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Travel Geek: Singapore to Istanbul

Singapore to Istanbul, originally uploaded by Mister Wind-Up Bird

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I’m not remotely a hard-core traveller. I grew up in Saskatchewan, in a fairly large lower-middle class household (some of my early years were in a trailer in northern Saskatchewan). International travel always seemed like an unattainable, exotic thing. As a family, the Brochus took out-of-province trips to Manitoba and Alberta, and I ventured as far into the States as South Dakota on a high school band trip. I was 24 the first time I boarded a plane, 25 the first time I saw the ocean, and 27 the first time I left North America (to visit Australia).

In the few years since then, of course, things have changed. As a grad student in an area of research that is fairly well-funded, I get to take breaks to travel, sometimes on the department dime. In the past few years, I’ve been to Montreal, Miami, San Diego, Australia (twice), New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Japan.

Visiting Southeast Asia had always been a dream of mine, and I loved it. Even the parts that sucked were awesome. At the same time, since returning, I’ve been finding the PhD to increasingly be a drag. I’ve spent literally months on papers that have been rejected, other months doing work I had to abandon, and even a few months where I know I worked every day, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what I actually did. Worse yet, my research failed to turn the field of Artificial Intelligence on its ear. Discouraging. (Though I did recently win a graphics research award, despite that not being my field.)

And so, to keep myself motivated, I’ve started planning out my post-graduate backpacking trek across Asia. As I alluded to in my last post, I’m currently working so that when I finish my PhD, I can take an extended break to do it. Right now, my goal is to travel, without flying, from Singapore to Istanbul, over a period of maybe a year. I may change the start and end locations, and the duration, but that’s the dream.

I know what you’re saying: “Eric,” you say, “that’s totally awesome, yet totally such a cliché.” To which I can only say, “yes, it is awesome. Thank-you. And what are you, the cliché police? Shut up.”

And so, because I’m a total geek, I’m going to start blogging about my investigations and plans. For now, I’m just going to keep it as part of the main blog (under the tag singapore to istanbul — I will really need a better name than that), posting maybe once or twice a week, depending on how things go, and how busy I am with other things.