Four days. Four days! Before my partner Miguel and I leave Mexico City. I've been here a year and a couple of months and him thirty one years. For both of us (obviously a lot more for him) it's now home.
Still, he's always wanted to travel and aside from brief forays into the United States, Guatemala, and Belize (all this year!) he hasn't had the chance. I quit my job to travel last year so this just makes sense. I've seen Mexico and Central America so far. The plan was to hit up South America but after a year in a Spanish-speaking environment and Hispanic culture I'm ready for something totally different. We both agreed that Southeast Asia was the perfect mix of cheap, great weather, good food, and something totallycompletelycrazydifferent. I've been to Japan but other than that neither of us has much experience with Asia. We're so excited to experience the religion, people, languages, history, food, and so much more.
At the top of this post is a rough idea of our trip itinerary. The Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore-Indonesia leg is fairly well mapped out. After that it's anyone's guess. I have a rough idea of where I want to go but we're going to be flexible.
As for a timeline? That's anyone's guess. Six months to a year?
Here are some things we've already planned on doing:
- Couch surfing in Bangkok, Thailand.
- Learning to dive on Ko Tao, Thailand
- A 10 day silent meditation retreat on Ko Pha-Ngan, Thailand
- Christmas on a southern Thailand beach
- Taking care of 15 cats in exchange for free accommodation in Penang, Malaysia
- New Year's Eve on a tiny island in northern Malaysia
- Working on a durian/passion fruit farm in central Malaysia
- Singapore! Fooooooood.
We'll be funding our trip through savings and doing work-for-accommodation projects and couch surfing. I'll continue to write freelance from the road as full-time as possible. Corporate blogging, book publicity, research -- I'm going to somehow do it all while shuttling around Asia. The U.S./Canadian dollar goes a long way overseas so hopefully we can keep traveling as long as we want to on our earnings. Miguel is bringing his bass guitar (really) and will be working on writing music and selling it.
We're going to do the traditional backpacker thing and stay in the cheapest accommodation possible, cook at hostels, take the bus, and eat street food. We don't have a budget (got to get on that) but it'll be $20 per day with $50 per day at max. We want to try to live simply and spend our money on experiences (like learning to dive!). We want to volunteer and couch surf not just for accommodation but to meet locals and stay close to the ground. We want to make up for all the time glued to our computers in windowless cubicles and live.
It's funny that we're both thirty and doing this now. We both went to university and immediately plunged into corporate jobs. I thought I didn't have enough money to fund a trip plus I was too scared to go alone. Miguel lives in a culture where travel isn't as common and backpacking almost unheard of. So he did the respectable thing and got a job, a car, got engaged.
We're a little nervous about being away so long and maybe even more nervous about being together during such a long trip. Neither of us have been to a country where we didn't speak the language for a long time and there's also the scary how are we going to fund this thing.
Neither of us have "real jobs" (whatever that is), I don't have considerable savings, and we don't want to go back to corporate jobs. On the bright side we could if we wanted to and neither of us are in much debt.
We're lucky and we're going to take advantage of our freedom. We're two travelers (one bona fide, one wannabe) who somehow found each other, fell in love, and decided to do the crazy thing together. We're lucky to have each other and we're lucky to have this opportunity. We're going to live it up!