Mike visited:

» Thailand
» Myanmar (Burma)
» Laos
» Cambodia
» Vietnam
» India
» Nepal
» Egypt
» Jordan
» Uganda
» Tanzania
» Malawi
» Mozambique
» Swaziland
» South Africa

View a map of his route.

 press/awards earned a few nice mentions in the press, including's vote as best travel blog on the Web. Read about it on the Press/Awards page.

Review of the Journey So Far

Tomorrow I will end the Southeast Asian portion of my journey and fly from Bangkok, Thailand to Calcutta, India. I've spent four months on the road; another eight months are ahead of me.

Myanmar was a high point
When I was planning this trip, I viewed Southeast Asia as a pleasant and "easy" starting point that would prepare me for India and East Africa. In hindsight, it's been much more than that. It hasn't always been easy (except Thailand, which is about the easiest, friendliest, most accommodating, and delicious country you could hope to visit), but it has been moving, meaningful, educational, and memorable.

High Points
Where to start? Just walking the streets of a new village or city is a high point. Every connection I make with local people is exciting…

Here's what really stands out in my memory:

  • Myanmar. Everything about Myanmar was a high point. Myanmar taught me how educational and important travel can be. It also taught me how deeply you can connect with the people you meet. The time I spent with S____ is a highlight of the trip.
  • Temples of Angkor. I'd been dreaming about Angkor for years, and, in spite of all the build-up, it exceeded expectations. Riding a motorbike around the temple complex, past the Bayon and through the gates of Angkor Thom, was almost more exhilarating than climbing the towers of Angkor Wat.
  • Laos was incredible too
    Hill tribe villages in Laos. Visiting the hill tribe villages in Laos was like visiting Mars. It was a privilege to glimpse a way of life that is completely different from my own. In these villages I also enjoyed some of the best – and worst – pork I've ever had.
  • Phnom Penh. At first glimpse, there's little to like about Phnom Penh: it's dirty, chaotic, and lawless – a hotbed of corruption, sin, and vice. But after a few days these qualities become somehow endearing, and the chaos becomes a pleasure.

Low Points
The high points of the trip have greatly outweighed the low points, but there have been a few. In order of unpleasantness:

  • The bus rides in Myanmar were perfect slices of hell
    The "Worst Bus Ride Ever". Nothing can touch that journey in terms of sheer terror and discomfort.
  • Getting sick in Inle Lake, Myanmar. Vomiting, diarrhea, chills, sweats, shakes, headache – you name it, I had it. It was the worst 24 hours of my life. Conventional wisdom says that every long-term traveler gets sick at least once. Let's hope this was the first and last time for me.
  • Minibus ride in Vietnam. It was only a six hour drive from Chau Doc to Saigon, but the suicidal, horn-happy speed freak at the helm of the van made it seem like a four-day "Faces of Death" film marathon. Only content if he was doing 120MPH, the spiky-haired 20-year-old made such risky and maniacal passes that, at one point, I put our likelihood of a head-on collision at 50-50.
  • Ferry landing in Phnom Penh. The hoard of touts at the docks in Phnom Penh was more annoying than dangerous, but the anarchy of the situation still shook me deeply.

Traveling Alone
Traveling on my own has opened up many opportunities that wouldn't have otherwise been there. It's easy to meet other travelers when you're by yourself; I think you're also more open to encounters with locals.

Cousin Mike and friend Phun
That said, I've had my share of solitary dining experiences.

My cousin Mike joined me for the Cambodian/Vietnam portion of the journey, which was a great change of pace. But it's exciting to enter into this next phase of the journey alone.

Apart from the bout of food poisoning/traveler's diarrhea mentioned above, I've been in near-perfect health. I've slept well, eaten well, and managed to get quite a bit of exercise. My weight has remained stable. My emotional outlook is good. I've been taking Doxycycline, an anti-malarial, every day for the past three months, and have experienced no adverse side effects.

I budgeted $50 a day for food, accommodation, entertainment, and transportation (including flights between SEA and India, India and Africa, Africa and home). So far, I've spent more like $30 a day (least expensive place visited so far: Muang Ngoi, Laos, where four days' accommodation, food, and drink set me back $11). There are some big expenses ahead (the mountain gorilla trek in Uganda costs upwards of $500), but I still think I'll come out a little under budget. Which is good - more money for a year-long South American trip in the future :)

I've shot 2,115 photos so far
The Project
The project gives the trip greater structure and relevance. In four months I have:

  • Shot 18 hours worth of DV tape
  • Written 23 travelogue articles
  • Produced 19 video shorts
  • Shot 2,115 photographs
  • Posted the 148 photographs that were any good

The site has enjoyed a steady growth in popularity and, recently, a dramatic spike in traffic thanks to a mention in This is TRUE. Some current statistics:

  • Number of newsletter subscribers: 323
  • Number of visitors in January: 5,777
  • Average number of daily visitors in January: 186
  • Amount of data downloaded in January: 5,392,162 kilobytes (that's over 5 gigs of data – thanks for the hosting, divine!)

Am I Ready for India?
So has Southeast Asia prepared me for India and beyond? Yes and no. I feel comfortable now in chaotic situations that would have rocked me to the core a few months ago. I've met a host of terrific people – and some scoundrels and predators too. But from what I hear and read about India, nothing can really prepare you. And you know what? That's just the way I like it.


Posted on January 29, 2003 06:05 AM


Comments (post your own below)

Great to see the traffic increase. I have watched your web site for several months. It is the best "travel" site I have seen yet. Keep up the great photography and good work!

Posted by: Brian Donohue on January 30, 2003 06:15 PM

Wonderful of you to share your travels with us. Are you from Seattle? Keep us posted.


Posted by: Judith R. Hendricks on January 31, 2003 12:37 PM

What an awesome travelogue. It has really come a long way since the start. Have fun in India!!! Jeff

Posted by: Jeff Schultz on January 31, 2003 01:36 PM

BTW, 148 keepers out of 2,115 photographs is a GREAT ratio. Your pictures are really great!

Posted by: Jeff Schultz on January 31, 2003 01:38 PM

Sorry to see you leave this part of your journey, but cant wait for your next one. Everyone here has loved all of your beautiful photos and stories...
Take care

Posted by: Danielle on January 31, 2003 04:39 PM

Wow - you are doing something I used to think about doing. Your underwater shots are wonderful - haven't been to that part of the world diving yet. I look forward to more!

Posted by: Emma Weyer on January 31, 2003 05:06 PM

That's exciting, I hope you have a good time. South America is more than beautiful and the people are great. Glad you have had this chance to share your knowledge and pictures!

Posted by: Stephanie on February 1, 2003 01:30 PM

traffic jump is great news.

Posted by: craig lycke on February 1, 2003 01:51 PM

The travelogue continues to delight
Keep 'em coming and take care!

Best wishes,
Ken M. in Ont., Canada

Posted by: Ken Macpherson on February 2, 2003 10:06 AM

Mike, wish I could have had the nerve to stick with it. Maybe you'll inspire me to give it another go in the future. In the meanwhile, living vicariously through your site! Speaking of which, I know how much time it takes to put this site up -- thanks so much!

Posted by: Cheong on February 3, 2003 08:21 AM

Hi Michael...I am from Racine, WI and I know your father and he gave me your web site. It is exciting, wonderful, beautiful, and very interesting...God bless you and keep safe.

Posted by: Barbara on February 5, 2003 08:37 AM

mike- the site is really great...I've been telling all my friends, and some strangers, too..

can't wait to hear about the gorilla trek. tell 'em I say hi!

Posted by: jessica zierten on February 6, 2003 01:34 PM

wow - i just found your site.

your photos are amazing.

keep living the journey all of us wish we were taking.

Posted by: michelle on February 9, 2003 06:58 PM

Cool trip.
saw link via Lonelyplanet.
planning to visit India in Aug 2003. thinking of doing webpage myself :) will post info on Dharmsala when I get there :D

Posted by: John on February 9, 2003 10:40 PM

what ur doing is so cool. I've always wanted to do something like this.
I stay in India, it will be interesting to see it from a traveller's eyes.

Posted by: prithika on February 23, 2003 05:15 AM

Dear Mike,
At a lost for words here, truly incredible!! Thank you!

Posted by: on March 1, 2003 12:47 AM

Traveling with a blog makes traveling alone less lonely. I like to travel alone too, but it's nice to have somewhere to share your experiences and observations.

Good luck on your journey. We'll be here keeping you company.

Posted by: elizabeth on March 6, 2003 01:51 AM

I would love to see a technical specs page with your equipment listed and how you are managing to load all your video and photos up to the net in these far-flung locations.

Posted by: jwolson on March 6, 2003 02:52 AM

I loved your comment on.."Am i ready for India?" :). Been there last year..on my own...and was a short but comprehensive trip...hmmm. And there is more to "Am i ready for India?" from the perspective of a young female traveler :))
But still planning to go back again this year...

Posted by: Andrea on March 7, 2003 04:00 AM

Just found your website! I love it. I have traveled alone and with small groups and with one other traveling companion. I agree that you meet more people when traveling alone. India is wonderful! Africa- you will fall in love with that continent. I hope you will be able to go to Egypt to see the pyramids. South America is excellent also! I will be back to your website to follow your expedition.

Posted by: Marilyn on March 22, 2003 09:13 PM

Heard about your site on ABC news radio Australia on an internet chat segment...had to look you up, great site, brings back memories of my travels in India.

Have a good one

Posted by: Lloyd Franklin on March 23, 2003 04:32 AM

Mike thinking about you. Be safe

Posted by: D on March 23, 2003 09:11 AM

I just... envy you!
Thank you for sharing this marvelous travel with us! I wanted to imitate you!

Posted by: raquel on May 1, 2003 06:32 PM

Mike -- Thanks for the equipment page. Very informative.

Posted by: Garry on July 20, 2003 09:18 AM

Its a really amazing trip, just like i used to have when i was a wee lad. Would it be possible for my geography class to come with you?
Please get back to me soon
Many Thanks


Posted by: Mr Logan on December 2, 2004 05:04 AM

Comments closed.


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