Phnom Penh to Luang Prabang by rail

Remote tribes in Indonesia, the FAA meme-shames bad passengers, walking from Land’s End to John o’Groats, and more travel reads.

Hello from Ho Chi Minh City, where lockdown life continues. Lockdown also continues in my homeland, with half of Australia going through ongoing lockdowns. The only way out of this mess is via mass vaccination, and in a bit of good news, Vietnam administered 1.4 million doses in a single day! There are over 96 million people here, so those numbers are how Vietnam gets to reopen next year.

Ed Yong also put out another must-read article about how the pandemic now ends, which gives a good illustration of how we will live with this in the coming years. I have been in the camp of 2023 reopening, but this article gives me a bit of hope. We are still a long way to go in Vietnam though, with field hospitals in HCMC overflowing with patients (this week’s Vietnam Weekly has a good summary of the situation).

I’ve been booked in for my second vaccination in September, and I also have month-to-month visa uncertainties. I’ve been keeping a tab of where I could go next, but some places require full vaccination (such as the Phuket Sandbox program). Some of my friends in Saigon went back to the US to get vaccinated, but that option is about to close as well. Either way, I expect there will be some changes coming soon in NomadicNotesVille.

I haven’t posted anything new on Nomadic Notes for a while as I am,

a) writing more content at Future Southeast Asia, and

b) writing some longer posts that take more than a week to put together.

I’ve been expanding my railway coverage, and this week’s article (linked below) has me thinking about what it will take to build a Saigon-Bangkok railway.

This week it was confirmed that the China-Laos railway is planning to open at the start of December. I am monitoring how and when Laos will open up for travel again. I’m pretty tired of living my life in a room at this point, but I would do a hotel quarantine in Vientiane if it meant I could cover this story of the new railway.

Once this new railway opens, and when normal travel resumes, it will be possible to travel Phnom Penh - Bangkok - Vientiane - Luang Prabang by rail.

COVID-19 and travel

• COVID-19 vaccine passports and travel: Don't want to get vaccinated? Don't expect to travel again

Assorted travel reads

• Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City by rail on the Southern Economic Corridor Railway

Another article I wrote where I am dreaming about potential railways of the future.

[Phnom Penh Railway Station.]

• Learning to love solitude (and hate oatmeal) on a 15,534-mile Canadian trek

“For six years, the filmmaker Dianne Whelan hiked, biked, paddled, snowshoed and skied from the Atlantic to the Pacific and north to the Arctic. Here’s what she learned along the way.”

• Photo series aims to capture the culture of remote tribes in Indonesia

I walked from Land’s End to John o’Groats – and learned three soothing lessons

• Life on the last remaining ferries in Hoi An

• Cognac and cigars: The golden age of inflight meals

• A San Francisco airport site is crawling with snakes—and that’s a good thing

• See the social-media memes the FAA is using in its push to wrangle unruly passengers

• The ancient origins of the new nomads

“The root of the ancient philosophy of nomadism is not migration specifically, but rather the frame of mind required.”

• Ukrainian flight attendants are ditching high heels and skirts for statement suits and Nike Airs

I’ve always thought it was ridiculous that flight attendants should be made to wear high heels, so this is a good move.

• Singapore Changi Airport falls from top spot as world's best airports for 2021 revealed

Most of the news articles about this went with the angle of Singapore losing rather than Doha winning. This is more to do with the fact that Doha remained open throughout the pandemic, while Singapore was reduced to limited services. Changi Airport has been using this time to renovate Terminal 2, so I would expect SIN to make a comeback when this is over.


The Nomadic Notes Travel Newsletter is a weekly newsletter of the best travel reads and interesting travel news from around the web, and random ramblings by the editor.

- James Clark