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There are 274 blog entries within the category of Blog Entry

My Retirement Video
August 7th, 2017 | View Post
Dave and I were messing around with his amazingly badass new drone in his backyard and happened to shoot this quick video. After adding some Simon and Garfunkle to it, I realized that it pretty perfectly encapsulated the beginning of my mid-life, pre-world-adventure retirement.

It may also resemble the ending of a Wes Anderson movie; unclear.

Round-the-World Map
August 6th, 2017 | View Post
I put together this little map of the trips that I'm planning to take over the next many months. If you click on the map and then view the original you'll be able to see some of the country and city labels that I've added.

A map of the world as I plan to travel it (full screen view).

The short of it is that the first phase of my trip involves a 6-week expedition to Southeast Asia. Specifically I am planning to visit Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, and Laos. I'd like to visit Malaysia and Burma too, but I'm not sure I'll have the time to do all of that. Upon returning home from that trip I will be departing for Barcelona Spain to join my dear friend Ben. He and I will be flying to Málaga, Spain and then driving to Gibraltar, sailing across the Straight of Gibraltar into Morocco, and then driving most of Morocco. I then fly from Marakesh to India, then from India to Nepal, and then hopefully will make a short stopover in Istanbul before returning home for the American holidays.

For the third phase of my trip I am planning a camper van tour of western and eastern Europe. For the fourth phase of my trip I will be doing the same kind of expedition throughout South America. The final expedition will involve a number of island nations that I have wanted to visit and with any luck will include cruises to both Alaska and Antarctica.

I think if I can pull all of that off within a year or so I will have pretty successfully seen the vast majority of the world, tasted the best of the world's cuisines, and made the most of my mid-life retirement.
Final Round of Shots
August 4th, 2017 | View Post
In preparation for my adventures around the world I unfortunately had to go back to the travel clinic to get my final round of shots. In addition to the typhoid vaccine that I have already been taking orally, I had to double up on the hepatitis-a and hepatitis-b vaccination.

Unlike the first time, this one really hurt. In order for them to use the two-in-one formula it's required that they inject an entire 1ml into the muscle tissue. Additionally, with my arms already being sore from the previous round of shots, well - it just hurt.

A little photo montage of the nurse giving me the final injections. You can see I'm not especially happy with the icepack on my right arm.

I whined a bit when the nurse was doing it and so she offered me an ice pack. If you find yourself getting these types of vaccinations and one is not offered to you, it does really help a lot and I would highly recommend it. To be clear, the needle didn't bother me in the slightest; the liquid formula seeping deep into my muscle tissue did hurt - a lot.
Getting my Thailand Tourist Visa
August 3rd, 2017 | View Post

A giant building in downtown Houston, TX that houses the Thailand Consulate (it's on the 20th floor)
Normally you aren't required to get a tourist visa to enter Thailand as an American, but because the length of my trip is going to be longer than the standard 30-day "on-arrival" visa, I figured I should check with the consulate; fortunately for me they have one in Houston (just a 5-hour round-trip from Austin) and this is what I learned:

Frustrating as it is to hear a non-binary answer when it comes to the laws of another country, the woman at the consulate (who was the nicest person ever by the way) told me that while I could always just get a flight out of Thailand (say to Vietnam) and then come back in thus renewing the visa, the officials "frown upon this". Again, that's a pretty ambiguous thing to hear. So it's not that they'll say no - necessarily, but rather that they frown upon you taking advantage of extending your 30-day window in Thailand simply by making what are called "visa runs".

She told me that the first time you come back into the country they won't have a problem with it, but if you do it two or three times that again, they will "frown upon it". After doing some research and consulting with friends who have regularly visited Thailand, all research pointed to the idea that it's entirely the discretion of the immigration officials. Meaning, if I took advantage of the system I could find myself stuck on the border between say Cambodia and Thailand unable to get back in. Naturally that's not a position I'd like to find myself in and so I got a tourist visa. It normally takes them three to five days to prepare, but since I drove in from out of town and am leaving this Sunday, they managed to do it in just a few hours for me.

My Kingdom of Thailand Visa in all of its glory!

Unfortunately the Houston consulate is only able to issue one-time-entry visas instead of the multi-visa that I would have been able to get in Washington, DC. Not AS ideal, but this should at least give me the flexibility to do what I need to. When I land, this visa will be used to illustrate that I can stay in the country long enough to catch my return flight six weeks later. When I eventually do travel outside of Thailand, I'll be able to come back in provided that my exit flight is within 30 days of my entry back into Thailand. So that would then be my first "on-arrival" visa. If I leave again and come back, I'll then be at that point whereby they could "frown upon" my entry, but provided I show that I'm flying out of Bangkok within a few days of coming back, I don't think it will be an issue.

The short of the story is that this should give me three entries into Thailand during my trip (inclusive of my initial landing) instead of just two.

The visa itself cost me $40.00 USD in cash, but I also had to spend about $10.00 getting my photos printed out and then another $15.00 in parking fees in the garage. Turns out they would have validated if I'd parked in THEIR garage, but I did not think to ask in advance. Still, $65.00 USD in total is a reasonable fee for peace of mind.

This is just a random sculpture that was outside of the Thai consulate office building.

Starting Price Sheet
July 30th, 2017 | View Post
In an effort to actually help other people plan their own travels around the world, I'd really like to do my best to keep up with the prices of various components. This is the first effort at that. World travel isn't nearly as expensive as people think it is, at least it doesn't have to be. Some of that is based on experience of knowing what needs to be booked in advance and what can be booked on the fly. The rest of it generally comes down to flexibility. If you only have a specific window for vacation or the like, it falls on the high season, and you're dead set on that specific location, then there's a good chance it's going to be pricier. On the other hand, if you can mitigate any of those factors then it can be much more affordable.

Travel Expenses

* One way train seat between Kansas City and Chicago (Amtrak): $61.20
* Round trip flight between Chicago O'Hare and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (EVA Airlines): $679.26
* One way flight from Chicago Midway to Kansas City (Southwest Airlines): $78.98
* One way flight from Austin to Barcelona (Condor Airlines): $539.87

Total travel expenses: $1,359.31

Medical Expenses

* Base cost of travel clinic: $55.00
* Malarone (malaria prevention medication): $248.00
* Azithromycin (traveler's diarrhea medication): $4.50
* Doxycycline (leptospirosis prevention): $6.00

Total medical expenses: $313.50

Equipment Expenses

* Lonely Planet SE Asia: $20.18
* New baseball cap: $35.00
* Underwater case for iPhone: $6.99
* International travel plug adapter: $12.99
* Mosquito coils: $14.95
* Sport Chaco sandals: $104.00
* Microfiber quick-dry towel: $9.88
* Earth-pak dry-bag: $18.99

Total equipment expenses: $222.98

I'll create additional posts for price matches as I make my way.
Vaccinations Complete
July 29th, 2017 | View Post
After rewriting all of my plans in April, I am finally on track and what a day today has been! I quit my job, turned in all of my corporate security, and will now be working as a remote contractor henceforth! I cashed in some investments. I then got my vaccinations for hepatitis-A, hepatitis-B, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and typhoid. I also had all of my blood work run too! Needless to say, I was a pin cushion for a few hours. It hurt.

As it turns out, they actually provide pills for both typhoid malaria. The typhoid pills are a live culture that will actually provide a vaccination against the disease for about 5 years to come. The malaria pills are intended to be taken before entering a location whereby malaria is highly prevalent (like pretty much all of SE Asia).

Just the needle piercing into my vein

My round-the-world adventure starts next Sunday starting with the Midwest of the US, followed by SE Asia, then Spain and northern Africa, then the Middle East, then Nepal and India. After than I'll plan Europe, South America, and remote islands around the world. I am excitedly hoping to do about 10 months of travel with stints off for holidays :). Little Atti will be joining me on some of it!

These lovely nurses made my day that much better!