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8 days till lift-off..

Bloomington, United States


As you may or may not know, mom and I are leaving to go to Japan on August 4th(!).
Jamie gave me the idea to keep a travel-blog on which I can post embarrassing pictures, terrifying moments, etc. Not a bad idea. What with there being 8 days till departure, and we still don't have our passports, we'll be driving up to Chicago (4 hours) tomorrow evening to make our appointment at noon the next day with the passport expediting agency. I'll like to think of this as the first leg of the trip...
---------
I decided that I'll spend my 12 hours on the plane crocheting goodies.. Which means I'll need a new pattern book and some nice new skeins of yarn.
I've already looked into it and see that crochet hooks and knitting needles are (specifically!) allowed. http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm No need to fear. Other than that, this is for my sake. --

Stuff I need to remember to do--
-Buy properly fitting clothes
-Get hair appointment
-Shoes
-Containers for shampoo
-Soap, acne wash, shaving cream, razor
-Toothbrush, toothpaste
-Deodorant (and some for Bro) (Also anbesol)
-Find indiv. wrapped candies for Matsuyama san
-Batteries
-Passport
-Laptop + charger, Camera + charger, Video camera + charger
-Outlet converters
-Re-paint my toenails..
....


I'm sure I'm missing something drastically important.

permalink written by  RoboRaptor on July 27, 2008 from Bloomington, United States
from the travel blog: Expedition: Passport Get
tagged Chicago, Passport and 8Days

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Passport: Got.

Chicago, United States


So, success. My mom and I got our passports. We drove up and arrived around 1:30 AM, slept, woke up, went to our passport appointment, had lunch at a British style pub, picked up our passports, and then spent the rest of the day walking from 0 N. Michigan Ave. to 820 N. Michigan Ave. It was awesome. I got like 5 shirts out of it...Anyways my feet hurt a lot and we got lost on the way home so now it's 5:20 AM, and I want to sleep.

My travel photos can be found here:
http://s509.photobucket.com/albums/s332/TravelBot/

You need that whole link. Copy and paste. I don't know why it only links up half of it..

You'll see on the left, TravelBot. That's my username. You'll click that to navigate back to the albums page, which are listed on the left.
--

OKAY I AM TIRED GOODNIGHT.

permalink written by  RoboRaptor on July 29, 2008 from Chicago, United States
from the travel blog: Expedition: Passport Get
tagged Chicago, Passport, Photobucket and Travelbot

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More Pre-Stuff

Montreal, Canada


Woo! Update. Been awhile.

So, I have a few more weeks before the big day. Still feels like there's so much to do. I got my addmission letter from Inha, as to which I was supposed to receive my D2 Visa, but when I went to the consulate, apparently I was still missing ANOTHER piece of paper from the bank. So, this week, I'll have all the papers to go.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to get my passport renewed, which was by far the fastest process I've had to deal with in awhile. Was done in less than an hour and within 9 days, I had my new little passport. I still look like a criminal. No Surprise there. ;) Don't we all look like we've done something bad in those photos?

I also got my Twinrix shots out of the way and let me tell you this- Ow. The first one was fine. The second one hurt a bit, and the last one just made me want to cry (but I didn't because I'm grownup and Manly like that). They're all taken care of now, thankfully and won't have to deal with the last shot until I get back.

Other than all of that, I've actually been pretty busy with other things for the summer. Was up in George River, I went to see Russell Peters, it was my Grandma's 95th birthday... lotsa stuff! And all in our lousy summer weather.

Oh! I got my tickets. I shall be leaving August 26th. My flight will be heading from Montreal to San Fransisco, I sleep there and then the next day I'm off to Seoul. It's gonna be long, but hopefully, I'll manage. Well, I'm going to have to. There's going to be a lot of jet lag involved, I know that much.

Anyway, that's basically what's been going on. Hopefully my entry, I'll finally have my damn Visa!


permalink written by  Maestro on July 3, 2009 from Montreal, Canada
from the travel blog: From Montreal to Incheon
tagged Doctor, Passport, Random, Study and Korea

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Machu Picchu

Aguas Calientes, Peru


The final day of the Inca Trail was one of such heightened emotions and vivid, surreal moments that I know I will never, ever forget it. We woke at 3.15am and quickly stuffed ourselves with a pancake before making our way to a checkpoint. The large wooden gates were closed and would not be open until 5.30am but it was important to get to the front and we had managed to be the first there. We sat huddled in the cold darkness, looking up at the clear sky and the billions of bright stars which covered its entirety. I could see why the Incas were such passionate astronomers with that over their heads every night.

Eventually a bulb broke the darkness and the wooden gate was opened. Floating head torches filled the path as we marched excitedly along the rugged trail. As we moved, the stars began to disappear and a faint glow crept up from behind the mountains. Josh and I were near the front of the group and I heard Selsa approaching behind us. In a low voice, careful not to excite the rest of the group, he whispered:

“Anda now we are gonna ron.”

It took me a moment in my sleepy state to work out his accent and in that moment he was gone. Running away from the group. The excitement as we ran off in the dark towards Machu Picchu was incredible – it wasn´t an easy path and we ran up and down treacherous steps with our torches flashing across the path in front of us. Gradually the glow from the mountains grew stronger and we were able to see without torches – the path was narrow and to our right hand side a sheer drop fell to the valley below where the early morning train clunked its way up, filled with tourists. This spurred us on.

Then, disaster. From behind me I heard Josh shouting desperately. I looked back to see the contents of his backpack strewn across the path. The zip had worked its way open. But Josh was only interested in one item. The single item which had gone off the edge.

“My fuckin passport..!”

His voice was filled with fear and panic. I felt it rushing through me. It felt like the worst thing that could have happened at the worst possible time. We were all in shock. Selsa repeated our swearwords and it was clear from his expression that he was as traumatized as we were as we peered over the edge into the bushes.

The path was built into the mountain side and was reinforced with a stone wall of around 8 or 9 feet. Below this wall was a small mossy platform around two feet wide which dropped into bushes and trees. The vegetation made it unclear how steep or how far the drop was but it was clear that the slope was far to steep to attempt climbing down. It was almost vertical. The ledge seemed a long way down but Selsa was already starting to lower himself off the Inca trail and down onto it, with the ominous words, “This is my first time.”

He seemed to think he could see it in the bushes. We were all terrified. The longer I saw him down there on his own the more useless I felt and when he asked me if I would come down and help him, I didn´t hesistate. I climbed down, ripping my trousers as I stretched desperately to find the mossy patch where I could secure myself. Adrenaline pumped through my whole body. I was still scared that Selsa would fall as he crept further and further towards the bushes but now at least I had hold of him. I held on to the wall with my other hand and, lying back, dug my heels into the ground.

He reached further and let out a cry. He had it! He pulled it out of the trees and we all shouted with unrestrained relief! It was an amazing feeling. We pulled each other up to safety. There were no words. Strangely no sooner were we back on the Inca trail than I was thinking of the time we had lost and wanting to get going again. Others from the group were catching us up! We dusted ourselves off and the run to Intipunktu continued. With my heart pounding and my head spinning I dragged myself up the last few steps to Intipunktu (The Sun Gate). I sat down heavily, laughing and dizzy with exhaustion. When I looked up I saw Machu Picchu.

Taking photos every few steps, we walked gently down towards the ruins. Along the path Selsa showed us a huge boulder reaching up into the sky like a mountain. Beneath it were piles of stones – offerings left by those who had arrived safely to Machu Picchu before us. We dutifully drew out our stones and created a small pile along with some of Selsa´s coca leaves. He prayed out loud and in English, thanking the Pachamama for helping us to reach Machu Picchu and although neither of us said a word, we both thanked her too. Whatever you want to call those invisible forces of nature which are beyond our control, there was no doubt that they had worked in our favour and we were extremely lucky to be there on that clear morning. Especially the passport.

With more button pressing than an Australian casino, we snapped our way down into the ruins. I will not attempt to describe them as everyone knows what the famous Inca city looks like but I will say that they were more beautiful than I had imagined and in the dim light of the morning they looked calm and undisturbed. For a while. Then I noticed the tourists. I do not mean to sound arrogant but after three days of trekking, sweating, broken sleeps and undesirable toilet experiences you feel a million miles away from the clean and colourful groups with their North Face fleeces and elaborate bumbags who come puffing up the stairs from the bus stop. To rub salt in the wounds which these people- with their confused and pitiful glances towards the flapping crotch of my filthy trousers- had opened up, we were told that the 400 tickets to climb Huayna Picchu were already sold out.

It was 6.50am. We had been up since 3.15am and had RUN along the Inca Trail risking life, limb and passport to get here first – now we find we had been beaten to the ticket office by 400 Americans wearing matching tour group t-shirts who celebrated by jumping or pretending to push the mountains in order to get the ultimate facebook profile picture. Selsa went to get a drink, Josh went to the toilet and, left alone, and I suddenly found myself in a very real state of depression. I stared in disbelief at the extravagantly expensive hotel, built only 100 yards or so from the ruins. I watched more and more tourists climbing complaining off the buses and I found myself in disbelief, hating everything around me.

In retrospect this was clearly the result of a comedown after the massive release of adrenaline that morning combined with the exhaustion of the early starts and I do appreciate that not everyone who wants to see Machu Picchu should have to walk for three days and do chilly, scenic poos. I do think, however, that a small percentage of tickets should be reserved for those who invest time and money in the Inca Trail. And there I will end my beef. Incidentally, my depression didn´t last long. As we climbed back up p the top of the ruins for our first lesson of the day my mood lifted immeasurably. This was no doubt helped by the well timed appearance of the sun which, as it climbed slowly from behind the jagged mountains, cast spectacular beams of light onto Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. As Selsa taught us about the history of the city, it lit up slowly behind him.

We toured the various points of interest and significance, waiting patiently for other tour groups to finish taking photos before we moved in to take our own. Luckily the city is interesting enough that the swarms of tourists do not detract too much from your appreciation but after a couple of hours, with more and more groups arriving by the minute, we had seen everything and were ready to leave. We thanked Selsa for all his knowledge and passion and for going, so dramatically, beyond the call of duty as our guide. Our tips seemed pathetic but he seemed moved and genuinely thankful for our time together. It was a sad goodbye but his final words “Look after your passport!” were well chosen.

We got a bus down to Aguas Calientes where we ate well and relaxed in the hot natural springs which give the town its name. Then we hung around waiting for the big group and the three hour train ride home, every now and then reminding each other exactly what had happened that morning. Ironically it had been the expensive Berghaus backpack which had been at fault while my ridiculous Peruvian manbag (I was dressed completely inappropriately as ever) handled the challenge without any complaints. On the long journey home, tired from the days emotions, I thought about my life back home and especially Shion. I had never wanted a bed and a cuddle so much in my life. I couldn´t wait to talk to her and tell her what we´d been doing.


permalink written by  steve_stamp on July 8, 2009 from Aguas Calientes, Peru
from the travel blog: The art of being lost
tagged Tourists, IncaTrail, MachuPicchu, Passport, Selsa and HotWaterSprings

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Crossing the border Costa Rica-Nicaragua with new Serbian passport

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua


A group of four boys was suddenly decided to visit Nicaragua.
We went from Playa del Coco to our first destination of San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua.The group was happy boys of various nationalities, ages and origin.
Indian guy born in Tanzania with USA passports, Tico with USA passport, a Serb with old blue passport and Me,Myself&I; , Serb with a new red passports.
The first challenge was crossing the border Penas Blancas.
There are plenty of money changers on either side of the border, along with hordes of "tour guides" that offer to lead you through the crossing, as well as carry your luggage for a small fee.
After some negotiation, we decided to accept the best offer.
The offer was 30 USD per person including car.
Later I found out at the border that U.S. citizens pay 7 USD, the car is 22 USD.For Serbian citizens, I didn`t found tariff.Although I tried!
When we crossed the border was the actual swine flu. (I'm writing a year later).
Of course we had to go to the doctor.

Here's how it seemed.
On the border there is a bus station.It was a big crowd because there was a holiday and Nicos were returning home from Costa Rica.

After a while our" travel guide" came back and said:"We have a problem"!
"Customs officers can not find Serbia.".
I immediately remembered the story about a girl who had a problem with passport in Dubai.
http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=1&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.naslovi.net%2F2008-10-11%2Fb92%2Fproblemi-sa-novim-pasosem%2F860924&sl=sr&tl=enHa ha ha party begins!
My friend Issa came up with a newspaper headline:"Indian, Tico and two Serbian terrorists arrested in Nicaragua"
"Travel guide" said:
"Customs officers just called Manaqua to get an official report.
Yugoslavia was on the list but Serbia doesn`t exist!"
Funniest thing is that my friend Louie, had old passport which is valid for officials from Nicaragua.


Photo taken from the Serbian newspaper,in right hand new one-Serbia and in left hand old one-Yugoslavia.

The tourist guide is removed and promised to return soon with new information.
We continue to make joke and we expect to hear a new story of our " guide".
We did not have long waiting.Here he comes!
"Everything is fine but you have to add 40 USD more, for non USA citizens."-he said.
And we paid.
Again Americans fared better!
Poor Serbian guys...
No more obstacles-Nicaragua here we comes!




permalink written by  garisha on June 5, 2010 from San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
from the travel blog: Nicaragua
tagged Border, CostaRica, Passport and Nicaragua

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