Don’t Leave Before You’re Ready.
I left Sihanoukville before I was ready.
I left Vang Vieng before I was ready.
These were all enormous mistakes.
Of course, I had my reasons at the time. I had to leave Koh Lanta because Matt had to return to America, and we wanted to meet Cody in Railay before then. I left Sihanoukville because I needed to get back to Bangkok in time to meet Mike and Stephanie for New Year’s.
And I left Vang Vieng to join my dear friends Chris, Mona, Anthony and Jon in Luang Prabang.
(For the record, I don’t begrudge any of my friends — I adore them to the moon and back! And even though I left my favorite destinations early, we still had a wonderful time together in Railay, Bangkok and Luang Prabang!)
Beautifully rustic Koh Lanta, grungy-fabulous party zone Sihanoukville, and Adventurous-Kate’s-idea-of-heaven-on-earth Vang Vieng were three of my favorite destinations on this trip so far. Each of them brought me to nearly unimaginable levels of happiness.
Because I left my favorite places early, I met my subsequent destinations – Railay, Siem Reap and Luang Prabang – with a level of animosity. No place deserves that. I could have enjoyed each of those destinations much more if I had arrived there at the right time.
I realized my error, and I wasn’t going to make that mistake again.
I knew Hanoi would be my next destination. But it didn’t have to happen just yet. So Chris and I got on a bus back to Vang Vieng.
We wore our tubing t-shirts and giggled like Peter Griffin more or less the entire six-hour ride back. God, we were excited. And why not? Vang Vieng is one of the best places on the planet!
That night, we were instantly back in our element.
Chris stayed in Vang Vieng for a few more days. I stayed for another ten. And they were perfect. I did exactly what I wanted to do – partied like a rock star on the river – and did so at the pace that was appropriate for me.
When the time was right – frankly, in a moment of sobriety when I thought, “I need to get out of here or I’ll stay forever” – I confidently booked a bus ticket to Hanoi from Vang Vieng. I left the next day.
And that is how you do it.
The lesson to you? If you’re on a long-term trip and can afford to spend extra time in places, don’t leave a place you love before you’re ready.
Leaving early will set you up for regret. Regret is one of the ugliest emotions out there, and there’s no reason for it if you’re currently on a long-term trip.
So take your time. Do what feels right to you. And your memories will be all the richer for it.