A big trip on the horizon.

Another school year is complete. No more stacks of essays to grade, no more committee meetings to attend (for the most part), and no more hours each day prepping for class. By mid-April of every year, I simply cannot wait for the semester to end. Then, like clockwork, once June rolls around, I find myself missing the classroom and my students. I don’t say that in a cheesy, sentimental way. I say it more in a “the classroom gives me something to fill my time” kind of way. Sure, I’ll get to play tons of golf this summer, and I always look forward to that first tee shot, regardless of who it’s with or how hot it is outside. And yes, I’ll have plenty of time to work on my scholarly work and to get some reading and writing done, which is a big part of summer life for professors. But neither of these is a substitute for the classroom, and I have to deliberately seek out ways to fill that void.

This summer’s solution: Thailand.

Come June 16, two of my closest friends and I jump on a plane in Houston; 20 hours later, we will be in Bangkok, and we’ll then spend the next 15 days flying around southeast Asia, soaking up as much of the experience as we can. Our plan is to basically stack five different 3-days weekends on top of teach other. Here’s the rundown:

Phi Phi Islands

^Just imagine an overweight American man will bad tan lines weighing down one side of that boat and you’ll have an accurate image of what I assume my experience will be.

Hong Kong

^Looks like a pretty small and intimate city. I’m sure we’ll be to see all this place has to offer in three days…

Hanoi, Vietnam

^How many different types of carbs can I eat on one single street? I plan on finding out.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

^There’s a very strong chance I will be involved in at least one scooter accident.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

^Apparently they built this new temple there recently that’s worth seeing. Sort of a Universal Studios meets Machu Picchu vibe, I think. I doubt there’s much history there… sure it doesn’t compare to the Alamo.

Five different places that are totally different and removed from anything I’ve seen or done before. Five different places to jump headfirst into culture. My only plan is to keep an open mind and to embrace all that each place has to offer. So, basically, I’m going to eat a lot.

Once the trip is over, I hope to have all sorts of stories to share, which I’ll be able to do on this blog. That being said, I’ve got my fingers crossed that I don’t use my return ticket. Instead, I’m thinking I might just settle down over there. Meet a nice woman, start a family, and have a novelty “American Steak Finger Baskets!” booth in one of the many, many street markets. Sounds like a totally realistic and reasonable expectation for the trip.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Also, I turned 32 last week. Here are three new recommendations to start off this 33rd year of my life:

Read: “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver. It’s a famous short story by one of the most famous American authors of short stories, and I have no doubt there are many places where you can find a copy for free online. It’s an unexpectedly tender and beautiful story that is well worth the twenty minutes it will take to read it. Go find it. Now.

Watch: May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers (2017) – This HBO documentary follows the band around while they worked on their most recent album, True Sadness. It has all of the things I hope for in a music documentary: backstory, candid moments between the band members, and awesome shots of in-studio and on-stage performances. I have been a big fan of the Avett Brothers for many years, and this documentary only made me like them more.

Listen: Ruins by First Aid Kit (2018) – First Aid Kid consists of two sisters, and their harmonies are as good as any. They make music that’s easy to listen to on repeat.

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