ON MY WAY TO SOUTHEAST ASIA


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October 28th 2007
Published: October 29th 2007
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My travel mode is switched on long before the "T-day" (travel day). Booking a free, travel-award ticket nowadays requires reservation at least 6 months in advance and to tailor a 100% personalized, travel agent free trip, sure takes even more time and commitment. Too much trouble? Not for me. The process is an informative journey in itself. Yeap! It does takes many hours on-line and reading travel books, but that's when the adventure actually begins to shape up. Learning about places and imagining being in that culture, changing destinations as I discover a more fascinating one, has become an energizing hobby.

Hussle of air traveling: yes, it's an inconvenient reality we can't escape and must endure, thanks to Bin Laden and affiliates of terrorism. So, to still enjoy my trips, I've made Rule #1 for fun travel: expect airport hussle (AH) and learn to deal with it by shrugging your shoulders (Bonus: it releases shoulder tension!), saying "Oh, well!!!", and moving on, with a smile, even if a fake one (practicing makes it less cynical).

So, this trip planning started in May 07 when I made my reservation to fly to Myanmar/Burma today, October 27, 2007. At the time, I whisperred to my sick Dad " Eu vou pra Birmania, pai." (Sem saber se ele ouviu, compartilhei, pois sabia que ele acompanharia meus passos neste blog").

Well, after being ready to venture into the isolated and harsh Burmese dictaroship safely, there came the uprise by the oppressed Burmese people and the protesting by even the pacifist, yet brave, Buddhist monks, who martched the streets to cry for justice. No need to say, I got my passport back from the Burmese embassy and shifted my plans to visit safer grounds. So, to Thailand, and to the east of it, I go.

It's 7:15am, and I've already gotten my dose of "AH" still here in Gainesville, Florida. I had done my packing homework, or so I thought, and placed my liquids and gels in 3oz containers and tahn in clear plastic bag. The security officer, however, said that my neatly packed liquid medications were supposed to be transfered to the other plastic bag where my toiletries were, and that some of the 3oz cute little bottles of sanitizer, shampoo, lotion, etc, had to go. Well. I did not know there was a limit to the number of containers one can take. "How many?", I asked . She grabbed a hand full and said "Just give me these". "Oh, noooo. Not my hand sanitizer, my weappon against the invisible foreign germs!!!!." I quickly traded the precious container for a shampoo bottle, shrugged my shoulder, gave a fake smile, and moved on to re-pack my non-confiscated supplies. Proud to have endured utilization of my "Rule #1", without much of a choice I made up "Rule #2": Just learn to let go of useful or cute belongings, which aren't truly essential or irreplacable.

Now, seating inside the plane, the announcement came that due to fog in Charlotte, for an undetermined amount of time, we won't be able to take off. Putting Rule #1 in action again, I reached for my cell to call Amanda and wish her luck on her ACT which is to start in a few minutes. An older lady seating by me started "the talk" about connections, which inevitably let to the "where are you going" question. I told her about the countiresI'd be visiting and some I had visited in the past. Her bonus question was: "Do you also fly to ANYWHERE SAFE?". Hummm!!! I though before answering that " I always go where I judge it to be safe. I pick destinations where other women have gone on their own, and I get feedback from many. I reported that I didn't feel unsafe in China, Tibet, Namibia, Saint Petersburg, but yes, I did feel unsafe in my own town, Maceio, Miami, New York, Cape Town, Paris. So, popular and "heard of", doesn't mean safe, does it?

I got my exercise for the day as I literally run from one end to the other of the Charlotte airport, just in time to make my connection to Chicago. But the rush was only good for my physical activity level cota, as in Chicago my flight to Tokyo was delayed. "AH" quickly turned into an opportunity to charge my laptop battery, call home, browse thru the latest gossips on Brad and Angelina, skipping Britney's, buy a couple of decent magazines, lay down on a couple of empty seats at a corner before enduring the 14 hours of my 3rd flight, squeezed on my couch seat.

As I tried to open my can of diet coke I realized I am no longer in the US. The top of the can was one of those old-fashioned ones that comes out and can cut you... (Oooppppsss. Can't it be used as a sharp little weapon?!!). By the first sip, the reality that standards are diferrent beyond our borders hit: not the familiar taste of aspartame or splenda, the bad one must be from saccharin or something else. Curiosity won't help, as I can only read "Coca-Cola Light". All else are in cute, yet meaningless characteres to me. The 80 year old lady by my side is from Saint Augustine, Florida, she has been to Brazil as her daughter in law is froma Bahia. Fresh from an angioplasty, she is going to meet family members in Japa and is eager to continue to explore new places. She judges me as brave to travel alone, but who is she kidding? She is the inspiring one and I hope I'll be as daring at her age. I have the feeing we'll see each other again back in Florida.

Now at Narita airport in Tokyo, I remember my stay in the city a couple of years ago: Miniscule hotel, the teens dressed in expensive costumes, all in a rush, the biggest fish market in the world, the cemiteries with tiny places for the cremated ashes, and the beautiful one as a memorial for stillborns. A highlight was hanging around with Mark and Angie, and the begining of a friendship.

My new plane seat mate is a conservationist from Bhutan. His great English and friendliness made the convesation flow easily, from Buddhism to animal/land preservation to preservation of culture identity. Well. His country has made it to the list of places to visit in the future.

25 hours since I left Gainesville, I arrive at the new Bangkok airport, greeted by many signs reading "Long Live the King". Changed some $ to The Thai Baht, headed to the taxi line, and trying not to be intimidadted by my driver's long hair and putting faith on the protector God placed on the taxi's dashboard, I was driven to the Shanti Lodge. It's now 1:30am and..... my reserved room is gone! I repeated "I confirmed", she reapeated "I'm sorry" several time, but my room was taken and to the shared dorm I wouldn't go. So, to the neighbor guest house I went.

Today I finished the "T-day" exausted but tomorrow it should all be different and refreshing. So, next report should bring.... we'll see.
Patricia

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30th October 2007

Oi Paulo
Legal ter noticias suas e saber que gostou de Maceio. Devo passar por la de novo em Marco. Mergulho faz parte do meu passado. Assim, aqui na Tailandia so reconhecer o terreno e cultura. Keep in touch and hope to meet you in person in Salvador, Maceio ou por ai. Patricia
30th October 2007

aventura
vc., uma fazedora de coisas, em suas andanças. proclamando um modo, especialíssimo de apresentar, comentar o cotidiano, a política e as maravilhas, presentes em todos os ambientes do mundo...estamos tão pertos e tão distantes. com a maior admiração FERNANDO

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