I am spending a huge amount of time reading books and trawling the internet for information regarding my travels. Everything from exercise preparation to train and bus timetables in individual countries, to photography and travel forums. My knowledge base is quite astounding now in comparison to a few months ago.
Not everyone has this sort of time, or in fact the inclination to actually do a bit of research on where they are going. You discover this by reading travel forums. There are basically two types of people who contribute to forums, those who ask questions, and those who answer them. The ones who do the answering have generally travelled extensively and are very keen to help new travellers. They do, however, get very sick of answering the same questions again and again. Which comes to the other group, the questioner. These people either just arrived from another planet or they've made an effort to do some research before they ask a question. Most I think are just plain lazy, as sometimes the questions they ask can be answered easily by a simple google search or visit to an embassy or airline website. The ones that amuse me the most are when they write in about a scam, one that has been heavily publicized in both guidebooks and travel forums for years, but they still insist on telling everybody about their ripoff. They usually get short shrift from the regulars who tell them, sometimes quite rudely, that it was their own fault that they got into the situation in the first place and what the hell did they expect. I really do think there is something in the adage that many travellers leave their brains at home!!
Of course, the great advantage of someone else asking a silly question, is I get to see the answer without copping any abuse. There are certainly some good threads on border crossings, but it can be quite difficult to get any detailed information about the less travelled routes. Reading people's travel blogs can be helpful though.
The most amusing site I found recently, was for a bespoke travel agency, offering helicopter touring with private chef around Cambodia. I think it was called travel for millionaires!! They mention a site in the Cardamon Mountains that has ancient funeral jars similar to Phonsavan in Laos, found by National Geographic in 2002. A full search of National Geographic and Google reveals nothing. A con??
check it out: http://www.remotelands.com/destinations/camb_itin.php
Added to this I am still learning Indonesian, which is progressing quite nicely, such that I think I will be able to make myself understood if confronted with no English speakers. Whether I'll understand them is another question.
I am struggling with removing myself from my commitments at home, mostly in regard to my volunteer responsibilities, since I haven't had any work commitments for months. I plan to pull the plug at the end of this month, come what may!! And there are some serious house jobs yet to do.
So perhaps I should stop banging on here on the keyboard and go and do them!! Ciao...