Jeff's Mid-Life Crisis goes Round the World (RTW)
About Me (1)
HONG KONG (2)
* ST. ANDREWS
* FROM TRAVELER TO TOURIST?
* HONG KONG
* BANGKOK TO HONG KONG
* BANGKOK TO PHUKET
* PHNOM PENH
* ANGKOR AND SIEM REAP #2
* ANGKOR AND SIEM REAP #1
* CHANGES IN LATITUDE CHANGES IN ATTITUDE
* VANG VIENE
* LUANG PRABANG #2
* LUANG PRABANG #1
December 02, 2004
When and Where
WHEN am I going and WHERE am I going?
When and where, ah the heart of the plan and the basis of the adventure.
When am I leaving? Ė Here is my plan, such as it is: My last day at work is December 3, 2004, I am flying from Cincinnati to Reno, Nevada on December 6th to visit my Mom in Lake Tahoe. Itís the right thing to do to visit your Mom before you go overseas for a long period of time and attempt to reassure her that you know what you are doing (probably a stretch) and that you are going to be safe (there are many risks on the road and taking some risks is one of the reasons I am traveling Ė but there are risks everywhere in life, even in a Comfortably Numb life, but I will try to convince her that I will be safe) plus I want to see her and spend some time at her home in Tahoe and hopefully see some snow in the beautiful Sierra Nevadaís.
Iíll be in Tahoe for a week, fly back to Cincinnati, pick up my car and drive south to Horn Lake, Mississippi (just south of Memphis, Tennessee) to stay with my brother Andy and his wife Amanda for a few days. Then on Sunday, December 19th I get on a plane in Memphis with my one-way ticket to Bangkok, Thailand.
Unfortunately, I likely wonít be able to visit my brother Matt and his girlfriend Kristy who currently live in Colorado and I may not see my older brother Stewart who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Iím particularly bummed that I wonít be able to attend a graduation party for Stewart on December 18th, you see he is graduating from the University of San Francisco with a degree in Information Systems. What a great accomplishment, I am very impressed, Way to Go Stewart!!!
My flight to Bangkok will be fun and long. Fortunately I was able to use some frequent flyer miles to upgrade the entire trip to first class. Ah, the luxury of wide seats, better food and service and all the alcohol I can drink. Iíve never been on this long of a flight and I suppose I need to stay sober, stay hydrated and think about jet-lag so maybe I wonít drink too much, but thenÖ I can always drink a lot of water as well as tanqueray and tonics plus who really cares about jet-lag, I donít have to worry about losing a day or two to grogginess Ė I have plenty of time in front of me. So, Iíll just enjoy myself on the planes.
My flight itinerary is on Northwest Airlines: Memphis to Detroit Ė 2 hours, a 1 hour layover in Detroit; then Detroit to Tokyo Ė 14 hours in a 747-400 jumbo jet where I get to sit in the upper-level first class section, Iíve always wanted to sit on the upper deck of a 747, now I get to. I have a 2-hour layover in Tokyo and then itís short little hop down to Bangkok, another 7 hours. I arrive in Bangkok (BKK) at 11:50 PM on December 20th, local time, 26 hours after I boarded my original flight in Memphis. Iíll need to figure out the time difference Bangkok and various time zones in the U.S., I think Bangkok is 12 hours ahead of eastern standard time (EST) but I get confused since I am traveling East to West where itís earlier but then Iím crossing the International Date LineÖ so, I get confused but Iíll figure it out when it becomes necessary.
Since I get into BKK rather late local time and by the time it will take to clear customs and change some dollars into Baht, Iíll likely need to take a taxi (rather than the bus) to the Suk11 hotel. The Suk11 comes highly recommended by a number of BootsnAll members and I hope to meet up with a few Boots travelers while staying there. I plan on staying at the Suk for about a week, which will include Christmas, that will probably feel weird Ė Christmas in Bangkok! Spending 7 or so days in Bangkok seems like the right thing to do, overcome any jet-lag (especially if I have a few drinks on the flights in), get used to being on the road and spending a few days in the traveler and backpacker-friendly confines of Bangkok. Bangkok is a great cross-road in Asia and a place I will likely return to often as I traverse SE Asia.
After Bangkok I plan to travel north to Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand (after Bangkok) and is in the northern part of the country. From what I have read and heard, Chiang Mai is much more laid back than Bangkok and much less intense. It will still have lots of travelers, backpackers and tourists as this time of the year is high season for tourists (and travelers and backpackers) in Thailand but thatís cool. My plan is to spend 2 or 3 weeks in Chiang Mai taking Yoga classes. I really want to learn the mental, physical and spiritual components of yoga. I believe it will help strengthen me for the places I will go to next. I have no real experience with yoga and donít know quite what to expect but plan on doing some research prior to getting there. This also means I will be spending New Years Eve in Northern Thailand Ė that will be fun and interesting!
After Chiang Mai I have no definitive plans at this time.
The exciting and uncertain part of this journey is deciding where I want to go and when I want to be there. As Paul Otteson says in his awesome and inspiring book ďThe World Awaits: How to Travel Far and WellĒ Ė YOU CANíT SEE IT ALL. This simple phrase will be a mantra for my trip. There are so many cool, beautiful, fun and interesting places in this world that even a year+ of flexible, independent traveling will not come even close to allowing me to see everything I want to see. I really would love to go to Antarctica but probably wonít this time!
Not having any definitive plans or itineraries past Chiang Mai is a purposeful decision. I will be flexible and open to possibilities as they are presented and as my imagination allows. Having said that, some of the places and countries I want visit include: China, a huge country but particular interests there are southeastern China, Shanghai, the rougher northwest part of the country Ė away from other travelers, Macao and maybe Hong Kong. I want to visit Cambodia, particularly the temples of Angkor Wat, near Siem Reap and possibly Phnom Penh, itís likely that Iíll hit Cambodia after Thailand.
Weather will be an important factor as I decide where and when to travel. As a general rule places close to the equator are temperate and comfortable year-round, in the northern hemisphere it is best to travel north as the year progresses into April through September and be further south in the winter months. Of course, everything is the opposite in the southern hemisphere (Iím looking forward to seeing the counter-clockwise flushing of the toilets when I head south of the equator!). Avoiding the Monsoon and the sweltering heat and humidity of SE Asia in the summertime will also influence my decisions.
Bangkok is roughly 13 degrees north of the equator and thus quite warm year around. (For comparison sake: roughly the same latitude as northern Venezuela, Nicaragua and Somalia while Cincinnati, Ohio is apx. 39 degrees north while San Diego is about 33 degrees north). This is why high season is December through March, this is when the humidity it less intense.
It really is amazing the percentage of landmass on Earth that is in the southern hemisphere versus the northern hemisphere. My best guess is that than only 20% of the land on our Earth is in the southern hemisphere. I love geography!
Anyway, back to Where I want to travel. While in the general vicinity of Asia, in addition to Thailand, Cambodia and China, I want to go to Laos, Vietnam and possibly India. After Asia I will head to Africa. I love the thought of visiting Africa, it is such a vibrant continent with so many problems and issues. There are many countries in Africa that are quite dangerous at this time so Iíll likely limit myself to the eastern and southern countries including Kenya and Tanzania and possibly Rwanda, Zambia and South Africa. In addition to my desire to see toilets flush counter clockwise, I want to go on Safari. I really want to see the animals of this continent in real life and in their native countries. I want to see the migrations and hang out on the Serengeti. I may even climb Mt. Kilimanjaro while in Tanzania.
I will also go to Israel. This is a definite for me. I have always wanted to visit this country and canít wait to be in Jerusalem and walk around the Old City. I also want to walk and wander through the Galilee. The politics and emotions of this country are so fascinating to me.
Other countries and places on my radar screen are Egypt, Iran, Eastern Europe, Great Britain, Scotland and Ireland. But remember: ďYou canít see it allĒ so what I donít see this time I may see next time.
Thank you for reading this. I hope to make this blog both interesting and entertaining. Please post a comment and let me know your thoughts, observations or counsel. Hearing from readers and knowing I have an audience is a great motivator and will be a great morale booster during down times on the road. Donít forget to bookmark this site and tell a friend! Please feel free to e-mail me at ďJeffMichie at Yahoo Dot ComĒ
Posted by Jeff on December 2, 2004 07:11 PM
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