In September of 2011, I’m going on the road. I’ve had this type of trip on the back-burner for years, but it’s time to commit. I love me a week here or a weekend there, but it’s time to really earn my travel stripes and run a real operation.
When my next contract (which at the time of writing doesn’t actually exist yet) ends next year, I’m off. I’ll leave most of my stuff here in Korea (I’m looking at you here, Don) strap on one backpack’s worth of stuff, and catch... good old Seoul Subway line 1. I’ll ride out to Incheon and bus to the port to take an overnight ferry to China (either Qingdao or Tianjin), then head right for the capital. Conservatively, I’m presuming a month in China. A week in Beijing and environs (Great Wall, duh), a week in Xian (Terra-Cotta Warriors) and the surrounding region, a week in Shanghai, and a week in Kumming where a buddy of mine lives.
I’ll take the train on to Indochina for a month that may easily become two. The original plan is two weeks in Vietnam, though that could be extended to a month as that’s how long their visas are. From southern Vietnam, I’d go on to Cambodia for a week or two, then to Laos via Thailand for another week or two. As I’d only spend a day or so in Thailand in transit to Laos, I’d return to Thailand for a proper month. I presume I’ll start in the north around Chang Mai, then down to Bangkok. Bangkok will be the first city I’ll visit that I’ve been to before, but I love me some BKK, so it will be worth a couple days. Next, I’d head south via trains and buses to hit the beach islands, my first real beach experience of the trip (unless I find a beach in Nam).
Rolling down the slow southeast Asian rail network, I’d arrive in Malaysia. I’d probably only spend a week there, since I’ve been before and because it’s more expensive than its neighbors. I’ll spend a weekend in Kuala Lumpur, as it will be the last high-order civilized place that I’ll see for some time. Next up - Malacca, a town I’ve always wanted to see. From here, I’ll catch a boat to Indonesia.
Indonesia will be the real meat of the trip. I spent 6 days in Bali last year, enough to convince me that I want to spend a lot more time in Indonesia. The food, the people, the scenery, and the food are all worth getting to know better. Coming from Malacca, I’d start in Sumatra. Sumatra is the 4th largest island in the world and with Borneo the only native land to orangutans. I imagine I’ll spend a week and a half on this massive jungle island before ending up on a brutal 20 + hour bus/boat ride to Jakarta. The Indonesian capital is largely know for being a hot, sprawling concrete jungle in the jungle and something of a hell-hole where nothing works out the way it was intended to. I can’t wait to go. Jakarta has been on my top-10 list of cities to visit for years.
Following Jakarta, I’ll take trains across Java, checking out some of Indonesia’s grandest temples and cultural sites. After a week and a half or so on the world’s most populous island, I’ll have to make island hopping tracks. Visas to Indonesia are only one month long, so I’ll have a lot of ground to cover in 7-10 days. I’ll catch the bus/ferry to Bali and speed right through along the north coast highway, taking a forwarding boat on to Lombok. Next up - Sumbawa, followed by the reasonably large island of Flores. After crossing Flores, I’ll take the 20 hour ferry to West Timor.
From Kupang, West Timor (Indonesia), I’ll continue east on the 12-hour bus ride to East Timor. This will mark the 9th and maybe last country I’ll hit on the trip. East Timor is pretty damn remote. There are only 3 ways to get there. Flights connect to Dili (the capital) from only two cities - Bali and Darwin, Australia. The only other way to get there is the aforementioned 12 hour bus from Kupang. From Dili, I presume I’ll continue east. Mini-bus lines end at Com, in northeast East Timor. I’ll need to rent a jeep and then hire a boat to make it to Jaco Island, essentially the end of the world. From Jaco, there is nowhere to go but back. There are no boats between Timor and Australia.
I’ll work my way back to Dili, back to Kupang, back to Flores. Armed with a new monthlong Indonesia visa, I’ll go slower through the eastern islands. Maybe I’ll check out Komodo or, further down the pike, Krakatoa. Ultimately, with my second visa up, I’ll head back for civilization, to either Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. Presuming I have a job waiting for me back in Korea, I’ll have my (likely) new school fly me in from KL or Singapore.
I’ll set up shop in Seoul again. I’ll save more money. Of course, there will be the inevitable book, which will lead to massive fame and accolades. There will be my eventual return to America, with press conferences and adoring fans waiting for me at LAX or O’Hare or wherever.
This trip is gonna rule.