Do You Enjoy Travel Stories?
This website chronicles our trip around the world in 2006. It has lots of photos, videos and stories. We invite you to come in, relax and enjoy the scenery.
~Lee and Sachi LeFever
The same page also points to a handy list of how to say "hello" in a number of languages, and how to communicate in a country where you don't speak the language.
We continue to look for ways to get things in our life prepared for our departure. Of course, this includes our beloved dog. He just turned 11 and he's slowed down remarkably in the last year. He's still the same happy and healthy dog, just slower and less, um, jumpy.
This morning I took Amos to the vet for a check-up. I get anxious about such things and worry (too much) about things like cancer. In talking to the vet, it became pretty clear that he is just an old man and like old men, he's stiff and sore.
We did get some blood tests for good measure and we'll get those results back tomorrow. So, I have another 24 hours of mild anxiety. But, if they come back clear, I'll have even more peace of mind. (A priority in our preparation is peace of mind, if you can't tell).
Oh and we've got him on an arthritis drug that is supposed to make him feel better too. As hard as it will be to leave him, it will be better if we can do so with him in good health.
This is a first attempt to mobily post a photo to Flickr and as a "dispatch" on the TwinF site. Hope it works.
Updated: Wow, this is cool. This is the first time I've taken a picture with the Treo 650 and sent the picture to an email address and had the picture show up on TwinF as a new blog post. This is going to make blogging the trip via pictures very easy, fun and real time. Flickr rocks so hard.
There just seems to be so many interesting things today, I can't stop blogging...
This, however, is a bit seasonal. Gadling points to a special report by the Guardian called Dark Tourism. Dark Tourism is tourism at the sites of tragedy, like Chernobyl, Dachau, Ground Zero. Professor John Lennon has written a book about it and also writes:
'Dark tourism' sites are important testaments to the consistent failure of humanity to temper our worst excesses and, managed well, they can help us to learn from the darkest elements of our past. But we have to guard against the voyeuristic and exploitative streak that is evident at so many of them. I've been to Dachau (a German concentration camp) and I'll never forget it. The horrors of the holocaust had only been things on TVs and in books, but visiting that place really gave me a dark and ominous feel. From the rusty barbed wire to the museum and sculptures, I left with this sense of wonder at how humanity could have justified such a place. Chilling.
Photo thanks to: AidanJones
I admit to a macabre attraction to Dark Tourism sites and imagine it will be a part of our trip on occasion.
If I'm not mistaken, Yahoo! is making some big moves in the travel sector. I saw two new properties recently:
Richard MacManus points to the Yahoo Trip Planner, which is part travel service and part travel sharing. As members add their trips, including lodging, sights, etc. it's added to a map and (optionally) viewable by the public. You can copy a trip as a way to start your own, etc.
At first, I thought, oh boy another itinerary planning service. Then I started looking at the public trips and realized, quite selfishly, that these trips could be really handy in helping us find ideas for specific locations.
Imagine we're about to go to France. This trip could serve as a starting point for things we might want to do in Paris.
Also, Yahoo! just rolled out Richard Bang's Adventures, which is a site devoted to chronicling Richard's adventure travels. Richard has been described to me as "the man" of adventure travel. I believe it.
Gridskipper pointed me to a new-ish blog that is, so far, doing a great job of preventing people like us from looking like idiots in foreign lands. It's called Escape Blog, and is part of the Fine Fools Network.
A couple of good take homes:
In Jordan, coffee is an important cultural symbol of hospitality. So when you are offered Arabic coffee by your host, do NOT say no. Once you are finished drinking and do not want to have more, shake your coffee cup from side to side. However, should you want more coffee, all you have to do is hold out your cup to the person who has the coffee pot.
-The land of beer has strict drink driving laws. The limit is only 0.25 mg of alcohol per litre of blood.
-Don’t flick the bird! Inappropriate hand gestures are forbidden!
-Seat belts front and rear are obligatory everywhere.
-There are autobahns WITH speed limits. Do follow them otherwise, you can get fined heavily. And you have to pay on the spot, too!
-Passing on the right is not allowed!
-It is illegal to run out of gas on the Autobahn so fill ‘er up!
-It is also customary to...switch on your hazard blinkers when approaching a traffic jam to warn those behind you.
-Some may flash their high beams to request that you let them pass.
I wonder if Jon knew these things?
I just took a look at the site of new Irish friend Justin MacCarthy, who recently traveled to Thailand and Cambodia and may be in New Zealand when we're there. I saw a couple of great posts about practical advice on Thailand and Cambodia.
Hook up with a local to drink beer on the train...
I thought I’d buy a large bottle of Chang beer to share with my new friend. I called the carriage guy and asked him how much a bottle was. 170 Baht. Ok I knew it would be a little more but the usual price is more like 70 Baht. I was about to say what the hell and buy one, when I saw Tawat motioning not to buy it. No thanks I said.
When the carriage guy was gone I asked Tawat what was up? For you, he said, its 170 Baht, but for me its 100 Baht. He smiled. Yes we charge foreigners more!! So Tawat bought the beer from then on. And our carriage guy laughed it off. So if you want to buy beer on the trains, get to know a local!
And, a really interesting look at his first arrival in Cambodia.
I knew arriving in Cambodia would be a shock. I had never been to S.E Asia. I had never traveled alone. I knew it would be a culture shock. It was, in spades. For first few hours I thought I’d made a mistake. 3 weeks later I’m fascinated by the country. Hopefully we'll see Justin on the trip soon...
Over the last 24 hours I have been through an event that will give us more peace of mind than anything else for the trip. I had a cardiac procedure called Radio Frequency Cardiac Ablation, which will prevent me from having an irregular heartbeat during the trip and hopefully for the rest of my life.
The procedure was done via catheter, which means that they run a couple of wires into my heart from veins in my groin and shoulder. The wires are then used to detect the electrical currents in my heart and burn out a node or two that cause the disturbances.
The procedure was done to prevent atrial flutter, which is an electrical disturbance that causes the right atrium of my heart beats irregularly for time to time. I’ve had it about 10 years and it’s been the source of stress more than any else. It’s not life threatening, but I do have to have access to a hospital if it the flutter keeps up for 12-24 hours.
In preparing for the trip, having atrial flutter was an issue. My Dr. said I’d be fine, but I would have to be prepared to get to a hospital if needed. I do NOT want to be having a great time and suddenly have to be medi-vac'd from some remote location.
So, I’m home now after spending the night at the hospital after the procedure and all is well. All in all, the worst pain involved the removal of tape from my hairy tummy. This is one thing that I am very happy to leave behind for the trip.
I've written a little more about my whole history of this issue here.
Kelly at Gadling point us to this smart, insightful and very well written essay by Molly Beer about the spirit of wayfaring and the inevitable return home. It's called : As You Set Out for Ithaka: When Rolling Stones Roll Home.
Like us, Kelly is preparing for an extended trip and I can see why she said she read it twice. Beer's essay captures some of the feelings and perspectives that can only come from having lived it and come home a different person.
I have been in this place a year, but I still read overseas job listings and the travel section first. Still, I dream of the road, of early morning markets, of long treks between villages, of hoisting my slim belongings onto my shoulders and walking onwards. Still, I imagine lands I haven’t seen, but I dig my hands into the earth of my garden, and I imagine I am sprouting roots.
Here's the breakdown:
- Mexico (19.3 million visitors)
- Canada (15 million)
- U.K. (3.69 million)
- France (2.41 million)
- Italy (1.92 million)
- China (1.81 million)
- Germany (1.75 million
- Jamaica (1.26 million)
- Japan (1.07 million)
- Bahamas (1.01 million)
I have a bit of pride in knowing that we'll be spending the vast majority of our time in places that don't make the top ten list for visits from Americans. It's not that we don't like our fellow Americans of course, we just want an experience that's not built for catering to millions of us.