During college, I never got to study abroad or travel like many of my friends did. I dreamt of faraway places and food I hadn’t tasted yet, so I made a promise to myself that before I started working full-time I would find a way to travel. This is the dream that started The Fork in my Road and the infamous backpacking tour through Southeast Asia aka “Taking Asia 2013.”
So with this time between graduation and work, I’ve decided to embark on a sort of Thoreauvian journey pursuing all the things I love, particularly food and culture. Culture is fascinating to me because it’s the history, customs, and languages that comprise the complex identity of a group of people. A collective’s culture tells their story: where they’ve been and where they’re headed. Also, while culture can easily bond individuals, it can also quickly divide. On the other hand, I believe food is the ultimate bridge between people. After all, we all have to eat. I love trying different kinds of food, and I really can eat anything. I’m infamous in my family for being a balut aficionado. Similar to culture, I think food tells a story but just requires a different form of listening. I guess you could call me a “foodie” or a person with an insatiable appetite for soulful foods and a sophisticated palette. But put simply, I really just like to eat a lot.
Back in August 2012, I discovered that my friend Mary, also a fellow foodie, would be graduating college early as well, so we decided to go on a trip and eat our way through Asia. The metaphorical fork in my road transforms to a literal one, or in some places transforms into a pair of chopsticks. In five weeks, we will taste a little bit of the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and China in that order.
Excerpt from About TFIMR
Earlier in February, in retrospect of the dream that started the 3.5 week 7 country 18+ city tour and in response to many of my friends and old classmates’ inquiries as to what the hell I was doing jumping from country to country, I wrote a blog post called Dream on Dreamer Part I. Many of you have seen the pictures hash tagged #TakingAsia2013, been spammed with international airport check-ins on Facebook (sorry!), or even have decided to follow this blog. And many of you asked how we did it and how we afforded it without selling our bodies in Thailand. (Don’t worry, Dad. This was a joke). In Dream on Dreamer Part I, I promised to tell you one day how to make your own Asian adventure come true. Fortunately for you, I try to stick to my promises. So for the first time ever, I’m releasing notes on how Mary and I planned to eat our way through Asia:
The first tab is a day by day outline of how and where we traveled. Of course, you can see we traveled quite quickly. I tried to re-track these days to the best of my knowledge, but there are some gaps especially when we made it to Nanjing. I didn’t include the specific activities we did everyday because Mary and I didn’t make daily itineraries. Although our days were packed, we wanted to have the freedom to explore and just go where the food took us, but we knew we needed to plan travel logistics (flights, hostels, etc). If you’re traveling around Asia and especially if you’re a female traveler (and with another female traveler), I highly suggest you plan hostels in advance… and print maps of some areas that you’ll be traveling to (i.e. airport to hostel).
The second tab is an outline of our total costs per person for the trip. As you can see, the 3.5 week 7 country 18+ city tour around Asia cost $1,609.63*. This includes everything from flights around Asia, hostels and hotels, food (oh, so much food), souvenirs, cooking classes, buses, tuk tuks, bamboo norry trains, boats, tours, shopping, drinks, etc. I recognize that Mary and I did some frivolous and unnecessary activities (i.e. facials, massages, bird spit soup), so I’ve also included a third tab deducting these activities and the new total cost is $1,385.19*.
If you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to experience more of the world we live in. It can be very daunting to plan a trip, but rest assure that you just need to plan the basics and that it is financially doable. So go ahead, dream on dreamer.
P.S. I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about our Taking Asia 2013 spreadsheet.
*Figures don’t include flight from U.S. to Asia. Flights from U.S. to Asia vary depending on origin airport and final destination, seasons, cabin preference, and airlines; however, flights range from $700-$2000.