We're still in Hoi An. Over the past few days, we have injected a sizeable jolt into the local tailoring economy. Later today, we will send a couple of boxes to Korea with our new clothes and a few other things we've accumulated along the way (and won't need for the next 6 weeks). When we leave here tomorrow, our packs will be much lighter and easier to carry through the tropical heat.
Our next stop for a week is Hanoi, the historic capital of Vietnam and major city in the north. When you ask people who've visited Vietnam which places were their favourites, Hanoi is usually on the short list. When we looked at options a few months ago, we hesitated about heading north because it is often cool, rainy and foggy in winter. Daytime highs in Hanoi in January average 16 degrees, and it often drops to 10 degrees or lower at night. Fortunately, the forecast calls for temps in the mid 20's this week, so we've decided to add Hanoi to our agenda.
The following three weeks (from January 12 until February 3) are wide open. The only thing limiting me is budget. I'm looking at several options, and will have more to say in upcoming posts.
On February 3 we will arrive in Singapore (from somewhere) for a week. The exciting news is that we will be there for Chinese New Year (a really big deal) and get to visit a good friend from the Korean Canadian community in Toronto (Pastor Lisa Pak) who is moving there for a new job Feb 1. Given that Singapore is the most expensive city in the world (I guess that means it's worse than Oslo!), we have rented a family room in a hostel downtown. The hostel gets very good reviews, and will let us interact with others. Ironically, a tiny (150 square foot) room will be more expensive than our 900 square foot suite here, but I guess that's the price you pay to visit the first world.
For the last week of our trip, we will be in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. In terms of accommodation, we looked at renting an apartment on airBnB, but ultimately decided to stay at the ultra hip Aloft Hotel in the heart of the city. We're not sure really what to expect, but we've seen enough old stuff in the past few months that we're looking forward to some more modern, 21st century experiences (like in Dubai) in both Singapore and KL.
One of the things I've realized about myself on this trip is that I'm far more interested in what's new and cutting edge in the world (especially architecture) than I used to be. Maybe this is my version of a mid-life crisis, but I've become less interested in old and ancient stuff. As an example, I find myself less interested to visit the Angkor Wat ruins in Cambodia than I am to get a glimpse of the future in big Asian cities, and this is influencing my planning.
(Here's another example some of you may relate to. In recent years I visited Vancouver regularly. Given that Fairmont hotels offer great corporate rates, I usually stayed at one of their 4 hotels in the city. At first, I went to the Hotel Vancouver. It's the grand old CP hotel, similar to the Royal York in Toronto or the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. However, after I stayed at Fairmont's ultra contemporary Pacific Rim hotel once, I never went back to the Hotel Vancouver. In fact, the Pacific Rim might be my favourite hotel anywhere.)
Anyway, back to travel planning in southeast Asia. Ursula still likes the older stuff (lucky for me!), but the kids and I are excited about what's shiny and new. I'll keep you posted.