Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Bucket List

Himalayas

While I had little interest before for many reason, now I sort of want to go up there some day. The way that lady described the scene, how it’s more black than blue because there’s less atmosphere to reflect the sunlight, and the vast number of stars one could see up there, plus the hearing of pure silence, just makes that sound incredibly delightful.

The art of checking something off

As the duo were working through their list (specifically in the racetrack scene), I realize that my dissatisfaction from checking things off a list of stuff that I truly do want to do comes from HOW I go about doing it. Instead of going through the motions of planning a day to do a bucket list item and check it off, I actually want that item to be as normal, regular part of my life as it can. So instead of going bungee jumping once and calling it complete, I want to do it every so often; I want it to be a lifestyle. That’s the feeling that sold me to add it to the list in the first place.

My first trip to New York last May/June was fine. It was touristy for the most part since it was my first time, but I had a few “local” moments by staying at someone’s home, buying groceries for the week, and taking public transportation everywhere (sometimes the same buses and trains every day). But when I unexpectedly went back again in the winter, I started seeing a pattern (as much as you can see a pattern from only two instances), that I enjoy visiting once in a while, that I knew it would not be my last time coming to New York, that every time I visit, I would feel more and more like a local, and that it’s just something I do.

Whenever I do something from my list, I get a strange, somewhat uncomfortable feeling that it seems forced and that there is so much pressure to recapture the feeling I had imagined when I added it to the list. And looking at my list now, I realize that it’s because those items are things that I would do probably just once in my life. This Big Trip even includes a couple of those things. I still want to do them in my lifetime; I’m just saying that I should realign my expectations. Learning from a previous post, I should treat those one-time-ish items as a way to seek new experiences.

I do have to point out that some items, even if you make it into a lifestyle, could have diminishing returns if you do it after so many times. That probably means you’ve milked all the expected experiences you could from that item and you should move on to something new.

(195 days until supposed start of trip)

(currently on Lesson 16 of French, just semi-casually listening through to refresh my memory. Spanish is going to be the start of it being tough)

(Work’s been so busy this week that I have yet to complete the simple paperwork to officially get my leave of absence for my trip, but I did finally get the right wording in the reasons for my request. And also my boss’ boss seems supportive of my plan)

And Enters Greece…

 

I’m working on getting the Round-the-World (RTW) ticket right now, and I’ve been using Star Alliance’s trip planner tool for the past month, and I have to start making the decision and buy the ticket so I can move on to other parts of the trip planning. The leg that’s causing the most debate is Europe. Depending on the way I order the itinerary and opt for separate flight tickets, I could potentially lower my cost overall.

Star Alliance Round the World Trip Planner

 

Being the logical person that I am, I must figure out at a basic level which option costs the least and what the benefits and disadvantages I may encounter are. This table started out with only a few columns and rows last night, and in a few hours it exploded.

Round-the-World Fare Europe Leg Research

Since Round-the-World tickets are usually priced partly in mileage tiers, I’m trying to arrange the route a certain way to get it just under the next mileage tier. In some cases, I save a couple of hundred dollars.

Then I had the idea to try to shorten my overall trip as much as I can and see how low in mileage and price I could go. The only other places I could do it were to the starting and ending points, where I could reduce the mileage within American soil and book separate domestic tickets for cheaper. So instead of flying from Albuquerque, I moved my starting point to Houston or Miami, where there are direct flights to Lima. And instead of including the Hawaii-to-SF leg in the RTW ticket, I stop at Hawaii and would fly back to SF separately. So I started logging that and re-ran the numbers for every route I had previously planned.

Somewhere along the way, many hours have passed, I had the idea to shorten the Europe leg of the RTW ticket down to Athens, Greece. Maybe I could train it through Europe or get cheaper flights within Europe. To my surprise, my route got below another mileage tier, and so did the cost ($1500-2000 less!). By then, it was too late in the night for me to do more price checks, so this morning, I resumed work and ran quick numbers on Kayak. If I fly separately within Europe starting and ending at Athens, and I include the Hawaii-to-SF flight, it would still cost a couple hundred dollars below all the prices I had logged earlier that night!

(If you were wondering that maybe booking all of your flights separately may be cheaper than a RTW ticket, which I also wondered, it’s not, at least for my trip. The long flights between continents still cost a lot, enough to be beat by RTW ticket when added up.)

So now, I have to rearrange my dates to include Athens in my itinerary. But that could be another post. This is starting to become a tour of capitals (except South Africa, which has three capitals and “Jo-burg” is not one of them), and also a tour of Olympic cities!

(“Before Midnight” (coincidentally took place in Greece): there’s little relevance to traveling here, but I wanted to follow up. It’s good just like the other “Before” movies, but it’s sort of become a “hyper”-reality (even though it’s the most current) where it’s gone so far into the future from the first two movies where now they’re middle-aged parents with more problems, to a point where part of me prefer to “go back to simpler times” of “Before Sunset” where we’re a little older and wiser but still have enough hope for the future.)

Link

Seek Out New Experiences

I stumbled upon this link today. The thing I wanted to point out from this post is that regarding my previous post about worrying that I might be disappointed this around-the-world trip would be underwhelming and less life-changing than I expected, it won’t matter as long as I’m still seeking out new experiences. By taking this trip, at least I know what it feels like to take this trip. I may do this trip again someday, but differently, or I might find something else to do for the rest of my life. I just need to do it.

Before Sunset

This film is a typical sequel; it had elements, structure, and spirit of the original. (What it also had was the subtle but obvious indication in the passage of time (as seen in Ethan Hawke’s face).)

Comparing to the original, seeing this movie feels like waking up to “real time” and trying to put together what you dreamt about and what it all meant. Like most sequels (and in this one to some extent), there’s a slight disappointment that what you expected the follow-up to be is never the perfect fantasy that you had in your head. With this sequel, though, the dissatisfying reality hit me so quickly that the only thing I could do is accept it and handle the situation as it unfolds, like I would in real life.

My disappointment with this big trip, I suspect, would be that going to all these countries and cities would leave me underwhelmed by the sights that I’ve seen my entire life and that I would feel lost, both geographically, and in my life as I wonder, “if this isn’t what I really wanted to do, what is?” The advantage I have here is that I already know traveling around the world would not fill whatever void I have, but I still have to do it in order to move on to the next thing. And since I still have to do it, I’m going to enjoy it and have the trip take me.

I saw the trailer for the third movie, Before Midnight, and it looks like it has a different format and structure, which I again, despite being a fan for consistency, have accepted the divergence from what I had in mind for a third movie and am going to enjoy whatever story the creators have planned for me.

203 days until potential start of trip. I met with HR regarding making my time-off official. Things are slowly moving.

Before Sunrise

First of three-part series.

  • I think I like this type of movies (or why this type of movies is “good” and successful) is that amount of ideas and concepts about life’s topics coming out of the dialog-dense storyline. It’s going to make me think once in a while for the next few weeks and then sprinkled throughout the next few months and years.
  • This is coming from a “rational adult” perspective, but if something like this happens to me, the best approach to the experience is to acknowledge that relationships aren’t supposed to last, that they’re finite (like what Jesse said on the boat), so I should make the best of that. That means if I had a limited amount of time with somebody, not knowing whether I’ll see them again, I should just not worry and enjoy every minute of it. I’d like to have that opportunity on this trip, and I want to apply that approach if that opportunity arises.
  • Another “rational adult” approach: once it reaches the end, the best phrase to say to the other person to sum up the unique experience and its meaning: “Have a great life.” (Just like what Celine said at the train station.) I don’ know what it is, but I think it’s completely appropriate and it would neatly wrap up the whole thing with a bow and give me whatever I need to move forward to a better life.

Next on my Netflix queue is part 2, Before Sunset, made in 2004. I watched the trailer and I’m interested in how it’ll play out. (It’s strange that 2004 feels more recent but it’s been 10 years already).

208 days until potential start of trip.

Norwegian Lesson 1 Recording

Unnskyld. Forstår du? Forstår du norsk? Forstår du engelsk? Neg. Jeg forstår ikke engelsk. Forstår du norsk? Jeg forstår litt. Er du amerikansk? Ja. Ja, jeg forstår engelsk. Litt. Jeg forstår litt norsk.

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Encounters at the End of the World and The Way

Saw two of the movies on my list to prep for the trip, though ironically, neither took place at any of my destinations.

Regardless, takeaways:

Encounters at the End of the World (Antarctica):
• Looking at the contrast between the gritty, minetown-like human-made area and the gorgeous, vast beauty of Antarctica sceneries (landscapes, caves, underwater), what does it mean for a human to appreciate life in places with little human interference versus a lot?

The Way (Spain):
• Pilgrimage: maybe that’s the next level of traveling I shall take on.
• Based on my interpretation of the message the movie is sending, sometimes, the destination or goal is not as important as the journey, the stories, or who you’re with. I still need to learn this.
• Pilgrimage is also good to go on with people so you can feel like you’re in an exclusive group where only you guys share an experience that no one else or only a few has.