In some ways, the past 4-5 months have felt like a holding pattern. We launched our nomadic life in January, bouncing around Europe until June. The summer and early Fall did not go completely the way we had planned, and on October 2 we boarded a ship headed for Australia by way of Pacific Islands along the way. The journey became a way to ease back into our nomadic life, but slowly and contemplatively. Having spent the first part of the year in some of our European "bucket list" cities, we knew we wanted to visit spots on the other side of the world. Since Japan was still closed when we boarded the ship (it did open a couple of weeks later), heading to Australia was a logical choice.
Interestingly, the time we spent on the ship was like an interlude - a lull to give us some breathing space. We landed in Sydney last Monday, unsure what we were going to do when we got here and where we would go after the next six months in Australia and New Zealand. Due to an unexpected injury to my little toe - I stubbed it on my suitcase the night before disembarking the ship, and it turns out to be a fracture - we've mostly stayed in the little apartment we've rented on Airbnb in the Sydney suburb called Leichhardt. Surprisingly - at least to me - we have felt completely content to land here this past week. Last Monday, we walked around the Sydney Harbor Circle Quay (home to the famous Opera House and bordered by the famous bridge), and Tuesday we walked up to Observatory Hill and part-way across the Sydney Bridge. So we did do a touch of sightseeing then. But since checking into our apartment, we've only ventured a few blocks on either side of our flat. We're living our lifestyle again and, it has been wonderful.
All of this is to say that it finally feels like we're "On the Road Again". We're back to traveling down the highway, towards the next stop. Life feels back on track.
Last week, while still on the ship, we had a conversation about what the rest of 2022-2023 will look like, now that we're on this side of the world. We've booked a 2-bedroom apartment in the Melbourne inner suburb Carlton, walking distance to the Central Business District (CBD) and Victoria Market. After 36 nights on a ship, this 1-bedroom flat in Sydney feels spacious, and we're looking forward to unpacking everything in an even larger space in Melbourne next Tuesday night. We've reached out to several friends there and are looking forward to catching up. We'll stay in Melbourne until 29 January, 2023. Then, we'll fly to New Zealand and spend two weeks in Hamilton, NZ, catching up with our friends in the Waikato region. Australian and NZ visas restrict visitors to 3 months at a time, so we plan to stay in NZ a total of 3 months, including visits to the South Island, Wellington, and Auckland. We don't know yet which order or which specific dates.
Our NZ visit will end at the end of April, 2023. After that, the world is our oyster. Here are some of the possible locales we're considering in 2023.
Suva, Fiji - of the places we visited on the cruise, Suva, Fiji is a good candidate for a return for about a month. The city is big enough for good food and events, it has a swimmable beach, and is walkable with good public transit. The people there are extremely warm and friendly.
Bali, Indonesia - our waiters on the ship were from Bali. They talked us into considering a month-long stay there. They say it is beautiful, friendly, and interesting. And, Bali has forests full of monkeys! Might be another month stop.
Panang, Malaysia - We've heard this island of Malaysia is very interesting. Malaysia has a lot of cultures, and Panang is primarily of Chinese descent. Another possibility for a month.
Singapore - Paul spent one day in Singapore in 1987, and has always wanted to return. Might be another month.
Thailand - we definitely want to go there sometime. Maybe this time, maybe another year. We're unsure exactly where or for how long.
Japan is definite. We want to go there in late summer/early fall, and we want to stay for three months. We will stay at least a month in Tokyo, and visit other locales. There is a possible language immersion program in Akita Paul has been eyeballing. We want to visit our former exchange student, Mika, who lives on Shikoku Island in the city of Takamatsu.
We might come back to Australia before heading to Fiji. Australian visas allow up to a year of visits, but only 3 months at a time. We have enjoyed this neighborhood of Sydney and it might be nice to return when we can stay longer. If we do that, we will take something else off our list.
After Japan, we will return to the USA to visit family and friends, possibly around the December holidays of 2023. Once there, we can plan our next set of venues. We've been thinking Central and South America might be the next logical foray.
Willie Nelson captures the excitement of being back on the road again in his hit song, On the Road Again. He is a difficult singer to capture, and he never sings anything the same way twice. But when you listen to him sing it, you feel the highway rolling beneath him. As Paul and I hit the road, I've taken a few moments to sing this upbeat song!