Project “Infinite Liberation” Revealed:
Wee-Cheng the Pseudo-Nomad Becomes a Real Nomad in Latin America
24 Dec 2001
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
What a month! Busy with admin work relating to leaving London, saying farewell to friends, and even managed a few hedonistic nights out with dubious characters. And of course, preparation for Project Infinite Liberation!
Here’s the moment of truth. I have decided to embark on an odyssey through Latin America, perhaps followed by ex-Yugoslavia and London to Singapore overland via Trans-Siberia, China, Laos, Thailand and Malaysia. My route in Latin America is as follows:
- Fly to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 29th December 2001. Spend the legendary New Year celebrations there and then make my way to Foz do Iguacu. Also visit the Argentinean and Paraguayan side of the waterfalls.
- Paraguay: Asuncion then across northern Argentina, perhaps passing through Cordoba and Mendoza.
- Chile. Santiago (must sort out my Bolivian visa) and Central Valley, perhaps a trip to Easter Island, and then moving on to Atacama Desert.
- Bolivia. If I manage to get my Bolivian visa – they have onerous visa requirements for Singaporeans, whereas their citizens can enter Singapore without visas! The most troublesome visa I have ever applied (yeah, I am a potential economic refugee in Bolivia? Singapore’s GDP per capita of US$25,000 is too low for the Bolivians.) Chinese New Year in La Paz?
- Peru. Four weeks or more, maybe do the Peruvian Amazon on top of the usual Cusco/Highlands/Inca Trail/Nazca/Ica/Arequipa/Titicaca route.
- Ecuador. May do Galapagos Islands. May do Spanish classes there; given my poor record in learning languages – had spent cumulatively 7, 8 and 7 weeks in Spanish-, Russian- and Arabic-speaking countries respectively but hardly know any local phrases apart from simple greetings and certain local profanities, it might be a complete waste of time… OK, I should make some effort this time since I will be in these lands for 5 months or more. A friend has this interesting advice: “La mejor manera de aprender espaï¿½ol estï¿½ en la cama” (translated as “The best way to learn Spanish is in the bed”). Let’s see…
- Colombia. Another interesting land in interesting times – I have brought along a copy of Gabriel Garcï¿½a Mï¿½rquez’s A Hundred Years of Solitude to contemplate about life.
- May go to Venezuela. There will be a temptation to get to Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, French Antilles, Dutch Antilles, Aruba and other assorted Caribbean states – but that will be stretching the limit of my schedule and necessitate a change in my return flight from Miami.
- Panama (mere transit, as I have already been there early 2001). Then Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala (mere transit, as I have already been there early 2001), Belize, Mexican Yucatan.
- Miami. I may either fly there direct from Cancun, or through the rest of Mexico (Valley of Mexico) and then hop onto the Sunset Limited train somewhere in Texas to Jacksonville and then Miami. Depending on time and budget, I may do island-hopping in the Caribbean.
- Back to London. Scheduled date: 28 May 2001 – but may extend trip.
Books I am bringing along:
- Lonely Planet South America
- Footprints South America Handbook
- Footprints Central America & Mexico Handbook
- Footprints Caribbean Islands Handbook
- Gabriel Garcï¿½a Mï¿½rquez’s A Hundred Years of Solitude
- Colloquial Spanish of Latin America by Roberto Rodriguez-Saona
- Berlitz Latin American Spanish Phrase Book & Dictionary
- An Unexpected Light, Travels in Afghanistan by Jason Elliot (in case I need to change my destination next year!)
- Strange Places, Questionable People by John Simpsons, the famous BBC Special Correspondent’s book about his adventures. This will either subvert me into a career change (war correspondent?) or merely helps to increase the weight of my backpack (OK, call it weight-training).
What comes after Latin America? Depends. There will definitely be a temptation to rejoin the job market if it has recovered by then. Otherwise, the game plan is back to London and set off for two further trips:
- A short three- to four-week trip in Albania and the former Yugoslav lands of Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia. Will skip Slovenia as I have been there before. Journey will probably be a full circle starting from Athens, Greece, and up north to Thessaloniki and all the way to Belgrade and Zagreb and then down south along the Adriatic and surrounding hinterlands. Upon the completion of this trip, I would have been to every European political entity except for the Faroes Islands, Liechtenstein and Russia, and unrecognized breakaway states such as Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which in any case might be too dangerous to go.
- The grand finale will be London to Singapore overland (I mean REAL overland) – take a train from London to Paris via Eurostar, followed by a train to Warsaw or Berlin, to change to another train all the way to Moscow. From Moscow, I will do detours to do the Golden Ring of Russian cities: St Petersburg/Lake Ladoga/Novgorod and Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan within the Russian Federation. Then I will hop onto the Trans-Siberian Railway (in reality a series of different trains) to Beijing, and with little stops and detours in/to Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Ulan Ude, Tuva Republic and Vladivostok. From Beijing, I will rush through China as quickly as possible since I have already done parts of China before and would have ample opportunity in the future. Into Laos from Yunnan and then followed by Thailand, Malaysia and then Singapore (Homecoming of the Native Son).
After all the hard-core travel, I will seek my fortunes in either Singapore, Hong Kong or Boom Town Asia, aka Shanghai. Anyone with recommendations in either Private Equity and LBO, drop me a note!
OK, that’s all, get ready for WeeCheng’s News from Rio!