A Travellerspoint blog

October 2008

Goodbye to friends

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Goodbye to friends

I have been spoilt the last four weeks and made to feel special by my friends and colleagues as I move into retirement. Last Saturday my dear friend Joyce organized a party for my outside of work friends - friends I worked with in Nigeria 37 years ago; friends from the time I spent in China; and long time Gabriola friends. There was a wonderful feeling of community and celebration. Graham and Mike played music and there was a poignant moment when we all sang “those were the days!”
One of the goals of our trip will be to connect with people, to learn about their lives and make new friends.

Posted by Hawkson 06:51 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Packing Our Bags

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With only a week to go we are making final preparations for take-off. The house and garden are shipshape and spotless, (so spotless that we considered cancelling the whole trip and spending the next five months relaxing at home). All we have to do is finalize the packing.

Surrounded, as we are, with all the “stuff” essential for life it seems inconceivable that we could survive for five months on the road within the airline’s baggage allowance. But we’re not novices. We’ve both struggled across continents with giant suitcases full of outfits for every eventuality, only to find that a pair of shorts and a couple of T shirts would have been overkill. So, this time, we considered travelling with little more than a toothbrush and the clothes on our backs and buy native as required. However, we know that we are like Gulliver and his wife to the Lilliputians of S.E.Asia. While buying XXL in Canada might induce disdainful sniggers from a skinny store-clerk, shirts marked XXL in Bangkok wouldn’t decently cover us. So we’ve decided to compromise and take whatever we can cram into our backpacks.

Along with our clothes we’ve got passports, money and credit cards. The other essentials are: a compass for the jungles of Borneo, sunscreen for the beaches of Bali, mosquito repellant for everywhere, and a tin of talcum powder for the sore bits between Jim’s thighs.

So, with the addition of the Lonely Planet’s backpacker’s guide to S.E. Asia, and a giant pair of giraffe earrings, we are starting our countdown.

Posted by Hawkson 09:46 Archived in Canada Tagged postcards Comments (0)

Planning Our trip

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We are keeping an open mind as to where we will go, although we do have a rough itinerary. I have worked all my life with travelers in international education and many of them know south-east Asia well, so I began by asking them for recommendations of places to visit and those to avoid. If you have ever checked out trip advisor, you will know that you can very quickly get confused by the range of opinions, but you also get a sense of stars.

We decided to start in Bangkok; a central location and a good spot to begin and end our journey. I have a hidden agenda of doing some shopping there before I head home. We will only have one small backpack each as we travel around, so there will be no room for extra weight. As it will be the beginning of November, it soon became apparent that we should head north first and then head south with the sun. Who would have thought that Chiang Mai and Hanoi could sink as low as 12 degrees? This feels cold when you get used to 30+. From northern Thailand, we plan to go into Laos and to Luang Prabang , a star, “this once sleepy capital is perhaps the most sophisticated, photogenic city in the whole of south east Asia” (Lonely Planet). We may be able to take a cargo ferry from there to the capital of Laos, Vientiane, along the Mekong River. We’re not sure how, ( I have read about grueling bus rides), but from Laos we’ll go to Hanoi and then travel south through Vietnam and into the Mekong Delta to Tra Vinh where we know a warm welcome awaits us at Tra Vinh University. Again, we are hoping to use water transportation to cross into Cambodia and visit another star, Angkor Wat.

Our route onward from Cambodia is a spider's web of possibilities. Maybe we will fly from Phnom Penh to Malaysia and work our way onward to Indonesia; perhaps we will follow the sun or the monsoon rains; alternatively, we may be guided by others travelling a similar path. We will go wherever the wind blows - providing we can get a visa and a ticket.

Posted by Hawkson 10:10 Comments (0)

Getting Ready

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This is the view from our windows. We treasure these days as we know that it will be awhile before we see this wonderful vista again.

Jim and I are preparing for our 5 month trip to south-east Asia. We have lists of things to do before we depart on October 29th. We have bought tickets to Bangkok and have booked a hotel for our first three nights there. After that we only have a rough itinerary in mind as we want to be free to go to places not considered and to stay in places for as long we like. This trip has happened rather quickly. I retired September 30th and we decided that it would be great to go away for a few months. I told Jim that I was going to put the word out that we were looking for someone to look after our house for the winter while we travelled. It was only a week later that a friend referred a couple who were considering moving to Gabriola and wanted to see what winter was like here before they made the move. Janet and Tony have now spent time with us, met Camilla the cat, and are looking forward to getting to know the Island and all the wonderful people who live here.

I hope through this blog to stay in touch with friends as we travel. The postings in the next few weeks are intended to give us practice in the art of blogging before we leave.

Posted by Hawkson 11:48 Archived in Canada Tagged postcards Comments (1)

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