Discovering the world on $20 per day ......................

Post 266: Balancing Budgets

Sometimes you’ve just got to sit back and ask yourself the simple question …. ‘Who the hell am I trying to kid?’. Thankfully you don’t have to ask it too often, but when the need arises it’s probably best to remove your head from your arse and answer the question honestly. It’s not really rocket science, if the money isn’t there then the miles simply aren’t going to happen. Alastair Darling would probably analyse my budget and itinerary before announcing to Parliament that now was the time for some “difficult choices”. Of course, the term “difficult choices” is the prescribed euphemism for cut-backs and unfortunately, nobody is immune.

The planning for the SE Asia journey started almost a year ago and with the benefit of hindsight, I now know that starting so early was a huge mistake. When you’re asking people for support and they need to give you an immediate answer, everybody knows exactly where they stand. The majority will inevitably say ’No’, but the few who say ’Yes’ make the adventure possible. Unfortunately when you contact people a year in advance, it’s easy to confuse their initial enthusiasm with a gilt-edged offer of assistance. With less than three weeks to departure, the early promises of assistance have disappeared faster than the January snow. With the exception of a little help with a flexible airline ticket from Etihad Airways and The Riders Digest allocation of several column inches, the freebie cabinet is looking decidedly bare. I kid you not, even the charity ‘SOS Children’s Villages’ have gone silent on me.

The starting point of the journey was always going to be Thailand, because that’s where the Etihad Airways ticket would take me, but the beginning and end of the actual ride would be the city of Hanoi in Northern Vietnam. I’d arrive in Hanoi from Bangkok, find a suitable Minsk and then have it officially registered in my name. Easy. However, I hadn’t considered how long that registration process would take to complete. A week, two weeks or possibly even three? I’m still not sure, but what I do know is that kicking your heels for three weeks is not the best way to conserve an already overly tight budget. I could always ride the Minsk away without waiting for the papers to arrive, but the whole point of buying the Minsk in Vietnam was so that I could officially cross the other international borders. No papers, No access, No circulation, No point.

With departure date approaching, my current plan is simple, it’s to have no real plan at all. Thailand will happen, hopefully the mountains around Chang Mai and the Golden Triangle into Laos. Cambodia, or more importantly Angkor Wat is a place that I’ve always wanted to visit and hopefully, the budget will at least take me there. Vietnam is the only country where I would need to apply for a visa prior to arrival, and as I haven’t applied for one, then baring any last minute miracles, it’s unlikely to feature. Apart from that …. we’ll all just have to wait and see.

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