Posts Tagged With: days to trip

8 Days to Departure. But, Who Is Counting? Oh, I am!

It is 12:30 am and I am awake. Calmly… well, maybe not so calmly but meticulously… yes, carefully making arrangements to… oh gosh no, I will not paint a picture that is not! I sit in front of my trusted Mac with my eyes tired of reading through countless blogs/forums/mails/photos that the wonderful Internet provides me with just a few clicks. I am on information overload and I am seriously considering just going back to my old procrastinating self. After all, how bad can it be to get to my Thailand portion of the trip and have all my hotel reservations done but no flights to get to the wonderful places I will go within the country? Probably really bad! I punch in my dates again. A scheduling nightmare ensues. Why was I so confident that there were going to be flights every 15 minutes?

  My passport has returned. That is a story all in itself, but I will choose to tell it later. I am just relieved that it has come back to safe harbor. It was a thrill to leaf through it and see the colorful visa stamps. For what all this process cost me I would have expected a lot more vibrancy to those colors though! Though Laos has one with a hologram that’s pretty cool.

My rambunctious inner child is still jumping up and down and going “Yay!” (I think she is eventually going to take over and will have me smiling, skipping, and dancing throughout BLT+.)

It was worth every penny, however, not to have to trek to every embassy or to have to FedEx it to one and then to another or keep track of where it was or make sure all the info was right, or… well, you get the idea. No doubt it would not have had a good outcome. When I sent my passport in December my heart was still hurting and my mind was not into details. Now I have absolutely no excuse for not getting all the pieces of this puzzle together.

I don’t usually worry too much about itineraries –I have a backpacker mentality with a gentrified execution to travel- but being it the first time that I am alone on a trip this long I am not leaving too much to chance. Or at least I’m trying not to.

I go back to booking my flights and am sort of soothed by the fact that I am making reservations towards the latter part of March. That’s really far away. The first flight on Asia Air from Bangkok to Chiang Mai seemed really cheap until it directed me to the extra charge for my bag and then more for my seat (yes, really) and then to the meal –I’m not eating- and then to insurance –no again- and then to a place where it tells me that should I not use their internet check in, at the airport they will charge me extra. Once I added an additional $55 in fees I click again and I have at least one round-trip ticket taken care of. Fortunately, Asia Air doesn’t charge you for oxygen since I am hyperventilating and using a lot of it now. Then I have to find a way that when I return to Bangkok I can just go ahead and jump on my next flight to Koh Samui. This island better be worth it ‘cause there are no cheap flights and I proceed to pay what I was not expecting. $320 dollars later I am booked on a barely 1-hour Bangkok Airlines flight.

I have a false notion that I have all the time in the world till departure until I look at my February calendar. Eight days. Only a week-and-a-day before I leave? I still have to stock my antique stores/booths in Orange, CA. My will and my health directive have to be done. I have to meet with friends. Will I manage to do it all?

My new camera lies next to my bed. I swear it stares back and says in a very snooty way “You better get to know me. I’m not that simple you know.” If we don’t get acquainted really fast I will not be able to take all those amazing photos that I promised you I’d post. Time is running out.

Will keep you posted. It’s now 2:30 am and I am going to bed. Sleep is next.
Hypnos, Somnus?

Categories: BLT+ (Burma) Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Laos, Myanmar - Burma, Ramblings, Uncategorized, Vietnam, Visas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

On Feeling Naked…

Nakedness. There is a part of me that always feared any type of nakedness. But recently I experienced one form of it I did not expect, and my reaction surprised even me.

I always saw many flaws in my physical self so did not have much confidence in showing or seeing myself naked. With a new relationship I gained a lot of weight and was even less happy with myself. Having lost all or most of it (along with the boyfriend), I have now recovered my old self and gained a new attitude towards my body. Perhaps age has finally provided me with a less self-conscious and more accepting me.

I have always worn my heart and my emotions on my sleeve. However, that emotional nakedness has not always served me that well, sometimes leaving me wide open to not always constructive criticism and judgments. I justified it by saying that those who were with me knew exactly where they stood at all times. But if people used it against me or were mean-spirited I was invariably terribly hurt. So through the years I have learned to be a bit more reserved. Or maybe not, since this blog may be proof that I have not progressed much in that sense. Ay!

I am an orphan. Bear with me, the connection with nakedness will soon become apparent. Yes, pun is intended. As I said, I am an orphan –perhaps not too surprising considering chronology. But my mom passed on January 5, 2010 and one month and a day later on February 6, 2010 my father followed her. I am an only child. It was hard to assimilate that I was now truly alone. I was left with a need to still feel connected to them, primarily with my mom whom throughout my life and hers I have had a very strong bond with. I did not want to make a spectacle of my grieving and wear black for a year as traditionally, women did in my country. And as I pondered I twirled my mom’s wedding band in my hand and slipped it on my left hand on the wedding finger. It fit me perfectly and I suddenly knew how to keep them with me. I would wear it for a year in their honor.

A year passed. Then, a year and half, and I told my friend that maybe it was time to let them go and take it off. He said he liked the idea that I was, by wearing it, proclaiming I was off-limits. So I left it on. Two years and a day later, on the anniversary of my mom’s passing, I reached for the ring and took it off. It was time. I thought I had experienced nakedness but until now, I had never felt this naked. I would constantly rub my fingers together trying to find the missing band. Maybe it was not time. After four days I gave up and put it back on. I welcomed it – and them – back. A kind, understanding and wise woman suggested I wear it in another manner. I may try that next…

This blog was started by the desire to take you with me on my exploratory trip to Southeast Asia (BLT+) and it turns out that I am taking you on more than one journey. You are now part of my exploration of self as well as that of the world. Hope you don’t mind.

We are only 16 days to departure on a Cathay Pacific flight. That, at least, I hope you are ready for!

Categories: BLT+ (Burma) Myanmar, Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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+

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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