WooHoo, I've been accepted onto the PoD Teaching Course in Thailand in January 2009. £1350 for two months, including a TEFL training course in Bangkok, beach bungalow accomodation and tours and stuff on the island of Koh Phangan. (see http://www.thepodsite.com
for more). Looks great. And it all seems a bit more real (now that I have to part with some money for a deposit!).
My original plan was to do this first, then explore SE Asia a bit (definately the rest of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam and maybe a bit of the southern countries like Malaysia and Indonesia) before heading on, all overland through to Hong Kong and into China right up to Bejing (maybe a bit of flight in China, it's so huge!). From there I'd get the Trans-Mongolian right into Russia, before getting another train into Berlin. Then, depending on how much money I had left, I'd hopefull get to see a bit of Eastern Europe, before getting a cheap easyjet flight home. This way I'd only have to pay for my flight to Bangkok (£300) and my flight home again (as cheap as chips hopefully!) and the rest of the money could be spent on the Trans-Mongolian trip (which, if you go through an agent like Vodkatrain, like I think I'd do, is over £1000).
However, I'm starting to doubt whether this is the best course of action. Maybe I want to see a bit of Central or South America instead of doing the Trans-Mongolian. Or Vancouver. Or the US. Or Africa. I'm not sure if part of it is that, having to commit myself to a particular activity and place in Thailand has meant the trip has lost some of it's 'I can go anywhere and do anything' initial appeal. It's also, obviously gained something too, since it seems a lot more real now. And, the thing is, there's always going to have to be a definate first place you go to. And, I have been thinking about this for a while now, and going an organised group initially is best because:
I'll get to meet people easily and quickly, who will hopefully want to travel on with me.
It gives me the opportunity to experience teaching kids and to hopefully help me make up my mind about whether this is something I might want to do as a career.
I think it's just making me panic and question whether my initial planned route is going to be what I really want to do with my 'once in a life-time' time off opportunity.
I think maybe I've solved my dilemma actually in writin this. If it's flexibility I'm after than surely the initial plan would be best. With that plan, all I have to set in stone before I leave is my flight out to Bangkok (and the first 2 months out there will be pretty conrete). Then I can just do as I want, I don't necessarily have to follow my inital plans. I am a bit confused about the whole visa thing though. Since most of them (like the Russian and China ones) are only valid up to 3 months from being issued, how do you go about applying for them if you're out of the UK more than 3months in advance of entering the country? I'm guessing there is a simple way, since loads of people must do it. It's just something I need to look into I guess.
I think I might have a little look at some RTW tickets also. Just to ease my curiosity and panic that I'm doing the wrong thing (and also to put off my dissertation writing for another half and hour!).