Almost Ready to Go
Trip Start Oct 19, 2006
39Trip End Ongoing
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A lot of my time has been spent running around in circles looking for things to bring with me that I will not end up bringing and don't need anyway. The laptop has been a real dilemma. I spent alot of time looking for a laptop, then bought one, then spent alot of time getting software loaded onto it, then got a virus and had to start from scratch and then decided that I don't really need a laptop - or at least it makes sense to not bring it with me initially. My office offered to have it shipped to me if I decide I want it. This seems a reasonable solution. I should note that I also spent quite a bit of time looking for and deciding what sort of backpack I would bring in order to carry said laptop and protect it from the elements. Fortunately, I bought nothing. That is a useful skill I have. I'm good at NOT buying things (except for the laptop)
I was given an MP3 player, but it doesn't have an AC charger, instead it charges while connected to a computer - so I went all over town looking for a power supply before deciding I could probably just charge it at an Internet cafe. I also ran around researching MP3 players because I didn't really want it for listening to music, instead I imagined myself recording street sounds and live music etc. But really, an MP3 player isn't designed for that and I wasn't really prepared to go spend alot of money on something that is. Finally, the MP3 player has 4 Gigs of memory and I have over 100 Gigs of music, so I considered upgrading to a bigger MP3 player, but that wasn't worth it since it isn't something I'll probably use much anyway. So, I loaded some music on the one I got and will bring it as is. Researching, driving around and contemplating this took me at least a couple of days. "Things" really don't bring me happiness. I know this about myself already. Especially when these things require care and need to be carried around with me everywhere I go.
The other thing I researched and considered buying is a UV water purifier. This is something that would really come in handy. Unfortunately, after much research I determined that it could only purify about 20 - 40 pints of water per set of 2 AA batteries. That's not cool. I don't like things that eat batteries and my intention would be to use it daily at the retreat and after - which would turn into alot of batteries. So, instead I will just assume that the water will be OK. I brought iodine for use in a pinch. I have a water filter but decided to not bring that either - its not designed for international use (i.e. it does not also have a purifier). I suppose we'll see if I live to regret this decision or not. I didn't bring a purifier on prior trips so....
I have to say that I still have mixed feelings about the laptop. I am using it now and I will feel naked without it tomorrow. It has been a great help the last couple of days. In fact, I spent several hours online last night trying to reserve a hotel in Bangkok - and it is a good thing I took the time to do so as almost every place was completely booked!!!! In prior trips I have just arrived, hopped on a bus to Koh San Road and assumed I'd find a place - and if not I'd just sit in a restaurant until daylight. This trip is different though; Time is an issue. I will need to be well situated and I will need to get some sleep.
My biggest concern at the moment is getting a visa and a flight to Yangon on Monday - and flying on Monday as well. This will require luck. I could not get a flight from here and I was reluctant to get a flight without a visa. My hope is to apply for the visa in the morning, find out if I will really have it by the afternoon and then go run and get a flight for the evening and just cross my fingers that there will be seats available. I don't want to be late for the retreat. I picked a hotel near the sky train which will hopefully get me to the embassy and wherever else I have to go. The sky train wasn't open last time I was in Bangkok so I will have to learn quickly. This will be the last major hurdle and I will relax as soon as I have both plane ticket and visa in hand.
What else? My gas and electricity will go off on Saturday as will my cell phone and Internet connection. My car insurance will endure an extra week in order to give my friend some time to get to Seattle to pick up my car. Other friends will get a copy of the car key as well as a bill of sale and a signed title tomorrow. I have already gotten back my security deposit for my apartment. My credit card is on auto-pay but it expires in July. Hmmm. Fortunately I have another credit card! I also have cash and travellers checks.
Although I am not bringing much with me, my bag already seems too full. It is still too much stuff. I have 4 white shirts (required for the retreat and could be left there after the retreat), 3 T-shirts including 1 black and 1 white Cirque de Flambe. 2 pairs of shorts, a bathing suit and anti-chafe underwear. 1 pair long underwear tops and bottoms, socks, sandals, hat, blue jeans, light cotton pants, and a cloth (for a towel or wrap). I also have a ton of toiletries / medications / lotions etc. My pack is almost full, which means it will be completely full when I am wearing the shorts and T-shirt and the jeans and fleece are on the inside. Right now, the laptop wouldn't easily fit.
It is getting late and I have more to do tonight so let me say "Happy Thanksgiving" and goodbye to everyone! I probably will not be online until I get to Bangkok, and as noted, that will hopefully be a very quick stop. So, don't be surprised if you don't hear from me until mid February. If the retreat goes well and I can stay, don't be surprised if you don't hear from me before May or June...Just for the record, my intention is to stay on retreat longer than 2 months if I am permitted to do so. No news is good news!!!!