One hundred and ten degrees of longitude separate St. Petersburg, Russia, and Tokyo, Japan. For eight weeks in 2005, I'll be crossing this large chunk of the world solo. I've set up this blog so that family and friends can keep track of my whereabouts, my activities, and my well-being. It might also be useful for someone planning a similar trip. Please bookmark this page so you can check up on me at your leisure.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


A post! A post, after all this time!

I'm at battle stations, studying furiously for the New York State bar exam, but I thought I'd quickly update readers on my trip preparations.

1. I now have all three of the visas I need: Russia, Mongolia, and China. (As a Canadian citizen, I don't need one for Japan.) Total money spent on the three visas: $360 Canadian, plus some miscellaneous amounts for photocopying, shipping, etc.

2. With my parents' help, I now have a large number of small, lightweight, portable items to take on my trip as gifts, primarily for people I meet on the Trans-Siberian trains and for people I meet in the Mongolian countryside.

3. I still haven't booked my accommodations in Japan, but there's a website called the Welcome Inn Reservation Center that will make that process pretty straightforward. The place I'd like to stay in Tokyo is not included in the website booking options, but my friend Steve and his wife, both speakers of Japanese, have offered to make the phone call for me.

4. I also need to buy my rail pass for Japan. I can do that through Trek Escapes, the people in Toronto who have organized the bulk of my trip.

5. I wonder if I need any vaccinations. If I had to guess, I'd guess no, but I suppose I should find out for sure.

6. I'm getting a little digital camera for my birthday, prior to leaving on the trip, so I hope to be able to post pictures to the blog along the way. I'll have a few days with the camera before the trip to teach myself how to use it. I'm taking my SLR film camera on the trip, as well.

7. George, a family friend, recently gave me some Russian currency as a present for graduating from law school. I had never seen any before and studied the bills with great interest.

8. I asked Bobo at Boojum Expeditions for her best guesses on how much different animals cost in the Mongolian countryside. It seems that I can purchase a goat or a sheep for very little. Perhaps I will buy a lamb and keep it as a companion for the remainder of the trip.

9. I have almost all the items I need to keep my body from rebelling successfully against me during my trip. I have over-the-counter products capable of suppressing any message my body tries to send me. You should see the massive bottle of extra strength Tylenol I have. It's big beyond all sense.

10. As previously reported, my Russian language studies have fallen off completely. I have enough work on my hands trying to understand the fee simple determinable with possibility of reverter, and other arcane legal concepts.