I’ve re skinned my blog to something more up to date and simple. It’s more readable and looks nice too!
After living and working in Asia for close to two years it is time to say goodbye! My job in Thailand ended in February and I’ve been doing some traveling. First to Bangkok, then Myanmar and at the moment I’m in Taipei.
I was in Anchor Wat in 2009, so I skipped it on this trip. I spent a few days in the Capitol, Phnom Penh and then headed to the beach. Phnom Penh is pretty meh. The thing that made me crazy is that there was garbage piled up in the streets, as if the garbage collectors were on strike. In some places it was 3 meters high. Talk about a disease
It is a short ride from Nha Trang to Da Lat and a beautiful one. I spent a few hours driving through the mountains and had a welcome respite from the heat. Da Lat is a slowly crumbling French mountain town, that just happens to be in Vietnam.
Hue is the most beautiful city I have seen in Vietnam, it was the old imperial capitol and it still shows. It’s also a place for artists and education is highly valued here. As I head south the food gets better, one can only eat so much noodle soup!
I have been in a lot of caves. All the major ones in the US and a bunch of others around the world. Thien Duong Cave, better known as Paradise Cave is 31 km long! Tourists can venture in for the first 1.5 km. This part of the cave has a huge walkway and great lighting, the designers of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park have done a phenomenal job.
My last stop before Hanoi was Ba Be lake, a national park with 3 interconnected lakes. I did a homestay in a village on the lake and stayed for two nights at a place called Duy Tho. It was beautiful and affordable. I rented a boat for a day, which was expensive and loud, but I got to see the lake.
I just spent four days riding through the Ha Giong area. It’s what the guide books call Vietnam’s final frontier. It has a lot of historical value as Ho Chi Minh spent a bunch of time there, it was a safe haven, it’s also on the border with China. You have to buy a permit to enter the area.
Today it took me 7 hours to travel 125 kilometers. Most of that time was spent going 50 kilometers on a single track road, ok, trail, throught the backcountry. It was the most challenging day I have ever had on a motorcycle in 15 years of riding and I’ve ridden cross country in the US twice and been as far as the end of the Pan America Highway in Panama.
The second day on my new bike brought me to Than Uyen, it’s a good thing I ended up going back to Hanoi, if I’d continued on from Son La directly to Than Uyen, like I had planed, I would have ended up at a road that stops at a river and no bridge! I might have been able to hire someone with a boat to transport me, but luckily I did not have to deal with that.
It took me 5 days to decide on a motorcycle, I ended up with a 2009, Yamaha, YBR 125G. It cost me a bit more than twice what I thought I would spend. My research was based on what I could find on the web, which is advice from folks on a very low budget. I’m also on a low budget, but i don’t care how much a bike costs, i care how much I can sell it for, how reliable it is and how comfortable it is.
I am so happy to be in Vietnam! Hanoi is a great city for tourists, the food is great, there is no shortage of things to do and the scenery is fantastic. After the bland food in the Philippines, I was ready for Vietnamese food!
I was happy to arrive in Coron Town, but not so excited about the 30 hours of travel it took to get here. The day after I arrived I started my Advanced Open Water diving class, which is 5 dives in two days, which turned out to be a bit much for my body. The diving was great and they included some basics as I had not been diving in 15 years. The first day was very basic, we worked buoyancy and navigation skills.
Sagada is as different from the rest of the Philippines as Darjeeling is to the rest of India. It’s an oasis of beauty with a slower pace. After an 18 hour journey to get from Manila to Sagada, I arrived at my guest house and was invited for coffee and cake by some educators, they were in the region for a conference on curriculum for indigenous children. They were going caving that afternoon and invited me to join them. I jumped at the chance and got changed.
Prior to World War II, Manila was known as the “Pearl of the Orient,” now it is just an over crowded asian city with as much smog as Beijing and the smell of Calcutta. I did not find much about Manila to make me like it. It’s worth maybe a day or two at most perhaps a few days longer if you use it as a base for day trips. I’ve ruled it out as a place I might want to live in. I did encounter the best scam I’ve ever come across there, perhaps I’ll write about that later.
Starting over is bittersweet. The joy of moving to a new place is like an a hot fudge sunday and the sadness of leaving someplace that’s been one of the best places I’ve ever lived is like eating overcooked steak. If you know me, you know how much I hate steak that is not very rare.
You are about to hit the road for an extended travel adventure, what technology to you bring? I travel light, one carry on bag and a day pack. I can and have lived out of one bag for a very long time. There’s no way I can bring a laptop or much of anything that’s heavy. After much research and hemming and hawing this is what I came up with:
Why don’t more people make the time for long term travel? I have taken a half dozen trips that were at least 2 months long and one that lasted for 6 months. 90% of my friends and family have never taken more than 2 weeks off at once. The average American is lucky to get 2 weeks off a year.
It’s hard to believe that I’ll be in Manila in less than a month. I only have a handful of things to buy/do to be ready. I’ve got everything from a sleeping mask and travel clothes to a packsafe day bag and moo.com mini cards.
My todo list is growing shorter, I’m scouring budget tour guides and making contacts in SEA (Southeast Asia). If you know friendly people in SEA please feel free to make an introduction! I’m counting down the days. I can’t wait to start exploring the Philippines!
Six weeks until I get on a plane for the Philippines! I’ve got a one way ticket and a rough plan. I’ll be traveling throughout Southeast Asia (SEA) for 3 to 6 months, then I plan to live in Thailand for a year. There are lots of loose ends I need to tie up before I leave and I’m making progress.
Like our current educational system, retirement is a creation of the industrial age. Both of these institutions were created to serve industry. Retirement is the ultimate carrot, but this gilded vegetable is rotten inside. Our parents and theirs spend their entire lives working for one or two companies, working 48 to 50 weeks a year for 40 years with a promise of relaxation and recreation in our “golden” years. I will never retire. For me retirement means: “To slowly fade away, to stop making a contribution, to give up my life’s work when I’m at the peak of my profession.” Why would I stop working at a time when I have the most to contribute? Why would I give up the opportunity to travel and relax until my health is fragile?