Monday, May 5, 2008

Count down to Egypt and Germany begins ...

I'm about 48 hours away from leaving my house for my graduation trip.

I don't like having long count downs, you know - 17 weeks until [enter super fun activity here]. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it just makes me feel old. Like my life isn't really worth living until then. 48 hours, I can deal with not doing much except running around like a maniac to prepare for my trip.

So I'm a travel junkie. This started when I had a work term in Boston (first time I stepped foot off of Canadian soil!), and then my 4 months of exchange in Singapore consisted of various adventures in Malaysia (Kuala Lampur and Taman Negara), Indonesia, Thailand (Bangkok and Krabi), Vietnam and Cambodia. Major, major dosage of traveling for myself, a newbie. Then a couple of short trips, with my family to Cuba and Montreal last summer. Tres fun.

Traveling felt much like having my eyes opened for the first time to all the wonders I had no idea existed in the world. I felt so naive and ignorant. So insignificant, yet realize it is people -- individual much like you and I -- who shape the history of our world. Since it was my first time traveling, I was learning a lot. I was lucky to have friends who have had some experience traveling before, and they were equipped with Lonely Planet guides and first aid kits, and other essentials.

I also learned a lot myself. I learned that I loved learning about different cultures and also about where I came from. My dad was born in Vietnam and my mom was born in Cambodia. I was blessed to have the opportunity to visit their homeland.

I learned (not just believed) how fortunate I was to be born in Canada and have so many opportunities (freedom, women's rights, education - to name a few) that many people can only dream about. I saw -- first hand -- how fortunate I was to be given the opportunity to be multi-lingual, and how there are so many languages I want to learn. I also learned how much culture is reflected in the languages of different countries. In my feeble attempt to learn Vietnamese.

I learned that no matter where I go, no matter how many cool sites I see, the best part of journey is coming home and being able to share it with the people I cared about. My family and friends.

I also learned a lot about myself as a traveler. I learned that I am definitely not a country hopper. I would much rather spend more time in one single country and immersing myself in it's culture than seeing many countries in a short amount of time. It feels unjust for me to spend only a couple of days in country and claiming I have "been there."

I also don't like to herded around like cattle. You know those, like those Chinese tours, where they stop at a city and you have 15 minutes to explore. Then you're herded back onto the bus for another 10 hour ride. Yea. Not my cup of tea. It feels unjust to the country I am visiting and to the people who are visiting.

So unless the place I'm traveling to is unsafe without a guide (ie. trekking in the Himilayas, Central and South American (?) ), I usually try to stay away from tours. Another exception is when I want to learn a lot the history, especially at historically significant sites. I can only get so much from staring at rubble :)

I will keep updating this blog with stories of my travels, so check back if you are interested. In the meantime, here are some of the things on our itinerary:

Watching Egyptian Belly dancing. Maybe take some classes? So beautiful!
Visiting the port of Alexandria. Named after Alexander the Great from the Greek Empire.
Of course, the Pyramids of Giza. I have to ride a camel here.
Visiting the Western Desserts. Ever heard of sand surfing? What else would you do in a dessert, right?Diving in the Red Sea. I heard they have awesome wreck dives. Good thing I know how to swim this time around!
Visiting Mount Sinai. Isn't this gorgeous?
Visiting the mosques and museums of Cairo.
Visiting Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. Hello, Ramses the Great and King Tut. King Tut was actually a very insignificant figure in terms of contribution to the Egyptian History, but more to come on that later.
Of course, I have to ride a felucca along the Nile. This looks so peaceful and gorgeous.
Update: I just transferred some of my old posts (from my exchange term last year) of my travels to this blog. I also added some more pictures -- some mine, others googled. I also realize my grammar was not-so-good, so please bear with me. The links in this post link to the respective entries. Or you can do what I would do, and just look at the pictures! Enjoy =)


Christie said...

First, let me say I am sooo jealous.

I really, really, have wanted to visit Germany since high school when I took German.

I can't wait to hear about your time in Vietnam. I am half Vietnamese (you may have read that on my blog) and I don't talk to my mom who is from there so I have no idea what their culture or lifestyle is like. I wish I knew more about my heritage then just drunken tales from my dad. Can't wait to get some from you :)

Katelin said...

have a fabulous trip, can't wait to hear about it when you get back!

Phil said...

Germany, you say? Hmmm . . . might be a good time to taste some awesome beer. ;-)

I envy you for being able to travel as much as you do. Have fun, Des!

Des said...

Thanks for your comments, guys!

Christie: That's awesome that you know German! I wish I knew German. I knew you are part Asian, but I didn't know you are part Vietnamese :)

I just dug up some of my old travel posts and put them up. My time in Vietnam was totally amazing -- though short. Hope you enjoy the post!

Katelin: Thanks! I'll post some updates while I am there, as well.

Phil: Thanks! I will keep this site updated. I'm actually stopping by the Beck's Brewery in Bremen. I know I said I didn't like beer, but Becks is an exception. Becks and Corona's, that is :)

Sara and Dan Klick said...

Major jealousy! But I'm glad for you that you get to go and I'm glad that the rest of us will get to experience your trip via pictures and posts afterwards! Have fun!!

Des said...

Sara and Dan: Thanks! I'm so excited :)

Valley Girl said...

Take me with!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Christie said...

have a fun and safe trip. I'm assuming you're gone and won't be blogging for a while :( take lots of pics!!