A Travellerspoint blog

Beijing or Bust!

T-minus 1 hour and 10 minutes...


I have just enough time before my Korean Air flight to Seoul for a quick post. I meant to do this over the weekend but got muddled in packing, creating a whole new playlist for my iShuffle, and cleaning my apartment so I wouldn't be disgusted at myself upon returning from this trip. It's amazing how much stuff I packed to take to my mom and my cousin and his wife. My big red suitcase (I should refer to it as "Clifford") is full of things that I'm leaving behind in China...there's nothing in it that's actually mine. Among the weirder items in that suitcase: 3 packages of nylon knee-highs (fortunately my co-worker Karen bought these at Fred Meyer on my behalf!), 1 jar of cream of tartar (not tartar sauce), 2 boxes of Immodium AD, and 1 bottle of Zacapa (the BEST rum in the entire world...from Guatemala of all places).

Originally I was going to post the second entry of my blog either on the way to China or right after I got there, but a couple of weeks have passed since my inaugural entry. My friend Monica said she heard that a blogger needs to post at least twice a week to maintain consistent readership levels. Wow, I never knew. Since my blog is limited to writing about international trips that I take, I don't think I'll be posting that often. I like traveling and all, but who's on an overseas flight twice a week? Well, aside from my friend Tom, who criss-crosses the world like it's going out of style. I aspire to have his frequent flyer elite status someday.

One of the reasons I decided to blog again was to explain my motives behind going to Beijing. A couple of people asked me over the past few months if I felt conflicted in any way, given all of the negative press that the Chinese government has received - particularly during and after the civil unrest in that southwestern region whose name starts with the letter T. It's probably best to refrain from addressing this issue on-line, lest I get seized in the middle of the night by masked agents and shuttled on the first flight out of the country. Either way, I don't feel that my attendance really contributes to and/or legitimizes the policies & actions of the Chinese government.

First and foremost, I am a self-professed Olympics geek. I've watched every single Opening Ceremony (winter AND summer, thank you very much) on TV since Sarajevo and Los Angeles hosted in 1984. I toured the Olympic stadia in Munich (1972) and Barcelona (1992) during my junior year in college. In 2000 I used my Peace Corps readjustment allowance (which many of my peers spent more judiciously) and traveled to Australia for the Sydney Games. So when I found out two years ago that my cousin was getting posted to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, I told him and his wife that I definitely would come in 2008.

Also, I view these Games as a celebration of Chinese history, culture, and traditions. As one of the estimated 40 million members of the Chinese diaspora, the Beijing Olympics are like a coming-home party to which I invited myself. I recognize that there's quite a bit of baggage, but let's not forget that no one regime, country, political system, or whatever owns the Olympics. Even with all of the criticism and scrutiny, the Chinese still have to put on a good show.

There's a lot more I could say about this, but I need to make my way over to the S Terminal...wouldn't want to miss my flight!

Posted by alsandiego 06:38 Archived in USA Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

I've Succumbed!

34-year-old Seattle resident falls victim to blogging craze...

sunny 62 °F

I can't believe I just set up a blog. Ever since their initial appearance in cyberspace I derided blogs as self-gratifying and borderline narcissistic, as if you wanted the entire world to know every minute detail about your life and believed that they actually cared. Well, people do care. I have two sets of friends on global adventures right now (Venisha in China & Thailand and Monica & Kevin in Eastern Europe) who are blogging, and I can't help but log on to their respective pages every day and read about their adventures. Even if I've been to the place they're describing in a post, I still feel like I'm seeing it for the first time through their eyes. So I bit the proverbial bullet and started a travel blog. After all, travel isn't merely a hobby or a favorite pasttime...it's become a part of who I am, what I do, and how I lead my life. Wow, that sounded really canned.

So you may be wondering why I'm calling my blog "Where in the World is Al Sandiego?" It's not like I live in or am from San Diego. My older sister Trish and my brother-in-law Anthony (aka Twan) both lived there for a long time before they even met, but those who know me well shouldn't be surprised that Southern California really isn't my thang. Sorry, T&T. Rather, I've assumed the identity of Carmen Sandiego, a popular cartoon figure from the 1990s who trekked around the globe chasing shadowy figures. She had to solve geographical trivia questions, if I recall correctly, to stay in hot pursuit, and eventually she would catch the thief and put him/her in jail. I saw the show a few times and thought it was very clever, i.e., using the medium of animation to teach viewers (kids, ostensibly) about geography. I also recall that the main character had a mysterious side to her: she always had her large fedora tilted at an angle so you couldn't see both of her eyes. As if she were a secret agent or something. I've always liked James Bond movies and admit fantasizing about being a spy...when I was younger, of course. Mmm hmm.

But I must give credit where credit is due. My former co-worker Ramie, whom I supervised during my last 16 or so months at Alterra and who remains a good friend, used the line "Where in the World is Al Sandiego" for a newsletter title or some such nonsense. The details are hazy - I think I was in Africa at the time - but it stuck, and I could barely leave the basement office (affectionately and dis-affectionately known as "The Lower Mezz") without someone humming that catchy tune. OK, perhaps that was a bit of a stretch, but I secretly liked the idea of adopting that persona. Plus the surname sounds Latino, especially if pronounced correctly, and a small part of me still identifies with the Latin culture...which is why my 13-1/2 month old niece Nina will start calling me "Tio" when she learns how to enunciate the word in the near future. Don't laugh. I'm completely serious.

Anyway, I'm now Al Sandiego, perhaps not tracking criminals but enjoying the adventure just the same. I've taken quite a few domestic trips this year, mostly for work, but I intend to dedicate this blog to the occasions when I get to collect more stamps in my passport. Again, those who have had the fortune (or misfortune) of traveling with me overseas are well-aware that I like to see stamps in my passport, particularly new ones.

Next stop: Beijing, China, for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad!

Posted by alsandiego 22:11 Archived in USA Tagged armchair_travel Comments (3)

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