Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Archive for December 1st, 2014

Travel in a world of epidemics 0

Posted on December 01, 2014 by jimparedes

By Jim Paredes

A lot of people I know were so intimidated by the swine flu that some of them actually canceled their trips to the US and Hongkong and other places a few years back. And now there is ebola!

I do appreciate and understand that people do worry about epidemics and possible contagion. It is a small world now that is so interconnected that diseases originating in some remote place can now spread rapidly everywhere. And it is always good to take precautions.

As someone who travels constantly, I try to stay on top of news about what can make my journey a less than pleasant or safe one. But would I cancel on a place just because there are a few sick people there? Naahh… Not me. Well, except for ebola-stricken places. But it will take more than a few cases of some exotic diseases to put a damper on my travel plans. Maybe a string of bombings, or a sudden increase in prices could keep me at home. But not a few people with sniffles.
Nevertheless, here are a few things that we can do as precautionary measures every time we travel.

1) Always wash your hands. Do this many times a day whether traveling or not. Even the use of a keyboard in some internet café in any city can be cause to take precaution since it has been proven that keyboards used by many people are breeding places for lots of bacteria. Your hands touch your nose and eyes all the time and so it’s good to keep them clean.

2) Take vitamins when you ride a plane. There are no real studies that say that being cooped up in an airplane with people who may be sick can infect you. But it is a fact that people who travel a lot are greatly affected by jetlag, and that can only be stressful on one’s body. A limited study also suggests that on the whole, travelers are more likely to catch cold than non-travelers.

3) If you wear a mask, change it everyday. A mask made moist by your breathing can also be unhealthy for you since it can be a breeding place for bacteria.

4) Avoid foods served in unsanitary conditions. Diarrhea, food poisoning are common experiences among travelers. Through the years, I have learned to be more circumspect about what I eat. It is alright to eat exotic foods particular to a place, but one must be aware of how it is prepared. It is not impolite to ask questions generally about how food is prepared. Street foods are exciting and cheap. Common sense is important to determine if they were prepared safely.

When unsure, bring your own bottled water or source your drinking water from your hotel and carry a thermos.

With a few common sense tips, one can still travel and still feel reasonably safe.

Road trips 0

Posted on December 01, 2014 by jimparedes

(Note that I have a new category for my writings about my travels. You can simply click the ‘Travels’ on top to access them. YOU will also see them on the home page).

By Jim Paredes

Road trips are fun to do. I’ve taken lots of them. I like long drives with the family. I enjoy the changing scenery that a drive along a winding road especially in the countryside can bring on.

I have done many 200 to 300 kilometer drives to find great vacation spots to spend a few nights on. The thrill of discovering a new place makes me high.
But the most extreme road trip I have ever taken was in 1975 when my buddies and I drove a total of 16,000+ miles around the USA and Canada. We went from the West to East of the US, then up to Canada in Montreal and then crisscrossed the great Canadian Flatlands and the Midwest before coming back to the West coast again.

We were actually on tour as a singing group with other artists and we were there to perform for the various Filipino communities big and small all over North America.
It was also our first time outside our native Philippines and the whole experience was amazing. I remember how thoroughly exciting and enjoyable it was to be in a new place every so often, sometimes as often as every other day.
We were in a big van and the open road was an enticing thing to see everyday. Meals were at diners and fast food places along the side of the road. Home was anywhere we rested for the night before driving again. The trip took us to obscure places that a few people have heard of like Mystic, Bakersfield, Kamloops, Medicine Hat, and many more. It would be so exciting when we would get to the big cities like LA, or Chicago, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, New York, etc..

The great thing about these long drives like the one we had which stretched for three and a half month was witnessing the changing of seasons, accents, and architecture and fashion as we traveled cross countries. I remember discovering how delicious cherry pie was while I was in California. When I got to Mississippi, I went to a diner and ordered a slice of cherry pie. I knew there was something wrong when the waitress stared at me with a totally confused look. She could not understand me! It was then I realized that the people in the Midwest spoke with a really accented twang. As soon as I said ‘pah’ instead of ‘pie’, she understood, nodded and brought my order!

Autumn in Ottawa was just absolutely pretty especially to someone from the tropics who was being exposed to more than two seasons (rainy and dry) for the first time. The changing colors of the trees and landscape were pure poetry.

But it was the winter that really thrilled us. I remember parking our van by the road where one of the performers traveling with us took of all his clothes and ran in the snow to have a picture! It was crazy and magical. Snow to a first timer is beautiful beyond words. A place called Banff in Calgary, Canada is a good place to see and admire the season of winter.

A road trip this long can get tiring after a while. By the end of the second month, we made sure we had days when we weren’t cooped up in the van and were free to explore the town or city by ourselves. Too much of the same company can lead to friction.
Driving never tires me out. I have not lost my love for road trips even now in my 60s. I still would like to drive across Australia one of these days. Darwin, Cairns, Alice Springs and Adelaide are places this traveler would like to meet someday.

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