Up until today, the details of my travel plans have been very fluid. I have had a pretty solid idea of the places I want to visit, but have been going back and forth on the best way to arrange my schedule. I am so looking forward to spending January with my family, so my travel dates could not begin before February. I know that at some point in May, I am meeting my life-long friend Amy and her husband Nate in China for two weeks. I also know that I am excited to see Jen and her family in Australia. So, the list of destinations for the first part of my trip firmed up pretty quickly. Los Angeles (and Redlands), New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and China. Then came the tricky part; deciding how to divide up my time and how to travel between those places. For anyone who has ever seen me try to order lunch, I’m sure you can appreciate the high level of indecision and constant second guessing that I would put into a plan this big. However, unlike my typical lunch decision, there is no one to ask “what are you ordering?”. I’m in this one on my own.
At first, I thought ‘I should take the most direct route’. That seems pretty straight-forward. Being a good Geographer, I pulled out my atlas and plotted my path. Then I cracked open my Lonely Planets and Rough Guides (or, I should say, I sat in Chapters and cracked open theirs) to sort out where I would like to go in each of these Countries. I even made a list…surprise, surprise. So, now I had my route and the places I would like to see so I could figure out approximately how long I would want in each place. Mission accomplished. Or so I thought.
As I continued sitting in the library and books stores around the city, I realized one major question I had not yet asked; ‘What about the weather?’. Oh yeah, Southeast Asia has monsoons (admitting that it took me this long to think about the weather takes some major points off my geo-geek status, I know). So, I started to look at what months each place typically gets hit the worst. Then I began to factor in the quality of the infrastructure. For example, a heavy rain in Northern Vietnam or Laos could wash out main roads and make travel difficult and slow, but the same rain might not have as much of an impact in a more established travel network (geo-points regained!).
Once I had sorted out my list of destinations, basic list of activities in those destinations, and when the weather would likely be pretty good, I adjusted my route. I then e-mailed the company I am working with for my flights and told them I was ready to book. We scheduled a call for a couple of days from that email. And then I started second guessing again. Luckily, when I bounced my ideas and questions (and exposed my total indecision) to my agent, she told me that she thought the plan was a good one and reassured me that I was doing ok. We ended up chatting for about an hour, which ended with me filling out my credit card authorization form and committing to one of the biggest decisions I have ever made.
So, here it is:
- Toronto to LA: February 1, 2011
- LA to Rarotonga: February 6, 2011
- Rarotonga to Auckland: February 13, 2011
- Christchurch to Sydney: March 1, 2011
- Brisbane to Bangkok: March 16, 2011
- Bangkok to Chiang Mai: March 20, 2011
Then a bunch of trains, boats, Tuk-Tuks, Elephants and even an inner tube become my transportation methods around Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam before heading to China. After China, I will return to Thailand to see the south: Phuket, Ko Phi Phi, Ko Samui and others.
That’s the plan! Or at least, that’s the plan today.