Going Home: Last Day in Southeast Asia


Bangkok Traffic

It’s a typical hot and rainy night in Bangkok. I’ve spent the day buying last minute gifts, battling traffic jams and getting my last Thai massage of the trip (200 baht for one hour of it-hurts-so-good-bliss). And now I’m staying up late, writting, drinking tea and getting ready for my early morning flight back to the US.

That’s right people, after two months of traveling in Southeast Asia, I’m coming home.

Am I ready to go home?

As ready as I’ll ever be. Truth be told, I’m over seeing the temples and doing touristy things. But as you can imagine, it’s a mixed bag of emotions about returning to normal life.

What will I miss the most?

Adventurous stuff like mountain biking in Vietnam, washing elephants in Laos, white water rafting in Thailand and riding a motorbike taxi in any Southeast Asian country. Being able to do whatever I want. Not having a set schedule/routine. Cheap massages. $1 tropical fruit smoothies. Delicious street food. All the crazy/annoying/wonderful characters you meet while traveling.

What am I looking forward to?

I can’t wait to give giant hugs to my beloved friends and family. I’m also more than ready to enjoy the last few weeks of Seattle’s summer from a dock on Lake Washington. In general, being home.

There are more than a few practical matters to take care of once I get home (1. Find a job) but I think I’m ready to face these challenges and see what types of opportunities I can create for myself.

For now, all I have to do is make my early morning flight…

Traveling Solo in Myanmar (Burma)

20 pairs of Burmese eyes stare at me as I stumble on a public bus in Yangon, Myanmar. I point to my crumpled photocopied map and smile big, “Shwedagon Pagoda?” The bus attendant shoos me forward and makes some sort of joke at my expense.

I curse myself for being too cheap to take a taxi.

As soon as I pay the $0.10 bus ticket, a shy young woman with very good English informs me that I am on the completely wrong bus. So that’s what the joke was about. She points to the other side of the street and instructs me to take the #28 bus. The advice is well-intentioned but utterly useless given that none of the city buses have roman numerals on them. All I see are the loopy loops and defined curves of the Burmese alphabet.

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Enjoying Island Life in Koh Tao, Thailand

Every time I found myself stuck in on a bus in rush hour traffic in Buenos Aires, I would close my eyes and imagine myself diving into warm, aqua marine water on a tropical island far, far away.

This week, I found out that my happy place actually exists.

Koh Tao

The runt of the Thai island litter, Koh Tao (aka Turtle Island) has amazing shallow and sandy bays and is famous for being one of the cheapest places in the world to go diving. The island is covered in plumeria, geckos and golden bearded dive-bums. This is the perfect place to RE-LAX, and go underwater to smile and wave at passing schools of fishes.

We got our fins wet by taking a full-day snorkel tour around the island, the highlight being swimming with black tipped sharks in Shark Bay. After that I decided it was time to dive.


It had been 5 years since I completed my PADI Open Water course in Honduras, and therefore it was definitely time for a refresher course. My Argie Divemaster Pablo at Alvaro Diving Center was incredibly chill and patient, exactly what I needed after a few too many years above the sea.

While the whole concept of breathing underwater seems offensively unnatural to me, once I get there, I realize how insanely cool it is to watch fish just hang around and eat coral.

(So this is what you guys do all day, eh? Not too shabby.)

Total: Refresher course – 1500 Baht ($50) Fun Dive – 900 Baht ($30)

Where to Eat: Bizzaros. Javier, an Argentine who lived in Ibiza for 20 years, has opened an amazing tapas and BBQ place close to Chaluk Bay. Even if you are on a budget, splurge for the $6 BBQ squid and prawn plate.

Where to Drink: Babaloo. On the northern end of the bay, around a plank pier, make the pilgrimage to Babaloo. With candle light, hammocks and fire-dancers, you will never want to move again.

Where to Stay: We opted to stay in Chaluk Bay, away from the main pier, and spent our vast majority of the time here. JP Resort was our first home, with amazing views but more than enough stairs. Viewpoint Bungalows were definitely a better deal/locations.

Moral of the story: Go here. Although it was somewhat cloudy and rainy when we were here in mid-July, so if you are flying across the Pacific for a beach vacation, choose your season carefully.