Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hi, My Name is Anthony...

...and I have a slight travel addiction.  Okay, okay, maybe that's an understatement.  I guess in order to leave the denial stage and begin treatment of my malady I have to accept the fact that I have a full fledged addiction.  So here it goes... I'm a travel addict.  A travelholic if you will.  My treatment: more travel.

Kind of counterproductive, I know.

But I digress...

My dad likes to blame my mom for my ailment, accusing that she secretly takes pleasure in being the "cool mom" who pushes her youngest son to follow his heart and to dream big (which, I might add, is entirely true).  What he doesn't realize is that this travel-bug I seem to have caught can be traced directly to a situation that was set up and executed by his hand:

September, 2008:  I suggest to my father that perhaps him and I should take a father-son trip to Italy, the land of our ancestors.  My father, who is like a child in a candy store on his birthday whose birthday also happens to fall on Christmas Eve when it comes to discussing anything Italian, responds like a child in a candy store on his birthday whose birthday also happens to fall on Christmas Eve.  Two months later, plane tickets are purchased, itineraries are set, and we both begin brushing up on our Italian (and by 'both' I mainly mean just him).

April, 2009:  Our plane arrives in Venice.  We quickly gather up our bags and grab the first bus to the train station in Venice where we hop on a water taxi that will take us to the heart of Venice.  Little did I know, but the next 20 minutes were going to shape my life in a very profound way.  If I close my eyes I can still sense everything: the rocking of the boat, the extremely crowded deck we stood on where small elderly women were pushing and shoving for space, the smell of the water, the foreign languages, the complete disorientation, the colors of the buildings that I had never seen in any Crayola box, the merchant ships coming and going, the rain that left us just damp enough to be slightly uncomfortable.  And just like that, I was hooked.  I had my first taste and knew I wasn't going back.  Perhaps it was simply due to the slight nausea that came along with the hangover from our transatlantic flight, but that water taxi provided a nirvana-like experience that seems to creep up on you at the most unexpected times.  We had an amazing trip with many memories (and can unsurprisingly still recall every breakfast, lunch, and dinner we ate), but that one moment stands out above the rest.  And there you have it dad, perhaps mom isn't the only one to blame after all.

Ahhh, Venezia.  Padre being sneaky in the background.

Flash forward to the present:  So, here I am.  After two and a half years of fitting travel between work and school, I'm less than two days away from once again leaving home and embarking on a new adventure that will be slightly longer than the others.  Destination: Southeast Asia.  Goal: teach English in Vietnam and, of course, travel.  

On Thursday I am catching planes from Pittsburgh to New York to Germany to Singapore until I finally settle down in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  I'll be in Cambodia for the following two weeks undergoing training that will help prepare me for teaching English.  After those two weeks I will continue on to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam, a place I will call home for the next year (or as long as my stomach permits me to stay) to continue with my training until I'm tossed to the wolves.

I decided to keep this blog in order to keep friends and family back home (and whoever else stumbles across this blog) who are interesting in what I'm up to in the loop.  And also because my sister threatened rebellion if I didn't keep one.  I'm not really sure what direction this blog is going to go in, but I do have a few goals: I hope I entertain, I hope you, the reader, get to know me a little better, and I hope this blog is informative.  I don't want to just inform you of what travails I've gotten myself into, I also hope to shed some light on the people, places, food, customs, etc. that make Southeast Asia so fascinating.  I guess we'll see where this goes.

I once read that there's a certain few moments in everyone's life where they know they're on the cusp of something significant.  You know the moment when you're in it, but you're not really sure, good or bad, what's going to come next- all you can really do is take the leap and find out.  I think it's safe to say that I sit here on that cusp.  And I'm ready.

In the meantime, here's a map that will hopefully shed some light on where I'm going:

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