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On the Road: Travelling Anywhere?

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?

Comments

  • @lunecat, I had to look it up in Wikipedia. For me, anywhere in Europe looks incredibly exotic, after all these years in Asia! And -- I can't resist -- are you going to Scarabough Fair?
  • traveling across the yard through 2 feet of snow to get wood for the stove. It's 16F and snowing and very windy at the moment. Dreaming of visiting JakartaBoy.
  • Most of our travels used to be to northern Ontario for wilderness camping until the little one arrived. She's old enough this year that we are going to get her used to camping in less "wild" conditions. There is a nice campground on Pelee Island that is mostly empty during the week and there are other accommodations nearby in case the raccoons spook her during the night.
  • Although I do love to travel (I agree with you @JakartaBoy that North Vietnam is pretty unique) I have the pleasure of living within 30 minutes of the Crown Jewel of North America - Glacier Park is awesome......
  • @stogie, I'd love to go to that part of the world one day.
  • @Mouse, drop me a line if you're passing through!
  • @JakartaBoy it is a great place that far too many Americans even just don't take the time to see.

    We live in a beautiful world if we just take the time to take a look around. Yes there are some nasty people out there, but there is a world full of fine individuals as well....
  • I like to surf fish, with the gas prices coming down here. I may be getting to assateague Island when the weather warms a bit. About a three hour drive approx 170 miles south east
    My knowledge is worthless if not shared and applied . "Joseph McKenna"  
  • Lately most of my travels have been around the Far East and primarily around Japan, though I did spend just over a month in California and before that a month driving across the US-- something I truly enjoyed since I got to spend time with my son.

    Next trip will likely be a family holiday to one of the neighboring countries- which one is yet to be nailed down.
  • JakartaBoyJakartaBoy Member
    edited February 2015 PM
    Lately most of my travels have been around the Far East and primarily around Japan, though I did spend just over a month in California and before that a month driving across the US-- something I truly enjoyed since I got to spend time with my son.

    Next trip will likely be a family holiday to one of the neighboring countries- which one is yet to be nailed down.
    @SgtJon, as I said, I found Japan a wonderful place to visit as a tourist. I got deeply stuck into a non-fiction book by Haruki Murakami about the gas bomb attacks on the Tokyo underground before I went, it's a brilliant book. Just by talking about what all the victims were doing on the day of the attacks, their struggles to get out of bed to go to work on time after a 15 hour day the night before, stuff like that, it gave a great insight into how people live. I thoroughly recommend it.

    It was an expensive place to travel compared to most of the other countries I've visited, but not totally outrageous. It was just that you tend to have to seek out the places where ordinary working Japanese people eat and travel by public transport, wheras in other countries in Asia, you can often find yourself taking taxis everywhere and eating at top end places. I got a really cheap ticket on AirAsia, a couple of hundred dollars. It did strike me as a bit odd that the cost of the train ticket from Kyoto to Tokyo was considerably more expensive than the flight from Malaysia. I figured it might have even been cheaper to fly Kyoto-Kuala Lumpur-Tokyo than taking the train. But I wouldn't have missed the train for anything!

  • @JakartaBoy Japan is indeed a funny place in terms of what's expensive and what isn't. I eat out a few times a week and with a family of 5 our average bill is about ¥5,000 , which as of today is about $42.00- mind you this is not high end dining but Shabu Shabu or cook your own buffet.

    Here is another few things that are oddly expensive here: hand towels, socks, business card cases and those little carts you take groceries home in. All wildly expensive here as compared to nearly everywhere else I have been.

    You are absolutely right about the trains- just the other day I looked into the logistics of 2 people coming up towards Tokyo and it was cheaper to fly than use the bullet train.

  • @SgtJon, yes, I budgeted on about two ten dollar meals per day, with a lot of those meals consisting of a bowl of noodles in restaurants in train stations - but usually very good noodles! With those plastic models of the menu items in the front window and with my complete lack of Japanese, I couldn't help being impressed that servers were usually very willing to step outside the (often very busy) resto to come with me outside to see which dish I was pointing to. I can't imagine Australians or Americans being so considerate to a non-English speaking tourist in a busy city. Similarly, when I couldn't work out how to operate the ticket machines in the subway, I had the railway officials come out of their office to help me insert my coins and collect the right ticket, without so much as an exasperated rolling of the eyes. It seemed to me that the Japanese think it's entirely normal and to be expected that foreigners don't speak their language and don't know how things work, and that they have a duty to assist them. Unlike in many anglo countries, where we tend to think of those who don't speak English as being slightly retarded.
  • @SgtJon, yes, I budgeted on about two ten dollar meals per day, with a lot of those meals consisting of a bowl of noodles in restaurants in train stations - but usually very good noodles! With those plastic models of the menu items in the front window and with my complete lack of Japanese, I couldn't help being impressed that servers were usually very willing to step outside the (often very busy) resto to come with me outside to see which dish I was pointing to. I can't imagine Australians or Americans being so considerate to a non-English speaking tourist in a busy city. Similarly, when I couldn't work out how to operate the ticket machines in the subway, I had the railway officials come out of their office to help me insert my coins and collect the right ticket, without so much as an exasperated rolling of the eyes. It seemed to me that the Japanese think it's entirely normal and to be expected that foreigners don't speak their language and don't know how things work, and that they have a duty to assist them. Unlike in many anglo countries, where we tend to think of those who don't speak English as being slightly retarded.
    Not sure I could have framed it any better. While I have certainly experienced a positive reception in many other countries- Japan seems to have an ingrained trait to be as accommodating as possible, all while being nice about it.

    As for the train ticket machines - you have not seen anything until you press the HELP button and a hidden door opens adjacent to your machine and a clerk pokes out to help. Mind you they are accommodating to visitors and "locals" alike; nothing intimidates a person more than trying to navigate some of the larger Tokyo stations for the 1st or dare I say 20th time.
  • I've not done any travelling, other than within the British Isles, for 15 years due to various reasons. Soon though, I'll be boarding a cruise ship (first time) and making whistle stop tours at a few places. I'll hopefully be seeing dolphins swimming alongside us. I'll be seeing the Collosseum and viewing Michaelangelo's art in the Sistine Chapel. I'll be walking the Formula One course in Monaco and flying over the French Riviera in my first helicopter trip. I'll be taking the cable car to the top in Gibraltar and getting harassed by the Barbary apes, before exploring the caverns and tunnels within the Rock itself. I'll be walking through Parc Guell in Barcelona and going inside Sagradia Familia. I'll also be having free time in other places to just wander, explore, and soak up the local atmosphere. Aboard ship, I'll be taking in all the pleasures the ship has to offer, plus sitting on a balcony with a glass of red wine or a gin and tonic, kept company by a good book, watching the world and the stars above.

    If you're going to have your first holiday for a decade and a half, might as well make it a good one! I might never get a chance to do this kind of thing again.
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