After a month of settling into my coding routine in Ubud, last week was a departure back to the traveling lifestyle, as I took advantage of our week long break to explore Lombok’s Gili Islands and Bali’s remote northern coastline. Mentally, it felt spectacular to be back on the move and was a great reminder about why I embarked on this trip originally: to explore amazing places. Both Bali and Gili Trawangan are stunningly beautiful, and snorkeling in February is always a plus.
One of the largest mental barriers preventing individuals from travel is the prohibitive factor of cost. Most people, conditioned by standard work vacations, believe that it requires a large financial investment to embark on a long trip. John Muir, legendary environmentalist, traveler, and writer had a term for this attitude: “time-poor.” Long-term travel is ultimately about how one decides to utilize their most valuable commodity: time.
Undoubtedly the aspect of Vang Vieng that I enjoyed most was the wonderful people I was incredibly grateful to meet and spend time with. Rasmus, Jonas, and Samir are three friends from Sweden who I was lucky enough to encounter in FOUR different locales along the trail from Thailand into Laos. They are a hilarious threesome who are unrivaled in their ability to bring entertainment and unstoppable laughter into my days on the road.
For the first three days after arrival into Laos, I trekked deep into the remote corners of the jungle with the Gibbon Experience, an outfitter that has pioneered “canopy tourism” by creating a network of ziplines and enabling travelers to see and hear the black-crested gibbons, one of earth’s most fragile and beautiful endangered species.
Last Thursday, I woke up early and had my first encounter with food poisoning in Asia, then conveniently boarded a bus through the windiest road in Thailand, turning 762 times over 151 Kilometers on the way up to the tiny town of Pai in the mountains. As the minivan wound it’s way through the mountains, we were greeted by impressive vistas and misty clouds around almost every turn.
Phi Phi Phi Phi island, a 2 hour ferry ride from mainland Thailand, is the exact opposite of a cultural immersion experience. Part tourist village, part Asian Ibiza, part adventure sports mecca, the island is a unique lens into the travel culture for the youth of countless nationalities. The global mixing pot is complemented well with not one, but two beautiful crescent beaches that are separated by a tiny village of shops in the town of Phi Phi Don.
To sum up my first week of travel into a coherent and concise post seems to me an impossible task. Although I’ve been in Thailand less than 5 full days at this point, it feels like weeks have gone by since I last set foot on American soil. Nevertheless, I’ll give it my best shot and intersperse the story with photos and videos to keep things interesting.
Four hours outside of San Francisco, we found ourselves deep in a forest of trees above our heads and were anxious to escape the rental car and get a first hand look at what this Unesco World Heritage Site has to offer. No first timers trip to the park is complete without driving straight into the heart of Yosemite Valley and pulling over to get out and stare in awe at the initial view of the glorious combination of El Capitan and Half Dome.