The To Do List

Kate and I are both knee-deep in to do lists. Changes of address, packing and moving, vaccinations, shopping, farewell dinners…

I want to take the next hour or so to create yet another to do list, but one with items that won’t get checked off until after we start traveling.

learn to surf
eat upscale sushi in Japan
watch soccer matches (ongoing)
climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
zorbing
watch sumo wrestling
learn to scuba dive
lie on the beach (ongoing)
go tramping in New Zealand
bungee jump (maybe)
climb Mt. Fuji
watch an Aussie Rules football match
watch a Sumo match
study yoga
take a class in classic French cooking
discuss the finer points of international beer with international friends
discuss the finer points of local beer with local friends
sleep in a castle
buy a bottle of tequila from the source
learn to make sushi
wear a sarong and feel like it’s the most natural thing in the world
eat a Kobe steak
ride horses in Mongolia
ride the chicken bus (with actual chickens present)
cruise through the Three Gorges
trek in Nepal
study Gong Fu with the Shaolin Monks
write a short story (ongoing)
visit (and perhaps climb) Ayers Rock/Ululu
study buddhism
buy a kilt
do volunteer work (ongoing)
hold a meaningful conversation in a foreign language
sleep in a hammock in a bamboo hut beneath palm trees on a white sand beach next to a deep blue lagoon (waterfall optional)
full moon rave, Thailand
ride the Moscow subway
visit a Turkish bathhouse
visit a Japanese bathhouse
read, read, read (ongoing)
barge through the canals of England
Mecca

This list will continue to grow as new ideas come up and items get checked off.

Picking A Date

The Date

On October 2, 2000, I will begin Part 3 of my life. On that day I will celebrate four years of employment at Microsoft by quitting my job and pouring all my energies into getting my butt onto the open road.

Parts One and Two

Perhaps I should explain what I mean by “Part 3”. Well, Part 1 encompassed the years from birth to the age of 24. Through those years I grew and learned and excelled and pretty much did normal things. Then, towards the end of those years, I began to feel a kind of itchy despair. I felt my life being wasted. So on March 20, 1996 I began to keep a journal and opened it with these words: Welcome to part 2 of my life. I hereby swear that part 2 will be more exciting than part 1.Those words kicked off a wonderful summer of self-discovery that culminated in my Amazing Bike Trip down the Pacific Coast.

Part 2 of my life has continued to be a time of remarkable learning and growth, but over the past few years I have begun to grow comfortable — uncomfortably comfortable, one might say. In the spring I started thinking that the time was right for me to move on and see my dreams to fruition. In August, a week after returning from Mt Rainier, I told my boss that I’d be leaving in October.

A Change

In my second entry in this Going Global journal, I wrote about how important it was to me to travel alone. I wrote about wanting “to travel without the security blanket of a partner.” Despite those words, I’ve decided that the majority of my upcoming travels will be accompanied. I still think solo travel is important, though, and I’ll be spending some time at the beginning alone, in a kind of retreat, to learn some things about myself and how I like to travel. Then, I will hook up with Kate and we will travel together.

The decision to travel with or without Kate was a tortuous one. She and I have a special relationship like none I’ve experienced, but my travel intentions have loomed over us like an executioners axe. In June I changed my mind.

To me, travelling is about growth. As I wrote in March, “I expect to feel lonely, ostracized, scared, overwhelmed… and I want to learn because of it.” Eventually, though, I came to realize that instead of growing and changing independently, Kate and I could grow and change together. Travel with Kate could be just as fulfilling, and (importantly for me) just as challenging, as travel without her.

The Plan

We have a plan. It is a vague one right now, just fingers pointing ambiguously at vast swathes of a spinning globe, but it’s a start:

Phase 1, Late October to Mid December 2000: Mexico

I have one stated goal for this trip: to learn how to surf. Along the way I hope to solidify my Spanish, do a lot of writing, and just kind of figure some things out. I’ll be travelling by bus throughout the country, following my whim, the wind, and the waves. During this time, Kate will be travelling in New Zealand.

Phase 2, January 2001 to June 2001: New Zealand, Australia, and Southeast Asia

The adventure will continue after Christmas when I hook up with Kate in New Zealand. We’ll travel thoughout that country then head north through Australia into Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Phillipines… we’ll return in June to attend the graduations of Kate’s brothers.

Phase 3, July 2001 to November 2001: Asia

In July we’ll hoist our bags again and hop over the ocean to Japan. We’ll climb Mt. Fuji, east some sushi, and somehow make our way across the Sea of Japan to Russia. From there, we’ll take the train into Mongolia where we’ll spend some time riding horses and singing. From there, it is south into China. I’d like to visit the Three Gorges area before it is flooded and lost forever. Tibet is a classic destination for any world traveler’s list. I’m expecting, though, that the whole country will be fascinating and the cuisine alone will keep me enthralled for months. In November, we’ll return to North America to attend a cousin’s wedding.

Phase 4, January 2002 to December 2002: Everything Else (except the Americas)

Phase 4 will begin in Africa, where we’ll do some overland travelling and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. We’ll head north through Egypt, then across Saudi Arabia to the Indian Subcontinent. We’ll visit the important tea centers of India, then head northeast into the Himalayas for some trekking. From there, it’s back west and then north through all the ‘Stans to make our second visit to Russia. Finally, we’ll push our way west through Eastern Europe, into Western Europe, and probably end things off in Ireland. Please keep in mind that just about everything is incredibly vague at this point. But there’s more!

Phase 5, 2003: The Americas

Kate and I will buy some motorcycles (or perhaps a big SUV) and drive ourselves south from Vancouver (or maybe Alaska!) to the other end of the world at Tierra del Fuego. There, we’ll hop on a boat and visit Antarctica, completing our tour of all the earth’s continents.

Phase 6, Some time in 2004, maybe: Canada

To cap what (at the moment) will appear to be four years of near-continuous travel, I’ll fulfill yet another dream and ride my bicycle from one coast of Canada to the other. And then, in some sense of the word, I’ll be done.