Its the Mike 2019 Retrospective or some such nonsense blog post
I’ve been reading all the new bloggers. Those guys around less than 10 years or so. They all write retrospective posts for the past year. Many swear to put down their social media swords and laptops and phones until some day passes. Others show you all the greatness of their year or perhaps their sorrow and trials and tribulations. So sitting here in my hotel in Kuala Lumpur on the aftermath of deciding to not go back to Philippines, I decided what the hell. I mean
WHAT THE HELL!
There. That’s better. So now I can feel justified in writing my puny retrospective post and try not to mention my successes and failures but maybe remain objective. You know. Like I am throughout the blog. Hahaha. Also since I’ve been doing this blogging thing for over 20 years I feel compelled to mention my view on the current state of blogging too. After all I participate even if I changed providers to something I can actually deal with. In a word or two before getting to the meat of the matter, lets briefly talk blogging. It sucks and it has always sucked. People start them and end them and fill them with whatever they do these days to make money and become important and significant in the so-called blogosphere. Lifestyle and travel bloggers and their wordpress instances and their ads and their affiliate links are just that. It only makes the blog harder to read for what I come for. I come for the content and the words and to see if the blog measures up or goes down to my subjective measure. Pretty much one ad or affiliate link dooms it I am afraid to say. If you Pinterest you may have lost me at the first image. If you ‘gram I am gone. Don’t like this? Too bad. You will notice there is no comment facility on write.as. So go write your toady blog content with the lists and tips and tricks. I won’t be there.
Anyways, lets get started in no particular order and see where we go from here on this Thursday night.
I hobo’ed and vagabonded around Asia a bit this last year. I went to Cambodia, Vietnam a few times, Laos, Thailand (never again), Malaysia (will always go back), Taiwan and a brief stint in Philippines to see my friend AFT. Then I bailed on Philippines for KL because there is something about KL that is spiritual and soulful and charming and warm. Now I am on the cusp of leaving yet again for Vietnam for two weeks because I want to. I’ll leave for Saigon on 1 January 2020 so I’ll start the new year there.
I’ve been writing a bit about 2020 and what happens after 6 months seeing Morocco, Turkey, Egypt and Dubai. I’ve decided to slow down and live in Vietnam somewhere. That somewhere most likely will be Da Nang. There is a spiritual thing which will always take me back to the wonders of the beautiful city by the ocean and Han River. It also means more time in places because I’ll rent apartments or such that give me a stable value for months at a time. Vietnam has no retirement visa but there is a year long tourist visa for US passport holders. It means visa runs every 3 months which is just about perfect and tailor made for my slower wandering the last six months of 2020.
On tap I believe for the final 6 of 2020 is Sri Lanka, India, and China. There is a Japan trip I want to do so maybe something else will happen. I guess the last part of 2020 is like this year in many regards. Just slower.
I don’t remember if I wrote one of these for 2018 but perhaps I did over on wordpress. I most likely may have called out the year almost I had spent traveling at that point. Its not really traveling though. Its definitely not backpacking or digital nomading or round the worlding or solo hiking or solo backpacking or hosteling or doing any of the millennial stuff. Its not counting countries. What it is and I want to mention this is its counting moments and experiences. Life is better when you don’t count places. I mean what the hell is the upside of counting or planning or charting your course? All you do are those things. I don’t see many of the travel blogs and instagram influencers talking about what they actually did in a place like Taipei. Like did they wander the streets and find nothing like I did time and again? Yet the nothing was more and different and richer. Who knows. You cannot read their blogs and tell. Its too full of the 5 tips and the 10 places and the wonderful hostel experiences. No matter hostels are remarkably like US Army barracks and I did that before. So lets round this one out and say that both 2018 and 2019 were remarkable for the little I did in a few places. I mean I spent a month in Taipei. A wonderful month walking to a coffee shop or three each morning, reading the news, talking with the baristas, watching the morning traffic and people. Wonderful people asking where I was from and how I was finding their home. Over and over again this has been asked me. Once in Saigon a mom and daughter at a park wanted to make sure I was happy. I offered to tell them if I could take their picture. The mom said no but I gently urged both and of course the desire to have pictures taken in Southeast Asia took over and I was able to take a candid photograph of them. Its an interesting photograph because the younger daughter, perhaps 6 or 7 is attacking a can of Pringles potato chips while the mom and older daughter smile and talk to me.
Finally 2019 was a year of nothing. No schedules, plans, requirements, responsibilities. I changed travel as much as I did it. I paid a bit more to change but my ex-wife told me to be happy with life. She also told me to meet someone special in Asia and I did do that too. I wanted to mention relationships with Vietnamese women because its so different. The cultures and belief systems are completely different to me yet L and I meet at a place. Its not a romantic or sexual relationship which I don’t want or need. Its more of a soul to soul thing. A compelling and joining thing which makes me happier and feeling like I have someone to care for me again. And Vietnamese women care! L will remind me to eat, sleep, drink water, rest each day. She admits to worrying about me when I go out walking all day. She is honest and truthful but wraps it all up in dedication and love. Its something to find. Let me tell you. 2019 was a wonder year in the relationship category.
And that kind of wraps it all up. I’m not a world traveler. I don’t count the places or when I revisit. I just know where I wish to go and I go there. If I don’t like it I change the assignment. I have done this more than once in 2019. I bailed on Thailand because I did not like it. I just cut off the remaining month of a trip there and flew to Siem Reap and partied and ate and had fun in Cambodia. I also did the same just now. It makes the wandering more primal and almost random in nature. Streets are like countries to me. I can turn left or right at a street and I can turn to or away from a country. I won’t spend my miserly money in Thailand ever again and I know the other places I will never go again. I will not go to Hoi An or Nha Trang Vietnam ever again. Neither place floats my boat. So perhaps its not so random as all that but I still feel like the old retired guy that finds fantasy and reality mixing it all together and many times ending up as fodder on this blog. I figure I have been doing it for over 20 years and its okay.
So 2020 will dawn soon. I’ll go to the Middle East, take a river cruise down the Nile, see friends in Dubai and make it back to Cambodia. All of that no doubt will be covered in my 2020 retrospective if there is one. You will have to just read along every so often and deal with opinionated assholedness.
Sorry. Or maybe not. Welcome to the end of 2019 and the beginning of more aimless wandering in 2020.
Thus ends my 2019 retrospective BS blog post. I accomplished nothing and went nowhere. And I did it for months at a time. Life is fucking good.