Friday, December 5, 2008

Counting Down

Five weeks from today at 07:00 we leave for one of our favorite cities, San Fransico, on the first of 21 separate flights on 8 airlines that will take us around the world! Most of the preparations are done. We got our Vietnam visas back in exactly one week in good order. So now all the visas are taken carry of! Dick has made arrangements for all the day to day stuff to be covered while we are gone.

We got our documents for the Tahitian Princes last Friday. The documents for Seabourn Spirit will be waiting for us in Dubai. I have reserved the ship’s DMZ tour for Inchon. We have private tour arrangements in the ports for Cains, Shanghai, Luxor, Petra and Cairo. The other ports we will get a taxi or maybe rent a car when we arrive and tour on our own.

All the rental cars and hotels are reserved for the land portions in New Zealand, Australia, Asia and Africa. A car is reserved for Europe, but no hotels, we plan to just wing it! We have our reservations for the famous Australian trains, the India Pacific (Sydney to Perth) and the Ghan (Darwin to Adelaide). The ferry from the North Island to South Island of New Zealand and the round trip ferry from Cape Jervis to Kangaroo Island, South Australia are also set. The final arrangements are in place for the three African safaris. However, I am sure there are details that we have over looked, but going with the flow and working things out on the fly are part of the adventure that is traveling!

The fact that traveling can be more of an adventure than expected was brought home very forcefully with the world unrest Thanksgiving week! Fortunately, Dick talked me out of including India in this trip. But we love Bangkok so we have 6 days there! We do not plan to change that at this point, but will definitely keep a watchful eye on the situation. If there is a problem we might have to fly from Hanoi direct to Siem Reap then to Singapore and then on to Johannesburg cutting out Bangkok, but I hope not! The Seabourn Spirit just completed her trip East bound trip through the Gulf of Aden in a French military convoy. They are taking no chances! That is good as we will be on the Spirit as she heads back through that area in April.

I have packed a 6 ½ pound rolling carry-on for each of us with the clothes we will need for the first segment, about 5 weeks in New Zealand and Australia. This will be our basic wardrobe for the whole trip. I have the bags at 15 pounds each plus a small case for the laptop, accessories and pair of binoculars for Dick to carry and a camera bag for our three cameras and accessories me to carry. Actually once we are through security we can put the small bags into the carry-ons since they are no where near full! We are restricted to only a 15 pound bag each, period, on several of the Africa flights so this has been a real challenge. Fortunately I found a travel vest with many pockets we can stuff with meds and other small needs. Dick has one already and I ordered me one.

This fall, we went to a National Geographic photography workshop in Santa Fe NM and had to take all our camera gear and two laptops plus all the accessories for both. Since our first big trip with seven pieces of big luggage, I have been trying to reduce the luggage to only a carry-on each! In the fall we traveled with two 8 pound standard carry-ons with clothes for the week and our laptops weighing in at 18 pounds each plus the fully loaded camera case. Dick carried lots of little miscellaneous stuff in the pockets of the travel vest. The vest is definitely not a fashion statement, but is a sure fired way to get a bit more precious weight allowance in the carry-on!

We have had the DHL paper work for the luggage we are shipping to the Tahitian Princess for two weeks. I am still waiting for the same paper work for the luggage we are sending to the Spirit. Seabourn kepts promising it will be here in two more days! The forth "two more days" came from this morning's phone call.

A piece of luggage is being sent to our cabin on the Tahitian Princess with the formal clothes we will need for the Sydney to Hong Kong cruise leg and the bug repellant safari type clothes for the Cambodia and African segment. It will be picked up on January 28th from the attorney’s office. This bag will then be sent home when we get to Hong Kong with the few cold weather things needed for the first part of the trip instead of the safari clothes. Another bag with cruise clothes and some replacements for the by then "well worn" travel clothes and safari clothes will be picked up at the office in late March and catch up with us on the Spirit in Dubai. I have packed and repacked these bags as they also have weight restrictions though more generous. I think I am happy with what I have put together for us. Dick has not shown as much interest as I would have liked...he will just have to wear what I brought! We can always add to while we are traveling and just give things away if we get too much.

We will visit the doctor after Christmas for the "medicine chest" we will need for 5 months. All the shots needed for the trip have been done. The last big one, Yellow Fever, was done for our trip to South America earlier this year. Meds are one thing that will go in the vest as they have to be available when we go through security.

Now I plan to sit back and enjoy the Christmas season. It is my favorite time of year. The good thing this year is that in trying to get ready for the trip, I got the shopping and the decorating done by last week! It is time now to enjoy the anticipation of our great adventure. I am sure both of us will send time mentally reviewing our check lists and travel plans to make sure we don't forget anything! But, of course, we will forget something.....It will be interesting to see what it is!

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