Sunday, April 3, 2016

Travel Lessons-Chapter 1

Not only was this 2 month trip a retirement celebration, it was intended to see if we could indeed be comfortable on the road for that long (together) and at what price buys our comfort at this age. Both Harvey and I have had our fantasies preparing for this trip.

Tokyo - worlds smallest apartment (smaller than our trailer)
1.     Traveling in Developing Countries –
I love to go to these often remote areas of the world, they are always interesting! Plus, your dollar goes along way. Great meals with drinks (the alcoholic kind!) around $4-6 dollars for the both of us. Yay! 3 star hotels for $20-28 dollars (with air and WIFI) Yay! However, the streets in the 3rd world are hard; dirty, filled with trash, broken steps and sidewalks (always in danger of twisting that ankle or breaking a bone). Finding the right place to eat local food and not poison yourself. BATHROOMS. To this end, we have decided when going to the 3rd world, we need to have nicer places to stay, to escape the reality of the street. 3 and 4 stars in the Philippines are not the same as ours. Clean hotels with friendly staff doesn’t make up for the mattress like a plywood board or a constant wet bathroom floor because the shower is located over the toilet.

I think they meant "bitter."  Stickers on the side of a vending machine
2.      2. Douglas Adams [The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] was right, Take a towel.  A towel, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”  I will add, “Bring a wash cloth too.”
Best room at Tambobo Beach
3.      3. Crowd Sourcing is not always right. I’m looking at you, TripAdvisor! 2 of the hotels we rented were rated 5 stars and in no farthest reach of the imagination, were they remotely close to 5 stars!  2 were 3 star and one a definite 2! It seems as though folks are rating the kindness of the staff instead of the hotel amenities themselves. This has got to stop! I am guilty of being suckered in on our first stop to write that great review, though the bed was so horrific I have needed neck massages every day to get rid of the pain caused by the “rock” pillow and “Plywood” mattress.  This also goes for restaurants. The number 1 rated restaurant in Hanoi was the first restaurant one is taken to by all the street food tours. They give out business cards with their names and on the back ask for the 5-star rating. Great advertising strategy.
Our water source in Tambobo

L   4. Lite Day Pads in your purse or backpack at all times! Add to that, stolen toilet paper from your hotel. These 2 items are more important than sunscreen. The lite day pads were Linda Hogan’s idea. Maybe not originally in all the universe but at least for me. First of all, you don’t have to take as many pairs of undies. Place pad at crotchel area daily and prn. If you haven’t had time to steal toilet paper, then use to “wipe up.” These little babies keep a gal fresh while sweating in 90-degree heat or wearing those cute tights that don’t breathe so well. Also good for shoes when you have a case of emergency tourist stigmata, which brings me to my next recommendation.
Tailored suits for every taste.

5.       5. American-made, cloth Band-Aids.  The Developing countries Band-Aids do not stick as well as ours. Rarely ever in my life of travel have I been able to pick the right shoes for a trip and even when I have, on the 2nd day I have had bleeding toes and blisters. We gave all of our American Made Band-Aids to Diane. Do not be tempted to help someone so completely, without keeping your own stash.

My students in the park - Hanoi
6.       6. When you replace your SIM card, keep up with the old one. Your traveling companion (husband) will not be pleased when it is left behind/lost.
7.     7.   Don’t live in a 19-foot RV with your spouse a month before leaving on a 2-month vacation together. Absence (or at least a little space/time away from each other) can and will make the heart grow fonder.

Buddhist Temple
8.      8.  Don’t go thru Customs/Security/Immigration ahead of your traveling companion. Harvey say’s I have to add this one, because the mean man at the Vietnamese Immigration gate went thru his passport with a fine tooth comb-checking pages and the spine of his passport, holding up the line and holding him back. I was thru the screening process before I noticed. (See 7 above) I now have officially acknowledged that I was wrong and will never do it again.
9.    9.  Give the correct arrival time to your ride. We were sitting in the Da Nang airport and realized that we have given the wrong arrival information to our cousins, who are picking us up in Siem Reap. We’ve emailed them, Skyped them and texted them. American, Vietnamese and Cambodian SIM cards don’t have to speak to each other.

"Do these eyebrows make me look Fierce?"
10.  Just because you said your anniversary is on the 4th, doesn’t mean it really is. Keep a sense of humor and celebrate it anytime. It’s really just a state of mind.

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