It’s been a crazy last few months.
Compared to the relaxed pace of South East Asia, things happened quickly. I spent a month catching up with friends around western Europe before boarding a flight to Las Vegas. Five weeks, two road trips and a couple of conferences later, I flew back to Frankfurt.
And things just got crazier from there.
I was tired from constant travel and should have stopped for a rest. Instead, Lauren and I grabbed our Eurail.com passes and sped east, visiting ten countries in the time it usually takes us to see one. It was wonderful, but by the end we were exhausted. Spending the next several weeks moving slowly through Turkey was just what the doctor ordered, although we couldn’t help but notice that our bank accounts seemed to have sprung a leak.
If the cost wasn’t sending us a message, the increasingly chilly mornings were. It was time to head south for the winter.
So where to from here?
In completely unsurprisingly news, South East Asia features heavily.
After a week in Bali recovering from jetlag, hanging out with family and dumping sambal on everything in sight, we returned to Cambodia. Phnom Penh was the chaotic, dirty, sticky, wonderful re-immersion I had hoped it would be.
And then we headed to the beach. As I type, I’m looking at … this.
Nothing is happening in a hurry, including writing this post.
If we ever manage to leave Otres beach we’ll head out to the islands and further along the coast. Kampot and Kep should be worth a visit. Koh Rong is supposed to bear a fairly close resemblance to paradise. At the tail end of the rainy season, visitor numbers are low and it’s mostly warm and sunny. Both of these things make me happy.
Eventually forced onwards by expiring visas, we’ll cross the border into Thailand. We’re returning to Chiang Mai for Yee Peng, the beautiful lantern festival that I’ve somehow managed to miss for the last two years.
For once, though, we don’t intend to get stuck in Thailand for months. In December we’re off to Vietnam, returning to the place that started my love affair with South East Asia four years ago. I can’t wait to shovel bowls of steaming phở into my mouth every day. To squat on a tiny plastic chair on the sidewalk and drink cups of bia hơi. To watch Lauren attempt to cross the road in Saigon by herself.
Remember how we rode a scooter round northern Thailand with Stuart for two weeks earlier this year? We’ll be doing the same thing again in Vietnam, the three of us taking an undetermined route south through the villages and rivers of the Mekong Delta. I’m bouncing up and down with excitement just thinking about it. Much like Lauren will be on the back of the motorbike, I’d expect…
With a longing backward glance, we’ll take a flight to Australia in the middle of the month. A road trip down the east coast beckons, and if we can get things organised, through Tasmania as well. Other than that, Lauren gets to *cough* meet the parents and endure enjoy a family Christmas that features BBQs and backyard cricket rather than roast turkey and snow.
And then I’m going home.
For two glorious months, Lauren, Dustin and I will be driving from one end of New Zealand to the other. From the lighthouse at Cape Reinga to the fishing boats off Stewart Island and a hell of a lot in between, I’m going to show those two the best bits of my homeland. It’s going to be an epic experience, and I’m surprised at just how much I’m looking forward to it. It has been a long time since I took a Kiwi road trip, and never on this kind of scale.
Expect many superlatives.
Summer will be coming to an end in New Zealand by mid-March, so – shockingly – that’s when we’ll leave. Even more shockingly, we’ll probably be Asia-bound once more. I’ve talked about going to Burma/Myanmar for years, and all going well we’ll be flying into Yangon and setting off around this beautiful, challenging country for a few weeks.
After that, who knows. Perhaps more time in SE Asia. Maybe back to Europe, or Canada. Either way we’ll be in Portland for the third annual WDS conference in July, but that’s as much of a plan as we have right now.
Even though there will be some hectic bits, I’m hoping the next six months will have a better mix of relaxation and hard-core travel than the last few – but knowing us, they probably won’t. One day, I promise myself. One day…
Are you going to be in SE Asia, Australia or New Zealand at the same time we are? Let’s go for a beer.