Saga Asia: backpacking in 2020
Today, after half a year in quarantine, I begin to write about my trip to Asia in early 2020, when the virus was not pandemic, just endemic. Despite the stigma that Asia carries for being the cradle of the virus, in this segment I want to show how I experienced its culture, its people, its places and food. My journey started in China from where I left for Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia. This introductory blog is the beginning of #SagaAsia where I will share photos, videos and thoughts that will summarize my passage through places that I was lucky enough to visit, fleeing from the virus that followed us until I had to return.
I bought my ticket to China on October 29, 2019. Conversations about this trip started in February, March, April, May, June, until July when my travel companion and friend of more than two-thirds of my life, finally moved to China where she said she would wait for me. “I promise I will go.” It seemed like one of those empty promises (which also sounds a bit like a movie cliché), but I said it with the full weight of my truth: Asia 2020, in my mind, was a fact. For her it was a “seeing is believing” situation, so a screenshot of my ticket where I had almost 28 hours of travel printed on was the spark for her to start putting together an itinerary. Meanwhile, I saved up and left everything for last minute.
I got the Thailand visa a week before I left. It was the last document I needed: for China, Ecuadorians do not need a visa, for Myanmar we get it online and the same with Cambodia, which can be paid through an “app” or at the airport when you arrive (you have to keep some things in mind with online visas, there are scam sites. Other than that, they are generally easy to get).
Our plans were never completely fixed. We bought two plane tickets that would take us out of China and another that would take us to Thailand, from there, nothing else was certain. This may be a bit more expensive but it gave us the freedom to stay more days in the places we liked the most. So, with masks (in every transportation we used), we traveled from the cold of Beijing to the heat of Siem Reap. Little by little we were changing clothes to a lighter one. This was a little annoying due to the space that the garments were occupying in our backpacks. Something to take into account if you want to take a trip to several places, but all manageable.
After countless sunrises and sunsets, after having shared laughter in high doses, tears from very deep seas, after talking, self-analysis and contributing to each other’s reflections, we said goodbye at Siem Reap airport in front of a tuk-tuk (my favorite method of transportation) without knowing that the virus that followed us all the way would cancel any plans that we imagined for 2020.
So here we are. Half a year of quarantine, remembering the first months of 2020 in all these places. With photos of landscapes, selfies, videos and phrases I will rebuild my Asian month before I forget about details. I hope you can follow me to each city of this #SagaAsia