Dispatches are stored at PerpetualTravel.com
This is the first dispatch as we depart our home for a 2.5-year RTW trip after two years of planning and preparation.
These will be sporadic since they depend on our ability to gain access along the way. This was originally going to be a short 'Bon Voyage' letter to our family and friends, but we have been convinced to send dispatches back for some of the armchair-travellers who wish to live vicariously through our adventures, as well as for those actively preparing for their own trips.
Not being writers by trade, these will not have the polished style and insight of writers like Paul Theroux or Pico Iyer. We also don't have plans at the moment for a vast online work like Philip Greenspun's Travels with Samantha or Russell Gilbert's Around-the-World Journal.
We felt you would enjoy the dispatches more if you knew something about us, so we have included a short background in this letter. If you are not familiar with the Round-the-World Travel Guide that we maintain, reading it will make these dispatches even more meaningful.
Where & When
The ever-changing, ultra-flexible, 'current' plan is a 2.5+ year trip starting July 14th, 1995:
Florida --> Dallas, Denver, California (San Francisco, Big Sur, Morro Bay, LA) --> Singapore, Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sumba, Flores) --> Australia (Darwin, Cairns, Sydney) --> New Zealand -->
1996: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos?, Vietnam?, Hong Kong?, SE China, Japan?, NE China (Silk Road) to Western China, Karakoram Highway into Pakistan, India, Nepal, India.
1997: India --> Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Greece, Europe, Morocco, Kenya? (1998?), Tanzania?, Malawi --> Caribbean --> Florida.
The arrows are flights. The question marks indicate places we are interested in visiting, and will decide on as we approach. We look forward to seeing just how far we digress from the path and dates in this very general itinerary.
We only have tickets for LA-Singapore, Bali-Darwin, Darwin-Cairns, Cairns-Sydney, Sydney-Adelaide, Adelaide-Brisbane, Brisbane-Auckland, and New Zealand-Kuala Lumpur purchased from consolidators in SF. Since we will be travelling overland most of the time, we only expect to buy Bombay-Cairo, Europe-Caribbean, and Caribbean-Miami tickets on the road. The only visa we will have is for Australia, which will be obtained in San Francisco, and expect to get the rest as we need them along the way.
It gets harder to distinguish the purpose from the justification anymore. Originally it was just a wild idea because we wanted to see so much of the world, and didn't see it happening at the pace we were receiving vacation time. Our original goals were the Taj and Istanbul, Nepal, Bali and the Greek islands, however after becoming more familiar with travel destinations, we realized these are just landmarks along the way. We have been cutting back on the number of places, and slowing the pace down so that we might meet more people through SERVAS and HOSPEX (international homestay organizations), as well as a few generous contacts who have been entrusted to us by friends.
This has never been an ultimate quest or challenge, nor do we lead boring lives, nor are we unhappy with ourselves. For years we talked about going overseas and this trip will give us a chance to evaluate places to live and work in the future, such as Singapore, Malaysia, or Indonesia. We realize we are exposing ourselves to new ideas and cultures that will broaden our outlook and understanding of the world, and allow us to learn more about ourselves. We also know we will not be the same when we return. Every day we can see and feel this is all leading to things we cannot possibly imagine for our future.
Although we like exotic foods, scuba diving, photography, hiking in mountains and rainforests, and seeing volcanoes and waterfalls, these are just added benefits. We already know from previous vacations that we are not overly interested in the museums, shopping, or nightlife, however import/export ideas have been added on as an after-thought.
I was raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA (a few kilometers north of Miami). After many years of sports (soccer, windsurfing, racquetball, baseball, football, etc.), school, and work (scuba, restaurants, and radio stations), I moved 240km (150 miles) up the coast to Melbourne/Palm Bay for a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Florida Institute of Technology.
I worked with laser optics while in college, and after graduation, worked with high-pressure breathing air systems at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, where the Space Shuttle is launched.
When we decided to give the idea of RTW travel a chance in September 1993, I was fortunate to have saved one of Russell Gilbert's rec.travel newsgroup posts from 1992. After our extensive email discussion, I realized I should organize the Round-the-World Travel Guide just to prevent a repeat of that lengthy discussion with others. Sending it to them only made it grow, so I let it become a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) for most travel issues, but with a focus towards extended travel.
On the homefront, I go out of my way for unique foods. Travelling the islands of the Caribbean, as well as the major cities and museums on the eastern coast of the United States, have inspired me to see the world, and I do not expect my minimal background in the Spanish, Japanese, and French languages to hinder me. Years of Wild Kingdom, PBS, Discovery Channel, Rick Steves' travel shows, lurking in the travel newsgroups, and cruising the Internet have prepared me as the Navigator of our journey.
Karin Brosius (Nicholson)
I was born on the island of Curaçao (koo-rah-SOW, about 64km or 39 miles north of Venezuela, in the Caribbean Sea), one of the five islands comprising the former Netherlands Antilles. When my parents retired, we moved back to our home in St. Maarten (another island of the former Netherlands Antilles), where I attended high school. Having lived on such culturally diverse islands, I speak English, Papiamentu (pah-pee-ah-MEN-too, a mix of Portugese, Spanish, English, Dutch, and African, spoken in Curaçao, Bonaire, and Aruba), Dutch (the official language of the Netherlands Antilles), and Spanish.
At Florida Institute of Technology, I earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, a Masters in Business Administration, and a Masters in Computer Science. While there, I added French, German, and Japanese to my language collection.
After graduating, I wrote programs for laser forms-reading equipment for a few years, then returned to Florida Tech to manage Sun Sparcserver, Digital VAX, and Apple Macintosh systems connected to the Internet. I also maintained the campus web server, designed home pages for various departments, and gave Internet training seminars to faculty, staff, and students.
In my spare time I like to travel, play racquetball, scuba dive, swim, bicycle, eat exotic foods, devour good chocolate and licorice, and listen to classical and island music (not necessarily in that order). I volunteered several years for Zonta Club of Melbourne, a worldwide service organization of executives in business and the professions working together to advance the status of women.
Very early in life I developed a love for travelling and enjoying the cultures and foods of different countries. From the age of two, I had accompanied my parents when they travelled to New York. My Caribbean travels have taken me to the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Saba, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Guadeloupe, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. I have also travelled to Holland, Belgium, Germany, and France, as well as many cities in the United States. These little trips have given me a taste of travel and prepared me to be the sherpa, food critic, and translator on this journey.
This has been by far, the most complicated trip we have planned in years. Some days we were in a panic, others just frantic. This last month has been very hectic, with us trying to divest years of accumulated 'stuff'. We are like homeless turtles -- all we own is on our backs. We are carrying 50L (3100 cubic inch) internal-frame backpacks weighing 14kg (31 lbs).
Since we expect to be gone so long, we spared no expenses and completed our immunization shots: Hepatitis-A (Havrix which is good for ten years), Japanese Encephalitis, Measles/Mumps/Rubella (adult booster), Meningitis, Polio Booster, Rabies (definitely recommend it), Tetanus/Diphtheria, Typhoid (four Vivotif pills), and Yellow Fever (no choice). We will get the Hepatitis-B booster in Australia or New Zealand, and may get the Influenza shot too. We also have a contra-indication from our doctor in case of unreasonable and unsanitary demands for cholera shots at remote border crossings.
The closer we got to leaving, the more our friends wanted to do things with us, and more good job offers kept materializing from nowhere. On top of this, we keep getting suggestions from people to publish a book on RTW Travel, but alas, it must wait too (there are a few on the market, and we expect others soon).
We've started to notice a definite trend when others hear of our plans. Those who understand the joys of travel will tell us what fun we are going to have, how jealous they are and how much they wish they could do the same thing, then jump right into a long discussion on destinations. The other trend that seems prevalent involves wild looks and words of disbelief, then small conversation that dwells on the safety and cost, but rarely involves the destinations.
To answer the most frequently asked questions:
Yes, we quit our jobs, and no, we did not get a leave of abscence. Most of the people we have talked to, who have dropped everything and travelled extensively, even the hippies from the 1960s, are doing well today.
We don't have any jobs lined up during or after the trip, but we will look for them when we take breaks from the road.
Yes, we have medical and emergency evacuation insurance, including an IAMAT card.
Yes, we are staying in hostels (IYH), and will rent camping gear in a few places.
No, our families did not disown us and they are coping very well as far as we can tell. The guilt trips were no more extensive than the norm, but this could change -- they are very resourceful.
We will manage finances through Visa and AmEx credit cards, travellers checks, a few personal checks from Money Market Accounts (to buy TCs or cash at AmEx offices), ATM cards, and a reasonable amount of cash.
No, we are not taking a computer with us.
We are carrying guide books for Indonesia and New Zealand, and will leave others in Singapore for Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and China. We will buy more in Bangkok, Delhi, and Kathmandu.
No, we're not going to send you a postcard (unless you're one of our philanthropists-in-hiding) ;-)
We encourage everyone to write us since it is a great feeling to hear from others when you are on the road. Please do not put anything of value in the mail, otherwise we probably won't receive the letter. Since our plans are flexible, it might be best to stick to the major cities. There is always a chance letters will get lost, but its worth a shot. Also, please take into account that unexpected things might happen to change our plans -- illness, wars, visa problems, etc.
Some mailing suggestions:
- Allow 2 weeks for mail to reach us at the more 'reliable' spots such as Singapore, Cairns, Sydney, Auckland, Christchurch, Bangkok, Athens, Delft, London.
- Allow 3 weeks for the rest of the destinations. Jakarta, Bali, Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, Kathmandu, Bombay, Cairo, Istanbul.
- Always aim for the day you expect us to arrive in a city, since AmEx and the post office will hold the mail for thirty days.
- Use international airmail stamps or have it stamped 'AIRMAIL'.
- Use the example below to address the envelope.
Our current plan, based on airplane reservations:
Please change our email addresses if you have them aliased in your mail system address book. And, if you have some spare time, have a look at PerpetualTravel.com/karin/
We would be glad to meet you along the way for lunch or dinner. Send mail to the GPO if you know we will be there within a month or so. If you send us email, we may not be able to read it until we can access our accounts, however a friend will read it and forward critical info to those we are in contact with regularly. We would certainly appreciate any offers for email access to continue dispatches and to write family.
Don't envy us, travel is hard work ;-)
Marc & Karin
July 14, 1995
Palm Bay, Florida
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