Preparing.... anticipating...

Trip Start Oct 16, 2009
Trip End Nov 15, 2009

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Flag of Netherlands  , North Holland,
Friday, October 16, 2009

Preparing.... anticipating... And testing my travel blog. There's a bunch of useful websites for anyone else who's travelling to Laos at the bottom of this blog entry.

29th September - malaria pill
Took my first Lariam malaria pill, yuckk... they are so heavy. But a Coca-Cola helped settle my upset stomach... the remedy to so many ailments, from nausea to throat ache! On previous holidays Lariam gave me no nasty side effects except weird dreams.

For now... gathering clothes and gear, reading up...

5th October - looking into Bangkok lesbian nightlife, and night train to Laos
Getting excited about going by looking at other peoples'  Laos pictures...  And my co-worker Chantelle showed me her amazing video of her Laos trip which makes me want to go even more!

Looking into sleeper trains from Bangkok to Laos... and hotels in Bangkok...

I am now in contact with some people in Bangkok to maybe go out clubbing on the first Saturday I arrive! And someone in Vientiane, Laos as well.

9th October - Hotel in Bangkok
Booked a lovely (I think) hotel for the first night in Bangkok. It seems cheap but luxurious, with my own balcony and a private bathroom. It also seems like a good place to meet other travellers in the cosy restaurant overlooking some patio.

10th October - "Are you going alone?"
"Are you going alone?" To me it is not something out of the ordinary anymore but everyone keeps asking me, so I'll say a few words about it. Yes, I am going travelling alone. I have done so on various holidays in the past: Malawi 4 weeks, Tanzania 5 weeks, Brazil and Peru 9 weeks, Iceland 2 weeks. It has always worked out really well and I've met great people, many of whom I am still in touch with (yay! for Facebook!). One of them is even visiting Amsterdam as we speak so we're having drinks later tonight! (Hello Mario!)

"Wouldn't you want to travel with a friend?" > I think and know that it can also be fun to travel with a partner, but not having one is not stopping me from going. Most of my friends have other tastes in holidays and/or other plans. Personally I don't think one is better than the other (solo versus as a pair), each has its pros and cons.
Going solo gives me ultimate freedom and flexibility. I can decide to change my plans any day, any hour, any minute.
With a travel partner you sometimes need to make compromises (or get into arguments!). It also makes you less approachable for other people, the two of you are already some kind of 'island'.
(click the image for a large map)

"Don't you get lonely?" > Only sometimes. I enjoy doing things alone. I often do things alone at home too, like bike rides, going to cinemas or cafes in the daytime.
One major advantage of travelling solo is that you're always seated next to a stranger on a bus / train, a sure conversation starter! I've always loved talking to people from the country I was visiting and hearing what their life is like. And I've been asked all kinds of questions in return, anything from "Do you have brothers or sisters?" (followed by an "Ohhhh I'm so sorry for you, no boys in the family?") to "What type of contraceptives do Dutch people use?" Ha ha...

"Don't you miss someone to share your experiences with?" > I guess this is a personal thing. If you are happy and content by yourself, you are also happy to 'share' experiences with yourself.
And there is always the internet or text messages to get in touch with loved ones.
I do also share experiences with other travellers I meet along the way, and we still share those good memories via e-mail and Facebook... :-)

"Isn't it more dangerous as a woman on your own?" > I'm inclined to answer a plain: NO. Safety depends on so many factors, but mainly common sense, streetsmarts, intuition. And luck.

Obviously I am not going for a walk alone in Nairobi after dark, but it would be unwise to do so for a white (male/female) couple as well! Male travellers or couples or groups can also get robbed, mugged or kidnapped.
But in most countries I tend to visit, traffic accidents are the biggest threat to any traveller. Solo or not has nothing to do with that danger.
I have come across many sweet and helpful people. Most people in the world are peace-loving, good-natured, helpful people and I think it's important not to forget that while travelling.
Apart from that: what is safety anyway? Planes crash into houses (Bijlmerramp), tsunamis and earthquakes surprise people... women get raped anywhere in the world, even by their own family... people stumble and fall in their own homes. Living is dangerous!

"What if you get sick? You won't have anyone to look after you." > I've gotten sick while travelling with my friend. And so had she! So my 'nurse' was no use at all. :-)
I've also gotten sick alone. The hotel staff was very caring and checking up on me.

So I am going alone and I am really, lying-awake-with-excitement, looking forward to my holiday!

14th October - two more sleeps!
Getting right excited now! Having trouble sleeping the last few nights, my mind full of plans and itinerary options and expectations. And things I need to finish up at work too.
Three weeks on Lariam pills now and still no side effects, I'm trusting for it to be okay for the rest of my trip.

At work I won a 16 GB USB stick which will come in very handy for all the photos I'm planning on taking.

It now looks like I'll spend the first evening in Bangkok going out with a bunch of girls (Thai and expats) to a few lesbian bars! I'm so curious what that will be like! And isn't the internet great, for enabling such meet-ups?

I spent this evening with some close friends in a nice bar/cinema near my home, it was lovely to see them because I won't be able to for a while.

Useful websites
Going to Laos yourself? These are some very useful websites I wanted to share.
* Eco Tourism Laos > national parks, trekkings, homestay, do's and don'ts (politeness)
* Train travel > train travel around the globe, excellent website with timetables, prices, pictures and sometimes even short videos
* Hotel reviews > A great website that lists almost every guesthouse and hotel in Laos, Thailand, and various other South East Asian countries, with ratings and reviews.
* Travel blog > travel blogs of a solo female traveller who's been to Laos and neighbouring countries many times.
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