Ya gotta love it when a totally-unplanned-for plan comes together.
It all started when our expat friends Bruce & Anne, DC transplants living in Perth, mentioned they were going to be in Bangkok in mid-November. We'd been considering taking a short trip to SE Asia... not short by typical American vacation standards, but considerably shorter than the extended travel we'd been hoping to undertake. One month total, focusing primarily on Malaysia and possibly also Indonesia. Why those two countries? A number of reasons, but I have to admit that ever since I started researching the scuba diving off Malaysian Borneo, I've been hooked. Jacques Cousteau called Sipadan, a tiny island off the East Coast of Borneo, some of the best diving in the world. You can dive there pretty much year-round, and supposedly it's an amazing place to see large animals. There are also a plethora of dive sites on nearby islands Mabul and Kapalai. And, bottom line, how cool is it to casually say, "Oh, yeah, we'll be doing some diving in Malaysian Borneo next month"?
We'd been seriously considering a one-month trip to this area, substituting Bangkok for Indonesia, when I found out one of my co-workers was going back to Thailand to visit family in November. The exceptionally-fabulous Zoe has been living in the US for some time now, but her mom still lives in Bangkok. She's goes back to visit occasionally, and I've seen pictures of the house. Suffice it to say, I'm planning to try to get adopted by Zoe's mom when we visit. Zoe offered that we could stay with her, as it turned out she would be there at the same time as Bruce & Anne. Sweeeeet.
Add to all this the fact that Loy Krathong, one of the biggest Thai holidays of the year, is also happening within this same window, and you have the makings of an insanely good time.
So, the general plan is to fly in and out of Singapore, since that's by far the cheapest hub in the region. (In case anyone's interested, I found the best fare on Vayama. I think the airlines are running scared because ticket prices seem to have dropped across the board.) We'll leave DC on November 5, the morning after the presidential election. And I fervently hope we leave on a note of celebratory elation due to an overwhelming Obama win, as opposed to a bitter hangover from drowning our sorrows after a McCain win. But I digress... We'll spend the week of Nov 9 in Bangkok, celebrating Loy Krathong and hopefully discovering some hidden gems only locals know about. Somewhere around Nov 18 we'll head south down the peninsula, stopping to visit whatever strikes our fancy. The last week of November and first week of December we'll spend time on Borneo, diving and hanging with orangutans and dodging headhunters and the like. We return to DC on December 4. And then, unfortunately, it's back to work the following week.
Stay tuned for more details as the plans evolve. This trip will be a little weird for me, as it's somewhere between a free-wheeling backpacker jaunt and a totally scripted type-A vacation. I hope to strike a balance somewhere in there! If anyone has any suggestions for must-see stuff in southern Thailand or Malaysia, do let me know.
Some of you may have noticed the little ChipIn widget in the sidebar. Taking a page from the Book of Joan, I've decided to ask for what I want for my birthday. (Just be glad I'm not declaring it a national holiday and announcing how many shopping days are left until November 6!) I've been wanting a better camera for some time now, so I thought I'd give an opportunity for folks to contribute towards this item. Many thanks to Beth at Wanderlust and Lipstick and Crystalicious for getting the ball rolling! The sidebar widget's a bit small and some of the text gets cut off. But anyone who chips in will get a postcard from Thailand or Malaysia. I'm planning to get a Nikon d40, which is a digital SLR that is a few generations behind the latest & greatest but has gotten consistently good reviews. If I get more than I need to buy the camera, the remainder will be donated to The Women's Center, a local DC charity that has been providing services to women, families, and the community for over 30 years.
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