18 November 2013

Catching up...

Just finishing up another birthday... that the high point was getting some work done on the four-plus hour flight to Philly for work tells you what kind of day it was. The good news is that now I've completed my 60th lap around the sun, I'm looking forward to the upcoming year and especially this trip! 

Since it's been a while since my last post, there are a few updates to the preparation... I leave in 11 days...

Yesterday found me at T-Mobile, where I bought an Android phone and signed up for their $50 per month unlimited text and data, plus 20 cents per call back to the US or anywhere. The phone also does Wi-Fi calling for free—without using Skype or similar programs.  They offer service in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, so I'll be able to stay in contact a bit more than I'd thought... though I will most likely keep it turned off most of the time. It's about options...

Update on T-Mobile: They gave me a phone that doesn't f-ing work! After 35 minutes on the phone with "Tech Support", they decided that I have a bad SIM card... in a two-day old phone!!! Three days later, I received the new SIM card—and after another 40 minutes on the phone with Tech Support, they finally got it working. So far, I'm less than impressed with T-Mobile...

In addition to the SPOT Connect and associated Search & Rescue insurance coverage, I have a policy with Global Rescue that will get me back to the US (by air ambulance, if necessary), should I need it. As my good friend Nancy reminded me again on the phone tonight, this is a LOT more prep than I ever would've considered in my 20's... probably because I realize that I'm not bulletproof. Or is it that I'm no longer bulletproof?

Nope, never was. I have the scars and calcium deposits to prove it...

After enjoying a few YouTube videos others made on motorcycle adventures, I purchased a lightly-used Go Pro Hero 3 Black Edition camera on eBay and a few half-off accessories at a local motorcycle shop, including an extended-life battery. It does both HD video and stills; comes in a waterproof case; and mounts to the bike or helmet or just about anywhere. 

While reading a few trip blogs, I learned that, although many get by without one, it's best to have a Vietnamese driver's license. I bought a $10 ebook on maneuvering through the bureaucratic morass: Expats-Getting-Vietnamese-Motorcycle-Licence-ebook and before I got around to reading it, I read How to be legitimate in Vietnam by Chris at Flamingo Travel ( After a bit of correspondence about the license and various bikes, I sent him my documents yesterday. For $120, he'll have my Vietnam driver's license for me when I arrive. That's worth it to avoid the week of dealing with the bureaucracy, running around, and waiting I'd get to endure if I did it myself.

Chris will also get first shot at selling me a bike from his shop in Ho Chi Minh City. His main shop is in Hanoi, so if I am unable to find a suitable bike in HCMC, I now have another optiontake a one-way rental from HCMC to Hanoi where there is a much greater selection from Chris and many others.

If you decide to buy a bike anywhere, there's a site called Cycle Ergonomics that will show you how you'll sit on just about any bike there is. The good news is that it looks like I'll be able to get comfortable on either the Suzuki 125 or the Honda 110. I'd love to buy a 175 or a 250, but they're hard to come by and anything bigger than a 175 draws too much attention from the policeand may not be allowed back in-country.

This brings us to Space-saving Folding Techniques. It claims that rolled clothes take up less space than folded clothes. Although I've heard this before, I'm still not convinced. I do believe Adrienne, who told me last week that once you have everything set aside for your trip, take out half. Use the space to bring home clothes, artwork, and more. Sounds like a plan!

1 comment:

  1. Good advice from Adrienne. I shall try the 'rolled clothes' and 'removing half' ideas on my next trip. Thank you for the post, John.