Friday, November 11, 2011

An interview with myself

  So obviously, until I actually go on the trip, there's not a whole lot to say. I mean, I have never been at a loss for words so I'm sure there's plenty I could say, but this blog is for my trip so for once, I'll try to stay focused.
  I thought I might take a few minutes just to quickly answer the random questions that anyone who doesn't stalk my facebook wall might ask. So here goes...

Q. Where do you plan to go?

A. Originally I planned to start in Bali and work my way up. Now that I'm leaning more towards starting in Thailand, Bali (being very far to the south) is still up in the air. But besides Thailand, I plan to go to Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. If I make it to Bali (Indonesia) than I will most likely also go to Malaysia. At some point, I will go by plane to India, but I haven't yet routed my itinerary for there yet. I am trying to be as flexible with dates and destinations as possible. I am planning on at least 6 months so I will totally be free to go at whatever pace I want.

Q. Where will you stay?

A. From what I have been reading, hostels are mostly in Europe, guesthouses are more common in South East Asia. Pretty much the same thing-- very cheap living and you get what you pay for (less than desirable shared bathrooms, bedbug possibilitie, etc.) but I think the rooms are a little more private than the dorm style hostels. And whenever I'm near a beach there are little bungalows you can rent for like $4 a night. I'd like the chance to stay with a family and really experience the culture, but I worry about the food thing. It's considered very rude to waste food, especially rice, and I am a very picky eater and not a big fan of rice. If my friend goes with me for the first few weeks, she has an American friend who lives in Thailand, and we should be able to stay with him for at least a few days.

Q. How much money will this cost?

A. Gosh, you're nosey. Seriously though, it's sooo cheap. Staying in guesthouses for under $10 a day, finding meals for under $4, there are some places in India where you can get by on $12 a day. I am budgeting for roughly $1000 a month, and it should cost much, much less. Airfare from here and back should put me back about $1500 and I am not sure yet about the price of the flight to India, because I think it will be cheaper to buy over there.

Q. What kinds of things do you want to do?

A. Like I said, I want to be flexible. I know once I get on the road, the possibilities will be endless and I'm sure to find things to do that I had never dreamed of. But there are a few things on my list of very-much-hope-to-do's...
  *Thai Elephant Home- while many places in Thailand are known to exploit their elephants, beating them into learning how do play soccer and do other lame tricks, the Thai Elephant Home is known for it's "happy elephants." Each elephant has it's own mahout, a keeper who cares for him, cleans him, feeds him, trains him, loves him, even sleeps beside him! These men truly love their animals and the love is returned. And for your stay there, which can be as little as a few hours to as long as a month, everyone gets their very own elephant that you learn to train, and bathe, and feed! It is definitely on my list.
  *Suan Mokkh 10day Silent Meditation Retreat in Thailand- a program designed to educate beginners, they guide you (in English) through ten days of silence and meditation. You sleep on concrete beds with mats, though I suppose you could use your own wadded clothes as a padding; you get only two very scarce vegetarian meals a day (no sneaking food in); no phones, laptops, etc...Just complete concentration on yourself, your peaceful surroundings, and whatever it is you are trying to find. I love that you can't even make reservations by phone or email. The retreat starts on the first of every month, and you have to just show up in person on that day so they can see with their own eyes that you're not some crazy crackhead looking for cheap rehab...because to me, the craziest part of it all is that the whole ten days costs a total of only $67.
 *Vang Vieng, Laos- apparently you can rent innertubes and float down the river, stopping along the way at makeshift bars that specialize in what is known as a "Happy Shake." Exactly what it sounds like, a milk shake with marijuana and/or mushrooms, and sorry Grandma, but I just might have to try one out. They also have a very high zip line course I am considering. I would never bunjee jump, but I've always thought zip line could be cool. Don't worry, I won't try the zip line on the same day I try the Happy Shake.
Of course, there are lots of other ideas, but I don't want to spoil too many surprises.

  Ok, I suppose that's enough for today, now I'm off to work to make some more money for those Happy Shakes.

Thai Elephant home

Suan Mokkh 10day Silent Meditation Retreat in Thailand

Vang Vieng, Laos

Friday, November 4, 2011

Crunch Time

Today, I took my friend Angel aside and said in a very serious tone, "I need your help."
"Okay..."she answered in a slow concerned tone.
"I need you to help me cut the cord...I need you to help me get rid cable."

  Yes, it's official--due to the sale of my building and thanks to Obama for signing a bill in 2009 that gives me the legal right to 90 days in my apartment (take that, smarty pants realator jerk), I am now planning to begin my journey around the end of january/beginning of february. And holy shit, that scares the bejesus out of me.
  There is so much to do. I still have to find a temporary home for my cat Disco, sell all my stuff including my car, organize the party/sale to do it, buy my plane tickets, buy travel insurance, make some extra copies of my passport pictures, buy a backpack and all the random stuff that will fill it--ooh, I need one of those compass keychain thingies, and ooh, I need to learn how to use a compass, and oh my god, am I even spelling compass right?
  So I try to calm myself by thinking of all the things I've already accomplished. I got my passport, got my shots, researched the hell out of this trip, ordered my ipod touch (I can video phone home wherever there's wifi!), started this blog, bought a pair of those cargo pants that zip into shorts...yeah, I'm totally ready.
  And then, there's the cable. Yup, it's gotta go. Anyone who knows me knows how truly hard this is for me. Much harder than getting rid of a boyfriend, cable has been with me my whole life! I was the first kid I knew to have HBO and the first kid to get the Disney Channel (you used to have to pay for it). In the days before DVR, I used to record one thing on my VCR at my apartment, and have my grandma using both her VCR's to tape two other shows. I have issues, I know. I've always said if there was a support program for people like me...well, I'd probably watch it on tv.
  But that's it. It's gotta go. To save money, it should have gone along time ago. I mean, most of my shows are accessible on the internet, but my problem is that I like to multi-task. I like to be on my laptop doing things like this blog while I half-ass watch whatever I saved on my DVR. I realized last night, however, as I looked around the room at the overwhelming amount of stuff I own that must be organized into a sale, that there are no magic fairies to swoop down and do it for me. I need to be half-ass watching my tv shows on my laptop while I keep myself busy, sorting through the multitude of accumulated crap...I mean the multitude of really awesome stuff that all of you, my wonderful friends, plan to buy from me so that I may see the world.
  So Angel is coming over on Monday to rip the remote from my trembling fingers and drive me to the cable store to return the best lover I ever had--my cable box, while I cope by testing out one of the valiums my travel doc gave me for the flight.