Taming the wanderlust

My oh my, has the wanderlust been hitting me hard lately or what? (It has, that was a rhetorical question.) I think it’s the weather getting warmer, the smell of the flowers and herbs in the garden blossoming, and the fact that a year ago Mrs. Primate and I were on the biggest trip that we’ll (probably) ever make. When you add the reality of I’m-not-going-to-have-an-opportunity-to-leave-the-country-for-at-least-a-year to the general feeling of oh man I feel so stuck in San Antonio right now it makes for a palpable feeling of meh. Here’s some things I’ve been doing to combat it.

  1. Focusing on the good ol’ career. This is the thing that’s going to make bigger, better adventures possible (and allow us to stay at the W instead of some ratty old hostel next time we’re in Barcelona if it advances the way I plan.
  2. Cooking things that remind me of places I’ve been. The senses of taste and smell give me the strongest connection to places I’ve been, I can totally capitalize on that. Candles are helpful too, as is the “Hawaiian Aloha” vent clip I just put in my car to combat the smell of mildew.
  3. Watch travel shows on TV. Okay, I’m not really sure if this makes it better or worse, but it kinda feels like learning more about places I’d like to go helps me focus on something other than wishing I could be somewhere I’ve already been.
  4. Work on the house. We need to finish it out the way we want it to be finished in pretty short order, and housework always makes you feel better. For real. It’s something about seeing your results in real time. We need new dressers, a new couch, and to replace some light fixtures.
  5. Find things to be excited about. For example, after submitting my tax return for 2013 in February, it was finally approved today and we’ll be able to make a big payment on our TV and computer! (For real, what took 90 days?)
  6. Get interested in something. My interest in fitness has waned a bit, my interest in finding a pillow that will allow me to wake up not feeling like I’ve been hit by a freaking MAC truck has increased. Maybe one of those memory foam mattress toppers would help too. This went a bit off topic, didn’t it?
  7. Plan for the future. This is a frustrating exercise in knowing what you want to achieve and dickering with yourself about how to make it possible. Is there a book that tells you how to end up with a small bed and breakfast that doesn’t need the income stream of guests to remain afloat somewhere with a good view of the Mediterranean?

Yeah, so these are some things that I’ve been doing to focus on how to really get to the lifestyle that we want to have. It might mean a bit of studying and learning and a lot of work, especially the “career” one. As one of my coworkers told me though, You gotta step out of the boat if you want to walk on water. She’s wise. Put in the work now, reap the benefits later. Sounds good to me. Not all those who wander are lost, but I’m pretty sure that if you wander too long you can get lost.

Barcelona – Why so spendy?

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I’ve been filling hours in Texas shopping for the best values on accommodations and transport for our very-quickly-approaching honeymoon in the Mediterranean. So far I’ve managed to accomplish three things. I’ve booked what looks like a much-nicer-than-basic hotel in Madrid for the first couple of nights. I’ve booked our bus tickets from Barcelona to Marseilles (HELLO Eurolines Spanish affiliate was having a 50% off sale for all Spain-France routes this weekend), and I’ve put down a deposit on a room in a guesthouse in Barcelona on Hostelbookers.com.

HOLY COW BARCELONA SEEMS EXPENSIVE

Not that we don’t have enough money or anything, we do, but the fact of the matter is a room in what amounts to a glorified hostel in Barcelona is going to cost more than a four-star hotel in a desirable location in Madrid. Not just by a little either, we’re talking a margin of about $20/night. Now don’t get the impression that I’m having sticker shock or anything. We’ve researched and researched and planned and planned and I kinda knew this thing was coming. I just expected to be able to find a better deal on a nicer place, I guess, as the hotel in Madrid seemed to work out pretty well.

Expensive rooms in Barcelona are a good problem to have

Now, I didn’t widen my search to include undesirable neighborhoods, anything off the beaten path, or a location that would require any sort of commute to get to the parts of the city that we’ll want to see. We can afford to stay in El Barri Gotic, and we deserve to stay where we like on this trip because it’s our freaking honeymoon.  Two Korean winters, two Korean summers, and several gallons of kimchi say that we get to stay where we want. I guess paying more for a guesthouse in Barcelona really isn’t all that bad of a problem to have. Plus, maybe there’s a big partido de futbol or something happening the weekend that we’re there. Sometimes less availability means more cool things happening, right?

Hong Kong: Whoa, we’ll be there in less than two weeks!

Ever plan something for so long that you kinda let it slip off your radar until the last minute? You know, like a term paper, big family meal, birthday party, or trip to Hong Kong? We’ve done that. Oops. We’ve been busy with the end of the semester and camp seasons at our schools, and planning the move back to los Estados Unidos. When we haven’t been busy with those things we’ve been busy planning our wedding and honeymoon, and hitting the gym 4-5 times a week.

Now that I’m done teaching, I’ve realized that we will be in Hong Kong in less than two weeks, and I have very few ideas of what I expect out of this trip. At first I’d planned to get a custom made suit for the wedding and round of job interviews I expect to go through in the near future, but after some careful consideration I’ve decided to wait and find something I know I like at home and probably save a little bit of money that way. That opens up all seven days for sight seeing and eating and all of those other important things we like to do on a trip.

Here are some things I think we should do for sure in Hong Kong:

Tim Ho Wan dim sum restaurant by Chika, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  Chika 

CRITICAL OBJECTIVE: Enjoy dim sum at Tim Ho Wan, the world’s least expensive (dirt cheap) Michelin starred restaurant. A trip to Hong Kong is apparently not actually a trip to Hong Kong for a food dork unless you wait in line and eat at Tim Ho Wan restaurant. This restaurant is apparently pretty damn cheap, and it has a Michelin star for its amazing food. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into Michelin Star worthy dim sum. Well I mean, to be honest, I can’t wait to sink my teeth into dim sum. You’d think that living as close to China as we have been for the past couple of years that decent dim sum would be all over the place. It’s not. Korean food is a completely different beast than I expected, and the Korean take on the foods of other cultures is more-than-slightly-nuanced with the Korean influence. Eating at Tim Ho Wan will be the headline meal of the trip. Unless it’s not.

Street Cart Noodle @ Causeway Bay by Razlan, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  Razlan 

I want to put these fish balls in my mouth. If you’re not aware, I love curry. I mean, I really love curry. I’m totally curious about the curry fish balls that are commonly sold by street cart noodle vendors in Hong Kong. I want to eat a ton of them. There’s something alluring about eating out of a styrofoam bowl on the street. There’s something even more alluring about doing it in the balmy 50 degree weather! Did I mention the weather? It’s relatively warm in Hong Kong right now, at least when compared to the frozen icy tundra of Korea.

Hong Kong at Night by Michael McDonough, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  Michael McDonough 

Hong Kong looks like it lights up at night. (Duh.) There’s a light show every night that involves something like 40 skyscrapers and “lasers” and a ton of electricity every night, or so I hear. I think you can view it from Kowloon or something, so we’re going to go wherever it is that we can watch it and well, watch it. That sounds like a plan. The other thing I want to do is see it from Victoria Peak, because this city looks incredible (in photographs, at least) from that high vantage point. Either way, I plan on getting a tan from the neon sex-glow of Hong Kong at night.

Day 1 - Macau, Pork Chop Bun by GreyPolarBear, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  GreyPolarBear 

Obviously my next (and last) item for this list is going to have something to do with food. I mean, seriously, the only thing I talk about is food. Well, if you have an encyclopedic knowledge of geography, as I do, you probably know that Hong Kong is right next to Macau. Hong Kong was a British colony, and Macau was a Portuguese colony. There’s your history lesson for the day. You can go post it on /TIL now. ENOUGH CHARLIE. FOCUS.  Anyhow, the thing one must eat when in Macau is the pork chop bun. Yes. A pork chop bun. It’s like a char siu bao, but without the char siu, and instead a PORK CHOP. A friend of mine here in Korea says that it’s breathtaking. Anthony Bourdain got all excited about it on his show. I’m considering making food before bed at freaking 11pm because I’m hungry all of the sudden. Does that have something to do with this picture of a pork chop bun? I think so.

So these are the things I know for sure that I want to accomplish in Hong Kong, but that shouldn’t take seven days, unless the line for Tim Ho Wan is really long. Give me some more ideas of what to do. Have you been to Hong Kong? What must I do? Tell me in the comments.