May 14, 2013

Big News! Change Of Plans! We're Loose Of Limits!

So, big news people. BIG NEWS!

Want a clue? Click play for the perfect soundtrack to this post. (Just press play and listen to it while you read. As always, email blog subscribers, the video won't show up in your feed. You'll need to visit the blog and click play.)


(PS - I already told BFF Lauren that we were going to Africa and the first thing she said is that she wants Tom to hold me up into the air while we stand on the edge of a cliff, a la Simba and Rafiki. I have the weirdest and best friends.)

Last month, while we were in Cambodia, we realized that we were losing that loving feeling a little bit. We were still enjoying ourselves, but we weren't overwhelmed with awe at each new site any longer. We were rarely getting that, "OH MY GOD, WE'RE IN ____!" And we were pretty sure that this slightly decreased level of enthusiasm meant we needed to shake things up a bit. By that point, we had spent 6 months in Asia (at this point, it's been 7.5 months) and, to be honest, we knew there was a time limit on how much longer we would love rice and temples and gongs, and we wanted to make plans for a new experience before we were rolling our eyes with every pressed-hand bow. So, one night, while we were in Phnom Penh and were at dinner, we started talking about our itinerary. Our original plan was to spend the entire year in India and Southeast Asia, ending with a month in Australia. Realizing then that another 5 months on the continent wasn't ideal for us any longer, we started the "what-ifs," and asked ourselves, "Should we have included more of the world in our trip?" And, "If we added another region, what would we include?" Tom and I had both become fascinated with Botswana after reading about it on one of our favorite travel blogs, Always Twirling. And that was that. We went back to our guesthouse and checked flights to South Africa and - HOLY MOLY - there were flights from Singapore to Johannesburg for just $330! We booked it! It all happened in a matter of a few hours. It was awesome and truly made us feel like we're "Loose of Limits." It was the best feeling and I'm still feeling high from all the adrenaline and spontaneity and awesomeness of my life and this adventure and doing it along side my equally awesome husband.

The Swains on Adventure (A sneak peek at an upcoming post.)
Since we made that decision, we've been enjoying our time in Southeast Asia even more, and we can't wait to tell you all more about the amazing experiences we've had. But, since I'm sure you're curious, here's a little more information about our plans. 

Because we're adding an entire continent to our plans, it meant that we had to cut out some places in Asia that we still really want to visit and limit our time in other places. That was hard. We're slow travelers. We like to take our time and stay in a place long enough to find our groove. But we knew this decision was right for us, so we decided to shorten the amount of time we spent in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Malaysia, and cut out Indonesia all-together for this trip. It also meant that we stopped entertaining the idea of a few other places, like Timor-Liste and the Philippines. These were some tough decisions. We really wanted to spend at least a full month in Vietnam and at least 3 weeks in Laos. We wanted to visit Chiang Mai and other parts of Northern Thailand and maybe the Koh Samui region of Southern Thailand. The list of places we want to visit in Malaysia and Indonesia is a mile long. Kuala Lumpur, Perhentian Islands, Borneo, Langkawi, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Java. Cutting out Indonesia was especially difficult. We visited Lombok and Bali for our honeymoon in 2010 before we were certified SCUBA divers and we've itching to get back to Indonesia to dive its beautiful waters, experience its indigenous cultures, and see orangutans in its jungles. Sigh - all for another time and another trip now. 

So, here's our updated itinerary. We spent the second half of March in Cambodia (as you've read in this post about Siem Reap and this post about Phnom Penh - more Cambodia posts coming soon), then we spent most of April (including my 30th birthday and featuring a surprise visitor) in Vietnam, which we can't wait to tell you about. (Spoiler Alert: Vietnam is one of my most favorite places in the world, forever and ever, times infinity, amen.) In late April, we crossed into Laos for just under 2 weeks before heading to Bangkok one last time for 4 days with our friend, Jerome. (We REALLY wish we had more time in Laos. It's a deliciously relaxed place with some of the most gorgeous scenery we've ever seen, and we could easily see ourselves chilling here for awhile longer.) As I type this, we're at the Singapore airport on a layover from Bangkok to Gold Coast, Australia. Because our change of plans disrupted our schedule, we're heading to Australia way ahead of what we originally thought. We'll spend 11 days in Brisbane with our very good friends and our awesome godson and his equally awesome brother (kids we just adore and who were both in our wedding), then fly to Sydney for 4 days, and then finish up with about a week in and outside of Melbourne, visiting Tom's aunt. From there, we fly back up to Asia - beginning in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and making our way to the Tioman Islands and the Perhentian Islands for some diving. Finally, we'll head to Singapore for a few days, giving us a total of 3.5 weeks in Malaysia and Singapore. Then….AFRICA! 

On June 26, we fly from Singapore to Johannesburg, South Africa (with a layover in Saudi Arabia). In Jo'burg, we'll pick up a bushcamper that we've rented and begin a 35 day self-guided camping safari through the National Game Parks in South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana, and venturing in to Zimbabwe to see the majestic Victoria Falls. Our schedule isn't finalized yet - we're working on that now - but it's going to be RIDICULOUS! To say we are excited is putting it very lightly. I can't believe we're doing this. 

We'll spend 35 days in a bushcamper like this!

Need another theme song? Oh, hey. What's up, Shakira?

When we return the bushcamper to Jo'burg, we'll pick up another (non 4x4) rental car to spend a few more weeks driving around other parts of southern Africa. At this point, we're torn between two options. We can either drive south, admiring South Africa's beautiful coast line, visiting its wine country, checking out beautiful Cape Town and (gasp!) cage diving with great white sharks. Or we can drive north into Mozambique and enjoy one last week or so of beach time and diving. After that, we fly back to the states around mid-August and then will drive cross country, arriving in San Francisco in mid-September. Isn't this INSANE?!?!

Honestly, it's very weird to be so scheduled, something we haven't been this entire trip. The only reason we are so scheduled now is because we were planning our Australia time around friends' availability, we didn't want to overpay for last-minute flights, and booking ahead in southern Africa is 100% necessary during the high season when we'll be there. So here we are - knowing where will be for nearly every day of the next 5 months. It's a bizarre feeling, but it's getting us super excited.


I don't know this dog...but this is how I'm smiling. 

1 comment:

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