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13 Weeks

As you may have read, we are no longer in Australia and have arrived in the magical Thailand.

We had heard nothing but great thing about this place, something that always then makes me apprehensive about going somewhere because it then has to live up to it's hype.

For the most part, it has. And I'm continuing to learn so much not about places of this world but how to BE a traveller.

There are so many things that influence your experience in a destination. I think I've rambled on about this before but I feel it so much more now as I'm living it, day by day, in the moment of the journey.

I can't help but compare Thailand to Malaysia simply because it was the first SE Asia county I went to.

There are pros and cons to both.

It's easier to feel isolated on an island in Malaysia. You could actually see Malaysians on holiday, in the same resorts as you. In Thailand, the islands (the 3 we have been on anyway) are so developed, you're not sure whether or not your in Bangkok or London. And the only Thai I've seen have been working in the tourism industry.

It's easier to eat in Thailand. I have had beautiful breakfasts in Thailand, with eggs and bacon and HASH BROWNS and tea. I have had gorgeous soups and beef dishes, and curries and salads and the list could go on and on.

In Malaysia, we spent the entire time on one island as if prisoners in a war camp, planning when to go and eat dinner so that we wouldn't have to wait 2 HOURS for the meal to be ready. I'm serious 2 HOURS and no one was in the restaurant. (KAPAS ISLAND IS WAY TO CRAZY FOR FOOD! DAY TRIP ONLY!!!!) Don't get me wrong, the variety was a nice change from Korea but upon reflection, we did struggle for food at times.

In Thailand, there always seems something to barter for, someone's always yelling 'taxi taxi' or 'cheap massage, good for you, good for your skin'. It's all about 'closing a deal' because, from what I've seen, I'm not sure there is any other industry to be in.

In Malaysia, we were left alone, never really hearing from people unless we sought them out. Asked for a taxi, enquired about the snorkelling trip.

In Thailand, they have GREAT BEACH BARS. In Malaysia, they make you feel a little like a criminal if you order a beer, although it was available on every island we stayed.

In Thailand, everything seems easy, orchestrated. You want to go from an island to the mainland, you book the ticket and are ferried, literally, from where you're staying, right to the dock of the destination. Car, bus, ferry. All with enough down time to be sure you have enough time to spend money on food at the designated stops along the way. They even have a color coded sticker system to help you know when you get off the ferry!

In Malaysia, you figure a lot of things out on your own.

But even as I write about all these things, I know in my heart that they are just descriptions about places, just details about destinations.

What would my reactions be if I had come to Thailand first? Arrived here after 14 months of hard work and (sometimes) heartache, looking to relax for a month?

Malaysia got a month outta me. Because of time constraints, Thailand will just barely get two weeks.

And what about my state of mind? 13 weeks ago when we began, I was ready to be on HOLIDAY!!! The little things didn't matter because I WAS NOT WORKING!!

Now after 91 days of finding somewhere to sleep, finding somewhere to eat, lugging my bag, unpacking my bag, repacking my bag, finding the bus, finding the train, finding the strength to feel comfortable in a new place, my patience has waned.

Is this fair to Thailand? Probably not.

If I had arrived after 13 weeks in Malaysia, would I have been as mystified and easy going as I am now? Probably not.

But that is the life a traveller. The decisions you make about the places you stay and during which part of your trip will always affect the memories you have of the destination, regardless of how amazing that place is, or more importantly, how amazing a guide book says it is.

Don't get me wrong, we are having an amazing time. And YES we are aware that we are not working an ergo should not be complaining about the differences between the beaches in Thailand and Malaysia. Even I I type that, I'D want to punch myself in the face.

But any life has challenges, even the ones in which you are not working. And I'm merely writing a bit about one of the challenges about doing a trip of this length. So please don't send me hate mail. Or try to poke my eyes out with a fork because I'm nit picking paradise.

It's just all these comparisons and experiences brings me to the burning questions that has been circling in my mind for weeks now - how can anyone possibly give solid travel advice?

I suppose it's a bit like writing a hard new story. You can list just the facts but the order that you choose to display them and the questions you ask your sources are already showing your bias.

Guess you really can't believe everything you read.


liz said…
wow. well said. I've never really thought of things like that before, but it's true. and in saying that, i think that you are giving "real" travel advice...

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