The road goes ever on and on...
Trip Start Jan 13, 2014
4Trip End Ongoing
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About a year ago, miserable in our careers and fed up of cold, grey England, Ginni and I started to contemplate a different course. We were messaging on Whatsapp (the app worth twenty Samaritans when you're having a bad day) one particularly dismal morning and one of us (we don't even remember who) just said it - Why don't we go travelling? Suddenly, everything started slotting into place. Why hadn't we thought of it sooner? We spent the afternoon screen-shotting various exotic locations and (typically) delicious-looking food and drink from Google images and sending them to one another for inspiration. A seed had been sewn and we had to nurture it into fruition (of course, in the early stages you don't consider visas, insurance, booking fees, jabs, backpacks, arrival packs, itineraries etc) but our determination and excitement was insatiable: this was something we had to do.
While many of our friends, also in their mid-twenties, are getting promoted, saving for houses, moving in with their partners or getting engaged, Ginni and I have decided to put our savings into a trip across the globe to explore Asia and Australasia. Many people would consider us foolish, irrational, imprudent, self-involved, short-sighted, extravagant or selfish but after umm-ing and ahh-ing about all of these points, we decided that we were going to do it anyway (I think the old "you might get hit by a bus tomorrow" idiom was actually used). There is absolutely no 'proper' way to go about your twenties; if we all did everything we are 'supposed' to be doing, we'd need two decades of your twenties instead of one! For us the career, mortgages and engagement stories just weren't happening so we decided to plan an alternative.
Some of our friends have already got the travelling bug out of their system, have lived and worked abroad or simply have little interest in globe-trotting. Ginni and I however, feel the timing of our trip is as right as it's ever going to be. At 26, we both feel that up to a year away from friends and family, totally self-funded and therefore pretty self-centred, is not the kind of thing we can get away with forever. We are both an only-child who, although having lived away at university and all over the UK since, have never been away from our families for this long before. We both want careers and to make homes for ourselves at some point in the future so we know this could be our last chance (until retirement at least when the REAL fun starts) to do something of this nature. Whatever age or experience someone is, we realise we are in an incredibly fortunate position to be able to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip like this and feel nervous but hugely excited about what lies in store.
Miss Universe speech aside, we are going to be ticking off seven diverse and thrilling countries on our 'bucket list': Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, New Zealand and Australia. We both have a fascination with the East so it's from there that our instant gravitational pull came. Ginni is part Filipino/Malaysian and my dad grew up in Asia for a while as a child, as well as my eldest cousin living in Japan for three years. Ginni and I have both visited Hong Kong where one of our university friends teaches English and I met him in Thailand earlier this year too. Yet, as with so many people, we still want to go back for more; you have never truly 'done' a destination. (In honesty, around 60% of our reason for returning to South East Asia is the food - there I said it. As a warning, local cuisine is likely to be a pretty significant theme of this blog).
Sadly In the months leading up to our journey, there's already been an element of surprise-ruining and 'got the t-shirt' competitiveness from some colleagues and acquaintances. Because travelling the world is such a popular choice these days, we have received all sorts of advice about 'things we must avoid at all costs' or sights we 'simply can't miss' (because evidently we look like people who were planning on going to Cambodia and not bothering with Angkor Wat). I've had people at the photocopier advising me where to drink tea in Bangkok. Whilst queuing in Starbucks, a barista informed me to be 'careful in Asia because it's sometimes really dangerous' (thank goodness for that insightful caution) and I've been lectured about which sized backpack is suitable to take by a girl I met in the toilets of a nightclub in Birmingham. Ginni and I are pretty laid back about where our trip takes us and are looking forward to finding out things for ourselves as much as possible, regardless of whether thousands of people have already found them out before us. In the same way you don't really want to hear about how a film will end as you're queuing for the cinema, we don't really want to know how our whole adventure will pan out before we even leave Heathrow. Having said that, friendly recommendations and prudent advice are all welcome on this blog; I am not the Grinch. I invite you to laugh at our mistakes and share in our successes.
Of course, a blog should evolve and change with time; it is impossible to say at this point exactly how this artefact of our trip will turn out in the end (I just hope I don't jack it all in on Day 2! Maintaining this blog was my New Year's Resolution, in fact). I'm happy for the blog to be quite fluid and all I hope is it will be a way of me recording my experiences in words, to upload plenty of photographs for posterity and to stay in touch with loved ones and anyone new we meet along the way! If writing starts to feel forced then I will let it fall by the way-side in the knowledge that I at least started out with good intentions.Thank you for taking the time to read this so far and please stay tuned for future entries! Happy New Year everyone and happy travelling wherever you are and will be!Anna x