When I initially set out to plan my Southeast Asia backpacking trip, I eyed two months of wandering six countries: Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia. I’ve been to three of the six, but I haven’t had the chance to fully explore them other than Siem Reap in Cambodia, Hanoi in Vietnam and Bangkok in Thailand.
Being the planner that I am, I had the route all mapped out, deciding when and where I should be from October 5 to December 12. I booked the flights, researched train and bus schedules, read Travelfish, TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet. I was all set.
At least I thought I was. I found myself checking my financial state last week, this time mapping out my budget both covering cash and credit. That’s when it dawned on me: I can’t comfortably afford this trip.
While I would love to continue and fulfill my initial plan of exploring six countries in two months, my scant budget wouldn’t realistically cut it. Now I’m not a big spender when I travel – I don’t eat at fancy restaurants, I walk whenever I can instead of taking public transportation, I rarely shop and I don’t mind sharing dorms and bathrooms with strangers. But I’m not up for sleeping in beds infested with bed bugs or staying in dorms with no lockers so I’ll pay a little more for safety and peace of mind. I also need stable WiFi connection for work so I’ll have to hang out in a cafe once or twice a week or maybe purchase a day pass in a coworking space. And when all these things add up… Well, they will cost me a lot.
Much as I’d like to throw caution to the wind and wing it, I’ll probably spend most of my days worrying over my financial state and then spending the rest of 2016 hunched over my laptop, working and trying my damn best to pay off debt. It’s just one of the many, many things I need to deal with following my career switch and the things that come with it. And that means being an adult and facing decisions I’m not too happy to take.
After going through a lot of options and praying over the right decision, I’ve finally decided to do three weeks in Myanmar (Yangon to Bagan to Mandalay), Thailand (Bangkok to Nong Khai) and Laos (Vientiane to Luang Prabang). I’m flying from Luang Prabang to Hanoi and then Hanoi to Manila in late October, dropping the Vietnam and Cambodia legs of my trip. I’ll be home in Manila for a couple of weeks in November, recharging while working. Then I go back on the road just in time for the Loy Krathong festivities in Chiang Mai plus a couple of more days in Bangkok and maybe a day trip to Ayutthaya or Sukhothai. I’m closing this year’s travels with some dose of sun and sea in Bali before the Christmas holidays.
While I’m saddened to let go of my original plan, I think slowing down is probably what’s best for now. Anyway I still get to explore three new countries and I get to revisit a favorite, so it’s not like I’m totally losing here. One week ’til departure!