Recently I’ve taken a four-month break off of travel to settle into a comfortable life in a quiet town. It’s been nice, mostly.
I do miss packing and unpacking the bags. I miss tossing away ripped up socks, giving away paperback books, and moving what’s left of my big shampoo into a small little shampoo thingy.
Some things are essential to have packed and ready to grab when I’m on the road. I will not include the obvious things like a camera, computer, passport, etc. These following are the little home run hitters that are easy to forget about, but always needed:
1. DENTAL FLOSS
I like to eat. I like to eat meat. I like eating late. My teeth are spaced fairly far apart from laughing too much. Stuff gets in there and I need to get it out. I’ve often been wandering … Read More »
If you want to experience the true life of a place, experience it like a local: get an apartment in a true neighborhood. Wake up to the sounds of street vendors and garbage trucks. Be recognized with a smile by your local noodle-slinger.
If a city strikes your fancy, rent an apartment for a month and stick around for awhile.
Another advantage of worldwide Internet networking is that it allows us to exchange short-term apartments without going through an agent or company. Check the New York City craigslist sublet page and you’ll find plenty of Parisians happy to exchange their Left Bank apartment for a little temporary stepping stone on the Upper West Side. Though apartment exchanges are rare in Asia, there are plenty of expats and locals alike who will be vacating their adobe and happy to have someone trustworthy in … Read More »
I grew up in 1980s America. I remember the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Scotland in 1988. I remember the Challenger space shuttle disintegrating over the Atlantic Ocean in 1986. I remember that airplane crashes just seemed to be on the news regularly, giving me an irrational fear of flying that I still have today.
It’s encouraging to know:
Airplane accidents occur at a rate of: 1 crash for every 1,200,000 flights.
The dark part of our imagination tells us that no one can survive a plane crash. This is wrong. 95.7% of people involved in a plane crash survive, actually. Even in the most tragic and serious of airplane crashes, over half of the passengers survive.
So, what can you do to increase your chances of survival? First, pick the right seat to sit in.
SIT IN AN EMERGENCY EXIT ROW, … Read More »
Q: What do Rush Limbaugh, Big Boi of Outkast and Oakland Raider Louis Murphy have in common?
A: They have all been arrested for traveling with Viagra without a prescription.
Viagra is an ‘erectile dysfunction’ drug that could help make it easier for 50.24% of us to do something harmless. While Viagra’s effects are not quite as bad as crack cocaine, crystal meth or a Big Mac, many countries around the world, including the USA, have strict rules regarding its possession without the pills in their proper container with a proper prescription. Even if you legally purchase Viagra over-the-counter in Taiwan or Mexico, if you bring it back to the US, or Singapore, or the UK, you may find yourself in jail for an evening, with criminal charges leveled against you. It’s not just drugs like Viagra, but also sleep medications, painkillers, sedatives, … Read More »
Last week, I arrived back in Taichung- a very livable and pleasant Taiwanese city. Also, a city with no great bars. I’ve searched. Amazing food, cozy cafes, some nice parks, even some decent places to have an outdoor beer from 7-11- but not one great room to have a friendly quaff and good conversation. For a city of 3 million, this is criminal. And so, I begin feeling nostalgic.
Before my first trip to Asia, I imagined there would be a huge lack of bars on this continent. Shopping malls, food stands, pollution- yes. But cozy, smart bars built with carefully with love? Not what pops into mind when an Ohioan thinks of Asia. I was wrong:
Bangkok – Parking Toys
Beijing – Mao Mao Chong
Yangon – The Strand
Siem Reap – Laundry
Tokyo – Ace’s
Manila – Mogwai
Saigon – Era Cafe
Handmade, friendly, stylish and … Read More »
Alongside a visit to a foreign doctor, getting a foreign haircut is one of the most daunting tasks a traveler must overcome. Many will let their hair grow out simply to avoid this confusing, and potentially very disappointing, challenge. But, having your hair cut is as urgent as appendicitis. Sometimes you gotta get rid of it, hippie.
To get a good haircut, you will need a photo, a smile and the ability to give the stylist confidence. To get a bad haircut, you need only say these three words:
“I am traveling.”
“Tôi đang đi du lịch”
“저는 여행중 입니다.”
I consistently lie to two groups of people: tailors and hairdressers. To the tailor: “I live here.” To the hairdresser: “I just moved here.”
A smart tailor knows that local customers will result in good or bad word-of-mouth. A smart hairdresser knows that someone new … Read More »
Depends on what you’re here for.
Different countries = different prices for different things.
Do you want to explore cities, see the big attractions, or experience the food and drink? For example, if you’re here to party, the Philippines generally has the cheapest drinks at restaurants and bars. In contrast, Chinese bars and clubs are expensive- comparable to North American prices, but the daily Chinese necessities (subway, street food, bottled water) are damn cheap, so if you’re here to take photos and explore the city life, China will be cheaper than the Philippines. Accommodation also varies in quality, type and price. Your sleeping standards could make or break your budget. In Vietnam, $10 may get you a comfy room with A/C, wifi and free breakfast. In the Philippines, a $10 room is nearly impossible to find.
Asia is a place that people … Read More »
In the middle, in an aisle seat on the side opposite of oncoming traffic.
I would estimate that I have “enjoyed” 20,000 miles on buses. I’ve survived a 36-hour ride from Beijing to Kunming, a sweltering broken-AC ride from Mulege to La Paz, Mexico, a grueling “third time’s a charm” ride from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh in which I rode on three different buses on one ticket due to the breakdowns of the first two, and an all-out air conditioning assault each time I’m in Malaysia.
To get the seat I want, I go in prepared. I have a little graphic showing the ticket seller of which seat I request.
Here’s a breakdown:
• Passengers in the front of the bus are vulnerable in a head-on collision. Yet, the drivers’ seat is sometimes believed to be the safest seat on the bus, due … Read More »
Direct flights are generally more expensive, hence most of us have been through layovers. For years, layovers have been accepted as an unwanted inconvenience of air travel. Internationally, a trip from San Francisco to Saigon may involve a stop in both Beijing and Bangkok, especially if you’re on a budget and searching for the lowest fare between these two cities.
What many travelers don’t know is that you can arrange for a few days (I’ve stayed up to 12 days) in your ‘layover’ city. Some airlines may let you stay up to a year. Let’s call it a laycation. Instead of having a cup of coffee in London, have a pint at The Mayflower.
So, how can you find and arrange it? Using www.kayak.com, which I use for my international flights, I can click and open up the “details” box of the flight … Read More »
“I was driving myself, pounding out the miles because I was no longer hearing or seeing. I had passed my limit of taking in or, like a man who goes on stuffing in food after he is filled, I felt helpless to assimilate what was fed in through my eyes. Each hill looked like the one just passed. I have felt this way in the Prado in Madrid after looking at a hundred paintings—the stuffed and helpless inability to see more. This would be a time to find a sheltered place beside a stream to rest and refurbish.”
–John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley (1962)
Travel can be hard work. Adrenaline may keep our heads spinning and our feet moving, but it’s important to consider the hidden exhaustion of long trips. Weeks of momentum, scheduling and packing/unpacking will take its toll on your body and dull … Read More »