Sunday here in Da Lat so I went for a walk. I never quite know where I will end up but this time was so cool! I went down this road past the coffee shoppe I go to for late breakfast on Sundays. Just a small diversion though. While at the coffee shoppe, the manager sat down and we talked about Vietnam and the cities and his life for almost an hour. He told me about growing up in Hue and some of his goals early on. He started out wanting to open a coffee place in Hue but plans changed so he did other things. Then he moved to Da Lat and started working with the place I go on the weekends. We talked a lot about food and the cities of Vietnam. Both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are interesting to a lot of people but to him they are crowded, full of motorbikes that drive crazy, and the rush of a real commercial and market place. Hanoi is a bit less but its traffic seems to be even more focused.
Anyways, after talking for awhile, I embarked on the walk. Da Lat is on hills so you end up walking up and downhill quite a bit and it feels really good! I had not seen the country side around the city and the big roads slowly dissolve to small country roads. Less people walking and only the occasional car. It was quiet out there today and it gives a person time to reflect and consider while seeing these windy little roads and no horns blaring and city rush. I also took some pictures of the change between the city and the residential and almost country areas I had reached. Today, with its wondrous weather, cooler temperatures, and different sights to see creates a lot of the value I find in staying longer in places. Its not so much the rush to see the historic and tourist sights. Its more to see a city in its non tourist and native state. Quieter, more peaceful, lesser people. No cars and motorbikes. Just fun little country roads to walk. Here’s the latest photo album for Da Lat.
Now back in the hotel room with some cold water and the fan going, I’m left to speculate and wonder on a few things which have caught my attention reading the news this morning.
- Retiring in Colombia looks pretty interesting. Costs are very low and the retirement visa is pretty easy to get. I could easily qualify for the long term visa there. Its no big deal getting there from here for me. I just wonder whether I would find the same value at a few levels there as I find in Asia. My core values in Asia are the people, the culture, the food, the history and how the countries all touch. As an example in Asia, traveling between Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Lao is easy. Just a cheap airline or railroad ticket. I could easily go back to Hanoi and see some friends from anywhere and it would not really cause any problems for me.
- Infrastructure for the solo traveler in Asia is pretty established. I am not sure if its the same in Colombia. Here in Vietnam, simple things like getting a SIM card, finding restaurants, long stay guest houses or hotels is very easy. Traveling between countries and within is easy if sometimes a bit uncomfortable but flying trumps all here. Hopping on a Vietnam Airlines flight or AirAsia is cheap, easy, and quick.
- Visas look doable in Colombia and that’s a big deal to me. I don’t want to settle in a place where its a stretch to get a long term visa. Cambodia to me still wins out as far as ease and it meets the other criteria of travel between places I love, etc.
So with all the choices of going or staying, the feeling of freedom is huge! Would I leave Asia for Colombia? Maybe I would go for awhile. I have the rest of this year pretty well planned out and I started outlining next year to get an idea of what I would need to do.
Between the quiet country roads and the hotel room with the fan going and the cool temperatures, it feels like all needs are met. Its fun to consider another place and even do some research on it. Being so much a vagabond means that no country is a barrier to me. I can go as I please and stay longer in the cheaper places and shorter in the more expensive ones.
Life is good!