Thursday, July 27, 2006

Here's the Plan

Or, more specifically, Plan A. I always craft a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. Plan A is typically very tightly packed and very ambitious with the goal of doing and seeing the very most on each and every day. Plan A is for Type A, heh heh. Plan B is more realistic for which I prioritize that which is most important to me based on my travel research. Plan C is the Contingency plan -- if I should miss a connection or get sick, I've still covered the essentials. Of course, a part of what makes the trip exciting and truly a journey is the unplanned.

I learned a huge lesson the first time I visited Africa in 2003, I was so attached to my expectations for Plan A, that I did not craft Plan B or C. The trip was disappointing from the start (due not to the place but to the other travelers and the organizer), and I did not have the wherewithal to salvage the trip for myself (change it, go somewhere else) because I had no preparation for anything else (and I had a 103.4F fever due to horrific food poisoning and flew home early).

I usually end up doing something between A and B with some amount of unplanned -- a lot or a little based on my adventure appetite in the moment.

With regards to my plans, some of my (sane and worldly) friends have made the observations:
-I need not make the whole trip hard, I can and should include some easier, relaxing interludes -- to which my rebuttal is, I can always do the easy stuff later, I don't ever anticipate having this amount of contiguous time for travel (until I am old and gray).
-I should "save" some places for future trips so I don't run out of places to travel. Well, I know there will always be many places I want to visit/re-visit, some for which I've had an enduring passion but still could not make fit on this trip.

The Plan:

Broadly, it's Asia, Africa and South America, about 3 months in each place with a bit more time for Africa since I've decided to overland (yes, that is a verb) a significant part of it.

More specifically, in Asia, it's Korea, China and Tibet, and Vietnam.

In Africa, it's South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, (Sudan which may be impossible due to the difficulty of obtaining a visa in Ethiopia), Egypt, and Morocco.

In South America it's Brazil, Chile (including Easter Island), and Argentina.

From a timing perspective:

August: Korea
late August to early-October: China and Tibet
couple weeks in October: Vietnam
Rest of October and early-November: South Africa and Mozambique and
mid-November: Namibia and begin overland section and travel through Zambia
December: Tanzania and Uganda
January: Kenya and Ethiopia
through mid-February: Egypt and Morocco
mid-February: Brazil
mid-March: Easter Island and Patagonia
through early May: Argentina

During the trip, while the flight dates are changeable, there are a couple anchors around which I am shaping my trip. Specifically, the Korean language class at EWHA, set reservations for Kruger in November, planned safari in Tanzania in December, Carnival in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro and Bahia) February 17-21, 2007, getting to Patagonia at the tail end of the season while it is possible to be outside without bitter, bitter cold.

For those friends who are thinking about joining me for parts of the trip along the way, email me, and I'll tell you my planned dates.

Regarding the overland section in Africa. I realized that rather than flying from point A to point B, from point B to point C, etc., to really know and get a sense of and have seep into my bones Africa, I need to be on the ground. So, I am doing a clipped version of the classic overland Cape Town to Cairo -- clipped simply because I don't have time for all of it and as an American citizen likely I will not get the Sudan visa. So, the overland becomes Windhoek (Namibia) to Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) -- by bus, train and truck. Some legs of the journey lack public transportation, so it will be necessary to find someone/a truck going that way and for a fee to hop on.

I really hope I don't find me asking myself, 'What the hell was I thinking???!?'

Feline - canine friends

Meet Bow Tie. He's been with me for 14 years. Soon he will be the resident cat of East Village Bed and Coffee ( -- patiently relaxing, awaiting my return (thanks a million, Anne!) I think he will have his own adventure on Avenue C with sweet Fang, Anne's German shepherd! They seem to get along, and we hope their friendship will flourish.

A bit about home

I live in New York City, and I love it here! I considered this my home long (long) before I moved here -- since about my second year in high school. This summer, New York and I had our 8 year anniversary. As ever I find it engaging, enthralling, truly unparalleled. Each time I open the Village Voice or New Yorker or the New York Times Arts section, I wish I could clone myself because with only one body and mind, it is not possible to see, do, hear, taste, and fully imbibe the cultural and intellectual wonders and happenings in the splendid City!

New York is not for everybody -- just this past weekend while visiting, my sister (who lives in Chicago-area, the vacinity in which we were born) said, "I really enjoy visiting, but I could never live here!" I've heard this over and over again from many people. New York is indeed a demanding, exhausting, and (sometimes) unforgiving place -- especially on a hot summer day on a crowded subway car with no A/C.

And yet I've found the secret to living in New York City: having a home that is a sanctuary, a peaceful place to escape all the smog, smell, noise, and trouble of the city. Unfortunately, due to the high rents and property values, many people live in tiny, cluttered, dark places with limited privacy (which is why few people here entertain at home and why the streets are busy at all hours -- most people only want to go home to have their head hit the pillow). Fortunately (for those of us with comfortable homes), everyone delivers everything and anything, so if inclined, one need not leave one's abode for days (or weeks) at a time. In my old neighborhood on the Upper East side, I used to order for delivery a toasted bagel and cup of coffee from the deli down the street at any hour -- and it would arrive promptly, even if I was ordering at 3am!

Currently, I live in a Harlem brownstone -- on the southern edge of Harlem, at Central Park North, at the base of the killer hill. (No, not that kind of killer! Killer because the hill is very steep!)

Here's my sanctuary:

And on Friday I will pack my clothes and knick-knacks (not my books, thankfully!), on Saturday movers will put these things into storage and on Sunday the sublettors take possession. Gulp.