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 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.

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?

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).

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.

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).

Sri Lanka: Colombo is main city. I’d say to come here from the Maldives.

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 $55 to $69 in the next 6 months.

Okinawa -> Tokyo = $27-63 O/W.  Okinawa -> Taiwan = $46 O/W. Okinawa -> Seoul = $52 O/W.

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 |

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

The Cat Next Door

The Car

The Cat

Sometimes, I stop and reflect on life. Actually, I probably reflect on life a little bit more than I need to. This morning I was reflecting on the new cat next door. I say new because it’s only been there for a few months. The “old” cat, who we had named Kitty, had been there had been there for several years. My neighbor, John, and I discussed what we thought happened to Kitty. We believed that he succumbed to the fate that that befalls all of us if we don’t perish in an accident or by violence – some form of disease overtakes us or our body simply wears out. It’s a very temporal world we find ourselves in. Change is inevitable. It’s the one constant I can count on. Continue reading

Tablet & Phone mAh Ratings

Ampere

Ampere by Hannes Grobe

If I’m ever going to travel lighter, I must have the ability to downsize my electronics. First and foremost I need a cell phone. Travel overseas, or anywhere else for that matter, virtually requires a cell phone, at least as often as it is possible to have access to one. The next issue of concern is having an electronic device with a screen larger than a cell phone to connect to the Internet. In the past I have always used a laptop computer but I think that my days of carrying around a laptop and a charger are numbered. First, there is the problem of weight. A small laptop such as a netbook is going to come in at 2-3.5 pounds with the charger. There’s no way around that weight. Even with a slim batter, it’s hard to come in under two pounds. An extended life (10+hour) battery sends the weight up to about 3.5 pounds. Continue reading