I love teaching and living in Mandalay. One of the reasons is that it's easy and affordable to travel around Asia. I have two vacation periods coming up. First, a week off from Nov. 21 - 27, then 2 1/2 weeks off over Christmas/New Year.
I was thinking Malaysia and Cambodia for these dates but my hospital stay in Bangkok put a crimp in my budget. Plus, it's high season which means prices and crowds will be at their highest.
In November, it's a visa run, which means I have to leave the country so I can get a new visa when I return. I have to do that every 70 days. Having my employer pay for me to go to Bangkok every 70 days is a huge perk.
I decided to just stay in Bangkok. I didn't get to see the stuff I wanted last time, especially Chatuchuk market. And, I love Thailand and the food in Bangkok.
For Christmas I've been mulling over where to go. Places like Angkor Wat in Cambodia will be overrun with tourists. Big cities like Kuala Lumpur will be less impacted by the crowds but do I really just want to pay to spend that long in another big city?
I've decided to do a staycation. Yes, it's still high season here but that means the weather is the best. And I don't have to pay for flights. Or hotel. I'm planning to spend most of the holiday in Mandalay, and have already gotten a deal from a local taxi driver to act as tour guide. This will give me a chance to see all the things I've been wanting to, at a leisurely pace.
For the actual Christmas holiday, I'm going to Bagan for three nights. It's considered second only to Angkor Wat as a place of beauty and religious and historical significance. It's on the Ayeyarwaddie river, as is Mandalay. I'm tentatively planning to take a boat up (9 hours) and fly back (19 minutes).
Next year, I'm planning Malaysia, Cambodia and Nepal. As I tell my financial planner, I may not have tons of money when I retire, but I'll have some amazing memories.