Flying Solo in SE Asia

Thailand-Travelogue  |  Travel time: January - May 2010  |  by Kelly House

A post-graduate's experience traveling without companions through mainland Southeast Asia.

Getting There

So tomorrow's the beginning of the 2 day process of arriving in Bangkok, Thailand. School, work and a social life kept me from doing much planning for the trip until about a month before I planned to depart, but thanks to my low-key travel style and a desire to plan most of my itinerary as I go, I feel as ready as I possibly could.
The only thing I might have missed the boat on is anti-malaria medication, which I didn't contact my doctor early enough to prescribe. On the other hand, many travel sites advise against the pills--they're a pain in the ass to take every day, they don't actually prevent malaria (just mask the symptoms) and they sometimes have the side effect of inducing nasty freakouts. Plus, most of the more well-traveled areas of SE Asia are more or less malaria free, and I plan on applying plenty of DEET for the rest.
I've spent the better part of the past few days booking flights and hostels, buying gear, saying goodbyes (not fun) and packing and re-packing my bags. I'm hoping to pack minimally to leave about 1/2 of my pack empty for things I pick up during my travels. So far: two pairs of pants, two tees, one fleece, one long sleeve collared shirt, one pair hiking shorts, one A-tank, one wicking tank, ten pair underwear, eight pair socks, a hat, a microfiber towel, toiletry bag, tennis shoes, sandals, bikini, water bottle, binocs, flashlight, first aid kit, camera, phone, Mp3 player and chargers, plus some other little things. I plan to pick up a sarong and long skirt as soon as I arrive in Bangkok.
Nerves are beginning to set in as the date draws nearer for my 12:45 p.m. flight Jan. 27 out of Detroit. I'll head downstate tomorrow, spend the night at my grandparents' house, then head to the airport Wednesday morning for a 23+ hour trip: Detroit, Mich., to Bangkok, Thailand, with a stopover in Tokyo. I'll spend four days in Bangkok before heading to Hanoi, Vietnam and making my through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and back into Northern Thailand and down to the Southern beaches.

Friends and family have warned me to be careful as a woman traveling alone in a part of the world where attitudes toward women (particularly Western women) are far less welcoming than in the U.S., and I'm a little apprehensive myself. However, I view that as part of the allure of travel--adapting to unfamiliar situations, learning to cope with the challenges of travelling solo (from booking rooms at a higher rate, to becoming your own best friend to having no one who can share in the frustration of a bad travel day) and finding new respect for ideas and cultural norms other than your own.
The only regret I have about this trip is not getting to spend the last three months of my college-aged days in East Lansing. I already feel a bit left out knowing I won't be there for the slow goodbye that is the last semester. On the other hand, I know if I wasn't doing this, chances are I'd be on an internship somewhere far from MSU and aside from more regular access to phones and internet to keep in contact, I'd be in about the same situation. Plus, I'm hoping to get back in time to see everyone for a couple of weeks before we all part ways. And while I'm getting updated on all that's happened at MSU over the course of the semester, maybe I'll have some good stories to tell, too.

© Kelly House, 2010
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The trip
 
Details:
Start of journey: Jan 27, 2010
Duration: 4 months
End of journey: May 2010
Travelled countries: Thailand
Vietnam
The Author
 
Kelly House is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 10 years.
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