It's been ages since I've got out of Indonesia, well over a year now. I bought a house here and I'm doing serious renovations, so all my money is going to that. But I'm getting restless. Until my venture into real estate, I was a pretty regular "flashpacker", going on trips in the region on cheap budget airlines and staying in cheap (but not rock bottom) accommodation, mainly in countries where it doesn't cost that much.
I have irregular employment, doing consultancies, which gives me a lot -- too much, sometimes -- down time, which makes this possible.
Over the past ten years, I've travelled to Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, China, Tibet, Nepal, India, Cambodia, Iran and Japan, usually for a couple of weeks to one country.
India: I went to the Sunderbans, a huge mangrove swamp at the delta of the Ganges. Tiger country. I SAW a tiger on a single half-day trip out, swimming across a canal. Incredibly lucky, my guide told me that he was going there for almost a year before he saw his first one.
Japan: Great to see an Asian country that doesn't look like it's still being built! I spent a very long day walking along the river in Kyoto. Gorgeous city. I don't know where Japanese get their reputation for being cold and aloof, I found them helpful, friendly and fun.
Iran: Oddly, the people here are incredibly hospitable and friendly, and the women are hot and flirtatious. It seems like quite a civilised, middle class country, from the streets. It's only the government that is hideous, the people are wonderful. Practically zero tourism, so you have sites that anywhere else in the world would be swarming all to yourself and the locals.
Vietnam: The North has some of the most spectacular scenery I've ever seen, huge slabs of jagged rock towering out of the ground. I took an old Minsk motorbike up to Ha Giang, one of the more isolated provinces, mainly Hmongs, right up near the Chinese border.
Philppines: I went to Dongsol in the Whale Shark season, when you can take out a boat and drop over the side to see 20m long whale sharks float serenely past. Philippines has the worst food in Asia!
Laos: Right up on the wild side of the Golden Triangle, next to the Shan state in Burma.
Anyone else got the travel bug? Where are you planning on going next?