Featured post

My Definition of Well-Traveled

well trav·eled -
adjective – a person who has been to over 100 of the Travelers’ Century Club ”countries” and has, on several occasions, been the only one on the overnight bus (mini-van) who was fluent in English and not be able to hold a conversation in any of the local languages.

Asia 2017 – Days per Country

This is my first attempt  at actually allocating days. Eventually, I have to develop some sort of schedule, otherwise I can’t book airfare in advance. Without advanced airfare bookings there is no telling how much airfare from one point to another will cost, assuming I can even get it. I must develop some rough form so that I can fill in the airfare.

New Zealand: 6 days.
Australia: 14 days.
Bali:  7 days to do Sulawesi, Moluka and Papua (Irian Jaya).
Yogyakarta: 3 days.
Kuala Lumpur: 3 days.
Maldives: 3 days.
Sri Lanka: 3 days.
India: 5 days.
Bangladesh: 2 days.
Bangkok 3 days.
Myanmar: 6 days.
Bangkok: 2 days.
Taiwan: 4 days.
Okinawa: 3 days.
South Korea: 7 days:
Japan: 7 days.
Currently there are 78 days allocated.

Thinking Fast and Slow

Thinking Fast and Slow

Thinking Fast and Slow

It’s my current read. What’s it about? Let me give you an example. Suppose on Monday I went to the store. On Tuesday I went to work. The next day I thought … WTF? If you think WTF is an acronym for a very popular, but a little off-color, exclamation of surprise, then you may have been thinking a little too quickly (fast). Sometimes you think so fast that you hardly think at all. If you wondered what WTF meant then you were thinking a bit slower. If you came up with more than one meaning or an alternative for WTF, like Wednesday, Thursday, Friday for example, you were thinking a bit more slowly. Kahneman spends about 400 pages talking about stuff like that. He gets me thinking very slowly. Maybe a little too slowly, but the book is worth a read if learning, as opposed to pure enjoyment, is your bag.

Asia 2017 Must Do List

There are two parts to this Must Do list.

First are the new countries – 18 if I get to go to them all – that I can visit: New Zealand; Australia; Tasmania; Timore Leste(?); Sulawesi; Moluka; Papua (Irian Jaya); Papua New Guinea; the Andaman-Nicobar Islands; the Maldives; Sri Lanka; Bangladesh;  Myanmar; Hainan Island; Taiwan; Okinawa; Jeju Island; and South Korea.

Second are the Hillman Top 100 attractions – 7 total: Great Barrier Reef (Australia); Ayers Rock (Australia); Bagan  (Myanmar);  Borobudur (Indonesia); Meenakshi (India); Golden Pavillion (Japan); Shwedagon Stupa (Myanmar); 

New Zealand to Australia: See Skyscanner. AirAsia flies from Aukland <-> Gold Coast – currently $84 on 20160410.

Australia to Tasmania: See Skyscanner. It might be a quick round-trip to Hobart. There’s not a lot in Tasmania that I would like to see and it’s relatively expensive.

Australia Out: I can get out or Singapore to several locations cheaply. I can get to Singapore, Malaysia or Bali for $80-90. I say go to Bali because I would have to double back to get to East Timore, Sulawesi, Moluka and Papua (Irian Jaya).   Air Asia flies Darwin -> Bali for $75 (201604100). But, it’s going to cost to get to Darwin from other Australian cities – currently $83 from Brisbane. Cheapest realistic flight is to Bali from Cairns on Jetstar for $89 (20160410). See Skyscanner. This flight is cheapest on Thursday.

Bali: Bali is the place I need to go to to get to East Timore, Sulawesi, Moluka and Papua (Irian Jaya). Plus, it’s Bali and I have some unfinished business there. I only saw part of the island the -only time I was there. Plus, where can I do low-rent-wasting-away better than Bali? Bali to Makassar has cheap flights (3-5) everyday. Makassar sleeping does not look good. Makassar to Ambon has several cheap flights everyday. Ambon sleeping does not look good. Ambon to Sorong has at least one cheap flight every day at noon or so – one hour flight. Sorong sleeping does not look good. Going back Sorong to Ambon has one cheap flight a day. Ambon to Makassar has several cheap flights a day. Makassar to Bali has several cheap flights a day. There is even a flight from Sorong back to Bali for about $120 (not non-stop thatis 4 to 9 hours).  

East Timore: Bali to Dili – $125 O/W with Lion Air. Dili to Bali – $109 w/Lion Air. The cheapest flights from Australia to Bali is $58 from Cairns. Is it worth the money to get one more country?

Sulawesi: This means Makassar. I can get to Makassar from Bali for $27 (20160410).

Moluka: Ambon is the largest city. Skyscanner listed flights from Makassar to Ambon were running $34 to $64 O/W on 20140410.

Papua (Irian Jaya): This is a controversial area. I’m thinking Sorong as a good place. It costs me $33 O/W to fly from Ambon to Sorong.

Papua New Guinea: This is a tough one. It costs a lot to get to Port Moresby – the cheapest way is from Australia – and there are no inexpensive places to stay in the city and not a lot to see in the whole of Papua New Guinea unless I want to travel inland and do a “nature thing” type of expedition. There are no local buses and very few roads. But, if I get to Jayapura in West Papua I can get public transportation to Vanimo which is in Papua New Guinea. This is worth researching.

Yogyakarta: This is where I need to get to to see Borobudur. Cheapest flights are from Singapore or KL. Just do a R/T for about $50 (20140410). I can get a direct flight from Bali for $35-$45 several times every day on Air Asia or Lion Air.

Kuala Lumpur: Arrived here from the southern part of the trip. Now it’s time for a little break in one of my favorite cities in the world. The flight from Yogyakarta to KL is $20 almost everyday.

Itineraries (checked 20160410):
KUL -> Colombo -> Male -> Kochi = $50 + 75 + $93-135 (iffy).
KUL -> Male -> Colombo -> Madurai = $92 + $92 + $100 (not iffy at all – plenty of flights).

Maldives: The islands themselves are the only (red) Hillman Wonder. A member of the UN. 26 atolls (1,192 coral islands). Less than 115 sq miles. Male is the main city. Less than 1/2 million people in the country.  Average ground-level elevation of 1.5 meters (4 ft 11 in) above sea level – don’t be there in a tsunami. Cheap flights happen to and from Singapore ($81), Colombo ($91), Kochi ($93), KL ($106) and Chennai ($127) – Skyscanner (20140410). Airfare to the Maldives from KL looks more and more like it will be expensive – $100+. However, there may be cheap places to stay. 

Sri Lanka: Colombo is main city. I’d say to come here from the Maldives. Flights are $80-$120 from Male and availability isn’t plentiful.

Maldives -> Colombo = $99 O/W.  Checked 2060328.

Colombo -> Madurai = $68 O/W.  Checked 2060328.

Andaman-Nicobar Islands: This is a maybe. I’m planning on being in southern India and I need to get to northern India to visit Bangladesh.  I need to get to Kolkata to cross over and then come back. If I bypass the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Port Blair)I can get from Chennai to Kolkata by train in 30 hours for less than $20.

Chennai -> Port Blair  = $95 O/W. Checked 2060328.

Port Blair -> Kolkata = $95 O/W. Checked 2060328.

Bangladesh: No Hillman Wonders. Kolkata -> Dhaka = go by train – $8-14. Seat61.

There is no border crossing between Bangladesh and Myanmar. I have to go back to Kolkata to get to Myanmar.

Kolkata: Back in Kolkata I need to look at getting to Myanmar.  I can get from Kolkata -> Yangon for $154 or from Kolkata -> Bangkok for $78 and then wander overland on trains and a bus/minivan ride at the Thailand/Myanmar border. Or, I can fly for $31-$32,

Itineraries:
Kolkata -> Yangon = $145.
Kolkata – > Bangkok -> Yangon = $80 + $31-55. Get to Bangkok as well.
Kolkata -> KL – > Yangon = $100 + $35-55.

Myanmar: The Shwedagon Stupa is in Yangon. I can take a train to Bagan (daily).

From Yangon I can get a flight out to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore with no problems for $31-$50. But the best deal seems to be to get to Bangkok for a consistent $26-$45.

Hainan Island has two large cities.
Sanya: Cheapest flights are from Hong Kong ($70), Singapore ($115) and Malaysia ($130).
Haikou: Cheapest flights are from Macau ($62), Hong Kong ($70) and Singapore ($78).

Hainan Island: Major cities are Haikou and Sanya. There could be a visa issue. Singapore looks like the best flight to Haikou at $73 to $95 with lots of availability (booking about 3-4 months out or less looks best). I wouldn’t book a lot of time there. From Haikou I can get a flight to Hong Kong for about $70.

Taiwan: No visa for U.S. citizens? Hong Kong to Taipei is $73-85 in the next 3 months (more later).  Ho Chi Minh City to Taipei is $63-85 in the next 2-6 months (20160410). Lots of places are very cheap getting to Taiwan. Bangkok to Taipei is $58-$71 (several months). Getting out can be as well. Taipei to Tokyo is $50 (several months).

Okinawa: Taipei to Okinawa airfare is $65 to $95 in the next 6 months on Peach Airlines. Flights everday but flights are limited in number.

Okinawa -> Tokyo = $27-63 O/W.  Okinawa -> Taiwan = $46 O/W. Okinawa -> Seoul = $52 O/W. Peach Airlines is cheapest from Okinawa to Seoul and only books up to 6 months in advance. Current price looks like $55.

South Korea: Taipei to Seoul airfare is $84-100 in the next 12 months. There must be lots of flights.

Jeju -> Seoul = $20 or less O/W. Looks like Jeju is a day trip and back from Seoul .

Seoul – > Tokyo = $76 O/W. Seoul airport is rated really good for sleeping.

Great Barrier Reef: The jumping-off point is Cairns.

Ayers Rock: Very pricey. The best airfare is: Sydney ($86 O/W); Melbourne ($78);

Meenakshi: There is a flight from Colombo, Sri Lanka to Madurai, India where the Meenakshi is located for a little over $100. See Skyscanner.

Tasmania Tourist Notes

Airfare: Flights from Melbourne are the cheapest – $57. The ferry costs $62 min and only gets a recliner.

Need to see a Devil.

Hobart: Salamanca Place - On Saturday Salamanca Place is the site for Salamanca Market | Cascade Brewery | Mount Wellington

Average high = 73 and average low = 53 in Feb. It’s the end of summer. Nice.

YHA Hostel = $27. Others = $16 to 30 USD.

Port Aurthur: Very Pricey. $37 entry $48 rount trip bus with bad, bad times requiring an overnight.

Australia Tourist Notes

These are short and sweet notes for researching my trip to Australia: Canberra is the capital | $1 AUD = $1.33 USD 20160326. Get 1.33 Australian for $1 U.S. | Petrol Prices - fuel is pricey – $4 gallon?. | Camping | Cities | Airport Departures: SYD - MEL - BNE - CBR - PERDRW - OOL - HBA - LST - HBA and LST are in Tasmania.

Great Barrier Reef: TripAdvisor | Google Maps | http://www.greatbarrierreef.org/ | Images | aerial view

Sydney Harbor | Sydney Harbor Bridge |  Sydney Opera House | Sydney Tower | The Rocks |  Sydney BeachesQueen Victoria Building |

Ayers Rock; I saw flights from Melbourne as low as $156 round-trip. Uluru is pricey.

Great Ocean Road: A maybe.

New Zealand Tourist Notes

These are short and sweet notes for researching my trip to New Zealand: Wellington is the capital | $1 NZD = $1.50 USD 20160326. Get 1.5 New Zealand for $1 U.S. | Petrol Prices - fuel is pricey. | Camping | Cities | Airport Departures: AKLWLGCHC | Flights around NZ cost $20-30 each | It looks like Australia for under $67 | Take a tent. |

Auckland: (Images) | TripAdvisor | Auckland Tourist (Google) | VirtualTourist | Bus – Auckland to Wellington ($31 overnight) | Car Rental as low as $13-15 a day |  Airfare to Australia - low as $55 w/8 months out |

Camping: Every NZ Campsite – I think they may mean it. Excellent site. DOC sites.

Hostels: Hostelworld says there are 230 in 61 cities. About $20 per.

Ferries are $200+ with a car.

Te Wahipounanu: This area became a World Heritage Site in 1990 and incorporates Fiordland, Westland, Mount Aspiring and Mount Cook National Parks.

Rotorua Thermal Area: Thermal area. 243 KM SE of Auckland.

Routeburn Track, New Zealand: One of the world’s 10 best treks – in Fiordland. Also Milford Track in Fiordland.

Milford Sound: Great scenery.

Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park, North Island:

Bungee Jumping – “Organised commercial bungee jumping began with the New Zealander, A J Hackett, who made his first jump from Auckland’s Greenhithe Bridge in 1986.”

South Korea Tourist Attractions

South Korea Lonely Planet Splash Page

South Korea Lonely Planet Splash Page

The image for this post is one of the Lonely Planet Splash Pages for South Korea. There are several images, each portraying a different side of the country. I don’t have a lot of history with the country of South Korea. My biological father was a serviceman during the Korean War but I have no idea if he was there. I once employed a student from the local university who worked for me and was from South Korea. The one thing I remember about him is that he asked for some time off to go home and get married. I thought that was great. He was a very nice young man. However, I thought it was somewhat strange that he had never met his new bride. It was, apparently, a marriage arranged totally by the parents. That would have never happened in my family. I can assure you. South Korea is significant to me in that I need to go there to get it on my country count and it is one of the Asian locations where I can fly into for fewer air miles than other destinations. Plus, I’d kinda like to see some of it.

Some good South Korea Links: History, CIAHillmanUNESCOWikitravelAttractions (Google), Images (Google), Landmarks (Google), LPRG, Fodor, Frommer, Travel GuidesBackpacker, Hostels, Weather, Bus, Auto Rental, Camping and, of course, Food.

For Joe

I was shocked, awed, discombobulated and, of course, just a bit jealous (but only temporarily) when you said you were moving to Thailand in May. Thanks for thinking about me when you where wondering about cool places to go in Asia. My short answer for where to go is that all of the places to go and visit are cool. Never stop moving. Never stop smiling back at people who smile at you. Never stop starting up those conversations that can lead to who-knows-where. But, I don’t think I have to tell you that. You’re the epitome of friendly. But, where to go? What to do? That depends on what trips your trigger. What blows your dress up? I know why I go. I’m a tourist. I’m also an amateur cultural sociologist/anthropologist. But that doesn’t mean what I like will be what you like or vice versa. But I have seen some of Asia. Don’t just think Thailand. Think Asia. All of it. If you’re living there, it’s easy. Continue reading