Welcome to my humble blog. I plan to use it to keep friends and fam in the loop about my travels that are going to start in a week and a half. I hope my posts will be intriguing and that I’ll be able to upload pictures somehow. I suppose the best way to tackle this first post is to do it FAQ-style:
Where ya going?
I’m going to Cambodia for two and a half months to do volunteer work with local NGOs. Once I’m done that, I plan to explore Vietnam, Laos and Thailand before capping off my trip with a tour of the Rajputana region of India. Crazy!
And how long is that going to take?!?
Like I said, I’m going to be in Cambodia for at least two and a half months, leaving five weeks for freestyle exploration of South East Asia before I head over to India for a 16-day tour. I leave early in the morning of November 15th, 2013 and will be landing in Winnipeg late at night of March 17th, 2014.
Why Cambodia to begin with?
IVHQ (the volunteer organization I went through–more on them later) had work with NGOs in Cambodia and Vietnam. When I looked into it, Vietnam’s visa application process seemed more complicated, so Cambodia came out on top!
Why now? Aren’t you in school or doing something important with your life?
Evidently, no. I decided about six months ago to take a break from academia due to overwhelming feelings of burnout, experienced by many. After I graduated, I started working at a well-respected local restaurant then changed it up to do a term position at U of W. Well, that term position ended and I turned down a management position offered to me by the same restaurant.
Once it hit me that I didn’t really have any real job prospects and I wasn’t doing anything else, I needed to feel like I was doing something important–something to make me feel like I was accomplishing something and that I would learn from. India was the original dream but family and friends told me I’m not allowed to go there alone. I compromised and decided to check out South East Asia (another dream destination) and participate in a guided tour of India. Fair? Fair.
Aren’t you afraid of getting stabbed/malaria/parasites/random other things that people have heard of from friends of friends but never actually researched?
That’s why I have a Swiss army knife, mosquito repellent, malaria pills and a mosquito net. So, not really.
Are you always this sarcastic?
NNNOOOOO. I’m completely serious about everything, all the time.
What do you hope you’ll get out of the trip?
I’ve decided to take this trip partially to reward myself for all the work I put into earning my undergraduate degree so, in that sense, it’s a pleasure trip.
I chose to volunteer with NGOs partly because I don’t think I could handle working with kids all day, every day for more than a couple weeks (call me a bad person, I’m just keeping it real!). I also chose this project because I’m anticipating it will involve writing proposals, working with local government, interacting with locals and doing all kinds of different things. If anyone knows me, I hate to be doing the same thing all the time. I also liked this option since I will gain obvious skills that can be transferred to jobs/careers when I get back to the Peg. In this sense, it’s a business trip.
Speaking of which, what the hell are you going to do when you get back?
I have no idea.
What are you doing to prepare?
Not a hell of a lot. Mostly just trying to picture myself wearing a lot of skirts and shorts in December and not curling up in my cocoon of a blanket at night because I’m cold. I’m also trying my best to tell myself that my flights won’t SEEM as long as they are. I’ve stocked up on a bunch of podcasts and downloaded games for my tablet to keep me amused. I also bought some sandals and got Instagram. #toastwater
How did you find your volunteering project?
The B-friend (who I occasionally refer to as The Beef) tracked it down and did all the hard work for me because he used it to find a volunteering project in South America. It’s totally legit, affordable and, in my experience, are very courteous and prompt with email responses. Check out IVHQ here: http://www.volunteerhq.org/
What tour are you going on in India?
I feel like I came across Veg Voyages on a blog entry several months ago but, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember how I got there. Anyway, they lead guided tours of several destinations in South East Asia and India, specifically for vegetarians and vegans looking to travel to these places. You can imagine my delight when I tracked them down! They don’t have any minimum numbers of participants, only maximums so, I’m kind of hoping I’ll get a private tour of India! Check out Veg Voyages here: http://www.vegvoyages.com/
Have you ever done anything like this before?
Nope! I’ve travelled around Canada on my own but never outside the country. I’ve hit St. John’s most recently (shout out to Pat and Bernetta!!), Toronto, Waterloo-Kitchener (exciting, I know), Vancouver (in fact, the picture included in this post was taken when I was exploring Stanley Park one lovely day in Vancouver), Quebec City, Ottawa and a few other places on family road trips many years ago that I don’t remember. Although, I do have a vague memory of throwing up somewhere in Gimli…
What does your boyfriend think of all this?!?
Given that he’s going to be in South America for about the same time that I’m in Asia, I think he’s okay with it. If one more person asks me that, I might go all Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
What are you most excited about?
Missing winter! I’m one of those people that’s constantly cold, so I’ll feel right at home in the tropical climates of SE Asia. It’ll probably still be chilly in March but I’ll have (hopefully) missed the worst of it.
I’m also pretty excited about missing Christmas–it’s just so commercial and annoying now. I’m already getting annoyed at the ads for Christmas gifts and decorations so I’m glad to miss it.
What are you going to miss the most?
Probably eating cookies. I’m a cookie monster, to say the least. I’ll also really miss spending lazy weekends with friends, especially the ridiculousness that my Best Cub and I come up with!
You freak! You’re excited about missing the holiday season?!
Just keeping it real, bro.
Did you just use the word “bro”?
You got it, bro.
Okay, almost done. There’s just one thing I’m super confused about: what in the heck is a “niesbeetle”?
Niesbeetle is a nickname given to me back when I was much, much younger by my grandparents. They tell me it means “snoopy” in low German (Manitoba’s romance language) because I was always getting into something and wanting to know more about everything, all the time. Nothing has really changed since then and I felt that this trip is an extension of my never-ending curiosity so, the name “niesbeetle” feels right.
Now for some fun facts: Low German is spoken by Mennonites the world over, including one half of my family. It’s an unwritten language, which means that Mennos used high German (the German that people in Germany speak) during church services and things, because it was written. I include this because I have no idea how to spell it and my stab in the dark is probably as good as any.
See you soon, Internets