I had plan to post this before my trip, but got too busy so this written afterwards with benefit of hindsight. I’ll post an update from each stop over the next week as I still have plenty of plane time ahead heading to Dallas for a day for orientation with US affiliate then immediately to Bath (west of London) where I will initially be based. Trading Korean BBQ/Soju/Karaoke for Jane Austin Living History Walks.
This first time off this long since 1994 when Sharon and I did similar trip through Europe & Egypt – back then I could be between assignments. Then remote access email happened and I was never “between assignments” until now. Some may perceive that I am just living a carefree existence – but trust that many spreadsheets, schedules, and action items lists were created and worked off to manage the job change, move, and trip and coordinate everything ultimately ended up where/when it was needed. As you would expect taxes and health insurance issues were the biggest pains with which to deal. Only halfway through and only one misstep (not counting broken wrist) – one closet wasn’t packed by movers in Korea so I had to buy a suitcase, stuff it, and whip back through Seoul to grab it. But it worked out and almost everything back to the USA.
A couple of decisions to make-
Locations. Generally selected places that I actually had tickets to visit but the trips were cancelled for various reasons. Original trip was Hanoi/Ha Long Bay, Chiang Mai, Siem Reap/Angkor Wat, Phnom Phen, Ho Chi Min City, Kuala Lumpur on my own then meet Sharon for Singapore and Bali. Two nights each place on my own to minimize how much I was dragging around backpack. After broke wrist, stayed two extra days in Chiang Mai to recover/reorganize and let swelling reduce before flying again and skipped Ho Chi Min City. Ended up being the right move.
Backpack versus rollerbag/briefcase. I probably messed up on backback selection – I got the biggest for $200. Then filled it up 80% and it weighed 40 lbs. So unless I was fully strapped in, it was a pain. And airlines didn’t know if it was carryon or not because of shape. So when I broke wrist – easy decision to go back to rollerbag/manpurse or “murse”. Only one time was the backpack a better choice. The entire rest of trip rollerbag would have fine.
Laptop. Hadn’t been without laptop for 20 plus years…but without work no need. So left it and survived.
Wifi Vs. Sim card. I still have my Note 3 so I just relyed on wifi – again, without work do I really need to check email all day? No – worked out OK. A couple of times wished sim card but again survived only being online at room or meals.
Fashion. Straggly look fine for me…and less hassle from people. But no tattoos or manbuns were ever considered.
Bgt – $100/day was my goal for airfare, hotels, meals, and other minor expenses from Hanoi to Singapore (flight to Hanoi from Seoul was miles). Not included was tour and excursions. Don’t have final numbers but seem to be well under the $100 even after losing some money for changing flights and rooms. Air Asia and AirBNB were key in doing this – average hotel $21/night and total of 5 flights on AirAsia $347, including $27 for KL to Singapore. Budget travel does introduce complications which I will describe in individual updates. Cost rose slightly when Sharon joined me for the rest of the trip.
Lastly – travelling by myself for 12 days was great – always get to do what you want and easier to met knew people on your own. But would have preferred to have been with others – Sharon, Alexandra, and Annelise were each invited but made the responsible choice of work and school. But I will go back to many of these places and Alexandra and Annelise will be taking me when I am really old.
So keep looking for the update of each major stop.