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Emmanuel's World Travel Diary

Emmanuel's World Travel Diary

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Published by samsungroo
2600 editor takes a trip around the world by land and sea.
2600 editor takes a trip around the world by land and sea.

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Published by: samsungroo on Jan 19, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/08/2014

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16 July, 2005
Day 0. It's begun. Sort of. Although tomorrow is the official day when I begin to head east until I windup back where I started. But today is the day I officially start to act like I'm traveling. That means beingall packed, taking pictures, shooting footage, and keeping a log.I won't say blog now or ever. I'm not entirely sure why I hate that word so much; probably something todo with the fact that everyone suddenly feels the compelling need to share the most mundane thingswith the entire world and I can barely summon up the interest to keep track of the day to day activitiesin my own life. Years ago (like 3) people would keep diaries for themselves. They were meant to be private. Now the most trivial thought or activity is there for the entire world to see. Who they have acrush on, what they want to do with their life, what the mall was like yesterday, what they REALLYthink of someone who apparently will never stumble upon these thoughts through Google. People puttheir home addresses, class schedules, pictures of their family, and more on these things/ Stalking usedto be a challenge; now, thanks to these lamebrains, it can be an automated task.This is an example of the kind of tangent I'm liable to waltz into while typing away during my travels.I'll try to keep it under control. Let's focus on what I'm actually going to be doing.Sunday I embark on the Queen Mary 2, the largest ocean liner in the world. I'm a bit embarrassed bythis as this is something that's well beyond my means but it's something I've always wanted to try so,fuck it, I'm going to do it anyway. I won't fit in with all of the rich snobs on this boat who I understandactually expect me to dress up for dinner. Oh, I'll dress up. It probably won't be what they expect,however..Of course I realized after writing this that it's very likely I'll become friendly with some of these peoplewho will learn about what I'm doing and wind up reading this very piece. So please don't take offense,fellow boat travelers. It's all about clashing cultures and learning various things along the way. I'm sureI'll be surprised.The idea is to travel from New York to New York by circumnavigating the globe without making use of air travel. Hence the QM2. Along the way, I'll be working on the latest 2600 Films project, which I'llget into in a little more depth onced I'm actually on the boat and have confirmed that I haven't forgottenthe camera. I'm also going to be doing two radio shows a week, each in a different fashion. "Off TheWall" will air on Tuesday nights on WUSB and over the net. That program will be comprised of arecorded CD that I will have produced from wherever I happen to be a day or so in advance and then(hopefully) uploaded to the station. "Off The Hook" on the other hand will be live and it will sound likeI'm on the phone because I most certainly will be. The "on the road" shows are always a challengesince I have to be a host without seeing anyone and there are often technical issues of every sortimaginable. It makes for exciting and sometimes exasperating radio.I'm due to arrive in England on Saturday morning. I'll spend some time in London and then make myway over to What The Hack, the once-every-four-years Dutch outdoor hacker conference the followingweekend. After that, it's eastward by train to Berlin, Warsaw, Minsk, and Moscow where I'll be meetingup with some friends for another adventure I've always wanted to take part in: the Trans SiberianExpress. This train (the longest line in the world) will take us to Mongolia, where the plan is to ride jeeps around in the Gobi Desert and environs. That should be pretty memorable on many levels. After this, it's on to China, first Beijing and then Shanghai. I realize it's the most populated country in theworld so a one sentence description is completely inadequate insofar as summing up my expectations.But for now I have nothing else to say about it other than the fact that from Shanghai I'll catch a boat to
 
Osaka, Japan and from there hopefully a ballet train to Tokyo. I've heard much about these ballet trainsand I hope to finally see for myself how they're able to incorporate dance into the narrow corridors of atrain. And then, another really unusual leg of the journey as I cross the Pacific Ocean but not on aluxury liner. In stark contrast, I'll be one of a maximum of eight passengers on a freighter hauling Godknows what to California. And once back in the States, the final and probably scariest part of the trip:Amtrak.So now you (and I) have a sense of what's ahead. This is what you'll be subjected to if you continue toread these pages. Today is pretty much a test of the system and an attempt to get into the mindset of traveling, typing, and taking pictures. The three T's of travel. Travel also begins with T. And a cup of tea is exactly what I will start looking for now, here in the city of New York. Cheerio.
17 July, 2005
Day 1. "We've never had the entire bank of computers fail for so long at the same time." That wastoday's quote from check-in at the Queen Mary 2. Somehow whenever someone affiliated with 2600travels, that sort of thing seems to always happen. So I wasn't too surprised.Today marks the actual beginning of something I've long dreamed about. From this point onwards, witha few intermissions, I will be heading east until I wind up back where I started. Or at least a few blockssouth of where I started in Penn Station when I cross the States in a train hopefully sometime in lateSeptember. The QM2 leaves every few weeks from its berth at 52nd Street on the Hudson River. It's as big as a city block, buildings and all.So anyway, I'm now on that boat. After months of preparation and all kinds of last minute freaking outabout things that needed to be done before leaving, it's now finally begun. And I have to say it's exactlyas I expected it to be which is like nothing I've ever experienced before.Taking a boat is a lot friendlier than taking a plane. While you have to go through the same basic sortsof security (and I didn't see anyone being subjected to "extra" searches), the atmosphere is a whole lotmore pleasant overall. Definitely orders of magnitude better than the last experience I had in a WestSide pier.So after that slight delay caused by the computer failure which nobody really seemed to mind, I got myfirst taste of cruising culture. Once they check to make sure you have a passport and ticket, you get towait in the check-in line where you're processed. They take your picture with a little webcam like theydo now when you enter the country at airports. But this picture is used for a little credit card they makeon the spot. They tie it into an existing credit card of yours and this is the sole means of buyinganything on the boat. It also serves as your room key. You find one of these lying around and you basically own the person it belongs to. I've never clung to a card so tightly.So once you actually walk over the gangway onto the boat, you're greeted by two rows of staffpeoplewhich I suppose serves to inflate one's sense of self-importance. It works. I felt like I was one of America's wealthy which, surprisingly, most people on the boat don't actually seem to be.When you finally start moving around and exploring, the sheer lavishness of it all really knocks youover the head. (But that's always been the point of sheer lavishness, hasn't it?) It doesn't feel like you'reeven on water most of the time but rather in a somewhat bizarre and expensive hotel/resort from which
 
there is no escape. I spent several hours just walking and finding new places. It really does seem to goon forever. And yet, feelings of claustrophobia set in every now and then. After all, each and every oneof us is stuck here for the next week.It's also incredible just how slow this thing is. It's been eight hours since we cast off and we just clearedthe eastern tip of Long Island. Even the Long Island Railroad is faster than this, to give you a sense of how incredibly slow an ocean liner can be. But I think in the end I will have gained an appreciation for something we often forget - the ocean is pretty fucking huge. And, for that matter, so is the world. Butzipping around on jets everywhere, you tend to forget that.It's also so much more of a big deal when you leave your home city by boat and it slowly fades awayinto the fog and you push on into unknown waters. (Unknown to me, hopefully not to the people incharge.) But it's hard to experience such a thing without a degree of emotion.The technology on board is also quite impressive. I have WiFi in my room, the net connection seems just fine for my purposes, and the $14.50 an hour they charge is not nearly as bad as what I wasexpecting. (If you dare to use one of their phones, expect rates in excess of $10 a minute. They're quiteemphatic in reminding you to replace the handset properly. I can only imagine what might havehappened in the past to prompt this stern warning.) There's also an email function on everyone's TV set:Each guest is assigned an email address. If you read any incoming mail, it costs you $1.50 per message! Quite outrageous. However, if you simply delete a message without reading it, it costs younothing. Since the subject line is quite visible before you must make that decision, you can easilysubvert the system and receive short messages from anywhere for free. Something we take for granted back home but which feels like an accomplishment out here.There are all kinds of little oddities here such as having your meals and room service already paid for (alcohol not included). You're assigned to a particular restaurant for dinner at a certain time and windup sitting with other people also assigned to that table. I met a very interesting couple from Scotlandnamed Bob and Margaret (they have nothing at all to do with the British cartoon series of the samename) who actually are doing a round trip on the QM2. They got off in New York this morning and got back on this afternoon, spending a few hours walking around the city, going to Chinatown, riding thesubway, visiting B&H Photo, and, oh yes, taking a boat ride around Manhattan. It's amazing the kindsof conversations you can have with people when you're thrust into a situation like this. I learned thattheir entire trip came about because Bob had misbehaved after a night in various pubs and this was howhe was making it up to Margaret. "The most expensive night of his life," she noted. Thatnotwithstanding, they got a really good deal on the whole thing.So these are all only a few initial impressions. I'll either have many more to share in the days ahead or avery strong desire to escape from this vessel.
18 July, 2005
Day 2. I'm still amazed at how slow we're traveling. More than 24 hours after leaving New York andwe have yet to get east of Newfoundland.It's been very different today. Not much at all in the way of interaction as today was the day I recorded"Off The Wall" for broadcast tomorrow. The recording itself went smoothly for the most part and the post production wasn't too much of a pain, new software and all. Then all hell broke loose.

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