Monday, April 4, 2011

Travel pangs

My couch surfing profile describes me thus: "I'm both a travel tragic and a homebody. One goes into hibernation while the other takes centre stage. At present there's a little conflict happening, but we are trying to reach an amenable compromise." It's actually a pretty accurate assessment of my conflicted attitude to my life.

My recent injury, thankfully on the mend though it shall be a week or two more until I have full movement and strength back, saw me spending a little time at home loaded up with pain killers and very little to do besides elevate and rest. So I started reading and internet surfing, and well.... travel sites are a favourite troll for me. And before I knew it, I'd let the cat out of the bag.

In a little over 3 years I plan to retire and go on an extended travel extravaganza, for maybe the next 10 years or so. I'm restrained from doing it now by 1. money, 2. Hazel, and 3. a work commitment to get an Aussie trained doctor in the practice before I leave. All three of these considerations are well progressed, but it's a bugger waiting (yes I do feel a wee bit guilty about looking forward to Hazel's demise but it's nothing personal - unless she manages to live to 16 and then it might get tough!!) and beginning to plan for my escape is a pleasant distraction. Only it's torture!!

Those of you who may have followed my travel tales will know that I fell in love with China, having visited her the first time in 1989 with mum a few months before Tianenmen Square, and a second time in Dec 2008 when she well and truly got under my skin. It's an interesting phenomenon that can't really be explained as it's more a feeling than anything else. A compulsion to return and delve deeper, explore further, learn more. And let's face it, you can't knock the food! (and I am afterall my mother's daughter!!)

So I have been doing my usual research: a mixture of travel guides, internet searches, travel writings of those who've passed through, and forum trolling, and have decided to continue on from where I left off on my last trip. I'm fascinated by the ethnic minority tribes of Asia, and have decided to dedicate my next trip to travelling through the Tibetan regions of China that don't involve the ridiculous pandering to permits and high tour prices that visiting the "official" Tibet requires. Mind you, anything can change in 3 years. Including my fancies...

My trouble is I don't like to do stuff the easy way. I'm looking at how much of this trip I can do by foot, crossing 4000m plus mountain passes with a pack on my back and staying in small villages with locals, employing local guides as needed, and taking local buses otherwise. Visiting out of the way lamaseries and enjoying the splendid scenery that western China has on display. And enjoying yak butter tea - yes I really do like it.

I may be peaking just a little early, but beginning the plan for the great escape can't begin too soon I reckon, even if I do need to put a new roof on the house and landscape the backyard if I'm ever going to rent the place out. Yep, that couchsurfing profile sums me up perfectly, it's just a matter of compromise....

(an explanatory note: my mother is an unabashed sinophile, tai chi expert, taoist enthusiast, bonsai afficionado....)