Well I've returned my favorite continent in the world to travel, Asia. Welcome back, readers. This time around I'm only planning on going to two completely new countries, but there's so many places I have yet visit that there will be very little overlap with places I've been before, barring the major cities/tourist hubs like Bangkok, Bali, Singapore, Manila etc. But I'm still figuring out what I want to do, so nothing is exactly set in stone.
At the moment I'm in Bangkok, where I got to meet up with not one, but two old travel buddies! The first one (and planned meet up) was Mila, who I met three years ago while hiking in Yunnan (China), where we backpacked, hiked, and hitchhiked around SW along with a few other Chinese university students on a very university student sized budget! Then I found out Frank was in town, who I had originally met hiking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal 5 years ago, so we got to meet up, take down some Sangsum buckets, and celebrate New Years together. So it's been a good couple of days!
On the negative side of things, my big backpack got lost somewhere on the connection between Beijing and Hong Kong, and the airline still doesn't know where it is. At this point (after 72 hours) the airline has labeled it 'irretrievable' and now I'm filling out paperwork and trying to find receipts for all the things that I had in it. Good thing I do a lot of online shopping! It had mostly clothes, photography accessories, small electronics, and all my camping gear. Nothing irreplaceable, but still super annoying. So I went to electronics mall to pick up the stuff I've deemed absolutely essential, and to the cheapo clothing mall to buy myself the finest in this years Thai fashions. Underwear for $3, t shirts for $6, shorts for $10. And the button on the shorts already fell off! But anyway, I'm almost good to go!
So back to this years trip... I was originally thinking I might fly directly to Indonesia to get diving right away, but I forgot how much I like Thailand, despite all the tourists, and will stay here for two weeks. I figure I'll get my rescue diver certification for cheap on the island of Koh Tao and then keep heading south towards the Trang province to check out some more islands (Koh Lipe and Koh muuk) before crossing the border into Malaysia. As of now this is what I think my probably overly optimistic itinerary for my 5 month trip kinda sorta is:
So the overview is this:
A few weeks in Thailand/Malaysia, mostly just chilling on islands
Fly to Indonesia, check out Ijen sulfur mines/volcanoes, quick trip to Bali, then get out to the middle of nowhere for a couple weeks and hit some of the worlds best diving locations at Raja Ampat (3 dots).
Get back to the big island of Sulawesi and then take a ferry over to Borneo (the big island that contains indonesia, malaysia, and brunei) and do some more diving.
Take a ferry to southern Philippines (where the Muslims live, oh no!) and spend a couple weeks checking out things on the island of Mindanao.
Then get back to Manila, apply for a visa to Vietnam, and play some poker while I wait. After that take a flight to Ho Chi Minh City and start working my way up all the way to Hanoi, possibly by motorbike.
After getting to Hanoi, apply for a Chineses Visa and check out Halong bay while I wait, and eventually book a flight up to China's westernmost province: Xinjiang
And that should take up most of my time! Although I also really want to check out Mongolia too, so I have to figure out a way to squeeze that in as well!
And of course all of this subject to change, and most likely will! Stay tuned!