Don't ask how (please) but we managed to get Al an entire week off work, the same as my week off in July. We knew his vacation would probably possibly be a Tuesday-Sunday deal like last year, or more than likely, Wednesday-Sunday (last year I had to beg for him that Tuesday off). I always get a week's vacation and last year, if you recall, we headed down to Malaysia for what few days Al had because Malaysia, apart from being pretty cool, is only a 7 hour jaunt south of here. Nice and close.
This year, however, we have nine glorious days to travel. With a travel bug such as mine, nine days doesn't seem like nearly enough time to go everywhere and see everything I want, though it is enough time to do something pretty significant. I told Al we had succeeded in getting those days and as he proclaimed "the sky's the limit!" my mind was already reeling with ideas. These past few weeks I've been going back and forth with hypothetical flight and hotel searches to many different countries for many different possible dates of travel. Once I get on a travel search, there is nothing to stop me. I turn into some kind of maniac searching every corner of the internet for the best deals and devouring Wikitravel like it's my job. The problem with travelling around Southeast Asia in the summer is that there are few places that aren't being affected by the Monsoon this time of year. East coast Malaysia (check), possibly some parts of Thailand (check), Bali and southern Vietnam are some of the few that have little to only moderate rainfall.
First world problems: Waaaaaaahhhhh!!! I don't know where to go on vacation!! Bali, Vietnam, India, China!??! Whereeeee!?!
After much research, I narrowed it down to the Mekong Delta area of Vietnam (a little south of Ho Chi Minh City) and Kerala, India (on the southern tip along the west coast). The flights to Bali are just ridiculously expensive right now so I ruled that out almost immediately after I saw $1,600 for flights. Um, no.
Both Vietnam and India are both going to be seeing a little rainfall, but that's alright. If I wanted to go to a pristine, clear turquoise water, white sand beach then I'd want major sunshine, but because we've kinda been-there-done-that more than a few times, we opted to do something different. Maybe hang out in the jungles, bicycle around rice paddies with the buffalos...something that doesn't get ruined by cloudy weather.
Let me just say that AirAsia is my best travel friend over here. The deals can be out of this world. The planes are extraordinarily uncomfortable, but I'd rather pay for a dirt cheap flight than comfort. They just started flying out of Busan a few months ago (ahhhhhhh!!!! That saves us $200 so we don't have to go to Seoul and back!) and are constantly running promos on flights from Busan to Kuala Lumpur, their hub. If you catch it at the right time, you can get to KL super cheap and then flights out of KL to basically anywhere you want to go can run as low as just a few dollars. When I was looking for flights from KL to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, they were only $30 something. (The tickets themselves were only $9 without the taxes!) The only problem is, the flights are a bit limiting. There aren't that many and they only sometimes fly on certain days, and usually only one flight to choose from at that, so you can't be picky.
Al and I sat here until midnight weighing the pros and cons of each country.
Vietnam Pros: Flights are cheaper, visas are more easily attainable, it's closer
Vietnam Cons: We've already seen a lot of SE Asia, we would have to spend two nights in Kuala Lumpur because of the way the flights worked out, therefore being more rushed around and not relaxing.
India Pros: A bit more exotic, the scenery seems much more beautiful in the area we would be visiting, opportunities to visit tiger reserves and ride elephants, beaches, the flights are straight forward
India Cons: No time to see the Taj Mahal this trip (Al calls it "India with an asterisk" because it's like "Oh, you've been to India? How was the Taj Mahal?" "Well, we didn't go see it".), only slightly more expensive, I'm not as familiar with the area because I've not done as much research about it, a friend only told me about it last weekend.
In the end, as you could see by my post title, we chose India. We're off July 29th! I happened to check AirAsia at the perfect time to catch one of the promos. We arrive Monday night and fly back Saturday night. I'm very, very excited, but there's so much stuff we need to do first that I'm having a hard time getting as excited as I should be. I have to send my stupid passport away to Seoul twice because 1. it's too full and I have no blank pages left so I have to pay like $85 to get new pages put in and 2. to get our Indian visas put in. The process to get an Indian visa seems pretty straightforward, just a lot of paperwork and the hassle of mailing it because we don't live in Seoul to just drop by the embassy. Such a pain. So because there's still a lot of stressful things to worry about (I hate mailing my passport anywhere) I'm more focused on that rather than the excitement of going to freaking India.
India is one of the places I've always, always wanted to visit. It is a bit disappointing to be going all the way there and not see the Taj Mahal, which, let's face it, IS India, but I'll take what I can get for now and hopefully we'll be going back in the future.
Let the countdown begin! And let my annoying, jealousy inducing facebook posts litter your newsfeed for the months to come!