It started raining at sunset tonight.
I looked up at the sky and it brought me back to that night. There were crashing waves and mojitos. The rain was coming down in buckets, we had to shout to hear each other over the noise.
If you were here, we would look up at the rain falling down on our faces and laugh at the perfect way in which it paralleled a 90s romantic comedy.
We would pause as we took our eyes away from the oncoming storm to notice the graceful way the falling sun framed our faces, our glances lingering a second too long.
I visited Koh Chang twice over the course of a couple of months and I easily found the draw of this “elephant island”. With its hilly jungles, uncrowded beaches, and the feeling that you’ve reached one of the less touristy spots in Thailand, there is a lot to love about Koh Chang.
I never thought I’d be a long-term island girl, where I’d actually enjoy living on islands for more than a month or two. I love being busy, living in vibrant cities, going to live gigs, finding new architecture, cafes, and street art down alleyways.
But guys, I have to admit, I’m kind of addicted to island life now. And I would say that Koh Chang was the island that started that addiction.
And you learn
To build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is
Too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way
Of falling down in mid flight
After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden
And decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers
And you learn
That you really can endure
That you are really strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and you learn
With every goodbye you learn.
-Veronica A. Shoffstall
Hello friends and welcome to my brand new monthly wrap-up series! In an effort to stay relevant and keep you informed on my current travels (since this blog is usually a month or two behind on where I actually am), I’ve decided to start writing personal wrap-up posts.
So, without further delay, this is what I got up to in January!
Myanmar is still a mysterious and constantly changing spot in Southeast Asia. This is what you should know about the country in 2017!
I received confirmation for my Myanmar e-visa, and booked my flights to the country soon after from a sweaty, windowless hotel room in Hong Kong. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I’m going to be honest and say that Myanmar is the most challenging country I’ve traveled to as of yet, but that doesn’t mean that it still wasn’t all kinds of awesome.
Myanmar was a unique destination in a sea of backpacker trails and countries that have been overrun by tourism time and again. Myanmar was still touristy in areas, but it also offered a glimpse at traditional Burmese culture and untouched scenery that I haven’t witnessed in quite awhile.
Taiwan was exactly what I needed after fast-paced Hong Kong. It was also a much needed relief on my budget. Although Taiwan is definitely not the cheapest destination in Asia, it was a hell of a lot cheaper than Hong Kong. I adored the good humored and playful nature of Taiwanese culture, and the friendliness that I came across time and again.
Besides a couple of rogue bus drivers who refused to let us off because they were late for the rest of their route (um, what?), I had very few negative experiences in the country. In fact, Taiwan is right up there with Vietnam as one of my favorite countries in Asia thus far.
The buses barreled past at an alarming rate, not giving me the usual berth I would find in North America. The smells that wafted up from the grates and alleyways made me equally intrigued and wary. The electricity that I felt every time I stepped out into the humid air was unforgettable. These were my first impressions of Hong Kong.
The smog made us both sick within a few days, we were unable to get out of bed with our pounding heads, coughs, and other ailments that crept up on us. We bounced back soon enough and Hong Kong grew on us in a way that makes you reminisce about a new travel friend who was exciting and a bit of a mystery.
One of my goals on The Atlas Heart is to break down travel misconceptions or judgments about places and ideas. Perhaps it could be that destination that everyone warns you not to visit because of how dangerous it is, or maybe you yourself had preconceived notions that were proven wrong once you arrived to where you were going.
My aim is to present a variety of different opinions and experiences through the eyes of other travelers. It’s important to hear travel stories from all different perspectives in life, I call it seeing the world through a kaleidoscope lens.
Summer can be the most expensive time of the year to travel, but it’s also the most likely time of the year that Americans will use their vacation days. A lot of my fellow Americans have this idea that travel has to cost a lot of money and can only be done every once in awhile since it’s so expensive (or you only have two weeks of vacation every year).
Now, I can’t help you with increasing those vacation days, but what people don’t realize is that travel can be incredibly affordable if you know where to look. Travel doesn’t have to mean resorts and constant indulgences either, the best kind of travel is truly when you’re meeting locals and getting an overview of the local culture.
It’s not news on this blog that I’m moving to Asia in the fall, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still daydream about it on here and continue to look forward to my upcoming digs. As some of you who have been with me for awhile may know, I’m big on festivals. Mainly music festivals, but I’ve grown to appreciate a mix of cultural, local, and party festivals as well as the ones that solely focus on music.
Asia has a ton of great festivals, some cultural and some more party, but I wanted to put together a list of all the ones I’m especially looking forward to. I’m going to try and hit as many of these as possible while I’m in the region.