Hello new friends, old friends, very old friends, family and acquaintances,
You’re receiving this email because I thought you would be interested in an update on my long adventure. This email marks the one and a half year point of my epic Asia Adventure, and 3 months away from the ending. I am still well, though more tired than ever. The previous email left off just after my 25th birthday, and I was without any hair upon my head besides my beard, and I was writing from Georgetown, Malaysia. Now I shall sum up the journey from that point.
Malaysia was fantastic. It easily ranked into my top three countries due to its food, culture, old buildigns, and the friends I met there. The colonial architecture, the easy to use transportation, the beautiful beaches, the diverse foods, and more all contributed to a great time there. To list a few adventures: I saw a zombie monkey, and ate freshly picked strawberries, saw sharks while snorkling, and witness thousands of fireflies along a river.
Thailand was the most touristy country I have ever visited. It seemed like it was in its own world designed for the tourist trade. The south had beautiful beaches and loud parties, Bangkok had many things to do and sights to see, and the north was a dreamy relaxed countryside. I survived a flood in Koh Samui for a few days (with no electricity, running water, little food, and streets full of sewer water). I partied in Bangkok with various new friends and saw interesting and odd things. And I thouroughly enjoyed the north with the friends I made up there and driving around Chiang Mai and Pai. Slept with a tiger there, and also tasted some coffee from the King’s personal coffee plantation.
Myanmar (or Burma if you prefer that) was quite odd. On one hand, you can see the effects that the oppresive government has in various aspects of the country, which is sad. Especially the strange new capital city, reserved for the generals and politicians, which seems to be where they are concentrating all of the countries development and electricity. Everyone I talked to seemed to intensely dislike their government. On the other hand, the country is absolutely beautiful, rich in history and culture, and the people are immensely friendly (and the women are gorgeous). This was the first place that I got food poisoning in the entire trip, though it was not so bad. I enjoyed hiking up long distances to see strange temples, and floating around a large town built in the center of a lake.
Then I got to India. I was fortunate to have my friend Ananda to spend Christmas with, and I had a wonderful time with his family and also touring a steel factory. Kolkata was maybe not the best place to spend New Years, but it was fine. I went to Bodh Gaya, where Buddha attained enlightenment, and volunteered there for a bit at a soup kitchen/school for poor children. I went to the various other places through India, seeing cremations at Varanasi, the kite festival at Ahmedabad, the slums of Mumbai, almost getting into a gem scam in Goa, getting lost on a mountain in Hampi, and a few other adventures. But after almost 2 months in India now, I find that I don’t really like it. There are some amazing parts of this country, especially the food. But every day I have to deal with some kind of problem that really frustrates me. It seems to me that in my condition, after being tired of dealing with Asia for a year and a half, the bad outweighs the good. Thus I am trying to “flashpack” my way through the rest of these cities and spend more of my time in Nepal instead.
Now I write from Madurai, a pleasant touristy temple city in the south, and soon I’ll be off to Sri Lanka.
I’ve booked my flight now. I’ll be landing in Boston Logan at 8:40 pm, May 18th. Thus making it a total of 21 months and 6 days since leaving the western hemisphere. It’s a long 25 hour trip, but at least it’s going westward so that I can say I’ve literally gone around the world. As I’ve previously noted, I’ll be visiting a lot of you all back in the states via hitchhiking, and then maybe getting back to California in the late summer or fall. That’s too far in the future to say for sure.
I will send one more email upon arriving back in the States, but for now I hope that everyone is doing well. As always I’d love to hear what is happening in each of your lives as well!
– Ben Douglas
PS: Again, here are links and stuff:
Travel Site (with more detailed information on the trip) – http://travels.bagelsound.com/
Travel Photos (Updated to Myanmar) – http://pics.livejournal.com/plastic_fork/?sort=recent
Facebook Profile – http://www.facebook.com/misterz