Monthly Archives: January 2012

Reflections on Consumerism and Feeling Naked…

Reflections: “a calm, lengthy, intent consideration”. Can’t quite define my consideration as calm, but lengthy it is, and I am most definitely putting consideration to Consumerism with a capital C.

I am not a shopper. When I travel I rarely buy things. Only a select few may get an “I remembered you” gift that will undoubtedly be small. I don’t even shop for myself. And when I am at home, my attention span for shopping is practically nonexistent, unless I am at an estate sale or thrift shop where I can pretty much be all day and buy a heck of a lot more than I expected. There is nothing like the thrill of a bargain and of discovery. Perhaps that is why I love traveling. I mean for the latter, the discovery. The bargain part just doesn’t qualify my trip any longer.

BLT+* started as a much needed escape from daily life, a way to mend a broken heart, to understand myself better, to overcome fears, and to discover and assimilate more cultures, people and landscapes. Then, well into the process of healing, it started to mushroom unexpectedly. With the infamous “When am I going to be back to this part of the world?” I started to consider staying a tad longer in the area. So I called the tour company and meekly asked: “How much more would it be to change my air portion to remain a bit longer in Thailand and well, maybe Hong Kong too?” I was hoping they would come back with a huge sum so I would discard the option completely but no, the response came back at: “$100 Ms. P.” How could I pass that up? And since I have no middle ground, I added 8 days in Thailand. Surely I could find something to do. And 5 days in Hong Kong -until I saw how much the hotel would cost- then whittled it down to 3, also due in part to people telling me that would be enough. My travel company had a post-trip to Chiang Mai in Thailand but was fully booked so I could not take it. Why not go on my own? I decided to fly to Chiang Mai where I plan to be one with the elephants and tigers. What to do with the next 4 days? My dream had been to go to Phuket -only a flight away. But friends and forum contributors convinced me that Koh Samui (Thailand) was less developed and just as wonderful. So Koh Samui it is. After all, I would need some mental and physical R&R after traipsing all over Southeast Asia. Then I chose the area of Kowloon to stay in Hong Kong. Then, I made no other move. Period. No move at all.

This is where consumerism comes in. 31 days to blast off (I wrote this blog a few days ago) and I have made no reservations. Purchased nothing. Planned nada. OMG! Just do it! Nike: any possibility of a commission? I’m repeating your slogan an awful lot.

I start off making reservations for a hotel in Chiang Mai, then a hotel in Koh Samui, then reservation in Hong Kong (almost), and since I’ll be alone in Hong Kong why not hire a local guide for a day? I call her; I book her after a PayPal invoice arrives. I want to go to Dialogue in the Dark but the website says they have no room. I call and ask for an English guide. I get one, along with a reservation. Skype, I am publicly declaring my love for you! I need to have a safe backpack that safeguards me from pickpockets so I go on the PacSafe site and select one. My Kindle Touch has already arrived ‘cause I can’t carry as many real books as I would like. Bought my first book for it, The Holly Brown Chronicles, some days back so now I buy some more. Haven’t booked the internal flights in Thailand yet and I’m already broke! Checked with PVS International on the status of my visas and only Laos in missing. Am asked if I want to know the running total so far and I say no, just tell me after Laos is done. Ah, the power of denial. Need to book or find out about airport transport in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui and Hong Kong. Some temples require people to remove their shoes and socks. Need to find one that is easy to slip on and off and very comfortable. Found. Bought. Clark’s, I may start loving you too if you turn out to have a product that does not give me blisters. Did a lot of research on a camera with a power zoom. I speak with a friend that refers me to a camera shop in NY he’s dealt with a lot and that can give me a good discount. I call. They don’t have the one I wanted in stock but suggest another they say is better. I buy. They ship. This non-shopper (even less so through the internet) has just redeemed herself in a grand way!!!! I am drained physically (my fingers are moving hyperactively), financially, and mentally. My head is spinning. Is it absolutely unconscionable that I sport a huge smile on my face, regardless? Ay, ay, ay!! (Don’t forget to infuse a bit of “Latinoess” into that expression.)     Do you think Myanmar -where I am going to first- a land predominantly Buddhist, of quiet semblance and controlled emotions is ready for me, a bundle of strong emotions and powerful voice? Will have to channel my mom, who was so subdued and quiet, to be able to blend in!

Was going to delve into the feeling naked part of my blog but this one has already run too long so I will be leaving it for the next blog which will come in rapid succession to this one…

* Please refer to previous blogs for a full explanation on BLT+

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Categories: Laos, Myanmar - Burma, Ramblings, Thailand, Visas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

41 Days and Counting…

It’s Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012. So the rest of the world seems to have had enough time to recover and return to real life. For those that read my blog regularly, you already know that I don’t need much recovery since I have had the most relaxing and actually pleasant of holidays. I was starting to enjoy the almost deserted streets. But, alas, everything ends and today as I head out in the Baby Blue (my Prius). I encounter way too much traffic and as I start to walk on one of my favorite streets (Honolulu Ave. in Montrose, CA) there are way too many people.

I go into a new restaurant for me and open my reading material. My itinerary for the first half of my trip stares at me in full color. The photos are amazing and I smile broadly. Maybe a little too much so, since I catch the people at the table next to me stealing perplexed glances. But I don’t really care. This “world traveler” is absolutely ecstatic about this journey. I’d like to be blasé and worldly about it but I am not, not, not!!! I must admit that my heart goes pitter-patter and that my inner toddler manifests itself and jumps up and down

Yay!!

(fortunately figuratively) with glee. Forty-one days till departure (minus 3 days in Vegas with a friend). An eternity. But the adult in me shows up and is thankful that I still have over a month since I have a million –no, a zillion things to finalize before I leave. I have finished the four pills that I had to take to prevent typhoid fever and they are valid for 5 years but I still have the lovely final vaccines/shots to get. The tetanus shot is the one that scares me most. I already am quite averse to needles and to top it off, they said my arm will be sore for a few days.

Today I find Myanmar

Myanmar

in the New York Times list of the 45 places to go in 2012. ☺ I am fortunate that I have gone to a lot of the rest of the places they suggest. Panama, which is on the list, I even lived in. So glad that – even though I don’t believe in bucket lists – I will be able to say that I went to Myanmar before the crowds did. I’m extra excited about the week I will spend there.

I finish dinner and head over to FroyoLife, which I believe serves the best frozen yogurt I’ve had anywhere in the city. I also like it ‘cause everyone there is just really cheerful and helpful. My inner child is asserting herself again and telling me to skip. Actually she is demanding it. Skip! You are happy. Just do it!! (Sorry Nike, my inner child watches way too much TV and has a tendency to repeat slogans.) The adult me is okay with just walking, albeit with lots of darling yellow smiley faces flying around me.

(I really had to give my younger me some concession and I give in to a little childishness.)

As I sit and eat my yogurt, as much as I try to avoid it, I have a laundry list of things to be done that has been playing for the past hour in my head and still I am nowhere near the end. Argh! Will be mentally checking tasks off, as well as in this blog. That way, when we go on this little journey both you and me will know (if you have been with me so far you are my traveling companion) what I managed to get out-of-the-way and what was not accomplished. Hmm, let me restate that. It will serve as a testament that one can do a lot in very little time as long as you put your mind to it… hopefully.

Categories: Immunizations, Myanmar - Burma, New York Times 45 Places to go in 2012, Ramblings, Restaurants/Cafés/etc. | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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