To Sum It All Up...

Trip Start Jul 12, 2009
Trip End Nov 04, 2009

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Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hello again!!!

I decided to write a final entry summarizing my trip. Hopefully any one who wasn't able to read all of my blogs can at least enjoy the facts below regarding my trip (and go back and find the related blog if they want to!). There are also some added bonus stories that didn't make the blog.

Thank you all for following my blog. It felt great to receive such positive feedback and I loved hearing from all of you while I was gone. This journey was one of the most profound experiences of my life and it was truly unforgettable. I learned so much not only about Southeast Asia, but about countries all over the world. I expanded my knowledge on current events, history, and pop culture from each and every one of the incredible individuals I met along the way.

I hope, if nothing else, that this trip inspired some of you to follow in my footsteps and explore unknown areas of the world, even if its just a weekend trip to another city or state. You will not regret it!

What's next for me? Find a job and save for my next adventure (South America!).

# of countries explored: 6  
# of cities visited (overnight stays): 23
# of different beds I slept in: 51
# of overnight journeys: 8
# of mosquito bites: countless
# of injuries*: 7
# of overnight treks: 4
# of books read: 12
# of new Facebook friends: 47
-Countries where most friends are from: Australia, England, Ireland, Germany, America, Israel Sweden, & Holland (also met people from Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Italy, New Zealand and Denmark).
-Longest Stay in One Place: Koh Tao (10 nights, 12 days)
-Least & Most Expensive Accommodation (per person): $4 (Ubud) & $30 (one night in Kuta when everything else was booked)

-Eggroll appetizer: $.50 to $1
-Asian entree at a restaurant: $1-$2.50
-"Western" entree at a restaurant (ie pizza, salad, sandwich, etc): $2.50-$4.50
-Street Food: $0.30-$1.50 (chicken skewer is about a quarter, thai pancake or pad thai a dollar)
-Local Beer: $.30-$1.50
-Mixed Drink Bucket: $1-$3.50
-Mid-Range Guesthouse (incl. one to three of the following: hot water, air conditioning, television): $7-$11
-Full Day Tour: $10 (Vietnam) - $25 (Indonesia, Thailand)
-Tuk Tuk ride: $1-3
-T-Shirt: $1-5 (depending on your negotiation skills)
-Fruit Smoothie/Shake: $.50-$1

*Injuries & Illnesses (not all were included in the blog in order to keep my family from worrying):
-Bruised knee after fainting during Cambodian cooking class (ask me for this story in person because it is hilarious)
-Cut foot and leg getting out of the kayak in Halong Bay
-Conjunctivitis in Ho Chi Minh
-Large, shallow (and bloody) cut on left arm from a motorbike hitting me while passing me on the narrow streets of Kuta, Bali
-One missing toe-nail and one half bruised/black from climbing down Mt. Rinjani
-Three cuts on right hand from falling on rocks in Krabi
-Large, shallow scrape on right knee from motorbike accident on Koh Phanghan
-Nasty cold in Laos (didn't keep me from tubing though)
Moral of the story? I'm an accident prone klutz and I'm lucky to have survived!!!

-Trekking with hill tribes in Sapa
-Tubing in Laos
-Scuba diving in Koh Tao
-Driving a motorbike from Hue to Hoi 'An
-The whole week on the Gili Islands
-Reaching the top of Mt. Rinjani

Runners Up:
-Swimming, kayaking and snorkeling during Koh Phi Phi sunset tour
-Night with hill tribes outside of Luang Prabang
-Drinking snake blood/heart and eating various dishes made out of its body
-Canyoning in Dalat, Vietnam (rappeling down massive waterfalls, etc)
-Rock climbing in Krabi, Thailand

-Beach of Koh Phi Phi
-Sun sinking over the horizon on Koh Tao
-The view from our spot at the secluded end of Gili Trawangan
-The rolling hills of Sapa, Vietnam
-The valley and volcano seen from the top of Mt. Rinjani
-Our hill tribe host family happily eating dinner over candlelight in Laos
-Sunrise over Angkor Wat

WORST TRAVEL EXPERIENCES (besides the aforementioned injuries & illnesses):
-Terrible tour leaving from Ubud, including $8 obligatory buffet from hell
-Overnight "VIP minibus" from Chiang Mai to Laos crammed in the front seat with the driver for eight hours and then four more hours of travel after we reached the border (all overnight buses were a nightmare but this was the worst)
-Getting harassed by scary Cambodian men to buy a bogus visa at the Thai/Cambodian border
-Waking up at 2 a.m. in Kuala Lumpur and not reaching Hanoi, a very confusing city to navigate, until 2 p.m.
-Showing up in Sengigi, Indonesia, only to find it mostly deserted, overpriced and boring.
-Having a Muslim man in Kuala Lumpur ask if he could pay me for sex (in broad daylight).

-Chicken Pad Thai (especially from M's in Koh Tao)
-Tom Yum Soup (Thailand)
-Nasi Goreng Special (Indonesia)
-Black Pepper Eggplant (Hanoi, Vietnam)
-Thai Pancakes with Nutella

THINGS FROM HOME I MISSED THE MOST (besides the obvious friends and family):
-Clean, dry restrooms
-Golden Spoon frozen yogurt
-Turkey Sandwiches (preferably with avocado)
-Working out (mostly kickboxing class)
-Clothes other than the ten outfits I rotated for four months
-My own bed! (and not packing and repacking a backpack over and over)

Below is an article I wrote for a backpacking magazine regarding the point system I made up for the restrooms in Asia (but then lost the magazine and has yet to find it online in order to submit):

For most backpackers, toilet talk is a commonality. It is easy to say that one of the most concerning differences between West and East is the quality of the restrooms. After gripping about the lack of toilet paper, absence of a shower curtain, wet floors, malodorous stalls and oftentimes soap devoid bathrooms in Asia for about two weeks, I decided to create a simple bathroom rating scale. The score is out of five, and is comprised of the following simple "luxuries:" two points are awarded for a flushing, "Western" toilet (ie no squatters or bucket flushers),one point for toilet paper, one point for a sink with soap, and a final point for a hand towel. Bonus half points are distributed for luxuries such as pleasant smells, an inviting atmosphere, and paper (read:sanitary) towels.  The system is a fabulous way to warn friends of toilet conditions ahead and also serves as an entertaining distraction from the aforementioned toilet conditions. It's always a pleasure to return from the restroom with and announce to fellow travelers that the toilet is a rare five-pointer.

The average score for an Southeast Asian toilet? Two (if you're lucky!)

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