Tuesday, August 14, 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.

Friday, August 10, 2007

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!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

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.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

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.

Monday, August 6, 2007

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.

Friday, August 3, 2007

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.

yoga good

I've started out a yoga regiment a few months ago. I first started out taking one class a week and now i'm going 5 times a week. In a word, i'm addicted. ok several words.

This was not my first attempt at yoga. I tried out yoga a few years after hearing the wonderful benefits of relaxation, health etc. Some of the yoga was boring and pretty unchallenging and others were very challenging, but seemed way too femine for me.

I ran across bikram yoga, famous for 115 degree rooms, after reading a book by the founder at barnes and noble. He touted that one would feel great energy, sleep better etc. The benefits were initially not completely apparent. At first, all i felt was tired, but as i practiced more, i saw the energy boost and relaxation. I think this was largely that my body and mind was tensing up in the heat and the newness of the poses. I should have been relaxing into the poses which sounded like lunancy to me. Relaxing into killer poses in 115 heat! not possible, but the more i did it, the more relaxed i became and the more energy i recieved. I sleep better too, which is something i had problems with before yoga and i think this is a direct result of being able to calm my body and mind better.

Whats behind this yoga?

Beyond all the chakra talk, i think there is basic scientific explanation of the benefit of yoga. Yoga really works on strengthening your spine and in a recent mens health article said that a strong spine makes all physical activities more efficient i.e. less wasted energy. It also teaches your body to relax under stressful situation. I think most of us have experienced stressful situation that may last a hours or a few minutes and that afterwards you feel completely spent. At least in my experience, this is because of a tense body and erratic breathing. This yoga teaches how to breath calmly and to relax in stressful situation, resulting in a more efficient use of your energy. I think once i start traveling i will be fit and ready for world traveling.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

matt gross nytimes travel writer

I found an intersting article in the nytimes by matt gross. Last year, matt gross traveled around the world in 90 days as a budget traveler. Here is a link to some answers to questions about his trip.


I was thinking of either doing a short trip around the world, come back, move to a new city get a job or come back, work some more and maybe take a really long trip around the world. I think a short trip around the world might be overly ambitious. Perhaps, i can just do south asia and then go to eastern europe where i hear it still reasonable and then fly back to the states. Technically that would be an around the world trip and can i start off my travel stories with well last year i traveled around the world.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

traveling the world

Me: a middle aged single guy who has been doing IT for way too long. Sees his life as gilded cage, pretty comfortable but uninteresting. Seeks adventure, but sometimes afraid.

So thats a basic summary of me.

ok for the last 5 years, i've been trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. So i've gone through a process of learning. So I've tried a bunch of stuff hoping to gain some insight. I've joined clubs, taken leadership roles, done acting .... The list goes on, but i never got that a-ha moment. Actually not entirely true. What i have learned is that you learn from doing and failing. Ok, so here i am trying to figure out what i want to do next and feeling like i'm getting older, when i started to ask myself what i want to do but have been to chicken to. On that list would be to travel the world.

So here goes this blog is going to be about plans and journey to get a trip planned. I'm going to try to organize info that i've gotten that maybe useful for those who also planning a trip. anyway, i'm looking forward to this blog and for someone who sometimes procrastinates, this blog will help me commit to this.

I'm hoping that once i get this rolling that i can get people to send there tips or info that may help me and other world travelers.

Next blog i'm going to talk about some sites that i found to be useful.

today i start the rest of my life

Today is the beginning of the rest of my life.

Ok, not really. This is something i've said to myself millions of time, usually after some life changing crisis. The thing is it never really works out that way. I hope for sudden change when change is a gradual process that comes in unexpected chunks.

So what is this blog about? Well its about change and rebirth. My own and hope to hear stories from others.

I've named it mid-pho. Mid being midlife and pho refering to a phoenix.

Ok and here is where i getting all new age and corny, but change to me is getting to your authentic self to be comfortable in your skin. Am i comfortable in my skin? I think so, but sometimes maybe not. Am i my authentic self (doing what suits me)? Uhmm, probaly not.

Action begets change. So i'm using this blog to help me take action and to talk about things that relates to this transformation.

Next blog entry, i'm going to talk about what is going on and what i want to do.