Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Traveling Alone in SE Asia

"Yeah, traveling alone can be like that - sometimes amazing, sometimes uninspiring." Spoken by a great friend who I'm sure, like many of us, has traveled on his own. This isn't my first time traveling alone, but it is - so far - my lonliest and most uninspiring. I'm in Thailand for the moment and I can't think of a place I'd rather not be. Nothing about the country has excited or thrilled me to the point of wanting to stay. I counter in my head, well, it'd be different if I were with someone else, but I don't think it would be. I think I chose the wrong places to visit, I think I wasn't positive of what I wanted to see while here, and in the end, it has been uninspiring and almost regretful. Another friend told me, "Skip Thailand, go to Laos instead." I had barely even heard of Laos, but I had heard all of these amazing things about Thailand. Next time, I'm going to Laos.

I wanted friends and/or family to come along, and several people were interested in coming, but the timing just didn't work out. I'm one of the only people I know that had a little bit of money and more time on their hands than she knows what to do with. I couldn't miss the opportunity to take this trip now, not knowing what the future might bring. My plans of going home to the States and working and starting a family in the next couple of years will certainly thwart any month-long vacation to some secluded corner of the world. Plus, with the international economic situation, who knows what the situation of my bank account will be. It really is the perfect time for me to be here - except, I'm alone.

So, how do I get out of this alone funk? How do I 'make the best of it' without reminding myself how much cooler Southeast Asia would be with a friend from DC or Mali or my Mom or sister? I have a lot of hope for Cambodia considering I based my entire trip around going there, and I know it will be better than Thailand has been. Seeing the amazing ruins of Angkor Wat and then immersing myself in dark history that has fallen upon Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge years - though a bit depressing - is interesting to me. I'm also going to the beach in Cambodia. We're not talking white sands and crystal clear waters, but we're talking about a place that not many tourists go to - a definite plus.

I'll write more about my travels in Cambodia and Vietnam and hope that things will change. In the end though, I think I'm just so used to life/culture in Africa that this is a completely wild experience for me. Maybe I should have traveled to a new region of Africa, like southern Africa. Next time, I probably will.