Kay Jones travelled overseas in 2016 and regularly shared her experiences with Oberon Review readers. Now she is back in Oberon ...
HI everyone, I am back in Oberon from my six month adventure in Thailand and Vietnam.
I’m refreshed and ready to settle back into my life in Oberon, though I'm not sure for how long.
As I meet up with old friends and people who followed me in the Oberon Review, the question that keeps popping up to me is: “How can you afford to go away for six months? That must have cost you a fortune.”
Well, no, it didn't. I went online and booked my own accommodation and air travel. I also used TripAdvisor to find the best and cheapest places to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and to find quirky cafes for the best coffee.
I lived on my pension. In Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, that is very easy to do. The Australian pension allows you to live a good life. Food and the cost of living is very cheap, as is air travel.
A lot of people believe the pension cuts out after six weeks. It may for some people, but if you have lived and worked here all your life, it doesn't. The only payment you lose is the allowance for the cost of electricity, which is cut after six weeks.
When l left here, my goal was to live like a local in Chiang Mai, my favourite place in Thailand.
There are a lot of Aussies living there and I wanted to see if what they said was true: that on your pension “you can live like a king”. I think I achieved that. Those of you who have been following me in the Oberon Review will know l had lots of adventures and fun along the way. Most of those adventures I would not have been able to afford back home.
The next question people ask me is about the quality of healthcare in Thailand. Chiang Mai has many good hospitals that meet international western standards for a fraction of the cost in Australia. In fact, Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok is one of the best hospitals in the world.
Vietnam is full of surprises and it's amazing how the country has recovered after the war. The people are friendly and love to stop and talk. Hanoi is a vibrant, chaotic city, as is Saigon. I really loved it there.
I didn’t get to write to you about Saigon, but you could be excused for thinking you were walking around the streets of Paris, with the patisseries, coffee bars, tree-lined boulevards and terraced homes.
So, yes, l did have a great time away. Am I happy to be back? Yes and no. It’s good to be home and I do feel refreshed and energised for getting back into things and finding new ways to plan my life. But I miss the living “on the edge”.
It has also been good writing this column. I now have a record of my travels. So until next time ...