Category Archives: pre-trip

favorite natural sites…pre-rtw edition

Obviously these lists are totally subjective and limited to what I have experienced but here are some of my favorites…

Favorite Cliffs:

Photo by marcooooo on Flickr

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Photo by net_efekt on Flickr

White Cliffs at Dover, UK

Favorite Delta:

Photo by geoftheref on Flickr

Okavango Delta, Botswana

Favorite Desert:

Photo by Wolfgang Staudt on Flickr

Mojave Desert

Favorite Island:

Photo by MarcelGermain on Flickr

Photo by MarcelGermain on Flickr

Santorini, Greece

Photo by Ash Lourey on Flickr

Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

Favorite Lake:

Peyto Lake, Canada

Favorite Lake Crossing:

Photo by adapar on Flickr

Cruce de Lagos (Andean Lakes Crossing), Chile – Argentina (Takes all day but it is stunning. That’s Volcano Orsorno.)

Favorite Mountain:

Photo by Starfires on Flickr

Mt. Fuji

Mt. Shasta

Favorite National Park:

Photo by Alaskan Dude on Flickr

Yellowstone National Park, USA

Photo by Shelby PDX on Flickr

Chobe National Park, Botswana

Favorite Reef:
Photo by richard ling on Flickr Great Barrier Reef (I’ve only been to one! Sad to say the colors weren’t as vibrant as I expected in the area we dived…)

Favorite Volcano:

Volcano Orsorno, Chile By Ruben Lohaus Brito (Coleccion Personal) via Wikimedia Commons

Volcano Orsorno, Chile

Favorite Waterfall:

Photo by Claudio.Ar (working time online) on Flickr

Iguassu Falls, Brazil – Argentina border

Photo by only_point_five on Flickr

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe – Zambia border


my favorite cities…pre-rtw edition

I love cities. Big cities especially. Of all the places I have been to so far, here are my favorites:

Favorite North American city: New Orleans
Runner up: Montreal
Honorable mentions: Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Savannah, Austin

Favorite South American city: Rio de Janeiro
Runner up: Buenos Aries
Honorable mentions: Santiago, Lima

Favorite European city: London
Runner up: Barcelona
Honorable mentions: Paris, Amsterdam, Fira (Santorini, Greece), Venice

Favorite Asian city: Tokyo
Runner up: Shanghai, Taipei
Honorable mentions: Bangkok, Beijing

Favorite Oceanian city: Sydney
Runner up: Melbourne

Favorite African city: Cape Town
Runner up: Victoria Falls

Up next, favorite natural sites…

rough itinerary

Here’s me so far…

1. November 9-17: Samoa (7 days, free stopover to NZ)
2. November 18-22: Tonga (4 days, free stopover to NZ)
3. November 22-January 11, 2011: New Zealand (50 days, North and South Island. Bought a ticket to Rhythm and Vines Music Festival in Gisborne over New Year’s for December 29-January 1, 2010. Then around the East Cape January 2-7, 2010? My friend D is coming with for 3 weeks!)
4. January 11-17: Australia (6 days, Perth)
5. January 17 – February ?: Indonesia (3-4 weeks, Bali, Java, and Lombok, stay at least 3 weeks…I want even more time)

After this I have not booked anything else but think I will very shortly book Indonesia to Singapore to Malaysia to Sri Lanka to India.  A possible side trip to the Maldives if I can find cheap accommodation…wistful thinking…actually Male has budget accommodation and would be interesting to visit a less touristy part of the Maldives.  This TIME article says,  “Some 40% of the Maldives’ population still earns less than $2 a day.” and  “An estimated 30,000 Maldivian youths are addicts, almost 10% of the country’s population.”  That is insanity, especially when you compare that with the money spent at Maldivian all-inclusive resorts.  I didn’t want to plan so much of the trip but I do want to take advantage of some cheap sales and still entertain the possibility of making Oktoberfest 2011.  Reaching Germany in November or December 2011 seems much more likely.

After India, I’m thinking Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan (?), South East Asia, contemplating Bangladesh and Burma, probably skipping the Philippines (I really want to go but may have to save for another time if I want to attempt Oktoberfest 2011 and miss the Trans-Siberian in the dead of winter), China, Mongolia, Russia, Scandinavia, and Germany, roughly in that order.

My brother is also kind of blowing up in Shanghai and I want to spend more time there. He’s throwing parties with his company, The Ice Cream Truck, and seems like a bit of a wunderkind.  You can see what he does here: His most recent work includes curating a dance stage at the MIDI Music Festival this month.  It’s been a long time since I was last in Shanghai and wish I were there already.

I’m also interested in living in Berlin for a few months.  Need to figure out how to deal with Schengen visa restrictions (limited to 3 months).

I am looking at 1-2 years away, possibly more if I go to Africa and the Middle East.  Seriously looking at going overlanding for 10 months after this first leg.

Let me know if you have been to these places and have anything to recommend!

how I decided to get serious about my rtw

I’ve wanted to travel long-term for as long as I can remember.  But in June 2008, after a few ridiculous weeks in Australia, I realized I used to openly talk about backpacking and circumnavigating the globe and yet I still never did anything about it.  Traveling long-term was an idea that fell to neglect after entering and making strides in the work force.  It was time to get serious.  Now or maybe never.

Step 1:

Draw up a list of top 20 countries I want to travel to the most.

  1. India
  2. Germany
  3. Russia
  4. Indonesia
  5. Antarctica
  6. New Zealand
  7. Morocco
  8. Egypt
  9. Turkey
  10. Mongolia
  11. Vietnam
  12. Galapagos
  13. Cambodia
  14. Croatia
  15. Jordan
  16. Japan (again)
  17. Norway
  18. Sweden
  19. Costa Rica
  20. Colombia

Which I compared with and decided really hadn’t varied much from a list I found a year before (dated September 5, 2007).

  1. India
  2. Russia
  3. Germany
  4. Antarctica
  5. Morocco
  6. Egypt
  7. Australia/New Zealand
  8. Sweden/Finland/Norway
  9. Peru
  10. Galpalagos
  11. Vietnam
  12. Japan (again)
  13. Croatia
  14. Greece (again)
  15. Israel
  16. Montreal/Quebec City
  17. Fiji/Moorea
  18. Alaska
  19. Panama
  20. Jordan

I needed to travel more.  Could have been as simple as that.

Except, like training for a marathon, I needed prepare and get everything in order, if I expected to make it to the finish line.  Most importantly and most challenging of which, was getting finances in check.

Step 2:

Pay off everything.

That took about a year to clear and then another 1.5 years to save.  It was a major life accomplishment for me and something I’m proud of.  For the better part of those years, I wasn’t even planning much travel at all.  Just working on paying things off and saving.  Lo and behold, I made progress and could start to see the end.

Step 3:

Get ready to go.

I’m thankful to my adventurous nature for setting me straight.  I say it all the time but working towards this trip really turned many aspects of my life around.  That one commitment set in motion a whole slew of good changes in my life.

And so the plotting began.

top 10 things i’ll miss…los angeles edition

I’ll definitely miss my friends and family in Los Angeles while I’m away.  They are so, so sweet and loving!  Two bon voyage parties already in the works!  I want to spend as much time as possible with them and have asked them to hit up these 10 things I’ll miss, just one more time before I leave.

Photo by yosoynuts on Flickr

Photo by revrev on Flickr

1.  Food: In-n-Out’s Cheeseburger Animal Style (accomplished September 29, 2010), King Taco’s Carne Asada Tacos with Rojo Salsa (accomplished September 25, 2010), Pho 87’s Pho Tai Nam Gau (accomplished September 6, 2010), Golden Deli’s Fried Eggrolls (accomplished September 21, 2010), Honey’s Kettle’s Fried Chicken and biscuits (date set for October 14, 2010), Langer’s #19 (possibly October 5, 2010), El Atacor #11’s Potato Tacos (accomplished September 25, 2010), Pete’s Blue Cheese Gorgonzola Fries (accomplished September 27, 2010), Crepe Luv’s Strawberry Nutella Whipped Cream Crepe (accomplished September 21, 2010), Koo’s Grill’s Hoddeok (accomplished September 21, 2010…they’re Korean sweet pancakes), Maestro’s Butter Cake (date set for October 14, 2010…might be the best thing I have ever put in my mouf and I don’t even really like desserts)

Photo by Gypsy D on Flickr

2.   Drink: The Standard (accomplished July 18, 2010), Golden Gopher (accomplished September 5, 2010), and Tiki Ti (date set for October 16, 2010)

Photo by Homies In Heaven on Flickr

3.  Cinespia (accomplished September 18, 2010…just barely…long story)

Photo by Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton on Flickr

4.  Dudamel performance at The Walt Disney Concert Hall (got tickets for October 10, 2010)

Photo by Roshan V on Flickr

5.  MOCA (accomplished August 26, 2010)

Photo by LadyDucayne on Flickr

6.  Downtown LA Artwalk (accomplished September 9, 2010)

7.  Seeing a show/band on any given night (accomplished September 9, 2010 – Cold Cave and Delorean, September 7, 2010 2x – Interpol and DatA, September 9, 2010 – DatA, September 19, 2010 – Phoenix, and on and on)

Photo by Ruth L on Flickr

8.  UCLA football tailgating (accomplished October 2, 2010…UCLA win 42-28 over Washington State and another set for November 6, 2010)

Photo by HollywoodHotel on Flickr

9.  Hollywood Bowl (October 15, 2010 for LCD Soundsystem)

10.  Disneyland (got tickets for October 23, 2010)

*I couldn’t keep the list to 10 so here are 3 more.

  1. Chinatown (accomplished August 13, 2010 and August 28, 2010)
  2. Griffith Observatory (possibly October 16, 2010)
  3. Cinespace (accomplished September 7, 2010)

UPDATED September 28, 2010

my los angeles elusive 10

…or Things That I Want to Do Before I Leave and Have Never Done Before.

I’ve lived in LA for about 13 years now.  I’ve done and seen a lot.  Here are the top 10 that I have not yet experienced:

Photo by arnold | inuyaki on Flickr

Photo by Michael M. Ma on Flickr

1. Food: Osteria Mozza (accomplished October 3, 2010…best restaurant in Los Angeles…tied with The Gorbals), Church & State (accomplished August 16, 2010), Waterloo & City, Chick-Fil-A, Warszawa (accomplished September 26, 2010), Masa (accomplished September 14, 2010)

Photo by coco+kelley on Flickr

2. Drink: Viceroy (accomplished September 26, 2010) and Bar Marmont (accomplished October 3, 2010)

3. Photograph the Los Angeles River (accomplished August 14, 2010)

4. Zuma Beach (accomplished September 4, 2010)

Photos by jj look on Flickr

5. Watts Towers (possibly October 9, 2010).

Photo by Brian Auer on Flickr

6. Salvation Mountain (possibly October 9, 2010).

7. Hike to the Hollywood Sign (Did it before but didn’t quite make the tip tip top.  Too hot.  Got sick.  Possibly October 16, 2010).

8. Star Maps and/or double-decker bus tour of L.A (possibly October 16, 2010).

9. Derby Dolls roller derby (accomplished September 11, 2010)

10. Self-Realization Center (possibly October 16, 2010).

Unfortunately, First Fridays at the Natural History Museum, which would be on the list, is not going to happen.  The season is over.  La Brea Tar Pits may be added.

Up next, old stomping grounds that need a revisit before I leave.

UPDATED September 28, 2010, October 4, 2010

shots shots shots shots shots shots, shots shots shots shots shots, shots shots shots shots shots…everybody!

Got 3 jabs in my arm yesterday and a Tootsie Pop.  They have banana now! It doesn’t taste too hot.

I lied.  I got 2 shots and one in pill form.  It’s weird to think that I will be ingesting typhoid, even if it is in a weakened state.  And I got 2 Tootsie Pops.  I only like the chocolate ones.

Here is a breakdown on the cost for vaccinations, aka “the damage”:

  • Visit/Consultation: $50
  • Hep A #2: $89
  • Polio: $60
  • Typhoid: $100 (I paid $18 more to get the pill form v. the shot but it lasts 5 years v. 2 years)

Total: $299

I’m going to see if I can get Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies, and anti-malarials in New Zealand or beyond, where hopefully it’s cheaper.  Here it is $290 x 2 doses, $250 x 3 doses, and humans are not supposed to take Doxycycline for more than 3 months at a time, respectfully.  I am going to check with my insurance to see if they cover the Hep B vaccine ($75 x 3 doses otherwise) and see if my doctor will write a prescription for anti-malarials, which should be covered.

Many thanks to Ronnie at Passport Health!  She talked to me for a long time and the shots didn’t really hurt.  Passport Health is located all over Los Angeles and on Wednesdays in Downtown LA.