1. Yesterday (26 May) was a milestone in our Asean on Wheels journey. We have been on the road for exactly 1 mth, having began the journey in Singapore on 27 Apr. Over a mug of beer at Tam Tam Cafe in Hoi An, we were in a reflective mood. What do we think of the trip so far, is it within our expectations, how have things been working out?
2. Overall, we both agreed that the trip had so far exceeded our expectations. Why?
(a) We are both enjoying our journey, seeing and experiencing the places we visited and learning new things each day. We are comfortable with each other's attitude towards the trip. We want to run our routines efficiently and improve them over time, but we are flexible and never overly serious what we decided earlier. At the end of the day, we recognise that we are on holiday, not work.
(b) Sunny and I are getting along well. Even though we know each other for 20 years, the intensity of the partnership during the trip, of sleeping, eating, and travelling together 24 hrs a day (I don't follow him into the toilet though) can still result in problems. We don't always agree with everything but give and take a little we have managed our partnership remarkably well.
(c) Except for some difficulties at the Bovet/Moc Bai, Cambodia-Vietnam, border crossing, border crossings had generally been smooth. We went into each border crossing with the right mindset- that there will be some waiting, some toing and froing, and telling ourselves that we have to be patient. We know that each country have its procedures and reasons for doing what they did.
(d) We are getting better and more efficient at blogging, even though it is still taking up a fair bit of our sleeping hours. We try to be as disciplined as we can in blogging what we see and record our experiences. We know this is a good way to share our experiences with our friends and others who may be interested, that there are many interesting things to see and do in the Asean countries; many hidden gems that need to be discovered.
(e) We are generally on track with our overall schedule, though except for the start and end dates, and the entry and departure dates for Vietnam, we try to be as flexible as we can. Given the length of Vietnam and and the many places to visit, we had been a little overly ambitious with the 19 days alloted. We had just decided to skip Ha Long Bay.
(f) We are happy with how we are managing costs. Our average hotel bill per day over the 30 days works out to be about S$50 a night. On a twin sharing basis, this amounts to S$25 per person. Our initial budget was S$50 a night.
(g) Not including the pre-trip expenses, we had spent a total of about US$3300 for the 30 days, which covers hotels, fuel, food, massages, tours, tickets, toll charges etc. About 1/3 of the cost goes not petrol. Overall, this works out to be about S$2500 per person for the 30 days period. We had estimated this at $5000-6000 for the whole trip of 66 days.
3. At the personal level, I am happy that I am the adjustments of being on my own, of doing things myself - washing clothes, packing things, drawing money from ATM, filling immigration forms, lining up at various counters, or just not losing things along the way (which I notoriously had the bad habit of leaving things behind, like my sun glasses). For years, when I travelled, I had always have people around to help, staff officer when I was on official trips, or Li Hoon when I was holidays. This trip has helped me to be more be independent. So far so good.
4. For the next 36 days, we still have North Vietnam (particularly Ha Noi), Luang Prabuang in Laos, and North Thailand of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai to go, before heading back for Singapore. Our wives are planning to join us at Phuket and travel back to Singapore with us.