Miami to Bangkok: "One Way Ticket"
October 1, 2004
Dear Family and Friends,
I am off again on a new adventure. On Sunday, October 10, I am leaving Miami for an extended trip to The Balkans and The Adriatic. I will return home on December 1.
Albania. Italy. Croatia. Slovenia. Since I expect to visit many new places, I have been especially "planful." Some of my friends and neighbors are concerned about my safety and my adventurous attitude. These concerns are sincere and I do respect everyone's thoughts on these matters. I have done some research and I am feeling confident that I will be OK. Maybe the "facilities" in Albania will be a little old fashioned. But, hey, a small price to pay to visit exotic lands. Now I will tell you a secret about your friend Jan.
I admit I am feeling lots of anxiety. This is quite normal for me as I begin a trip...any trip. Some of the anxiety is about separation from familiar surroundings and friends and family. Much of the anxiety refers to the unknown...Will I see what I want to see? Will I have enough time? Will I be able to coordinate public transportation with my itinerary?
Of course there are many other unknowns, but, again, I feel confident about them:
Can I communicate? I am great at charades.
Will I get lost? I always do...several times. My secret is to find someone, look very sad and helpless and at the same time point to my map. It works every time.
Will I be able to read a menu? Probably not. But some touristic places do have English and/or German translations.
Will I be able to eat the local food? Maybe. Maybe not. Besides, it wouldn't kill me to lose a few kilos. Sure, sure...fat chance. I have been reading about the specialty pastries of Slovenia...nuts, raisins, lots of cream!!
That's all for now. I will do my best to keep you informed of my progress.
I wish you all a beautiful autumn, and to my American friends, "Happy Thanksgiving." I promise I will celebrate, wherever I am.
October 11, 2004
Dear Family and Friends,
Surprise! Perhaps you are thinking, "A letter so soon?"
From Tirane?...Dubrovnik?...Zagreb?... Ljubljana?
Well, sad to report, I am writing this letter from bed! At home, in Miami, Florida, in the good old US of A!!
To make a long story short, I awoke Sunday morning with a recurrence of an attack of excruciating pain radiating from my buttocks down to my right thigh. (Yeah, yeah. A real pain in the ass!)
Two weeks ago was the first episode. The doctor gave me a shot, some pills and I did recover, until yesterday.
So, I decided to postpone my trip, see the doc again, and rest. Yes, Tirane will still be there. And I ask you, "What is the quality of medical care in the mountains of Albania or Macedonia?"
Years ago, I taught, and learned a lot from a course in Time Management: "What if your colleague keeps you waiting for a meeting? What if your customer, or client or patient cancels an appointment?" Look on the bright side; you have been given "The Gift of Time."
So, I have given myself the gift of time. Bach"s Preludes, Chopin"s Nocturnes and Schubert"s Impromptus are beckoning. First drafts of letters, unread magazines, half-read books, and the hot tub all await my attention. My Absentee Ballot for the November 2 election will arrive this week.
When I am ready, I will simply extract the handle from my packed and locked luggage-on-wheels, and roll on out of here.
In my last letter I said, "I will keep you informed of my progress." Well, my dear friends, "my progress" has a different meaning right now.
As the poet once said, "Life is what happens while you are making other plans."
October 29, 2004
My airplane ticket arrived this morning:
Miami-Detroit-Tokyo-Bangkok. I depart on November 3.
Yes, I am repacked: woolen socks, slacks and sweaters have been replaced with cotton, no-iron polo shirts, swim trunks and sun block.
The Balkans will have to wait. Last time I looked it was snowing in Ljubljana. It's about 88F (30C) on the strand in Ko Samui, Thailand.
Yes, I am well. The pain in my leg has disappeared thanks to rest, a variety of medications and liberal Jacuzzi therapy. I am bringing along a lightweight collapsible aluminum hiking stick and a mini-pharmacy, just in case. I will have to rely on my charm, wit and good looks for any additional therapy, as needed.
I decided to be a little less "planful" this time.
After some beach time in the south, I expect to wander in northeast and central Thailand: Buddhist monuments, mountains and national parks. From Chiang Mai, I can fly to Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma). Perhaps there to stroll among ancient shrines and to float down The Ayeyarwady River to Yangon (Rangoon). Then, I am open to suggestions.
You can imagine that I was disappointed when I had to postpone my trip to Europe. Yet I do believe that the disappointment came more from my rational self than my emotional nature.
The moment I hung up the telephone with my travel agent after requesting a ticket to Thailand, I could feel my face light up and my body respond with unrestrained glee. I am so happy to return to "The Land of Smiles" - a wonderful Kingdom of warmth and beauty. Perhaps my second home.
And so my dear friends, on the eve of this departure to undetermined destinations, I wish you and your families a colorful autumn and a cheerful holiday season.
PS Please don"t ask me when or from which direction I shall return.
The air coupon to Bangkok is one-way!