Southeast Asia forum
Two Deranged Students do The Big One ... Backwards!
19th October, 2009
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This is a long one.
Endure, and in enduring grow strong!
To begin, let us get acquainted. Allow me to allow you to peer into our queer and slightly deranged modus operandi ...
My girlfriend and I (24 and 21) will be arriving at Hanoi on the 23rd of December at 1am!
She's teacher (almost) and I'm either a lawyer, computer geek, or some kind of writer (haven't decided yet). A sense of adventure, Anthony Bourdain, muay thai, and some weird, fatalistic attraction binds us, etc etc.
The conquest of summer 2008 was this: 4 friend and I (yes, you are reading correctly: 5 people in a 2001 Honda civic) drove cross country from NYC to California, in 28 days, stopping at every state on the way, from cracktown to glimmering city, prairies to the mountains, fields of gold, bla bla blah. As we were "balling on a budget" (as we say here in NYC) - we did a lot of sleeping in the car. Ouch.
Originally we had planned a perimeter around the U.S. but upon reaching the border of Baja California, some of us (guess who!) on the comedown of a 24 hour acid trip, we were badly beaten down and decided that the right thing to do was ..........
take a straight, 48 hour diagonal hellride back to New York City of course!
The "side trip" in Haight Ashbury, California (other fellow miscreants will recognize the epicenter of the "Summer of Love" and Hippie movement of the 60's! ) didn't help (or helped infinitely, however way you please) but all good things must come to an, abrupt, jarring halt ..
Of course, it was the trip of our lives. We covered 10,000 miles in that month. The memories amassed during those miles are infinite, legendary.
So, I'm looking for a new conquest this year. Perhaps, hopefully, it'll be even more enlightening.
Bring on the malevolent malaria modified mosquitos, Burmese bombers, Cambodian cutthroats, Viet-cong villains and uhm, elephants!
Yes, I'm NOT leaving till I ride a damned elephant. Or see some rare dolphins. Or fly down a zip line. Or contract a disease from an impoverished Thai hooker. Just kidding on that last one.
BTW, We are arriving on a FREE awards flight courtesy of United Airlines!
I would like to share the link, in case someone here might benefit from it, as we have! :
The gist of the offer is (and this is not a plug, nor a referal, just an informational link, our part with them is long done and we booked the flight today at a grand total of 60$ in taxes each!):
Sign up for their United/Chase/Visa card and get 30,000 miles to begin with!
Have up to TWO other individuals open the same credit card using your "mileage plus number" as the referal code... and you get 15,000 additional miles for EACH person that opens the card and activates it by making their first purchase. They also start with 30,000 miles, and are able to accrue additional miles, using the same procedure as well!
Ok, moving on!
So, we are using the "Four Countries" Itinerary as a ROUGH guide *only we're doing it BACKWARDS* as we are landing in Hanoi.
I realize we will have to arrange for a visa with Vietnamese authorities before entering. I believe we can get the rest "on arrival"
I also realize Hanoi will be, not-so-warm, although that is still plenty warm by NYC winter standards. But we will be making our way south, so no big deal.
Ideally, we would like a nice combination of the "banana pancake trail" and off the beaten path mix.
Ideally as well, we would like to spend the last part of our vacation on the eastern islands of Thailand (Samui, Ko Tao etc)
Ultimately, we will be able to DEPART out of Bangkok instead of Hanoi with this type of flight as well (at no add'l charge - pretty cool for a free flight)
So we will be ARRIVING in Hanoi on the 23rd of December and DEPARTING Bangkok back to the United States on the 5th of February.
Gives us about 46 days.
Note: We do not care too much for clubs, etc, plenty of that crap here in NYC.
I know there's definitely room here for the "Bruce lecture" ;] (JK Bruce, I have learned so much from your posts!) but this is a once in a lifetime trip and we are absolutely ready to do whatever it takes to get it done.
Some local, time saving flights are DEFINITELY going to be in order, if anyone can point out the more obvious routes where it would work, would help plenty. Otherwise we are going to do alot of overland travel.
The only thing I can think right now is to maybe cut Ayyuthaya out to save some time (I heard after Angkor Wat it's not that big of a deal)
Also to fly where we can in Thailand, to the Islands and to Bangkok, as those flights are cheap and efficient. Not sure where else it would work.
I realize I barely have an itinerary down but .. any comments, suggestions, towns we can safely skip (given the timeframe), things we shouldn't miss, foolish things we are overlooking on our part, etc etc are welcome!
I will also update this with our experiences, so that others might use it as a guide as well! Just to think, I barely knew SEA geographically a week ago ...
#1 Posted: 22/10/2009 - 09:58
Good to see the spirit of Jack Kerouac is alive and well. Or is it Hunter Thompson ?
Either way, ask yourself this. Would either of those guys have had a pre determined plan and route mapped out ? Nah, don't think so.
Having everything sorted is for silly middle - aged old farts like me. And even I've only got the first quarter of my trip worked out.
My advice is, research loads, book your first few nights...and then go where your the hell your nose leads you. You're young and fancy free; plenty of time to be have things all planned out when your older. Otherwise, where is that inspiration to be a writer going to come from ? Or maybe this desire to have things planned is your inner Lawyer speaking to you :)
Either way, have a great trip.
#2 Posted: 22/10/2009 - 17:56
A word of advice - do not do any drugs while you are here. Laws here concerning drugs can be rather draconian and might put a damper on your vacation. Stick to alcohol.
And Thai hookers are really under-rated and under-valued on this site. I think you should show them more respect.
#3 Posted: 22/10/2009 - 23:06
Oh, and never, ever, ever take sand to the beach!
#4 Posted: 22/10/2009 - 23:07
very wise words from both Nokka and MADMAC, although it is important to point out that both Jack and Hunter S. are dead.
starting in Hanoi just work down the coast and then make a big loop through back up through Cambodia, Laos, and then down to the Thai islands. those 46 days aren't as much time as you'd think, so you'll need to keep moving. alternately, you could move from Hanoi across to Laos and then down through Cambodia and over to the Thai islands.
but like Nokka says, you'll do better just following your nose and heading off to the next place based on the feedback you get from your fellow travellers. cheers.
#5 Posted: 23/10/2009 - 01:43
19th October, 2009
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Thank you MAC, Nokka and Exacto on the vague well wishing and advice, what the hell did I expect as a response to such a loose-threaded, first-post newbie rant eh? ;]
The trip is much closer now, a lot of things have solidified and, admittedly, expanded. What started as a two week vacation in Thailand...
We are now 99% sure we will be doing the entire leg but devoting 7 months !! to it ( starting w/ a month in vietnam, X amount everywhere else, finished off with ~3 months in Thailand at a MT camp (possibly more if a student visa can be arranged)
I had some issues I wanted to inquire about that only popped up at me as I did closer planning with the itinerary, but it's finals week and I wrote them on my laptop, so, I'll be back.
But as of now, I have my Vietnamese Visa, and I'm leaving in a week.
BTW - This site is AWESOME. THANK YOU. I think a consequence has been my giving up on all other recreational activities and scholarly endeavors but oh well...
#6 Posted: 15/12/2009 - 12:49
"We are now 99% sure we will be doing the entire leg but devoting 7 months !! to it ( starting w/ a month in vietnam, X amount everywhere else, finished off with ~3 months in Thailand at a MT camp (possibly more if a student visa can be arranged)"
Not to be pedantic, but your use of punctuation here is horrific.
Have a great time - which is easy to do here. I'm now well into my third year living here, and it's been just a great time.
#7 Posted: 15/12/2009 - 17:32
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