Thursday, June 13, 2013

Travel Fails: Managing Expectations

A co-worker had just returned from a visit to the UK. "How was it?" I asked. "They don't put ice in the water" was the reply. I'd learned enough about her trip, and about her.
Rule when traveling: Avoid making constant comparisons with "back home."
If you don't follow this rule, you end up bringing home with you, which, frankly, diminishes the experience. Take what you experience on its own terms.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Now and Then: Guns n' Cigarettes

Last Fall, I was lost in my thoughts, exploring some quiet back lanes in Istanbul I've seen described as "gritty."  Just as I was about to walk into a busier area, someone tugged on my sleeve, stopping me in my tracks. 

A bizarre scene unfolded in front of me. First some men in suits walked out from a side street towards some men seated at a cafe table. A punch-up ensued, then out came the guns.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Travel Gear: Mobile Internet

My SIMs from UK, Japan, USA, Turkey
Once, while traveling in the UK, T-Mobile billed me $400 for 25MB--that's $16,000 per GB! This was a surprise as, under that same plan, I had not been charged for data use during previous overseas trips. I asked T-Mobile to waive the charge (they did), but I cancelled the phone plan because any future overseas use would be charged at that exorbitant rate.

I resolved I would never, again, give a phone company that amount of control over my wallet.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Travel Gear: Makeup and Mirror

I noticed the woman when I was riding the Busan (South Korea) subway at morning commute time, earlier this year. She was middle-aged, and quite unremarkable until she started her morning makeup routine. Seated in the crowded carriage, out came her creams, brushes, and other makeup paraphernalia. She then painstakingly, unselfconsciously transformed her appearance, right in front of me. By the end of the process she was no longer the plain-looking person who had walked on the train.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Travel Gear: OpenStreetMap

Minnesota in the summer is just too lovely, so I won't be traveling far this month. That doesn't stop me thinking about the mechanics of travel.

When I was in Japan earlier this year, handheld electronics hugely contributed to my ability to navigate the geography and the culture. Or, to be more precise, the software that runs on those devices contributed greatly to the quality of my travels.

My Garmin and me crossing the Sea of Japan

I arrived by boat in Fukuoka, Japan from Busan, South Korea. The walk from the Fukuoka Ferry Terminal to the mainline (bullet train) station in Hakata is about 2.5 miles, giving me plenty opportunities to lose my way in a strange and sometimes opaque country.