the beloved email
I'm sure you all are wondering what my email said. Well here you go. Heads up - it's a mini book!
So you're probably wondering why I'm writing you or what could I possibly say that is this long. I've had a lot on my chest for a while and I've tried to figure out the best way to fully explain myself without you guys getting upset or interrupting me. So here it goes... you guys are well aware I've always talked about moving somewhere out of Georgia or wanted to travel outside the US. After outweighing the pros and cons and taking a lot of time to think about what would be best for me as a person, I've decided to travel aka backpack across Southeast Asia for 3 months. (Please keep reading and let me explain myself without anyone blowing up my phone)
No, I'm not leaving tomorrow or next month so don't freak out. We're still spending Thanksgiving and Christmas together. Even Mom and Dad's birthdays.
I've always talked/ dreamed about traveling around the world or moving across the country. There always seems to be a reason why I put this on hold whether it's my job at the time, my living/ lease situation or you guys, my family. I've thought about all of these and know that the experiences I'm going to embark on in these 3 months will be well worth it and truly make me grown even more as a person. I've stayed here to make you guys happy, not to make myself happy. At 26 years old, I've realized it's time I start making myself happy and make my dreams real. Finally, everything is falling into place around the same time and if I push it back this time, I'll never go. My lease is ending at the end of January & I'll currently be at my job a little over a year. Yes, I'm willing to give up my salary and my job. What am I going to do about McJagger you say? This was my first priority to figure out to see if this trip would be possible. Don't worry I'm not asking any of you guys to watch over him. I have a wonderful friend (Lindsay) who McJagger loves and has offered to watch him during this time.
And as much as you don't want to hear it, I have different goals and plans for myself than what you guys want for me. You guys think you know what's best for me and I appreciate that, but ultimately I, myself know what's best for me and what will make me happy. Taking this trip will not only make me happy, but it will challenge me in so many ways I didn't even think will be possible. I'm not asking for you guys to support my decision, approve of this or help me out with funds. All I'm asking is that you do not try to talk me out of going on this trip. Please do not guilt trip me, push money or expensive things in my face because it's not going to work. I've delayed telling you guys about my plans because I know you won't want me to go, won't support my decision to go and will do everything possible to get me to stay. Please appreciate that I didn't wait till Christmas morning to tell you guys about this.
What about when I come back? How will I get a job? Where will I live? I've been reading articles upon articles realizing that this type of experience actually helps you get a job. Don't believe me? To each their own but I've included some articles at the bottom that explains this. One reason I'm working as much as I am on the weekends (Kramers) is because I want to be able to save enough money for my trip but also to come back with enough money to get by if I don't find a job immediately. I'd like to think I am still welcomed to stay at both my home and Heather's home but if not, I have friends who are willing to let me couch surf until I find a place to live. What about my stuff? I've already started cleaning out some of my clothes and cleaning out stuff I don't need. The only thing I really want to keep is my bedroom furniture and I'll put it in storage. Everything else, I'm willing to part with so if there are things in my place you'd like, pick it now.
So why did I pick Southeast Asia over Europe which I love? I've had a good portion of friends travel and work in Southeast Asia (Mom, Aline just got back from here) and the places over there seem amazing. The more I've read about the Southeast Asia, the more I'm wanting to experience the culture, food, and way of life. It's WAY cheaper than Europe... you can live off of $15 - $25 a day in Southeast Asia with room/ board included. I know for a fact when I have a lot more money, I'll travel to Europe later in my life so I wanted to try something and somewhere new. Also, during January - April, it's freakin' cold in Europe. Having to travel with a limited amount of clothing is challenging enough for me but having to think about packing bulky, winter clothes (heavy sweaters, jeans, boots, etc) seemed outrageous. Southeast Asia is warm during this time, temperature staying in the 80s with some rain here and there. I'll be able to take light clothes, minimal shoes and apparently the clothes in Thailand are CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP.
I haven't even told you about the best part I'm doing over there though! Since I'm a workaholic, traveling and not working for 3 months didn't seem like me. So I've decided to volunteer for 2 weeks in Northern Thailand at an Elephant Sanctuary. To already answer your first question, yes I will be shoveling up elephant poop. I'll basically be having a job for 2 weeks over there working with the elephants from sunrise to sundown. I'll be volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park in their Chiang Mai location. Click the link to see what daily activities I'll be embarking on like giving elephants baths. http://www.elephantnaturepark.org/
One of the most important things to for you guys to know is that I am NOT, repeat NOT going alone. One of my friends, Anna Jones, is going with me. We've been friends for a couple years now starting our friendship working at the Ivy. She's been itching to travel too but didn't want to go alone. And yes, she's already broken the news to her parents and they seemed to be fine with it.
I don't have my trip fully planned out yet but the places I'm planning to visit are: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia - all the islands but definitely Bali (if you come visit, please come here). Anna and I both have a friend in Hong Kong so there's a possibility of going up there then going to Taiwan. Also, Singapore is up for debate and will determine on our funds since this is the most expensive place out of the area. Myanmar and Cambodia are also up for debate still.
Lastly, I'm flying out on Tuesday, January 19th. I'm taking a flight from ATL to LA then picking up a new flight Tuesday night to Bangkok. My plane ticket and my elephant volunteering reservations have already been booked and paid for. I haven't bought a return flight yet but will be back sometime in April. I know it seems like a long time to be gone but we have phones, facetime, etc. I'll be talking and facetiming you guys probably more than I do now.
Please don't blow up my phone right now yelling at me. Take some time to digest everything I've said and come up with questions that you guys want to ask me. I'm more than willing to answer anything y'all want as long as you approach this calmly. This is a really exciting time in my life and I'm beyond thrilled for this experience so please let me enjoy it.