Eleven Days

I leave in eleven days. How did it get to be so soon? There is still so much to be done! I write an exam in two days, and then I hope to be able to get everything done over the weekend. And by everything, I mean shopping, packing, repacking, visiting family, getting my documents all together, getting the other blog up and running. 

Yes, other blog. My intentions with this blog was to chronicle my trip. I was telling my group about it, and they put me in charge of starting the group blog for the trip. I have put a lot of time and energy into it, matching the color scheme with our brochures and business cards, learning how to add other users, trying to teach people how to blog, etc. However, because I’m such a planner, and others aren’t, I still wait for the others to accept the invites to the blog and ask any questions they might have. So far, three of us are registered, and two of us have posted. (The blog is private for now to give is a chance to figure out multiple contributors, but will go live this weekend.) So, I have a feeling that myself and another team member will be doing the majority of the blogging on that site. So, I may have to figure out how to just link this one to that one for simplicity sake while I am gone. 

On another note, what do I pack? The temperature should be 25-35 with high humidity. There are lots of mosquitoes, and we will be in a conservative area for some/most of the time. I know that whatever I pack will be fine, and if not, I can buy something over there, but for now, I’m consuming my non-studying, non-working time with thoughts of shopping and packing. 

Until next time… 

 

Should Fear Affect International Travel?

I was searching the news sites this morning when I saw an article on google news from Brisbane that talks about the conflict going on right now in Sabah, Malaysia. Hundreds of Filipinos made their way to Sabah a few weeks back to try to claim the land back for the Sultan of Sulu, and over 25 people have been killed in the conflict. It made me start to think about travel and how you can be putting yourself in some interesting situations when you travel to foreign areas where you don’t have a clue what issues might be brewing there. Should fear stop you from travelling to foreign places?  

I’m not concerned for my safety at this point (obviously, since I’m still in Canada), and I’m not overly worried about myself and my group related to this current conflict. I have faith that the Rotary International organizers will adjust our visits if this situation escalates or is still not over by the time we visit. But it sheds a whole new light on reading international headlines. I can only imagine how much more interested I’ll be in the battle for Sabah once I’ve been there and have met some of the residents. I’m already thinking about the people that I haven’t yet met, and how this whole situation is affecting them and their safety. 

I’m happy that my mother isn’t overly interested in international headlines, and that she doesn’t know much about where I’m headed other than I’m going to Malaysia… If she heard this news, it might worry her unnecessarily. However, it very well could have happened in a few months time when we are scheduled to be there, and still could be happening, or happen again. 

So, how safe is it to travel internationally? How much research should a person do on the areas that they are going to be visiting? I find this an interesting topic as I’ve always had people who don’t travel much telling me to “be careful” when I take a trip.

The first time I went to Asia, I’ll admit that I was terrified. I’d only know little bits of about the places I was visiting, and was afraid of pretty well everything. It was my first trip outside of North America, and I was terrified that there would be a language barrier at customs and I’d get put in a prison somewhere. (This is thanks to watching the movie Brokedown Palace and seeing Claire Danes’ character go to jail in Thailiand for smuggling.) But I put all my faith into my friends who lived in Hong Kong and would take care of all my concerns while I was visiting, and I’m glad to say that customs was not at all intimidating. 

I’m still full of fears about traveling. I’m always afraid I’ll run into strange wild animals. This was not at all helped by a fruit farm guide in Malaysia getting fruit for me from a bush that cobras are known to sleep in. And the bumblebees in New Zealand are terrifying. I’m still nervous every time I go through customs. Mexico terrified me when I heard that you push a button at customs to see if you get an extended search or not. However, things are never as bad as I think they will be, and so far not worth any of the worrying I do before hand. 

So, I’m worried about going through customs, and wild animals that I’ll likely never see, but I’m not worried about the big issues like standoffs. Why is this? What about the rest of you travelers? What concerns you before you travel to international destinations? 

 

 

 

Travel Companions

I don’t know about you, but for me, travel companions can make or break a trip. I’ve been pretty lucky in the past to take some trips with some really good friends, and that’s made the trip all the better. Being able to experience some amazing sights with some great people seems to just enhance the whole experience.

When friends and I traveled to New Zealand almost seven (seven – has it really been that long???) years ago, I discovered all too quickly how important it is to understand your travel companions’ needs and your own in order to avoid some potentially annoying moments. We were driving from one end of the south island to the other, and a few days in, after numerous hours driving through scary, windy roads, all three of us were ready to take each others’ heads off. We pulled into a gas station and realized that we were all stressed, tired, and hungry. After a quick break and some food, we were all much nicer to each other. After that, as soon as one of us would start to get cranky, we stopped for food immediately, and avoided any more meltdowns.

That trip was with friends that I’d known for nearly 20 years. Friends who I knew would ignore me if I got cranky and whiny, and that no matter how cranky we all got, we’d all still be great friends after the trip was over. This upcoming trip to Asia, I am going with strangers. I must admit that this is kind of scary and exciting! It did make me wonder about what my travel companions would be like and how we would all get along.

I met the rest of the group over the weekend as we had our first orientation/planning session. After meeting them, I am even more excited to go. We’ve only spent about 12 hours together so far, but I am really excited to spend more time with them and get to know them better.

Our group leader had us all do a Myers Briggs test, and we were able to all discuss our results and how those differences would come out on the trip. As the only introvert in the group, I appreciated the conversations to be able to express that sometimes I will just need a little time off on my own to recharge. In the past, I’ve been afraid people might take offence to this, wondering if I was just being antisocial, and I really appreciated the opportunity to address these types of things before we go. Luckily, we’ve also all traveled quite a bit, and are fairly familiar with what we need and how to express it to the group.

I do feel that my travel companions have made the trip for me in the past, and I am sure that in this case, they will again.

 

 

So, What Are We Doing Here?

I thought I’d start out this blog with a post with a bit of information. Writing isn’t something I do a lot of, but I am hoping to get a little more proficient with this blog over the next six months or so. But, for now, I’ll jump in with the 5W frame.

Who?

My name is Angela. I live in Nova Scotia, Canada, and I like to travel. I started travelling a bit about 10 years ago, mainly around Canada and the States on short vacations, with a couple of trips overseas to visit with friends. The countries I’ve visited so far are:

  • Canada (of course)
  • USA
  • Mexico
  • Dominican Republic
  • Malaysia
  • Thailand
  • Hong Kong
  • New Zealand

What? 

The next trip is an exchange trip to Asia. I heard about this great opportunity to do an exchange trip, submitted an application, interviewed, and was lucky enough to be selected to go. The exchange is a Group Study Exchange through the Rotary Club. (I’m sure I’ll be providing more information as the weeks/months go on!)

When? 

The trip is in the Spring of 2013 for about a month.

Where?

This is the exciting part. The trip is to Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei Thailand! (The Brunei part got cancelled, but we did add a weekend in Thailand to attend a conference.) While I have been to Malaysia for a weekend, it was not nearly long enough, and I only got to experience a very small part of Malaysia. I’ve only been to Bangkok in Thailand, and won’t get to see a lot of Thailand this trip either, just Phuket, but I’m glad to be able to see what I can. I have not yet been to Singapore or Brunei.

Why? 

I was at a conference in Washington D.C. last month, and one evening, I was at an Irish Pub with some fellow Canadians I’d just met and we were talking about travel. I mentioned my upcoming exchange, and one of the guys suggested I write a blog about all of my experiences. We chatted for a bit, and I thought that would be a great idea. It’s a great way to keep people at home up to date on my travels when I am away, and a great way for me to keep all my thoughts together. When I get back, I will be writing a report, and telling my story to the organization that is sending me, and maybe talking to future people going on exchanges. This will help me to keep all those details together!

I expect I will learn a lot in both the preparation for this trip as it is my first trip where I’m not organizing it all myself, and on the trip itself. It should be interesting!