Where in the World Are Magda and Brent? – Getting Ready to Travel and Teach Abroad
This blog entry represents the first in a series of entries detailing an epic trip through Southeast Asia and Europe with a stop in the Middle East that myself and a fellow Oxford Seminars alumnus and South Korean teaching vet are embarking upon this spring. A previous entry on looking ahead to the new year serves as a sort of prelude to this journey. Magda, my adventuring cohort and quantum entangled travel partner and I will be starting out in Taipei, Taiwan after she enjoys a week of surfing and beaches in Siargao in the Philippines. As we travel and teach abroad, we’ll post photos, written blogs, and videos to talk about our journey and the adventures and inevitable difficulties and hardships we encounter along the way. It will be a first for both of us, so we hope you’ll enjoy the ride along with us, and together we can see where the decision to live and teach abroad can take you!
The idea for this trip first came up when I went to visit Magda in South Korea in the spring of 2015. Then we began talking seriously about it over the course of that summer. It began as a plan for a six week trip through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand when Magda finished teaching in the spring of 2016. As time went on, the trip grew and expanded. More countries were added, and the itinerary shifted away from the beaches of Thailand to what we are hoping will be more authentic cultural experiences in smaller villages and towns along the way. Stops to explore caves, visit with free roaming elephants, and zipline through the trees with gibbons were added to the agenda. Myanmar and Laos were added to the list of countries we would visit, and then the trip grew once again to take us right through to the short summer program I taught in the Czech Republic last summer. What started as a six week vacation grew into a five month travel epic. We will hit a dozen countries and have experiences ranging from SCUBA diving off the coast of Cambodia, to skydiving over Palm Islands in Dubai, to peering into active volcanoes in Iceland. Intermixed among these will be countless unplanned adventures and activities to challenge and enthrall us as we venture into uncharted territory meandering through back roads and small communities as we make our way around southeast Asia via motorcycle, bus, hitchhiking, and train.
Preparing for our Journey
The preparation for a trip like this was something neither of us have any real experience with. So we decided to do what any good adventurer would do: we winged it. We researched some points of interest and how to get from A to B, and then we just decided to land in Hanoi, Vietnam and connect the dots on the ground. The only firm dates we have to begin with are our landing date in Vietnam and the start of the school program in the Czech Republic. The intervening time we left largely open to see where the road takes us.
Prior to the trip, as I made my way to Asia to teach and bank some cash, I bought us some supplies for the journey: I picked up some lightweight hammocks, LifeStraw water filtration bottles (a brilliant invention and a must-purchase for anyone travelling off the beaten path), and good thermal travel mugs for those all-important coffees on the road. Knowing that we’d be away from major centers and not knowing what might befall us while traipsing through the hinterlands, we took around $180 and put together a comprehensive travel first aid kit. We picked up supplies for wounds and injuries, stomach ailments and gastrointestinal distress, pain, bites, and literally anything else we could think of that could be fit into a large ziploc bag. The kit added weight and cost, but the peace of mind alone is worth it. You never know what you’ll encounter on any journey, and as my Nana always says, it’s better to have something and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Once the aforementioned necessities were packed, we threw together some lightweight clothes, a couple sets of footwear, and packed our travel packs with the intention of picking up cheap clothes and supplies along the way. The plan is to travel as lightly as possible to make trekking around less burdensome. I also have a tendency to accumulate random stuff on my travels, so having some free space for the inevitable “I must have that!” is a good way to start. [Madga note: That space will be mostly for sunglasses. Brent has a sunglasses addiction. He brought four pairs in Taiwan and bought another at our first stop…]
The upcoming blog entries and video blogs will outline some of our adventures, thoughts, and experiences as we make our way half way around the world over the coming months. All of this has been made possible by our decision to teach English abroad. The doors this decision has opened cannot be understated. Not only does it help you to find your footing on your own in a strange land, but it introduces you to so many like-minded people and fellow explorers of our pale blue dot floating in the vastness of space. And, of course, it is a great way to save some money for a trip such as this. We hope you’ll enjoy our antics and maybe even learn something along with us as we embark on what we both agree is a potentially life changing travel experience. It is all about living and loving, my friends. Happy travels. Live life; love live.
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Written By Magda and Brent
Magda is an Oxford Seminars graduate with an honors degree in biological sciences. She loves traveling and has been to nearly twenty countries, with plans to see them all! She spent a year and a half teaching English and Science in Incheon, South Korea, and is looking forward to many more opportunities to teach and travel abroad on the horizon.
Brent has been involved in ESL as a teacher, Oxford Seminars TESOL/TESL/TEFL instructor, and writer for much of the past decade. His teaching exploits have taken him to South Korea, the Czech Republic, and most recently to Taiwan. As both a teacher and avid traveler, he looks forward to every opportunity to explore new cultures, sample new cuisines, and meet new people. There’s no better way to see the world!