Monday, June 10, 2013

After almost three months in South East Asia, we're moving on. At the mid-point in our trip we'll land, appropriately, in the Middle East. Our original plan was to head west, in geographical order, landing in India next. We knew it would be hot, but thought we could handle it; Cambodia and Vietnam have proven otherwise. It's prohibitively hot. So hot that entire days are lost to the comfort of an air conditioned hotel room. Where 45 minutes outdoors is too much. Where the two-minute walk from the sidewalk to one's room can soak your necessarily spaghetii-strapped tank top. And apparently India is even hotter. 

So, we'll end Eat, Gay, Love in India, pushing it to the back of the pack in October, when the temperatures (and monsoons) ease-up and when we can enjoy all it has to offer. Skipping over it now means landing in the Middle East in the middle of June, which is equally crazy, but here's what: Most everything in Dubai and Bahrain takes place indoors anyway. Air conditioning is a way of life there, and we won't be expected to schlep through a marketplace in the middle of the day. We can shamelessly hide indoors, venturing outside when the desert air cools at night. 

Our friend Joseph moved to Bahrain a couple of years ago to pursue his work in the film industry. He's made a great life there and we're excited to visit. We probably wouldn't normally include a stop in the Middle East if it weren't for him living there. It's a tough place to navigate without an insider, so we're looking forward to that. While it's not known for being gay friendly, Joe tells us the sordid details of the gay underworld, and it sounds rather scandalous. 

And so a quick trip will include the bright lights and gargantuan towers of Dubai and a week with Joseph at the seaside in Bahrain. We'll lay fairly low (though I need to see a desert and some camels) before starting the most-intense leg of this trip: Europe. We've become quite accustomed to an incredibly slow pace, meandering through each place leisurely, for a month in many cases. All of that is about to change. With only a week to devote to places like Istanbul, Berlin, Paris, and Barcelona, we'll need to get up early and pack our days full. We can't afford to lose a day to a Real Housewives marathon. (Who am I kidding. If we must, we must!)

A note on blogging: I've found it much more difficult than anticipated to block out time to focus here. In an effort to live the trip instead of document it, most of my writing takes place in the notebook app of my phone, quickly jotting observations or things I'd like to research further. I still haven't taken more than two photos with my real camera, and even shipped extra lenses home last week. I may live to regret that, but schlepping unused items (and paying for them in baggage weight) has proven to be a waste. The memories I'm gathering with my eyeballs, filing neatly in my quite-powerful brain, are worth a million shutter clicks. I have lots to tell you, from the mean streets of Bangkok, to the countryside of Cambodia to the chaos and excitement of Vietnam. Maybe I'll get to it on our rather long flight toward the Middle.


LOCATION: Hanoi, Vietnam 
DATE AND TIME: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 11:00AM Vietnam Standard Time/Tuesday, June 11, 2013 12:00AM EST


  1. Still devouring your and Jeff's IG posts as well as these details.

    When my husband and I went through Europe for a month I documented everything well, and was amazed when I went back to read all the details how much I'd forgotten, in spite of anticipating otherwise. A year later we spent two weeks in Scandinavia and I did not write stuff down, and now I regret it.

    Really interested in hearing about how it goes as gay travelers in the Middle East. Also wondering if you are feeling timid at all about traveling to Turkey with everything going on.

    Thanks for posting about these travels. It is some of the most worthwhile internet reading I've done this year.

  2. Oh my gosh I spent five years in the middle east and traveled a lot while there (I lived mainly in Kuwait which was booze free = no fun). If you need any tips I would be happy to provide my favorite spots. Bahrain and Dubai will both be fun. Dubai will overwhelm with its oppulance - I mean you can ski indoors! They also have some AHMAAAXING champagne brunches (last like 3-4 hours and even though may cost around $150 you get unlimited booze and crazy good food) at the local hotels. Can't wait to see your IG photos and relive my time there.

  3. I traveled for 8 months in 2011, mostly Europe but also time in Africa and a month in Asia. I must say my need for down time when travelling for an extended time was much higher than i anticipated, I spent many afternoons in a park with a bottle of wine, cheese and possibly a book or in a cosy pub! you get mentally as well as physically tired with so many new things to take in and you see different things when you just relax than if you are running about fitting in every site and museum. It csn be so hard to let go of the aim to 'finish' a city and see everything on the 'must see' lists, but in the end you have to know yourself and your limits.
    Have fun Jason, I love everything you write.

  4. While I have really enjoyed reading about your trip, I completely understand what you said wanting to live in the trip. Still appreciate the stories you do share!

  5. I ditched my DSLR for my iPhone for my last 3 vacations (2 in Mexico) and don't regret a minute of it!

    I can't wait to see / read more on the next leg! XO