Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Random Travel Update 5

Last location: Kenting & Jialeshuei, Taiwan
Arrival Date: September 23, 2007
Departure Date: September 25, 2007

Current Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Arrival Date: September 22, 2007
Departure Date: September 26, 2007

Next Stop: Seoul, South Korea

Traveling is a mix of wonder, excitement and gut-wrenching nausea. It is BBQ season here in Taiwan, which means the streets and markets are filled with a smoky, rotten, gaseous scent that makes my stomach turn and my nose twitch. Taipei and Kenting are the first cities I have encountered that go out of their way to flavor their air with noxious fumes. Aside from BBQ, the cities here are pretty clean and much better smelling than the urine-entrenched streets of Paris and (occasionally) New York. I think it helps that every metro station here comes equipped with several restrooms. Brilliant. Almost makes up for the lack of sidewalks.

On my last visit to Tucson, I met up with some long lost relatives who had just adopted a puppy. I envied the fluffy week old pup with her boundless energy and a seemingly endless passion for her every surrounding, from her little basket bed to a patch of grass outside. Today I am that puppy. I have never been so happy to sit on a bus for an hour on the way to the airport before. I can't sleep, I just stare wide-eyed out the window absorbing every detail of the world passing before me. Naivety is my greatest attribute.

I cannot write too much now, my brain is still processing the excitement of the last ten days. I can say though that everything is going marvelously. My travel buddies are great. Everything has gone according to plan. Never mind the fact that few, if any, plans were ever made.

Yesterday we took a cab from Kenting National Park in southern Taiwan to Jialeshuei (pronounced shallow shway), a fairly remote surfing beach down and around the tip of the island. We rented boards and I tried surfing for my first time. It was great fun, but I will have to invest in more secure water-wear before attempting again. We spent the rest of the day on the beach and then the five of us managed to snag a van all the way back to the high speed train station three hours north for only NRT1800 ($60). It sure beat the smaller cabs we had been squeezing into previously. We arrived at the station just in time to get the last three tickets available for the evening (getting two more required an additional effort, but it was eventually accomplished through a negotiation effort on the part of Chad and myself.)

The high-speed train is brand new and, from what I hear, one of the fastest in the world. It took us from southern Taiwan to Taipei in just over 90 minutes. Smooth ride too. We arrived back in Taipei at 9:45pm and met up with a friend of a friend who lives in the city. She (amazingly) spoke and read Chinese and took us out for the best food I have had since I arrived: sautéed spinach and thai-style tofu-plus Taiwan beer for only NRT100 ($3) per person. I was thrilled.

Today consisted of a 15 minute walk to the metro, about as much time on the metro to the bus station and then about an hour on the bus to the airport. I am here now, typing at a free internet access terminal next to our departure gate. My flight to Korea will take about two hours from the time the plane leaves the ground and then I will take another bus about an hour back to Seoul and then take a cab five minutes or so back to Adam's for about W1900 ($2) for the three of us. It is 12:15pm and my plane boards in 20 minutes, so I will be editing and sending this email from Seoul.



Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Random Travel Update 4

Last location: San Francisco, California
Arrival Date: September 12, 2007
Departure Date: September 16, 2007

Current Location: Seoul, South Korea
Arrival Date: September 17, 2007
Departure Date: September 22, 2007

Next Stop: Remote Beach, Taiwan

I am in the Republic of Korea. It is 10:41am here and raining. It took me a few minutes to figure out why it felt so much more humid today than yesterday. There is an air-conditioning system in the main room, but it is not connected to the bedrooms so we slept with the window open and a fan on. Other than the current humidity, the weather here is perfect. It was about 80 degrees when I landed at 6pm last night (Korean time) and only got down to about 70 degrees by the time we came home from the spa at midnight.

I have been in the country for about 16 hours, eight of which were spent sleeping. We spent the other eight, first traveling by bus one and a half hours in rush hour traffic from the airport in Incheon to my friend Adam's place in Haebangchon, right across the street from the Yongsan US military base, and then hanging out at the market (aka huge shopping center) in Myeongdong. We didn't get out to Myeongdong until 8:45pm, but it was still packed. The streets and malls were as crowded at 9pm on Monday night as New York City's might be on a Friday or Saturday night. Everything is open late. We ate dinner around 10pm and then went to the Jjimjilbang, or Korean Spa, until 12am.

If you haven't been to a spa in Korea before, the following article describes the experience well: .

Seoul is big, the biggest city I have ever seen. I cannot compare it to any US city. It goes on for miles, built up with neon lights, tall buildings, and worn down apartment buildings that are crammed onto small side streets and alleyways. The food is spicy, but it looks like I won't have too much trouble eating vegan so long as I can figure out how to communicate "no meat" competently. Have I mentioned that Sticky Fingers is here? Check it out at

For more on Korea, I suggest wikipedia:

San Francisco too, was fantastic. I met some wonderful people in the city, including my reflexologist, the friendly admissions team at Boalt Hall, and a random Berkeley student who helped my parents and me find our way back to our hotel Thursday night.

Thank you to those of you who offered restaurant suggestions. We were able to make it to both Herbivore and Millennium, both excellent. I will plan on hitting up every other vegan restaurant in town when I return to the Bay Area.

Big thank you to Ben and Haiete, who put me up for the weekend and came wine tasting with my dad and me in Sonoma. Pictures will be available shortly.


April/Melissa Meyer

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Random Travel Update 3

Previous Location: Phoenix, Arizona

Arrival Date: September 7, 2007
Departure Date: September 8, 2007

Last location: Tucson, Arizona
Arrival Date: September 8, 2007
Departure Date: September 12, 2007

Current Location: San Francisco, California
Arrival Date: September 12, 2007
Departure Date: September 16, 2007

Next Stop: Seoul, South Korea

Quick update:

I just arrived in San Francisco. I am in the process of convincing my parents to take me out to Millennium Friday night, but am otherwise overwhelmed by the 41 vegetarian listings brought up by Happy Cow. Are there any other Bay Area restaurant musts? My goal is to check out at least four.

Also, pictures of Mexico are currently loading online at . It is taking awhile, being that the hotel internet connection keeps failing. I am going to take a nap while they load and try to have them all posted shortly after I wake up.



Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Random Travel Update 2

Last location: San Carlos, Mexico
Arrival Date: August 31, 2007
Departure Date: September 3, 2007

Current location: Tucson, Arizona
Arrival Date: September 4, 2007
Departure Date: September 12, 2007

Next Stop: San Francisco, California

Photos available (soon) at

This morning ended a near ten-hour drive from San Carlos, Mexico to Tucson, Arizona. The distance is about 325 miles and should only take five hours going at Mexican speed, which is about 30-50 miles over the posted speed limit at any given time once you cross the border. But it was Labor Day and we got stuck at the border for an unfortunate three and a half hours and at a checkpoint for near an hour, essentially doubling our return time.

It was well worth it. The trip was exceptional, one of the best in my life. I left with that glowing feeling that you imagine when you look at an Abercrombie print ad or a Sandals beach commercial.

The weekend consisted of three boat diving trips with two dives each and a day of rest which we used to learn how to jet ski. I love boats, especially fast boats. Our boat was fast for its size and the breeze made the 100-degree temps seem pleasant. We saw dolphins, whales, sea lions, eels, sea turtles, a funny underwater spider that was actually a crab, and a lot of pretty (and a few not-as-pretty) fish.

I met amazing people on the trip. My carpool driver Eric brought an underwater camera, so do check Webshots in a few days for pictures. My diving buddy, Elizabeth, was wonderful and taught me how to dive (as in high-dive not SCUBA dive) on my first day out on the boat, though I apparently forgot this skill by the third day when I tried to dive off the top deck of the boat (see video to be posted soon on Webshots).

My best friend Sara from Washington, DC flew into Guaymas on Saturday and met me at the hotel in San Carlos right as I was eating lunch with Eric and his dive buddy, April. Everyone was friendly and relaxed. There wasn't a single moment of stress or anxiety the entire weekend. I highly recommend Ocean Sports/Desert Divers for those of you in the Southwest thinking about getting SCUBA certified. Their staff is impressively friendly and their trips are very well organized. Besides, the boys on staff are all very cute ;)

Tucson is great, wonderfully warm as usual. Sara is here now for five days and I am making it my obligation to show her Arizona in between the many errands I have to run before I depart Tucson next week. I am starting to compile a packing list for my three-month journey abroad. If you have ever traveled before, please take a moment to look at my itinerary below and make suggestions regarding what I should bring with me.

I have all of my vaccines now as well as my anti-malaria, anti-diarrhea, anti-pain, and anti-biotic prescriptions, so those are covered. Tips on additional medications, toiletries and items that may not be available abroad are most welcome. Also, I am buying a camera this week. It needs to be tiny and user-friendly. I am thinking the Canon Elph SD600. Any suggestions?

With love,

Travel Itinerary 2007

San Francisco, California
September 12, 2007
September 16, 2007

Seoul, South Korea
September 16, 2007
September 22, 2007

Remote Beach, Taiwan
September 22, 2007
September 26, 2007

Seoul, South Korea
September 26, 2007
October 16, 2007 (tentative)

Beijing, China & The Great Wall

Hong Kong, China
October 21, 2007 (tentative)
October 24, 2007 (tentative)

Multiple Destinations, India
October 24, 2007 (tentative)
November 18, 2007

Hong Kong, China
November 18, 2007

Multiple Destinations, Australia
November 19, 2007
December 19, 2007

Los Angeles, California
December 19, 2007
December 22, 2007

Washington, DC
December 22, 2007