I have a secret confession. I’m a bit of a planning geek. Actually planning for a trip could even be my favourite thing about travelling. Nothing satisfies me more than searching for flights on Skyscanner, researching potential destinations, pinning all the places on a google map and making a beautiful spreadsheet. Planning is the best. But just like rules are made to be broken, sometimes plans are too.
If you follow my blog, you probably know that my boyfriend, Veeran, and I only have about 4 months left in Korea. The plan was to leave in September, visit his family in South Africa, and my family in Scotland, before jetting off to Mexico, where we planned to start a mega trip through Latin America, picking up Workaway placements and teaching english along the way. I’ve been spending so much time on Pinterest, making boards for each country that we plan on visiting and checking out all the best things to do. We’ve mapped out our potential route. We’ve found the best deals on cross-Atlantic flights (FYI London to Cancun is the way to go!) We’ve even spent a lot of our free time practicing Spanish. We were all set to go- but now, we’re not going.
You’re probably wondering why we’ve made a change to our plan. Especially after all that meticulous planning. Well, there is a pretty major detail that I missed out…..
Something that I didn’t mention in the original plan is that only one of our contracts ends in September- mine. Veeran’s contract doesn’t end until March, meaning that he would need to resign at the halfway point. We always knew that one of us would have to pull out their contract early for us to move on from Korea, and it was something that we were both ok with. Veeran decided he would be the one to back out, meaning we could leave together in September. But as the time got closer, guilt began to creep in on my end. I didn’t want Veeran to risk losing such a valuable reference, or his bonus payments. So, true to my usual form, I came up with a new plan.
The New Plan
We’re now staying in Korea until March 2017, which will probably come as a bit of a surprise to anyone who read my last post about the reasons why I don’t really like living in Korea. However, I won’t be here for the whole time. Because, in September I’M GOING BACK TO INDIA!
I’ve wanted to go back to India ever since the end of my trip last year. In 4 weeks I barely scratched the surface of the huge subcontinent. There are so many more places that I want to explore. The bulk of my time there is going to be spent staying at an ashram and practising yoga in Kerala. I’ve practiced yoga here and there since my late teens, but this year I’ve got really into vinyassa yoga. I really want to take my practice to a much deeper level, and the birthplace of yoga seems like the perfect place to do it. I’m under no illusion that it’s going to be easy. It’s going to be extremely challenging, but, to be honest, I have missed having a bit of a challenge in my life, so it’s going to be a welcome change.
The cheapest way to get to India from Korea (trust me, I know this, I’ve done plenty of research!) is to fly to Kuala Lumpur and take an Air Asia flight from there. This is ideal for me because I can meet up with my friend Emily who lives there. I actually took the exact same route when I finished my contract last year- I’ve been joking to my friends that it’s my yearly pilgrimage! KL really took me by surprise- the whole city is so modern and clean, but with so many quirky little nooks and crannies to explore. I loved how refreshing it was to be back in a melting pot of different cultures, something that I miss a lot in Korea. And on a lighter note, I’m really excited to buy a lot of British products while I’m there, especially colgate toothpaste and my beloved irn bru! Maybe I’ll even luck out and find some haggis to smuggle back to Korea! #scottishexpatproblems
From KL, I’ll fly to Hyderabad. I have a month to get to Varkala, in the south of Kerala before starting my course. So far, I’ve decided that I’ll go to Hampi to see the old ruins then head to Gokarna for some lazy beach time. To get to Varkala, I’ll travel through Kerala from North to South, stopping at Munnar, Fort Kochin and Allepey along the way. I’d love to experience sailing down the backwaters on a houseboat and I’ve heard that the monsoon period is the perfect time to haggle for a good deal. My itinerary is pretty loose, meaning I can stop and chill anywhere that tickles my fancy, or change my route if the notion so takes me. If anyone can recommend somewhere not miss in South India, I’d love to hear about it!
I’ll be travelling at the end of the monsoon season, which is ideal for me as these days I really detest crowds. Cheap hotel rooms should be in abundance then, which is perfect for my purse strings. India is a great budget destination, so I don’t have to worry about spending loads of my savings. But still, it’s always nice to get a bit of a bargain.
This will be my first solo trip, which, admittedly, I am a bit nervous about. Hostels are few and far between in India so the backpacking scene is totally different to the likes of South East Asia, where you could have a new best pal every day of the week. I’ll probably go for days on end without meeting another backpacker, but my inner geek is coming out and I’m thinking of all the books I can read and the amount of blogging I can do! Since living in Korea, I’ve become quite content with my own company. I live on my own here, and tend to stick to my routine on school nights so only really see people on the weekend. At first, living alone really bothered me, but these days I appreciate the time that it gives me to be productive. Hopefully I’ll continue to enjoy my own company on the long overnight train journeys!
After completing my yoga course, I’ll fly out from Chennai. I have 6 days between finishing my course and catching my flight so I’m going to explore the old French colony town of Pondicherry, then spend a few days in Chennai sampling the local delicacy- madras, a British curryhouse favourite.
When I return to Korea, there will be just under 4 months until Veeran finishes his contract. I can only stay in Korea for 3 months at a time on a tourist visa, so I will need to do another visa run. Veeran gets his winter vacation in January so we might head to Japan for a trip- Japan is one of my favourite countries, so I’m definitely keen to go back, even though I have been 4 times now! Veeran has only been once to visit Tokyo so he hasn’t experienced the more traditional side of Japan. We don’t know when, or even if, we’ll ever come back to Asia, so it would be a shame not to go while we’re so close. Japan can be expensive to visit but, if you’re careful with your spending, it can be done on a budget.
In March 2017 (so far away!) we will finally hang up our hanboks and leave Korea! I am sad that I won’t see my family and friends for so long, but it will make returning even sweeter. The same plan still stands- catch up with our nearest and dearests in South Africa and Scotland, then begin our journey through Latin America. Finally, after over a year of planning, those Pinterest boards, customised google maps and spreadsheets can be put to good use. Adios Corea, hola America Latina!
Do you love or loathe planning? Or have you ever had to change a travel plan that you thought was set in stone? Leave me a comment, and let me know!