Michael Mudd, 128 TCCS
In choosing Thailand as my first choice when I applied to the Peace Corps, part of that decision was with my COS (Close of Service) in mind. Thailand’s location is an ideal location for venturing out into the rest of Southeast Asia and beyond.
At the end of my service I will be given a sizable bit of money to do as I please with. What if money wasn’t an obstacle at all, if I could do as I wish without worry of money trouble? Would I take the same journey that I’ve already formulated in my mind, or would it be something else entirely? I believe my travels wouldn’t vary much except in two areas; I’d travel longer and slower. That’s it right?
We have such minute time in general for travel, especially as Americans. We set our itineraries and visit the most famous places. We want value for our money. Reducing the stress, I’d like to stop more, absorb more of each culture, try more foods, and mingle with the locals more. Flexibility would now become a luxury as travel is sure to bring cancellations, misdirection, and snags. There are few specific destinations I’d like to see, mainly travel in Southeast Asia, India, Nepal, China, Russia, and various spots in Europe.
The one certainty on my list is traveling the Trans-Siberian railway. My favorite travel writer, Paul Theroux (whom I share a birthday with and also a fellow PCV), is one of several that has led me to dream of traveling by train through Russia. My experiences in Alaska, particularly living above the Arctic Circle has only increased my desire to visit Siberia, become enlightened by the history of the GULAG, sleep in all three classes, and take in the beautiful scenery.
Ultimately, I hope I would learn more and relax more without the constraints that money can bring. However, in writing this I hope when my COS comes I still work on seeing more, getting to know the locals better, and working towards learning as much as I can. In the end that’s what I’ll remember.