Saturday, April 13, 2013

Back Home

Hauling Adit's sulphur blocks on Ijen, Java. He made more $$ off me than those blocks.

Back in Canada after 4 months away, I have had time to recover and reflect on how the trip went. A couple of things really stick out:

- I still really love backpacking, staying in hostels
- I really enjoy having everything I need in a bag on my back
- I also really love seeing more of the world
- You meet a lot of people when you are travelling
- Backpacking beats me up
- The heat of SE Asia really beat me up

So, as I sit in my house, enjoying the 1/2 speed life I am living, I am still trying to figure out where I am headed. I had a 5 year plan that got me away from Dal and on the road. I am almost done the current 5 year plan (retire, travel as much as possible, downsize the house) and am close to having the gov't give me money just because I am of a certain age.

This trip had some surprises...for starters, I never made it to Vietnam...good excuse for another trip. I also did not make it to Myanmar, while it is stil in it's awakening state. This means that if and when I get there, it will be crawling with tourist and backpackers.

The heat was a major variable on this trip. Japan was just barely shorts weather and very enjoyable. Other than the $$$ to travel there, would love to spend a lot more time in Japan.

I absolutely loved my time in Indonesia. The heat was a factor, but I was still pretty tough back then and the social aspect was a lot of fun. Everybody sort of rolls the same direction thru Java, thru the same towns, so make friends that you keep hanging out with in new places. The topography of Java made me very happy. The people were the friendliest I have met anywhere.

Bali had originally been a big destination for me. My foot infection and the heat changed that to a stopover swimming, no surfing, no alcohol.

The heat hurt me a lot. I can handle cold much better than heat, so suffered more than your average East Coaster. I left Indonesia and headed to northern Thailand basically just to get a tad cooler.

Thailand was a lot of fun but is actually a party country where people show up for a few weeks of decadence. Fine if it's your vacation, tough if you are on a long-term trip. Very little exercise, mucho beer and late nights...This section of the trip took a lot out of me.

Laos and Cambodia were fun, but by then I knew my exit date out of Bangkok. I rushed them a bit, which is counter to how I like to travel. Something to keep in mind for the future.

I am still a bit beat up. When I am away, I call on all my reserves for stamina and my immune system does me proud. When I am back, I have to allow for those reserves to be built up again. $$$ is also a problem. It is always a problem for long-term travellers and is my biggest variable. The 5 requirements for long-term backpacking:

1. Health - if your health is not good, backpacking not on the list
2. Mobility - opens up so many opportunities for new experiences
3. Time - usually you have this, other factors are not going your way
4. Money - people with lots of money usually don't backpack long-term
5. Desire - not to be under-estimated. Discomfort is involved

As always the 2 overriding sensations of long-term backpacking are just how lucky you are at any given moment, and the sense of freedom that pervades everything you do. The freedom is as addictive as the actual travelling.

So what is next? Mixing either $$ work and/or volunteer work with some travelling, hopefully in the Fall of 2013. Next year I turn 60 and will pick off something from the bucket list. I know what I want to be doing for my birthday, the question is still...where?


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