This past January went off without a hitch and we are just now winding down from our luxurious, Hilton points-funded stay at the Conrad Bali. Time to become backpackers once again! We knew we'd love Bali, but we were a little unsure of what Malaysia would be like, and it vastly exceeded our expectations. It feels weird sometimes to book 2+ weeks somewhere when you know very little about what it's like, and what there is to see and do. If countries like Albania and Malaysia are any indication, however, we should take those sort of plunges even more often.
February brings us to both familiar and unfamiliar territory. We begin in the Philippines, meeting up with the venerable Ben Li for a few days. We haven't seen any friends from home since September and are beyond excited to spend some time with him. Jenny has done a great deal of research on the Philippines and has picked out some nice spots on Boracay and Palawan. With her advanced scuba certification under her belt she is looking to get some quality dive time in while I sit around on the beach eating fresh mangos.
After the Philippines we are heading to Hong Kong, hopefully in time to meet up with our friend Ilan before he heads back to the US. Realistically, we can only afford 3 or 4 nights there, but we will be sure to make them count. We were planning on traveling to Taiwan after Hong Kong, but our plans have been thrown into disarray after learning that much of Taipei is shutdown for Chinese New Year, with many locals traveling elsewhere to visit friends and family. We are going to try and make Taiwan happen later in the spring, perhaps on our way to South Korea, but this did derail our trip planning a bit. Foreign holidays weren't something I had ever really considered before this trip started, but we have felt their impact on numerous occasions and now we know to plan accordingly.
After Hong Kong we fly back to Bangkok to begin Thailand part two. I am ecstatic that Jenny has fallen in love with Thailand as much as I have and I think she'll enjoy northern Thailand even more. We will probably spend another few days in Bangkok first, then ride a night train up to Chiang Mai. After a week there we will motorbike up to Pai for a nice quiet, hippie getaway, and finish with Chiang Rai. This will most likely carry us all the way into mid March, but there are bound to be some revised itineraries along the way. Depending on how much we enjoy the Philippines we may stay longer, or more likely, if we can't find reasonably priced flights we may have to make some modifications. We are nearly 8 months in and time is slipping away faster than ever, we've got to make these last 5 months count!