In 2010 I spent a semester abroad in Newcastle, Australia. Despite the stresses of my course load – with Quantum Mechanics at one end of the spectrum and Introduction to Drama at the other – I still found plenty of time to explore all around southeastern Australia. The Mountaineering Club at the University of Newcastle equipped me with all the gear, skills, and friends needed to backpack, rock climb, or boulder nearly every weekend. Ever since returning from that semester I’ve wanted to take a long term backpacking trip. After many years of daydreaming, and over a year of planning it is almost time to depart for Nepal.
On September 12th I fly from Chicago to Kathmandu. Here is a little geography booster for those of you saying “Kathman-what?”
Nepal almost the same size as Iowa by area, but has a population of over 24 million. It is sandwiched between India to the south, and China to the north. Nepal’s border with China is dominated by the Himalayas, the tallest mountains in the world, and the primary reason I am travelling there. I will spend almost all of my six weeks in Nepal trekking, first in the Annapurna region, and then in the Khumbu region (which contains Mount Everest).
Once I am done trekking in Nepal I will fly to Bangkok to meet up with a friend who is joining me for a month. You can spot Thailand on the map above, start from Nepal and work your way southeast. We’ll be trying to see as much of the country as we can in the month allotted. First, we’ll head north into the jungle, to Chiang Mai. After a week of exploring in and around Chiang Mai we’ll head south, to the islands of Koh Samui and/or Ko Pha Ngan, which are in the Gulf of Thailand. After some time in the Gulf we will head across the isthmus to the Andman coast.
Somewhat on a whim, I decided to include Bali in my travel plans. I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf, and Bali is one of the best surfing destinations in the world. It also happens to be, mostly, on the way from Thailand to New Zealand. With this in mind I added a three week stint in Bali to the itinerary.
…Also known as New Zealand, is the last planned stop on this trip. It isn’t necessarily the end of the trip, but it is as far as I have planned. Besides meeting up with my parents over Christmas, I have no set itinerary. I plan to spend at least three months exploring both islands. I’ve spent an immense amount of time researching and acquiring new backpacking gear over the last year and this is where I will really put it to the test. I plan to spend the vast majority of my time here backpacking and camping.