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:
A few days after Christmas I will fly into Bangkok, where I will meet up with some friends from home who are flying via Paris. They will be joining me for the first two weeks of my trip.
We will spend New Year’s in Chiang Mai (backpacker’s paradise in the north), then head to Koh Chang (an island in the Gulf of Thailand).
From there we take a bus to Siem Reap, the city closest to the temples of Angkor Wat. After a few days we will take a boat to Phnom Penh, and then they will leave me to my own devices.
From Phnom Penh I plan to go to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). I want to spend at least one day in the Mekong River Delta. Then I am going to take a train north, stopping at Hoi An for a few days (unless someone suggests I stop elsewhere…?) Then on to Hanoi, which I am mostly excited about because it is the embarkation point for what I think is the most beautiful place in the world, Halong Bay.
Then I am heading east to Vientiane, Laos.
After that, back to Thailand, where I will finally spend some time in Bangkok. (I’m not sure what I’ll do on my birthday on February 6… maybe indulge my World War II nerdom and visit the bridge on the river Kwai?)
Then I will head south to Penang, Malaysia, where I will spend the lunar new year.
Next I’ll see some tea plantations (dangerous for a tea addict like myself), then go to Kuala Lumpur.
From there I will go to Singapore, where I am tentatively scheduled to meet up with an old friend from grad school who lives in Pakistan.
After that, we will go to Wuxi, China, where I will be teaching for four months.
While I am in China I will have to leave the country at least once because my visa will only permit me to stay for 90 days at a time. I think I will go to Korea for a gangnam-style weekend.
Once my class has finished, I will go to Japan for two weeks (more or less following Frommer’s suggested 2 weeks in Japan itinerary).
Then I will visit Beijing and Hong Kong, before returning to Boston at the beginning of August.
(Are you jealous? Because I’m kind of jealous, and I’m doing it!)