My Sihanoukville 2018 Photo Album

Hi all. I’ve started my photo album for the month I spend in Sihanoukville. I’ll be wandering the beaches and the cities and villages around here. Here’s the start of the album. You will notice a lot of sunsets :-). My rule with the albums is that there are no rules. If you are looking for some kind of orderly progression of places, I’ve never done that. The camera is a discovery tool so you see things as I do.  Here’s the album! It will grow as I visit places. Look for a lot of ocean and small town stuff.

Slower days in Sihanoukville – Beach, sand, water and feet

Catching up on a few other interesting topics besides the beach and how laid back the Otres Village is :-). I was thinking of a few things last night over my Chicken Lok Lak and beers.

Thing 1. I have no place to really be or time to get there any longer and when I go from a busy city like Phnom Penh to a sleepy beach village its hard to slow the pace down sometimes. I get used to tuk tuks taking me to all sorts of places, regular schedule of seeing the sights and sounds and people with the camera. A pace of things which while it’s not breakneck is faster. Now here in Sihanoukville, faced with a much slower pace of life I have to slow down. There is the ocean, the rather interesting group of people that live here, the food and beer. But wow! That ocean! That beach which stretches forever almost with water bath tub warm to walk in. I don’t swim much any more but the act of feeling sand and warm ocean water touching the skin and then slowly walking and taking photographs with the camera is never ending. Today, I’ll leave a bit later to enjoy the Thing 1 values and walk the beach in the afternoon to early evening. Get the steps in that make me feel good and take photos of the wonders of the beach, the little city life with dirt roads and friendly people, and then back for dinner to an end of another day of Thing 1 activities.

Thing 2. Writing longer content and having the time to do so. Now I have time to create more stuff. More written stuff. There’s a longer thing in there that sometimes I think wants out. I’ve pushed it to the bottom when I worked before. I had no real time to go off and just write or see where it would take me. Now I do. The times at the beach can catapult my writing back. I have written a few outlines for something longer that I won’t bore you with (yet). But its coming because now I have the time and ocean and sea breezes seem to be an outlet of sorts.

Finally Thing 3. The travel itself and looking at it. I guess at various times I think back on the 8 months gone and the places I’ve been to and am both thankful and amazed. I’ve watched others start and finish their travels while I was still in Vietnam. I watched yet others doing the long term travel count countries and continents. They are like badges of honor to some. You can read their bio’s on twitter like

30 countries and 5 continents in 90 days and still going

I don’t think I could do that pace. I move slower than that I fear. When I set this up for myself, I knew I did not want to just the road and have the countries enter and depart as the passport filled up. I don’t really want the passport to fill up. It’s fine the way it is now. Has an expired Vietnam visa and two Cambodian entries. So this Thing 3 has become not so much the travel which I still enjoy on buses and trains and airplanes; but the longer joys of being in-between and living. Strolling down the dirt street in front of my bungalow and getting the latte in the morning from the pretty girl that runs the latte shack, walking the ocean with no goals in mind, and then the beer and thoughts at night. Also the desire to create content is big for me now. Maybe a sub thing to this is the ability to find another place to go which sounds interesting and just booking that travel. I found Phu Quoc Island again the other day and decided I should splurge and stay a week at a nice resort there. Its a special economic zone so no real visa is needed. I found the mini-bus and the ferry ride back and a nice resort hotel to stay at for awhile.

In a final note of all this, I get to finally say goodbye to Bank of America. If you travel long term, do yourself a favor and do not get a BofA account. I decided to move my accounts to two banks and also had to wait to my social security direct deposit changed which took a few months. I have two checking accounts at completely different banks now. One is CapitolOne 360 for checking and a money market account. The other is Schwab. I truly think you want to have redundant accounts just in case something bad happens to a atm card. I also will never ever have credit cards again. They are the biggest rip off and scam and I am weak. I would just buy the thing on credit and then hate myself . In honesty I paid off two of them over 4 years because of my weakness. Never, ever again will I do them. If I cannot pay for a thing with cash or an ATM it ain’t worth it.

So, those were the things boiling up this morning when I walked to the Main Street to my local latte stand. Now in my room thinking that this day starts later today and I have a few hours before calling my daughter to perhaps read or write or dream. Maybe all three. No limits on any of them any longer.

Otres Village and Sihanoukville – First Day Thoughts and times

Its actually my second day here in Sihanoukville. I got in later yesterday so walked around a bit to kind of get familiar with Otres Village and had a few chores to run. Had to find a place to top-up my SIM card and then a small market to get some needed supplies. After that it was getting kinda close to sunset so I decided to walk back to the beach because I have not seen an ocean sunset since leaving home. The sunsets at Otres Village are fantastic. Here is one for you to check out I took with the Fuji camera last night.

Just a beautiful evening and sunset! After the sunset I went for dinner to Pops Pizza which is slightly mis-named since it actually seems to be mostly a BBQ place which cooks the food out front. I had the large steak dinner which you get with Cole slaw and potatoes cooked on the grill and some cold Angkor Beer. I spent $7 on the dinner for everything!

Today is a brand new day here so I will be leaving by 10am or so to have a later breakfast here in the village. There are lots of restaurants around my bungalow so its pretty easy to find a place to eat and coffee will definitely taste good. No more free breakfast in the mornings.

Sihanoukville is growing and construction mostly funded by the Chinese is causing a lot of growing pains here. I don’t think the local people benefit too much from either the construction work or the new hotels and a lot of casinos that are going in. I talked with a Cambodian staying at my hotel and he was telling me that much of the change only benefits the top 1% of the people here and hardly any filters down to the folks that live here. Otres is still kind of a sleepy little beach village but the dirt roads and friendly locals I think will soon change. By 2020 this area will be just another tourist zone catering to rich Chinese tourists that want to spend time by the beach and not see the local sights. All that will go away.

Now it has an interesting and compelling group of tourists here that walk the town, eat, drink, and see the sunsets. A few younger guys pointed out where to get my SIM card topped up. Others walk the small village roads to and from the different beach locales. I will go walk the beach today I think and take off the shoes and let these old feet feel the sand and sea water. I don’t remember the last time I did that. I can stroll up the beach for miles in either direction because Otres blends into another beach.

So that’s my first take on Otres. A small and charming little village where the food is good and the beer is cold and the people are still friendly. Unfortunately I don’t see it remaining that way as time goes on and as my neighbor said so much has already changed with the construction here.

I’m glad I’m visiting now. Its good to see what Otres still looks like with the small town ocean village flavor and the local restaurants.

Time Drawing to a Close in Phnom Penh – only days left

I have one day left out of my 30 days here in Phnom Penh. I’m taking it a bit easy today and reading a bit and looking at my travel plans for next year in Malaysia. I need to flesh out those times a bit more after the initial 30 days in Kuala Lumpur. My basic plan is to head slowly north but also take in any places on the way. I’d end up by the Thai border at the end of the 90 day tourist visa in Malaysia. The area to the north around Penang and GeorgeTown look pretty good to me.

Once I cross over the border into Thailand I’ll head up to Bangkok and Chiang Mai for awhile and then fly to Phuket and Krabi for a week and then back. I have those tickets already booked and I have rooms for that trip. I don’t have any real sets of things in Thailand to get done either. I just know by June I need to be back in Bangkok to fly back to Phnom Penh and stay at the hotel here for a month or so while I arrange a Chinese tourist Visa. At some point I will book the round trip airfare from Phnom Penh to Beijing and then back by October so I can renew my retirement extension of stay here in Cambodia.

So, lots to try to define for next year even at some basic level. Since I travel so slowly the rooms I get area always for a month unless its a weekend or short getaway.

Other Stuff…

In the category of other stuff; I’ve met a number of people that are ex-pats now living in Phnom Penh long term. One lady that lives out by Siem Reap and some others when I’ve been eating or drinking downtown. The hotel here is good for meeting international folks as well. There is an interesting ebb and flow of people coming through that teach English work for a company here, or are just visiting.

I’ve had the FujiFilm X100F camera for a few days now and its really an easy camera to move around with. So much lighter and mobile than the XT2. Its size and weight make it really suited for travel photography. The last one I had wss really mistreated so I am determined to not put this one through the same weather rigors. If you’re looking for a camera that can be used for travel and a variety of other uses, the X100F is a great choice. Very powerful but all contained in a small and retro package that does not showcase the person too much. Hip shooting with the camera for the street is really good once you make some basic changes to the settings for aperture and ISO. I advise shooting on aperture priority and setting it to either F5.6 or F8 and forgetting it. Also set the auto ISO so you really do not have to worry about adjustments when you are on the move.

Finally, tomorrow I pack my backpack and then Tuesday morning make my way to the bus depot for my bus ride to Sihanoukville. All of this was planned and paid for months ago and I’m glad I do things this way. I had found the tickets and times much earlier and took care of booking the tickets. I’ll get in around noon to the bus station and make my way over to the Bungalow and be able to check out the town and beaches. I have a vision of slowing down by the beach, being able to work on my content for the story I am writing, and also doing my walks both on the roads that connect the different cities and beaches but also on the beaches themselves.

So there’s a few categories of things which have come up or that I decided I should capture and write about on the blog. I don’t know that I will write here again before I arrive in Sihanoukville on Tuesday.

Almost the weekend – Talks with family, places to still go and the Fuji X100F

I was able yesterday to pick up the Fujifilm X100F camera. I had really forgotten how ideal the little camera is for mobility. Combine the size with the wonderful fuji colors and its so much more for me. I am going to get the XT2 fixed but will be selling it to a friend in Vietnam. The size difference is significant for someone interested in small backpacks and daypacks and having a smaller footprint in my travels on buses and stuff. I read an interesting article and had commented on it before about the X100F being the 2018 travel camera. Primary among the things for me are its size and the fact by its included lens there is no desire or need to carry a whole bunch of other lens. You have a really nice camera that is self-contained. It has the beautiful film simulations and the wonderful retro yet functional look of the Fuji line.

So I am glad to have it back! In a way, even though it cost me some money, I am glad to have the camera back which gave me so many memorable trips and the one I picked up to learn on before. Since I am still learning the X100F I think is very nice for the novice photographer since its menu and options are easily found for the most part. I also have the manual in PDF format on my iPhone. I can always look up something with a few basic steps.

The other main thing with all this camera stuff is to find a camera shop that focuses on Fuji gear here in Phnom Penh. The owner is very accommodating and works to provide his customers with a great sales and post sales support environment. Since I am more or less living here, finding a place in my home base that will support my needs with the camera is very nice.

Last Weekend and Days…

Amazing that my last weekend is coming up here in Phnom Penh. I’ve had a wonderful time here and I think I got to see what I wanted including walking the streets with the camera, going to museums, parks, and palaces, and wandering the riverside eating and drinking. I probably spent a bit more money than Vietnam because I really enjoy the downtown part and restaurants. Since I don’t count or budget, its not a thing that stops me.

I had some breakfast here this morning and cooked my own over easy eggs which was fun. The hotel here is just a home to me in so many ways. I am exceedingly blessed and lucky to have found the La Lune Hotel and the wonderful folks that work here. Now since my favorite coffee stand is open again its time for some of her delicious iced latte and a few hours in the room before venturing out. I would like to find a small bag that could carry the camera and batteries and stuff so I will head over to the Central Market and wander around there later today.

The nice final thing was a 30 minute phone call with my daughter. I don’t blog much about family here but it was very nice to catch up with her. She is a unique individual who has her own life but sometimes still sounds like my little girl. It was nice catching up and then setting a regular time to call her. Things have not been so easy there for awhile but I think we got past some of the past tense things and moved on to her doing most of the talking and telling me about her life and asking whether I would ever return. I think she gets the reasons why I won’t.

To do all the calls and stuff though, its so much easier using a service instead of trying to do international calls on my SIM card. Most of my family does not do WhatsApp or Viber or whatever. So a service and platform is needed that bridges the gap. I use Google Voice on my iPhone and it now supports dialing without hangouts its truly a complete VOIP tool that can be used from laptop, tablet, or phone. I think the only real limit is you have to get the number in the states. Perhaps VPN will work to get the service; not sure. The real reason though to have it is the ease of voice mails and calls and texts and Voice will send you transcripts of messages and alert you to texts. The iPhone rings when I get a Voice call and the number is a US number. Maybe the last and greatest thing is its free. I can get the bank alerts and 2FA easily to it. But believe it or not AirBnb will not use it since its a VOIP number. I don’t use that service much. I don’t see the value when I can find the hotels I like on or Agoda. Maybe if you want a nicer condo or apartment or some kinda thing you use it. I’m interested in the cheaper places then what I see on Airbnb.

Closing this out

I kinda wanted to write a blog post like a daily activity log of what I do but the truth is since I am not a digital nomad and not on a year long gap year thing, none of those rules apply to me. I have no job to find a coffee shop to do or be concerned about. My days and my ideas belong to me. Its a wonderful thing to have the moments back.

Now its the morning in my hotel room with the iced latte and I’m considering the morning which stretches out before me. I have relatively few days left here and I accomplished what I set out. The Visa extension of stay, the touring around the city and its unique museums and palaces and the city streets and people. All have been so good for me. My next stop is by the beach so I will be able to work on my longer story content in the mornings with an iced coffee by the beach. Walking and investigating still takes primary focus for me so I will find places to investigate either along the beach or between different towns. I look at Sihanoukville as a different thing though so life will change and slow down by the ocean. Phnom Penh is a busy town, international in scope, lots of attractions and traffic in-between going and getting there.

I’ll close this out now and hope you all, dear readers, have a wonderful day or evening; wherever your timezone finds you.

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!

The XT2 Camera and Replacements becomes the X100F camera again

So I’ve had the opportunity to contact the camera shop in Da Nang I bought the FujiFilm XT2 Camera from. Their initial answer is to return to Vietnam and take the camera in for an inspection. Not really possible nor wanted at this point. What I want is the warranty honored and to get the camera fixed or have the body replaced. I have only had the camera for a month for heaven’s sake!

I found the only Fuji dealer here in Phnom Penh and chatted with him on Facebook Messenger a bit. He will take the XT2 camera and get it fixed for me and then send it along to where I am or send back to the hotel and they will hold it for me until January. In the meantime, I am going to go back to the Fuji X100F camera. I had this camera before and I can get it for almost $500 less here. Its also a heck of a lot more portable and easy to carry. I will try to treat it better than getting it soaked in the rain storms. It takes excellent pictures and my first 6 months were spent with it. No complaints.

I know I cannot just leave here without a camera. Its a hobby but its more. Maybe an obsession for recording life on the streets, the monuments and people, and the urban sights I like to record. The other thing about it is that all my batteries just work with it too. That’s a huge thing since I have 3 replacement batteries. The final thing about it is the size of the camera as I mentioned before but it packs a lot of punch in use in its size. It is significantly smaller than the XT2 camera so it fits in a mobile lifestyle a bit better.

What I learned this time is that getting higher end camera gear repaired on the road is difficult no matter where you happen to go. With a smartphone, I would just go buy another iPhone 7 plus since I like that phone a lot. But the camera fulfills more of my desires and needs than a phone.

Why not just use the iPhone?

I heard that and thought it through. I don’t like taking pictures with the iPhone. Its just not the thing that satiates my desire to wander the cities with a small travel camera, record what I want, learn the camera and its film simulations, and feel that I am getting somewhat better. The iPhone just takes the photos and perhaps does a nice job. I don’t feel I learn anything when the phone camera does it all.

The second thing about just using the iPhone camera is storage. There is no removable storage from an iPhone. Images go into the apple photos album and then google photos uploads them for me. I cannot really manage the storage like I can with a SD card of images. I much prefer having a dedicated storage card to hold images and I have multiple storage cards to use as well.

So now I am without a camera since the XT2 will not function reliably. I had a friend in Vietnam call the photo shop as well and talk to them. Nothing really gained with that besides the rather stupid idea that I would fly back to Hanoi or Saigon.

Once I get the XT camera back in a month or three I will then decide what to do. I don’t want or need two cameras. I have a feeling that the XT2 will never be trusted again. What’s to stop it from having another issue with the shutter button? This is not some isolated issue either folks. Many, many people have reported the issue and the only fix is sending it back for repair. Of course that is easier if you happen to be in the US or Japan or perhaps Singapore.

So ends the camera voyage and while I’m frustrated I kind of acknowledge its the way of things that are digital. Laptops, cameras, phones. They all can stop and are prone to being damaged with travel. I know I will never buy some DSLR with 5 lens. I know I will never do RAW file editing. There are things I just don’t need on my travels. But there is one thing I do need and that’s a working camera. I’ll fix this on Wednesday morning first thing.

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.

FujiFilm XT2 Camera Woes – A decision reached and steps taken

I recently started having problems with my FujiFilm XT2 camera. Basically, its a well known problem with the shutter button where it gets sticky or just gets stuck. It was getting that way for awhile so I started reading about the problem. Then I started searching local ex-pat fora for other fuji photographers that may be haunting them. I was given the name of a reputable shop.

I found the only Fuji reseller and service person in Phnom Penh yesterday and he worked on the camera for me for an hour and his appraisal is that it needs to be serviced. This would mean 3 to 5 weeks with no camera to speak of. No learning for me. I just don’t think I can do it. I am stuck in forever learning mode walking and having the camera with me.

His recommendation was to leave the body with him and get it serviced which means a new top cover unit where the button sits. That takes time. He further offered to sell me a new XT3 body which he will get today and at a discount. He will take the XT2 and get it serviced for me and return to either my hotel here or on the road where I am. The XT3 is the brand new camera body that Fuji just released in September. But before that I took another tack. I decided to try some DIY repairs. I tried the following things in roughly the order below:

  1. Toothbrush to clean. I tried a toothbrush to remove any grit or crap within the housing. While this worked for awhile the button still did not feel normal to the touch and would auto focus at the merest touch. Yesterday it locked completely down and would not release.
  2. Rubbing Alcohol and Q-tips. I did not try this although there is a pharmacy down the street and I could have gotten both there. I asked a Khmer friend that works at the hotel to accompany me just in case. At the last moment I bailed on this for the night and moved on.
  3. Tap water. I believed and I still believe that the problem is with grit, sweat, or crap from my backpack that got embedded in the housing and impacted the button. So given that the XT2 camera is water resistant, I tried some tap water to loosen any crap. I removed the battery, SD card, and lens and let water flow down on the shutter switch. It immediately loosened up and now it feels like when I bought it. Did it fix it? I don’t know.
  4. Service Warranty Repair. This will take weeks to a month to get done. I would be without a camera whatsoever except my iPhone camera. The shop would send me the camera back fixed on the road wherever I am. This led me to the final point below.
  5. Upgrade the body to the XT3. I can upgrade to the XT3 body tonight at the dealer and give the XT2 to him to have fixed and then send to me. It will cost me yet more money but seriously this is my only hobby on the road that goes with me walking my daily walks. The compelling thing though is that what do I get with the upgrade? A person on twitter does not feel its a compelling upgrade if I am not going to shoot video. I don’t do video and am after a camera for traveling that is also flexible, sturdy, and weather resistant. Either the XT2 or XT3 support that.

So I reached the decision point in this little story. What to do? Upgrade to the latest and spend the money which is not a big deal to me. Give the XT2 and not have a camera for weeks maybe months? Not good. I cannot just live with the iPhone camera. It does not satisfy me. Keep the XT2 until it starts doing the same thing again in some place like Siem Reap where the photography becomes important?

Here is what I decided to do and it is not a function of money or quality.

I am keeping the XT2 and not buying the XT3 camera body. If it fails or locks up again so be it. I also dropped the camera shop in Da Nang Vietnam a e-mail and asked them to provide a new body since I have only had the camera for a month and change. The shutter button I think is my own doing with some treatment or sweat with stuff in my backpack getting embedded. No matter, I can get it fixed. I would rather get a new XT2 body at some point down the road from the camera shop in Da Nang. I believe they will offer that.

This way also I do not spend money on a thing with questionable value that would replace a thing that now works okay. Maybe there is no right decision folks. Damned if I do or don’t. But I like the XT2 camera a lot. I just bought this camera on the recommendations of a few Fuji photographers who told me it was worthwhile for the type of travel I do. And it has been.

An interesting quest I think with a final decision which I feel good about. Lets see what happens down the road. Mistakes are human. Cameras can be fixed or replaced later. I believe I solved the problem. Refer to the mistake rule above 🙂

Slow Vagabonding and the Retirement Visa in Cambodia

So as an update although minor but a victory for me and my slow vagabonding, I received back my passport this morning from my incredible and friendly travel agent. She promised about 10 days and it came in on the 9th day. The passport now has two visas in it from Cambodia. One is the normal 30 day visa which lets me stay until 16 October. The second is the extension of stay for retirement which lets me stay until 16 October 2019. So I get an actual year and its not dated from the date they issued but from the date the 30 day visa runs out.

This is a big thing for me since its the second part of the plan I started defining in California over a year ago in some writing and notes. I knew what would work even then although I had never set foot in Cambodia. Their visa laws are rather simple and easy to understand. The one extension of stay that I wanted was called the ER visa which is for 1 year and multiple entries. It means I can enter and leave as I want over the next year. Cambodia can be my home base and then next September I can renew the extension of stay again and get another.

Next September I will be back here in Phnom Penh to renew again but then I leave for 3 months to Vietnam. I plan on spending September through December in Vietnam with friends next year. Its hard looking forward that far but I think India will be coming in 2020 and I want the 6 month tourist visa there so I can travel slowly up and down the country. I also want to get back to Japan and do a longer trip from north to south on the Shinkansen. Who knows how all this lines up?

The real thing I needed to give me some security was the retirement visa here in Cambodia so I could always return from travels and have a home to center activities from. I also found this hotel which now I will stay in all the time since they treat me really well. Its away from some of the bar and river districts and I like it better.

The other thing that the extension of stay does is let me get the other 3 cities in starting in two weeks to Sihanoukville and then on to Siem Reap and Battambang and then back to Phnom Penh in January. It also opens up the trip I have already got set for air travel and connecting buses to Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. This one annual visa opens it all up for me. Yay!

Tonight I may do Cambodian BBQ again at this place down the street or spicy noodles at this Korean place. I do know that getting this done removes the last little bit of the unknown and I can focus now on just enjoying the next year of slow vagabonding in a variety of places. I still don’t know what I will do for the last 60 days in Malaysia. I will have spent 30 days in Kuala Lumpur but since the entry visa is 90 days I plan on spending all of it there. There are trains an ferry boats and places to see in Malaysia!

Now I feel that Cambodia is my home and I can settle in and relax for the upcoming slow vagabonding. Too cool!