Glad to help . I haven't been to Nepal myself, i'd love to one day. With my Indian passport i don't even need a Nepalese visa woohoo!
I have just realized i hadn't mentioned that India has a thriving couch surfing network. One of my friends from the UK is actually doing most of her travel stay via couch surfing. Initially i was a bit apprehensive about the concept and esp in my country, but she's seems to be having a fantastic time! It seems like a interesting way to meet people. Unlike the restrictive Schengen Visa where you are forced to book all your tickets and all hotel/hostel bookings before applying for the visa, the Indian visa is way more backpacker friendly. Couch surfing is actually an option. I have to say though, i haven't personally tried couch surfing myself, in India or in Europe.
Without sounding patronizing , I feel single female travelers need to be a bit careful. Esp so in northern India (including Delhi & Agra) where the culture is conservative . Western and southern parts of India are in general more relaxed & traveler friendly.
Have fun travelling!
I definitely recommend the Trans-Mongolian! It's a great way to see Russia, and a lot more adventurous than simply flying to Asia.
If you do go, I highly recommend stopping in Irkutsk and visiting Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake in the world (by volume of water). You can get a homestay with a Russian family in Listvyanka village, or on Olkhon Island. I did that a few years ago- it was amazing!
Re: language difficulties. Unfortunately, that's a big concern in China, where few people speak English- even in hotels or train stations. But if you have a phrasebook, and are persistent, you can usually find a way to be understood. (Russia has the same problem.)
In Malaysia and Singapore, the taxi drivers and hotel staff I met could all speak English. I hear the same is true in most of SE Asia.
oh yeah majority of Malaysians and Singaporeans speak English.
I visited bangkok once, some speak fair amount of English, some very very little. ha
but it's okay cuz everyone's friendly.
Hi, if you come to Cambodia, you can always find someone to speak bits of English to make things easier in places like Siem Reap, Batambong, Sihanouk Ville, or the capital Phnom Penh. But if further into the rural areas, you may need to learn a few words of the local language - Khmer. From what I know, t's quite an easy place to be a solo traveler-actually you'll meet quite a few of them coming this route.
Temples are what most people are here for, but I read you were not much into temples/ancient buildings or things or stuffs like that, so what about volunteering teaching English to young village children for two, three or four weeks to get to know the people and the culture. The people are very friendly, and they smile easily.
I can help with some info of places where you don't have to pay a fee to volunteer in Siem Reap if that's what you plan to do.
I can't believe it's been almost 13 months since I started this topic!
Ok, my plans for leaving in August were delayed slightly when my brother decided to arrange his wedding for this October but at least now I have a much clearer idea of what I want to do... I have "decided" on travelling from London to St Petersburg by train, stopping for around 2 or 3 days at each Belgium, Germany, Poland and Belarus (or Lithuania/Latvia??), and then onto the Trans-Siberian/Mongolian railway, ideally stopping off a few times in Russia (at Irkutsk for example), through to Beijing, and then travelling around China for as long as I enjoy it and if, by some miracle, my money lasts and I want to move on from China (doubtful on both counts) then onto Vietnam, Laos etc.
Has anyone here ever done this or something similar? Does it sound practical? Or too much? Also, is it feasible to book and arrange things on the move, like train tickets and hostels, in order to have more flexibility? (e.g. if I'm really enjoying St Petersburg I don't want a ticket dictating that I have to leave the next day) Ideally I want to set off near the start of November this year but I can be flexible if visas take longer etc.
I'm sad to say that, after spending almost an entire year being realllly excited for the whole travelling solo long-term idea, I've had my doubts in the last month or so - it's like the plan above seems so much better as an idea than it will be in reality; what if in China I feel really isolated and worried? I have a bit of OCD & anxiety but am trying to get that under control before I head off. Are group tours or volunteering easy to get into at the last minute? I want to do as much as I can independently, for character building and more flexibility, but honestly I just can't bring myself to make a firm decision and start booking things!
Any advice or thoughts would be greatly appreciated
Apologies again for my usual long posts.
Well, I'm happy you threw out your original plan because it was nuts. Your list of countries was WAY too ambitious... it would have been miserable trying to fit in all those destinations, not mention crazy expensive.
I'll also go out on a limb and as usual be Devil's Advocate and say throw out your new plan too. For someone who is an inexperienced traveller and has some worries regarding language, meeting other people, etc. then I think Russia/China is a poor choice.
Bottom line: Keep it simple, inexpensive and non-intimidating... yet also completely foreign. (In other words, drop Europe too.) Start in Thailand, then branch out from there. Thailand has a very well developed infrastructure for travellers just like you. It's still totally foreign, but not difficult to navigate. Staying on the Gringo Trail puts you in constant contact with other travellers exactly like yourself, yet it's easy to get off the beaten path too.
It's a great jumping off spot to the myriad of other destinations, many of them with well defined Gringo Trails as well if you still require that support.
Anyway, that's my two centavos...
Terry from Havana
Thanks so much for your reply and advice Terry, although I must admit I'm a little gutted to hear it. I know my London to Beijing by rail idea seems very ambitious for an inexperienced traveller, but one thing I should mention is that I'm going to leave my job in the UK to go travelling and will have about £12000 solely for daily expenses, visas, transport etc. so will have both time and money on my side.
London to Beijing by rail is not that ambitious because your transport is all taken care of as is your accommodation (except when you decide to do a stop-over.) I only see it as a poor choice because you're travelling through countries/cultures that don't seem to fit the criteria that you've mentioned throughout this thread.
It also seemed an unwise choice since you're now waffling on going at all... your fears and nervousness are normal of course, but choosing more friendly foreign destinations that are geared towards new travellers seemed to make more sense.
In any case do NOT be gutted just because one anonymous goofball on an Internet forum threw something out that wasn't totally supportive of your plan. I was only voicing some other options/opinions, that's all.
At the end of the day it's your decision and the only thing that's important is that you travel...
Have fun and good luck.
Thanks again Terry. Even if you are a goofball I appreciate your advice all the same.
Bottom line: Get yur butt outa' Dodge...
(That's Merican for "leave town.")