Thursday, August 20, 2009

Otherwise Engaged

My family got some happy news recently. My brother, Cody, is engaged to be married.

Cody is two years older than me and while we share a handful of familial traits, we have often been referred to as "night and day". I was a loud kid - he was quiet. He is always self employed - I lack the overall motivation. My mischief making involved ill-fated shoplifting attempts - his involved ninja stars and bottle rockets. My mom says that I seemed to relish in the thrill of getting lost. My brother did not get lost. He dresses better than me, smells better than me, and probably has a cleaner house than me too.

Though we were different, as kids, we hung out together all the time. We mostly did the stuff he wanted to do: built forts, played with magnifying glasses and messed with the sling shot. Any kind of rough-housing that could lead to the little sister (me) getting injured seemed to go over well. It's been a long time since we've flung one another out of the high-side of a swinging hammock, or ridden make-shift sleds down the staircase, but overall I think we had a fun and funny time together as kids. I'm very excited to share his celebration with him on November 7.

Cody has lived in Asia for the past 5 years or so. First in Japan and now currently (and for the past two years) in Seoul, South Korea. His fiancee is Korean and they will be married in Seoul. He said its normal to take the wedding photos before the wedding - thus explains the tux and gown in that photo.

When my mom first called me to talk about the voyage across the Pacific we were approaching it from two different standpoints. I assumed that we'd go to Seoul for a week or so, have the wedding and then return home. My mom saw the trip as an opportunity to travel around Asia, to take as much time off from work as she could and to hit up as many places as the time would reasonably allow. Naturally, when I realized she aimed to take me on this trip with her, I gladly and gratefully readjusted my expectations and bought a couple of travel books.

When I went home to San Diego last weekend my mom and I spread a big map across the coffee table and looked at where we wanted to go.

We knew the dates that we would be gone (three weeks in all) so we booked our flights to and from South Korea, which felt like a big milestone. By the end of Saturday we pretty much knew what the outline of our trip would look like. As of right now our trek will take us through these places....

Seoul, South Korea
Beijing, China
Shanghai, China
Angkor, Cambodia
Bangkok, Thailand
Phuket (or Ko Samui), Thailand
Singapore, Malaysia
Seoul, South Korea

We'll probably plan as much as we can on our own and for tricky details we'll check with a travel agent. Needless to say I am ridiculously excited. Along with getting our flights we also sent in our applications for Chinese visas, a process that meant sending our passports to someone...which just seems like ASKING to get scammed to me. But apparently it's common.

On Monday we got our vaccinations and pills. I got 4 shots, mom got 3. We each got pill forms of Typhoid Fever vaccinations, malaria tablets and the ominous diarrhea stopping pills. Something about the last one being standard issue is worrisome. All in all the bill for all of the medical precautions was almost $900. INSANITY I tell you.

It's still sinking in really. I always thought I'd go to Asia, but there are so many places I want to go, that I assumed Asia might be 10 or 20 years down the line. A far off possibility. A dream.

But I know the trip will sneak up on me - after all it's less than two months away. I'm going to spend the time reading up, practicing my Korean and Chinese (which seem to come out with Spanish accents) and meditating on how to embrace every moment of the adventure. I also need to get Cody a wedding gift. A classy one. One that says "I'm here for more than just the free trip" that quietly and supportively says "Congratulations, and welcome to the family."

So if you have any trip recommendations or wedding present ideas, holler at me.