Sunday, November 24, 2013

What This Blog's About

Location: Minneapolis, MN 55410, USA
This was the online manifestation of my travel journal, which up to now consisted of a few scrawled notebooks and thousands of digital photos. Each entry is a painstaking recreation of all the notes I have, poring over Google Maps street view, and cross-referencing geographic and financial information online, all to enable me to tell the most complete story possible.

Failing that, I've injected plenty of my own opinions on other people and my nation's conservative bent.

On Feb. 23, 2015, Google announced that they would begin deleting adult-content blogs starting March 2015. This isn't an adult-content blog, I don't have any adult-content blogs, but this gesture represents an encroachment upon freedom of speech and expression, and I refuse to support it. I've begun migrating my blogs to other, rival locations that do support freedom of speech.

As of Feb. 27, 2015, Google retracted its intent and will support its previous policy. It's good that Google listened to the concerns of its users, but this does not change my plans: I'm migrating my travel blog to TravelPod. Please visit me there!

And I'll be deleting this blog as I repopulate the entries on TravelPod.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Grand Adventure: Narita, High Noon

Location: Narita International Airport (NRT), 1-1 Furugome, Narita-shi, Chiba-ken 282-0004, Japan
April 6 was our long day of travel, flying along with the sun for a 36-hour commute, all told, only to end up in the Minneapolis St. Paul Int'l Airport on the same day we left the Ngurah Rai Int'l Airport in Denpasar. Technically. The day before was our third wedding anniversary, and the day after would be my 41st birthday, but today we spent a lovely afternoon in Narita, Japan.

From Denpasar we flew nearly two hours to the Soekarno-Hatta Int'l Airport, then caromed out over the Philippines to Narita Int'l Airport in Japan, seven hours to the northeast. Wearied, we touched down in Narita for a layover before the eleven-hour flight to Minneapolis. But this layover was five hours long, and as nice as the airport was, we didn't want to just malinger around there for the entire time. We took some time to check out the shops and find some food, but we also wanted to plot how to get out of the airport.

(For your own entertainment, open up each of those airport websites and compare them. The results may surprise you.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Grand Adventure: Drawing With Children

Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia
This entry is an aside from the normal journal. It combines a few days in one post, to talk about a specific activity.

In Cambodia, as everywhere in SE Asia, there were children begging in the streets. In Indonesia, they begged on the median of busy highways, waiting for a distant light to turn red and back up traffic so they could rap on car windows. Their families lounged nearby, keeping half an eye or less on their activity. In Lao P.D.R., they haunted temples and shuffled around restaurants, carrying a small cardboard box filled with tiny trinkets, small knit dolls or bracelets. These kids were usually organized by a leader who collected their earnings.

What was different about the children in Cambodia was that their begging was treated more like a formal job, something children did even in average families where there was enough to eat. In the above examples, those kids were part of an ethnic underclass, and they didn't go to school and they didn't eat well. We spoke with a little girl in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, who told us about her busy school schedule, after which she had to hustle books to tourists until 11 p.m., at which time her mom would drive out and pick her up, and she got as much sleep as she could before starting it all again at 7 a.m. She admitted it was exhausting but explained it all to us as a matter of course, like this is how everybody lives.

Think of what effort it takes to ask an American teen to do any small household chore once a week, for a sense of perspective. And this Khmer girl wasn't even getting an allowance, and she didn't even have an iPhone 4 to be withheld for 24 hours as punishment if she failed to comply.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Grand Adventure: Leaving Thailand, Entering Lao P.D.R.

Location: Chiang Khong District, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Sunday, January 16

Leaving Chiang RaiChiang Rai Bus TerminalAfter breakfast and as much tourism as we dared squeeze in, we hustled over to the bus terminal and (as it turned out) only barely caught the next bus to Chiang Khong. If we'd missed that bus, I'm not sure we could have caught another one that same day—the Chiang Khong district checkpoint was only 71 miles from Chiang Rai, and according to my photo timestamp the trip took about an hour and a half, between express bus and tuk-tuk, so... sure, maybe we could've hung out longer in Chiang Rai, but why chance it? Hindsight is 20/20, and looking back I know how much time we could have had, but in a worst-case scenario we would have spent another night in Chiang Rai and I'm not sure that would have been necessary. If that had happened, I would've had plenty of time to camp out in a cafĂ© and update my travel journal, because we'd already seen what the night life had to offer and the place is pretty dead in the daytime.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Grand Adventure: Welcome to Bangkok

Location: Phra Khanong, Bangkok, Thailand

We woke up lazily but not so late that we'd miss breakfast. The mattress was firm and there were lots of sheets to curl up in or discard. The city view from our window wasn't so flattering to the urban landscape, not as much as it had been the night before.

The first thing we did, after getting cleaned up and dressed, was set up our laptops to download the latest podcasts in our libraries via Imm Fusion Wi-Fi (the front desk issues guests a daily scrap of paper containing a six-character hexidecimal user ID and a five-digit password; it's only good for 24 hours). Following this, we marched downstairs—you can spiral down the stairs or wait for a vintage elevator—and got our continental breakfast.