Walking around Seattle (2008-04-22/05-10)

After 226 days of walking entered in Walker Tracker, on April 21 the Omron Health Management Software, while receiving data (using a USB cable from the pedometer to the PC), began reporting "The data transfer failed." I hoped it would eventually download--perhaps after the offending day's data had left the device's memory--but now my Omron HJ-720ITC pedometer has begun showing days with zero steps. Like others who have posted elsewhere, I am "disappointed" at the device failure. "For me the selling point was the USB connection," wrote one reviewer (see Google cache). I'll switch pedometers to resume tracking.

Getting immunized downtown (2008-05-06)

Tarangire River
While I was entering Tarangire National Park (March 14, 2000), a tsetse fly bit the back of my hand. Fearing further bites, when I reached the porch of my ridge tent I took off my shirt to spray it with Permethrin--and a tsetse fly bit my back.

Later that day I developed diarrhea and a moderate fever. As my temperature rose I worried I would become delirious and no one would discover my condition. This was one of three times in Africa that I wished I had a traveling companion.

My fever stopped rising and finally dropped, I got some rest, and my driver checked with me the next morning. The following day I was well and resumed my safari, taking photographs of elephants and afternoon storms.

This illustrates part of my philosophy of travel. I take whatever precautions are possible, accept that traveling has risks, and then forget my worries and focus on enjoying the experience.

Some precautions are medications and vaccinations for vaccine-preventable diseases. Last year I wrote about anti-malarial medication, mosquito avoidance, and a red colobus monkey. Vaccinations include routine vaccinations like MMR, polio, and Tdap, as well as vaccinations like hepatitis (A and B), rabies, and typhoid.

When I went to Africa, I was watching wild animals, so I received rabies vaccinations. For our trip to China, there wasn't time for the series, and we anticipated less time outdoors. For similar reasons we didn't get the Japanese encephalitis vaccinations. In addition, there are shortages of both of those vaccines. We'll avoid malaria-risk areas of China as well. We did go to King County Downtown Public Health Center Travel Clinic to update routine vaccinations and get hepatitis and typhoid vaccinations. Finally, Ryan is spraying our clothing with Permethrin. At least this time I'm not traveling alone.


Buying Northwest Tickets (2008-04-30)

At the end of April I bought us tickets to China using Expedia Travel. We depart Seattle May 12, arriving in Tokyo on May 13 and proceeding on to Běijīng. We depart Hong Kong June 2 for Seattle (via Tokyo again). We're excited to again venture abroad to somewhere new. It's been nearly two years since we purchased our last international flights to Paris. I hope they honor our visas because I'm looking forward to learning Mandarin and seeing tourist sights (e.g., palaces and temples)!


Getting Visas (2008-03-13)

Tourist Visa to China
Learning Mandarin leaves me interested in traveling the PRC. We filled out the "Visa Application Form of the People’s Republic of China", listing as destinations Běijīng, Jǐnán, Shànghǎi, Hángzhōu, Xiàmén, Guǎngzhōu, Shēnzhèn, Hong Kong, and Aòmén (Macau).

On March 7 I relinquished two passports and US$300 cash to Holiday China China in Seattle. A week or so later I retrieved the passports with 12-month multiple-entry tourist (L) visas valid for 60 days each entry.

On March 27, according to the South China Morning Post (via a thread in Asia - North-East Asia Thorn Tree Travel Forum), the PRC stopped issuing multiple-entry visas, restricting travelers to single- or double-entry visas valid for 30 days. This is especially inconvenient for business travelers, one of whom started a blog. A business associate with an apartment in Běijīng wrote, "First time in 15 years I have worried about China immigration." Yesterday the PRC said the restrictions on visas are part of its Olympic security measures. I'm glad we applied early, though I'm slightly worried about third-hand rumors of multiple entry Chinese visas being canceled at the border.