Goodbye Laos, Hello Cambodia

We had a free hour and a half before we left for the airport, so I flagged down a man driving his truck in front of our hotel. He agreed to drive us around Luang Prabang for an hour for $15.00. But first, we had to stop off to deliver eggs and vegetables to a local store.


Here I am with our friendly driver.
Mike wasn’t feeling adventurous but my new friend Caroline was rarin to go. (Nancy, meet your new friend).
Check out the boards on the walkway, not the most secure…but the view of the Mekong was so worth it!

We climbed Phusi Hill, but didn’t have time to make it up to the top (all 350+steps) because we were running out of time. We got about 3/4 of the way up and figured we’d better not miss the bus to the airport.

We DID catch some unusual sights along the way. Any future Road Scholars travelers reading this, a quick spin around the city in the back of a truck in the early morning is a great way to travel!

I always wanted to mount a Naga, and this one looked agreeable.
This is a Chinese Buddha. How can I tell? He is fat and smiling. The Thai and Lao Buddhas a thin and serious.
And now some views from the hill.
Those orange dots in the distance are monks that have just crossed the bamboo bridge.
The last image of the day…our bathroom, with the huge tub and no shower curtain. It made showering an adventure. I was glad I brought my bath oil!

Packing for a Six Week Asian Adventure

As I mentioned in an earlier post, our Asian Adventure will be our longest trip, both in weeks away and in flight time.  Packing for six weeks felt more than slightly overwhelming, so I decided to reframe my thinking.  Instead, I packed for TWO weeks, something I have done many times.  I reminded myself that there IS such a thing as hand washing in hotel sinks and/or laundry service.

I also needed to make sure I have enough toys in my carry on to keep me sane during our 20 hours in the air. I think I have it covered with my iPad and a paperback.

Normally I use a backpack as my carry on; it has just enough room for my camera, money, “toys” and snacks.  I usually don’t pack a change of clothes,  but we only have a one hour layover in Korea, so to lower my anxiety level, I’m taking a “real” carry on.  That way, I can  include some essentials,  just in case we get separated from our checked bags.

Checked luggage

  • 3 lightweight long pants (including one in carry on and one to wear on plane),  3 long skirts, 1 dress.  Asians dress more formally, so I am leaving shorts and capris at home.
  • 6 short sleeve shirts ( 2 in carry on), 4 long sleeve shirts to protect against mosquitoes (one will be worn on plane.)  No tanks or sleeveless tops.
  • 2 belts, sun hat, 1 scarf, 1 alpaca wrap, cheap jewelry (the only kind I own)
  • 1 Bathing suit, a bathing cap (Yes, I actually own such a thing to minimize the amount of chlorine in my hair), 1 cover up (doubles as bathrobe), 1 sarong, flip-flops
  •  2 sandals, 1 flats (I’ll wear my Merrill’s on the plane)
  • 2 pajamas (1 in carry on)
  • 7 changes of underwear, 6 socks (2 changes in carry on)
  • Lightweight rain jacket with hood (no umbrella needed), fleece, sweater for cool nights in Vietnam –these will all be worn to the airport, and if weight and space allow, will be stashed in luggage before it is checked.

There you have it–my entire wardrobe for 6 weeks.

Also in my checked luggage:

  • Electrical adaptor
  • hair dryer, brush and comb
  • Toiletries:  toothpaste & brush, floss, shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, deodorant, razor, tweezers, scissors, kleenex
  • Sun screen, insect repellant, body lotion, baby powder
  • flash light
  • Materials for Global Volunteers work (photos, books, index cards, chalk, teaching aids-these are the heaviest items)
  • Starbucks Via.   I learned about these single serving packets of instant coffee from another blogger so decided to stock up,  just in case we need an early morning jolt.
  • my backpack
  • elastic bands, extra zip lock bags, a couple of packs of woolite
  • my medical stuff: band-aids, z-pack, Imodium, Neosporin, Advil.  I read somewhere that Asian diets are low in fiber, so fiber capsules were recommended.  We never needed them before, but there was room in the luggage, so what the heck.

Carry On

  • Credit card, bank card, local currency, singles
  • Passport, passport photos for visas, immunization card, global entry card
  • Etickets, travel info, notebook, pencil & pens
  • Camera, batteries, charger, photo cards and camera bag
  • Ipad and bose headset, cell phone
  • Water bottle and holder
  • “Comfort kit” (ear plugs, tiger balm, gum, cough drops, tissues, eye shade, sleep aid, airborne, wipes)
  • Glasses and case;
  • Paperback book
  • Snacks
  • Emergency contact list
  • Clothes listed above and change of clothes for Mike.  (He did his own packing–I don’t meddle.)
  • extra toothbrush and paste
  • Fanny pack and “Neck Wallet”

Believe it or not, it all fit.  Here’s what the packed bags and plane wardrobe looks like:


I used lots of gallon zip lock bags and a packing cube to keep things organized.

In my never-ending quest to pack “smart” and to share what I have learned, upon return,  I will fess up to any items that I brought but didn’t need, and will also list anything that I didn’t have but wished that I had.

Only 72 hours till lift off.  Fellow travelers–have I forgotten anything???

Asian Adventure – Phase One

Only three weeks until Mike and I embark on our Asian Adventure.  This trip will be a bunch of firsts for us:

  • It is the longest trip we have ever taken, both in time away (6 weeks) and in distance (12 time zones).
  • It is our first real trip to Asia. ( I don’t count a couple of days in Turkey, back in 2001, as an actual visit to that enormous continent, although technically it was, for those that count such things).
  • it will be our longest flight ever–20 hours total, with only one stop, in South Korea.  I am NOT looking forward to sitting on a plane all that time.
  • it is actually four different travel experiences wrapped into one trip.  We will be on our own for four days in Bangkok until we join a Road Scholar tour.  When that tour ends, Mike and I will explore Vietnam for five days, with a guide and driver.   Finally,  I spend the last two weeks working with Global Volunteers in Hanoi, and Mike heads  home.

I’m not sure how easy it will be to get internet access, so I figured I’d created a trip map before leaving home.  If you are really into it, you can click on the blue letters to get to the site.  You can then click on the different stops to learn more about each location and, as a special bonus, what the numbers on the map mean.


All of the tricky logistics are being handled by Road Scholar, during our Journey Into the Heart of Asia. (And yes, clicking on those blue letters will get you more information about Road Scholar AND the specifics of the trip.)  Although I am enough of a control freak to want to do my own flight arrangements to and from the United States, I am more than happy to turn over all other transportation details to the pros.

The private tour that Mike and I are taking after the end of the Road Scholar trip is being arranged by Ann Tours.  Ann Tours was created by Ann Tran in 1989 as an attempt to locate her two sons, from whom she had become separated in 1975 during the fall of Saigon.  Ann hoped that her travel agency would bring her in contact with enough Americans that eventually  someone would know something about Tony and Tim.  In 1991 an American traveler found one son’s name in a California phone book.  Mother and sons were soon reunited, with Tony now in Vietnam, arranging tours.  I love a happy ending–isn’t it nice to know they don’t just happen in movies?

About the title of this blog:
Phase One is what I call the planning part of any trip we take.  Once the logistics are squared away, it is time to learn about the places we are visiting.  I’ve been reading books and blogs, checking out Trip Advisor  and Fodors.  Knowledge is meant to be shared.  So  sisters, mi hermana preferida, cousins, friends (and anyone else who wants to play along)  here is a little quiz to get you started on this educational extravaganza:

1. What city is in two continents–Europe and Asia?

2. What country in Southeast Asia was never ruled by a European power?

3. True or false:  In Thailand, all Buddhist males become monks for a period of time, to earn merit for their families.

4.  What would you rather have:  a thousand Bhats, a million Dongs or fifty Dollars?

5. What was the country of Thailand known as before 1939?