In a case of divine retribution or Karma being a total bitch, the server hosting littlewhiteswan was hacked and everything was lost. I've uploaded the last good copy I could find, altered this page a little but done pretty much nothing else. I wouldn't have bothered doing that even, but we still get thousands of hits each month, mainly for accommodation reviews. The novelty of keeping up the blog wore off after a couple of years and as we pretty much live in Chiang Mai now, interesting or exciting things and Peterism's are few and far between so there is little to write about so, for posterity, below is littlewhiteswan as was. Bear in mind that a lot of internal links don't work, but a little work will get you to wherever you want to go. Eventually I may update it all. Yeah. Right. Oh yeah, Facebook, you know how to search.

September 2007

Woo-hoo! 19 years, 11 months and 5 days after leaving England all of the hard work, obsessive saving and canny investing have paid off. We've sold the house and everything in it, bought a one way ticket and away we go. Woo-hoo!! As we will undertake an annual pilgrimage to make offerings to the Australian Taxation Commissioner, we've kept Peter's ute filled with the odd luxury item - our bikes, his golf clubs, a full size keyboard, an electric blender. They may not seem like luxuries, but already they are a fond memory. As for everything else, we own what we carry.
Retiring at 43 and 44 brings with it a couple of issues (and before the word lucky passes your lips, spare a thought about the ridiculously long hours at work, the first 14 years with barely a day off let alone a holiday, the beat up old cars which Peter spent most of his spare time keeping on the road, the half kilo of stewing steak which put one meal on the table and 4 more into the freezer, the charity shop chic and the not spending a cent unless it was absolutely necessary). The issues are simple: we have to make sure that we don't run out of money, and we have to make even surer that we don't run out of health.

The common denominator here is food. Eating out 3 times a day, even at the insalubrious hole-in-the-wall places we gravitate towards can be expensive. Money aside, even though we walk for hours every day, how long before we look like a couple of Sumo wrestlers with arteries more clogged than the Westgate freeway in rush hour? The solution as I see it is cooking facilities. With cooking facilities I can control the portion size as well as the type and amount of fat used. An added benefit is that a kitchen also means a separate bedroom - one of us can be in the bedroom reading or on the laptop while the other is in the lounge watching TV or listening to music. I don't think being on top of each other 24 hours a day is a terribly good idea, and this solves that potential problem. So - holiday lets, or vacation rentals as our American cousins call them, are the way to go. Some holiday lets are hideously expensive, but there are some gems out there. Then there's the timeshare rentals. We bought our timeshare not for the beast itself (although we've had some fantastic holidays in our own little piece of paradise in Bali) but for access to the timeshare exchange companies. It works like this - if you don't want to or can't take your particular week this year, you "deposit" it into the exchange bank, then later you can "withdraw" one someone else "deposited". That's the theory anyway. In practice, there are a lot more deposits than withdrawals. This means that every week there is "excess inventory" - literally thousands of units empty, and the exchange companies sell them off as cheap rentals. All in all, we shouldn't have any problem finding self catering accommodation in most places we visit. To make things interesting however, we've given ourselves a budget of A$500/£200 per week. And of course we want wireless internet access for that. Habits of a lifetime, I'm afraid. I've been surprised by the amount of interest shown in our accommodation - is it REALLY "Spotless", "Within Walking Distance" and "Vermin-Free"? Seriously - I wish I'd kept the url for that one. By popular request, I'll keep a separate section on accommodation, complete with a photograph or two to go with each review. I don't expect I'll do a review of every place we stay - I'm sure the novelty will wear off - but I will include especially good or bad ones. Besides, it's not like I'll have no spare time. So, come and join us on our Very Big Adventure.

And of course the home page wouldn't be complete without a link to our eventful holiday in China or even the report of our first year on the road