In less than a week now I’ll be arriving in Bangkok, to commence what may be (-the planning’s determinedly open minded) a few months of wandering the region. Despite being caught up in the throes of joy stifling administration in Australia at the moment, and attempting to power-heal a stitched up leg laceration (medical term, which makes it seem wayyyy worse than it is), I am EXCITED.
I’ve always been pretty fascinated with this region, and despite my unabatedly worsening travel greed, it’s long been top of the list. In early years that might have been more to do with the exoticism of colours, crafts and beaches; nowadays I think the pull is also infused with food infatuation and some nerdy socio-political interest on the side. I can’t exactly diagnose it.
This venture isn’t going to be intrepid, just yet- Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam all have pretty well developed backpacker scenes (though I’m also hoping to enter the recently opened and relatively untouristed territory of Burma if circumstances allow…)
As an Asia first timer*, however, apprehension is looming a little- solo travel in a place where women’s rights are so different from my Western expectations is going to take some adjustment. And then there’s the urban cramming, heat, smells, scams, hygiene (or lack thereof), poverty, and all the other fundamental cultural disparities which I’m going to be intimately confronted with on a budget like mine…
(*technically, not true. I spent a morning in Bangkok on my journey over to Christchurch last November, when I had too much time to kill at the airport. Dressed for English autumn, and admittedly a little dazed by the fact that I’d just left my life behind on a one way ticket to The Unknown, I found myself sheltering in an air conditioned Starbucks, drinking a gingerbread latte, and texting my mother. Cultural fail…)
Even being aware of the probable challenges (well actually, because of them), I can’t help feeling that it’s going to do me a whole lot of wholesome good. I’ll keep this updated… I’d say fair Australasia’s grown me greatly so far- living out of one bag for a while makes you oddly unmaterialistic, inevitable mishaps release your plan perfectionism, plus the extent of kindness you encounter on the road can really hit you where you’re humble. Add to this a dose of Eastern philosophy, some cultural disorientation and the odd massage, and I reckon I’ll come back with my zen at 10. Here’s hoping…
Updates to follow on arrival- wish me good WiFi.