I may or may not have mentioned that I’m planning on going on a Big Trip. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time and I’m nearly in the position where I have the time and money to do it. The Big Trip will be for at least 6 months, I will be alone, and it will give me the chance to sort my life out.
But where to go?
At first, it was South America. Obviously South America. It’s clearly the best.
Then all my friends started going to South East Asia, and I fell in love. Forget South America, South East Asia is the place to be.
Then literally all of my friends started going to South East Asia and I thought, is the world too small? Is South America my calling?
So I thought I’ll just set out my arguments either way and then you lovely people can give me some advice and feedback and help me make up my mind!
Location, location, location
This is what is should be about: What can I see, what can I do?
My main argument for SA at the moment is how large it is. I couldn’t possibly get bored. However, it’s so large that people get internal flights, which I would really want to avoid.
Also, I want to travel slowly. You can see dozens of countries in a day if you like but that’s not really my cup of tea. I want to see everything carefully and so I should go somewhere smaller, like SEA, right? But SEA isn’t even smaller, since most people take a turn around Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Korea while they’re in the neighbourhood. Which involves flights… so I might as well go to SA.
The closest comparison I have is India. When I was in India I did not like it at all. With hindsight, it was amazing and I want to go back. Therefore, SEA?
Then again, what did I really like about India? The bustle, the strangeness, the inviting people? Won’t SA have all of that?
This is where the stereotypes really come into their own. SEA is… less authentic? The countries are more dependent on tourism and so you end up with the beach cabin, Full Moon Party, evil Elephant/Tiger ‘sanctuaries’ vibe. The countries in SA are more established, so less touristy?
I can’t speak Spanish, but I’m trying. I also can’t speak Thai or Vietnamese, and I am not trying. Nobody will expect me to speak Burmese but some basic Spanish will be required. Should I be lazy and go where the English tourists are? Should I be bold and good for myself and go where I can definitely learn the language?
Both SA and SEA have serious drug problems. SA also has a serious USA problem. SEA is starting to have a slight terror problem.
Is it possible to say, generically, that one is safer than the other? I would have thought that, like everywhere else in the world, it depends on whether the particular street you are on happens to be the same street that a crazy person is on.
This week, I am leaning strongly towards SEA. My logic is this: since the culture in SEA is eroding and becoming more touristy, I should take advantage of what little authenticity is left. For example, Burma only just became more accessible but will have a totally difference atmosphere within the next 5 years.
Then, when time as passed, SA will have overcome the drug problem (it will! I’m sure. I have faith). It will be safer, and still genuine, and Machu Picchu will still be there.
But what if SEA is the horrific touristy theme park that I imagine it is but I’m stuck there?!
What do you think? Am I right?
PS all of these photos are from Sri Lanka. I went such a long time ago that I can’t remember anything about where we went or what we did, so I thought this post would be a good use for the photos!