A Backpacker’s Worst Nightmare

When you’re traveling, how actively should you be thinking about your safety? On your adventure, your sense of self-preservation will simultaneously be heightened and stunted. Stumbling dazed off an eight-hour bus and into the hands of eager tuk-tuk drivers; sleeping in the same room with different strangers every night; choosing food off a strange menu and hoping that it won’t upset your stomach… all of these experiences and more will dazzle and daze.

While you obviously want to be vigilant while traveling, maybe you feel like a paranoid bore for checking your money stash 15 times a day, or wonder if you’re developing OCD tendencies for checking that your lock is truly locked not once, not twice, but three times. After all, the other backpackers are so effortless in their dress and casual-cool mannerisms; surely it would be uncool of you to worry about things like theft.

It only takes one instance, though, for something bad to happen.

Millions of people live in Bangkok. Millions of backpackers pass through. With all the people around, you can't afford to let down your guard here.

Millions of people live in Bangkok. Millions of backpackers pass through. With all the people around, you can’t afford to let down your guard here.

I had a sobering reminder of this on my very first day in Bangkok. Continue reading

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Bangkok: The Gateway into Southeast Asia

Most people start their SEA backpacking adventure in Bangkok. Why? It’s got the best international flight connections on the SEA “mainland,” and if you’ve never been to Asia, Bangkok is a good place to get your bearings, as you are able to adjust to the chaotic streets while still enjoying a modern and English-speaking city.

Victory Monument traffic circle

Victory Monument traffic circle

Because I anticipate passing through Bangkok at least one more time on my journey, I chose not to sightsee this time around (especially since I planned to go on to Angkor Wat next, and I didn’t want to get templed out!). Instead, I did something strategically important to my trip:

I shopped.

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How long does it take to prepare for travel, anyway?

A year? Six months? Two months? One? A week? A day?

Much like how different people plan for things in different ways, preparing for extended traveling is the same. Some people can–and do–plan for their trip a year in advance, yet never feel as if they’re totally ready. Other people seem to have the inhuman ability to leap into adventures with an enviable lack of stress or worry.

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Why I Want to Travel

I should have expected it–but I didn’t. The first relative I saw in person after I announced my decision to leave South Korea and do some long-term traveling asked The Question:

“Why do you want to do this?”

Can a question be simpler, yet less unanswerable?  Continue reading

How to Spend a Long Weekend in Seoul

Schools of flying fish at the Lantern Festival, Cheonggye Stream, Seoul, 2013.

Schools of flying fish at the Lantern Festival, Cheonggye Stream, Seoul, 2013.

Like any other international metropolis, Seoul eludes full understanding. You could live here your whole life and still not see everything. When visiting, it takes at least a week to catch the rhythm of the city, at least two to start feeling as if you can manage yourself here.

But what do you do when you have less time than that to spend in Seoul–say, a long weekend? Continue reading