I have now jumped almost 2 months of travel blog. It is simply that the Carribeans, or the US, are far too expensive to travel on 20 dollars. As in far far too expensive.
I have, for completeness, written a summary of my travels as well as published my photos:
On the 10th I left KL for a flight to Bangkok. Fearing already the chaos that is Bangkok, and that I have started to hate with a passion, I decided to continue towards Ayutthaya. I had already been there once and knew where I could stay cheaply hence the wish to continue onwards, out of Bangkok. The airtrain linking the airport and some suburbs with the main city of Bangkok is superb and for just 15 baht I was able to arrive in Bangkok. A quite expensive (and very modern) subway later, I arrived in Hualamphong station where I boarded a train towards Ayutthaya. Once arrived there, I went to the same hostel where I was staying beforehand (can't remember the name right now). After I arrived, I had a small stroll through the park. When I went back, I saw a girl sitting all alone at a table before a restaurant and, in traveller stye, I just sat down and asked her name. Turns out that she is called Aino, finnish-swedish and just started her travels through thailand which are going to last her for four months. That evening was spent amicably in each others company since we understood each other perfectly (although her finnish accent was quite hard to understand at first). The next day we visited the ruins of Ayutthaya together. I left in the evening back to suvarnabhumi (in the fear that the airport train would stop running I left far too early...) and flew of to England.
The trip to England as well as the holidays in the carribeans will only be covered shortly here because I did not travel on as low a budget as I did in the rest of the trip. As this is an account of the travels that I have done on a low budget, I will only give an overview of the time in England, the caribbeans and the US.
I had taken the plane in flipflops and shirt and shorts, wanting to change then at the airport in London. Proved to be a bad idea because we had to take a very cold bus to the airplane in Frankfurt. Only then did I realise how much I missed the sweltering hot temperatures in SE Asia (I had to sleep under a duffet if the temperature dropped below 27 degrees...).
In England, I stayed at Jontys in London. I had fun catching up on "good old times" with Jonty and his dad, his dad being an absolute legend. Obviously I had to make extensive use of Jonty's generosity to borrow out his pikiest clothes (his dad even invited us to a fine restaurant...).
The next morning, I went to see Paula, the girl I had met in Durham the year before. She was studying at a renowned English University whose name I have forgotten set in a tiny town. It was even smaller than Durham... I left her again in the evening and returned to see Jonty. In the morning, I left towards Newcastle to stay at Liam's and Leigh's. I stayed there for 5 nights, during which I tried to sort out a couple of things with University. After this week spent in England, I traveled to London Heathrow (where I had to stay and sleep the night) and then changed planes to fly towards the Caribbeans. I met my brother (Robert) and his girlfriend (Marie-Claire). The meeting was a happy one seeing that we hadn’t seen each other for over 5 months.
When we arrived in the caribbeans it was already clear that the parents had had a problem with their flight and we would only meet them at the chartered boat. So we continued on to the lovely hotel that the parents had booked (the caribbean food as well as the fish that we had that night were absolutely lovely). The next morning we went on through the ravaged St Lucia to the berthing place of the boat.
The boat turned out to be a quite old catamaran and the captain a hopeless drunk, however the voyage turned out to be really fun, past some epic sceneries. The whole atmosphere is best felt through the multitude of photos that I took.
Initially, I had planned to travel the caribbeans as well however this turned out to be a bad idea as I found out on the cruise with my family. The unofficial statistic of murders in St Lucia are one per day, one St Lucian song that I heard portrayed it even as “we (the St Lucians) are dying like flies and the police does not do anything”. The reason for this is that the police is involved in the drug crimes that happen on the island. The Caribbeans are the layover points of the American drug trade. The drugs are shipped from South America to the Caribbeans where they are offloaded and transfered to American vessels. As this is an enormous and illegal bussiness, the crime rate of the Caribbeans are immense.
Obviously, none of this is official (I found it out by talking to locals as well as to our well traveled captain) because the caribbeans are also a cruise ship destination, which in itself brings millions dollars into the economy and constitutes, apart from the agriculture, the only economy of the caribbeans.
The second reason why it would have been a bad idea to travel the caribbeans is that due to the extensive tourism, the caribbeans are massively expensive for travelers. I would not have been able to travel there with my current budget of 20 dollars a day.
The third reason is that due to the caribbeans consisting of a lot of different countries; indeed each big island is its own state; the travel between each country is difficult. One needs to be able to present at the entrance to each country a return ticket. Although this planning could be solved by rigorous planning, the absence of ferry services between the caribbean islands, and the resulting need to travel by very expensive plane, makes this an insurmountable problem to travelers.
From what I had seen during the cruise with my parents, I can conclude that the caribbeans are rather boring for travellers. They are not at all set up for small budget travellers and travelling there proves to be a major pain because of the inexistence of international ferries and non-practical visa regulations.
God, they are beautiful though...
This is why I had to change my flight to Boston. I departed for Boston two weeks earlier than I intended at first.
Instead of traveling the Caribbeans I decided to do a trip down the east coast of America. Although I lived on an as small a budget as possible, the US are so expensive that a very small budget (only accomodation and food) is 40-60 dollars. The brunt of the cost here are accomodation costs. One bed in a dormitory costs between 20 and 30 dollars. If travelling on a small budget, this is impossibly steep. Luckily I was able to stay most of the time at friends who lived in Washington and New York. Furthermore, although some parts that I have seen, for example Washington and its monuments and ridiculous security, are really sensational, the cost-return is nothing compared to travelling in third world countries. The only way that the massive accomodation costs can be brought down would be to buy a used car at the start of the travel, sell it at the end with barely any loss and to sleep in a tent. Obviously this restricts the travel period to the summer or, in winter, to the far south.