Monday, October 23, 2006

Next Big Trip

Well, I guess I should confess...Melody and I are getting ready to go on our next travel adventure. The past couple of times, we've either gone on a cruise, or gone home to the US. This time, since we're here in Asia, we're headed for one of the true wonders of the world...Angkor Wat.

I figured that between a 10 day Carribean cruise for our honeymoon, and a 10 day Tahiti cruise for our first anniversary, I've invested enough capital to get Melody to go on something a little more rustic, and a little more like I traveled before getting married when I would strike off to parts unknown, with a loose plan, a light pack, and enough money to last for a few weeks.

The trip is an overland trip...think backpacking and taking local transport, and you'll be right on. While it involves meeting up with a bunch of strangers and then traveling for an extended period of time together, it's a little different than the one I took in 1999 to Morocco, as there's no dedicated vehicle that we'll all ride around in. Instead, it's all buses, trucks and boats. No tuxedos, champagne and Lobster Thermidor this time. Just bugs, backpacks, and boats. Of course, we will be staying at the Raffles The Plaza in Singapore on the way a reward for Melody's willingness to try this out.

For some pictures of the trip by a guy works for the company (Imaginative Traveller) and who did the same trip, click here. It's the "Majestic Angkor" trip by Imaginative Traveller.

The trip starts in Bangkok, Thailand, goes on to spend a few days in Cambodia at Angkor Wat, then on to Phnom Penh, and finally on to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Vietnam. After that, Melody and I will fly to Singapore for a few days of "R&R" in a bit less rustic setting before coming home to Japan. Another plus is that our good friend Lori will be coming on the trip with us.

I've been delaying talking about the trip, as it originates in Thailand, and, with the coup and all, I didn't really want to worry people. Also, I guess I didn't want to say too much too early, lest something happen to keep the trip from coming off. That almost happened with the coup, as the Army decided that it's not safe for us to go there on leave. Since the trip starts in Bangkok, it was almost derailed.

Allow me a brief rant, if I may...

Here I am, 15 years (over 20 if you count the West Point and National Guard time) in the "management of violence" career field, and it's "too dangerous" to go someplace that the Navy and the Air Force think that it's OK to visit. I mean, come on! If the Air Force is letting their people go (and everyone knows what a bunch of weenies (no disrespect intended...just good natured service rivalry) those guys are...), why not the Green Machine, the US Army? Sheesh...

Anyhow, as I alluded to above, the trip almost didn't go. In order for us to go on leave overseas, we have to put together a rather large packet of paperwork. Leave form, a memorandum requesting overseas leave, official messages to embassies, and a detailed force protection plan with such information as where you're going, how you'll get there, how you'll get around while there, where the embassies are, where the nearest hospital is, how to call the whole packet is about 30 pages long.

So, by the time I finish all that, there's a coup in Thailand. Something that happens with surprising regularity there, but without the bloodshed (usually) that normally accompanies such transitions of power. But, in spite of that fact, and the fact that our tour is going on as normal, they (yes, the proverbial they) decided that it's too dangerous to go, and throwing a wrench into my plans (though, ironically, not Melody's). At the last minute, just before going on TDY to Osaka a couple of weeks ago, I had to go over to the travel agent and change all of our flight plans so that I wouldn't go through Thailand. So, Lori and Melody will go and join our group in Bangkok, and I will fly to Singapore, and then on to Cambodia to meet them there a day or so into the trip.

It was just a bit frustrating, but will ultimately work out for the best (I guess...). I'll spend a day in Singapore and will be able to get a feel for the place before coming back there withe Melody later on.

So, hopefully all will go well, and nothing will fall through and keep us from going...we've got a lot invested in it so far, so I think we're pretty much good to go (knocking on wood...). Only about 2 weeks and we'll be headed out.

Wish us luck, and we'll be posting photos as soon as possible after the trip's complete (and maybe during as well, depending on internet access).

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