Thursday, September 23, 2010

Getting Closer

Benjamin Franklin said that there are two ways to be remembered once you're gone: "either write something worth reading or do things worth writing about."  Unfortunately he also hit the nail on the head when he said: "life's tragedy is that we get old to soon and wise too late."

This fits right into one of my favorite short essays by Russell Baker, "School vs. Education."  Basically, he mocks the public education system and suggests that true education begins long after the student has 'graduated' and begins to open his/her mind and actually learn.

Basically, these two things combined are my admission that the merits of my experience and writing may be less than others, and I will try to avoid making any claims or generalizations which could easily be incorrect given my lack of overall experience...hopefully over the course of my adventure I'll gain a bit more useful insight and be able to make more knowledgeable judgments and assertions.

Of course we all want to believe that we learned lots of meaningful things in our 12, 16, 18, 20+?? years of schooling, and I'm sure that some people do, but by and large, we don't.  I - like so many others - want to think so, and I have convinced myself that I learned a lot. After all, I know the scientific method (it was reiterated enough), some development theories and brief, bullet pointed lists of the main theories of some famous political scientists, and a plethora of other knowledge which has shaped the way I look at the world.  Perhaps that does constitute some learning, but I would say that some of the most meaningful lessons and ideas I took from 
college, were not specifically from class.

Now that I'm done meandering through my thoughts and opinions on the structured educational system - which amusingly enough are appearing to be not that dissimilar from my opinions of religion (I'll leave that for another post though) - I'll get on with what I actually started to write about!

Monday the 20th I got an unlocked quad-band GSM camera phone to take with me on my trip - basically it will work pretty much anywhere in the world that has cell coverage - for a great deal.  It is a Sony-Ericsson K550i, sure it was released in 2007, but it's still brand new (sat in a box in a storage locker for 2 1/2 yrs) and seems like it should be pretty durable.  Price, durability, and some neat features like picture blogging direct from the phone, were selling features.  Glad it's not a touch screen and has a normal number pad, not a stupid full keyboard.

Tuesday the 21st I was talking to the guy from Bangkok who has offered to host me (through CS) and he decided he would also come meet me at the airport when I land on Oct. 11th.  I had been a little unsure about what I was going to do when I landed, because my plane touches down in BKK at 11.45 PM, and not knowing the city or the language at ALL, I was a bit weary about venturing into the city via cab (who are apparently notorious for trying to more than double the price on farang - foreigners if they can get away with it).  I may be bold, brave, adventurous, naive, unknowing, and many other adjectives I've heard used to describe my upcoming adventure, but I'm not quite bold enough to try my hand at midnight travel in an unknown city yet...let me get some more solo travel experience first!  

My host, whose house I'll be staying at, lives in the Nonthaburi suburb/neighboring city a little ways north of Bangkok. By bus it's not far, and is fairly inexpensive to ride.  Should be fun to get out and see where some of the more "local" people live, rather than being in another metropolis the whole time.  Admittedly, I am excited to go see central Bangkok and all that it has to offer, the famous Khao San Road, some of the scenes of the Red Shirt protests which took place last April/May, and of course the Vietnamese embassy to get my visa!

Oof, that was long, and sadly I could write tons more, but I won't, I'll spare anyone who is actually reading from the lengthy ramblings that I could post (yep, that was the short version up there!).


Friday, September 17, 2010

The countdown begins!

T-23 days, and it's adiĆ³s North America!

Yesterday I bought my ticket for October 10th, 2010 - yes that's 10/10/10.  One way to Bangkok with a short layover in Seoul, ROK, eventually landing at 11:45PM on Oct. 11th - it seems a lot longer than it is because I will be crossing the international date line. Score!  I wish it was just a ten hour flight, although really in the scheme of things the flight is going to be such a minute part of my trip that it will be long forgotten by the time I reach the beach.

Now I have to figure out how to bring as little as possible and make sure my backpack is small enough to carry on without hassle, hah!  Even though I could check it for free, I'd rather not have a repeat of my first trip to Trinidad & Tobago when it took me a while to get through immigration and by the time I got out my bag was gone.  I ended up getting it back the next day after somebody had been caught trying to take it through customs and the tags didn't match their other bags, but not something I want to repeat.

The things that I feel like I ought to bring: Digital SLR and lenses, point and shoot camera, minimal clothes (4 socks, underwear, and tshirts, 1 pair of zip off pants, and 1 pair of shorts), laptop, external HDD, waterproof jacket, 1 pair of shoes and 1 pair of sandals, and ___________? I'm sure things will come up as I'm packing and figuring everything out, but for now that's pretty much my list, pretty simple really, and minimal which is the key!

I've also been offered a place to stay in Bangkok, or rather the northern suburbs, for the first week I am there until I go south to the beach.  And it's free!  I will probably only stay with him for a day or 2 though, and try to find another host closer to the city center for my last day or 2 in the city.

Thats it for now. So long!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Opening up to open ended adventure

"Exploration really is the essence of the human spirit, and to pause, to falter, to turn our back on the quest for knowledge, is to perish." - Frank Borman, Apollo 8 Astronaut

It's been too long since I updated this, I'm going to try to keep on it and update things every 3-4 days max! Once I start traveling it will be loaded with fantastic pictures as well to make you all jealous, stuck in classrooms and offices, lucky you!

While reading on the other day I stumbled across a post by somebody essentially promoting their own blog, a compilation of travel knowledge and stories from 24 years of meandering around the world, working as little as possible and traveling as much as possible, for as cheaply as possible.  His site, and he has a pretty interesting philosophy.  It has definitely given me some things to think about in planning, or not planning as the case may be, my own adventure.  While there are certainly sites I want to see, and ways I have read to get there - I don't think I'm quite ready to be hitchhiking across a country and continent which is completely new to me, unlike thedromomaniac - I will probably take an even more relaxed approach to it all...

Seeing though as I really have no plans for the future at this point, other than those which have basically been laid out below, I have decided to buy a one way ticket to Bangkok, leaving Vancouver, BC.  At $540 on Air China, I'd be willing to bet I could get there a little cheaper, but being a novice traveler I don't yet know how.  I'll also need to book a cheap ticket somewhere out of Bangkok to make Thai immigration officials happy, so maybe I'll end up flying to HCMC after all?  It is less than $60 on AirAsia one way, and Vietnamese immigration apparently doesn't care about a proven onward travel plan.  So skipping Cambodia for now, and maybe spending a bit longer in Thailand to begin with is the new plan. 

Looking more at things to do and people who will be in Thailand at the same time (people from it seems like it would be incredibly fun, and fairly cheap, to stay there for 10 to 14 days and have a blast.  Full moon beach party on Koh Phangan?  Couchsurfing in Phuket? So many fun things to do, so little time!

I'll figure it all out of course, and keep updating this thing for all you wonderful fans of mine to read! :P