Ticking off the List: 100 Countries to go!

According to reference.com we spend approximately one third of our lives working. I suppose I am lucky in the sense that most of this time is spent traveling. This has meant that I have been able to see many countries that I probably wouldn’t have seen had I not traveled there for work.

It has also created a challenge. A few years ago, I had visited about 5 countries around the globe. Today, that number is up to 96! This is if you consider Taiwan its own country. Having already visited both China and Taiwan, they are such different countries that in my head they are their own countries.

I look back at the places I have been and I am stunned, and there are only 100 to go before I’ve visited every country in the world. I am not sure if I will be able to visit every country in the world, but it is something I aim to do.

There are a few countries that I desperately want to visit and will not get the opportunity to travel to with work, as my company does not operate in them. One of these countries is India. I particularly want to go to Rajasthan and take in some history. Indian culture has always fascinated me. I have heard mixed reviews of Indian cities. Some people say they are filthy. Others say they are vibrant. I guess it comes down to your own perspective.

I also want to visit Nepal. I want to see Mt Everest up close, and although I don’t see myself climbing it I would love to at least take a helicopter ride and view it from above. This would be one of the experiences that nothing could surpass.

To see these places I will need to start planning my own trip. I am not sure when I will next have time off but you can bet that I’ll continue to tick as many countries off my list as I can.

From Winter to Summer

WARNING! This is another rant. After my last post I had comments from people telling me not to focus on the negative. I do appreciate these comments and I think they make a good point, but overall they are not realistic. It is necessary to consider things from all angles to make decisions on the course of action to take in life. At times this involves taking a look at the negative aspects (and there are negatives in everything) to decide what needs to change.

I get it. People want to believe if they traveled the way I do their lives would be perfect. This is simply not the case. However I am the first to admit that I’m lucky to travel and to have the job that I do, and can safely say that the good experience I have whilst traveling far outweigh the negative ones. But I am human and things do get to me. This time it is the shifting temperatures.

The more I travel the more I find that changing time zones is only one part of the stuffing around. When you travel from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere you also have to deal with the changing seasons. For this reason I leave home in shorts and a t shirt with a thickĀ  jacket packed in my bag to protect me from the bitter cold when I arrive.

The really annoying thing is that I need to pack for both conditions. I have to consider how long I will be hot and how long I will be cold. Once I get back home I am thrown back into the warm weather and I hardly want to be wearing a jacket.

I also got sick recently and I absolutely attribute it to shifting from the cold weather to the hot weather. It was a different type of sickness that I had not experienced before and one that does not follow the traditional symptoms of a flu, although I did have some pretty bad body aches.

I love my job, but I hate the cold.

Next stop: Albany, New York.

Getting Lonely Whilst Traveling

This week was a busy one. I had to fly to Rio for two nights and then flew straight to the UK. I spent another two nights here before flying back to the US last night. This is one of the busier weeks I’ve had and I’m actually feeling pretty lethargic. The only people that can really empathize with me is the flight attendants. One that I spoke to said they had been awake for 3 days!

I spend a lot of time in planes. I also spend a lot of time in taxis, buses and trains. Although I am always busy working I do tend to reflect a lot on my life. This is part of why I have written this blog. I use it as a diary and to give myself some courage to share how I really feel with the world.

I was contacted recently by another person who travels frequently for work and they wanted to know how I deal with loneliness whilst I was traveling. To be honest, this is a sensitive issue for me and one that I have not discussed openly before. I am human and of course being without my family or friends for extended periods of time does leave me feeling lonely.

I decided the best way to tackle this question was to best honest. The truth is that the travel is really getting to me. I could be feeling like this based off this week, but I do feel like I need to say this to get it off my chest. I travel so much for work that most of the time I don’t even know what bed I am sleeping in.

When I am in a new city, I don’t know other people in the city. The same small talk with colleagues does get old and although you can always go out and meet people it is rare to click with someone on a deeper level. But it is also the simple things that are bugging me. I don’t know the best place to grab a coffee or to get some breakfast.

Just this week I have felt that this was isolating. I did not want to leave my hotel room because I did not want to miss the chance to sleep. Not only that but I did not want to stuff around with finding a place to buy a coffee when I could simple order one from the room service menu.

Okay, so it is not all bad. I have had some of the best experiences of my life traveling especially in places like Cancun, and the friends that I met there I have managed to stay in contact with. But to be honest, this is a rare occurrence and the times that I meet people that I click with are a rare breed.

Expressing how I feel has definitely helped. Even now as I type this, I feel relief from the feeling of isolation. Maybe it is also due to my age. I am getting older and many of my friends are getting married and having children of their own. They say they are envious of my life, and whilst I am not envious of theirs, I can that it is something missing in my life.

I’m not really sure what to do next. I love my job and love travel, and I don’t want this experience to make me despise either of them. Hopefully I feel better after a long sleep.

Meeting A Friend In Miami

Believe it or not, I had never been to Miami until last week. It is strange. I travel so much around the world yet I often neglect my own country. What I saw was truly wonderful and to say I had an amazing time there would be an understatement.

Luckily for me, this time I was not traveling there for work. I was meeting a friend who writes at BestGunSafeInfo named James. He was hoping to entice me into buying the best gun safe from his gun safe reviews – but I’m not interested. This is one of the many ways in which we differ, and actually it’s pretty incredible we’ve been friends for so long considering we essentially have nothing in common.

He’s a gun enthusiast with a job he goes to so that he can pay the bills. I’m someone who lives to go to work and paying the bills is a bonus.

Anyway, Miami was wonderful and it was great to see it with a friend. We mostly followed TripAdvisor’s 3 day guide with just a few variations. Little Havana was quite an eclectic area and I could definitely see myself spending more time there in the future. It reminded me a bit of New Orleans, does anyone else get that feeling?

We even made out way to Everglades National Park. I always try to take in some of the natural beauty of an area if I can, but it can be so hard when work is centered around the main business districts. But this was a chance I wasn’t going to miss and I’m glad I didn’t. The animals were incredible and I can not believe such a large area has remained untouched.

And of course, we went to the beach. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a beach so packed! Even the ones in Cancun were not this bad. But they were beautiful.

I will definitely be back to Miami – when I get a free moment. It is hard to do these types of trips when I travel so much and to treat it as leisure.

My First Time Flying on the A380 (in Business Class!!)

I think that another day another destination will become my catch phrase. It is cheesy but I like it and it definitely rings true with my life style.

Today was a different type of day. Yes, I had somewhere to be. I was flying to Stockholm to help with their software integration. But the destination was not the only reason I was excited. Today I flew on the giant of the sky – the A380! I had kept close watch on the Airbus A380 ever since it was first flown but for whatever reason I never had a chance to fly on it. It also didn’t help that my flights were always booked for me.

As this was a last minute trip I took it upon myself to book the flight, and lucky I did. I saw that the A380 was flying the route that I needed to go on – and I had also accumulated enough frequent flyer miles that I could upgrade my flight to business class! I knew this was going to be a great trip and upgrading the flight was something I probably wouldn’t have done before. I guess I am staying true to my revelations that I told you all about in my last update.

I have to say the experience was fantastic and one that I will absolutely be doing again. What made it so great for me was the extra perks. I was picked up by my own personal driver and whizzed through check in. I sat in the lounge and enjoyed a glass of wine and 15 minute shoulder massage to prepare myself for the long flight ahead.

On board I was given PJ’s which I quickly changed into. I wrote an entry into my diary, watched a movie and actually fell asleep! I had a capsule to myself and I think the privacy is what made sleep possible.

I was hungry when I woke up but lucky for the airline I flew with offers dining on demand. The food was fantastic and the staff were equally wonderful. I have to say I was a bit depressed when I realized we were descending and the flight was almost over!

I also have to say that I think coach has been ruined for me. I had such a wonderful flight that I can’t see myself flying in coach again (although I have to on the way back home!).

How the Best Ping Pong Table Changed my Life

Yes, the title is in jest. But there is an element of truth in everything. I spend a lot of time on the road and I think it is safe to say that not all of that time is enjoyable. I am sure many people will agree. I love reading about references and I found that humans spend approximately 1/3 of their life sleeping! Considering we also spend 1/3 of our lives working that does not leave much time for fun.

I’m lucky in the sense that most of the time I don’t even feel like I am working. My job involves to much travel that I can pretend that I am on vacation wherever I may be. But the reality is that most of the time I am not in control of this. I still have to go to a specified destination and still have to complete a task for someone else.

This is why I have taken a few steps to grab some time for myself whenever I can. I stumbled across http://gameroommania.com and began reading the best ping pong table reviews on their guide and I took the plunge and purchased one. Since then I have been playing ping pong almost constantly, sometimes with friends, sometimes alone (the ping pong table I purchased can be used solo). It has made me think about how to incorporate more fun into my everyday life.

Every second that I have is mine and mine alone, and I am free to choose what to do with my time. Now much of that time is actually spent sitting 0n a plane, riding in the back of a taxi and getting from destination to destination. This is why I have started doing a few things that not only keep me occupied but also make me feel like I am accomplishing a larger task.

Firstly I have started keeping a diary. I read some notes on how to keep a diary to get me started. I am also hoping it well help with my blogging skills. Sometimes I feel like my writing sucks and I also get nervous about people reading this! My life is literally on display for the world to see, and whilst this is cool it is also scary! A diary is different in that I don’t have to withhold anything. It is for me and me alone. I hope this means I can be myself and feel comfortable expressing how I really feel. I will let you all know how it goes.

I have also started planning things I want to do in each destination before I arrive. Before recently I would pretty much wing it whenever I got to a destination. I would be so focused on work that what I wanted to do would be secondary. This is no longer going to be the case. I work for an organization that just so happens to be based all around the world and requires me to travel. This does not mean that my weekends are no longer my weekends.

Another thing that has helped, although entirely out of my control, is getting older. I can feel myself becoming more mature and less willing to accept other peoples lack of acceptance. I have decided to take control of my own life and do as I please.

This probably sounds pretty standard for most people, and I suppose it is. But for me this is a new revelation and I am excited to start living the way I want.

I have also started cooking! Okay, so for many of you cooking is a chore and the last straw at the end of a long day. It was always like this for me too. But lately, I have started really appreciating good food and the fact that I can make something taste amazing all by myself. It is like doing a science experiment and when done correctly the outcome is better than you could ever have hoped for!

It is also giving me a newfound appreciation for food. It is not only a part of living but a huge part of our culture. It brings people together and creates an almost instant sense of comfort and community. Many people will agree that their fondest memories of their childhood are centered around the dinner table.

Finally and maybe most significantly, I have started to learn a language! I am now half way through a Portuguese course that I downloaded on my phone (god bless technology!). Learning a language is something that I have wanted to do for a long time now and I am so glad that I have finally started. I feel like I am committed now and nothing is going to stop me. Plus it is just so easy to learn using my phone that there really is no excuses.

I guess this is my equivalent to new years resolutions. I am excited about the year ahead and will update you all with my progress.

Cancun, Mexico: Food Poisoning and Love

For most people Cancun is a place to take a vacation and relax. In previous years this would have been true for me too. But for now it means it is time to work again. It was another day and another destination and I was excited to reach this place. I understand that many people would think I am incredibly lucky to travel to these places to work, and I am. But in reality, when you spend all day inside an office you hardly see much.

Having said that I did get out quite a bit whilst I was here. I do wonder if working from these beautiful destinations actually prevents me from enjoying them. I fear that forever I will associate this beauty with the work to be done. This is why it is so important for me to detach myself whenever I reach a destination. I need to focus on the job at hand rather than the destination itself so that this does not happen.

I certainly wont be associating Cancun with work however. I must say it was beautiful and I really did enjoy my time working from there. The weather was perfect and I had a couple of experiences there that I do not think would have happened had I not visited.

Unfortunately my main memory is not a pretty one. It is a memory from the first night I went out. After work a colleague invited me to join her at the bar just down the road from the hotel we were staying. It was not somewhere I would usually associate food poisoning with. We had a fantastic range of food and I can not fault it at all. It was simply delicious.

We headed back to the hotel and I was feeling fine. A little woozy but I attributed that to the second glass of wine I had. I showered and went to sleep, only to be awoken at 2am with a stabbing pain in my stomach. This was actually one of the most painful food poisoning experiences I have had, but I knew straight away what it was from the cold sweats.

I made the mistake of googling my symptoms. If I can offer you all a word of advice it would be to never google symptoms. What I found on Food-borne Illnesses scared me and made the pain somehow worse. Because it was so painful I decided to go to a 24 hour clinic that was conveniently located just down the road. It was not an emergency room but they do see emergency cases and luckily enough I was able to get straight in. They gave me some pills to sort out my stomach and I felt better almost immediately after taking them.

It also helped that I was speaking to a lady in the waiting room. She had experienced a similar thing and almost immediately we bonded. I am usually too shy to talk to strangers (something my work colleagues can not believe), especially in this type of setting but we seemed to really hit it off. She was staying down the road from me and we even exchanged email addresses and had a coffee once I felt better.

I was in Cancun for an entire week so I was lucky enough to see many of the main attractions. I was desperate to tick a few off my list and I took my inspiration from what I read on Lonely Planet. I took a heritage tour which was definitely the highlight for me. I learned so much about the rich history of this place and got a sense of what it was like in the past. Plus it is always interesting to hear about the evolution of our culture and how it has changed over the years. I am thankful that I was born in this generation but part of me still longs to have been born in the past. Maybe I have a past life.

Work itself is getting better and better. I can safely say that I have the best job in the world. Half the time it really does feel like I am on vacation and I need to pinch myself to stay focused on the task at hand. I am sure if I was married and had a family I may feel differently, but I am lucky to have this job whilst I am young and I am going to enjoy it while it lasts.

I can say without a doubt that I had a wonderful time here. I will certainly be coming back for a vacation of my own one day.

Not sure where I am off to next. I am pretty certain I will have a week at home before flying out again. There is talk that there may be a change of management soon so anything can happen. I’m choosing to focus on the present and am going to continue enjoying myself whilst I still can.