Posts Tagged 'preparation'

more than a page

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

~ Saint Augustine

Before my eventual arrival in the US, I am planning on traveling a little.  Right now, the plan is to:

  • Depart UB and fly directly to W India to stay with family for a week or so, then,
  • Take the train to Kerala, then,
  • Wander my way down the coast to Trivandrum, then,
  • Stay at a beach resort with yoga studio attached for a couple of weeks, then,
  • Fly to Sabah, Malaysia, and climb Kinabalu, then,
  • Meet my cousin and family in Sarawak at Mulu Caves, then,
  • Fly to Seoul to hang out with a friend, then,
  • Make my way to Vladivostok to hop on the Trans-Siberian, then,
  • Fly from Moscow/St. Petersburg back to the US.

All very ambitious, so we will see how much of this truly ends up happening.  But for now, this is the plan, and I am hoping to fit it all in!

I’ll be wrapping up on this site soon, and future posts will be on my other site, Paradigm Shifted.


6 weeks to go

I’m nearing the end of my time here, and it’s starting to move a lot faster (though it went plenty fast enough!).   With the holiday season, life is quite busy, and even more so as I plan my next steps.

I’m still exploring the options of what to do next in the long-term, but for the short-term, I think a little travel is in order.  Not sure what exactly just yet, but so far I’m eyeing India, Malaysia, and then either Seoul or perhaps to Vladivostok to hop on the Trans-Siberian home.

In the meantime, there is a lot of wrap-up to be done here, which includes consolidating data and notes that will hopefully turn into a research paper soon.  Then of course, the holiday parties, of which there are many, and some basic holiday gift shopping.

Of course, packing and sorting should be included in there, as well as trip planning and flight/train purchases.  And the last minute rush to visit the tailor, the felt maker, and maybe even a brief dog sledding trip.  6 weeks isn’t much time to fit it all in!

everyone has a friend in mongolia

It’s Day 3 in Toledo and I am eyeing the boxes with despair.  Everything seems important, but obviously isn’t.  The last time I lived abroad, I brought much too much with me.  This time I’m determined to keep the packing to a minimum.

By the way, I hear the weather is nice in DC.  Rather cold here.

The assistance I’ve received for this trip has been remarkable.  Everyone seems to know someone in Mongolia, and those friends and colleagues have been great resources.  I am amazed by how helpful people are – from looking for apartments, to offering housing, to taking pictures, to providing packing and travel tips.   Restores faith in humanity!

Do take a look at your network though.  Chances are, you know someone (who knows someone) in Mongolia.   It’s a small world out there, and Mongolia is no longer the “frontier”.

off we go!

It’s 9 am, and I’m pouring coffee into my mug and taking the keys off the ring.   I got up at 4:30 am (thank you Marc!) and headed to National to pick up the rental. After an eventful early dark morning at National Car Rental (I just wanted the largest steel box on wheels they had, is that so hard?), I managed to get my hands on a sleek black Highlander.  It’s large enough for everything with no obstructed view, so we packed it tight (thank you Ed!) and I’m ready to go.   I’ve even got fresh bread for breakfast (thank you LeighAnne!).   I’ve also made lunch to take with (tortellini in creamy zhug sauce).

I’m driving through Maryland and PA before hitting Ohio, so it’s all turnpike and highways.  I will stop at the SV Temple in Pittsburgh for brief prayers of luck and prosperity.  Then to Toledo, to unload and get some sleep.

Thanks to all who came out on Saturday to wish me goodbye.  I will miss you all greatly.

The room is clean and empty.  Trash is out.  Cat ears have been scratched. Time to go.

visa debacle

So I’m still trying to get a visa.  Everyone says I should get the visa for the full stay before I go, which is what I’m trying to do.  Open Society put through the paperwork and had everything sent to the embassy here.

Of course, it’s always the embassies that mess everything up.   I’ve called 4 times to try to find out what I need to bring to get my visa (and to find out if it’s ready).  The usual conversation goes like this:

me: Hi, I’m calling to find out if my visa is ready.

visa office:  What is your name?

me. Patel, Deepali.

visa office: Oh, right.  Mexican?

me: Um. No. American.

visa office: Is this a tourist or business visa?

me:  Student.

visa office: Oh. Let me call you back.

Of course, no one calls me back.

Today, I went to the visa office to pick up my visa, because I was told it was ready.  Well, it’s not.  Or at least, they don’t know if it is. Because apparently, it’s sitting in the safe and only the consular officer has access.

visa office:  Can you come back tomorrow?

me: Sure, what time?

visa office: What time do you want to come by?

me:  Um, when the consular officer is here?

What am I missing?

We decided on 9 am.  But then later I realized I couldn’t go that early, so I called to see if I could go by later.

me: Hi, I can’t come by tomorrow at 9 am. Can I come at 10?

visa office:  Yes.  Wait, is this a tourist visa?

me: Student.

visa office:  Let me call you back.


the plan

So the current plan is to depart DC on March 9th.  I will then drive to Toledo and sort through my stuff (also, I need to do my taxes. Why don’t we have a flat tax again?) to decide what to take.  Then, supposedly, I will fly out of Detroit, potentially through Salt Lake City and Honolulu, stopping for a few days to visit friends and family and get a little warmth.   Then on through Seoul (for a brief layover) and into Ulaan Baatar.

The annoying thing is that my funding comes from State, so I’m subject to the dreaded Fly America Act.  Luckily, I seem to have picked cities that are all Delta hubs, so I think I’m gold on Delta all the way to Seoul, where I’ll board a Korea Air flight (which is probably codeshare with Delta anyway).  Of course, this depends on cost.

I’m still not sure where I’ll be living, but these are minor details to be worked out.  Perhaps I can spend a few nights at the spa.

In the meantime, I’m getting rid of stuff, so anyone in DC need anything, do let me know!  Also, I’m trying to see all the last few sights that I never got around to in 15 years here, so partners-in-crime welcome!


So to equip me on this adventure, I have purchased the following:

A Dell XPS 1330.  13″ of supercharged fun.

Garmin GPSMap 60CSX.  Mapping GPS extraordinaire.

The North Face boots.  Rumored to be cute and warm.

Now I just need a warm coat.