I think a real measure of how successful I’ve been in transitioning out of the full-time work, career mode is how quickly I’ve gone from our balls to the wall travel mode in Asia back to mellow work with lots of personal time lifestyle back at home…and the fact that we are now busy planning our next big trip in the Fall. I’ve so integrated back that I forgot that I wanted to write down an impressions and perspective document about this last trip.
How Much Did We Fly?
We spent a lot…A LOT of time in air travel mode. Each time one took a flight it accounted for a good part of that day considering getting ready to travel, getting to the airport, getting through the airport, actually flying, getting out of the airport, getting to wherever you were going, and unpacking. I had a feeling about this but I actually counted up the number of days that we were in the air travel system and it turns out that air travel (or Airplane World as I like to call it) was the place we spent the most time in during our trip – by a pretty wide margin actually - with the exception of our base in Hong Kong. We were in Airplane World a total of 12 days. The longest we were on the ground in a country where no air travel was involved was 8 days.
Airplane World truly is a country unto itself. The patterns, systems, looks, rhythms, layouts, procedures, smells, everything are the same from airport to airport, airline to airline, country to country. I feel that Wife and I are extremely knowledgeable on the mores of Asian Discount Airlines. We have mastered Hong Kong International Airport and know how to navigate it with our eyes closed (this is like learning a useful language such as Albanian since the chances of us using HKIA on a frequent basis is pretty nil).
I would like to say for the record, I really do not plan on doing another trip that involves so much and so frequent air travel.
What Was Good And What Was Not So Good
- We were totally immersed in the ‘how’ one travels in this part of the world – a very different way of traveling than what we do in Europe
- We saw just how different all these countries really are from each other
- We got food poisoning
- We had lots of really interesting personal interactions with all kinds of people
- We were frequently in places where we could neither understand anything nor could we read anything because of languages using different alphabets
- We ate a lot of good stuff
- We ate a lot of stuff that was…interesting????
- We ate a lot of mediocre stuff
- We saw some the premier tourist sights in the world
- We almost got heat stroke (really!)
- We learned to have faith in Vietnam and just step into a whirlwind of motorcycles and motorbikes to cross a street with the confidence that if we went slowly and confidently enough everyone would just go around us
- I learned the freedom of adopting the Chinese way of just going forth and not giving a shit about anyone else around you, in front of you, or behind you (Wife had to reorient my behavior when we got back in the States and were going through the LAX airport)
- We learned that China is REALLY BIG!
- I found out that soup noodles are a form of spiritual pathway to enlightenment
- Via three cooking classes I’ve taken my East/Southeast Asian cooking up many notches
Will We Go Back?
Going to all these countries so fast left one with the feeling that one had been at a huge buffet where you could just have a taste or two of a lot of things but couldn’t really get to really enjoy anything. That being said speaking personally, there was no one country that really shouted out to me and said “I love this place and want to come back,” such as I feel about France, Italy and New Zealand. I kind of wish Vietnam was later in out trip rather than the first thing out of the gate. The people there are really enjoyable and it is very tourist oriented. I could see going back there some day. I didn’t see anywhere near enough of Malaysia and could see going back there. I was fascinated with China but don’t think I would go back without being with a Mandarin speaker like my daughter. I’m not clamoring to go back to Thailand.
This was truly ‘an experience’. We were challenged in so many ways and came out feeling we’d learned a ton and mentally invigorated and stimulated. We will be going back to Asia.