Whew, it's been a busy few weeks nailing down the final trip details. And with just over one week to go, it's just about time for the last-minute freakout. Except things seem pretty well under control, at least for the moment. I did go through the reality-bites doldrums for a while last week. Does that happen to other people too, or is it just me? It's the phase in travel planning where you transition from daydreaming and inspiration to figuring out what is actually feasible. When it's time to fill in the blanks, what seemed like a good idea on paper can turn into a complete impossibility. Suddenly that straight line on the map from Point A to Point B becomes a nearly-impassable three-month slog during monsoon season. Or that CouchSurfer you'd been chatting with is no longer available to host. Or you realize that you've got an impossibly long list of places to see and there's no way you can fit all that into four weeks. It's something of a buzzkill, but it's also a test of one's planning mojo, where the women are separated from the girls.
Fortunately I'm up to the task.
I've gradually made peace with the fact that this trip will not be a leisurely slow-travel meander off the beaten path, but rather a tightly-controlled power-walk through the Top 10 Must-See Spots of Bangkok and Malaysia. Well, let me correct that: we will have lots of time in Bangkok, and I'm hoping that we'll get to sample the local flavor with Zoe and family. But the Malaysian portion of the program is getting a little crammed. And I was disappointed to learn that in order to fit everything in, we'll need to take several flights. It ups our carbon footprint significantly, and I much prefer the adventure of taking local ground transport. The good news is that low-cost carrier Air Asia has ridiculously cheap fares. And this is allowing us to visit lots of fun spots on the Peninsula as well as the states of Sabah and Sarawak on Malaysian Borneo.
The whirlwind itinerary is looking a little something like this:
- fly to Singapore - spend a day chilling out and recovering from jetlag
- take a bus to Malacca/Melaka - meet up with CouchSurfer Mr Yee Tea for a cooking lesson, and surf with him for the night
- take a bus to Kuala Lumpur, fly from KL to BKK
- spend a week in Bangkok - hang out with Zoe and her family, hook up with Bruce & Anne, celebrate Loy Krathong and see the sites in and around Bangkok
- fly back to Malaysia, spend 2-3 days in Penang with another CouchSurfing host
- take the bus to Kuala Lumpur and stay there for 2-3 days - hopefully participating in a CouchSurfing potluck/meet-up
- fly Malaysian Borneo and do 3 days of diving around Semporna (Sipadan, Mabul, etc)
- take a bus to the Sepilok area and spend 2 days at a Kinabatangan homestay, with some sort of jungle/river tour as well
- take the bus to Kota Kinabalu and crash there overnight
- fly to Kuching on the other end of Borneo, spend a few days with another CouchSurfer and visit the local longhouses (possibly also Bako National Park)
- fly from Kuching to Singapore, and then back home
I've updated the map and calendar pages, and will be posting a more detailed Google map when we get back, to show exactly where we've been. In the meantime, the rest of the pre-trip to-do list awaits!