Friday, April 22, 2016

TIA take two - This is Asia

“Oh wow,” or “Interesting,” were probably the most common responses I got when I told people we were going to Indonesia. You know, in that way that people say when they think how much they would never want to do that.  It was usually followed by, “Why Indonesia?” Usually I responded by telling people that Jason just wants to go wherever he can get the biggest culture shock. This is true, but not the whole story. Ever since I’ve known him, Jason has been fascinated by the Indonesia. When he mentioned Southeast Asia, I initially had looked into countries like Thailand and Vietnam, but those were a little too on the beaten path for him.  I didn’t know much about Indonesia, but the more I learned about Indonesia, the more it seems like it’s got everything rolled into one country, or rather, over 1300 islands.  It’s got beaches, mountains, volcanoes, temples, coffee, diving, orangutans and komodo dragons.  I told Jason I just wanted to go somewhere “colorful,” and this definitely qualifies.  It had everything I wanted to do, so worked for me.  Honestly I’m a bit intimidated, but if I learned anything from driving a rental car across South Africa and leaving it behind during a flood, it is that going out of your comfort zone can really be rewarding, plus I kind of felt like if I don’t do it now, I never will. 

So here we are our foray to Indonesia, or more specifically, in Tokyo on a layover.  Before booking tickets, we had to figure out where exactly we wanted to go.  The problem is, there is so much to do that we felt like would either have to cut something out, be on a plane every other day or make it a three-week trip. I guess we failed, because we kind of chose all the options. We are cutting out a few things (such as climbing Mt. Bromo & Ijen), taking a lot of flights, and are still going to be gone for three weeks (yes, our bosses are amazing).  We’ve been saving our leave and our pennies for a while, but are still trying to do this on a budget.  The good news is that Asia is an amazingly cheap place to travel, so it’s kind of do-able.  (Also, if you follow me on Instagram, you are probably laughing, because somehow a year’s worth of travel got condensed into the month of April for me. I couldn’t really help the dates though as it was mostly travel with friends. Like I said, my boss is amazing.)

The first step was applying for credit cards that would make our flights free. Jason and I both applied for the Chase Ink, which is a business card.  We will be using it for our rental house expenses, but you could apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred as well if you don’t have a legitimate business. The bonuses weren’t quite enough to get us to Asia (80,000 miles) but I regularly use another Chase card, so in addition to some strategic purchases we made it. 

Because we were waiting for points to post, work and optimizing scuba diving weather, it ended up that we only had about 6 weeks between booking the tickets and leaving.  It was a really busy month, so combined with the short time frame means I’m not as prepared as I’d like. For real – we only booked the last hotel three days before we left.

So we’ll be gone for three weeks and we’ll be going to hike the jungles of Sumatra, see the temples of Java, dive through the waters of Komodo, and sit by the beach in Bali. We’ve got a few nights in Singapore and Tokyo on the way back and I DIDN’T EVEN BRING THE GUIDEBOOKS for those cities.

We were watching a movie the other night and the guy just bought a plane ticket to another country.  All he had was a suitcase, no plan, no return date.

“I would love to do that, just show up without a plan and go,” Jason said. 

“I feel like that’s what we are doing,” I told him. Because in my mind, having so few plans is almost the same as having no plan. But I’m trying to embrace it. I think with all the information out there on the websites, I can often suffer from fear of missing out (also known as “FOMO”). I prefer to research every possible option to make sure we are seeing all the top sites, eating at the recommended restaurants, and staying at the perfect location. And while I do think that some kind of plan is good to have, it can personally be a hindrance and keep me from enjoying where we actually are, if I spend the whole time worried about where we could be instead. 
I kind of feel like I’ve made a good start of embracing things as they come by paring my luggage down to a quantity that could fit in a carry on.  Mind you, I put it I a big suitcase, even though it could have all fit in a carry on.  I would have made a good boy scout as I prefer to be prepared – I still asked Jason if I should bring duct tape, but this is progress for the girl who once packed 30 shirts for a week.  In fact, before the tickets were even booked, I told Jason that this trip I was going to say “yes.” As in yes, to an invitation to join new friends for dinner. Yes, to spontaneous adventure. Yes, you can pray for us – I’m not good at spontaneous yet!

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