34 Weeks and 5 days on the road

Its been 34 weeks and 5 days on the road for me. Not such an amazing number really in terms of continents covered, countries traversed, or cities seen. But in another way, an amazing personal journey that began with but a single step on 28 February. Memories are rich of that day because it was the baseline from which all the rest of the days sprung. I lived then in Newark, California and I woke that day knowing it was my last day to work ever. The first thing was breakfast to do that day so I splurged on food and came back and the donation people soon showed up. The garage in the house had some final things in it to take away. Minor furniture, some clothing, electronics. They showed up on time and removed the remains of a life spent for over 2 decades in California. All left was a strongly made rubbermaid storage container that was loaded in the car.

I had to drive in to Mountain View to the company, do a final meeting, turn in company property, and say my goodbyes. This part was tough. I had made friends at the company. Many people had worked with me on these particularly pesky projects of which I only had two. Both seemed as spawn of the devil at the time yet both finished on time with the desired results but after months of 18 hour days, no weekends or holidays. Of course both were done over the holiday. Figures.

So anyways, the goodbyes were tough. There were the surviving members of the burger club that had taken me out one final day earlier in the week. Down to only two members, they were not sure if they would continue. There were friends in the office that were the recipients of my never-ending teasing and that somehow got through the music that started most days at 4pm. My manager was in Florida and I had hoped to reach him on the phone but as a Senior Director, he was quite busy most days. There was my group Vice President who had become a friend and supported me and made the pitch to get me hired full time in 2016. There was my buddy the senior Director of Infrastructure Services that would always have time to talk and have the cold beer out sometimes. Then the legions of others like the administrative assistants, database managers, identity management, networking, windows and Linux team administrators. It also crossed over to the sales and support organization and I had many friends there.

But the goodbye’s were said and the equipment turned in and it was time to go. I remember walking to the parking lot thinking I would not be back ever to this building because I was leaving but the company was also moving in the coming months. I drove my little car on its last trip with me owning it. Over the Dumbarton Bridge again for the last time. I drove to Union City with the backpack, the transfer of title for the car, and the small container of what remained of life here. Pictures and old papers. All condensed to a single plastic container to store in the garage at my ex-wife’s house. She met me out front and I gave her the car title and transfer papers, saw my daughter, dropped off the rubbermaid container and hiked to BART which is about .5 miles away. On BART I would ride across the bay to a stop, get a cab, and ride to a hotel by SFO for one night.

The hotel was very nice and there was a nice bar and restaurant next door so after getting settled and writing a farewell post on LinkedIn, I decided I should probably party a bit. Who knew when I would be in California or the US again. Who knew what the next moments of time would yield for me?

The next day I would fly to Japan for 2 weeks and then on to Vietnam for 6 months. Both trips were kinda planned but Japan was very well defined with hotels and Shinkansen trips. Vietnam was a little more open but I had the 6 month tourist visa and I knew that I wanted the slow travel in Asia already.

If you flash forward to mid September this year, my six months ended in Vietnam on a flight to Phnom Penh Cambodia. I had set 4 months of travel in Cambodia with visits to Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap, and Battambang. That would get me through the 2018 year. Later I would define 5 months of travel in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand and start thinking about the remaining months of 2019. A plan began to take hold about China for some months from Phnom Penh and then perhaps back to Vietnam. Some not decided 100% but China is about 75%.

From February to October, what a time!

So from that day to this, its been that number of weeks and days. Weeks and days spent in the slow mode of travel that I have found suits me best. Moments spent in the giant sprawl of Hong Kong because I had to go there to clear the Vietnam visa after 90 days or trips to Hoi An, or Hue. Then Da Lat and Da Nang and a number of times to Ho Chi Minh City. Many tours to places as well.

So much done, so many days thus far but the time is not near over. I would say in many ways it’s only begun. I had a major need around a retirement visa that would grant me flexibility in Cambodia. I did that. I needed to verify that my slower travel would always feel good to me, be positive in outlook, and also allow me the walking each day with the camera to see things. That’s been done.

Finally from that day on 28 February to this day, there’s been a silent revolution in my thinking. I’ve come to realize I am not a digital nomad or a gap year person or a round the world traveler. I am not limited nor do I ever want to work again or need to. So thanks to a few people that will never read this paltry excuse for a blog. Thanks to my manager Lee who became a friend and supporter over some tough times and projects at the company. Thanks to Robert and Payman for always supporting me and never doubting. Thanks to my ex-wife for helping me always and never saying no if I asked for her help mailing something or just doing a minor errand there for me. Thanks to the few friends I actually have that supported me over the years. Not many but the ones there are good!

Most of all thanks to me! I did this myself. I decided in 2017 that a sea change was necessary that would let me surpass the more horrible years from 2009 to 2014. Those days are past and I’m in the 34 weeks and counting now. Someone may ask if i’m happy with what I have. Yes. I am.

Perhaps I have been able to measure my worth a bit and I know I am not a people person. I know I’m selfish and something of a narcissist and critical. But in the end I did this. You could but it would be different. It would be your thing. I hear people wonderingly ask sometimes

it would be so cool to do what you’ve done. Can you tell me how to do it?

I’m sorry but I cannot. The problem is that each of us faces a reality and a fantasy of our own making. My methods may make you crash and burn or be unhappy or lose the will to continue. So I cannot help but I can tell you  that you can do what I’ve done if you truly desire a change and you can satisfy a few things;

Debt free. I would not have done this without first removing all debt. No recurring debt either. This is the bane of existence.
Consider credit cards. Do you need them? No you don’t. They are evil. Get bank accounts with good ATM Debit cards. Get rid of the evil credit monsters.
Services and Support. Get the services you need to support you when you leave to another place. Mail forwarding services come to mind.
No car, home, property. Get rid of everything. You don’t need to spout minimalist BS but be a realist.
A simpler life calls. Able to live a simpler life in a simpler place perhaps out of a backpack
Retirement Benefits. Understand your social security retirement benefits, how to do them, what they mean, when to claim.
Desire to make a change. You gotta want it. No halfway, half-assed things.
Implement the change.  Be the change you want.

So, can you do it? The question is do you want to? Can you do the things? If not, it may simply not be for you I hate to say. I would not have left if I had not paid off all debt and had not gotten rid of everything. If you cannot live a simpler life in a simpler country, you may be doomed. Lack of desire on your part will lead to lack of execution on your part.

Finally without the things leading up to the event on February 28th. The years of agony and hatred and then the year of planning, I seriously doubt it would have happened so you must implement the change. The top things above were not done in a vacuum folks. It took a year of writing, planning, paying off two final debts; one that dogged me since 2012 and the other being the car. To desire the change you must be willing to do the things to implement the change. Some may be painful. Saying goodbye to work colleagues and friends, my daughter, a known yet expensive life in the Bay Area. All were painful.

Yet then gain reached was so much more than anticipated. I’m free now.

Mikes Concept Workflow – Ideas, Discussion and what works and does not

Awhile ago I built a basic workflow in my productivity tool named Ulysses to try to help me stage information and have it flow through different stages. I have not really followed the approach I had lined out but now feel its time with writing other content more to try again. So in the interests of sharing here is a post on how it works. Just as a background, I use the Ulysses App which is on Apple platforms for this but you could use Google Docs just as well.

The basic idea for me was to kind of get organized. I don’t have massive amounts of information coming in and I don’t have a team on Slack collaborating with me. What I do have are these sometimes extemporaneous ideas that come to me walking with the camera or when I am reading something. I could find another app which captures it but truth be told, Ulysses is my one home for all text. I don’t need separate tools for the jobs when there is only one of me. So, information kinda comes in in various ways and I write little notes. These notes are free form things like,

look at www something or other and read their idea about Vietnam

So that is in what is called a “sheet” to use the Ulysses parlance. Does each little crumb have its own sheet? Not at this point. It may end up there next. We are at the Inbox level of things where these sheets get filed. Its here where things have gone awry for me and ideas propel with alacrity to other points in the workflow so I have decided to attack the problem head on here in Otres and try again. To ease the discussion, here is the workflow and how it’s used.

Inbox. The home of the little ideas captured in sheets. These are freeform ideally although that folder is empty now because I have not been good at maintaining this part of the workflow.

Stuff to do. Often the thing becomes something I want to do. A place to go or see on a walking trip. The sheets move here with some additional classification such as the where, maybe a map, a time, etc. I am still not good at this point but I have used it.

Ideas. At this point, the stuff to do yields ideas. Formative plans that I can act on. This is a good stage for me since things burst through on walks or over beers or when I’m reading. I have repositories for these things like :

  • Blog Posts. The idea is destined to become a blog post. When it gets here, its created and published using Ulysses publishing to WordPress tools.
  • Mikes Journal. The idea is not good for a blog post. It’s become too personal. The journal is a freeform text document using some markup but mostly its just typing into one sheet for each year. Ulysses is damned good at longer documents!
  • Travel. A catchall folder with sub folders for this year and next that needs some reorganization.
  • Stories too Edit. It may become a story. I only have one now I am working on. It kinda came this route.
  • Fuji Camera Notes. Infrequently I find a thing I want to keep on photography like a website or an author or something. I try to keep sets of notes on this stuff.
  • Blog Articles. The original idea was to create static content or “pages” on WordPress. The idea may end up as a blog article or static post.

So this is what I came up with as far as a workflow in Ulysses. What are the problems? Well, there are lots of little places for things to go. So the first thing I’ve decide to lessen the number of folders. I will pull down to only an inbox that will then feed the blog posts, journals, etc. The second problem is discipline. We all are spontaneous creatures and ideas come willy nilly at the dead of night when you wish they would not. My idea was having the same tool on the phone and the laptop meant I would be able to deal with this. I still believe that. Its just not how I use the mobile app on my iPhone. That is going to change. I want to have the mobile app play more of a key role as I slim down the workflow folders.

Some folders require reorganization. The travel folder has sub folders and lots of sheets and attachments of maps and pdf files. No real organization within the folder. I am going to study that problem and come up with a more elegant solution for travel. Its not just some app like TripIt. I don’t particularly care for more apps to store things in. Since my tool is Ulysses and its so well built for organization and function, this is it and I must learn more how to use it.

Finally is the journal. There is not much to be done there. I could simply move to something else but for me it breaks the basic rule of use. Why would I pay for Day One when my journal is a freeform text document and it just works for me?

Integration and Exporting

I want to finally discuss integration and exporting. If you decide to implement a workflow I think its important to find a central repository that you can live with and that’s integrated into how you do things already. I think Google Docs is really superb at this. But there are others too. So the simple rule is pick one you already feel good about. Don’t just buy a subscription to Ulysses or find X tool because legions of people swear by it. This is a tool for you folks. Make it stand your use test and it integrates, if you want, to mobile platforms.

Exporting finally is huge. The tool you choose should export to other formats. You may want a sheet in clear text or pdf or even a word docx. Make sure you can do these things. At some point, I may change back to Google Docs and I want the export path well paved from Ulysses.

Conclusions or such…

So there you have it. A workflow I don’t use but that is a start to trying to organize how I use information and maintain it in a single organizing and integrated tool. Rather than the helter-skelter of a tool for each thing which may work for you, my limitation is finding the nugget of information when it could be in Google keep or a Google Doc or perhaps in a text file somewhere. I dealt with this by buying the subscription to Ulysses. Its still a learning thing so the final conclusion is not written. But it works! And it works to help me find things and write things and publish them. I do feel the need to simplify the folders which I am going to do here in Sihanoukville while the rain falls and and days are slow.

Give it some thought folks. Do you want a home for things that you can then turn into a workflow to help you? I thought yes and no at first. Now I think yes with some caveats. It needs change. But life is all about change! Embrace it or ignore it at your peril.

Traveling in 2018,2019 and beyond – basic ideas and what I’d like to do

I have a few upcoming day tours. I just booked the second one after looking around for a cheaper option than the initial one. The idea with the second one was to tour the islands around Sihanoukville by boat. I got a quote from one place that seemed rather high so then found a less pricy option that goes to all three islands, feeds me lunch, and pretty much lets me wander around the islands a bit. I am not after any big times on the tour. I just want to see the islands that I see most every day when walking along the beach.

The second tour I decided was this day tour of Sihanoukville. I wanted to get a small duffel bag I could use for side trips and found one at the market when I went before. I should have just bought it but I figured I would have to carry it all around where I went afterwards. Now I can have a bus to store it on because the tour stops at the market. It goes to a few other places as well.

That pretty much rounds out what I want to see here. When I get done with the tours I’ll be ready to get to Phu Quoc Island and the resort hotel for a bit. The stay on the island does not have some purpose or need. I think it was just a reaction to things I read online. I read about the beaches and the unique nature of the island and wanted to go see both. A bowl of Pho may be nice too :-).

After I get back I have about 6 days before I fly to Siem Reap. I’m really excited about that part of things. I have wanted to see Angkor and the other sites for a long time! I’ll spend a month there too because its just what I do.

After Siem Reap its the second largest city in Cambodia Battambang for a month. I don’t have a set of things there either which I want to do.

Finally in January next year its back to Phnom Penh for a week and then I take off on the Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand thing. That goes on for 5 months with no real goals after 30 days in KL and a flight to Phuket and back in Thailand.

Once its June and I have flown back to Phnom Penh, I’ll spend a month there to get my Chinese tourist visa and take care of some things which undoubtedly have come up that are easier to deal with in Phnom Penh. I am thinking that China is a few months of travel to see things and then I need to be back in September to renew my retirement visa.

I had looked at going back to Vietnam in September. Then I started thinking of this longer trip in Japan I want to do. I would like to start in Hokkaido and work my way south to Kyushu for as long as it takes. I can get 90 days of entry there. The Japan trip may push out a bit and I will spend the end of the year in Vietnam seeing friends there. If I went to Vietnam, it would be a week or so in Saigon, a few weeks in Can Tho Vietnam visiting a friend there. Then I would fly from Can Tho to Da Nang and spend time there. Simply because I love Da Nang and if I could just stay in one place it would be there. Then from Da Nang up to Hanoi to see friends for awhile and the fly back to Phnom Penh. That would kinda close out next year for traveling.

I even started thinking about after that because its fun charting out the places I would want to go given there are no real blockers to any of this. I would like to reach:

  • Indonesia
  • South Korea
  • India
  • Dubai
  • Morocco
  • Turkey
  • Egypt

Given how fast (or slow) I travel its likely I would only reach half of those in a year :-). Or I may speed up a bit or who knows. I could see doing the first three in 2020 but once I reach India its like Dubai is a gateway for me to the other places.

I have no interest in reaching Europe or Russia. No interest in Australia or New Zealand. A lot of this is due to cost of living in some of the places and I really have always felt that Asia and I are better suited to each other. This has really accelerated for me since Vietnam and Cambodia. I may have doubted before living a life of very slow travel in the countries I have chosen but after things like getting the year long retirement visa with no real effort, seeing how reasonable living is in Vietnam and Cambodia, meeting such very nice people; its hard to see wanting some kind of other life. I could never see going back to the States ever permanently. A visit would be ok to see my kids but the idea of living there is a turn off. I much prefer the day to day living where I am now.

I’ve had a good time here in Otres Village in Sihanoukville. I don’t think I will return here. I told an acquaintance I met from an ex-pat website that I am not into either standing still or moving too fast. Some places are good for a single visit and you leave enriched. Others are cosmic things and have ties. I’ve felt that way about Da Nang for awhile. As I read about Battambang I think it could be like that. We shall see.

Today I’ll walk the Otres Beach a bit later from south to north taking photographs as I go with the camera. Its a beautiful long walk and there are no private fence signs to block access most of the way. Then I’ll cut through at the north to a dirt access road and wander around there for a bit and head back. I’m on this schedule of walking and then eating dinner at about 6pm at local places that I like. We’ll see where the urge takes me this evening.

A look forward in Cambodia

Its been a holiday here last three days in Cambodia so most places are closed. Its a bit hard to find a place to eat around the hotel so I end up riding to downtown where all the tourists are because the restaurants are all open there. I found a few little places kind of hidden away where a pint of beer costs cheaper than some of the so-called ex-pat hangouts. Not so many people go there and while dinners cost more because of location, I think the food is just better. One of the places has really good Khmer food like Amok and Lok Lak. You get both with a nice helping of steamed rice and the food portions are decent. Tonight I may ask the hotel to buy pizza again for me and get a few beers for the room and perhaps find a movie to watch. Tomorrow is gonna be busier around here and I have some stuff to do like get my laundry done one more time and take the XT2 camera to the service agents here to have them send to Singapore. I will be buying the X100F camera to take its place. In retrospect, I should have just kept the original X100F but it was acting up too because of water and its not resistant at all. I think it was on the way out as well but who would have ever thought I would only have the XT2 for a fucking month and then the shutter button would freak out? I told the dealer in Vietnam that I spent almost $2k US on a camera that lasted a month give or take.

I don’t know what I’ll do when the XT2 gets fixed besides have two cameras. I could just happily live with the X100F for the kind of photography I do. Its really a nice and compact travel camera. I may get a small bag at one of the markets tomorrow too. I think I can find a bag at the Russian or Central Market for about $10. Having two cameras just really means more weight next January when I leave Cambodia for 5 months on my swing through Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. I may decide then what camera to really take or try to sell one or the other. The XT2 is just bigger and heavier but its water resistant but I just don’t trust it any longer. What’s to stop it from having another shutter button issue in a year or six months? I never had anything like that with the X100F.

So today I ended up downtown walking around the independence park area which is really nice for walking. Wide sidewalks and monuments, beautiful park and open areas, and then nice restaurants and bars just a walk away. I really wished to get the normal walk in today so I do not feel so grumpy and out of sorts. I really need the walk and the camera every day. I need to do about 5 to 7 miles every day of the week and take whatever photographs I want to take. Its become this habit for this old body and I feel really good when I do it and bad when I don’t.

I also started working on the second retirement report I want to do. I think by end of the weekend I will have it up on the site. This led me to thinking this morning about some other content creation. I’ve felt for a long time that I had this other longer thing somewhere inside. Perhaps a novel or a mix of fact and fiction. I don’t think it would be hard science fiction or fantasy but there is something in there I have felt that wants out. I may start outlining what it could be in Ulysses and see. I have this vision its some kind of story but have not really taken time yet to work on it. Maybe sitting on the beach some days in Sihanoukville will give me some moments to consider it. Its gonna be nice to see ocean and beaches and perhaps swim. I’ll need some swimming trunks which will be no problem there in one of the stores I would imagine.

Transitioning to Sihanoukville

The next real step is leaving Phnom Penh and taking the 4 hour bus ride to Sihanoukville. I’ll be there a month as well and will slowly explore the areas, go for walks on the beach, find the other beaches and cool places to eat and drink and hopefully work on this content which I have felt bubbling under the surface. Its my second stop in Cambodia and I’m excited to see more of this Kingdom. I’ll then head to Siem Reap to see the famous temples or Wats there and then on to the second largest city in Cambodia Battambang. Each place gets a month which is the way I like going and each thing is a bus ride to the next.

Here is a little layout of Cambodia for you to visualize what I’m doing.

You can see that I kinda skip around and don’t go in a basic straight line. It kinda keeps with the random nature of what I like doing. If something makes sense often I just don’t do it. Call it some resistance from the decades of doing project management where every task led to a milestone and had dependencies, frustrations, and irritation built in.

Then finally when done with this initial exploration of the wonderful Kingdom of Cambodia, I will return to Phnom Penh for a week and prepare to leave for 5 months. One of the big goals was the retirement visa extension of stay which I got. Without that I would have had to leave Cambodia and re-enter next week. Now I have a year here of multiple entries and exits.

Anyways at 1k level, that’s the view. Exciting times, some frustrating camera times, and mostly fun times in finding a home here to stay in with some very nice people. Since I will never stay here longer than a month, the hotel works out very well for me. I get free breakfasts, its close to services I need like laundry and food places I know now, and I also know how to get around a bit walking and taking the tuk tuks here and there.

Hopefully my next post is on my resounding success getting my camera in to the shop to get fixed and picking up the replacement. I’ll defer trying to figure out what to do with two cameras until that happens in January next year. Take care all. Hope your days are good. If you are on the road, travel slow. Its worth it!

Google Plus Goes Away

Goodbye Google Plus! Some would say the service was a failure and that no one used it but my news feed and friendships made there were much better than some of the crapola I see on Facebook. The technical merits of communities and collections and circles were very cool. I just wish LinkedIn would offer even a semblance of the filtering of news that Google Plus does.

I shared my photography albums from Google Photos to Google Plus quite often and had a collection there to post to which had over 4k subscribers so the idea that no one used it even in my small sample size is incorrect.

I started with it when it was announced back around 2011. Then it was a simpler thing and one could argue perhaps it was better then. Now with the news of the security breach and the end of the platform, one can cast about for a fitting replacement for what I think it did well.

One primary thing it really did well on was the signal to noise factor. I got more open source and technology news there in a threaded format that was quite easy to follow. I could create circles and subscribe people to them so I had circles like Friends, Android, Linux, Open Source. I could create collections and have content be posted there like my photographs. Facebook does not even come close to the signal to noise ratio. Sponsored posts, stupid news I don’t care about, ads for things I would never buy but yet there is no real way to opt out of makes FB a conscious decision for me sometimes. Unfortunately, most of the people on FB are true friends that I have known for years so I am not inclined to end posting or using that service.

The second thing was the integration with Google Photos. It was easy to “share” an album and create focused collections such as I did with photography. I also could manage the collections pretty easily and turn off comments if I so wished.

Another cool thing is the concept of circles. A circle is a sphere of influence and you could create numerous circles with different focus points and influences. I always thought that approach created more value than the FB approach which is to just slam your feed with stuff or you find a group to join. I don’t think FB groups are in any way comparable to communities in Google Plus.

Finally, it’s the people! I met great people there primarily in open source and Linux and even Linus Torvalds was present. I met a whole host of others especially in open source that became friends.

So whether you used the platform and service or not, there are alternatives to always consider out there but nothing simply takes its place. Facebook could never do that and LinkedIn could only hope to have the same functionality in how to create and manage feeds of news you want to focus on.

Goodbye Google Plus. You were a lot of fun and there were always more people with the hallmark on quality and approach.

A week to go in Phnom Penh – Great Times!

My last week in Phnom Penh is here. Its been a great three weeks and I’ve seen a number of places, ate some good food, drank some beer, and fixed my camera for awhile hopefully. I’m glad to be staying away from the downtown or riverside areas. I like the restaurants and a few of the nice riverside bars but I don’t like the nightlife and bars too much. Being away from it is much more peaceful. I did the bar thing years ago in the military and I don’t think much has changed. I much prefer the non touristy areas with the camera.

Its pretty nice spending a longer time in places and getting settled. I’ve learned the local laundry place, money exchange, quick places to get some latte and food places. There are places to eat where the food is excellent and the prices are too. I don’t need the swanky places and normally only will eat once or twice a week at them.

Another thing which is good is finding this hotel. The place fits my lifestyle rather well and I will be staying here on my short trips back as I prepare for travel to other places. A week here in January when I finish my tours of Cambodia cities I want to see first off. Then a month here in June to get my Chinese tourist visa for two months. I’ll come back here in September and renew my retirement visa again. The hotel works well for me because they do room service, free breakfasts, and care about me.

Next Stop: Sihanoukville Otres Beach

This will be my next stop after a 4 hour bus ride there in a week and some days. I’ll spend a month walking the beach, walking to the nearby beaches and seeing the city and villages that make up the area. Its a more relaxed vibe so the photography will change a bit and the walking will not. I must walk each day that I can the steps I do. I don’t feel good if I cannot get the walk in.

After Cambodia: 5 months on the road

After I’m done this first time with Cambodia I’m on the road for 5 months going to Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. This fills up my first 6 months or so in 2019 with slow travels through three places. I don’t know all the locales I will visit in Malaysia and Thailand. I will have 60 days after my initial stay in KL to see things so I may venture gradually north to Georgetown and prepare slowly for the border crossing to Thailand.

The Ex-Pat Life

Finally, some thoughts on the ex-pat life style. I’ve met more than a few European and American ex-pats and retirees living here in Phnom Penh. Last night over a few beers I met a English bar manager for hostess bars here who has been working here for some time tending the bars. Interesting life but not a thing I want. I don’t think that ex-pats want to travel and after meeting a few in Vung Tau I would venture to say the less traveling the better. I think they want stability in a place and to consider a place like Phnom Penh home. Maybe find some local friends, establish themselves, have a regular life. There is also the side here regarding qualifying to retire. Its simply easier here to get a retirement visa extension of stay. Nothing to really show if you are retired and over 55. You just find an agent that is reputable and let that person do the work.

The ex-pat I met last night had never really been to Vietnam. To me, its rather amazing since Vietnam is next door and less than an hour’s flight away. Its easy to get a tourist visa from here to go there and you can even ride the bus if you want cheaper. Maybe even a boat. Why don’t they travel? I did not ask but he mentioned more than a few times how he wanted to go but yet had not. I cannot see ever staying indefinitely in a place, setting up roots, not leaving. There is just too much to see next country over.

I’ve ruled out ever just finding an apartment here and settling down. What I do want is the visa with the multiple entry stamp in it. That lets me always come back here over the next year and not be concerned about not having a country to return to.

I’ll be publishing my second retirement article soon on that page on the blog. I will also publish my final photography album and share it soon.

The Dawning of Eight Months on the Road — Amazing!

Today I went to the Aeon Mall again because it was raining in the early afternoon when I finally decided to leave the hotel. I wandered the mall for a few hours after partaking of some Krispy Kreme donuts. I have not had those donuts since leaving the states about 7 or 8 months ago. In fact, today I celebrate the 8th month of this slow wandering I am doing. If you don’t know, I changed countries and left Vietnam about two weeks ago after six glorious months there. Cambodia has been really good to me and each day I design a thing or things to do to make it better. Phnom Penh is kind of a whirling dervish city. Traffic and people are going non stop but its not anywhere near the focus point of Ho Chi Minh City nor does it have the traffic or population densities.

To get along in Phnom Penh is a bit easier since they use US dollars primarily. No messy exchange rates except when you get change back in Riel. Then you have to pay attention. I’ve gotten change back in combinations of Riel and USD so I have gotten better at the 4k to 1$USD rate to try to see if things are good. Honestly though, when you pay abut $.50 cents for a beer and about $2.00 for a dinner if I was short changed $0.35 I probably would not notice or care.

I also have reached my half way point on this trip to Phnom Penh. In two weeks I leave for my next destination which is a beach city which sounds interesting. I’ll be there as usual for a month and then on to Siem Reap for a month and then Battambang for a month and then back here. I have about a week here in January to get a haircut, get laundry done, and prepare for 5 months on the road to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. I still have to figure out what I will do in Malaysia after my first 30 days :-). I expect something or other will come up. I may meet a friend from Vietnam there. Not sure. Then I get back in June and initially I was leaving for Vietnam for a month but its changed and now I will come back to Phnom Penh for a few weeks and get a Chinese tourist visa and leave for China in July and return in August. Then a bit of a wait and I can get the retirement visa renewed and then leave for Vietnam for 3 months. I decided to go longer so I can go back to a few places I like there and see new places. That will get me through next year and I’ll spend the holidays in Vietnam with friends either in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.

So there you have it! I’m entering the 8th month of this little trip and all things are really good. I’ve looked back a few times at a retrospective type thing over coffee or beers. Nothing really negative stands out. I kinda wish I could retire and have Vietnam as a home base but Cambodia is much easier given the visa types and extensions they have. The retirement visa extension is due back tomorrow or Wednesday and I will have a year then here in Cambodia. Multiple entries and exits and all. I found a home here at the Hotel LaLune and I’m happy with the prices and what I get value wise. I have a good next year planned out for the slow travel I like doing. I guess I will increase the country count by a few next year but I am not really counting.

I’ll be writing the next entry on retirement this week and posting it as well.

Phnom Penh Proves Again that Time is not Really Real

Today I decided to head to the Palace here in Phnom Penh where the imperial family live. Only thing today is Sunday and its not open on Sundays it appears. Whoops?

So instead I just walked another way and soon was not missing the palace at all. It was a beautiful and warm day with some clouds but mostly sunshine. I just took roads this way and that and soon was immersed in the walk itself and not the missed palace opportunity. I saw two bridges I had never seen before and explored them. I also saw new hotels going in all over the place north of the river front area. Lots of construction that a person here told me is about Chinese investment mostly.

I ended up much like before at a watering hole by the river drinking a few cold Angkor draft beers. One of my neighbors had tacos there. I could not remember the last time I had tacos but I just splurged on a steak last night so I had will power to not eat again downtown since it costs more. I did watch and have some vicarious thrills on the tacos. They looked really good! To kind of get my fix, I found a Mexican restaurant here that I will visit next week at some point.

Time does not Exist…

I’ve come to the realization that traveling like this removes the count of days and h0urs from the equation. I really had no idea it was Sunday until I found out that the palace was closed because it was Sunday. I think this is a positive effect of not having a damned thing to do and all day to do it. Whether I sit an extra hour in the morning with an iced latte or leave or go to this or that point, nothing really matters any longer. I’ve separated from the devil count of hours, minutes, seconds and how time ruled my life working.

Lets face it. The count of days does not matter folks. Its not the count that guides your lives. It what you do inside them with the moments. The priceless moments matter that you fill with things and places and people. We live our lives constrained by clocks and calendars and tick tock of time. It leaves us wounded and not able to truly enjoy what we have left.

Until we travel.

Once we travel and we do it long term, time seems to unravel. The seconds go spinning off and the minute and hour hands on the clock detach and we have been given the real gift of it all. We have the moments back and its up to us to fill them. My job before was time. Schedules and tasks and milestones and people neatly or not fit inside them. This has to be done then and then you could do that. Predecessors had to be done before you could do the next thing. Think about how it feels for a moment when a life is guided by all that BS. There’s no recovering. You’re trapped in time.

But then I left.

It was not an immediate thing. It took some months or days or something but one day I truly stopped caring whether a weekend or weekday greeted me. I had lost count this time until I found out that the Imperial Palace was not open. Say what? Oh. Got it. It was that time thing again. Well, fuck that. I don’t like time. Space ain’t much good either. Together they form a vortex. I don’t like vortices.

So I bailed and I did not even know it. And it felt damned good.

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.