New Blog Series – Retirement, Asia, and Traveling Forever

I’m starting a series of a few blog posts on retirement and living and traveling. The purpose of this next series of posts are to define how you can do better if you are living on fixed income if you have a mildly adventurous soul and are able to adjust to cultural change and thrive. Here’s an article that got me thinking about just how far US social security retirement will carry you. So what do I hope to convey that adds to the balance of information for people? That’s the topic of the next few posts. Here are the posts upcoming. Each one will be linked and presented and hopefully at the end of the next few posts you can see what retirement means, your choices if you travel, and how some freedom can work if you are retired in places that cost less.

  1. Retirement and Travel in Asia
  2. Making Life better with limited funds traveling in Asia
  3. How to go slow and see more
  4. Visas and Passports and places that offer more for less
  5. Bringing it all together. Being old does not mean you sit at home wondering

I came to the conclusion that more needed to be done after talking with a variety of people in Vietnam and Cambodia about retirement. Retirement is supposed to be the good times folks. You are supposed to be able to take a breather, find a new thing, do a new thing, and perhaps find a new way of living. Maybe even finding a new partner if you are socially inclined. I am a solitary type so I solo travel but perhaps its not meant for you so you want something more.

Another thing I hope to convey in the series is that a person is never too old to find a new adventure. I answer questions about aging a lot on Quora about aging and travel. I think people reach their retirement years and get complacent or believe they are XX years and cannot possibly hit the road. I think fear plays a great role in this. Fear of both the known and unknown. There also is the difference of a place like Vietnam or Cambodia. Some of us are simply not made for having our senses assaulted by change. We’re more comfortable with the known yet often the known will cost more, mean you live less, and perhaps even threaten your possessions.

I am gong to write each of the blog posts above sequentially each week. So the retirement and travel in Asia post will come next week or late this week and I will then publish one in the series each forthcoming week.

So anyways, if you are interested in what a tomorrow may look like; stay tuned. I’ll continue to write my regular travel posts about life on the road in Cambodia and what I see and link to photography I do. Maybe instead I will create a static page in WordPress for this work. I think perhaps a static page would be easier to manage and let there be a difference in content.

Getting around Phnom Penh – Real and Ideal thoughts for you

I went out for a great walk with the camera today and saw a variety of city blocks. Big streets with lots of businesses and few people. Small streets with the little shops crowded where the tuk tuks and the motorbikes vied for a two lane road. It was really a warm day here but it started out raining. Like most places here I’ve been the rain only goes for about 30 minutes and then you get blue skies.

So I walked and took some photographs and walked some more. Down streets here kids yelled hello at me and old people nodded and smiled. I’ve felt in both Vietnam and here in Cambodia this warmth and genuineness and openness that perhaps I did not see so much in busy San Francisco. Maybe did not see at all there.

I’ve read a few warning blog posts about people being mugged and robbed and drugged here and I was down this evening in the pub road district where the drunk travelers and backpackers have their court. One guy staggering almost in front of the tuk tuk and even the driver shook his head. I can see why people get scammed there if you go wandering around shit-faced down some of the streets I saw. I don’t think those people want to see Phnom Penh. They want the bar and food district that’s like other places they’ve been. The real Phnom Penh still is there though. You just need to get away from that part of the city and find the blocks where people work, laugh, and eat. Where the Khmer people live and the kids yell at you and smile. It all depends on what Cambodia you want to see. Its not all good and a Kymer told me there is a lot of poverty in their country. You can see it easily out walking. I saw the same in India. Dealing with it takes a little effort. Like even in Vietnam there are parts that I loved and laughed at and even cried a bit over. Here you can see it by a small lake where the poorer people live. Asking for handouts is in full effect and I feel bad for the people. There are many children there too but even with all that sadness the children find some bit of joy in the simple things of being a child. So somehow you have to take both and deal with it if you come to Asia. You will see it all. If you leave the touristy havens and see what Phnom Penh or Hanoi or wherever is all about. The areas where the people live and eat and children go to school.

Small streets where football is played and the small carts with produce and bbq wheel through. Those streets may be the most fabled in all of the places. Each time I’ve walked one I’ve enriched. Its a microcosm of life there as I’ve said before. You can see so much in how the day to day life of the person is played out. The local market. The coffee stand. The sandwich place. The laughter and smiling faces as people go by. I truly think that Cambodians want people to see their country. They’ve come a long way.

The main thing here though is getting around. And I mean that in the largest sense of the word. If you settle for bar districts and scams and wonder why you never saw Cambodia, I think I have an answer for you. I’ve wandered for 4 days in non touristy areas. Taken pictures of the city. Stopped for water. Got back to the room and planned out dinner. A local place? The best burger joint in town? Getting around in the tuk tuk is the way but there is also a tuk tuk of the heart and soul that will take you through Cambodia. Don’t miss some of it because its not where the tourists go.

You owe it to yourself to see the place. Breathe in the goods and bads. Look at what the city offers. Don’t be afraid. Just get around on foot or tuk tuk. I think  you will be enriched at the effort.

Traveling Forever and Visas too…

I’ll submit my passport and request for a 12 month retirement extension of stay visa this Sunday with the agent. It takes 7 to 10 days to get one and then I’m done with the last passport and visa thing required for here for a year. I can always come back to Cambodia from where I am for the next year. The LaLune hotel becomes my home base because I like this place and they treat me well.

But now, I’ll drink my beers in the room and watch BBC world news and wonder about the United States. Some of the things are so sad there. We seem stuck in a political climate of dysfunction and corruption. I hope that things change but my take is it will take longer than 2020 to set our ship right again. Then our allies will be our uncertain foes and our enemies will know how to take advantage of us.

That’s about it for now folks. Have yourselves a good evening. If you blog, write something. Create some content. Delete an ad or two that gets in the way. Like I’ve said before I want your words and I want them tied together.

Today this and that – Last Day in Da Nang

Today was the final real day to wander Da Nang. I started the day with a few Banh Mi sandwiches and a coffee. Had to find the post office and mail some gifts to a friend in Da Lat Vietnam. Luckily the post office was just down the street so took the gifts in and they got a box for me, packed up the stuff, and then put in the mail service for me. Vietnam Postal charged me 80k VND to mail and package up the gifts. It will reach Da Lat in 2 days. Not too bad.

Then I stopped for some more coffee and decided to walk over the bridges I love here and just take photographs of whatever it was that I saw. Unfortunately, I cannot upload images to google photos today due to some kind of network issues here so I will wait until I get to Saigon tomorrow and try again.

After walking, picked up my laundry from the hotel and started packing. The amount of stuff I have has gone down so packing is pretty easy. Used to be that the Tortuga Outbreaker was used up for space. I also have a Tripod that I got for free when I bought the camera so that went in the backpack. I had started with 6 changes of clothing but I went down to 3 changes plus the ones I wear. Means I can still go a week since I wear the same stuff more than once. I could also wash stuff in the room and have a pretty good process for that but I’m lazy and prefer to pay the few dollars a week to have my laundry done.

I’ve changed things around a few times now for gear except for the backpack which I really like. I have a fake but pretty good quality North Face Surge backpack which can hold a bunch of stuff and is a great carry on personal item that fits under the seat. I got rid of a camera bag, a small duffel bag, and a daypack that simply was not big enough and felt cheap.

I’ve also wimped out and check my backpack now since I am flying single destinations with no connecting flights. Means I do have to wait for the baggage but I am in no real hurry to get to a place. If it takes another 30 minutes or whatever, it really does not matter.

So now its almost evening time here on my last night in Da Nang. Tomorrow is my last night in Vietnam. Wow! I will fly out Sunday for Cambodia and get the 30 day regular visa and then extend it for a year in a few weeks. The rest of this year is pretty well planned out for destinations in Cambodia. I think I posted for next year I’ll go to Singapore and then up through Malaysia for 90 days and then Thailand for 60 days. Finally back to Cambodia and “home”. Then about a week later will fly back to Saigon and voyage down to Con Tho to see a friend there and do a tour with her of the Mekong Delta. I will only stay 30 days this time in Vietnam and then will most likely head off to China or somewhere else.

So those were the things I did and some of the things that came up today. Vietnam is close to being done after 6 months. Cambodia is on the horizon with travel throughout and then using my multiple entry retirement visa to travel and return to Phnom Penh as I need.

Perhaps I will write something tomorrow in Saigon as I sit at the airport hotel. Its an interesting time as I leave Vietnam and all the great times here.

Sorta Kinda Retrospective – Vietnam ends and Travel to Cambodia Begins!

I’m kinda preparing to leave Vietnam after 6 months. Spending the last few days in Da Nang walking the city, getting lost, and eating. Today I met my friends Sunny and Andre for lunch at a wonderful pizza place where we leisured for about 2 hours talking. Sunny is Vietnamese but listening to her speak English you would not know it. She has the the teasing stuff down, has fun teasing in English, and also knows the colloquial stuff. Andre is fun as well being from Germany.

As the time slowly ticks down, other friends throughout Vietnam have weighed in on my plans to return. From a friend in Hanoi, they want me to not just visit Saigon but come up to Hanoi for some time next year. A friend in Can Tho will take me on a Mekong Delta tour for some days.

I have also been learning more with the new camera walking each day. Its a great camera, this FujiFilm XT2. It has these capabilities and super powers which takes awhile to learn. Even with the XT3 out, I see no real reason to upgrade. I could have settled on something less and spent less but I wanted to find a camera I could grow into and also feel that the camera represented an investment down the road.

Now the time slowly ticks down and tomorrow is Friday. I have tomorrow night and then fly back to Saigon for one night and then off to Phnom Penh for 30 days. I am pretty convinced I am doing this the right way. Thirty days in each place lets me settle in but its not so long where the routine gets boring. The retirement visa I will get in Cambodia in a week or so will let me do multiple entries and will last a year. This means I can just travel but home base in Cambodia as I want. I could also get a retirement visa in Thailand with no real effort but I think Cambodia is better and the living expenses are less.

I don’t know that I will write a regular post again before Cambodia but I will create a post that has all the links for all my photo albums in Vietnam and share it out. I had planned on writing kind of a retrospective of Vietnam but I think I’ve done that. Now its a matter of traveling to the next place and seeing the things I want to see. In January, I’ll fly off to Singapore and then travel north basically for 5 months and end up back in Phnom Penh in June. At that point, I’ll have two weeks and then fly back to Saigon for a month.

I have not thought through what happens after but I think China is sounding good. I will probably figure out the final part of the year as I get into next year. I know I have to be back in Cambodia to extend my retirement visa for another year.

So, in a few days Cambodia and then 4 cities in four months! I am looking forward to each one. Each has a thing it offers that’s unique.

Take care all. More to come!

Travels in 2019 – January to June

Now that I’ve reached the 6 months, I decided this morning to work on extending the slow travels after my 4 months coming up in Cambodia. During the 4 months will spend a month in Phnom Penh, a month in Sihanoukville, a month in Siem Reap, and a month in Battambang. This lets me settle in and live life a bit. I’ve enjoyed this pace at all the cities in Vietnam.

On January 21st I will fly from Phnom Penh to Singapore and spend a week there. My approach is to spend less time in expensive places and more time in less. The week will probably cost me what a month costs elsewhere. After the week, I hop a bus to Kuala Lumpur and take my 90 day tourist stamp and travel south to north over 90 days. I’ll end up at the Thai border around April and spend two months in Thailand traveling in some direction but definitely seeing the main cities and places there. Then since you need proof of onward travel to enter Thailand, I have a cheap flight booked back to Cambodia. This gets me through June next year.

I felt I needed to lock in the plan a bit and also take care of some air fare when its cheaper and easier. My thought after June is that I would like to visit China for whatever period of time I can get a tourist visa but I will get the retirement visa in Cambodia extended another year no matter what since its pretty easy to retire there. I can also leave as I want and visit other places.

One of those other places is India. I have so many friends there to see from the other days working and living there! I must get back. I would have to visit all the big cities but by then I would want to see Kerala too. So many places in India to see!

So, its all exciting and the way the travel unfolds for me is cool. I just don’t feel in any hurry to see the things. Spending more time than less means I get some stability in each place. I get to learn the routines, do the regular things, meet people and take lots of photographs.

I think by February or March next year, I will plan out the rest of 2019 but it will be slower going and I may repeat Japan and see some places I have not been in the south and north. Air, bus, and train travel is very reasonable. I spent all of $150 for both flights I just booked. Both are international flights and leave at decent times.

I think it will be good to clear out of Vietnam and get to the month by month in Cambodia. Something different to do and see. Different people. Different history and prehistory. Different day by day.

I don’t know of another place I would want to stay as a home base besides Cambodia. They have the best visas for retirees at this point.

One other note. Happy National day of Independence to Vietnam! Flags are all over during my walk today. The city has slowed down to observe and celebrate. Congrats to the people and country!

A Day’s Relaxation Considering Photography and Life

I spent a quiet day today. No long walks or places to see with the camera. A few things regarding the photography thing occurred to me today as I sat in the room and did some personal stuff.

There’s a wide variance between someone that takes photographs and a photographer. A person that simply enjoys recording the passage of time and space and does that digitally has a need to perhaps learn to do that better because its a part of the human condition to want to get better. Unfortunately, the flip side of that is comparing oneself to some established photographer you happen to see on twitter or facebook. You may think,

why can’t I do what that person does? Am I just not talented or have the artistic or photographic ability?

Then I think some angst and depression sets in. We have lost the sense of fun-ness of the thing. We perhaps get mad or angry or sad that we do not seem to progress. But applying this to me and I have done this; I am not a photographer. I am someone who merely enjoys cataloging his world and travels and does that with a real camera. No one pays me for services nor do I keep a blog with only photographs or submit them or do anything with them. So when I see Person A and her amazing work, I want to suddenly learn. Its like being a child in some ways. You pick up a new thing to do and the next thing is wanting to be good at it.

Often that hobby or pursuit is dropped when you don’t feel you have met the goal or when you measure yourself against some established person you have not progressed. Its a shame really because when I go through with doing the photography on my walks I always wish to do better and sometimes, just sometimes, it intrudes on the fun part of things. But I think; this is part of the human condition. We pick up a thing and want to do it better. We want to get good at it. Then on our blog we can label ourselves as having a Lifestyle, Travel, and Photography Blog. Perhaps we do some SEO (whatever that is) and some ads and some affiliate programs. This blog won’t ever do that. It doesn’t have “wanna be” syndrome.

I faced the same thing with the photography I don’t wanna be a photographer. I want to enjoy it for what it is. So what do you have to learn? Well, enjoying something for what it is and could be does not mean you don’t learn. But learning is one thing when done for your own needs and another when you are doing it to compete. When you cross over to competing, then comes the measurements and perhaps the failures. Its easy to say,

Hell yeah I’m a photographer! I shoot in RAW and have a subscription to Lightroom and Photoshop. I can create tone curves and edit my RAW files like anyone’s business.

I read this blog about having fun doing photography and a pretty well established photographer, perhaps a pro, admitted that he had thousands of images sitting around waiting but yet no interest in doing it. He had lost the essence he admitted. The “why” of it had left. He felt you only get that back with a new camera when you have to figure it out.

What happens though if I drop all that pretense and just say,

I just wanna have fun. Images they be good and bad. My frames will rule or suck. I’ll get better but its based on my own measurement and not comparing myself to person B.

I was guilty of this with the FujiFilm X100F. I wondered how long I was supposed to go about this before I got better like person B or F. Well, the answer is never and I realized it today. I do the photography not to be a photographer but to have fun and learn for its own sake. Just like blogging as I’ve written before. If you sell and have ads and have SEO optimized thangs, good on you. I may stop reading your blogs when the ads get disruptive. I want your words not your ads. I want to measure your writing and not what you wanna sell me by click throughs.

Give it some thought. I have today.

Six Months on the Road in Vietnam, Japan, and Hong Kong

This is the sixth month of vagabonding so slowly, ever so slowly it seems sometimes, in Southeast Asia. I’ve been to Japan, Hong Kong, and Vietnam. My tourist visa here in Vietnam runs out mid September so August is the last full month. I feel pretty fortunate to have seen so many places, met some really nice Vietnamese people, taken photographs of day after day of walking the cities. Something about that walking has been so important to me. There is the health part perhaps of doing 5 to 7 miles most every day of the week but there is more than that. There is the sense of “being there”.

The roads that have let me travel them have criss-crossed both the map and my memory. I remember these small side streets in Shinjuku, the alley ways in Hong Kong, and the Hems in Vietnam. All three are microcosms of life. They each have social, economic, and cultural value. I think they create a local culture for the folks that live there. Why travel out to buy small grocery items or get your hair done when there is a place two doors down with a person you live next to. Perhaps have tea with. Maybe a few beers. Its a richer context than any I ever saw in the states.

Now being at the 6 month window, I took a longer walk today to reflect on the meanings of the travel, how enriching its been, once how lonely and sad I felt, but mostly how just about every fucking thing in my life has changed. There is nothing that’s the same as it was living in California and working each day. Everything has spun on its axis and given me yet another view of the months.

The other thing which I feel I am getting better at or at least asking more questions about is photography. I will never be a “photographer”. I don’t line up shots and care about composition. What I do care about is liking the photography I do by walking each day. Its a perfect hobby for someone that walks every day I think. You don’t have to be good or even want to be good to have a real camera. You can simply want something that’s different that expands your world and gives you a digital view on the places you’ve been. I chose one camera. You may choose a different one. Kudos to you! The primary thing for me is the exploration of streets and people and seeing how nature and sky and clouds all interact to give you a view of a day. It matters not that you have walked that way before. You know that everything changes every minute.

A final thing is the solitary travel itself. There is a certain value to being on one’s own, finding my own way, not being beholden to anyone out there. Its independence of knowing I can turn left or right and no one is there to argue or dismiss the decision. But I think its not for everyone this solo vagabonding. You may do a week or a month in a place like Europe and think you got it nailed. Sorry! But Asia has its own rules and its not the same. You will have to learn it all over again but with new rules.

So, as August starts and I have a few day tours and trips lined up out of Da Lat, I’ve realized that its not the far flung future when someone asks what I’ll be doing next year. Truth be told, for decades I was responsible to have the answer. It was,

I’ll be working of course. I’ll be responsible of course. I’ll be accountable of course.

Now those words don’t hold up. I’ve lived this times and came out the other end. In September, it will be time to move along out of Vietnam and that will be bad and good. I truly love this country and the people but nothing stays static and I have other places to get to. Cambodia awaits with new adventure and museums and monuments. I’m sure the FujiFilm X100F will be happy to click click those pictures too. And my feet and legs will be tired but they’re willing to go yet another mile and see whatever awaits to the left at the turn ahead.

A short list of things I need when staying long

Here’s my continuing list of things to find when I stay longer in a place. Not exhaustive but these things seem to be what I need so I spend time looking around on Google Maps and walking to find them.

  1. Laundry services. I never saw washers and dryers like in the states. Instead you take your laundry to a service. In Hanoi, the place down the street did my laundry with 24 hour turn around for a few bucks a week. In Ho Chi Minh City, the homestay family did the laundry every other day so I just left outside my room. In Da Lat I found a nice place that does the same. The price was even cheaper.
  2. Coffee Shops and breakfast food. This was not so hard in Hanoi. My favorite bakery and coffee shop had an excellent selection of food. If you visit Hanoi try Joma Bakery in the old quarter. In Ho Chi Minh City, easy peasy! I had a few favorites and there was always Starbucks to fall back on. In Da Lat most coffee shops besides La Viet do not serve food. Find a local bakery! I found an excellent one that is 5 minutes walk and then I get fresh baked goods and go to the coffee shop I like right on the corner by my hotel.
  3. SIM card top ups. Depending on service you have, you really can just visit a local shop for this and pay for the top up. I use Viettel throughout Vietnam so I visit one of the chain cell phone shops that have the Viettel logo and they fix me up in about 5 minutes and activate the service.
  4. Grocery Store. Easy in all places. There are little neighborhood places on every block and I visited IntiMex in Hanoi for things I needed. Here in Da Lat, down the street is a place that has water, food, snacks, beer, tooth paste. Just about everything!
  5. Getting around in your new home. I include this because its linked to 3 above because nothing works as well for me as Google Maps for walking but you can also use Grab on your phone to order up service. I prefer walking most places since I want my daily walking and photography and I always see stuff worth remembering.
  6. Electronics and replacement cables. Be careful with this. Use a dedicated store that is a chain store is my best advice. You can buy elaborate or crummy fake things easily. I found a store I use for 3 above which is all over Vietnam. I bought lightning cables that worked flawlessly from them. Other places may not be so good. Thế Giới Di Động is the cell phone store I used for both 3 above and buying lightning cables. Not a lot of English spoken in some so have a good idea of what your want in a picture.
  7. Currency Exchange and ATM. If you have to do currency exchange, I would look up jewelry shops first off. They all provide the service. The best is to just get local currency in an ATM and you will pay whatever service charge but the idea is to get money, right? Local money is the best. Vietnamese stores will not take US dollars but some tour companies will. Sometimes a strange mix of needs. I had to go back to US dollars once in Hanoi. That takes a special place that I found 🙂
  8. Food. If you have problems finding food, something is wrong :-). If you want western or Italian or whatever food, I have never been limited. Have had bbq, pizza, Mexican, US food. I only do the US foods or whatever on occasion and end up eating at a few places around the hotel I have found that I like or going farther to new places to check out. The bowl of Pho is around the corner basically. Its so very cheap to eat the local food. Look for places where there are a lot of Vietnamese eating. Menus have pictures!

To me, the best way of doing things was to start exploring immediately on foot. You would be surprised at the things you can find around the hostel or hotel you are in with a little walking. The most confusing was in the old quarter in Hanoi.

There is not a thing I needed I could not find here in Vietnam besides T shirts. The sizes of T shirts, even super extra extra large are meant for smaller bodies. I pretty much just have someone like my ex-wife in the states mail me things every so often to some address. I expect things to take two weeks and for the box to be opened. My mail service will also send FEDex which takes much less. I got a package in Hanoi in 5 days using their service once. I have never had things stolen but the packages are opened and inspected routinely by customs.

I bet you have your list of things or basic needs. I did not include some but I know you will need them like pharmacies which are all over. You may need to find bus stations as well. Another thing which has come up on occasion is an escape. I found that Malls do this well. As a solo traveler, a mall or city market does wonders for me. Its not really the people but the sights and sounds I think.

Now get out there and travel. What you waiting for?

Evening at the Sleep Pod at the Hanoi International Airport

The Hanoi International Airport has sleep pods. These are small roomettes you can rent right at the airport . I guess most people get these when they have a last minute flight change or layover. That is until I heard of them awhile ago. I decided after getting back from Hong Kong to get one. They are in a quiet corner of the domestic terminal. Each pod has a TV, AC, is very clean. You get some free goodies and water when you check in. The extra special politeness by the Vietnamese folks that run it is in full force too. She smiled and laughed a lot as I was checking in. If you’re curious, the pods look like this from the outside.

sleep pod

You get a key card lock and there are restaurants you can walk to. There are no en suite restrooms so you use the facilities at the airport.

Today I wandered Terminal One watching people leaving. Lots of people leaving. I bought some Pringles and water and sat there. Soon someone else sat next to me and then another person. We had filled up the little seating area. They all smiled and said hello to me. I waited a bit longer and decided to head on back to the pod. I’m not flying out tomorrow. I ride the train. Instead I will have car service take me to the railroad station at 7am. I guess I just felt the need for a change. Sometimes the travel is all set. Rooms and restaurants and places to go and the normal becomes the too normal.

It also dawned on me today that its Fathers Day today for me. My kids are in the US so they are just getting there. It seems I always remember some of the events of life on these days. Some of the good things. Some of the bad things. Having children is a mix of things. You look back on what it took, what they delivered. Some of the challenges along the way. Its not easy really to get divorced in the middle of things. It causes so many changes that while they are necessary cause even more stress and unhappiness with the kids. I’ve left most of that behind now but truth is that you never do. Its one of those life changing events and even though its been almost 10 years many of the events and what happened after are small pin pricks in the memories.

Now though with the vagabonding, I have something else. Not just a pod. I have a new life. I did a thing which I dreamt of back when. Sitting at the Changi Airport in Singapore I wondered. What would happen? That was 2011.

Now its 2018. So much has changed. The kids are grown and have things. I’ve grown to and have things. But we still share the moment. The moment may be separated by miles and time and space. It matters not.

As I sit here in the Pod with the TV going and the AC running; its dawned on me yet again on this Fathers day. Its not just about the day. Its about the connections and the feelings and the wonder I felt. The wonder I still feel.

I’m a dad. It makes me feel good to know that even though my two children are busy attempting to adult that there are moments like I said on quora awhile back where they still ask. The questions have changed.

Before they were:

Dad, can I?

Now they are:

Dad, how can I?

I’m glad I still maybe know some how’s and why’s to them.

A rainy day a historic site, reflecting on Tony Bourdain and others

Today the weather started out okay but by the time a late breakfast was done and I walked to the places I wanted to see, weather was turning to thunderstorms and rain. I had decided on two places for today.

Imperial Thang Long Citadel. The citadel is interesting but they have not really restored much or worked on it. There is an active archeological investigation but the rain hampered being able to really see things. I walked to the citadel and looked around and then watched some video of its history. It would be nicer if the government would renovate or restore some of it so people could get a sense of how large and significant historically it really was. It was actually hard to take photographs because the rain decided to really fall for awhile.

Vietnam War Museum. Down the street from the Citadel is the War Museum. I walked by this many times and decided to save it for the last so did the warm museum as well. It has a lot of planes, artillery, a jet, ordnance, and stories about the wars that the Vietnamese have fought in including their national heroes.

There a historic war planes and artillery pieces so its fun to wander around in if you are like military history.

There are also inside exhibits featuring the wars in Vietnam’s history and stuff.

These were the two places I had wanted to get to today. Unfortunately the weather was not so good for walking around and seeing stuff. I feel like I got to see the war museum pretty well but the citadel may have had some stuff I missed.

I also was thinking on the walk today about my next three months or so in Vietnam. Initially I was going to stay in Ho Chi Minh City the entire time but then I started reading about Da Lat and Cam Ranh Bay. Da Lat is in the central highlands so temperatures are cooler and the city sounds like a place where there are not lots of expats and tourists roaming around all the time.

Now I have only one bucket list place left to go which is a museum as well. I am going to hold off on that and see how tomorrow is weather wise. Its a bit farther to go so I will probably get a cab to take me there and then walk back to the hotel.

I read the news this morning with sadness about Tony Bourdain passing. I had not read too many of his things or watched his shows on TV but I felt he really provided the glue between the people, places, and the traveler. I think the world’s cultures are going to miss him and as a spokesperson for food and fun and adventure we will not have another like him. There are others which travel and write and do things. I don’t know why that he died but its sad that we have lost so many talents. It seems like with success comes personal demons. I think back on people like Robin Williams and still find myself missing him.

For both Robin and Tony we have their legacy which is their work but the sparkling wit of Robin and world traveler and master story teller of Tony is missing. Sure there are replacements. There are the new generation of traveler and a person to make you laugh. It won’t be the same and I think that’s good. We cannot simply replace people like this.

The clip of Obama and Bourdain eating Bun Cha in Hanoi tells it all.

The main message is to travel and see and not take the same ole same ole. Find the thing that is your step to the unknown. We each have a thing that propels us, excites us, delivers us. For some of us, we’ve left things behind and picked up new things as hobos and vagabonds of the life ways. Find your thing!