Since I don’t have a specific agenda or time to leave the hotel in the mornings, I tend to watch some news, drink coffee in the room and slowly decide a place to visit. One of the things I want is to explore the Brickyards area a bit more since it has an interesting mix of high rise shopping centers, local businesses, and different areas that I can reach walking quite easily. Today I decided to head toward Little India here and explore just because it lets me explore more of this district in a direction I have not walked yet. One of the little so-called projects I have here is to document the local neighborhoods with my FujiFilm camera so people can see how varied KL really is.
My hotel is about mid way in the Brickyards and being located by KL Sentral means that transit is easy should I want to explore on the excellent train, bus, and light rail systems here. Honestly though, the only time I opt for a mass transit system is when I want to reach a place which is farther distant and I want to spend the entire day exploring there. I did this in Singapore a few times and it worked very well for seeing different attractions or city areas. Today I’ll extend my reach and views of my district here.
Traveling Slowly Means More Time…
I’ve come to realize especially here in KL that I get to focus more on the photography and walking and just the day to day things by spending more time in places. My stay here is for 23 days which is about the norm for a lot of places I’ve stayed. I enjoy the three weeks to a month window of time in a place although I stayed in Hanoi for three months. For here though, I judged that spending more time in KL would let me experience more of the city’s dynamism by walking.
Traveling slowly in a country also requires visa or visa exemption rules that support it. For US passport holders, you can get 90 days here out of the box. That is pretty good! For other countries that are my favorites like Vietnam you can get longer term tourist visas and stay for six months or a year and slow travel the country. One of the things for visas offered in Vietnam for longer stays, you have to leave the country every 90 days and then re-enter. Some would say that this is an inconvenience but if I was planning a longer stay in Vietnam, it actually provides a great opportunity to go visit the neighboring countries or fly elsewhere. When I had to leave after 90 days, I opted for Hong Kong for 4 days but if you want stability and the chance also for some trips, you could get the year tourist visa in Vietnam and then every 90 days pick a new place to visit next door. So many choices that are within reach! You could easily reach Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand and design the so-called visa runs to be explorations of a shorter time or even longer in each place. Air fares are very reasonable and bus trips are considered the norm. I would not look at these trips as visa runs but an opportunity to explore but still having a year of stability in Vietnam. Upon reflection, I realized that if I did get the year long tourist visa I would probably change locations in Vietnam every three months. It would mean three months of living and exploring in Hanoi, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City and perhaps Da Lat or another place.
I think that this does not fit well with how people normally do their round the world trips or making attempts to reach 90 countries in so many months and with so many continents visited. The desire to slow down though allows a luxury to emerge that does not seem visible or possible with short stays targeted to clearing as many countries and cities and continents. You can more slowly move through the countries, perhaps find an apartment or room that gives you stability, and you can pick places which are cheaper for the longer stays. This is the central tenet to my slow traveling or vagabonding method or lack of one. Simply pick places that are cheap to stay longer and pick places that are expensive to stay shorter but allow for exceptions. One of my exceptions is the desire to go back to Japan and go from Hokkaido to Kyushu and see it all for 90 days. But my general rule is a week in a place like Singapore and longer in countries where the cost of living is less as long as Visa rules hold that up.
Give it some thought when you plan a trip. Are you looking for the maximum number of countries, cities and continents to visit within a limited time? Perhaps there is the so-called round the world (RTW) goal you have but only have a year. What would be the cost though if you only went to 5 countries in that year besides not being able to advertise on your twitter bio that you did 45 countries, 3 continents, and 90 cities? Is there an unwritten law for RTW travelers that say they must do it a certain way? If slowing down means you see less yet you see more because you can move more slowly in a place and experience more in places you curate for the experience, what is really the cost versus benefit?
I’m pretty convinced if you have the time and inclination that seeing 5 countries and 1 continent in a year may yield appreciable benefits lacking in the rush to get passport or visa stamps for as much as you can. If I had it to do again, I would have gotten the year long tourist visa in Vietnam and used Vietnam as a home base for travels since the visa is multiple entry. I did the next best thing though and got the Cambodian extension of stay for retirement for a year which allows multiple entries and I believe that Cambodia is centrally located to reach so many places easily.
I do think with the current trend of “more is more” that people may not like doing less for longer. I got it! Just give it some thought when you plan your gap year or RTW or whatever you are calling it. You may not be able to claim the country and city counts but you may find that the moments and memories suddenly become so much more when you have the time to see a place, travel within it, live in it for awhile. Try considering shorter times in more expensive places and longer times in less expensive places perhaps using those as home base locations for extended travel. My picks would be Cambodia and Vietnam for the home base opportunities given the travel and visa requirements and abilities there.
Just some ideas to consider if you are going to be traveling for longer or perhaps forever. Traveling forever is not traveling by the way. It’s living. Pick a way of living that gives you the best of the worlds presented to you. Take moments instead of times. I did.