Sunday, March 6, 2011

Travel Review: Breaking it Down

In this, my final post about my winter holiday travels, I am going to tell my story in numbers.  First, a quick review of where I've been:

  • Albuquerque, USA:  My brother's wedding, sightseeing, and eating sopapillas.  11 days.
  • Beijing, China:  Intensive Chinese study at my organization's headquarters.  12 days.
  • Calcutta, India:  Volunteering at Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity houses.  14 days.
  • Delhi, Agra, & Jaipur, India:  Sightseeing.  4 days.
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand:  Annual teachers' conference for my organization.  10 days.
  • Bali & Lombok, Indonesia:  Sightseeing.  8 days.  
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:  Passing through.  1 day.
This is kind of a weird mix of places, but the choice of locations was mostly dictated by where I had to be anyway (ABQ for the wedding, Beijing and KL for air travel, and southeast Asia for the conference).  I also really wanted to be able to volunteer, and India seemed like a good opportunity.

Fun Facts about Lodging:

Our overriding goal was to live as cheaply as possible (usually around $5-6/night), so we found ourselves in lots of back-packer districts and barebones hostels.  Here are some more fun facts about lodging:
  • Places I stayed: 14
  • Nights spent in Bangkok airport:  2
  • Nights spent on overnight trains or planes:  4
  • Nights when I had my own room: 3
  • Places with no hot water:  about 5
  • Places with no sink:  1
  • Places with no towels, TP, or trashcans:  more than 1
  • Places with a pool:  4
  • Places with free breakfast:  Lots
  • Most expensive hotel:  Probably the Hotel Albuquerque.  Thanks, Mom and Dad!
  • Cheapest hostel:  Little Bird hostel in Chiang Mai, Thailand ($3.50/night).
  • Favorite lodging:  Nick's Pavilion in Ubud, Bali -- Bridge, trees, stream, pool, and a view of the rice paddies.
  • Least favorite lodging:  Nameless cheap-o hostel in Gili Islands, Indonesia.

Fun facts about transportation:  
  • Almost everywhere I went (except the US and China) has left-side driving.
  • One of the things I liked about Indian subways was the "Women Only" car.  They also had separate sides for men and women on city buses.  
  • Another fun way to travel was going by boat between islands in Indonesia, especially when we took the fast boat, sat on the roof and got soaked by the spray.
Travel methods:
  • Flights (counting each leg separately):  16
  • Boat journeys:  3
  • Train journeys:  3
  • Day trips with hired drivers:  3
  • Other travel methods:  car, taxi, tuk tuk, subway, bike, and bus

Other fun facts and favorites:

The places I went were all so different that it would be impossible to pick a favorite.  However, I would say that India was the most memorable and the most meaningful.

If, sometime in the future, you want to plan a trip to someplace warm -- come to Southeast Asia!  There are so many gorgeous places with interesting and hospitable cultures, and it's much cheaper to travel there than anywhere else I've ever been.  You will also learn a ton about the history, religion, and language of these countries, which I never knew anything about until I visited them.  I'm really thankful to have had the opportunity to see this part of the world.  (And also really thankful to finally be back in Qufu!)


  1. Was this your first time experiencing driving on the left side of the road? It was extremely dizzying the first time I experienced it, but now I get confused at times in parking lots about where I should be!

  2. Last year I also traveled to a few countries with left-side driving, and also Hong Kong. Apparently tourists from mainland China sometimes get hit by cars in Hong Kong because they look the wrong way first when they go to cross a street.

    I agree with you that it can cause confusion later. For example, now when I walk down the street, sometimes I'm walking on the left and sometimes on the right, and sometimes I weave like a drunkard trying to decide which one.