SPARE ME: DISASTER IN BANGKOK

If you’ve been holding your breath waiting to discover what faux pas occurred at the Bangkok Airport Transit Desk during my most-recent trip, you can now breathe easy.

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A GOOD DISASTER MOVIE ALWAYS BEGINS WITH A YOUNG CHILD, or family, having a good time in their own back yard, uplifting music trilling blithely away in the background—innocence personified. My disaster story begins with an innocent quick trip to Bhutan.

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Flower vendor wearing traditional thanaka on cheeks

“Anal” is not a word people usually use to describe me: I’m fairly low maintenance most of the time. I’m so low key and such a master procrastinator that when people do describe me, they might use a different form of the word anal, perhaps a noun describing the correlative area of anatomy, and they may punctuate their point with a scatological adjective for good measure. I’ll spare you more specific details.

But let’s imagine I’m an innocent in this story. Let’s say I’m about to take a 16-day journey and landing in five countries. We might, if we are judging, also call me a tad crackers. Who—except maybe those daredevils Sue and Dave, who take their own helmets on vacations, for pete’s sake—would do five countries in two weeks?

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“Speed travel” is not my usual style of travel, I prefer “watch-the-rice-grow” travel, so let me explain the logic. There is a good reason. The initial idea for this trip was merely to visit Bhutan. But you can’t just up and fly to Bhutan. It’s another one of those places you can’t get to from here. You have to go somewhere else and then take one of Bhutan’s national airline flights into Paro. Bhutan is close to Myanmar, so I decide to visit Myanmar, also, because it has been on my To Do list way before they changed its name from Burma. And also way before they coined the term bucket list. But you can’t fly to Bhutan from Myanmar. You can get to Bhutan from Bangladesh, and you can fly into Bangladesh from Myanmar. Fine, that’s three countries.

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Badfish and bags

You could fly back to Bangladesh on your way out of Bhutan, but you could also fly a bit further and closer to home if you flew out of Bhutan and landed in Katmandu. That seems a much nicer option, especially since Nepal is one of my most-favored, rice-watching spots. But if the flights are full, you can’t get out on the day you plan, and you might have to spend the night in Katmandu. Fine. That’s four countries.

On your way from Bhutan to Katmandu, you might need to stopover in Luknow, India. It’s a technicality, I realize, but stopping off in a country is being in a country in my mind, especially if there’s a Starbucks in the airport. So…that’s why I land in five countries in 16 days.

Initially, I had wanted to head to Bhutan first, just in case any “unforeseen nonsense” started going down, like missed flight connections or malaria, at least I’d get to visit Bhutan and the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. However, when you visit Bhutan, you must go with a tour company, and the one I used, Bridge to Bhutan, was fully booked the first week of the dates for my trip, making it mandatory to visit Myanmar first.

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Maing Thauk village, Myanmar

Generally, I do very little travel planning. Maybe I buy the guidebook. I look at photos to see where I might want to head. I check out a couple hotels maybe. Never restaurants—they, or wonderful street vendors—always seem to appear whenever you need one. Sometimes, I simply wash up in some town and see what happens next. These days, I just read Kelly’s blog and go where she goes. But when I do plan, I go anal. And that’s why I don’t plan or don’t like to plan. It’s too much work if you do it properly. And if you plan, you gotta do it properly or there’s no sense doing it, and to do it properly, you go anal—you figure in every detail you can imagine. I know some A-type travelers who love planning as much or more than the actual journey; but to me, it’s just not fun. My brain simply does not savor ratcheting up into that frame of mind, that degree of competence.

And worse, once you have a plan with all the details, you are then confined and limited if or when “something else”— some option or tangent maybe you couldn’t even plan for—presents itself to you while you’re out there in the world. Like, say, an Angelina-Jolie-look-alike crosses your path, she has a thing for old geezers and carries a vial of Viagra in her daypack, but you have a plan and itinerary and no time for tangents. Apparently, my brain slips much easier into daydreaming than planning. Usually when I travel, I simply wait for the “something else” to present itself, and amble down that road. Usually it’s an island or a river or a mountain or a mud hut; it has never been an Angelina-Jolie-look-alike with a thing for old geezers and carrying a backpack full of boners.

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Mayaung Yoo village, Myanmar

Sidetrack du jour: if you’ve been reading my blog and noticed the widget, you know at this very moment, I was supposed to be on my next watching-rice-grow Big Trip, starting days ago, 26 May. I’m now writing this sitting at my desk at home. I have no plan. I have umpteen options, I’m having difficulty making choices. Again. (note to self: research if this is a symptom of Adult ADD, insanity, early-onset something, just laziness?) In my defense though, I have not been doing nothing about it. I have made choices and plans for this trip, and then I get up the next day thinking, “do I really want to go there?” And then the process stalls. I make another plan. Next morning: same thought, again. Here’s my list: Cuba, Bahamas, Mexico, Britain, Scotland, Madagascar, Zanzibar, Cape Town, Malta. And, of course I’ve even considered simply going back to my fallback place: Bali. And even doing both Amsterdam and Bali. And get this, I even considered going on one of those geezer boat trips down the Danube through Eastern Europe from Prague to the Black Sea and ending up in Bucharest (note to self: are you really getting so jaded with travel that you’d even consider doing that…and pay a single supplement to do it?) But yeah, right, I probably seem like that guy carrying a briefcase full of hundred dollar bills, and no car dealer in town has a red Bentley convertible with the Dubai Luxury Package and 20-inch wheels to sell him. Nobody’s feeling sorry for people with problems like this.

Back to Bhutan: my planning for the trip to Bhutan began with air flights. And then I started planning my ventures in Myanmar. Turns out, to get anywhere by land in Myanmar is a major endeavor. The roads are a disaster. The word “speeding” has no translation in the Burmese language, the closest adjective is “inch-worming.” To travel like 50 miles would take you maybe twelve hours; and to fly, merely half an hour. If I had more time, I would prefer to travel by land, see the country, the people. With only two weeks, I had no time to waste whole days traveling if I wanted to see Yangon, Inle Lake, Bagan, and the U Bein Bridge in Mandalay. So I had to arrange air flights between these places. No mean feat, really, since flights don’t run every day. Are you beginning to feel a little empathy for me, at least?

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Local transport

And because I had so little time, it was necessary to line up hotels in all these places before leaving, because you don’t want to land in a place like, say, Dhaka in Bangla-freakin-desh, or even Mandalay, and not have a place to stay for the night. By the time I was ready to depart on my trip, I had all my ducks in a row. I not only had all my air flights arranged, I also had hotels lined up. And in Dhaka, I even had a one-day tour reserved. And in Bagan—a major coup!—I had secured the very last spot on the last balloon flight of the season. OK, I admit, it does feel comforting knowing you’ve got your shit together before you travel. Should we play a little of the theme song from Rocky here?

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First light and balloon over Bagan

But this is where the true anal part comes in for me. I had a file filled with papers of my whole itinerary mapped out day by day, with receipts and reservation numbers, all my flight tickets, tours and hotel reservations organized by their respective cities and dates; I had them numbered, I had notes and phone numbers on each reservation and document. You see, I can go anal if I’m forced into it. I have all my documents in a see-through plastic folder organized by date: my air ticket to BKK first on top, and then the air ticket from BKK to Yangon, together with my hotel in Yangon. Then my ticket from Yangon to Inle Lake, and my hotel reservation at Inle Lake. One after the other for the whole 16 days. I number and order them in the order I’ll use them, so I don’t have to figure out what is what when I’m out in the world, or in front of an immigration officer who looks like a prison guard out of Cool Hand Luke with a semi-automatic slung over his shoulder.

To begin the trip, my Etihad flight takes off at 2130 and lands in BKK at 0630. I sleep poorly on planes, but I can’t use that as a good excuse for what happens next. I had to change planes and pick up a boarding pass at the transit desk for my second flight out of BKK, which would take me to Yangon, Myanmar. In order to do that, you have to walk the length of Suvarnabhumi International. And find the right escalator up to the second floor, and then walk another length of terminal.

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The lengths of Suvarnabhumi International

It could not have been further away, but it’s not difficult, just time consuming and frustrating because when you ask directions for the Bangkok Air Transit Desk, everyone appears to know where it is, but they wave their hands and tell you to keep going “that way” so you do, and you don’t find the transit desk. Until, finally, you do. At the transit desk, they ask for my ticket from BKK to RNG (RNG for Rangoon, apparently nobody is changing the three-letter airport code to YNG for Yangon, your luggage could end up in Youngstown, Ohio). I pull out my plastic file with all my flight and hotel reservations. Such a tidy packet with everything I need in the order I need it. The flight ticket from BKK to Rangoon is right on top—god I’m good. I hand over the reservation and feel pretty smug I took time to be this efficient—the people who say there’s good and bad in everything may have a point.

It’s 0730 in the morning. I’ve had no coffee. I’ve had very little sleep, and it was restless-sitting-up-economy-airplane-seat sleep. But I’m a seasoned traveler. I know how to handle myself in foreign countries, in foreign airports, in tuk-tuks and taxis, in kasbahs, and sacred temples. I imagine I will soon be sitting my fine arse down in the Starbucks in Suvarnabhumi International and downing that double espresso or cappuccino that I now need fairly desperately.

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Bangkok local

And the next thing you know, I am. I’m even pulling out my laptop and checking email. Oh, I forgot to mention the deal with visas. For Myanmar, you have to get online before you leave, preferably a month or so before, and apply for the visa online. They warn you that after they “investigate you” (they don’t mind backpackers but don’t want vermin), you may or may not be given a visa, and if not, “you will not be told why,” and they “will not reply if you ask why.” So it’s a rather tenuous feeling to hold your air tickets in your hand and not know whether or not you’ll get a visa. However, Myanmar grants me a visa. But they don’t send you a visa, they send you a “visa acceptance letter” stating that you’re not vermin, which you then must show to immigration when you arrive. This visa acceptance letter was the next item in my file after the air ticket to Yangon.

For Bhutan, you must first set up an itinerary with your mandatory, rather-pricey tour company (they don’t want backpackers or vermin), and then once you’ve paid for the tour, your tour company sends you a letter also, stating that you’ve been accepted to receive a visa—which you show to immigration officials in Paro, who then stamp your passport with a visa when you arrive. That letter lay further down in my file, under maybe six air flights and five hotels.

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Fisherman on Inle Lake, Myanmar

If this were a disaster movie, right about now you’d begin to hear low background music depicting impending danger, maybe something like the bassline theme from JAWS.

Just before landing at Yangon International (are you ready for that “unforeseen nonsense” going down?), I discover that my folder with all my hotel reservations—all my flight reservations, my tours, my visa acceptance letters, all numbered so carefully and seeping smugness—is missing. This is where the disaster movie begins to turn scary in my mind. What the bejesus have I done with my file? It’s gone. Just gone. But how? Where? This is not right. This is just wrong. I check my bags. I check both bags again. And again. This is not like me at all. I may forget to take my favorite travel knife, the one I’ve carried for 25 years, out of my carry-on and repack it into my checked luggage before boarding my next flight and then have security appropriate it (once!), but I don’t lose stuff. The only thing I can come up with is that I pulled a careless rookie move and left the file at the BKK Air Transfer Desk.

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Day tripping on Inle Lake

You can imagine in your mind a cool, seasoned traveler losing his cool right about now. Cue the music from Alfred Hitchcock’s knife-slashing scene in Psycho here. Literally everything needed to continue the trip is in that file. If I don’t show the visa acceptance letter, I can’t even enter Myanmar when this plane lands. If I don’t have flight info or tickets, I go nowhere. Losing your cool here means imagining sleeping on the green plastic chairs in the transit lounge in Yangon International for the next two weeks, or being deported unceremoniously, or being imprisoned for impersonating a seasoned traveler.

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But thank god for some innate travel savvy I’ve developed over the years (or is it “organizational genes” handed down on my maternal DNA?): everything in my bag has a place, and if removed, it always goes back in the same place. This means I always know where things are and don’t have to search for them. My Mountain Smith carry-on fanny pack has a hidden pocket in the back where I always stash my air ticket, because it’s easy to get to at check-in, and I don’t have to look for it. And luckily, before leaving BKK Air Transit Desk, I innately stashed my visa acceptance letter to Myanmar (next document in the file) along with my air ticket to Yangon in my secret pocket, which meant at least I’d be allowed to enter Myanmar—let’s begin blasting a few bars of “Hallelujah” right about here in this movie.

Perhaps there is another reason to forgo planning things out so thoroughly: anything could go wrong. This might sound weird or inconceivable to some people, especially hardline Type-A personalities. But it seems every time I try to plan things out, something always, and I mean always, goes wrong. If I simply float in the breeze, I end up somewhere collecting another sunset with a cold glass in my hand and a smile on my face, maybe in a hammock. And no dang headaches. Except for that time I was aimlessly driving my VW campervan down the Pan American Highway searching for surf and the perfect salsa, and the border guard (the one without the AK-47) in El Salvador hammered me with the back of his hand because I was bitching about having to pay another bribe just to cross the border—fun story for another day.

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Bicycle rickshaw and sidewalk cafe–Yangon

I take a taxi from Yangon International Airport to the Merchant Art Boutique Hotel. This is no five-star hotel, but it’s far from a dive. I knew I would stay here as soon as I saw it online: I reserved the suite with the view of the Shwedagon Pagoda. Someone could use my reserving this hotel as a powerful counter argument to my not wanting to plan. When I travel, I love finding a hotel with a view. I probably would not have ended up here if I hadn’t planned in advance. And I am not disappointed one bit with the Merchant Art Boutique Hotel: I’m a few minutes’ walk away from and have a view of the most important and arguably most beautiful site in Yangon. And oodles of space. Spotless marble floors. Lots of sunlight. Interesting contemporary art hung on the walls in the rooms and halls. Not the most luxurious furniture, but I do have a fridge, a hairdryer, a robe, and a kettle for coffee.

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Merchant Art Boutique Hotel
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Painting in my suite

Another bit of luck, along with a tad more anal-ness-slash-organization: I had saved all the emails and documents regarding my hotel reservations and flights in a folder on my laptop. When I ask the concierge, they are happy to print all of the documents for me. I organize them again in their proper order, label them with appropriate numbers, slip them back into another plastic file. Shakespeare says it with panache once again: “all’s well that ends well.” But if you remember from a previous story, a few days after I leave Yangon, I fall right into another disaster in Bagan. Perhaps I will write that story soon—but, hey, don’t be holding your breath: I have other decisions to make, remember.

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Shwedagon Pagoda
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Monk in the Shwedagon Pagoda complex
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Grandeur and sparcity in Shwedagon

If this were a movie, we would begin rolling the credits now, let’s say along with a little Bob Dylan, maybe “Blowin in the Wind” or “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Perhaps we’ll run some blooper outtake scenes: the one where they catch me googling Angelina Jolie photos by Annie Leibovitz, the one where I pee my pants when I discover the missing file, the one where the gecko poops in the soup, the one where my thong gets stuck in the airport escalator.

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Temples in Shwedagon

Caveat du jour: you may not be able to purchase the soundtrack to this movie on Amazon.

You can find more entries to DP Photo Challenge here: Spare

You can find more entries in Lucile’s Photo Rehab here:   Photo Rehab

256 comments

  1. Oh, Badfish, you’ve made my night! Again!
    But really weird things are happening!!!
    1. I read your post on my OPPO! first time! Really!
    2. So i open up laptop to come here to comment, as OPPO has no VPN. Yet.
    3. My lovely laptop has decided that the link to BF’s post, shalt open with only the comment window open.
    4. I try and try again ( because that’s what little red engines do)
    5. It still only opens in comments, leaving me no option to comment on anything else but the purple photo.
    6. i was only going to comment on the Purple Lake photo anyhow, and say how beautiful it was – but I did think I would be able to actually see the post on the laptop and i might make passing reference to another photo anyhow – and then simply say ( that having to keep studying)

    7. I’ll be back. Promise.

    So: to cut a long story short:

    I’ll be back. Promise. 🙂
    Great post BTW! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Now I’m rather convinced that you “lost” this file for us intentionally to make us feel what you must have felt. I didn’t pee though. Also, I really really hope that you are not forced into more anal. The thong can confirm what you suspected – it can be unpleasant.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great movie! Music cued just right. Picture perfect. You do get yourself into some adventures, planned or unplanned. I love the photographs, especially the fisherman on Inle Lake. That lavender color is beautiful. And I love the one of the monk in front of the faded building – his skin color and robe blend perfectly with the colors of the building. Lots of artistic shots in this post. You always leave us wanting more stories, especially with your enticing phrases such as, a story for another day.
    Wonderful post, BF.
    Peace
    Mary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Mezza! ( Aussie slang for Mary)… I love that lavander photo too.
      No better place in blogsville to hang out but the Badfish and Chips Cafe, hey?

      Looks like he saved the Missing Blog Post for only Me and Manja Mexie Movie to Not See.
      (mm, sounds like the title of a movie…Me and Manja Mexie… or was that a song… lol)

      anyhow…. a little light relief from the study… and back right to it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mary, thanks so much…it takes a certain melodic skill to insert music into a movie!! And yeah, I love that photo of the monk, too. For some reason, I like photographing monks, and being around them. There’s a good reason for that …but that’s a story for another day!

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  4. Read every word. WP can sometimes be wonky like that.
    I hate that panicky feeling of where-the-hell-did-it-go!? And, as you say, it only happens when everything depends on it not happening. Murphy and his Law are cruel task masters. My story is a more domestic one: Big day at work; big event and I’m in charge of it. Totally organized, everything planned out and in its place, I’m ready to go, but head out the door (locking it, per usual) without my keys. Can’t drive, can’t get back in my home.
    I’d be interested to know your take on traveling in a country that doesn’t mind the backpacker compared to the one that does. I suppose you’d have to also compare it to another guided tour you’ve been on, but I wonder if there is a significant difference in a traveler’s experience?

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    • Murphy’s Law…right…haven’t thought of that in years, but it’s always lurking there in the background of life isn’t it? I got locked out of the house once, had to break a window to get in.
      The Tour/backpacker issue is interesting, and I’d have to give that some thought. Maybe it would make a good post! I haven’t been on too many tours, and/or maybe the tour part isn’t the real issue??

      Liked by 2 people

  5. This was absolutely nail-biting stuff, and I normally NEVER chew my nails. Empathy I was sending you by the sackful. I enjoyed all your photos, especially the unsmiling monk and the oxcart. So happy that your thong didn’t get caught in the airport eacalator. 😀

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    • Thank you so much for the empathy!!! And glad you enjoyed it, but I feel bad about your nails! I CAN’T bite my nails, they are too tough! The other monks with that unsmiling monk and I all laughed after I took the photo because he wouldn’t smile! Looks almost scared!! Monks are fun people when they’re not levitating.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I read it all, and wrote a lengthy comment…which disappeared when I hit Post Comment.

    But I remember writing the bananas and that open window were my favorite photos!

    Oh and the teasing shot of YOU from the chin down…

    This reminds me of a many year’s-awaited trip to Fiji with my seven closest friends. All of us waiting for our flight at LAX and our trip leader/organizer/instigator discovers he has left HIS passport back in Snoqualmie, Washington. Do we leave his type A butt behind so we can make our connection to the once a week Fijian flight that will take us to the small island where we meet the yacht we’ll sail on for a month? Or do we all give up one fourth of our trip to wait with him in LA while he figures out what the heck to do……..

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    • It may have been a problem with my site, which deleted my whole post!! Gone! Vanished. I had to reload another version of it. You’ll notice the shot of me is not wearing no thongs.
      So did you leave his butt behind or what? I hope you booked on to Fiji…I think I would.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We did fly on to Fiji while he stayed behind at LAX (literally stayed there) for 24 hours. His Dad, a long-time, well known Alaska Airlines regular, (with some kind of Air Force and Boeing pull) got the missing passport and took it to SeaTac airport where he stalked Alaska flight attendants until one agreed to carry the passport and hand it off in LA to our “leader”. We, the abandoned, lounged around on our 95 foot yacht for a day, fresh stalks of bananas (not unlike your photo), and coconuts hanging from the beams (I mean, miserable, right) having convinced our Captain that we knew he’d show up, “really soon, we promise”. And he did, him having convinced the small plane captain to make an extra trip. But we made him pay for our suffering…at every moment we could, and to this day, 20 some years later, we still remind him of what he “put us through”.

        Best trip ever………….sigh.

        Can’t quite see your thong(s) and you owe us a face shot!

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        • Maybe these are the traumas that make life more interesting…later, when you can sit back and laugh about them! But yeah…the kind you never let someone else forget!
          Thongs…inside the bags. That IS a face shot.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post! I feel your pain to a very small extent, having had to plan everything for a two week family trip all around Scotland recently. Things only came together at the last minute. Thankfully, the only thing that went wrong was my losing my favorite beanie!

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    • Hey, glad you understand…how things sometimes need time to come together. And I’m thinking of two weeks in Scotland…would you suggest it as a good trip? What did you like seeing the most? If I go, I’ll look for your beanie!

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      • We had the greatest time in Scotland. You should go! If you are into the outdoors, this is a place that requires a few visits to try to cover the different kinds of experiences you can have. Then there is the history and culture. Check out my recent blogs for some impressions. What I would have liked to have done more of is hike around, especially in the highlands. Blows your mind! You should experience Edinburgh, but know that places like the Royal Mile are basically tourist traps. I am in the process of posting pictures from my trip here – http://www.pbase.com/kujoseph/scotland2016.

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    • Gilly, I don’t think I’ve ever been called a “gem” before. First time for everything, right? Yeah, I’m thinking UK…maybe Scotland. Right now, I’m still at home.

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  8. What a build up….I had visions of you spending a night in a Burmese cell! Doubt Krista over at the Daily Post expected an entry as entertaining as this 😀

    Now for that El Salvador story…..

    Liked by 2 people

    • Madhu…HA! Yeah, for a moment, I really did not know what would happen…but then my brain kicked in and I realized I had digital copies. But that took way longer to kick in than I would have liked!!!
      El Salvador…yeah, that IS a good story. All my photos from that trip are in 35mm slides.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Your post wasn’t there last night Badfish, but I could read it in my email. I’m pleased to see it’s sorted this morning. Disaster averted!

    I’m so impressed that you walked the length of Suvarnabhumi International Airport. It’s enormous. You could have almost walked to Myamnar in that time.

    I think deep down you are an organiser after all. Look at all that fantastic planning. I was reading and got to the point where you lost your paperwork and I was thinking surely you would have it all stored digitally…because that’s what I do. And sure enough, you did! I must sit somewhere in the middle because I do all the planning, but we always spend a longer time in fewer places and we only book our accommodation ahead. Then once we’re there we have time to do everything or nothing, as the whim takes us. I had a conversation with a lady after our last trip to Europe who couldn’t believe we only had five destinations on a five week trip. Many Australians do the 50 countries in 5 days tour when they go to Europe. Ghastly. Oh, and I too have all the paperwork in a plastic folder all in order – I’m so proud of you!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right! And you know, there is great adventure in a growing a garden. And such joy! If you can keep the rabbits, deer, and moles out of the thing!! But that’s an adventure, too, eh.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Ooooo, this is one of your best stories yet. I know those moments when you can’t find what you need, where it’s not where it *should* be, but have never experienced something this scary. Good thing you had the visa acceptance letter.
    And the photos – they’re all divine. There’s a beautiful softness to them – what have you done? The fisherman on Inle Lake, and all the Swedagon ones are especially beautiful.
    Alison

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    • Johnbo…HA! Well, you know, I started out traveling my state, too. I knew all the back roads, I’d drive until I got lost, then try to find my way home. Glad you liked this story!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Well Badfish, I’m glad you just averted disaster! When you were describing that clear plastic folder, I just kept thinking, “he’s gonna lose it in BKK”. Funnily enough, I do the exact same thing with my hotel bookings and flight tickets. Printing them all ahead of time and putting them in order gives me a certain sense of satisfaction. When I travel, the paperwork I will need for that day gets stashed in an accessible compartment of my shoulder bag – the rest of it stays locked away so I don’t lose it.

    Your shots from Myanmar have such a dreamy quality to them. Is that a ‘stache I see in that photo of you in the lift? I hope you didn’t lose your passport in Bagan… now THAT would be a major disaster.

    Liked by 2 people

    • James…you must be psychic! And cool that you organize your stuff in the same way. I thought I over did it, but actually my mind works that way. Things need to be organized in some way for me to cope.
      Stash, connected to a goatee. I did not lose my passport in Bagan, but to me a much bigger loss…on a completely other (non-physical) level.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. You know that headache you mentioned….? 🙂

    The tale of the disappearing post… you must have rigged that to add drama 🙂 🙂 Because you need a whole lot more drama, right? And an Angelina look alike. So sorry to be of no help.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Badfish, this reminds me of what I experienced in Kuala Lumpur back in 2012. I arrived from Yangon at night in the low-cost terminal. I was waiting for my flight to Jakarta early the following morning and I was having laksa for late dinner. Past midnight I checked my printed documents again and I realized I had the wrong ticket with me. I had to print it, but the airline’s office was already closed. I found these self-service check in machines, but I didn’t remember the booking number. Then I walked around the terminal to seek solution. I found this young woman with a laptop and I came to her and asked if I could use her laptop to check my email. She said yes, I was able to check my email, I got my booking number, so I could print the correct boarding pass. The overall experience was definitely not something I had anticipated, let alone having to deal with it past midnight and in the middle of a transit.

    Anyway, I’m glad in the end you made it the all the countries you needed and wanted to go on your latest trip. Wondering which aquarium this Badfish is going to explore next.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bama…that is quite the horror story, dude! I really don’t like the living of these kinds of stories, but later when you can laugh about them, they seem so much more interesting! What would have happened years ago before things went digital? One thing though…I’ve always found the kindness of strangers to take care of me every time I needed something.
      Aquarium…yes…what is what with that! I’m still sitting at home.

      Like

  14. Well that had me on the edge of my seat. I hope you heard me screaming at you “Don’t you have e3lctronic copies somewhere?!” As organized and detail oriented as Dave and I are, we do leave things laying around. It’s actually ridiculous and in most cases some kind stranger returns said left item. Can’t say we have ever lost the plastic folder but I swhall be extra careful for that now.
    Thanks so much for the link to our blog Badfish. What’s wrong with wearing your helmet? 🙂

    Like

    • You know…I thought I heard you screaming, but I couldn’t figure out exactly what it was! Funny, that you leave things! I have to be organized on the outside because the inside of my brain is so not organized. You carry a plastic folder too? Jeesh, I thought I’d invented a system, seems everyone uses it.
      Helmet…HA! I just remember that post you made about it, thought it was so funny. But you know, when I go to Bali or any place I’ll ride a motorbike, I carry my helmet in my bag, too. I just don’t jump off cliffs like you and Dave.

      Like

  15. Ok, you have now discouraged me from traveling anywhere outside of Utah!!! Going to have to cancel my cruise! OMG! I would have just broken down and done myself in. I can’t handle even spontaneous!

    Like

    • It’s no good. You can lose things in Utah, too. I got lost in Utah once. I almost got married in Utah once.
      Hey, where are you guys going on your cruise, you may have mentioned, but I forgot if you did.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You almost got married in Utah?!! How many women were you figurin’ on? 😉 (The British Isles — Guernsey Islands, three stops in Ireland, three in Scotland, Paris, and back to Southhampton. We’ll also get to go to Stonehenge and Avebury.)

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  16. I held my breath waiting for this disaster story and wow what a story I could feel the heart palpitations and panic all the way to Aus. I could picture you with all your worldly possessions spread around those green seats as you searched and searched. Then, whew, all’s well that ends well. How is the battle with social security going? and have you found a house sitter for Duncan?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Losing your file like that sounds absolutely terrifying, although I can honestly say if the same thing happened to me, I would have remained perfectly calm. I find it easy to be calm when I’m unconscious and lying on the aisle floor. I’m glad you managed to get it sorted out. Incidentally, you’ll have to write up the story about the border guard in El Salvador sometime. Now you’ve got me wondering what happened.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Another wonderful post. Love the pictures BF! I don’t usually have the problem of losing or misplacing things unless someone is “helping” me get it all together. I have a system and it works for me but if someone gets in my way, it goes to hell. I am only anal about tickets, flight times, passports, and packing. I don’t handle situations like you described well at all. Glad it all worked out.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Badfish you get to travel all the time. Lucky you visiting all the Wonderful places. How do
    You afford it? Or maybe you’re a fortunate travel bloggers who gets paid to do it 🙂 that would be fun, right? Either way I know it takes
    Much energy.
    🙂

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  20. I want to have taken your pictures. The flower vendor almost made me cry it was so beautiful, but envy helped me to maintain my composure :-). First Light and Balloon Over Bagan was like something out of a dream.The angles in Suvarnabhumi International, the framing of Bangkok Local, and the colors/contrasts of Fisherman on Inle Lake were perfection. I don’t think it matters where you go. Just go. You”ll make beautiful art wherever.

    Like

    • Lisa…Oh, I do love that flower vendor too. When I saw her, I knew I had to take her picture. I squatted down across the sidewalk from her, focused. People were walking past, so I had to wait for a shot. I took a couple actually. Some have people’s legs in them.
      And you’re right…maybe I should just walk out the door and see where I end up, it just doesn’t matter does it?

      Liked by 1 person

  21. “stopping off in a country is being in a country” I agree with that. Airports do showcase a bit of the country you have landed in if you care to wander around.

    Thankfully you had a backup plan there going into Myanmar. Key thing is to keep the important documents on you at all times. Sounds like you were going on common sense autopilot there *applause* 😀

    Like

    • Mabel, thanks so much for hanging out here! And I know…I mean, if you’re eating a Baskins Robbins double scoop or downing a Starbucks double espresso, you are IN a country! Doing stupid stuff, but hey…in a country.
      Love that phrase: “common sense autopilot”…I think that’s the story of my life!! Apparently I’m incapable of thinking or making decisions.

      Like

      • I seriously love hanging out here with you here, Badfish. Always hilarious and honest posts here. What’s not to love. you keep it real.

        Yes, you are IN country and being a part of a country when you actually breath the air there and try to get their attention or try to avoid it.

        I think I’m like you. I always have a backup plan in most situations. Especially when it comes to travel, putting all your eggs in one basket doesn’t always pay off.

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        • Mabel…thanks so much, I am so glad you feel like that. I feel the same about your posts…so real and honest.
          And I’m glad you agree about when one is “in” a country, or not!! LIke they say: where ever you go, there you are!

          Liked by 1 person

  22. My first reaction is — and I never say this — I need a drink!

    Whew. Those photographs are beyond gorgeous. I especially love Inle Lake. I picture Myanmar through a plum-colored prism anyway, so it spoke to me. All of them are intriguing.

    Next reaction is: glad it was you and not me. I am always anal, all the time. Everything has a binder labeled and date, with plastic sleeves to hold documents and ruled paper for hand notes. If I were to lose one for any project, I would probably have to be sedated.

    We once planned a trip from Puerto Rico where we were living at the time as we realized it was close to Trinidad/Tobago, why not add them? Then we saw that was close to Venezuela. Add it. Oh, Venezuela is just a stepping stone to Colombia where we could buy emeralds, then on to Mexico City. Ended up not going at all to any of them because the trip quickly escalated in size and cost. Ended up doing them separately over the years, but it seemed more efficient to do them at once. So, I relate.

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    • HA! I don’t think I’ve ever said: “I need a drink” either!! Although I may have actually needed one more than once. I do love that photo on Inle Lake also, those fishermen were so cool, rowing with their leg like that and fishing at the same time, and not getting any water in their boats!!
      I think I have to admire anyone who is anal all the time. You get things done, you do things, you make decisions. I need someone anal in my life.
      And right…too many places in too little time is just not worth doing it maybe?? I do want to get to Colombia…was it cool?

      Liked by 1 person

      • It was difficult. We did get a few emeralds, but paid too much getting them back into the country. My husband got sick the last day we were there and so the plane ride home and the following week were a nightmare. The Colombian people are warm and friendly, but not vegetarians and we saw some “food” being killed that ruined the trip for me. Never had that happen before. I don’t think I would go back for all those reasons, more circumstantial than substantive, if you know what I mean. The other countries were better, but I always, and I mean every single time, get sick in Mexico — nowhere else. I can’t return there either, not even to the resorts like Puerto Vallarta, where I got the sickest I have ever been in my life. Sigh!!

        Like

        • Yikes! I feel so lucky never to have gotten sick in Mexico…and I’ve spent a lot of time there. I lived there for two years once. I don’t know which I dislike more…losing something or getting sick on a trip. I think I’ll just pray for neither.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I was in India for two months, eating everything in sight. Never got sick. Lived in the Northeast of Brazil, poorest part of the country, including trips to the Amazon, never ever got sick. Lived in Puerto Rico, traveled in Morocco, Greece, every place in the Caribbean, never got sick. Mexico and I are incompatible, plain and simple. Too bad too, since I love the culture.

            Like

  23. Well… as long as you’re referring to footwear when you say ‘thong’, I’d say it coulda been worse. And after reading your itinerary and various SNAFUs, I now know why I prefer to stay in Canada and drive from one place to the other. Just reading your blog post wore me out!

    Like

    • RIGHT! Footwear! It could have been way worse is right. And I know…driving is one of my most favorite ways to travel. I’ve always wanted to drive all the way across Canada, that would be a cool trip. In summer.

      Like

      • Definitely not in winter! But I’d suggest May, June, or September. The weather is still good then, but most of the holiday travellers have gone back to work/school and the driving is much more enjoyable. Then again, I’m a freak – I love driving across the bald prairies for hours on end with several miles between cars. If you like a little more challenging drive, maybe summer would be just as good for you!

        Like

  24. Such suspense! But you always seem to land on your feet. I hate that feeling of despair when you realize something is lost and you no longer know the carefully planned ending of the story. I took an identical (EXACT) suitcase as mine out of baggage claim in Tokyo last year. Was about to get on the bullet train when I realized the bag wasn’t mine. The thing that tipped me off was an old, crinkled paper luggage tag. Luckily, it had the woman’s name and phone number on it — an American from the East coast. I called her as she was loading into a taxi with MY suitcase. She hadn’t noticed it wasn’t hers. Luckily she returned to the terminal and we swapped bags. Disaster averted and lesson learned. Btw, thanks for the shout out!!

    Like

    • Kelly…right, I do seem to land on my feet, and man am I glad about that. And that I don’t actually fall to far to begin with.
      Suitcase…you know, that’s funny. I have a kind of fear of doing just what you did. I try to buy bags that don’t look like others. One is green from REI. One is orange-ish. And I put a band around them to keep them from opening if something happens to the zipper, but also to identify them more easily.

      Like

  25. well I must say, you always show a girl a good time! great photos. ennkyed reading about your scare over documents…I never did get so I didn’t have to scramble through my bags. I always made a point of maintaing my cool sophisticated facade…like the time I dropped my ID on the conveyor leading into the xray machine and it came out down the line! couldnt get my backpack on once and some guy had to help me. Dropped my suitcase at the top of the big escalator and had to yell “look out” and a karate-chap did a whirl and caught the bag before it bowled over any riders. Ah those were the days. Amazed a whole 737 load of passengers when I ran down the ramp and knocked on the closed plane door…they opened it and I flipped my bag aboard. They had been holding the flight for me but I almost missed it. sigh… 🙂 I always LOVE your travel tales!

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  26. I will likely have more to add later about the experience – and laughing at organizational genes – ha!
    – and must comment on the photos- bf and the bags one is a tease – but cool. The fav is the window – with the different color shutter and curtain. such an artsy shot and so is the one with two bags on the green chairs and the row behind them. You have such an eye for things – and of course the art adds much -and then your nat geo shots – with some edit effects….
    oh and side note – I am linking a photo for your – ha! I read your comment about the donut box and laughed – I will reply to it later….
    ttys

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  27. I keep looking back through these photos so I can specifically compliment the ones that blew me away, but then I realized that was almost all of them! What a great trip, even with the heart-clenching discovery of the missing folder. I have known that fear many times, mainly because I am a planner and NEED to have all my ducks in a row, and also because I “lose” things in my purse or backpack with great regularity. I do use your method of always putting the same thing in the same compartment, but I still get messed up sometimes, especially going through security, where I feel a need to go faster than all the other dumb tourists (competitive? I think so). One day an employee in a sandwich shop at O’Hare made me sit down at a table, take a deep breath, then SLOWLY go through my purse for my boarding pass, which I of course found after frantically asking her if I’d left it at the counter. I’m getting off the topic of your blog here – oops – in summary, beautiful trip, beautiful photos, beautiful stories!

    Like

    • HA! I’m soooo glad I’m not the only who needs to operate a certain way…even if it’s not the same reason! And I wonder why we feel like we must get through Customs faster? For me, I don’t think it’s competitive. I think it’s more I simply cannot tolerate waiting in line…for anything. I love it when my bag is the first one, or the first few, off the airline conveyor belt at Baggage Claim.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. After reading the first few comments, it sounds like that Jaws music needs to be reserved for your WP posts. BTW, the wonderful WordPress Reader routinely seems to ignore your posts – at least on my devices. Have you considered also making a backup copy of your digital documents on a thumb drive or SD card and keeping that on your person?

    Like

    • What do you mean: “routinely seems to ignore your posts”? You don’t find me in the Reader? Under what category? Do you know if categories work like tags…for SEO’s? Or are tags and categories two different things?

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s the wonderful version of the WordPress Reader on Android that’s supposed to show me new posts under the “Followed Sites” that seems to have an aversion to your posts. I suspect it may really be nondiscriminatory and also ignores other followed blog posts. But I tend to notice yours because when it misses one or two, a couple of weeks can easily go by and I say to myself – what happen to BadFish? Then I have to search through Google for “bad fish” – work through all the food poisoning stories, finally finding your blog – and confirm that, yes, you have posted and I didn’t see it in the Reader. A long way to say, stuff don’t work right. Nottin’ to do with tags or SEO. But more on that to come.

        Like

        • Yikes! You really have to work to get to my stuff! I have a problem commenting from my orange bubble thingy to some other blogs, I have to go to their blog to comment. That’s not right either. I never actually understood how the Reader works. There’s too much stuff in there. Let me know when there’s a good story on food poisoning, or blowfish deaths.

          Liked by 1 person

      • For what it’s worth (usually very little coming from me), tags have little or nothing to do with SEO. My guess is that at least Google uses the post title when it indexes web pages. When a search is made, it pulls up matches based on the search words matching the title. It will then rank the matched pages based on how often they’ve been viewed. There’s probably a few other factors – like who pays the SEO to list their site first, and maybe tags or other metadata that might be embedded on the page. Other than the money factor, all the other stuff is good to have but not very relevant as the title word matches generally pull up a whole bunch of web pages before they get to us. Know what I mean?

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  29. BF, I think that most of us have had that “Oh Shit!” moment when in transit. Like you, I have everything in its spot, and I try, really try, to never deviate. When I do, I’m likely to misplace something, which leads to panic at some point. I see that you keep docs on your computer which is a great idea. But in addition to that, before we travel we scan all our docs – passports, credit cards, etix, hotel reservations, visas, letters, etc – and upload them to the cloud (we us Dropbox) so we can access them with a tablet or our laptop. Most airports have wifi, and in a pinch, a doc on your computer might get you through. We’ve never had a disaster, but it’s great peace of mind knowing that the docs are out there in the cloud. ~James

    Like

    • James…to be honest, I’d rather read about other people’s “oh, shit” moments. You know, I’ve never used the Cloud (I have Dropbox on my iPad…but don’t travel with it). Do you write your posts on your iPad? That would take me years to write.

      Like

      • BF, we’ve blogged on an iPad in the past, and decided it was just too much of a hassle. But, it was more of a software/app problem rather than the iPad itself. Now when we travel, we take an iPad as well as an 11in Macbook. This is easy because there’s two of us, so we each carry a piece of gear. And I’m a huge believer in Dropbox, at home and on the road. We upload a ton of stuff to it for convenience as well as in case of emergencies. With sensitive docs (credit cards, financial records, legal docs etc) we create password protected pdf files. It’s brilliant. You really need to check it out. ~James

        Like

        • Yeah…all good points. I’m a typer, so unless I have a keyboard that feels like a keyboard, it takes forever. I have a keyboard for the iPad, but if I’m going to carry that, I might just take the laptop. I haven’t discovered the wonders of an iPad yet. What do you use it for that you can’t use a laptop?
          I’m going to need a class for the cloud/dropbox stuff!!

          Like

          • The gear we take traveling is sort of a moving target, with the proviso that we keep it to a minimum. Because there are two of us, with a 11in laptop and iPad, we can both be online at once, and if we want to blog, we can (albeit with difficulty on the ipad). The ipad isn’t great for typing but works fine surfing the net, playing simple games (eg Sudoku), and especially reading Kindle books. As to Dropbox, we use it for docs we want to look at vs docs we want to work with. There are some format issues in WP docs that I’ve never worked out, so I just gave up on it. So we use Dropbox strictly for docs that we can convert to pdf files, which are great on Dropbox, and can be looked at on any computer or mobile device. This is tourist info, etix, copies of passports, credit cards, etc. The trick to learn is how to password protect the pdf so you don’t have to worry about security. As I said, it’s great peace of mind when traveling, especially if we’re on the road for a while. BTW, we can take this thread offline if you have specific questions, just shoot me an email at gallivance@gmail.com ~James

            Like

          • I’m still a bit untrusting to put my stuff into a cloud…even though there is password protection. I watch movies, I know hackers do stuff! Thanks for the info! It would be good to have all that info handy, you have to admit…I keep meaning to list my credit cards and numbers to call if lost. STill haven’t done that.
            I’ll keep your email in case I have questions down the line. Thanks again!

            Like

  30. Alls well that ends well! I have to admit when you spoke of your thong getting stuck I was trying to figure out how that could happen…then it was “Ohhh! SHOE thong! We call them slippas here! Ha! Did you visit the tiger temple then? What a horrific thing that has turned out to be!

    Like

  31. Gorgeous photos, Badfish. Love the one of the fisherman on the lake. I suppose all trips have some sort of drama to them, don’t they? You are of course quite resourceful, as you said ‘ seasoned traveller’ so it all seems to work out in the end.
    Love you writing – I had the soundtracks playing in my head whilst reading! 😀

    Like

  32. Oh Boy! Type-A nightmare! I am glad to hear you didn’t hurt yourself or get mugged or some terrible thing. But, knowing how important those packages of information can be I can only imagine the blood draining from your face and the sweat starting to form on your brow. I am so glad your plan B solved the problem. Whew!

    Like

  33. I’m happy that you didn’t accuse me of a conspiracy to kidnap your post, just because mine was empty too at the same time. Mine was simply the result of stupidity. Talking while fiddling with the iPhone in my hands, and don’t ask me how I ended up producing a post without looking at it. Hope not to master this unwanted and unguided skill.
    I can imagine your panic and the hassle to do a new post all over again. But I hope you used a previous edit.
    The photos are divine, really.
    I had to stare at each one of them

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry, it happened again. I posted while typing….I’m getting afraid of becoming a liability to blog land…
      Ok, the photos…divine.
      The narrative requires both a marketing and psychological analysis. From a marketing standpoint, you’ve been caught playing a branding trick, as you revealed yourself as a master planner and organizer as opposed to a procrastinator. From a psychological standpoint, you’ve reached a breakthrough moment and unlocked your real GoodFish!
      Wow! I’m impressed with myself now. I’m sending an invoice to you for the diagnosis. And don’t try to pay with money from Myanmar! Xx
      Great post, again.

      Like

    • You posted from your phone? I don’t know how people even send texts from their phone…and use their thumbs.
      I did use a previous edit, but I didn’t know you could until I discovered it that day…after a tiny bit of freaking out.

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      • Lucile, you are NEVER a liability to Blogland. In fact, Blogland is just never the same when you go away to do this little thing called ‘life’.
        and credit where credit is due, Badfish. I told you to look in your drafts! I ( and one other) was witness to the Mysterious Case of the Incredibly Missing Post.
        Lutje, YOUR post went missing at the same time as Badfish’s..?? … mysteriouser and mysteriouser… I blame it on the Ghost of Elvis, frankly.
        and texting on phones — geez its a headache. i make so many typos. typing with thumbs?? that sounds like something from a burlesque acrobatic show. Are people really that dextrous?
        Come to Venice, Lucille. It’s just down the road from Amsterdam!:)

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  34. Goodness Gracious Green! 213 comments! You’re a rock star, Dude!
    That aside, I still need to go through and read, as I was captivated by the photos, and just kept scrolling to see the next, and the next.

    I’m tentative to find out what the disaster in Bangkok was. But I’ll push through no matter how bad it turns out to be.

    I will return because I know the treasure in your words will keep me riveted, and I find it necessary to give it the time needed to ingest all your truths. If I should get stuck half way down the mountain – Everest pales in comparison to Mount Badfish!

    Hugs,
    Fim

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just so you know…”disaster” is always relative, you understand. And for me–hope I’m not spoiling the ending–it was a short-lived disaster, but potent for that time!

      Like

  35. “I’m so low key and such a master procrastinator”

    Where can I sign up for this Master Class? I’m PFG at procrastinating… Really, might be near ‘Master’ status, but I still have some things to learn.

    “Speed travel is not my usual style of travel”

    Why is it that dating comes to mind?

    “that’s why I land in five countries in 16 days.”

    You’re just trying for the Guiness Book of Records. Admit it.

    Planning: A year ago, I made all these plans, made all these reservations, figured out if I’d make it back in time to pick up my meds before they were returned and I’d have to have the script filled all over again… It was actually fun. Not because I was being organized, or any such silly thing like that. But because I got to study maps, and follow the New England Brick Road, finding new ways of getting from here to there, to the next place, and so on. So I’m all ready, and as Murphy’s Law would have its way with me, I get slammed with the need for a root canal. ALL that work, down the drain in ONE flush! Then I remembered the days of just getting in my car and driving, and figuring I’d find a place along the way to sleep, eat, and gas up. So the upshot of it is, doing the planning is for that part of me that like to do that, without having to follow through. Getting up and driving off toward what may be, may be, is the way to travel.

    BUT I do realize that there’s a whole lot of difference between travel in this country where no passports are needed to go from one state to the next, and everything is all connected, except for Hawaii, Alaska, and some off shore tropical islands in both oceans.

    In the end, it’s better to be yourself, and not try to be what the rest of the world is trying to make you become. IMOSHO

    ” I have no plan. I have umpteen options, I’m having difficulty making choices. Again. (note to self: research if this is a symptom of Adult ADD, insanity, early-onset something, just laziness?)”

    You worry too much. And I’m pretty sure, like with the insanity option here, if you can ask the question whether you are, then you’re not. Truly.

    I made it to the end! I feel like that commercial, only inserting reading for eating: I CAN’T BELIEVE I READ THE WHOLE THING, in one sitting….

    But I’ll tell you this, from reading that: I’ve just decided it’s way better to just stay home. In fact, I’m waiting for that movie to come to Netflix. You travel, I enjoy. Easy Peasy.

    Now I need to take a xanax and go to bed. I’m exhausted.

    More Hugs,

    Fim

    Liked by 1 person

    • Speed dating is not speed travel…but I’m in. On the road in a car…I NEVER make plans, not even the route, especially not where I’ll stop. That’s just gruesome. And right…just stay home, no fuss, no muss, no worries, no running out of meds. Thanks for the hugs!!

      Like

  36. I typed “Bangkok” into the search option on WordPress and this came up first. I must have missed it this summer when I didn’t have internet. You had me cracking up. That is way to much planning for me and I plan quite a bit!

    Liked by 1 person

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