Recent Entries

April 23, 2005


Today is Saturday, April 23rd (two days before my 42nd birthday) and I am writing this blog entry from my office in Southeast Indiana. This is my final blog entry in this series.

I have struggled for the last couple of weeks to try and find the words and to put my feelings into words in order to describe what my trip has done for me and my reasons for ending it earlier than expected. It is very important to me to put the proper closure on this experience and express in words my feelings and thoughts. It’s important to me for personal reasons and important to me that I adequately explain to you guys (my readers) who have read my thoughts and ramblings over the last four months or so and supported me with your comments, encouragement, thoughts and prayers.

But first I want to let everyone know what I’ve been up to the last few weeks since leaving Scotland.

I left St. Andrews after 11 days of heaven. The golf, the weather, the people and the town were just magnificent and will forever be in my heart and in my soul. St. Andrews and Scotland will be places I will go back to many, many more times in my life and I will eagerly anticipate each new return.

I took a train from the Leuchars station to London on a fine Saturday morning. The train ride was excellent and once more I want to say that train travel is a great way to go from place to place, the views of small towns and the countryside are much better than from a car or a bus. I arrived in London in the afternoon and took a few Tube rides to the southwest part of the city where my hotel was. I am good at riding the Tube now and am now a much bigger fan of subways and mass transit!

I found a cheap (by London standards) hotel southwest of central London and thus shouldn’t have been surprised by the quality of the lodgings. The hotel was clean and in a so-so part of town but the room was quite small with barely enough room for a small, single bed and the bathroom was tiny. Anyone even a bit bigger than me would have had a very uncomfortable time sitting on the toilet as there was barely enough room for my knees as they jammed against the wall (I really don’t know what someone with longer legs would have done – draw yourself a mental picture… - maybe used it like a squatty potty!). I mention this small room because it was such a contrast to my previous room in St. Andrews in the Auchterlonie suite at The Dunvegan. One of the really neat things about this trip are the contrasts between everyday things we all take for granted at home change dramatically from place to place when you are traveling. So this is definitely not a complaint, the unknown can be fun and it is one of the things I loved about traveling!

Anyway, I was in London for a couple of days and used the time to do some more sightseeing and walking about. The weather was much nicer this time with temperatures in the 50’s and no rain. It was fun being a tourist in a very tourist-friendly city. I retraced previous steps around Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, cruised around Hyde Park, spent some time again at Piccadilly Circus and even saw an anti-war (anti-American, anti-Bush, anti-Tony Blair) rally at Trafalgar Square. It was a very nice and relaxing final two days away from America.

While at the tail end of my time in St. Andrews I decided to book a flight back to the west coast. I flew Northwest Airlines on an 18-hour journey from London’s Gatwick airport to Las Vegas (with a stopover in Detroit). Fortunately I was able to use my World Perks miles to upgrade the flight to Business Class. I was definitely spoiled on the long haul flights I made on this trip, I flew all the way around the world in Business Class (Memphis to Bangkok, Hong Kong to London and London to Las Vegas) and that’s a great way to travel.

I didn’t think about it at the time but I actually did make it RTW (round the world) as my journey began in Memphis and I continued going west and ended 3 ½ months later in Las Vegas. I obviously did not see many of the places I intended to see or wanted to see but that’s okay because I am still relatively young and will have more travel opportunities in the future.

I decided to end my journey early and return to the United States for many reasons…. Those reason are best described in the answers to a series of questions:

1. What did I learn about myself?
2. Best experiences?
3. Worst experiences?
4. Regrets?
5. What would I have done differently?
6. Did I achieve my goals and Purposes?
7. Am I glad I did it?
8. Did I learn anything else about myself?

What did I learn about myself?
I don’t enjoy being by myself as much as I used to or thought I did.

My biggest personal revelation: I want to find a nice woman and settle down and get married. To write that and to publish it is a huge thing for me as I was never ready to say such a thing or even admit it to myself that I wanted or needed another person in my life. I’ve always been a bit selfish and unwilling to share my life with someone else when I had this overriding desire to travel and felt unsettled. I was scared to start up a relationship that I could not finish. I didn’t want to hurt someone else and did not want to again feel the pain of a broken relationship.

But now, I think I am past that and finally have arrived at a time in my life where I am able and willing to have a partner. Now the hard part – where to find her!! Not an easy task I know, so if anyone out there knows someone that would like to hook up with a guy who is somewhat adventurous, loves to travel and experience new things, 42 years old, kinda quiet, receding hairline, about 10 pounds overweight (but committed to losing it and maintaining somewhat of a healthy lifestyle), lives in Southeast Indiana and has a great job then e-mail me at jeffmichie at yahoo dot com.

Best Experiences

Tough one! I had so many great experiences, most of which I was fortunate enough to be able to relay in this blog. The most memorable are the ones that come directly to my mind as I reflect on this trip. They are:
First few days in Bangkok – I was juiced and excited about being in a new country and everything was so foreign and exciting.
The Slow Boat – A great two days floating down the Mekong River in Laos. An adventurous and somewhat dangerous way to travel in one of the poorest countries in the world.
Phnom Penh – The spirit of a people and a culture who have survived one of the most brutal histories in the last 40 years. More than any other place, this city made me realize how fortunate I am in this world and what the human spirit is capable of. Material goods and a comfortable lifestyle are not nearly as important to me now as are friendships, love and a sense of community and togetherness. Also in Phnom Penh I had a great time hanging out at the California 2 with two great guys, Frank and Thom. An unforgettable experience and the one place that truly changed my life.
Siem Reap – The home of the Temples of Angkor. The magnificence and the history of these sites, many built over 1,000 years ago, was truly awe inspiring and gave me a great appreciation of the culture and history of not only the ancient Angkorian Kingdoms but those of other ancient civilizations in South and Southeast Asia.
St. Andrews – I have written a great deal about my love for St. Andrews as it is a place that has touched me deeply. Plus, I played great golf at the Home of Golf. Anyone who visits St. Andrews must make sure to spend time at The Dunvegan!

Worst Experiences

Another tough one because every place I visited had its own charm and uniqueness, at least to me. I guess my least favorite place I visited was Hanoi, Vietnam and that was likely due to the lousy weather and quick culture shock coming from laid back Laos. I would definitely visit Hanoi again and encourage anyone else to do so.

My most difficult experience was dealing with the in-your-face poverty, begging and human deformities and amputations I saw in Cambodia but, as discussed above, these difficult experiences also were also the most enlightening and life-changing for me.

I don’t live my life reflecting on regrets or what if’s, at least not for any long period of time. It is pointless to do so because you can learn from most every decision you make. One of my most poignant realizations from this trip (and one that helped me make my decision to come home early) was that when making any choice or a decision that has life-changing ramifications it is entirely possible and even likely that the final decision can turn out positive regardless of what you decide to do. Decisions are not a black or white / good or bad scenario. If you stay or go, if you turn left or right, if you continue to travel or come back to a great career opportunity, if you buy this house or that house – the decision not made can be entirely as good as the decision made. Does this make sense? I’m not sure I’m explaining it too well but it really does make sense to me. Maybe it’s just an attitude and maybe what I’m saying is just obvious but it was a neat realization to me thinking of the vast gray-areas out there in the world and that there are many, many forks in the road we all have to negotiate and that we need to make our choices with confidence and a positive attitude and not regret the road not taken.

How’s that for some preaching? I do like the message though and I hope it makes sense.

What would I have done differently?

The biggest thing I would have done differently would have been to not have made the trip alone. There are many pros and cons to solo travel and while I enjoyed the freedom of making the many spontaneous decisions I got to make I really think the whole trip would have been even more enjoyable if I shared it with someone special.

This is an interesting conundrum as it would have been very difficult to find someone who was in the same phase in their life as I was at the time I made the decision to travel and to find someone with the means and opportunity and someone who could have put up with me on the road. It likely would have never been possible for me to find that person.

That aside, there were countless times that I was awed and amazed and overwhelmed by what I saw and experienced and to have someone next to me that I could have shared those moments with would have made them extra-special. I was fortunate to be able to take decent pictures of things and to have the ability to write about my experiences to my readers of this blog and that was a great help to me. My Mom wrote to me and said something particularly poignant “That I am not truly alone in my travels as I have chose to share my experiences and feelings with those who read my blog”. I truly appreciate the comments and advice I received from my friends and readers and to have the opportunity to inspire and entertain people was a neat experience and a new experience for me.

Another thing I would have done differently would have been to broaden my research beyond Asia. I read a lot about this area of the world and was somewhat comfortable going from country to country but was not so comfortable with the thoughts about other parts of the world and I think that might have been a big part of the reason why I did not travel to other parts of the world that I have a very strong interest in, including East Africa, Israel and the Middle East and Eastern Europe. I see this as a learning experience and an opportunity for future travel. Anyone want to go with me next time??

Did I achieve my goals and Purposes?

I did a blog entry on December 16th entitled “Purposes” where I laid out that I thought the difference between a Traveler and a Tourist is that a Traveler had certain Purposes for their trip. While I struggled throughout the trip with the Traveler vs. Tourist distinction and what it really means (not much as it turns out), I do think it is important to have goals or purposes in mind when traveling for an extended period of time. These goals or purposes were very personal to me. These are the purposes I wrote about in that blog entry:
· Exploration of my limits
· Exploration of my potential
· Broaden my mind and my life experiences
· Introduction to other cultures
· Exploration of the world
· Explore and better understand my religious beliefs and those of other cultures
· Get off the tourist/traveler track as much as possible to explore each country
· See sights that I have only read and dreamed about
· Become more extroverted in my dealings with people

Did I achieve them all? I would say Yes but not all in the depth that I envisioned. Some of these goals are quite esoteric and their achievement has so many levels. I think that to continue to try to achieve these goals and have them serve as purposes in my now, more settled, life has a lot of value to me.

If anyone wants to ask me for more details on any particular purpose and my thoughts on achieving any enlightenment on them please e-mail me and I will attempt to discuss my thoughts further and in greater detail.

Am I glad I did it?

Am I glad I took this trip? Without any doubt, uncertainty, regrets or anything like that, an uncategorical – YES!!!!!!! I am a better person for having taken this trip.

This was one of the great experiences of my life and a chapter in my life was I will always remember and fondly recall. A confluence of events that I was able to manufacture that allowed me to take this chance and live this totally foreign, unsettled and uncharacteristic life.

Did I learn anything else about myself?

Certainly. I realized how much I missed certain friends. Being away from people you see and talk to everyday and people you care about and care about you is hard, much harder and more difficult than I realized, even with e-mail available almost everywhere. I appreciate so much those of you whom I maintained constant e-mail contact with, letting me know what’s going on and keeping my thoughts close to you and to home. That meant more to me than any of you will ever know!!

I learned how much I enjoyed living in Southeast Indiana – This is a great place to live and work.

I learned and realized how much I missed working in the casino business – who’d have thought that??? I missed the day-to-day interactions with people who cared about a business. I missed the structured lifestyle of coming to work, I missed being a part of a business and influencing people and events beyond my own.

Life is a journey and many times that journey is a circle. I believe in the circle of life and I believe that life can be a circle. There are places in this world that are special to everyone and we constantly migrate back to those places as timing and circumstances warrant. I have experienced that in my life previously when I had the opportunity to live and work in San Diego 12 years after leaving that wonderful place. I only lived there about 18 months that time but to me it showed that the pull of positive memories and experiences of a place would always draw me back to it. St. Andrews and Scotland are a part of my circle, so is Lake Tahoe (where I lived for 6 years and where my Mom lives – I love it there!). Monterey (where I hope to live someday) is also part of my circle.

So, how did I get to where I am today?

I am now the Senior Director of Finance and Administration of Belterra Casino Resort and Spa in Southeast Indiana. Belterra is about 25 miles south of where I previously worked at Grand Victoria Casino in Rising Sun.

Talk about a circle!!

The opportunity to come back to a place I consider home, to a business I love, a boss I enjoy working with and for whom I have great respect was too enticing for me to refuse. I truly believe I made the right decision and I spend many day and nights (and beers) pondering the decision before I made it. I also believe that I would have been just as happy to continue traveling and visiting more of this great big world. I now have that to look forward to someday in the future.

People often ask me if I got the traveling Jones out of my blood and my answer is that for the time being, yes. A rather unemphatic yes though because I doubt that anyone who has traveled or has a strong desire to travel ever gets it out of their blood. I am here and grounded and happy and comfortable (not numb anymore though!) and do not have a desire to take off and go. I’m committed to making a life here and being the best damn Director of Finance I can be (and I know that’s a pretty good one!).

I’m a different person than I was back in December and I love it that I have changed by attitude and outlook on life and people so much in such a short period of time. Life on the road is being inundated constantly with new and different experiences and that can’t help but change you and make you a different and better person.

So, I am going to sign off on this blog and begin a new chapter in my life. This entry puts closure to a trip and a time in my life was truly exceptional and unforgettable.

Thank you everyone who read this blog and supported me emotionally with your comments, e-mails, thoughts and prayers.

The End

Posted by Jeff on April 23, 2005 03:27 PM
Category: Closure


What an eloquant way to end your blog. I'm glad that you posted this final chapter as it answers all the questions we have had about your return to the states.

I've had a blast following you and living vicariously through your blog for the past 4 months. I guess it's time now for me to return the favor and start my own trip.

Glad to hear that everything in your life is working out so well :)

Posted by: Croz on April 24, 2005 09:04 AM


I've loved your stories and enjoyed your adventures. I don't think you are done yet. Your open mind will take you far.

I'm serious about the yoga classes. You really ought to check it out. You will not be disappointed.

Hugs to you!!

Posted by: Cooky on April 24, 2005 10:16 PM

Well said! Glad your home now and good luck with your new job. We'll miss you at Grand Victoria. Thanks for everything! Take care.

Posted by: kacey on April 26, 2005 09:19 AM

Hi Jeff,
I've been following your blog on and off for some time now. I was wondering why you hadn't updated in a while, and then I come and see you've returned home!! My first reaction was disappointment & concern, but now that I read your reasons for coming back, and what you've achieved in 4 months, it's great to hear!

I notice that time while on "vacation" seems to feel a lot longer than the days and weeks spent at work, and I can see that 4 months is a very long time indeed. You've definitely made me think twice about attempting a full year trip away, especially since I, like yourself, am mostly interested in Asia, but don't know much about other parts of the world that I'd like to visit.

But it is heartening to hear that even 4 months away has changed your outlook & recharged your batteries (which is what I would hope to achieve). And I think it's very nice to hear that you've opened yourself up to wanting and inviting a woman into your life :) Thanks for sharing your journey.

Posted by: Joyce on April 28, 2005 11:17 PM

Just got back from one of my 1 week trips to Florida and had to check your blog right away. Even though your trip was only 4 months long, you brought a great deal of reading enjoyment and history to many people. Stop by one of these days - you were missed. What can I say - I must agree about the boss you are working with and know you will do a tremendous job for Larry and Belterra.


P.S. How many marriage offers have you received since this entry? I'm sure there are many willing females out there to accept your offer.

Posted by: Karen on May 1, 2005 04:54 PM
Email this page
Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

Designed & Hosted by the BootsnAll Travel Network