My Kingdom for Sandals

I decided last night to find a pair of sandals so I could give my Merrill Moab Ventilators a break and try to get them to last over a year. They are really good shoes for walking but hard to get here or I should say impossible to get here. So off I went yesterday to the Russian Market and saw some sandals. Then went to Central Market and saw more sandals. I decided to do a bit of research online last night and I found sandals in Singapore for over $100. Well. No. I also found some in a sport shop here for $40. I decided to get those if I could not find some today in the Central Market. So back today to the huge and sprawling Central Market and I found a pair of Cat Sandals that look pretty sturdy.


The main goal was not to find the most expensive or durable or beautiful pair of sandals but to find some that would last the year or most of it through some walking trips in several places. I am hopeful that these give me that flexibility! The stall owner started at $40 and we ended at $30 which seems reasonable. I only half-heartedly negotiate most times and will try taking about 30% off. He readily agreed so off I went to find the next thing I needed.

The next thing are cheap socks. I managed to lose a sock in the laundry so found the stall that sells comparable socks for $2 a pair. No negotiation there. I don’t really feel like offering $1 and then haggling for the pennies after that.

Now thanks to the Central Market here I found the stuff I wanted and usually when I shop in either the Russian or Central Market I always feel like things are pretty well priced. T-shirts here fit me so I can get a cheap shirt that says Cambodia for $3. If I would buy 5 of them they would discount it down to $12. Pairs of “North Face” shorts can go starting at $10 but usually they will go down to $5. Underwear are about the same. You can get five pair for $3 a pair or $12 for all 5.

None of the stuff is meant to last forever but at this point I’ve replaced everything with cheap clothing from either Cambodia or Vietnam including my fake North Face Surge daypack which seems pretty sturdy and gets me through airline carry on easily. The only thing remaining is my Tortuga travel backpack which I would not replace unless it ripped out. Then I could probably find a replacement bag for about $50 if that. I always think the best place for those things is in the Ben Thanh market in Ho Chi Minh City or the stores around the north edge of the Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi.

If you come over to Vietnam or Cambodia for a longer term or even to live for some period of time, you can find just about everything you would need in the markets including clothing and shoes. The markets sometimes specialize in certain things like one will have kitchen utensils and less of something else. The Central Market in Phnom Penh seems to have it all but you have to be patient. Having an iced latte will help 🙂

Anyways, that was the story of finding some final things for the next 5 months. If T shirts are needed, pretty sure in Malaysia or Thailand I can get some replacements. I travel with sets of 5 of t shirts, underwear, and socks so I have enough stuff to last a week easily and then get laundry done each week somewhere. Its easy here to find a place that charges $1 for a KG. 

Hard to believe in closing that its Wednesday here and I only have 4 more full days and then its off for 5 months of travel. I will spend my year anniversary on the road in Malaysia. One minor note is that I had bought sandals and had them shipped from the states but they disappeared after leaving Bangkok. No one seems to know where they went. It happens coming in here sometimes so you just learn to accept the things that happen and get on with living. Luckily I found these Cat Sandals.

A week to go — Singapore Thoughts, Malaysia Dreams, Thailand Wonder!

Its Monday morning here at my home base, the very nice LaLune Hotel in Phnom Penh. I turned in my laundry to the nice folks down the street and then visited the latte stand where I go just about every morning for an iced latte that is made so well! Today a bit later sees me going to the Joma Bakery in Phnom Penh for a late brunch type thing and walking around with the camera to capture some things I have not yet downtown. The Joma bakery is the same shoppe that I enjoyed so much in Hanoi in the old quarter. Menus are the same, quality is the same, and its really a nice place to stop off for a toasted bagel and cream cheese and a hot latte. I can sit there for awhile and meander mentally which is part of the joy of a coffee shop and bakery.

The real thing though is leaving for this city-state called Singapore in a week. I have not been back there since 2011 and I still have a few friends that live and work there so hopefully will catch up with them. Singapore is one of the places I rate highly as a limited or short term visit like Japan. Its a powerhouse economically but the beauty of the city streets, the multiple cultures that call it home, shopping, and technology make it a very nice visit. There are also zoos and gardens and museums and all kinds of stuff to see so I am looking forward to walking the city. I’ve thought often about going back since Singapore once formed a highly important part of my work life but even more than the past is the city itself I think about. Its a safe, beautiful, wondrous place to wander day or night. Then there is the food! One hotel I used to stay in when working out of Singapore had a really nice hawker center right next to it and these restaurants in a row by the hotel. But the best was the Royal Plaza on Scotts right off Orchard. I could wander out from there and reach so many places. I have Singapore for a week so there are lots of things to do both do and think about this last week before the doing of it. Being able to be free and just wander the city without some of the baggage in 2011 will be nice. Then I leave on the bus for 90 days in Malaysia!

I have these dreams about Malaysia and the places I’ve chosen for this trip. Its the chance to see so many different visions of Malaysia. I’ll start with Kuala Lumpur for three weeks spent wandering in every direction I can go. Then I catch a bus to Malacca for a few weeks to see a wondrous historic city with so many interesting ties. Then back to the north a bit for a few weeks to Port Dickson. Finally, I fly from Kuala Lumpur to Penang for a month. I am really looking forward to all the places but Penang and its city, food, cultures is something I have dreamt over for awhile. In 80 some days though I leave and catch a flight to Thailand!

I designed the Thailand trip not to try see it all but to pick places I wanted to see and experience from the beaches at Phuket and Krabi to Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I have 60 days to experience Thailand after a visa extension there and will finally end up flying back to Phnom Penh on 14 June for two weeks.

Dare I mention that after those weeks that I go back to Vietnam for 2.5 months? Yep! Back to a place of wonder to wander some more. I’ll get to see Ho Chi Minh City again, Can Tho and Phu Quoc Island for the first time, then my all time favorite city Da Nang and finally Hanoi. Then back to Phnom Penh but only for a few days because then I fly to Lao for three weeks.

2019 is almost full!

I will have a few weeks in Phnom Penh after Lao to renew my retirement extension of stay but then I will depart for the fall and winter time for months in Taiwan and the Philippines coinciding with Christmas this year. This fills up the travel bucket for the entire year and the only flights not booked yet are those to Taipei and Manila and on.

Its 2019 but thinking about 2020 is fun! I really will want to get to India and China in 2020 and also strive to get outside the envelope a bit and visit Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Dubai and other places I can reach. Maybe a trip back to the states then will form up for awhile.

The real thing is the freedom I have to go as I want where I want or stay longer. I’ve thought about staying longer in Vietnam by getting a year long tourist visa and living in Da Nang for some of it, Hanoi for some of it, etc. It may be a thing for me!

With the travel almost 90% booked for 2019, I will also approach my one year on this adventure the end of February. I flew to Japan on 1 March 2018. What a year it’s been! A wonder of slow travel that I encourage others to do especially if retired or considering it. Nothing should hold you back and you should not look back until you want to look back. I think the two main places to consider are Vietnam and Cambodia. You can find a quality and wonder of life in these two places which will keep you coming back for more. Vietnam has so much to see, the people are wonderful and genuine, and the country has great infrastructure for travel and its cheap. Cambodia has so many different looks and feels. You can visit Kampot for some laid back vibes and great food or go find Siem Reap for all the history. If you want a second quieter yet fun adventure check out Battambang. There is always the big city Phnom Penh to reach back to. You can do bus and flights throughout the kingdom.

In the end though its a first step to Singapore for me coming up! Its gonna be cool to get back and remember the older thoughts and then dream and wonder at my life traveling so slow but living in Southeast Asia.

Travel Planning and Workflows

For awhile I used Ulysses for just about everything that involved text or notes. My travel notes were in pieces and relied on google calendar, the websites like, sky scanner,, etc. I realized with the trip coming up next that I needed something better so decided Ulysses was simply not the best choice. I settled on primarily cross platform applications so if I moved to an Android phone, I was not locked in to IOS and MAC systems. Here are my apps and how I use them now.

OneNote. Microsoft OneNote is a very nice and capable note management solution and how it handles sections and notebook pages are really nice. I needed something that would allow better management of cutting and pasting from websites like the airline reservations or hotel names. If you receive those emails in gmail often they get inserted into google calendar, but the real thing is that google calendar is not a repository. OneNote is a repository. So I decided to create my own repository for travel. I needed a basic format for a note that would capture the dates in a place, airline reservations, hotel accommodations, and bus or cab or other reservations or needs. But I also wanted something more freeform so if I wanted to add a note, I could easily transcribe a note. It was also important to have the same experience on iPhone and my Mac laptop. The OneNote app on both does this and its free on both. You can create a basic workflow like I did below easily.

Screen Shot 2019 01 12 at 2 46 06 PM

The important things with the workflow are a few. One is to limit separate places for the travel information and make use of the graphical experience that OneNote has. Check out the screen capture of my Singapore note. In the elements are a table for destination and dates, a section for flights and hotels, bus or cab needs, and any notes on notable sights to see. Now instead of relying on each website or using tripit or some site which only allows me to send information and not really control the layout or makeup of the page, I can make use of additional fields of information as I need.

A second important thing with the workflow is that it succeeds in bringing together all the information into a single place so if I want to see the hotel I will be staying in while visiting Singapore, its right there. So is my bus information and my flight information from Cambodia.

The last thing is this information is presented in completely different websites with different formatting and being able to have a single note page with the details means I can be more productive and make better choices with the information or if I decide to make a change.

Day One. As a casualty of the Ulysses changes I decided to move to Day One for diary and journalling. I am a big believer in creating a daily journal with personal information, diatribes, emotional stuff, etc. Its my scratchpad of life. This is another one of the tools which are cross platform. The beauty of the app is its dedicated to journaling and diary building and it syncs to my devices and also has location information embedded so if I want I can see where I wrote a thing. If you write a daily journal or diary, I still believe writing freeform text has an advantage in that you can be writing and use MarkUp if you want to format but Day One is just nice for its features and the fact I can migrate if I want to another mobile OS and phone.

There you have it!

So there you go. If you travel or just want to control information from disparate sources and be able to view the data across laptops and mobile devices, its worthwhile to find apps that let you experience and use the data and that data should synchronize and let you always see the most updated data based on editing on whatever platform.

Both of the apps answer a basic need I have. OneNote provides a very nice and free note taking and management platform which lets me copy web data from a variety of booking sites into pre-determined fields I want to control and always see; but it also lets me add more data below or above. Formatting of the data lets me insert tables and graphical elements that I can see right away so I built a template note for traveling that I copy and paste to a new note.

The beauty of a basic workflow for travel really is ensuring you use it to centrally manage all the little bits of information you receive when you travel. You get email about flights and hotels and bus services and tours that confirm your purchases. Its all there in your email but to me email and a calendar app is not the best choice for distilling the information into a usable and modifiable source. If you travel like me and have travel plans for sometimes months at a time visiting multiple countries over 5 months, the devil is definitely in the details. I found I made mistakes in booking travel for hotels because I got dates wrong with no workflow or central repository.

I hope this helps a bit. It took me a few days of editing to create the notes and then harvest or mine the data. Try it out on a trip and see what you think!

Tuk Tuk Driver to the Future!

As I was sitting drinking beer, perhaps getting a bit drunk this evening downtown, it dawned on me a few facts:

I am pretty lucky! I was riding the tuk tuk through downtown Phnom Penh when it dawned on me perhaps through some beer and inebriation states that life is pretty good. Here I am riding a tuk tuk through downtown Cambodia on a Friday night after drinking more than my fair share of beer downtown for a reasonable price. The light is ebbing and the sunset is going red in the city. How I translated so many years of pain and agony from 2009 to 2014 to this is amazing! So yes. I am pretty lucky.

Life is pretty good! Yes. Life is pretty good. Again, riding that tuk tuk away from the riverside area with its bars and restaurants made me realize that life is pretty good. Here I am in a place that I never thought I would see. In a retirement that 10 years ago I only imagined. In a moment that seems so unreal. Perhaps its the beer talking tonight but wow! I mean wow. Riding the tuk tuk through a cosmopolitan city like Phnom Penh with a beer buzz on and seeing the city turning to evening with horns honking and people yelling and traffic going. So yes, there is the lucky thing and life is pretty good.

My days are forever graced! There is no way I ever imagined that the days I have now would be the way they are when I imagined them years ago. I never knew how well life would be retired or moving to this beat. Life is so good now! Tomorrow is not going to be like today and that is okay. Tomorrow I will go to other places and see them and walk them with the camera. It is all good. What I realized today is that these moments are graced and life will turn itself around for me in a week as I fly to Singapore.

So perhaps the beer is talking tonight. Perhaps the moments have all come together and let me see how totally fucking cool life can be when there is no end state. No place to have to be or things to have to do. No goals or milestones or responsibilities. Tomorrow undoubtedly will be a day of beer hang over and hopefully sleeping late. It does not matter though because I found out a seminal thing today. This place, this day, this reality does not matter. I have another one cooking up. Maybe that one does. But the real truth is none of them do and it is the moments of each that really matter. That creates yet another beer drinking event for me this evening.

Halfway to Singapore and then onwards!

Today’s the halfway mark for here in Phnom Penh. In a week point 5, I fly out to see a place I have not been back to since 2011. I have a week to go experience the city-state, perhaps get to the botanical gardens, walk the city streets, and find hawker stands for cheaper food. I may end up doing what I do in Tokyo which is just finding food at cheap noodle stands or convenience stores. One night in Kyoto I went to the hotel bar and had one draft beer. That came in at about $7 US dollars. So in the interests of comparison shopping I then went to the 7/11 down the street and got an entire six pack of the same beer for less. I don’t really go to the places to eat expensive or buy drinks in sky bars, or find the nicest places for both. I go to walk the cities, see the sights and let my Fuji camera have some fun. Each day of the 7 days there I will head in a different direction to see new places. But lets face it folks. We’re talking Singapore! The land of hawker stands and sitting out in the evening with a Tiger beer or whatever like the Singaporeans do. I could find the BBQ place I went to way back when or I could hop a ride to the Borders Books where I would hang out. I will probably do all those things.

But in a week I will leave because its part of the way to go. I never spend a long time in expensive places. I’ll take off the morning of the 8th day for my bus ride to Kuala Lumpur. I’ll spend the same for 3 weeks for a room as I did for one week in Singapore. I will also use up my entire 90 days of visa exempt travel there and see KL, Malacca, Port Dickson, and then fly to Penang. From there its to Thailand for 60 days with one visa extension after 30. I’ll get to Phuket, Krabi, Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I’m getting pretty excited to get going again folks. The weeks here in Phnom Penh have been nice and the relaxation and visiting the people at the hotel and also seeing the city, drinking and eating in the city, and just walking the beautiful capitol parks has been the best! But its the vagabonding part that grabs me.

I also booked 2.5 months or so back to Vietnam in June 2 weeks after I get back. Returning to Vietnam is a joy for me. I will get to Saigon, Can Tho, Phu Quoc Island, Da Nang, and Hanoi. I have all the travel stuff booked. But then to round out 2019 travels I get back for a week and take off for Lao for a 3 weeks.

When I get back it will be for a bit longer stay here in Phnom Penh. It will be time to get my retirement extension of stay renewed, get my tourist Visa for China or decide on another direction and then leave. I’d like to winter down in a warm place like the Philippines for the last part of this year. But honestly there are so many places and since I don’t mind returning to favorite places which I think Malaysia will be, who knows?

After 2019, I know I want this trip back to Japan but this time I want to go from north to south over the course of 90 days. It makes sense to spend 30 days on each island. I’d start in Hokkaido, then get to Honshu, and then finish up in Kyushu. 

For awhile, I played with the idea of going back to the states but the truth is that there is nothing for me there. I don’t have property, car, place to stay, something to do there. I would grow bored I think rather quickly compared to just taking off for some place like Siem Reap again.

I just was thinking today on this tour I did around the city about all that is out there and how 2019 is looking awesome for traveling slowly. I have almost the entire year filled up with my slow travels and once I decide after October this year what I’ll do for Christmas season, I’ll have a year of doing the things which have turned out the best for me.

So there you go! A year of Asia and returning a few times here to the hotel which is my home base and then getting back to Vietnam to see friends scattered across south an north. Eat some Pho. Drink some Saigon beer. Watch the sunset yet again in Da Nang or see the evening set in at the Hoan Kiem lake in Hanoi. All beautiful and wondrous and so much has changed in each place that it will be like seeing them for the first time.

I’ve come to realize I’m not interested or vested in country counting or reaching some plateau of places I’ve been. I value the moments more wherever I spend them whether there before or not. I think its more like living and making a mark in a place for the moments I give to each place. Never feeling rushed to reach some goal because I ain’t got no goals. Harvesting the moments that give me precious insight into a place. With a year coming up doing this thing, I’ve come to realize that is really what this whole thing is about. Not about traveling or even vagabonding. More about living and perhaps its like my mom once wrote,

Life is a matter of living making each moment count

Life is a matter of giving giving the right amount

Such it is!

Interesting Times Between This and That

I had wondered about getting done with the 4 months of exploring some of Cambodia and then getting back to Phnom Penh for a few weeks. I spent a month here in September seeing the city but this time is different. I have a set of things I want to do around the city. Like today I’ll get my hair cut and beard trimmed at the Tokyo Barber Shop after visiting the Aeon Mall for awhile and then walk back to the hotel in the afternoon. Tomorrow I’ll get over to the camera shop to see my friend Johnson there and then visit the Central Market for awhile and also see the neighboring shops and stores. The area around the market is a huge shopping zone here in the city and there are upscale shops, little neighborhood stores, souvenir places. In case you are wondering, there are lots of food and coffee places too. Many people stop while investigating the market for a latte or frappe or a smoothie or something or carry it with them through their shopping tour. I went to the Russian Market yesterday which is smaller but yet so diverse on what it offers. Both markets are fun to visit and there may be some overlap in that you can find decent clothing or backpacks at both but since the Central is bigger the chances are you will find more shops that have certain things. For food, I like the Russian Market better inside. There are some really good food stalls to stop at there!

The Tokyo Barber Shop to me is the place I would always go in Phnom Penh to get my hair cut and beard trimmed. I just trust them and they have a really nice customer ethic there. It costs a bit more but I feel like I’m worth it and I enjoy the time spent on the massage, the hair washing, detailed cutting and beard trimming. From there I’ll walk home which will take about an hour so should get back in the later afternoon and will have a few hours until dinner. Last night I had beef fried rice down the street which is always good. The meal with the beer was $3.60. Tonight it may be Dumplings down the street or BBQ. By tomorrow, I will probably be ready for a dinner downtown somewhere. Perhaps pizza at this place I know or even Mexican food. Its easy no matter what to get a Grab tuk tuk to wherever.

I don’t have a set agenda or places I have to go so the time is spent more in relaxing and unwinding and doing less besides the walking each day which is not optional. Phnom Penh is one of those cities of neighborhoods where one is almost without tourists but if you go down a bit you will find tourist zones all over and ex-pats lining the restaurants with their drinks and stories. I’ve met a few now and again. I did meet this person at the hotel which no matter how I tried I could not get him to go out to eat at a local place. He would only eat the food from Pizza Hut or the hotel or a place that does dumplings down the street. I had wanted him to go to BBQ his last night and enjoy something different but he feared getting sick. He is leaving today and I feel sorry for him more than anything else. It must be terribly hard to travel in Vietnam and Cambodia and not eat the food or be continuously fearful of eating. He told while in Vietnam he would not eat at smaller food stalls or even established restaurants that had Pho or Bun Cha. I gather he would only eat at hotel restaurants or upper class places. He also would not try the coffee in the coffee stalls for fear of the ice in the iced drinks. I can respect it all and understand. Its his life though and I think when people get older (like me) they get more fearful of change or trying new things and it can really limit their experiences in places like Southeast Asia. You don’t have to just do street food however when I got back to the hotel I did do their vision of Banh Mi sandwiches which were good. I don’t do street food day after day though. I like to have changes so will eat different foods depending on how I feel. 

I hope he travels safely to Australia if he goes there. I would not wish to be like him but I understand it. Its another reason perhaps that its better for me to be on my own when I go places. I could never limit myself that far. Its easier to just deal with me since I kinda know what I want and not what another person could possibly want or not want.

Photography in the City…

I won’t be doing photography of each place I do as I did before so no real photo albums although I may share the day to day adventures I have as I do them. I like to take the camera with me most places but I also enjoy not taking it at times. I’ll try to post a few photos a week on here of the places I end up when I take the camera.

As I mentioned the neighborhoods here are fun places to observe so when I go tomorrow to the Central Market area, I will take the camera to capture the locations and people around the area. I will also end up most likely downtown by the river by weekend so will take the camera then. Its a nice place for people watching and photography and there are nice blocks and parks to see there to walk.

Today on the Walk…

By about noon today I will get a tuk tuk to the Aeon Mall and spend an hour there walking around the shops and then walk over to the barber shop which will take about 30 minutes of walking. From there I only have to really walk one major street to get close to the hotel and that takes about an hour. I may stop and look at some of the smaller shops for a baseball cap since I would like a second one that is higher quality than what is sold at the markets.

So between the days and the food and beer and visiting with my friends at the hotel, time slowly ticks by here in Phnom Penh and since I don’t have a place to get to most days its much more relaxing. The walking is more about the lefts and rights and not the destination unless like today I am walking back to the hotel. This is a different kind of time than the month here and weeks there type thing. I’m glad I take the time to do the in-between things. I think come 21 January I will be busier on the road seeing Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. Five months seeing the countries will probably go fast and slow at the same time I am thinking. It seemed seeing the places that in Cambodia some days were remarkably slow as I sat in the room with the same drink I enjoy here from one of the coffee stalls.

I hesitate to use the term travel for this because it really is not. I feel like a better term is vagabonding or hoboing between places and even though I have destinations and hotels booked, the between times walking some city like Penang or Kuala Lumpur matter more than the transit times on planes or buses. Singapore too will be so nice to see again. Its been 8 years since being there last.

That’s about it for now. Hope your New Year is gonna be just fine!