South America: Gearing Up for an Adventure Of a Lifetime

Finding the Time

So I’m starting my journey to South America in exactly one week! “YAY” doesn’t come close to summing up my excitement at this point. I was fortunate enough to get a month’s break between transferring jobs and having to relocate to Singapore. I decided that I couldn’t waste this opportunity. When will I ever get an entire month off again, especially being in a corporate job? Realistically, that might never happen again (unless I take a sabbatical some years down the line), so I picked South America, one of the furtherest continents from Asia.

SA Map

Photo Credit: Blog, Go Away

Purchasing My Tickets

When I looked online, I swear my heart sank. All tickets were 80,000 THB (approx. 2,300 USD) or above, and the travel time was almost 4 days with several layovers. Also, I won’t be making a salary during my month off in April, so financially, lets just say I can’t be splurging. It just got more expensive as the travel time and layovers decreased. I immediately thought to myself, maybe this isn’t going to be a possibility. It was entirely too expensive.

After days and weeks of searching, my friend Krista, who you will soon find out is my travel buddy to South America, came up with the idea for me to purchase separate roundtrip tickets

  1. The first round-trip set from Bangkok to LA – 25,070 THB
  2. The second multi-city set from LA to La Paz, and back from Lima to LA. – 24,950 THB

These two round-trip tickets ended up totalling 50,020 (approx. 1410 USD) THB ONLY. I want to stress the “ONLY” again, because I don’t think I could have gotten them any cheaper, and I’m really proud of this price. Haha! PS. Thanks Krista 🙂

So I’ll be leaving on April 5th, and returning April 30th. This flight routing takes up roughly about the same travel time as the 80,000 THB ticket… which means, although I technically get 25 days of travel, I only end up getting 21 physical days there, because 4 days are killed off just on travelling alone. Ahh, how I wish I could get more physical days there.

So this is what my flight arrangement looks like…

Departure Routing Return Routing
Bangkok → Guangzhou
Guangzhou → Los Angeles
Los Angeles → Miami
Miami → La Paz
Lima → Miami
Miami → Los Angeles
Los Angeles →Guangzhou
Guangzhou → Bangkok

Oh, did I mention, it’s dreadfully long? I’ll be travelling a total of 43,000 km roundtrip…eeesh.

But here’s the real kicker… I arrive back to Bangkok on April 30th, drop off my South America luggage, and pick up my already packed luggage for Singapore and fly out May 1st… exactly 20 hours later, and I start work May 3rd. I give myself 3 days to recover from a jet lag, and make up a 12 hour time difference. This has to work.

Finding A Travel Buddy

I didn’t have someone to travel with, and travelling solo as a female to South America is not an ideal situation I would like to have. I asked a bunch of friends living in Bangkok, but I knew that it was entirely too many days, and too far-fetched of a trip in general… so I decided to crowdsource on Facebook. Within 8 minutes, I found the perfect travel buddy! My friend Krista, who also happened to spend 5 weeks eurotripping with me in 2010, was on board!

Preeti & Krista

That’s truly when you realize you make great travel buddies. So since Krista is Canadian, and obviously living in Canada, we decided that we would just meet directly in La Paz. The best part? Somehow, through the manic of flight bookings, we will meet up in Miami and catch the final leg of our flight into La Paz together. YAY!

Choosing Our South America Destinations

The first question Krista asked me was, “So where are you thinking of going in South America?”. I replied, either a set of Bolivia and Peru, or a set of Brazil and Argentina, but that we wouldn’t have time to do both. We settled on Bolivia and Peru within the first 10 minutes of conversation, and that’s been our plan ever since!

I do want to make another two trips to South America in the future though. One to cover Brazil for 3 weeks, and another to cover Chile and Argentina over another 3 weeks. Central America is another must-do in itself, and I have yet to find the time to do it all. Quit and travel the world until I run out of money? Doesn’t sound like something I would do…. I need my safety net and life in order still! Haha. I’m not your average hippie, free-styling soul like most travellers have been stereotyped as (Sidenote: I do not condone this stereotyping. Most travellers work really hard on the road to make ends meet, just to ensure they live life to the fullest).

The Itinerary

After tirelessly doing our research and working with a 12-hour time difference, we managed to plan and organize everything over one excel file layered with 10 sheets on google docs. Thank you Google! I have to give most of the credit to Krista though, because she’s been a trooper with figuring out which tour companies to trek with, and supporting the entire booking process, while I frantically try to pack up my life in Bangkok for the relocation.

So here’s the final itinerary, and a sneak peak into what can be expected over my month of April 2016 travels!

The highlights will definitely be the Salt Flats in Uyuni for Bolivia and the Salkantay 4 night, 5 days trek to Machu Picchu in Peru, which is an alternative trek to the popular and majorly touristic Inca Trails. Also, we’re planning on mountain biking down death road in Yungas, because…. YOLO.

The Weather & Altitude

We’re going to be battling with weather from below 0ºC to 22ºC, aside from it being the shoulder season of rainy, hot, humid, windy, and freezing. Also, the altitude of where we land cannot be overlooked. La Paz’s famous airport “El Alto”, lives up to its name, being that it is situated 4000 meters above sea level, and is the 5th highest commercial airport in the world. Yes, altitude sickness is likely going to be a problem, especially considering Bangkok is below sea level and basically drowning every rainy season. This elevation will be a dramatic change, and I’ll have to acclimatize fast. I guess I’ll realize the importance of Oxygen when I’m there, something I’ve never really paid much attention to before.

La Paz

Photo Credit: Tedy Travel

So how do I plan on backpacking in these extreme temperatures? Will everything fit in my backpack that I need for the 21 days of travel? How will I acclimatize and avoid altitude sickness? I’ll be writing up a post on packing for South America and adjusting to the altitude next!

Upcoming

I plan on doing a daily journal of my adventures as I travel South America (that is, if wifi permits). I hope to constantly keep it updated as both my personal travel journal of interesting and funny encounters, and as entertainment and information to all my readers on what you can expect! The journalling will start on the 8th of April onwards, upon arrival into Bolivia!

 

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