Little of this and that

I got into San Bruno last night at about 8pm. Really nice set of flights from Merida. Mexico City was as tumultuous and chaotic as ever. I got a really nice dinner on the last part of the flight.

Now it is morning in San Bruno. Today is a few things. I am gonna have some breakfast at this american breakfast place down the street and get back to some eggs, bacon or sausage, and potatoes. Now it is Keurig coffee in the room actually watching TV news. I am not a TV watcher normally but just seems like a thing. I have a few things needing done.

  1. Breakfast!
  2. Covid booster with latest omicron booster shot down the street
  3. Go for walk after breakfast and check out area in daytime
  4. Meet old friends for dinner!

The last one is probably the highlight but I think the covid booster shot is important too. Tonight I meet two friends from the way back machine when we all worked together at Linux startups together. One of them I worked with at the GAP before and he left to start this little Linux services and support business named Linuxcare. The other worked with the GAP in a sales and services role but then moved to Linuxcare. He and I would end up traveling to Austin Texas to work with Dell or IBM. Often!

So there you have this and that. Not a lot of words to be said about being in the US. Just gonna enjoy the moments and do a fe things to prepare to fly out Friday. Tomorrow is a big day for me getting to see my daughter for lunch. I just need to ride BART over to the Fremont BART station.

One thing which is so strange here is finding actual convenience stores that sell Beer. In Mexico we had Oxxo stores and others like local markets and stores all over that sold beer, soda, food items. Here? Not so much.

Okay. Time to send this along the line. Have a good day.

Packing to go

The last time I packed to go was from Houston when I did a visa run back to Merida. That was 176 days ago. My Mexico tourist card (FMM) runs out with 180 days so I have a few to spare. Packing is something for me which takes about 30 minutes. It is pretty easy when I have hardly anything besides some clothing that is cheap. I don’t think I have worn jeans since 176 days ago.

Awhile back I upgraded my bigger bag to a 65 liter travel duffel bag and gave up the mantra of carry on for everything. I had started hating that mantra because people insist on carrying roller bags. A roller bag is the spawn of the devil. I have had people drop them in my lap from the overhead storage or hit my head putting them there, tried to fit a bag which the flight attendant only stared at in amazement, and roll the stupid wheels over my feet in the rush to exit. My bag is soft but holds what I need.

I also end up tossing things when I leave. Often older cheap clothing goes. This time I want to get some new underwear and a cap or two at Target because it is hard to find sizes for old retired guys bodies here in sizes that fit. I also am tossing a pair of shoes which are not Merrell shoes. I cannot wear shoes to walk in that are not. I tried these awhile and they work but they simply are not up to the level my feet need.

I’m also packing a daily carry bag in the bigger bag because I prefer it to any others I have seen here. I will pack that bag with other things in it and then fit it into my duffel.

Finally, maybe the most important bag is my cheap carry on shoulder bag. I graduated that about a year ago to a cheap laptop messenger style bag that holds everything, with lots of pockets, nice zipper pockets on the inside.

People tend to spend a lot of money on backpacks, every day carry bags, roller bags (ugh) and other travel style bags. What I have found going as I go, is I want a bag that will hold my few things with comfort and ease. I don’t need to cram everything in and hope it works. I pretty much know it will because I am not leaving with anything more than what I got here with. I don’t need to spend lots of dollars on fancy travel bags or backpacks.

But packing is more too. It is a mental thing to me and a soul to heart thing. Packing says,

here I am. I am going because I don’t belong anywhere. This too is just a stop for me. Maybe a month or a year.

When I get to where I’m going, I will buy a few things and leave them behind for the next person to use or donate them. The truth is as I have written, having things is evil. I know people with airplanes and hangars, condos and homes, trucks and RVs. All they have gained is more responsibility for those things. For me, I want less of the material and more of what I hold within. Those require no room in my 65 liter duffel to carry. I can leave with my memories and moments and experiences intact. No roller bag necessary to carry them.

I’m going to relocate for a last meal at the mall and some coffee later this morning. Hold on. This will only hurt for a moment 😉

to the mall and coffee shop and words there

I made it for my last coffee. Hooray! I also stopped and got a few more KN95 face masks. Now I can sit a last day with the grande americano coffee. Feel the lightness of a spirit and soul not tethered to things or even people. Maybe find my Robert Louis Stevenson moment of going.

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.

Source: Stevenson on travel

I’m ready to move too. It’s a fine drug that lets me always find just the next slow places to maybe stay or go. But the truth is to just move. Speed does not matter.

The going does.

Korea Airlines from SFO to Cambodia

In some days I travel from San Francisco International to Phnom Penh Cambodia with a stop for a few hours in Korea. The entire flight takes 17 hours but is broken up by a few hours in the airport in transit status. There are some requirements if I wanted to leave the airport and get a visa for Korea. I need to pre-register via a website and it was the case a antigen or PCR test was required. All this based I think on vaccination status. I will get the last booster shot Wednesday and it is the latest booster being given. Already arranged at a Walgreens pharmacy in California close to where I’m staying.

Anyways, the flight now leaves at 1240pm Friday and gets in 7pm on Saturday. Another day lost :-). Then I wait two hours and head on out the last five or so hours which means I get to Phnom Penh Cambodia at 11pm. A lot of hours to make it to Phnom Penh!

Once in Phnom Penh, I have three weeks to idle in the city. I hate hurrying anything so I will get a SIM card, get the visa extension I want, hopefully see a few friends or find them in Phnom Penh.

On 1 October I board a minibus to make the six hour journey to Siem Reap. That is sort of the final destination for me for awhile. Just like I spent a year in Mexico, I’ll spend a year in Cambodia. There are some differences. Places I can go once there! I can reach Malaysia and stay 90 days. Can get to Thailand if I want (I don’t), and get to Singapore for a few days. Laos is very possible as well. I saved the best for last. Vietnam. I have this sense of both wonder and dread going back. It has been a year and some months when I board the flight. My friend Van wants me to just stay through Tet which is Vietnam’s lunar new year celebration which goes for a week at least. Yeah. It is party and food time then! I can’t do that though. Vietnam says I can only stay 30 days at a time. If I want back, I must do a visa run and then get another 30 days. Many people do this. I won’t be doing it. I only want back to Vietnam twice I believe. Once to Hanoi and a few days in Saigon and then a second time to central Vietnam to visit Da Nang, Hue, and Hoi An. It used to be I would just go for three months and do it all. They are not doing three month visas and no one knows when they will start again.

So all this happens with a single thing. Well actually two things. Flying to Korea and then Cambodia.

To do that I must fly the day after tomorrow to SFO. That’s easy from Merida airport but it gets frustrating in Mexico City airport because that airport. Crazy town.

I just check my bag for both but I cannot check my excitement and joy of going to Asia. I left a year ago or more and now I get to reach it. I’m tired of life here. I need the sea change of life there. The totally random joys of life in Asia. That Edge. What I’ve realized is people can come and go. Some people don’t wish to see me again in Vietnam. I’m good with that. A year has changed everyone’s perspective and desires. Mine too. I will get to see those that matter and who better to spend some moments with.

All from a flight or two or four. Love it.

being, going and doing

It always seems fun somehow to be getting ready to just go. Sometimes the going was across town like back in 2020 in Hanoi. I moved to another apartment in another district only a few miles distant.

Let me tell you moving in Hanoi is like shifting galaxies. My original apartment was in the wonderful and traditional Ba Dinh district. Hardly any expats (thank goodness), traditional markets all over. Small pho shops dotted my world then.

In the mornings I would walk to a pastry or banh mi shop and pick up some food to take to one of the Vietnamese coffee shops. These were small places often with tables outside where Vietnamese gathered to socialize, gossip, read the news on free WiFi or the local printed media.

I could sit with my food, drink a Vietnamese coffee. The owner would check on me and make sure I was happy. The food often took me awhile because I slowed down, found my cadence with the other customers, nodded at other regulars. But no expats or tourists. Ever. It made life this wonderful slow song. Often a policeman would stop and wave at me. We would exchange xin chao or hello and he would practice English. I told him it was okay or he would take me to jail. He laughed and told the owner. But what I want to leave you with is how slow and random Ba Dinh was.

I would move though to expat central because I wanted closer to Tay Ho or west lake. There were small cafes and pubs lining the lake where sunsets and people came together. The downside were the expats. So many. Some seeming so entitled. Others arrogant. But I persisted. Soon I met more people living on different floors of my place. As it turned out all Vietnamese and all spoke English. Van would tell me she asked whether a potential renter spoke English because uncle Mike needed to talk. If no English she dismissed them. Of course all this was a joke. But yet… I would meet friends to this day from that apartment complex. My friend Tom now living in Saigon but before we went for street food, talked travel, shared life’s sweet moments.

So what I hope to show is the going. The doing and being often quickly followed. I would just go every day for walks in Hanoi. It’s a magical and sometimes strange city to wander. Blind alleys going nowhere. Smiling kids touching my arm. Young Vietnamese women wanting their photos taken. The older man gently waving. I would persist with the going. Some thing I would then write a note on with the iPhone over a fruit tea from a shop originally in Taiwan. Each crafted or random note perhaps about some way of going.

Finally I found doing. This was the day to day expression of life to me. Not the long walks but short steps. How Hanoi just let me do. I could go and be and do. In Ba Dinh I found retired life to be this easy walk. Through small streets. Down alleys. Sometimes ending at the wonderful and unique Daily Dose coffee shop. There I was regaled with wonderful latte concoctions and delicious breads toasted just for me.

In Tay Ho more of the upscale and expat but Van would bring food for us and her son. Often from the Hue region. We would sit and talk and the expats dwindled away to this wondrous Vietnamese woman sitting next to me. This person who just took me into her family. Made sure I was happy. Helped me with crazy Vietnamese things. Made sure I could talk with the other guests.

It all stuck with me. As I left Vietnam I wondered if I would find things again like this. Definitely not in broken and badly bent America. But Mexico. Especially the Yucatán. There is this richness of going, doing and being but often with the realization none has to be done that day. Much like Cambodia getting my WiFi fixed once when the repairman asked me at 12pm what time the next day or so was good. I asked about later the same day and he probably thought “crazy barang” but only laughed and pointed out it was already after 12pm.

So WiFi waited. I did not. I just went to the corner bar and ordered a draft Angkor beer. I was crazy there too but I was buying beer.

So much for the being, going, and doing.

Mexico times

I’ve been here in Mexico now for just about a year. I published a post before on the places and people and what I found here. Mexico has been more than just places and people though. It has been moments for me. I took a time out I guess from the times in Asia because honestly in July 2021, I was done. I could not go anywhere else. I felt like I had failed at things without being able to launch my startup there and missing by only that much. It especially hurt that I got the paperwork done, deposited venture capital that Vietnam insisted on, worked on business and management plans, engaged with Vietnamese tech and entrepreneurs around the travel and tourism industries, but then fell down.

Based on that, I left Vietnam. More though I left this comfortable Edge of life that had kept me, made me happy, gave me family and friends. I felt I thrived and not just survived in Hanoi. Like all the little switches were turned to the on position in my life there. Each day I walked, did yoga, meditated there and I felt more of Hanoi both showed itself and hid itself away from me. It is one of those cities to go wander in, write about, find charming, desolate, wondrous sights. Many become personal memories in my Day One journals and others became my works here like Xin Chao Vietnam.

So this was the backdrop of leaving and then bumming around months on Amtrak heading east and west which I have also written about on the blog. Mexico though was more than just people and places. It was the moments I wanted. Asia exhausted me in some ways and I wanted to see if another life could be found perhaps traveling to Belize, Costa Rica, Panama. Even living in those places awhile. My intention through my times in Puerto Vallarta which was September to December 2021 was to leave in March after a short trip to Houston for Panama. A few things came up with the moments. One was Puerto Vallarta itself. I fell in love and lust with the city and beauty there.

Then the winding little side streets captured me. Small cafes, friendly people, wonderful food. Cold beer. Moments!

I just loved the meaningless vagabonding around Puerto Vallarta.

Come December, I had decided to go to Merida because the soul and spirit of the city attracted me. Little did I know I would simply fall in love there too with all it offers. It is not just some big city. It is a city of neighborhoods and districts and one can walk through them if desired with camera in hand. It creates timeless moments of sights and sounds.

There is this timeless soul to the city that created this wonder and desire to just come back again. I have to be honest though. I could not stay in some small fishing village. I need big city things and history and culture. I guess I like taco stands and wonderful malls and international restaurants for my moments. Merida delivers on all this for me.

Then in March as I was thinking of coming back, suddenly Cambodia opened. I booked flights back. I found an airbnb, called a visa agent there, made arrangements to stay. Then the whole thing closed again for getting a longer term visa. I decided to return for the entire time to Merida. I am so glad I did because a number of things would not have happened like these.

La Paz trip. I think the La Paz trip took me from the Yucatan to the desert and I loved the city so much. It had all the wonderful things but in a completely different setting for me. Wonderful restaurants, cold beer along the beach walk, friendly people. There is this cool mix of history and culture and then the beach areas. The historic downtown really got me though. I simply loved the buildings and signs and how it all transformed so gradually to the Malecon or beach walk.

So La Paz was a lot of fun for a week. My airbnb had everything in it I could want. Breakfasts were a blast. The city was walkable and I got to roam the moments each day as I wished.

Yucatan Tour. I would then go on this rather cool yet expensive tour I decided to really end my times with. The tour took 7 days or so to visit archeological sites, beautiful beaches, and this one place. Bacalar. It is a magical town but so much more. It has this timeless essence to it. Like a rest stop for the soul and spirit.

So first the archeological sites we got to see astounded me with their complexity and yet access. We could climb all over them.

Then at the end of the day exploring, we would find ourselves back in the land of lagoons of different colors. I have to say, if you want a place beyond people and place, pick Bacalar. Just don’t go with hurry or rush in your soul. You will not find happiness if you carry with you that American tool called impatience. Instead Bacalar delights with its mañana approach to all things.

I felt like the moments had given me pause. Like Bacalar was this rebirth of moments of no consequence at all. Mexico basically has many Bacalar type places I think but none are like the real thing.

Back to Merida and Leaving

So the year kind of came about and left and if asked, I could not put a finger on where it went actually but sure enough it has left and I am now watching the closing moments of being here slowly dissolving. A few days in California. See an old friend from the .com days and my wonderful daughter. Board the plane again to get back to the place I had left just about.

Cambodia welcomes me back with nice visa policies and a relaxed lifestyle that I just fall back into. First Phnom Penh to get my feet back into gear with this edge and then perhaps a new home in Siem Reap. Even an apartment after a week or so of playing around.

I don’t have some plan leaving besides a Uber to the Merida airport and some sadness as this wonder place slips away. But I also know this post has been about the moment and not the places or people. I have moments to find and moments are much better than how we account for time.

Back to Asia. Dare I whisper back to Vietnam? Well Hell ya. Because in all this, Vietnam has forever whispered to my heart and soul. Telling me it loves me. Needs me. Sometimes perhaps pouting because I left but understanding. It also transfixes me sometimes with the thought of being so much closer. So much easier to simply fly an hour and be there. Like so many times I ran away to Vietnam for a week, a month, a bunch of moments.

I’ll be blogging daily but my moments skip away like the stone effortlessly bouncing the far and deep water before sinking in yet another spot.

That’s this report. This post. My year in moments in Mexico.

Take care all.

focus point

I spent the morning blissfully unfocused. Watched a 58 keys video on the kindle. Started a blog post and then stopped. Listened to music and did not stop. I did have momentary bursts of clarity but pretty much gave up until now.

Coffee at the mall. I decided after a wondrous sip of the americano to eat at the mall later. Perhaps. I am not so sure. Perhaps I need a second sip of their elixir of focus.

Instead though I look at my photos from yesterday. Out walking yesterday was the neighborhood starting with Diaz Ordaz or my place.

Of course the sky was simply beautiful yet the electronics tower splits it and almost point to the blue depths.

Along the way are these small open fields and I see the ruined concrete fence posts. Perhaps like silent guardians.

Standing amidst the lush green. A soldier alone. A last duty.

Yeah. Focus points gained or lost on a walk. Then lost with the morning and no real endeavors. Gained again at the mall.

On offer. Coffee and tables and people. The older men gathering. Laughing. Smiling. Small focus points left for us all to find a meaning of. Or not.

I did lose what day it was first thing. Par for my course. On with the coffee.

Wednesday Morning Music and Sunshine

It seems as the days slowly swing by, my mornings focus themselves on doing little or nothing. Which is about what I always do. I read a little on this expat forum site I belong to.

I also look curiously at the amount of instant coffee left because I blogged about it yesterday I think. My daughter called me yesterday I think it was. I am not good with days. We talked for a long time about her life and mine. About her being glad to see me again and not being sad that I am leaving again. She understands me. She laughed because I told her not to tell her mom. She gets that too. We will meet in a week and a day for a late lunch and I’ll buy her a bbq lunch and a beer. Then the next day I disappear. That rhymes!

I have thought of going this time and written in Day One about it a bit. I’m not good with prognosticating over music and sunshine but this feels like a step to not be retaken. I don’t really want back to the US. Ever. I left before and have doodled around the last year between Mexico and loving it. Houston and hating it. Now it feels like this step is meant to take me to a new place or an old place or some place. It matters not new or old. What matters is the going.

Then the morning music spins around to Jackson Browne. He always touches the chord of my soul. Wednesday morning has right now. I have this little plan for today. I will take my laundry the last time to the friendly lavanderia. Maybe I will stop at Tony’s for the last time and get tacos. Or I could go have some eggs for breakfast today. So many possibilities with this Wednesday.

Other things?

Well, there really are not any this Wednesday. I have fresh fruit and even some donuts so my second coffee will include pastries and a banana. Ain’t life grand? I’m sure I will do something today like take a nice walk, maybe stop and get some food for dinner. I have been eating cheap in the room for dinners. I’m a regular at WalMart and keep an appreciative eye on their prepared food aisles. Perhaps today I will do a cheap Chinese restaurant later for dinner I know. It is buffet style so I usually get two plates of food.

There you have it. A Wednesday spent in the room. Now the AC going because I like AC. Merida is quiet. Peaceful like always in my neighborhood until the dogs get going because this guy rides by on a bike with his dog running by him. Now though, it is a Wednesday morning in the Yucatan. My last one.

Perhaps that is the main thing. My last Wednesday in Merida and Mexico. I would say forever because I am not coming back to Mexico. I’m done here. Just for you… A nice little sunset from Mexico.

Just like my time here. I’m heading to yet another Edge.

instant coffee hopes and other rationales

I’m down to 6 days left and I’m hoping the instant coffee remaining in the big jar is sufficient since I don’t wanna buy more to just leave it behind. I buy these big jars which has meant no shopping for coffee for longer periods of time. I have not done a study or attempted to measure it out by the number of spoons left in the jar compared to what I use.

Other things I accept I will buy more of like fruit. Also basic dinner items I like. Cans of chili come to mind. I also get these chocolate chip muffins. I enjoy one in the mornings along with banana. Seems I need to shop today and then I will run out of muffins again in 4 days. From tomorrow. When I have 5 days left.

Well. I may have to visit a panaderia here and buy a fresh pastry.

Life’s tough when the days count down and I don’t want to miss out on the foods I like. Then there’s the coffee. It will be a close thing.

Asking for your positive vibes, coffee wishes and pastry dreams.

I am gonna walk over the mall for coffee and a torta. It is easy to sit there and watch people. Yesterday the nice people at the coffee shop gave me a coffee mug. I was walking away when I heard the barista calling my name. Came back and got a nice coffee mug from them.I have been a regular there for months.

Then I went to eat some meal at this one restaurant I like and the lady asked my name, told me hers, gave me extra helpings of food. Perhaps I look hungry when I go there. Hahaha. I really like all the food court restaurants there but the two places on the end and the one that sells Yucatan foods rule. The prices are nice too. A big meal with rice, veggies, salad, meat, salsa and a drink is about $4.50.

Now my time winds down though. We will have a pizza thing this weekend here at the Airbnb. We just do Dominos because we all like the Mexican pizza they have. I will miss some of the local variations on food and snacks. Cheetos flavors are wild here. Same with potato chips like Ruffles. I remember in Hanoi they had this bbq beef flavored potato chip. That was always rather strange.

It is always nice to end a little post with a picture. Yell out to my buddy TMO and make sure he has a wonderful day today. Here’s the picture I chose just for you today.

The beautiful traditional dress of a lovely Vietnamese woman by Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi Vietnam. Love the colors and the smile!

I’ll be back in Vietnam in December. Talk about coffee! Most of all friends there that I have not seen in over a year.

no digital camera for me

I guess perhaps I waited too long to get an older compact or pocket camera. I had my sights set on an older Sony RX 100 mark iii. It seemed the perfect match of function and size. Then I realize it would not ship in time for me. So I cancelled the order.

What it all made me realize though is that for me the most perfect camera is the one I have. The iPhone 12 Pro with a pro camera app or two not only satisfies me but for my uses is perfect. I want to capture my day to day wherever. My sights. Even sounds. This phone with all its wonderful computational magic gives me so much flexibility. Far beyond carrying yet another device. And it’s iPhone tough. And photos are mine to share and edit even right away.

I don’t often shoot in ProRAW but it’s there. I don’t worry about some look or composition or rule of thirds. What I do want is fun and ease and use.

A second camera with its batteries and cables and cards just seems like a lot to manage when all I want is to go. I will be getting the iPhone 14 pro next year either in Cambodia or Vietnam. I will still look at different digital cameras but it will be tempered with the measurement of what I have now, how happy I am with it, how it fits my lifestyle. How it does do my daily life.

Im happy in retrospect to not have yet another device to manage. This device gives me all I want plus more.

Sunday Mornings in Sunshine

Hola! Its a beautiful and warm Sunday morning in the Yucatan. The weather pattern has been lately to have simply beautiful mornings and then rain comes in the afternoons and ends at night. I guess perfect for the walking I love to do. Today though is Sunday so a disturbance in the force and not just the dogs barking when the guy rides down the street with his dog loose for exercise. It is a community response on the mornings to tell that dog to leave immediately. This is not his place. Anyways back to my Sunday since the canines have finished. This is almost my last Sunday here in Merida. Another week to go with really naught to get done between now and then.

The room coffee tempts with another sip. I bought donuts at WalMart the other day and more bananas and some really nice yellow apples. I think the donuts are tempting the force right now.

Today though is Starbucks Sunday for me so I shall venture forth later in the day to have my grilled cheese and cold brew and sit and people watch for some hours. It is a mile walk so the morning sunshine and warm breezes make the perfect companion. Then perhaps a walk afterwards on my way back.

I think I will wait a bit to add more and write when I am at Starbucks later. See you then!

Starbucks is now

Fast forward to early afternoon. Sitting in Starbucks after a grilled cheese and slowing it all down with my grande cold brew. Surreptitiously watching people. The pretty woman sitting at the long table. Woman with a child enjoying her time. Singles sitting around perhaps also surreptitiously watching others watching them. There’s no hurry in a Starbucks Sunday. No second place clamoring for attention. Just a nice slow take.

Today brings me to my last week in Mexico. In about 10 days I see my old friend Sean and then my daughter. Everything compressed into much less time. Simply not wanting anything to do with California or the US. Sorry US. A week from Friday I head out. Long flights. Books loaded on my new kindle. Steps only planned. Twelve hours here. Five there. Then back to 🇰🇭 to do what it is I do. But also waiting perhaps impatiently just a bit for 🇻🇳. Because Hanoi always captures me. Photos and friends and food and places. To hold all in these old hands.

It’s Starbucks Sunday in Merida Mexico but the world spins around and moments await.