Travel Related Questions

I recently read a an article titled “30 questions that made me quit my job and start traveling.” I thought some of the questions were really good, while others didn’t pertain to me because I already did technically quit and start traveling. This is a bit more cheesy than my average posts, but I thought answering some of the questions would be a good way to reflect on my travels. I answered most questions in relation to travel.
If not now, then when?
Exactly.

What would you do if nobody would judge you?

I would continue traveling after New Zealand or even stay in New Zealand longer. I would go to Sri Lanka, India, and Nepal on another lengthy trip like my Southeast Asia trip. Anyone keen to join- message me?! I could also see myself teaching in either Laos, Cambodia or Indonesia as well. Teaching in Southeast Asia is something I find myself wanting to do more and more. OR, maybe I’ll go home, because I’ll be ready to.

Have you done something worth remembering lately?

I’ve done a lot of things worth remembering and am so thankful to have had these experiences. Some highlights of my last year of traveling include hiking Mount Rinjani in Lombok, Indonesia, diving with manta rays off Nusa Penida Island, Indonesia, Canyoning in Da Lat, Vietnam, hiking the Queen Charlotte track in Picton, New Zealand, going to the Killing Fields in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and running my first full marathon in Oakland, California.

Diving in Indonesia

Diving in Indonesia

Time or money?

Time and just enough money. Money does buy happiness, but only up to a certain point. I want enough money to pay off my school loan. I’ll never feel completely free until then. The more I travel, the more I realize how valuable time is. Every trip I plan for comes and goes so quickly. The fact that I left for Southeast Asia a year ago is mind blowing, honestly. I’ve already been in New Zealand for nearly 4 months and the end date is daunting. I often stop and remind myself to really soak it in and appreciate my time in New Zealand because it will be over before I know it.  Because time flies so fast, it’s important to do all the things you dream of doing now, instead of waiting for someday. I have had people message me asking me how I travel so much and the only answer I have is that I make it a priority and I have nothing tying me down. I didn’t buy a new car out of college or move into an expensive city apartment in Minneapolis because it wasn’t my priority. I lived with my parents and drove my 1993 grand am because that meant I could travel as soon as possible.

What is the one thing you are proud of  but would never put on your resume?

I’m really proud of myself for saving and paying for all of my travel on my own and for moving to New Zealand by myself. In the last two years I have done a road trip to California, traveled Southeast Asia for three months and when I got home, I immediately started saving for New Zealand. I worked three jobs for 5 months and made enough to be able to follow my gut instinct and move back to Wellington. I do recognize that it would have taken me longer to save if I was not able to live with my parents, so thank you mom and dad! And thank you to all of my family and friends who have supported me and have only wanted the best for me. It means the world to me.

11205993_10155590685715370_8915819848005447164_n(1)

If you had to move to a country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?

That’s hard. I would move back to a country in Southeast Asia for sure. I would have more time to really get to know the culture that way. Maybe Cambodia because there’s something really special about that country and I just didn’t get to spend enough time there.

What is something that you have always wanted to do since you were a kid?

I’m doing it.

When did you first realize life is short?

When Asia was over. I spent a lot of time daydreaming about it and planning for it and it was over in the blink of an I. And when I left for New Zealand the second time. I just sat there thinking “Wow, I’m really going. I’ve wanted to go back since the second I left, and look, I’m already en route.”

IMG_4392

What memory from the past makes you smile the most?

Breaking the number one rule of diving while surrounded by manta rays: deep continuous breathing. Too busy spazzing with excitement to breathe properly! Or that time I flipped upside down, dangled from the cliff face of a waterfall, bashed my knee into said cliff, and plummeted head first into the water. I am the brightest.

In one year from today, how do you want to be different?

I want to be more mindful. I want to be even more aware of my surroundings, of all of the little things that make a place what it is.

What do you need to do to make it happen?

Learn about and do meditation, and just catch myself when I’m not being perceptive.

What do you absolutely love in life?

I love talking to locals in new countries I go to. I find their stories interesting and most often find that people with the simplest lives have a happier outlook on the world and others around them. I love meeting up with people I have met traveling again and I also love spending time with the people in my life that I am so close with. I absolutely love exploring because it gives me my energy!

Maddy, Desiree and I reunited in Canada

Maddy, Desiree and I reunited in Canada

What is success for you?

Success to me is just being happy.

What makes you feel great about yourself?

After I help someone

After going for a run (well, some runs…. it’s a love-hate relationship)

When I can share something I learned about a place with someone (someone who is interested in hearing about it haha).

What do you admire most in the world?

The resilience of people and the creativity of people. People all over the world have really hard lives and huge mountains to climb but still find happiness in their lives and it’s so inspiring. They suffer through hard times and bounce back even stronger.

I recently went to a poetry slam and loved it because I was so impressed with how creative people are. I’m not that creative so it really impresses me when others are. It was amazing to listen to the poems and how their words could move the audience.

If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like doing?

Because we are too afraid to stray from the norms of society and follow our own gut. Because we are afraid of change, even when where we are or what we are doing is making us unhappy. Because of other people’s expectations of us.

When was the last time you started something new?

It’s been a while since I’ve done something new and continued to do it. I really should pick up a new activity, especially while I am in New Zealand. I did play Cricket the other day, which I really liked!

In order of importance, how would you rank happiness, money, love, health, fame?

Happiness then love, then health, then money, then fame.

What was the thing that didn’t last forever, but was still worth a while?

Every activity I’ve ever done hasn’t physically lasted long, but the memories last forever. It’s way more important spending time making memories while doing activities than buying things that “last forever.”

What has fear or failure stopped you from doing?

I am a bit afraid of something big financially happening to me while away from home. I’m not exactly sure of what that would be, but I’m afraid of having to be bailed out and having to go home because of it.

I’m afraid I’ll never find a career I’m passionate about.  Although, I do feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last few years, so I’m slowly weeding out things I know I don’t want to do forever and figuring out avenues that my time would be better spent on.

What are you thankful for?

The support of my family and friends and knowing that no matter where my life takes me they will support me and be there for me when I get home. I’m also SO thankful for Face Time, seriously, I spend at least three lunch breaks per week catching up with family and friends. And of course I am thankful for all of the incredible people I have been able to meet. When I think of all the amazing personalities I’ve stumbled upon I can’t help but smile 🙂

IMG_9556

IMG_9403

What do you need to let go of?

Caring about what other people think of me. I’m pretty sensitive, so I need to let go of this in order to really follow my dreams.

In one word, how would you spend the last month of your life?

Happy.

What do you want to be known for?

Being an encouraging person and living my life on my terms.

Alright, that’s a wrap. When I read the article, I thought some of the questions were pretty awesome and that it was a good chance for me to think and reflect on my travels. It’s good to do things like this to remind myself to be thankful and keep doing my thing. My blog is typically me just scrambling words onto the screen quick (sorry for all my short sentences and grammatical errors lol) about what I’ve been up to, so I thought something a little deeper was in order.

The end!

 

Gotta Get to Malaysia!

8pm, Krabi, Thailand: “Hi can we book a bus to the Perhinthian Islands, Malaysia for 7am tomorrow morning?”

Lady, looking at us like we’re morons: “It’s Ramadan, buses are full the next few days.”

Right. That’s an issue.

Next and only option- fly. Fly directly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia or fly to Singapore and snag a bus to KL to save $45? Why not make what could have been a four hour journey into a 16 hour journey? For the sake of saving $45, we took option B.

After flight, boarder crossing, and several city buses later, we found ourselves on our last (coach) bus of the night wishing it was an all nighter. That’s how you know traveling has become part of you- you’re actually wishing you could stay on the bus, because you know that when you arrive at 2am you still need to find accommodation. Hostel shopping at 2am is always a good time. We actually didn’t think we’d get into KL any later than 10pm. HA.

We never book in advance. The only other time we couldn’t get on a bus the next morning was from Sihanoukville, Cambodia to Siem Reap and that was only a minor inconvenience. Trust us, we’ve been on our fair share of buses (over 65 hours in Vietnam alone). Throw in Ramadan and you get our second fully booked bus incident.

Unfortunately this cut off the Perhinthian Islands. We spent a little to much time in the Thai Islands (mainly because we couldn’t get ourselves to leave Koh Tao), so that cut into our Malaysia time already. It would have consumed too much time for us to travel from KL to the north in order to dive in the Perhinthians. That’s okay though, it was and adventure!

Honestly, times like this just make travel hilarious. All we could do is laugh, and I’m actually happy about how things turned out. It was an interesting journey with more thrills than just getting on an organized bus. We are so patient with transportation and being in travel mode from one place to the next it’s not even funny. We joke “Hurry up and wait!” because they’re always rushing you, just to make you wait.

Basically, we hung out in KL for five days walking around the city, window shopping at the mall, sleeping in, eating WAY too many sweets, chilling in the most lively China Town I’ve ever experienced, and climbing the countless stairs of the Batu Caves.

I really liked Malaysia. It was exciting to be in a big city- a really nice one at that! Malaysia was very different from any other country because it had so many different ethnicities but was mainly Muslim. I had never been to a Muslim country so it was nice to experience a new culture. I found the people of Malaysia to be the friendliest I have ever met. They always said hi to us and were willing to help us in any way they could.

I left Malaysia with a smile on my face, ready to concur Singapore!

DSC_0324
2012-08-04 11.15.02
DSC_0279
DSC_0017
DSC_0037
DSC_1041
DSC_0022
DSC_0304 DSC_0311
DSC_0272

Next up- an odd time in Singapore!

It’s all about the people

The month of July 2014 was easily one of the best of my life.

I was in Cambodia and Thailand. I was traveling with my best friend. I was on lounging on white sand island beaches . I was dripping with sweat on some of the largest religious sites in the world. I was walking on dirt, teeth and bone fragments at one of the most powerful genocide memorials in the world. I was watching bubbles float past my face as I learned to breathe under water. I was slowly allowing my face to peel off after the worst sunburn of my life. I was befriending some of the funniest, smartest, most unique and rambunctious people I’ve ever met.

Continue reading

Where are you now?

Obviously a key part of traveling is … traveling! We knew we would be taking lots and lots of taxies, buses, trains, planes, tuk tuks, boats, metros, motorcycles, and on and on.

We were aware. Anna went all over New Zealand and Australia. I went all around Scotland and Western Europe. We already knew how to travel.

The other evening around 7 p.m. we wandered into a travel agency and tried to book a bus for the next morning at 8 a.m. We wanted to go from Krabi, Thailand to the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia.

Continue reading

Is it misinterpretation or do they actually just not care?

Ahhh signs. Meant to direct and instruct. Give tourists some sort of hint of what in the world is going on. Not in Southeast Asia, though!

It may be a pool sign that roughly says ‘if swimming after 9 p.m. not response.’ Not response? The hotel isn’t responsible? They won’t respond? What if I were drowning?! Nope. No response.

Or it might be a sign directing you up a mountain, except the translation is so butchered that no meaning can be interpreted.

 

Anyways! Here are a few of my SEAsia signs:

 

I do not want to know why this sign is necessary.

I do not want to know why this sign is necessary.

Formality is key during border crossings.

Formality is key during border crossings.

Usually

Usually

Wait. Wait just a minute!

Wait. Wait just a minute!

Every city needs one.

Every city needs one.

Solid attempt

Solid attempt

And my personal favorite!

And my personal favorite!

 

Filling travel time

Thinking back to my ‘preparations’ for this trip, I feel like a complete idiot.

Why didn’t I think of such basic things like the fact that we would frequently be taking five hour bus rides?

Candy crush is only entertaining for so long. (Also, I’m really bad and use my lives up quickly.)

What I really wish is that I thought to learn a new skill while traveling.

I’m reading a lot, but the books are heavy and take up room. Picking up new ones in hostels is nice, but they are poor quality and the selection is limited.

I should have brought a book on tying knots or identifying plants or finding constellations.

I honestly don’t know what I was thinking.

20140628-120848-43728609.jpg
My most recently finished book. Amazing novel!!

Our computer chargers melted so we are stranded to posting with our phones. I’ll update as much as a can but my good photos are trapped on SD cards and dead computers. *sigh*

That’s all for now.

Xx

Learning as we go

Two years ago I studied abroad in Stirling, Scotland. My pals and I did weekend trips and some longer stretches at the end of the semester. I also traveled for a bit around Europe with my parents before heading back to the states, so I like to think that I wasn’t a total amateur traveler before this trip. I’ve slept in some sketchy dorms and used some nasty showers.

With that said, things have been quite different traveling in Southeast Asia, and I am learning everyday.

Backpack fully loaded!

Backpack fully loaded!

 

Realizations:

  1. Two long sleeve shirts are not necessary.
    Right before I left Wisconsin I had a conversation with my cousins, Kelly and Ellen. They have both spent time in Costa Rica and warned me that I might get use to the heat. ‘It would be 80 degrees and I would have a hoodie on,’ Ellen said. But man. The heat in Asia is not a heat you ‘get use to.’ I would definitely ditch my heavier shirt at home and stick with the light, hiking material for long shirts and pants.Also, I made the strange decision to purchase two pairs of pants over here. Why? No one knows. Thiapants have a hold on my heart and they won’t let go.

    Thai pants for days

    Thai pants for days

  2. Clothes need to be durable.
    With packing my clothes I was only thinking about light clothing that I could mix in match. I had planned on throwing away a lot of the tanks I brought over before returning home because I imagined I would be sick of them. But I didn’t account for the wear and tear that would happen when I wear the same tank top every other day. The cheap tops I picked up at Forever 21 before I took off from home are already running thin and are significantly stretched out. Anna and I may have to do some shopping before too long! Bummer, right? 😉
    Shoes also need to be durable.
    Back home I NEVER wear flip flops. I have my Birks and my Chacos and that all I need in life (little dramatic but I love my Birks). I almost forgot to bring a pair but my doc stressed that shower shoes are a must for SE Asia. The morning of my trip I frantically recovered a pair of pink Victoria’s Secret flops from the back of my closet (high quality, right?).
       Anyways, it was week two and Anna and I were a bit turned around in Chiang Mai, and when I say ‘turned around’ I mean we forgot the name/location of our hostel so we just followed the AC around town. Well, this scorching hot day was about to get even better and my flip flop blew out in the middle of an intersection. I continued to wander aimlessly around town with one shoe dragging until a random Thai man — my saving grace — jumped out of a passing by car, showed me a piece of wire in his hand, and fixed my shoe for me! Whoever you are Thai man, I owe you my life! Or a hug!

    Post blow out. The wire eventually broke and I had to resecure the shoes with a bobby-pin. #crafty

    Post blow out. The wire eventually broke and I had to resecure the shoes with a bobby-pin. #crafty

    Moral of the story: Don’t bring crappy quality anything with you when you will be living out of a backpack for a few months. Now I’m sporting some super fashionable Abercrombie and Finch flops from a super legit street corner vender. What up!

  3. Plan for accidents.
    Our pals Maddy and Desirée are traveling with what they refer to as a pharmacy. Before they left they stocked up on motion sickness meds, Benadryl, creams and pills for swelling, bug bites and allergic reactions. I brought or took in advance the stuff my doctor recommended (like prescribed pills for typhoid fever, malaria, traveler’s diarrhea) and I brought Tums, Advil and some Band-Aids and Neosporin. But it was definitely not enough. Being the accident-prone klutz that I am I have a handful of bruises cuts. In Laos I slipped in a waterfall and bashed my leg against a SHARP rock. In Laos we got locked out our hostel and had to jump the front gate. Trust me. The spikes are effective.

    Beware

    Beware

 

Differences/Hints

 

  1. While traveling in Europe, aside from a few exceptions, we mostly stayed in hostels with dorm-style rooms. Sometimes the rooms would be as many as 16 people to a room. Here in Southeast Asia, Anna and I had intended on the dorm life, but with private sweets charging only a buck or two more than the dorms, we are high rolling a little bit.
  2. Another difference is towels and bedding! Most places required you to pay a few dollars for a towel … sometimes even for sheets! We definitely don’t need to be toting towels around.
  3. Another thing we are dragging around … TENNIS SHOES! We brought Chacos, light, water-proof hiking sandals that fight great and stay on in water or on land. So far I haven’t even considered touching my runners. I was thinking I would be working out a lot in SE Asia, but with this heat I would have to be getting up at 5 a.m. to beat the sun. No thank you!

    Where my runners have sat the entire trip (and where they shall stay).

    Where my runners have sat the entire trip (and where they shall stay).

4. It was also very unnecessary to bring a water bottle with. I was hoping I could use it to live a little eco-friendly on this trip but the only water you can drink comes from a vendor (sorry Mother Earth!). My water bottle has sat in the hood of my bag and it isn’t going anywhere fast. Do I leave it behind? But I love my water bottle. It’s been a month and I haven’t ditched it yet … but we will see.

5. Oh and for anyone out there thinking they will be writing and blogging while traveling, invest in a tablet. This beat-up, slow, janky MacBook Pro is driving me nuts.

6. The last tid-bit of information I’m going to share is the beauty of a neck pillow. Most people reading this are probably thinking, ‘Well, duh Martha. Everyone knows neck pillows are quite nice for airplane travel.’ But you don’t understand the love I have for my neck pillow. I would choose it over my computer as a travel necessity. Anna and I bought neck pillows in LA as a last second decision prior to our 14-hour flight. I use it constantly and people stare on with envy as we whip them out on overnight trains and buses.

Dreaming of her neck pillow

Dreaming of her neck pillow

Maybe I’ll update when I realize more mistakes I’ve made. Until then, Anna and I are doing well!

xx