Why SE Asia Again? - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

November 13, 2023

Why SE Asia Again?

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Normally we do not take trips back to back two winters in a row but we suddenly realized we aren't getting younger!  I have no idea why.  But, with that realization came that age-old question; If not now, when?  As this winter descends we find we're still healthy so why not do another bike trip where it's warm.  

I've been getting nervous that my stash of little hotel soaps is running drastically low.  That's reason enough to go 8000 miles away right there!  And then there is my shrinking pile of little sanitized plastic bags that are placed over drinking glasses in hotel rooms. Obviously I need more!   I use them to store cut-open onions in the fridge.  They are perfect onion-size bags.   I'm horrified that I only have a few left.  The bags, of course, state, "Sanitized for your protection." which makes me laugh every time I put an onion in one of them.  Strangely, it makes me feel more secure that my cut open onion will be fine.

Heart 5 Comment 2
Steve Miller/GrampiesOpening these, often with wet hands, is usually beyond me. Then I wish that the head of whatever awful company that made the thing would come and actually try using it.
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3 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Steve Miller/GrampiesHa, yes, so true!
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3 months ago
Wait, these weren't on drinking glasses in hotel rooms! But they still work for onions. And, as you can see, I am running low.
Heart 7 Comment 0

I mean, these are good reasons to go back to SE Asia aren't they?

So, yes, we have decided to return to SE Asia for a fifth bike adventure, this time landing in Saigon, a city we have never visited.  When we were in Vietnam in 2016 -This Time Tomorrow- we avoided Saigon because we had heard it was a nightmare to ride a bike into or out of.  After a few days of sightseeing in Saigon we will find a way to ride out of it and onto the vast Mekong River Delta to see some places we did not see last time.  After that, we will head west following the Mekong upstream into Cambodia.  That's as far as we have "planned" but we know we will have to end up in Bangkok for our flight home on February 15, 2024.  An 88 day trip and the number 88 is auspicious, Asians believe.  We didn't plan that but there it is!

Other auspiciousness?  I conjure up good omens wherever I can, such as when the doctor administering my latest Covid vaccine said he was from Saigon.  As he looked over my paperwork he said, "Oh, we have the same birthday!"  I responded, "Same year too?"  He laughed and shook his head no.  Then he laughed some more.  He laughed a little bit too much I thought.  I was joking!  I knew he wasn't the same age as I am but I didn't expect all that laughing! 

When I was putting my shirt back on I told him I would say hello to Saigon for him.  He didn't say anything but he had a most curious expression on his face, like a combination of wonder and remembering something long ago.  But the line was long and his next patient was sitting down.  So many people in this country who are from Saigon have had experiences I can't even begin to imagine.  His was written in an expression on his face for a moment. 

And then, when I was having my annual physical just a few days ago I had a doctor I had never been to before because my regular doctor was too busy.  He, too, was from Saigon!  I just think it's a little bit odd that these Saigon coincidences have occurred recently, right before we go there.  I'm taking them as good omens.

People have asked us why we want to return to the same place (SE Asia) for yet another bike trip.  The short answer is that our trips have all been about 85% new territory each time so we are not exactly going to the same place.  Yes, there are a few towns we have returned to because we love them but even in those places we find new things, new people, make new friends and generally have a great new time.  

We have also witnessed an interesting phenomenon in SE Asia; things change incredibly quickly.   I've never known anywhere else that changes as rapidly.  Buildings, businesses, streets, entire towns have changed drastically.   Temples are renovated while others are ignored and become more dilapidated and with the tropical climate, to become dilapidated doesn't take long.  

These were guest house bungalows probably only a year earlier.
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I know one of Buddhism's essential doctrines is impermanence which might be why the people of SE Asia don't seem concerned about drastic change.  There is an acceptance and understanding that everything changes and nothing lasts forever.  Everything from our emotions to our thoughts and feelings, from the cells in our bodies to all the plants, everything is changing and decaying continuously.  If that doesn't make a person want to jump on their bike while they still can, I don't know what will!  

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So, even if we do return to the same place it can be very different from the way we remember it just a few years earlier.   Generally, though, we map out completely new routes because there is so much to explore and discover everywhere in the world.  We happen to love (and can afford) the part of the world which is SE Asia.

A few months ago while having coffee with Scott I posed the question of Andrea and myself going on another bike trip.  Scott simply responded, "I think you should go."  

Bottom line; I do whatever Scott Anderson says.

lovebruce  

Rate this entry's writing Heart 21
Comment on this entry Comment 8
Steve Miller/GrampiesI would concur, following Scott's sage advice is generally wise. Go for it.
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3 months ago
Gregory GarceauThe Feeshko is to little shampoo bottles as Boof is to little bars of soap. The sanitized onion keepers are right up MY alley, though. I'm sure you two will have a blast on this trip.
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3 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Gregory GarceauI totally forgot to mention all my little shampoo bottles! I knew there was some other reason to return to Asia.
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3 months ago
Jen RahnNow I understand why you're starting out with less weight and leaving the giant roll of duct tape at home.

You need space for little soaps and shampoos!

What a bonus that the onion bags don't weigh much. They just take up space.

I don't recall your prior journals including a count of these little treasures.

Would you consider recording the occasional running total here?
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3 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Jen RahnI'll have to consider this. I certainly don't want people to start thinking I'm strange.
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3 months ago
Rachael AndersonI’m with you Bruce. I collect soap, shampoo and glass wrappers but I use them to keep leftovers in. I’m so glad you are going to SE Asia again! My motto is do it while you can!
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3 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Rachael AndersonYes, that's sort of my motto too. The best way to celebrate good health is to get out there.
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3 months ago
Kat MarrinerBon Voyage! I wonder what the hotel cleaning staff think you do with the bags when they discover the sanitary bags missing and needing to resupply the room? I hope they make up really good stories about you two bicycle-riding characters! Wrapping onions in Portland is certainly not on the list of options, which makes it even better!
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3 months ago