Two months already in my round the world trip! This has been a month of changes: I left India to start my adventure in South East Asia, I left a country I “slightly” knew for a region I had never visited before, I left a place where I have friends to others where I do not. I have also realized that I have changed my way of traveling, as well as my perception of traveling.
It has been intense, interesting, very hot and very cold, melancholic, funny, sporty and much more. This is a summary of the changes I have lived this month, the things I have learnt, the places I have visited and the best moments I have had.
Traveling as a (temporary) lifestyle
So far, my travels had always been holidays. In India I still felt like on some kind of holidays, but now… not anymore. Which makes me wonder, what are exactly holidays? For me, it is a change of routine, a parenthesis, the opportunity to disconnect from work and do the things we usually do not have time to do.
At the moment, traveling has become my routine, my temporary lifestyle. Because, even if my days are all different, if I am sleeping in different beds each week, there is a constant pattern. Thinking of the next destination, reading information about it, finding out the best way to get there, searching for a place to sleep. And, believe it or not, it does take some energy to be on constant movement. But I like it.
Traveling with no plans
In India I planned most of the trip ahead. Partly because I had to coordinate meeting my friends, and partly because I did not feel comfortable on moving around without having everything planned and booked. But, as I slowly discovered, there are some disadvantages on that:
- No flexibility: I would have liked to stay longer in Munroe Island, but I had already booked my train and guesthouse for the next days, so I had to leave.
- “Blind booking”: even with the internet reviews, it happened a couple of times that I did not like the place I had booked, but since it was booked I had to pay it (so I stayed). Without booking, if I do not like the place, I can just go to another.
- Prices: I was surprised to discover that, when ever I did not book (which I did only twice in India), I ended up finding better accommodation with lower prices compared to what I had found in internet. In some places, it was even possible to negotiate.
So I started traveling with no plans. No bookings. I arrived in Bangkok before deciding where to go next. In Laos, I only booked in Luang Prabang because I went there for new year and was afraid it would be fully booked (which, at the end, it was not). Traveling like this might be risky, but now is high season in Laos and I have always found good places to sleep. On the other hand, I realized that it is better to book the long distance buses one day or two in advance.
Compared to the first month, I have also slowed down. I visited much more places in India than in Laos, but it was exhausting. Now I have found my right speed, which consists on spending 3 or 4 days in each place, with some afternoons taking rest, reading, writing or editing photos. I do not try to see everything. I have also started doing things I never did while in short trips, as taking the ebook reader and read in some random, quiet place, spending the afternoon talking with someone, or taking an aerobics class.
Things I have learnt
I have learnt three important things:
- Do not worry about what might happen. I got stressed in Bangalore when they asked me for an onward flight from Thailand, I worried during the whole trip… and at the end, I could enter Thailand without problems.
- Be positive. I got sad and annoyed when I learnt I had to visit the French embassy in Vientiane. It took me a lot of effort and energy, but at the end I managed to relax, take it as a game and get an alternative idea for discovering the city.
- Christmas is better at home. I used to think that Christmas was becoming commercial, with all the street lightning and shops decoration. I thought I did not like it. However, this has been the first time I have been abroad on Christmas day (and all the Christmas period), and I missed the atmosphere, the food and spending those special days with my family.
- Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Rai and Chiang Khong.
- Laos: from north (Luang Namtha, Muang Khoa, Muang Ngoi, Huay Bo, Nong Khiaw) through the center (Viantiane) heading to the south.
- Muang Khoa: playing with the kids on the riverside, constructing sand mountains
- Muang Khoa: crossing the bridge in the night and look at the sky (stars)
- Huay Bo: spending two days in a village with no roads, internet or electricity network
- Luang Prabang: talking with the novices and learning (a bit) about buddhism
- Vientiane: having an aerobics class with views of the sunset over the Mekong
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