Monthly Archives: August 2007

why travel?

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.–St. Augustine

I think some americans idea of travel is drive to the beach where you work on your tan and drink margaritas, but to me, travel means adventure and the little bit of the unknown. Men’s health travel writer says that every man should take a solo trip to a foreign country that travel should involve the possibility of discomfort. going to a nice hotel in tokyo, japan doesn’t count. I tend to agree because its the travel that you’re not catered to where you have to cope that much is learned.

To me, travel had done that for me, particularly solo travel. I love to travel with friends and really this would be my prefernce, but traveling alone means that you are forced to be self sufficient, to interact. There is no crutch.

I grew up as a somewhat timid individual. My parents were old school subscribing to the philosophy of better seen not heard. So most of my life, i have politely avoided asking for much, either trying to do it myself or silently enduring discomforts.

Foreign solo travel changed that for me. If i was lost in a foreign city, i was forced to ask strangers stumbling with putting together a sentence asking for directions. Sometimes people were friendly, sometimes they seemed bothered, but while before i was worried about this, i was spurred on out of necessity.

When I went on my trip to ireland the plan was to fly into dublin for a few nights and then rent a car and drive around the country staying at bed and breakfasts. On the overnight flight I got a case of food poisoning, so i sat uncomfortably unable to sleep the whole night. During the flight, I never asked for any medicine, advil, instead sat stoicly waiting for the flight to be over. Once i got to the dublin airport, i took a bus to dublin where the neareast stop to my hotel was two blocks away. Normally, i feel i’m good with directions, but feeling the after effects of not sleeping and stomach illness, I randomly queried anyone on the street for directions to the hotel. the people i approached were very friendly and i managed to get to the hotel with no problem.

The hotel was a small but quaint independent hotel, not the ritz but nice. When i get there, i’m told that it’ll be 3 hours before a room will be available. I asked if there any way to get a room earlier and i’m told no. So i politely ask where i could get a bite to eat and I’m directed to a diner near the hotel. The diner is nothing fancy but the service friendly. I order soup and coffee hoping that this would invigorate me. No such luck. After nearly collapsing on the wooden bench that seemed to be the hardest wood i ever sat on, i took off and went back to the hotel. This time i went back to plead my case. I told the person at the desk, which luckily was a different person, that i had gotten ill on the plane and had not slept for over 24 hours and if there was any way that i could check in early. She called housekeeping and had them clean one room first. I got the keys and slept like a baby. My ireland trip was filled with little moments like that.

Traveling alone means going past your comfort zone. It means talking to the stranger next to you because otherwise you’d have no social interaction. You discover and learn things from doing. Travel makes you do things that you wouldn’t have done in your normal comfortable life. Thats why i travel.

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cheap to fly within south east asia

A friend of mine gave me some great suggestions. She just came back from a wonderful trip of south east asia and she told me that its cheap to fly within southeast asia. She gave me the links of airlines she used: www.nokair.com, www.tigerairways.com. Also i found out that not only china charges for visas but so does vietnam, india and turkey. Turkey being the most expensive. Turkey is definitely on my list as I will have a good friend living them and it will be fun visiting him.

got my passport!

I got my passport yesterday and it took two weeks, which i thought was pretty fast considering the passport backlog. I was worried because I was renewing my passport via mail and my old passport had gone throught the washing machine and dryer. It was still in good shape, but the pages were frayed and the cover had fallen off.

According to the state department website, if a passport is damaged, you cannot renew by mail. I guess a washed passport is not considered damaged, lucky for me!

I’m relieved that I don’t have to deal with any passport issues. Now, I’m ready to travel. In a few months, i’ll be going to italy with some friends, so i can start putting this passport to use!

ny times travels around the world in 90 days

Matt Gross known as the frugal traveler for the new york times traveled around the world in 90 days with only two rules lodging for less then 100 and food cost at 40. I was hoping to read some tips for traveling in Asia but Gross focused most of his travels in western and eastern europe and manages to meet his budget by staying in small towns and/or getting to sleep for free at someone’s house. His articles are not as useful as i thought they would be, but i really like the user comments to his articles giving him suggestions for his travels. Alot of the suggestions are useful because its local ‘insider’ knowledge. I’m hoping to do the same with this blog.

china visa

ok this is interesting. It cost 100 dollars to get a visa for china and you must apply in person or have someone do it for you. To get same day processing which means drop off application in the morning and coming back in the afternoon, it costs and addtl 20 dollars. I’m sure there are services that do this for you, but i’m guessing once you use the service plus cost of visa itself, it could be 200 dollars or more. I wonder if other countries our so costly for visas. There seems to be a prejudice towards americans as visas for all other countries are 30 dollars. Brazil is the same way and they justify it by saying that visas for brazillians to america is so expensive. If i have to get a visa for every country i visit, i could be spending alot of moula before i even travel. I need to look into this.

olympics in china

I was watching the the today show and they were showing some major changes happening in beijing for the olympics. I’m excited about seeing Beijing before the olympics. I’m putting it down as a city to see.

bali surfing

I was reading on fullpassport.com that Bali is good cheap place to learn surfing. Last year, I was planning on go to surf camp in costa rica, but opted instead to go to Ireland. while ireland was fun, i pined for the coolness of the surf. So i’m putting bali down as a place to go . Bali is supposed to be a wonderful resort country, so maybe its a place to go midtrip to relax, eat healthy and surf.