December 31st, Kuala Lumpur

Greetings all. It’s the last day of the year and my last day in KL before leaving tomorrow for the airport and then flying to Saigon for two weeks. I had no real expectations when I decided to come here for the 9 or so days. I knew that things like food would always be the best here. I did not set a group of things I wished to see or tours or anything really. I just decided to go and live for 10 days like I have lived for the last almost 2 years. The last 2 years has been a random and nomadic existence where I just go where I want and do as I please. I decided last moment to not return to Philippines after KL and to go back to Saigon. So tomorrow I go. I don’t have any real expectations there besides to take my L out for dinners and coffee and spoil her a bit. She will work days all the time so I will be free to go for walks in Saigon. If you have been, you know that Saigon is immense. Wandering there is like a fantasy land of things to see. Then you have the wonderful Vietnamese people. Then you have the food. It all combines for my last two weeks on the edge for a wonderful time before leaving for a few weeks in the US split between California, Texas, and Florida. I may have mentioned that in California and Florida I will board the Amtrak with a sleeperette to travel the rails much like I have wanted to do for so long. I’ll ride from California to San Antonio Texas and take a break for a Greyhound bus and ride up to Austin to see an old friend from the IBM days and stay with her. Then back to San Antonio and two days later to Orlando Florida to see my daughter. The second Amtrak voyage will be from Orlando to New York. I’m so excited about both!

To me, 2020 is about a final set of wandering in the Middle East. Places of mystery and history, touching points of Asia and Europe, wonderful foods and people. Places I had never thought I would get to. I’ll get to see Morocco, Turkey, Egypt and finally Dubai. This gets me to June of 2020 and I get back to Phnom Penh Cambodia on June 11th. At that point, things will change for me. I’ll spend a month in Cambodia resting and doing some stuff around a new passport, visiting Khmer friends, drinking some beer, but the real thing is moving one more time to Da Nang Vietnam. Simply put, I will end the nomadic and vagabonding ways then and settle down to longer stays in Vietnam with trips every 90 days because the tourist visa I will get requires me to leave every 90 days. So I will gratefully bend to what Vietnamese immigration says and have trips planned every 3 months. My first one will be to Sri Lanka and perhaps onward to India. I have friends from Chennai to Mumbai I would like to see. I would also have to stop in Bangalore. So many places I have not been for so long. India was a dark period for me and I wish to erase those lines and create new ones.

The main thing though is I will slow down and live in different places in Vietnam for longer. I have my shortlist:

  1. Da Nang. Because Da Nang is the Han River and the Ocean and a beautiful city by both. There are wondrous islands I could go to and beautiful parks. The food and people are so wonderful there. So I will stay 90 days.
  2. Hanoi. I am always enthralled by Hanoi. It’s the meeting of old and new and the totally unexpected things one can find there. its getting to different places like Halong City. It’s finding my Vietnamese friends there and taking them out for dinner.
  3. Saigon. I love the city but the traffic... Oh boy! The city though is massive and it changes each block and there is shopping and eating and drinking. Wonderful cultural sites and places to walk solo. Nice parks and beautiful views.
  4. Hue. The city of Hue interests me so I must go back again. It’s the old capitol city and the history and culture and food there is incredible. The forbidden city and the tombs of several emperors are so mysterious. Each one speaks to a period but each one is so different and speaks to the man and the empire then.
  5. There is the city that L will likely be living in as well. Quy Nhon City is in central Vietnam and is by the ocean. It’s not so visited by tourists so I will stay there.
  6. Can Tho. I love Can Tho on the Mekong Delta. It’s where the second L lives. It’s a quiet and peaceful place where life can be lived to no one’s desires but my own. I will stay there too.
  7. Da Lat. Da Lat is the break from heat and the mountains and nature. Delicious food and friendly people. Coffee all over. I will stay there again.

As you can see there are a number of places to reach. Some are longer stays and some are perhaps weeks or a month. But all of the travel is within Vietnam and its at a much slower pace.

You probably notice I have left off places like Hoi An. It’s because I will not go back to Hoi An. It’s just a tourist zone disguised as an ancient city and I don’t like it much. A second city is Nha Trang. Nha Trang has different issues with tourism and I did not like it there so will never go back.

Rounding up the Numbers

Now its the 31st of December 2019 evening here. It’s early evening and I sit in the room considering how the year has been for me. I started this year in Cambodia and the last year has been one of vagabonding, changes, walking many miles, and eating and drinking. Who could ask for anything more? I’ve rounded up on the numbers and I know that this next 6 months will be the best and will show me more than Southeast Asia but my heart and soul belong here. Wandering in Vietnam or Cambodia or Malaysia (not Thailand thankfully). Perhaps Taiwan which I loved so much. Places that hold so many memories and the pictures that let me see. Literally thousands of pictures with different devices. Cameras that did not last and smartphones that did. I’ve left behind a lot including hefting around cameras and lens and batteries. I still carry around desire, lust, and need. Just because I get old does not mean I don’t dream or have fantasy moments on a bus or high speed rail.

When I float down the Nile River later in 2020, maybe then I will also look back at the year. The mighty and mysterious Nile. Source of all for the Egyptians. Maybe then I will see the moments and memories that have lit my path and also show me back to Vietnam and the edge.

See you next year.