I need to find LOWTs (Locals Only, Weekend Trips. Yeah, I need a better acronym.) Basically, what Hua Hin offers but in a Spanish speaking country. Population between 50 and 100k, a few hours from a city, a concentration of visitor oriented establishments. Visitors are a combination of locals from the big city on the weekends, a manageable flow of foreign visitors during the high season and a smattering of expats who call it home. Even better is one type and location of amenities aimed at foreigners and a different one at the weekender. Ocean, lake or river would be nice as would mountains close enough for a day trip. It goes without saying that the air quality has to meet my minimum standard and there must be several places that one can get a decent cappuccino (no, I’ve never been in any danger of going native). Ease of visa and cost of living are also prime considerations.
First step is to identify such locations. ‘Oh, I know! I know! Pick me teacher, pick me!’ Hua Hin meets all the criteria, so why look for something else? Because I can. Because there are places I want to go and things I want to do. Because I want to travel while the body still doesn’t mind so much. Because with my current visa I can return to Thailand if I want to and renew it.
Now, I just have to figure out to identify them. The Lonely Planet books usually give a very brief assessment of a town’s nature, ranging in length from a phrase, e.g., ‘soulless transportation hub’, to a few sentences. I’ve found them to be acceptably accurate for both the Thai and Philippine towns I’ve spent more than a few days in.
Despite my distrust of expat forums, maybe a question about where the city folk take their weekends will be useful because no one on the forum has a vested interest in the answer. If I read Spanish much better I could search the real estate sites in the cities for where the vacation homes are located.
I imagine putting Plan B into effect as follows:
- Travel to see the highlights.
- Keep moving.
- Pause days or weeks at previously identified LOWTs.
- Bob and weave between Cities and sparsely populated areas to assess air pollution effects.
- Time this to coincide with being out of Thailand for the two hottest months of the year.
It may be to late to do the last one but that’s only because of procrastination, both the procrastinating I’ve already done and that I know I’m going to do. But that opens the possibility of just taking a trip of at least two months just for the fun of it.