The first hurdle crossed.
Well, that is the first thing done. Anyone who knows me will know how much of a technophobe I am although with some help from a computer savvy friend, I may just have created a blog. I say may, as nothing is certain. I will need to have a look and see if I manage to save this. Frankly, I think I have more chance of plaiting sawdust!
I have to say I was always a little sceptical about blogs. I know they are extremely popular and just about everyone seems to have one nowadays but I always regarded them as somewhat arrogant. Why on Earth would anyone be interested in what I was doing? Am I that important? I don't think so. I was, however, persuaded that it is a good way of saving things for future reference and for people to keep track of me. This last point is important, as I am about to embark on a journey, hopefully quite a journey.
Having taken retirement in April of this year, I now have a bit of time on my hands and am about to take a trip I have been promising myself for a long time. I have a great love of Southeast Asia, and have previously visited Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Burma / Myanmar and Malaysia. I never had time previously to explore the region as much as I would have liked so now, approaching my 50th birthday and with a degree of financial security, I am going to visit the region for a few months rather than the few weeks only ever previously available to me. Yes, it is a midlife crisis type of thing to do, heading off on the backpack trail along with all the 19 year-old gap year students although I am in reasonable health and I have never had problems travelling before.
Itinerary? No idea. Tickets? Not yet purchased. Equipment? I might buy a new pair of training shoes. Passport? Current until 2016, so I suppose I will have to come back by then. More seriously, I am thinking in terms of about 5 - 6 months as I have commitments back in the UK next summer. The only thing I know is that I will be out of this country before 22nd November, my birthday. That is the plan.
What do I expect to do or see? Well, I have a few plans. Firstly, I want to visit Vietnam, as I have never been there before and people speak very highly of it. My musician friend Fish visited last year and was very taken with it. I suppose the usual HCMC, Halong Bay, Hanoi thing seems likely, but the Mekong delta seems interesting and I would also like to visit the Northern Highlands.
I will certainly revisit Laos, as I only had a short time there. I would like to take the slow boat down the Mekong again, and also visit the Plain of Jars which I did not have time for before. Cambodia and Burma would also both be well worth revisiting.
The furthest South I have ever been in Thailand is Hua Hin, so I will try to get further South this time. I am not much of a "beach bunny" preferring mountains and jungles but I feel I will not have seen the country until I have seen some of the fabled islands.
The great joy, however, of travelling like I will be without constraint of time and alone means that I can realistically go where I want when I want. I always like to travel alone for this reason.
Well, if I can manage to upload this page successfully, this will constitute the start of this blog. There will probably not be another post for a few weeks until I am on the road as there will be little to report. If any of you are in the slightest bit interested in what I am up to, please check back here.
As a bit of a test I have tried to attach a photo to this page. It is sunset over the Magwe Bridge in Burma, taken on my trip there in 2006, and is one of my favourite photos.