Where to start? How to decide where to go?
I planned my trip around the world and had an around-the-world ticket and therefore kind of a route. At least I knew the main places. I have started in Southeast Asia, in Singapore, and then I went to Malaysia, Bali, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Everything was quite new for me.
I wanted to go to Asia because I was looking for something new and I definitely wanted to go to New Zealand. I checked what would be on the route to New Zealand and have read and checked on the Internet. I have found out that Thailand would be good for traveling alone, safe and a good beginner land for backpacking. And that you can easily get to know people. I thought “there is nature but there is also beach and ocean and it is very diverse.” And I’ve always liked Asian food.
Travel stress and how to escape it
In Malaysia, I didn’t feel so well. That was the first country I have been to and I went there directly from my work into my journey. I’ve spent three days here, three days there, three days there – that was too much. I should have taken a break in one beautiful place. Therefore everything was too much in Malaysia. I fled to Bali then and didn’t do anything for a week. People there were super easy-going, you could walk every day through the rice fields, just relax. The atmosphere was very relaxed and I liked that a lot.
About smiles and friendliness
It was ok to do three days here, three days there and I liked the quick changes. What I loved about all the countries, what I recognized very positively: The people are super friendly! I’ve heard many times before “you’re the rich European” and “they are only friendly because they want your money”. That is not completely correct. There are certainly those but let’s be honest we have such people, too.
There were a lot of people who just smiled at me. The woman at the market or even if you asked someone for directions and it was clear he won’t get money from you: Everyone was always friendly and helpful and interested. Even if they didn’t speak english or I didn’t speak Thai, somehow you managed to talk with hands and feet. If I were standing in the city with a map and I didn’t know where I need to go someone came up to me and asked “can I help you?”.
There was always a smile and that was what I liked so much.
Longing for some everyday life
Then we went to Australia, I was only there for four weeks because it is very expensive and I wanted to stay longer in New Zealand. I arrived in Sydney and wasn’t feeling good, I had no desire to pack my suitcase every third day and wasn’t keen to organize. In Sydney, I tried the first time couchsurfing and had a lot of fun, a nice host who said “I have time, I have a room, stay as long as you would like to”. In the end I stayed there for two weeks. I haven’t done anything and enjoyed it, to have a private room, a bathroom to share with just one person, a kitchen, a couch, a TV. I sometimes spend a whole evening on the couch.
It was great to have such a normal evening, just watch television and just do nothing.
I also found it nice to cook again. With many spices. In the hostel kitchen there are not many spices, you only have salt and pepper. In Asia I have never cooked because you rather go out and eat (in a restaurant) or you go to the food stand, because the food is there so cheap that you do not have to cook for yourself.
After those two weeks I rented a car and drove to Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road. In Wilson’s Promontory National Park I met three very great German and we drove the route together. It was super funny. This is something I have learned while travelling: Chatting with people!
Before it was horrible for me! “What am I going to say? I’m Steffi, I need to connect” or what? But it was super easy and you don’t have to be stressed at all.
The ones I met, I met because two girls had arrived on the opposite side of my campsite and they didn’t know how to build up their tent.I walked over to them and asked if I can help. And then a German girl came and asked if she can help s well. That’s how we started a conversation and we matched.
And then it went to New Zealand. That was my main goal. There I bought a car and travelled for two months through New Zealand. That was great! I was having a blast! I stayed in a hostel where I actually wanted to stay for two days but it was there so nice there! The people and the woofers there – in the end I stayed eight days instead of two. And on the way back I went there again for two weeks.
New Zealand was just … I have no words. The people, the nature were so great! Everyone was so friendly and nice and helpful! And so easy-going! Some say that it is superficial when the woman at the checkout asks how I am going. But I found that just super pleasant, even if it was just an empty phrase. I just thought it was super nice!
When I went the first time again to the supermarket here (in Germany) and I friendly said “Good day” the cashier only said “Hello” (in a grumbling tone) I just thought “Sorry, I did not mean to offend you.”