Book: Notes of a Naive Traveler - Nepal and Thailand by Jennifer S. Aldersoncategories: Book, Volunteer, Adventure, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Traveler, Travel Writing, Kathmandu, Bangkok, Biography, History Southeast Asia, Backpacking, Travelogue
Jennifer S. Aldersonabout this book: In 1999, I was twenty-six years old, facing twenty-seven with little to show for my time on this planet save a few materials possessions that I no longer needed to possess. I craved adventures and new challenges, and chose travel as my outlet.
My plan was to volunteer in Nepal for four months then backpack around Southeast Asia for another six. Things didn't quite work out that way…
This novella is first and foremost an adventure travel and cultural guide to Nepal and Thailand. Trek with me through the bamboo forests and terraced mountaintops of Eastern Nepal, take a wild river rafting ride in class IV waters, go on an elephant ride and encounter charging rhinoceros on jungle walks in Chitwan National Park, sea kayak the surreal waters of Krabi and snorkel in the Gulf of Thailand. Join me on some of the scariest bus rides you could imagine, explore beautiful and intriguing temples, experience religious rituals unknown to most Westerners, and visit mind-blowing places not mentioned in your typical travel guides.
This travelogue also provides insight into the experience of volunteering at a Nepali school and living with a traditional family during a long-term homestay, where religion and ritual still rule daily life.
A touch of self-discovery is inherent to this kind of journey, one spurred on by a young woman's attempt to figure out what she wants to do with her life.
When I began this trip, I was a well-paid, overworked computer geek who had a job, car and house waiting for me when I got back. I didn't have a passport because I'd never been outside of the United States of America before. The longest vacation I'd ever been on was two weeks in Hawaii with my mom to celebrate my high school graduation.
My perspective on life was seriously limited.
Traveling is an amazing adventure, one that can transform your world view, if you let it. Yet it can also be quite scary and lonely when you're so far from home, especially the first time.
There are moments in this travel diary that make me cringe and others which make me cheer for this young woman, my former self. It would be impossible for me to write this now, my perspective, attitudes and expectations have changed so drastically since, colored by age and life experience.
Writing these journal entries was my way of processing all of the incredible experiences I was having as a volunteer; it was never my intention to publish excerpts from them. This is as honest and raw as it gets.
In Nepal I made a point of writing in my journal several times a week; in Thailand I only wrote short updates to family and friends via email every few weeks and almost nothing in my journal.
This travelogue takes the best of both and leaves it at that.
These are truly the notes of a naive traveler trying to learn more about herself and the world around her. I hope it inspires you to take the plunge, buy a backpack and see more of the world. Happy travels, Jennifer
preview: read a sample from this book
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