Here I Go Again On My Own

This blog entry about the events of Tuesday, March 23, 2010 was originally posted on April 17, 2010.

“Uhhh… eeyaaahh… form?”

A middle-aged Chinese woman struggled to ask me something with frantic hand gestures, as we stood in a queue of what was at least thirty people, and increasing by the second.  After a friendly exchange of spoken syllables and more hand motions, I deduced that she wanted me to hold her place in line so that she could go over to the table on the other side of the room and pick up a blank visa application.  She came back in less than a minute, and spent the rest of her time waiting, productively filling out her information.  I on the other hand, had my form all filled out, attached to a passport-sized photo and a copy of my previous Chinese visa.  I waited patiently.

I was surrounded by many people, most with east Asian faces — although not exclusively.  I was after all, technically on Chinese soil in the heart of New York City, at the Chinese embassy, dropping off my passport and application for a multi-entry visa into the People’s Republic of China for the trip I was going to embark on in a few weeks — the next blogged adventure of The Global Trip: Chinese Leftovers and Other Asian Appetizers.

IT HAS BEEN ALMOST A YEAR since my last blogged adventure, long enough for my wanderlust to start itching for a new one.  Not that I’ve been completely grounded in the past ten months; since I “holla’d at the Holy Land,” I’ve gone on several mini-trips in and around North America.  In recent months, I went on a jaunt to Puerto Rico for a friends’ wedding (plus a mofongo-inspired side road trip with my friend Amanda), and a trip to D.C. during the big incapacitating “Snowmeggedon” 2010 blizzard for city snowball fights, conversations with my BootsnAll friend Kirsten, and above all, a party I’d been invited to at the Truman Bowling Alley at the White House(“I had me about fifteen Dr. Peppers.”) 

With the amazing month-long All-You-Can-Jet pass from JetBlue last September/October, I kept it domestic for back-to-back long weekends, and then some: visiting girlfriend-turned-still-good-friend Steph (and her awesome dog Zoey) — now Austin residents — for hiking, river tubing, Tex Mex and barbecue; the PDX (Portland, Oregon) to visit travel site BootsnAll.com founder/friend Sean, for a “Portland Cleanse” of bike riding, yoga, and most significantly, my Goonies-pilgrimage to Haystack Rock; a trip to L.A. and the O.C. to surf, say hi to Noelle (Cambodia, South Thailand) and see how Robin and Danny, a couple of New Yorker friends, have adjusted to the west coast lifestyle; a trip to Vegas for rock climbing with friends Chrissy and Kelly, and everything else that shall stay in Vegas; my annual trip to Orlando to keep in touch and do quaffer shots of Jagermeister with friends Matt and Virginia; a bus trip to Boston to visit long-time friend and blogreader Cheryl, as well as Aviv (from the UBC/Vancouver house in 2005), who now runs a super hi-tech laser at MIT’s Center for Ultracold Atoms; and another California trip to San Francisco and the Bay Area to say hello to Camilla (Belize, Guatemala), and off-and-on travel companion Sam (Antarctica, Australia, Moscow). 

Sam and I also embarked on another long weekend in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics, where we managed to get decent tickets to ski jump (best viewed when drinking before noon), curling (When in Canada, eh?), and of course every Canucks’ favorite pastime, hockey.  The best part of going to the Winter Games was ringing a cowbell in the crowds, only to be egged on by others for “MORE COWBELL!”

“I’ve got a fever… and the only prescription is… more cowbell!”

Back in the New York City, with its “the Crossroads of the World,” I continued to be friends with the newest “characters” of this on-going “Trinidad Show” on The Global Trip travel blog: Sarit and Lily from the Israel trip.  Sarit had come to visit a few times from her home in Albany; she remained her good-natured self, endorsing peace between Israel and Palestine, and continuing her practices of being a socially-conscious food advocate.  (She eventually landed a job at a farm in Vermont, a long way from her Israeli kibbutz.)  Lily, fellow Brooklynite, continued on with her med school program, and has already begun the process of converting from her lethargic Catholic upbringing to the doctrines of Judaism.

BUT ENOUGH OF THE RECAPS (and all these links to previous blog entries for new readers to catch up).  Unlike my last trip to Israel, where I had no real set itinerary — with the Indiana Jones’ philosophy to “make it up as I go” (pre-Crystal Skull) — this upcoming trip is a little bit more structured, mostly due to time constraints.  Also, China requires a little more pre-planning than other places for the traveling American; I had to get my Chinese visa (it was a far easier affair than that time at the Chinese embassy in Paris), renew my International Drivers’ Permit (it hadn’t been used since cruising around the Italian Amalfi Coast), and deal with other miscellaneous issues. 

But regardless of the slight inconveniences of pre-departure planning, this is to be a relatively short trip to the orient anyway.  China is a huge country after all, too big to do all at once, or even in one’s lifetime.  If you recall, when I was traveling in China for a month during my big RTW trip, I only had enough time and money to do only one of the big Chinese showcase cities: Shanghai or Hong Kong.  And if you recall, I chose the latter since I had been invited to stay with my friendly New York ex-pat family the Raichelsons, who were living in Hong Kong on a rotation with Citigroup.  (They have since moved to Brooklyn, and currently live in London.)

You’ve probably figured out by now the signficance of the first part of the upcoming travel blog’s title, “Chinese Leftovers.”  I always knew I wouldn’t see everything the first time around, not even all the highlights, and so I’m jetting off to China to experience them in Round 2.  In my sights are two main Chinese attractions: the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai, northern China’s flashy showcase city; and Huang Shan, also known as the Yellow Mountain, in the countryside west of Shanghai.  In Lonely Planet’s China guidebook, those two places are actually the only two things left on their “Best of China” list (others included Beijing and The Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors, and the Li River), so that would make my initial orientation with China complete.  (Orientation, get it?)  Not that Lonely Planet should be the only authority on what to see or do in any part of the world; everyone should make their own path.

The second part of the title goes “And Other Asian Appetizers,” meaning that I will not just be going to the People’s Republic of China, but other parts of Asia as well.  Not for too long though; just a few days in each place to visit friends living in those spots, and get a taste of the life and culture — just enough time to wet my wanderlust’s appetite for a possible in-depth visit at a later time.  Above all, I will be sampling other Asian appetizers in terms of regional cuisine, just as I always have in previous travel blogs, before the days of Anthony Bourdain (and not because I’m typecast as this culinary Fancy Fast Food Guy these days).

What the other Asian countries are and when I will go there, I will not reveal until they are written about, so as to keep an air of mystery to The Global Trip reading audience out there — new ones, and everyone in The Fellowship of The Blog from back in the day.  And who knows, maybe even some old “characters” from The Blog that you (or I) never expected to return will show up…

Did I build enough suspense there?  Find out and see over the next three weeks…

THE TRIP BEGINS APRIL 21, 2010.


FUN FACT:

While traveling on that big RTW trip six years ago, I often took pictures of my food.  Some readers wondered why I would do such a thing, while some admitted that they skipped to see the food pictures first, before reading anything.  Isn’t it funny that nowadays it’s become something that even The New York Times reports as a thing to do?





Next entry: Not Quite Up In The Air

Previous entry: “C” And The Conclusion Is Good Enough For Me




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Comments for “Here I Go Again On My Own”

  • YES!  First comment!!  :D Am sending out the info for other blog hogs

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/17  at  05:25 PM


  • So excited to travel vicariously again! As I spent 6 months in mainland China back in 2005 it will surely being back memories!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/17  at  06:19 PM


  • Hey, another Canadian will be watching for new entries and reading/travelling vicariously!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/17  at  07:58 PM


  • OMG, now I a) want to go on a trip and b) need to update my blog.
    SO jealous. I have a former coworker in Shanghai, if you are interested. Lemme know.
    DYING to get back to Khao Lak. Or Flores. Anyway, SOOOOOO jealous.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/19  at  02:16 AM


  • here we go again…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/19  at  05:28 AM


  • been awhile .. looking forward to another trip !!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/19  at  07:23 PM


  • safe travels Erik! Can’t wait to read what shenanigans you get up to.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/20  at  02:28 AM


  • Back again and now with Twitter I can follw you more!!! Mwwwwhhhhhaaaaa wink

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/20  at  02:55 AM


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This blog post is one of eighteen travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: Chinese Leftovers And Other Asian Appetizers," which chronicled a trip to Shanghai and Huang Shan in China, as well as brief excursions to Manila, Taipei, and Seoul.

Next entry:
Not Quite Up In The Air

Previous entry:
“C” And The Conclusion Is Good Enough For Me




THE GLOBAL TRIP GLOSSARY

Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.




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