Sarah and I are resting today and we have spent most of the day preparing for our trip to Asia. We have decided to skip Australia because of time, money, and weather so we are going to fly directly from Auckland, NZ to Singapore on March 8th and begin bicycling through southeast Asia. We would like to avoid as much of the rainy season as possible in Asia and spending any time in Australia would guarantee that we completely miss the dry season there. Using the information on southeast Asia’s weather, we have decided our rough itinerary will be Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and then North Vietnam.
We have been trying to figure out which countries we need visas for and when/how/where to get them. The fact that we have to pay for internet access and that the embassy websites have limited information makes this a lot more difficult that it needs to be, so we have resorted to purchasing a calling card and phoning the US embassy in the countries directly. Getting our visas taken care of in the US may have been more convenient, but most visas are only valid for one to three months, so that was not an option for us. We’ll let you know how acquiring the visas this way turns out.
We have also been researching safety. The US State Department website does not recommend traveling in Malaysia or southern Thailand at this time due to various security issues. We have heard of and met several bicyclists who have traveled through these areas, so we called the respective embassies and their response was that the information on the website was up-to-date and official and that they could offer no other opinions. The official at the Thai embassy said that he was not allowed to give an opinion, but that we would be “taking a definite risk” by traveling through southern Thailand. The Malaysian official had the same stance on giving an opinion, but was a little more upbeat in characterizing it as “the same as traveling through Canada.”
So, we are considering flying directly from Singapore to Phuket to bypass the dangerous areas. A quick search on kayak.com showed that there are tickets available for as little as $US50. Not a bad price for a little peace of mind! We are going to do a little more research and then make a final decision.