Its Monday morning here at my home base, the very nice LaLune Hotel in Phnom Penh. I turned in my laundry to the nice folks down the street and then visited the latte stand where I go just about every morning for an iced latte that is made so well! Today a bit later sees me going to the Joma Bakery in Phnom Penh for a late brunch type thing and walking around with the camera to capture some things I have not yet downtown. The Joma bakery is the same shoppe that I enjoyed so much in Hanoi in the old quarter. Menus are the same, quality is the same, and its really a nice place to stop off for a toasted bagel and cream cheese and a hot latte. I can sit there for awhile and meander mentally which is part of the joy of a coffee shop and bakery.
The real thing though is leaving for this city-state called Singapore in a week. I have not been back there since 2011 and I still have a few friends that live and work there so hopefully will catch up with them. Singapore is one of the places I rate highly as a limited or short term visit like Japan. Its a powerhouse economically but the beauty of the city streets, the multiple cultures that call it home, shopping, and technology make it a very nice visit. There are also zoos and gardens and museums and all kinds of stuff to see so I am looking forward to walking the city. I’ve thought often about going back since Singapore once formed a highly important part of my work life but even more than the past is the city itself I think about. Its a safe, beautiful, wondrous place to wander day or night. Then there is the food! One hotel I used to stay in when working out of Singapore had a really nice hawker center right next to it and these restaurants in a row by the hotel. But the best was the Royal Plaza on Scotts right off Orchard. I could wander out from there and reach so many places. I have Singapore for a week so there are lots of things to do both do and think about this last week before the doing of it. Being able to be free and just wander the city without some of the baggage in 2011 will be nice. Then I leave on the bus for 90 days in Malaysia!
I have these dreams about Malaysia and the places I’ve chosen for this trip. Its the chance to see so many different visions of Malaysia. I’ll start with Kuala Lumpur for three weeks spent wandering in every direction I can go. Then I catch a bus to Malacca for a few weeks to see a wondrous historic city with so many interesting ties. Then back to the north a bit for a few weeks to Port Dickson. Finally, I fly from Kuala Lumpur to Penang for a month. I am really looking forward to all the places but Penang and its city, food, cultures is something I have dreamt over for awhile. In 80 some days though I leave and catch a flight to Thailand!
I designed the Thailand trip not to try see it all but to pick places I wanted to see and experience from the beaches at Phuket and Krabi to Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I have 60 days to experience Thailand after a visa extension there and will finally end up flying back to Phnom Penh on 14 June for two weeks.
Dare I mention that after those weeks that I go back to Vietnam for 2.5 months? Yep! Back to a place of wonder to wander some more. I’ll get to see Ho Chi Minh City again, Can Tho and Phu Quoc Island for the first time, then my all time favorite city Da Nang and finally Hanoi. Then back to Phnom Penh but only for a few days because then I fly to Lao for three weeks.
2019 is almost full!
I will have a few weeks in Phnom Penh after Lao to renew my retirement extension of stay but then I will depart for the fall and winter time for months in Taiwan and the Philippines coinciding with Christmas this year. This fills up the travel bucket for the entire year and the only flights not booked yet are those to Taipei and Manila and on.
Its 2019 but thinking about 2020 is fun! I really will want to get to India and China in 2020 and also strive to get outside the envelope a bit and visit Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Dubai and other places I can reach. Maybe a trip back to the states then will form up for awhile.
The real thing is the freedom I have to go as I want where I want or stay longer. I’ve thought about staying longer in Vietnam by getting a year long tourist visa and living in Da Nang for some of it, Hanoi for some of it, etc. It may be a thing for me!
With the travel almost 90% booked for 2019, I will also approach my one year on this adventure the end of February. I flew to Japan on 1 March 2018. What a year it’s been! A wonder of slow travel that I encourage others to do especially if retired or considering it. Nothing should hold you back and you should not look back until you want to look back. I think the two main places to consider are Vietnam and Cambodia. You can find a quality and wonder of life in these two places which will keep you coming back for more. Vietnam has so much to see, the people are wonderful and genuine, and the country has great infrastructure for travel and its cheap. Cambodia has so many different looks and feels. You can visit Kampot for some laid back vibes and great food or go find Siem Reap for all the history. If you want a second quieter yet fun adventure check out Battambang. There is always the big city Phnom Penh to reach back to. You can do bus and flights throughout the kingdom.
In the end though its a first step to Singapore for me coming up! Its gonna be cool to get back and remember the older thoughts and then dream and wonder at my life traveling so slow but living in Southeast Asia.