Monday, November 14, 2016

How Not To Write A Travel Blog

Okay, I am going to try and blog my adventures in Vietnam and Cambodia.  Try is the key word here because I have no idea how to write a travel blog OR if I will even have enough internet access to make it worth it.  I will have a journal with me so maybe if I don’t have any internet, I can still write a few blog posts when I get home.

Journal my parents bought me for the trip

Why am I even going to Vietnam and Cambodia?  Well - I will write that blog tomorrow so stay tuned.  This blog will just be about my itinerary.

16 November 2016 - I leave Denver at 7:05 pm on United flight UA12 arriving in LAX (Los Angeles, California) at 8:36pm.  This is my shortest flight of the trip with a 2 hour 32 minute flight time and I gain an hour with the time change.  I then have a 3 hour and 29 minute layover.

17 November 2016 - I don't have a very long Thursday in my future.  My flight from LAX to HND (Tokyo, Japan) leaves at 12:05 am but crosses the International Date Line ending my Thursday very prematurely.  I land in Tokyo after a 12 hour and 20 minute flight on a Boeing 777-300ER airplane.  I hear these don't have in the seat entertainment but I am hoping that report is wrong.  I am bringing my iPad just in case.  This flight is UA7983 operated by Nippon Airways.

18 November 2016 - I land in Tokyo at 5:25am on Friday after skipping Thursday while in the air.  I can only hope I sleep most of the 12 hours it takes to get there.  I then have a 3 hour and 30 minute layover to find some good sushi and a beer before my next and last flight getting to Vietnam.  My flight to Hanoi leaves at 8:55am and will be on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner operated by Nippon Airways.  This flight, UA7917, is in the air 6 hours and 15 minutes landing in Hanoi at 1:10pm with a 2 hour time change. 

Heather is already in Vietnam as a part of her Executive MBA program and plans to meet me at the airport on a scooter to shuttle me back to the hotel with my gear and then we hit the streets of Hanoi for a food tour eating as much street food as we can.  Actually, this is all we have planned all weekend - eat, sleep, and we have a massage to schedule somewhere in there. We will rent scooters to get us around and hopefully we can get to some wild places to look for snakes and other critters as well.

21 November 2016 - We check out of our hotel and catch a private bus to Halong Bay where we will rent a private "junk" boat for a few days.  Halong Bay is known for its thousands of limestone spires towering out of emerald green water.  Most of the islands cannot be accessed so we should see 1000's of birds and hopefully a snake or two while gorging on fresh seafood at every meal.  I haven't researched much of this part of our trip since Heather planned it but I have a feeling that is will be a magical place to visit despite the name of the boats. 

24 November 2016 - Heather and I will head back to Hanoi for one last attack on the food and culture of northern Vietnam.  We haven't planned our hotel yet but we may just have to splurge on a honeymoon suite somewhere and schedule another spa day.

25 November 2016 - Heather flies out to return home to our boys and this is where my solo adventure begins.  I board Jetstar Pacific flight BL 785 at 3:30pm and fly 2 hours and 5 minutes to Ho Chi Minh City where I will get picked up at the airport and dropped off at the Beautiful Saigon Hotel.  I chose to pay extra for the ride to the hotel because I really didn't want to waste time trying to figure out what bus to take without speaking a single word of Vietnamese.  I think I made a wise choice here.  I wanted to do my solo adventure as cheaply as possible but when I was researching the cheaper hotels, I learned a lot about the "extras" that often come with these hotels and I don't just mean the bed bugs.  After a night in Ho Chi Minh City, my adventure begins!

26 November 2016 - I board a Giant Ibis bus that will take me west into Cambodia after a quick stop at the border to get my entry visa.  It takes about 6 hours and 30 minutes to get to Phnom Penh and I booked a window seat so I can absorb the country side onto my video memory cards.  I am taking almost 500 gigabytes of memory for all my cameras and I hope that is enough.  Once is Phnom Penh, I will check into the Billabong Hotel and then head out on foot exploring.  I won't have much time in the capitol of Cambodia but I will have a few hours to see what I can find.  

27 November 2016 - I haven't booked my bus ride west yet but I hope the hotel will point me in the right direction.  I need to get on a bus headed west to Koh Kong but then tell the driver by pointing at a map that I need to get off at Andoung Teuk - a small village on the banks of the Preak Piphot River.  Once in Andoung Teuk, I make my way to the river and get on a boat that will take me upstream for about 2 hours to Chi Phat.  Chi Phat is a community based on the conservation of the Cardamom Mountain ecosystem.  Once in Chi Phat, I will check into the ecolodge, schedule my adventure for the next 4 days, and then find a cold beer.  

28 November 2016 - This is where I will lose contact with the outside world.  I have booked a 4 day trip into the forests of the Cardamom Mountains with a guide and a cook.  Each day, the guide and myself will explore the forests and end up each afternoon at a shelter with hammocks and mosquito netting.  We will look for wild elephants, tigers, dholes (wild dogs), leopards, and pangolins in addition to a wide assortment of primates.  Well - the guide will be looking for those things but I will be focused on finding as many snakes as I possibly can.  I am not going on a 4 day hike without flipping logs, raking through muck, and shining trees at night for snakes.  This is an opportunity for me to see snakes that I have only read and dreamed about.  Reticulated pythons, green cat snakes, flying snakes (YES - flying snakes!), and king cobras are all possibilities.  

Field guide I am taking with me on my trip
I am preparing myself for this extended snake hike by reviewing photos and natural histories of snakes that may occur in Cambodia.  There are no field guides or range maps specific to Cambodia so this is a huge challenge for me.  I typically like to look at range maps as I study for a snake trip but I have been reduced to just looking at pictures and then a huge guess of where a species may occur in Cambodia.  This is okay with me because every snake I see will be something new to me regardless of what it is.  I do have a field guide for the region but it isn't much help with what just occurs Cambodia.

This is my first real snake adventure that I will be solely focused on video.  That is right, I am leaving my big digital cameras at home and headed out with just my video cameras.  It feels really weird not to pack the digital cameras but I am very excited for the educational opportunities that video bring to me, Cambodia, and the Center for Snake Conservation. I will create videos for the Chi Phat community to use when spreading their message of conservation of the Cardamom Mountains. 

The equipment I plan on taking with me to capture video of snakes in Cambodia

2 December 2016 - I begin a reverse journey through Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City to arrive in Hanoi in the early afternoon on December 3rd.  I won't bore you with the details as I did getting to Chi Phat but I ultimately arrive back in Denver on December 5th in the early afternoon.  I do have an extended layover in Tokyo where I hope to rent one of those tiny hotel rooms just for the experience.

This is just a short run down of my itinerary that will get expanded as I write down my adventures.  I am incredibly blessed to have the opportunity of a honeymoon with Heather (what else do you call trip with no kids to a luxury hotel with a spa day, scooter rides around northern Vietnam sampling food, and a private junk boat trip?  It can only be called a honeymoon) and then a solo adventure in a remote area in Cambodia searching for snakes and other critters.  It took me a very long time to get excited about this trip but I am fully there now!  I am so ready for this!

No comments:

Post a Comment