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Mystery Honeymoon Destination: Where Are We Going?

Latest Update: Saturday, December 17 ~ And the winner is… (Scroll Downward!)

This blog post is being updated on a daily’ish basis until Kattina and I depart on our honeymoon. It will keep jumping back to the top position on the blog each time it updates, so keep scrolling down for other recent posts. Dates posted are based on Singapore time, so if you’re in the US, it might be a day earlier where you are.

December 5, 1 p.m. (Singapore Time)
Kattina and I got married on July 16. We departed for Singapore on July 18. We arrived in Singapore at 1 a.m. on July 20. New-teacher orientation meetings at her school started at 8 a.m. the same day.

This didn’t leave much time for a honeymoon.

So we’re off — Sunday, December 18 — to spend 20 days in one of the following locations:

  • Cockpit - compressedArgentina
  • Bali
  • Borneo
  • Botswana
  • Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos
  • Cape Verde
  • China
  • Dubai
  • Ecuador and Peru
  • France and Italy
  • Ghana
  • Greenland
  • India
  • Las Vegas
  • Madagascar
  • Mongolia
  • Nepal and Bhutan
  • New Caledonia and Vanuatu
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Sri Lanka

Ahhh… so many destinations, but we could only choose one! Where’s it going to be? And will I actually be so pathetic as to blog during my honeymoon?

Check back daily for updates as countries get crossed off the list!

Updates:

Tuesday, December 6: Crossed off the list today are:

  • Greenland: We’re both dying to go there, but at this time of year, it’s too cold and dark to lay on the beach.
  • India: A romantic destination, we’re sure, but it seemed a little intense for a honeymoon.

Wednesday, December 7: Crossed off the list today are:

  • Las Vegas: A little too surreal. A little too close to people who might crash out party.
  • Papua New Guinea: Sounds like a fascinating place. But romantic? Dunno.

Thursday, December 8: Today’s deletions:

  • Bali: A relatively easy long-weekend getaway from Singapore, so we’re saving it for a long weekend.
  • Dubai: A place I’m dying to check out for a few days, but like Las Vegas, a little too surreal as far as honeymoon destinations go.

Friday, December 9: Today’s deletions:

  • France and Italy: Honeymooning where you’ve spent a lot of time working = not romantic.
  • Nepal and Bhutan: Honeymooning where the temperature drops below freezing at night = potentially romantic… but no.

(Personal note to my friend Ian… thanks for the offer of a six-euro Coke in Paris… but that’s not quite enough to lure us….)

Saturday, December 10: This would be a good time to remind you that we have already chosen our honeymoon destination and purchased our plane tickets. This ongoing, daily-updating blog entry is just my annoying endearing way of keeping you in suspense. :-)

With one week to go until our departure, half of the countries are now crossed off the list. Of the ten remaining, five were under at least quasi-serious consideration at some point in time within the last few months.

Taken out of the running today are:

  • China: Okay, for starters, China is a big freaking country, so “China” would be a pretty vague destination. That might be a good thing, because the last thing we need is my throngs of blog readers all trying to stalk us on our honeymoon. It’s not where we’re going in any case, though we were sitting out by the pool at our apartment building 90 minutes ago, watching a total lunar eclipse, when Kattina mentioned that parts of China will be in the path of a total solar eclipse in May. So, yes, I said, I think going to China in May to see a total solar eclipse would be a cool thing to do… because I think that going to China even if there were no eclipse involved would still be a cool thing to do.
  • Mongolia: Speaking of cool, the high temperature in Ulan Bataar tomorrow is -13 degrees Celcius. Enough said.

Sunday, December 11: We continue chiseling down. Yesterday, I noted that of the ten destinations remaining on the list, five had been under serious consideration at one point. Actually, all five of those destinations have been discussed within the last four months, after we moved to Singapore. I’m going to keep crossing off the destinations that never were considered, until we get down to the five that were. Today’s eliminations bring us down to eight destinations still in the running. Zapped today are:

  • Ecuador and Peru: In 1994 or so, I applied for English teaching jobs in Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus… and also in Quayaquil, Ecuador, after hearing of a job opening. If you’ve read my book, Getting Lost, you know the story of my Turkish disaster. Had I been offered the job in Guayaquil, I think I might have ended up there instead.  Unfortunately, there was a delay in funding to hire for that position. After returning to the US from my Turkish meltdown, funding finally came through, and I received an e-mail one day asking if I would like to go teach there. Sadly, both my physical and mental health were pretty shredded at that point, and I opted to stay in Madison, Wisconsin, until I could confirm I was not actually dying. (I was not.) So… Ecuador and neighboring Peru? High on my list of places I want to visit, but they were never discussed for the honeymoon.
  • Ghana: Another country high on my list. But if you look at the map, there are closer African destinations to Singapore.

Monday, December 12: It is well past midnight here in Singapore, and, just for the record, I had just wrapped up another project and snuggled up into bed when I remembered that all of you quintillions of people were waiting for today’s honeymoon update. Luckily for you, I have nothing better to do at 12:53 a.m. than drag myself out of bed to write this cranky “Can I please just go to sleep” update.

So, Quintillions, here you go. The list gets thinner with today’s elimination of:

  • Madagascar: Yet another intriguing place I fully intend to travel to someday, but for no particular reason, it never made the honeymoon short-list.
  • Cape Verde: A fascinating-sounding, independent island nation off the coast of Senegal that I attempted to visit a few years ago. A place that would have fulfilled my need for linguistic geekery among other things. Sadly, that work assignment fell through. A year later, my Norwegian sister, Hanne, from my exchange student host-family, had her honeymoon on Cape Verde. And, you know how it is… honeymooning in the same place as your sister did is just a little bit skeezy.

This brings our list down to six remaining possibilities, five of which were under serious consideration at some point since moving to Singapore. Starting tomorrow, I’ll be crossing off one country per day, kind of in the order our final decision unfolded. Those six remaining possibilities (and reasons you should believe they might be the final destination) are:

  • Argentina: Because I’ve traveled to five continents so far, and South America isn’t one of them. And Argentina is the land that invented the tango.
  • Borneo: Because they have proboscis monkeys and breathtaking beaches, and because a short flight from Singapore means more money and minimal travel fatigue once we’re there.
  • Botswana: Because Botswana blew my freaking mind on my one, too-short teaching /tour guiding gig there in 2010. I’ve been clamoring to go back. Kattina needs to bond with the wildebeest. There are mind-blowing safari lodges, ideal for a honeymoon. And the Kalahari Bushmen still have my Frisbee.
  • Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos: Because we’ve fallen in love with the small portion of Vietnam we’ve seen so far. It’s where we got engaged, and we’re aching to check out the rest of the country, along with Cambodia and Laos, which we have yet to set foot in.
  • New Caledonia and Vanuatu: Because our attempts to visit the South Pacific keep getting scuttled by logistics. I first visited the South Pacific while working as a lecturer on a cruise ship in 2005. The ship made several eight-hour ports of call — an irritatingly short amount of time to get to know a place. I’ve dreamed of going back ever since. When we made our first trip to Vietnam in 2008, it was because no flights to the South Pacific were available with my frequent flier miles on the dates we needed to travel. Also, ever since discovering a streaming, online radio station a couple of years ago, I have become obsessed with Bislama, Vanuatu’s national language.
  • Sri Lanka: Because Kattina was offered a teaching job there, and if the Singapore job hadn’t come through, it’s probably where we’d be living right now. One gets curious about what life would be like. And again… we’re talking stunning beaches and a tasty dose of culture shock, plus monkeys and elephants.

Tomorrow, I start crossing one country off the list each day, instead of two as I’ve been doing — in roughtly the order we did the same in real life. Stay tuned, Quintillions!

Tuesday, December 13: We move into the final five. The five remaining countries have all been under at least semi-serious consideration since our move to Singapore, but in the end, we could only choose one. Of the six remaining, the one that was not among those we seriously considered was…

  • Argentina: I’m not sure why we didn’t seriously consider Argentina. A honeymoon would have been a good way to hit continent number six. Alas, this leaves us with three Asian itineraries, one in Africa, and one in the South Pacific — three out of five island destinations, three that include countries (though not necessarily areas) I’ve visited, and all five with sandy goodness of one sort or another. Tomorrow, we start crossing places off this list in the order we really crossed them off of ours.

Wednesday, December 14: Eventually, we had to pick a destination. We started narrowing things down before we got married in July, talked about five places — four seriously — chose one, then changed our mind in October, then changed our mind again just a few weeks ago. The place that got ruled out pretty quickly was….

  • Botswana: Kattina hasn’t been there yet. I had possibly the most amazing day of my life there (ahem… other than our wedding, sweetie…) in 2010. I’m aching to get back, and Kattina’s itching to see it for the first time. As the old saying goes, “What’s a honeymoon without wildebeest?” But with the possibility of a new Globejotter Tour there sometime in the next year or so, and the ability to stretch our travel fund further if we stayed closer to home, we decided to stick with the Asia / South Pacific area.

So what was our first official choice, why did we choose it, and why did we then change our mind? Check back tomorrow for that part of the tale.

Thursday, December 15: Due to a computer crash, and a subsequent brain injury from banging my head on my desk, Thursday’s update has been delayed.

Friday, December 16: Forty minutes of writing — at 2 a.m. no less — were zapped last night when my computer just decided to go to sleep all of a sudden — poof. I did not know there was such as thing as cyber narcolepsy. This has thrown my oh-so-important production schedule for this blog into utter chaos, as I was planning to remove one more destination from the list each day through Saturday. (We leave early Sunday morning, which is Saturday afternoon, back in the States.) So… to keep things fun, I will now be updating roughly once every 12 hours (give or take) instead of every 24 hours. Please cancel all other weekend plans you might have had.

Anyway, where were we? Kattina and I did finally make a hard and fast decision as to where we were definitely going to go on our honeymoon. Then we changed our mind. Twice. Hooray for decisiveness!

Our originally chosen honeymoon destination, which eventually had to be reconsidered was:

  • New Caledonia and Vanuatu

I first visited the South Pacific in 2005 when working as a guest lecturer on a cruise ship. We had ports of call in New Caledonia, Fiji, Samoa, and a gut-wrenching close call off the coast of Christmas Island, Kiribati.

The problem with cruise travel is most companies engage in what I call “smash and grab tourism” — eight hours per stop, just enough time to take a guided tour, shop, and get back on board your luxury floating hotel before having to mix with any of “the locals.” Cruise travel is great for some people — those with mobility impairments, for example. And I will confess, life on the ships is pretty fun. But when it comes to getting to know a place, eight-hour blitzes aren’t enough.

So I promised myself I’d get back to the South Pacific, and I’ve tried several times. When Kattina and I made our first trip to Vietnam in 2008, it was because we couldn’t get to the South Pacific with my frequent flier miles on the dates we needed to travel. I’ve looked into just buying tickets before, but from the States, they tend to be pricey, as are many of the destinations themselves once you’re there.

But for our honeymoon, we’d be looking at a shorter, and therefore cheaper, flight now that we live in Singapore. So our minds were made up.

Vanuatu came onto the list due to my linguistic geekery. The national language there is Bislama, a pidjin language that combines grammatically simplified English, French, and African dialects. I discovered Bislama when I stumbled across Capital FM 107, a streaming radio station from Port Vila, the Capital. The first time I heard Bislama, I was catching maybe 20 or 30 percent. My inner language nerd tracked down a .pdf file of a Peace Corps Bislama Training Manual. Once I started reading it, I was hooked. It’s a super fun language. Examples of how it works:

~ “Stilman i ronwei.” – “The thief escaped.” (“Steal-man he runaway.”)

~ “Em i foldaon.” “He / she fell down.” (“Him he falldown.”)

~ “Pita i sik tumas.” – “Peter is very sick.” (“Peter hs sick too-much.”)

~ “Man ia i save.” – “This man knows.” (“Man here he save — pronounced “SAH-vay,” from the french verb, savoir, meaning “to know.”

Yes, yes, so it’s all a bit pathetic, but my raging language geek led me to lobby for Vanuatu as a honeymoon destination out of a sick fantasy I have of one day infiltrating the studios of Capital FM 107 and chillin with the DJs for a little while while they help me perfect my Bislama.

So why did we bail on this destination? Getting there meant flying via Australia — over the Christmas holiday. The cheapest economy class tickets we could find were a ghastly $3,900 each, whereas we had three other destinations in mind with tickets for less than $350, and a much lower cost of living once we’re there.

So with tears in my eyes, I sniffed Vanuatu and New Caledonia from our list. We’re still going there someday. In the meantime, we had three other places in mind: Borneo, Cambodia/Vietnam/Laos, and Sri Lanka. We made our next decision. Our really final decision. Then we changed our minds again.

Tune in Saturday morning Singapore time (that’s Friday afternoon / evening in North America) to learn what happened.

Saturday, December 17: In 24 hours, we will be on an airplane, hopefully descending toward our destination right about now. We have three destinations remaining: Borneo, Cambodia/Vietnam/Laos, or Sri Lanka. And on the chat board, I’m seeing one vote each for Borneo and Sri Lanka. Poor C/V/L. They must be feeling neglected.

So we decided to save the South Pacific for later. We needed to make up our mind quickly. We were only six weeks out from our departure date. We chose a place with lots of diverse nature, a big mountain that Kattina wanted to drag me up, proboscis monkeys, and a cheap easy flight. But then, we heard, it’s their rainy season.

The term “rainy season” can be deceiving. It’s the rainy season here in Singapore right now. It’s sunny, or occasionally a little overcast, for most of the day. And on most days, we get a big afternoon thunderstorm that lasts an hour at best. So was “rainy season” really an issue where we were wanting to go?

We looked into it, and discovered, yes, it might be. Kattina really wanted to climb Mount Kinabalu, and there was a good chance it’d get rained out. So the place we then crossed off our list was…

  • Borneo. (Sorry Joan.) It sounds delightful, and worth three weeks of time. But perhaps in a different season, or perhaps broken into a few shorter trips, since flights there from Singapore are both cheap and relatively short.

Just before I go to bed tonight, Saturday morning in the US, I’ll reveal our final decision: Will it be the long list of places we have yet to explore and have been dying to see in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos… or something totally different in Sri Lanka? After cancelling our plans for Borneo, we discussed both of these options.

Saturday Part 2: It’s 12:30 a.m. here in Singapore. We have to wake up in four hours to go to the airport. So what’s it gonna be?

Once we decided not to put up with the rains of Borneo, we had to make a quick decision. Time was ticking. (Kind of like right now.) So we forgot about the whole thing for a week because it was easier than making a decision. But in the end, we concluded that Cambodia, northern Vietnam, and Laos make up a journey we’ve been talking about making ever since our first trip to southern Vietnam… and that we really really want to go explore those places… and that Sri Lanka is not a place that ever would have even entered our brain had Kattina not been offered a job there at the hiring conference back in February… and that this was a really difficult decision to make… and yet in another way, it wasn’t, because we can fly to all of these places relatively inexpensively from Singapore… and in the end, after much waffling and aimless rambling (kind of like right now) we just needed to choose. So we chose. The final destination we decided to cross off our list was…

(…Oh this is so much more melodramatic than necesary…)

Was…

Was…

  • Cambodia, Northern Vietnam, and Laos… because we decided a honeymoon should be to someplace way out of the ordinary. I’ve been to southern Vietnam five times, and Kattina’s been twice. Sri Lanka is completely new turf for both of us — out of our comfort zones and bursting with culture, food, and elephants.

So eleven hours from now, if we don’t oversleep, we’ll be in Sri Lanka.I’ll be blogging as much as time, technology, and my wife allow.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go take a little nap.

Remaining Possibilities:

  • Argentina
  • Bali
  • Borneo
  • Botswana
  • Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos
  • Cape Verde
  • China
  • Dubai
  • Ecuador and Peru
  • France and Italy
  • Ghana
  • Greenland
  • India
  • Las Vegas
  • Madagascar
  • Mongolia
  • Nepal and Bhutan
  • New Caledonia and Vanuatu
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Sri Lanka
Published on Sunday, December 18, 2011

11 Responses to “Mystery Honeymoon Destination: Where Are We Going?”

  1. December 6, 2011 at 4:45 AM

    Exiting! :) cant wait for daily updates! ;)

  2. Joye
    December 6, 2011 at 6:00 AM

    Just finished reading your first book, Getting Lost. I loved the book. Can’t wait to find out where you’re going on your honeymoon. Have you actually made plans, or are you waiting for your readers to suggest places?

  3. December 6, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    Joye–
    Thanks for the kind words on my travel humor book, Getting Lost! We’ve already booked our flight. I’m just keeping everyone in suspense! :-)

  4. Joye
    December 8, 2011 at 6:41 AM

    Why don’t you give us some hints re the type of activities you want to do – adventure, explore, history, R&R, active…..

  5. December 11, 2011 at 12:45 AM

    But Joye… we want to do all of those things. :-)

  6. Joan Kerr
    December 11, 2011 at 1:53 AM

    Well, you”work” in Botswana, so I’m guessing that is not it…unless Kattina hasn’t been there yet. You’ve spent several trips in Vietnam, so ditto on that one. Borneo sounds great…we cancelled a planned trip there once and I’ve regretted it ever since. But you may not be as thrilled about the thought of orangutans as I am, so I still have no idea of your final choice. Fun keeping track, tho.
    Best wishes from a member of the throng.

  7. December 12, 2011 at 1:28 AM

    Joan… It’s about time somebody has stepped up and started speculating!
    I can think of arguments against all three of your above speculations. But maybe that’s just because I like to argue. :-)
    I am not crossing any of your guesses off the list today. In the next day or two, I will elaborate on why all of the countries that remain at this point in time would be within the realm of possibility.

  8. Joan Kerr
    December 12, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    I would happily go to any of the destinations on your list…except Las Vegas, which I actualyy do go to from time to time, although not always happily. But if it was my choice from those left on your list, I would pick Madagascar.

  9. Joan Kerr
    December 17, 2011 at 2:34 AM

    Woo hoo…Borneo is still in your list! I am waiting with bated breath, (even though I’m not exactly sure what bated breath is.)

  10. Joye
    December 17, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    I vote for Sri Lanka

  11. Joan Kerr
    December 17, 2011 at 11:39 PM

    I will work hard to get over my disappointment that I won’t be able to read upcoming stories about Dave and Kattina being chased through the Borneo jungles by orangutans and change my vote…since I still have a couple of hours before you are actually on your way. I know you loved Vietnam, so just so they won’t feel neglected, I will vote for C-V-L.
    Have a fabulous honeymoon, Dave and Kattina!

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