I have been yearning to get up and go, but my bank account just won’t allow it these days. Ever since I’ve moved, it has been impossible for me to build my savings back up to what I was used to in the good old days. I always go through these cycles, alternating between living month to month and then being able to save at lightning speed. Usually it’s mint.com that gets me back in the swing. If you don’t know this website, it’s amazing. You can link it up to all of your various accounts, track your spending, make budgets, make and keep goals. It’s a must for money saavy travelers and anyone who has debts to pay and things to save for.
Anyways, judging from my financial state, there are no big trips in the works, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start planning. Zac and I were kicking it at home and spontaneously fantasy planned an Asian adventure. It will be many years before we have saved enough and can take off enough time from work, but was fun to plan anyways.
We’ll start by flying to Singapore. “Would that be too expensive to fly to?” I wondered. I jumped off the floor where we were examining our world map and hopped online. My favorite online travel resource is kayak.com. You put in the departing and arrival cities and your dates, and it searches hundreds of websites to find you the best deals. It’s amazing and a total lifesaver. You can put alerts on flights where it emails you when deals come in and play with different departure and return dates to see what’s cheapest. I put in a random date in March, and Kayak found me a flight on Singapore Air with one stop that was only $649. That sounds like a lot for one way, but international travel is expensive, and to find a 20 hour flight with only one stop that cheap is crazy. I wanted to buy it, but unfortunately I don’t have hundreds of dollars for airfare lying around.
From Singapore, we’d go up through Malaysia and hit the Southeast Asian countries: Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. A few years ago, my friend Sara and I were planning a Southeast Asian trip. It was to be the second backpacking extravaganza of Le Quad after our triumphant European Grand Tour, but it was not to be. Mel couldn’t afford it, Jill needed to save for her wedding, and Zac and I managed to get on a Birthright Trip to Israel for the same time, so only Sara made it to Asia. Planning for that trip and reading her emails and blogs were a lot of fun, and I’ve always wanted to go again, particularly Thailand and Laos. I’m not sure what about Laos draws me, but something about in the travel books made it seem friendly, tranquil and enticing.
The Southeast Asia leg complete, Zac and I in fantasy travel land head up to China, the grand dame of the Asian continent. We’d start in the south and make our way up the east side of the country with the Big Three: Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing. There is a night train between each, making the long distances manageable and more cost affective. If you are going to pay for a train ticket and lodging anyway a night train gives you more bang for your buck. Le Quad has learned from experience though: make sure you get a sleeping berth. Do not try to attempt sleep in a regular train compartment, especially when two of your party has food poisoning and you are crossing country lines where they wake you up every few hours to check your passport. It was a crappy night to say the least.
Where China is concerned, I am interested in the bustling cities, making the Big Three a must in our tour. Zac, however, is more inclined towards the northern area, where it is more desert and remote, so we’ll head there after Beijing. We’re not sure exactly where we’d go or what we’d do there, but judging from our world map, it has lots of cities and towns, so with more research I’m sure we’d figure it out.
After China we’d head north into Mongolia. Again, not quite sure where we’d go or what we’d do, but I really want to ride camels in Mongolia. My friend Sam did it years ago, and it looked amazing. I’ve ridden the one-humped camels in Israel, and in Mongolia they have the other kind of camels, the two-humps, so I’ll be able to say I’ve ridden both!
Camel riding adventures concluded, South Korea and Japan are both pretty high on our list, but which one is cheaper to fly to from Mongolia? Kayak.com came to the rescue again. For another randomly selected date next spring, it would cost $634 to fly to Tokyo from Ulaanbaatar (the capital of Mongolia, with a wonderfully intimidating name). That’s almost as much as our intitial flight from the US. To fly to Seoul however, was only around $300, a more manageable sum. Zac and I are obsessed with Korean pop music, or K-Pop, so for us Seoul is a must-do in Asia. We’ll have to find out where all the cool Korean kids go to get their wacky clothes and accessories, drink many boba drinks and soju cocktails, and maybe go to see one of our favorite bands play. If you want to check out some K-pop, look up music videos from 2ne1, Big Bang, and Jay Park. The sheer joy and insanity of these videos will make you laugh and blow your mind.
Looking at the map, South Korea and Japan look so close I figured why waste money on airfare when we can take a boat! A quick internet search helped me find a few ferry services that do overnight ferries between the two countries. It’s around $115, but how cool would that be to get to Japan by boat? It would take us to the bottom of the country and we could leisurely make our way up to Tokyo and enjoy the beauty and serenity that is the Japanese countryside. Japan rates high on my “must go” list. Over the years I’ve watched so many films about Japan, eaten so much sushi, and bought a few beautiful kimonos. I want to finally visit the place that all this is from.
At this point our fantasy planning session timed out. From there we were thinking of going up into Siberia since it’s right there above Japan, but neither of us really know enough about Siberia to pick destinations without some more in-depth research, so we left it at that for the night. Trouble is, now I really want to take this trip!
Sigh. A girl can always dream.
Good Luck and Happy Travels,