After Southeast Asia, Where to Next?

One of my last days in SE Asia: A red shirt protest concludes in Bangkok

If you followed my blog from the beginning, you may have recalled that I was not going to Bali or Malaysia initially. Instead, I planned to conclude my around the world trip climbing Mt. Everest in Nepal. However, due to finances and health issues, we changed plans, and I have no regrets. After visiting the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, Lauren and I spent Halloween in Bangkok, and then we said our goodbyes. She was off to the Mediterranean to rendezvous with her mom, and I had about three weeks until I needed to be home. First, I looked at my budget. I knew to fly directly home from Bangkok was going to cost me about $1000. I could fly the opposite way around the world and make two stops in Europe for the exact same amount on airfare. I could also spend an extra $250 and surprise my best friend in Portland on the way home. Sold! I decided with two weeks in Europe, I would visit two places. I looked at airfare prices as well as took into account the amount I would spend there. I was immediately sold on Barcelona with its rich architectural beauty and the cost. Plus, I knew I could meet up with Lauren and her mom at the end of their trip. I had looked at possibly Paris and a few other stops but my sister reminded me that Berlin was one of her favorite cities in Europe. The cheapest flight to Europe that I found from Bangkok, after London, was Berlin, and it also had really affordable hostels. I booked my flight to Berlin, a flight to Barcelona, a flight to Portland, and finally, a flight home for Thanksgiving.

Stella and I on a matatu in Kenya

However, even with those plans made, they too were bound to change. The great thing about extended travel is that you generally have the opportunity to connect with people you meet a second time during your trip. I met a British girl in Jordan and was able to stay with her again in Bangkok because she switched jobs. I made a really good friend named Stella while volunteering in Kenya, and after I booked my flights, it dawned on me that she lived in Germany. I googled her town and saw that it was just a two hour train ride from Berlin. I emailed her and hoped that even though she was busy with school she’d have a day or two to get together. That day or two turned into five days, and I barely spent any time in Berlin at all. I visited a town in East Germany where she is getting her master’s degree, then we visited her hometown in northern Germany, and also made a road trip into Denmark. While I did spend a brief amount of time in Berlin, I can always go back. Visiting friends and seeing things from a local’s perspective is not something to miss out on.

I ate phad thai for the last time, said goodbye to both Lauren (my travel buddy) and Laura (my resident friend), took note of all the taxis, tuk-tuks, motorbikes, and the choatic traffic on Sukhumvit, walked to grab a taxi, and broke a sweat for the last time on my trip. I was catching a plane to Berlin!

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