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7 Minutes In My Traveling Mind

It feels like we just got here, and now we are already leaving. I can’t believe we are on another airplane. How long is this flight and when are we expected to land?  I wonder how far this airport is from town and how late the public transport runs?

Another airplane and their amazing airline food.
Another airplane and their amazing airline food.

Oh, I hope we can just jump on a bus or train into town and avoid aggressive touts. I really hate being mauled by the mob of taxi drivers, following us around, shouting out ridiculously high prices, and refusing to use their meters. Or agreeing to use their meters, but still trying to charge much more than the meter requires.

I suppose I could always work on my negotiation skills with those hostile fast-talking tuk-tuk drivers who are experts at convincing tourists to pay more than they normally would for a more comfortable air-conditioned ride.

Tuk tuk drivers in Sri Lanka
Tuk tuk drivers in Sri Lanka

What is the worst thing that could happen? Why do I always play these worst case scenarios? I am not sure if they ever really help the situation… Worse case might be arriving at the airport, with no available means to leave. I guess that is not so bad, as we have slept in countless airports and much dirtier accommodation.

Night spent in the Manila airport.
Night spent in the Manila airport.

If we were able to actually get into town, where would we want to stay? Maybe we should check out homestays first, as they will always barter a better price. On the other hand, hotels offer more privacy, hostels have a better atmosphere, and the beach would be free.

Why would I even consider sleeping on the beach in the tropics?… I have gotten heat rash, verging on heat stroke, three times already. No, I will pay more to not go through that for a fourth time in the very near future.

Who am I kidding, I am cheap, we will compare prices before we decide what we will take. I can tolerate this unbearable, stagnant, life-sucking heat for another night.  Besides, maybe the humidity and heat will be better tomorrow. I wish it would just rain, I would even take snow! If only SE Asia had more distinct seasons. I would come back and live forever in those cooler seasons, eating curry to my hearts’ content.

How late does it stay light here? Will we be walking in the dark? Where did that kidnapping take place again? How long ago was that shooting? Was that directed at a local or tourist… I forget. We should have checked the US Embassy’s website for current updates.

We will have to mark the known “protest regions” offline on our phone once we land in this new city. What does this country’s phone plan even look like? How much is a SIM card? Do we need text, data, or calling abilities? Can we even buy one and not the other?  How long are we even staying in this country? Is it even worth us picking up a SIM card now, if we are leaving in a few weeks?

Cheap phone we picked up in the Philippines.
Cheap phone we picked up in the Philippines.

Where will we be going in a few weeks? Do we want to stay here for the duration of our visa or move on? I don’t really care that much what we do, as long as we leave within the allotted timeframe. I am not excited about facing another difficult conversation with immigration like we did in Thailand, when we overstayed our visa.

Thailand immigration fine.
Thailand immigration fine.

What countries are close, making leaving fast and easy, if necessary? This could be difficult since we are a stone’s throw away from at least four different countries at the moment. Maybe Thad can build a spreadsheet comparing all the countries that are options, with the distance and time it takes to travel there, along with the variation of cost per boat, ferry, train, public bus, tour bus, private car, or even plane ride.

I should just take a quick look at flights while I think of it. I can get killer deals on discounted carriers, as long as I book out a few weeks in advance. To book, I need internet. To find working, usable internet in our travels so far, would be comparable to finding big foot. There are signs on every building, restaurant or facility promising wifi, but it is truly a mythical creature that doesn’t exist. Maybe I will let Thad rival our nemesis, while I get back to more planning.

What do we want to see in these countries if or when we visit them in three weeks? When are the peak, shoulder, dry, wet, best seasons to visit? Are there any annual festivals, celebrations or country holidays we want to take part in or avoid due to crowds? When is the Chinese New Year again? I read an article warning us to book all methods of transportation through pretty much all SE Asia six months in advance, as to not be stranded during that time.

What are these countries cultural norms? How should I dress? Should I buy clothes here to try to blend in? Does that show more respect? Am I kidding myself that there is a chance that I could ever blend in? Maybe if I wore a head covering, but even then, my blue eyes are a dead give away.

Traditional head coverings in Myanmar.
Traditional head coverings in Myanmar.

I will just forget the clothes as I am very much against adding weight to something I carry on my back. I should go through my pack anyways and just get rid of a few more articles of clothing. I don’t care if I wear the same thing every other day, as we sit on the equator hot and smelly no matter what. Thad wouldn’t care either, he has worn the same shirt all week.

Our luggage.
Luggage.

To truly be respectful, I need to crack down on learning other languages. At least a few words here or there, enough to get by. If Thad ever gets connected, he can download a few more language apps.

But where do I start? I don’t even know which dialect to learn. Indonesia has over eight hundred different dialects, maybe I will just wait until we figure out where we are going next before I get too crazy. I will start simple, and concentrate on the main dialect and language used here.

Where are we heading again? Is the water safe to drink here? Should we just play it safe and treat all the water, including the water we use to brush our teeth? I wonder if they wash the fruit and vegetables in this water that gets sold at market. I might have to restrict myself to purchasing peelable fruits only, at least at first.

Steripen that uses ultraviolet light to treat our water.
Steripen that uses ultraviolet light to treat water.

Or only using extremely high cooking temperatures, but why would I even consider cooking when street food is the cheapest option for sustenance? And the curries and spices are better than I could ever hope to create.

What are the popular local dishes and delicacies? I am so excited to eat right now. If I am hungry, Thad must be starving. Where do we want to eat? Should we just grab something on the street before we find accommodation, once we land?

Street food being cooked in Indonesia.
Street food being cooked in Indonesia.

What is the tipping culture like here? Is it customary to tip at a nicer restaurant or would it be considered an insult? What percentage of people tip if at all, that aren’t Americans, outside of America? How much would we tip, if we did tip? When do we pay? Do they come to us, or do we go to them? Do they take credit cards, or strictly cash?

What is the currency exchange rate? I believe Thad has that app downloaded already, but what is an easier method that I can do in my head? Where is an ATM? How much cash should we take out? How much cash should we carry? How much do things even cost? Where can we get smaller bills?

I have a growing dislike for larger bills, as it seems nobody has correct or any change to offer back, conveniently. One lesson I need to remember is to keep small bills handy, offering exact payment, instead of watching the driver speed away with the extra cash. Luckily we haven’t run into too many scammers, as most everyone has been honest.

I guess it has helped us to be well researched on the “known” scams for certain areas or countries, as I can now find a little amusement in watching those cheeky con artists work.

Is this city small enough to walk it end to end, or do we need to look into local transportation? Should we rent a motor bike? Where do we even want to go, or what do we want to see here? What cost is expected for sightseeing and activities? How much cash will get us by for the day?

What is the weather suppose to be like? Should we try to plan our activities strictly by the weatherman’s advice? How long will we be out, should we bring rain jackets just in case?

Rainy day at the ... Castle
Rainy day at the Neuschwanstein Castle

Are we planning on seeing a religious site? I should pack my long sleeves and pants to be safe. How many times have I even worn those two pieces of clothing? Should I just get rid of those as well? I am so sick of carrying my backpack, “carry-on size and weight” limit or not, it gets old.

Make-shift 'covering', as we didn't plan ahead.
Make-shift ‘covering’, as we didn’t plan ahead.

I could just give away everything and get a travel vest, like the man in the article that I just read. He had no bag, as the only belongings he had, fit in his vest. Maybe I need to rethink my situation.

What did the pilot just announce? I wish I spoke other languages, or at least more than a few words, so I could understand what is being said. When are we landing again?