About This BlogStarted 29 August 2005, this blog is meant primarily to follow my adventures around the world. There will undoubtedly be detours into other things that interest me.
Khmer RougeMy landlord (who is one of the coolest landlords ever for a lot of other reasons besides this one), on hearing my around-the-world plans, loaned me a huge stack of books from his recent seven week stint in Asia. Lonely Planet's Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea, and Taiwan, Fodor's Thailand, China, Hong Kong, and Japan, and the Eyewitness Japan. I tend to favour the Rough Guide when I'm travelling because I like them best for descriptions of sites (not as opinionated as LP, and fairly detailed) but I'll probably use LP most for this trip as they're widely acknowledged to be the best for cheap lodgings. Japan, Korea, and Taiwan aren't on my travel list: I'd like to go there, but the cost of living in Japan and Korea is higher than the U.S., so they don't lend themselves to cheap travel. Taiwan is only marginally cheaper.
I've been reading the history section in the Cambodia guide, and that's rough going. The history of Cambodia isn't something I'd heard about before, although technically I did live through the rise and fall of the Khmer Rouge. I was 12 and living in Canada when they were slaughtering somewhere between one and three million of their fellow countrymen. Something to understand here was that these weren't conflict fatalities: these were people killed for a difference of opinion. If you didn't agree with the Khmer Rouge, you were killed. It was the Vietnamese who came across the border and freed Cambodia from one of the most repressive regimes in recorded history. Not that that meant peace for Cambodia, as it struggled with civil war for a couple more decades. The U.S. actually put some money into the Khmer Rouge after it was driven from power, which is simply beyond my understanding. Cambodia has only recently become open to tourism again. ^ TOP
Eating SalmonellaIt's amazing what we'll do when a medical professional tells us we should do it. Today I took a pill that contains an "attenuated" strain of Salmonella Typhi. Yum. And I'm carefully nursing three more of these pills in my fridge, keeping the nice little bacterium alive and well so I can consume them too. The theory being that a typhoid inoculation is a good thing. ^ TOP
Where am I going?The current plan is to return to Toronto around September 20th. My possessions should be arriving (and going into storage) around the same time - a mover is taking care of that. I'll stay in the city about three weeks making arrangements, and then board a plane. Where I go is still being disputed. Here's my current thoughts:
Toronto -> Vancouver -> Honolulu -> Hong Kong -> Beijing (Great Wall) -> Shanghai -> Xian (Terracotta Warriors) -> Guilin (stone forest) -> Yangshuo (karsts) -> Kunming -> Hong Kong -> Bangkok -> Chang Mai -> through Laos -> Hanoi -> across Vietnam -> Ho Chi Minh City -> Phnom Penh -> Bangkok -> Thai penninsula -> Kuala Lumpur -> Singapore -> Indonesia? -> Myanamar? -> Kathmandu -> Kolkata -> Varanasi -> Chennai -> Kerala -> fly right over the Middle East -> Ankara -> Istanbul -> Thessaloniki -> Athens? -> Skopje -> Sofia -> Bucharest -> Belgrade -> Budapest -> Prague -> Warsaw? -> Toronto.
Egypt and Morocco are under consideration. New Zealand was axed because if I went there first and stayed a couple months, it would be dead cold in Beijing by the time I arrived as NZ would probably have to be right at the beginning of the itinerary. Australia, Japan, and Korea are off the list because of relatively high costs of living. I want cheap places to stay away as long as possible.
U.S. travel advisories warn heavily against Nepal (they do have Maoist insurgents running all over the country) but no one else does and I really want to go there.
I'm toying with the idea of flying straight to Thailand because I think I'm going to like it and deal with it best, and I hope to stay there a long time (a couple/three months). But I have no way of knowing that. I've heard a lot of good things about it, it's a predominantly Buddhist country, and the people have a reputation for being easy-going. ^ TOP
Typhoid and MalariaOne of the many things I have to attend to before starting my round-the-world trip is getting shots, and making sure I have the various medications I need with me when I travel. I'm up-to-date on tetanus and polio, and I'm covered on hepatitus A and B for life, but my typhoid shot from my India trip has expired. As it turns out your options are a shot for $61, good for two years, or a set of pills for $45, good for five years. The catch on the pills is that you have to A)keep them in the refridgerator, B)take them on an empty stomach, and C)take four of them each two days apart. A royal pain, but for five years coverage ...
I also discussed the wonders of anti-malarial drugs with the nurse at the Macon Travel Center. My friend Paul is pretty displeased with Meflaquin (aka "Lariam") because of its extensive list of side effects, which include paranoia, anxiety, depression, hallucinations, and nightmares. The company line is that only 1% of people experience side effects, but that's bullshit. It's a weekly, and I remember all too well the Sunday morning recitations of the folks on my India trip as they told us about the dreams induced by their Saturday night dose. I took doxycycline as an antimalarial on that trip, but it messes up your stomach after a while (about two weeks in for me) and I can't see taking it for months and months. Malarone is a daily with less side effects, but it's much more expensive. I'm going to find out what the prices are. ^ TOP
One of my favourite photosJust a test of Nucleus and its ability to post photos. Looks pretty good.
Travel Blog starts ...A lot of people have asked me to keep them informed of my travels as I return to Toronto and then fly off around the world. My hosting service (unsolicited plug: Jaguar PC, who I'm very happy with) offered several blogging tools. I chose Nucleus because it seemed to allow easy posting of pictures, which I hope I'll be using a lot as I travel.
As of this past Friday, I'm officially unemployed. I turned in my keys at work after ten years. That's a strange feeling. ^ TOP