TLDR: We are back in Los Angeles, vaccinated with both shots (friggin finally), enjoying some familiar aspects of LA, organized/pared down storage, and began replanning the remainder of the RTW trip.
Bittersweet: Moved Out of the Bangkok Apartment
After 1 year of living in the cozy Bangkok apartment, it was time to say goodbye. We will miss the daily cooing of the pigeons on the ledge, cool A/C, the great view from the 16th floor, the most convenient location possible, and the numerous other fond memories from the last year. We spent a ton of time in this sub-300 square foot palace.
Back and Vaxed!
The top priorities for the brief return to the US were get vaccinated, close the storage unit, move everything to Denver, replan/resume the RTW trip, and develop immunity. After a couple of long flights (not crowded), we landed in LA, immediately went to Chipotle for burritos, and got our first shots before we even unpacked. Getting that first shot was a moment that we have been looking forward to for months…although we expected it to happen in Thailand. That’s par for the last year.
How much stuff?
Next, we sorted through storage. The goal was to close out the storage unit and move the stuff to Denver, CO. We brainstormed a bunch of unusual ways to move our stuff to save on cost. Some of the options required us to know the weight of what we are moving and how many boxes so we weighed EVERYTHING. After donations, selling on eBay, and sending stuff to the dumpster, we know that all of our things (104 boxes/items) weigh a grand total of 2415 pounds and occupy 240 cubic feet (~5 feet x 6 feet x 8 feet, for both of us combined). A substantial portion of the volume might be yarn. Maybe.
Round-the-World Trip Replan Progress
We are in the process of replanning the remainder of the RTW trip. It is just as frustrating and as intolerable as I remember. The process for getting the RTW tickets on Singapore Airlines/ Star Alliance (using points specifically) is a nightmare of unclear/changing rules, unavailable flights, non-functional web software tools, and unreliable/unknowledgeable call center hell. We have already spent ~7-9 hours on the phone spanning 8 different agents (no exaggeration) just to get our first question answered and it is STILL NOT answered. In case you are curious about how difficult this question must be, the question is “Can we resume our trip from a city other than Singapore?” That’s it. Now imagine trying to get the complicated details resolved. Yea. The worst. However, after many discussions, where everyone was sick of talking to everyone, we were told that we will be getting a full refund! At this point, that would be amazing. Let’s hope that they actually follow through with their promise. Singapore Airlines Call Centers do not have a good track record of fulfilling verbal agreements. Hopefully, it works this time. Pro tip: Don’t accept a call back. Wait on hold for 4 hours instead (no joke). Odds of success are much higher. Be that little blinking light of dread on the switchboard.
LA Feels Different at the Moment
In many ways, it feels great to be back in California. Sunshine, long days, perfect temperature, Mexican food, familiar languages, clean potable water from the tap, controllable shower temperatures, cleaner air, beautiful neighborhood streets lined with palm trees and jacarandas, familiar places, more clothing variety for us, absence of vehicles on sidewalks, our possessions, Amazon prime, and various wonderful grocery stores filled with delicious health conscious goodies. We didn’t mention friends yet because we can’t really see them until a couple weeks after we are fully vaccinated. We have noticed that Los Angeles is not quite the same as when we left. The homeless community situation is significantly more noticeable, the smell of pot is everywhere, we haven’t danced here yet, many businesses have closed (including our favorite Coco Bubble Tea), and “For Rent” signs seem to hang in every other storefront . Also, since we don’t have a car and don’t want to be in a car with someone who’s potentially unvaccinated, our bicycles take us everywhere. I wear the giant 65 liter travel backpack for carrying things. Fun fact: A trip to storage is about 6 miles each way with a “mountain” in the middle.
Other than the top priority tasks, we have been knitting, running, biking, renewing travel documents, and drinking a bunch of coffee/tea (especially because where we are staying has an abundance of tea and beverage gizmos). We went to two Thai restaurants, sat outside, and practiced speaking Thai. The servers were thrilled. Unlike English, which can be used all over the world, Thai is almost exclusively spoken in Thailand. I wore my “farang” (foreigner) t-shirt for both outings.
Road Trip and a New State
After handling the priorities and making antibodies in Los Angeles, we will be making a road trip out of moving stuff to Denver. We expect to stop at some national parks, popular cities, and interesting attractions along the way. With some luck, the next post will have many pretty pictures, say that we have a RTW trip itinerary, saw some friends, and are getting ready to finish off this logistical beast of a year…or is it two? We are looking forward to ramping up the fun again as super (ie fully vaccinated) humans.