The fourth month was a new personal record for me since I’ve never travelled this long in my life. I’ve done some extensive travel in the past but never exceeding three months. I was a bit concerned about feeling exhausted from travelling so much since I need a lot of alone time to replenish my energy. I also worried if I’d get homesick and miss the conveniences I have in Canada.
Well, I’m happy to say that I have no travel burnout so far! In fact, I started to feel bummed out that I’ll be returning to Canada in eight months. Now I understand how nomads who intended to travel for a year end up travelling for years instead. Don’t worry guys, I’ll be back next year :), but it did occur to me that one year of travelling is not enough.
We were supposed to head to Myanmar by this month but changed our minds. We were NOT boycotting Myanmar but instead decided to not push our luck. So, after a month of spending hours learning and reading about Myanmar, we decided not to go. Our original plan was to go to Myanmar, Vietnam, and Taiwan. Our new plan was to go to Penang, Chiang Mai, and Vietnam. Why Chiang Mai again? Well, we completely fell in love with the city and decided that we wanted to come back.
And remember that defining moment during the second month’s highlights I wrote about? Well, that entrepreneur unknowingly convinced us to come back. BUT THEN, we met this incredible couple who convinced us to go to Myanmar. They suggested that the ultimate way to make this decision was to flip a coin. Four days before our flight to Penang, the coin told us to go to Myanmar, and so we did.
Looking back, I know how in my heart that I would have had regrets had I not gone to Myanmar.
So our final new plan ended up replacing Penang for two weeks. We cut Myanmar down by two weeks and lost money on a nonrefundable hotel in Inle Lake. Boo…but it happens.
Summary of the fourth month as modern day nomads
Dates Travelled: October 19, 2017 – November 18, 2017
Budget: High level, we are over budget thanks to our indecisiveness. I don’t suspect it really hurt us in the end because I budgeted for an expensive air balloon ride that didn’t happen. We also found accommodations that were 50% cheaper than my original budget. Yes, I am a dork and I love talking about budgets.
Places Visited: Siem Reap, Mandalay, Mingun, Amarapura, Bagan, and Chiang Mai.
Items Lost: Nothing! And Gary bought a cheap hood cap for $1.03 USD to replace the one we lost during our first month of travelling.
- Flew from Siem Reap to Mandalay
- Took the bus from Mandalay to Bagan and back to Mandalay
- Boat ride from Mandalay to Mingun
- Took a tuk-tuk from Mandalay to Amarapura
- Flew from Mandalay to Chiang Mai
- From Bangkok to Penang
- From Penang to Chiang Mai
- Then, from Yangon to Bangkok
- From Bangkok to Chiang Mai
What I Miss: I miss my Clarisonic facial cleansing brush. It’s really hot and I sweat mostly on my face. I just know my face is not as clean without my Clarisonic brush. I also miss my iron supplement pills because I’m losing a LOT of hair (low iron causes hair loss for those who don’t know).
I was walking past a tree when a rat jumped on my head. No joke! I was walking one night when I felt something jump on my head, scurry down my arm and hopped from my hand to Gary’s hand. It then jumped on the ground and ran away. So much for never talking about rats again.
Funniest Moments: Releasing our lantern during the Yi Peng festival. I won’t go into details here because you have to watch the video that a nice Belgium couple filmed for us. I’ll upload the video one day so you can laugh along with the couple.
Scootering across town in Bagan, climbing temples, and watching the sunrise. The whole experience was breathtaking and I don’t think I’ll ever have an experience like that again in my life. The Yi Peng festival in Chiang Mai was also a very memorable time and a once in a lifetime opportunity for me.
Defining Moments: Waking up to the sounds of roosters and chirping birds in Chiang Mai and realizing… this is it. This IS my dream.
Yucky Moments: Aside from the rat falling on my head? Bowing on the ground and realizing that I was kneeling on a pile of dried bird poop… meaning my face was just two centimeters away from bird poop. Ugh. Bumping into sweaty tourists in crowded areas and feeling a layer of their sweat all over my bare arm. But Gary’s yucky moment is the winner of this month – he stepped on dog poo with his bare foot. Ewww.
Thoughts and feelings as modern day nomads
My year feels so long
This concept of time, what time feels like is really throwing me off. For example, every so often, I’d go through photos of Bali and feel as if that trip happened last year. In reality, we left Bali three months ago. We also lost track of weekdays and had no idea which weekday it was while in Myanmar.
The time of week didn’t matter to us because I guess there was no reason to know which weekday it was while in Myanmar. It wasn’t until we were in Chiang Mai and we wanted to go to the Sunday night market that we realized… we had NO FRAME of reference for weekdays. None!
FYI, we pulled up the calendar and realized it was Wednesday.
We’ve totally lost track of celebrated holidays in Canada.
Halloween came and went and we barely noticed. Where we were at, it seemed like no one celebrates Halloween.
Every country drives on different sides of the roads
I was especially confused in Myanmar because the cars all drive on the right side of the road. BUT, the steering wheel is on the right side of cars while the steering wheel is on the left side of most buses. See what I mean?
It got to the point where I was so confused that I had to think really hard about which side of the road Canadians drive on.
Travelling feels like reading a really good book
I get completely immersed in my surroundings.
I’m really dark. I’m like three different shades right now
Everyone has been asking me why I don’t look tanned since I live in tropical countries now. Here is proof that I am tanned! I have a regular skin colour, a farmer’s tan, and then another tan to even out the bad tan lines.
Gary gets tanned easily. Everyone thinks he’s a local in every country we’ve gone to so far in Asia.
I officially hate the Canadian bank I use to withdraw money overseas
Nothing is more frustrating than going to the ATM and not knowing if money will come out of the ATM or not. The bank we are using is a lower tiered bank with lower transaction fees. But the service is so bad that I will cancel with them once I am back in Canada. What do I mean by bad? Well, for one, they don’t deliver on their service! This bank pretends to make customer service a priority, but it’s a joke. They even have a useless twitter account just for customer service but when you contact them for help, they can’t do anything. Terrible bank!
Running into old friends… in Cambodia?
We were sitting at Fresh Fruit Factory and we were the only customers. As we started to order, we overheard a couple admire writing that was on the wall. One girl said “Hey look, there’s a flag of Canada” which made my ears perk up. I looked to see who the couple was and stared at the girl for a good 10 seconds before her and I both yelled out each other’s name.
Turns out, she’s a former colleague from a company I used to work years ago from another city in Canada! So crazy! We ended up chatting the night away and learned that they were also spending a year travelling. They’re also even planning to return around the same time that we are coming to Canada!
Trying to have a conversation while walking on the sidewalk is not easy in certain countries
Ain’t gonna happen. You need to be aware at all times when walking. Or else you might step into a hole in the ground, a crack, twist your ankle, or cross paths with a cow!
The most profound thoughts come to me when I’m on the airplane. I don’t know why, but I find it’s my best time to reflect and think.
Bugs are everywhere, especially in food
I now just pick them out and continue eating. Well, most times at least. I did see a cockroach crawl on my plate this month and was so grossed out that I stopped eating.
I find the weirdest stuff in my food
Lint, hair, curly looking suspicious short black hair, eyelashes, topped with intact follicles. I stop eating afterward or pick out the food because what are you going to do? Complain to the waiter who makes $3 USD a day in a country where most of the population doesn’t have enough to eat? Nope, I don’t think so.
Someone asked me if I missed my bed in Canada, especially since beds in Asia are quite firm
The answer is no. Nada. Zilch. In fact, sleeping on firm beds reminds me of my childhood days where I always napped on the ground. I’ve seen my baby niece do the same so I guess it runs in the family.
Learnings as modern day nomads
Sunburn on… my eyelids!
Seriously… I also burnt my lips and eyebrows on the same day. I now walk around with a sunhat and don’t leave home without my sunglasses. Sometimes, I get lazy in Chiang Mai and don’t bother to put sunscreen on my neck. I kid you not, within five minutes of walking in the sun, I can feel my neck burning. I don’t get sunburned easily so it’s a bit shocking to feel this way.
Money makes travelling so much easier, but it doesn’t make for interesting travels
I can’t help but think sometimes how more money would make our travels a lot easier. Instead of researching the best accommodation that fits our budget, we could simply book at the best hotels. The same goes for transportation. Instead of taking a $9 minibus from Mandalay to Bagan, we could have flown instead.
Or, we could book an all-inclusive package where we don’t need to worry about a thing. Show up at the airport and get transferred directly to the hotel. No need to worry about taxis scamming us, or researching step-by-step what we need to do once we land.
Money makes life easy, and more convenient. That’s what I think about when I am tired of researching for our trip. But that doesn’t mean it makes the travels more interesting. It is such a rewarding feeling whenever we find a good value hotel that is under our budget. And by choosing economical means of transportation where possible, we get to travel with the locals. We stop at local, non-touristy places and experience travel a bit differently.
Save where possible and splurge when it counts – this belief has served us well during this trip. I cannot think of how we would have missed some incredible experiences had we not put more thought into our independent travels.
Photography progress during the third month as modern day nomads
Shooting in manual
Gary has gotten me to shoot in manual. He has been shooting in manual this past month and whenever he hands me the camera, it is often in manual mode. I’ve started to get lazy with switching to the semi-manual mode, so manual it is! I’m proud to say I am comfortable shooting in manual now!
I edit all of the photos on the blog now! Aren’t you proud of me?
Tourists are a pain in the butt
Especially the inconsiderate ones. A French guy actually tsked-tsked me instead of asking me to move out of his shot. His approach made me feel like a dog…seriously. He was rude throughout the sunrise but the sound he made to me was the last straw. I gave him the worst hate ray death stare possible after that.
During the Yee Peng Festival in Chiang Mai, I was photographing the monks at Wat Phan Tao. It was hell crowded, but I managed to find a good spot to stand where I anticipated the monks will pass by.
I stood there patiently waiting, and after five minutes, all the tourists realized I’m in a good spot and started standing there as well. In a haste to capture a good photo, one tourist stepped on my foot, stood in front of me and blocked my view! Then, as if that wasn’t enough, he tried to walk in front of me, even though I was about a foot away from candles. He couldn’t walk behind me, he had to walk in front of me!
I get it, touristy areas are crowded and we all want good shots. But is it really worth it, at the expense of losing your manners?
<Ok, rant over>
What’s next for our fifth month
We’re off to the motherland for a few weeks before we head back to Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is becoming our home away from home.
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