gottzuky's Travel Journals

gottzuky Carla Gott

What was your most challenging travel experience?

Learning to trust strangers

  • 28 years old
  • From Maryland, United States
  • Currently in Bangkok, Thailand

My Story

Hi! I am Carla. I recently moved to Thailand from Maryland... this is my story

So you want to backpack South East Asia

Thailand Bangkok, Thailand  |  May 24, 2013
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 You will get hurt, you will learn a thing or 2 about the world, your heart will break, there will be lows and highs and laughter and a few tears. 

Rule 1 - Get a backpack. You can get a really good "fake North Face" or a real one, up to you. Either way, in order to backpack South East Asia, you need a backpack, otherwise, you will be rolling your bags everywhere. And, believe me, its not really comfortable to roll your bag on the beach. Plus, you will look geeky and you will envy people who have awesome backpacks and who say things like "I backpacked Europe last year and carried this small bag with me." 

Rule 2- Pack light. Pack what you need. Tees and shorts, flip flops, sneakers, one pair of  long pants, a sweatshirt and maybe a raincoat. You gotta check the weather, bro. But don't pack 3 pants, clubbing gear and fancy things. If you are gonna backpack, it means you are on a budget. Which means that you will be staying in shitty hostels, which means that at times you will have a room on the 8th floor. Oh - and guess what? no elevator. Also, sometimes, you will be flying places. You don't want to pay ridiculous amounts of money for your bag! if you are able to fit your backpack on the plane, you are doing a good job.

Rule 3 - Don't forget 'bout sunblock.the sun is very strong. The sun will burn your skin. The sun doesn't discriminate! I thought, well, I am pretty tan, I never get burned. Well - wrong! While in Koh Samet, I certainly gott very burned. Not as burned as a white person but burned for a tan person who doesn't burn. Cover up, white people!  If you have fair skin, def, apply sunblock. Lots of it.

Rule 4 - Which brings me to...check if your sunblock has  whitening chemicals. Most of the products out there whiten your skin, yes,  including sunblock. Of course, it is not safe!

 Rule 5 - It is ok to eat on the street! Go where local people go. Drink local beer. Noodles are very yummy!

Rule 6 - Get a fanny pack. I am not kidding, get one. It is better to be safe thaN sorry. While in Cambodia, 3 mofos, took my purse. Lucky for me, my passport and money were in my bungalow. They took my i-phone and $50. :(

 Rule 7- Avoid looking like a tourist! What does that mean? It is impossible not to look like a tourist but you can most def avoid:- wearing hawaiian shirts- camera out on your chest- funny hats -and looking completely disoriented all the time! Even if you have no idea where you are going, you gotta fake confidence and pretend like you know where you are going. 

Rule 8 - Don't be ethnocentric! Your country, where ever you are from, is not the best country in the world. People live differently everywhere. Accept it. Be a cultural relativist! Observe, learn, talk to people, meet people, open yourself up. 

Rule 9 - Breathe. You will get really annoyed quickly. The noodles you ordered are not cooked right, you can't communicate with people - they don't speak English, you will get ripped off, you will have to pay for visas, you will be tired, you will be angry.... but  breathe. 

Rule 10 - Eat fruit. 

Rule 11- Do your research before, after and while you are visiting South East Asia. Remember, the Vietnam War? What about the Khmer Rouge? and you know, once upon a time, Myanmar had closed borders. 

Rule 12-  Volunteer! 

rule 13 - It helps to be open minded. Like I said, at times, you will be stuck in terrible hostels. Little rooms. Really cold showers. Bathrooms with no doors. A mosquito net and a mickey mouse fan. But everything will be alright, I promise! 

Rule 14 - Yes, there are lots and lots and lots of bugs. But not the bugs you are used to, I mean, if you are from Australia, that's a different story. In Southeast Asia, you will meet really strange bugs, but don't worry, they are usually passive. Except for mosquitos. They are terrible! Buy mosquito repellent, otherwise, they will devour every inch of your body.

Rule 15 - Yes, you will be sweaty. Your upper lip will sweat like no other. and you will be drenched in sweat, all the time

Rule 16 - Complaining will not solve any problems. 

Rule 17 - document what you see, either by taking lots of pictures or writing or blogging or writing notes! You will want to remember sunsets, sunrises, people and all the beautiful places you will be seeing. 

Rule 18 - Whether you are doing this alone or with friends, remember that you will meet plenty of people along your way.

rule 19 - Negotiate prices. haggle. Oh, madame, is that bracelet 1 dollar? 50 cents... no? ok 75cents. 

Rule 20 - DO NOT believe everything you hear and see on TV! The movie TAKEN is not an accurate depiction of the world. Don't listen to friends who think Thailand and Taiwan are the same country. And, please avoid those who give terrible advice "Why would you travel if you have everything here, in Ohio?"  Don't be scared of the world. Get out of your comfort zone.  Learn to challenge yourself. 

Rule 21 - Read rule 1 again :)

You will get hurt, you will learn a thing or 2 about the world, your heart will break, there will be lows and highs and laughter and a few tears. 

and when you are at your lowest point, remember: 

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins

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