Tuesday, March 28, 2006

This I Promise Thee

I will never use smileys or emoticons on this blog. Twee little things. If you can't figure out my tone and meaning merely by reading, then either I have failed as a blogger or you have failed as a reader or both.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

No Termites

Now I have to find something else to worry about.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Tools

Shutting down your life and taking it on the road requires preparation and tools. My principal tool is a child’s notebook emblazoned with the anthropomorphic mascot of the Seibu Lions, a Japanese baseball team. I bought the trinket at a game in Japan because the vendors at the Invoice Dome did not sell scorecards along with the hats, fish and vodka. (Seibu won the day 7-6, but the visiting Chiba Lotte Marines went on to win the 2005 Japan Series.)

Each page of the notebook is dedicated to a separate task or set of related tasks which need to be accomplished in order to travel for a year. The headings include "Rough Schedule," "U.S. Costs," "Mobile Phone," "Storage" and "Things To Route." The page for "Onward Ticket Requirements" is filled, while the page for "401(k) Rollover" is still blank. The list of "Things To Pack" is uncomfortably long, so maybe Ralph Lauren pajamas won’t make the cut.

My other primary tool is the internet, and I use it to answer the dozen questions which arise each day. What’s the longest tourist visa I could realistically obtain? (India, 10 years). Can I bring a six-month supply of prescription opiates into Thailand? (Yes.) Is it true that Laos and Vietnam have laws against the local women spending the night with foreigners? (Regrettably so.) Because of these two tools, I am able to get a lot accomplished.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Status Anxiety

One unforseen side effect of my travel plans is that I now become worried about statistically improbable events which would prevent the trip.

I drive more cautiously, because an accident may result in injury and time-consuming court proceedings. Perhaps the annual termite inspection this weekend will find little house guests who require a three-month tenting to remove. Maybe I’ve neglected those two leaks in the roof for too long. And please don't tell me I got that Korean party girl pregnant.

None of my worries has borne fruit so far. The refinance of the house sailed through. The rat inspection, prodded by a hysterical neighbor, found no evidence of critters. My blood tests resulted in a clean bill of health. Even my first visit to the dentist in 14 years revealed only a few small cavities, easy to fix.

Now where the Hell is the passport I sent in last month for additional visa pages? I hope the government hasn’t confiscated it.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Going Places

The planned itinerary, in broad strokes: Land in Bangkok. Spend a month or so chilling out and taking care of formalities in Chiang Mai. Down the Malay Peninsula visiting Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Perhaps a side trip to the Philippines. Back north into Indochina: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma. Then, before it gets too cold, China, with possible jaunts to Mongolia, Tibet or Chinese-occupied Turkestan. And then, when I’m mentally and physically ready, India and Bangladesh.

That all should take about one year. If I’m ready at that time to return to my profession and my normal life, I’ll hop a plane back to the States, probably by way of Dubai. If I’m not ready, it’s on to Latin America, until I run out of money and absolutely have to return to the States.

(The pseudonym, a small investment in candor, is already paying dividends. If I thought there was any chance of the Chinese authorities linking this blog to my visa application, I would never use a phrase like "Chinese-occupied Turkestan.")

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My Good Name

My name is not Peter Fallow. I nicked the name from Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities. In the novel, Peter Fallow is a drunken, burned-out English journalist of startling amorality who parlays a local crime story into a Pulitzer Prize and marriage to an heiress. We all need heroes and role models.

Why the pseudonym? Because I plan to blog about the countries I visit, and I don’t want problems at the border. For example, when the time comes, I will blog about the military junta that runs Burma, but I certainly don’t want any special attention from the boys at SLORC.

So I blog under a phony name. Fallow would approve.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Why

I am taking at least a year off from work and have decided to use a blog to diary my travels and keep people informed of my general whereabouts. I am the 87-millionth person to have this idea. To further the cliche, I have purchased a backpack and filled it with Heart of Darkness, Burmese Days and several Graham Greene novels. Still working on the Tilley hat.