Traveling with Friends

Friendship is so weird, you just pick a human you’ve met and you’re like “yep, I like this one,” and you just do stuff with them.– Bill Murray

After much thought, I decided the chronicles of these adventures should begin with a quote about friendship that I find humorous and also quite apt, as friendship is one of my biggest personal motivations for travel, and the impetus for this entire trip!

Over the years, I’ve had many a look of confusion sent my way when I’ve asked for time off to visit pals in Arkansas (Pedro) and Ohio (Sarah), and many a, “Good luck” in traveling to countries like France (siblings) and the United Kingdom (Josh), There have always been friends that were either the inspiration for the trip, or companions on the road to discovery.

The cast of colorful characters that you’ll be reading about in the upcoming weeks are part of a core group of friends who I’ll be sharing these next cultural journeys with. Some are already avid, world travelers in their own right, while  this will be a first-time abroad for others.

Instead of littering my first written piece here with old photos or scavenged stock photography, I am going to start with a clean slate. As our travels take shape, that will be the time that I’ll throw in some fresh visual stimuli, so relax! Until then, here is an introduction.

How Our Traveling Party Met

Good things happen when you meet strangers. – Yo-Yo Ma

It seems a good idea to briefly describe how the original notion for our party to travel to Asia came about, instead of a complete history of our intertwined meetings, since people keep asking. It started with friendships that were forged with some international visitors to the “The Pine Tree State,” Maine.

Niko, from the Phillipines, Leanna, from Malaysia, and Thirza from Holland had all come to Portland for employment opportunities at different times. They each posted on the Portland couchsurfing website (an alternative, travel networking site), that they were interested in connecting with locals. After replying to their posts, and arranging initial meetups, it took no time at all for these kindred spirits to be absorbed into the motley crew that has been assembled over time.

From holiday celebrations and birthdays to dinner parties, pub crawls and Renaissance fairs, these new friends grew nearer and dearer to our hearts. Then, sadly visa expiration dates closed in and they all traveled back to their respective countries.

Through the wonderful world of social media, many of us stayed in contact and agreed that a reunion was in order, but where to have it?

Choosing a Destination: Our Travel Itinerary

A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.– Lao Tzu

Leanna and Niko offered to show us around their home-countries, which sounded like an excellent idea as the rest of us had never traveled to Malaysia or the Philppines before. We could add other points of interest on as we went.

After months of emails, Facebook posts and phone calls, our itinerary finally developed, with no resemblance to our original plans, but in a good way.

The Mainer’s, (Bekka, Heather, Travis and I), are flying in to Bangkok, Thailand together. Leanna arrives to BKK from Malaysia, and Thirza is arriving from Germany, where she currently resides. Niko’s work obligations are preventing him from participating in this trip, so we now have six travelers. Travis, our token male. has begun to refer to us as his harem. He’s a real comedian…

The current travel plan is to spend three weeks touring Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam! Angkor Wat, Halong Bay and Ye Ping, a local lantern festival, are some of the sites and events we have been researching.

What’s Your Modus Operandi

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with friends. – African Proverb

As someone who typically travels alone, and operates under the idea of, “I’ll figure it out when I get there,” this has been a lot of travel planning for me. This is also the most people that I have ever traveled with for a long period of time before.

As a solo traveler, your flexibility is increased, as the only will you must bow to is your own. When traveling with friends, in a group, there are numerous opinions, feelings and preferences that must be taken in to account, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Too few of us learn the delicate art of compromise.

That’s being said, I have already warned my future travel companions that at some point I will probably disappear for a day or two, to preserve our friendships. I admit that I can be a real bear when not given what I consider a sufficient and reasonable amount of personal leeway to do as I please.

Our departure date is less than two days away…

Stay tuned for updates!


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