As I am kept awake by the sound of the driving rain, my dreams of filling our new raised garden with its first layer of sand are fleeting. With only two more sleeps to go before I leave for my South East Asian experience I have an urgency to complete lists of seemingly necessary jobs.
It is only 5am and I succumb to restlessness and leave the comfort and warmth of my bed to blog. The bravado of planning the Asian getaway rapidly dilutes with anxiety as the date of departure looms closer. What started out as an easy fun adventure seems more like a character building challenge as I contemplate yahooing across foreign soil in previously unchartered territories with only a girlfriend and carryon luggage as company.
The nine months of planning will be put to the test. It seemed like an excellent idea to take only a small amount of luggage to avoid check in queues and cumbersome trappings and a bold and mature statement to rid ourselves of all material evils like matching bags and shoes. Packing lightly in an attempt to relive the feeling of youth where you had and needed little and travelled simply on a wing and a prayer, we have decided to hit the ground running in Ho Chi Minh City and outfit ourselves in the local attire and blend into the sea of seven million locals. As well as one can blend with Western blond highlights and sapphire blue eyes (Karen).
After a flurry of farewell dinners and good riddance lunches there are only a few more things to attend to. Like, collect our tickets, *visas and passports, repack one last time, lay out the travelling outfit and fret over the unlikely cavity search I may or may not receive as a result of travelling lightly to Vietnam/Cambodia as two Western women with only carryon luggage for 11 days!.Dup!
*Visas for entry to China and Vietnam still being processed somewhere in NZ as a result of an oversight by the travel agent. Not to worry, bureaucracy be damned.
The itinerary has been meticulously planned and rehashed commencing with an 11 day whistle stop tour of the killing fields and China beach. In one of the two pairs of shoes packed, we shall be collected by car from our hotel and whizzed about door to door to witness the hot spots and highlights of Vietnam and Cambodia. Domestic air travel will be involved at intervals. After having custom made suits of every description and fabric fitted to our bodies in Ha Noi and having ridden yet to be found and booked elephants in Cambodia, we shall then jet our way to Hong Kong for some serious retail therapy. Many more shoes will be purchased as we up the ante and shake free our adventurous spirit as we enter the confines of the internationally acclaimed 5 star Peninsula Hotel for three nights. As we dust off the filth of war torn villages and step into the air conditioned luxury of Chinese shopping malls, all bets will be off and the thoughts of repetitive outfit wearing syndrome only a distant memory.
After shopping till we drop we then wing it to China to drop in on the wall. With over five thousand kilometres in width of country to explore, we decided we couldn’t do it justice on our time frame and have settled on two nights in Beijing. I have booked a cycling tour of the CBD in a bid to orienteer around at speed the areas of note. We shall spin around Teananmen Square, skid into the Forbidden city and generally make a nuisance of ourselves on wheels. The next day we shall test our mettle yet again on said bikes as we embark on an eight hour cycling tour to the Great Wall. We shall thumb our noses to the city and cycle out to one area of the Great wall, climb up on foot (and hands if required), survey the vast lands, nosh on local delicacies and then cycle home, spent on fresh air and sporting saddle sores after eight hours in the seat.
We then return to NZ on my 44th birthday where I shall make a meal of it in transit and then do it all again in NZ as we arrive first thing in the morning. This could be my last entry for a while as I shall be far too busy doing it instead of writing it.