sending postcards
a travelogue by alex and mina

where are you going?

• 20 notes •

Before we went on our trips to Tokyo and Dubai, the question we’d get most often from people was “Why?”. We got the sense that a few of them seemed to be asking “Why (bother)?!”. Our responses generally included the fact that we had always wanted to visit these places and that we expected it to be a great experience. I understand that not everyone enjoys traveling, but it seemed like a strange reaction. The worst was a (non-Canadian) customs agent we spoke to on our way to Dubai. He wondered why we wanted to visit Dubai when "that's where the terrorists come from". I bit my tongue and chose not to tell him that his country is both a trading partner and military ally with the U.A.E.

Since announcing our upcoming trip the question we get most often is “where are you going?”. This is harder to answer. When we say “everywhere” it might sound naive, but our tentative plan is to visit all of the continents and as many countries as our patience and pocketbooks will allow.

There are, of course, places we can't go. Afghanistan is obviously not the safest travel destination at the moment, and unfortunately Pakistan seems a little too risky right now as well. Hopefully things change while we're on the road because I've heard that they're beautiful countries.

We're interested in seeing both Burma and North Korea, but both countries come with ethical dilemmas. Traveling in these countries means providing financial support to the military regimes (in the form of visas or government owned hotels). I've heard that in Burma if you avoid the resorts you can support the locals directly by staying in guesthouses. North Korea, on the other hand, requires you to be accompanied by a handler at all times and your visit will only support the government.

I think we'll have some time to make that decision. I have a feeling that our best bet is going to be to start in Mexico rather than Asia (as we previously thought). If we don't leave until late September we're hoping to travel through China and South East Asia in the fall, which might not be the best time. I'm thinking that going to Mexico and working our way through Central and South America might be the best way to start. I guess we'll have to wait and see where life takes us.

photos from our trip to Dubai, where we got engaged


• 2 notes •

We got our vaccinations today and can now officially travel to countries with Yellow Fever restrictions.

The doctor's office was unlike any other doctors office we've seen. He had strange artifacts from all over the world. There were framed jigsaw puzzles of famous locations on the wall, gross stuffed toys (pimples, e. coli, flesh eating disease etc...) for kids to play with, and crayon band-aids.

The doctor himself was the most useful doctor either of us has ever been to. He covered our entire list of vaccinations before we even mentioned that we had a list. He explained why he didn't recommend some of them (i.e. Japanese Encephalitis) and then got us started right away on the ones we did need.

His website also has some good information. We really like that some of his clients have volunteered to be ambassadors of countries they've visited, so fellow patients can ask them questions.

Normally we'd have more to write, but my arm hurts.

travel books

• 6 notes •

During the past few months I've read a variety of books that have given me motivation for our trip. Some have been travelogues (Ghost Train... by Paul Theroux), or challenging adventures documented by those who survived (Paddle to the Amazon by Don Starkell*, Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer).

Banker to the Poor
by Muhammad Yunnus made me think about solutions (in this case micro-lending) to economic problems in other countries and inspired me to consider ways that I could help others while we travel.

I'd really like to be able to participate in a project to assist others while traveling. I had considered this before, but after I read Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson** I felt guilty for not having done enough already.

Greg Mortenson is a climber who lost his way during a climb of K2 and was saved by the hospitality of the people in a remote part of Pakistan. After seeing how the village lacked the resources to provide their children with a proper school he made it his mission to fund and build a school in the village. He returned and after some stumbles he was able to finally complete his vision. Since then he has built many schools in the region, with a heavy focus on educating girls (apparently women are more likely than men to return to their villages and provide benefit to the community receiving an education).

I tend to hold a cynical view towards charities that seem indistinguishable from Fortune 500 companies. Greg himself lived in (by Western standards) poverty so that he could use every dollar he saved to benefit the villagers. He seems to have a genuine concern for the people of the region and no ulterior motive other than helping fellow humans.

The personal sacrifices that he made to help improve the quality of life for others is really quite astounding. I can only hope that I can someday become half the global citizen that he is. -Alex

* Don Starkell is a fellow Winnipeg resident and acquaintance of Mina who was kind enough to autograph a copy for us.
** UPDATE 04/2011: Three Cups of Deceit 

for sale.

• 2 notes •

 This is our house.
The house that has not been put up for sale yet.
We just can't seem to find the time to get rid of the stuff inside.
Want it?


• 5 notes •

We're selling all of our furniture and most of our belongings. A few things will be going into storage. As glamorous as an around-the-world trip may seem, we'll be unemployed and homeless. This fact is both frightening and liberating.

Our travel route depends a great deal on when we actually leave. We're hoping to follow the good weather as much as possible. The tentative plan is to begin our globe-trotting in either Asia or Australia. We're planning on traveling overland, where possible, so we definitely need to start researching our options.


• 14 notes •

We're affianced! We will be getting married in Los Angeles, this autumn, before embarking on an "around-the-world" trip. This space to will be used to document our adventures as we plan, pack, and hopefully keep you updated as much as possible while we’re on the road.

Selling the house, that we have owned together for the last 4 years, and getting rid of all of our belongings is going to be difficult and easy at the same time. We're also putting the 9 to 5 behind us for awhile... that will just be easy.

We're going to try things we have never tried: scuba-diving, sailing, surfing, sky diving, and probably some other things that don't start with 's'.

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