After weeks of prayer, discernment, and consultation, I have finally decided not to go to China this year. Let me start by sharing a very weird experience while trying to book my one way ticket to Beijing online.
My first attempt to book was way back in January after the first “One Peso” fair was announced by Cebu Pacific. The booking I made generated an error more than twice, so I decided to use other online devices. Despite my attempt, I still failed so I finally let it go and told myself to book on a different day. In the weeks / months that followed, I tried to book several times on different occasions but whenever I reach the payment section, the same error pops, even on a non-promo day. Bottomline: it screws up everytime I try to book. My latest attempt was just last week and I still couldn’t book. Same error, different day. The skies have spoken, “maybe next time, dude”.
Let’s just say that 2012 may not be the perfect time for me to experience the Southern part of China. I don’t want to lie by saying that “recent events” didn’t really bother me because they DID play a part, even if I don’t consider them as the main reasons (I also sought advice from seasoned travelers by the way). Fate may have already known…but I don’t really want to get into that.
I also asked myself if China would be worth it for just 14 days. Then I realized that I would definitely be missing important places if I only give myself little time. China is such a HUGE country that in my opinion, 2 weeks travel IS NOT enough. A month or more should do it. I’m not saying that one should experience every nook and corner of the entire country (duh). But sites such as Chengdu, the Anji Bamboo Forest, Fenghuang and even Shangri-La shouldn’t be missed (China is not just about the Great Wall, you know).
China is still part of my bucket list. And in the future, I hope to see the country with more time on my hands.
It’s a bummer to miss Bucket List Country #12, but this recent change will finally allow me to fulfill Bucket List Country #15: Myanmar. I’ve mentioned it several times that the Lonely Planet winning photo showing the temples of Bagan inspired me to put the country on my bucket list. I’ve never known Burma before that. Rudyard Kipling even made it more fascinating with his words: “This is Burma, and it will be quite unlike any land you know about…”
In my new route, I’ll be coming from Clark in Pampanga and head to Kuala Lumpur. I’ll be spending a couple of days there then take a train to Georgetown in Penang where I’ll stay for two more days. After Georgetown, I’ll take the overnight train to Bangkok and from Bangkok, I’ll fly to Rangoon.
Recently, Myanmar has become the most expensive country in South East Asia next to Singapore. I initially planned a 12 day stay but I had to rearrange my schedule due to my budget. So if you’re a budget traveler, budget Myanmar properly or you’ll end up sleeping on the street (and I am not exaggerating). Here’s why:
a. There are no ATMs in Myanmar. The cash you bring will be your cash for your entire trip. If you lose all of them (God Forbid), you’ll have nothing left.
b. They’re strict when it comes to dollars. They will reject all dollars which are not in mint condition. Dollars should not have staple marks, folds, or even little ink marks
c. All US Dollars with a serial # that starts with CB MIGHT be rejected
d. As of April 2012, almost all hotels and guest houses have increased their rates. If you went to Myanmar two years ago or last year, then good for you. The $12 room is now priced at $20, and that’s just for a single bed in a non-airconditioned room with a SHARED bathroom (Singapore, anyone?).
After Myanmar, I’ll be flying back to Thailand then head on to Laos (Bucket List Country #4) where I’ll be staying for a week or so. It’ll all depend on my “financial condition” as this is a budgeted trip. However, I’m keeping my final week in this journey “open”.
Here’s my new route:
Here’s something you, my good reader, should know:
1. I’m not rich. I still don’t have enough money, but I’m working hard everyday to earn the right amount of money to fulfill my dream (which is to travel the world ONE STEP at a time). I hope it’ll all work out, and I hope to learn something from all my experiences. And of course, I hope that this will also INSPIRE YOU to fulfill whatever your goal in life is.
2. This will be a month-long travel trip MINUS the alcohol. I’ll be in Vang Vieng and Bangkok but I’ll be missing all the alcohol debauchery. I don’t know how I’ll cope when I’m there but I know that I have to fight all the temptations, and I have to be strong for the sake of my health. It’ll be a struggle though, I’m sure. More than anything, I hope to be spiritually fulfilled.
3. Others quit their jobs to travel. As for me? I’m not quitting my job at all. My company allowed me to go on leave for a month. I just gave my “asking for permission” letter to our operations manager and showed her two way tickets as proof that I’m coming back to the Philippines and not go TNT. Thank God she approved it. Actually, our company allows month-long leaves as long as the excuse is related to travel (with tickets of course).
So it’s 30 days on the road, my first ever long trip and my first step to Vagabonding. I don’t know if I’ll change for the better, but I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from this journey.
Now for the most challenging part…saving money for it.
Wish me luck!
Featured photo source: http://www.allmyanmar.com