Posted by Paul Callighan on May 15, 2024
Rotarian Jeff Petersen said he had only a backpack for supplies and a one-way ticket to Thailand for his trip to Southeast Asia.  He called his ten-week adventure “incredible.”  Petersen said he typically planned his visit one-to-three days at a time and used phone apps extensively to find  tourist sites, lodging, and transportation.  He said he slept in 29 different beds of varying quality.  His longest hike was 19 miles in one day.  Because of his reliance on his cell phone, he backed up essential information in a paper dairy just in case he lost his phone or had a technological failure. 
Transportation was really quite easy according to Petersen.  For example, while trying to go from Bangkok to Ching Mai he had a choice of 12 trains and 43 buses plus their “Grab” service (equivalent to Uber).  Petersen said he learned not to take taxis because drivers didn’t use their meters, they just negotiated a price.  Large passenger vans were frequently used for tourist travel.  His most unique experience was a 13-hour night-ferry trip.  There were no chairs, only beds.
Jeff said that fortunately he knew a few people living in Thailand and Southeast Asia and had guidance on how to navigate his solo journey.  He did pass along some important lessons learned for the future, such as having at least two cell phones on the trip.  He found Google translate a valuable resource.  He learned food was very spicey and many times only available through street vendors (fortunately he never got sick).  He admitted he’s eaten his quota of rice saying it was served everywhere at all meals.
Petersen’s talk was mainly focused on logistics of his backpacking journey.  Perhaps a future appearance will highlight the many tourist sites and nature areas he visited.