Mikes Thoughts

News, Views, Subterfuge

Decided to go to Malaysia at the last minute or so. Left this afternoon and will spend about a week in Kuala Lumpur over Christmas and New Years.

Now I sit in a pub in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia with tall beers at my whim. Life flashes by and it’s a warm and almost rainy evening in one of my favorite places on the edge. It leaves me with no desires or needs besides to sit and watch. KL is so different. Different and warm and with soul and spirit. Maybe it’s the people and the food and the busy streets. Perhaps the idea I came here on a whim with nothing to do and over a week to prove it.

Of course the third draft asahi beer leaves me with that warmth and wonder. KL will let me wander and wonder tomorrow. Walking here is the way. The city comes alive when it hears your footsteps.

Stay tuned. More remonstrations to come but beer first.

I originally planned on being in Manila Philippines longer. Due to a few things I’ve decided to jump away to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia for Christmas and new year’s this year. I decided on the spur of moment that I would be happier there. I simply love Malaysia, the food, the people, the culture and history. It’s so rich in events and architecture and all that this old retired guy loves. So on a last minute whim I found round trip on Malaysia Airlines from Manila to KL. I will even stay in same motel for 9 days since I really know the area now.

I always feel like Malaysia has the best of things for me so why deny myself the best?

Then I come back to Manila and go on to Cebu and Davao for 2 weeks and continue to the US. The freedom to just go and have everything in a bag on my back is huge to making spur of moment decisions. The reality is none of it is expensive. I can freely go as I want and I know the easy visa places. Malaysia offers me 90 days for free. Nice deal!

Today will explore the Makati area here which is rich in malls, food, and international folks. It’s an upscale area easy to walk around. The Green Belt center offers a beautiful mall with parks and a covered walkway. Maybe some pictures today.

all this and more too

There always is more too. Life when you have less or nothing of note seems to conspire to give more of the rich moments. The tapestry is stunning. I go where I will. I find other moments to note and experiences to grab. The everyday of KL life ensures a wonderful brocade of mixed sights, sounds, and even moments of reflection over delicious curries and street food delights. All within a remarkably safe city with such a mix of things. Love it there. Don’t want to live there but to go as I want is the “bees knees”. These are my bees knees though. You gotta find your own 🙂.

Today was my last day wandering 4 different cities in Taiwan. Its also my birthday so today went out here in Kiaoshung wandering in an area I had not been yet. The area is by the National University and has this cool tunnel that links the downtown to the university for students and whoever else wants to walk the tunnel. I also walked back down by the ocean and harbor. Kiaoshung is a city that has so much to offer. There is wonderful history and culture, shopping is good, food is wonderful. I wandered into a variety of restaurants both with and without English menus. Last night wanted Beef Noodles so found a place and had some of the best beef noodles and the family looked after me and made sure all was to my liking. Tonight it was Taiwanese Steak at a local place down the street. For about $15 I got a nice cut of steak, noodles, rich spicy gravy, salad, and soup. I added in a beer. So good! Happy birthday me!

Each city offers something to the wanderer. Hsinchu is quiet and seems more peaceful. I found an excellent taco place where each time I went for lunch the folks greeted me so warmly. In Taichung, I found this steak place down the street. Taichung is huge! I only barely dented it in a week. It has beautiful parks, wonderful cultural and historic properties, and shopping is very good. Tainan is a wonderful city steeped in the history of Taiwan. It was once the capitol and was settled and re-settled by the Dutch and then Japanese. There is a wonderful department store right downtown that was opened in the 1930s that has been painstakingly restored. Its a joy to wander through. Be sure to get to the Anping District if you go. A bus ticket costs less than $1 USD. Finally there is Kiaoshung which is very large too. It has both a light rail and an MRT which runs in all four directions and lets you explore the city so easily. I just rode the MRT the last few days after getting a 48 hour pass. Food in Kiaoshung is wonderful! There are really nice American and western food options, great Bistros which offer a mix of food and then there are lots of Taiwanese noodle shops and good Japanese food.

What I found in all 4 cities is that its very safe day or night. There are so few backpackers and tourists or travelers that there are no scams like in other places. You are pretty much left to wandering the city day or night with your smartphone out with no fear. I don’t believe that people would ever steal from someone on the street. There are no tuk tuk scams, no people trying to sell you stuff. None of that.

Now that I’m approaching only three days left in Taiwan, I always have to ask at the end if Taiwan is worth it. Does it offer something to the visitor that wants to go slow? Well, to start with, if you have an American passport you get 90 days here with no visa. Its a great deal to explore all over and Taiwan has some very nice things to bring you here. One of the nicest things and perhaps its a basic thing is that most people speak English. I had conversations with baristas in coffee shops, noodle shops, nice restaurants. It makes doing things easier. The other thing is that all signs you will run into for streets, directions, train and bus stops are all in English too. I think it would be hard to get lost but I did a few times because I like leaving and never looking at a map. If you decide to come to taipei for 3 days or a week, good luck. You will not find the city. You will find what 3 or 7 days will give you. Taipei offers so much more down the little side streets and alleys. Shopping districts and day markets where there are no tourists. I went many days even in Taipei without seeing backpackers or other travelers. Very nice!

Next Steps and Stops

Now I sit in the hotel room my last night after a birthday dinner of Taiwan steak and am drinking some beer. Tomorrow I leave Kiaoshung for Taipei for a few days. I have Tuesday to wander around the city again which I will do gladly. Then Wednesday in the morning I to back to the airport and fly to Manila for a few weeks. Next year is one of wandering the Middle East for the first six months and then I get back to Cambodia for a bit and on to Vietnam where I think I will stay for awhile. I have a number of places to visit and people to see there. Hanoi is definitely on my list again but I would like to see Hue again as well. I have no interest to see Nha Trang or Hoi An again. Been there once; done that.

So on to Philippines and to see some old friends that are expats there. Then back to the US for a visit and a train ride there I have wanted to do since forever. Yep! 2020 is gonna be an interesting year.

My days in Taiwan are winding down. Two months here and it's been wonderful. I go back to Taipei soon and bum around for two days there. Maybe go to the zoo. No matter what on 18 December I will leave here for Philippines. Taiwan is a very civilized and safe place. No scams or tourists or backpackers since Taipei. I did meet Anna a few days ago. She is an expatriate from France writing a book. We talked awhile and it was easy to see she was a free spirit herself looking for places to spend time and get this book done.

I also looked at my own writing and how I manage content. I have been on this voyage of sorts with different ways of creating diaries, notes, longer writing at times, capturing the big pictures of my wandering here and there. I used separate tools like Day One and Bear Notes because it seemed to make sense. Then it dawned on me, and perhaps it was a revolution and not an evolution, that all that wonderful imagery and pretty text wrangling was not portable nor did it mean I could easily export the stuff when the time came to do that. I grew tired of separate buckets and silos where I could not really share the information between or within. It soon became evident that there was really only one tool I had ever used that was the best of clear text but yet organizational and content driven abilities. But the path was kind of winding there. It's never a straight go for me. I have to find other little detours to find something that was there for and that I used quite happily before.

So over the course of a few days and some mounting frustration that many of the so-called great apps did not do clear text or even markdown, I moved myself back to Ulysses. It's not perfect but its more than just writing books. It's the whole approach. I call it cellular. You can be as freewheeling or as organized as you like but all the information lives within a single application and for me that is the way. Having cute silos for writing daily and longer form exposition was painful especially when they did not meet.

It's also meant I rethought the whole thing about buying an android phone to have fun with. Truth is its dawned on me,

I like this ecosystem and its security and even its walled gardens

Wow! I said it. I don't want monthly OTAs and security issues and Samsung's haphazard android support and skins and things. I want the devices to work together and I want to be able to write something in Ulysses on my iPad and have it shared to my iPhone. I want it to be cellular and fluid and no burps or bounces. I want simplicity and some elegance in some ways to enjoy that each bucket is within reach of the other bucket and not a fragile application away with its rules about import and export. Here is the thing:

Clear Text Rules!

That is the rule! With Ulysses I have that but I also have images if I want but I have the cellular experience of creation which means all my little life buckets are in one thing and the difference between them is not an import and export away. It's right there.

So instead of wanderlust with a phone like the S11 I am so happy with the iPhone 11. Not the Pro because the only real difference is a tele lens which I am more than happy to sacrifice for the fun and funky wide angle lens.

The days are indeed winding down here in Kaohsiung and I will miss Taiwan and its civilized and easy ways of life. Where a 7/11 or a Family Mart can do so much with train tickets, SIM cards, and other stuff including receiving packages if you want. Maybe these are the integration points that are really needed. A person should be able to reach a 7/11 and do more. It is a convenience store. Right? Anyways, in a few days back to Taipei which is so much different than Tainan or here. A big city but still with the same ethos. This has been one of my favorite wandering and vagabonding places but I must go on and even go back to the US. Not a home any longer. Just another place with issues with guns, politics, freedoms, costs.

Wind those days down and soon I’ll traipse other places and see other things but all my creative juices if there are any flow now from a single thing. And I like being back.

I’ve been using a few different journaling and note taking applications on my iPad and iPhone of late. I used Bear Notes for a long time it feels like and created a variety of notes about my vagabonding around with images in them for areas I would visit plus master itineraries. I then tried SimpleNote and OneNote and a whole bunch of others. They all are really good apps if you stick with them but if you want to move around, it becomes difficult. So I found finally Standard Note which is a high privacy application which encrypts your notes payload end to end and it runs in the web, with desktop apps, iOS and Android. There are also extensions which really make the app look, write, and add functionality for using cloud storage securely and other stuff. The other thing is that its all clear text. I’ve finally reached where I was using Ulysses so long ago which is kind of funny if you think about it. I traveled miles and miles of different apps with one time purchases, subscriptions, only to find an app which keeps everything in the most portable of formats — clear text. Of course I can also write in markdown if I want and the text is processed and presented to look better. That part does not matter since I never share the notes so writing in clear text is good without markdown editing at all.

Journaling Faux Pas

I’ve faux’ed and pas’ed a few times with journal apps. I wrote online in some web diary for some years but those were ugly times from 2009 to 2015 so I deleted all of them without saving copies. The posts were ugly with divorce and hatred and I grew past that point so when I read them afterwards I felt uncomfortable with the stuff. Next it was Ulysses in some kind of clear text. That was okay but I then thought that I did not get enough back in pretty formatting or how days were defined. Next up was Day One. I liked Day One a lot but I left it because it feels more like a silo of my data. I found that if I was running Day One on android I could export to a format for my new tool called Journey but not on iOS. Why? Because they just don’t do the exporter is why. So I left that for Journey because there is none of that and it stores the notes on Google Drive and I feel more incented to use Google Drive for storage than iCloud. I also use the Google Docs stuff on occasion. Journey does things about the same way except you can only have one journal. I can create “tags” which is the new way of division, addition, formatting and nesting in some tools. I am not a big tag user. I mean there is only me and my notes. If I cannot find something across two devices running the same basic platform and tools, something is horribly amiss.

So the big deal about Journaling is that. It is a big deal to me. I write every day in it. I write about my feelings, the travels and wandering I do, the moments I find. It’s grist for the Mike mill. I don’t like keeping physical journals at all because they are physical. I don’t like carrying bunches of stuff if I can find tools that maximize my chosen ecosystems to manage data. I also keep track of some camera stuff. If I find a neat article I may snip the link and save it. I’ve found that iPhone photography is rich online with a lot of blogs and newsy articles about how different people use the iPhone 11 models. All of these ends up in notes and sometimes I discuss them first in my diary/journal. At some point the ideas move to what I use for notes.

So across all this, I’ve found a few constants:

  1. Clear text is the best for writing notes.
  2. End to end encryption is good and using security for the notes is good.
  3. Simple tools give you reasonable output.
  4. Be methodical and use the tools. See if you can stress test them a bit and see if they will work for your needs.
  5. End up with the things which make you happy but also protect and enhance what you create and manage.
  6. There is no workflow. There is only me these days. If a thing comes up in a journal post but I want to write more, I will probably start a note with a tag about it at some point.

There are many more little rules that come and go. I’ve changed and exchanged and deleted and won and lost at this stuff many times. Now I find it ironic but cool I am back to clear text which is where I started many moons ago. Perhaps your Evernote and OneNote particularly give you what you need. Yay! I just felt both were overkill for my needs. A nice simple clear text editor with different extensions has become very nice for me. But as the venerable say YMMV.

I’ll continue to look and follow the last two rules above particularly. I want to be happy with what I use but I also want my stuff available and not locked in some format with some tool not on another ecosystem. Maybe that is the final rule set. I will call it Portability. Things must be portable and available.

It’s worked well for me. I enjoy writing every day in Journey and I like my notes approach now.

Taiwan Notes

I have only a week left in Taiwan and will be here in Kaohsiung for about 4 more days. Then Taipei for two days. Then on to Philippines for almost a month and then I return for a visit to the US. Taiwan has been a lot of fun. I’ve particularly enjoyed how safe things are here and how well technology works here. Convenience stores with machines that do a multitude of things. ATMS all over the place. Wonderful high speed rail and rapid transit. The food is fun, the people are interesting, and the history is so cool with so many different historic periods. I would have probably stayed another 4 weeks and not gone to the Philippines at all. I really like it here. But on we go. Vagabonding is not moving fast but its not standing still either. So I will go on.

I had looked at getting the 100gb subscription to Lightroom mobile for about $5 a month. I don’t mind subscription fees but there’s something about how the app manages photographs from the camera roll that bugs me. I should not have to import photos. It’s a very easy tool to use contrary to what you may read about Lightroom online. I don’t know about Photoshop because many of my photographs I just edit in the iOS photos app which now has some decent but basic editing. For me though, basic is good. Enter darkroom which I pay one time for and its mine along with custom filters and other stuff that’s fun to play with. It also has a nice iPad app as well now if I want. I do move the photos sometimes to my iPad to play around since the screen real estate is a bit nicer. In the end, darkroom works nicely for me and its a fun learning curve (excuse the pun) so I cancelled Lightroom.

Then there is Halide. I could really love this app and it takes really nice pictures and supports RAW but there is not enough to it for documentation and support. There is no “if this, then that” type documentation or a FAQ or a wiki or even a forum off of twitter or reddit. Why? Anyways, on my last day here in Tainan I decided to shoot with the both the default camera app but also walk back to the hotel the few miles along the canal and waterfront walk. Simply beautiful!

The real thing I always think about is photo quality for my needs. Does the iPhone 11 make me happy? Do I like the photographs and memories I get and is the whole thing simple? Here’s an image I shot with Halide and edited in darkroom.

Some can come along and say,

oh you don’t have this or that with the image or it does not do this or that or you should have done this or that.

I don’t really care. I’ve never claimed to being a photographer of any kind. What I will claim is a love for recording the images, finding things that spark my memories and capture both big and little things I happen to see as I go. To me, the only one to make happy is me and my memories and experiences are brought up if the photo shows a thing I want to see. Then I want to share on social media and upload to google photos. Good and bad images all go there. Some get put into albums but google is kind enough to let me store whatever I want and as much as I want.

So in the end, the regular iPhone 11 just works for me and it gives me the moments and experiences without all the complexity of my FujiFilm X-T30 and its twin lens that are back in Vietnam. I doubt I will ever use it again. I’ve found that my moments, fun learning about editing, ease of management of photos, and sharing with on FB and Mastodon are all right there for me. Truly, the best camera is the one with you but it also has to satisfy at some level. At least to me, I would not take photographs with a 10k camera if the images were ugly and my iPhone just did better and was easier and gave me the things I want out of the whole experience. It is about me and my vagabonding after all. The photographs just give me a visual memory of a place to either go back to again or not.

Maybe you would not be satisfied and need more. Great! Do what makes you happy. Use the force and be delighted with what you get back.

I tend to remember as the year gets close to being done the places I wandered both good and bad this last year. It’s been an amazing vagabonding year for me all in all. Looking back, I was in:

  1. Cambodia a few times. I called Cambodia home and visited Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. My favorite city in Cambodia is not Phnom Penh although I enjoy the food and beer there a lot and my friend AV lives there. I really enjoy Kampot the most but have not been back since 2018. Siem Reap is touristy but still offers so much if not going to Angkor. The city itself is kinda sleepy at times but it has this international flavor of restaurants which I really enjoyed.
  2. Malaysia here and there. I went to Malaysia for almost three months because they give 90 days. I wandered around Melaka, Port Dickson, Kuantan, Kuala Lumpur and my favorite George Town. If you like to eat and enjoy a fusion of foods, want to feel pretty safe, Malaysia is wonderful. I simply loved it there. Kuala Lumpur has spirit and soul. George Town has the history. Melaka has it all with beautiful little bridges and wonderful food.
  3. Thailand for three weeks. I was not impressed. Bangkok is steel but no soul. Perhaps it used to be the “land of smiles” but now its the land of cold, hard cash and the street food scene is dirty and I have doubts about the hygiene. Most of all there is nothing to the city. Thousands of backpackers and digital nomads but no conscience or feeling. So I left for Siem Reap and cut my visit way short.
  4. Vietnam from south to north. I visited Vietnam actually twice this year. One time for two months and I traveled from Saigon south to Can Tho and Phu Quoc Island and then north to my real favorite place Da Nang. I never visit Hoi An because its a overrated tourist zoo there. Da Nang has much more of the things I enjoy. Then it was north to Hanoi. I really enjoy Hanoi a lot. I have friends there to visit and eat with. This time I took my Vietnamese friends out for Mexican food which was something they had never had. That was fun! Then back again for a week split between Saigon and Can Tho. The visit to Saigon was to see my wonderful L, go for dinners with her, spoil her a bit, go on a dinner cruise and just enjoy her company. Then Can Tho to see another L and enjoy a slower pace, small coffee shops where there are no backpackers and my friends that run a homestay there.
  5. I also went to Laos for three weeks which was really good. I enjoyed Vientiane a lot but for me the greatest fun to be had for what I like to do was Luang Prabang. It’s a party, food, and tourist destination far beyond Vientiane. I did a day tour there which was very cool although again it brought home to me how the day tour operators really want to “do it all” and don’t have the time.
  6. Now its Taiwan. This has to be one of my favorite destinations of all. The country is civilized, fun, easy to do things from a seat in 7/11 basically. You can get money, buy train tickets, get a SIM card renewed. I love the unlimited data 30 day plans for SIM cards here! Taipei is busy but once I rode the high speed rail circuit down south, each city had a thing or two which appealed. Tainan has been the best to visit for me so far.
  7. Finally it will be the Philippines for the last part of the year. I’ll visit Manila, Cebu City and Davao. That will take me into next year and then a trip back to the US for three weeks. No real expectations with that visit. We shall see.

The year slowly wandering Southeast Asia and beyond has shown me the value of going slow, re-investing in the approach I enjoy the most which is wandering without the element of time or the 3 days in a place treatment. Pretty much I think you get the worst treatment of each place when you have 3 days of tours for a place like Taipei or Saigon. You only see the places everyone else may see. The cities cannot show you other sides that may be fitting, fun, disappointing, interesting. Give it some thought when you go. Ignore the travel bloggers that proclaim their 7 days here. Go! Get lost on your own or with a fitting companion. Make some Sunday memories of your own and not just a count of countries and continents. No one grades you on whether you did 30 or 3 countries besides you.

Those are my Sunday memories. It’s time for breakfast in Tainan. The start of a last day here to board a tourist shuttle bus and get an hour’s ride in to the Anping district and forts and historic city locations. Tomorrow off to Kaoshiung for more moments.

Moments turn to memories and experiences. Not a count of days.

Today is a Friday and I sit at the Treeswind Coffee Shop in Central Tainan. It’s been raining slowly but steady for awhile. It’s a good time to sit over the latte and consider things.

iPhone Camera things

I’ve looked at some smaller cameras like the Ricoh and a Canon or three. Then I looked at their mobile apps. They all suck. Not one iOS app over two stars. Geez. Once I go there then I need an Apple camera adapter. Then, since I only have an iPad and iPhone how do I upgrade the firmware?

A second thing is my expectations from the whole photography experience. I expect to just take photographs. Minimally edit them and share them. I looked at apps like Halide and Procamera. Way too complex for someone like me that wishes to just record things either in video, photography or night mode. My expectation is to have a device that takes the photographs, makes them available for editing and then sharing. I don’t need bunches of cables and adapters and chargers and plugs. Nor do I want to deal with yet another app to lift the images from the camera or a dongle thing to hook to the iPad that then hooks to the camera.

Are my expectations out of whack? And does the regular iPhone 11 and it’s camera app just do all this with no frustration? Yes.

So the final point is not buying any more camera gear that I just end up being frustrated with when the iPhone 11 and the default camera app delivers such a simple workflow and images I like.

Vagabonding, relationships, life

Ah yes. The swirling vortex of other people entering and leaving my life. Now I just don’t watch that much but their shadows touch the window and the sun lessens with their passing. I watch others in life. Happy either alone or with someone. I have only little to offer another. So little to hold up to see. So I don’t.

It’s better to not touch another in some wanton, vindictive or other way and expect something back. My L gives me with no expectations back and so I give to her. It makes a relationship simple and kind and she understands my needs to walk, vagabond, go. She also wants me back but no conditions apply.

latte cools and rain falls

Stories and moments persist but here in Tainan on a rainy Friday listening to blues music in the Treeswind Coffee house it matters not. I can dwell on the moments and those to come easily. Left alone but not lonely. And the rain gently taps the window. It leaves a design of its own and is urgent in its patience. I can just watch the silver blue traces with the latte. No expectations and no demands. Got some Taiwan dollars in my bag. Got a rainy Friday and the blues dance and moments dissolve to others.

That’s the way it is for me. I’d have it no other way.

I got into Tainan yesterday. The city is one of those I think I will really like for a few reasons. It has this beautiful mix of history, culture, architecture and a wonderful array of small streets with charming shops. Across from my hotel is the historic Hayashi Department Store first opened by a Japanese family long ago and then restored and re-opened. The building lights up at night as does most of the city. The Art Museum is a wonder of a building as well at night.

Walking the streets is very rewarding in terms of seeing the small sights that I love. Little alleyways, side streets with bustling businesses and lots of food options. I barged into a restaurant last night for some Chinese fare where no English spoken except by a very nice young girl who took my order, smiled a lot, and took the money. Very enjoyable dinner. Today I will start the day by having the free hotel breakfast and seek out a coffee shop of which there are many.

Some of the things already that I like besides the history and culture and buildings, is the nearness of things. Tainan is much easier to navigate and see on foot. Taichung was a huge city but yet with no MTR. Most people use the TRA system to get around I think. Another thing is Tainan has more of a visitor flair I think. It feels more in tune with short time visitors to me. I have another 6 days after today to see the city so I will slow down since most people may spend two days here.

This is my third city on this little circuit on the HSR system. I rode yesterday for an hour which was really nice. That length trip lets you more experience the speed of the train and how efficient the system is. When I get done with the cities in the next few weeks it takes me 2 hours to get back to Taipei.

So more to come on daily ramblings both here and on foot to see this wondrous and historic city and its neighborhoods like Anping. Stay tuned! I’ll try to give you a photographic view as well in the coming days.

I had thought I would not write until I reached Tainan but here I find myself in my hotel room on a Sunday morning. My last day here in Taichung and I’m moving on to Tainan tomorrow. Instead of some catchy title which will inspire you to read or come back again, the post today is only about some reflections of things. Perhaps a grab bag of little things that will never amount to much but I figure its all grist for the blog. Since the blog has no direction or moral compass anything is good. It’s not a travel blog but it is a blog about one old retire guy’s wandering and hobo times on the edge in Southeast Asia and leaving soon. It’s also not meant for affiliate links or product reviews even though I may offer subjective comments about certain products as I go. Finally, since it is a reflection only of a hobo life spent living where I please, I tend to write about the things that reflect well or poorly. I have preconceived notions about everything including backpackers, digital nomads, gap year people, round the world people, and a bunch of friends or non friends as the case may be. See? I told you its gonna be a blog post for the ages. Maybe you should just click away now.

Still here? Mkay. Here’s some things I saw in the reflection pool from 2019. I know its early for this kind of post. Too bad. I feel like writing it.

  1. This is not about traveling. Traveling has a destination. And its not about tourism. Tourism has places on lists that you perhaps cull from instagram because someone else tells you that is an influencer, has 90k twitter or instagram followers its cool. So what is this about? This reflection is on movement. It’s about a different kind of seeing things. The small things that may not open your eyes as wide as the Taipei 101 tower or Bitexco tower in Saigon. It’s about small things that go bump between each step you take. Little things you perhaps ignore or don’t have time for on your 7 days itineraries and planned trips which sound suspiciously like traveling and tourism to me. It’s about little things that are not rolled into moments on social media. It’s the alley in Saigon where the hair dressing shops and small restaurants line the path and the Vietnamese people wave and say hello and the children smile and are precise with their English. Have you seen that?

  2. It’s not about destinations. Because if you truly visit a place like Kuala Lumpur you know the city has no destinations. It’s forever moving and has a spirit and soul and a feeling. I doubt you can see it or touch it with three day destination tours in KL. Destinations rankle me. It’s like people say “ok. Made it. I have 24 hours in this place. Show me what you got”. Seriously?

  3. It’s about the people. Duh. I mean its what makes all the places places. It’s not tours and magnificent temples and wondrous works of art and history. It’s about the people. In Cambodia, getting away from the tourist centers meant finding the people. The beautiful and wonderful and friendly Khmer people. Waving, smiling, being just how they are. In the one park in Saigon it was the mom and daughter talking to me about their love of Vietnam and making sure I was happy with their country. So if you go to places and not people you may be doing it all wrong. People will say “oh Thailand, so friendly. Land of smiles”. I don’t think so any more. I think it’s the land of visitors being seen with $$ on their backs only. I won’t be going back because its not about the people there. It’s about the money. Bangkok especially has no real soul or spirit. It’s kind of empty. Glass towers and no soul. If you want the soul and the feeling and the mystique and wonder and people all coming together there is really only one country and that’s Malaysia.

  4. Finally in this exposition, its about getting old. Expectations, limitations, beliefs about getting old. We cannot do this or that. We cannot travel or hobo the world and I was astounded in my previous twitter adventures to find such a slant toward the millennial travel experience. I’m willing to bet there are more retired expats than most would ever expect. We are not so “in your face” and sometimes demanding and arrogant and insulting and many of us trend away from social media. Yet you will find us in countries and cities enjoying the retired life that a slower pace offers. Getting old is not about losing fascination, ideas, thoughts or things that bring wonder or frustration. Getting old means just that. The world is open to all. Anyone can do what I did. Just get rid of everything. If it does not fit in a backpack, it can’t go. Perhaps this is adverse to most seniors. They want the comfort of the home and hearth. The final place where the slow walk to McDonalds for the weekend cribbage can happen. It does not have to be everyone’s description of growing old. Make your own. You can do it.

The thing that wraps all this together in a pretty bow is the ending of 2019 just around the corner. To me, the last year has been one of amazing moments and people. My wonderful Vietnamese friends that will always check on me, make sure I am happy and healthy, see if I have eaten and am sleeping okay. What a wonderful year of moments and it ain’t over yet. I reach the end in Taiwan after two months and have an interlude in Philippines. Christmas there and New Years! Maybe a few friends to see that live and work there. Expats that are not retired.

I’ll leave this at the final statement about looking back. It’s okay to look back. Just don’t try to walk there :–). Have a good day. You deserve it. Or not.

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