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Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Recovery From My Vacation Is Taking Almost As Long As My Vacation Itself!

So, I have been back from vacation for the past 5 days. I have published quick updates of my vacation days, but no details yet. So, what have I been up to?

Well, I have been quite busy actually. Work has been quite hectic with lots of stuff to catch up on regarding my project, etc. I was in meetings for large parts of every day. And most days, I could not get out of work until much later than usual.

This has given me very little time to organize my notes and photographs from the trip to publish them. I have not even had time to go through all the photographs from end to end yet. Combined with having to write down notes for all the 40 or so individual trips that made up this vacation, it has been quite a challenge so far.

And it is not getting any less challenging over the weekend either since I have to go in to work tomorrow because I am on support duty for a program that we rewrote recently and is in need of time-critical support this weekend. Hopefully, by next week, I will have things somewhat under control, and start publishing stuff in dribs and drabs.

Apart from the quick updates I put out during my trip, I published a post on Friday about sports-related USB flash drives. This was a post I had prepared almost fully before my vacation and left in draft-form during my vacation. It was only a little bit of work to polish it off and publish it, so I managed to do it. But I have not yet gotten back to my regular publishing schedule with other material yet.

During my vacation, visitors from 4 new countries visited my blog. Three of those countries are in Africa: Madagascar, Libya and Malawi. The fourth was quite surprising to me given the state of affairs there and the presumed state of the infrastructure there. This fourth country was Afghanistan! That makes it 141 countries that have visited my blog so far. The breakup of percentage of visitors by country (for the top few countries) is shown in the pie chart below, courtesy of flagcounter.

I did mention earlier that the planning for the vacation had been quite long, and it had been very expensive. So, was it worth it? The verdict is in: it was definitely worth it! I have not taken a fully organized trip before, choosing to make up my own vacation as I go along. By going in for a fully organized tour, I took most of the worries out of the vacation. My hotels were already booked and I was assured about their quality. My daily activity was already charted out and I knew where I was going, when and what I was going to see.

I did not have to worry about my hotel room. I did not have to wake up everyday worrying about what I was going to see that day. Based on that, I would have to start worrying about how to get there, when to get there, who to hire to explain it to me, etc. I did not have to worry about my meals, when I was going to have them, where I was going to have them, how much I was going to end up spending for all of this, etc. In fact, I withdrew a lot of money to take along with me on this vacation just like on previous vacations, and I ended up depositing most of it back in my bank account at the end of the vacation. All I had to spend money on was souvenirs and tips for my guides and hotel cleaning personnel, etc. I did not have to pay for meals, day to day transportation, etc. It was hugely liberating, and made the vacation much much more enjoyable. I would definitely recommend organized tours for anyone debating between do-it-yourself vacations and organized tours as long as your budget is not one of the considerations.

Make sure you go with a good tour company though. Mine (Eureka Travel) was just excellent. The hotels they booked us into were excellent. The tours were organized expertly and executed like clockwork. The guides were knowledgeable and I could learn a lot about the sights I saw even though there were no explanatory signs or placards at most of these attractions. Without a guide, I would not have known what to make of any of what I saw even if I had managed to get to all these places. I can not recommend Eureka travel enough. Overall, this was quite a memorable vacation, and hopefully my future vacations will be more like this. Here is to hoping . . .!

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