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 Post subject: Re: Where do you travel? ( or where do you want to? )
Post #41 Posted: Mon May 17, 2010 12:41 pm 
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Except for a few trips to visit family in Mexico, I haven't left Texas. :(

I dream about studying Go in China. One day...

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 Post subject: Re: Where do you travel? ( or where do you want to? )
Post #42 Posted: Thu May 20, 2010 9:40 pm 
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honeybunny wrote:
Except for a few trips to visit family in Mexico, I haven't left Texas. :(


You'll get to some day, Texas is big enough to explore anyway. Whereabouts in Texas are you? (San Marcos, here. Martindale, really, but no one in their right mind should know where that is.)

Anyone interested in travel should check out 43places[dot]com. (Not an ad, just contributing to the discussion). I use it to list all the places that I'd like to go in the near future. Hopefully, I'll start crossing some off of the list soon. (my username is bigfatmoosie if anyone is interested)

I haven't been able to travel much recently, but I plan on visiting a friend in Japan either late this year or early next, and possibly go on a Hawaiian cruise next summer.

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Post #43 Posted: Thu May 20, 2010 11:36 pm 
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Speaking of traveling within Tejas, ya'all should go to the tournament in Austin next month. =D

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 Post subject: Mayan travel report
Post #44 Posted: Fri May 21, 2010 9:49 pm 
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Earlier this month, my wife and I spent a week in the Mayan Riviera, along the coast of the Yucatan peninsula, in Mexico.

We flew in from the west, approaching Cancun over the jungle. Here in the Yucatan peninsula, the jungle stretches for miles, lush, vivid green, broken only by occasion scarps of chalky white rock, like ancient bones poking though a covering of mold. Occasional evidence of civilization pokes through: microwave relay towers, and high-voltage lines. The jungle laps up against them, as if to remind us that if it covered up the Mayans, it can do it again. There are no traces of farmland or cultivation seen from the air.

The Cancun Airport provides the familiar reassurances of civilization: electricity, air conditioning, running water, and bureaucrats. We arrive along with dozens of other flights, and we are all herded into a giant room half the size of a football field. There are thousands of people waiting there, snaking slowly though lines zigzagging back and forth across the room. We wait for half an hour, then another. The room gets hot, and we see one man collapse on to the floor. A second hour passes, and the air conditioning is clearly not up to the task. We are halfway to the front of the line by now, and we can see a dozen windowed booths, half of them staffed by bored immigracion workers. The other half are empty.
More flights dump passengers into the back of the room. Among them is what appears to be a soccer team: young men burly, lively, and impatient. After a few minutes, they start chanting in Spanish, "Fue-ra!! Fue-ra!!" ( "Outside!! Outside!! ). The workers are clearly flustered. The chanting stops for a few minutes, then resumes, and the workers begin to look panicked. The line moves much faster, and the paperwork is handled in a rush. We finally claim our baggage and stumble out of the airport 3 hours after our plane landed. The heat is stifling.

Life here in Yucatan is lived in whatever space can be cleared. The jungle surrounds everything, encroaching relentlessly until it is chopped back again. The highway south from Cancun has been hacked in a straight line, approximating the coast as it wanders in and out, bay and harbor, then point, then bay again. We drive to a small town called Akumal about 50 miles south of Cancun.

The traffic here is similar to that in my native southern California: when the speed limit signs say 80, they drive 80 miles per hour, plus a bit. It feels like home, except for the jungle looming endlessly on both sides of the road. The familiarity soon comes to an abrupt halt, as does the traffic. There are topes in the road. A tope is a speedbump, dozens of steel hemispheres the size of a man's helmet stretching across the road. It looks as if a gang of construction workers were sunk up to their brims in some bizarre sacrifice to the gods of concrete and rebar.

There were human sacrifices here, and not too long ago. As we wait for the traffic to inch forward, I stare into the jungle. It is the height of a man at the edge of the road, and soon rises to three times that. The Mayans built great cities here, celebrating their rise with human sacrifices, and the jungle swallowed them whole. Some scholars say that the great cities have all been found, others disagree. Looking into the verdant depths as we creep forward, I tend to be one of the sceptics.

I believe that here are still lost cities here in the Yucatan. The jungle covers them faster than they can be discovered, and the location is whispered among the natives. No white man ever is allowed to see them. But there are signs.
In several places, there were signs indicating the city named Retorno. My map showed no traces of it. It seemed to be a sizable places, for there were signs for it every dozen miles or so, pointing off into the jungle. But the natives deny that the city exists: "No es Ciudad, Senor, no es Ciudad!" I tried following the signs, but they just led in circles. As darkness closed, I gave up and we continued south to Akumal and our hotel.

The town of Akumal gets its name from the Mayan for "Bay of the turtles". It is actually two bays, and one lagoon, with a road looping around behind them. Small hotels and houses line the road, one row on each side, and beyond that is the jungle, thick and still. The expats who live here say that the jungle is so thick that you can throw a rock the size of your fist into the jungle and never hear it fall. I tried it several times, and it's true.

Over the next several days we go scuba diving and snorkelling. The reef offshore is part of the second longest reef in the world, second only to Australia's great barrier reef. It is loaded with coral and fish. We see barracudas, sharks, giant stingrays, moray eels, and innumerable brightly colored fish. I took some pictures with an underwater camera that my wife bought for me. ( You can see them at http://www.scubaboard.com/gallery/showg ... ser=149130 ) Most of the pictures of fish show them swimming away from me. Almost all did this. I have no idea why, for I have been told that I look good in black.

We went over to Cozumel to dive, hoping to see manta rays. Cozumel is an island about 20 mile off of the coast, and is known for oceanic currents sweeping past it. But the currents that bring the plankton in have not come up to speed yet, so the mantas are not there. Nonetheless, it is great diving, we drop down 50-60 feet and let the currents carry us. There is a dazzling spread of coral and other undersea life, even better than in Akumal. It is called drift diving: you just drift with the current while your dive boat follows above, tracking you by watching the bubbles.

With all of the tourists coming here to dive, there are lots of fine restaurants to cater to them. Fish, of course, is the primary entree. Grouper and seabass steaks are as common as hamburgers in the US and just as cheap. Some of the restaurant workers speak English fairly well.

I strike up a conversation with one of them, Xavier. His family has been in the Yucatan from time immemorial. Since the earth was born, he says. I ask him about the jungle and the lack cultivation. He says that farming is a hard life. His father had been a farmer, but barely survived doing it. He says that it is much better to come the the coast and work in the tourist industry. "The soil," he says, "has weak blood, it has no...how you say it...no nutrients. The jungle has taken them all. Besides", he adds, " all of our chickens, they get killed by falling rocks."
I ask about the hidden cities, and suddenly Xavier's commend of English becomes very clumsy. He mutters something about cults and heads back to the kitchen.

After a week of good food and diving, it is time to leave. I've seen no hidden cities, no human-sacrificing cults, and no manta rays. But I did find one treasure.

That is the way of the Yucatan. Many men have come here searching for treasure. Most leave empty handed. Some don't leave at all.

I left a treasure back in Cancun, something that any man would kill for. When we were doing the immigracion paperwork, there was one piece that had a line labeled 'Head of Family'. My wife was filling them out, and she put my name in there. I had it, in my hand, in black and white, in my wife's handwriting: that I was head of the household.

But the immigracion bureaucrat wanted it. And he wouldn't let me in without it. There was a gang of chanting soccer players behind me, and the air was rich with the menace of rioting. There were armed guards ahead of me, nervous, fingers inching toward their belts. It was no time to argue, and I let the bureaucrat have his paper.

I found a treasure in the Yucatan, I left a treasure in the Yucatan, but lived to tell the tale.

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 Post subject: Re: Where do you travel? ( or where do you want to? )
Post #45 Posted: Fri May 21, 2010 10:54 pm 
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Awesome write up Joaz.

I'm currently on my vacation in St. Louis (going to the arch tomorrow :)), but I don't think anything I write about it will be quite as exciting. Oh well, I'm still having a great time not having to be at work.

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 Post subject: Re: Where do you travel? ( or where do you want to? )
Post #46 Posted: Sun May 23, 2010 9:52 am 
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I travelled alot when i was 18-20 (europe,germany(to visit some family) and japan)

Europe was more or less 4 month's as i always wanted to visit the familiy in germany, japan was back when i was training in aiado, i wish i knew about go back then >.<.

I am planning in a few years time (once my son is in school) to go to korea or china for 2-3 months for some go training.

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 Post subject: Re: Where do you travel? ( or where do you want to? )
Post #47 Posted: Wed May 26, 2010 6:08 am 
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Chew Terr wrote:
Speaking of traveling within Tejas, ya'all should go to the tournament in Austin next month. =D

When? Where?

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 Post subject: Re: Where do you travel? ( or where do you want to? )
Post #48 Posted: Wed May 26, 2010 8:17 am 
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Moose wrote:
Chew Terr wrote:
Speaking of traveling within Tejas, ya'all should go to the tournament in Austin next month. =D

When? Where?


Sorry, I was mistaken. It's in July. There's a link in the KGS "Texas Go Players" room. They haven't updated the Sensei's page (http://senseis.xmp.net/?AustinGoClub%2Ftournaments#toc4) from last year. If you want more information about it, either check the KGS room or pm yoyoma. He's the man with the plan, and should be able to tell you more than I know. As for place, I believe it'll be at Great Hall Games, though I don't know where that is. I live in Dallas, so I'm not the best source on Austin tournaments.

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 Post subject: Re: Where do you travel? ( or where do you want to? )
Post #49 Posted: Wed May 26, 2010 8:32 am 
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We are planning on going to Germany and France in a few weeks. Any tips on places to visit?

Also, any tips on avoiding pickpockets :)?

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Post #50 Posted: Wed May 26, 2010 8:35 am 
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Kirby wrote:
Also, any tips on avoiding pickpockets :)?


Keep out of arm's reach...

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 Post subject: Re: Where do you travel? ( or where do you want to? )
Post #51 Posted: Wed May 26, 2010 9:07 am 
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Kirby wrote:
We are planning on going to Germany and France in a few weeks. Any tips on places to visit?

Also, any tips on avoiding pickpockets :)?

I've traveled a few times in both Germany and France, and of course it largely depends on what your interests are. In France of course Paris (if you haven't been there), I really liked the small wine villages in Alsace, Normandy, castles in the Loire valley, French alps, Evian etc. Of specific places I liked especially Mont St Michel. In Germany I think there are not so clearly specific places, but you might consider at least Bavaria and Schwartzwald. Many small old villages are also really nice, and again, if you are into it, old castles throughout the country.

With any common sense I don't think you have to worry too much about pickpockets, Paris perhaps being an exception.

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 Post subject: Re: Where do you travel? ( or where do you want to? )
Post #52 Posted: Wed May 26, 2010 9:55 am 
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Bavaria and Schwarzwald, while surely nice places, are not the main attractions of Germany. I would recommend to visit at least one of Hamburg, Berlin, or Cologne. The Ruhrgebiet (a conglomeration of cities with a lot of industrial history) is Kulturhauptstadt (European Capital of Culture) 2010, if this interests you.

In any case, be sure to look up the Go meetings at http://www.dgob.de.

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 Post subject: Re: Where do you travel? ( or where do you want to? )
Post #53 Posted: Wed May 26, 2010 11:13 pm 
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Harleqin wrote:
Bavaria and Schwarzwald, while surely nice places, are not the main attractions of Germany. I would recommend to visit at least one of Hamburg, Berlin, or Cologne. The Ruhrgebiet (a conglomeration of cities with a lot of industrial history) is Kulturhauptstadt (European Capital of Culture) 2010, if this interests you.

In any case, be sure to look up the Go meetings at http://www.dgob.de.


Thanks for the information, Harleqin. I have another question for you (or anybody else that knows). What is the best way to get around in Germany and France?

We are arriving in Frankfurt, and would like to travel to a few different German cities, and also stop by Paris.

What's the most cost efficient way to do this for a two week vacation?

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Post #54 Posted: Thu May 27, 2010 11:52 pm 
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Hey Kirby, I am going to germany in July when are you goin? Perhaps we could meet for a game?

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 Post subject: Re: Where do you travel? ( or where do you want to? )
Post #55 Posted: Fri May 28, 2010 7:40 am 
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wessanenoctupus wrote:
Hey Kirby, I am going to germany in July when are you goin? Perhaps we could meet for a game?


We're going to go from June 11th. We'll be in Europe until June 26th. We've already got tickets. Maybe you could move your travels up a bit ;)

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Post #56 Posted: Fri May 28, 2010 11:20 am 
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ive bought my tickets too, centered around EGC

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Post #57 Posted: Fri May 28, 2010 12:31 pm 
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wessanenoctupus wrote:
ive bought my tickets too, centered around EGC


Ah, I didn't even think of that... Maybe next time, then.

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Post #58 Posted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 10:16 pm 
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I just got back from Santa Catalina island. ( It is a smal island about 26 miles off of the LA coast. It is mostly nature presurves, with only a tiny portion developed.

Just offshore, there are kelp forests, with gobs of fish.

Sometimes there is one fish nearby. This is a Garibaldi, the California state fish.
Big photo
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Sometimes there are so many that you can't see the other diver 10 feet away.
Big photo
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The next two shots are of giant sea bass. One is about 4 feet long, the other about 5 feet. They weigh several hundred pounds each
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They are reputed to be very tasty, but are have been listed as 'endangered' in the 70's, and it is illegal to take them. Populations are rebounding, and their status may change. I'm stockpiling tartar sauce.
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Last is a bat ray. This is a young one, about 3 feet across and 7 feet long. They flap their 'wings' like birds.
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 Post subject: Re: Where do you travel? ( or where do you want to? )
Post #59 Posted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 11:07 am 
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Always wanted to Prague. Probably going there in October. There are couple places I wanted to Go such as Thailand, Vietnam, Morroco and Europe but don't have the time nor the money.

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Post #60 Posted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 11:14 am 
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azrael wrote:
Always wanted to Prague. Probably going there in October. There are couple places I wanted to Go such as Thailand, Vietnam, Morroco and Europe but don't have the time nor the money.

Well, if you are going to Prague, you are going to Europe, right?

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