this past weekend i figured out the tentative itinerary for this 3-month trip i'll be taking come the end of february. for those who are interested, the following are my destinations (the above map was stolen from a lonely planet southeast asia guide by the way):
i'll be based in tokyo where i have at least two friends i can crash at. i've been to japan only one other time, 7 years ago during the summer, and only stayed for less than a week. i'm hoping to stay at least two weeks this time, and i'll buy a JR pass before i arrive so i can ride the trains for free. i like to revisit kyoto, take photos of the street kids in harajuku, buy the latest in kawai culture, and i hear there's a great aquarium in the city.
the easiest part of my trip, i'd like to spend at least 2 weeks here living with relatives and eating out every night. i haven't been back in 7 years so it'll be like a brand new city. my grandfather still lives here so i'd like to see him. i want to explore yangminshan national park like i used to do, see the national palace museum, hang out in shingmending, ride the subway, and perhaps visit a few more national parks further out.
i've never been to hong kong and it's time that i pay the place a visit. i'll be here only a few days, staying with family friends. part of my stay will be business: buying a ticket to vietnam, making sure i have the right visa.
vietnam is probably the country i'm least interested in visiting, and for some reason i maybe be spending a lot of time there, only because i plan on traveling down the length of the country in order to get to get to cambodia. i plan on just doing a quick tour, from the nothern capital of hanoi down to the southern city of ho chi minh, following the coastline. this is probably the only time on my trip where i'm actually by the ocean - the rest of the journey will be inland. east of hanoi is halong bay, and i'd like to take a boat ride through the 3000 islands dotting the "place where the dragon descends into the sea," a unesco world heritage site. hué is the former imperial capital and there exists an imperial city modeled after the forbidden city in china that might be worth checking out.
the capital of phnom penh i'm visiting just because it's along the way, but the only reason i'm going to cambodia is to see angkor wat, where i plan on spending at least a week exploring the remnants of the ancient khmer civilization, via foot, via bike, via motorcycle. any naturing i do in cambodia will have to be tempered by the knowledge that there are still unexploded land mines dotting the less traveled area of the country.
from bangkok i travel north to sukhothai the ancient capital of thailand then to chiangmai to hang out with hill people. besides exploring authentic thai cuisine, i also hear there are places where i can go to eat insects, which has always been a dream of mine.
all the literature i've read point to luang prabang as the place to go in laos. i'd like to spend a week there, then move to the capital of vientiane, to take a plane to mandalay in burma.
mandalay was a former capital with not much to see other than a high buddhist monk population. the real reason for going to burma is further south at bagan, where over 3000 temples stretch out across a plain as far as the eye can see, waiting to be explored. i'll spend a week here, then head down to the new capital of yangon, where i'll take a flight back to taipei.
one final binge of street food (including smelly tofu) before i come back to boston, sometime in june.
last night i went to bed at 6am. i'm afraid to go to bed because i seriously have problems falling asleep now. i imagined my parents waking up and getting ready for their morning flight to taipei. my south eastasia trip is definitely on my mind, but there's other things as well. maybe i need to try a different position, or perhaps try sleeping in the spare bedroom, just to mix things up. the problem is i do too much thinking at nights. i'm starting to feel drowsy and suddenly i start thinking and it's like my mind won't shut up and i can't fall asleep. hopefully it'll work itself out of my system. today was thoroughly unproductive. i wanted to run some errands (get my international driving license, set up an appointment with a travel doctor) but most offices were closed because of the martin luther king holiday. i had the rest of my leftover barbecue for lunch then went out running. the temperature was in the upper teens, and it was so cold i wanted to cut my run short and return home. i had a hat but my ears stuck out, which after a while started to throb and hurt. it was my first time running after that night of bowling, and despite still feeling some residual aches, it didn't affect my run in any way, and in fact i had a lot of energy today. walking back home afterwards, my arms were literally numb, little tiny pinpricks of sensation when i bent my elbows. too cold to walk the rest of the way, i ran home instead. i quickly shoveled the sidewalk before coming inside: my generous neighbors did their own walks but left mine alone, and my upstairs neighbor was no help either. in the evening i made some ramen for dinner, unmotivated to do very much else.