Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ten Commandments of Travel (with a mate)

According to Jim Klima, on the "Travels with a Spousal Unit" site, there are some rules when traveling with your mate. For your edification, they are listed below...

Ten Commandments of Travel (with a Mate)
  1. GOOD, BAD AND UGLY. The best experiences, the worst debacles and the most unforgettable moments happen serendipitously and cannot be planned, anticipated or avoided. Spurn thy mate's desire for hotel reservations, a fixed itinerary or an automatic transmission.

  2. VAUABLES. Safeguard thy most precious possessions (flyswatter, ear plugs and universal sink stopper) even from thy mate. Store photocopies of important documents such as passport, airline ticket and credit cards on thy mate's body. Also memorize, repeat memorize, thy mate's PIN numbers.

  3. MATESHIP. Thou shall not abandon thy traveling companion in spite of loud snoring, racist or sexist remarks or contagious disease. Should thee become separated from one another by a rampaging mob, insane vehicular and animal traffic or a frantic toilet search, return to the point of last eye contact.

  4. TRANSPORT. When traveling by air, spend the night before sleeping in the airport lounge. When traveling by sea, always purchase tickets for deck passage. When traveling by bus or train, try to get a seat. Chain up thy luggage and drape thy mate over it.

  5. EATING AND SLEEPING. Rotate food and lodging power (where to sleep and where to eat) on a daily basis. Decision-making (or getting even for thy mate's stinginess, eccentricity or poor choices) works best if applied unilaterally without regard for thy traveling companion.

  6. HEALTH. The "healthy" one makes the decisions for the "sickie" who must obey even if it means abandoning the dream of a lifetime (crawling toward Everest Base Camp while spewing all over the track). Offer no sympathy for diarrhea--happens to all travelers. Tell thy mate to go with the flow and remind him or her that a proper loo is in the mind (and hamstring muscles) of the beholder.

  7. SANITATION AND HYGIENE. Losing thy sense of clean is inevitable if thou are traveling right. Overlook thy mate's aroma du jour and wear only black skivvies. If thy mate's standards for sanitation and hygiene are not flexible (and comparable to thy own), thy trip is doomed.

  8. SEX. If thou want sex on thy trip, bring it with thee. Life does not imitate the movies, romance novels or thou's horny dreams, especially for Americans, well men at any rate…ok, me. Keep close watch on thy mate around Italian men.

  9. FUN. "You're young, you're free, you're on the other side of the world. For f**k's sake, have some fun!!!! Travel mantra observed on the bulletin board in a London hostel (the four exclamation points are theirs, not mine). Equally applicable to the young at heart.

  10. ABOVE ALL ELSE. Disregard thy mate's worries, objections or nightmares and adhere to the Lonely Planet guidebook motto: "Don't worry about whether your trip will work out, just go."

Saturday, October 27, 2007

China Trip Updates and a Great Movie Trailer

I am gradually getting to updating the posts made during May's trip to China with pictures that are now on the Flickr site. So far, Days 1-3 have been updated with some pictures.

In the meantime, while surfing around our old blog home Boots N'All, I found a link to a documentary called "A Map for Saturday" about the phenomenon of RTW backpacking. If you've never had the experience of backpacking around the world, it gives you a taste of what you're missing. A young lady sums it up this way: "It sounds like one big, long holiday, but you've got to meet people, you've got to find someplace to live, you've got to communicate in a foreign language."

So true...and to me, some of the best reasons for traveling.

MAP FOR SATURDAY is the product of a year’s travel through 26 countries on four continents. Emmy winning producer Brook Silva-Braga left his cushy gig with American TV network HBO to travel the world with five pounds of clothes and 30 pounds of video equipment.

The barebones production set-up yields an intimate window onto the world of long-term, solo travel; moments of stark loneliness and genuine revelation.

During the year, two-dozen solo travelers intersect with Silva-Braga, helping tell the story of the place they’ve met and the experience they share.

The film lands in Australia at mid-summer and in Nepal on the eve of revolution. There’s the challenge of Vietnam’s absurd traffic and Europe’s steep prices.

Beyond clich├ęs of shagging backpackers and dubious self-discovery, Silva-Braga finds a hidden world of long-term, solo travelers. At times lonely and difficult; more often joyous, and always adventurous, A MAP FOR SATURDAY completes an around the world trip in 90 minutes.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Our first plug

As a way of breaking up the daily commute (about 2 1/2 hours on the road coming and going), I listen to a lot of different podcasts. The daily favorites are politics or tech related, but I have to say that I look forward to the approximately bi-weekly installment of Mark Peacock's Travelcommons Podcast. As he says, it's more about the journey than the destination.

In an entry a couple of weeks ago, Mark discussed the proliferation of local eateries inside of airports bringing regional flavors and favorites to travelers who may just be passing through. You can now find barbecue and burger joints, and a number of micro-breweries in almost any airport now.

When we lived in the Washington DC area, one of our favorite places to eat was 5 Guys, an incredible greasy burger place. We didn't have enough time to hit it last July when we were in town, but to our gastronomic delight found they had opened up a franchise inside Reagan National Airport.

Well, I remarked on our find in the comments of Mark's entry, and this week, Sand and Tsunamis made the big time with a mention in his podcast. While he was in DC recently, he went to find it, only to be denied because the restaurant wasn't in his departure concourse.

This may be Sand and Tsunamis' 15 minutes of fame, so go check it out. While you're there, take a listen to his other entertaining and insightful podcasts. We've had him on our favorite links section for a while now.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Packing Light

In all the traveling I've done, I like to think that I've been able to pare down to the absolute necessities. Apparently, I still have a long, long way to go.

Tim Ferriss, author of book The 4 Hour Work Week (and blog of the same name), took a trip to Maui back in the Summer, and managed to travel with about 10 pounds worth of stuff.

Take a look at his site, and in particular, the short movie outlining some of his packing strategies (namely, clothes that pack to small sizes). Very cool...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Flashback to the Empty Quarter, 2004

I was rooting through one of my old hard drives for pictures to post and came across this small movie from my trip into the Empty Quarter in 2004. I've been meaning to upload it to Youtube, and finally got around to it.

For the full story, click here or on the title above.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Baseball Been Berry, Berry Good to Us...

About a week ago, we went to see one of the last Yokohama Baystars games of the season. Though not big sports fans (other than Sumo of course), we still enjoy going to live baseball. Something about sitting in the stands, eating hot dogs and drinking beer makes for a fun day. There's a game on, you say? Those guys down there running around and stuff? I guess that's ok too.

Melody recently started a blog of her own, and she posted a good overview of our experience. It's something different than going to see the Orioles at Camden Yards. They still had hot dogs, and beer, though...so it was a good time.

Baseball teams here in Japan aren't usually named after cities like in the US. Instead, you have corporate sponsorship, and some (at least to gaijin like us) strange names. Like the Nippon Ham Fighters who take their name from a meat packing company. That would be like having a team called the "Hormel Deviled Chickens" in the US. Then there are the Chiba Lotte Marines, named after a brand of chewing gum. Do you think that anyone would root for the Wrigley "Big Reds?"

While there are the usual team names like "Giants" and "Tigers" you also see teams of not so typical team mascots such as "Carp," "Swallows" and the aforementioned "Ham Fighters" (though I bet you could get your butt kicked by a ham if it was big enough and swung by one of the Giants).

Besides the names, there are a few other differences, such as the teams have cheerleaders that come out in between innings to root the players on. Also, there is the fact that you DO NOT cheer for your team unless they are at bat. You'll get dirty looks...trust me. Even then, you have to stay with the approved, programmed cheers (none of which we knew) and say them at the same time as everyone else. It was sort of like going to Mass when I wasn't yet Catholic...everyone around us knew the right things to say. Since we didn't, we just clapped and whacked our little plastic bats together in time with everyone else. Still, a lot of fun was had by all.

Check out what Melody has to say about it. Here. And for more information on Japanese Major League Baseball, go here.

Oh yeah, the Baystars won, 6 to 4. Take that Chunichi Dragons!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Jet City Jimbo

A few years ago, when I first started getting interested in adventure travel, I found a website with some great travel writing kept up by a guy dubbed Jet City Jimbo. Nee Jim Klima, he and his wife wrote about their various travels, cleverly entitled "It will be so awful, it will be wonderful." They took trips in a huge truck with Dragoman, one of the oldest overlanding companies out there. (I went with Encounter Overland to Morocco in a similar truck...an incredible experience) Their stories were some of the most incredible accounts of adventure travel I've read. For instance, it took them over 30 days to cross Zaire (back when it was Zaire), and they spent much of that time mired in mud on the main highway across the country. In another account, they almost died in Nepal during a flash flood...reading this gripping story will give you shivers.

Unfortunately, a few months ago, I tried to get back to the site, and found it down. Through some sleuthing around on Google, I found another blogger who wrote about Jim, and mentioned that he was sick with cancer. Well, tonight, I got a subconscious prompt to check again, and found the site back up and operational, but with a caveat that Jim died in May. It was quite sad to find out...almost like I'd lost a travel partner. I learned a lot about independent travel from their site. Jim's wife is keeping the site up as a fitting memorial to his life.

Check it out. You won't be disappointed.

Rest in Peace, Jim...