Wednesday, December 19, 2012

One Month Away

I've been on the Oregon Coast 11 days now, and I'm still not used to the good-smelling air, big, wet, green forest and beautiful Woahink Lake and the Siuslaw River. I love getting in the car just to look out the window, and I don't really mind it's been pissing rain since I arrived. Six months in Beijing lends a lot of perspective.

In about a month I leave for Bangkok. My plans are vague, I haven't thought too hard about where exactly I'm going because every time I sit down to contemplate where I want to go the list gets bigger.

I am nervous about being on my own for so long. It will undoubtedly be lonely in parts, but my friends who've traveled in SE Asia brush off my concerns, it's such a well-traveled route I can always meet people. Still, I don't romanticize the lone wolf aspect of it, I'm traveling alone because (surprise) most people can't take off for a four-month, mostly-unplanned walkabout.

On Monday I stumbled across the essay, Every Woman Should Travel Alone, and have decided I'm going to start thinking of the solo aspect as a challenge rather than something to be anxious about. I've been interested in Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (by Cheryl Strayed, who hiked 1,100 miles alone when she was about my age) since it was released, but I think I'll make the effort to read it before I go. And my last source of courage, but by far the most relevant, is my good friend and freshman roommate Lily who has been traveling the world alone for over a year now. We'd hoped to travel together for part of her journey, but I couldn't get out of China fast enough, so she preceded me in many of the places I want to go. She blogs here.

What I'm reading:

Just finished
Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion by Janet Reitman

An excellent, incredible read. Some parts are so crazy, it seems like science fiction. I listened to a Longform podcast with Reitman. She talked about struggling as a hard news reporter and "surviving on kill fees" for magazine articles that never quite came together for years. She could be my cool big sister, alas, I'm stuck with two stinky brothers. Curses!

Currently reading
The Best American Travel Writing 2008

I've read many of the essays before, but thought I'd give it another gander before my travels. I'm in the middle of a piece about river travel in Congo.  My favorite so far has been a journalist who hung out with a bunch of pirates in the Strait of Malacca.

Madame Bovary

While I'm not working, I want to fill in as many gaps in my classic lit knowledge as possible. There are two great things about reading a bunch of classics: 1. They rarely disappoint and 2. I have a Kindle so a lot are free. So far, Gustave Flaubert is doing a pretty good job making me sympathize with his bored and despairing country housewife, Emma. And I love this description of the sinister rich folks she comes across:

...And through all their gentleness of manner pierced that peculiar brutality, the result of a command of half-easy things, in which force is exercised and vanity amused -- the management of thoroughbred horses and the society of loose women.

Timeless, no?


Lily said...

I'm actually reading Wild right now. I know I certainly am not that hardcore. Dunno if I mentioned this already, but I found out in a country without connection that if i grabbed books from the American library on a Kindle by usb I could keep them forever as long as it never synced wirelessly.

Good luck on your travels!

Leslie said...

Ah cool! We'll have to discuss Wild, I just started it. And that's AMAZING re the not wirelessly syncing your Kindle. Good pro tip!