Students at Haas depart for ‘winter treks’ in countries abroad in the first two weeks of January. It’s an opportunity to visit another country with friends, mix with alumni, do touristy-stuff, and engage in cultural exchange. A lot of my classmates are going to Brasil. However, I decided to join the ‘other’ trek: South East Asia!
I’m spending 6 days in Thailand, 6 days in Philippines, and 4 days in Singapore. Truth be told, this will be my first time visiting South East Asia. I am flying Air China (more on that later…) with two layovers in Beijing. Although I am ethnically Chinese, this will also be my first time actually setting foot on the mainland.
I’m curious to see just how flooded Bangkok is. I’ve been told that most of the waters have receded in the main areas, although I still get alerts by email warning me of flooding. We shall see.
In any case, I’m only staying in Bangkok for a short while. I am very excited to be traveling to Chiang Mai to visit historical sites and play with elephants. They’re so big and majestic! I heard there’s an option to get massaged by an elephant (i.e. getting lightly stepped on) but I think I’ll pass. It sounds incredibly dangerous. What if a mouse scares the elephant, causing it to squish me to death?
My classmate Minnie emailed everyone yesterday and told us to pack light. We found out that our hotel room in Philippines comes with in-room washers and dryers! So we only need to bring half the socks and underwear that we originally wanted to bring. That’s awesome! More room in my truck for trinkets and souvenirs!
Singapore is the shortest leg of the trip. Sadly, I’m also leaving a day early. So I will unfortunately miss out on Viv’s wonderful evening food crawl. However, I managed to get in touch with one of my old managers from Google (Josh) and we will hopefully be able to meet up for coffee on the last morning. Josh and his family relocated to the Google Singapore office a few years ago and he also wrote one of my letters of recommendation for Haas. So it will be good to catch up.
All in all, I’m looking forward to the trip. I’m sitting in SFO right now, enjoying the free wireless and waiting for Air China to board. I’ve read terrible things about Air China, but I am going in with an open mind.
I will arrive in Thailand at 11:45p. My first task will be to head to the forex counter and exchange my US dollars for Thai baht. Then, it’s off to a store to get a pre-paid SIM card. I am still using my Nexus S from Google and I’m thankful the device is GSM-compatible and unlocked. I can’t speak a word of Thai, but I do have the name of the hotel written down on a piece of paper (in Thai). Here’s hoping I get to the hotel in one piece.
More to come…