A Philosophy of Radical Aliveness

A Philosophy of Radical Aliveness

"Yesterday is already a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision; but today well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope."

John Kerestes


Friday, November 13, 2009


This list is partially a "Note to Self". Many of these things I remember vividly after a trip, and promptly forget them before the next trip.

1. Chinese beds are hard, and get harder the more West you go. We found bringing along a hiker's air mattress saves us from bruised hips.

2. TRAVEL LIGHT: This one I tend to ignore with all sorts of things I can't do without. However, I always regret the weight. Within China 40 pounds versus 50 is the limit of checked luggage. We paid $75 on one flight for going over that limit. I think what would be ideal would be a carry-on size suitcase; or a half-full medium size suitcase. Most places we've visited will tempt you with all sorts of souvenirs, many at great prices. Judy got the hard sell at the "Pearl Market" in Beijing where she ended up buying 3 purses. That was at the beginning of our trip, so she had to haul them all over China.

3. Take nothing for granted: check & recheck. Judy's purses were bought after a session of very hard bargaining. One of the features of the purses was a shoulder strap, which when we got back to the hotel was missing in every purse. We assume it was our sales girl's revenge for low balling our bids, and being dragged back after walking away.

4. Limit how many cities you visit on one trip. On this trip we were in six cities, and took a total of six flights to get to & from China, and another four flights within the country as well as a day-long car trip. I think three destinations in two weeks is about max. From here out I'd like to go for depth rather than breadth: stay in one place with day trips.

5. Toys and polaroid film to give away are now irrelevant except in the most remote places. Everyone has a digital camera, and we didn't encounter a lot of very poor kids in China. Most toys these days are made in China! There is a story about Chinese parents telling their children to finish their dinner with, "Think of the starving children in America!"

6. Be prepared to be sick. Cipro (an antibiotic) kept me from losing more than one day to intestinal bacteria (although after its course was over I got very very sick a week after our return). Like many Chinese, I wore a mask on many of the airline flights.

7. Even though I turned off my iPhone to avoid international fees for incoming data or phone calls, the iPhone turned out to have applications which were invaluable travel companions. One was a downloaded book relevant to China. Another was the app "Measures" which converted celsius to fahrenheit, kilometers to miles, and most importantly: dollars to yuan. Its a particularly quick and easy converter. And finally, two apps for ordering food: "Food Order" and "China Menu".

8. I also found it useful to carry a small note pad. Trip guides will fill your head with details and statistics, most of which you won't remember. After a trip I wish I had taken more notes than I did. It helps me process my experience (as does this blog). I found a small notepad at an art store that must only be 40-60 pages, with a cover that won't fall apart, and a size that easily fits in my shirt pocket.

8. More tips as they occur to me .... or readers of my blog suggest others.