I’m on an Asia kick. I think that’s the travel theme of my late (sadly almost over now) 20’s: Asia. Europe was fun when I was younger: studying abroad in France, traipsing around European castles like a broke, know-it-all student. It seemed so foreign, exotic and adventurous, but in reality it was as similar to home as can be. But Asia, that’s the real deal- it’s a world of stark contrasts, of incredible vistas and inspiring culture. It’s my muse as of late.
But admittedly, before my latest Asia trip I was exhausted- in every way. The holidays had taken their toll on me, my work load was overwhelming and my fast-growing business was exhilarating and frightening at the same time. I was worried that maybe it was dumb to have bought the ticket, maybe I should have just stayed home and worked.
One thing calmed me: I’ve never, ever regretted spending a dime on traveling. Those new boots? Oh yes. That random lipgloss? Definitely. But not travel.
And guess what? It’s still true. Now safely back in the US post two weeks of pan-Southeast Asian adventure (Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia), I can safely say going was a wonderful decision. And even though my brain is still completely foggy from the jetlag, I can still assure you my heart is full–full to the brim.
So here it is, my list on why Southeast Asia is vegan chicken soup for the nearly 30-year-old soul:
You feel like a millionaire
In a world of health care costs and everything costs going up non-stop, in a world where it feels like your wallet is constantly being shaken empty by the forces that be, Southeast Asia has your back. There, you will feel like a millionaire. Hour-long massages for $5? Yes please, let’s do that all day everyday. Expect entire meals for $2 a piece and markets full of fun clothes, all of them for less than $10. So yes, while the flight over to SE Asia is definitely a big ticket purchase, being there will certainly be cheaper than any day of your life in the US.
Your senses come alive
This is my typical description for all of Asia, but to me, when you step off the plane there it’s as if someone dials up the intensity and the volume of all five of your senses. It makes everything back home- the colors, the scents, the sounds feel so… dull. It’s such an exhilarating feeling to be in a world that is so vastly different from anything you’ve ever experienced. I notice that it does all sorts of wonders for my creativity, and that often it helps me to look at long-standing problems (whether it be in work or personal life) In a different, more refreshed way.
Everyone around you is calm, so you’ll get calm
I’m a generally high-strung person- I like to know that everything is going the way I planned, and I like to be guaranteed that it will go my way. Going with the flow is not really in my vocabulary. In SE Asia, well, it’s a bit more laid back to say the least. And while during the first few days this stark contrast to my typical MO drove me a bit mad, eventually I adopted the calmness. So even when my bag arrived in Bali 24 hours after I did (which meant I was the girl at the beach with jeans and a t-shirt on) I stayed calm, cool and collected- it just felt right. Everyone around me was calm, why should I be panicking and threatening to sue the airline?
You eat the best food ever
I can’t stress this enough, especially with regards to Thailand- the food you’ll eat there will make everything you’ve eaten at home seem like bland peas in comparison. The flavor profiles, the textures, and the overall experience are just amazing. And you can even take a really fun cooking class to learn how to make it all yourself at home, and realize how easy it truly is. Of course, the best part is, it’s all completely healthy and incredibly vegetarian and vegan friendly as well.
So how about you take it from me- money spent on airfare is NEVER regretted, and a week or two in Southeast Asia is always good, for everything.
More in travel by Irina: 5 Reasons a Gap Year is a Great Idea
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Photo: Irina Vishnevskaya