Helpful Links (3)
Myanmar (Burma) (2)
The Stuff that Didn't Fit In Anywhere Else
Stuck Between a Rock and a Hurricane
D.C. to Duke
Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
And Now For Something Completely Different
Myanmar: The Land of the Lost
Heading Off the Beaten Path
Disaster Averted and Paradise Found
Culture shock continued...
From Laos to Bangkok...starting culture shock in 3..2...1...now
A Happy Chinese Moment
Welcome to Laos...where are all the Lao people?
Are We There Yet?; and China redeems itself
Movin' on Out...
Hell is the China Post
Disney China is much easier than Real China
Mainland China, or goodbye English, hello crazy gestures and blank stares
February 23, 2004
Frequently Asked Questions
It's inevitable that when you announce you're going to quit your jobs, sell your possessions, fly to Asia and live out of a backpack for a year that people will have some questions. Unfortunately, nearly everyone has the same questions. Hopefully, this will save all of us a little bit of time.
Why in the world are you doing this?
I think most people either have the travel bug or they don't. If being immersed in lands where you don't speak the language, can't figure out how to use the toilet or identify what type of meat is on your plate doesn't appeal to you, then it's likely you'll never truly understand why we love to travel.
We are lucky to be kindred souls in that exploration is what moves us. Whether it be moving to Portland, Oregon on a whim or wandering aimlessly in Paris until we're lost, we think the world and its people are worth investigating.
Well, part of the beauty of our trip is that we don't really know where we'll end up. We have some places in mind that we'd definitely like to hit, but other than that there is no itinerary. The focus of our trip is going to be on Southeast Asia, but there's nothing saying we won't wake up one day and buy a ticket to Kenya.
Our tentative plan is to fly from Chicago to Hong Kong. From there we want to work our way across southern China and then hang a left and head south. We hope to visit Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Burma (Myanmar) for certain. Other countries down that way that we may check out are Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.
We tell people our goal is a year, but to be honest we don't really know. It depends on how our funds hold out and how we're feeling. It could be shorter or it could be a lot longer.
Everyone thinks that, but it's not really true. In a form of bizarre logic, the longer you stay gone, the cheaper the trip becomes. How can that be? Because your plane ticket is what costs the most money. If you fly to Paris for $600 and only stay for 10 days then your average daily cost ends up much higher than if you went and stayed for 30 days. This is because the daily expenses are much cheaper than the flight. Basically, flying somewhere and staying for only a short amount of time isn't taking full advantage of your airfare price.
While this is true for a city like Paris, it's much more apparent when you travel to a place like Southeast Asia. It's entirely possible for both of us to live on $20 a day in Laos, including accomodations, six meals, transportation and a touristy sight. In Paris you can't have lunch for two for $20.
All that said, it still takes money. Just not as much as you think. We got the money by first getting mostly debt free. Then we simply saved. Instead of spending $25 to see a movie every weekend we waited until it hit the cheap theater and spent $6. Instead of going out for lunch everyday, we packed our lunches. Shawn hired himself out as a male prostitute. There's always little tricks.
No. That's the simple answer. It's not really that dangerous. We think it is because news only talks about bombings and Avian Flu and kidnappings, but that's what brings in ratings. Have you ever tried watching your local news from an outsiders perspective? When Europeans were asked what the most dangerous places in the world were they said Florida, New York City and California. That's over places like Bosnia, Pakistan and Brazil.
Of course, we're going to do our best to be cautious. We won't be walking around waving American flags. We won't go hiking in landmine infested jungles of Cambodia. We won't offer to carry the nice man's backpack through customs.
The biggest dangerous we will probably face will be petty theft and traffic accidents, the same as in America.
Honestly, this was a difficult problem to figure out. We've grown pretty attached to Nahasapeemapetilon (or Peema to her friends) and we wanted to make sure she was well taken care of while were gone.
So we decided to vacuum pack her for freshness using a FoodSaver. Unfortunately, it turns out those things are really expensive so she'll instead be staying with Jennifer's parents while we're gone.
We'll be backpacking. Therefore everything we take has to fit into our nifty backpacks we purchased. Shawn has a Mountainsmith Ghost and Jennifer opted for the Marmot Femme Nikita.
As it gets closer we might post our whole gear list, but basically we'll just be taking a few shirts each, a pair or two of pants, socks, underwear, hygiene type stuff, a first aid kit, various books, journals, shoes, sandals and that's more or less it.
Yes, we'll be wearing the same clothes a lot. We're going for the approach of changing locations rather than clothes. That way only we will realize we've had the same pants on for four days. Most clothing and gear in that part of the world is very cheap so we'll just buy new things as needed.
We're storing some of it and selling the rest of it. We have too much stuff anyway.
We're trying to not really think about that. We both quit our jobs so we don't have intentions to go back to them. In fact, it's quite likely we won't move back to Portland at all. It's a great city and we've loved our four years here, but there are a lot of other places out there to check out. Maybe another "P" city...Providence, Phoenix, Philadelphia...
You'd be surprised at how easy it really is. It's about desire more than anything else. If you're the slightest bit interested, feel free to ask us questions, before, during and after our trip.
Also, you might look around BootsnAll for more inspiration and advice. They're hosting this online travel journal, or "blog." Sean, who is one of the guy's that runs that site has been a great help to both us and hundreds of other travellers.
Posted by kobb on February 23, 2004 06:41 AM
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