About My Trip

At the end of 2012 I sold my condo, quit my job, and bought a ticket to the other side of the world. (Cue dramatic music!)

I suppose you want to know why.

I guess it’s partly because of Jon Bon Jovi.

He told me that it’s my life, it’s now or never, and I ain’t gonna live forever.

And I believed him.

(I’m not sure why I believed him but nobody else did… perhaps I am more susceptible to the wisdom of hair bands… but that’s a question for another time.)

It’s also because every time I travel I feel so happy and so alive. And so sorry that I can’t stay longer.

And I felt a bit like I was drifting—things were happening to me, but I wasn’t controlling them. Because life happens, whether you make the choices or someone else does. Choosing to leave everything behind and take this trip was a huge decision—but it was all mine. Everyone keeps asking if I’m scared, but the truth is, for the first time in a long time, I feel in total control of my life.

And finally, I knew that I wanted to move to a bigger city, and since Americans generally only get 2-3 weeks of vacation, the time between jobs is really our only chance to do serious traveling.

So there’s the why. Now for the what:

December 2012

A few days after Christmas I flew into Bangkok, where I met up with some friends from home who were flying via Paris. They joined me for the first two weeks of my trip.

January 2013

We spent New Year’s in Chiang Mai (backpacker’s paradise in the north), then headed to Koh Chang (an island in the Gulf of Thailand).

From there we took a bus to Siem Reap, the city closest to the temples of Angkor Wat. After a few days we took a boat to Phnom Penh, where they left me to contemplate the genocide museum and the Killing Fields on my own.

From Phnom Penh I went to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), where I was blown away by the energy (and the traffic!). I took a side trip to the Mekong River Delta, then another to crawl through the Vietnam War-era tunnels. Then I flew to Hoi An, where I had some lovely clothes made, took a bus to Hue, where I saw some lovely imperial tombs, and took an overnight bus to Hanoi. I took two exquisite side trips to Sapa and Halong Bay (which may be the most beautiful place in the world), before flying to Vientiane, Laos.

February 2013

I (briefly) explored Vientiane before taking a bus to Vang Vieng for the obligatory tube ride down the Nam Song river.

I took an overnight train to Bangkok, where I spent my birthday indulging my World War II nerd-dom visiting the Bridge on the River Kwai and my music theater geek-dom by visiting the royal palace (the setting for The King and I).

Then I took an overnight bus south to Penang, Malaysia, where I will spent the lunar new year.

From there I headed to the Cameron Highlands for some tea plantations (dangerous for a tea addict like myself).

From there I made a beeline for the bright lights of Singapore.

After a few days in the big city, I went to the historic town of Melaca, Malaysia, before making my way to another metropolis: Kuala Lumpur.

From K.L. I flew to Wuxi, China, where I taught for four months.

March-June 2013

While I was teaching I took a number of little weekend trips, including Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Beijing, and, of course, Shanghai.

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I also spent a long weekend in Busan, Korea.

July 2013

Once my job was over, I went to the southern city of Guilin, and the beautiful town of Yangshuo. The landscape was breathtaking!

Then I flew to Tokyo for two weeks exploring Japan. In addition to the capital, I went to Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Miyajima, and Takayama.

When I got back to China I flew to Hong Kong, where I had a lovely time enjoying the big city–and lying on the beach.

August-September 2013

I flew back to the States–and almost immediately started visiting friends all over the country. I flew from Boston to Seattle, then to Wichita, then got a ride to Indianapolis, then took the bus to Chicago, got a ride to Minneapolis, took the bus back to Chicago, then another bus to Pittsburgh via Cleveland, then got a ride to Morgantown, WV, then got a ride back to Pittsburgh, then took the bus to Washington, DC, then to New York, then home to Boston. Whew!

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October 2013

I am about to fly to Guatemala, where I will be improving my Spanish for five weeks. I’m VERY excited! (And also nervous–it will be a big change from Asia!)

Mid-November 2013

I am probably going to have to face the real world again… Oh, well. We all gotta go sometime!

(Are you jealous? Because I’m kind of jealous, and I’m doing it!)

2 thoughts on “About My Trip

  1. Ah Carrie, what an inspiring / inspired plan! I am so excited for you while simultaneously green with envy. Will definitely follow your travels on your blog. While you’re in Malaysia, do try to read The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng. It’s a story about Japan’s occupation of Malaysia and how a prisoner of war tries to put her life back together afterwards. Interesting cameo by a Boer from South Africa and the writing is absolutely lyrical. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it, plus it’s mostly set in tea country.
    Have a fabulous time!

    • Thanks so much! And thank you for the book idea! I should probably start a page just devoted to books I have read/books people suggest I read. I haven’t read any about Malaysia yet (partly because I got stuck in a book about the Vietnam War that proved to be almost as much of a quagmire as the war itself). But that sounds right up my alley (you know I can’t resist World War II, tea, or, of course South Africans. :)

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