, it sucks there. We paid $200 to get back to Laos.” Great. Just when thought we were getting somewhere, we hit a set back. Not that we take their words as the holy grail. It’s just, when you’re already not that excited about the long 24 hour plus some bus trip to Halong Bay, negative publicity doesn’t foster excitement. Not to mention the mounting costs that come with it.
The next day Dusty and I took a “cafe day” to figure stuff out. During that time we researched alternative routes, how much each bus, train and flight would cost, how long it would take to get there, etc. This time taking Northern Vietnam out of the mix. Here’s what we had come up with for the next month:
- 8 hour bus from Luang Prabang to Phonsvan, Laos
- 10 hour bus from Phonsvan to Vietiane, Laos
- a flight from Vientiane to Siem Reap, Cambodia
- 4 hour bus from Siem Reap to Thai border
- 5 hour bus from border to Bangkok
- overnight train from Bangkok to Butterworth, Malaysia
- overnight train from Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- 7 hour train from KL to Singapore
Of course this was not all back to back traveling, but summed up: 6 countries in only a month or two, two visas to pay for and 8 days devoted strictly to getting from place to place. We’d also have to factor in recovery time after arrival.
We left the cafe with everything mapped out, but for some reason I was not happy. The thing is, I didn’t know why. Usually plans makes me happy. What’s the problem now? I should feel relieved. Why now did I feel like it was going to totally suck? We had traveled like this before. It was nothing new.
After talking to Dusty about my frustrations, we discovered that what’s difference now is that we are different. We’re tired of bussing and moving from place to place every 3 or 4 days. While it was exciting a year ago, it did wear on us after 7 months.
I felt guilty. What if we don’t see Angkor Wat?! What if we don’t go to Vietnam!? Why would we come all this way and not see those things? Part of me thought, “Suck it up and see it! You’ve paid for a flight half way around the world!” The other part of me says, “You’ve paid for a flight half way around the world! You should be able to see it as you please.”
So, the answer is, we don’t want to do it the same this time around. We are excited to work on our individual businesses in the morning, and then get to know an area in the afternoons and maybe do some weekend trips to attractions nearby. So, our plan is to not tour all of Southeast Asia. We’ll fly to Singapore and hang there for a while with possible weekend explorations.
The thing that I have to deal with internally is to stop feeling like I failed. Just because we want something different this time around doesn’t mean that what we did before didn’t work or that we’re failures of backpacking. Even saying that “out loud” makes it sound ridiculous. I feel better already. I have no doubt that we’ll come across this travel issue again in the future when we decide that we’re sick of sitting around in one place and we’ll backpack all of Europe or something. Things change and I have to remember that that’s okay. There’s no such thing as failing at backpacking. Maybe.