Who am I?
Hello all, Chris Meharg here and welcome to my little corner of the internet. As for who I am, I am a high school science teacher currently living and working in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Now I know you are all wondering how in the world I ended up in Mongolia.
It went something like this. I left medical school for teaching since teaching is more fun, at least to me anyway. At this point I was teaching in a private school in NJ, while finishing up a master’s in education. Now I had always liked to travel and by this point I had been to Europe twice, Canada once, and numerous points in the States. However, it was Professor Simonelli, whom I had for several classes, and who had spent almost his entire career teaching abroad for the DODEA, which runs the department of defense schools, who put the bug in my ear about teaching overseas. After a summer traveling through Japan on vacation, I became determined to teach internationally. I spent one final year teaching in New Jersey before taking the plunge and heading 6,336 miles away to Mongolia, the land of the big blue sky.
As for Mongolia itself, well, why not? It seemed like an interesting place, and Mongolia has been great to me so far. Not to mention I can travel the rest of Asia while on vacation.
Why Visas – because sometimes a passport just isn’t enough.
There are currently 195 or 196 countries in the world, depending on how you count Taiwan. Added to that are 61 colonies and 6 major disputed territories around the world. Sadly, despite having a power rank of 4 by passport index, my one and only American Passport only gets me into 154 of those countries. For everything else I am going to need a visa. A visa is an official document added to your passport that allows you to legally enter and travel in the country that issues it. There are a variety of different types of visas depending on your length of stay and what you plan to do while in country.
Thus far I’ve been to 14 different countries and only needed two visas: a work visa for Mongolia, and a travel visa for Vietnam. So don’t let the cost and time needed to get a visa deter you from traveling to those countries that require them.
Countries I’ve been to as of Spring 2016
Vittles is an old English word for food, which originated in classical Latin. Traditionally it meant food that was prepared to be eaten. Travel is much more than just visiting another country and seeing the sights; it also includes indulging in the local cuisine. I mean how can one really say that they have experienced a country without trying the food. No, going to the local ethnic restaurant back home does not count, despite how tasty it might be. When it comes to eating overseas, Anthony Bourdaine, whether you like him or hate him, had the best advice. Eat where the locals eat. So how do you tell where the locals eat? Just look for the places that have a number of local people already eating at them. Some of the best food I ever had was at the night markets of Chiang Mai and the local shops along the side of the road in Vietnam.
See, it looks tasty and delicious, right?
A vacation is a break from your day to day life, a chance to relax and recharge before heading back to the grindstone. So at the end of the day your time away from the stresses of life should be relaxing and fun. Sure, it’s always good to learn and experience new things, but at the end of the day it should be fun. You should never feel like, oh crap, I need a vacation from my vacation. If you do, then you might be doing it wrong.
Now some might disagree with me on this, saying that traveling should be a life changing experience, and that you should immerse yourself in the culture in order to truly learn about it. I’ll disagree on the first point, and say that they have a point on the second. However, not everyone wants to travel like that and some just want a nice relaxing vacation. The latter is my own preferred method of seeing the world. I want to learn and explore just as much as the next guy, but it needs to be fun.
Well, that’s pretty much me and the blog in a nutshell, and I hope you will come along for the ride and learn something while exploring the big, wide world.