Thursday, February 7, 2013
How it all began
Okay, here goes...time to try and recount what happened during my month long, winter vacation solo getaway. Hopefully a few people actually read these posts and maybe even enjoy them.Considering I'd be gone for a whole month, traveling to three different countries, and given my penny pinching background I figured I'd need a plan to save some money. First, I used Air Asia for as many flights as possible, their low cost fares are usually unbeatable and second I used couchsurfing (CS) whenever it was available. Thankfully the CS culture in Malaysia is huge and the people were some of the nicest I've ever met - hello new friends and goodbye completely solo trip.
Despite the long hours of travel, less than helpful people, disconnection from the world (no Kakao talk or facebook?! *gasp*), and overall lackluster start to my vacation, I couldn't be more excited. I was after all, away from the cold of Korea and about to embark upon what would be a marvelous month. Hopefully you're interested in how my vacation did a 180 from this point forward and will continue to read on... but if not, thanks for at least making it this far.
Aside from booking flights and sending out a few CS requests I hadn't really planned all that much for my trip, shocking I know. Generally I like to have a plan and itinerary, thanks mom, but after changing most of my plans while traveling in Taiwan I realized that's not always the best method. There were a few things I knew that I wanted to do, like Thaipusam at the Batu Caves, but most of my trip was left to the cards.
Anyway here's a map that highlights the cities I visited and a few other random things along the way - check it out if you want a frame of reference while you read along.
To start my journey I had quite an adventure. I had a flight leaving Seoul at 6pm but thanks to bus times and my living in the sticks I had to leave my apartment around 10am, making for a lot of sitting and waiting. Finally, that night around 9pm I arrived in Shanghai for my 13 hour (yes you read that right, thirteen hour) layover. Thankfully I decided to book a hotel at the last minute so that I wouldn't have to deal with wandering the airport looking for a comfortable corner, the problem was figuring out how to get to said hotel. My phone was a pile of garbage in China and the information desks were of little help, only pointing me in the direction of ATM's and pay phones, neither of which seemed to exist or work. Finally I came upon two workers who offered to call my hotel (if I paid them) and soon the driver was on his way to get me. Well, that was a fun ride, crammed in a creepy white van with 4 other people and our driver, all of whom spoke 0 English. The hotel was lacking, specifically heat - I imagined a nice hot shower and change of clothes but finding myself freezing in my room I opted to stay bundle up, crawl under a double layer of blankets and fall asleep. Thankfully I was leaving bright and early the next morning. If first impressions were everything I wouldn't count on a return visit to China...
Waiting for my mystery driver...
to take me to this dodgey hotel...better than the airport floor? debatable
What my vacation looked like for the first 24+ hours