A Return to Southeast Asia?

September 23, 2014

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As I make travel plans for November and December, I’m struck with a strong desire to return to Southeast Asia for a few weeks. It seems Thailand always has a place for me. Not only can I idle away the time with cheap, delicious food and accommodation, but the opportunities to meet people in a beach-filled, timeless vacation spot are boundless. Every time I’ve visited before, it’s been the heart of the rainy season – June, July, and August. If I were to make a trip back, here’s how I might go about it.

I still want to see the aurora in Sweden or Iceland in November, but the advantage of having so many mileage points (and the seeming lack of cheap flights between Europe and Asia) is the flexibility. I can choose to go out of Germany or France whenever I finish up with the northern lights and head straight into a country with a lot of sun and lazy time on the beach. I’m sure I’ll be overwhelmed at first, carrying improper winter clothing. Well, that will come in handy on those long-distance buses; seriously, why do they set the temperature at 18-20 degrees??

Thailand continues to have some of the best beaches on mainland Asia I’ve ever had the pleasure of relaxing on. Idyllic, beautiful, and mostly secluded, featuring a wide range of hotels for budget travelers and those willing to fork over the Baht for a resort. There’s nothing quite like sitting on a powdery sand beach with fresh fruit at your side as you get a massage, hearing the ocean waves crashing.

Bangkok, like Beijing, is a blast in the face for me: humidity, pollution, widespread undeveloped areas. But it’s also relaxing, with amazing street food (I miss good Pad Thai), and calming sites like Thai temples. Avoiding tuk-tuk drivers is a little bit of a hobby in and of itself.

However, the capital city really isn’t my target anymore. I like it for a short visit, but the only thing remaining on my list over there is to visit “Big Tiger” prison. Unfortunately, I would need to know someone inside to do that. In the meantime, I may settle for writing letters. No, Chiang Mai is calling me. Elephant reservations, the emerald Buddha, and, from what I hear, a completely different atmosphere than Bangkok and Phuket.

It’s all a work in progress. USA to Europe, Europe to Bangkok, freezing overnight train to Chiang Mai (I might want to buy 3rd class just to avoid that air conditioning), then from Chiang Mai to Phnom Penh. Angkor Wat, like the Nazca Lines, have been on my list for years. Travel agents like those at First Choice offer great ways to get in and around Thailand. Coupled with my United MileagePlus points and no need to be anywhere until Christmas, this just may work out…

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