The End of the SE Asian Adventures (with a 9 month delay)

28 04 2013

Item’s I have learned today:

I have learned that this will be my last blog for a while.  It’s not like I am going to permanently retire this thing, but now that I am back in the “real world,” I am finding it hard to  the find time to write.  I’m sure there will be more to come, but after this entry… mariavandenburg.com will have to be put on hold for a little bit.

Now I am going to rewind.  I spent the last  two years living abroad, one year in Australia, one year in New Zealand. I then took 6 weeks to do a tour of SE Asia before returning back to Seattle in September 2012.  I maintained this blog during my time abroad, just click on any of the previous entries if you’re interested in learning more (please excuse any and all spelling and grammatical errors, thanks).

My last entry left with me in Cambodia.  At this point, I had about 2 weeks before flying back to the states.  I had spent the previous 4 weeks doing a tour of Thailand and Laos by myself. Prior to flying out, I was completely freaked out about traveling alone. I must say though, looking back now, it was probably one of the best traveling experiences I have ever had. Traveling alone forces you out of your comfort zone. It allows you to meet people, and be exposed to  new settings/situations that you might not have experienced while traveling with someone. Not that I don’t like traveling with people (because I do), I’m just saying that I learned I could travel alone, and have a great time doing it.  Alright, I am digressing again…

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I left Cambodia with my former flatmate from NZ Bec.  We flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, booked ourselves into a hostel, and set off to explore. Kuala Lumpur was beautiful and dirty at the same time.  You have all this gorgeous architecture and buildings, and then you cross the street with a rat scurrying past you.  The people seemed a bit more closed off, but they weren’t unfriendly.  They were just busy.

Bec and I spent four days in Malaysia.  We were going to try to get to one of the islands, but we didn’t have enough time be.   It also seemed impossible to locate a travel agency to sort it out (yes, I can be a high maintenance traveler if I haven’t properly done my research and a lot of this trip was sort of just flying by the seat of my pants.. which is also something I don’t do very often… and by that I mean ever).

We took a hop on / hop off bus (yes, we were tourists) and saw the (gate of) the royal palace, the Petronis twin towers, the National Mosque (well the outside, apparently we just weren’t meant to see the inside.. although we did try on 3 different occasions), the Kuala Lumpur tower.. and more.

For Bec’s birthday we headed up to the Batu caves (Hindi caves located near KL).  The caves were cool, the monkeys however FREAKED ME OUT.  They were so used to being fed by tourists, that they practically attacked you if you didn’t. Awesome.

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Kuala Lumpur was fun, but at the same time it felt like I really didn’t get a chance to experience it. I enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong,  I just wish there would have been a bit more of an opportunity to get know the locals there.

After KL, I said goodbye to Bec and headed off to Bali for my last week.  I decided the day Bec flew back home to London, that I would go to Bali. I had one week left, and was trying to choose between Bali and going back to Thailand to visit one of the islands on the west coast (Ko Tao).  When Thailand looked like more of a pain to get back to, and Bali was a direct flight, my choice was made.  If you would have asked me two and a half years ago when I first started this adventure, if I would be comfortable not only traveling alone, but also deciding the day before which country I would head to next, I wouldn’t have believed it was possible, or I would have had an anxiety attack 🙂 lol.

Anyway. my traveling style had become, waking up, doing 10 minutes of research online, looking up flights, checking hostel world for the hostels with the top rankings, booking myself into said hostel and hoping and praying that I would meet someone cool to travel with.  In Bali, during my last week before heading home, I met about 10-15 people at this awesome hostel called “the island.” It was amazing.

The island hostel was located in an area of Bali called Legian. It was one of the most expensive hostels I stayed at (roughly $25 US Dollars a night, but come on now I was backpacking in SE Asia, over there $25 bucks is quite spendy!) but also one of the nicest, and most social.  While there, I met folks from all over the world, and the best part about all of it was I didn’t have to do my research on Bali, they all did it for me! During my first night there I decided I would head up to Ubud to meet two of them the next day (Ubud is where Elizabeth Gilbert/Julia Roberts lived in eat pray love) spend the night and then take the speed boat to Gili T (a 1k island).

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I loved LOVED Bali. I loved the people I got to meet. I loved the religious festival that I happened to be in Ubud for. I loved how religious the Indonesian people are. I loved how amazing the food was. I loved the fact that I got to spend a few days on Gili T and run into one of the girls I hit it off with on the first night at the island hostel.

Bali was amazing. It was the perfect way to end the trip, and the perfect re-enforcement that I can and could (and should) travel alone. While there I met about 5 people on an around the world trip, and COMPLETELY got inspired. I would love to be able to do that. To just take a year off and literally go around the world.

Of course I sort of need to sort out my life/career/save up enough money in order to be able to do it all.. but hey, at least I have a goal right?

After Bali is was back to Auckland for a few days, and then back to the good ole US of A, where I am wrapping up this last entry (for a bit anyway)…

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