One’s first trip to Asia. It’s something few forget. The smells, the sounds, the crowds, big cities, wild landscapes, exotic food, a sometimes frenetic pace, tropical beaches, incredible mountains – you’re in Asia! We recently got chatting about our early trips to the continent, started to feel old, or perhaps well-experienced, and thought it might be fun to recount our initial journeys here. Reflect on those initial impressions and contrast it to our current lives and how we see things now. In these two parts, Scott then I will recount their first visits to Asia. Here we go for part 2…

Listen to Episode 185 – Scott’s first trip to Asia

Gunung Batur, Bali (courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

When? 1996 – 24 years old

Why? My Africa trip plan was a bit ambitious; Central / South America companions fell through; I went to Lake Tahoe to bump some chairs for a few months and then planned an Asia adventure beginning in Hawaii.

With Whom? Solo. My sister’s ex, Jordan, and one of our besties, Aran, had both been to Bali and even back then Asia seemed relatively safe and easy to go solo (compared to Africa and Central America in the 90’s).

What was the plan? A big loop around Asia with a series of one-way tickets. Air tickets were DPS to BKK then SINGAPORE to PERTH, SYDNEY to QUEENSTOWN, AUCKLAND to FIJI and then back to HNL. Plan was an easy month in Bali to transition from Hawaii to Asia and then a largely overland and sea adventure.

Where to first: Bali First, Bali is pretty exotic and hectic, but I had been prepared to travel to Africa and Central America, so I was relatively prepared, mentally, for some culture shock. 

What did you do? Wanted to surf but stayed in Kuta to start. Kinda sucked. Ended up in Candi Dasa, volcanos, Ubud for a bit, and then back to Kuta. Not sure why I didn’t spend much time in the Bukit. Probably too much partying and not experienced enough riding a bike to dare exploring by moto.

Anything unexpected occur? Robbed by some little kids. The second time I was robbed (room break in), which caused me to decide to move on after maybe 4 weeks. 

Highlight of the trip? Hiking Mt. Batur. Cooked an egg in the steam vent. I think it exploded shortly thereafter. 

Trevor Bamboo Rafting in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Where next? Bangkok – Zero research on Thailand. ZERO. Asked people from the plane where they were staying. Arrived midnight-ish on Rambutri. Stuffed half my shit in a locker and then off to train station. Cut that guy off – Neil, seated next to me. Ayutthaya, where I met the piano tuner from Kansas who knew Bob Dole. 

Khao Yai – stayed in those bungalows: went looking for wild elephants. If there’s a link, no need to tell again: otherwise, summarize

Chiang Mai – Trekking – to opium village and then bamboo rafting. Very likely near the Elephant Life Experience. Not sure how I got back to Bangkok. One (more) night in Bangkok – first proper one. hardly humbled. Spent 4th of July to Woodstock, which sounded like the most American place. I don’t remember the plaza – think Neil was turned off by the glitz so we went to Khaosan by tuk tuk.

Then train to Samui: 12 hours in 5th class. My ass was dead. Stayed on Chaweng (south end) – Charlie’s Huts. Epic. Neil left a note (Hobbit). Next stop: Surat Thani. Roti here is the only food I remember. It’s funny that I don’t really have such strong memories of Thai food, which I may not have even eaten before then. I certainly didn’t leave with the impression: wow, what great food, what beautiful women: I should come live here someday. 

Orangutan in Bukit Lawang, Indonesia (Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

Where next? Penang: Georgetown for Atlanta Olympics. Ferry to Medan: nap with the muslim prayers. North to Bukit Lawang – orangutans, trekking, etc. South to Toba – the chickens. Seated on the floor (another Tantalizing Travel Tales story). Dropped at the top of the volcano. Fresh fruit: best passion fruit everyday. Lakefront room. No other people save one. Haggling over the shamans stick souvenir. The walls ice cream song.

Where next? Back to Malaysia and Kota Kinnabalu: cobra. Perhentian islands camping on both sides. The flood. Then down the coast camping on some beaches and outside random hotels. Giant Leathery turtles – crocodile estuary – sand castle. Crossing into Singapore and checking our bags. Then off to Australia…

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