Since the decision to go to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, getting my arms around a basic itinerary was difficult. Traveling abroad, especially to the Indochina region, was different than planning the trip to Philly to visit my brother. In other words, I couldn't just totally wing it and rely on my I.B.D.I.'s. I spent hours poring over Trip Advisor and travel blogs, but that just got me excited without any real progress. I had a rough road map (at best) and it was obvious...I needed to talk to someone.
And then I remembered. I had already met just the person I needed!
Let me explain.
While studying abroad in France, I decided to take a weekend trip to Munich, Germany. That trip in and of itself probably merits a throwback post, but that's besides the point. The point is that from Munich, I took two different day trips: one to the Dachau concentration camp memorial site and one to Neuschwanstein Castle near Füssen.
It was during the day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle that I met "S". S and I struck up an easy conversation and passed the time trading stories. Originally from the UK (if my memory serves me correctly), she had an adventuresome spirit and was a perfect travel partner for the day. In fact, she took this picture:
After that day trip, we went our separate ways. I hadn't spoken to her in years, but I realized that we were friends on Facebook and she now lived in Hong Kong. She had traveled to Thailand and Vietnam, as well as many other neighboring countries.
So I sent her a good ol' Facebook message: "Hi S! I don't know if you remember me, but we met about 5 years ago on a train in Germany..."
S quickly responded and was so gracious to help me shape my itinerary. She gave me guidance as to what I should skip and what places demanded that I slow down and stay a while. She helped me understand the best way to travel from Bangkok to Siem Reap. I owe her, big time! Maybe someday I'll make it out to Hong Kong to buy her a beer. :)
So folks, this is the reason why talking to strangers rocks--strangers have a peculiar knack for becoming friends.