to travel anywhere abroad is a logistical nightmare. to travel to a handful of countries is just insane. to do it all mostly in southeast asia, you're looking into a world of hurt my friend.
i consider today my first official day where i seriously started to figure out my travel plans. it all started when i was reading the CDC report regarding travel in southeast asia in light of the recent tsunami disaster. that part of the world already had some pretty nasty stuff but now new breeding grounds have started to form. besides a whole series of vaccinations (tetatnus/diphtheria, hepatitis, typhoid, japanese encephalitis) i need to get prior to leaving, there's also the question of which kind of malarial drug to take. the CDC recommends the newer doxycycline (versus atovaquone/proguanil or mefloquine) since the malarial parasites have already built up resistance to the older drugs.
i tried looking for a travel clinic in the boston area with some sort of walk-in service but they seemed to be all hidden behind the bureaucratic walls of hospitals. so that galvanized me into doing something about my health insurance, which i have none at the moment. blue cross has a cheap independent plan for $290/month, but the benefits don't kick in until after 160 days, although i could probably get that lengthy wait period revoked if i get proof that i was under another health insurance plan within the past 60 days. then i was talking with julie and she gets health insurance through NASE (the national association of self-employed), and they have a pretty good health insurance of just $240/month (not including prescription coverage). the selling point wasn't the cost but rather the fact that i could still continue using my current doctor. so i sent NASE my information so hopefully someone from their office will contact me this week. unfortunately the coverage i want doesn't include medicine, so i'll probably have to pay for my vaccinations out of pocket (even if i did have a prescription policy, i'm not sure if that sort of thing would be covered).
i started to pick my destinations. within the past few days i've realized that my around-the-world trip isn't going to happen. i'm still traveling, but just not around the world. most of my original hot spots were in asia anyway, so i figured i'd visit as many asian countries as possible. central asia, africa, europe, those places will have to wait. besides, i only have so much money, and this modified asia-centric travel plan seems to be a cheaper option. i have friends in japan and hong kong, relatives in taiwan, and i know a contact person in vietnam. my cousin eric is also a travel agent in taipei, so i hope i can get some cheap deals through him. i know for certain there are 5 places i'm going: japan, taiwan, hong kong, cambodia, and thailand. while i'm in southeast asia, it'd be cool to visit a few other countries in that area: vietnam, laos, and burma (myanmar). malaysia, further south, is worth seeing if i can get a cheap flight, as well as singapore. indonesia is interesting too, but the US state department has issued a travel advisory warning for that country for possible terrorist attacks on foreign nationals. after i had my countries, i looked up the visa situation. most places allow unrestricted travel with a few requiring visitor visas. of those that require special visas, half allowed you to apply for a visa at the airport, with only burma and vietnam being the exception. burmese visa is effective for 90 days and can be used for a 28 day stay, with the condition you exchange US$200 into burmese currency. vietnam is the only country with the strictest conditions, with fixed arrival and departure dates. for these two countries i'll either get my visa in taipei or in hong kong.
there's still a lot of things left to do. now that i have my countries picked out, i have to figure out my itinerary, places i want to see, where i'll be staying, how will i get around. a lot of planning goes into a vacation, so much so that it doesn't even seem like a vacation anymore.
feeling particularly unhealthy, i went out running again. just slightly above freezing, i had my gloves on the whole time otherwise they'd be like ice. i showered after i got home then received word from james about the new mini mac from apple. seductively priced at just $500 (the machine is 4x faster than my current desktop mac), i'd definitely consider getting it. it'd be great as a living room computer, attached to the television, controlled through a pair of bluetooth keyboard and mouse. no more surfing the web on a measly 12" ibook screen! if wonder if it could also act like a poor man's tivo? with the proper firewire attachment. the new shuffle ipod ($100) seems like a lame idea though; without an lcd screen nor the ability to pick which song you want to hear, it seems like an evolutionary dead end. apple is marketing it with the tagline, "random is the new order," trying to put a cool spin on something that's sort of a ripoff.
julie was going to make a chicken salad for tonight but then talked her way into buying a pizza from one of the many eating places behind tufts university. the pizza wasn't hot anymore by the time she arrived so she baked it in the oven, box and all. we kept a close eye on the heating, making sure nothing was combusting. we watched a pre-ice-t episode of SVU (circa 2000) followed by a new episode on NBC. it was the lacrosse captain who molested that little girl! not the football coach!