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  The Chatter Box : Travel
where to go by chipmunk on 4 January 2005 9:59pm
looking for a bit of advice.
im 21 and got 3/4 months travelling time before i return to coolege in September. Two friends of mine are planning to go to thailand and travel through laos, cambodia and vietnam before they head on to australia. I like the sounds of this very much but travelling down through S America seems like a greater adventure and more of a challenge.Any thoughts or advice appreciated.
Re: where to go by Blondie on 5 January 2005 12:10am
I spent a month travelling through Vietnam and Cambodia after graduating from uni last year. They are incredible countries and I wish I'd had a bit more time there as a month wasn't quite long enough to see everything.

I have also travelled on 2 separate occasions in south america - 5 weeks in Chile/Bolivia and Peru on the first trip and then I went back to do the Inca Trail and travel around Argentina for a couple of weeks last year. South America is also totally amazing but it does help if you know even a little basic Spanish.

I don't know if I could choose between the two, so my advice to you would be to do one trip now, and see the other places in the future! If that's not possible, then I guess for me South America would win. Let me know if you want a few tips on "must see" places!
Re: where to go by Godfather on 5 January 2005 1:35am
Blondie has said it all really. But i'll second her comments and add my own. I agree that some basic Spanish can help tremendously in S.A. Even a couple of weeks with a basic linguaphone cassette course (you can usually get them from your library) works wonders for your trip.

Later on,i studied more Spanish for 2-3 hours in the mornings in Cusco (Peru) for a few weeks and then had free time the rest of the day to go and see Inca Ruins, and other activities around. I really enjoyed that, because the second i walked out of the door i was using my newly learned lessons. Very cheap too. One on one also. Great experience.

Out of all the countries you mention (although,i've never visited Vietnam) i would agree with your gut instinct that Andean South America is much more adventurous. Speaking for myself, i found South America a very rich experience of wide variety which deeply effected me. I see it as a kind of sacred experience even if you're not into that. It can really be awe inspiring at times. Deserts,Forested Mountain ranges,Snow and Glacier mountain ranges,Amazon jungle, Sacred Lakes,colonial buildings etc. It was about 3-4 months in total. Such a wonderful time and i loved it.

My SA trip was to Peru,Bolivia,Ecuador and Colombia. Each of those countries has a stunning variety of landscapes, activities,cultural oddities, customs, museums, and different types of people. It's all variety heaven.

IndoChina is..."ok"...if you like a similar kind of experience around all those countries that is not overly challenging. My IndoChina countries have been Myanmar,Laos,Cambodia and Thailand. As much as i love some of those countries. I never find they touch me anywhere near as 'deeply' as South America has. All the countries have cultural interests,and amazing sights. But tend to be less....what's the word?....'astounding' than South America. Hard to explain. They can be interesting and usually lots of fun. But somehow lack the overwhelming cultural impressions of elsewhere.

Re: where to go by chipmunk on 6 January 2005 12:33am
Thanks for the good advice.
How safe would it be for a lone traveller though? Would you get the most out of it travelling alone?
Re: where to go by Godfather on 6 January 2005 3:06am
That depends on you really. Depends on your personality. Some people love travelling alone. Others despise it. As for safety. I dont think you really face any more risks. Groups are even targets sometimes. Infact,as a lone traveller you are super aware because you have to be. Even with 2 people you're both more likely to be in a little world of your own in conversation, and more easily distracted. And that's where most problems occur in South America.

Distraction theft is the thing, rather than confrontation. So the only annoyance of travelling alone,is that you have to haul your gear with you everywhere you go. You cant leave it for a second. And in South America it's usually a fairly heavy pack due to all the gear you use for trekking and camping etc. That can be a pain. But travelling alone was fine (for me). In some of those countries, it's easy to hook up with travellers anyway. On things like the Inca Trail,they bunch the budget backpackers into a group if you want. To take you to the trail head,you go in a group and meet people on the way whom you may want to trek the rest of it with.

You tend to find yourself teeming up with people for some trips quite a lot actually,due to the cost of unusual excursions. For example. On the Salar De Uyuni trip in Bolivia,the more people they get in the jeep, the cheaper it is for all of you in the end because it's hired by the jeep, not per person (although that may have changed since 1997...i often forget that it was that long ago). Hope that helps :)

Re: where to go by chipmunk on 6 January 2005 9:57pm
Thanks for the sound advice Godfather and Blondie, it helps alot.

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