Two months in Colorado sped past like the weather systems there (mostly COLD and SNOW....ugh). Visiting our families was a warmer experience, thankfully, except that whole driving 70 miles four or five times a week from one city to the other and back and forth and .... I calculated the total distance over two months exceeded the outbound leg of our motorcycle ride from Hungary to Spain! And boy, was it nice to get home!
And then, six days later, before the jet lag wore off, I realized that our plane tickets to Qatar and beyond left four days earlier than I had recalled. Ooops! What followed was a mad scramble of outfitting, getting meds and antimalarials, paying bills, arranging neighbors to watch the house again and transport to Budapest.... But all that's done now, and we're just counting down the last hours of this icy cold winter until we get to balmy Doha (75 degrees) and then boil-your-brains-Bangkok (97 degrees and 100% humidity) a week later.
Packing for this trip is, well, a trip, because I haven't ridden my backpack for a few years, since the last time I was in Myanmar and Cambodia, in 2008. Since then, the trips have all been either living out of the VW, or atop the motorcycle, both of which offer a far more relaxed approach to packing.
Being on the road for three months plus out of a backpack is actually much more liberating than knowing you'll only be gone a week or two. For a short trip, the temptation is to bring too much to avoid time-sapping chores like laundry and buying toiletries. But you and I both know there is no way to pack three months into a single little bag, so no pressure! I've got two of my trusty lightweight cotton button-front short sleeves, a pair of shorts, a pair of light canvas slacks, swimsuit, teva sandals, and no socks or undies anywhere in sight! A camera, a toothbrush, a few dozen passport photos, a book.... what else do you need? With a little time and washing powder, ain't nothing can't be done.
On a disappointing note, playing to my romantic sense of meeting old friends in far-flung lands, we were meant to intercept not one but two old pals somewhere in Asia, but sadly, neither were able to make it happen. Which is a damn shame! These are some of my very favorite places, and I would have dearly loved to take them in in good company. Of course, Erzsebet is the best company, so I'm never at a loss for that!
Tentative route for the first few legs:
1) Qatar: Qatar Air flies without backtracking from here to Asian destinations, so I jumped at the chance to not only NOT have to fly three hours in the wrong direction to change planes to fly three hours to be back over Hungary, but also to fly one of the best rated airlines in the world AND take a few days in a new country. It'll be a short sojourn, the plane landing at midnight and taking off again in the morning three days later. But Qatar is practically a microcountry, and there's an inland sand sea forty miles north of the capital which we'll check out. In Doha, there is also a fantastic Islamic history museum, and a huge souq to wander around and revisit some of my Arabic culinary favorites.
not my photo, but it'll do until I get there....
2) Bangkok: A few days to adjust and to savor the deliciously backpacker Khao San, get back to our favorite dive of a hotel, eat some durian from the wandering durian salesman, get plowed, and arrange for Myanmar visas and tickets.
khao san road, 2008
3) Myanmar! We had been tossing this back and forth, but we've decided to go for it. It's about the only place left in Asia without any tourists, so a month of respite will be lovely. Plus, we'd love to revisit some of our earlier haunts and check out one or two new ones. But just wandering for days around Yangon is one of the best things, too!
That's all I know. I'll try to update and post pictures every week or two, except in Myanmar. Internet is very difficult from that country, so the blog will likely suffer, but it's for a good cause. Wish us luck, and see ya on the road!