Since I already wrote about the “Why“, I figured I’d explain a bit about the other particulars… at least the highlights ‘cuz it’s really my hope that the stories will unfold over the coming months. So below is a little overview to let you know what’s what. In a nutshell though – the eight flags above represent the countries I’ll visit!
I’m leaving on September 11 (total coincidence, that date) for Zambia where I will volunteer at a Lion Conservation Project near Livingstone. I’ll be doing conservation work (preparing food, cleaning enclosures, etc.), research (traipsing around in the bush taking notes on the lions’ activities, character traits, etc.) and conservation education (hanging out at local schools to teach the kids how cool lions are!). This is the same work I did 10 years ago and I cannot wait to get back to the cats.
In mid-October I’ll head over to Zanzibar to work on a Dolphin Research & Marine Conservation project for three weeks. I’ll be conducting marine research, monitoring dolphin activity and doing coral reef assessments. And hopefully swimming in the ocean every day.
From Zanzibar I’ll travel to Vietnam for a month … wandering from the north to the south – checking out the food scene in Hanoi, trekking through rice paddies and doing a home stay in a remote northern village in Sapa, passing through Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City, touring the Red Boat Fish Sauce factory on a tiny island in the south and then jumping on a few traditional teak boats to motor up the Mekong Delta to Cambodia.
In Cambodia I’ll work with the Elephant Valley Project in the Mondulkiri Province near the Vietnam border. My days will be spent working to improve the elephants’ living conditions in the sanctuary, helping the mahouts (the elephant caretakers) walk and bathe the elephants, preparing their meals, etc. After I tear myself away from the elephants (I’m already anticipating lots of tears) I’ll head north through Battambang to Siem Reap – spending Christmas amongst the majestic temples of Angkor Wat.
I’ll be in Laos for the New Year – traveling around for about three weeks. I’ve heard it’s amazingly beautiful country … and am perhaps most excited about participating in “The Gibbon Experience” – zip-lining through the jungle and spending the night in a tree house in a national park surrounded by Gibbons (I originally thought they were monkeys but they’re actually from the ape family … who knew!??).
After Laos I’ll head to northern Thailand for lots of good food, some cycling tours and cave dwelling and temple visiting and night market perusing and who-knows-what-else.
Myanmar is next on my dance card … think strolls around ancient pagodas and cruises up rivers and across majestic lakes on rickety boats and yet another food tour (are you sensing a theme here?) and I honestly can’t even remember what else.
Then back to Thailand to visit the southern part of the country which I haven’t even planned. All I know is I want to stay far, far away from the crowds of partying westerners on holiday. Anyone with great recommendations for this area – please let me know!
By this time, it’ll be the end of February and I’ll head to Bali to meet some dear friends. We’ve reserved three ridiculously affordable AirBNBs around the country and are just going to do whatever the heck we want. The gals will take off in early March and then … well, I don’t really know. I might head down to the Flores Islands in the southern part of Indonesia (home of the Komodo dragons!) or try to find a volunteer opportunity with sea turtles or who knows what.
So there you have it. I have to admit that, after typing all of this out, my head is spinning. I am left speechless… pinch-myself-don’t-really-have-words kind of stuff. I am a lucky, lucky girl … a girl bursting with gratitude.