|Welcome to the Sienna Family Adventure Website!
update: Dec. 25/02
We're mostly packed. Final tally: three medium stuffed duffel bags (with wheels), a small overnight carry-on bag (containing mostly books and school work) and day packs for each of us! Not as light as the tour books suggest- but still, for 5 people it seems pretty spartan. On the other hand, looking at it and realizing that we're going to have to carry this stuff literally around the world makes me shudder. We could have done better, except at the last minute decided to go for purchasing snorkel masks- we hope to go snorkelling in lots of places and it makes sense to have our own instead of renting in each place. Although it really adds to the shlepp factor (we're NOT taking flippers, though) it means the masks will really fit- it's been hard to find a good mask for Micah's smallish size; and Elyse, Noam and I benefit from masks WITH lenses! What a difference that will make when the whole underwater world is not just a blur. But probably the most compelling reason- hygiene. It is reassuring to have one's own mask in today's world where people have who-knows-what - especially when we're in places where the water is not safe for even brushing your teeth or rincing your toothbrush!
Although as a family we've travelled a fair bit on vacations- to Florida, California, and London, we've mostly played the tourist. (Our kids are certainly no strangers to long car trips and airplane flights. Even at their tender ages (13, 11 and 9) they must have amassed an amazing number of air miles. For them, getting on an airplane is about as momentous as getting in a car. I remember the incredulous look of one of our kids when a kindly grandmother making conversation inquired, 'Is this your first trip on an airplane?' )
Even so, this is certainly the most adventurous we've ever been- both in terms of destinations and length of travel. And our hope is that this not simply be a longer version of a vacation trip, but a different kind of travel. Sure we'll see lots of sites, and learn lots about each destination, but if we're successful, with less pressure to get to the next stop, and special arrangements to meet local guides, we'll have the opportunity to experience life from different perspectives (and isn't that what travel is all about at its best).
Joan Weber of Journeys International has been incredible. We can't say enough about how fabulous her company is. Any family (or individual, for that matter) who wants to have an ecologically sensitive, culturally enriching family-friendly experience should contact her (and this is just from the pre-planning conversations we've had with her!). We are being handheld for the Thailand portion of the trip- they are an unbelieveably classy outfit. Too bad we couldn't afford to go with them for our whole trip! Our local agent, Dorothy Sloan of Aotearoa Travel (416-489-7072), has also been incredibly helpful: organizing our air tickets, negotiating our China itinerary. They specialize in Australia and New Zealand and have really an amazing amount of work for us- we really appreciate it.
The world is getting smaller, and one of the dilemmas we've encountered in conceptualizing our travel, is, how much do we want to 'leave the world behind,' and how much do we want to stay connected. Because of our kid's involvement in school, and to further the educational component of the travel, we want to try to keep up this 'travelogue website' up to date. Initially, I had visions of having a laptop which we could use for CD ROM board games, encyclopedia, and editing the days' photos (and even movies?!) while sitting outside watching the sun set over the ocean. To take a digitial camcorder (which we currently don't even own) means more electronics, transformers, more baggage, more things to break, more things to shlep. I know that there will be moments we will be sorry that we can't capture on video, but I want to be able to enjoy the trip, and not be worrying about capturing the moment. I don't want to feel like the trip photographer and computer specialist. I thought we were leaving all that behind. After much deliberation, we have decided to travel as light as possible, so while we are taking a digital camera and necessary cables, we decided against taking a laptop. Instead, I have set up this website (including the photo album) to be totally editable from web browsers so as long as we can find a cyber cafe, we can update the site). I feel relieved to not be taking so much electronic gear which would have been heavy to be constantly lugged around, easily damaged, and a constant source of worry (in terms of possible theft). We still hope to update this site (weekly, if possible) with pictures and reports from the field- stopping at cyber-cafes en route and using the Internet access from the hotels and hostels when available. The kids will be responsible for daily journalling, and Noam will use his new digital camera (from his Bar Mitzvah).
So, we hope you'll check in often,and drop us a note by clicking the 'Write us' icon above!