me - wankery compact macro
  • caladri

Photo uploading.

For them as are interested, I've started uploading photos to flickr. I've only imported a third of our photos into iPhoto so far and am working through one by one selecting only the non-awful photos. You wouldn't be amazed how many photos taken from a car are blurry.
me - cooper point
  • caladri

It's a small world.

I still find myself gritting my teeth out of fear and intimidation at the size and scale of traveling around the world. From northern latitudes of Moscow and London to Shanghai and down to Honolulu. Home to Seattle, Olympia. It scares the hell out of me that I've ridden the great globe in the sky around the firey mass of the sun. It's enough to make a perfectly sane person go crazy, and I never laid claim to sane.

Tack on the bit where I still don't know what language to use for casual utterances. "Za" is "well!", "so..." and "let's go!" "Xie-xie" and "ni hao" are firmly rooted in my automatic responses to service people. I say "dank u vel" to friends and acquaintances. I say "petrol" and bite back the urge to write "tyre." Is "tak" yes or thanks? Is it "ney" or "nyet" or "no"? Should I really be saying "te" instead of "yeah" almost universally?

I wake up some days shocked that I don't have to figure out where we're going tomorrow and how to get there. There is still anger and regret for the accident, for the collision in Warsaw, for the harassment by the police in Poland and Mongolia. I still cry at the thought of yelling "look, we were both sober, and corivax needs to get to a hospital and so do I!" while the police insinuate for the twentieth time that one of us was drunk, and whoever was drunk was driving. I still loathe that feeling of impotence and being lost and afraid.

But it's a big, wide, scary world. The world at home had its own surprises laying in wait that would make a crooked Polish cop blush. Ignoring the turmoil of the economy which made our exchange rate the stuff of nightmares, we came home to landlords who decided they weren't going to have us as month-to-month tenants anymore since they couldn't get in to our apartment. They couldn't get in because they never fixed the broken lock on the front door and we weren't going to leave it unattended while we walked upon distant lands. Nevermind that they were out of the country for the weeks before we left so we could never give them a heads up.

And all of our problems are small compared to many we saw along the way. First world problems impact the daily life and happiness of first world people as much as any of the worlds I've seen are impacted by their problems. They're still problems, things still don't work.

More than anything, I am amazed at how much we got to see, how much I got to experience. It's the sort of thing that really makes you love the planet you live on and the people you share it with. For me, it carries a special weight about the size of things, the scale of things, and the reality of our not-quite-sphere and our not-quite-awareness of it. We get to live on a flat Earth, day to day, but I always had a hard time with that before. Now it's so big I can barely think about it, and so small that I can have seen with my eyes all around it. It's humbling and horrifying. I hope it's not once in a lifetime. Thanks very much to everyone who supported us along the way - I hope everyone gets to see that much of this planet in their time on it.

Getting into processing photos so we'll have something to show at our upcoming, unexpected, housewarming party. When I get an album together, I'll post it here for everyone. Until next time, so long.
me - broken pipe
  • caladri

Forget about the second day.

We wake up long enough to pilfer from the executive continental breakfast so there's something in our stomachs when we go back to sleep until it's time to pay for another night. Then back to sleep. Wake up long enough to respond to emails, and go back to sleep. Why do I get the distinct impression that we're adjusting from a non-terran sleep schedule?
me - crow sky and water
  • caladri

When the strongest words have all been used.

In spite of some entertainment at our hotel in Pudong, and the tragic loss of corivax's new Indiana Jones hat (made in Mongolia) which was devilishly handsome on him, we have arrived at Seoul Incheon. There's this big customs-free duty-free tax-free zone, so there's no ATMs. So to get an ATM I had to go through immigration. The immigration worker I asked for directions accidentally told me the route they use. I startled a room full of bored immigration workers who got me stamped and on my way. I skipped customs because I was just going to an ATM and they were OK with that. The ink was still wet on my entry stamp when I got my departure stamp 5 minutes later. Ten minutes, maybe twenty, round trip. I'd been told not to by my friend the misdirecting immigration worker - he was sure it'd take 2, maybe even 3, hours!

Business class has a few flaws, some of which screw up my normal flight habits. First class was (last time) fully empty, but they wouldn't let me move there. On top of my having a full fare ticket, they wanted my firstborn in cold, hard cash to even consider an upgrade, on the books or otherwise. With Korean Air, there doesn't seem to be an otherwise. That's alright. Just, please, fewer announcements or better game authors - having to manually refresh each item to get it to be visible after an announcement stops is lame. Also, best ever: "North Korean Airways: Excellence in Fright." Think about it. Hit me.
me - obey dalek
  • caladri

And now for something completely the same...

Well, we've booked tickets for three hours from now for a 28 hour train to Shanghai. I am worried we may've ended up booking with hard sleepers, which means a compartment with 4 other people. Given how rare tourists seem to be in this part of China, I suspect we will be very much the center of attention, which might gt hold after a day and change! Last night we wetnt to a ktv bar where we were apparently the first foreigners to visit.

Train K258!
me - femputer
  • caladri

A million points of light.

People's Glorious Hotel-Supplied Matches have a little too much People's Glorious Destroy The Foreigners in. Touching a match to the striking surface and aplying a light pressure causes them to explode in a way more useful for landing oneself in the emergency room, accidental arson, and other things to implicate oneself as a would-be saboteur than for, say lighting a People's Glorious Marlboro-inspired Cigarette. Scary.
me - femputer
  • caladri

(no subject)

People's glorious Hello! We are in Hohhot. Traveing here by train was beautiful and amazing (especially getting to watch the Gobi from a safe distance!) I couldn't be happier that a doctor told Corvi to stay in UB for 5 days and to not fly for 10! It's well past time to be home, but the road back is incredible.
The line between Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, China, was stark and disturbing. You go from dustswept poverty and herders to concrete block group farms and pavement and highways and all the infrastructure that Mongolia can't seem to muster itself.
Our hotel has four letters waiting in our room on arrival explaining which services are not working due to current government regulation. The Internet is onot one of the affected services, but the Great Firewall of China blocks LJ. Luckily, it still doesn't block SSH.
Not that I have anything to say that might be detrimental to the political, ideological, security, etc., goals of the PRC. (Nor do I have any goods that might be, just like I said on the customs declaration! Man, it was cool seeing the literal dozens of tanks on a train we passed, though.

I am very impressed with this country, as I was impressed by the shadows that the USSR had left behind in Russia - infrastructure and willpower and determination and ideology to accomplish impressive feats that modern America couldn't equal, to say nothing of modern Russia or any of the more neglected children of the USSR., like Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Ukraine would know what to do with that sort of insfrastructure, unlike the others, but just lain can't get its act together fast enough.

Here is a marvel of integration and planning and ways and means, though. And the token bits of Mongolian culture they've allowed to stay intact are impressive. Someone at the train station recognized our magpie calligraphy and half the buildings have Mongolian script on them, something lost to everyone but historians, nationalists and artists in Mongolia. The language here is solidly mMandarin, though, even though some ethnic Mongols at the station clearly spoke Mongolian at least as wel, though with an accent that was at least as affected as the stereotypical New York City and Boston accents in the USA.

I'm excited and heavily intrigued When will I get to see this place again? It's incredible! And this is nothing like the biggest city we'll see on our trip back. Exciting! Invigorating! I can't read or speak a word of it! :)