Flight booked, bundle of updates

A dandelion from the side, close-up.

I went to visit a local travel doctor recently - a rather expensive visit as the Macon travel clinic missed a couple fairly important inoculations, specifically Cholera and Japanese Encephalitis. This doctor also had substantially different opinions about what areas were a problem for malaria, but in the end I think I trust him more simply because the nurse in Macon didn't sound like she'd ever left the country, and he was about to close his office to go to the far side of the planet - again. His education on the subject of travel medicine is motivated by enlightened self interest, whereas for her it may just be a day job ...

I've booked a flight to Bangkok, leaving October 16th. My return flight is August 31st, 2006, the latest date available. I can shorten the return date at will. Toronto to Chicago, 1h46m. Chicago to Tokyo, 13h5m. Tokyo to Bangkok, 6h30m. I arrive in the evening, which is good because I don't sleep much on flights.

I've joined SERVAS, at the recommendation of a friend in Milledgeville who is also a member. Joining takes a considerable amount of time (two letters of recommendation, a personal letter of introduction, getting interviewed by an unpaid volunteer, paying your yearly fee and host list deposits, and getting mailed host lists by another unpaid volunteer), but sounds like it'll be worth it. The hosts are people who are willing to have visitors from around the world call on them. Some will show you around town as "day hosts," others are willing to not only spend time with you, but also put you up for a couple days. The aim of the organisation is to encourage world peace by getting people all over the world talking to each other. The two Canadian members I've been in contact with have been very helpful.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while may recall that I noted earlier that Mandarin and Cantonese are tonal languages. As it turns out, so are Thai and Vietnamese. Mandarin has four tones, Thai has five, Vietnamese has six, and Cantonese has nine. I'm sort of working on Thai now, and was a little disgruntled to find out that, while some of the accents indicating tonality are the same from Thai to Vietnamese, none indicate the same tone in both languages. Thai tones consist of Low, Mid, Falling, High, and Rising. Vietnamese tones consist of Ngang, Sac, Huyen, Nang, Hoi, and Nga (although I'm misrepresenting them because several have accents on them). Ngang appears to be the equivalent of "Mid" in Thai, a flat middle level tone. Lonely Planet's small intro to the language shows that Nga is a tone in the high range that falls and then rises. Wikitravel's Vietnamese Phrasebook explains this tone with the title "creaky."

In other news entirely, the Internet is in crisis. Read Google News articles to get an idea of what's going on. In short, two very large service providers (Cogent and Level3) are refusing to allow traffic from each other's networks in a dispute over amount of traffic and revenue (although both are making vague statements, so this is partly assumption). For me it means that I can't get to Wikipedia and a couple other sites I use a lot. It's less than clear how long this will last.